Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Sales and Business

Now that we've survived the infamous Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I'm thinking about this year's sales patterns and how to plan for 2008.

Business thinking can be tricky for artists. So many creative people struggle with the idea of asking for money for their work, no matter what they think about its artistic merit. I think it's particularly awkward when we've started a conversation with a potential customer that centers on the work itself - we get to talking about design and color and style, and then it seems strange to bring money into this relationship that's started to develop as a personal one. I know that, when I speak with people at craft shows, I end up with lots of intimate information about their lives. For some reason, stories about crazy mothers-in-law seem to come up more often than anything else. ;-)

In all seriousness, though, art as a business has its own nuances. As individual producers, our businesses are limited by what we can produce with our own hands. The idea of coming up with a design and leaving the construction to someone else isn't appealing to me right now - but for many artists it's the only viable way to a significant income.

Liz Fuller's blog, More Than We Know, offers advice, information and insight to women entrepreneurs, and she's featured a few artists (including me!) lately. Check out her site for more thoughts about art and business.

And now for something completely different: I have to share this new design, because it's so close to my heart. I call these "Sarah's Style" earrings, as a nod to my six year old daughter. Sarah has her own inimitable sense of style and quite definite opinions about not following the crowd. I hope she'll hold on to these traits!

Happy Friday, everyone! Here's to a restful and renewing weekend.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Want More Color?

How's this for bright and fun? Etsy's Whirlwend seems to be catering to one of my big weaknesses: fun felted bags and goodies!

I would be thrilled to receive this bag as a gift. I'm just sayin'. :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cyber Monday? At least it's not the mall..

So, today's supposed to be the big crazy online shopping day. I did get up really early (not so much by choice), and I've made a few purchases, but at least I wasn't standing outside in the cold or fighting over a parking space.

This week, I'm looking for gifts for younger people in my life - my children, my niece, some young cousins. I want gifts that are unique, safe, interesting for the kids, and full of bright color. How adorable are these little Waldorf-style dolls from Etsy seller germandollsfor stocking stuffers? I want a set, but I can't decide whether to spread them out among the younger kids or just give my little daughter the whole set so she can have a family full of these soft babies.

I love the colors of their little outfits and the mix of skin colors. Just beautiful.

So, get out there and shop! And buy handmade. It's so much nicer.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Buying Handmade for the Holidays - How Does Your Flower Grow?

So, if I'm serious about this Handmade Pledge, I'd better get shopping!

The biggest problem is that the more I browse around for gifts, the more things I see that I want for myself. ;) My wish list is getting really, really long.

Here's my Trunkt wishlist - some really, really beautiful work there:

Stone Soup Jewelry's Trunkt Wishlist

And my Etsy browsing is endless, I think. I want to share a couple of cute flower finds today.

My newest favorite shop is Happy House Quilts, with some really cute hair accessories, lovely greeting cards with felt pins attached (these would be great for gift wrap), and best - craft kits for ornaments, felt hair accessories, pins, etc. I have a niece who'll be getting one of these.

I'm also loving Peg Grady's flowers made from recycled aluminum cans. Again - great for gift wrap. I'm trying to waste as little as possible in wrapping gifts (I'm always consumed with guilt at the idea of all that paper being tossed after such a short life!), and these are not only made from recycled materials, but can have a life of their own after they're removed from the gift. Wouldn't you love a collage of these in a wall frame?

Next? COLOR. Lots of it. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sublimely Ridiculous

Today's workspace is one that I love not only because of how it looks, but because of what comes out of it. Etsy seller Artsy, featured this week, has an eye for the silly and sophisticated. This is upcylcing with a BIG wink. And a work space that's orange, to boot - an underappreciated and truly fabulous color.

When I get down to serious work on my studio space (I promise, it's happening), I want one of Artsy's assemblages on a shelf in there for inspiration.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Last week, when I was blogging about great bags, I mentioned Mandinka, who puts together bags from men's suiting fabric and finds a new way to look at something familiar.

