Friday, July 31, 2009

Internet Artisan Interview - Little Studio

,Just visiting the Little Studio, and I can see what an extensive online presence it has. A combination of shops, blogs, and social networking makes it easy to catch Meghann somewhere on the handmade internet scene. She didn't mention in the interview that you can find an assortment of her photographs on Picassa, a free photo software application, offered by Google. Her love of nature and animals comes across powerfully in her images, and she offers them as cards and prints in her shops. Here's a bit more about the artist behind Little Studio:

  • What's the name of your business/shop?




My business name is Little Studio Photography and Jewellery



  • Do you have a registered domain name and/or a blog?
My URLs:
http://www.littlestudio.ca/
http://www.littlestudiojewels.etsy.com/
http://www.artfire.com/users/Littlestudiojewels
http://icraft.ca/littlestudiojewels

My Blogs:
http://www.meglittlestudio.blogspot.com/
http://www.fibrodiaries.blogspot.com/


  • What type of handmade products do you sell?
I sell quality handcrafted jewelry as well as photography



  • Show us a piece you recently finished
Here is a piece I recently finished for my NeoAmour Collection (it's called Victorias Bangle Bracelet)




  • What are you working on right now? Any sketches?
I am currently working on more pieces for my NeoAmour Collection. I am not sketching them (unfortunately), as they seem to be stuck in my head until they come out as finished pieces. I am working on some wireworked earrings inspired by Queen Victoria, and also some inspired by Queen Elizabeth 1.



(jewelry from the NeoAmour Collection)


  • If you have a website or blog, tell us about your favorite widget.
I really don't have a favorite widget, though I love the fact that blogger allows you to put your own html code into spaces so that you can customize your pages. I have ads and social networking widgets on my blogs that are impossible to add without the html adding capability.


  • If you have a website or blog, what do you use for advertising? What do your avatars look like?
I advertise with Project Wonderful, I also advertise with Entrecard on my blogs. I also have a myspace, Plurk, Twitter, Beader's Showcase and Facebook fan page. My avatars for all my stores and advertisements are the same - my red carnelian cluster ring with my shop name: I like to keep things consistent.



  • Which online selling vendors do you use? What do you like best about each one?
I am mostly selling on Etsy. I have had almost all of my online sales through Etsy - I think the size can be both beneficial and detrimental. It is helpful due to the sheer numbers of people on the site, but much harder to get seen as there are so many people selling jewelry and competing for that 'slice of the pie' as it were. I am new to Artfire and iCraft and hoping to get my first sales on those venues soon!


  • Are you involved in social networking? What's your favorite and why? If you're not involved, you must have a good reason!
I am definitely involved in social networking, who isn't! I am on (as stated earlier):
MySpace , Twitter , Plurk , Beader's Showcase , and I have a facebook fan page .

My favorite, you ask? That is a hard one, but I love plurk! I must admit it is pretty addictive, but it is a whole lot of fun! You can easily carry on conversations and see different threads without having to download a whole bunch of different applications. You just set up your Plurk page and off you go!


  • All of us can use a helpful business hint once a week. What's yours?
A helpful business tip: Be CONSISTENT. Set high standards for customer service and be consistent with them. Organize your business (materials, paperwork, etc.) and be consistent in keeping it organized. Set your marketing/advertising/selling goals and be consistent in working to achieve them. Consistency is always key. However, if you've been consistent and something isn't working, be willing to change it to try and get the result you are after.


  • Do you have a "modus operandi" for computing the price of a handmade object? Tell us your formula?
Pricing is difficult at best. At worst, I want to bang my head against my work desk, lol. I have a general pricing strategy however: I add 50% to my material costs to cover the time it takes to find the right item at the best price. I charge $10-$15/hour for labor, depending on the complexity of the piece. Some pieces I will charge up to $25/hour. I add $5-$10 for overhead (heat, hydro, packaging, internet etc.), $2-$5 to cover the Etsy and Paypal fees, and that is how I come up with most of my pricing. Some items, however, take so long to finish that I can't charge for all of my labor and expect it to sell. In this case I will charge the minimum amount for labor that I feel is fair, and charge the regular amounts for materials and overhead.


