Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy (Almost) New Year!

Hello, and Happy New Year!  As it is New Year's Eve with only 5 hours and change to go until the actual "new" year, I refuse to feel like I am cheating when I say it. ;)

I have had a very busy holiday season, which explains my lack of posts for the past few weeks.  Personally, things were hectic with shopping and various kids activities, mostly holiday performances for band, choir and dance.  There was one week in there where we had a show to go to every single night of the week, and I thought I might lose my mind!  Also, after that last dismal holiday bazaar, I did two more, both of which turned out better than that first one.  One was totally last minute- it was a church bazaar very near my home, and I heard about it only 4 days before it was happening.  Thankfully they were able to squeeze me in, and I had a very nice time there.  I was able to get my booth placed next to a friend from the Salem Etsy Team, and it was great to have a buddy to chat with during the day.  Then we had our Salem Etsy Team holiday sale on December 15th, and it went pretty well too.  I made at least my booth fee back on both of these sales, but did better at the Etsy team sale.  After some reflection and contemplation, I really did learn a lot from the three sales I did this year.  The major one is that at the holidays, people don't want to buy handmade cards- they want to buy cheap cards in bulk from Wal-mart.  Looking back on the last year, I realize that the occasions when I have sold the most cards are the ones where people are buying a special card for a very specific person, such as lovers at Valentine's day, or moms for Mother's Day.  So, lesson learned!  I will not focus on volume production at the holidays, and focus more on producing fewer, high-quality cards, as well as bookmarks, which make great gifts.  And I'll be more prepared for those special occasions and holidays where people are looking for quality, unique cards to give to someone special.

Which brings me to Valentine's Day, 2013!  I am already preparing for this, as I have signed up for a pre-Valentine's Day sale on January 12th.  That is less than 2 weeks away now!  I have some cards made already, and have some additional designs in mind to make before the sale.  I am taking a cue from the sales last year in my Etsy shop and am focusing on cards in masculine colors and designs, but I plan to have something for everyone.  Here are a few examples:

You may recall that last year, I did a few masculine cards and was surprised by the interest and consequent sales of them!  I used some of the same designs this year, but also expanded to include new colors and patterns in the designs.  I made great use of a Sizzix asymmetric hearts die last year, and liked it a lot, but it was small.  This year, I found a new set of dies that have similar asymmetric nesting hearts but are larger, so have used those on the larger cards.  I also got a set of "primitive heart" dies by Sizzix, which is the tall, skinny nesting hearts you see on the last two cards.  They are really cute too!  There are actually 3 sizes, but on the smaller A2 size cards, I can only fit the smaller two.  I like being able to have a variety of styles and shapes.

I am excited about getting these new cards listed in my shop, and will be curious to see the response at the Valentine sale on the 12th.  This sale has about 57 vendors, most of which are corporate (Avon, Scentsy, etc.) with only a handful of handcrafters there.  There will be at least one other handmade paper crafter there, but hopefully our styles will be different enough that we won't be in direct competition. I do enjoy the sales and being able to meet and talk to customers, so I hope it will be fun regardless of the sales!

I hope to be back soon with more Valentine card designs, and an update about the sale on the 12th!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

