Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How does your garden grow?

DH and I had a lot of fun this weekend, out in the backyard.
We shoveled and hoed up a portion of the grass, and turned it over.
It took us two days.

Then we went out and got some veges for our garden: tomatoes (Romas are our favs), peppers, broccoli, onions, and yellow squash. Two of each, just in case they need cross-pollination...

It's not a big garden, but it will do, feeding us during the spring and summer! We placed my little turtle water sprinkler, right in the middle! Have a close-up of that sweet thing, in my wordless wednesday, tomorrow!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Internet Artisan Interview - Enchanting Stamps

Jess, owner and operator of Enchanting Stamps, has relocated her handcarved stamps to an individual shop on Etsy. I saw one of her stamps a few weeks back, and was immediately in love! I had to see more! I don't know what I like better: the impression they leave on the paper or the design of the stamps themselves! Especially interesting are the sets Jess has made, which you can see below in this post. Since she doesn't have a blog or facebook account, please go by her shop and give her a heart, if you enjoy the stamps.
  • What's the name of your business/shop?
My business name is Enchanting Stamps

  • Do you have a registered domain name and/or a blog?
I am planning to begin a blog soon. When I do, the info will be in the announcement section of my etsy shop.
  • What type of handmade products do you sell?
I make unique hand-carved rubber stamps.
  • Show us a piece you recently finished

  • What are you working on right now? Any sketches?
Spring is on it's way, so am working on Spring inspired stamps.

  • Which online selling vendors do you use? What do you like best about each one?
I use Etsy exclusively for selling my stamps. I have had a great experience with Etsy.

  • Are you involved in social networking? What's your favorite and why? If you're not involved, you must have a good reason!
I have to say I am not big on Social Networking websites. And, I do have a couple good reasons! I've got two little boys who keep me super busy, and I'm constantly crafting something :-)

  • All of us can use a helpful business hint once a week. What's yours?
Sell things that you love. Even if you don't explain to the customers how much you love each item, they'll know.

  • Do you have a "modus operandi" for computing the price of a handmade object? Tell us your formula?
My basic strategy for pricing my stamps is looking at the cost of supplies and the detail in each stamp. I pay myself what I feel my time is worth. Honestly this has been a challenge for me, deciding what my time is actually worth.

  • We'd love to see your little corner of the world, where you create.
I create my stamps at my dining room table. It has great lighting and a big surface for spreading out supplies.

  • Where do you see your artwork in one year? Any plans in the works?
I see more and more stamp designs! I am constantly finding inspiration for new stamps all around me. You really never know what you'll find next in my shop :-)

  • And the storybeader's favorite stamp?
Why, a book of course! I'm thinking, maybe to have a personal stamp made with this book theme. What do you think?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Etsybloggers Carnival - March 26, 2010

I see on the Etsy team thread, everyone's getting excited about the nice weather. I can certainly say I'm looking forward to opening the doors and windows! I know that Tricia, at LazyT Crochet, is also thinking about the weather - she's our host for the first Etsybloggers Team Carnival this spring, 2010 - here are the two topics she gave to us to consider:

1) Cabin Fever - What do you do or what are you looking forward to doing to escape the doldrums?
2) Planning a garden this year? Tell us how you plan or prepare. Do you start your own seeds and how?

I'm so excited about laying out a garden this year - haven't had one in the backyard for a few years now. We're just about finished cleaning up the mess left my the big January ice storm. Hopefully, we can start tilling the soil this weekend. Just a little spot... for tomatoes and assorted peppers. Things we can use for salads. And I might add something else, that I see in the store. Usually, I'll let the nurseries start the plants for me. This year, we ate some great red bell peppers, and saved some of the seeds. So we'll put them into organic starter pots, and place them in the ground, after they get strong enough. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep a running account on ♫how my garden grows♫

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Sandy, over at the Ideas of Inspiration blog, announced that our trigger for the rest of the month was the letter "C." As many of you know, I've been itching and thinking of doctors for the past few weeks... having a hard time concentrating on anything else! It wasn't until Friday morning, when I started to feel normal. So I made up my mind, right then and there, to find a good word for my trigger.

I sat down in front of my COMPUTER, with my CUP of COFFEE.I thought of all my Etsyblogger friends who love animals, especially CATS.
What a nice day...

I had taken the day off, and it was actually warming up outside.

I jumped in my CAR, and headed out to get some CHORES done. I heard it was going to snow this weekend. My poor yellow daisies! Everything was going to be white and drab...
I was going to miss all the new color. COLOR!!