  • We'd like to see your little corner of the world, where you create.
My workspace is currently under construction, so I will not horrify you with my disaster area at this time. I am trying to sell as many pieces as I can to fund my office renovations (and my wedding, but that is another story!) - I am in desperate need of more shelving and desk space, as at this point I don't have room for my laptop and bead supplies on my desk at once, and my printer and scanner are on bookshelves and have to be placed on the floor to use them. Eek! I can't tell you how frustrating that is. God willing I will sell enough pieces to go to Ikea and get the modular office shelving I need to have all of my things in their proper places. As it is, I need to visit 3 rooms to ship items - one for the laser printer in the basement, one for the laptop in the living room, and finally my office for the items to be packed up!


  • Where do you see your artwork in one year? Any plans in the works?
In one year I'd like to have my office finished, have more consistent sales, closer to a full time income (if the economy agrees!), with my learning more complex jewelry-making techniques (metal smithing, metal clay, fusing, etc). I'd like to have more of a presence on iCraft and ArtFire also. I definitely want to continue my NeoAmour collection - learning about these women has been absolutely fascinating, and I've only scratched the surface!


  • OK, the storybeader's turn to pick a favorite! This was really hard, picking just one piece. I really enjoy Meghann's rings, especially the ones with lots of twisted metal. Here's a group of my favorites (note: the one in the middle is used in her avatars {:-D).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

almost wordless wednesday - Rock of Cashel


We went to see the Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary, the day before we returned to Dublin. The Cathedral stands next to a chapel, which was built around 1235. The Cathedral's central tower was added in the 14th century and a "strong" castle (mostly what you see here) was erected on the western end of the Rock in the early 15th Century. Here's an illustration that explains the layout (click all sizes for a large view)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Etsybloggers Carnvival - July 31, 2009

I was thinking about one of Ruthie's topics for this carnival, "Share with us a shop that you think has HOT summer items." So I went looking for some "hot ladies" (or girls, dolls, etc.) in bathing suits. That's what brought me to christydekining and her series on Etsy, of vintage pinups. I absolutely love these ACEOs (art card edition originals) that I've been seeing so much of lately. And, watercolors, my favorites!



Now, christy says this combination is watercolor paper and paint - looks great! Also, she is kind enough to answer the question, What to do with these tiny creations (if you don't know, ACEOs have to be a specific size, 2½ x 3½ inches) So what to do? Directly from her shop, she writes:







1. frame it and stick it on your favorite wall
2. trade it with your other cool friends
3. prop it up in a little tiny easel
4. use it as a bookmark, so that you can admire it every time you drift off while reading...
5. hide it away in a box until I get really famous
6. once I'm famous, haul it out and sell it on eBay

Thanks for the suggestions, Christy. They're adorable! Last time I looked, she had 35 ACEOs listed, and there were only 3 pinups left! Get 'em while you can!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Book Review - Marsh

I decided to take Marsh, by Geraldine Brooks, out of the library, after reading her other book, Year of Wonders last month. The story basically follows Mr. Marsh, who joins the Union army and becomes a teacher to the freed slaves on the Old Landing Plantation.

So who's Mr. Marsh? He's the missing father in the famed book, Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. Brooks speculates what might have happened to Mr. Marsh, when the family is separated. At one point, Mrs. Marsh (Marmee) leaves Concord and travels to Washington, DC when she finds out her husband is wounded. But she returns abruptly to take care of Beth, who catches scarlet fever.

I'm not a big Civil War enthusiast, but after listening to the 2009 Chautauqua scholars speak ("Lincoln's Legacy of Equality: Voices on the Fringe") this past May in Lawton, I decided to indulge myself in the era. The plantation where Marsh ends up reminded me of what some of our scholars talked about: the lady of the house receiving a slave as a wedding gift and raising her like her own child; the way slaves used song in their life. An interesting sub-plot involves a woman named Grace, who Marsh meets in his travels.

I must admit I didn’t like this book as much as Year of Wonders, but then Years of Wonders was the best book I've read so far this year! I appreciated all the research Brooks did for Marsh, and I know that I can expect that of her other books. She developed the character of Mr. Marsh from the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa Alcott’s father. Just as Louisa used her own experiences when she wrote Little Women, Brooks tied Mr. Marsh to Louisa's father. In a roundabout way, I learned more about the Alcotts than I expected. Did you know their family home served as a stop on the underground railway?

