Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Wellspring: Inky Star Shop

Inky Star Shop's Alice's Keys has won our first monthly team challenge! Congratulations, Kaitlin! Make sure you check out the other goodies you can find in her fun shop!

April's team challenge will be a celebration of Earth Day with eco friendly creations that you won't want to miss! Here's some inspiration from around Etsy:

Reusable Produce Bags from ficklefaerie

Stop Time Recycled Pill Box Necklace by ecoBling Couture

HANDBAG Purse w/Chain Handle made from Upcycled 1lb Coffee Bags by It's Our Earth

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Trash & Treasures Tuesday: Hello!

Welcome to our first installment of Trash & Treasure Tuesday! I’m very happy to be blogging for the fabulous RNEST team (of which I’m a proud member). First, a little about what ‘T & T’ will be about from week to week.

I recently bought a pair of earrings made from old typewriter keys. They caught my eye as a lover of books and words and stories (and because they are super sweet). When they arrived, I was amazed at the quality of craftsmanship. It seemed sad to think of all those discarded typewriter keys…. if only they knew they could be fabulous earrings, too.

 Bought from KeysandMemories.

This perked my interest in creating something new from something old. I know, I’m a little late on the whole ‘upcycle’ bandwagon, but still, it’s awesome. And, it’s everywhere! Etsy is full of talented artists and crafters repurposing the old into the new.

I’m also a lover of anything and everything vintage; scouring thrift stores and antique shops is a favorite pastime.

So ‘T & T’ will be a combination of all of that – upcyling, repurposing, finds on Etsy, finds in vintage stores, RNEST artist features, things I want to try, things I've tried, things I've made, things that inspire me… and probably lots more. I’m pretty new to Etsy, so we’ll dive in together.

Peace & thanks,

If you'd like to know a little more about me, please visit my blog and/or my Etsy shop.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Make- it Mondays: Boost Your Creativity

photo shamelessly doctored by buenahelena

In a rut? Ideas gone stale? We all need a creative boost from time to time. As a high school art teacher, I draw creative blood from stones everyday.Here are a few tricks that really work.

  1. Keep a pocket sized journal and pen with you at all times. Jot down ideas as they come, quotes you overhear and your observations of people throughout the day. Everyday happenings make strong springboards.
  2. Get outside of YOUR box. Take an alternate route to work and listen to a new radio station. Pick up a magazine, a book, or rent a movie that has nothing to do with your style or interests. You might just find a new one. In the worst case scenario you might hate what you get and spend an evening fuming about creative ways that you would change some horrendous movie's plot.
  3. Get a soundtrack. Sites like pandora and can help you customize an art making mood album. Some people need the speed of dance music, while others need the storylines of good songwriting.
  4. Hire a Craft Coach. Or coaches! Get a friend or colleague you trust to give you their honest two cents and bounce ideas off of. Our monthly street team meetings are flooded with ideas once 5 or more creative people start talking over coffee.
  5. Get a healthy dose of competition. Joining Etsy challenges, taking classes and acquiring a secret arch nemesis can bring out that fighting creative spirit. Pressure can be a great motivator as well as accountability to a person or group.

Things that DON'T work:
  1. Comparing yourself to others. I'm very guilty of this, so take it from me. Pouring over other Etsian's pages and blogs can bring you down when you have a measuring stick out. Plus these down days are generally not productive days.
  2. Experimenting with "enlightening" drugs. Everything you do will seem you. To the rest of us it will look a piece made by a person on drugs. Plus it will probably be covered with Cheeto dusted fingerprints.
  3. Jumping into a pile. Sometimes you just throw all of your supplies and half finished projects onto a table...and stare at it...and stare at it...and...that just doesn't work. Do one thing at a time in small chunks of time over a period of days.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Jack's Pick: Pin-Up ACEOs by Buenahelena

Each Friday I select an item created by a member of the Rochester NY Etsy Street Team(RNEST). What criteria do I use? I look for great looking items that I think are well made offered for a great price!

One thing I love in a gift is humor! That is why I totally dig Buenahelena's collection of pin-up ACEOs with pit hair. That's right, its time to correct some of these classic pin-up girls to look like real women. Ha!!! (an ACEO is an "Art Card: Edition or Original")

At first you may not notice the slight modifications that Buenahelena has added to these classic pin-up works of miniat
ure art, but as soon as you get the gag, it's nonstop smirking!

She currently has a set of five of these lovely ladies that you can purchase individually or as a complete set. Whether you are an ATC or ACEO collector or not, we can all appreciate these wonder women!

