Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Etsy Day!

Today is Etsy Day, the idea started with some of the shop owners in a conversation on the forums, and spread like wildfire among shop owners. Many of you know by now that I have a shop on, I was not one of the organizers but I want to support the idea that we should all do our part to let the world know how cool Etsy is. If you have not yet visited today would be a great day to start. In honor of Etsy Day many of the shops are having sales or are adding new items. Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Works in progress

I thought I'd share some of my doll making process with you. There are many ways of working on any artistic project. Some people always know what the end product will/should look like from the outset. Occasionally I have a notion where I'm going but in general I prefer to work with my materials and see where they take me. I have designed my own patterns and I have a growing stash of fabrics and part of the fun is to see how those two elements "speak" to each other.

At the moment I'm working towards completing a "Shakespeare Challenge" for the ArtDolls Only Team. I've chosen to work from "The Tempest" and I thought my Brownie dolls would be the best choices for Caliban. So, I pulled out those patterns sewed up a bunch of parts, turned, stuffed and closed them. Then I got to play, I love sitting with my pins and the dolls body parts and trying out different combinations until I find the ones that seem to really work together. Once I get them all sewn together as I've posed them then I will sit with my fabric paints, trims and accessories and see what happens next. But, I'm not there yet, so here are the pics so far...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I got an Etsy Treasury!

If you are not already familiar with Etsy allow me to explain what a "Treasury" is. Etsy is an online market place with a focus on handmade, vintage and supplies for artists/crafters. Within Etsy there are many community building opportunities, including "treasuries." At any given time there are at least 333 treasuries, they are essentially small collections of Etsy member's favorite items brought together around some theme. They last for 3 days, as they expire new treasuries are loaded. This week I managed to get a spot in that gallery of treasuries, my theme is art dolls and I titled it "All Dolled Up," I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Looking Up

Somedays it's all you can do to see what's immediately in front of you, and often on those days that's exactly what you don't want to be looking at. This is another take time to stop and admire the view posts ...

While reluctantly going through all the stops on a life course, on one of those walks last weekend with my family, I was doing sit ups on a plank in the middle of the woods. As always, I had my camera with me, and found something worth pausing mid sit up to capture. I love the way these two trees seem to be reaching for the sky together.
There are probably dozens of metaphors here, but I'll just enjoy the image and leave it to you to work out what it all means.
I did finish the sit ups, and the rest of the path and all the stops (except the push ups in the mud).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Promises

When the world news, or the news of the economy become too much to process we need to find other sources of news. In ancient times most people could read the signs of the times in nature. Life is more complicated now, and furry catepillers are no longer as important newsagents as they used to be. But that does not mean we should stop looking at those small signs around us. Over the long Easter weekend we took a couple of walks in local state parks. Of course I brought my camera, and what a difference a week makes. It's wonderful to see daffodils and forsythia blooming in gardens but how delightful to see the tiny offerings mother nature produces on her own. Don't forget to stop and look at the world around you, some of the greatest pleasures in life are free and just waiting for you to find them. Where do you find beauty, where do you look to find hope for the future?

Here are some of the signs of hope and beauty I found this weekend...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring Break ... it's not all beaches and parties. Unless you count work parties. While my kids were on Spring Break we spent a day with my brother and sister helping my Mom clean up her back yard and the garden shed. My kids were troopers and did pretty much what ever they could and my sister, not a gardener, took on the shed. All was going smoothly till it was obvious that tools, garden furniture and gardening supplies were not the only things "living" in the shed. Mrs. Opossum was not any happier to have her nest torn apart then we were to find it or her. It was not until animal control arrived and caught her that we discovered she was a mommy. We all got a quick lesson on marsupials and got to hear her "vocalize" and see the squirmy grey skinned baby opossums she was still carrying around on her belly and in her pouch. Happily for all of us she is no longer in the shed (she's been relocated as opossums are no longer on the rabid list of animals to destroy) and Mom's garden looks much better.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm so excited, one of my favorite shops on etsy has chosen me/my shop as one of the winners in her contest for "etsy inspirations." She makes soaps inspired by etsians who have inspired others. To enter we had to give an example of how we have inspired others, and suggest what we'd like our soap to be like. I never win stuff so that makes this very exciting for me. If you would like check out her shop, she's a very nice person and makes great stuff.

