Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Experience on The Martha Stewart Show

I went on The Martha Stewart Show! Here is a link to my segment on making polymer clay covered eggs:
Liz Smith on The Martha Stewart Show, March 24, 2010

The experience was completely overwhelming so instead of flooding you with random ramblings, I will try to answer some FAQ I have been getting, and please let me know if you have more Q after, I will do my best to answer!

(For another point of view, check out my husband's blog post.)

Q: How did this happen? How did they find you? Did they contact you or did you contact them?

A: They contacted me through Etsy. The producers at The Martha Stewart Show [TMSS] know about Etsy; apparently Martha loves technology plus craft. They look at Etsy for crafters, who knew? I was told by the producer who contacted me that she saw my shop and liked my eggs, then she saw my name again, in Kari Chapin's book, The Handmade Marketplace (I am part of Kari's "Creative Collective"). Seeing my name in the book made the producer feel confident to contact me, I was bona fide. (A thousand thank yous, Kari!!)

I was asked to submit a video and a written how-to for the polymer clay covered eggs I've been making for 15 or 20 years. I devised a design for the egg that was straight forward that I thought I could teach quickly and would make the average person feel confident enough to try it.

Once the producer, Noel, saw the video I submitted, she asked for samples of completed eggs, which I sent to her.

I only waited a day while they decided whether or not this would work for their show and lucky for me, they said yes! The whole process from start to air date took one month.

Q: Where did you have to go?

A: TMSS is filmed in New York! We drove there, 4 1/2 hours in a downpour at night, flooded roads, wow. That was awful. Dell, my husband, was heroic! We made it there safely and stayed at a Holiday Inn in Manhattan. Everyone at the hotel was super nice and professional and we had an amazing 20th floor view of the Empire State Building.

Q: Did you rehearse?

A: I spent two days with TMSS. Day one was prep, day two was the show. They have an AMAZING craft room where professional crafters/set designers work on crafts for the show. I worked with Kirsten, who was incredibly nice and patient. We had to figure out which steps would be the ones we did on camera and which ones would be "swap outs" (completed steps we could jump to). I cannot say enough nice things about TMSS crafters, wow, talented, friendly and down to earth. They were so kind to me, I really appreciated it.

I loved discovering that everyone there was genuinely interested in crafts. They really wanted to know how I made the eggs. They loved seeing the process and I think some of them are going to try the project themselves!

BTW, I brought all the craft supplies I would need for the segment with me.

The second day was rehearsal and show. The project was moved over to the set for me, which is in a different building across the street.

The set was decorated beautifully! (That was my egg tree they used). Chip and Kirsten (and others, I'm sure) created that Easter wonderland you see on camera. Gorgeous! Kirsten made sure the work area was set up exactly how we'd need it. She took care of details like seeing that the pasta machines were attached to the tables correctly, that we used anti-glare work surfaces, and that the plexi would stay put when we worked on it. Details like that were crucial in making this work.

I rehearsed with Lenore, my segment producer, she stood in for Martha and went over the steps with me. First I went through the moves for the cameras so they knew what to expect when we filmed later that morning.

I don't know how they do it, those camera people are pros because it's all live and sorta unpredictable. After the cameras moved on to rehearse another segment in the kitchen, Lenore stayed behind with me and we went over the steps again. I would have loved to go through the steps a thousand times, but time was short and makeup wasn't done with me yet.

As an added bonus of awesomeness, the art department had seen my mom's watercolor cards in my Etsy shop and asked for some to decorate the set!! I was so focused on my tasks there, I didn't even notice they had hung them on the wall of the craft set until we looked at Dell's pictures.

Q: Uh huh, that's interesting, wait, it's LIVE??

A: Yes. It's shot live and you get one chance to do it right.

Q: So they dress you? Do hair and makeup?

A: They told me to wear what I wanted as long as it was appropriate and colorful, no stripes or patterns. They did do my hair and makeup and wow, I wish I could experience that again, it was so much fun!! I started to feel like a princess.

