Sunday, August 30, 2009

First Comes Love...



Then comes marriage...

Remember that old schoolyard rhyme? It ends with "Then comes [your friend] with a baby carriage!" I remember being thrown this old chestnut in elementary school if I so much as LOOKED at a boy.

I have been toying around with using this ghost from my past in a card since January and, finally, here's the posting for my new baby card.

Whoo hoo!

This one took MONTHS to work out properly. I had the basic idea of a pop-up of a couple with a baby stroller down quite early on but I had to go through many, many different versions of the card before I was finally satisfied with the above solution.


Here are just a few of the iterations I have gone through since January. I changed the modern, complicated-looking baby stroller to a more traditional pram type carriage, slimmed down the rather frumpy couple, tried various cardstocks, different treatments for the placard on the front and experimented with a ton of different ideas for the base on which the new family would be standing -- I wanted there to be a nice space for the sender to be able to write their own sentiment.

I'm finally, FINALLY very happy with the result!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Back from Vacation!



I've figured out one thing about myself: I'm not very good at doing nothing. When I'm on vacation, I really (I mean REALLY) like to be productive. This isn't to say I don't enjoy hiking or seeing sights, but just sitting around and... sitting really can make me miserable.

Having understood this I took care to stock up my picnic basket with a whole ton of pre-cut card parts and brought all the adhesive, glue dots and other supplies I needed to put things together.

Mind you, I didn't sit down very often to work at this (really, we did spend a lot of time exploring and venturing about), but I did have one or two really great sessions.

As a result, I come back from vacation with 45 completed cards. Hooray!

I love having a good stock of inventory on hand (in my less organized days, anytime anyone ordered a card, I would have to run up, print out what I needed, cut it and assemble it before I could ship it out). It's such a joy to get an order and simply pop it into and envelope and send it off!

Another nice thing is that I got quite a few baby carriage pop-up cards put together. These seem to be popular at Powell's, but I've never gotten around to posting that card on etsy. Now that I have a few under my belt, it will be a simple thing to take some photos and post them in a few days.

Anyway, I'm so glad to be back! I really miss that little adrenaline rush I get whenever I get a sale, feedback or convo on etsy...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Vacation!


Ha! Remember the old "Vacation" movies, with Chevy Chase?

I'm hoping that my upcoming week off will be somewhat less interesting.

It's our last, big summer vacation trip. We usually see my mom in Medford at least once in the middle of the year, in addition to Thanksgiving. This year, we're combining it with a visit to the Oregon Caves, which is near Medford. Tad has booked a cabin at a nearby campsite for three nights and then we'll head over to Medford for a bit after we'll all grimy and need showers.

The last time we had some time off, Tad had initially thought that asking me to leave my card-making supplies at home would make for a more relaxing trip. I managed to convince him that I would be much happier with all my stuff on hand -- phew!

In preparation for being away from my computer and printer, I've printed and precut a TON of cards, so I should have plenty things to assemble, if I had the time.

I'll see you all when I get back!

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Etsy Posse



Every Etsy seller should have one: a warm supportive gaggle of gals (or guys) with whom you can sit down and discuss google analytics strategies, jewelry display options or customers from hell without any yawning or eye rolling.

For me, this group is (as shown in the top left photo): Kathy, Wendy and Christine.

Kathy was the crafty pioneer in our group, a veteran of the craft fair circuit. She's recently opened her own lavender farm in Vernonia (and kicked off their very first lavender festival!). She knits, makes cards, sews, takes photographs, makes jewelry.... the list goes on and on. She's an inspiration who's lead the way for all of us.

Wendy is the creative genius behind DoggoneKnitting and the newly-opened QueenBeeHandmade. Check out her amazing dog collars and accessories or incredible handbags and pouches (some with designs that she printed herself directly onto the fabric -- it's an amazing technique that results in machine-washable prints).

