RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Friday, April 30, 2010

Tree Huggers

Happy Arbor Day! BB and her cousin M apparently have the right idea....

100+ Sales!

It's been a very full week at Mama's Magic Studio -- Mother's Day is typically the most popular time of year for my Etsy shop, thanks to my bird's nest pendants, and this year it's been the busiest yet! I had seven packages to mail out on Wednesday! Now, I'm sure that seven packages to mail in one day isn't that big a deal for some folks. But for me, with my very part-time operation, that's a record.

I'm sure that much of it had to do with the showcase spot that ran for my shop on Monday. I've always been hesitant about showcases, having heard mixed reactions from fellow sellers, and my last showcase (a jewelry spot) didn't work out all that well. But this time it paid off. I do think that the showcases with holiday themes work out best. It's obvious that folks are shopping on Etsy for Mother's Day, and anybody who has shopped on Etsy knows how (wonderfully) overwhelming it can be, so I think it's pretty clear that shoppers on Monday were looking to the showcases to help narrow all that down.

And while I don't have definite data to support it, my hunch is that the showcase has continued to pay off with the five orders that have come in during the rest of the week. I'd been slowly approaching that milestone of my 100th sale for some time now, and today I passed it!

Needless to say, I'm pretty proud!!!

Friday Feature -- Magdalene Jewels & Knits

This week's featured Etsy artist is also the Etsyblogger of the month! Congratulations to Pam, who runs two wonderful shops: Magdalene Jewels and Magdalene Knits. With so much talent, it was easy to find favorites in each shop! I love the detail and artistry in this Vintage Bracelet, which uses vintage components and semiprecious beads in carnelian, jade, and golden onyx.

And of course when I read that the description referenced Anais Nin -- I knew for sure this was a shop where I'd feel at home!

In Magdalene Knits, I immediately noticed these adorable Mary Jane baby booties. Simply too sweet!

Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

Since I have been very young I have always loved doing something creative, whether knitting, crocheting, embroidering, quilting, painting, and for the past few years designing my own jewelry, all of which I have taught myself. The many Necklaces, Bracelets and Earrings are all created and designed by myself. I recently added my first ring to my collection. As I just started making jewelry a few years ago, it was a total learning process which I can attest to, as I see pieces I designed when I first started compared to what I design now. I never had any intention of selling my work, I would just give it away. If someone said how much they liked a certain piece, well, it was then theirs -- I still tend to do this with my friends, even when they want to pay me.

As for my knitted and crocheted items which are in my newest shop, MagdaleneKnits, when I found out that my daughter was going to have her first child (my first grandchild) I started crocheting little baby booties, and baby sweaters, and other little baby items, even a little lamb for Easter. I originally had scarves and neck warmers in my jewelry shop, but they have now been relegated to my knit shop as well. For any of you who do knit or crochet, you will understand when I say it is a very relaxing activity.

2. How did you get involved with Etsy?

My friend Marion, who has a shop on Etsy in which she sells beautiful handmade quilts, suggested I put a few of my pieces on Etsy and try to sell them. So began Magdalene Jewels.

3. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

Besides being a member of the Etsy Bloggers Team; I also am a member of Bbest Team ("B" stands for Boomers), yes, that generation! And I just recently joined CreateCrochet after opening my Crochet and Knit shop here on Etsy.

4. What inspires your creations?

I imagine that my inspirations evolve from my own personality and what one would term my very vivid imagination. As all my pieces are made with Swarovski Crystals, often I will see a beautiful color crystal, which when in the light can reflect so many possibilities that my mind becomes absorbed in a certain moment or feeling, or a certain song will come to mind, from there the creativity begins. Those that truly know me will understand this. As you can see from most of my pieces, I am one who is truly a romantic and love the feminine aspect of my being.

5. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?

Although there are many from my Jewelry shop, I would have to say The Rose (named after my favorite song by Janis Joplin).

I love the femininity of this piece, it has such a Renaissaince look to it.

One of my favorites from Magdalene Knits is this little girls infant sweater in Yellow with matching Mary Janes!

6. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop ? I really can't say that I have any sort of challenge, since I enjoy what I am doing.

7. What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?

Firstly, I would say to enjoy what you do, that is where you will find your creativity. I also suggest to those that are not part of a team to find one that relates to what their craft is, or interests. One, it is a good way to promote your work, and definitely do some Treasurys -- they are a lot of fun to put together. Also, definitely communicate through your blogs, it is a good networking tool. But most important to me since I have been here at Etsy, is not the sales I have made or hope to make, it is the dear friends I have made during the past few years. We are there for each other during our many ups and downs, and very supportive during the many obstacles we often are challenged with.

8. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

I find my jewelry making to be more of a hobby then a job. If I looked at it as a job, I think I would lose the enjoyment of being creative. So I prefer to enjoy what I do, as I feel each piece of jewelry I make is an extension of inner self. My hobbies consist of working of my various crafts that are in my shop. I also love to do quilting, and have made some beautiful baby quilts, and designed one for my daughter when she got engaged (the center has a heart with both her and her husband's names embroidered in it) I design my own quilts, working out the blocks and sizing, etc.- still have not learned how to work with a pattern. With all the crafting I do, I must say my main passion is writing either on my blogs or in my journals. Someday I hope to write a book, I have my ideas all assembled within my head, just have to find a minute to put those thoughts onto paper. Besides two kitty cats which keep me busy, I also watch 2 infants everyday (one which is my grandson), so my days are totally complete! I have been on disability for 6 years, but as I say, I am the busiest unemployed person I know!

9. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

I have two blogs: one of which involves my everyday life, etc:

The other are specific blogs which I write for our Blogger Team on the many topics they provide:

I am also on Facebook and Flickr.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rain or Shine

My daughter has figured out how best to deal with our recent uncertain weather:
Grey skies and sunshine? Not sure if it's going to rain? Play it safe: rainboots, raincoat, umbrella. And sunglasses.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In the Studio

Now that S's schedule has settled down, I once more have the joy of scheduled, uninterrupted studio time. (Thank you, S!) It's usually only one morning a week, but those few hours make all the difference to my state of mind and level of creative output. Here's what I've been working on recently:

I've finally had the time to make some more handmade knitting needles. I finished these four pairs today. Each pair takes several weeks to make, with my schedule, since there are so many steps in the process: cutting the wood to size, shaping it by hand, sanding it thoroughly (using three different grades of sandpaper, from rough to ultra smooth), designing the decorative elements, affixing them to the wood (using nails as well as epoxy glue), letting the glue dry (at least 48 hours), then finishing the wood (using a light coat of mineral oil and then a final rubdown with wax).

Whew! So they are truly a labor of love, but I always like seeing how they turn out. I'm especially happy with the blue art glass ones (center in pic below) and lapis lazuli ones (right in pic below). Though the red jasper ones and seafoam green ones are nice, too. The pics don't really do them justice.

I've also been doing tons of wire work, creating custom bird's nest pendants. This is the output for the last week or so, not counting the ones that are already in the mail:
Each nest takes about an hour to weave by hand, and I often work on them in the evenings and in the little corners of time here and there during the day. It's been a lot of fun to work with the pink and blue pearls!

I finally put together a custom listing in my Etsy shop so that folks can design their own fully customized "Family Nest" without having to send me a convo and set up a personalized listing. I've had that on the to-do list for some time now, so it felt great to finally get that done.

Just in time for my Mother's Day showcase today -- which has already led to two sales! Yay!

If you're interested in placing an order for Mother's Day, I recommend getting it in by Wednesday to be sure it arrives in time. After all, Mama only has so much studio time!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Feature -- ciuccio

This week's featured Etsy artisan is Jenny, the creative force behind Ciuccio (which means "binky" in Italian). I love this charming shop! The tagline is "quilted. modern. color," which perfectly sums things up. I like how Jenny is so willing to work with custom orders. Many of her listings allow customers to put together a unique take on her signature designs, like these adorable toddler aprons.

