Spring Craft Boutique

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Jenkintown Library Craft Show

Thanks to everyone who came to the craft show this weekend.   We had great weather, and sales were better than I expected, which is always a nice surprise.  The falling leaves were a nice backdrop, even though I did have to keep picking them off my display.  My little houses seem to be striking the right chord with people… now I just have to figure out a better way to display them!  I was happy to send this little guy, among others, off to a good home:

 

 

Next up is a home show on the 18th, and then back to Doylestown on November 7th & 8th for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s holiday show.  Busy, busy, busy!  I know I’ve been a bit slow in getting things loaded into the Etsy shop, but if anyone is interested in any of my products, please do not hesitate to contact me through the comments section or email.  Thanks & happy fall!

Cyber Monday / On my Desk

Well, not to shamelessly plug my Etsy Shop, but it’s freshly stocked and ready for orders.  I’ll be adding more items over the course of the week.  If anyone happens to see something in my flickr photostream that’s not in the shop, feel free to email me or leave a comment to see if it’s available– I just haven’t been able to get it all online yet.

Here are my WIP’s that are on deck to be finished & added (hopefully) this week, and for an upcoming craft show at Abington Friends School:

 

Lots of headless animals are floating around my very messy studio right now.  I’m trying to focus a little more of soft toy making, something that has been itching at me for a while now. 

Sorry for the shoddy photos, Photoshop has not been wanting to open for me lately, so my editing was quite limited.

I’m hoping to make some pop-up puppets and more cone ornaments like this little bunny in the future:

 

 

Why do I love bunnies so?  I dunno…. As you can see, I’ve also jumped on the mushroom & soft tree bandwagon, I just couldn’t help myself…

Have a great Cyber Monday everyone!!

 

🙂

Craft Show or the ER?

After weeks of sewing my derriére off, neglecting my housework to the point of having dust bunnies that are now able to pull up a chair & join us for dinner, and relying on my husband and mother for almost all forms of childcare, this was the decision I was faced with while setting up yesterday.

Things were going smoothly. I was actually on time. Despite feeling a little nervous about the amount of work I would have to fill out a table, I ended up having plenty. It was a beautiful day. My table was placed next to a good friend of mine, and another good friend was just at the other end of the aisle. My display, despite almost no planning, was looking decent. It was a very small show, but a good way to get my feet wet. I had everything mostly set up when I decided to grab the hand truck & head back up to the car for some mums & other small items I brought for decorations.

I decided to just put the hand truck in the car for the moment, but had to pull out the handle to collapse it to fit. It was stuck. I pulled harder. It was still stuck. I pulled again and…. F@!#%**!!! THAT REALLY HURT!! I shook my hand in pain, expecting the pinched feeling to subside in a moment or two when I noticed splatters all over the parking lot. I looked at my finger and the constant stream of blood dotting the ground below. It didn’t look good. I had caught my pinky finger on the release pin (a very BLUNT pin) and sliced it from the base of the fingernail to the tip, on an angle, and under the nail. I grabbed a friend & headed toward the bathroom to rinse it off & have a better look. Definitely not good. Friends & various Library employees kept telling me I needed to go to the hospital. My friend’s husband was trying to wrap it for me at the kitchen sink (yeah, the library had a kitchen!) when I felt the darkness come over me. It was unmistakable what was happening. My legs started to give out & a wave of nausea hit like a tsunami.

“I’m going to pass out”, I said, and everyone scrambled to get a chair before the pregnant lady hit the floor. My first craft show in 7 years, and I couldn’t believe this had happened- I kept thinking, Who’s going to watch my stuff? How am I going to pack all this up? All these preparations, and I’m going to end up missing everything?

I never really fully lost consciousness, but I definitely couldn’t see or stand for a while. Weird. I don’t get freaked out by blood or injuries of this level. I didn’t feel particularly squeamish, and I’ve only ever passed out once before in my life.  My friend’s husband, a boy scout leader, informed me that the ER Doctors probably wouldn’t be able to stitch it, since the cut was right next to, and underneath the fingernail.  Since we had cleaned it pretty well, I decided to stick it out for a while & see how things went.  I felt better.  I did need to change the dressing a few times, but the spewing had stopped, and the pain subsided.  Today I’m going to call the doctor & try to have it looked at & possibly get a tetanus shot, since I’m pretty certain I’m overdue.