Christine opened up ChristineMarieStudio as a way to finance an increasingly spendy beading habit. Amazing photography and high-end one-of-a-kind adornments make her etsy store stand out from the rest of the pack. Along the way, she's discovered a market for her unique, hand-crafted jewelry findings and opened ChristineMarieSupply.

We got together at a bakery near Powell's for lunch and to chat about our latest crafty endeavors. Kathy and Christine will be at the Bethany Farmer's Market on Saturday. This is Christine's first (so she's scrambling to get her displays put together) and Kathy's jillionth (she's bringing all the tables, a canopy, etc). I'll be out of town, but it sounds like a lot of fun!

After a fun gab session and lunch, Kathy and Wendy and I headed up to Powell's to check out my cards in the store (Christine had to head back to reality).

We all talked loudly about how amazing some certain cards were, but, alas, few passersby seemed interested.

But I did do a quick inventory.

Fourteen!

Fourteen cards have sold! This seems great!

And, at home, a check from Powell's had arrived. Hooray!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Knight Card Order

I don't sell many of these knight cards. They're quite simple (they don't rotate or anything) and are just not nearly as popular as many of my other invitations.

But I finally got an order for a set of 25, a mom ordering for her son, "Sir Constantine."

I originally created these simple invitations so that I could offer more of a range of prices in my invitations -- as these require fewer pieces and less assembly, I can keep the price low.

I had almost forgotten about these, but this customer's enthusiastic response to them has renewed my faith in these cards.

Also, I've been so focused on the greeting cards (birthday, etc) that I'd lost sight of the fact that I make a lot more when I sell a single birthday party invitation package. It also reminds me that it's been MONTHS since I've designed a new invitation. I really need to get back to the old drawing board!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Martha's Punch Around the Page



I am neither a stamper nor a puncher but this nifty little product from the brilliant team at Martha Stewart Living is making me rethink the "no punches" policy. (I don't have anything against punches, really, but they just take up so much room (which I don't have) and you need to keep on buying more and more and more (and I'm so incredibly cheap).



So clever!

Update: I ran out to Michael's to pick this set up and THEY DIDN'T HAVE IT!

Super disappointed!

Why do they tease us so cruelly?

(if you look for this punch, be sure to look in the SEASONAL Martha Stewart punches where they had an empty slot for this particular style, next to the pumpkin and snowflake punches)

I bought a similar border punch (which doesn't allow for punching around the page, though) and have really been having fun adding a decorative lacey doily edge to all my business documents...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Customer Spotlight: Joe's Surprise 40th Birthday Party



Okay, the is the BEST Customer Spotlight!

Kathleen, from New York, contacted me to create the invitations for her husband's circus-themed surprise birthday party. She was not about to let him turn 40 without a little bit of fuss.



I worked with her to customize and create 140 Spinning Circus Birthday Party Invitations. Kathleen sent me a number of photos of Joe to appear in the window below as text scrolled through the banner above. I also made custom labels for the envelopes for her:



A few weeks after the order, I received a note from her asking if it were possible to create some simple folded cards to send out as follow up cards to her guests. This is the text she asked me to include:

"April 1, 2009

To all our friends and family,

As most of you all know, we recently had new neighbors move to our town; Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They have graciously accepted the invitation to attend Joe's 40th Circus Birthday, and they are requesting that our guests bring no cameras.

They have provided a photographer who will be at the party throughout the evening and will post all the photos online for all to see/print.

Thanks everyone for your cooperation, and get ready for some fun on the 16th!"

I FREAKED out (as I'm sure many of Kathleen's guests did)!

I ran around the office that entire day, telling just about anybody who would pause by my cube long enough about my two degrees of separation with the most glamorous couple in the world.
Angelina Jolie was going to actually see my invitations! I Googled Shiloh Pitts' birthday and discovered that it was two months away. Perfect, I thought, for a loving parent to see some unique birthday party invitations and decide that her daughter needed something similar. I pictured myself breaking into some crazy Hollywood birthday party extravaganza circuit.

