Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Love Craftopolis!

I get all of the Etsy newsletters, and last week they sent one with info about tagging. I think that tagging my items is probably one of the hardest aspects of the listing process. You need to make sure that the tags you've chosen are the ones that people will use to find your items. But if everyone is using the same tags on their items, your item may be so far down in the search that they'll still never find it!

That's where Craftopolis comes in. I'm a sucker for numbers and Craftopolis has all of the information I need in one nifty spot. They tell me how many people have stopped by my shop, how many page view I've gotten, how many shop & item hearts, how much money I've made, and which tags were used in searches that resulted in someone seeing one of my items! Gotta love it! :)

I used to use Google Analytics, but I got frustrated because I couldn't always figure out how to find out what I wanted to know. Craftopolis is SO much easier because all the information is just laid out for you. And I simply adore the tag report feature. It's awesome to be able to see which words are effective so that I can maximize my views via Etsy searches. I'm such a geek :)

Be blessed! :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rhino Snorting Drano

I am a novice at making chainmaille, but I really enjoy it, and I love the fanciful names for some of the weaves, like Rhino Snorting Drano :) But I recently had the opportunity to go to a show and I saw the wonderful creations of Majabella by Georgia Siegfried.

All of Georgia's work is done in Argentium Silver, and her rings are hand crafted by her husband, Chuck. It was awesome to have an opportunity to speak with them about their art and the creative process. It's amazing that you can take something so simple, like a jumpring, and create something so beautiful!

Check out all of her beautiful pieces on her website: What an inspiration! :)

Be blessed! :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What color is your personality?

One of the few blogs that I always read is While the Cat's Away. Earlier this week, she posted a link to a personality test based on the colors you prefer, and I can't say I was at all surprised by my results:

You are 59% introvert and 41% extrovert.
  • You are a creative person, with always new ideas, and you know how to apply them.
  • You are creative, you know how to see beauty, you are intuitive and your inspiration comes from the inside.
  • You are strong-willed and active, your actions are determined by your own will, by the goals you set for yourself, and by your need to act and move ahead.
  • You are a manager and a leader, and you know how to organize groups of people and how to give them your energy.
  • You are intellectual and intelligent, you wonder and you inquire before taking any action and setting your values.
I've always thought personality tests are fascinating, but one based on color is particularly so, especially considering my recent creative outlets. I've always known that I'm an introvert, which is why I'm much more comfortable in my basement creating. But, it's pretty cool to know that perhaps I've found something that makes my brain, soul AND personality happy. Validation is a wonderful thing!

Be blessed :)

Time for Vacation?

Well, our house is on the market, and we have a meeting with our realtor today to ramp up our efforts to get out house sold. That means that the Heavenly Denim side of things is going on vacation for a while, which makes me kinda sad. I just haven't been able to figure out how to work neatly. My work area is constantly covered with thread and pieces of denim, so once I finish the last journal cover that's in progress, that'll be it for a while. Hopefully, our house will sell quickly and I'll be able to set up my work are in the new house!

I don't know why, but I've always existed in a state of chaos. It made it interesting for my sister to share a room with me when we were growing up. My roommates in college were always amazed that I could emerge looking so put together leaving such destruction behind! As I've gotten older, I've managed to confine my chaos to my "area", but for now, that's on hold. Perhaps I could convince my sister to come and instruct me on confined creativity! :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stolen Thoughts

I make jewelry. But so do about 50% of all the sellers on Etsy. It's amazing how different it can be using basically the same materials, but I do look at other people's work for inspiration. And with jewelry, you could absolutely replicate someone else's work. That takes all of the fun out of designing something, but it could totally be done. I also make quilted stuff. And again, I look at other people's stuff for inspiration. With fabric, though, I think it's a little harder to make an exact copy, but, again, it could be done if you really wanted to.

But where is the line between copying and inspiring? There's a wealth of stuff out there. If I see something that I like, sometimes it makes me think about how I could do it too. But if we make the same thing, but in different ways, am I copying you or were you merely my inspiration?