Jenny says, "Together we'll find a color scheme and print that you're thrilled with" -- who could ask for better than that?

Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

In 2006 I was trying to figure out what to give to a very close friend as a wedding gift. I decided to make her a quilt, but I never much cared for the look of most traditional quilts, so I designed something much more modern looking. I loved the outcome, but it was a massive undertaking. Several friends were pregnant at the time, so I scaled it down and started making baby quilts. Loveys, which are little security blankets, were the first item I started to sell. It grew from a desire to keep myself inspired into a line of housewares, cell phone cases, pacifier cases, and aprons.

I worked on a fantastic project called Tandem with another Etsy shop called Umbrella Prints. Using their gorgeous hand-printed fabrics I sewed some organic blankets which sold at the now closed Rose and Radish. Everything I sew is bold, simple and keeping with a modern aesthetic.

2. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

While working on ciuccio is rewarding and a fun creative outlet, cooking is really my true love. If I could figure out a way to host dinner parties as a living, that's what I'd do. I'm married to the fine owner of this shop and together we run quite the little workshop out of our flat in the Mission Dolores area. Sometimes we talk about moving far away from the city where we could plant a garden and take up more hobbies, but we also love our urban life.

3. How did you get involved with Etsy?

I was told about Etsy by a friend of mine shortly after I started sewing quilts. She had a shop already and had found it to be great exposure. I don't know much about web design, so for me (and probably most of the rest of you) having such a user friendly way to host an online shop was extremely appealing.

4. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

I have been a member of Etsykids since 2007 and of course, SFetsy.

5. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

I guess the biggest challenge is that every item that I make is one of a kind. I can't post something unless it's already been made, and having to write a description and photograph each and every item feels tedious. I also find Etsy to be a challenge because many sellers undersell their goods, so competing when it comes to price can be frustrating. I also sell wholesale, which changes the way you can price your goods.

6. What is your favorite item in your shop? Why is it your favorite?

I have really loved working with organic fabrics recently so the tandem quilts are my current favorite.

7. If you had a gift certificate to Etsy for any one item you wanted, what would you buy?

Yeah right, like I could choose one favorite item. I have long been a fan of Whitney Smith and since she's local, you should know about her work. I'll take one of everything, especially this:

8. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

Maybe not technically a crafting skill, I wish I was a better photographer. I actually signed up to take a 6 week course, so that wish may actually come true. I also love looking at ceramics (particularly porcelain) so maybe someday I should learn more about that.

9. What has been your biggest success and/or proudest moment since opening your Etsy shop?

ciuccio definitely had something to do with getting us a house tour on Apartment Therapy which then led to a write up about my aprons on OhDeeDoh. That was pretty exciting.

10. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

I keep a regular blog called this humble abode. In it I often put together lists of super Etsy items, write about food and post pictures of projects I've done and the kids I take care of.

I also have a facebook page and a Flickr page too

11. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your shop or your work?

I'm working on some new products, so come visit my shop soon.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Birthdays, Birthdays....

This round of the Etsyblogger carnival is all about BIRTHDAYS -- because tomorrow is our fearless leader's birthday! Many happy returns of the day to Joey & Aleethea!!!

This is a timely topic because we have SIX family birthdays during the month of April:
  1. my dear sister B (for whom BB is named!)
  2. B's husband, my fabulous brother-in-law R (who's definitely on the list of Top 10 Great Guys in My Life!)
  3. my wonderful sister-in-law J (coolest doctor I know!)
  4. her daughter darling K (who turns 1 this weekend! Fun cousin time!)
  5. my mom-in-law J (who is coming to visit today!)
  6. my mom-in-law C (whose birthday is today! Happy Birthday!)

And now, having exhausted my supply of exclamation points, I will move on to the rest of the carnival. Joey asked folks to think about their own birthdays and write about a memorable one.

