Monday, June 30, 2008

Somebody Has A Case Of The Mondays

Yep, it's gonna be one of those days. The day hasn't even begun, but I have little hope that it will turn out better that it started. The day started with my official monthly household job, bill paying. In the age of Internet bill paying, this is a task easily completed although I downplay that fact it ensure that I am properly appreciated for the task. This morning however, it was a painful reminder of how lax we've been with spending lately. I've been a champ at not buying new supplies or extraneous etsy shopping, but every time we see a new widget for the kids we buy it without a second thought.

We went to see Wall-E this weekend, wonderful film, then we proceeded to buy all the merchandise we could find. You could bury the children in the amount of toys they now own, seriously it's like the big baby in Spirited Away. I know we spend too much and yet I we continue to do it. We try to save money on ridiculous stuff like not buying bottled water or sodas, but we don't seem to have a problem with spending an insane amount on toys. Oh well, I got the morning bills reality check and hopefully we'll stay on track now.

On an etsy note, I reached one of my three goals over the weekend. I have now exceeded 1500 hearts. I have just two more sales until I reach 300 and four more feedback need to be left before I reach 400. These are just mind boggling numbers to me, it seems like just yesterday I was excited about 100 hearts and 10 sales. I was also flabergasted at the number of treasuries my pieces appeared in over the weekend. I was in a total of 6 of them and 5 were in the main treasury. I'm still in four this morning, of course that does not undo my Monday blah, but it helps a little. It seems I might be getting a little more notice lately. Here's hoping that all these trends continue!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Ubence!

I did it for the kids, so I guess I should do it for my husband. After all it was his overwhelming desire to never hear the phrase, "Today on etsy..." ever again that inspired me to go ahead and start this little blog. Of course it hasn't worked out exactly as envisioned, I'm still online far more than he would like and I still feel the need to share the many dramas I encounter with him. I don't think I could go back now though, I've got far too much to say even if there are only a couple of people reading it.

Just a couple of pieces of news I'd like to share. I'm only a few sales away from 300, a few hearts away from 1500 and a few feedbacks away from 400, so woo-hoo. I'll be sure to throw a little virtual party when I reach these goals. I've gotten 17 participants in the Tatting Challenge and a few entries have already been posted, you can check them out in the flickr group and on etsy. It's not too late to join in as I still have a few medallions waiting patiently to be used. So now, I shall spend the day with the family and make every effort to stay off the computer. We shall go see Wall-E and enjoy his birthday.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nice People Exsist

I'm feeling a little remorseful for yesterdays post. I don't take any of it back mind you, but I think I failed to point out the good points of online social networks. While I stand by my assertion that there are too many of them and that they are generally wastes of your time, they work well for some people and more importantly, you can meet good people and form valuable friendships. I've been lucky that in my short time of internet socialization I have been the recipient of some wonderful surprises and acts of kindness from relative strangers and I'd lke to recount a few of those stories for you.

I've never been what you would call popular, familiar maybe, but never popular, so when I announced my birthday and recent pregnancy in the forums almost two years ago, I was surprised by the outpouring of well wishes from etsians. One gesture was particularly amazing. Luca of lollibomb asked if it would be okay with me if she could send me a gift. She sent me a jar of her wonderful body frosting and made my day and of course earned a lifelong customer.

Later that year ficklefaerie organized the first Etsy Baby Showers. It was an amazing display of goodwill organized entirely in the forums where sellers were randomly hooked up with expectant mothers and sent them a shower gift. I recieved five gifts from people all over the country that I've never met and since this was my second baby they were the only gifts I received. I can't possibly forget the kindness of all the people who participate in these event.

I've also met several other artisans through the forums and other sites that I eventually collaborated with to create amazing pieces that I never would have even thought of. I'm not going to list them, because I'm afraid I'll miss some and feel guilty again. These collaborations have proved invaluable to my personal artistic growth and I would have never done them had I not socialized at least a little.

Most recently, and the inspiration for this piece, is a gift I just received from Zygote of FetishGhost and RedGateCeramics. Along with another new friend Sarah from Industrialfairytale he conspired to send me a surprise present of one of his amazing ceramic cups. I did nothing to deserve this lovely gift and yet here it is. So as much as I dislike networking for the sole purpose of self promotion, I am so glad to have met these wonderful people and I would not trade these experiences for anything. I hope that karma rewards these kind acts and people with much joy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I'm Just Not That Social

I've been online for a long time, not as long as some, but still a long time. I remember when AOL was the place to be, I ventured into my first chat room. It didn't take me long to realize that this world was not for me. The chaos of dozens of people trying to talk over each other just made my head hurt. So I used the Internet for other things, knowledge and entertainment and I was happy.

