Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Countess Was Victorious

So, I had intended on making this piece's debut here today, but I got antsy and listed the necklace at etsy yesterday. I would still love to share with you the evolution of it though. It all started when I saw this booklet on sale at etsy. The seller, ButtonEmpire, posted a few pics from the booklet and when I saw this collar I audibly shrieked. It was perfect and I couldn't wait to make it. Of course I had to wait...a whole week for the book to arrive from Canada complete with another little booklet of doily patterns for another day.

The first step was following the pattern as written and making a prototype piece so I could see what needed to be changed. I actually needed to make a couple of changes along the way as the pattern has the whole top edge of the collar tatted together and that clearly wasn't going to work. The whole piece needed to be pressed as well before success was clear. Then I lay out the piece and work out any changes that are needed, in this case I added a small ring on the top center as well as changed some stitch and picot counts so it would lay better. You might have noticed that the fill-in motif is exactly the same as the one in my Portrait necklaces. That made construction a snap for me, though the clover clusters take a bit more time to tat up.

The final step was working out where to embellish the piece and load on the beads. I decided that I wanted this piece to be very familiar so I went with the same basic beads as the Portrait necklace though I did add some seed beads this time. Next was the name, this took me forever. I wanted to make sure that the name was based on the original patterns name, Victory, but I also wanted it to fit in with the Portrait name as well. I settled on The Countess Was Victorious and took some quick photos. I hope that you like it!
This is certainly not my last piece from this booklet and I'll be sure to share them as they evolve from their original forms into Neo-Victorian tatted goodness.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What A Lovely Lampshade!

You might remember Lamplighter from my tatting challenge. She took home second place for this amazing lampshade. With her winnings she commissioned me to make two large heart motifs for a future project. I was quite pleased with the motifs and wrote about them myself. They were my first large non-jewelry design project and I hoped that they would be exactly what she needed to create something new and amazing.

Guess what, they were and here is that incredible lampshade. What is even more incredible is the amount of sheer skill it takes to create these Victorian beauties. I can't even imagine the hours of hand stitching these must demand.

I will be making a couple more of these hearts for her in the near future as I knock out a few more projects I have in the pipeline. I will be certain to share those lovelies when they are made as well.

I'd also like to point out that this is one of the single best things that etsy has done for me. It has given me the opportunity to not only meet amazing artists all over the world, but has given me the chance to work with them as well. While not all of my collaborations have worked out for the best the vast majority have and it seem that every month or so a new opportunity arrives. I am truly grateful for each one of these projects and so glad to have met each one of these artists.

I also have a new project in the works that I'll wait until tomorrow to share with you.

Friday, September 26, 2008


It's been a while since I've made a treasury, but I've been luck enough to be featured in a few. I thought I'd take a moment to show off a couple and say thanks to those wonderful curators that have featured my work recently.

First we have a lovely mix of SteamTeam and the Freethinkers team from ClockworkCrow she called Venus Adorned. It's always nice to be featured, but it's nicer to be featured amongst other amazing pieces!

The second one is a whimsical little collection of fairies, mask and other fantastic pieces called Whimsy. This one by RoseWorksJewelry. While I know ClockworkCrow from steamteam, this one is made by someone I don't know and that make the include special for me. Another plus is that both of these treasuries include my tatted masks. I never in a million years thought that the crazy idea of making tatted masks would create one of my favorite and currently most popular pieces.

So thanks for the treasuries and keep them coming. I swear I'll get my timing mojo back soon and make a few myself, but for now I'll leave you with these.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Here Comes The Bride

I was not what you would call a traditional bride. My bridesmaids and my flower girls wore black and I wore a silver gown that my mother made for me. The wedding was small and there was no dancing at all. Ironically I was a dancer for years, but our taste in music does not lend itself to this sort of thing. Even though I don't regret having a very inexpensive wedding that put no one into debt, I still imagine the fairytale wedding that I would have had if money was no object. Luckily I can live vicariously through other brides as I have had the great pleasure of making pieces for a few weddings over the years.

