Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays, everyone!  Santa came to town, and look what he brought!

Wishing you good cheer and blessings for the New Year!  I am looking forward to a new year of creating great things, and sharing theme here with you.  Can't wait to start making some new stuff in 2015!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New Fall Items

Looks like I have some catching up to do!  Whew, time sure flies- it does not seem like it was nearly a month and a half since I last posted!

Well, I continued my fall product development with this:
Isn't this cute??  It's a wreath made from a picture frame, embellished with faux fall foliage.  I got this frame at a garage sale for all of 50 cents, and painted it with paint I got at Lowe's from the clearance section.  I added a burlap bow on the bottom.  And in the center- a chalkboard that I made myself.  I bought a plaque at Michaels and painted the edges with acrylic paint, and the front with chalboard paint in a dark brown. So yes, it's a chalkboard!  I hung it from the frame with twine, keeping with the rustic look.  I really like how it came out.  I put it in my booth at Top Drawer, and I hope I sell it!

The other exciting thing that happened last month is that I had this great custom order from a customer in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  I had never shipped to that part of the world before, so was not sure what to expect.  The customer, Raeed, was a really nice guy who was purchasing a custom graduation exploding box for a very close female friend who was graduating from college.  I communicated a lot with Raeed on the design of the box, and because of the high number of personal words and phrases he wanted to use, I proposed the idea of creating a word collage for part of the box.  He loved the idea, and I got to experiment!  I really like how it turned out.

He gave me enough material for me to create two word collage panels on his box.  They are the larger ones on the outer layers.
Kind of hard to see those text panels, so here the are up close:

I mixed in some graphics, and I think it makes it fun.  Raeed seemed really happy with the final product.  I was very happy that he was happy!

I am currently working on some new holiday stuff, both for the Etsy shop and my booth at Top Drawer.  In addition, the Salem Etsy Team is planning our annual holiday sale, so am coordinating that again.  This time, I have some help- yay!  We have brought on some new people to help with marketing, vendor coordination, and other tasks, so that I am not doing everything myself!  The volunteers we have brought on are doing a fantastic job so far, and I think this will be our best  holiday sale yet!  This year, I will not be selling my own products.  Instead, I am giving my booth over to my daughter Meredith, aged 14, who is looking to raise money for her choir trip to Seattle in May, for which she has to earn half of the cost.  They are doing some fundraisers at school, but this is a great additional opportunity for her to earn some money.  She has been hard at work making glitter ornaments, gift tags, holiday decor items, and more!  It will be kind of different for me this time to have a role only as a sale organizer and not a seller, though I will be there to support Meredith on the day of the sale.  But as she is making most of the items for sale, and will be manning the booth, all proceeds will go toward her choir trip, so I want to let her head it all up.  I know she will do a great job!  We have some great new items that we will be debuting at the sale...stay tuned here for previews!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

More Fall Stuff

This week I did a couple more fall cards.  You know...I LOVE flowers, that is not a secret, given what most of my cards and bookmarks look like.  But wow, it has been so much fun to work on something a little different!  I have had a blast experimenting with some of the fall themes in my cards!  I just love fall-colored leaves, so it has been great to be creative with that theme.  This week, I tried my hand at making pumpkins on a card, and I like how it came out!
 These are actually pretty easy to make.  The one on the left is 3 die-cut circles with an oval in the front.  The one on the left is 3 ovals.  They were cut out of a pumpkiny orange paper, and then I inked the edges with a darker orange dye ink.  The leaves were from fall leaf punches, and I even cut thin strips and curled them with a quilling tool to make whatever that curly thing is on pumpkin plants.  All of this set on an embossed background.  I also made another leaf card today, since the similar one that I had at Top Drawer sold this week.
I used the same leaf punches on this one that I used on the pumpkin card, instead of the maple leaf punch that I had used on the previous ones. These leaves are a bit smaller, so there was room for more.  I figured out on this one the easy way to ink the leaves: ink a piece of paper, then punch the leaves from it, rather than inking the individual leaves.  Duh!  Not sure why I didn't think of that before!

Yesterday we had a great meeting of the Salem Etsy Team to talk about team structure and the upcoming holiday.  It was nice to see everyone!
It was so much fun to see new and familiar faces!  We haven't gotten together in quite awhile, and this really made me think that we need to do it more often!  We are making plans for our holiday sale and doing some neat new things too, like workshops.  Can't wait to see what we all come up with!

