Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Few Odds and Ends

We’re getting ready for our family vacation, so I’m sitting on my hands and not starting any new projects. It’s hard! I got a pad of really neat scrapbook paper last weekend and am DYING to do something with it! I need to focus my attention elsewhere though, so am just going to have to tough it out until we get back. We are renting a cute little cabin in central Washington with my cousin and her husband, and there will be NO internet access either, so I guess I’ll be going through all sorts of withdrawals! Seriously, it should be fun- we’ll do some fishing, hiking, canoeing (if my cousin is able to bring their canoe). I also have some books that I’ll bring in the hopes that I can find a nice shady spot on the lake to park and read. Is it the weekend yet??!

Anyway, before that, I have a couple of new things to share. First up is a card I created for a monochromatic card challenge in the Yahoo paper crafts group I belong to. I really wanted to go with purple for this challenge, but when I went through my paper supply, I didn’t have any purple papers that didn’t have some other color on them. I had several pink ones though, so that’s what I went with, even though pink is not one of my favorite colors:

I’m not sure I love the monochromatic look- but heck, I’ll try anything once! I think it turned out pretty nice. I’m going to send it to my step-mom, along with the purple photo bookmark with my kids’ pictures on it.

Next up is a couple of interesting experiments I did with pressed flowers. I’ve been thinking lately that I would like to expand what I’m offering in my Etsy shop, so have been thinking up other things I might be able to do with them. I have had this idea floating around in my head for awhile of making a card with pressed flowers on it, but the hard part about that is that the flowers are so delicate, so would have to be protected somehow. I’ve been mulling around the idea of a decoupaged card- I have never done any decoupage before, but have seen plenty of shows on HGTV to know what it is and generally how it works. So, off to Michael’s I went to look for Mod Podge. Who knew there were SO many different kinds?! I was glad to see that there is one for paper amongst all of the varieties. When I discussed my idea for a decoupaged card with my BFF Kendra, she mentioned that warping of the paper might be a problem, because liquid glue tends to do that. So I have hopes that the Mod Podge for paper will solve that problem. My original plan was to do one of these decoupaged cards for the monochromatic card challenge, but I was limited on time so decided to put it off until I have time to think about the design and not have to rush through making it. So, no, I don’t have one to share this time.

In the meantime, though, I started thinking about other things that could be decoupaged with pressed flowers, and the first thing that came to mind was picture frames. I picked up a couple of unfinished ones at Michael’s for pretty cheap, and here’s what I did with those:

This first one uses pansies with a metallic gold tissue paper that I found at Michael’s. I used the regular gloss-finish Mod Podge for this. I really like how this one turned out! The only thing I’d do differently next time is try to use a tissue paper that is not quite so metallic. I like the gold, but wish it wasn’t so shiny. I know I’ve seen gold and silver tissue with more of a matte finish, so will be on the lookout for that after vacation. The Mod Podge is easy to work with, but I did end up having to use a few coats of acrylic spray on top of it, because even when it dries, it remains a bit soft and tacky. The acrylic spray took care of that though, and gives it a nice, even, and solid shiny finish.

Here is the other frame that I did. Recognize this design from my Etsy shop??

This one is…OK. I’m not knocked over by it or anything. I think I used too many daisies, and that makes it look at bit too busy. My daughter loves it though, so I will probably give it to her. I used the gold tissue on the raised edges for this one, and it works really well here. The green background is card stock that I cut down to size and glued in with Aileen’s Tacky Glue, then decoupaged the daisies with the gloss-finish Mod Podge. That issue I mentioned about the paper warping? Yeah, Kendra was right about that. It did get a bit warped while the Mod Podge was still wet, but once it dried, it was not so bad. Still, in the future, I will make sure that I use the Mod Pod for paper on things like this. This frame is not quite done- I still need to finish it with the acrylic spray, then I’m sure Meredith will find a picture to put in it for her room.