The most recent creation, completed yesterday is a very pretty bridal headband. When asked to create a piece, I was directed to Jennifer Behr's site and I was amazed at the prices people will pay for these elegant, but simple designs. To create my own design, I used the basic design on my quadra bracelet adding a few extra picots and some glass pearl beads. I had intended on weaving a ribbon through the lace itself, but instead I sewed a crisscross pattern on the back of the lace and weaved a pair of ribbon through it. It is meant to be tied in the back and the ribbon will drape down for a little added pretty.

The piece did take most of the day to create but only because it was nearly 20 inches long. The pattern itself is quite simple and I think that adds to the appeal of the design as it's meant to enhance a wedding ensemble not take center stage. So after finishing this piece, I now have a couple of different wedding neck pieces, a bracelet and now a headpiece. I guess I just need some earrings and I have a complete wedding line. I think I may offer them through the future lollishop venue, or maybe both places. I think I'm getting ahead of myself again, but I am quite pleased with the way this piece came out and I hope that other folk like it too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Tatted Eye Patch

I wish I could tell you that I am a creative genius and that all of my designs were born of my own imagination, but it's simply no true. Sure, I've come up with quite a lot of ideas all by my lonesome, but some of my most interesting pieces have been the ideas of others. My tatted mask were only designed after someone asked for a lace mask. My tatted cuffs were a gentle suggestion for Belle Armoire. Just yesterday, I had perhaps one of the oddest requests I've had in a while. I was asked if I could create an eye patch which I did.

I think the reason that I get such wonderfully different ideas from others is they have no idea what the process of tatting actually is. This allows them to assume that anything can be created with it. They can think outside the box because they have no idea what the box really is. When I get one of these suggestions, I have to step outside my comfort zone and imagine the end result without thinking of the how. If I can see the resulting object, then I can start to suss out how I will go about creating it . Sometimes it turns out to be simple and sometimes it turns out to be harder than it's worth. Whatever the process the result of these suggestions is always unique and something I am proud of.

I guess I just wanted to publicly thank all those idea makers. Every idea you have placed in my hands has made me think and grow as an artist. Every idea that has grown far beyond a simple suggestion and has fueled other ideas and started a snowball effect. I hope that I continue to get outlandish and sometimes bizarre ideas for my tatting. I certainly would have bored of this craft long ago had I never moved beyond the traditional edgings and doilies. So, thanks and keep the ideas coming!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm No Expert

I have a confession, I was a geek. Well, that's not quite true, I was actually a nerd. A stringy haired, thick glasses wearing, too smart for my own good nerd. While I eventually grew into a, shall we say, freak, I spent most of my youth firmly planted in Nerdland. I was mocked, tortured and teased, but none of that kept me from being a know-it-all. I had no problem sharing knowledge with anyone no matter how inappropriate the situation or how much I actually knew. As I grew, I learned to qualify my statements so that it was clear that I knew there was a chance that I was wrong. I now try my hardest to not talk down to people and to never mislead people into thinking that I know more than I actually do.

I believe giving you this background will help you understand why it is that I am so confused. You see, people keep thinking that I am an expert or authority on both tatting and jewelry. Etsy is full of people with amazing resumes, they've attended fashion and art schools, been published and taught, they've gone through apprenticeships and earned their knowledge through years of hard work. I am not one of them. I taught myself tatting just a few years ago with the help of a book and the Internet. I have zero education in the jewelry field. It took my months just to figure out what a headpin was for and I know nothing of color theory or design fundamentals. I am just simply muddling through.

I continue to get questions and comments that infer that I know much more than I really do. I find myself wondering how it is that I have given the impression that I have all the answers. I really have tried to be upfront about my qualifications, yet they keep asking. Oh, I do answer the questions, but not without a thorough Google search. I do have the skill necessary to find the answers, but I am still perplexed. What is it that I do or say that inspires this faith in my knowledge? I suppose I should be happy that people trust me and look to me for answers, it is certainly better than being called four eyes every time I answer a question.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Invasion Of The Tiny Tatted Doodles

I'm feeling a little unfocused this morning. I had a couple of different things that I wanted to write about, but they don't really form a cohesive entry. I suppose that doesn't really matter, but for some reason it just annoys me that I can't come up with a more structured piece. Well first I wanted to talk about some weird trends I've noticed recently at the etsy.

