31 Mar 2010

I was a Judge

I'm stepping out of the closet and admitting that I was one of the judges for the Irish Blog Awards 2010. I was told when I volunteered at the begining that we could blog and tweet to our hearts content when everything was all over. I was very glad I signed up to do it as I found some great new blogs in areas that I normally wouldn't read. A few that really caught me eye were:

The mOvie Blog:
There are lots of blogs out there that review films but very few of them have such a high level of writing. The writer deals with lots of topics within the world of cinema, not just sticking to regualr review. Just recently he has posted about the role of older women, the lack of horror in recent childrens cinema, and the disaster of floating heads in Hollywood posters. Through all the blogs that I was asked to judge, I started reading it on a daily basis. In general media I find most reviews a bit hackneyed, so it's really refreshing to read someone who is writing for the love of it. Although he didn't win the gong on the night, being in the same catagory as Culch.ie made it pretty much impossible to win.

The North Atlantic Skyline
The photoblog was a joy to find. It has a great layout that makes you focus on each photo individually. The urge when reading blogs is to skim through everything, when this makes you stop, pause, and appreciate what you are looking at. John Smyth really has a wonderful eye for capturing a moment, and the descriptions that go with them add a greater sense of depth to the images.

A Chich Named Hermia
Although this was not one of the blogs I had to judge, I found it through the list of nominees. This blog has quickly become my new favourite read. She effortlessly blends fashion photos with really quirky personal stories. Her writing is accessable and conversational while still having a lovely flare to it, while I'm reading it I feel like I'm having a natter over a cup of tea. I judged a lot of the fashion section, and this for me joined the aesthetic pleasure of reading a style blog, with the humour and personality of a personal one.

I fell in love with the aesthetics of this blog as soon as I saw it, you can tell a bunch of young creative heads run it. It's clean and simple with just the right amount of rough around the edges to make it cool. Normally I would never read a business blog, but I love the fun metaphors and comparrisons that they use. They have a great knack of making me interested in techy business things that would normally send me to sleep, a skill indeed. This is another blog that's been added to the list to entertain me over morning coffee and toast.

At long last....The Irish Blog Awards 2010

Better late then never.....
I went to the Irish blog Awards in Galway on Saturday night just gone. Since I sadly didn't make it to the final selection of the Best Irish Business Blog this year, I was instead representing Etsy Ireland, who made it to the final for Best Specialist Blog. I will not keep you in suspense, we did not win, but I was delighted for Bycyclistic who very deservingly took home the trophy.

The fantastic day started off in the G Hotel ('g' standing for gob smackingly gorgeous), with The Ladies Tea Party, which was organised by the fabulous Sabrina Dent. The venue was simply stunning, the design is truely fabulous, from the super slick reception, to the millions of silver hanging balls, the chic lift, to the super sexy presidential suite where we had our reception. Basically I want to live there, or just save up all my pennies and go on holidays and pretend I'm a rich super model. Think grand designs meets the hotel in season 2 of True Blood and you are somewhere near it.

To be honest I was a little terrified of walking into a room full of strangers but the lovely wine sponsored by Curious Wines, greased the cogs of socialbility quite nicely. In true Irish fashion we called it tea, and instead tucked into the booze with much enthusiasm. After getting past that initial terror, it was really lovely to meet lots of other bloggers and have a bit of a natter. Most of my friends in the 'real' world think I'm a bit nutty for blogging so much. So it was great to talk to like minded folk. In an excellently decadent moment we all sat drinking wine in our posh frocks while painting our nails at the nail bar, in the lavish bathroom ( thanks to L'Onglex for sponsoring). But sadly all too quickly it was over and we made a mad rush to the blog awards in the Radisson.
There I met a few familiar heads, Mags, Bock, and Val, and we then tucked into more free booze thanks to Captain Morgan (my favorite poison). The awards ensued in rather grand style with smoke machines and a procession proclaiming the death of blogging, and a full sized coffin in tow. I was rather impressed by the whole affair, I had no idea that it was going to be so professional, there was even funny video clips in between featuring Rodge and Podge and Bosco. The show was presented my the very sexy voiced Rick O Shea. There was a brief interlude where I weirdly volunteered to get on stage and air guitar with a foam guitar....quite surreal, not sure what possesed me to say yes, please let there be no photographic evidence of it!!I was a little disappointed by a few of the result, A chick Named Hermia, Bock the Robber, and Fustar didn't win, but on the upside Sabrina Dent, Sinead Cochrane, and Culch.ie did win.
The rest of the evening passed in a haze of drink, chatter, and random networking. I was rather well behaved and left at 1pm.
Well done to Damien Mulley for all his hard work, and thanks again to Sabrina for hosting a fantastic Ladies Tea Party.

