9 Dec 2010

Cute as a Pudding

Just a quick post today to show you my new Christmas Pudding decorations. They are not quite a quick any easy to make as I had thought, but if I must say so myself I think they are darned cute! I must go away now back up to my sweat shop (or should I say rather chilly shop) to make some more.

8 Dec 2010

Granny Ruth's Cold Cure

I've been rather under the weather lately, last week for 3 days I swayed between having no voice at all to sounding light a nervous teenage boy, then like a 40 a-day-habit jazz singer. I'm feeling a bit better now but still not 100%. I did want to share with you my miracle cure hot lemon drink. Everyone has their own individual concoction of this, and my own has a few incarnations. But this one here is the one I brewed up the other night to help me get through the cold market the next day.
You will need
1 Lemon
Fresh Ginger
Hot Water
Green Tea (optional)

While your kettle boils, chop half a lemon and squeeze into a hug, then cut 2 thick slices from the other half. Push your cloves into the white part of the rind, this stops them from floating around in your drink. Put in 2 tablespoons of honey. With a fine grater grate a small amount of fresh ginger. Then here comes the weird bit also put in a tablespoon full of vinegar, you can't really taste it but it acts as an antibacterial for your raw throat. Pour in your hot water an stir well. If you want you can add green tea, but I only sometimes have that in the house and it's not essential to the drink. Drink this 2 or 3 of these a day while you're sick and you'll feel better pretty soon...a little paracetamol might help for headaches etc though.

7 Dec 2010

The Paint Brush Has Come Out Again

People often call my stall the Christmas gift stall because I sell loads of bits and bobs that are a affordable that would be great for Christmas presents. The problem with this is that most things are priced under a tenner, which means I've to sell an awful lot of stuff to make it worth my while. Lately I've been working on some higher priced items, like my ABC set and some Christmas stockings. They still won't break the bank at €20 but it's easier for me to earn more money at the stall with a wider price range.

So with this in mind I wanted to put some of my artwork on the stall, but I don't have a huge amount of space, which means having small pieces in the €15-€35-€80 price range. I bought some small clothes drying racks to use as display units, and I'll let you know how that pans out for me tomorrow when I try them out. As for the art itself, I went digging through the studio to root out some of my older work to see what I could do with it. I found these plain monoprints in square gold frames which I did years ago. I thought they looked a bit bland, so I took them out and pepped them up with some water colours. I'll see how they go these weekend, if they turn out to be a success I might just put aside a painting a drawing day to make some more.

Any suggestions on prices for these?

PS: Sorry for the poor picture quality these were taken last night on my phone

4 Dec 2010

Lino Printed Xmas Cards

At long last I finished my Christmas card sets, it feels like it's been a long upward climb getting them done. I used the same lino blocks that I carved last year, but I used oil based ink this year instead of water based. It gives a much richer colour and shinier finish. It's a lot more work with printing and cleaning, and a longer drying time too, but now seeing the end result I think it was definitely worth it. I'm not a member of the Limerick Printmakers so I had to print them at home, using a large sheet of ascetate as an inking table. Then a lot of sweat and elbow grease was involved in hand printing the cards using the back of a spoon to instead of a press. If you are curious about the method check out this youtube video.

After printing each of them in one colour, and waiting for a week or so for them to dry, I added an embellishment to each of the cards. You can see that the robin, angel, and teddy all have a small bit of extra water colour on them. The Rudolf has a red button nose and the parcel has a printed tag. I wasn't necessary to add these extras but they really finish off the cards nicely.
The cards are 12.5 square cards, there is 5 in the set for €10, which I think is good value at €2 per card. I'll mostly be selling them at the market, but I've listed them in my shop too in case I get any lat minute online sales. I printed 250 cards to make 50 sets. I have another 250 blank cards but seeing as how long it takes them to dry I'm not sure if I'll have time to make them.