I got one of these for a friend of mine who is into pin-up art, and she totally loved it. Girl Power!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Wellspring: Our First Monthly Team Challange

A team challenge is a wonderful way to showcase the creativity of the members of this team. This, our first monthly team challenge, is a perfect demonstration of our uniquely creative minds. The theme this month is Alice in Wonderland and each entrant created their masterpiece based on her interpretation of that theme.
Cast your vote for your favorite on the poll on the upper right corner of the blog sidebar. Voting will end March 30th, with the winner announced on March 31st!

And now, in no particular order:
Alice's Teapot by creative.hodge.podge

Mr. White Rabbit by Sarah's Amiables

Mad Hatter's Tea Party Lamp by buenahelenaQueen Of Hearts Tart by Duncan Creativealice's keys by inky star shop

curiouser and curiouser by inky star shop Girl holding easter bunny from the turn of the century by Vintage Holiday Shop Cashmere Harlequin Alice in Wonderland Mittens by EnviroCrafterThe Red Queen's Hot Pads by The Quilted House

Monday, March 22, 2010

Make- it Mondays: Best OnlineTutorial Guides

From Buenahelena!

Happy Monday RNESTer's and lucky visitors. Each week Make-it Mondays seeks to bring you great how-to guides. To keep this going I want to know what you are interested in learning about? Is there something you could share with me or want to add for a guest tutorial in the future? Does the team need creativity boosting ideas, help with the business side of Etsy or specifics on a craft technique? Over the next week leave your ideas here and I'll see what we can do.

Until then here is a list of some of my favorite tutorial websites:
  1. Instructables - Excellent site for upcycling
  2. Craft - An online and real zine dedicated to transforming traditional crafts
  3. P.S. I Made This - DIY fashion with great inspiration boards
  4. The Storque/How To - Etsy's guides and tutorials
  5. Smaller Box - Small business guides and how-to's

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday Wellspring: Winners

Congratulations, #41, Mframe! You've won the ├╝bercool pendant from Beadwork by Amanda!

The RNEST team has decided to start themed monthly team challenges. Each participant will make an item representative of the theme, list it in their shop, I'll post an image of each here, and you, our wonderful followers, will be called upon to vote on which item you like best. This month's theme is Alice in Wonderland and voting begins next week, so y'all come back now, ya hear!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Make-It Mondays: DIY Photo Studio

From Buenahelena!

At our last Rochester NY Street Team meeting many of us confessed that photographing items causes the most frustration, in terms of posting new work in our Etsy shops. There are a ton of posts on the Etsy blog and forums with tips on making great photographs. One tip they ALWAYS mention is to use natural light. The only problem is that we're in natural light is not at our beck and call. Here is a solution that I have come up with so I can take photo's whenever I need them and still get great contrast, fine details and that floating quality Etsy likes to see on the front page.

My studio space is in a basement, so I don't get much light, besides the fluorescent stuff hanging from the ceiling.

I use bright white foam core that I have scored down the middle. This way I can fold it flat for storage and open it up for a solid base and backdrop. White also tends to reflect light when you don't have much to start with. If you have large work to photograph you may want to hinge together two separate pieces of foam core.

I also invested in an Ottlite lamp. They can range anywhere from $45-$145 depending on their size. Ottlites give off the closest light to natural light. Not only are they great for photographing items indoors, but they also save your eyes if you make extremely fine crafts like beading or weaving. They also show off an item's true color, unlike other bulbs that give off blue or yellow casts. Joann Fabrics sells them and often has great sales and coupons. Mine was originally $120, but with a 50% off coupon and teacher discount I got it for about $50.

When you photograph an item keep as still as possible. Use a tripod or steady your elbows on a table. I sometimes use an old egg cup with a flat bottom for close ups of small items. On most digital cameras holding down the button halfway will make a focus box appear on screen. Hold that box over the item you want to photograph and shoot. For close ups of small items I always use the Macro function, which looks like a flower. The symbol is the same on nearly all digital cameras.

This alone can greatly improve your photos. If you have Adobe PhotoShop take the extra step to crop you items into 5"x5" squares. Go to Adjust> Contrast and bump it up a couple notches to make the background a crisp, bright white. Adjusting the color, adding filters and other fancy tools will slowly break down the resolution of the photo, so less is more. If you don't have Photoshop, go here for a free trial.

Hope this helps RNESTers!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday Wellspring: Beadwork by Amanda

The well is bubbling over with the excitement of being able to bring you what you requested: a giveaway from Beadwork by Amanda!!

Amanda is giving away any pendant in her shop, valued up to $17.50 - yes, indeed, that includes several gorgeous circuit pendants that you were all so interested in! And here's a little more information about how Amanda creates these upcycled works of art:

Recycled circuit boards are hand cut and ground into a variety of shapes. The boards rest in bezel cups and are covered in clear resin. These circuit pendants also work excellent as key chains.