28 Mar 2010

It's Brief

I went to the the 2010 Irish Blog Awards last night. I'm too tired an hungover to explain more than the basic results:
-The ladies Tea Party was the highlight of the day
-Etsy Ireland did not win best specialist award, boohoo
-Everyone convinced me to join twitter, so here you go, click here if you want to hear me tweet.

Had a great time, but that is the limit of my abilities today...more will follow tomorrow I swear.

26 Mar 2010

Sustainable Materials Exhibition opening

Orla Redican - Ev+A Dress
Marianne Kenny Modelling Nice Day Designs Dress

The opening for the sustainable arts exhibition was on last night, and there was a fantastic turnout. I was so busy running around talking to people and making sales (woohoo!) that I nearly forgot to take pictures. I heard really great feeback from people, saying it was one of the best shows they had seen in the gallery for years. I know this sounds awful but usually in group shows half of it is filler, but in this show there really wasn't any. There is an amazing mix of artists working in every discipline, from fashion, ceramics, sculture, painting, weaving, jewellery, performance and mixed media. There were some familiar faces too,Orla Redican from Farapinalia made this fantastic dress from the old Ev+A sign that had been lying in a skip. My ex-flatmate of 5 years Mark Halpin showed his wonderful illustrations of found tiles. I got to meet the lovely Missy Bonkers while I was drooling over her beautiful clothes. There were also handwoven mats made from found rope by etsy seller Conscious Crafts.
Mark Halpin- Drawing on Found Tiles
Missy.Bonkers Beanbag and cushions
Conscious Crafts -Recycled mats
Other highlights for me was the performance art piece where I guy was doing clay sculptures on his head, very playful and facinitating. Another artist has beautiful cutlery made from found metal and wire, I wanted to take those home, if I had money I would have bought them, they were stunning. I also really loved the mixed media paintings that had loads of found toys and knick knacks in them, they were a riot of colour and you could look at them all day long.
I'm delighted to be part of such an amazing show, it will continue for 6 weeks, and there will be lots of workshops from the artists. More details of which I'll poost about as I hear them. A big thank you goes out to Diarmuid Neilan for organising this fantastic show, I'm sure it's been a lot of hard work. Also I'd really like to thank my beautiful model Marianne Kenny for being stunning, and very patient in those high heels.

23 Mar 2010

Crafty Tattoo

I bit the bullet today and I eventually went and got the tattoo I've wanted for ages. Let me just preface this by saying I'm a super wimp and I have zero pain threshold. It was the memory of that stabby needle that kept on putting me off. What eventually made me overcome my fear of the pain is that Don (the guy who did my tattoo) is leaving Limerick, and I really wanted him to do it.

So off I toddled today with the below array of photos, and I explained exactly what I wanted. My logic on not drawing it myself is that within a month I would start seeing flaws (which I do with all my work), and that's the last thing I wanted with something so permenant! It did an amazing job with the design, I love the look of the scissors and the flow of the thread. In case you are wondering, it's on my right shoulder.

I got a large tattoo on my back when I was 18, a nice tribal piece, but the design is not personal at all. I knew that I would eventually want another one, but I definitly wanted something more personal this time. What better way to mark this time in my life than to depict what I eat,sleep and breath every day!

Thanks to Don for his amazing work!

22 Mar 2010

Happy Monday Winner

...And the Winner is

Mary Ellen

...thanks to all those who entered, best of luck next time!

21 Mar 2010

100th Sale

Another milestone has been reached today, I just hit my 100th sale in my supplies shop. Two of my New Years resolutions were to list 100 things in my supplies shop (which I did about a month ago) and also to get 100 sales.I just wanted to post this as a virtual happy dance moment....woohoo.

This is my second shot at Etsy, I started my other shop in 2008, and nothing ever really happened with it. Sales were low and I never really understood what I was meant to do with it. I spent lots of time on it but most of it was in the wrong direction. I was very tempted to give up on the whole thing. But I gave it one more try.

Here is what I did...

