Monday, December 29, 2008

I love Alice in Wonderland (especially the Mad Hatter)!

Sir John Tenniel's Alice in Wonderland illustrations are so insanely popular, and it's easy to see why. They have such great detail, and they bring the story to life. I was really excited recently when I tracked down some of the full color ones, and I could hardly wait to make something from them. After doing some cleanup to them (removing speckles, cleaning up the backgrounds a bit, etc.), I decided to make some vintage looking tags and some notecards from them. Aren't these beautiful?

There are lots of Alice lovers out there in Etsy land. One of them is my buddy Beth (aka bethtastic). She recently asked me about getting copies of the black and white Alice images I've used in my other tags, so we worked out a deal... I'd send her the images, and she'd make me a pendant with my favorite character - The Mad Hatter. Shortly after I sent her the images, I was looking at Pounce (one of the cool Etsy features) and saw one of her Alice pendants go by. It's no wonder it sold so quickly!!! Just look how great these are.

No beadweaving to show off today... I finished a couple of new pieces, but I didn't get a chance for photos yet.

I did have one adventure this morning. And I have to tell you. In a battle between a utility knife and a thumb, chances are very good that the utility knife is going to win. My husband always tells me to be careful, and I really do try. But it doesn't always work. So this morning, as I was slicing matboard into ACEO-sized blanks, my thumb slipped. Right into the path of the utility knife. Ouch. The bleeding stopped about 20 minutes after the cut. I actually debated whether to go get stitches in it, but I opted to tough it out with just a big bandage (you probably won't be surprised to learn that we have lots of those around - my favorite brand is the 3M Nexcare because it stays on forever, even when saturated with water, and it's made of a kind of foam material that lets me grip things).

And the next time I use the utility knife, I will be more careful. Wonder if I could work in chainmaille gloves?

Friday, December 26, 2008

One bracelet... one Etsy front page appearance... and the Storque

That handmade bracelet I wrote about in an earlier post has reached its intended recipient, so I can finally show it off here. I received a lovely note from the person who requested it (the mother of the recipient), and she told me that her daughter loved the bracelet and plans to wear it when she wins her first Oscar. The bracelet, in case you don't figure it out from reading it, was made to commemorate her film's acceptance into the International Film Festival in Egypt. How exciting that must be!!!

So here it is... 50 rows of square stitch, using size 15 delicas in shiny black with matte cream lettering and matte 24k gold leaves.

Today's been a nice, relaxing day. No snow shoveling. No driving anywhere. Just hanging out at home. Yep. This is what we do on our 21st wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been 21 years already. We're not big on celebrations, though, so it doesn't surprise me that we decided to just treat this day pretty much like any other. My husband suggested that we go out to dinner, but he had completely forgotten that (1) it's the day after Christmas, (2) stores will be jam packed with people looking for post-Christmas bargains, (3) restaurants will be crowded, (4) it's Friday, meaning lots of people are out on dates and such. So we'll wait till next week to have our anniversary outing.

I found a couple of exciting things on Etsy today. I logged in this morning to see what was new, and right there on the FRONT PAGE was my Mercurial necklace!!! It was in a treasury curated by Sarah, of thebeadedlily. Woo hoo!!! Sarah puts together some of the best treasuries you've ever seen. They always have something unusual in them, and they always have a theme, and I love them even when I'm not in them! Here's the front page that had me so excited this morning (and this was before I even had my first latte). I got to share the spotlight with some of my other Bead Art Originals friends... Smadar (aka SmadarsTreasure) and Lisa (aka tqbdesigns).

You know what's funny? I went to Sarah's shop to try to choose a favorite thing of hers to show off here. Who knew it would take me 10 minutes to choose!?!!?! She has so many gorgeous things in there that I had to look at each and every one of them. (Actually, I waited too long and my favorite thing sold recently.) Anyway, I finally settled on this "i am a rock" necklace as my favorite, at least for now. I love all the cubes, especially those lava rock ones.