One of my favorite fabric artists (who also happens to be my sister *smile*) is The Quilted House. She and I have some similar items and I've told her that she's one of my greatest inspirations. But when I started making notebook/journal covers, did I copy her design? I'd like to think that I didn't. Hers are made from one piece of fabric & mine are totally pieced & embroidered. Hers have a fabric tab & mine have a magnetic snap closure. But in the big scheme of things they're both the same thing. Although hers have totally nifty inside pockets that I'd love to do, but I can't wrap my brain around the curves. :)

With jewelry it's a little different. There's really a limited number of things that you can make -- earrings, necklaces and bracelets. I make a lot of earrings because that's what I like and personally wear more of. You'd think that there's not a lot of different ways you can make a pearl earring, for example. But if you do a search on Etsy for classic pearl earring, you'd be amazed at how many different earrings you'll find that are all basically the same thing.

Is it even possible to have an original thought in the crafting world? Most of us take things that already exist and assemble it into something different. I really admire the people who take raw ingredients and create something totally new. I'd love to be able to do fused glass or silver art clay or lampwork. (If I can convince my husband to buy me a kiln for my next birthday then we'll be in business *smile*). But until then, I'll keep my eyes open for my next source of inspiration :)

Be blessed! :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Each one teach one...

One of the greatest things about having a wonderful husband who made my birthday totally fabulous, is that I was able to recover 14,000+ photos that had been held hostage on my external hard drive. :)

Before Christmas I had been asked by a friend to help her Girl Scout troop complete the jewelry making badge. I was so thrilled that she decided to ask her favorite jewelry designer to come and teach the girls how to make *real* jewelry! When she sent me the badge requirements, I saw that one portion included "molding", so I decided to bring in my polymer clay equipment, and we could make our own beads.

We had SO much fun! Each girl had a kit that would make a name bracelet and a pair of earrings. I was really amazed by the talent of the girls. It was awesome to watch them select their colors and see what the final product was. It took us 2 meetings to complete, since the beads need to bake for 1/2 an hour and then cool before they could be handled safely, but once they were finished, the girls were able to embellish their pieces with an assortment of crystals and other beads to make their own, totally handcrafted pieces of jewelry!

Be blessed :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Technical Difficulties

I had a wonderful birthday, and as a result ended up taking a week off from my blog!

My husband was tired of hearing me complain about how slow my old Mac was, so for my birthday he got me a new Mac mini! I was totally thrilled! But in setting it up, I realized that I would be unable to transfer all of my information from my old Mac to the new one until I found a specific cable. So until that arrived in the mail, I was in limbo.

One good thing, though, is that I recovered 14,000+ photos that I'd transferred from my old Mac to an external hard-drive that my computer promptly decided to cease communications with. But when I hooked the external hard-drive up to my new Mac, all the photos were there and downloaded effortlessly to their new home. But they're not organized the same way they were on the old system. So I've got all the pics, but I can't find them :) There's definitely a learning curve here.

I got the cable on Friday, and my computers took almost 2 hours talking with one another transferring all the information from the old system to the new. So I have all of my bookmarks and password, all my documents and photos on my new, faster, system. I even took the time to move my desk and rearrange all of the cables so that it's not a hot mess.

While I was in limbo, though, I took the opportunity to continue with my creative brainstorm to design my new journal covers! I think they turned out really awesome! They're embroidered and quilted in my trademark crazy quilt, but they're beautiful and functional! It was actually kind of nice to be *forced* away from the computer for a week so that I had time to work :)

Be blessed :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring is Springing!

Even though Phil was way off the mark, at least here in Pittsburgh, I'm still thinking ahead to spring and summer. With my kids, that means trips to the park, our campsite, and basically just being outdoors as much as possible. That got me thinking about a new bag to carry all the stuff we need for a day outside -- sunscreen, juice boxes, snacks. When they were babies, I'd upgraded from a regular diaper bag to a diaper backpack that allowed me to be completely hands-free. And that's what led me to my newest design -- The Rucksack.