New Holiday Cards

I have been busy with preparing for the big holiday bazaar, so haven't had much time to do anything else lately!  The bazaar was yesterday, and well...all I can say is, it was fun.  Not many buyers, and from what I hear, it wasn't just me.  It's hard not to take it personally though, when people cruise by your table without a glance, or else turn to look at the Velata table across the aisle instead (who doesn't love chocolate fondue, right?)  This was a BIG bazaar.  Over 100 vendors, and the largest I've ever done was the Salem Etsy Team spring sale last May, which had about 20.  So maybe I was out of my league?  I don't know.  But I did not sell much.  In fact, I felt invisible a lot of the time.  :(  I was in between a Celebrating  Home rep, who kept trying to promote her stuff to me, and a really eccentric gal who makes stuff out of recycled materials and has one of those personalities that she feels like your best friend 10 minutes after you've met.  She had a crowd in front of her booth most of the day.  I had lots of lookers, but few buyers.  I had lots of people say I have beautiful stuff.  I had several ladies stop by to talk "shop" with me- they make cards too, and wanted to know what materials I use, equipment, etc.  My favorite (not really) was the one who oohed and ahhed over my holiday card designs, and then told me that she plans to steal them for her own cards.  I honestly had no response to that at the time, and now, even 24 hours later, I still can't think of an appropriate one.  Then there was the lady who stopped by for a second, said to me "nice stuff", then to no one in particular as she walked away, "does anyone even send Christmas cards anymore?"


So, not a great day, yesterday.  I sold a total of 9 cards.  A few bookmarks, and a few packs of gift tags.  The items that got the most attention on my table?  The little glass magnets with pressed flowers glued on the undersides, priced at 50 cents each.  Sigh again.  On the upside, it was fun and interesting to be part of such a big event.  I'm trying very hard not to focus on the fact that I didn't sell enough to even cover my booth fees, and just take what I can from the experience.  There's always the next one.  Which, at this moment, is scheduled for December 15th, and will be another Salem Etsy Team sale.  Hopefully we will have the kind of traffic we had for the spring sale, and I might at least break even.

In the meantime, I made a ton of holiday cards that did not sell yesterday, so I have listed some in my Etsy shop.  We'll see how they do!  Here are some samples:

Between preparing for this bazaar, I also did a custom order.  This was for someone I know locally- her daughter has been in my son's class since they were in kindergarten, and they are juniors in high school now, so it's been a good number of years.  Where has the time gone?!  Anyway, she remembered that I made bookmarks from the home holiday sale I did a couple of years ago, and contacted me about doing some custom bookmarks for her sister's family.  They are big fans of the Minnesota Vikings, and she wanteds something to do with that.  Now, I normally would not do anything to infringe on a copyright or trademark.  I would certainly never list something in my shop that did.  But they sell stickers, paper, and more with team logos anymore, with the caveat that it is for "personal use".  `Which is pretty loosely defined, and since this was for an acquiaintance and I did not sell through my shop, I accomodated her request.  I also did not charge much- basically I covered my material costs and that was it.  So I refuse to feel guilty. ;)  I made 7 bookmarks in all, with different names on them.  They all had the same basic design, with just the name changed.

She loved what I came up with, so I was happy!  These were the proofs before I finalized them- they were laminated and topped with a purple ribbon.

Well, what I learned at the holiday bazaar is that it is good to have some low-ticket items on your, make more little glass magnets, and also raise the price! We'll also do more gift tags, which I had only a few packs of yesterday, but sold pretty well.  We have our work cut out for us before December 15th!  I will try to post previews before then, so be sure to check back.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Another Birthday Card

I am still plugging away on making stuff for the holiday bazaar on November 10th.  It is taking most of my free time- well, my crafting time anyway!  This week, I took a break to make a birthday card for my step-mom, whose birthday is at the end of the month.  I found some great specialty paper today at JoAnn's, and that is what I used as my inspiration.

This paper is beautiful- it is threaded with gold, and sprinkled with teal flowers.  I combined this paper with coordinating teal paper, as well as some metallic gold paper for the card, and created the flower out of the same papers, with a gold pearl for the center.  The sentiment was printed out on the computer.  The inside is blank, so that I can write my own personal message there.

The holiday bazaar is only 3 weeks away, and I am still cranking out cards in preparation.  Here is one design I have made for the sale:
I have to say, I LOVE this card!  I recently bought the Spellbinder poinsettia dies, and have been anxious to use them.  This is my first attempt.  I used a paper I bought at Craft Warehouse for the patterned portion of the card.  The poinsettia flower is gorgeous- the best of any I have ever used for a card.  I did have to purchase the Spellbinder embossing pads in order to emboss the cutouts with the proper embossing, but it was worth it.  They really look great!  I used some little gold gems in the middle for the middle of the flowers.

