Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bazaar Bizarre Boston 2009

I didn't realize how thrilled I would feel to be vending at BazBizBos this past Sunday, it kind of surprised me! But I guess it makes sense. Three years ago, before I had even put anything in my fledgling Etsy shop, Dell and I attended BazBiz in the same location, the Cyclorama in Boston's South End.

It was then I realized, these are my peeps! These tattooed and pierced ladies with cool glasses were making quirky crafts and selling them and I wanted in. I was and am not tattooed or particularly extensively pierced, but I had been making things and selling them for almost 20 years. This new craft revolution really spoke to me. I had been a bit of a loner in my endeavors and now I had a possible peer group. I filled my Etsy shop with the goods I had been making forever: polymer clay egg ornaments and bead and metal jewelry. The next year I applied to BazBiz but did not get juried in! I realized I was probably not Bizarre enough. My goods were very mainstream.

Without really meaning to, over the next two years my style started to lean more toward what I can only describe as an Etsy aesthetic. I took up needle felting and started producing more modern items. Last year I did not apply to BazBiz, I did two other amazing holiday shows instead. This year I got up the nerve to try again and I got in! And after two years in other venues, BazBiz was back at the Cyclorama where my excitement had been renewed about what would eventually become my full time career. I could not shake the feeling that I had won a contest and was going to play on stage with my favorite band! I grinned ear to ear from 9:30 til 7.

I was lucky and made excellent sales, but the most fun for me was meeting a whole host of humans I had heretofore only "internet known". Some for years! Some who had changed my life! Fer reals. It was an amazing day. I loved being near my dear friend Candace of The Intuitive Garden and next to Elise of Argyle Whale whom I have admired from afar (on Flickr and through her excellent tweets). I was so grateful to Dell for hanging out and helping me all day, even taking the blame when I stepped on his glasses ("I'm sure I put them in a bad place!"). I was actually, miraculously able to fix them so he could drive us home. And he is the one who took all these great pictures documenting the day.

Huge thanks to the organizers of this wonderful show! And I hope I get in again next year :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Craft Show Update

I was a felting wild woman prepping for the Worcester Center for Crafts Festival of Crafts over Thanksgiving weekend!

Before the show, Dell and I spent a lovely Thanksgiving afternoon with mom and dad at the house I grew up in.

The show went well though doing 3 day shows is hard! Luckily, I married a really nice guy who helped me through it all. I am so grateful I sold well and had to spend my nights making more goods for the next day. I would also like to express appreciation for my friends and family who have given me strength and encouragement at this exciting but truly stressful time, I couldn't do this without them!

Sunday night we packed my table up and went out to dinner at the Beerworks in Lowell, which we love.

Monday I was back in production mode with another big show weekend coming up; Open Studios on Saturday, December 5th from 12-5 then Bazaar Bizarre on Sunday December 6th along with The Intuitive Garden, Lush Beads and many other Etsians I have only "met" online, should be intense!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pilgrimage to Providence

This morning we packed my collection of felty goods and drove down to Craftland in Providence, Rhode Island. I don't know Providence at all but I instantly fell in love with Westminster Street where Craftland is located, it's pretty, full of interesting retail and OMG there were more hipsters per square inch than any other place I've been. I just loved it!

The Craftland shop is big and bright and friendly looking. I got to see one of my Etsy faves, HeatherJeany, and I met Kristin of ScrapsofPaper. I had a lot of fun talking shop with them and looking for the goods of other artists I might recognize. I was so excited to see the work of alamodestuff, heatherwangjewelry and absolutelysmall in the year round shop.

Handmade cuteness!

LOVE the sign:

Since my husband's sister lives in RI, we arranged to meet her for lunch after the drop off.

I would love to go back when the holiday goods are out. I know it will be winter wonderland in there!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


As their adorable website explains:
Craftland Show is an annual holiday sale in downtown Providence, RI that celebrates all kinds of sparkly handmade objects and the people who make them.

Craftland is a juried seasonal shop and I am thrilled to be participating alongside so many fantastic artists! I've been working very hard to come up with a nice collection to take there.

Here I am with my goods:

And here are the goods closer up:

I hope you get a chance to stop by!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Intuitive Garden

I would like to take a minute to toot a horn for someone who would never toot their own. Candace just appeared like a crafty sister-separated-at-birth one day and immensely altered my life and business for the better.

All my life I have been crafting and selling my goods. In 2006 I started hearing about something online called Etsy so that fall I joined, giddy and hopeful. It seemed like a good fit for me so I decided to devote my full time attention to a crafting business.

All through the 90's I did craft shows but had taken a long break. In the spring of 2007 I read a forum post that called for Boston area crafters. The SOWA Open Market was offering free spots at their Sunday Market for first timers who were on Etsy. I thought this was a good chance to start doing shows again so I signed right up. We were to be 4 people sharing 2 tents. I did not have a tent and I wanted to be sure I was going to be compatible with these crafty strangers so I scoped out the three other shops, picked the one that looked the cutest and contacted the shop owner. Candace had a tent and yes, she would share with me.