A very nice guy, Jim, steamed my shirt while nice ladies preened me, wow. The makeup lady cleaned up my eyebrows. She was like, "Is it OK if I do this?" I was like "What?? A professional New York TV makeup artist wants to do my brows? YES!!" The producers said I was lucky, everyone wants their brows done but there's never any time because all the people who are going on the show go through that chair and she is constantly busy with makeup and touch-ups.

Mary was the woman who miked me. She was kind enough to put the battery pack up high on the back of my bra instead of inside the back of my pants so I could continue to use the bathroom every 15 minutes like I had been doing all morning.

Q: Were you nervous?

A: I was so freaked out the night before, I woke up at 4 in the morning. I became more and more terrified as air time approached. I had a strong fight-or-flight response with emphasis on the flight part and poor Dell had to witness it. At one point in the green room I was mumbling "I don't think this is for me, I don't think I am suited for this..." He grabbed both my hands and said "I know it's scary." And just held my hands. Man I love him! While we were in this standing-double-hand-hold, someone peeked their head into the room and ducked out quickly. We realized they must have thought we were having a moment of prayer which cracked us up and broke the tension.

Q: What was it like to actually be on the show?

A: Joel, a guy with a headset and clipboard plus a warm friendly smile and easy laugh, came to get me to go on set. The sweet woman who did my hair followed me all the way to the stage door trying desperately to tame my cowlick seconds before I went onstage.

The giant stage door opened and Joel guided me across a writhing maze of camera cables between the audience and the backs of the cameras. As I quickly walked through I glanced up at the elevated audience of smiling (mostly) women in bright colored clothes, it was a pretty sight under the super bright lights.

This is how far away the regular audience sat:

Joel put me in position behind the craft table and I locked eyes with Dell, whom they had placed in the VIP seats right in front of me, about 15 or 20 feet away. That made me calm and gave me strength.

I was only there a few seconds before someone counted down and Martha came over, greeted me and we were off! She started reading the teleprompter and I tried to keep smiling at her.

Q: What's Martha like?

A: I have no idea! I spent as much time with her as you see in the clip. All I know is she is a PRO and she is fearless and I don't know how she does that every day. I find it very charming that she just barrels forward no matter what happens. That is a great skill.

I also want to mention how I think she made it OK for women to be strong in business and still like crafting. We don't have to give up our love of creating to be savvy entrepeneurs. And look at this crafting community! We are all doing both and being taken seriously. I love it.

Q: Did it go really fast?

A: It was like being pushed to the edge of a superhighway with cars zipping by at 80 miles an hour and they tell you, "Cross the road! Don't worry, you've crossed a road a million times before, go ahead, you'll do great! Oh, and we're timing you." Hahaha! Wow. It happened really fast. Luckily only one person got injured.

My producer, Lenore, was flashing cards I could see just out of the corner of my eye that told me how many minutes were left in the bit and maybe a keyword that told me where I needed to get to fast, for example to the last part of the segment, go go go! Meanwhile Martha was off on her own adventure, ha!

The most important skills I needed were to be able to talk and "do" at the same time, which I was OK at but also to point at things so the camera could focus on them instead of picking them up which I still need to work on :)

Then it was over! Several people came to give Martha bandaids and she asked to keep an egg. I gave her the finished version of the one she was working on in "Martha green". A professional photographer took a shot of us together and I was whisked offstage.

Lenore said I did a great job, which I was thrilled to hear, I had NO IDEA how it looked to the audience. I asked her if it "made good TV" and she said yes, so I felt like I did her proud. I wanted her to feel she made a good choice picking me to craft on the show. The crafters I met the day before also said it went well and I really appreciated them taking the time to tell me that.

Q: Did you get any swag?

A: I did! A bag full of Martha's new cleaning supplies. Being chemically sensitive, I was hopeful they wouldn't make me allergic, and they don't! I put the liquid soap in the ladies room at Western Avenue Studios and when it runs out, I think I will get more.

For being in the audience, Dell got a cookbook and the free pasta machine and polymer clay the show had wrangled for the attendees. Do you think he'll mind if I snag the craft supplies?

Q: Did you get to meet Rob Corddry?

A: Nope, but I was in the hall when he went flying by after his segment ended. He was saying something like "That was actually a lot of fun!"

