because having a business sucks

actually, because having a business that is going largely unnoticed, and struggling to survive, sucks.

i know, woe is me. but i think we all need a little ‘woe as me’ once in a while, because (hopefully) it leads to some reflection as to why things are in the disappointing state they’re in, and some brainstorming on how to amend that state, and, ultimately, some smart and efficient implementation of strategies that will shift things in a better direction.

i have been ruminating on the fate of my shop for a while. i know that i make great stuff, take pretty good photos, and i am a decent writer. what appears to be lacking from my bag of tricks is hustle. this elusive ‘hustle’ means that i need to be doing the following:

a) making items on a weekly basis. this means new pieces, generally, but when i am feeling uninspired, i should be making more of the existing items in my shop…particularly the ones that sell well and/or are the most labor intensive. this last bit will save me from procrastinating when a new order comes in. my dream is to sell out every time i do a shop update…wouldn’t that be grand?!

b) boosting my social media presence. i tend to get some momentum going here, but it tends to come in spurts. this needs to be amended. i don’t use facebook much anymore, as it doesn’t have much of a reach without spending money to boost one’s posts. my best bets are instagram and pinterest. i prefer the quickness and ease of instagram, but my efforts there have yet to bring me any sales so far. (this will hopefully change, once i am steadily making things and posting shop updates there!) on the other hand, pinterest has definitely garnered me views and sales. i need to be spending a little time there weekly to freshen my boards.

c) blogging more often. with more varied content. meaning, some DIY stuff, or possibly some tutorials. not sure yet. i welcome your ideas.

so that, friends, is my recipe for some much-needed hustle. i hope that you will see me following through on these plans ASAP…and if you do, please let me know that you are seeing it. i can always use some encouragement!

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in the works

i knew that, once i re-whet my appetite for hand-sewing, (with the miniature felt bunnies that i stitched for my niece’s nursery), that i would be doing a lot of it. it has been really enjoyable reconnecting with my stitching roots…i haven’t done much of it since my youth, when i was a member of 4H. it goes faster than the knit animals i have made, and there is no stipulation in the patterns that prevents me from selling the finished products.

as i have gone along these past few weeks, i have been strongly considering opening a separate shop in which to sell my finished felt creatures. i am not looking forward to managing two separate shops, but i can’t really see them coexisting with jewelry in my existing shop. here’s a look at what i have so far:

 

fox girl_1 fox girl_2 group pic_1

 

i have pretty much decided to move forward with the new shop, but it requires a solid time investment that encompasses researching how other sellers of art dolls, miniatures, and softies structure their shops, and fleshing out all the tedious bits, such as pricing, policies section, and about page. plus, i would like to ideally have around ten finished pieces with which to open shop, and i am not sure how long that will take to accomplish.

in the meantime, i will keep on stitching.

prepping for a spring show!

as promised, i am here to fill you in on what i’m working on for an upcoming spring show. i will be selling my wares at an event called ‘spring fling’ at amy’s farm in ontario, california.

yep…i shall be in the open air, surrounded by farming enthusiasts, and the farm’s four-legged and feathered inhabitants. and i can’t wait! the april 11 event runs from 10AM to 2:30PM, and admission is $7 for ages 2 and up.

if you know my work, then you know that i am all about flowers and nature. and, since i will be at a farm, and already have a botanical bent to my work, i thought it appropriate to explore those other garden delights–vegetables. yep, i am making vegetable-themed pieces:

deliciously dainty veggies for your ears!

deliciously dainty veggies for your ears!

i thought it would be fun to embellish the hang tags with a vintage-style seed packet design with the name of the vegetable in question. appropriate to the venue, interesting to look at, and helpful for shoppers to identify the vegetables, too!

in addition to veggies, i will have some berry-themed pieces, as well as some butterflies, ladybugs, and, of course, all those lovely flowers i am known for. any new pieces leftover from the show will be listed in the shop, so keep your eye out!

working toward a specific goal is helping me stay on track, creatively speaking. i feel inspired and productive…which is a welcome change.

here’s to spring!

yep, i blew it.

funny how quickly good intentions turn to dust, isn’t it? i can hardly believe that my last post was in february. actually…yes i can, because, well, i’m me.

