Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Birthday Nears...

Yep, another year older. I've never really been all that concerned with age, so it's no big deal. As I was thinking about birthdays, I couldn't help but remember what my co-workers and staff did for (TO) me to help me celebrate a couple of them.

Check this out:
This was what happened to my cubicle when I left for TWO HOURS to go to a meeting. A whole bunch of my co-workers planned the whole thing. Several rolls of aluminum foil went into this. It took me quite awhile to unwrap. Every pencil, ink pen, notebook, piece of paper, EVERYTHING in my cubicle was wrapped in aluminum foil. Well, everything except my volleyball trophies, which they left alone.

Here's another view, with a peek at one of the culprits (who's pretending to work).

So. You'd think they'd leave me alone the next year, right? Noooooooooooo.

By the next year I was in an office. With four walls. And I had a staff. A wonderfully silly bunch of people who decided that my birthday needed to be celebrated again.

This time they made a weekend event of it. There were spouses and children involved in the "decoration" of my new office. You see, not only did they decorate it; but they actually MOVED all my stuff (and I had a LOT of stuff) from one office to another. I had just been assigned the new space, and they were nice enough to take care of the move for me. On a Sunday afternoon.

And after they moved all my stuff, they proceeded to blow up more than 1000 BALLOONS and fill my new office from the floor to the top of the walls. I couldn't find any great pictures of that, but here you can have a glimpse of what I found. Three hours later, and many many many pops later, the balloons were gone. Except for the balloon shrapnel that was left all over the place.


And the glitter.

One of my staff decided it would be fun if he put glitter in some of the balloons. Do you know what happens when you pop a glitter-filled balloon? Try it.

No aluminum foil this year. No balloons.

Sometimes I miss the people with whom I used to work. Funny thing is that I NEVER miss working.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Win FREE Advertising!

Okay, I'm doing something weird here... I'm taking Casandra's advice and copying her blog post! Why? Well, free advertising is great; I'm really busy right now (my list of things to do is sooooooo long); and I'm feeling lazy. So here's the scoop:

Time is running out... Your chance to win FREE advertising is slowly slip sliding away. Whether you sell, create, blog, or write tutorials... any medium any selling venue!

What kind of advertising am I talking about? A 30 second in-stream audio commercial for your website/shop, complete with free script and voice over! This ad is for 5 thousand impressions, which means AT LEAST 5 thousand people will hear your ad!! This is a $112 value!

Don't miss out on this great opportunity. All it takes is a blog post linking to Blockhead Radio and a comment HERE. Nothing really elaborate required and just a couple minutes of your time to get the chance to win $112 worth of FREE advertising.

The giveaway will run from 1/21/09-2/28/09. On March 1, 2009, they'll use a random number generator to pick and winner and VERIFY all the blog post links. The winner will be announced on March 5th on the Blockhead Radio blog.

Go ahead! Blog about it! :-)
Me? I'm going to go work on my To Do list.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Necklace for the Red Hat Society

It didn't start out that way. I was digging through my bead stash and pulled out some size 11 beads in a beautiful lavender, and then I came across some bright red size 8 beads. I had them both in my hand and thought how nice it would be to make one of my twisted ndebele ropes from them. I really enjoy making these ropes, watching the twist develop as I add the beads, and I love the way this one looks.

So where does the Red Hat Society come in? Well, I was poking around on the internet trying to figure out a good name for the necklace, and when I typed "red and purple" into Google... well, pretty much that whole first page of links had to do with the Red Hat Society. Hmmph. Maybe it's my subconscious telling me I'm getting older. I do have a birthday coming up. However, although I like purple, I doubt anyone will ever see me in a red hat.

Oh well. I still like the way this looks. I decided to name it Phaidra, which means "bright." That name fits it well.

I've had a few more nice surprises this week, too. I use Google Alerts to let me know when someone mentions me in a blog or something, and that's how I found out that my Obama mini notecards were mentioned on the Shift blog on Presidents' Day. Yay!

Then just yesterday, I found that Deb had included a note about my Serpentine bead crochet lariat on her blog, Storybeader. She's going to be trying out bead crochet for herself, and I can hardly wait to see the results. It's great fun!

