Kewpie Doll Reminder and Margot’s Survey

Blogged under CFEs/Contests by Tammy on Thursday 31 July 2008 at 6:30 am

Kewpie DollsHave you started decorating your Kewpie Doll yet? Nope, me either, but don’t forget about The Impatient Crafter’s Happy Cute Make Kewpie Doll Challenge 2008. We still have time. The deadline isn’t until September 5th, but considering this is the last day of August, we need to move it from the back burner to one of the front burners pretty soon.

While you are over at the Impatient Crafter’s blog reading up on the Kewpie doll contest rules, take a minute also and participate in a brief poll she has going on. Seriously, it took me about a minute to take it.

From her blog post, it sounds like Margot has a lot of possible opportunities in the works. I know it can really be difficult when you are used to juggling so many different things to stop now and then and try to focus on what exactly you want to do. I hope the poll helps. She actually gave me a little to think about as well.

Sell Handmade, Buy Handmade

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Wednesday 30 July 2008 at 8:00 am

Young Punks T-ShirtI’ve always been a believer in supporting other crafters. It only makes sense. If I am selling my handmade work and making a living teaching others to craft, then I should be a buyer of handmade items as well.

Sometimes, that isn’t always easy. It’s not like there is a craft fair going on at every corner. Also, sometimes it is difficult to find the right gift for the right person, that includes non-handmade items as well.

I had a dilemma like this recently to deal with. My nephews’ birthdays are coming up next month. One will be turning 6 and the other 3. I’m not good at buying toys. In fact, I normally find out from their mom what to get and order it on Amazon because (a) I know zip about toys these days and (b) the few times I’ve attempted to buy them at a toy store or toy department, I’ve noticed most of the toys have already been played with. I don’t want to buy them used toys, especially when they are supposed to be new!

Since I’m in the Etsy pool now, I decided to attempt some shopping for them over there, and I’m happy to say I think I hit the jackpot with a shop called Young Punks. They make very cool t-shirts for kids (see the image pictured above, which is from one of the shirts I purchased). In fact, I had a hard time picking which ones to buy for them, so they may end up getting more of these from me at a later time if they are well-received. I wanted something they could both open at the big double-birthday bash, and then I’ll probably slip their mom a little mulla to get whatever else they need/want.

Luckily, due to sites like Etsy (and I know they aren’t the only ones out there on the web), it is almost like having a craft fair on every corner, and better yet, I can shop from my PC. I’m not saying that I will be able to buy all my future gifts from crafters, but I am going to make more of an effort to do that this year. If I can’t make it myself, then someone else probably can. It’s just a matter of finding them.

Crafty Princess Asks You to, “Say cheese!”

Blogged under My Crafty News by Tammy on Tuesday 29 July 2008 at 6:35 am

Finally, I am thrilled to announce that I have a new camera, a Kodak EasyShare C813 8.2MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom (in teal no less). My old digital camera is probably going on ten years old! Not only is it heavy and clunky, but due to my most recent PC up-grade I realized I no longer had a port for the cable so I could download pictures. I checked into an adapter, and that was going to be $40! Considering how cheap cameras are these days, I just couldn’t see paying that much when I could buy a whole new camera for a little more.

I knew I have needed a new camera for years, really, but whenever I would start looking around and ask other people what they used, I would just get overwhelmed. So, I figured at least I had one and knew how to use it. Then, the final straw came. I recently interviewed a famous glass artist, Harvey Littleton, for an article I’m writing, and I took some pictures of his Florida gallery. However, when I went to check the pictures and try to figure out how to download them, I realized that only one showed up on my camera, the outside of the building! Crap! None of the other pictures, for whatever reason, were on my camera.

But, my knight in shining armor, my husband, came to the rescue. They had just purchased some of these Easy Share cameras for his engineering office. They are inexpensive (about $100) and easy to use. They even have telephoto capability, so for jewelry and other crafts, that’s a big plus. On the way home from work, he ran by Wal-Mart (a sacrifice in itself since we both loath that place), and bought one for me. I literally just got it last night so I haven’t done much other than play around with it, but I’ll keep you posted. Hopefully, once I can actually post pictures again on this blog (another technical issue I’m dealing with now!), I can show you some great crafting pictures.

