It’s Been a Long Time!

As 2016 is drawing to a close, I realize that, while I did not manage to make it the year that my shop became successful, I DID manage to hone my skills and determine exactly what it is that I want to accomplish with my art. I have turned my jewelry design in a brand new direction and have settled in to metal smithing.

I have thus far, been working predominantly in copper. The colors I can achieve are really amazing but I have a very long way to go before I can say that I actually have any control over the outcome.

When I started, I was more interested in the shapes I could form and had not realized the full potential of the copper. I will be working more towards fold forming and color combined in one piece, There is still A LOT to learn,

My shop will go back into full sale mode beginning next year. I also have three other shops under my thumb: one for my illustrations, one for my personal journey and one for the extra supplies I have lying around that I no longer need. So busy is going to be my new name! Stay tuned!


Welcome to My ETSY World

IMG_1449Vintage bead necklace

As you may have surmised from my blog, I have an ETSY shop.

ETSY is an on-line crafter’s web site that allows each seller to maintain their own internet store. Until recently, only handmade, vintage and supplies were allowed as shop wares. Now ETSY also allows designers to create their own product and  have the actual items manufactured by a second party. Some folks are happy about the change, others are not, but that’s the basic gist of what ETSY is, if you are unfamiliar with the site.

When I first signed up, I could not remember the name. I wanted to call is ESTY, because that followed the basic rules of the English language. It was easy to upload pictures and follow the instructions for descriptions and price. I think the hardest part of posting is trying to come up with a list of 13 “tag words” that could easily be picked up by a search engine as a customer is combing the web for your product. Most Etsians (that’s what we call ourselves) would agree, I think. There are whole tutorials about picking the correct words and something called SEO, which I later learned was short for “search engine optimization”. Everyone likes to feel a bit smarter by making their new fangled computer lingo into an acronym.

IMG_5402-0013 colored crocheted baby blanket

So, I started with ETSY about 2 years ago. I was THRILLED to find a place that seems designed to help someone like me (a closet artist who likes to make nice things) find a venue to sell their creations. I had read some really great success stories and thought that I coud at least make a bit of side money while I was a stay at home mom. Let me be clear here. I call myself a “closet artist” because in a real sense, I am just an artist who has not managed to come out and express that to the world yet. I have a degree in fine art and have been creating in one sense or another my entire life. I always told myself, when I was younger, that I would NEVER cave in to becoming a “crafter”. To me “crafting” was not ART! Boy, was I wrong!

Through ETSY,  I have seen some absolutely AMAZING creations. The ability to share ideas and the products that came from them is really the soul of the site. There are forums and teams that supply you with endless insight and support. Etsians create treasuries, which are a collection of 16 items with a similar theme and then post them for the rest of the world to see. It is a clear and continuous way to help support fellow artisans by showing off what their peers find to be interesting or pleasing to the eye. I particularly like making treasuries of the oddities that some folks post, like sculptures made out of dust bunnies or giant octopus tentacles that you can hang on your wall like a hunting trophy.

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ETSY was my new “home” and in the beginning, I spent hours pouring over what others have made and how. Then I started adding my own creations to the mix and found that what seemed like an easy solution to my need to make some petty cash, was not as easy as I had thought it would be….

And then There was Yarn.

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I started collecting yarn a few years ago. First I bought the traditional way; by going to Michael’s or Joann’s and clipping coupons every week. Then I moved on to the bigger sized purchases, made through eBay primarily. In the process, I discovered many wonderful yarns that today I make a staple of my business. I would like to introduce you to two of them

The bulk of the yarns in this picture were purchased though Stephanie’s Studio. I discovered her on Etsy and have since done a fair amount of business with her through he main website, http://sumi-soft.com/yarn/. She sells yarn in bulk from her sale page, saving you A LOT of money and giving some fun surprises too. I have never been disappointed. What I love most about Stephanie’s yarn is that it is designed to be used in a knitting machine. This gives the hand worker (like myself) a few really cool advantages.

  1. You get A TON of yarn on a single easy to use spool. Thousands of continual feet. No need to find enough skeins or worry about dye lots. As for knots I have never found one!
  2. This is high quality STRONG yarn. It was designed to be yanked about in a machine, so while most of her yarns are very light weight (fingerling-sport) they are anything but weak. Your product will stand up to the tests of time
  3. Too light a yarn for your purposes? I think not! I have a wall of these yarns because I can create my own pallet that way. I combine 2 or three yarns to make a standard weight and have a truly unique product. Add a soft green marl and a thin black 2ply and you get a yarn that is sweater soft, but not found anywhere else!
  4. Quality. Her acrylics are not waxy and synthetic like most of the yarns you can get at a craft shop. You won’t be disappointed.
  5. Almost all are 100% USA made! – All the one’s I have purchased are, but I don’t want to make a blanket statement without proof.

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Another yarn that I am very fond of is Cestarti Yarn. The wool for these yarns comes from Cestari Farm in Churchville, Virginia. They make the yarn on site adding cotton and silk to some of my favorite varieties. The best part about their wool is that it is not chemically processed. Most wool is sent through a bath of acids that removes every last trace of vegetable matter that might be stuck in the hair, but as a result, the proteins in the wool are also destroyed. Advantages to this yarn include:

  1. Because it is not chemically processed, it remains soft and much less scratchy. It is machine washable! You may (OK do) find small bits of straw embedded in the yarn from time to time, but they are easy to pull out.
  2. End projects made with this yarn have a very natural look, feel and drape. Very authentic.
  3. The colors they offer are all very natural and work well with the yarn
  4. 100% USA made! (It’s a theme)

The only down side to this yarn is that it is hard to buy. I bought a large amount from a yarn store that was going out of business. Otherwise you have to call the farm and request and order. http://www.cestarisheep.com/about.html. You have no visuals for colors and the shipping is quite slow, but the yarn is worth it! There are very few stores that carry this yarn. The closest to me is 300 miles away and I live in a very urban area,

So there you have a first glimpse into my studio. There is still quite a bit more yarn than that. I deconstruct high end cashmere sweaters in one corner to make my own spools of yarn and I salvage every bit of yarn I do not use in hopes of making a really cool hand woven rug one day.

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Baby blanket combining three machine weight yarns

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A wrap made with Cestari yarn