Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This Blog Is In Danger......

of becoming all about bags I love.

I have had my eye on this bag for such a long time! I love the color. I love that the bag is made from recycled roof tarps. I love that the bag seems to project irony and earnestness in equal measure. I love that I cannot look at this bag without thinking of New Orleans and sending a little prayer to the people of that city. I love this bag.

See more recycled NOLA goodies (or buy the bag) at Unique Products on Etsy.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I Am In Love

Can you believe this bag by Moxie and Oliver? I am drooling! The description says it is big enough to carry my sketchbooks! I think if I had this bag, I would become someone who carried sketchbooks around. Don't you think?

See more at the Etsy shop and the website.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Profile: Lemon Cadet

Many of my cousins and friends have been having babies lately, so I have purchased gifts from several sellers who make things for babies and children. All of those purchases exceeded my expectations, so it was difficult to choose my favorite shop in the “baby clothes” category. In the end, I chose Lemon Cadet because her designs are completely original and unlike anything you might find at a chain store. Also, she received some extra points for her Yeti Panties, which are some of the most laugh-out-loud-funny products for sale on Etsy. The onesies are very soft and the little creatures, beans and snow monsters are well made of beautiful fabrics. Even if you are not in need of baby clothes (or sexy/cute panties – that come with their own comb!!) you should stop by Beth’s shop to read her item descriptions. Each creature has a name and a little blurb describing him or her that will make it difficult to leave her shop without a purchase. Beth (the person behind Lemon Cadet) and I are both going to be vendors at the Arts Market in Lancaster, PA this summer. I can’t wait to meet her in person.

Wine or beer?
I don’t drink very often. I’ll have a bottle of Rolling Rock every now and then but I like the idea of wine better, if that makes any sense.

When did you learn to sew? Who taught you?
I’ve been hand sewing as long as I can remember. My mom taught me. She also taught me how to use a sewing machine.

I also learned the majority of my curse words from her. She used to come up with really interesting combinations of curse words while sewing in zippers. She hated doing it and always ended up ripping them out a couple of times before she got it right. I notice these same combinations come out of my mouth when I screw something up and have to rip it out. It’s funny because I’ll never say these words at any other time – and neither does she.

I’ve taken a couple of classes in pattern design and quilting over the years. I’ve been able to teach her a couple things too (not curse words – things like to change your needle more often). My mom is the biggest critic of my work. She gives good craftsmanship advice. I get my attention to detail from her.

What inspired you to start making the little creatures?
I’m not sure. They just came to me. I knew I wanted to work with felt because it doesn’t fray. I knew I wanted to use cool prints so I made their bellies really big so I could get more of the pattern in there. Honestly, I just started sketching and cutting one day and they were born. I’m not very good at rendering, although I can draw well from real life. I work much better with a loose sketch and a sharp pair of scissors. Now that I’m using the machine to finish the appliqué, I have a lot more freedom with fabrics.

What happened to the pillows mentioned in your blog?
I have a few fronts made. And I have a pile of pillow forms taking up space in my studio!

The problem is that I don’t like the way my labels look sticking out of the pillow. I’m in the process of working on a label design that will work well folded and stitched into the seam of a pillow or flat and tacked onto the inside of a onesie or t-shirt. I have to order 1000 so I’m making sure it will be perfect.

How did you come upon the idea for the yeti panties?
Again, I have no idea. These things just come to me. I had made a bunch of yeti t-shirts and onesies and then got the crazy idea to make the panties. I ran out to a store and bought a bunch of panties retail and got to work. It was frenzied. I was cutting and sewing so fast because I was dying to see how they would turn out. I love that feeling you have when you know you’ve come up with something great. I didn’t know if anyone would like them but I knew they’d be hilarious. They’re an odd mix of crafty cute and naughty. I have a blast making them. I seriously crack up every time I finish sewing in their little teeth. Sometimes I’m able to give them lots of teeth – that’s the best.

I found a bunch of miniature combs on Etsy. Now each yeti comes with his/her own little comb.

What is your favorite part of your process?
Wow. That’s a tough question. I love coming up with new designs. I really love the process of deciding which blanks are going to work well with which fabrics. I love working with color so I spend a lot of time choosing the solid color that will be the nicest contrast to the pattern.

Of course I love doing the hand embroidery of the faces. My little guys make me smile.

If you hired an employee, what would you delegate first?
Sewing in the labels. I hate sewing in the labels. I don’t know why. I think it might come from my having sewn them in by hand when I first started. It carried over to the machine work.

Next I’d make the employee take the photos and edit them.

