Monday, January 31, 2011

Make-It Mondays: Navigating CPSIA law

Are these lovable nubbins, created by our very own KiraArts...dangerous?

If you make handmade products for children PLEASE read this. If you make products for teens and up well...... breathe a sigh of relief.

Since 2007, toys and other products for children have come under heavy scrutiny. After lead and other dangerous chemicals were found in many toys outsourced to China for production, the United States created an act to prevent that from happening again. That is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This act regulates any product made for persons under the age of 12. It requires testing, certification and labeling of all such items, which can cost upwards to $4,000!

That's easy for the big toy companies. Insanely difficult though, no scratch that, IMPOSSIBLE for most small, handmade toy businesses. It is especially unfair, because the dangerous toys came from manufacturing plants and companies that had nothing to do with them. Independent, homegrown makers seemingly have two choices: quit all together or carry on illegally at their own risk.

There was an Etsy forum dedicated strictly to CPSIA discussions. This has now moved to an official team page called Keeping Up With The CPSIA. Their discussion threads are public and voice many of the concerns Etsians have, along with updates on the act. These updates are of utmost importance, since they communicate stays (or holds) on regulations and specific item regulations.

Are there solutions for those who want to continue following their passion to sell children's items on Etsy and at local art markets? Here are some ideas...

1. Don't state outright that your product is for children if you don't have to for now. Anyone going in to catch you on this act could hit a gray area trying to prove certain products are specifically for children.

2. Have a disclaimer at local shows and markets. Clearly label if your work is not CPSIA regulated at your booth. This puts some ownership on the buyer.

3. Inform the public about CPSIA. Put a pamphlet out at shows explaining what CPSIA is. Leave links on your blogs and shop items. Many people want to buy quality, handmade goods for their kids and will be upset to find out they may not be able to in the near future.

4. Contact your local, state and federal government about your concerns. Those affected have to be the voice of change.

You can access every nook, cranny and change of the act on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission government website. There is detailed information from the makers side about CPSIA on The Handmade Toy Alliance website. Etsy also created a CPSIA Action Kit for sellers.

This is important for ALL Etsy sellers and the buyers who want what we can create. Spread the word!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Wellspring: Jackbear Stamps

Congratulations to Merv And Dolores for starting the year out right and winning this month's team challenge.

And bubbling up from the well with a giveaway this week is Friday's blog favorite and Etsian extraordinaire: Jackbear Stamps!

This "OMG" stamp is hand carved by jackbear himself.  He used a vinyl rubber material known as PZ Kut.  It is mounted on 6 mm black foam.  Jackbear thought about this digital texting system we have, and thought it would be funny to take the digital back to analog, and take it back to ink and paper.  He envisioned people communicating on paper with this stamp, instead of on a computer or cell phone, "OMG, it's a rubber stamp!"

And now for the rules (This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE!):

MANDATORY ENTRY #1: Go to Jackbear Stamps, 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):
1. "Like" Jackbear Stamps on Facebook!
2. "Like" RNEST on Facebook.
3. Tweet and blog about this giveaway and leave a comment here with the link.

The winner will be chosen using the random number generator on Tuesday, February 1 and will be announced in the next Wednesday Wellspring.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Treasury Tuesday: Staying Cozy

If you live in Western NY, you know that the past few days have been COLD, with temperatures as low as -6 degrees and wind chill as low as -22 degrees! Brrrrrr! So to fight off those chills, I invite you to sit down with a hot cup of coffee, chai, hot cocoa or tea, let the cat curl up on your lap, and enjoy these items that remind us to stay cozy!

*All items in this treasury are either by RNEST members, or artisans based in or near Rochester, NY!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Make-it Mondays: Studio Visit #8 Beadwork By Amanda

This week's studio visit is with a veteran seller and long time RNESTer, Amanda Preske, of Beadwork By Amanda. Amanda opened her Etsy shop in 2006 and and is an art market pro. Since then she has gone on to have her work published in a book and co-founded Mayday Underground Crafts and Art here in Rochester, NY. All while working towards a Phd!!! So how does she do it?

Buenahelena: Where do you work/where is your studio?
Beadwork By Amanda: My primary work space is the lime craft room. I also have amassed equipment that is considerably messy that is used in the basement. It is so awesome to have my own space. Previously, I lived in a one bedroom apartment so the living room and dining room became my studio. It was a terrible arrangement and bits of circuit board and beads wound up everywhere.