3 Dec 2010

Messy Studio

I'm always reading blogs that show pristine studios, with great colour schemes and wonderful light, and they make me envious. I'm lucky enough to have a good bit of space to work in a room that I love, but I've discovered over the years that I like working in chaos. So I've posted these picture for those of you who are also messy pups. This is currently what my desk looks like, I've been making loads of cards and this is the madness that grew around me. I'll finish my card making stint and have to tidy it all away. Then I'll probably start some sewing and mounds of felt and thread will evolve over a few days. Certainly around Christmas my propensity for messiness goes into over drive due to more and more constraints on my time. In the New Year I'll do a large scale clean of the studio, and make sure everything goes back in it's place...but until then I'll continue to squirrel away in the madness.

Ps: I also wanted to show you pictures of my two new favourite toys, my glue gun and also my heat gun for embossing. Marian from Made Marian was very kind this week to drop in some extra craft supplies that she declutered recently. She gave me the heat gun and a host of other great card making goodies. Then yesterday in Silkes when I was about to spend €10 on lots of glue I thought maybe it's time to invest in a glue gun. It took a while to get used to how fast it dries, but now I'm loving it. I've been toying with the idea of doing a card making video for the blog, and I might just have to now that I have such posh tools!

2 Dec 2010

Christmas Cards

For once I remembered to take photos of something I've made before it's packaged and ready to sell at the market. I've been frantically making Christmas cards over the past few days. I like to have two ranges of cards at the stall; the hand printed lino print cards and also the collaged paper ones, so there two different price ranges for people to choose from. It's getting harder to compete against large chain stores selling 'handmade' cards at crazy low prices, it really galls me when I see them, as they are certainly not handmade. I sell mine at €4 each or 3 cards for €10.

Every year I swear it will be my last year making cards because of the amount of time I spend on them compared to the return I get, but I still love it and can't make myself stop! Here are just a few photos, but if you would like to see more you can look at them in this facebook album.

28 Nov 2010

Jack Frost is Nipping at my Bits

Winter has definitely hit me with a bang, it doesn't seem that long ago that I was wearing a jacket over a dress with some runners, but this weekend I was attempting to wear all of my wardrobe at one in a vain effort to stave off the chill.
It's an early, and therefore very cold start to the morning at the Milk Market, and this week I relinquished any effort to look good in favour of warmth. I wore from head to toe;
Marino felted wool hat
Huge knitted scarf
Triple layered rainbow jacket
Woolly Jumper
Warm vest
Gloves & mittens
Slipper Socks
Knitted Uggs

...and I was still cold!!! Mari, the owner of a coffee shop at the market was selling hot water bottles, pay €5 and get €4 back when you return the bottle, what a fantastic idea!! It was really great for keeping the aching chill out of my fingers. I've heard that Pennies are selling thermal vests and long johns, I'll definitely be taking a trip there this week to stock up on some winter warmers.

26 Nov 2010

Mr.Tim the Teddy Earns Me a Bit of Pocket Money

A while ago I was contacted by the magazine Teddy Bear and Friends asking for a sample of my Mr.Tim teddy bear pocket mirror as they wanted to include it in their Christmas gift guide. I wasn't sure anything would come of it, but I sent it off anyway in the hope that it might get me something, and I'm delighted I did. So far this week I've sold 10 of these mirrors and a teddy iphone cover!
Has anyone seen the magazine? I don't think it's something you can buy over here, and I love to see what the piece looked like.

25 Nov 2010

Ode to My Mother

My mother is so good, I was feeling a little down because of the stress of everything, and not seeing John, and she brought me these beautiful yellow roses, and they've brightened me and my room up. Sometimes mothers just know the perfect thing to do.

24 Nov 2010

Recession...what recession?...My Confession of a Supplies Splurge

This is the scary time of year for me when insane amounts of money are being spend on supplies but most customers are saving for Christmas and not spending very much. In my mind I know it will be busy and that I'll be glad I bought and organised all this stuff early..it's just kinda hard to remember that when I look at the bundle of receipts. Recession...what's that? My inner craft nerd doesn't seem to have heard of it. Here are just a few of the supplies I've been stocking up on...Yesterday I went to Cork to go to Cork Art Supplies, I was there earlier this year and was really impressed with their paper selection. I really had to restrain myself in the shop this morning,and make myself just buy Christmas papers. But in the blink of an eye I spent 80 quid, having said that I'm delighted with what I picked up, and I know I'll make that stretch really far, saving every scrap of unused paper for a later project.