Cut to more than a decade later and I run across Etsy and soon after the forums. I liked the structure and more importantly I had something fundamental in common with the users. I was quickly addicted to this newly discovered social club. Then it started, the many suggestions for networking and advertising. I started with a MySpace page and it was fun for a while, then there was Indiepublic, then Street Team forums, Flickr and the sites just kept coming. In the last week alone I've received half a dozen invitations to join various social networking sites.

Enough already! If I wanted to be this social I would actually leave my house. What's worse is most of these sites are set up just for you to pimp your wares and that gets old real fast. I mean, would you go out to dinner and then visit every table in the restaurant doing product demonstrations and handing out business cards? If you said yes to that question, I think you may have a problem. I know that exposure is the key to getting your name well known and that's the basis for most advertising, but this is getting seriously ridiculous.

I'm very picky about who I hang out with and who I call friends in real life, so why wouldn't I carry that over into the online world. Why should I join dozens of sites and spend my precious time talking to random people just to make a sale when I could spend that time with, Oh, I don't kids. I've found some wonderful people on etsy and in a few other choice places and I think that I would actually spend time with them if they lived near me and I've learned things from people I never would have met otherwise. All social networking isn't a bad thing, but I think we are encouraging each other to do far too much of it for all the wrong reasons.

I think that I have reached my limit for online socializing for now. Maybe in the future I'll find a group or two that fulfill a special need or niche, but until then I'm done. So, if you wouldn't mind, no more "you should join us here" or "this is a great place to...", I'm just not that social.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Yeah, that's right, I said huzzah. It's over now, let's move on. You might have noticed that there is a new link at the top of the 'Where I'm featured now' list. I was fortunate to do an interview for a lovely fellow who writes a Steam Punk blog. He's a wonderful writer and the the pieces are a great mix of topics. Okay that's the end of the plug. The reason I mention this is, he asked about my Lady Loves Absinthe necklace. It's the one I created for the Spring Beading Challenge. Unlike most of my pieces, it was anything but simple. It's over the top and extremely dramatic. I assumed it would sit in my store forever as an art piece that everyone likes to look at, but would never even imagine wearing it. I think you probably know where I'm going with this, but just in case, you haven't already figured it out, I sold it!

While I'm extraordinarily happy about the sale, it's a bittersweet moment. Each time I sell a one of a kind piece, it's kind of like saying goodbye to a child. Okay, that's a bad metaphor, but you get what I'm saying. A lot of my pieces can be recreated with little effort and I have no problem sending them on their way, but there will never be another Lady Loves Absinthe. I don't think I could make this piece again, even if I tried. The sale has also given me a kick in the butt to create another 'art' piece. I've gotten used to having at least one around, so I'll be mulling over ideas for the next few days. Please feel free to share any ideas you have as I create best when challenged outside my comfort zone.

Monday, June 23, 2008

There's A Storm Brewing

I had an odd weekend. Things have been going fairly well for me, lots of small successes and opportunities, yet I am filled with a uneven sensation. You know that feeling you get when things are going right, but you don't want to get excited for fear that doom is just around the bend. You're just waiting for the other shoe to fall. Yeah, that's where I am right now. I've been burned so many times, I start thinking things are going to work out and then they fall apart. Mark my words, there is a storm coming and I know not what dread it brings, but I'm certain it's coming.

I've managed to make fairly steady sales, create a few new designs that I really like, get a few unexpected compliments and some nice invitations to events I can't attend, but still. I'm fairly certain that all of this must be a fluke, but I'll try and ride the wave to see where it take me this time. All this has gotten me thinking about success and not the existential version full of true happiness, no I mean material success. We all dream of that "one day" success, the kind that is so far in the future that we aren't really applying logic to it. We imagine selling tons of our wares to the rich and famous, making millions or simply paying our bills. This far off imagining always leaves out the logistics of the process. Could you actually make that many pieces? Could you keep up with a constant demand? Could your craft be bought out and mass produced?