B: What is your medium or product?
BBA: On Etsy, my product is jewelry and accessories made with recycled circuit boards and resin. I make bracelets, necklaces, rings, cuff links and tie tacks, key chains, and dabble in other product types. I also have a second shop that focuses on resin kits and tutorials. Off Etsy, I make beaded and beadwoven jewelry, felt key chains, and magnets that I sell at shows and festivals. My studio space is also used for the random scrapbook or art projects.

B: What is the biggest challenge about your space and how have you worked through it?
BBA: The biggest challenge has been organizing the space. It’s the largest bedroom in my house, but I still struggle to find space for everything. I have divided my room into zones that are all used for specific tasks. The green counter is where I make non-resin jewelry, and the pine desk is for resin work. The small desk and black counter are for order processing and packaging, administrative stuff, and a space for anything else that doesn’t have a spot. When we were transitioning from living in the apartment to moving in, we remodeled the kitchen, so I commandeered the cabinets which offer a lot of storage for my zillions of beads and tools. The basement is where I keep the messy circuit board cutting supplies.

B: Describe a typical day at the studio.
BBA: Since I am a PhD student, there is, unfortunately, no typical day. Sometimes I’ll be in there in the early morning packing an order, or up really late doing resin. I usually spend all day Sunday cutting circuit board, photographing stuff made on Saturday, and making new beaded jewelry. I usually reserve updating my shop to weekdays when I have downtime (like when I’m waiting for a reaction to run).

B: What do you love the most about being a crafter/artist/etsy seller?
BBA: I love the fact that I have complete control over everything I do. My success is directly proportional to the amount of effort I put in. Creating comes naturally so I don’t feel like I’m being forced to do or understand something. Etsy is wonderful because I can reach customers all over the world and the cost is very low. Etsy doesn’t require an 8 hour day at a $300 booth that might result in a terrible sunburn! I also love that my space is totally mine. I’ve avoided making the whole house lime green, so my craft room is my place to go wild and put up whatever I want.

Thanks for sharing you space and process with us Amanda! You can visit Amanda's Etsy shop here: .Be sure to come out to the third installment of Mayday Underground on May 7, 2011 at the Main Street Armory or apply to be in the show online, here:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jack's Pick: Recycled Spoon Pendant by sunshynesilverware

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!

This week I have found a wonderful recycled spoon pendant called "Birds on a Wire" by Erin of sunshynesilverware!

So I don't really need to explain the simplicity of this item, do I?
It's a spoon!

But seriously, it's simplicity is what makes it wonderful! I love when everyday items like a spoon are transformed into something new. This humble spoon is elevated to art. Erin captures the simplicity with simple pictures or graphic designs.

I love the black and white of this silhouette of the birds. As Erin says in her description, the resin gives it a 3D effect. In fact, you can see the shadow of the birds behind the silhouettes in the background! I also like that nothing goes to waste in Erin's studio apparently, since she also makes pendants from the spoon handles as well!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Wellspring: January Team Challenge: Start Your New Year Out Right!

Welcome one and all to this month's team challenge: Start your new year out right. We have a host of great contenders vying for your vote this month!

Cast your vote for your favorite on the poll in the upper, right corner of the blog.

And the first contender, starting her new year out right with a new line of woodland creatures:

Next, this artist says this about her interpretation of the theme: "empty wine bottles, need I say more?":

And trying new things to start this year out right is:

And entering the new year with a new design is:

And, welcoming the new year with vintage greetings, is:

And, starting the new year with a cheerful, sunny disposition, though still slightly grouchy, is:

And, with her new line of recycled boxes to ring in the new year, is:

And, starting the new year out right with a fun party, is:

With a new design and new item in the shop for the new year, is:

Saying every year is better if we start it out with love is:

And our final entry comes with the goal to remember others' birthdays this new year, but just in case...:

Cast your vote on the upper right of the sidebar to determine who's really starting the new year out right! 

Wednesday Wellspring Pre-Game: Winner of The Quilted House Giveaway

Or, I should say winners! Facebook fans will know that I said if we get over 100 entries, I'll draw two winners and we weighed in at a whopping 128 entries! And to thank you all for playing, I decided to draw THREE winners! You'll each get your choice of Jotter!