-I blogged more
-Joined a team, and became a very active member
-Got a facebook fanpage
-Started doing giveaways on the blog
-Regularly comment on other bloggers posts
-Bought and ad with craftcult(very successful)
-Bought an ad on facebook(terrible waste of money)
-Vastly improved my photos
-Listed 100 items, and always trying to add new things
-Post in the Etsy forums regularly
-Have great customer service to encourage return customers

I hope this helps any of you who feel like you want to give up. I know 100 isn't loads but it was a good milestone for me.

Let's just hope I get around to my third resolution and learn how to drive!

20 Mar 2010

Home Sweet Home

There is something so very satisfying about coming home after being away for a few days. This is also a much more pleasant experience since I moved into my house last year. I really love living here and being away for a few days reminds me of how much I love it. As soon as John gets back from Madrid I'll be happy as a pig in shit!

18 Mar 2010

Dublin, Buttons and a bit of Moo

I'm off later today to the belle city of Dublin. We have an Etsy Ireland meeting on Saturday, and I'm really looking forward to putting some more faces to the names. Lots of people have said they'll go to this meeting, so hopefully there will be a good turn out. I'll also visit my parents and some friends while I'm there, I'm originally from Celbridge which is just a hop skip and a jump, and a bus ride, from the main city centre. So sadly folks my blogging adventures will have to go on hold for a few days as my parents still have dial-up and a computer made from cellotape in the 90's.
Sadly John has absconeded with my camera so I can't show you the yummy new MOO mini business cards that arrived in the post. Or my really cool MOO personalised stickers. You'll just have to trust me when I say they are fab!

I did managed to click some pics of these fabulous new buttons that I got. I've added a few new listings in my shop for mixed bags and pairs of buttons. As always the temptation is to keep them, but I must reign in my addiction and sell the buttons.In other news, I may be getting a crafty tattoo next week, but shhh don't tell my mother. Even though I haven't lived with my folks for 10 years she still would give out to me....some things never change.

17 Mar 2010

Blog Layout

I eventually got an 'about me' and 'contact' tab, I don't know why it took me so long to figure it out!I've been meaning to do it for ages, but I couldn't find where to add it. I know it's a small niggling thing but I wished it looked more like a tab, if the blue background went up and around it in a curve it would be far prettier I think.
The next thing I'd love to add would be the networking options at the bottom of each post. Does anyone know if I can get those on blogspot? You know the little gadget that says share, facebook, twitter etc. If anyone could fill me in, I'd love to hear from you.

Are there any other bells and whistles that you like to see on a blog?
Does anyone know where the option for the 'you might also like' at the end of a blog post, where it gives a link and thumbnails to older and similar posts. I've always liked that on other blogs, but I just went looking and I couldn't find it.
Also I'm going to be updating my links soon, so if you want me to link to your lovely blog just leave a comment here and I'll add you to the list.

Paddy's Day Article on Storque

Firstly let me wish all of you a very happy (and merry) Paddy's Day!!
The post I did on St.Patricks Day for the main Etsy Blog just went live. So please click, read, and comment!! There were some last minute issues with the pictures, that I thought might lead to it not being posted, which would be horrible as the whole Etsy Ireland Team was really looking forward to it. I found it harder than I expected to get images of the parade. I got a good few and collaged them together, as they were not very high resolution. Etsy weren't happy with this so they didn't use them. In the end they sourced some on flicker, although I don't think they are of Limerick.
Thanks everyone for all your really helpful comments and feedback, when I volunteered to do it I didn't really think they would accept. So it was your help and comments that got my brain in gear to write it!!
A special thanks goes to Futurama Production, The Limerick Co-ordination Office and Gra Ob for the use of the photos, sorry they all didn't make the final cut, but nonetheless you were a great help!

The Spirit Store Packet and Tripe

I can't believe I nearly forgot to blog about my truely Irish experience on Saturday! 'The Spiritstore', a local arts and culture collective, held an event where they gave out free Packet and Tripe to the curious masses. To those of you who have never heard of this gastronomic monstrosity I shall fill you in on this traditional Limerick dish. Tripe, which is white, is the lining of a cows/sheeps stomach. Packet is a the charming black bit that is a pigs blood type pudding....wait for it, it gets even better! Then it's all boiled for a portion of eternity in milk, butter, and some salt and pepper!! Mmmmm how tastylicious I hear you cry. So after a few pints of Beamish(the tastier alternative to Guinness IMO)I was brave enough to try it.