Today, I'm loving the ties from Etsyian toybreaker, who continues the spin on men's fashion with fabulous ties. If you've given your dad a boring tie for every holiday for the past 20 years, shake him up a little with one of these:

That one is cool, though if you're looking to make a different sort of statement, there are noose neckties, too. And these ties are made in a truly fabulous studio space. See how great design comes from a great environment? Check out toybreaker's Flickr photo group to see more of this great studio space.

What's going on for me today? Some reorganizing at home, and a promise to myself to get at least a couple of hours in my own workroom. I'm thinking pearls for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Different Kind of Room

As I sat last night and thought about more workspace images to share, I found myself drawn more and more to the thoughts I had yesterday about a workspace being an intellectual or emotional space. And the One Laptop Per Child project provides just that. This isn't an artisan project, per se, but there's plenty of creativity and great design in both the concept and the execution here.

I love everything about this program. I love the fact that the laptops run on Linux. I love the fact that there's a solar energy panel. And the idea that this project will make new kinds of education available to children who have so little...well, it really seems to good to be true. I hope the program works as well as it sounds like it will. My big concern for now has to do with the way the laptops will be distributed once they reach the target countries (for the donor program, those are Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti and Rwanda). I have my fingers crossed that the organizations distributing them to kids will hang in there and make this all come together.

What a great way to empower kids.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf was right, of course. It makes a huge difference to have a space to yourself, whether it's physical or just emotional. Taking the time to step back and THINK quietly for a few minutes every now and then is probably the one tool I use that does most to maintain what's left of my sanity. I grew up as an only child, and so I'm used to being able to solitude if I want it, and it's harder and harder to find these days. I think that's why I'm always drawn to creative work, because so much of it is solitary and focused just on the moment.

But the actual room - not just the mental "room" - is pretty important, too. In that spirit, I've promised myself that I'll get my little workspace into good order this week, and to offer some incentive I'm peeking inside the workshops of other artists. To begin - printmaker and Etsy seller Marissa Lee has this great little space - organized and calm. I love the way the photo feels.

Aren't the pink walls fabulous? And the work that comes out of this space is pretty great, too. Check out Marissa's shop!

Now, off to finish some work in my space so I can show you a photo that won't make us all cringe! Happy Monday.

Friday, November 9, 2007


It's the last great bag feature of the week. Today's indulgence is from 2 Fresh Petunias and owner/designer Stephanie Ignazio. Stephanie is creative, fun, and fashion savvy, and her bags are just like her. She's using some great new fabrics, including this pattern - "Optic Obsession" - for fall:

I've known Stephanie for a while now, and I love all of her bags. The construction is flawless (she's a bit of a perfectionist, I think), the fabrics are lovely. She has a great eye for color and line. Treat yourself!

And now we return to our day, already in progress. Hope you're all gearing up for a perfect weekend. My plans involve at least a couple of hours spent locked away with a book I want to finish, and some work repairing a hole in my closet (it's in my shoe rack. I need a new pair of boots.).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Different...

I love it when someone finds a fun, quirky twist on the ordinary. Etsy seller mandinka has done exactly that with these fabulous bags made from men's suit coats.

I love this concept. Not only are the bags a gorgeous mix of color and texture, but incorporating the labels and buttons is, I think, a stroke of genius. It's like a little wink - an acknowledgment of the original purpose of the fabric, and of the style elements that went into the suits, and a really creative way to see something ordinary in a completely new light. Just fun.

I'm putting one of these on my Christmas wish list. Which is getting longer by the moment. Sadly, my list of gifts already purchased for others does not compare in length, probably indicating that I'm greedy and selfish, but really, it's all in the realm of the theoretical. It's not as if I'm spending money that should go to gifts for others on myself; I'm just spending time and thought on myself instead of shopping for everyone else. And I'll get to that in due time, I promise.