I can’t imagine having someone else cut out the designs or do the stitching. I have gotten help from friends though on the little things like stringing the ribbons through the hangtags and adding the safety pins. I’m always asking for advice on slogans.

Are there any other crafts you enjoy doing?
I’m addicted to paper – ephemera, college elements, found objects. I’m also addicted to fonts. I love letters. I have tons of alphabet stickers, rubber stamps, metal letters, old price tags.

I used to really enjoy making Art Trading Cards, art journals, and altered books. I’d work with words a lot. I have a degree in English and teach technical writing as my day job. It’s really hard to be able to combine my two passions – visual art and words. Bookmaking was the perfect outlet.

Since Lemon Cadet is new, I’ve had to devote most of my free time to it. I’m looking forward to working with my non-fabric elements soon. But as long as I’m able to be creative I’m healthy.

Are there any other crafts you would like to learn?
I’d like to be able to make resin jewelry. You know, where you cover images with resin and then polish it. I don’t even know what it’s called. I wouldn’t want to invest in all the supplies and stuff. I just think it would be fun to take a class or two.

What is your favorite Etsy category to browse?
I like the Time Machine 2. I know it’s not a category but I love it.
I really loved when the category page had little thumbnails of the three recently listed items in each category on it. I miss that but I think it’s for the best because I did too much impulse buying that way.

I check out the Treasury a lot too. I think I have Checking-Treasury OCD.

I don’t browse jewelry. That’s dangerous. I guess there isn’t one category that I do a lot of browsing in. I like going through my favorite seller pages and seeing what’s new.

Do you have any advice for people who are about to start doing craft

Yes. Don’t freak out. Just be prepared and do the best you can.
Make sure everything has a price. Have fun. Remember how much fun you have when you are a shopper at a craft show and make sure you keep that same energy up all day.

Before you go, make lists so you don’t forget anything. If you forget something, don’t worry about it. As long as you have change and your product, you’ll be fine. You really need change and obviously, you need your product.

I’m still new myself so I don’t feel like I can give tons of advice. But the one thing I learned from my last show is to have your stuff organized before you get there. You don’t get a lot of time to set up so you don’t want to waste it searching for stuff.

List three things you enjoy doing that are unrelated to your craft

1. Photography (taking pictures and looking at pictures). My favorite artists are photographers: Diane Arbus, Sally Mann, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Gerhard Richter.
2. Walking to the local farmer’s market every Saturday morning with my husband (I like eating vegetables.)
3. Traveling. I love visiting new places.

Check out the Lemon Cadet blog and Etsy Shop.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Oh, My Monitor Needs To Go!

So I was logged onto my step father's computer this evening, and I popped in here to see if there was anything new and "gasp" what is that peach colored background on my blog?! So, after realizing that my hand-me-down monitor (from aforementioned step-father) is 15 years old, I am guessing that the lovely tan color I was seeing on the background at home is not what most people are seeing.

So, new, neutral grey background.

And tomorrow a trip to Circuit City for a new monitor.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Profile: LoriMarsha

In my fantasy retail shop, Lori Sandstedt, aka lorimarsha on Etsy, would have her own corner for her fabulous clothing, handbags and jewelry. Lori takes vintage garments and found items and restructures them into new, fun and funky designs: vintage scarves become blouses, leather skirts become handbags and old game pieces become jewelry components. Lori’s design approach of “redefining the lives of discarded objects” is exactly what I was dreaming of 15 years ago when I first imagined my own retail shop. This goal feels all the more relevant and necessary now.

Lori started her life in the business of craft as a designer of handmade greeting cards. This work evolved into the design of clothing and accessories. In 2002 two of her pieces were nominated for Niche Awards, which celebrate excellence in American Craft. One of her handbags is featured in “Hip Handbags” published by Lark Books.

Lori’s designs feature joyful color combinations and bold shapes. Every piece seems a celebration. Her tagline says it all: Wear. Smile. Repeat.

Hiking in the mountains or lounging in the sun?

Lounging in the sun! We're going to Maui on the 19th for a week. We love it there. Tradewinds. Mai Tais. SPF30. Yes!

What is more fun: shopping for items to reinvent, or actually taking those items through the process of reinvention?

Oooooh..that's tough. I guess it depends on my mood. There are days that I only want to shop and days that I only want to sew. So I'm thankful for both activities.

When you are shopping for materials, do you already have a design in mind, or do you browse, waiting to be inspired by what you find?

I never try to find anything specific because that never seems to work out. I walk around and wait for the thrift god to shine a light on that special item just waiting to be scooped up.

Who is your favorite shopping partner?