I had a plan. I've been thinking about buying some watercolors, and this was the perfect opportunity. What could be a better way of describing color, than with watercolors?

It wasn't until Sunday morning, that I got up the courage and set myself up a workplace. First, I painted my snow covered yellow daisies. That was a total flop...

So I attempted some landscapes, looking into my mind's eye. Funny thing about a landscape... you can leave it the way you drew it, or you can flip it upside down, and get another view.

At the end of the day, I decided to just fool around with different colors, something I love to do. After finishing a picture, I scanned and cropped it, making a bright border to finish it off.

OK, COMPUTER has to be another favorite word, starting with the letter "C"!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Journal Swap - Topic #4

#4 List the URLs of the latest four Favorites from your Etsy shop page. Are these items on YOUR wish list, or for somebody else?

Here's my latest favorites... as of the first day of Spring, March 20th!
(this would be a good weekly feature.... Friday Favorites!)
Let me show them to you, one by one.

All I can say is WOW! I love this. I'm getting more and more attracted to mixed media art. I love fabrics. This is how jennythreads described her piece: "I sew old bed sheets together and then draw and paint the scene and then layer it with batting and backing fabric and quilt. It is bound with rusted, hand-dyed red silk." I need to show you a close-up:

I love quilted pictorial artwork. The combo of painting and quilting is just so exquisite! Can't imagine how long this took!

Moving on....

Another piece of art, I simply adore, called School of Fish, by Jessica Doyle. I've always loved watercolors. Like I told my Etsybloggers this morning, I bought some watercolor paints to play with, yesterday at the store. But never have been brave enough to try it myself. Well, I have a plan...

This is an original illustration, not a print. Jessica's coloring is fantastic, and the expression of the fish are priceless! In this piece, she used watercolours, coloured pencils, india ink and pen. Here's another close-up; so detailed:

These two favorites so far are pieces I couldn't afford, but I love looking at...

The third item in my favorites list is by ArtBeadwork, a beadweaver. This technique of jewelry making I love, and have tried once or twice, but don't really have the patience for. So I need to buy from others! But I actually put Iryna in my favorites because I like her layout. Many of her Etsy pages have only one image like the one below, something all the pundits say not to do, but I think it has a big impact, at least on me. Iryna probably has her own website, too:

And the last choice, or first, depending on which way you look at it:

Jess at Enchanted Stamps is someone I came across.... I can't even remember where! OK, she carves her own stamps!! I'm truly amazed! They're great! I want this one for myself! It's sold, but I checked out her shop, and she has another. All her creations are copyrighted - she just asked for you to mention her name when using her stamps, and selling on Etsy, or anywhere else on the Web. I can do that! Maybe I could add storybeader's name under the book....

There are my current favorites. It’s bound to change, in a few weeks...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Internet Artisan Interview - dj's artworks

Dolores, owner and artist from DJ's Art, is an animal and nature lover. I think that's why I was so drawn to her artwork. We first met on an Etsy team called AWE (Art Walk Etsy.) Her work encompasses various mediums, including ACEOs, mixed media, photography and prints. I especially like Dolores' notes cards; they're reasonably priced and cover a wide array of topics. Something for everyone! I think she's incredibly "business smart," and we could all learn from her. Hope you enjoy the interview, and have fun checking out her various online sites.
  • What's the name of your business/shop?
The name of my shop is DJ's Art.

  • Do you have a registered domain name and/or a blog?
I have a registered domain; it's www.djsartworks.com or www.doloresjablonski.com They both go to the same web site. I also have an Etsy site, and a zazzle site. Yes I also have a blog. I'm on http://bluecanvas.com/djsart but I haven't gotten "into" that site as much as I'd like, but I will.
  • What type of handmade products do you sell?
I'm an artist who works in a mixed media of watercolor, India ink and colored pencil. My work can be whimsical, a memory of childhood, and of nature. I sell my original paintings as well as turn some of them into notecards. My Zazzle site allows me to put my art work on t-shirts, mugs, shoes and more.

I also take commissions and have done pet portraits and special note cards of pets, teddy bears, and flowers. I pretty much know what I can and can't do and if I'm not comfortable with it or like it there is no charge for my trying. So far I have been successful. The only thing that I won't do is portraits of people. I can do it, but it's not something I feel comfortable with. I recently started to hand tint my own black and white photos. They look like the old color photos before color film.

  • Show us a piece you recently finished
Recent piece..... I sometimes have different projects going on at the same time. My last painting was an experiment with heavy watercolor paper and salt called "Reef"

I take photos for reference. I tinted this one with colored pencils, called "Pathway To Heaven"

  • What are you working on right now? Any sketches?