Anyway, despite the rocky start, it ended up being a nice day.  Not a stellar show, but it was small & I wasn’t really expecting much.  It was nice to get out in the sun & fresh air, especially since I’ve been closed up in my little mole hole for the past couple of weeks.  I did make a few sales, but still have a lot of inventory which will be added to the shop over the next couple of days, starting with the bags, since I’ve already taken photos of them.

While I didn’t break any sales records, I certainly did leave my mark at the Jenkintown Library:

 

While all of my display items did not end up making their way out of the car, I think for the type of small-time show that it was, it still looked ok:

 

 

I am still planning on adding a few shows to my schedule over the next couple of months, but for now, I’ve never been so happy to be able to clean my house!  It should be done in about a week or two…

My Own Little Soapbox

So I went to Babies R Us yesterday, and couldn’t help but notice all of the cute little outfits and various baby items.  To be honest, as someone who creates custom baby items, it was somewhat discouraging.  How is the single artist to compete with the mass-production of the chain stores?  I’m the first to admit, there’s some really cute stuff out there.  But have you ever thought about where it comes from, or how many other people have bought the same thing?  Do you care? 

True, reading the labels from most of the clothing in our closets, they were manufactured outside the US, in countries where the cost of living is considerably less than here.  I’m not saying I have a major problem with this.  As a necessity, a lot of the shirts I use in my own small line come from places like Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, not to mention my supplies too.   I would love to use an American manufacturer, but the fact of the matter is, being such a small operation, I need to cut my own costs as much as possible, and there’s a lot of expense and work involved finding domestic options (still looking, though!).  But I do think that people have lost touch with the work that actually goes into making a garment (or a toy, piece of furniture, etc.) because of the immense import business and global trading.  I have had people… family members even… scoff at my prices for a handmade item, insinuating that it’s not worth it.  I’ve even had someone tell me that the problem they have with artists is that they over-value their own work.  “No,”  I replied, “You’re just used to paying Chinese wages.”  Just like the mom-and-pop stores of yesteryear, the artists and crafters of this world and country are forced to compete with big business on a daily basis, and sadly, many are forced to give up their dream because it’s just too difficult to keep up.

I guess I feel some responsibility, not for myself, but for all of the artists/crafters out there, to champion the cause for buying handmade.  Especially now, as fall and holiday shopping season is right around the corner,  websites like Etsy, I Shop Indie, and  Poppytalk Handmade have made it infinitely easier to find unique items for yourself and everyone on your gift list.  Here are a few of my own personal reasons for buying handmade, in no particular order: 