Anyway, I responded to Kathleen's request with a cool, very professional note, letting her know the cost of the new order and how long it would take for me to turn it around.

Her next response revealed that it was an April Fool's Day prank! I missed the April 1 date on the card!

Agh!

The beauty of the joke, for Kathleen, was that Brad and Angelina WERE actually moving their brood into the neighborhood. Her area was all abuzz with the news. The kids had just been registered in the nearby school, so this story really did have the ring of truth to it.

A few months later, Kathleen and her guests (all dressed in the most amazing costumes ever) surprised Joe at what has to be one of the best surprise birthday parties ever. Guests flew in from all over (wouldn't YOU for a chance to meet Brangelina?)!

Kathleen was gracious enough to share the photos of the party, a few of which I've shown above. Don't miss that fun topsy turvy cake!

Great fun!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I now have a retail presence!



Soooo..... thrilled!

I couldn't resist popping over to Powell's to check out my cards on the rack.

Here they are! (along with the hundreds of other cards)



And, of course, I immediately counted them to see what's sold. While it's possible that some of the cards may be just wandering around, lost, elsewhere in the store, I'm going to assume that an empty slot means that the card was sold 'cause, well, it's just way more exciting that way!

So, so far, I've sold:
Hmmm... the only cards that I sold multiples of (multiples meaning "2") are the only cards that I haven't posted on my etsy store. In fact, to be picky, since the some of my Three Reasons cards started out as Mother's Day cards and I haven't yet genericized the versions online, actually NONE of the cards that have sold are available at my etsy store.

Maybe should get to work!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

T-Shirt Shrug


Check out this adorable little shrug made from an old t-shirt!

I'm not much of a seamstress but I think even I can do this cute little number!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Powell's Update

Okay, I know these minute-by-minute Powell's posts might not be all the interesting, but I am just so thrilled to be in a store!

My Powell's mole thinks that there are two pop-up pig cards and one baby carriage card that are no longer on the shelves.

Hooray!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Australia 2!


After my post yesterday, I got another inquiry from the land down under, this time asking about shipping for three cards and some customizations.

Weird!

Maybe I have some friends in Australia that I don't know about....

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Australia!



It can't quite decide if it's a continent or a nation. It's the land o' kangaroos, cane toads and Crocodile Dundee.

And now someone down in the land down under is going to be getting my Three Reasons Why He's Your Hero Card.


Yay!

I LOVE making international sales... it makes me feel so... global (but in a good, not evil, multi-national way)!

So far, I've sold to Australia, Italy (a couple of times), South Africa, Canada, Singapore and... ummm... New Jersey?

Well, let's just say that the international orders are still a fun and interesting experience for me!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Scrabble Tile Necklace Tutorial!



I have ALWAYS thought those nifty Scrabble tile necklaces were super cool! Now, finally, are very complete instructions on how you can make them yourself from the Makes and Takes site!

Very cool!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Where it all began (more or less)




When my twin boys turned two, I put my all into their birthday party. I selected a bug theme after seeing the cute ladybug invitations idea in (I think) a Family Fun Birthday Ideas booklet (since then, I've seen this idea ALL over the place).

I designed the invitation on the computer using Freehand, printed them out and cut them by hand. The brads are the GINORMOUS ones that you can buy from any store for kids' projects (I really love the newer mini-brads, much less imposing).

Anyway, I got a lot of great reaction to these invitations after I sent them out. Getting that kind of feedback was a bit addictive. I worked even harder on the following year's invitations, which were, basically, my spinning fish cards, which were among the first things I listed on etsy.



Last year, I designed the spinning circus invitations for the boys' ninth birthdays. People LOVE these -- I get a ton of feedback about these. The fun thing about these is that the text (which is all customizable) scrolls through the white banner while fun, circusey images appear in the doorway of the tent below. When the birthday child's name is mentioned, their face shows up. I get amazing google search engine positioning on this item.



In the spring, I made invitations for a home brew party that we threw. I was so pleased with the invitations I designed (which were a variant of my Beer Buddy Cards) that I sent out more than double the number I really should have (resulting in a huge, but fun, crush).



