Thursday, April 30, 2009

I've Made The Front Page!

Anyone who is addicted to Etsy like I am knows that the front page is equivalent to the Holy Grail for an Etsy shop owner. Either being featured as a shop or a curator of a treasury is the highest compliment possible. And today, I was just paid a major compliment. Thanks to friend and fellow teammate, Cherie of StudioCherie, I was included into a lovely treasury that was featured on the front page today!

So what's the big deal? Not only did I sell the item that was featured, I have 15 new shop hearts just this morning AND our team got some excellent exposure. I must have known it was going to be a good day- I woke up super early without being tired, got extra spiffed up and had a nice little breakfast all by myself. Now, if you don't mind, I'm stepping out for some errands and to have a nice visit with my sister to round off the day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Eco-friendliness is near and dear to my heart, so I would like to pop in quickly and wish you a Happy Earth Day! (Which, coincidentally is also my wedding anniversary. 3 years strong!) Do something earthy today- for me it will be weeding my garden and starting veggie seedlings indoors. What will your earth day bring?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spreading the wealth...

I remember being in art school and trying to find an easy-to-understand tutorial on bookbinding so I could make my friend a journal for her birthday. The one I finally found was not only difficult to find, it was difficult to understand! Eventually I did learn, by pulling information from about 5 different sources and pooling them. It hit me a while back that if I had this much trouble finding a tutorial, others might as well. I did an Etsy search for "Coptic Binding" "Chain Stitch" "Bookbinding" and others and came up with no tutorials. So, I talked myself into making one.

It was an interesting process to write down on paper what my hands were so used to doing. I had to think hard to make it simple and specific at the same time. I think most people are afraid of Coptic binding because it looks or sounds complicated, but once you learn it is very easy! After coming up with written instructions, I got out my handy-dandy digital graphics tablet and created simple illustrations (which I find way more effective than photos) in Adobe CS2. I even created little arrows to show the motion of the thread. I tested this out on Hubby (who is not known for his craftiness) and he said he got it, so I have confidence you will too!

Today just felt like the right day to unveil this labor of love. It is now available in my Etsy shop for purchase, and coming soon I will have hardback, paperback, and advanced techniques to share. I'll also be grouping them together for a discounted price if you think you want to tackle all three.

Hope you all had a lovely Monday. (Perhaps so lovely that you want to learn a new skill?)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Do you remember that nursery rhyme? Mary, Mary, Quit Contrary. How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row. Well I have no idea what cockle shells are (I have yet to identify several packets of mystery seeds that came in my HUGE seed box) but I am starting quite the garden.

If you live in my area, you are probably wondering how I am gardening with this weather. I have spent a few days gardening in rain and hail (much to my neighbor's entertainment, I'm sure) and the rest of the time I've been starting seeds indoors inside egg cartons. I have so many left over from Easter eggs that I could plant my whole box of seeds in them!

The vegetable garden is my next big project to tackle and it's going to be a big one. The whole family is arguing at this point on how to set it up, but we have agreed to plant as much as possible to feed my household, my parents, and my sisters. What we can't eat, we'll can. Which will be a whole new adventure for me. I'm really channeling my grandpa here, because even in failing health in his 80s he still managed to tend the most amazing gardens. Hopefully he will be my garden angel and watch over my crops.

For those of you getting the gardening itch as well, I'd like to pass on some inspiration. Some "veggie dust" if you will. First, if you are limited on space you have to check out this post on Paula's blog. She is a fellow team member and has mastered the art of square foot gardening. It really is amazing! Even if you aren't strapped for space, the concept of growing 100lbs of potatoes in just 4 square feet is incredible. Find out how here on Apartment Therapy's sister site Re-Nest.

And now, on to Etsy to get you set up with all the goodies you want and need to get you in the digging mood.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wear your food, and your faith

I've officially launched my own MySoti shop where I will be periodically uploading my artwork so you can wear it.
For those of you that haven't heard of MySoti, it is a website where designers can upload their original art to be made in to tshirts and posters. It is DTG (diret to garment) printing so the quality is much better than a transfer and they have the ability to print over 16 million colors- something screen printing just can't offer. The tshirts are great quality and there are two style options so you can pick the fit you like best. Plus, I love that I still own my designs and can set my own pricing.

Here is my first design, What the French, Toast? If you share my sense of humor, this is probably the funniest saying ever! Inspired by the Orbitz (Clean up a dirty mouth) commercial I've turned this hillarious saying into a design complete with an adorable kawaii inspired french toast. Awwww. (Click the image to be taken to the design and see it bigger)

What the French, Toast? tee by Ragnazidnar. Available from

My other design, Faith, was created after some good friends of ours adopted the girl they'd always payed for. After having two wonderful boys this couple was no longer able to have children and were elated to find out they would be adopting a sweet little girl. Faith is her name and this design was made for her. After recieving such a positive response I've now turned it in to a design for everyone.