And the winners are:

#53: Michelle (I swear this isn't me!)
#88: Ms M
and #29: Oksana

Thanks for playing and stay tuned for this month's team challenge and next week's Wednesday Wellspring giveaway featuring Jackbear Stamps!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Treasury Tuesday: Purple Fiend by PeachesProducts

I can't take credit for this week's treasury. I decided to share the love and occasionally feature treasuries by other RNEST members, since they make some gorgeous ones! This amethyst-hued beauty was compiled by our own Peaches Products and features two RNESTers...The Quilted House and KiraArts (me!). I'm loving the purple color scheme!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Make-it Mondays: Studio Visit #7 Sunshyne Silverwear

It's baaaa-aaaack! Another studio visit with one of our newest Rochester NY Etsy Street Team members, Erin Gursslin of Sunshyne Silverware. I was lucky enough to get one of her pieces this Christmas from my boyfriend and I love it! You can visit her Etsy store and website at these addresses: and .....

Buenahelena: Where do you work? Do you have a studio?
SUNSHYNE: This past weekend, my dad and I transformed my boyfriend's 'man cave' (AKA : extra bedroom) into my work studio. Previously, I worked in the living room, but as I needed more space to work, my projects started creeping all over the house and in recent months pretty much took over the living room, kitchen and hall closet. I'm so excited to finally have a studio where everything can be done in one space.

B: What is your medium or product?
I fashion pendants from recycled silverware (mostly spoons) using a wide range of materials for the art. Everything from glitter, wire pressed flowers, paint and buttons, to photos, stamps, paper, altered art and sequins. Pretty much anything goes when it comes to my creativity.

B: What is the biggest challenge about your space and how have you worked through it?
S: I have been working at my craft for about 2 years now, and previous to having my own studio, my house was a constant explosion of works in progress. I was tired of coming home, after a hard days work, to a house in disarray. I finally found the time (and the money) to take a couple of days out and custom build my own workspace. I figured that because I really want my business to grow, this was the obvious next step.

B: Describe a typical day at the studio...
S: A typical day in the studio would consist of getting up about 3 hours before I have to go to work, check and/or update my etsy, email, weather, google analytics, facebook fan page and so on then get any orders packed and ready to ship. After work is when the real fun begins. I usually work on spoons till about midnight while watching TV, or listening to music.

B: What do you love the most about being an artist/crafter/etsy seller?
S: What I love most, is that it is one of the only times i can do what i want, when I want, how I want. It's a feeling of freedom for me. Also, when I'm working on a project, all of the stress of the day melts away, like it never happened. Some people like meditation, I like zoning out on a batch of spoons for a few hours. When work doesn't seem like work, you know you've found the right job.

Thank you Erin for sharing your creative process! If you are a team member who would like a studio profile on the blog, please go to our team forum.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Jack's Pick: Snowy Tree Line Photgraphy by lovenaturephotos

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!

Here in Rochester, we endure some harsh winter conditions. Lake effect is a dirty word to most. The cold winter wind cuts through to our core. But even in the frigid middle of winter, in the deepestsnow, most people here at some point or another in the year go, "Boy, it sure is pretty out today."

Aimee Maher of lovenaturephotos finds beauty in our darkest months. Her shop name is so fitting, and I'm right there with you, "I love nature photos," too! Aimee has taken some enjoyable winter landscapes that capture what it really looks like out the window in the throws of January.

The photo I have selected, called "Snowy Tree Line" I like most for its depth. It leads you into the photo, and takes you on a journey down a snowy path. It reminds me of Robert Frost. It reminds me of the words to Jingle Bells. It is the kind of road I want to take a stroll down to find a warm fire and a cup of hot cocoa at the other end.

I love the curly branches too.

Right now Aimee has a "BOGO" sale on (Buy One, Get One), and you can order this print and another in whatever size you want.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Wellspring: The Quilted House

Bubbling up from the well this week is yours truly: The Quilted House with a giveaway to announce my BRAND NEW blog and Facebook Fan Page!

And just for letting me announce that, you get to enter to win one of my most popular items this holiday season: The Jotter, a mini notepad holder! One lucky winner will get the choice of any Jotter in my shop, or a custom Jotter made from any of the fabrics in my shop. These mini notepad holders are completely quilted, boast two coordinating colorful fabrics, and come with a mini mechanical pencil and notepad - both of which can be replaced, so this little baby will just keep on giving!

And now for the rules (This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE!):

MANDATORY ENTRY #1: Go to The Quilted House, 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):
1. Become a follower of the *BRAND NEW* The Quilted House blog!
2. "Like" The Quilted House on its *BRAND NEW* Facebook Fan Page!
3. "Like" RNEST on Facebook.
4. Tweet and blog about this giveaway and leave a comment here with the link.

The winner will be chosen using the random number generator on Tuesday, January 18 and will be announced in the next Wednesday Wellspring.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Treasury Tuesday: I'll Fly Away (plus a Bonus Treasury!)