Now, when I think of rucksacks, I think of the German army marching through the countryside. Needless to say, mine is a little more feminine, but every bit as rugged and ready for anything my kids can dish out. Made from upcycled denim, but prettied up a bit with beautiful embroidery, I think this is a great little bag to get me from sun up to sun down and all the points in between without missing a beat.

Like my other bags, I made it a cross-body design so you can be completely hands free, but it's got a solid bottom and sides, so it'll stand up on it's own when you need to dig through it to find whatever you need. And the front outside pocket is a great place to put stuff like your keys and cell phone for easy finding.

The strap is long enough to do whatever you need it to do. This one was a gift-to-self for my birthday, and I've been carrying it for the past week or so to put it through it's paces. I've carried it both on my back & over one shoulder & it's great. It's easy to get into, & I'm always suprised by how much I can get into it! It's great for running to the gym, because I can fit my Kindle, my iPod, snacks for my daughter and myself, my water bottle, and anything else I might need for that day's workout. And if I've got my big gym bag as well, the straps don't interfere since one's on my shoulder and the other's on my back.

I think it's fabulous, but I'd love to hear what you think. Drop me a note and let me know!

Be blessed! :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

And the winner is...

Roni, #24 as chosen by!

Thanks for entering! Enjoy your bracelet, Roni :)

Be blessed! :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Final Day!

Today is the last day that you can enter my fabulous birthday giveaway. The comments will be closing tonight at 11:59pm EST and I will announce the winner tomorrow.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Finding my Audience

I recently purchased a set of e-books that are supposed to help me make my Etsy shop fabulous. But I'm having a problem with one step -- marketing myself.

You can tell me all you want that all I need to do is send my stuff to every blogger and magazine editor I can find, and someone will feature me, and I'll become instantly famous. I just can't wrap my mind around it. Until now.

Recently I met a woman who is also an Etsy seller that did exactly that. It's one thing to read about some random, faceless person doing it. But it's something else entirely to actually sit across the table from someone who's done it. And had success doing it.

So am I going to start randomly sending my stuff everywhere? Probably not. But I am researching some popular blogs to see what kinds of submissions they accept and what kind of response they have. Just because they have 2000 followers doesn't mean they have 2000 readers. I follow roughly 100 blogs, and I really only read like 5. I plan to change that, because I'm missing out on some fabulous opportunities by not reading some of these blogs. But I also need to make sure I'm not just reading other Etsians blogs. They're not my target audience. So I'm looking for mom bloggers and teacher bloggers and dad bloggers and anyone I can think of that DOESN'T make jewelry, but would have a need to buy jewelry either for themselves or as a gift. I need to get out of my own little world and see who's out there. You never know who might be a potential customer. :)

Be blessed.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me, part 2 :)

So every year for my birthday I get myself a gift, and the last few years it's been something from a fellow Etsian.

Last year, I treated myself to fabulous beads from my favorite lampwork artist, Anne. I simply adore her beads, and her prices are awesome! If you love lampwork like I do, check out her shop, Maudies, on Etsy!

This year, I discovered a wonderful artist on The Quilted House blog who uses found objects to make functional art. I was so excited to work with her to create my beautiful birthday clock! She had some that I liked in her Etsy shop, REaction Gifts, but none were exactly what I wanted. So we worked together to create something fabulous! I was so excited to get it in the mail, a whole week before my birthday! Happy Birthday to me, indeed! :)

Be blessed :)

ps... Don't forget about my birthday giveaway! There's only 4 days left to enter! :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Craft vs Art

I was asked to be part of a research study recently and the focus group session really made me think about what I do. Now I'm beginning to question my craft and ask myself "Is what I do art?"

Just because it's handmade doesn't make something art. But what does? I think my jewelry is beautiful, and I love the organic energy of my embroidered bags. But I didn't start making them as an artistic outlet, per se. I enjoy the artistic qualities of my work, but when I think of art, I don't think of my stuff. I know that I probably can't afford to create "art". What I would consider art is usually created almost entirely from scratch, and hence, the price reflects that investment of time and creativity. But is my work any less artistic simply because I buy my beads and findings? With my denim things, I use something that already exists in one form and re-create it into another, which I think is closer to being pure art, but the functionality of the piece brings it down for that artistic pedistal and forces it into the human realm.