This was a great learning experience, if nothing else. I learned that if I’m going to decoupage pressed flowers, darker colored flowers work best. The white daisies, while very pretty and one of my favorites, become opaque when they come in contact with the Mod Podge, as did the lighter yellow pansies. Next time, I will have to be more careful about putting light colored flowers on a dark background for that reason. Tissue paper works great for decoupage, because the Mod Podge can act as both the glue and the finish for it. However, card stock is heavy enough that it needs stronger glue for adhering it to something else. Hopefully with these lessons learned, my next experiments with this will turn out better. I might actually list the pansy frame in my Etsy shop, but not until I have a few other items to list as well. My next venture will be to Goodwill to see about getting some frames that I can embellish in a similar way, so after vacation, that’s what I will be working on.

Don’t forget to leave me some feedback on your top 10 favorite bookmark designs in my previous post! Thanks to everyone who has entered so far- I’d still love some more feedback!

That’s it for now- see you all after vacation!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In Need of Market Research, So….Another Giveaway!

Here it is mid-July, and I’m already thinking about the holidays! More specifically, I’m thinking about the need to bulk up my Etsy shop bookmark inventory for the holidays. Since I don’t have a lot of time for crafting, I have to plan ahead and work in small batches. That means that NOW is a good time to start thinking about doing some prep work and build up my stock for all those purchases that will come rolling in around the holidays. Aren’t I optimistic??!!

Here is what I would like to do. I would like to conduct a poll of the top 10 bookmark designs that are currently in my Etsy shop: so that I can narrow my focus and concentrate on the designs that are most likely to be of interest come the holidays. Though I will continue to create new designs, I’d like to get a handle on what I currently have in my shop that works so I can stock up my inventory of those. Hence, the poll. I want to know what your top 10 favorite bookmark designs are in my Etsy shop. Please add a comment to this blog post with the names of your top 10, and I will enter you into a drawing for a free bookmark of your choice of any design currently in my shop. I will even personalize it with your initials if you like! Doesn’t that make you want to help??

Deadline to enter is Friday, July 30, 2010.

I would like to get as many opinions as possible, so please feel free to pass this on to your friends or otherwise give me some free advertising! If you are not a follower of my blog, please make sure that I have a way to get ahold of you if you win the giveaway- either include your email address in your comment, or you can email me privately at if you don’t want your info public.  (I would love more blog followers though!) Winner will be notified by Saturday the 31st, and I’ll also post the results here on my blog.

Thanks everyone! Looking forward to your feedback!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm in an Etsy Treasury!

I was so surprised and pleased yesterday to get an Etsy convo that one of my bookmarks has been included in a treasury!

For those who aren't familiar with this, a treasury can be made by anyone with an Etsy account. It's simply a collection of favorites found in different Etsy shops. Sometimes there is a theme to a treasury- everything selected might be the same color, or maybe all the same type of item, or could just be a central theme. In this case, the treasury I have been featured in is items that are insect or animal-themed. This is the bookmark that was included:

The really exciting part of being included in a treasury is that you then have a chance of making it to the front page of Etsy.  Once per hour, they put a new treasury up on the front page, so if you have an item that makes it there, it gets a LOT of exposure!  Of course, lots of people make treasuries, and only so many can be on the FP, so the chance of it happening isn't huge, but it's exciting to have that possiblity!  This is actually the third treasury that I've had an item in.  My pansy bookmark was in one in May, which I knew about, and my Fresh as a Daisy bookmark was in another one, which I never knew about until I checked out I guess not everyone notifies you when they include your items in their treasuries!

Anyway, it's really not that big of a deal in the grand scheme, but since I've been in kind of a slump, this really lifted my spirits.  It also motivated me to move redoing my photos higher on my to-do list, as that really is an awful photo!  Ugh, lesson learned- keep up the improvements on the photos, because you never know when you'll be featured!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Something New to Get Out of My Slump

I finally found a little time to do some tweaking on my blog template- whaddya think?