I then popped into Vibes and Scribes to pick up some material, they didn't have exactly what I was looking for but I picked up these fat quarters at 2 for €5 and a couple of meters of this super cute stars and polka dot material.
Also the post man has been very busy lately, my delivery of 500 velvet bags for my pocket mirrors arrived. I was really worried that they wouldn't get here on time for the Christmas rush as last time the took 2 months to arrive! I ordered in a large amount as I think I might be selling them in my shop for people who order custom made mirrors. I have looked into selling them in larger quantities but it would mean ordering them in the thousands per colour, an investment that I may have to forgo until the new year.

Lastly I was really surprised to arrive home to see that my Shrinkles had arrived already, I only ordered them a few days ago so I was chuffed to see them here so soon. Since my last post on Shrinkles I've expanded my line to include Shrinkles brooches, hence the fact that I bought 200 sheets. I'll be posting some photos of these later in the week.

Ps: on a personal note, last night for the first time I got to use all my letters in a scrabble move, I've always wanted to do this! It was a word score of 81 and the word was stringy...so satisfying

22 Nov 2010

Discount Code for my Online Shops

Just a small note to say that I have availed of the new coupon function on Etsy. The code 'NICEDAYDISCOUNT2010' works in both of my shops and will get you a 10% discount on any of my items.
I also wanted to post this to gush about how great Craftopolis is, when I was using it a couple of years ago you could check your hearts and also if you were featured in any tresuries, which was handy but I soon got bored of it. But I was just on the website now and it allows quick edits on listings (which I've always found very clunky on etsy) and also I was able to import my google analytics and see how many people are viewing my shop daily. On top of all the extra handy tools I can also see my monthly sales and hearts. I can see myself definitely using the site way more, and if other Etsy sellers are thinking the same then maybe I might purchase one of their ad slots in the new year, a good time to be advertising supplies.

21 Nov 2010

Etsy Euro and Dollar

I'm delighted about the new changes taking place on Etsy, as sellers we can now list our items in our own currency. For a while now customers have been able to see listings in their chosen currency,but this nearly made things worse because of the variable exchange rate. For example one day my item could be €3.20, then another €3.65 but at my stall I always charge €3.50, it just wasn't feasible to keep changing loads of listing prices, but I hated that my market regulars weren't seeing consistent prices online. So now I'll list in euro and it will always remain the same price in that currency, which is fantastic. At the moment they seem to be just testing it so only one of my shops has the option, which is pretty frustrating, but they'll be rolling out this tool for all Etsy sellers soon.
The other new tool is coupons, which is a code that will be offered to people who have made a purchase to offer them a discount the next time they buy something for my shop, which I think is a fantastic idea and encourages return shopping.
It's these tweaks that are gonna make it more viable to sell on Etsy as a non US seller. There are loads of things that I make that I don't list in my shops, but lately sales have been picking up and I'm feeling more inclined to list the full range of items that I sell, it just might have to wait until the new year when I'm less busy.
On a side note I hit my 200th sale in my supplies shop last week! It's been a great little side earner for me and I'm so happy I went to the effort of setting it up, I wasn't sure at the beginning whether to slit the two shops, but it's proved a success both personally and fiscally.

17 Nov 2010

Belated Halloween

(L-R)Alice, Dorothy, Queen of Hearts
Thanks to Neville Gawley for the photograph
Thanks to Neville Gawley for the photograph