I've rarely visited the forums lately, so I missed a grand lot of unpleasantness that occurred last week. I did, however, find a few little things that are staring to annoy me. There appears to be a small rash of people mislabeling any old lace as tatting. This perplexes me, has tatting become a buzz word that people think will make some old machine made piece of lace sell? I hope that this is just a case of ignorance and that these people simply have no idea what they are selling. Of course that annoys me for a whole different reason. I even went so far as to inform a couple of people in the nicest way possible that they were not, in fact, selling tatting. I felt like a tattletale, but I just don't want people confused as to what tatting is and all this mislabeling is not helping.

The other weird thing I've noticed is what I'm calling the invasion of the little tatted doodles. Why would I be bothered by people selling tiny tatted scraps? Well, the truth is, it doesn't bother me so much as worry me just a little. My concern is that by selling these very cheap doodles, we confuse people into thinking that they are all you can do with tatting and that it is a throwaway craft. I'm sure I'm over thinking this one and the invasion could actually be a sign that more people are learning to tat and these doodles are simply the product they make well enough to sell. I actually hope they sell well enough that we see far more artisans using tatted bits to further expose the art.

In other news, I did a lovely custom necklace over the weekend. It's not the most amazing piece or anything, but I really loved how the color combination turned out. I guess that's it for the weekend. I've got a lot if work this week as I want make more masks for my Steamteam friends to take to the SteamPowered convention at the end of October. I'm still afraid I've made too much stuff for the event, but better more prepared than less right?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oh, The Horror...The Horror

You might have noticed that I was suspiciously absent yesterday. If you did not, then this story will not be particularly relevant, but I shall tell it anyway. Just as I was sitting down to write, my access to the Internet ceased. I am horribly spoiled to have a computer technician as a husband, but when he is at work and I am left to my own devises I am inept. Of course I called him right after checking the "easy" stuff, but as I feared I would just have to wait until he came home to see if it was anything he could fix.

I found myself in the uncomfortable position of not being able to check my email, list my new pieces on etsy or any of my usual morning activities. I know it's not the end of the world, but I have become so used to having the world at my fingertips that being unintentionally cut off for even a few hour was, well, uncomfortable. I can do it voluntarily of course, I can go on vacation, play outside with the kids or just simply avoid the computer if I so choose, but to have it taken away without my prior approval is horrible.

Today however, is another day. Clearly the problem has been resolved and my information addiction is being fed. So back to the usual stuff. I have listed two of the three new pieces inspired by the choker I was talking about in my last post. I've renamed the whole collection, La Petite Goth because it makes the sound fancy. I've got just the last one to make up and it will be complete. I am really surprised that it took me this long to come up with these. They are such simple diversions from the original design.

Speaking of design, I just finished a wonderful special order request. I was challenged to recreate a rose and vine tattoo as a tatted anklet. This isn't the first time my tatting has been compared to a tattoo, but it is the first time I designed a piece to look like one on purpose. I am again, mighty proud of the rose motif i came up with. It's simple, but I think it looks just like a rose. It does, right?

Now, back to work. I've got so many ideas swirling around and I need to work on them before I forget half of them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How Did I Miss That?

When I first started making tatted jewelry I was using edging patterns from one book. The simple modifications needed to turn them into chokers was about the extent of my skills. As I got better, I moved onto new books, more complex vintage patterns and eventually my own designs. I still went back to that first book every so often to recreate a sold item or just to get inspired, but I did not dwell on it.

Yesterday I sold one of those chokers from that book and I sat down to make a new one. I no longer need the pattern so as I tatted I just looked at the lace and I realized something incredible. There was inside this design another design just waiting to be snatched out and created on its own. In fact I saw not one but two new pieces just waiting to be created. I thought, how was it that I did not see this before. I've made this piece perhaps a dozen times and I never saw it. Now I can hardly wait to start on these new pieces inside the choker. Was the design simply waiting until I had developed the skill to see it? I also wonder how many of my other early pieces have gems waiting inside their rings and chains waiting for the moment to emerge.