Still haven't gotten back to making any new bookmarks, but I did finally get one of my personalized ones listed in my shop! I got the three-flower pressed flower bookmark up, so still need to get the listings done for the 2-flower one, and the one with the handmade paper. I'll work on that this coming weekend.

In the meantime, I did something kind of fun last weekend. The Yahoo paper crafts group I joined recently has a weekly challenge, and the challenge for this week was to make something with a ribbon. It could be anything, it just had to include a ribbon. Now, bookmarks are a total no-brainer there...but I wanted to try something different. I decided to make a card, which I have never done before, but after looking at all the lovely ones that my BFF Kendra makes, as well as some of the ladies on the Yahoo paper craft group, I thought I'd give it a try. I got out my tub of paper punches (just when did I acquire so MANY?) and let my imagination go! I had trouble thinking of a theme or color scheme, so I started looking around my kitchen, and settled on my favorite dishes as the inspiration.

I got these dishes last year when we did our kitchen remodel, and I *LOVE* them! I was so excited when I got them...I hadn't had new dishes since hubby and I got married in 1994! They are the Pfaltzgraff Verona pattern, which luckily for me had just been discontinued when I was shopping around, so I was able to get them online very inexpensively. Anyway, here is what I made:

I love these colors! Teal is one of my very favorites, and it is so pretty when combined with blue and the lime green shades. In hindsight, I do think this card is a bit busy- I guess I got carried away with those paper punches! Next time I would probably try to tone it down a bit there, maybe use more patterned paper and fewer punches. But I'm pretty happy with this for my first attempt. I doubt my cards will ever be as nice as the ones that Kendra makes, but I enjoyed doing something different and look forward to trying again.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Computer Problems and Creative Lulls

I haven't updated for awhile for a couple of reasons. One is that my home computer was attacked by a virus a couple of weeks ago, so we've had it in the repair shop twice to deal with that. Ugh- haven't had to deal with anything like that in a long time! I guess it goes with the territory of having a 14 year old in the house who likes to do lots of Google searches- perhaps it's time to start looking into parental controls! I'm not convinced that the viruses are all gone...Norton keeps telling us that it's blocking viruses, and all the websites we're visiting are ones we know are safe, so I'm afraid there is something still in there. Time will tell, I guess.

The other reason is that I guess I've hit a creative lull, or maybe just lost some steam for awhile. It's a bit discouraging to have put so much time and effort and creativity into my stuff and not get any sales, or even very many views, on my Etsy shop. I unfortunately just don't have the time to devote to Facebook and Twitter and the like, which is what everyone on the Etsy forums says you have to do to get your products out there for people to find. I've been taking the approach of just continuing to plug away and keep creating and listing, but it is hard when you get next to no feedback. Anyway, my husband and kids were on vacation for a week and a half and returned last weekend, so I've had NO time to do anything since then. I have delayed listing my personalized bookmarks in my shop, but hope to do that this weekend. I do need to get back into just making stuff though, if only to keep the creative juices flowing. I guess I've just been a bit overwhelmed. I recently joined a paper crafts Yahoo group and would love to start contributing, but with the computer issues and having no time, I just haven't been able to yet. Hopefully soon!

I do want to share with you one photo bookmark that I did a couple of weeks ago. My BFF Kendra sent me the most amazing picture of her two gorgeous children that she took in her parents' back yard in AZ. I was so taken with it that I just HAD to put it on a bookmark! Here is the picture:

Can you believe that that is a real rainbow in the background?! I have never, ever seen such a full one before! I just loved the colors in this photo. I had so many ideas for the bookmark, but here is what I went with:

I used that lovely blue handmade paper and some pansies in this one. I do wish that the one blue pansy didn't blend in so much with the paper, but I didn't want to use two identical flowers. Anyway I really like how it came out. Poor Kendra probably has enough bookmarks to last her several lifetimes, so really does not need one more, but maybe her mom will like this one.

Well, maybe this weekend I will dig myself out of my slump and try to make something. I know that the weather is supposed to cool down some (it was 101 here yesterday!!), and that will be much more comfortable if I decide to do some work.