Verdict: Eating the milky white bit with onions was pretty ok, peppery but nice all the same. I then ventured towards the terrifying looking black meat, it had the texture of what I imagine dead slugs to be like. Too soft to be meat, but too hard for a patte, altogether disturbing. But this texture pales in comparrison to the stomach lining which has a charming stringy/rubbery/chewy texture to match it's insipid white colour. All in all I think I would have to be literally starving before I would eat it again. The taste was fine, but I've always been a bit disturbed by yucky textures in food, and this meal takes the proverbial biscuit as far as gross textures go! But I'm glad I tried it! When I informed the other half that I had eaten it he said it's a good retort when people accuse me of being 'a blow-in' to Limerick...all I have to say is 'Have you eaten Packet and Tripe?'
Regardless of all my bitching and maoning about the food, I just wanted to say fair play to everyone involved it was a great idea, and there was a really fun atmosphere while everyone was tasting it. Watch the above video to get a glimpse at the day. Keep an eye out for what he is stirring in the pot...look at how scrummy it looks!

15 Mar 2010

Happy Monday Prize Giveaway

I've been a little disorganised as of late, and it only occured to me that I haven't had a giveaway since New Years...how terrible!! The supplies giveaway seemed pretty popular last time so I think I'll repeat that idea, but I'll also let the winner choose stuff from my other etsy shop too. So the prize is $25 worth of goodies from Nice Day Supplies or Nice Day Designs, or a mix and match if you like.
So as usual the rules are that you must be a follower of the blog to enter the draw, and also please leave a comment on this post...and I will announce the prize on the 22nd of March.

As always I would kindly ask the winner to mention me on their blog or twitter(or whatever flavour of social networking that you prefer), this is an international giveaway, so no need to worry I will ship the prize to the back of beyond if that's where you live!

Good luck everyone :)

14 Mar 2010

Limerick City Gallery

I delivered the two dresses to the Limerick city gallery yesterday. The show hasn't opened yet, but I believe it will be on Tuesday with the official opening on Saturday the 20th. I had a quick peek at some of the other work, it looks pretty cool. So if you are in the area pop in, and as with all these opening things there will be free wine...what better excuse is there really?!
To reward myself for all my hard work lately I went for a feed of pints, very tasty indeed!

12 Mar 2010

Pray Help!

As I mentioned before I'm going to be doing an article for the main Etsy blog on St.Patricks Day about being Irish and how I feel about Paddys Day. I tried getting some feedback on facebook but it didn't really work. So lovely readers I'm asking for your help, pretty please. Two questions:
What does Paddys Day mean to you, if anything?
How do you feel about being Irish, does it hold any significance for you?

Also any memories that you have of Paddys day past and present would also be appreciated, thanks!!

Frontpage for Nice Day Supplies

Yey at long last I was featured on frontpage on Etsy. I've been selling there for nearly 2 years, and this is my first time. In my head it was one of those things that I really wanted to happen. Not that it means a huge thing in reality, some exposure for about a half an hour or so that may or may not lead to sales. In this case it didn't. But I got lots of people clicking on my shop, and maybe down the line one of them will buy something. It's more the fact that only good items with great photography get chosen, so that's kinda what I was chuffed about. In the new year I decided to put lots of work into the two shops, make an effort to take great photos and see where it all brought me. So far so good, things are looking promising, and it's nice to see it reflected in sales too.

11 Mar 2010

Done, Finished, Finito....Hurrah!

I was totally right, making the cage for the inside of the red ballgown totally broke my heart. The first attemp was some bizarre paper mache and plaster of paris concoction that I won't embarress myself by talking about any further(let's just leave it at the fact when 2 friends saw the attempt they laughed...a lot!). My second attempt was an underskirt made from bedsheets with lots of wire going through it, and then more wire, and then a bit more. But that looked like a sadly deflating balloon. So in the end I went back to my first idea which I had initially dismissed....hoola hoops...5 of them to be exact. I fed them into the underskirt I had made for the wire and chopped them down to make them different sizes.
So after lots of shout, cursing, tantrums, some tears and dispondancy I finished it!! I know these aren't the best photos but I jusat wanted to show you something as I'm so thrilled that it's done. Please note this dress is the reason I've been a bold blogger lately....it took DAYS to make.
I have just over a day to finish my recycled denim dress, and then I've to install the works in the gallery. I'm really excited to see how they look in the space...I'll take pictures, I promise!
(Note: This is meant to be a show piece, just in case any of you were wondering why I made a dress that's impossible to sit down in...anyway, I hear FIERCE women don't sit)

And the Nominations are...

