Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can you spare a click?

Originally I thought of making paper roses as a way to use up the huge box of paper I have leftover from making books. (C'mon, you can't just throw that stuff out!) Back in the Victorian era women made paper flowers for their homes during the months when fresh flowers weren't in season. I've used that idea to make flowers out of recycled papers- which I think is a great and everlasting alternative to fresh flowers in floral arrangements and bouquets.

A couple of weeks ago my wonderful Etsy friends talked me into entering my paper roses into the Martha Stewart DIY Wedding contest (that is happening in partnership with Etsy). The winner of the contest will be featured on her website and might have the opportunity to demonstrate their craft on her show. There are some great entries, including those of my friends and teammates. I encourage you to sign up for an account and vote/comment on your favorites. And, if you can spare a click check out my entry here where I've entered a bouquet of fuchsia roses I actually made for a recent wedding. Rumor has it that Martha Stewart will be taking into consideration the ratings and comments when choosing a winner.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Around the world and back...

As an Etsy seller I think one of the coolest things I get to do is send mail all over the world. Each time I send a package overseas or to a town I've never heard of I always feel the need to share that information with everyone I know- and although it may sound just plain weird to them, I consider it an accomplishment to sell items to someone in Jerusalem or New York City. It just proves that Etsy is more far-reaching than I ever imagined it to be and I have a sense of pride knowing that right now things I made with my own two hands are literally all over the world!

I've decided that with my office being a "command center" of sorts it is only appropriate to track my progress on a map pinboard right above my desk. I will soon be sticking little red tipped pins in a world map for every sale I make to a location, with the goal to someday have sold to every US state and most major countries! (Tokyo, Seoul, Reno, Sao Paulo, and Hong Kong being towards the top of my wishlist!) Until that gets set up I've made a virtual version on Google Maps. You can check out the full version of it here

Look out world, here I come!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tutorial: DIY Bubble Mailer

One thing I have learned from being an Etsy buyer is that creative business people don't let their creativity stop with the items you buy. Rather, they use their creative potential to it's fullest by carefully packaging your purchases in a way that ties in with their online business persona. (Ok, maybe not everyone does, but I love getting these packages the most!) A great way to customize your packaging is to make your own and if you're using reclaimed materials you're probably saving yourself a pretty penny too.

I wanted to share an easy tutorial for making your own bubble mailers. This works great to tie your packaging in with your online business, or to simply make something cute to ship goodies to your friends. Getting mail (other than bills) is exciting, but it can be even more so when it looks exciting too!

For this project you will need:
- Heavy weight paper-heavy wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, or even recycled cereal boxes
- Bubble wrap -the standard kind, not the stuff with the giant bubbles
- White glue, or a heavy-duty glue stick.
- Clear tape
- Scissors or paper cutter
- Ruler
- Spray adhesive (optional)

Step One:
Take your piece of paper and cut it to be 11 x 9 inches.
Then, fold it following the graph below. (This is for an envelope that is 5x7, for a bigger envelope you need to double the width, add an inch for the "flap" on one side, allow .5 in on the bottom and 1.5 in on the top for flaps also)

Step Two:
Cut off the pieces marked in grey on the diagram

Step Three:
Leave your paper on the table right side down. Cut two pieces of bubble wrap that are approximately 4.5 x 6.5 inches, or 1/2 an inch smaller than your envelope size.
Glue your bubble wrap bubble side down (so the smooth part faces towards you) to the wrong side of the paper inside the two 5x7 inch pieces. Try to leave an equal amount of space around each side.
I usually glue mine with spray adhesive, but white glue will work ok for this. Be patient and let the glue dry and spread white glue thinly so the paper doesn't get wrinkles and warp from being too soggy. For added security, I also recommend using clear tape at the top of the bubble wrap to prevent it from peeling up when you fill the envelope.