Now, in addition to being an artisan of amazing beadwork and upcycled creations, Amanda is also planning and hosting a new, indie arts and crafts show: MayDay! Underground. Located right in the heart of downtown Rochester on May Day (May 1st), this show promises to be a feast for the eyes, ears, and soul with lots of beautiful and unique crafts and works of art, plus live bands! Check out the site and apply to be a vendor if you're a local artist or grab a coupon and plan to attend if you're in the area!

Now, for the giveaway rules (This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY!!):
MANDATORY ENTRY #1: Go to Beadwork By Amanda, heart the shop, and then leave a comment here telling me your favorite item.

MANDATORY ENTRY #2: Become a follower of this blog and leave a comment letting me know- or if you are already, leave a comment saying you're a loyal follower.

BONUS ENTRIES (leave a separate comment for each):

5. Tweet and blog about this giveaway and leave a comment here with the link.
6. Bonus entry for Rochesterians: Add the MayDay! Underground badge to your blog or print and hang a flier at your place of work.
The winner will be chosen using the random number generator on Tuesday, March 16 and will be announced in the next Wednesday Wellspring.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Make- it Mondays: Why Our Street Team Works

On my personal blog, Buenahelena, I wrote about the recent successes in my Etsy shop today, and I owe much, if not all, of it to this team.

So, David Letterman style, The Top 5 Reasons Why Our Team Works:

5. We're held accountable by real people we have to face each month.
4. Bad things don't seem so unmanagable, when you can share Etsy horror stories with other sellers.
3. Word of mouth works a lot better when there are a lot of mouths
2. We freely swap everything, from ideas, to advice to market connections.
1. Because we're from Rochester and we're fueled by garbage plates! (see below)

***Here is Garbage Plate 2.0 by Michelle of The Quilted House (the plate) and Karen of Duncan Creative ( the hamburger)! Version 3.0 to be continued by Carol (me) of Buenahelena.***

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday Wellspring: What Are You Looking For?

It is with great excitement that I announce the winner of Peaches Products adorable needle felted owl: our very own buenahelena #13!! Congratulations, Carol!

And now, as I prepare for the next round of giveaways, I want to take a few moments to hear from our constituents. What are you looking for?

  1. 1. Do you like the Wednesday Wellspring weekly giveaway feature in the blog?

  2. 2. Who would you just love to see a giveaway item from? Take a look at our list of shops at the top of the blog. Let me know who you'd like and I'll do my best!

3. Any suggestions for improvement?

I appreciate any feedback and suggestions to help me make this weekly post as amazing as I can. And just as a token of my appreciation, I'll use to select one of you to receive a fabulous prize from my shop! So, get to suggesting!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Make- it Mondays: The Whole Package

From Buenahelena!
There are many reason why Etsy has been so wildly successful. The piles of unique, one of a kind items. The assurance of knowing who made the item your buying, the quality of their working conditions and the equity of their wages. Beyond all that good stuff, is that lovely feeling of getting something great in the mail. Not your email, twitter or facebook. Something in that little metal box at the end of your driveway. It's delicious and it keeps buyers coming back.

How can you make an irresistible and professional package with each item you send out?

1. Brand: Always include a business card for your shop. Create your own invoices with your brand and logo as the header. Stamp your items and packages (perhaps with a personalized stamp from JackBear Stamps). Stay within your shop style throughout the whole package. For example I upcycle a lot, so I've used silly things like Mighty Taco tray paper for my gift wrap. (Clean of course.)

2. Have you own Back: Print your shop's return policies and contact info on the back of your invoice if possible. Many folks don't bother to read it on your Etsy profile and it's better for them to know your policies and willingness to remedy problems before getting negative feedback.

3. Beautify: Make your package look awesome. Stock up on: Gift boxes, gift wrap, patterned packaging tape (now sold at JoAnn's), stickers, handmade envelopes. I recently sold something to someone who lives within 2 miles of me, but she wanted me to ship her item simply for the joy of the packaging!

4. Butter up: Send a personal thank you. Add a coupon code to your note or the back of your business card to show return shoppers your gratitude and persuade them to shop again. Give a small freebie, ie. Anything you'd sell for a dollar or less like magnets, key chains, samples items, a tiny zine or an artist trading card.

5. Branch out: Promote your team with a pack of business cards from other team members. Create a stand alone team business card promoting your blog or team website. Make a flier of upcoming shows or markets you'll be attending.

Follow these five B's. When you take each step of a transaction seriously, buyers will appreciate it and come back. They may very well bring back more buyers with them too. Let me hear what your put in your packages!