I find myself thinking of childhood birthdays. I don't have a lot of specific memories connected to specific years, but I have many memorable moments. One that stands out: the year I unwrapped a heavy appliance box, convinced I was going to get a TV for my bedroom, only to discover it was actually a sewing machine. I think I was maybe 11 or 12 years old. I have to say, for as little as I appreciated it at the time, that has definitely been a symbolic incident and I'm truly grateful for it now. I hardly ever watch TV these days, and I only wish I had more sewing skills. My mom was wonderful to pass along as much as she did, patiently teaching me how to read a pattern and thread a machine.

I definitely remember the cakes: angel food with pink frosting made from Strawberry Quik drink mix, Holly Hobby (a true labor of love from my mom). I wonder which flavor this one was?

me at one year old, June 1973

But one early birthday stands out: the year I turned 9 at Cape Henlopen.

me at 9 years old, June 1981

The Cape Henlopen trip was a yearly event for the third grade class at my elementary school, and it coincided with my June birthday. My dad was one of the chaperones for the trip, and if I remember correctly he drove down in the 1972 Pontiac Bonneville (the car on which I later learned to drive) arriving after the rest of the class had settled in. I think he couldn't get off from work until then.

I remember how excited I was to have him there. I remember him bringing cupcakes and helping me collect seashells and other beach detritus for the class sandcastle making contest. I can still recall making a cat face sand sculpture using mussel shells as ears and twigs for whiskers. I think it won third place.

Me and my dad at Cape Henlopen, June 1981

Now that I have kids of my own, I am even more grateful that my father took the time off from work to be with me and my classmates for that once-in-a-lifetime trip. Thank you, Dad, for making my 9th birthday so special that I still remember it vividly, almost 29 years later.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hair Pretties

This morning, BJ decided he would help BB put in some hair pretties. She'd already chosen three and had me put them in when he announced that what she really needed was an entire circle of barrettes, all around the crown of her head. He then took it upon himself to select the best pretties and put them in place. He had a great time making sure her hair looked just right , and she loved the attention.

Note BB's fashion statement: dress-up princess costume (pressed into service as a Dorothy dress, a la Wizard of Oz) on top of another dress (which is actually one made by my mom for me when I was BB's age!)

They aren't always this sweet with each other, of course. They have plenty of sibling rivalry. But I'm delighted to say that recently there have been more playful moments than squabbles. Which makes me very proud as a mom. Knock wood -- may that continue!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Only Took Four Months...

That's correct: I got my new toy (a scanner) for Christmas and am only now getting a chance to play around with it! I couldn't resist documenting one of BB's first somewhat recognizable drawings:
She informed me that this is a monkey playing ball. The monkey is the thing in the middle with a red head and orange feet. (It's the first time that I've seen her give a drawn creature eyes, which is pretty cool!) The ball is not, emphatically NOT the large red swirl on the left. When I innocently said, "Oh, is that the ball?" BB replied, "No, Mommy! That's a bus. With four wheels." And indeed there are (at least) four green scribbles surrounding it. So there you go.

Which leaves the yellow, purple, and blue scribble on the right as the Object Most Likely To Be A Ball. But BB wouldn't confirm that for sure.

I have a whole stack of kids' art that I'm itching to scan, but Mama's tired so that will have to be enough for tonight! (Thanks again, S, for the nifty gift of the scanner!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

That's Amore

One of the side-effects of being a crafty mom: your kids come to believe that You Can Make Anything. Granted, I have a fair amount of handcrafting skills, ranging from passable to proficient. But by no means am I an expert on everything! Just try telling that to BJ and BB, though. On the one hand, it's sweet to see their absolute faith in my abilities. On the other, it sets everybody up for disappointment when the end results of my efforts don't quite match up with expectations.

Happily, so far at least, their expectations have been blessedly low. Exhibit A: this creation, which BB requested and of which she is quite fond.
Now in case you're wondering -- What The Heck IS that thing? -- I'll give you a hint. It's not a toy sausage embellished with a heart and rainbow rickrack. Nor is it anything more vulgar. (It is, after all, something I made for my three-year-old daughter. Thankyouverymuch.)

It is, of course, a stuffed eel. A pink stuffed Moray Eel. With a heart. (I hope the heart, at least, is recognizable.)