We also discussed the various selling formats for our artistic endeavors, and, again, there's a disparity between those of us who make hand-crafted items and true "art". I can have a pair of earrings listed on Etsy & in a retail location because I can make them again. But a work of art is one of a kind and cannot be reproduced exactly. My bags in this instance are much closer to "art" because each one is created individually and no two will ever be exactly alike. But I still don't think they're art.

But does my work need to be art to be of value? I don't think so. But that just means that I need to find the right venue to showcase my work. I'm not in a position to create a million of each piece so that I can sell them wholesale, and I wouldn't want to even if I could. There is a difference between hand-crafted and home-made. Home-made makes me think of those terrible crocheted vests everyone wore in the 70's. Hand-crafted elevates the process to a near-art form, but still allows for the functionality of the work.

I guess, in my mind, the difference between art and craft is the functionality. Art is beautiful just for the sake of beauty while I would like my things to be loved and used. If I had unlimited resources would I rather be creating works of art? I'm not sure. I do know that I'd make a whole heck of a lot more money selling my things at the Guggenheim than on Etsy :)

Be blessed

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pants Purses for Everyone!

My children love my bags. They call them "Pants Purses" since Mommy makes them out of their old jeans. I have several that I carry myself, one that I carry pretty much everyday, and two larger ones that I take to the gym or if we're going on vacation. They have been asking me forever to make them each their own Pants Purse. So I took some time off from making things for my shop to make my children happy.

What do you think? Am I a good Mommy, or what? I've got a couple of things to tweak before I list them in my shop. Customizable stuff is so awesome! I've also got a couple of other designs that I want to perfect. I'll be listing them all in my denim shop, Heavenly Denim. :)

And don't forget about the giveaway! You've only got 8 days left to enter! :)

Be blessed!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me! :)

Well, I'm coming up to the 10th anniversary of my 29th birthday soon, and I thought that a nice way to celebrate would be to have a giveaway! And since this is my 10th anniversary, I thought I'd give you 10 days to enter to win this fabulous 14K gold freshwater pearl & crystal bracelet!

How do I enter, you may ask? Easy! And there are lots of ways to increase your chances, too!

1. Become a follower of my blog, and leave me a comment telling me you do so (or that you already do!)
2. Go to my Etsy shop and heart my shop and then come back here and tell me what your favorite item is (go ahead and heart it, too!)
3. Tweet, blog or Facebook about my giveaway. And then come back and tell me about it (noticing a pattern?)

Extra credit:
4. Follow my personal blog. Not much about jewelry there, but some pretty funny stories about my kids & how I feel about the mess the government's gotten us into. :)
5. Make a purchase from my Etsy shop. And if you do, there's a handy dandy coupon code for free shipping! Of course, if you use the coupon code, you need to be a follower of my blog(s). Use the code FOLLOWFREE from 3/14 - 3/24 (domestic shipping in the US only).

Now, don't forget to leave me a comment to let me know everything you've done so that I can tabulate all of the entries into the giveaway. Unfortunately, Facebook comments don't count. Sorry! :) You don't need to make a purchase to be entered into the giveaway, but if you do, imagine what a happy birthday I'll have! :)

So good luck! I'll post the winner on my birthday, 3/25. :)

Be blessed!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Breaking Bread & Hammering Metal

What do those two have in common? They're both great ways to relieve stress!

I've been baking bread for my family for many years now. In the past, though, I'd always done it in my bread machine. About a year ago, I found a new recipe that required that I do it the *old fashioned* way. And I discovered how relaxing kneading bread can be. If something isn't going well or I'm frustrated by a project, or one of my children (or husband!), kneading bread is a great way to avoid excessive conflict.

But if I don't have time to make bread, I've also found that hammering metal can be equally effective. I've gotten into making chain maille lately, and I really like being able to create my own clasps. And the beating of my hammer against the wire, turning it into a piece of functional art, is a great way to release aggression in a positive way!

It's so nice to turn a negative emotion into a beautiful work of art, be it bread or jewelry!

Be blessed!