Yey I made it to the (not so) Short List for the 2010 Irish Blog Awards. There was also a long list but I didn't mention it here, just in case I didn't make it to the next stage. I've been nominated in two catagories Best Beauty/Fashion (sponsored by Spinakerpo) and Best Blog of a Business (sponsored by RedCardinal) . Thanks a million to the people who nominated me, and also to the judges for all your hard work!! I do have to choose betwwen the two catagories, I'm pretty sure I'll go with business,as it was this same decision last year that really helped me form the itentity of the blog. There will be another round to whittle it down even more and then the final awards will be held in Galway on the 27th of March. Last year I missed the awards as they were fully booked, but this year I got in there early and I've booked my tickets already. Last year I made it to the final few nominations for Best Business Blog which was amazing as I was just a newbie then and didn't really know what I was doing. It would be fantastic if I made it that far again, but I don't think it works that way. I'm going to the awards to put faces to people I've been in touch with online, and to network...and also to have a hell of a piss up!
The other thing I'm really excited about is that Etsy Ireland has been nominated a few times too, as I'm one of the team co-ordinators I'm really chuffed to see this baby flourish so well in it's first year.

Also I heard that part of the judging process is based on my interection with commenters. I know there are lots of you who are silent readers, but would you mind coing out of the closet for a few weeks as this would really help me out, you don't even need to be a blogger all you do is leave your name and email address(which nobody sees but me).....thanks guys I would really appresciate it!!

Note: If any of you want to steal the above image for your blog go ahead! But if you do, could you kindly link back to me please.

9 Mar 2010

The Luck of St.Patrick

Excuse the following excitedness, I'm still in a little bit of shock. This morning I saw a a thread in the Etsy forums posted by admin looking for Irish people to write an article for Storque about St.Patricks Day, and being Irish and all that jazz. So with a few minutes to spare before I had to rush off to work I rattled off a quick convo saying I would be interested,that I was big into blogging, and that I'd like to do a piece based on Limerick and the great young party atmosphere the city has. I want to avoid the whole green shamrock Oirishness, and make it more modern. Low and behold 10 minutes later there was a reply back from Etsy admin saying sure thing we love your ideas!! So I'll be posting the St.Patricks Day special for Etsy, yey happy days. To those of you who are familiar with Etsy you know that this is a big deal, and to be honest I'm kinda terrified by the pressure of it, but it's also very exciting. Hopefully this will be a good opportunity to get my shop seen and maybe an avenue into writing more things for the Storque Blog. It get's about 20,000 30,000 readers a day, so at a guess I should get a few extra hits on the shop.

So I better get my-green-thinking cap on!

6 Mar 2010

Red Ballgown

Here is another piece that I'm working on as part of the sustainable material exhibition. I've only got the skirt part of the design started, but I'm happy with how the different fabrics sit together. It doesn't look like I've gotten that far, but patchwork takes quite a while between all the cutting and sewing all the pieces together. I've never done this style of skirt before, but I think it look really pretty. As you can see from the design I have a LOT of work left to do. I still have to A) finish the shirt, with another few tiers of material B) make a black bodice C) make a cage type structure for the inside. For this last part I was thinking of a making it out of rolled newspaper, kind of a papier mache with an extra few layers of varnish to make it sturdier. It's gonna probably cause me lots of heartache trying to make it but I think it will add that extra pizzaz needed for a show piece. In some ways it reminds me of something Bjork wore to an Mtv awards ceremony about 10 years ago.

5 Mar 2010

Queen of Hearts Feature

I woke up and did my usual log onto my shops/promo/email stuff, and I noticed that a few of my items were missing from my Nice Day Designs shop. I must admit that I've really let this shop go as far as promoting goes so it didn't even occur to me that I had sold stuff. So after checking expired listings and inactive listings, it dawned on me that I may have sold them. Low and behold there were a bunch of sales....how strange??! So off I toddled to check craftcult and it turns out my 'Queen of your Heart Pocket Mirror' was featured in an Alice in Wonderland article on Storque(the main Etsy blog)!! How fantastic is that?? I've never been featured in any way on Etsy, so I was really excited. All in all I've had a really good week, I wonder what magical fairy is looking over me?

4 Mar 2010

Work in Progress

This is what I got up to today. This is the beginings of one of the main show pieces for the exhibition. So far I've used about 5 pairs of jeans and a jacket, I'll need at least six more pairs to get the lenght and train that I plan for it. I'll also need lots of material for the Queen Elizabeth ruffles I plan for the neckline. I'm happy with where it's going, hopefully tomorrow is another good day.
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