Why, you might inquire, was I asked to make a stuffed eel?

Here's the scoop:

Recently, BJ acquired a stuffed eel (at his birthday trip to the aquarium, to be exact) and since then, BB has begun to covet said toy. It's pretty cool, I have to admit.

Last week, when BB woke up for the day, just about the first words out of her mouth were an involved explanation about a dream she'd had. In which she was playing with a stuffed eel just like her brother's. Except hers was pink. With a heart. "And you could make it for me, Mommy!"

As my heart sank, recalling my first attempt at stuffed animal creation, I tried to smile and look confident. After all, I had redeemed myself somewhat by my later success making a stuffed snake for BJ (which I could swear I blogged about, but I've searched for a ridiculous amount of time using every tag and word choice imaginable, to no avail) -- that one was actually fairly cute. And given that eels and snakes are both fairly similar, and fairly simple in terms of body design.... I agreed to give it a try.

Things were going fairly well, up until I got to the head. BB had originally said that she wanted it to have a closed mouth with a smile. Easy peasy! But then she changed her mind. She decided she wanted hers to have an open mouth like her brother's. With teeth. At least I hadn't finished, but I'd already cut out the fabric, so I had to do some last minute alterations. Predictably, that's where things started to go awry.
The head ended up too small and the mouth is nothing like what I would have planned for if I'd been designing it with a mouth from the beginning, but BB likes it. And that's what matters.

(Never mind the fact that a little voice in my head keeps intoning, "Mammy, Maaammy..." Al Jolson style -- every time I see those big pink lips I inadvertently created.)

Here they are, side by side. The "real" eel and my imitation. No laughing, please:
Side bonus -- the kids had a great time helping me stuff it! Though clearly it was serious work.
When I was done, BJ announced he wanted me to make him a stuffed angler fish. Or a viper fish. Either would do.

I'll do a lot of things because I love my kids. I'll make a stuffed Moray Eel. (That's Amore!) But I know my limits. And viper fish are right out. Sorry kid.

Signs of the Season

We've been having some gorgeous days -- and if you couldn't tell it was in the middle of spring by the weather, you should certainly be able to predict it by any of the following, recently sighted in the household.

The Annual Replacement of the Bubble Wands and Replenishment of the Bubble Juice:

New Sandals (BB especially LOVES her sparkly pink ones):

Short Sleeves and Pigtails:

New Sunglasses (BJ still likes his ones from last summer, and they still fit, but BB had outgrown hers):

Springtime Haircuts (got them just today!)

Other signs of the season that I haven't caught on camera: the co-eds sunbathing on the lawn right outside our door (if I needed extra incentive to be exercising, there you have it... sigh...), BJ's allergies flaring up (at his 5 year check up, his ears were full of fluid again... double sigh), rain predicted for the next few days (along with the sunshine, we've been having lots and lots of rain, which is actually kind of nice for a change), and the annual urge to purge and clean and organize (coupled with the move, we've had quite the opportunity to downsize, which also is actually kind of nice in spite of the hassle).

So it's definitely spring. I've all but recovered from the yucky cold that hit last week, BB caught the sniffles soon thereafter but has bounced back very quickly, and so far (knock wood) nobody else has gotten sick. So far, on the whole, it's been a very good spring. I hope you can say the same!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Win a Bird's Nest Pendant from Mama's Magic Studio!

I wanted to let y'all know that I'm sponsoring a giveaway at the Etsymom team blog -- I'm giving away a Bird's Nest Pendant with one freshwater pearl egg! Your choice of color for the egg: blue, white, or pink.

The giveaway ends on Wednesday April 21st, 2010 and is open to U.S. residents only.

Click here to enter -- good luck!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Feature -- Science Kitty

This week's featured Etsy artist is Science Kitty. With a name like that, of course I was immediately disposed to love this shop. After all, I was a biotech major when I started college -- and I spent much of elementary school convinced I would have a vanity plate of JENCAT put on my first car in the far-off time when I would one day be able to drive....