Right now I am working on a commission of a house that was built in the 1700's. It's been a challenge because of perspective, meaning I have to use rulers to make everything look correct. I am pretty excited about it.

  • If you have a website or blog, what do you use for advertising? What do your avatars look like?
For my blog I'm using feedshark which will ping my site when I have updated it. I also use facebook and I email friends and family to "ck it out." I belong to Etsy Teams, VAST and AWEteam and I also let them know I have posted something new. I just started an email newsletter that's on my registered domain, so please if anyone is interested, including you Debra, I invite you to sign up. I also carry my business cards everywhere, so I am ready to hand out a card if an opportunity arises. My avatar on facebook is my sleepy looking lab, Holly and on my blog is an art piece called masquerade, it is a painting of a mask with cat eyes. On my domain and zazzle is a photo of me with my girls (labs) Holly and Abby.

  • If you have a website or blog, tell us about your favorite widget.
WOW...widgets, it took me a long time to figure out what a widget was, besides what my husband calls my daughter in affection. On my blog I have a widget of a cat that you can download to your sites, so it can chase your curser... I know silly, impractical, but I think fun, we can all use a little laughter! Ok seriously, the RSS, because the way I understand it, people can get updates from that directly to their email, without having their personal information out there. On my domain I have to say my email newsletter.
  • Which online selling vendors do you use? What do you like best about each one?
I use Etsy, I like it because you can learn about business as well as getting comfortable with web sites. It has teams you can join, chat rooms, convers and it takes care of the google search for you (something that I have had problems with.) It is very user friendly for customers as well as the sellers. I use Fine Art Studios for my domain, it's a little more professional looking if I have to have a gallery look at my work. It has the email newsletter and a blog tied into it. Their staff is quick to answer any questions and their instructions are easy to follow.

I also use Zazzle for putting my art work on t-shirts, mugs, shoes etc... You have to know a little bit more of the computer lingo, but it is do-able. Other sellers are very helpful, and supportive. The site is free and you get paid a royalty of your choosing. They are very explicit as to the how it all works. I enjoy it, especially designing shoes...

  • Are you involved in social networking? What's your favorite and why? If you're not involved, you must have a good reason!
I try to be involved in social networking. Facebook is the one I am on the most. I have a fan page and try to keep it updated as much as I can. Still learning! Although I am addicted to Farmville, so if you want to be my neighbor that would be great! I find that game very relaxing. I like the zazzle socializing as well as the teams I have joined. But facebook is my favorite, maybe because it is easy to understand and to use... farmville, it's those cute cows that get me! lol
  • All of us can use a helpful business hint once a week. What's yours?
Do I have a helpful business tip... You need to have goals and to remember they aren't written in concrete. I like to write out my goals, the big dream is ok, but be realistic about other goals. Like for me this year one of my goals is to get organized with my computer time and creative time. It's not enough to just write it down; I have to figure out a way to make that happen. At the beginning of the year I bought a day planner and I write the days I will create and the days I will be online. This isn't written in concrete because life happens, so sometimes days have to change, things have to get switched. For me it's ok because I check off the things that got done and the things that didn't get checked off, are carried over to the next day. When I feel that I haven't been productive, I look at my planner... look at all those little ck marks :) It's never really good to run a business by the seat of your pants, think of your goals as your road map to success.

  • Do you have a "modus operandi" for computing the price of a handmade object? Tell us your formula?
Pricing, that's a toughie.... For my notecards, I add up all costs of my materials, including my packaging, then my overhead (the cost of running a business to begin with) if you have any. Then add your time. Then I would times that by 2, maybe that's too high. So instead I may just add 20% to 40%.... I then go online and look for something similar, is my price too high or two low, am I well known or a newbie. I adjust accordingly. There it is... For my paintings, I add cost of materials, matting and framing, if needed. I take into account how much a painting that is similar in size and medium is selling on the market. Again I ask, am I a newbie or well known. After much thought as to what I would like to sell it for, I should have a price. It's tough, because if you're living off of your work you need to take into account how much you need to live and how much you can reasonably produce. If you keep your prices low, then you need to produce quite a bit.

  • We'd love to see your little corner of the world, where you create.

  • Where do you see your artwork in one year? Any plans in the works?
I hope to see myself better known than what I am now and to have my internet sites set up well, where all I have to do is add work and maintain it. One of my long term goals is to illustrate my own children's book or a poem with an illustration of my art work published. This is a big goal and I'm working towards it now. Every step I take gets me a little closer to it.

  • OK, it's the storybeader's turn to pick a favorite!