Remember my mention of using the EtsyHacks scripts to save yourself some time when you're doing Etsy things? Well, Ian has added two new time-saving scripts, and they're great! One is the Fast Tagger script I mentioned before. I tried it, and it makes adding tags sooooo easy! In addition to being able to add new tags easily - you just type them all into one space, separated by commas - you can also use it to delete all the tags if you're relisting something and want to retag it or if you're copying a listing, which is one of the other scripts he's written.

The other new script I like is the Bulk Image Uploader. It's so much easier to be able to choose all five photos at one time and click the Upload button than it is to have to pick each one separately. In my case, I sometimes have ten or fifteen photos to choose from, and I forget which ones I want to use for the listing. I've even accidentally uploaded the same photo twice! No more, though. Now I'll use this script and save myself some time.

What to do with all these extra minutes... hmmm... I think I'll have an extra cup of latte!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Couple of Nice Surprises

There are a few blogs that I read regularly. Quite a few, actually. I read quickly (one of my friends says I do everything at warp speed), so I don't really mind that my list of blogs to read is growing. One of my favorite blogs is one that doesn't even have words: The Art Zoo. It hasn't been around for all that long, but it's a nice bit of eye candy. Every day there's a featured item from an Etsy shop. So today I popped over there to see what was featured, and look what it was!

Yep, that's the newest version of my Damask beadwoven cuff featured there. It's kind of nice, too, that they didn't just pull the first picture from the listing, but instead chose one that shows off the bracelet next to the scrapbooking paper I carefully chose as the background.

Another blog I read is The Copper Cauldron. Casandra frequently posts pictures of goodies she finds while internet surfing, and it's fun to see what she finds. Early in February, I saw a post called The 2 Dollar Grab Bag. Wouldn't you want to read a post to see what you're going to get for just $2? Well, I can tell you that it was a WONDERFUL bargain!!! Casandra was selling more than ONE POUND of her handmade soaps for just $2 plus the cost of shipping. So for the ridiculously low price of $6.80, I received some delicious smelling soaps. For some reason I expected that I was going to wind up with little bits and pieces of soap, but these are all HUGE pieces. They're soooooo nice. I'm going to have to keep an eye on her Etsy shop to see if she offers these up again. (Right now Casandra's away, and her Etsy shop is in vacation mode; but you can click a little button to be notified of her return.)

If you're a regular reader of my blog (thanks!), you may have read my earlier post about my receiving a $10 gift certificate from Flawful Fibers. Well, I couldn't stand it any longer. Julie had listed a few new things on the site, and I just couldn't resist! I spent my $10 and then some and received the most luscious handspun yarn and roving!!! I'm not a spinner. Not really much of a knitter (although I'm in the middle of a knitting project right now). But I love yarn and fiber. I wound up choosing a beautiful roving, similar to this one:
and a handspun yarn similar to this:

Mine are slightly different than the ones pictured here, and they're both too beautiful for words. I'd never seen roving with bamboo in it, and the texture is just not to be believed. Now it makes me want to learn to spin. But then I'd need a spindle... or a wheel... Oh no! I feel another hobby coming on! Ack.

Lest you think all I've been doing is reading blogs and buying things, here are two of the newest listings in my Etsy shop. I made Obama Christmas and Valentine cards, and since I always include a little extra something as thanks to my customers, I made up some smaller notecards with Mr. Obama's image and an empty caption bubble to send along with the larger greeting cards. I decided to list a set of these in my Etsy shop. I tried to think of a clever acronym for them, but I settled on being alliterative - these are the Presidential Prelection mini notecards.

I even created little handmade envelopes for the cards, featuring one of Barack's speeches printed in red and blue. Cool, eh? :-)

The other recent listing in my Etsy shop is a beadwoven bracelet. This one features my patchwork design, all done in shades of green and blue. In all, there are 20 different beads used in this! Every time I do one of these patchwork bracelets, I'm soooooooo careful not to spill the beads. Since my "bead board" is an old cutting board with a piece of beading cloth (some fuzzy stuff that holds the beads still but doesn't get caught by the needle as I pick them up), there's always the risk that I'll tip it, or knock the edge of it, or something disastrous - and the beads will go flying all over the place.