When I'm on a good roll, like I seem to be right now, I start thinking about the coveted featured seller position on the front page of etsy. If I manged to finally catch the attention of the admin and were given that spot for three days, would I be able to keep up with the potential demand that seems to go along with it? Well, it's terribly unlikely that I would ever be chosen, but I'd certainly love to find out. I'm afraid that I would just drown under the weight of it. Of course I wouldn't mind having that kind of problem, but I wonder how many people coveting that spot are in the same boat as me. How many of us are dreaming beyond our capabilities? I know that all this sounds mighty self defeatist, but I'm a realist and these are the things I think about when things start to go well. Sometimes it's easier to be in a slump, it's always a bit comfier at the bottom.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Weekend

I know I usually don't write on Saturday, but I thought I'd at least leave a little eye candy for you since I am lucky enough to be featured in two treasuries right now.

I'm also really happy with my two most recent creations so I thought I'd give you those pictures to look at as well. The one on the left is the Grand Circus Daisy. It was inspired by a Storque article on Circus couture which is described as one of the many sub-genres of Steam Punk. The one on the right is Gears of Grace. It was named by one of my steam team friends Elegant and is the first successful merging of gears and tatting. I promised I wouldn't jump on the gear bandwagon unless it looked like it belonged in the design and I think this was spot on. The design actually came about while I was trying to create a rectangular motif for another steam team member Zkitten. So, see Z, I haven't forgotten, I'm just easily distracted.
See you all on Monday when I'm certain to have something new and witty to say, if not, I promise I'll fake it. border=

Friday, June 20, 2008

Again, I'm Surrounded By Kindergarteners

I majored in Theater in College, but I really enjoyed my philosophy classes. Aside from the sleep lost to fearing the void and years of logically driven existential angst, I learned not only how to spot a weak argument, but also how to win that argument with relative ease. Why do I bring this up? Well, the most recent school yard fight at etsy of course. Granted this one was mild compared to others I've witnessed, but it still managed to catch my attention and make me shake my head in shame.

One seller thought, "Hey I've got too many supplies, perhaps I should use these before I go out and buy more." Then I imagine they thought, "I can't be the only one with this affliction, I should ask people to join me in a temporary pact so we can support each other in our decision." Sounds like a valid idea to me. Save a little money on supplies you really don't need right now and challenge yourself to create things out of stuff you already have sitting around. Then ask people to join you to create a sort of support group. Who could have a problem with that?

Another person sees this pact posted in the forums and thinks, "That is so not cool, now everyone is going to listen to her and stop buying supplies and my business will be hurt." Then they proceed to not only express their opinions, but bash the seller for a perceived evil intent. Some go so far as to compare this to calling for everyone to stop buying jewelry on etsy and they call it the 'same thing'. The opinion, while no less valid than the first persons idea, is built on a knee jerk emotional response not logic and the comparison is an irrational slippery slope argument.

Let's break down why the second person should calm down a bit. The argument makes assumptions not based in fact, first that "everyone" listens to the seller and does what she proposes. There are I believe a million accounts on etsy and I can say beyond any doubt that a great many of them have never visited the forum and of those that have only a small percentage of them listen to anyone in the forums aside from their small circle of friends. Next, that everyone who reads the proposal will participate. Come on, even though I haven't done the proper legwork to prove it I'm sure the amount of people who follow through on pacts is far from one hundred percent. Lastly, the argument assumes that this is what will hurt business. I think I've already established that there are probably very few people participating in the pact, it was never intended as a permanent ban and even though every single artisan needs supplies, they don't all buy those supplies on etsy anyway. I know I don't buy a lot of supplies there. Not a lot of thread options around.

The comparison that was suggested is the funniest of all to me. Anytime someone makes a leap like that all I hear is a whining voice yelling, "Yeah, Well, how would you like it if...". It's a juvenile response fueled by anger. While the feelings behind the outburst are valid, it really is best to take a deep breath and think before responding. Relax, this is not the end of the world. In the end you will just look foolish if you let your emotions do the typing for you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Oh, Lookey Loos!

It seems that the great Etsy View crisis of '08 may be coming to a close. Oh how I will miss the countless threads crying about lost views and the administrators inability to fix this problem. I was lucky enough to only lose my views once or twice, but honestly it wouldn't have mattered at all to me. I know many people see item views as an important business tool and they can be useful for creating some statistics, but views have little to do with sales.

Hear me out, I worked in retail for a time and I was able to learn quite a few things about shoppers, their habits and did my fair share of gathering sales data. You know what, no physical business keeps track of what their customers look at and most don't keep track of how many people walk through the door. They keep track of sales, that's all. They use the details of those sales to determine what else will sell. Views don't matter, sales do.