Since then, I found an outlet on etsy and have added a few other things to the line-up besides these, but these three items are still among my very favorites and are perennial best sellers.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another Chair Makeover








Encouraged by my success with redoing an old, dilapidated chair I've had for decades in my appropriately title "I Heart Spray Paint" post, I decided to redo another chair that had been languishing in our basement, too gross to actually allow guests to rest their posteriors upon.

Plus, I could use some leftover spray paint and fabric, which really appeals to my inner scrooge.

Again, very pleased with the result! I put the pretty picture right at the top because it's the nicest one. The middle shot shows the chair with it's lovely rusted rip in its deteriorating vinyl top.

The bottom shot shows how it looked all pulled apart. I just carefully unscrewed anything I could unscrew and everything came apart quite nicely.

I sanded the frame down a bit and then applied my lovely apple green paint all over. I used the old chair cover as a rough pattern to cut out my fabric. The padding was all squished down, so I added extra from an old arm chair headed to the dump.

Getting the fabric nice and taut on the seat was a little tricky -- normally, you can just staple everything down, but not with this metal-framed chair. After trying a few things, I sacrificed some old elastic and zig-zagged it across the frame, using safety pins so I wouldn't have to do much sewing. This made it reasonably flat when I put everything back together.

I think it looks quite nice next to the other made over chair! Now I just need to find a junky old table to put between them...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

French Scanned Artwork














French copyright laws are, as I understand it (and, mind you, I am not an expert) much more lax than American copyright laws, meaning that images fall into public domain much faster there than here.

This means that there are tons of wonderful images across the pond that you may use in your own work (or at least be inspired by them.

A wonderful site that features a wide variety of images is Agence Eureka.I love this site.

I imagine that a collage artist would find a lot here to use to layer in their work.

From old cinema glamor shots to scans of kitschy packaging to wonderful wildlife illustrations, you'll find it all....

For me, I am most interested in the ideas for fun paper toys that were published once, long ago. If that kind of thing appeals to you, then be sure to check out the category on the right for "cat. d├ęcoupages." In this case, d├ęcoupage has very little to do with mod podge and a whole lot to do with fun things for kids to cut out and assemble.

There are little jointed animals that move when you pull a lever, dioramas, little cars to glue together, games a whole ton more.

Of course, I'm in love with the mechanical toys, like those I assembled at the very bottom. As the instructions are in french, it is often a bit mysterious as to what these toys do until after it's all assembled but that's all part of the fun.

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Powell's Order: Complete and Delivered!



Done and delivered!

(Actually, I delivered my Powell's order last Wednesday, but life sometimes gets in the way of a timely blog posting...)

My order included:
That's it! Not an enormous order -- I'm not going to remodel the house with the money, but a nice little start and not too stressful to put together.

In addition to making them, I had to figure out a way to package them so that a casual shopper at Powell's would understand what they did. For the cards that actually pop up, I found clear plastic sleeves that would allow the person to open the cards and see the pop-up while protecting the outside of the card and keeping the card with the envelope. This leaves the actual pop-up (the most fragile part of the card) potentially open to abuse, but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that people will treat it kindly.

I also created stickers to go on the front of the pop-up cards (the fronts are generally somewhat plain, which I think increases the fun and surprise when you open it and there's a lovely pop-up that appears). And I made little slips of paper that go in the backs of the cards that explain the interactive parts of some of the cards (like how the Three Reasons cards work) and also introduce me as a local Portland crafter (I always like to hear these kinds of things myself when I buy stuff).

My mole inside of Powell's has told me to not expect them to appear on the shelves til after Monday (signage has to be created, etc)(they're creating SIGNAGE for me!).

Once they're up, I will post a note, for sure!

I'm also seriously considering asking friends to go in, find my cards and loudly declaim to anyone nearby how incredibly BRILLIANT the cards are and how they want to buy a million of them.