Second, I came across some of my Captioned Critters in a Storque article! The Storque article itself is pretty exciting, as Etsy will finally be providing us with seller stats. It's apparently in beta testing now, with a select group of Etsy users, but it looks like it'll be coming in the near future. Right there in the middle of the collection of Etsy items relating to analytics is my Analytical Anteater! Yay!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Beadwoven Bracelet for Mak, and an Etsy front page appearance

Is the Christmas rush over yet? Good grief. It's been such a busy couple of weeks, and I finally feel like I have a little breathing room. Just a little, though. I still have a custom bracelet that needs to be finished tonight. And see what I'm doing? Beadweaving? Noooo. Writing in my blog. I need a break.

To begin, I'm offering a little advice to the other beadweavers who may come across this blog. DO NOT design a square stitch cuff that's 50 beads wide and worked with size 15 delicas. Or if you do, just be prepared for people to call you names. Insane. Crazy. Names like that.

I had never done square stitch, so I had no idea just how much longer it would take than peyote. I'm pretty quick at peyote, and I think I must be pretty quick at square stitch, but it's sooooooooo sloooooooooow. Wow. Each row seemed to take an eternity, and since the size 15s are so small there was miniscule progress as I finished each one. I'm all finished with that project now, but I can't show it here because there's a slim chance the recipient will see it. I'll have to wait until after I know she has it so I don't spoil the secret.

One other very special beadweaving project was for one of my Bead Art Originals friends, Mak (of MAKUstudio). She had a gorgeous raku heart pendant listed in her shop, and I just had to have it for one of my friends for a Christmas gift. I asked Mak if she'd be up for a trade, and she sent me a raku piece to be worked into a bracelet that she said would be her birthday present to herself.

What an honor to be able to create such a thing! I was so intent on making her bracelet absolutely perfect that it took me three tries to get the colors and the design just right. The raku piece, as you can see in this photo, is absolutely GORGEOUS. It shone with every color imaginable, so I wound up using a mixture of matte and shiny delicas that came the closest to the two main colors I saw in the raku.

I finished it and sent it to her in time for her birthday, and she said she loved it! HOORAY!!! The raku piece Mak sent me was quite a challenge to work with for a bracelet, but I was really happy with the way this looked and fit. One good thing is that her wrist is the same size as mine, so it made it very easy to do all the test fits.

Here are a couple of photos of the entire design. I decided to use crystal clear beads to mimic the hole in the raku piece, and then I used the same ones to make the toggles for the closure.

There are a couple of other exciting things to report this week. First, one of my cuffs wound up being shown on Etsy's front page on Saturday!!! It's always exciting to have something wind up there, and since it was a Saturday I think it was there for more than an hour! This beautiful blue and white treasury was curated by Marina (her Etsy shop is jolijoli).

Marina's relatively new to Etsy (only about three months), but her shop is filled with some beautiful jewelry. I know it's too late to do Christmas shopping now, but you could treat yourself with something gorgeous, couldn't you!??! Here's one of my favorite pieces from Marina's shop, a gorgeous green and purple cocktail ring made from freshwater pearls.

The other kind of exciting thing is that some of my Captioned Critters mini notecards are featured in the Etsy Gift Guides. I decided to offer a special for Christmas -- free domestic Priority Mail shipping for any order over $25, through Christmas Day. A few people have already taken advantage of it, and I have one order that's going out tomorrow. I know it probably won't make it to its destination in time for Christmas, but it's a good way to save some money anyway; and that's what the offer was all about. And doesn't my little Wellspoken Wombat look cute sitting there in the Gift Guide? (That's him under the Expedited Shipping Guide section.)

Okay, enough blogging. Off to do some beadweaving. I do have that bracelet to get finished...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Artistic Flair, EtsyHacks, and Lots of Blue

New stuff... blue stuff... and stuff to do! Catchy, eh? :-) So what's all that about? Well, here goes:

First the NEW stuff.