With any luck, I'll soon be posting pictures of my newest beadwoven creation... I had a brainstorm just today on how I want to use these lovely Carnival Beads, made by Dee of Malodora. You might think they're beautiful here in this photo, but I can tell you that they're about a hundred times more beautiful in person.

But you're just going to have to wait to see what I make...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lots of New Listings!

I get so far behind sometimes in doing updates to this blog! You'd think I'd write them ahead of time and schedule them to post, but that would be too efficient. I have my little "system" of leaving my pictures in a special folder until I've uploaded them to my flickr photostream and blogged about them. So far, I've managed to keep up with flickr uploads, but this blog? Well, that's another matter.

The result of this procrastination is that I have a whole pile of new listings that haven't been shown off here. And showing off my beadweaving, after all, is one of the purposes of this blog. :-)

So here goes:

An absolutely WILD version of one of my designs. I chose some of the brightest beads from my collection, all Delicas in opaque matte finishes, for this version. I don't like it as much as some of the other versions of this design I've created, but I'm not particularly fond of disassembling something once I've made it. Maybe someone will fall in love with this and give it a home on her wrist. :-)

Another bracelet created from a custom mixture of beads, this time specifically combined to match the button. It's an unusual combination of shades of violet and tangerine. I would never have even thought of combining these if I hadn't seen this button!

Despite the fact that my husband and I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day (he's been known to point out a card to me in the card aisle at the grocery store and tell me, "If we were going to give each other cards for Valentine's Day, I'd give you this one."), I was apparently inspired by the impending holiday. Okay, so it's a Hallmark Holiday, but there are nice sentiments involved, right? :-)

This bead crochet rope was a project I took with me on vacation in November. It just took me awhile after we returned home to finish it and take photographs. I really like taking bead crochet projects on vacation - they're so easy to transport, since all the beads are already strung onto a spool (at least that's the way I do it).

This particular piece combines some of my favorite beads - metallics in pale copper and dark bronze, with a beautiful pearly gray bead that looks like pewter or steel. The pattern I used, which is called sawtooth, looks almost like a snake!

This piece began with the beautiful raku bead I bought from Lisa Peters. I wasn't planning to buy the bead, but someone included it in a treasury I saw and I decided I had to have it. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, and I think it spent almost a month on my table - just staring at me and waiting for me to come up with a design. I ultimately decided to create a triple strand of ndebele ropes and suspend the bead from an ndebele rope bail. I love the way it turned out. The name From the Earth is in honor of the clay (in the bead) and sand (how glass starts) that make up the necklace.

The newest listing in my Etsy shop and the newest version of my damask design, this combines shiny jet black beads with the palest gold matte metallic beads. I LOVE these colors together! :-)

Okay, now I'm all caught up on my new listings... and I can move my pictures to a new folder... and then there are a bazillion other things to do.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Are You Using EtsyHacks Yet?

I mentioned EtsyHacks in another post recently, but at that point I was only theorizing about how much time Ian's scripts would save me. Now I've been using them for a couple of months, and I can't tell you how happy I am with them!

With over 350 listings in my shop, it's always been a painful process to track something down so I could edit it. Renewing, since I don't always wait until something is nearing its expiration date, is also kind of a pain. Want to send a convo to your customer? I send all my customers convos to thank them and to tell them when I've shipped their packages, and it's so much easier now to do it with the link right on the receipt page (thanks to one of Ian's scripts).

The EtsyHacks scripts run on Firefox (sooooooo much better than Internet Explorer!), but there are also some things called "scriptlets" that run on I.E., for those of you who haven't switched yet.

I know you can go to the site to see them for yourself and download them (they're very quick and easy to install and don't even require you to restart your browser). I've been using them on three different computers with three different operating systems, one with Windows 2000, one with Windows XP, and one with Ubuntu; and they've worked great.

My favorite ones are:
- edit this item - This script allows you to edit the item while you're viewing it. Have a lot of listings in your shop? Search for the one you want to edit, view it, and there's the little hyperlink on the side that lets you edit it right there. No more scrolling through pages of listings to find the one you want to edit.

- renew listing - Same kind of thing as edit. Search for items you want to renew, and click the hyperlink right on the item's page as you're viewing it. No more working your way backwards through your listings if you decide to renew something early.

