21 June 2007

I ♥ Etsy (The Etsy Ribbon)

After my third custom order for crocheted, beaded, wire awareness ribbons for various causes, I felt it was time to have some sort of "choose your cause" ribbon listed in my shop. And I do. I had to make some sample ribbons to do it, and, of course, I have the standard red ribbon and yellow ribbon. I also have a white ribbon. These three colors stand for a myriad of causes from AIDS to troops to epilepsy. My own RAINN-y Day Ribbons also stand for prostate cancer and child abuse awareness (among others).

The one ribbon I didn't find was one for returning to a simpler way of life. I was looking for a "crafting" or "community" or "creativity" or "DiY" ribbon. Something along those lines. And I couldn't find a one. Nothing. Zip, Zilch, Nada. Nothing. Nothing for returning to the handcrafted over the mass-produced or of buying from a person rather than a faceless corporation. Nothing for building community through creativity. And nothing that celebrated the strength of the community and culture that is springing from this movement.

And so I set out to create one. I looked in my stash to get some inspiration, and there it was: Tangerine, half-hard, 28-gauge copper wire from Artistic Wire. A color that looked an awful lot like Etsy orange. I checked my bead stash for orange beads, figuring I'd make an orange ribbon (a ribbon that also stands for such illustrious causes as feral cats, hunger, and self abuse). And, again, there they were: White seed beads. It was one of those moments where everything seems to fall in place. I checked the Etsy homepage to make sure I wasn't dreaming, and there it was: an orange and white Etsy logo.

The rest is history. The finished I ♥ Etsy Ribbon is crocheted with tangerine copper wire and white glass seed beads. It measures a little over 1.5" (3.81 cm) long. I strung the prototype on a strand of recycled cotton/linen, then sent it off to EtsyLabs as a sort of "thank you for all you've done". After all, I wouldn't be as inspired to create, have found the community I did, and be able to have a little extra spending cash for my family if it wasn't for all their hard work.

So imagine my surprise when I received a convo from Vanessa at Etsy Labs saying I was going to featured in the Etsy blog. Okay, surprise doesn't quite cut it. Elation and wonder would be better descriptors. Regardless, it was more than I was expecting. I was honestly just hoping for a "your welcome, send us more, we like them" sort of thing. I guess validation that it was a good idea. But the blog? That was more than I could have hoped for.

And so, lessons learned:
1) Sometimes inspiration is spelled "eureka"
2) I don't need jump rings to create the hanging loops on these if I position the curve in the ribbon correctly
3) Sometimes a simple "thank you" rewards you karma-wise more than you could've imagined
4) You should have a listing ready for selling any item that may end up in demand, no matter how remote the possibility

I wasn't actually planning on listing this one for awhile, but since it's going in the blog, well... it'll be in my shop as soon as I see the blog post.

Happy happy joy joy!

20 June 2007

How does your garden grow (Flower and Handle Scrubbies)

Ah, Scrubbies.

Scrubbies sell. Scrubbies are popular for trading. Scrubbies are easy to make. But they're also boring as all hell and hard to differentiate from everyone else. My first attempt at making a different scrubbie was the round scrubbie. And those traded well. So I decided to give it another go.

I came up with two new scrubbies. The first, a simple flower motif with a hanging string. Let's you hang the darn thing up to dry, and it comes to you as a fun little flower. The second is the regular "just another scrubbie" scrubbie, but with a hanging loop. When I created my own "just another scrubbie" to see how it compared to my round scrubbie (it didn't, by the way), I made it like everyone else does. Just a square. But I had to set the thing in the soap dish and it smelled of mildew and never really dried. Ewwww. No more "just another scrubbies" for me. Now they will all have hanging loops, just like this "Just Another Scrubbie (Only Better)".

So, nothing exotic, but hey, they're kreations nonetheless.

Lessons learned:
1) A flower motif can become anything you want it to be
2) Disgust breeds innovation

I'm posting these to my store today, so look for them, well, now!

11 June 2007

EtsyFAST Fiber ACEO Challenge: The Card-i-gan Series

A while back, thefunkyfelter and I convo'd about starting an ACEO challenge for the EtsyFAST team. I posted the idea to the Yahoo! group, and it really took off. June was the month to post ACEOs, and so far, the team has come up with some great ones; a search for both etsyfast and aceo will bring up some great works.

I felt an obligation to come up with one of my own, after all, I was the co-challenger. My original idea was to felt one using the gorgeous fiber I received from fellow team member northstaralpacas, but I discovered that I am horrible at both wet and dry felting. At least, with plain roving. And so I decided I should stick with crochet. The idea came to me that a granny-square inspired line would be in order. Sort of like a collectible set of ACEO-sized afghans. And so the card-i-gan series was born. I know, bad pun, but it's the best I could come up with.

I wanted my first card to "pop", and so I selected geometric shapes and high-contrast colors (inspired by Judy Schwartz's great book "Hip to Crochet"). I settled on a granny square and a striped strip. And I'm pretty happy with my results. I also had to come up with a way to sign the darn thing, which I accomplished with a bit of heat-n-bond, a clothing marker, and one of my sewing labels.

Lessons learned:
1) It is hard to work on a small scale
2) It is easy to scorch cotton while blocking
3) Heat-n-Bond adheres to irons, so be careful

And, of course, this is up in my Etsy store. It represents my very first original ACEO (the rest being limited edition photographs of paintings). Hopefully, it won't be my last.