There are as many different kinds of shoppers as there are different kinds of people but there are three min groups I'd like to bring up in an effort to defend my opinion on views. First, The Determined Shopper, they get in, get what they were looking for and they get out. The Determined Shopper rarely gets distracted by anything but their goal purchase. Second, The Lookey Loo, they generally have no intent to purchase anything and spend hours looking at everything. They are the customer that tries on 12 outfits, listens to all the new CD's and asks questions until the salespeople begin to wish them harm, then they leave empty handed. The last group is the Casual Shopper, these are the money shoppers. They go in wanting to buy something, but they don't really care what. They may have an idea, but they are easily influenced by displays and salespeople. They may look at a lot of things, but they generally buy a lot as well.

So here's the problem with using views as a real gauge of saleability, there are far more Lookey Loos than any other group of shoppers. They are the ones giving you all your views. They are influenced by each other too. The Lookey Loo wants to know why everyone else looked at something so they look too, but they're probably not buying.

Here's a more specific example. Yesterday I saw a thread about most viewed items. One person shared an item viewed something like 1800 times that had been on the front page multiple times, wasn't priced too high and yet no sale. Wanna know why? The picture was amazing, beautifully composed, great color, but when you clicked through to the other pictures it became apparent that the item was just average. Not bad, but the picture was so much better. You get views when the first picture is great, but you get sales when the item is just as great.

Yes, you can use view data to determine what catches people eyes, but your sales data shows what captures peoples money. Or better yet, you could ignore the views altogether and make what you love and what sells for you. That's what I do.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What Was I Gonna Say?

I'm having one of those writers block kind of days today. I had a few different ideas and then they literally fell out of my head. So, let me just say thanks for all the hat input. I listed the Grand Daisy Tatted Hat yesterday with no further modification. After all the feedback, I'm certain to come up with a couple more designs with some neat ideas I got from you. Of course, it will be a while, after one of these big design project I feel a bit burnt out on yarn.

On another note, a side effect of my Tatting Challenge is beginning to kick in. I had hoped that inspiring others to create with my tatting, would in turn inspire me to move in some new directions. I think that it's working. After hanging out with my new steam punk friends, I've come up with a new design or two that will be unveiled as soon I finish them. I guess that my general lack of sales has at least given me the time to work on new things so it's not all bad. Well, I'm started to ramble and that's not good, so I'll return tomorrow with a real post...I hope.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Do You Understand The Words I Am Writing?

Yesterday, someone exposed me to the "Blog Readability Test". The test uses a mathematical algorithm to determine the reading level needed to comprehend the document or in this case blog. Since math can't actually tell whether the writing is actually good or not, this is suppose to be used only to predict if the document is suitable for it's intended audience. In a thread discussing this test and it's results it was suggested that one should aim for a junior high or high school reading level so as not to alienate too many readers. Though I've done no research to support this, the claim was that the average adult reads at that level. So the logic follows , if I want to reach the most people I should write at that level. To that, I say phooey!

I have a confession, I can be a bit of a snob, an elitist if you will. Although I haven't had much time as of late to read anything but children's books, I enjoy a good challenging read. There is no point, in my opinion, to reading something that does not challenge you in some way, be it intellectually, creatively or emotionally. When I decided to write a blog, I had no illusions of fame or popularity. I knew that I had to write something that I would enjoy reading or I would get bored quickly and this would just be another abandoned project. I assumed by doing this, I would attract an audience that I would actually want to talk to. So far, I have been right in that assumption. I have no interest in expanding my demographic using this method, though I do not fault people for using it for other purposes. Your local newspaper for instance should be readable by everyone, but I don't have a need to attract everyone.

You'll notice that I haven't posted the level I received from the test. You can check if you want to, but I was actually a little disappointed that it wasn't a bit higher. To that end, I plan on busting out the thesaurus and using some real twenty dollar words from now on. So, I apologize in advance if you can no longer comprehend my verbiage, if you can't, you are apparently no longer in my target demographic and you will have to go elsewhere for wisdom and wit.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cautionary Tale

I've got a few things to share today. First a piece of wisdom. I am so guilty of jumping on ideas for promotional opportunities. Often, I fail to do any kind of research under the false assumption that people know what they're talking about and wouldn't steer me wrong. Guess what, they don't always know what's right for me. Take Trunkt for example. People are always going on and on about getting into the site and they're jumping through all kinds of hoops to get accepted. I tried twice and was turned down twice before I actually read into their site enough to realize that the site was designed to help one wholesale and license art works. Well, I have no interest in either of those things, so why on earth was I bothering.

