Tuesday, September 25, 2007

There's a lot going on

I got my knucklebuster yesterday!

Caught the UPS guy as he was leaving the lobby, D and I had been out for a walk. We are trying to fit in as many evening walks as we can before it gets dark too early. Anyway, got the machine and the plate, I'm ready to accept plastic in person! Line forms to the right, let's keep it orderly people.

This month's PCAGOE challenge was to create something inspired by a favorite book. My favorite published book is Quite A Year For Plums by Bailey White. One of the quirky characters is a wildlife artist who becomes obsessed with drawing and painting a picture of the lowly Dominique chicken. She dreams of its tighly patterned feathers and obsessively sketches its feet on napkins in the local diner. I made beads inspired by the patterns and colors of the Dominique and strung them into a necklace and earrings set.

Voting begins on September 26, but be fair, I'm not asking for votes, go see which one you like best! There are some great entries this month.

Here's a shot of the beads before they got baked:

Also, I finally got good enough photos to list mom's Tree card, which I am crazy about. I couldn't decide if I liked it better on papaya cardstock or leafy green, so I am offering a set of four, two of each background. This tree is in a field in North Tisbury on the island of Martha's Vineyard.

I have started to offer handmade beads in my Etsy shop, the first set is a group of swirl beads in black gray and white. Here is a quick shot of how I form the bead shapes with my fingers on a long pin.

I hope to add more and more bead listings soon!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Signed up to take credit cards

So a quick post to say I signed up with ProPay to accept credit cards in my studio and at craft shows! I found this Etsy thread really informative and helpful. I ordered a "knuckle buster" credit card imprinter from Mr. Imprinter on ebay but it looks like they have their own site too...

From reading lots of Etsy forum posts I understand that not only are you more likely to make sales because people don't always have enough cash or a forget to bring a check, but that people who were going to buy from you anyway buy more when they can put it on plastic.

I'll let you know how it goes or if I have any tips on what to do, what not to do. I want to post more about the process of starting a business so others can benefit from what I go through.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Success!

I did the Worcester street festival, stART on the street on Sunday, September 16th. Liz from Lush Beads had invited me to share her tent and I had so much fun! We had perfect weather, 60's and sunny. The show was well set up with lots of cool vendors. They seemed to get a great turnout and I had customers all day.

Liz at her table:

My display:

The crowd was varied in ages but almost all were savvy and modern, understanding the indie craft aesthetic. These were my peeps! I'm not quite edgy enough to lure in the girls with multiple piercings and tattoos, but I'm not so out there that I turn off moms with quilted handbags. Somewhere in the middle is my demographic and I made a lot of sales. Yay! My 3 beads for a dollar were very popular:

And I'm really pleased with the new tags I made for my flowers. I feel like people were more willing to pick them up and fondle them (in a good way) when they weren't on cards like I had them before:

There were bunches of Etsy sellers there, but I didn't get to check them all out because I was mostly at my table all day. I did take a quick spin to visit Peter and Eve who have a studio on the 4th floor in Western Avenue Studios and were doing their first outdoor show. Peter makes the most amazing and delicate glass creatures as well as teardrop earrings, Eve does elegant things with fused glass, making coasters I covet. Her newest item is a wine bottle stopper. I hope they had a good day!

Peter and Eve:

I did needle felting demonstrations all day and completed the felt part of one flower and most of another.

And people visited me! Candace of The Intuitive Garden came by with her husband, so nice to see friendly faces among the strangers. Pssst: Candace is currently the featured seller on Etsy! Great choice Etsy admin! I hope she sells out :)

Another visitor was Marianne from Lowell whom I had never met but felt I had since I've been looking at her beautiful photos on Flickr and following her blog for so long. In fact I gave her an enthusiastic hug like she was an old friend. (I should probably find out if people are huggy before I do that, but I just got carried away!) She was very gracious and we all agreed it would be great if Lowell could put together a show like that.


It was an overwhelming and exhausting day, I missed spending Sunday with D, and I could barely move on Monday but it was worth all the work and now I'm fired up to make more stuff!

I've applied to get into my dream show: Bazaar Bizarre on December 9th, it's juried and spaces are very limited so I have no idea what my chances are, I find out if I got in on September 28th. My alternative is to share a space with Liz again at the stART show on the same day in the Worcester DCU (the old Centrum). Either way I'll get one last show in before xmas!

Friday, September 14, 2007

I hope you'll visit

I have been going to the studio every weekday and I am totally addicted :) I have a show on Sunday in Worcester, stART on the street, and I probably should be making some flowers or earrings, but I got inspired and started making something completely new! I'm not chastising myself, I probably have enough felty flowers for the show, this item is the start of a new line for me and it's very exciting!