I usually don't get into fantasy art, but Dolores' drawing are so special. Just little things that you wouldn't usually expect, and there it is, staring you in the face. What a great imagination!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Journal Swap - Topic #23

#23 Write a blog about a favorite item in your mate's shop. Write the URL here and explain why you chose it.

Linda has two shops! Oh no! What to do? First of all, I chose her fabric shop, Pruitt Handcrafts, to look in. I love fabric, but have never been one to sew.
Once there, I couldn't make up my mind, so I chose one item from three different sections.

My favorite of all, I suppose, is her Jello Roll Quilt, a perfect throw for my lounging chair. It has a beautiful olive coloring on the verso, and it's small enough to fit in the washer! Good attribute! Her country patchwork trimmed towels are real sweet, and you can buy one at a time. Hmmm, do you see a pattern forming here... And last, but not least, a pretty little pillow cover, specifically, her Button Deco Pillow Cover. The colors and fabric are lovely, and the buttons just add the cutest touch.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Book review - Scarlet Sister Mary

In February, my book club read Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin. Written in 1928, it won the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1929. None of my club members, as I recall, had ever heard of the book, or the author. It was brought to our attention when we were discussing, a few months ago, which women had won the Pulitzer Prize. The first Pulitzer Prize for a novel was awarded in 1918. Willa Cather was the first of three women in a row, to win the Pulitzer in 1923, for her novel One of Ours.

To see the list of winners online, go to http://www.pulitzer.org/

Scarlet Sister Mary tells the story of a community of African Americans, Gullah people, who lived in coastal South Carolina. Mary married her lover, but he leaves her shortly after their son is born. Although she doesn't divorce and remarry, she has eight more children, making her a "scarlet sister" in the eyes of the church. We are not told when the story takes place, only When the war between the states freed them [the slaves] and broke up the old plantation system, the black people lived on in the old plantation Quarters, shifting for themselves and eking out a living as best they could... A great empty Big House, once the proud home of the plantation masters, is now an old crumbling shell with broken chimneys and a rotting roof. Ghosts can be heard at sunset rattling the closed window-blinds up-stairs, as they strive for a glimpse of the shining river that shows between the tall cedars and magnolias.

The language and culture of the Gullah people is what I found the most interesting about the book. Peterkin's choice of words and phases are very beautiful. Everything had a reason, whether it's the use of love charms or the songs of the birds. There was not a bite to eat in the house. Mary put down her sewing, and, taking some eggs from the basket on the safe, began mixing a sweetened bread. She put it into the three-legged oven on the hearth to bake, then she took the empty eggshells and strung them and hung them up beside the chimney in the place of the old one which she threw into the fire. "You time is out," she told the old shells. "But you done you work good. De hens is a-layin fine. I'm much obliged to you."

The language used by the characters does not distract for the story, but adds to it, making you feel in the midst of the people. One question we couldn't answer was if life was actually the way Peterkin, a white woman, portrays it. I read after our discussion that she was raised by a Gullah-speaking nurse in South Carolina, and was a native speaker of the language. In the story, Peterkin emphasizes how much Mary loved to work in the fields and sweat, but is that an outsider looking in? Our book club is looking for answers to this question, and if anyone has any insights, let me know, and I'll pass it on to the others. Although the story may be a little sad at times, it is very uplifting and funny in places. A definite candidate for your book list!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Internet Artisan Interview - Craftomania

I thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to the talent behind Craftomania. Can't remember where I first found out about them... it was definitely one of etsybloggers teammates. If you want everything Etsy-related at your fingertips, the Craftomania Toolbar is the way to go. I got a little more engaged with the designers behind the toolbar for this interview, and found a trio of fabulous artists in their own right. So don't fail to go by their individual shops and check out the art they're creating.
  • What's the name of your website, and who operates it?

We are a team of 3:
Noica, Founder, Possum, Designer and CTA
Plush toys and graphics Designs

TheVintageBearLair, Coconspirator, Creative Department, Development and Possum management, Bear.
Anything Vintage or scented with time..

NuritDesign, Mama Bear, Producer and Mental Support
Jewelry Dreams

  • Tell us briefly the major thrust of your website? (bear with us {:-D )
Bear:" A couple of months on Etsy were more than enough for Noica, the industrious possum, to assemble a very detailed and ever growing list of her favorite Etsy related links, and She was baffled ;Navigating through the endless list of blogs and magazines and tools. Every site or blog led to a new exciting one, and on it went.."