Q: What did you do after taping finished?

A: They packed up all my stuff for me and we went to get our car which was buried in a subterranean parking garage two blocks away. Then we drove into Manhattan noon traffic. Wow. Can I mention Dell's heroic driving again? OK, then yes, the man was fantastic! In New York, it seems to me like the pedestrians and the cars are different types of cells all flowing in the same veins, curling around each other in narrow chutes. It's kind of amazing and completely cringe-inducing at the same time. I thought for sure I was going to witness grisly carnage many times per block, but no accidents happened while I was looking.

I called my mom from the gridlock, then we busted loose from the grip of the city and drove straight home. I think I exhaled in Connecticut.


I would like to take a moment to express my complete gratitude for the outpouring of support and encouragement I have received during this whole surreal experience. You all have been so gracious, so kind, so excited for me, I am completely humbled and honored. Thank you.

Photo by Liz of Lush Beads

I wanted to do that show more than anything I've wanted in a long time. And it was harder than anything I've ever done in my life. I'm so grateful I had the chance to do it and for all the people at the show who helped me look good for 7 minutes. So much work goes into those 7 minutes, it's pretty incredible.

I am so glad I did it and I am so glad to be back home with my cat and my pajamas. Back in Lowell where I can go to my studio every day and see my good friends, talented artists all. My studio where I can make my little felty things and build up my inventory and complete custom orders and interact with my online crafting community. I live a peaceful, mostly uncomplicated life of making things and selling them, then going home and cooking my husband dinner. A lot of people helped get me here. It's exactly what I want and I couldn't be more lucky. Thank you.


  1. Congratulations! What a wonderful experience AND you wrote so beautifully I felt as though I was right beside you. New York is a magical place and as the lyric goes, "if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere"!! You might just be back!

  2. Wow Liz! Amazing! Good for you!!!
    I just held my breathe reading through your experiences.. I would have passed out. haha..
    You did AMAZINGLY well! You can't tell its live at all.. You were so calm, and explained everything so well! Bravo! :)
    Congratulations ~Chrissy

  3. Wait, that's my swag! I was going to use my new pasta machine and clay to try making one of these amazing eggs. Now, what's for dinner?

  4. Oh wow Liz, I'm still so excited for you! You did such a great job and I loved reading this post about your experience. I can imagine how scared you must have been, eek! But you did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D xo~Pam

  5. Fabulous post, Liz! I laughed out loud AND teared up a couple times too. You truly came across as calm and collected on the show - well done, you! (And Dell, you rock too, for being there for Liz on her wild ride, and I don't just mean NYC traffic!)

  6. Congratulations! I just found your blog after AllThingsPaper tweeted your post. Your story is a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at how the Martha Stewart Show works. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations again on this honor!

  7. Thanks for sharing the blow-by-blow description of all that happened. Sounds like a true whirlwind! You looked amazingly calm on the show.

  8. Liz...reading this whole story, was amazing. You are an incredible person, and deserve all of this and more. Including Dell! Watching you 2 support each others dreams is a fairy tale come true. My heart flutters for you, and all of your continued success! I'm sure there is more to come...XOXO!
    Love Tammy

  9. This post is beautiful and amazing and your father and I are absolutely thrilled.

    I have been laughing and crying too, and loving every word of your amazing report. Your father says, "Excellent! That was a lovely blog." We have been amazed this whole time. We love you,

  10. Liz -- What an amazing experience! Reading your blog was like being a fly on the wall:) Great writing about a great event. Kudos to Dell, too, for standing by and driving through torrential rains and crazy city streets! I predict this isn't your only trip to the Big Apple!!

  11. So interesting to read about your experience on TMSS. I'm quaking here, just thinking about the pressure you were under! But you breezed through it. Congrats! I put a link to this post on my Facebook so other folks could share your experience.

  12. What fun to go along for the ride! Like so many other Etsy artists who have all probably fantasized and tried to imagine what it must be like to be on the show, I loved hearing all the details...thank you so much!!