It's a scarf made of panels cut from washed and dried (fulled) wool sweaters. I am going to make throws, blankets and pillows from them too, but this was the first of my ideas made real. I didn't sew the sweater pieces together, I used loose wool roving and art yarn to needle felt the seams closed. I always keep my prototypes so I can see how they hold up over time.

At the end of the month, Saturday, September 29th and Sunday, September 30th, I will be in my studio for Lowell Open Studios 12-5 each day and I hope everyone who can will come and say "hi". I love it when I meet people for the first time and they say "Hi, I read your blog!" or "I know you from Etsy!" That's the coolest :) And if I've already met you, I'd love to see you again in my new location, A305, third floor of the Mill A annex which is accessible from halfway down the hallway of the third floor in the main building down a short corridor. Or enter through the Classic Elite Yarns entrance and take the elevator to the third floor, I'm straight ahead, the one with the bright orange door!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Opening the Door

I spent some time in my studio last week. I started painting the door. A lot of artists have painted their gray doors fun colors, and I wanted to join in. I chose Pumpkin Patch in glossy from Behr at Home Depot, but it's coming out way more Pumpkin than Patch. That's OK though, I love the bright door and it's sure to catch the eye of passers by! Next I must think of a clever way to put my studio number on the door.

I also took time to sit and craft even though there is still so much organizing to do. I seem to fall into an organic schedule when I spend time in my studio, happily drifting from project to project without anxiety. I generally prefer structure to my day, but since I know everything I am doing in the studio, whether making something or just sorting beads, is all a valid use of time, I am content to be less linear. Which is saying a lot for me because I am so freaking linear! Classic Virgo :)

So I made these new felt flowers and I am in love with them! I listed two in my shop.

The purple one has a shiny brass button which I selected with help from Candace of The Intuitive Garden fame. She came to my studio last week and we had a fun day of crafting together! She is also a Virgo and we get along wonderfully. We have enough in common to get along really well, and are just enough different to have a million things to say to each other. She is also unbelievably generous, as you know, and brought me craft supplies and promotional items she made for me with her badge maker, what a delightful surprise! Next week I will experiment with the new medium I have been very curious about that she gave me. I'll let you know if I make anything worth sharing :)

I'll be back in the studio Monday to put a final(?) coat of paint on the door and make more things for the upcoming stART on the Street festival I am doing on Sunday, September 16th with Liz from Lush Beads who invited me and is generously sharing her tent. She's another person with whom I always have a million things to talk about. I guess that describes Amanda as well! It occurs to me I may have made some really cool friends :)

I found out another couple of Western Avenue artists may be attending stART as vendors as well, that would be great! I'll be sure to take pictures.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Open for business

I was in my new studio for the first Saturday Open Studios at Western Avenue yesterday. I had reattached the baseboard molding with the glue intended for the product and it stayed up beautifully. I covered the unfinished bookcases with a neutral flannel sheet and draped a two-tiered computer table with burnt orange corduroy. I brought a lamp in from home to combat the back lighting from the large windows, it seemed to help some. I set out my goods and mingled with my neighbors.

The weather was beautiful and it's a holiday weekend so I wasn't expecting too many folks and that turned out to be an accurate assessment. But that's OK, I still had fun setting out my items and visiting with other artists. One of the photographers on my floor took artist portraits; a group shot and some individuals for publicity. I wonder if/where I'll show up?

I met the new tenant of 4-11, she's super nice and getting all moved in. I look forward to seeing how she's going to transform that room! (I believe we share a love of the color burnt orange.)

I also met another artist with whom I share a love of all things felty. Sharon is a teacher and wonderfully generous with information and even bought a felt flower pin! I can't wait to check out all the references she gave me for wool fiber resources. (One of which is this place I've never been!)

So even though I am very happy, I am a little overwhelmed right now. What's on my mind:

1) Thinking about having enough items made for the holidays

2) Charging/filing/paying sales tax (just got a certificate)

3) Getting set up to accept credit cards with ProPay

4) Getting another outlet and track lighting installed

5) Starting a mailing list (way overdue)

6) Not really having the funds to arrange the studio the way I want to right away (but that's OK I'm patient!)

7) Turning 38 on September 3rd! *sigh*

What helps ease my anxiety? Emailing my mom. D performing his usual thoughtful actions like bringing me iced coffee during Open Studios, and having flowers waiting for me when I got home! And a birthday dinner reservation at the new restaurant that opened down the street :)

It also helps to have great friends (thanks for listening, Rosie.) Including Etsy friends, who are always delighting me with their generosity and support. (I'm talking about you Amy, Maia and Amanda!!)

Also waiting for me when I got home? This package from Candace.

Of course I couldn't wait and opened it a full two days early! Well, I have to tell you it just made my day to see her thoughtful gifts wrapped so beautifully. I can't wait to wear my new earrings and tell everyone who admires them where I got them! Thanks so much, you get the brightest golden star right in the middle of your forehead :)