Noica: "I was wondering to myself that there had to be a better way to manage my store and my time on Etsy. Luckily, my Bear was in the toolbars business, and he showed me the ropes. I felt so excited starting Craftomania Toolbar; finally, order from mayhem, neatness from Chaos! (Yeah, I'm a bit of a control freak. I guess that's why my bear calls me Noica). I categorized my lists of everything Etsy. And finally there was serenity: I was 1-click away from everything I needed and even the morning coffee tasted better. My Bear reminded me that it's selfish to keep it all to myself and that others should benefit from my sickness. That’s when we teamed up and created the Craftomania Tools Team."

Bear: "It started with the Craftomania Toolbar and taken a life of its own. Now we are dedicated to anything Etsy and handmade. Our first goal is to create a Tool which is a synonym to managing your store on Etsy. The Craftomania toolbar is a lot more than a links index; Among many things is has html/java script capabilities, gadgets and widgets support, a COOL radio player, weather updates, Email notifications, community chat room, and it is totally customizable.

Our major thrust or Vision is:
a. A better welcome for new Etsy users, especially sellers, where all the information, Indexes, tools, gadgets, blogs, sites, magazines and anything Etsy is easily available, sorted out and categorized for easy use.
b. To keep improving and building Tools that will serve ALL Etsy community whether via Craftomania Toolbar or widgets for your shop, gadgets with statistics (hearts count etc..)
c. Having fun while meeting new friends as our community grows, promote free crazy campaigns like the color theme, hold discussions on Etsy forums, help our community with assorted easy-read articles and guides, technical tutorials and marketing tips, SEO tricks, promotional interviews, and basically spreading the love of anything handmade, unique, personal or original.

  • Do your website owners also operate independent blogs?
Yes: Noica has one: http://noyab.blogspot.com/
And a Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/noica/
And a vimeo: http://www.vimeo.com/noica
Told you she was industrious.

  • If so, show us a piece of artwork you recently finished
Noica just finished creating "Noica":

Noica- The magic doll from noa brumberg on Vimeo.

And Nurit just finished creating these:

  • What handmade items are you working on right now? Any sketches?
Bear: Glad you asked that. I almost finished developing, the first of many, floating gadgets and widgets that will keep track of hearts your shop and items receive.

In this example you can see Noica's shop hearts:

Everyone with the toolbar installed could use this floating gadget.

  • What does your website use for advertising? What do your avatars look like?
Since the toolbar is free, and will remain that way, our budget for advertising is limited. We are always adding new blogs, magazines, and Etsy sites to the toolbar and since we link directly to them from our site and from the toolbar, we request the owner of that site/blog and to post our banner to show support.
Several of our new best friends already did that:
amyholtondesigns, theAshGrove, creativitaeblog, creativemamma and many more.. More banners to choose from are here.
  • Tell us about your favorite widget.
Craftomania Toolbar. Of course ;-)

  • Are you involved in social networking? What's your favorite and why? If you're not involved, you must have a good reason!
We have a twitter (Join us!) Which we love because it gets instant results and feedbacks, and it's a great way to stay in shape.

And a facebook group: (Join us here too!)

  • All of us can use a helpful business hint once a week. What's yours?
Noica: "If you can dream it, you can do it". (Walt Disney)

Bear: Basically, to remember the old Bear-poet words: “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.” (I'm a cleric of "The Tao of Pooh")

Nurit: "Diamonds are easily shaped than men..."

  • We'd love to see your little corner of the world, where you operate your business
[I found this photo on Noica's blog, that probably summed up where you can find her, sometime during the day]

  • Where do you see your website (and artwork) in one year? Any plans in the works?
Plenty. The Bear is now developing several of the mechanisms that will connect us to Etsy API. Once we have that – we're planning many surprises and loads of fun for our community; floating gadgets that let you know in real time your shop & item hearts, widgets, an Etsy control panel and many exciting features and components. Lots of members requested an option to add things to their toolbar like blogs and such, so we're working on that too.

And of course, our relentless possum will continue adding more and more friends, blogs, Etsy sites and tools, and will make Craftomania toolbar the best source for anything Etsy and handmade.

We see a community of friends chatting over the morning coffee, collaborating and offering assistance, bloggers interviews, magazines reviews about Craftomania Tools, the Toolbar being passed around by Etsy Users as the ultimate tool for Etsy Sellers…and of course, an interview on Martha Stewart.
  • OK. It's the storybeader's turn to pick a favorite.
First of all, you need to go by Noica's flickr page, and watch some videos! They're great, especially The magic doll (above) and Post it pirate - the end (both great music choices.) And I think Nurit's rings are superb! But I really fell in love with Noica's plushes. Here's my favorite... not in the etsy shop, Symour:
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