Finally here is a picture of the co-captains (Me and Megan, of Phytotherapy) after the meeting, when we both stopped by Top Drawer to fluff our booths.  We are SO ready for fall- bring it on!!
Oh!  And check out the great new Salem Etsy Team blog!  We just launched it this weekend, and can't wait to do more with it!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Fall Cards

I'm so excited to have some fall cards to post about!  The other week, a Tim Holtz Sizzix tattered leaf die that I had been eying went on sale on Amazon, so I finally bought it, along with some stamps and embossing folders, both fall leaf-themed.  My package finally arrived on Friday, and I couldn't wait to get to work!  It took until today, but I spent some time playing with my new toys and made a few cards.  Love the fall colors, even though summer is not over fact it is in the 90s here today, ughh!  Well, looking at these cards makes me look forward to fall!

This is a design I have made before, waayyy back when I first started making cards, and was a member of PBS Swappers.  There was a fall card swap, and this was the design I made.  It was fun to get my fall color dye stamp pad and leaf stamps out again!  This one features a punched leaf that I stamped with one of the new stamps I got- I love the veiny look, just like a real leaf!

This one has two layers that are embossed with mixed fall leaves, and two leaves in the center.  One is cut from my new die, stamped with a stamp, and embossed, while the other is from the same punch as the first card.

The above two are simple, embossed cards- found this fun fall leaf embossing folder at Joann's awhile back.

Another card featuring a die-cut, stamped, and embossed leaf, as well as some jute ribbon.

I really like these two!  The trees are embossed, and then I added some punched maple leaves, which I stippled with dye ink in fall colors. These are mounted on the cards with foam tape, so they are raised, and sort of float above the card.

These will be going to Top Drawer Upscale Resale and Boutique tomorrow, along with the Paris bookmarks, and some pressed fall leaf bookmarks that I've had hanging around for awhile.  Time for fall to come to my booth!  Next time, I am looking forward to making some cards that feature pumpkins...I've seen pumpkins made by layering die-cut ovals and circles, so look forward to trying it!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Paris Bookmarks

This past week, I stopped by Top Drawer Upscale Resale and Boutique to "fluff" my booth, and while I was there, I fell into conversation with a woman who was shopping there, assisted by Krissy, the owner.  The woman was looking for Paris-themed items for a charity event- she was sponsoring a table, and had to decorate it with a theme, which in this case was Paris.  She was interested in some bath teas by my fellow Salem Etsy Team member/captain, Megan, of Phytotherapy, and was looking for other small items.  Krissy asked me if I had anything, and I said that while I didn't have anything currently, I might be able to design a laminated bookmark with that theme.  The woman was interested, and I gave her my card and told her to let me know if she wanted to talk about doing something.  Long story short, Krissy contacted me and passed along the woman's phone number, I called and left her a message, but alas, I did not hear back from her.  I imagine she probably changed her mind, or found something else to use.  She had been looking for small gifts for each of the 8 seats at the table, and I am sure there are plenty of things out there that would be lovely for that purpose.  Easy come, easy go- I am used to getting inquiries that do not pan out by now.  It's disappointing, but I don't take it personally.

Well...sometimes when I get an idea in my mind, I can't let it go until I actually do something with it, and this was another one of those cases.  I had done some research and had found some neat digital images that I had thought I could layer for a sort of Paris-themed collage.  I stopped in to Top Drawer again today, and Krissy said that even though the woman did not call me back, she thought I ought to make a few items anyway- she said the Paris stuff flies off of the shelves there.  That was all the encouragement I needed!  I spent some time this evening working on my idea, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!
Here is the front.  Let me break this down: the background is an image from a vintage postcard written in French, and I lightened it up considerably so that it made for a softer background.  I then layered on other images: a Paris postmark, an image of the Eiffel Tower, a fleur de lis, some roses, and a butterfly.  I like it!  On the back, I put on some paper in a black and white damask pattern that looks a bit like fleur de lis.
I also managed to get my shop name on the bottom of the back- you can barely see it down there, but it's there!

I have never done anything quite like this before, and I am pleased with my first attempt.  I actually had to print it in two separate layers, the background first, and then the items that are on top of it.  I set up the layout in Power Point in two separate slides and printed them one at a time, so that the top images printed right on top of the background.

Next up I will be working on some fall-themed cards- I just ordered some stuff from Amazon and can't wait to get it and play with it!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

More New Cards

Well, I decided that I liked that new card design that I came up with for my sister's speedy recovery card that I used it on a few other new cards!  I wanted to make a few more birthday cards for kids, so I did a couple each for girls and boys.
I did this one in the large (5x7) size.  I still had some of the floral and striped papers left, so I made two smaller A2 cards next:

Here are the boy cards:

Cute little car and truck pattern, and lots of neat colors to use!