07 June 2007

The best things come in small packages

What do you get the man you love for his first Father's Day? This is a question I've been trying to answer for weeks now. Brie was able to get a few cool things for her daddy (on Etsy, of course! Many thanks to toybreaker and jduct for making such awesome stuff), but me... I've been struggling.

And so I decided to go the DIY route. This is usually difficult because, well, frankly, my husband doesn't like what I crochet (not for him, anyway, he likes my work), my silk paintings are already on our walls, and teal jewelry just isn't his cup of tea. I had to come up with something else. I finally came up with the idea for a brag book.

The idea came to me as I was filling out the cards I got from luckyduckdesigns. I was printing out pictures for Brie's great-grandmother, and I figured I could make a mini-brag book for Scott to carry with him. Something small enough to fit inside a pack of cigarettes. Literally.

I decided *not* to research how to make a book; I knew I'd feel compelled to go out and buy stuff I probably didn't need. Besides, I have a ton of scrapbooking supplies here; papers, adhesives, staples, cutters... so I figured I'd be good.

It was actually an incredibly difficult project. Tons of cutting and glueing and binding, but in the end, I created a small, 2.5" squared album with 16 pictures of our little angel. A Kastroll Kreation full of a Kastroll Kreation. How fitting. I can't say I had fun, but I'm sure he'll love it.

So, lessons learned:
1) Blogging about a gift before giving it may be risky (but he did see me fussing with paper and stuff, so maybe he already knows)
2) Glue is sticky and changes the color of cardstock if even the smallest hint of it touches the surface
3) Creating a flip book requires that you mount items right-side-up, upside-down, (repeat ad nauseum). I had to scrap a few pages and start over before I really learned that one
4) I am glad I'm not a paper crafter

You will not be seeing items like this in my store. Ever. I'm sure someone else makes them. But this was personal, and I enjoyed doing it if only because I know he will love it.

06 June 2007

Tweak-Tweak: A few projects modified

Now that I have Brie in my life, I'm finding crafting, posting, and blogging a bit more difficult. Granted, I'm getting it done, but not with the proliferation I had before. And that, my friends, is actually a good thing. As I type, my little banshee princess is sleeping on the bed. But that is just background for the topic of this post.

Since things are a little harder, I've spent some time tweaking older projects. The first was the soap holder. I decided to give the keyhole closure a try, and I decided, depsite my previous criticism, that I like the design. It looks cleaner. Granted, I still have concerns about small soap slivers disappearing out the larger opening, but even I have to admit that it looks better than a drawstring. So I've decided to sell both styles.

I also had two "eureka" moments for my silk paintings. First, that I could crop an image down to ACEO size in order to make an ACEO. I did this to make "Swimming" an ACEO, and realized that I could do the same for other paintings. My first attempt at this was "Turtle", and I am pleased with how it turned out. Second, as I stared at a beautiful, simple, line drawing done by ivaart, I realized it was an artsquared painting, a collectible form of art whose only requirement is that the finished work be 4x4" (5x5cm). I already have to crop my painting images into squares, so many of my works, especially the prayer flag panels, are well adapted to this. Be prepared to see the images I can't crop into decent looking ACEOs as artsquared items very soon.

Lessons learned:
1) Necessity does breed invention
2) Learning to make time for creating when I've created the most amazing little creature in the whole world is challenging

04 June 2007

Eco-Friendly Trick #2 - BYO (Silverware Holder)

There are some very simple ways to save the Earth, and the simplest of all is reuse. We see this all the time at the grocery store; a $0.05/bag bonus if you bring your own bags. But where else can you BYO? Why, everywhere! Eating out is a key example. Think of how many times you've wandered through the nameless food court at your local mall. You know the one - they're handing out samples of sesame chicken on toothpicks next door to the yummy smell of cinnamon buns.

When you go there, what type of silverware is provided? Plastic, of course. And no sooner do you finish your meal do you toss it into the garbage, thus adding yet another layer of plastic reinforcement to the local landfill.

Why do that, when you can BYO? I decided to create something to make it a little easier. I was inspired by both my crochet hook holder (actually a painter's travel brush set) and by a similar item in a fair-trade magazine. It was simple - a roll that had small pockets for utensils and a napkin. I decided to make one.

First I used some upcycled fabric I'd saved from a thrift store. Same for the silverware and napkins. Then I set to work. I guessed on the dimensions, and they, for the most part, worked out great. The silverware is completely hidden in the pockets, something I hated at first, but after a few runs, I realized that they didn't get dirty or fall out when they were completely covered. A small "mistake" ended up being a superior design. The napkin requires rolling to get into its pocket, but then, the whole thing requires rolling, so I figure that's no big deal. And since the roll could change diameter depending on how (or if) people inserted things, I decided to give it tie closures.

In the end, I ended up with top-stitched details (including the tie strings) and one pretty little pouch.

Lessons learned:
1) Do not sew when your baby is sleeping. You will feel guilty. Very guilty.
2) Straight lines on uneven nap are near impossible.
3) Spoons are not as long as one would think.
4) Rolled hems are not easy. Buy the napkin instead (this is what I did).

And, as always, you'll see this in my shop soon.