Crafty Princess Jewelry Supplies Go International!

Blogged under Crafty Biz,etsy by Tammy on Sunday 27 July 2008 at 5:40 pm

When I first opened my Etsy shop, I figured I would go with the KISS method. That meant accepting PayPal only and shipping domestic. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around more than that, and the idea of dealing with shipping products out of the country seemed like a royal PIA to me.

Well, now that my shop is full(er) and I’m feeling more into the Etsy swing of things, I asked around on their forums for help and ideas, and finally, after a lot of rig-a-morol this weekend, I have updated all my previous listing to include shipping to Canada and Everywhere else. I’ve also added a few new pieces from my old days as a fused glass girl, which I miss. In fact, with all this de-stashing and reorganizing, I’m struggling with what to do with my mess of a glass studio in the dungeon we call the garage.

But, more on that problem later, for now, I’m happy to say that you could live in Timbucktwo and I could send you some beads or one of my fine silver charms (stars still seem to be pretty popular). I tried to keep the shipping costs as low as possible while still covering my own costs, and I was surprised to find that shipping rates outside of the US aren’t so bad. In fact, for anyone out there thinking of doing the same thing, The Beading Tree has an awesome postage chart up that divides the world into various zones. So, “Hello, World!”

Life is Too Short: Roll the Clay, String the Beads, Cut the Wire!

Blogged under Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Saturday 26 July 2008 at 1:12 pm

When time permits, I occasionally stop by a fellow teacher’s office for some hot tea. He has a special hot pot that allows him to heat up a fair amount of water, and late in the afternoon a few of us often stop by for a brief chat and hot tea break. I bring my own Earl Grey tea bag, and others bring their personal favorites as well and maybe cookies now and then. Every onces in a while, I’ll see some cheesy bag of Lipton in the mix, ick. What amazes me is that they will not spring for the good stuff when we are talking about less than a dime per bag. Maybe it’s that they aren’t that discriminating, but seriously, anyone who drinks hot tea regularly must be able to tell the difference. For me, I think life is too short to drink hot Lipton when I can have my Earl Grey.

And the same goes for craftying. I am always fighting the urge to “save” my special supplies, the good stuff, for some kind of perfect project that I’ll make in the future. I maybe get this from my grandmother who kept new towels and sheets packed away in the linen closet to be used only for guests. I’m not sure who these guests where since I never saw these items being used. As a result, they stayed pretty and fresh and tucked away but were never enjoyed.

I’ve had the same problem with some gold metal clay my husband bought for me. He does this to me sometimes, buys me super expensive wonderful supplies that I’m terrified to use. Then he will ask me about them. Where are they? When am I going to make something with them?

With the clay, I kept thinking I would make prototypes of my designs in silver first and then, when I had perfected them, I’d use the gold. But, of course, the prototypes never materialized, and now I was running the risk of my clay getting older and older. One 3 gram package I had managed to open and use a few months ago when I was in the middle of working on my metal clay book. I was in the metal clay groove and feeling fairly confident, but even then, I kept to a couple of very simple designs. But, the other package was 10 grams! I don’t have to tell you that with the cost of gold now, the pressure was on, big time!

Finally, yesterday, I pulled all my metal clay tools out and cracked open the package and just went for it. I ended up making 9 charms, five of which I plan to use on a necklace design. I still kept the designs pretty simple, and I’m fairly sure they will work out. I just have to fire them, and as I type two charms are firing in my little hot pot.

Like my tea, I realized that it is just crazy not to use the good stuff! So, I challenge all of you to crack open your own special package of supplies that you have been hording and get busy! Life is too short!

Craft Bloggers Unite 07/25/08

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Friday 25 July 2008 at 3:34 pm

I finally managed to carve out a little craft time for myself today. I’ve been grading and grading and grading compositions endlessly lately, so today I allowed myself an hour of “play time.” It’s amazing how much more relaxed and better focused I feel. I try not to grade when I’m too grumpy because I don’t want it to affect my students’ grades. As it is, by this point in the semester I feel like screaming sometimes when I see a comma splice! But, just about a week and a half to go and I get a short break before fall semester begins. Needless to say, I’ve already started my craft “to do” list in anticipation of my time off. If you have been working way too hard lately, take a break and pick up some crafting ideas from my fellow craft bloggers.