the good news is, i have been creating, and that, my friends, is a welcome thing. orders have been trickling into my etsy shop, i have been prepping for a spring show (more details coming soon), and i have been hand-stitching some wee bunnies for my big sister to use in my newest niece’s nursery. here’s a finished one:

completed felt bunny_1

squee! i have plans to create some more embellished versions (think embroidery details, fur variations, and possible clothing) in the near future. but for my sister’s vision, they needed to be simple and monochromatic.

in the meantime, i will share the modifications i made to the pattern, found here.

first, i increased the size by about 50%, using my handy dandy printer/copier. i did away with the outer ear portion, as it seemed too large, and i wanted to keep the look simple, anyway. i added a rounded portion at the bottom of the ear, to make it easier to tuck into the slit in the head. i also sketched up a teardrop-shaped tail to replace the pom-pom one that the pattern called for. here’s a pic of those altered bits:

completed felt bunny bits

also, instead of embroidered eyes, i used little glass beads, and did away with the nose stitching. perhaps the biggest modification i made was to substitute felt for velveteen for the body. this was due mostly to convenience and expense. i may make a trip to the garment district in LA to shop for some suitable faux fur/velveteen in the near future. i am very tempted by other patterns in that seller’s shop!

this bevy of bunnies (i am making five) will be adorning a simple mobile for my niece’s nursery. i can’t wait to see the finished product!

thank you for stopping by, and keep your eye out early next week for a post on what i’m creating for my spring show!

less mucus, more housework

it is tuesday. i am finally feeling markedly better, thanks to some quality time with my neti pot. my head is becoming clearer, and that is a blessing, friends.

i was musing about some of those ideas i threw out there the other day for structuring my blog posts. turns out, i am a hoarder. i hoard ideas and cool stuff, and i hide them under a bushel. this is a problem when you are looking for things to share with the universe, you understand. i shall overcome, of course, and there will soon be nifty things littering my blog posts. promise.

in the meantime, with the clarity that comes of draining one’s sinuses, i am faced with the aftermath of being ill for a week or so, and it is less than appealing. toys are strewn about, dishes and laundry need doing, and it is killing my ‘i’m almost healthy!’ buzz. i often find comfort in the mundane, repetitive chores, but right now, i just want to be still and ruminate on the potential of the coming days…not sift through and restore order to playthings. can you blame me?

and then it hit

i have been hit twice in the last month or so with a nasty head cold. the one that i’m grappling with now makes the first one look puny. and, of course, i have my wee one to thank for the cooties. kind of hard to avoid them when you are blowing snot from her nose every five minutes, or so.

to say i have been a little under the weather would be an understatement. every morning when i wake up drag my sleep-deprived, oozing self into a vertical position, all the nocturnally thickened mucus drains from its cavernous recesses and makes a symphony of disgusting sounds as it’s being evacuated. not all of it, of course. the rest hangs out, waiting for the opportunity to make me dizzy when i: walk around, take a drink of water (which i do a lot. fluids, you know.), sit down, turn my head…well, you get the idea.

i can’t say that the state i’ve been in has contributed to much creativity, i’m afraid.

my shop has been really slow, which is sort of a blessing, as i have been feeling so poorly. on the other hand, it hasn’t done much to foster creative enthusiasm. i just have to learn to be diligent, whether i’m feeling a spark, or not. that is the mark of a true artist. and i’m just not there yet.

i have been following artist lisa congdon’s instagram feed, where she shows what she creates on a daily basis. seeing such dedication to one’s art makes me feel ashamed and inspired at the same time. it is easy for me to tread in lukewarm waters where i don’t make much new stuff. but i have to come to realize that i often wallow there, too, feeling like everyone else is doing better than me…making better stuff, selling more stuff, getting more exposure for their stuff. it is not a happy place to be. i have vowed, in between nose blowings, to spend as little time in that puddle as possible.

so, in this place, ye olde blog, i am working out a schedule that will keep me on track for weekly posts. i am thinking some DIY, some recipes, and some vintage finds. if i’m not creating, i can be connecting with you!

gird your loins…it’s almost a new year!

okay. i don’t know how four months have passed without a post. actually, yes i do. the new medium that i was dabbling in proved to be a disappointment. well, not the results themselves, but the durability (or lack thereof) of the finish i had created with a basic clear matte topcoat. i researched and found what i believe could be a viable alternative, but by that point, i had run out of gas. so i took a break.