I have made lots of holiday cards for the bazaar, and will try to post pictures of more of them next time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Birthday Card

I have been very busy creating cards for the holiday bazaar I mentioned in my last post.  So busy, in fact, that I haven't had time to take pictures of any of them!  So I won't have a sneak preview of any of those until I get my inventory up and can take a breather.

In the meantime, I took a break from holiday cards to make a birthday card for my BFF Kendra, whose birthday was last week.  I had some pretty paper I'd been wanting to use, and this was the perfect occasion.  I wanted to do a design that was different than anything I had done before, and had been kicking around this idea in my head of having a tri-fold card with windows, so decided to give it a try.

This project definitely had its challenges!  First of all, I stubbornly wanted to make it 5x7, which was difficult because standard scrapbook paper is 12x12.  In order to do a 5x7 tri-fold card, I'd need something that was 15 inches wide.  I went exploring in Michaels, and came upon some thick paper back by the art supplies that is meant for watercolors or pastels, and was very large- at least 24x24.  It came in several colors, and lucky for me, one of them was a green that worked well with the paper I wanted to use.  The other challenge was die cutting the windows so that the lined up correctly.  There are actually two windows of graduated sizes, so it is important that they line up.
Here you can see that when you open up to the second panel, the window is larger than the one on the front.  It was a little tricky to get it there, but I'm happy with how it turned out.
The second panel opens up to the inside, where there is space to write a personal sentiment.

Kendra said she liked the card, which made me happy.  I am always a little nervous making cards for other card makers, especially ones whose work I admire!

I have some more birthdays coming up in the near future, so will have to work those into the crafting schedule around the holiday bazaar work- I'll be back later to share those!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hello- I am back!

Well, time had a tendancy to fly, doesn't it?  At least for me- I was stunned to see that it has been nearly 2 months since I posted anything here!  The end of summer came rather quickly for me, and as busy as it normally is, it was complicated by the fact that my 16 year old son contracted mono two weeks before school started.  So yes, the end of summer was busy enough with getting two kids ready for the start of school, and then I got to play nursemaid as well.  Thankfully he was over the worst by the first day of school, but is still in recovery mode.  My daughter started middle school, so there were all of the adjustments to make with the new environment there.  And then, right on schedule, we all got sick by the second week of school with a nasty cold.  It was enough to knock me out of commission for most of last week, which is unusual.  Hopefully things will ease up now, and everyone will settle down into the new routines of fall.

In my business with everything, I had not had any time for crafting lately, so did not really have anything to share.  However, in the last week, I have (perhaps insanely) agreed to participate in a holiday bazaar put on at my son's high school by a woman from the Oregon Women in Business group, with which I became affiliated last spring, after I attended one of their local events.  My very good friend Erica was at that event selling toffee that she and her wonderful hubby Matt make in their business, Broken Top Toffee, and I got to talking with Gillian, the woman who had coordinated the event.  I gave her my card and became member of the organization's Facebook group, so heard about the event when it was first announced.  It is going to be a very large event.  At first, she estimated 50 vendors, but it seems that the high school can accomdate twice that, so she is shooting for 100!  Now, I have only done two sales before, the largest of which was the Salem Etsy Team Spring Sale in May, and that was only about 25 of us, so this is going to be substantially bigger.  I must admit, I am just a bit intimidated!  But, I have a few weeks to prepare.  The event is slated for Saturday, November 10th, so I have the next 6 weeks to prepare.  It's a holiday bazaar, so that means having holiday items for sale, and that is what I am hard at work on at the moment.  Every year, I think that I should really start making some holiday items in, oh, June or July, but I never do get around to it.  Now that I have a fire under me, I have been cranking out the holiday cards like nobody's business!  Here is a sneak peak at a couple fo new items that will be for sale on November 10th.