Bronson Alcott was actually close friends of Henry Thoreau and Nathanial Hawthorne. Any student of American literature will delight in the passage where Mr. Marsh and Thoreau go fishing in Concord, before Marsh joins the army. He talks about Thoreau "charming" the fish with his flute music on Flint Pond. "This is not the most beautiful of the ponds," he [Thoreau] said, "For beauty I choose White Pond, the gem of the woods, for purity, Walden, but this is the pond I find most fertile in fish."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Etsy Artisan Interview - tamdoll

Before we start on my final interview (#38), I want to thank all the Etsy sellers who took the time to write about their experiences. It's interesting to see what others are creating, and how they manage their time. Beginning next week, I'll start my new series, the Internet Artisan Interview, which will consist of any artists who sell on the web. So, if your interested in answering a new set of questions, leave me a message (here, e-mail or facebook.) And of course, drop by on Fridays, and get to know your friends (and competition {:-D) better.

It seemed very appropriate to have an Etsyblogger here on my last interview. Thanks, Tammy, for responding. Tamdoll is a new member to the etsybloggers team, but has been blogging AND selling on Etsy since 2006. She has some real adorable handmade items in her shop. And it looks like we can use some of her marketing advice. Tammy, glad you found us - welcome aboard!

  • What's the name of your Etsy shop?
Tamdoll's SILVER Mountain Originals

  • What types of products do you sell?
"Art to Wear, Unique Accessories, Fiber Jewelry" along with Ribbons & destashing my art supplies once in a while.

  • What is your favorite item in your shop today?
My favorite is definitely the Linen & Velvet Bird Cuff Bracelet - it's something I would love to wear.

  • How did you find out about Etsy? Where you a buyer before a seller?
I've been a seller since 2006! I think I joined to have a place to sell unsold items from a craft fair, but it's been so long, I can't really remember.

  • Are you involved with any of the Etsy teams?













Involved with Teams: Eco Etsy, Etsy Chai, Etsy Trashion, NH Street Team, Etsy Twitter, Etsy Bloggers






  • Are there additional venues where you sell your work?
I sell some of my "Art to Wear" fabric jewelry locally in my hometown in a boutique. I used to sell from my doll website... but since I don't make dolls anymore... I don't promote it as often ( you can see it here)







  • Over the years, what materials and mediums have you worked with? What's your favorite?
I started off crafting with fabric - making dolls, then original art dolls. When I started embellishing the dolls more creatively I added beads and then tried jewelry making. I've always loved paper and collages, too, and have been a knitter since I was a kid, recently learning to crochet. For the last few years I've been working on combining everything I love - making fabric jewelry with beads and yarn embellishments. I also find I can't throw anything away, so scraps and found objects often find their way into things I make, recycling everything I can get my hands on!

  • Everyone knows images are important when selling on the internet. What's your procedure for taking photos of your products? Do you have any tips on taking better photographs?
I always make sure I take pictures on an overcast day with no flash. This reduces the shadows and keeps the focus on the art I'm working on. I have a big roll of white paper to use for backgrounds, and always check the white balance on my camera before I start. A little post-editing always helps if I need to still brighten things up - thank goodness for digital cameras! I used to run to the photo store for one hour developing and after one roll of film only end up with 1 or 2 pictures I could actually use.





  • Do you have an online photo storage site, where we can see more about you and your surroundings?
I put a lot of pictures at my blog - and more at flickr.

Knitting & Crochet focus pictures at http://www.ravelry.com/people/tamdoll.

They're not public, but really handy to keep photos organized and for quick editing - is Picasa, a free download from Google. Along with Windows Live Writer, another free download, I can put pictures and blog posts together pretty quickly.

  • Are selling your products a full-time job, or do you have an additional occupation, outside the home?
Aside from selling art, I have a couple of part-time jobs while my kids are in school, sometimes as a substitute in our high school and I do a lot of local volunteering.

  • We are all looking for good marketing advice. What's the best tip or trick you can share with us?

As far as marketing, I've noticed a couple of things... putting tutorials on my blog gets the most traffic there, but I don't think any sales have resulted from it. Having pictures at flickr has definitely resulted in a sale or two, but I'm always careful not to violate their terms of service by direct sales links. Being consistent is important, with blog posts, and participating in group discussions/events. The more I put myself out there, the more networking and cross-promoting opportunities there are.

  • Where can people find out more about you - do you have a blog, website, instant messaging account?
website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook Fan page

I love to be online... can you tell? Only if I stayed away from the pc a little more, I'd get a lot more crafting done!

OK, it's the storybeader's turn!
I love this bag! Reminds me of my hippy days, when I was a teenager!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

almost wordless wednesday - Muckross House

Last week I created a collage of Ross Castle. This week: Muckross House, also in Killarney National Park. The four of us met up near the lake and took a boat ride, bicycles and all, over to the estate and gardens. Some house, eh? (click on collage to enlarge!)