If you get to know a few of our RNEST Members, you'll find out that some of them have a special place in their hearts for birds. This soft spot for feathered friends is often manifested in the pieces they make. This treasury features work from RNEST members Peaches Products, SunShyne Silverwear, In My Head Studios, Merv and Delores, and JackBear Stamps... and is filled out by other Etsy artists.

Last week, when I was trying to think of a good theme for this week's Etsy Treasury, I happened to look at the calender and realized that today was 1/11/11...which inspired me to make this treasury with items with ones and elevens...

Sadly, I couldn't find any RNEST members' items to put in this treasury as I'd originally planned (which is why this is a bonus treasury instead of the main treasury), but I went ahead and scoured the rest of Etsy for items with ones or elevens (or 2011). And even with the thousands of sellers on Etsy to choose from, this theme was still a bit challenging.

Happy 1/11/11!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Make-it Mondays: Double Agents

Have you ever thought about opening a second Etsy shop? Several people on our Rochester NY Etsy street team already have two (or three). These double agents have taken on twice the work. Should you too? Could you? There are many threads about opening and managing two shops on the Etsy forums including this one posted today.

Quick Checklist: When should you become a double agent?
  1. When you have a line(s) of items that really doesn't fit the demographic/style/medium of everything else in your shop. It's something you don't want to give up but don't have a place for already.
  2. When you want to offer items from widely separate categories. Example: making one store for jewelry and another for bulk jewelry supplies.
  3. When you have the time for it. If one shop is already crazy, think seriously about whether you want to take on another. You don't want one shop getting jealous of the other ;)
Check out what our RNEST members have done:
  1. MFCrafts + MFVintage
  2. GocksFrocks + BettysCloset
  3. JusticeJewelry + BeadHaven2
  4. BeadworkByAmanda +HappyRainbow
  5. Fuzzybunny + FuzzyBunnyFibers
  6. Aimeescreations4U + LoveNaturePhotos
I'd like to thank the team at tonight's meeting for this great blog idea. RNESTer's let me know if you're a double agent and send us the link!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Treasury Tuesday: I (Heart) Rubber Stamps!

Sometimes Tuesday Treasuries consist of exclusively RNEST members, like they have been since December, but other times I create a treasury based on a particular RNESTer's item, using other items from all over Etsy. This week's treasury is inspired by an item by JackBear Stamps (top left-hand corner)...

I've always had a special place in my heart for rubber stamps. It is a love instilled in me by my mother (who owns gobs and gobs of them and used them for card-making). Rubber stamps are a great way to add a little personalization to anything. And it doesn't just have to be on paper! When you use Staz-On ink, you can even use rubber stamps on surfaces like fabric and tile.

For example, I made a drawstring bag and used a custom stamp I'd ordered from JackBear to stamp the design...

The great thing about these rubber stamps is that they are handmade items that can help you make your own handmade items! Happy stamping! :D

Monday, January 3, 2011

Make-it Mondays: 2011 Trend Forecasting

THIS time, the time after the holidays, is the most wonderful time of the year. The dust settles and we take stock of what we want to keep or trash for a fresh new year. The same goes for your Etsy shop. Here are some trends the trendfinders are buzzing about.

Quality Handmade Items: It's been on the news and people are posting about it in the forums on Etsy. Good news for us, huh? Make your work well, photograph it well, and promote it with a story. People are tired of cold corporate crap.

Color: Hugely important each year. On Etsy's Facebook page fans were invited to tell the world which colors they would choose through Etsy Colors this year. They had A LOT of opinions. Each year Pantone, the official color kings of well...everything, choose the it color of the year. Last year was PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise. In 2011 it's all about PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle . That's right men, pink is taking over! More specific colors were handpicked in this great color trend treasury as well.

Big, Big Jewelry: Handmade News is talking about jewelry trends for 2011, including large jewels, wide cuff bracelets and arm bands and chokers (yah, don't know how I feel about that one).

Hello Craft is talking about a couple fashion trends that affect your 2011 sales:

The 1970's: It feels like this millenium can't get it's head together, and keeps stealing from the final three decades of last century. For vintage sellers that's all good though. Get that 70's fabric, dishware, clothing and accessories out.

Geometry and Intricate Patterns: Whether you make items to wear, use or just appreciate as art, consider adding geometric shapes and pattern to your designs. There is a nice contract of minimal and complex happening if you can harness it.

Bottom line though...YOU make the trends. Go with what you love and incorporate a couple trends for fun. What will you add to your work this year?