These cards are dry-embossed using embossing folders, and I think have a simple elegance about them.  The inside will have a simple "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" sentiment, but otherwise leave the rest blank for personal messages.

I have plans for other products, and those plans are going to keep me busy right up until the bazaar.  I plan to do some other holiday cards using patterned papers, as well as some gift tags.  I am also going to again attempt some magents.  My daughter and I tried these for the spring sale, but had rotten luck then.  There were two types: the laminated ones that I've done before, and a new type, made with clear glass stones  with pressed flowers glued to the underside, so that they show through.  They were lovely...except that when you attach the magnet to the back, it falls off, because there is nothing to protect the pressed flower.  When I was at the spring sale, I talked with a gal who makes jewelry using glass pieces, and she told me about a produt that she uses called diamond glaze.  I tracked some down, so I am going to attempt those magnets again and see if that glaze will help make it a success!

I also have a few birthdays on the horizon to prepare for.  My BFF Kendra's birthday is October 7th, my step-mom's birthday is the 26th, and my mom's is in mid-November.  So I am also thinking ahead to those.  I always enjoy experimenting with differnet card designs for family birthdays, so this is a chance to have some fun with something different!  That will be nice since I am cranking out holiday cards of similar designs in volume.

I need to get back into the swing of things, and that includes reviving my Facebook page.  I kind of let it go by the wayside for the last few months, but shockingly, I got notice of a new follower a few days ago!  Well, to that individual, thank you, and I will endeavor to make it worth your while!  Look for an update very soon!

I will be back soon to post an update on my progess on preparing for this big holiday bazaar.  My mind is bursting with ideas, and the past couple of weeks I have been shopping for supplies and can't wait to dig into them and start playing with designs!

Monday, July 30, 2012

New Birthday Card and Bookmark

Still haven't had much time to work on new stuff for my shop, but I did make a card and bookmark for a friend of my daughter who is having a birthday soon.  She is going to have to miss her friend's party, since it is during the week we will be on vacation, but we wanted to get a gift anyway.  We got a gift card to a shop she likes, and I made a card to put it in.  This friend of my daughter is a friend from dance, and throughout the last year, there have been several birthdays among the group, and I have not repeated a card design yet, so had to do something different this time too!  The design on this card is one that I ripped off from the one my BFF Kendra made and sent me for my birthday this year!  I really liked it because it is different and unique.  It was not too difficult to do, but it is impressive in presentation.

So, it is a tri-fold card, with the flaps folded into triangles.  Then an embellished panel is adhered to each triangle, and they overlap when the card is folded up, with a ribbon closure on the outside.  We put the gift card on the inside with some temporary adhesive.  Folded up, the card is 4x4 inches.  Cute!  I used some paper that I have used before on cards for my daughters friends- it is very cute for tweens, I think!

Here's the bookmark, which I made to coordinate with the card:

I used coordinating light turquoise and purple flowers and papers to go with the peace sign and hearts paper.  Though I don't have a picture of it, I have bundled the card and bookmark up into a clear cellophane bag- the same type that I package up my cards in that I sell in my Etsy shop.  It looks cute!  We'll secretly give the gift to Alexa's mom this week at dance class, so that she can make sure that Alexa has it during her party, even though we won't be there.

Hopefully once we are back from vacation, I can get to work on some new stuff for my shop!  I also want to try out some new photo ideas for my items...I have to admit that photography is my least favorite thing about running my shop!  The Salem Etsy Team had a great meeting last week that I was able to attend, and I got some very good feedback about some ideas for staging and photo techniques that I want to try soon.  See you in a couple of weeks!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Masculine Birthday Card