Now, here's the reason I bring this up. I just recently started using the Flickr, based of course on other people's advice. I didn't look though all the settings, I just started uploading photos. Then, my pictures were stolen and I figured I'd just stop uploading pictures all together. If I had just done a little exploring I would have discovered a simple way to help protect my images, instead I had to wait to be told by one of my steam team friends.

So, I shall tell you what I learned, just in case, like me, you failed to explore. Go to your account and select "privacy and permissions", then read the page. You'll want to make sure your photos are set to "all right reserved" and you can set your photos to be downloaded, shared, or blogged only by your contacts, friends and family or just you. I highly suggest you do this. I know what the technologically savvy among you are thinking, if people want to steal your photos, this is not going to stop them. I think that most theft is a crime of opportunity. I have an example, if you leave your door unlocked, of course someone is going to walk right in and steal the t.v., but if the door is locked, the same thief will probably just try the next door, rather than go to the trouble of breaking in. Most thieves are not targeting you specifically but looking for easy marks, at least that's my limited experience.

So take my advice and don't just take my advice, or anyone else's. Don't blindly jump on every opportunity or social networking site. Do your own research...I know it's work, but I think that it just might be worth it.

On a totally different subject, I need your advice. I think I may have finished my newest tatted hat, but I'm not certain. Is it missing something, should I add a trim? Does it look finished to you? I'm taking all opinions on the tatted hat. Don't forget to check out today's sale and look at my etsy mini for a preview of what will be on sale tomorrow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sale Preview

Just a quick post about my new Featured Sale. Starting Monday, 3 new items will be on sale everyday. If you take look at my etsy mini in the left column, the first three items are on sale and the next three will be on sale the next day. So you can currently see tomorrow's sale items: The Copper Set, Grand Elizabethan daisy and the Chocolate square. They will switch out as soon as I get to the computer in the morning. This sale event will last as long as I feel like doing it and not a minute longer!

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Goals

When I achieved 1000 hearts and 250 sales on etsy, I threw a little party for myself. I sat back, had a soda and relaxed for a minute. I realized that it would be a really long time before I would reach another big milestone, after all it took 2 years to get to both those goals. To my great delight, I'm inching toward 1500 hearts and 300 sales as we speak. It may take a while, but they are both close enough to look forward to. For some reason having something to work toward keeps me motivated even if it's really an arbitrary number.

I've also managed to get my dozen participants in my tatting challenge, so yay me! I still have about 10 medallions already made up if anyone else is interested...nudge, nudge, you can pick them up here. All the details are in each listing and also here on the blog.

Starting next week, I'll be offering my featured items on sale everyday. I'll change them out daily so if you see something you really want in the featured spot, you're gonna want to snag it fast. This deal will last as long as I feel like doing it, but probably until I reach that 300th sale. As an added bonus to blog readers, I will be previewing which items will be on sale here, the day before I add them to the sale. I've no idea if anyone will bite, but it can't hurt, right.

Thanks also to everyone who not only sympathized with my theft issue but also offered help and advise. I can't tell you how much it means to me that so many people care. I'll keep you all updated on the story if anything changes.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another Tatted Hat

I've got a preview of my newest creation in progress. The tatted hat part two, if you will. Unlike my first one, this hat is not based on any pattern. I'm just making it up as I go along. I started with a Grand Daisy medallion, one of my favorite designs and I'm just increasing slowly around. As soon as I get the circumference right, I'll add a band of grand daisy medallions. Although I'm not certain at this point how that will work out for me. My first hat made it to the front page of etsy and has almost 900 views now, lots of hearts and no bites, but I'm not really surprised. Using the size 10 thread, it took forever to work up so I'm charging a lot. The yarn is working up much faster, so I think this one should be less expensive. I'm using a lovely brick colorway that I got from fearlessfibers and used for one of my mother's day scarfs. If it comes out okay I'll list it the same way I did my scarfs so you can have it made with any yarn you like.

On another note, the thief I previously mentioned is at it again. This time the photo stolen was of one of the lovely brooches that slvrlily made with my tatting and her description was just copied and pasted. That description included my store name, so I'm particularly annoyed now. It is beyond me how someone can think this is okay to do. I'm taking suggestions for revenge plots if you've got any. My strongly worded emails are just being ignored for some reason.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Best Of

I'm still not certain that I really have enough material for a clip show, but I'm doing it anyway. Way back in...March, I started a blog. I assumed that few if any would actually read my musings My first week I had 157 visitors that viewed my very first tatted hat and I was amazed that so many people had popped by to visit. Side note, I'm working on my second tatted hat design as we speak.