now, this break didn’t necessarily mean that i wasn’t creating. well, actually, it did, for a while. but i eventually got my creative gears churning again and made some pretty good stuff. but it wasn’t the stuff that i had put so much time and effort into, and had such high hopes for. c’est la vie. it is what it is. perhaps when i stop looking at the pile of chipped baubles that i labored over for hours and hours with an expression of equal parts deflation and indignance, then i shall get the ball rolling with them again.

so, of late, i have been chasing the elusive/illusive creature called ‘organization’, and attempting to make my creative life less of ‘where the h*ll did i put that thing…i JUST had it?!’ and more of ‘i feel like i can conquer the world, because everything i need is EXACTLY where it should be!’ or something along those lines. the dangerous thing about that, is, that since my workspace is also a storage place for some of my other addictions crafts, i have gotten stars in my eyes over the possibilities of making other things besides jewelry. i know…it is a perilous line i’m treading.

to be specific, the craft that is calling to me like a siren is sewing. hand sewing, cross-stitch, embroidery, machine sewing…if it is done with a needle, i am jonesing for it. (let’s hope i don’t come across heroin while i’m organizing…) and felt. oh, my goodness. FEEEEELLLLLLTTTTT. i want to make little things with felt and blanket stitch. it is a little scary, to be honest.

please don’t mention to me that i’ve had knitting on the needles for months (for specific people, may i note) that still. isn’t. finished. plus babies to knit for. oh, dear. discipline. it is always what i’m striving towards. i suppose it’s fitting that it’s new year’s resolution time. number one on my list (always) is fostering more discipline in every facet of my life. i will do my utmost, but i expect several face plants and dizzy wandering this year. would you like to come along? i could use some company!

what are you resolving to conquer this year?

dabbling in a new medium

hey there, readers. i know it’s been ages since i posted…please do forgive my absence! my mind is a scattered mess these days. trying to organize my thoughts can be likened to trying to tee oneself out of a sand trap–not terribly graceful or effective. the summer has been busy–full of travels and family visits–and hence, it has been a struggle to keep tabs on my days and keep them structured. the summer is winding down, though, so i feel a little more anchored as cooler days approach, and my favorite season tempts me with its inevitable, yet gradual arrival.

by the way, i finally climbed out of a full-fledged creative funk a couple of weeks ago, and finished some new pieces for the shop. if you haven’t seen them, come take a look! you can find them here.

now, if you know my work, then you know that i have a love affair with history and nature, and i dig vintage. something else you should know about me is that i have a major soft spot for watercolor. it is one of many art forms that my creative self longs to explore and master. andrew wyeth is one of my absolute idols.

when i decided that i wanted to dabble in painting with my jewelry, i chose gilders paste. i wanted vibrant colors that i could blend to create a watercolor effect, and i think i made the right choice. don’t get me wrong–it has been trial and error as i acquainted myself with the medium, and there is a pile of failures stowed away in a plastic bag to remind me that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

among my myriad of hubrises, i tend to be rather impatient, so this whole endeavor was a major study in patience. just so you know, i am accustomed to using a chemical darkener that works in seconds, and a hair dryer to move things along. raw brass comes in a rough state, full of edges that need to be filed, and machine oil that needs to be scrubbed off. the prepping process often leaves me mumbling under my breath and sighing. a lot. so much so, that i tend to skip at least the scrubbing process and just heat it and dunk it. done and done.

well, when applying color, i had to concede to not cutting corners. i needed maximum adhesion, which meant that i needed to prep the brass by drilling it, scrubbing it in soapy water, filing the rough spots, AND roughing up the surface a little with some fine steel wool to get it ready to prime. yes…in order to achieve the effect i wanted, i found that i needed to use a primer. two coats to be precise. and these coats need at least 24 hours to cure.

the gilders paste itself requires 12 hours to cure, and needs around three coats to achieve the opacity that i was after. in true jewelryvixen form, i set about to shave some time off the process, and discovered that a food dehydrator could shorten that time by half, so i picked up a cheap used one on ebay. amazingly, in my desire to hurry things along, i found that the low heat of the dehydrator actually made a more durable finish on each coat, which makes things SO much better, all the way around. score!

i’m not quite ready to debut the finished products yet, because, well, they’re not quite finished. i am very close, however, and i am crossing my fingers that you peeps will adore them as much as i do. 

gilders paste_2 smaller

what happens to sleeping projects?

like many of my crafty peers, i tend to start new projects when i find i have become disenchanted or bored by the current ones. every so often, i find the gumption to address those neglected projects and determine their ultimate fate.

last night i rifled through my list of ‘hibernating’ knitting projects on Ravelry, which include, but are not limited to: a shawl, a pair of socks, and a pair of fingerless gloves. the verdict?