Whoa, I didn't realize it's been nearly a month since I last posted- whoops!  Guess I have been busy!  I have not done a lot of crafting lately, so there hasn't been much to report.  I did a couple of birthday cards recently though, because we had two parties going on yesterday.  One was for my daughter's friend's birthday, and unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the card I made for her.  It was like this one though- just a different color scheme (I did purple, pink and green).  The other card was for my hubby's cousin Adam, who turned the big 4-0 on Friday.  There was a big luau party in his honor yesterday, and it was sooo much fun!  It was at my hubby's uncle Bob's house, where they have a large lot and a nice swimming pool.  They roasted a pig in the ground and had some amazing side dishes to go with it- lots of great food, great company, and great times!  My hubby went in with a friend to get Adam a nice camping chair, and as it happened, it had a camoflauge design on it.  So here is the card I made to give to Adam with the chair:

I never have an easy time with masculine cards, and lately it seems like I've had to make a lot of them!  I wish there were more masculine patterned paper choices out there- I have a very hard time finding papers that are appropriate for men.  Even if I find a paper in nice masculine colors, it tends to be in a floral or paisley or otherwise feminine pattern!  That's why I usually end up going with stripes, as that is all I can ever seem to find.  Camoflauge of course is the exception, though I hate to use that for everything since it can get a little cliched.  There was a guy who used to hang around the Etsy forums a couple of years ago who started a blog called "Metsy", and it focused on Etsy items for men.  He used to make fun of things that people would make for men in a camoflauge pattern, as if that would make an otherwise non-manly item masculine.  Wonder what happened to that guy?  He was pretty entertaining, even though he DID trash on my camoflauge bookmark!

Anyway, I digress.  Cliches aside, I feel the camo was appropriate in this case, as Adam does hunt and camp, and the pattern went with the chair too.  He seemed to like it- I just hope it wasn't the beer talking, lol!  I used a solid dark army green card base and then layered three offset layers of torn-edged paper.  It gives it a sort of rougher edge to the look of the card.  I used torn-edged paper on the inside as well.  Overall it's a pretty simple design, but kind of different.  I kind of like the offset look- I may have to try that on some other cards as well.

I also recently made a set of cards for my hubby's friend's mom- she is the one who has the beach house that we stayed at for our anniversary this year, and I made a Thank You card to send her.  She liked it so much that a few weeks later, she put in a huge order for some cards from my shop!  We are going to be staying at the house again for a week for our summer vacation next month, so as a thank you, I made a set of notecards for her in different washi paper patterns.  Here are those:

For a couple of these, I used paper that I bought from an Etsy seller that I found who brought a bunch of washi papers back from Japan.  She makes lovely boxes and other things that she covers with the paper, and sold some of the scraps as supplies.  I bought two batches from her awhile back, and had hoped to go back for more, but recently I checked her shop and it was almost all gone! :(  Well, hopefully she will restock!

Not much else on the agenda for the time being.  We're getting ready for vacation, and after that it will be time to get the kids ready to go back to school.  How time flies!  I have been mulling over the idea of making more occasion-specific cards for my shop...the blank cards don't seem to sell that well from what I've heard from other sellers.  So maybe I will try adding specific sentiments to some and see how that goes.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Custom Personalized Bookmark

Hey, I just realized that I passed my 100th post milestone a couple of posts ago!  Shows how much I've been paying attention,eh?  Well, happy 100th post to me anyway!

I got a custom personalized bookmark and gift envelope order late last week, and what really made me happy is that it was a customer for whom I had done a similar project a couple of months ago.  I send coupons for a future purchase with every order I send out, and in almost 2 years of sending them, this was the first one that was actually redeemed!  I am always glad to get repeat customers, because that tells me that they truly like my work.  This order was for a bookmark with blue and yellow flowers, and she left the design up to me.  My favorite kind of project!  Here is the bookmark:

I again went for the collage-style on this one, as it has really grown on me, and it really makes each bookmark unique.