My second week I tried my hand at an opinion post with A Craftsman, an Artisan and an Artist walk into a bar... but I wasn't anymore popular. It's a pity, because I think that was a really good post. The next week I hit my first nerve with Who Do You Want To Be Today?. I got over 400 hits that week and had tons of comments. It was all about the stress that can come with making your hobby into a business when that isn't what you really wanted or isn't what you're actually good at.

Are You A Spy? is one of my absolute favorite posts thus far. I think that is was fun for people to not only admit that they are snooping on their competition, but to realize that they aren't alone. I thought it was important to see how this practice can actually be a good thing for your business. Then I got all honest and blunt on you all. I posted another opinion inspired by the whining of new sellers at etsy. Why Am I Not Famous Yet?, is the answer to why you're probably not selling. Many good folks have tried to lay this down for the newbies and I think my post ranks up their with some of the best. After that post I felt comfortable adding my two cents to the pricing debate with You Want How Much For That? and it was well received as well.

By this point I figured I'd built up a pretty good size audience, as least for a tiny etsy/tatting blog, but I had seen nothing yet. On May 7th I dropped an opinion bomb. Seriously. I knew what I was saying was gonna hit a nerve and I was pretty proud of that at the time. So I dropped the link at etsy and, as they say, the hits kept coming. Use Your Grown Up Please, was a plea for people to use a modicum of common courtesy online. It was in response to the juvenile behavior in the forums of etsy and it garnered me over 1600 visitors, tons of comments and two days of arguments both here and at etsy. I have only had one post since then that got much attention. I used my malaise at not selling much myself to make an argument for sticking it out in the slow season. I called it, Should I Quit, and the statement hit home with some people and confused a few people into thinking I would actually quit, which I of course I don't plan on doing.

Since then my views have fallen dramatically and I'm certain it's because I'm not babysitting a thread at etsy everyday that directs people here. I'm okay with where I am now though. I've had over 4000 different people read my words and that alone amazes me. I could have never dreamed of reaching that kind of audience before the internet and I feel that if I continue writing what's on my mind, someone will keep reading. I like to think that I've helped a few people during my first few months of blogging and I thank everyone who comes back to read more of my ramblings. This is only the beginning.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Happy Tuesday Everybody

I was reading a list yesterday of 101 things to blog about. It had a plethora of fairly generic ideas to spur you onto blogging success including, write a post about your popular posts. So, in essence it was a suggestion for a clip show. I wonder if 65 posts is enough to pull from to make a clip show post. Well, lets see, I already made a list of my most popular posts and I imagine there are plenty of people who haven't read them because they just found my blog. Seems like it might work. Alright, tomorrow morning be ready for the TotusMel clip show.

Today, I'll just share that I've gotten 11 participants for my tatting challenge and the deadline isn't until July 31st so there is plenty of time to join in if you haven't. Part of the inspiration for the challenge was a collaboration I recently did with slvrlily from steamteam. She has finished a couple of brooches using two different medallions and I offer them up as inspiration for anyone who needs some. They are both gorgeous, but the black one is my favorite. Lucky for you I'm not judging this one!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Why, Thank You

Recently I have been the recipient of many kind words and statements of awe regarding my tatting. I was reading some nice feedback yesterday and I remarked to my husband how it always surprises me when people praise my work, it is just what I do. That started me thinking though, we often assume that something that is easy for us to do is easy for anyone to do. Sure, I can tat, it's easy for me, you could learn it too and perhaps be much better than me at it, or not. There are so many things I have tried and had little or no success at over the years. So I thought I would list some of the skills and people I've met you have them that impress the heck out of me.

First, metal work, it amazes me. I tried my hand a soldering and it was, well, unpleasant. I wish I had the skills of Gemmafactrix, TimothyAdamDesigns, or DowntothewireDesigns. All of these artists have amazing talent in an area I fear I will never get. Let's see, I crochet and I'm pretty good at it too, but BeaG has a knack for crochet that can't be beat. Everything she makes is perfect, even and colorful. When I first bought a lip balm holder from her, I thought I could make that. Guess what, I was wrong.

Next up will be art. I too draw and one day I might even let you see some of it, but I won't even pretend that I have the talent of some of my favorite artists on etsy. Jennifer from Stilettoheights makes the most amazing pieces. She not only has an amazing eye for design and color, but she's a pretty good comic book writer too. I've also recently been acquainted with Diana of Paynesgrey. What an amazing imagination, I just love her work and I could never create anything like it.