Step Four:
Put glue on the bottom two flaps of the paper and fold the envelope together. Press the bottom flaps together firmly and allow to dry. These will be secure if you used good glue, but if you are worried you can tape this seam. Your envelope will be connected on the bottom, but open with a 1 inch flap on the right side, and a 1.5 inch flap on the top like this:

Step Five:
Put glue on the side flap, and fold over, securing it to the back of the envelope. For additional security, tape the flap as well. (This one likes to peel up otherwise!)

Now your envelope is done! Fill it and either glue or tape the top flap shut. If you have a dark color or busy pattern you will want to affix white mailing labels on the front to write your addresses on.
These work great for me when I am in a pinch and need some packaging. Recycle bubble wrap from packages you receive or if you know someone who recently moved you can usually inherit a ton of it for free!

Happy Mailing!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rock the vote.

Anyone else out there love to vote? Knowing that I shared my opinion, whether or not the outcome of a vote is to my liking, always leaves me with a great sense of accomplishment like my little voice has joined others to show that I care. It doesn't have to be a serious issue to be important either- who says voting can't be fun?

If you've been to my blog before you know that handmade is important to me so I am super excited to plug two different voting opportunities in the handmade community this week. First of
all, my lovely team (the Eastern Washington Etsy Team) is hosting a challenge and we need your vote to decide a winner. You also have the option of leaving a comment for the chance to win a prize. Hop on over to our blog for the current challenge and details.

And, for those of you that haven't been cruising the Etsy blog "The Storque" lately, they have a great feature called Voter that allows folks to vote for their favorite item weekly in a variety of themes. I am honored to once again be included in the Voter this time for back-to-school notebooks and journals. Check it out, and rock the vote here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Handmade Triumph

As someone who has taken the handmade pledge, I make a good-faith attempt to gift handmade whenever possible. Although this is has been my habit for many years now, I still find myself holding my breath every time I hand over that little handmade treasure. Many people don't realize that handmade gifts are the highest of compliments because of the hard work and the massive amount of love that goes into each gift. For me, it is like giving the recipient a little piece of my heart and I anxiously wait to see if they will treasure it or trash it.

Most people who have children know that you can usually rely on them for an honest reaction. While adults will spare your feelings, a child will be brutally honest about whether or not they appreciate your efforts. So when I made the choice to craft a handmade gift for my niece that will be opened along with a mountain of other name-brand-mass-media-battery-operated gifts the anxiety was especially high. Will my week worth of creating be lost in a sea of Disney and plastic? I am happy to know that it wasn't- not by a long shot.

G, my niece, has developed a fascination with food and cooking which has grown since my parents have splurged on cable T.V. While most children will request cartoons, G squeals with delight at the sight of Food Network. She recites recipes and measurements rather than nursery rhymes and would be much more excited to meet Rachel Ray than Hannah Montana. So it seemed obvious to me to spend a solid week crafting her favorite foods out of eco-fi, a felt-like material made from recycled plastic bottles. (Greatest stuff ever, really)

I took on this project without realizing that it would provide endless entertainment for both myself, who laughed aloud while sewing a life-sized plush corndog, and my family. I would have gladly spent the time to make these had it just pleased the birthday girl, but seeing how people react to the food still has me tickled. Who knew that a felt sandwich looks real enough to accidentally pack for lunch (my husband did this before I told him it wasn't real!), or that the remedy to the Monday blues is a photo message of felt bacon and eggs? The party paused when she opened her picnic basket full of food as everyone fought to peek inside or give a felt apple slice a squeeze.

In case there was any doubt, handmade enjoyed a major triuph this week. A very happy 4 year old has been waking every morning and asking to cook with her new "sewing food" and has to be persuaded each night to put it away for bedtime. My niece loved the gift and my family has been talking about it ever since. I definitely see a sequel to this gift playing out at Christmas.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Battle of Wills

Merit Badge (for rolling with the punches) by leemeszaros
Its no secret that the women in my family are incredibly stubborn. Last night was the ultimate showdown of stubborn-ness too- the battle of wills between the crafty chick and the shop-a-holic. (No, they aren't both me.) Here's how it all happened...