All this happened just as I was trying to not design any new pieces. I just wanted to stock up for the holidays and rest on my laurels, but I guess my creative side has other plans for me. So in the next week or so, I should have new pieces to show you and hopefully they will be as amazing as the look in my head right now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Handmade Holiday

I am a self professed Gen-X'er. I grew up watching personal computers go from science fiction to a nearly disposable object. I grew along side the video game industry as it changed the face of entertainment. I saw the witnessed the war between beta and VHS long before they changed their names to Blu-ray and Hd-dvd. I watched as vinyl all but died and my walkman became a discman and then an ipod. The point I'm trying to make here is I cannot live without tech and neither can any member of my family. I mention all this because I have begun my holiday shopping and I feel so much pressure to have a handmade holiday and I don't think it is possible for me to comply.

I know I can't be the only one trying to work out this dilemma. I want to support my fellow artisans, I want to be socially responsible and I of course want others to buy handmade to support myself. My family, however, would not be pleased with a holiday that did not include the newest video game release or some piece of fantastic technology. Since making ones family happy should be the focus of the holiday, not some social agenda, I simply can't justify forcing unwanted gifts on them.

I think that I found found a nice middle ground already though, that is a little handmade for everyone this holiday. I've decided that I would get at least one present for everyone at etsy and then the rest of their gifts can be whatever they really want. I also think the key to getting people to accept their handmade gifts is to make sure it is really something they would like, even if it had been bought at the mall. I've forced vegan body lotion and lip balm on my family in the past and I think I might have just wasted my money. I'm going to get it right this time.

I wish I could show you all the amazing things that I have already picked up, but I'm afraid the family would pick now to visit the blog and ruin the surprises. Perhaps after the holidays, I'll have a giant gift feature to show them all off. I'm also encouraging my four year old to make gifts for her cousins, with my help of course, but I think this might start her out with a better appreciation of handmade goodness and as soon as I'm sure the one year old won't try to eat the hot glue, she can help too. We may not have a completely handmade holiday, but perhaps we can have the best of both worlds.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Well, the mask did not beat me. We are, however, still at odds. I solved the biggest problem with my little epiphany. That is, I absolutely needed wire around the eyes for this to work and I added a simple border in the negative space between the diamonds. This gave me the look I was going for, but I still need to make the center motif smaller or market the design for men only because that center is far too big for my face. Still, I think it's a marked improvement and I'm confident that eventually this will see a final design that I can feel good about selling.

Speaking of selling, I've gotten a few more requests for my tatted mask patterns and I felt like I needed to make a formal statement on them as well as my other patterns. First, the tatted mask patterns haven't even been written down yet, yes I know that I should do that, but I just haven't yet. Right now I'm debating whether I should offer the patterns individually or whether I should just save them up and actually try at that pattern book idea I'm toying with. I'd like to figure out how to draw up visual patterns before I attempt that though. I'm afraid if I put them out before the fictional book, I will be shooting myself in the foot. I guess the short answer is, it's gonna be a while, definitely not before the beginning of the year.

Over the weekend I visited the Atwater Fall Festival. It's one of two small festivals in the park one town over from us each year. We've gone to these events every year for quite some time, mostly because it's simply something different to do. Since I began on etsy it has taken on a new meaning for me. I search through the booths for the etsy address to see how many people I actually have this in common with. When I started, it was just me and now I get to find a few people who have this experience as well.

Why am I not selling at these events you might ask, well there are a few reasons. My go-to excuse is that I have two small kids, one who is still nursing, so it's too much hassle. While that is true the more telling reasons are, I am a wuss. I have a hard time trying out new things without someone to goad me into it and since I have no local crafty friends, there is no one to convince me to try. The other reason is, I simply don't like doing them. I don't like convincing people to buy my stuff, its awkward and uncomfortable and it seems like way too much work for the little I might be able to make. I'm not particularly social, so I don't get any real networking done and I worked in retail way too long to want to go back to the front lines in foreign territory.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Early Morning

There is a point every morning where I simply lie awake in bed and think. Usually my thoughts are of no real significance, I solve no great dilemmas, make no amazing plans, but every so often I have a small epiphany. This morning was one of those mornings. The epiphany was relatively small in nature and it contained no actual wisdom. What it did do was potentially create a new tatted mask.