I can't weave like Scarfguy, I can't even imagine how to make a hat like BoringSidney. I can sew, but nothing like Deconstructress. Then there are artists that do so many things well, fetishghost has ceramics and silver smithing, tiinateaspoon has photography and amazing sculptural clothing. Ahna has hand shaped cabochons, stained glass, jewelry, makeup, candles and scents.

I have tried a lot of these crafts and though I have occasionally been successful, these people do these things better and I didn't even scratch the surface of the skills I am in awe of. So I guess the point of this entire post is, if you think I'm good at tatting, remember you might be good at something I can't do and never take your talent for granted. I am truly amazed that people are amazed by my pieces, but if I take a step back and look at them with fresh eyes, I can sometimes remember what tatting looked like to me before I learned to do it. I think everyone needs to think back to those before days occasionally to appreciate the skills you have now and how far you really have come. So anyway, thanks for the nice things you said about me!

Friday, June 6, 2008

When I Was Cool

I was looking through old pictures yesterday with my daughter and ran across something that made me giggle a bit. You see, before I took on the job of Momma, I had a paying gig. I worked in retail like a lot of kids out of college and I even had one of the three most coveted "cool" jobs: coffee shop, book store and mine, the music store. Unlike most kids though, I stayed there for seven long years before we were run out of business by big box retailers, but that's a story for another day.

One of my management duties was P.O.P merchandising. This is a real fancy was of saying that I made displays using point of purchase materials, a.k.a. posters. It was one of my favorite tasks, just me a stack of posters and flats, a staple gun and a huge wood base. The purpose of this task was to create and photograph a display so we could prove the the record companies that we were advertising for them and they in return would continue to send us more posters and promo Cd's. I was actually quite good at this otherwise useless skill.

Now I'm wondering how I can parlay this recovered knowledge into a technique for my etsy store. I learned that people love images that pop, basic colors surrounding a central image or repeating patterns that emphasize a theme. I guess I've got the theme down with the repeating frame around each of my photos, but I think I'm still lacking the pop. Maybe my mannequin head has got to go, but I still lack a proper model or photography skills for that matter. I guess I shall put away this lesson until another day. It was sure a nice blast to the past though.

Challenge Update: We now have 7 participants! There are plenty of medallions left, so please join us and make something amazing with tatting.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

What If Machines Had Hands

Handmade versus manufactured, it's John Henry versus the steam hammer. One has a soul and the other is cost efficient and creates a reliable quality level with a reputation, brand familiarity and accountability. Are you starting to see why people may be a bit wary of the goods you create in your craft room with no quality control? Clearly I support the handmade community, I am of course part of it, but I also love the reliability of many companies goods. I like to know that quality is consistent with every bottle of shampoo or pair of jeans I buy. I am also not rich by any stretch of the imagination so I need a good deal.

I think a lot of us struggle with this dynamic. We want to buy handmade, but we can't often justify the cost of doing so. There is also very few guarantees with handmade, for every piece or product that has high quality craftsmanship, there are dozens of others that appear to have been created by a five year old. For example, wire wrapping at it's finest is gorgeous metal swirls draped around beautiful stones in a fluid and clearly artistic way and it's most basic, it's glass beads coiled with wire in no discernible pattern to form a colorful if not comfortable ring. I apologize to wire ring lovers, but I just don't get them.

Now, I get handmade and even I have a problem buying it for many products, so you've got to imagine that the general public has got to work through some prejudices before jumping on board. I think most people don't mind buying handmade as long as they are getting fine craftsmanship and they don't mind buying manufactured if they feel the company has fair business practices. I guess what it really comes down to, is everyone is different. We all let many different factors determine our buying habits. Some people love owning one of a kind pieces and won't let price get in the way of that. While others just what what everyone else has and still others won't spend a dime more on anything regardless of quality.

You can't change everyone's mind about handmade. We can, however, expose people to the option and by making quality goods, we can win over those people who are on the fence. Maybe I will buy some handmade shampoo soon, know of any good ones?

Challenge Update: We have five participants on board so far, they are listed in this forum thread:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

And So It Begins

I present for your approval and participation, Tatting Is Not A Lost Art: The Challenge

First, a little background.Tatting is the art of making a very durable form of lace with knotted stitches using either a shuttle or needle. While there is a very vibrant tatting community, it is often regarded as a lost art by the general population that has had little exposure to this unique and timeless craft.

By creating a your own piece with a tatted medallion, you can not only help expose tatting to a wider audience, but also win yourself some of my tatted pieces. First place will be a $40 credit at, second place will be a $20 credit and third place will be your choice of my tatted pendants.