  1. It’s socially responsible   Did you know that many moms are able to stay at home because of the revenue generated from their handmade wares?  Let’s face it, happy mommies = happy babies, and happy babies = a happy future generation.  Believe me, I’m not saying that moms who work outside the home or their children aren’t happy, but I personally was not.  It meant more than anything to find a way to stay at home with the little ones during these early years.  While most crafters I know aren’t breaking the bank from their talents (rarely do they end up making more than $10 an hour part-time;  most often MUCH less), it still allows the opportunity to feed a creative need.  I am exceedingly grateful to have the chance to do so.  Even if the artist is not a parent, you’re still supporting someone’s unique skill & talent, and sending a message of value for their gift and their own personal American Dream (or wherever they’re from!).   
  2. It’s environmentally responsible  While there is still waste involved in handmade items, the degree is much less than mass-production, and with the popularity “going green” many artists are focusing on finding creative ways to use or reuse what they already have, or what others are willing to put in a landfill.  It’s truly inspiring to see how some people are reinventing their own personal production process for the sake of the environment.
  3. It’s fun    Let’s face it, shopping is fun, and shopping on Etsy is like going treasure hunting.  There is more on that site than you could possibly imagine, and there is definitely something for everyone, no matter if their tastes run from the traditional/classic to the completely wack-a-doo.  And who doesn’t like the convenience of shopping at 1 o’clock in the morning if the mood strikes?
  4. It’s inexpensive   Ok, maybe not everything is inexpensive, but people do have to eat.  That being said, there are definitely some MAJOR steals to be had!  Even as an Etsy seller, I am often amazed at the seemingly low pricing on some items– are they undervaluing their work?  Is the item something that’s been in their shop forever & they just want to get rid of it?  Do they live in a part of the world/country where the cost of living is that much cheaper?  Am I missing something????  Whatever the reason, there are some beautiful items available that don’t have to put a crater in your wallet.   And with the cost of gas prices these days, it’s often cheaper to pay online shipping than to go to the store yourself to purchase something. 
  5. You’ll walk away with something high quality, unique, & possibly one of a kind   Have you ever recieved a handmade gift?  Whether the giver made it themselves or bought it from an artisan, you have to feel that much more special for having received it.  For me, it’s proof that the person giving it really considered me as an individual, not as an afterthought while they were waiting in line at Walmart.  On the same note, you can usually count on quality when it comes to a handmade item.  Most things have been carefully crafted on a singular basis, and had special attention paid to every detail.  Does anyone still own an item that was made for them as a child?  You value it so much more, and it’s usually made to last: something you can pass down to other siblings, children, or grandchildren.  And plus- isn’t it so refreshing to confidently KNOW you’re the only one who has that particular handbag, necklace, or baby gift?      

 This is by no means a complete list, and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me.  But as the fall/winter shopping season begins, why not check out some local craft events, websites, and even home shows?  It’s incredibly satisfying on so many levels.  *If* I can figure out how to put together a mosaic of some of my favorite items on Etsy, I’ll post that this weekend… In the meantime, have a look around, & if nothing else, have fun!

Subtle I’m not…

Let me first start off by saying this is somewhat of a joke between me & my husband.

So, I’m not going to pretend that I don’t know Mother’s Day is coming up, and, lo and behold, I just happen to be a mother (no, this is NOT only half a word).  I’m also not going to pretend I don’t know that being that my kids are too young to have jobs and earn their own money, their dad will be taking them out shopping for a gift for me.  I’m not saying they should buy me a gift, I’m just saying I know it’s going to happen anyway.  Third, I’m also not going to pretend that my sweet and dutiful husband does not read this.  So, I just thought I’d help things along & provide a short list of ideas (no hints here).  Aren’t I nice?  Plus, this is all stuff I will just eventually end up buying anyway.

I guess one of the things at the top of my list would be this book:

The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule.  The buzz about this book is all over the place, and you can get a signed copy from the author here.  With summer coming, and Max being done school for a while, we’ll need some extra ideas for activities to keep us busy. 

 

Next, I’ve had my eye on this:

 

Can be purchased here.   Since I’m a self-taught sewer ( I don’t dare call myself a seamstress), I would like to be able to design stuff without relying on store-bought patterns all the time.  I do tend to alter almost every pattern I use, but I would still like to have a little more creative freedom.   Again, this book seems to have gotten pretty good reviews.

 

Next, I spotted something like this at Joann’s recently:

Or, this would do, too:

 

Since organization is not my strong point, I can use all the help I can get.  Actually, I could stand to use the services of a full-on professional organizer, both for my studio and the rest of the house, but hey, I could also use a million bucks, too. 

And finally, since we can’t have all work and no fun:

I think these are so cute!  And since there’s a BOGO sale right now, why not add these, as well:

 Since I shudder every time I look at my exposed feet, I guess a pedicure would also be in order…

 

Seriously, I don’t expect to get all this stuff- that would just be ridiculous! 🙂  I mean, Mother’s Day isn’t really about the gifts, it’s about worshipping the ground on which all the hardworking, tireless mothers of the world walk.  Just kidding!  (not really, but you know what I mean).  And if that comes in the form of a homemade card & macaroni necklace, consider my day made.