It was late in the day, and mom and I walked about the gardens, stopped at the restaurant for dessert and popped into the gift shop. I usually buy myself one gift while traveling, and decided today was the day! The fabric of this bag was woven at the Mucros Weavers Workshop, and "sent out" (locally) to be sewn into a purse! Isn't it beautiful!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July's Featured Etsyblogger - Miesmama

Have you been by Miesmama's blog lately? It's such a pleasant place to visit, in this rushing world of words and flashing pictures. There's a calming presence to it. And Becky's posts are short and sweet, an easy place to drop in and catch your breath.

I also love going by Becky's Etsy shop, also called Miesmama. Most of her artwork is inspired by nature, and I think the felting is just too cool. Now, I must admit, I'd never heard of felting till I came to Etsy, and saw all the wonderful things people were doing. Becky is an expert felter and member of the Etsy felting team - there's even an English AND Russian blog! How neat is that!

She's got so many cute things for sale in her Etsy stop, I don't know where to start! I've always admired her garland and fern inspired bags. And one of the pin cushions would be a perfect gift (the spot and cornflower are my favorites!) You need to go over and spend some time looking around!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Snake Dance - turquoise and jasper necklace

The snake danced in the
Opposite direction when
It saw the jasper.


Just finished this new turquoise necklace yesterday.

Jasper is said to protect the wearing from snakes and spiders... a good gemstone to wear in the desert! This chunky necklace was created with 12-22mm turquoise nuggets and 6mm round red jasper beads. A hook and eye clasp secures it in the back. I made some earrings with the same materials, but decided not to sell them as a set. The necklace is available at Etsy and 1000Markets

Length: 23" long
Weight: 3.1 oz.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blasket Stone #2



A donkey played on
The beach, never again to
Haul baskets of sand.







Here's my second necklace and earrings set, featuring a pendant created in memory of my trip to Ireland. The feature rock I picked up on the beach at Greater Blasket Island, the westernmost island in all of Europe. It's attached to a jasper and aventurine chipped foundation by sterling silver, with a sterling bead and malachite block fetish "on top."

The fetish reminded me of the donkeys we saw on the now unihabited island. They were so cute, and looked very content, grazing on the hillside. We were actually surprised to see them, thinking sheep were the only animals there. The donkeys were used to carry turf in baskets from the mountain, and sand and seaweed from the shore.

Length of the necklace: 27" long
Length of the earrings: 3" totalsee Blasket Stone series, #1

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Interviewing Sessons

It's approaching August 2009, and I've decided to broaden my horizons. After almost a year of interviews with solely Etsy artisans, the storybeader will begin to interview artists who sell at various internet sites. No matter what kind of web presence you have (website, blog, online shop or a combination of all three!), I invite you to join me, and the world, to discuss what it's like selling your art online.

Here's your chance to get noticed by other creative individuals and potential buyers. Where do you fit in? Leave me your e-mail and I'll send you the questions. You can also drop me an e-mail at storybeader@gmail.com . No time requirements - I'll continue to publish on Fridays. Be at the top of my list!

Never seen an interview by the storybeader before?


There's a tab at the top of my website, that links to previous interviews (note: the storybeader retains the right to turn down any artist I deem unfit for family viewing.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Etsy Artisan Interview - Very Verdant

Meet the mom behind Very Verdant! Sonja joined Etsy 1½ years ago, but just recently became a member of the Etsybloggers Team, where I got to know her. I think I get a chance to talk with her every day (she's an active thread participate, like myself). There's a variety of items in her shop, for all ages. Even a handmade game or two, which I think is really neat. And you can take advantage of her Christmas in July sale, with 15% - 20% refunds via PayPal! So drop on by and look around, after you read this interview {:-D
  • What's the name of your Etsy shop?
My shop name is VeryVerdant - it is intended as a play on our family name, Greene. So my shop is VeryVerdant or VeryGreene.
  • What types of products do you sell?
My shop is full of items similar to those I have made as gifts over the years, for friends and family. Mostly I sell handmade sewn items but on occasion I like to make jewelry and crochet and cross stitch.
  • What is your favorite item in your shop today?
My favorite items right now would have to be my Gracie Blanket. Our children love to cuddle up with us in the evenings and watch TV or a movie. The Gracie blanket is small enough for a lap quilt or for a baby blanket but it is also large enough to cuddle under.
  • How did you find out about Etsy? Where you a buyer before a seller?
Actually, a friend of mine, Jennifer ( www.monsterbugblankets.etsy.com ), introduced me to Etsy. I began as a buyer but before long I had caught the Etsy bug and began listing items in my shop in November of 2008.
  • Are you involved with any of the Etsy teams?
Besides the Etsybloggers, I am also involved in the Castteam and Sheteam. I must say that I love being involved with other artists and crafters. All three teams are like a close knit family.
  • Are there additional venues where you sell your work?
Although Etsy is my primary venue, I do have a shop at 1000markets and I like to set up a booth at local craft fairs and bazaars throughout the year.
  • Over the years, what materials and mediums have you worked with? What's your favorite?