I had set the mask designed after my Art Deco Duo necklace quite a while ago hoping that the answer would come to me and I think it has, so hopefully I shall have something new to show on Monday or I will recount my stunning defeat at the hands of this little tatted mask.

In other news, I have busted out with the yarn again. This time it's just some store bought cotton and the creation has yet to form. It may still be insanely hot in sunny California, but I feel fall in the air and it's inspired me to create a little something to keep you warm. I think it shall be similar to one of those scarflets or collars that have been knit and crocheted everywhere recently. I'm actually trying to model the design off of my cuff patterns, which will be available in the November issue of Bell Armoire, by the way.

I do enjoy working with yarn, as I love the unusual creations I've made with it, but I hate the way it feels on my fingers after the needle thread has been pulled through the tatted countless time. It becomes so rough and unpleasant, luckily that yarn hides harmlessly under the much softer knotted yarn in the final piece.

While I was taking the picture of my yarn project underway I took note of the pile of lace that has been forming on top of my light box. I thought it made an interesting image, so I took a shot to show you. It's just a small section of the pile. This is where the pieces lay in wait for completion. My least favorite part of making tatted jewelry is the jewelry part, or rather adding the clasps and jump rings and whatnot. I have no real skill in this portion of the work, so I tend to wait until the last minute to do it. I've gotten much better at it over the last couple of years, but it is definitely not second nature to me. Sometimes I wish I had a jeweler assistant to do this part for me, but since the only candidate for the job is only four years old, it'll be a wile before I'll be able to outsource.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Cat Came Back

Not the very next day and not actually a cat, but I digress. I am referring to one of my amazing disappearing special order customers that I talked about in this post. As it turns out, life did in fact get in the way and they returned, explained the absence and purchased their listing all in perfect order. I bring this up to share a little wisdom. When I feared that they were gone forever I had some choices to make, mostly regarding how I contacted the customer and what I said. I was quite put out at the time and I could have let that guide my communications, but I chose to maintain excellent customer service. I was straightforward, but I made sure that the customer would feel welcome to return should they change their mind.

This is really the lesson in all this. You cannot take these things personally and you should give your customers the benefit of the doubt. Though you need to look out for your own best interests, there is generally no good that comes from burning bridges. I am certainly glad that I did not lash out and was patient.

I though that this advice would take a little longer to share, but apparently it was a much simpler message than I thought. I have finally caught up from my little bout of fame on Monday. Everything has been remade and listed and now I am suffering from the inevitable letdown that occurs after any bit of excitement. Lucky for me, I have a whole house to clean and a couple of family requested projects to work on. I think I shall let my store sit for a while without any new designs, just for a change of pace. I hope this isn't a bad move, but I'm a little designed out for the time being.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nosy Nose

Every single time I have had a bit of "fame" on etsy, like an item on the front page or Mondays Finds email, I get extra convos from relative strangers. Most of them are simple congratulations or 'hey did you know" kind of messages, but along with those, that I wholeheartedly appreciate, there are the weird ones. Okay, maybe weird is the wrong word, let's say unsolicited advice veiled as a compliment. The advice is almost always regarding pricing and usually comes from someone with a blank profile.

I really don't get why people feel the need to tell me that I need to charge more for my work. It seems anti productive if they are really customers to ask for a higher price, so I'm left assuming that the advice comes from someone who feels like I'm devaluing their work or simply a nosy nose with nothing better to do. I suppose they could just be looking out for my best interest, but I somehow doubt that. There of course is the chance that I could get more for my work, but that's not really the point, the point is, they are my prices that I picked and if I want them higher or lower it will be up to me.

Look, pricing is a tough subject and I've talked about it before, You Want How Much For That and more recently, Perception Of Value. These posts represent my opinion on the subject, but to address the most recent comment I received, I must talk about speed. I recently read another tatter detail the amount of time she spent making the most beautiful hankie border. After listing how many hours it took, she pointed out how much she would have to charge to make a hourly wage for her effort which was much more than the average person would think about paying. This got me thinking less about price and more about speed. I concluded that I must be a fairly fast tatter. I am certain that I am not the fastest by a long shot, but none of my pieces take nearly as long as most people think they do.