If you are not already familiar with etsy, on the top right side of the first page of a shop is the sections. She has a section on the etsy inspirations, since the winners were just chosen the new soaps are not there yet, but you can get the idea.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Adventures in Hand Made

Well, "adventures" may be putting to glamorous a spin on the world of handmade as I experience it. Like all businesses it does not matter how good or bad your product is, you succeed or fail based on your ability to promote your work. I think this is where the stereotype of the starving artist comes from. Look at Vincent Van Gogh, he was a brilliant, innovative and productive painter, and even with a brother in the gallery business couldn't make a sale. My personal theory is that if you are a genius in one area you may not be given gifts in other areas. Some of those areas that you are lacking in may include balancing your budget, keeping track of business records/receipts, self promotion/advertising and sometimes even (dare I say it) interpersonal skills. Maybe this is why geniuses are sometimes thought of as crazy or geeks or just hard to fathom in general. I think I'm glad not to be a genius, but I still struggle with many of those areas.

Over the years I have worked in many mediums. One of the few things that remains consistent, is that no matter how good I am in one artistic area I just don't have the a gift for business. Since I'm not likely to win the PowerBall I will just have to work at learning some of those business skills.

This week my adventure had a really exciting event - I was featured in an article in our newspaper! Several weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine who writes for some of the local papers, and suggested she might want to do an article on people in Delaware with Etsy shops. She liked the idea, and successfully pitched it to her editor! A few weeks later a photographer visited my studio and took lots of pictures, then a few more weeks of waiting and... viola! The article was in the News Journal on Monday! Here's a link if you want to see it:

There was a bump in the number of people visiting my shop and I even made a sale as a result of the article! So maybe I am starting to get a handle on self promotion, or maybe I just got lucky.

The interview was more like a conversation and the photographer was very nice, and the experience (other than all the waiting) was really good. So, if you are looking for ways to promote your business don't hesitate, if you have something unique find a way to pitch it to your local paper. If it fits one of the sections of the paper you may get lucky and get some exposure for free!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


It's not uncommon for people to advise you to take time to smell the roses, while I like roses as much as the next person I am fascinated by fungi. The poor things are overlooked despite the dizzying array of forms and colors they can be found in. I rarely take a walk without a camera, when I get home I have a collection of landscape photos and the obvious photos of my kids and often these images are liberally seasoned with images of fungi.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A blog is born

Spring is here, and with it birth and growth. Today marks the birth of my first blog, and my first blog post. With it I hope there will be some growth personally and artistically as I share some of my inspirations and experiences with you, who ever you may be.

Before we move to my current projects and observations, or discoveries I'll tell you a bit about myself.

Once upon a time I was a college student majoring in Crafts/Metals at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, back in the dark ages before blogs, personal web pages or even the internet as we know it. For years after graduation I did little that was artistic, pursuing many other avenues and some were more fulfilling than others.

But if art and artistic expression is part of your make up it's hard to keep away from it for very long. Therefore after getting married and moving from Philadephia to the wilds of Delaware I found myself in need of some new forms of self expression. For a few years I was a floral designer, during that period I discovered the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe.) There I started studying the arts of the medieval scribe, within the SCA I am known as Mistress Sarra the Lymner, and my main area of study and expression has been calligraphy and illumination.

A several years ago answering a request made by my daughter to come up with a fairy doll like one she saw at a party I started making cloth art dolls. They mostly tend towards the fae or fantasy themed art dolls. I have never learned the fine art of reading sewing patterns but I did survive figure drawing classes so I opted from the very beginning to make my own patterns.

Sometime in the last 2 years I started to reconnect with the jeweler I was once training to become. I do not have a metal working studio so at the moment I am content to play with pretty beads and string necklaces and make earrings.

If you are still with me and curious as to what the results of these artistic explorations may look like you can pop over to my Etsy site.