Faith tee by Ragnazidnar. Available from

Thanks for letting me share my newest adventure. I'd love to hear your feedback, and please continue to check MySoti for more of my designs. :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Artist Interview: Good4You

I'm back with another artist interview with one of my new favorites on Etsy. While looking for some natural alternatives to the medications I quit taking a year ago I ran across a great shop that sells herbal teas, baths, and salves. She also makes great custom blends so you get everything you need in one tea. Jess from good4you has kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

Randi: How did you get started creating teas at home and what motivated you to open an Etsy shop?
Jess: I was inspired by a class I took 4 years ago at UMass Amherst. It was in a beautiful greenhouse. It all came together one night when my friend made me a remedy from whatever was in the kitchen cabinet. Then I started creating teas for my friends in the dorm I was living in. The process grew even larger when I introduced them at an Open Mic coffee house I ran. After graduating I naturally continued the process at my house. I opened an Etsy shop to live the dream of running a small business from my home. I also sell to local coops and natural foods stores.

Randi: You have some amazing custom blends, can you tell me a little about where your ideas come from and what the process is like making these blends?
Jess: My ideas flow naturally, like an herbal dance the plants lead me through. I usually mix them up like paint on a pallet. A little bit of this and yes a touch of this too to make a beautiful painting. The teas start with a base herb like green tea or chamomile. I then add on a ginseng for strength and/or a nourisher like nettles. Next, the medicinals come in for whatever the need of the tea may be. I then finish the tea with a sweetener like stevia, flower or spice.

Randi: Your product names are great! Which of these teas or other products are your favorites?
Jess: I love everything so much. Oh no! Please don't make me do this! Ok ok, you talked me into it. My favorites are (drumroll please) :

TEA: Natural Mystic and Pure Bliss Chai. I am in heaven with the hibiscus tartness and minty undertones of Natural Mystic. Pure Bliss Chai got me through the winter on those cold days. It warmed my heart with milk and honey.

TEA BATH: Rising Spirit. You'll feel like a goddess. Lemongrass, rosemary, lavender, sage, oats, and the spirit of mugwort! Amazing.

Rising Spirit Tea Bath

SALVE-ATION: is the best as well. I love the all-purpose salve I make. You can use it for anything. It has royal jelly in it too. Such greatness! I use it everyday, right now after some early gardening, for cuts, as a little shine to my face instead of makeup, and for dry dry skin. I love it! It took me 3 years to develop.

Randi: Anyone who visits my shop knows I am a huge wheatgrass freak, but I also love herbal teas. Can you explain the benefits of using your products, both on the body and the environment?
Jess: The teas I make complete me. Herbs are such a great way to feel full of life. They give us vitamins, minerals, medicine, completeness. I package these bundles of nourishing joy in 100% biodegradable and recycled packaging. I also use mason jars that can be reused. I try to keep in mind not creating waste, period. I print out all the labels myself with ink I get locally filled. I also use herbs from local farmers. I think it's important to keep the economy within the peoples hands and not big huge chain stores.

Randi: I see lots of new products coming in to your shop- any big plans for the future of good4you?
Jess: My plan is to educate and inspire as much as possible. I would love to see more successful artists, sustainable practices, a strengthened real people based economy and of course more love! Maybe a little box of tea can speak a thousand words? One day I will have a farm. New products will definitely come too with the inspiration. A huge flood just past full of them so I hope everyone dives in!

Randi: When you're not making herbal teas and baths, what can you be found doing?
Jess: Right now you will find me digging up a huge new garden in our backyard. Now is the time. I heard more people then ever are starting gardens this year. It's a good idea! I also sit in the forest alot. I'm also trying to be a Buddha Blossom, like my tea and see all that happens with love instead of fear. Love Is.

Randi: Describe what your workplace is like, where do you create and package your products?
Jess: My kitchen is an herbal haven. Jars of herbs galore. I pack tea in front of a window that over looks the forests of Mt. Toby. Bird seed and bread covers the sill to bring beautiful birds and squirrels in sight all day! I love being in touch with nature all hours. It shows me the inspiration!

Randi: 4 months shy of your 1 year Etsy birthday and you've managed a fabulous 300+ sales! Any advice for other Etsy sellers out there?
Jess: I have some really good hints actually. I say first and foremost look at what your favorite, most successful shops are doing. Follow their lead. It's good inspiration and motivation. Another hint is using the Renew option for your products frequently, even daily if you can. It will keep them listed up at the top of category searches. I know from personal shopping experience I usually look at the first few pages before moving on. Using Renew also saves the products hit counters from before so it's pretty sweet! It will cost 20 cents every time you Renew, I'd say it's a great investment. Etsy reaches a lot of people. Another hint is something I just started doing which is having a promotion every week. It keeps things interesting. Also, have really really good pictures. FInally, draw from the love and kindness you are!

