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!