I also made a "thinking of you" card with some papers I've wanted to use for awhile but haven't had the chance.
I don't recall where I found this paisley paper, but I suspect it was probably Craft Warehouse.  I think I got the argyle paper from when I ordered some papers to use for Valentine cards, but I never got around to using this one.  Anyway, I like the combination of these papers together- yes it is busy!  But I love how the colors mesh.

So I'm still plugging away at the cards and building up my inventory at Top Drawer.  I'm afraid my poor little Etsy shop is starting to feel neglected! I do need to try to get some new things in there soon.  I actually do have some of the thank you cards from a few weeks ago that I reserved to list in my shop, but I haven't had time to take photos and do the listings.  Hopefully soon!  I still have not sold that little table that I painted a few weeks ago- I just marked the price down and did some promoting on Facebook, because I really would like to get it sold.  I scored some new furniture pieces at a garage sale last weekend, and have already started working on one of them.  Fortunately I have made my booth fee and then some already for this month- yippee!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Speedy Recovery and Baby Cards

Just a few new cards that I have made lately.  First is one that I made to send my sister, who had surgery last week.  I used some paper that I got at an estate sale- a pack of Stampin' Up paper that all coordinates together, so it's very easy to match papers to make a pretty card.
Lately, I have been trying to take my cards to the next level by using a variety of fonts and font sizes on my sentiments.  I see a lot of that on commercially-produced cards, as well as on handmade cards that are stamped.  I print mine on the computer, and have been making use of more fonts, and I think it makes it more interesting.  Anyway, this card has a rich dark brown base and has green and blue floral papers layered.  I also put a strip of striped paper with a bow going across it, just to add some interest.  I tried something different this time with offsetting the paper layers, and I really like this- you can see the pattern on the bottom paper so much more than if the top one was centered!  I will be using this design again for sure.

Next I have a couple of baby cards.  This is my second batch- I forgot to take pictures of the first ones I made, which were for baby boy and baby girl.  The new ones are just generic baby cards and can be used for either sex.  I found this cute circus animal paper and coordinating striped paper at Joann's.
I again used the offset design, so that you can see the striped paper better.  These are A2 size cards, and I didn't want the sentiment box to dominate them, so they are small- just 2x2.  I used a scalloped square punch for the border.

What's next?  Not sure yet!  I have been making my way through a list of card types that I want to get stocked in my booth at Top Drawer, and have made good progress, but there are still a few that I want to get more of in there- sympathy, thinking of you, congratulations, anniversary, and some seasonal cards as well.  The holidays are just around the corner!  I have some holiday cards from the past couple of years that did not sell at my craft shows, but will be making a few new ones too.  Not too many, since single cards do not sell very well, but I do enjoy coming up with new designs.  I also want to do some fall cards- I got a couple of new embossing folders during a sale at Joann's and one is a pretty falling leaf one that I am looking forward to using.  Also, my husband and I scored some neat stuff at a garage sale yesterday, including two small tables and a couple of wall-mounted shelves that I plan on painting.  I am going to work on one of the tables first- I got a small jar of chalk paint at Michael's this morning that I am going to use on it, and I am curious to compare the results to the table I painted with the chalk paint that I made by mixing flat paint with Plaster of Paris.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Wedding Cards and Painted Jars

Still beefing up my inventory at Top Drawer Upscale Resale and Boutique- I'm trying to get more types of cards in there for different occasions.  Last week I did some thank you cards, and this week I focused on wedding cards.  I took a couple in last week- these are a new embossed design:
It's a pretty simple design, monochromatic in either white or off-white, with the edges inked with either gold (on the off-white) or silver (on the white).  I saw this idea of inking the edges on Pinterest, and came up with my own design using that concept.  I used a script font on both the sentiment box on the front, and the message in the card:
So those were last week's wedding cards.  Here are this week's:

Unfortunately, the light was not great when I took these pics late yesterday afternoon, so the coloring is a bit off, even after correction. The first one is white with salmon, embossed with a poppy design.  I did my best to create a 3D poppy, and I am happy with how it turned out!  I used the Tattered Flowers die from Tim Holz (Sizzix) for the larger flower and the outer inside layer, then a sun punch for the inside, and put some tiny gold pearls on the inside.  I used an embossing tool to create the striations on the outer layer.  The other two include a light blue daisy, and a mauve rose (which I made with the Spellbinder 3D rose die.) The sentiment box is elevated on all of these with foam adhesive.  I printed the sentiment on the computer.  I have been working on using a mix of fonts on my sentiments to make it more interesting, and I like it!