Randi: Name 5 blogs you're following right now.
I probably follow 5 altogether, and from now on 6, which will be yours!!! This is so funny! It's going to show another side of me. I love fashion. Even though my style is totally earthcrunch grunge ninja hobo.
I follow Etsy seller Yokoo's blogs (very inspiring).
I love Leanne Marshall's clothing from project runway. She also has an Etsy shop LeAnimal. Seeing successful artists on the rise keeps me motivated.
I also check out the Style Bubble with Susie Bubble.
And with a touch of spiritual stuff, I try to follow the ACIM monk's blog. I was inspired by the Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard and then The Course in Miracles. The ACIM monk shows the love.
And finally shout outs to Etsy seller moonandsundries. I follow Karen's blog because she's a local motivation-inspiration as an artist. She organizes hip craft shows too attracting all sorts of people to the local artisan community/economy.

Randi: Name your top 5 favorite Etsy shops.

Jess: Yokoo, BodhiYarn, EmilyRyan, Idea2Lifestyle & ArmoursansAnguish

Randi: Thank you for giving us a peek inside what makes good4you great!
Jess: This was so fun. Much peace. Spread Love! Drink teA!

And now, some of my favorites from good4you:

Ultimate Green Drink
(Wheat grass powder, barley grass powder, beet root powder, chlorella powder, spirulina powder & bee pollen)

Positive Vibrations
Women's Tea (Nettle leaves, shatavari root, dandelion leaves and root, alfalfa leaves, gotu kola leaves, cinnamon, red raspberry leaves, red clover blossoms, rosemary leaves, vitex berries, dong quai root, stevia leaves, sage leaves and flowers.)

Remedy Sample Pack (3 tea bags each of 7 different remedy teas: Cheer Up, Natural Mystic, One Love Tea, Satisfy My Soul, Judge Not, Pure Bliss Chai & Sun Song Tea.)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hippity Hop... the Easter Challenge is here!

As you know, the Etsy team I'm on is hosting monthly challenges and up tomorrow at 5pm PST is the Easter Challenge. My talented teammates are crafting up some Easter themed goodies and we'd love for you to go vote for your favorite. If you're over 18 and living in the us you could also win one of these lovelies by leaving a comment for us.

I wasn't going to enter but I had a lightbulb go off last minute and I cut up some pages from an old shorthand dictionary and made a recycled paper calla lily bouquet. I dyed the paper with hibiscus tea and hit the edges with pink prismacolor art markers. I also learned how to wrap a bouquet bridal-style with wide satin ribbon and pearl pins. It was pretty fun and just the first of many paper flower bouquets that I'll be putting together. I've already got a lot of interest in the paper roses and am making a corsage for my friends gallery opening in 5 weeks. Weee!

I'll see you all tomorrow with a fabulous interview with one of my newest Etsy favorites, good4you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring, Indeed!

Seriously, is it really spring? I live in the "Banana Belt" of Spokane and have thankfully missed the snow showers this week but I am still ankle deep in hail most days. I've been sitting at the window patiently waiting for the tiniest ray of sun so I can get started on my yardwork. I have a 1/2 acre to rake, shovel, prune, and plant and this 30 degree weather is killing me! Can I go outside already.... please?

As if I wasn't excited enough, just look what I got yesterday. Since we met in art school I've always helped my friend Keshia stretch her canvas. Yesterday she not only showed up with 3 yards of canvas and 18 boxes to stretch them over, but she came bearing gifts. A friend of her family recently passed after a battle with cancer and she left everything in her greenhouse to Keshia and her mom. This gift was passed along to me and yesterday I inherited a 12 x 16 x7 inch box packed full of seeds! After I plant my own garden, I have enough to landscape the rest of my block!

You may not know this, but the gardening muscle has to be properly stretched before engaging in wildflower warfare on your neighborhood. So, I began a strict training program yesterday, starting with a moss terrarium. I found this little vintage pyrex coffee pot at the thrift store and it was beggin to be made into a planter... really, I heard it. This adorable terrarium will sit on my computer desk to help bring the outside in. Now all I need are ceramic mushrooms to go inside.

And, while I had gardening on the brain, I've decided to put all those book "guts" to good use and I'm expirimenting with templates to make paper flowers. I made this rose yesterday out of sheet music and just finished dying paper to make a calla lily bouquet for my team's Easter Challenge. You might possibly see these in my shop in the near future.