- copy listing - Oh, how long I've wanted this!!! I do a lot of relisting, but sometimes I want to list a few new items at a time and I don't have a recently-sold one that'll work. This script lets you choose any listing and copy it. It copies everything except the pictures, so all you have to do is a bit of editing, upload your pictures, and you're done. It's so much easier than starting from scratch!

- subtotals - This one saves me the trouble of doing math. As much as I've tried to get my shipping charges to calculate accurately, it just doesn't work that well if someone purchases more than 3-4 items from me on one order. The shipping always winds up being too high, and I have to send a refund. Now I can see the item total and the shipping total right there on the receipt page. So convenient!

- cancel transaction - I know we all hate to have to cancel transactions, but it happens sometimes. Now, rather than going to the Sold Items view to grab the transaction numbers that need to be cancelled, I can just click the listing the Sold Items page and then click the 'cancel transaction' button right there. The script even fills in the transaction ID, so I don't have to copy and paste.

Seriously. Go try these out!

And there's some great news!!! Ian is working on a Fast Tagger script!!! I'm so tired of clicking in those tag fields and typing into each one (you can't even tab between fields), and now Ian's putting together a script that'll allow you to type in your tags in one place, separated by commas. I like the idea of that one so much that I'm going to sponsor it.

What am I ever going to do with all the time I'm saving?!?!?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fun in the Mail

I love it when fun things arrive in the mail. Not bills or junk mail, but really fun things. Sometimes they're things I've ordered, since I do a lot of online shopping (I'm so lazy when it comes to visiting stores), and sometimes they're things I'm not even expecting.

One of the coolest things that showed up recently is a print of an illustration by the very talented Athena Workman, the artist who created Miss Millificent's World - and a wonderful world it is! Athena recently held a giveaway on her blog, and I entered. Her art is so whimsical and spooky at the same time that I couldn't resist. I don't really enter very many giveaways, so the odds of my winning one are probably pretty slim. Well, I won. And a few days after I won, I received this print in the mail.
Isn't that cool?!?!? The print is entitled Mistaken for a Real Fish, and if you think it looks neat in the image here, you should see the full size (8.5" x 11") print. It's such fun!! Check out Athena's blog to see her newest illustrations that feature lemurs. They're adorable!!!

The other neat stuff that showed up in the mail is my order from Amazon. I love books. I have hundreds of them (you can check out a small listing of them on the Shelfari graphic at the bottom of this page), and I read all the time. I use books and magazines to teach myself how to do things. I'm much more comfortable sitting down and reading a set of well-written instructions than I am sitting through a class. I've learned how to knit, crochet, beadweave, and all sorts of other things from books. They're truly an addiction.

I don't know right now how many books I have on beading, but it's a lot. That didn't stop me from ordering new ones though. Books are a constant source of inspiration for me. They're like my friends. :-)

Wanna see which ones I just received in the mail?
This one:
Bead International 2008 & Beyond Basketry

And boy, is it filled with inspiration!!! It almost makes me want to take up basketweaving in addition to beadweaving, but I'm going to resist.

And this one:
Creative Beading, Vol. 3: The Best Projects from a Year of Bead&Button Magazine
Even though I have a subscription to the magazine, it's kind of nice having a bunch of projects in a single book.

And finally, this one: Masters: Beadweaving: Major Works by Leading Artists (Masters (Lark Books))

This one, as you'd expect from reading the title, is filled with unbelievably beautiful beadwoven projects. If you're ever looking for inspiration, pick up a copy of this. You won't believe your eyes. In fact, if you're ever looking for an inspirational book in arts and crafts, check out the Lark Books. They're all wonderful (I own quite a few of them, and I'm even going to have something published in one that's due out this fall!).
Time to look through my new books!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Thanks to Entrecard Top Droppers

I've gone back and forth about the value of using Entrecard, and I'm still kind of on the fence about it. It definitely increases the traffic to my blog, and I know I've gotten some customers and a few trades from people I've "met" through dropping cards; but it is a time commitment. I'm still evaluating whether to continue with it or not, but for now I'm hanging in there. I've actually found some great blogs and some great Etsy shops while using it, ones I might not have encountered otherwise.

Last month Entrecard was doing a special type of promotion to thank the top droppers for the month, so this post is to send thanks to the people who were MY top droppers:

A bunch of them are fellow Etsy sellers, too! :-)