At the risk of removing the mystique from my tatting, most of my pieces are done in just a few hours, with the more elaborate ones like my hat taking the longest at a few hours a day, even it was done in a week. It's still time consuming and it still takes a degree of skill, but it does not take me 40 hours to make anything I sell. I do still have small children and a house to take care of, so it might be a week before I finish a piece, but that's not actual work time. With this new information, perhaps my prices won't seem so low to people. I've always thought that I will increase my prices as my skills improve, but never just because I think I might be able to get that much for it.

I do want to get paid for my time, but I also want to make something that is affordable. I make a lot of pendants that take much less than an hour to make and I use fairly large thread that is not only easier for me to work with, but works up fast and makes a more durable piece. There are so many factors that go into creating my pieces that no one but me knows. Sure there are those that can make an educated guess and be pretty close, but they are most certainly in the minority. So, in conclusion, those of you who feel like sharing your unsolicited advice, please stop being such a nosy nose...oh, not you, your opinions I care about.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Was Found

Well, I planned on giving you all the stats from my day in the Etsy Finds email, but it turns out that means I would have to do math. Me and math do not get on very well so it will take a little longer before I can offer up those numbers. What I can do is give you the easy numbers.

The mask that was featured in the email started the day with 388 views and this morning has 1181. It also garnered 89 new hearts for a total of 106. I started the day with 2008 shop hearts and this morning I have a whopping 2137. I know that already seems like a lot of numbers, but hearts and views were littered all over the store and I wanted to go through and see what these new eyes gravitated towards. This is the first time I actually had the forethought to go to majaba and get all the numbers before and after an "event" so I could really get accurate numbers.

If you have an etsy store and you haven't yet discovered majaba's heart-o-matic, you must go try it out. Of course it will just give you yet another thing to be addicted to, so I do apologize to your families for sharing.

I did also make a couple of sales and I even sold one of my other masks. All in all it was a pretty good day, now we'll just have to wait and see if any of those who hearted the store return to buy anything or if it was just a case of, ooh, that's pretty. All the activity of the day gave me that antsy feeling that preceeds the holidays. I'm both looking forward to and dreading the upswing that may occur in the next couple of months. Of course I love to make sales especially since my etsy money has been earmarked as our only holiday spending, but I have actually been enjoying the extra time I've had lately to design stuff without a deadline on other projects looming. I guess you can't have it both ways, so I'll stop complaining and roll with whatever comes my way.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Two Thousand

It looks like I've rolled back around to goal making time again. Just this weekend I reached the amazing total of 2000 hearts. I never thought in the beginning, that I would be getting so much love. This does however mean that it will be quite sometime before I will reach another heart milestone. I shall instead focus on sales, I am currently just a smidge above 350, so my slightly ridiculous goal is to reach 400 by the end of the year. That means I need to average over a dozen sales a month for the next 4 months. It seems like a stretch, but within reason.

I do so hate to make fiscal based goal without making creatively based ones as well. To that end I am publicly announcing that I am adding to my list of outlandish goals, which already includes making tatting the next crafting craze, a published book of my work. I've no idea how to even begin making that happen, besides actually writting down my patterns, of course, but that won't stop me from putting it on the list. It can sit right next that novel I've been contemplating since high school. They will make great friends.

I thought about making a blogging goal as well, but that would turn all this into work and that would take the joy right out of it for me. What I write here has to be optional and random or I would just start to dread sitting down at the computer, so no blogging goals. I would also like to come up with more tatting wearables like I've already mentioned, but I won't put a deadline on those either. So that's it for today, goals for the future some realistic and some not so much. I will keep you posted on thier developments!

In other news, I received a convo on Friday informing me that I am to be included in Mondays Etsy Finds email. I got so excited that the malaise of the previous week just melted away. From what I've read this will probably not result in tons of sales, but scads of views and hearts. The email goes out to 15,500 people, so it should find a whole mess of eyes. I'll let you all know how it plays out as I'm certain that I will be complusively watching my store all day.