As some of you might remember from last year I love Halloween, and this year was no exception. I was quite pressed from time which meant I was designing my costume in my head for the weeks coming up to it, but it was only the few days before that I managed to squeeze in some costume making time into my schedual. I dressed up as the Queen of Hearts, and my house mate Cecily was Alice in Wonderland.
I altered this red skirt that I originally made as an exhibition piece, I just needed to shorten it and take out 2 of the 5 hoops. I also added poofy sleeves and a stiff white collar to a black corset waistcoat that I had. After that I just had to accesserise with a crown and a pink flamingo croquet stick. I made the croquet stick from felt, then stuffed it and attached to a black pole, I made two so Alice could have one too. The crown was a bit trickier, Beth from Magpie and Button was nice enough to give me some tips. I got a plactic bowl, cut out the bottom of it, turned it upside down and covered it with gold ribbon. I then made a red velvet cushion for the centre piece, adding a painted red foam heart. Lastly I added the cut out of gold paper to give it the crown finish, I sewed the piece onto a hairband and clipped it onto my head...and crossed my fingers and prayed it would stay on for the night!!
I was lucky enough to win the prize for best costume(ever), I had attended a party a the printmakers, so my prize was a beautiful etching from Tommy Comerford, which I'm totally delighted with as I've always loved his work.

16 Nov 2010

Christmas Card Supplies

I've been doing a crazy amount of supplies shopping lately for the build up to all my Christmas markets, ans the scary thing is that everything has to be bought in bulk. From the 2000 brooch backs, 1000 badge parts, 1000 magnets, a mountain of felt, and then a bit more felt..the list goes on and on. Yesterday was no exception, popped into Silkes in town to get some blank cards and came out with this lot:
150 Blank 5x7in cards
250 3-d glue dots
2 sheets of foam glue dots
A round edge cutter
2 packs of xmas brads
2 packs of paper frame shapes
1 set of xmas stamps
1 black ink pad

Also next week I think I'll be making a trip to Cork to go to Cork Art Supplies to get some of their paper as the selection here in Limerick is frustratingly small. In the past few days I've made about 50 cards and I plan to make lots more. Also some time over the next week or so I plan to print my lino cut Christmas card sets. Luckily I have the blocks already cut from last year, but the printing is still pretty labour intensive.
It's all go here at the moment, lots of preparation, lets hope it all pays off!

4 Nov 2010

A is for Apple

It was about a month ago that I made myself an 'A for Apple' badge, and I've been wearing it on my coat for a while now. I got lots of comments asking if I had made the whole alphabet, which spurred me into making the set.
First of all I set to doing all the drawings in Bic pen, which is harder than you'd think. At stages I was left sitting at my desk thinking of 'something interesting beginning with J?'. After a couple of days drawing I was ready to scan them in and begin the colouring stage. It's much easier to do this in photoshop then in pen as I can change the colours as I go if I want to make alterations afterwards. Just at the very last minute yesterday I dashed to the printers before he closed and got the images printed up.
The idea is that they will be a 26 piece magnet set, used as a learning tool for kids.I'm now at the stage of pressing them in the machine...a lenghly chore in itself. And I'm also waiting on a delivery of boxes from The Tiny Box Company, hopefully they will arrive soon so I can have them on my stall as part of my Christmas gift stock. I'm charging €20 for a full set of magnets, but I'll also be selling them individually too. If you'd like to see more of the images, just click here to view the facebook album

14 Oct 2010

Cozy Themed Team Treasuries

Rachel from Balanced is the Etsy Ireland Team treasury co-ordinator and she came up with this great idea of setting a theme for the team treasuries and then having a competition to vote for the best one. How could I resist that challenge?? I set to work on the theme of 'cozy' and had a riffle through all the Irish shops and came up with the treasury below. The voting will commence on Friday, click here if you would like to be nice to me and vote for my treasury. I love this idea, it's a great way to get us looking through all the shops, and I know part of my brain was Christmas shopping while I was doing it.

The following treasuries are ones that team members were kind enough to feature me in this week as part of the team challenge! It's amazing the variety of Irish sellers on the team now.

30 Sep 2010

New Clothes for Inistioge

I just sent off another order of clothes to Roisins Boutique in Inistioge, it was stressful trying to get it finished because of time constraints but I must say it was a really fun bunch of clothes to work on. Jackets/coats have always been one of my favourite things to make, I feel I can go a bit wild with them adding embellishments. I only wish I regularly had time to work on more pieces. When I get the markets of this weekend over with I'll be making more pieces for the shop.
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