  13. Its a coincidence that I discovered your etsy profile 2 days before you were about to appear in the Martha show. I had the priviledge of watching you on the show. You did great. You are an inspiration and yes your husband too. Your blog reminded me of how much my husband supports me in my craft. Aren't we blessed with amazing husband who do so much so that we can do what we want to. Great show. Lots of best wishes for your future endeavours.

  14. I am so proud of you! The segment was wonderful! You were so poised and professional. Thanks for sharing your, I want to hear Dell's side. I bet he has a story to tell, too! ;)

  15. yaaaaaaaay! you were so awesome! and i am so happy for you!!!!!!

  16. We have only just started to have the Martha Stewart show here in Australia in the last few months. Being more of an arty person than crafty means she doesn't appeal to me but I still watch her show if I see that its on, I can always learn something. That was so interesting, shame that you didn't get to meet Martha properly but then its a business not a social event I suppose. Sounds like you did a wonderful job. I have no idea when this will be on in Australia because I'm fairly sure we get very old repeats. Good on you!!

  17. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Congratulations again! And again! All your hard work paid off.

  18. Hey Liz,
    You totally rocked the daytime TV world! You looked very collected and professional.

    The best part is when Martha sliced herself on your shiv. Nice touch.

  19. Oh Liz, you where so fantastic Theo & I watched you online here in the UK so excited & thrilled. Martha was so funny like a little child making her egg while you were going through your method so super cool. Thank so much for sharing your wonderful experience with us it been sooooo brilliant, you are one of my crafting heros, YAY for you

    E xx

  20. You rocked it, Liz! Thanks for this wonderful post on your awesome experience.

  21. Awesome, Liz, what a great segment ! You're a natural in front of the camera. I enjoyed reading about your experience. What a thrill it must have been, have your feet touched the ground yet? Polymer Cafe Magazine should run a feature on your appearance, it's great PR for the polymer clay community !

  22. what an experience - how incredibly fun and rewarding! congrats a million times over! well deserved, for sure!!!

  23. I'm not surprised at all; you're well versed and have a solid foundation; you own your stuff. An artist and a natural on camera.
    So happy for you Liz. :) ox T

  24. Liz, this recap is fantastic!! Thanks for sharing this with us, and congrats on fulfilling a dream! You did a fabulous job.

  25. OMG! OMG! OMG!! Where have I been that I totally knew nothing about this?!! This is so awesome!

    This post is just excellent as is your work. I bet it scared the jeepers out of you but I'm so proud of you!! Way to go girl!!

    I especially love that she kept wanting to run the clay through the pasta machine--just one more time!! ;)

    You were fantastic!! And I love your voice!

  26. So. Awesome. You were sparkling on the show and this post has answered so many of my burning how-does-it-all-work questions. I'm such a nerd fan of yours that I shouted, "that's Liz's egg tree!" while I was watching! Many, many congratulations to you.

  27. I just watched the clip and you were amazing! Those eggs look so cool!

  28. Thanks for sharing the whole behind the scenes experience Liz. I loved that I could watch it online here in the UK. You are such a professional!

  29. You were fabulous! It was so great working with you and I hope we can stay in touch and share craftiness over the Interweb. Thanks for making the trip - it was great having you! Best, Kirsten

  30. That is the most awesome story I've heard all month! Congrats!!! Hope it brings lots of new buyers your way!


  31. I absolutely enjoyed this story. How exciting!

  32. Liz,
    Just stopping by after reading a tweet about your wonderful experience. Watched the streaming video of your segment and you did just wonderfully and of course your eggs are just marvelous!! To be recognized for your fabulous items is just lovely and I'm wishing you continued success!! All my very best.

  33. That was a great post-took me right through all the excitement-thanks!found you on twitter

  34. That is AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Reading it made me feel as if I was right there with you :) Congratulations!!!


  35. It is great to see they recognize true talent. Congratulations!

  36. Fantastic!!!
    That's wonderful that you got national exposure! Great story telling on the blog.
    Congrats from another BayStater!

  37. What an amazing experience, and you did do a wonderful job retelling it.

  38. This is a wonderful post that answers lots of questions. Congratulations Liz. I watched your segment and I think you did fantastic. Very professional yet very down to earth and real. Happy creating...