I enjoy sewing the best but I have also dabbled in many other mediums. I love doing chalk art and drawing but that is strictly for my personal pleasure. I do cross stitch and crochet from time to time and also a little jewelry making.




  • Everyone knows images are important when selling on the internet. What's your procedure for taking photos of your products? Do you have any tips on taking better photographs?



I am by no means a professional but I know that lighting is super important. I love to take pictures outside and a somewhat overcast day is perfect for that. The rest of the advice I will leave up to those who know.




  • Do you have an online photo storage site, where we can see more about you and your surroundings?
I do not have an online photo storage site. I could see myself spending way too much time there. Maybe I will make that a project for future consideration.
  • Are selling your products a full-time job, or do you have an additional occupation, outside the home?
Selling my products is not a full-time job for me. I have been a homemaker for 11 years and have been homeschooling our four children for 7 years now. Selling my products on Etsy allows me to be creative and to earn a little spending money. I enjoy creating very much the spending money is bonus!

  • We are all looking for good marketing advice. What's the best tip or trick you can share with us?
I have met so many wonderful and talented artists here on Etsy and have found that many of them are willing to share their knowledge and help others along. My best advice is to listen and always be willing to learn from others. Also stay active. I know that sounds like health advice but it keeps your Etsy shop healthy too. Stay active in your creating, in your listing and in your Etsy community.
  • Where can people find out more about you - do you have a blog, website, instant messaging account?
Website (1000 Markets) http://www.1000markets.com/users/veryverdant

Etsy - http://www.veryverdant.etsy.com

Blog - http://www.veryverdant.blogspot.com

Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/veryverdant

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Very-Verdant/119826377052?ref=s

Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/veryverdantone


OK, my turn.

This back pack is so cute! I know it's basically for kids, but it would work great to run to the store with. I'm sure kids would enjoy using it for traveling, or maybe for carrying books. Love the fabric!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

almost wordless wednesday - Ross Castle

Nicki and I were really looking forward to seeing some castles in Ireland. We went to Killarney to visit Ross Castle and Muckross House. Mom and I walked to the castle while BB and Nicki rode bicycles.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Little Lost Bear and his colorful dreams

The Little Bear, lost
On the island, dreamed of close
Friends and family.


Little Bear's dreams are in vivid color! Luckily, he make friends with a sea turtle, and they're building a raft this minute!

This necklace and earrings set (which should stay together {:-D) combine Mother of Pearl heishe beads and lapis Zuni bear fetishes. The length of the necklace, 26½", is long enough to put over your head without opening and closing the barrel clasp. Matching French wire earrings are ½" long, with one bear each.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Etsybloggers Carnival - July 17, 2009

I didn’t think I had anything to share for this carnival, but I was wrong. Here's what happened:

I started to look at my options:
1. Christmas in July-do you celebrate? Do anything in your shop?
I didn't even realize Christmas in July was happening until a few days ago, so this topic was dead in the water!
2. July is National Hot Dog month! write about anything related to hot dogs.
I'm not a hotdog person either. Don't have fond memories of a favorite hotdog stand or cooking hotdogs on the grill. But I do remember when I was young, being jealous of people stopping at the vendors in New York, grabbing a hotdog on the run. Always wanted to eat one of those...

So I decided to give you some NYC hotdog vendor photographs:

Not sure if this is a hotdog stand, but it was photographed by Otilius,
one of my favorite bloggers at New York Nitty-Gritty


Do you remember when hot dogs were called frankfurters.
Historic photography (1942) by Charles Cushman, seen on flickr page,
What Makes The Pie Shops Tick?


Shot with an Ultra Wide Angle lens.
Photograph by Kevin (ktnl)


Times Square. Forgot the stands were out day AND night.
Photograph by Erik van der Zwet Slotenmaker

Thanks, Cindy, for reminding me of the beauty of hotdogs!
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