Having that settled, we immediately faced our first crisis. Due to flying tents in high winds the previous week, the SOWA Open Market was requiring weights on all tent legs. We could use water jugs, or sand bags they didn't care. I nervously called Candace to find out how we were going to handle this little snag since I knew she didn't have sand. After a well-placed joke about "big jugs" I knew we would get along great. Dell and I brought sand, Candace and her husband brought sand, we were a team with a stable tent. And we smiled when we saw the other two Etsians sharing a tent that day; perfectly matched goth girls with black velvet and tattoos.

Since then, we have done many shows together and now have studios side by side in an old mill building. She knows more than anyone what my daily life is like, she has the same job as me. And she has great ideas for what I should make, how I can display things, all conveyed in an enthusiastic, friendly way that gets me excited about the possibilities.

Also, Candace is uncanny for giving me just the right thing at just the right time; a display, some mailing envelopes, jewelry findings. She is so generous and it's like she can read my mind. Which maybe she can, we are both Virgos :)

And look at her work! She's amazing! See, she takes photos, makes drawings, illustrations, then meticulously combines them with resin to create these little gems she makes into the most beautiful jewelry. You can't imagine how much craftsmanship goes into her items, it's incredible. I have seen all the steps, all the decisions, all the knowledge she puts into every tiny piece. I fall in love with her work over and over each time she shows me something new she is developing. How cool is it that I get to see new things being born right in front of my eyes? I'm a witness to the creative process, it's so inspiring.

Plus we can be snarky together, have a laugh over the hard parts of running our own businesses; the tedium, the let-downs, the weirdos we encounter. Everything is easier to handle when someone is on your side and knows what you are talking about.

All this is to say, I feel very fortunate to have had her placed in my life at just the right time and I don't think I would be this successful without her encouragement and camaraderie. I wish for every artist an artist friend like Candace. And if you have one, go ahead and toot that person's horn for them! They are probably too gracious to do it themselves.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Studios Magazine Fall 2009

I am thrilled beyond description to have a three page article in the Fall 2009 issue of Studios magazine, published by Interweave Press! It all happened because Pokey Bolton from Quilting Arts magazine stopped by my studio during one of Western Avenue Studios First Saturday Open Studios! What luck :) She took a few cell phone snaps and passed them on to Cate Prato, the Studios editor who contacted me. She wanted an article specifically on my displays so I wrote 300 words and provided photos which they laid out beautifully in the magazine:

I could not be more pleased with the whole experience! I am waiting on a box of 25 magazines which I will be able to sell in my studio and give to family and friends. You can also buy it online (linked above) and I've seen it at the major bookstores and craft supply stores as well!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Etsy Stalker Giveaway!

Go check out Etsy Stalker, a super fun blog highlighting all kinds of whimsical Etsy discoveries. Today they are featuring my shop in a solo exhibit, which is exciting enough, but I am also offering a giveaway, this pincushion! The contest runs through October 11th.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Holiday Show Season

It's kind of insane how quickly crafters plunge into thinking about and preparing for the holiday show season. We've usually got our schedules set for September through December before the beach sand is out of our shoes back in July. Or at least we are already crossing our fingers, hoping to be accepted into the big juried shows we applied to.

My 2009 holiday show season is starting take shape as my acceptance emails roll in. I knew the Worcester Center for Crafts was having trouble and I wasn't sure if they would be having their traditional holiday show the weekend after Thanksgiving. But I got the good news that they are indeed hosting it and I will be participating for the second year in a row!

I will be in my studio for the December First Saturday Open Studios at Western Avenue Studios. I have applied to Bazaar Bizarre, a fantastic indie craft show held at the Cyclorama in Boston this year. It's for one day on Sunday, December 6th. UPDATE: I was accepted!

I have been accepted for the SOWA Holiday Show for the second year and I could not be more pleased! That show is held in the South End of Boston on December 12th and 13th.

Meanwhile September continues to be very busy. I am participating in stART on the Street in Worcester for my third year. That fun block party will be held on Sunday, September 20th and I will again be sharing a tent with Candace of The Intuitive Garden which makes it twice as fun!

The weekend after that, September 26th and 27th, I will be in my studio again as Lowell hosts a city wide Open Studios with lots of special events planned! Then it's right back to First Saturday Open Studios on October 3rd from 12-5.

This year is different from last year in that I am now in three fine crafts galleries! You can see my work in Newburyport, MA at Sisters We Three, in West Concord and Groton, MA at NOA Gallery, and in Putnam, CT Silver Circle Studio.

I also applied to participate in the seasonal Craftland holiday retail shop in Providence, RI. I love all the Rhodie crafters I've met IRL and on the interwebs, it would be a lot of fun to show at this venue. UPDATE: They accepted my felted goods!

So of course I am currently constantly making things for all these venues, and for my studio and my online shops! Did I mention I have three online shops? The one at Etsy you probably know about, but I am also establishing a presence at 1000 Markets and on Artfire.