1. i will re-start the shawl with a new metal circular needle when it arrives. (i CANNOT do plastic needles. i tried, and i hates them! i ordered a replacement on the interwebs last night after attempting to get the shawl rolling again, to no avail.) i thought it was just the Rowan Kidsilk Haze that was pushing me over the edge, but the blame lies most heavily on that most craptacular plastic circular. i feel better already!

2. the one sock i had finished (my first one ever) was not only too small, but the toe was crazy pointy. i have decided to abandon it and start all over, possibly with a new sock yarn, since i no longer love the deep green colorway of the current one. i am also not sure i want to frog the pointy-toed monstrosity to salvage the yarn, since all ends have been woven in for some time now, and i’m not certain i have the wherewithal to dive into a salvage project. perhaps it will become a white elephant gift or a sock puppet. the jury is out on that one.

3. the fingerless mitts are going in the trash. one of them was too short and needed to be fixed, but in the meantime, the correct one got a weird oil stain on it that won’t wash out. go figure. but, i count it as a sign that the mitts were doomed, so they are going into the trash with very little regret. to further my rationale, the pattern was free, the yarn was leftover (not to mention lackluster), and they didn’t fit that great, anyway. i have decided that i will re-knit them with different yarn and smaller needles. it probably wouldn’t hurt for me to take this opportunity to actually start knitting gauge swatches. yes, i’m THAT knitter. i have survived this long without doing it, mainly because i tend to purchase the yarn that the pattern writer used. i know…it’s a risky game that i have played for too long. it’s time for me to grow up my knitting a bit, and i am looking forward to joining the glorious ranks of those who gauge swatch.

i have rearranged my queue to reflect my new priorities, and sneaked in another project, which i rationalize with the fact that it comes in a kit with the yarn, and it is intended as a gift for someone beside myself. unfortunately, i had to order both the kit and a METAL circular needle to go with it, so it will be a bit of a waiting game before i can start it. no worries…it’s not like i don’t have a bunch of other projects to keep me busy, right?!

what do i do when i’m not making jewelry, you ask?

well, there are many things i COULD be doing (many of my endeavors leave my hands dirty or sore or maimed), but lately, i choose to knit. mostly because it is relaxing (for the most part), and there is almost always something wonderful as the end result. right now, i have picked back up my bunny knitting. if you are a Facebook friend, you have tons of adorable knit bunnies peppering your feed when i am actually knitting for any length of time. as to what i SHOULD be doing, there is a great, long list that makes me break into a cold sweat just thinking about. (spring cleaning on steroids, for one.)

before you take a peek at what’s been hopping off my needles, and fall madly in love and go straight-up bunny crazy, let me provide the following disclaimer: these bunnies are NOT for sale. i make them because i like making them, and they are going to be adopted by lucky little ones that i happen to love. not to mention that the pattern copyright forbids the sale of the finished products, which i adhere to out of sheer principle, apart from the legal ramifications. talented people and hard-working small business people deserve to have their work protected.

so, if you really feel you MUST have one, either it’s time for you to learn to knit, dust off your rusty skills, or wait for the genuine article to become available when the very busy pattern writer has a batch finished. be warned, though, they are not cheap, and they sell almost instantaneously. (and for good reason…they are AMAZING!)

now, feel free to squeal with adoration and slip into baby talk while you peruse these little critters.

A dapper, vested boy bunny.

A dapper, vested boy bunny.

bunny love_2

A little bunny romance in the making…

 

gray dutch bunny_4

A cheeky girl bunny.

you can find the patterns here, and keep tabs on the lovely, and very talented pattern writer, julie williams, via her blog. among her other talents are gorgeous photography and gardening. you’re welcome.