Next up is some more painted mason jars.  These are pretty popular right now, in fact mine are not the only ones that are being sold at Top Drawer right now.  Pinterest is full of them, and finding a new angle on them is not easy.  However, I saw something on a blog last night and had to try it myself: denim-wrapped mason jars:

I used a pair of old jeans and cut strips to wrap around the painted jars. I used the crackle painting technique with Elmer's glue, for a distressed look. On the first, I painted it a dark yellow and accented it with a white ribbon and white paper daisy with a yellow button center.  I love the combination of the yellow with the denim!  The second one is lavender, and I made two rosettes with strips of denim.  They were my first attempt, and they turned out ok, but I think I can use more practice!  I worked on some more this morning, and they turned out much better.

Finally, here is a third jar that I did with burlap, along with a burlap rosette:
Burlap is a lot harder to work with because of the loose weave, and the fact that the edges fray very easily.  It is easier to use thin strips of material to roll the rosettes, however with the burlap that is hard to do because the edges fray from both sides, leaving you with more frayed edges than material in the center.  I will keep working on my technique and try some more.  I did try one using jute ribbon, which has finished edges, so I thought might be easier, but it wasn't because it is also much more stiff and less flexible than burlap.

I took everything down to Top Drawer today, and also brought some new signs to put on my card rack for the different card sections.  It's a work in progress- I'll keep working on it, but it's a start!

Check out the new crackle painted frames above- the photo quality is not great since it is from my iPhone, but I love how these look when they are done!  The one on the left has a base coat of a dark salmon color, with a top coat of light pink.  The one on the right is aqua with white over it.

The big Grand Opening celebration at Top Drawer is this Wednesday, so I guess I am as prepared as I can be at this point!  I will continue making cards and trying to increase my inventory.  I got some new papers yesterday, several which are baby themed, so that I can make some baby cards.  Those will be fun!

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Few New Things

I know I have been remiss in listing new items in my Etsy shop since starting at Top is hard to keep inventory up in two different places!  I am working on it though.  I have a plan for bulking up my card inventory at Top Drawer- need to have cards for a variety of occasions, so I started working toward that goal this weekend. Yesterday I managed to create some Thank You cards in several designs, and I made two of each design. I took one of each to Top Drawer today, and will be listing the others in my Etsy shop.
I've been focusing on Top Drawer because they are having their Grand Opening celebration on August 6th, and will be having some events and running a 10% off storewide sale that day, so I want to make sure my inventory is sufficient for that!  Also, when you have to pay $50 a month rent whether you sell anything or not, you tend to make an effort to have stuff in there that people want to buy!  I am happy that I have sold some cards- I'm not sure I am going to make enough to cover my booth fee this month, but it will be close at least.  I knew going in that it might be awhile before I turn a profit, and resolved to give it 6 months before reevaluating,so I'm not worried.

I mentioned I was working on a cute side table, and I finished it and took it over to the shop over the weekend.  I was happy to get it done, and pleased with how it turned out!  It started out as a typical medium-toned stained wood table.  I sanded it down and mixed my own chalk paint using latex paint and Plaster of Paris, two colors, white and a pretty mint green.  I painted the white first, then the green, and sanded it to distress it.

Here are a few other things I completed this weekend and took over there:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New Exploding Box Cards

Since I've been back from vacation, I've started working on a few items for my booth at Top Drawer.  I was pleasantly surprised to sell enough in June to cover my booth fee- hooray!  This month, I have not sold as much, probably because I need to get some new items in there.  Here is a start!  I made both of these exploding box cards this weekend, and will be taking them down to the shop tomorrow.

This one features a Japanese washi paper in a gorgeous daisy pattern, with vibrant orange, pink, green, light blue, and yellow.  The large inner panels are embossed with a daisy embossing folder.
The center contains a little pot of pink handmade paper daisies.  I thought about painting the pot, but decided that the natural terra cotta color was a perfect match already!

The next box is a general Happy Birthday box:

I used a cute paper in primary colors that has a little streamer pattern all over it, and paired it with a coordinating polka dot paper.  This is different than my other box cards, because instead of a 3rd box layer in the center, I made a vertical piece to hold a gift card!
Also, one of the inner-most panels was left blank for a personal message to be written.

I'm anxious to see how my exploding box cards do at the shop!  At craft shows, I usually get a mix of reactions...,most people think they are really cool, but some people turn their nose up at the price.  Yes, it is a lot for a greeting card, and there is only a select market of people who will be willing to pay that kind of price for something like this.  I'm hoping that those are the people who are likely to be shopping at the boutique.  I am making little card tags for these that tell a little bit about the box cards, and also with a note that custom designs are available.  Then I'll put some custom order forms at the shop in case someone is interested.  We'll see how it goes!