For the gift envelope, I have to admit I was a little stumped at first.  I had a pretty pale yellow and white floral patterned paper that I loved- I have used it on several projects, including these cards.  Alas, I only had the one sheet of it, and my supply is now nearly gone.  I had enough to use on the reverse of the bookmark, but not enough for the gift envelope.  I planned to do the envelope itself in blue, but needed something yellow to embellish it.  I also wanted it to coordinate with the bookmark.  I brainstormed and considered a few different ideas: embossing plain yellow paper, finding a stamp and creating my own patterned paper, buy a border punch that could punch out a floral cutout strip, or find some other yellow patterned paper to use.  My preference was to find a paper that could be used on both the reverse side of the bookmark and the envelope.  Unfortunately, there don't seem to be very many patterned papers out there in pale yellow shades!  Michaels had literally nothing- I even checked all of the expensive pads of designer papers.  I did find a border punch that would work if I went that route- however, it was $28- ouch!  Craft Warehouse was also a disappointment.  Finally, I found a paper at JoAnn's in a lovely yellow and blue daisy pattern, and it was only 59 cents, so it was a no-brainer- that's what I went with!

Here's the bookmark reverse side:
and here is the gift envelope:

And, everything all together:
Now that I've done a couple of these personalized collage-style bookmarks, I have decided to add that option to my shop.  I didn't want to replace the old three-flower style, in case someone prefers it, so I added a new listing for this style.  Since I do use about twice the amount of flowers, I did up the price, but it's only $1 more.

I worked on a couple of other cards this weekend, but haven't had time to take pics yet.  It's been awhile since I added anything new to my shop, so I'm working on making some new items to stock the shop with.  Check back soon for those new designs!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Another Sympathy Card

Hello- it's still rather busy these days, so I have not done much in the way of crafting.  I am currently working on a custom bookmark and gift envelope though, so will post pics of that soon.  I also just made another sympathy card.  This one is for the family of my hubby's best friend, whose brother passed away recently in a tragic accident.  The service is tomorrow, so I wanted to send a card with him.

I actually came quite close to making the same card as the previous sympathy card I did for my coworker.  But I looked through my paper stash and found this one, and decided to use it instead.  The card base is black, and the next layer is a caramel-colored paper that I embossed with a viney floral embossing folder.  The sentiment was printed out on the computer, and the inside says "Our thoughts are with your at your time of loss".

I do hope they like it.  Incidentally, my hubby's friend's mother, for whom this card is intended, placed a rather large order for several cards from my Etsy shop recently, so I do hope that she likes this one.  I feel terrible for their family for the loss they have suffered.  No one should ever have to lose a child.

Next time I'll post pics of the custom project I'm working on.  I am happy to be doing this one- it's for a repeat customer, who ordered a personalized bookmark and gift envelope from me in April, and for this one she used the coupon I sent with her order.  Two years of sending coupons, and this is the first one that was actually used- woohoo!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Few New Cards

Just a quick post today, to share pictures of the cards I made over the weekend.  The first one is for a coworker who lost her husband to cancer.  The agency I work for is getting a nice plant for her, and I volunteered to make a card.  This is what I did:

The plant we are giving her is a hydrangea, which I love, and I had wanted to try to coordinate the card colors to the flowers.  However, I couldn't find a paper I liked in the right color.  This one is nice though- it's a very subtle floral in pretty sky blue shades, with just a hint of gree in in the leaves.

Next is my dad's Father's Day card:
I used the striped paper as the jumping-off point for this one.  I like the combination of blues, browns, and green in the paper, although in the piece I used, there is only one green stripe...and it ended up being covered by the sentiment.  I liked this paper for my dad because his favorite color is blue.

Lastly, I managed to make a couple of new washi paper cards:

I mentioned awhile back that I had found a seller on Etsy, susiestablefare, that sells washi paper, in addition to some of her own creations with it.  These two papers were from the bundles I purchased from her a couple of months ago, and I really like the vibrant colors!  They are both kind of patriotic too, with the red and blue in them.

That's all for now- not sure what to work on next, but I do need to work on stock for my shop, so check back soon!