I usually fly solo but recently met up with an Etsy friend and a flickr friend for some shopping fun. It was great to actually meet these women who I had gotten to know online. Big fun.

When did you learn to sew? Who taught you?

I took a basic class in junior high but am pretty much self-taught. Until a few years ago, I sewed primarily home decorative things like comforters, pillows, etc. Oh, and when my daughter was little, I sewed her dresses. About two years ago I started doing this deconstructing/redesigning thing.

What do you most enjoy making right now?

Last week it was collaged cashmere sweaters. At the moment, I'm focusing on handbags from recycled leather. Next week it will probably be something else. I love switching gears.

What is your favorite part of the process?

Finishing! I am very motivated toward the end product. Sometimes it's hard to get started, you know? But once I'm on it, I tend to stick with it until it's done. I've always been like this. My husband can work on a project for months and be perfectly happy. I'm not so keen on long term projects.

If you hired an employee, what would you delegate first?

It's funny but I enjoy all aspects of what I do and have a hard time delegating. When I used to do wholesale, I had a couple of employees to get me through the really busy times. At the time I was making handbags from fabrics of my own design and I contracted out the sewing of the bags. That was a whole different world than what I do now. Making one of a kind items is so much more intuitive and personal...and I have learned from experience that collaboration is not for me. terms of the
"business" of craft, I could let go of the invoicing and shipping. Oh...and inputing all of the business expense receipts into Quickbooks- I could give that up. Haha.

Aside from card-making, jewelry-making and sewing, are there other crafts we should know about?

I enjoy doing mixed media assemblages. I did a series of five pieces based on our senses, each contained in wooden sewing machine drawer. It was fun to do something that I knew I would keep for myself.

What is your favorite Etsy category to browse?

Pottery. I love good clay work. The shapes. Textures. Glazes. So very different than what I do.

Please list three things you enjoy doing that are unrelated to your craft business.

I love photography and spend way too much time on flickr. I collect Mexican folk art and hope to take a trip to Oaxaca for Dia de los Muertos next year. I am devoted to Jazzercise and also work with a personal trainer twice a week.

Check out Lori’s Etsy Shop and website.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Profile: MsBelle

I am so excited to feature Ginger Wagner as my first artist interview. Ginger possesses the nimble fingers behind the Etsy shop MsBelle. I have always been pretty proud of my wire wrapping skills, but Ginger's wire wrapping floors me. Every wrap is perfection. Her jewelry is feminine without being to froufy (did I make that word up?) The colors she uses are subtle and flattering. In addition, Ginger is one of the nicest sellers I have yet to meet and was my first real Etsy friend.

First things first: coffee or tea?

Coffee, iced or hot, as long as it's loaded with creamer!

What inspired you to start making jewelry?

My gemstone collection. I began collecting in the mid-1980s and have just a small collection. I found a way to set stones easily and began making 14K gemstone jewelry for myself, my friends and family. Then gold became more expensive than I could afford (that happens when you have a little one) and I needed a different avenue of creating jewelry.

I got a part-time job at a jewelry store that specialized in custom work on site and that fed my need for jewelry. Since they created their own pieces, I would watch as he carved the wax and soldered the gold for the pieces to be made. But in this store is where I discovered my first pair of handmade, wire wrapped gemstone briolette earrings. I was amazed at the beauty, craftsmanship, texture, composition and colors. I loved everything about it. I thought, "I want to make something like that." So I did research and found a ton of information on line regarding how to wire wrap. I've been hooked since.

What are your favorite materials?

Wire, metal, pearls and gemstone beads.

Where do you get design inspiration?

Everywhere. Inspiration abounds for me in nature. But I also find it in books, magazines, music, architecture, and believe it or not, my son! He's a great source for inspiration!

What is your favorite part of jewelry making?

The wire wrapping. It's a zen thing. I can get lost in it for hours. It's great to get going and see the piece start coming together. That's my favorite part.

If you could hire an employee, what would you delegate first?


Are there other crafts that you would like to learn?

Well, metal for one. But besides that I would like to learn to paint. It's very relaxing and fun to sit down with my son to color and draw. I know that's not much of a comparison but I imagine it must be even more fun and satisfying to paint a beautiful picture with real paint!

What is your favorite Etsy category to browse?

The metal jewelry category. I just devour it.

List three things you enjoy doing when not working on your business.

1. My son. I'm a mom first and foremost, and my son is a character! I've learned a lot from him.

2. Spending time outdoors in the mountains of North Carolina where I'm from originally. My family is still there and I try to visit as often as possible. It's where my heart is.

3. Canoeing, camping, bluegrass music and writing (I couldn't decide!)

Check out Ginger's blog and Etsy Shop.