UPDATE: The storque article that accompanies the etsy finds email is here:

Friday, September 5, 2008

Riding Out The Bumps

I have been through a great many growth spurts in recent history. I became a mother twice, exposed my "hobby" to the world for its approval and most recently I have laid my thoughts bare for all to see. All of these things have caused me great joy and even greater stress. As much as I love my children and revel in seeing them grow every day, they are most certainly the hardest job I have ever had. For every kind word, hug and kiss I am given in reward there are days of thankless tasks and unnoticed work. It is the same with my tatting and my blog, for every comment, sale or compliment there are weeks of feeling completely ignored. This causes all sorts of self doubt for me.

The ironic thing is, things have gotten much worse as things have gotten much better. Does that make any sense? I'll explain. When I was making a sale every week or two, all I expected was a sale every week or two. Low expectations meant that I could always meet expectations. When I first started my blog all I expected were a couple of readers and a comment now and again, so I was never disappointed. In the last couple of months things have gotten steady, not amazing by any means, but I began to rely on a certain amount of readers, a comment on every post and consistent sales. In fact I'm beginning to become so reliant on these things that when things don't play out this way, I am almost devastated. I start to wonder what I did wrong, who I upset, or what can I do to remedy the problem.

The problem however, does not actually exist. There is nothing for me to really fix, while I may have upset someone, that is probably not having any effect on my views or sales. These bumps along the way are normal. They may seem enormous, but that's just a trick of perspective. I've simply become so spoiled by a bout of good fortune that I mistook for an entirely new reality. It really is like the stock market, you can get excited at every up and devastated by every down, or you can go all in for the long haul and ride the waves as the come. You can try to fix every downturn immediately with a knee jerk reaction or you can make gradual and lasting changes that will result in long term success in whatever it is you do. It really is the zen thing to do.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


All this mask making has put masquerade on the mind so I made this treasury yesterday. I resisted every urge to include one of my masks. I did not, however, resist the urge to plug them in the comments of the treasury. I never even realized how many amazing mask makers there were on etsy until I made my own.

I did stop mask making to create a few new small things, including this bejeweled bracelet. It's part of my ever increasing bridal line. Which is just a fancy way of saying I'm making a bunch of stuff in white with crystals and pearls. I know it's entirely the wrong time of year for this endeavor, but it's a nice change of pace from the time and energy consuming masks.

I do still have a couple more masks to get made before I sit down and write out the patterns. I keep having the silly thought that one day a real publisher will want me to put out a book of patterns.I am of course not holding my breath for this to occur, but I figure better to be prepared right. Of course I need the patterns written anyway, I'm not exactly a savant when it comes to remembering even my own patterns and if I were to lose the prototype pieces, I'd be crap out of luck.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back To Business

So apparently I was talking to myself yesterday. That's okay, I just needed to vent I suppose. So today I'm back to my creative self. I am of course working on a new mask design. This one is based on my Grand Daisy motif and though I'm certain to make the first one for sale in black, I think this one will be great in many colors for perhaps a fairy costume. I know it's hard to see in the ecru, but that's my prototype thread. I use it not only because I have a mile of it, but also because I can count the stitches so much better with this thread. I have yet to write down the patterns for any of my masks. I know, I should should know better by now. If I wait too much longer, I'll forget the changes I made from the prototype to the final design and they will be lost to the ages, but I'm on such a creative roll that I'm afraid that stopping to write them down will stunt my growth.

Since I'm back on the subject of tatting, I thought I'd share that I finally joined my first tatting community. Why is this a big deal? Well, when I first tried tatting I was using a shuttle and I failed miserably, but I was determined to learn this skill. I went online for help and ran across a small mention of needle tatting, bought a book and learned like lightning. Once the book had no more to teach me, I went back to the Internet for help, techniques and patterns and though I found lots of that, I also found unpleasantness. I ran across people claiming that needle tatting was not only, not "real" tatting, but insinuated that it was akin to cheating. I also found folk who thought that they were the only worthy tatters and they rest of us should just shove off. You can imagine that I tried to avoid all contact with other tatters for fear of being judged and told that I did not belong.