Each person may purchase one or more of the tatted medallions to participate in the challenge. You may create absolutely anything with the medallions. The medallion should have a prominent place in the design and may be dyed or embellished. In order to accommodate artists of all kinds, I am offering both a small medallion, 2 inches, in black and ecru and a larger size, 4 inches, in ecru only. Your choice of medallion does not affect your chance to win. I will continue to offer medallions as long as there is demand for them, so if you don't see the one you wanted, let me know and I will make more. The medallions are available now.

The entries must be listed at etsy using the tag, "tattingchallenge"and/or uploaded to our flickr group by July 31st to be eligible to win. They will be judged on creativity, design, use of the medallion and general coolness. There will be three prize levels all redeemable at my etsy store.

The contest details and entries will be published here on my blog with proper credit and links to the creators. Please contact me with any questions you may have.

Flickr group:
My store:
Forum Thread at Etsy:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In A Slump

I'm tired, really tired. I just past my 60th blog post and I'm starting to feel like I might soon run out of wise and witty things to say. I find myself racking my brain when I wake in the morning, searching for a good topic that will hook readers. I guess I still haven't found the niche that will make this blogging thing effortless. I still spend way too much time plugging the blog and I think it's really taking time away from things I should be doing, like making things to sell, but I use this as a distraction from the artisans equivalent of writers block. Is there a word for that?

The problem I'm having right now, is that I'm simply not selling all that much. I've been going a week or so between sales and there's not much motivation to create new pieces when there are almost 80 just gathering dust. I'm hoping that this tatting challenge will jump start my creative movement and inspire me to move forward with some new designs. I've had a lot of offers to collaborate with other artisans lately, but I still find myself listless.

Oh, what to do...what to do. Well, I'll be finishing up the "rules" for the challenge today and I will definitely be listing the medallions I've already finished tomorrow morning. I got myself one judge yesterday, Jane Eborall. She's a wonderful person and quite the talented and experienced tatter. I was recently lucky to make her acquaintance and she has agreed to help out. I hope to hook a jewelry artisan as a second judge soon. I have also set up a flickr group for the challenge, my first one, so I hope I did it right. Now, I'm getting all antsy for this party to get started!

I'll list the links to the medallions tomorrow morning just as soon as I get them up. I hope everyone has fun with this!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Stop Thief!

Over the weekend I received a message from one of the tatting elite, the Tatting Goddess. Isn't it funny how every community no matter how small has their own famous names that no one outside the community has ever heard of, but I digress. She informed me that she had seen one of my pieces on a questionable site. Now, I've found my photos being used without my permission before, but so far it's always been in a good way. The pictures linking to my store and credited to me, usually they are accompanied by some kind words as well. This was not the nice kind, it was the kind where someone was actually using my image as a set of pictures to convince people to purchase a disc of tatting patterns from them.

What makes this even sillier, is that the patterns on the disc appear to all be vintage patterns that are all in the public domain. In other words, they are all free patterns available all over the internet. I've seen a lot of people complain of these kinds of image thefts, but I had been fortunate enough to not have experienced this until now. I feel annoyed and I keep trying to decide whether this person thought my design was amazing enough to sell her product or that I wouldn't be a threat if I caught her. I guess it really doesn't matter what they thought, I sent a strongly worded email that I'm fairly certain will be ignored and that's about all I can do. I wish for a moment that I knew a really good hacker to take down the site, but that's probably a little extreme, huh?

The Challenge

Switching Gears now, I think I have gotten enough interest to go forward with my tatting challenge. In the next couple of days, I will be working out the details, tatting up medallions and attempting to con a few folk into being judges (if you're interested, just let me know).
Participates will get to choose from 2 sizes in 2 colors. The small ones are about 2 inches across available in ecru and black and the large ones are 4 inches across and I'm only making those in ecru. I will be charging $5 for each of the small ones and $8 for the large ones and domestic and Canadian shipping will be free. Each person may buy as many of the medallions as they want for the challenge and they may be dyed if desired. The finished pieces will be due by July 31st and will be judged on the usual traits, creativity, function, quality of construction and generally how cool they are. I will be offering up three places worth of prizes. First place will your choice of pieces from my etsy store up to $40 or a credit up to that amount. Second place will be up to $20 and third place will be your choice of one of my pendants .

I'm hoping to have the medallions available for purchase on Wednesday, but no later that Friday. These rules are a work in progress and the medallion listings will hopefully contain the final version. Please let me know via email of etsy convo if you'd like to be on the notification list for the challenge.