Recognize that avatar? It's Deb DiSalvo, an artist who creates incredible pieces using fused glass (which she showcases in her blog, Artistic Flair, and sells in her Etsy shop, also called ArtisticFlair). I have to say that before I saw Deb's work I wasn't all that impressed with fused glass. Most of it just looked like blobs to me. But Deb gave me a whole new appreciation of the art form with the intricate and clever creations she makes.

Anyway! Deb's been doing posts related to the Twelve Days of Christmas on her blog, and today (day eleven) she featured ELEVEN of my beadwoven cuffs!!! I was so excited to see which ones she chose, and they're some of my own personal favorites. Deb actually owns one of my other favorites, Evolutionary - I'm glad it's gone to a good home! :-)

There's even more NEW stuff.


What's that thing? What's etsyhacks? No, it's not Etsy with the flu. It's one of the cooooooolest things ever! I only "discovered" this yesterday, but it's already saved me some time; and I know it's going to continue to save me even more time.

etsyhacks is a bunch of tools written by the super-nice husband of an Etsy seller to help with some of those tasks we do every day in the course of running our shops. The tools require that you be using the Firefox web browser. If that's the browser you use, it's just a few steps to upload the tools you want and start using them.

My favorite so far is the buyer info tool, which makes it oh-so-much easier to send a convo to a buyer (which I do for each and every sale, to let the buyer know I appreciate them and that I've shipped their package) and to see past convos with the buyer. There are a bunch more. I (sadly) had to cancel a transaction today for non-payment, and I was able to use one of the tools to make the cancellation easier.

Go check 'em out! Save yourself some serious time! And if you love them, make sure to show your appreciation by donating or buying ad space.


And now for some BLUE stuff.

First is this treasury I created a couple of days ago. It's been so hectic here that I didn't get a chance to post about it when the treasury was active, but I think it was really pretty. I chose pieces by some of my Bead Art Originals friends, all incredible and all beautiful (and any one of which I would be thrilled to find in my Christmas stocking).

Apparently, this is a blue week for me. Not because it's sad, but because I had to pull out the blue beads for some special requests.

The first blue creations this week were these two blue hearts. One of these will be going to the winner of the Day 3 drawing (Grace) in the Twelve Days of Bead Art Originals Holiday Giveaway (there's still time to enter the drawings for days 11 and 12). Grace requested a blue heart: "
I've gone back a few times and looked at those hearts, I love them all, but I think I would really like to have a solid one - like the red one in your shop but with a blue heart. I'm a jeans wearing kinda gal so if you could do that I would be ever so grateful!" So here are the two I created:

The other BLUE creation this week is this bracelet, which my husband's aunt ordered for one of her jeans-wearing daughters:

And finally, the STUFF TO DO... lots of printing, lots more beadweaving, presents to wrap... Note there's no mention of cooking or cleaning.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sarah Palin, John McCain, and BARACK OBAMA!!!

I couldn't resist. Truth be told, I didn't try to resist very much. I just had to make this new set of Christmas cards featuring John McCain and Sarah Palin (they're in my Etsy shop, in case you need them). The Obama cards are still my favorites, but I'm sure there are a few staunch Republicans out there who don't want to receive an Obama card for Christmas, even if he is going to be the next President of the United States.

So these cards are for those people. Get over it. They lost. Barack won. :-)

Speaking of Barack Obama, you might remember a not-too-long ago post where I mentioned that I was working on a beadweaving project that involved 64,700 beads. Wanna see? Hmmm?

Okay, here it is. I know some people probably thought it was one giant beadwoven something-or-other, but it was actually 20 beadwoven cuffs featuring the name of our President Elect, with his logo acting as the "O" in Obama. They were requested by a very special customer of mine, and even though I was happy to do them I think it'll be awhile before I do anything else involving red, white, blue, and gray! The only saving grace was that while I was working away on these, I was thinking of other ideas and jotting them in my little notebook.

(I kind of like this shot.)

And here they are all packaged and ready to go on their way... each one with one of my Santa Obama gift tags, which I thought might be a nice touch as these are being given as Christmas gifts.