I'm certainly having fun, but I do feel a bit in over my head and of course this would be the moment when my muse starts to pester me with new product ideas which I just have to write down and set aside for now to work on pure production! I think the mantra in the handmade world right now is: I can sleep in January.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Handmade Portrait - Mimi Kirchner

I have been seeing Mimi around at various Boston area craft shows for over a year now, but didn't really take a closer look until I started reading her completely delightful Tweets! It's funny what will finally bring someone fabulous to your attention even if they've been right in front of you all along. Now she is featured in a sweet video series on Etsy and I wanted to share it with you!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Custom Orders: I take 'em*

Lately I have been working on a lot of special orders. I love it when people ask if I can make something and the answer is YES!

*Now, I can't always do it. Maybe the barrier is simple like I don't have the color of wool needed or maybe it's more complicated like the requested item is such a leap from my existing product line that it isn't something I am interested in making. For example, I might have a go at trying to make a felted ornament shaped like a bon bon instead of a cupcake but I have no interest in felting your cat hair into anything. (True story)

A little while ago I made a felted beads necklace in custom colors for someone:

And for someone else a custom cupcake in all vanilla:

Most recently I made a felt beads necklace in all red:

I am currently making more felt beads in blues and greens for another custom necklace.

At the same time I am working to complete a wholesale order for my polymer clay egg ornaments.

Here are the canes I made to adorn the eggshells:

Here are the eggs baked and waiting to be sanded, varnished and have loops attached:

So let me know if you are interested in something custom made. These projects keep my workload interesting and fun, and I love making people happy with my whimsical handiworks!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vending at Art in the Courtyard, Lowell Folk Festival 2009

Thanks to handsome Roberto of Junk Culture for taking this nice snap of me.

The Lowell Folk Festival takes over downtown Lowell, Massachusetts the last weekend in July every year. It's like our Mardi Gras but instead of parades, drinking and plastic beads, we have music, drinking and crafts. (Oh, and meat on a stick.) I was lucky enough to be juried into the Art in the Courtyard show again this year. We live right around the corner so it's old home week for me when I do it. The show sets up on Friday afternoon to vend for 3 hours. Then we break down, set it all up again Saturday and Sunday. The set-up-break-down times three is hard, but the crowds on Saturday make it worth it. If the weather holds. And we started out nice and sunny after several days of rain:

I shared with Amanda of Brick Mill Studio again, and we even had the same location as last year! There she is on the left:

Here is Amanda's table hopping with interested customers)

Tarja, a fiber artist at Western Avenue Studios, sat in the booth to my left, she was able to get some work done for her upcoming show at the Loading Dock Gallery.

I set my table up thusly:

I looked at pictures of last year's setup and though the look is very similar, I can see that a year of tweaking helped me get a nice cohesive look to my displays this time around. Also, it's so interesting to see how many new products I have developed!

I know I had talked about making goods for this show in my last post, and I'm glad to report I have never felt more prepared for a show. And as predicted, I sold a few of everything making a nice sales total for the weekend.

A huge fun part of doing shows is people watching and there were tons of people to watch. Everyone, guys especially, got a huge kick out of my felted rocks and everyone wanted to pick them up. When they realized they were wool covered rocks with some real heft they all said "Whoa!"

The scene from my booth:

Western Avenue Studios was well represented. The other Western Ave group was situated further up the Courtyard on the right:

Liz of Lush Beads and Peter Zimmerman Art Glass, (Peter shows a potential future Open Studios attendee how to get to WAS)

Heather Wang Jewelry:

and Vicki Green of Art by Verde:

Overall a wonderful if hot and exhausting weekend. The only trouble spot was the last ten minutes on Sunday when a sudden, violent thunderstorm blew in throwing lightening bolts at us and sheets of wind driven rain. Yeah, that was terrifying and made me really mad. Because the same thing happened last year! ??? Luckily I was able to pack up quickly without losing product, just a little bit of my sanity.

Now that I am recovered from the weekend, I have been working on special orders and getting ready for Open Studios this weekend. If you missed us at the Folk Festival, or if you just can't get enough of Western Avenue Art, come by and see us Saturday August first, from 12-5.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Making Goods For A Show

It's so hard to know what to make! I have such a varied and extensive product line, and I seem to sell a little of everything at every show. There are usually a few standouts that change for each venue. At one location people can't get enough of my egg ornaments, at another I can't keep my cupcake pincushions in stock. So figuring out what to devote my time to before an event is a guessing game fraught with not a little bit of anxiety.

The crafter's biggest fear? Not having enough of the thing that is a hot item. Best to have too much of something, you can always sell it at the next show or online. But I don't have enough time to make too much, I barely have enough time to make enough!

So here I am charretting for Art in the Courtyard coming up at the Lowell Folk Festival this weekend. All my work is incredibly labor intensive so I make a giant wish list of what I would like to complete on time, and then as the days tick by the list becomes more realistic and some items have to drop off.

Today I am trying to fill a 12 hook ornament hanger with little cupcake ornaments, I think I am on track to finish this task. I also want to make some more sleepy sheep, to have at least a half dozen If you have a good number of any one thing, you have a better chance of selling some.

Trust me, this is a anxiety filled task I relish :) This is my dream job for sure and this is the kind of problem I hope I always have!