And, in that spirit, a little shout out to my mailing list subscribers: look for an announcement today that can give you the best of both worlds - some savings on gifts for other people and a little extra for yourself! If you want to get in on the secret, email me and I'll add you to as a subscriber...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fabulous Color

I've got more terrific upholstery bags to talk about, but I thought I'd throw in something a bit different today. Etsy seller lusitania has some gorgeous felted pieces, including this great little bag:

And it's even better when you look at the back!

There are some very cute felt beads and other goodies in this shop, too. Check it out!

I'll be listing a few new pieces of my own later today, once I have some more coffee. I'm also cooking up a few ideas for holiday sales now that we're into November. And did I mention that there's FREE SHIPPING on everything in my Etsy shop right now? Just in case you want to get control of that Christmas list early.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Good rainy morning to all! We're still adjusting to the time change here, which means that my kids are quite literally up before dawn. I continue to wonder whether they were switched at birth with my real babies in the hospital, and if some family somewhere has my kids, who've been acting sensibly and sleeping sweetly in their little beds for hours at a stretch. Imagine. Yawn.

At any rate, more fun stuff today. Was I content to leave my weekend show with only one funky handmade bag? Course not. My booth was just down the aisle from Holly Canoni of Pookabokit and her gorgeous bags, many constructed from upholstery fabrics with rich colors and delightful texture. My new treasure is a backpack, much like this one:

And it's not just the bags that are fabulous. Holly and her daughter, Beth, were warm, friendly and really funny. They made some slow times at the show a little more interesting (and believe me, after spending 10 straight hours in a cavernous exhibit hall with concrete floors and nonstop canned Christmas music, I needed that). Drop them a line or look for them at their next show - I promise you won't be disappointed. The website doesn't begin to do justice to some of the beautiful pieces Holly has constructed.

And now I'm going to sit and stare at the walls for a little while longer until I really wake up.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The first step is admitting that you have a problem...

Well, I'm back from the huge weekend craft festival. Interesting experience for me, in many ways. I learned a great deal about what NOT to do with a booth set-up, and how important it is to research shows to determine whether your work is a good fit, and how important good comfortable shoes, no matter how ugly, really are. I do hope that my feet will forgive me some day soon.

I also indulged myself a bit, after all those hours of standing, and, well - I bought a bag. And then I bought another one. And I'm considering more. There were a few vendors there with really interesting bags, and anyone who knows me knows that I have some, er - issues - when it comes to overbuying bags.

So let's just go with the addiction and make fabulous bags this week's blog theme. One of my purchases over the weekend was a Carogi bag. I'm telling you, some of the fabrics I saw were unbelievable. These bags are made from high-end upholstery fabrics in some really funky designs with lots of great color.

They're not all my style, but still - the workmanship is lovely, and the designs are sure to attract some attention.

Stay tuned tomorrow to see my second indulgence. And in the mean time, please check out my Etsy shop - I'm adding quite a few new designs this week, like this one:

and I'm giving the whole shop a new look, trying to pull things together a bit more and integrate the design. I'd love to hear your feedback!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Candy Hangover?

How are you holding up today? I didn't raid my kids' Halloween bags as much as I feared I might - but now it's early morning and they're still in post-sugar rush sleep, and here it sit with the rest of the candy. It's LOOKING at me. It knows I'm here. Eep.

On a slightly less intimidating note, today's orange crush is a piece from one of my favorite Etsy sellers, neile. Her butterfly pendants show off some of nature's loveliest work.

Isn't that just beautiful? And rest assured that the butterflies whose wings grace these pieces have died of natural causes.

That's my Thursday morning goodie. Now to begin another day of my mad rush to prepare for this weekend's enormous show. I've had a blast and I feel incredibly productive after the past couple of weeks, and I have a nice stock of pieces ready, but my poor fingers are not pleased with me. Calluses, cuts, scary scratchy hands...I could have covered the rest of my body in black or white and just taken my hands out trick or treating as a terrifying monster costume last night. Let's hope a few days off will help them!