I found myself smiling and reminded of that time even more vividly when I discovered the charming Tribute to Analog section of the shop. You see, I remember when the TV knob actually looked like this! (How clever to turn it into a pin!)

I spent several moments reminiscing about long-ago mornings spent watching the test pattern while I waited for Hong Kong Phooey to come on ... and then I continued browsing this wonderful shop. It's full of whimsy and unique treasures. Enjoy the interview, and spend some time browsing yourself!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

I like to combine unusual or surprising materials, such as salvaged laboratory equipment, recycled electronic components, repurposed watch parts, and other mechanical gadgets with more conventional jewelry components and textile materials to create fun and unique jewelry and other wearable creations. I hope my work reveals the unexpected beauty of ordinary objects, or at least makes you smile.

I strive to create unique things and while other Etsians inspire me all the time, I try to never copy the work others (no matter how cool their ideas :-). I enjoy learning new skills and have tried my hand at metal working, glass blowing, knitting, sewing, beading, and more recently prospecting, rock polishing, carving and laser cutting. I hope to one day have the space to build my own pottery studio.

2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

SF Etsy and MSOE (The Mad Scientists of Etsy)

3. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

Since I was very young I have had a passion for observing and understanding nature and designing and building things. I have always enjoyed making jewelry and other wearable art, learning new techniques and collecting art supplies and parts of old things for my creations. When I was a teenager I thought I would one day become a professional artist and was very fortunate to have the opportunity to take weekend art classes at CMU. However I realized that what I considered amazing art was not considered ‘art’ by many of my classmates and teachers and rather was considered fine craftsmanship. I learned that much art is intended to increase awareness or invoke an emotional response rather than just being beautiful, unique or well made. I respect and admire this but I eventually realized that engineering may be a better fit for my personality and skills.

This ultimately led me to a career in molecular biology where I help other researchers understand the machinery of life by developing new experimental methods and designing equipment to carryout these new experiments. I find that the best designs while taking a lot of thought to create end up being elegantly simple. While I enjoy my career, the managerial and administrative aspects can get emotionally exhausting. My Etsy shop is my oasis. Fabricating wearable creations for my customers is a fun and reviving change of pace. I have found the kind spirit and appreciation of my customers very gratifying.

4. How did you get involved with Etsy?

I learned about Etsy when attending the Bay Area Maker Faire. It was extremely exciting to meet so many hands-on extremely creative people. Many of the artists exhibiting there had ‘Etsy’ shops. I was not sure what Etsy was but after the faire I checked out the website and loved it.

5. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

Taking good photos - Sometimes if I use a flash the colors look too washed out and without the flash too dark. For larger pieces it is a challenge to show sufficient detail and also a good overview of the piece.

6. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?

I really like my micro-mechanical butterfly earrings and necklaces. While they looked really cool, at first I had trouble ensuring all the small parts were sturdy enough to survive shipping and prolonged wear. I asked around for advice and learned about an amazing clear acrylic coating. I now always use this. It is virtually invisible and I have not had durability issues anymore. I have worn my butterfly necklace nearly everyday for over a year. (Thanks MH for the great advice!)

7. What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?

I think it is important to develop your own unique style. Prompt shipping is also greatly appreciated by customers.

8. If you had a gift certificate to Etsy for any one item you wanted, what would you buy?

It is so difficult to choose just one…

I have wanted these train hoop earrings by dmdmetal for a long time:

And this red wine resveratrol molecule necklace by fellow sfetsy member, molecular muse:

9. What crafting skill do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

Metal Clay! - I am saving my Etsy store profits to buy a furnace for this purpose and am excited to incorporate the stones I have collected and polished into silver.

10. What has been your biggest success and/or proudest moment since opening your Etsy shop?

I have been touched by the kindness of my customers. The email and feedback they have sent me has been very gratifying. It really feels good to know your work has made somebody else happy. I was happily surprised when I found my Micro-mechanical butterfly earrings mentioned on blogs (Thanks Georgia of NerdSalad for starting this trend!) and was really excited when an item in my shop was featured in the Etsy blog and with the orders that followed.