I'm certain that nearly every discipline or craft has the same problems in their communities, but I was so afraid and unsure of myself that I stayed away. It wasn't until I started my blog just a few months ago that I began to develop friendships with other tatters. I've since met some amazingly talented and wonderful people and it is because of them that I finally realize that I do in fact belong. I look forward to using this new resource to learn and grow. It is also refreshing to network where my ultimate goal is not selling something. I don't know how much time I'll devote to this new adventure as I'm stretched pretty thin already, but I've dipped a toe in and water seems fine so far.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Religion and Politics

I am interrupting my regularly scheduled mask coverage to address these, the largest of all controversial topics. Now, don't freak out, I'm not going to spew forth my opinions on them, but merely my opinion on opinions, or rather the placement of them. Lately the forums at etsy have been rife with threads on these subjects and as a rule these threads dissolve into playground brawls in record time. I personally avoid commenting in these topics, but that does not stop me from lurking in them with shocked disbelief much as one might watch a car accident.

So I started thinking about why such divisive subjects were always popping up on a crafting site. It occurred to me that artists are passionate people. In fact most people who create are passionate people. It then makes perfect sense that a group of people who are as diverse as any other and possessing of a large amount of creative passion would get into extreme debates with as much ease as other people breath. All that being said, we need to cut it out, seriously.

We all have opinions and we all feel ours is worth expressing, but there is a time and a place. The anonymity of the Internet has made many feel like anywhere is a good place to discuss that which riles us up, but we must consider the company anytime we bring up these subjects. I know that old fashioned ideals of etiquette are out of favor, but there really was a good reason why we were told not discuss these topics. I am not for one minute suggesting that these thing never be discussed, but their discussion requires a level of civility on respect that seems all but impossible to maintain in a virtual setting.

I do have a suggestion for those who still feel the need to engage in the discussions on etsy. First, read what you wrote out load before hitting the post button. Hearing something out load, might reveal unintended hostility and make you rethink your statement. If you still feel the need to respond at keast it isn't in the heat of the moment any longer. Next, I ask that before you hit post that you imagine something for me. Imagine that you are at your job and for the purpose of this exercise you work in a mall. You are standing at the front of the store, they are customers both new and old where you can see them and others you cannot. You are also within easy ear shot of other stores, their owners and employees as well as your own coworkers. Now, what were you about to say? Would your statement cause you to lose the repect of any of those people? Would it affect business, your job? Is it still worth it?

I know that many people value their right to free speech over common courtesey and they will disagree with me wholeheartedly. That's fine with me. I value my freedom of speech as well as I respect yours. I just think there are better places to talk about these things. I know that some people don't care if their opinions turn buyers or other sellers off, but I feel that if I have to work with these people in any capacity it's better to not invite controversy and conflict were none exsisted. This is all just my opinion and It's a bit of a downer from all my creative goodness, so I'll go now and make something to take the edge off. I'll have a mask or something tomorrow, I promise.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Another Day, Another Mask

I caught a bug this weekend and not the good kind. In fact it took out my entire family. I'm tired and less than 100% but I still managed to finish the newest in my mask line. This one matches my diamonds in lace choker. Not that you'd need to have the choker to make the mask work, but I think it really completes the look. I'm having so much fun coming up with these designs and I hope that they are well received so I can justify their further creation.

Part of the reason I started making these pieces was to fill up time that was reserved for stocking my etsy store. Since I've already made duplicates of many of my items and I have a bunch of pieces made for both the Steam Powered convention and the future lollishop venue, I needed to move in another direction just to keep my creative juices flowing. I've decided that a stock of three or four different masks will make for a good "line", so once I've finished those I will have to come up with an entirely new idea.

I've made hats, scarves, cuffs and now masks. What else can I make with tatting? Something that is unique, quick and wearable? Well, the keyword there is wearable and I think I've got a few more ideas in the pipeline. I was thinking fingerless gloves, maybe a shrug or caplet. Then I was thinking, how else can I use tatted pieces. There are many high priced independent designers using lace to embellish simple tank tops and dresses and getting top dollar for them. I wonder if I have the patience to work with clothing in that manner. Mine would be unique simply because I would be making the lace myself. It's a scary prospect every time I think about moving in another direction. Is that too many product lines for me to ultimately handle? I really don't have the answer, but now that the idea has entered the public arena, I will have to follow through. That's just the way that I roll.