  39. wow Liz!!!! Amazing! Your eggs are amazing but your writing is top-notch lady!

  40. Congratulations on a job very well done! What an incredible post! You did beautifully! You looked very confident on TV! Your smile was contagious! I love your Easter Eggs! Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  41. Thanks for all the lovely details! It was so exciting to see you on TV and you were fabulous of course.

  42. You did an amazing job Liz, I'm so excited for you. I love all your work, especially your amazing cupcakes. Thanks for being so willing to help on my custom're awesome!
    :o) Tabatha (aka mdtd98)

  43. Hi Liz,

    Way to go, girl! I’m a total stranger (New York City) who just caught your video on Martha’s web site and had to send you a note to say that you totally rocked!

    I’m sure you were in a daze (your first 15 minutes of fame were ON MARTHA?!), but you came across very naturally: easy-going, self-confident, nice sense of humor with Martha.

    No one loves Martha like I do, but the way she tears off, doing her own thing, peppering her guests with a litany of questions while they’re still trying to answer her first questions, always cracks me up. She’s just got to have control! (And the poor guests: no doubt a producer is flashing cards at you at the same time, while you’re trying to track to the project steps.)

    Anyway, you seemed calm, natural and the rhythm of your segment seemed great. You were made for TV / video! You should check out whether Etsy will ever have a cable channel (the Etsy version of QVC?!) or whether your local cable station could do a local artists / crafts spot. You communicate very naturally. You didn’t seem freaked out at all – and for all of us, a little experience gets us over the willies.

    And you’re a wonderful writer to boot. Thank you for such a lovely description in your blog and for dealing with all the Q&A pestering! You definitely answered all my questions.

    Except I wanted to say “way to go” to Dell, too! Great job dealing with NYC (where I’ve lived for a long time). Sounds like the staff at M. Stewart was fab, but I think the only thing they forgot to tell you was how to get to either the FDR Drive or West Side Highway so you didn’t have to deal with the “black hole of traffic” in mid-town. Next time you’re in NYC, give me a jingle and I will happily be your guys’ tour guide.

    Liz, you were great. So happy that you had this much-deserved opportunity! Congratulations!


  44. Congratulations!! I love those eggs!

    I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award as I love to follow your blog. You can see it here..

  45. wow, Liz - you were fabulous on the show! you're a pro :) and your eggs are really awesome too. love, Toye

  46. Liz - You did such an amazing job on the show! You looked so beautiful and professional and now I want to make an egg! And thank you for the run down on your whole experience! I didn't even think of doing that. And who took all of those great photos while you were rehearsing and getting preened? I really wanted to take photos of the craft studio...but was too afraid to ask. I did ask if I could look around and Kristin gave me a little tour. So amazing and I hope to see you be at the next Mimi meeting. :)

  47. Congrats to you! This is incredible!

  48. So happy for you- and proud! I saw the segment live and you were perfect! Congratulations on the whole amazing experience.

  49. This is such a happy-fabulous-dreamy story! Thanks for sharing your experience & congratulations :)

  50. That is amazing. You lived my dream! One day I hope to be on Martha. Congratulations!

  51. I wish I could respond to each and every one of you who took the time to read my post and leave a comment! Please know I read all the comments and appreciate them very much. This has been an incredible experience and your participation only makes it more so, thank you!!

  52. Good for you! (And a nicely written post, so we could share a part of it with you.)

  53. Thrilled for you, and thanks so much for sharing the story!

  54. It was so fun to read this Liz and relive my own "Martha Experience" back in January (which I did NOT write about) ... I too loved the makeup session even though I'm basically a no make up kind of gal. Deb made me feel really comfortable even though clearly I was quite the project :-). She very nicely made it clear that my eyebrows NEEDED her help ... and like you said ... YEAH!

    I also loved your answer to "what's Martha like" ? the actually 8 minutes on camera is a total blur to me.

    Great job!

  55. WOW! You did a great play by play of your Martha experience. We saw the show and you did great. It was nice to see a polymer clay artist showcased on the show again.
    All the best
    Swirly Designs
    Lianne & Paul

    BTW they did show your other clay butterfly project on another show.