Yesterday evening I was at my mom's house using her sewing machine to finish up a birthday gift for my younger sister. I end up staying late and as I am gathering my stuff to leave my older sister, the shop-a-holic, mutters "Dang. I have to go back to the store for the 3rd time today. I forgot to get something for the potluck at G's school tomorrow." Because it is the last day of preschool for my niece there is a potluck, which my sister forgot about until 8:30 pm. This is where I come in.

"Why don't you just find something here to make and bring?"
"No, I was going to bring fruit. Even though a couple other moms are bringing fruit too."
"Then bring something different, don't go back to the store again."
"We have nothing in the house I can bring, trust me. I have to go to the store."

I don't think so. A crafty person can make anything for a potluck out of what's in the cupbboards. So I take G by the hand and we go looking in the pantry for a potluck item. "Ooh! how about we make this?" G was pointing to a huge container of breadcrumbs. Tempting, but no. These were sitting next to a box of graham crackers which looked much more promising. I handed the box of graham crackers off to G and kept looking. "Cover them with frosting and call it good" shouts my Mom from the dining room (Who, by-the-way, will eat frosting on anyting and everything- even carrots.)

With the graham crackers I can make a pie crust if only I can find a filling of some kind. Score! I find a cheesecake flavored pudding and hand it off to G. Meanwhile my sister is pacing the floor saying "This is never going to work. I am just going to the store." While she is busy debating whether to grab her car keys I throw the crackers into a gallon-sized freezer bag and hand G an ice-cream scoop and tell her to smash away. "Am I just like Food Network? I'm a cooker girl!" Yes, just like food network, only without the cameras or the ingredients.

As we're melting the butter for our pie crusts my sister informs me that the party is finger foods, so I might as well stop. Since pie is not finger food she has to go to the store anyway. Will the store hurry up and close already? Problem solved- I sent G to the cupbord to find me a muffin pan instead. Mini cheesecakes are great finger food dessert. An ancient muffin pan and no cupcake liners made things interesting, but with a little tin foil and scissors we called it good.

To make pudding into a pie filling, just add less milk when mixing it up. I also added whipped cream to the filling to make it fluffy and sliced some berries for the top. Mini cheesecakes all around! These rested in the refrigerator overnight and viola! The crafty will is stronger than the urge to hit the store for the 3rd time! The secret is that my craft conscience sounds a lot like Tim Gunn "Make it work," and while I don't sew that great I think he would be proud of both my mini cheesecakes and my pillows (for my younger sister's bday which is today!)

Friday, June 12, 2009

*Bragging Alert!*

Can I just brag for a quick second... please? I just want to tell everyone how proud of my team I am! As the President of the Eastern Washington Etsy Team it makes me feel like a proud momma when the team excels and that is exactly what we are doing! We have some mighty talented folks in our bunch and Etsy is definitely taking notice.

As I said in my last post, 3 of our team members (including myself) are featured in this weeks Etsy Voter which ends on Monday. People nominate these folks (or they can nominate themselves) and Etsy Admin chooses a group of items to be voted on then featured. Studio Cherie, The Vintage Dresser, and myself are all featured for our rockin' cozies.

Today I also found that we have another 3 members featured in the Father's Day themed Weekend Deals Gift Guide. Studio Cherie (man, is she popular!), slidesideways, and myself all have some screamin' weekend deals for your handmade-lovin' dad. Team EWAET representing! (lol, ok. Maybe that one was a little much- even for me.)

We also have major treasury fever and your can find treasuries by some of our "superstar" treasury makers on both Treasury Main and Treasury West at any given time. Leanna of SeamsVictorian is really on fire with these and she is good! The ever-popular Cherie also has cornered the market on treasuries and is an expert since she is also on the Treasury Team.

All I can say is- Go Team! You make me proud!