About Family Crafts
In honor of the upcoming Summer Olympics, why not create your own backyard Olympic games! Cross Stitch
New to Cross Stitch? Learn the basic stitches and you will be well on your way!

Aileen’s Musings
This week Aileen’s showing you how to create your own carved mermaid stamp postcard. Don’t forget to leave a comment and enter her blog giveaway!

Craftside-A behind-the-scenes peek at a crafty world
Over at Craftside you can get your fill of funky chicken wire jewelry, organize your bits with a slice of wood, embellish virtually anything with a crochet bullion stitch embellishment, stitch a “fierce” plaid dress from a pair of pants, and learn how to make an ATC tag to label it all!

Crafty Princess Diaries
Are you a little “organic” sometimes when it comes to crafts? Sometimes “winging it” can be fun and productive as shown by these cool Blythe doll clothes crocheted by the Crafty Princess.

Layers Upon Layers
Anitra Cameron shares the story behind her enchanting “Coffee Pot People”

Stefanie Girard’s Sweater Surgery
The sweaters stayed in the drawer this week and crafts were made with a tiny globe and an empty cat shaped wine bottle.

The Impatient Blogger
Margot talks about crafting a life worth living in this contemplative post.

New Rio Catalog is Here

Blogged under Crafty Products by Tammy on Thursday 24 July 2008 at 3:37 pm

Rio Grande CatalogI got mine in the mail yesterday! Woot! Rio Grande’s new Gems and Findings catalog is out, so if you have ordered from them before you’ll probably get one in the mail soon. If you haven’t, you can order any of their catalogs through the company’s web site, or call them at their toll free number (1.800.545.6566).

Honestly, I would call them rather than go through the site for a few reasons. First of all, their site has got to be one of the worst vendor sites on the web. You have to get a special username/password from them to even be able to look anything, which I think it totally idiotic, and half the time I need to use the catalog to get the right search parameters to find anything, and that sort of defeats the purpose of using a web site in the first place. The one time I did order their the site, I guess it was user error, but I ended up ordering the wrong item. I was attempting to order dead soft wire and got half-hard instead. Also, on line it looks like they ask you to pay for the catalog, but I never have and know plenty of people who have also not had to pay for it. So, call them!

Crappy web site aside, Rio Grande otherwise is a great place to order jewelry supplies and are well-known for their quality customer service. If I had, for example, complained about the wire mix up when I ordered, more than likely they would have done something to make it up to me, but I’m not the type to complain…much. They also offer almost everything, from wire to kilns to beads. So, even though it’s tempting to price around, when you can pay for shipping costs once, sometimes it’s not worth trying to fine 10 things at 10 different places to save a few pennies. Generally, I find their prices pretty reasonable any way. Technically, they aren’t wholesale, but if you do buy in large quantities, the prices start to decrease as you buy more.

I noticed also they have a PMC catalog too on their site, which I tried to order but I don’t think it worked. Like I said, call them.

Jewelry Product Review Catch Up & Summer Blues

Blogged under Crafty Products by Tammy on Wednesday 23 July 2008 at 6:19 am

Last weekend, I had hoped to catch up on the stack of jewelry related products I’ve got waiting for review. I did manage to make a dent, including one book (entitled Mostly Metals) and a metal clay DVD by Sherri Haab. I also have a really cool chain maille kit from Urban Maille that I had to pass onto by husband because my whimpy hands decided not to cooperate when I started trying to assembly the 14-gauge jump rings that were part of the kit. I know he will actually really enjoy the kit because he took a chain making class a few years ago at our local rock club, so crossing fingers, he’ll humor me and get that done this next weekend and then report to me so I can write up that review.

Other than that, I have seven books and another DVD (this one on resin jewelry, yeah!) that I need to review. It bothers me when these sorts of tasks start stacking up. I really do try to keep up with them, but I also don’t want my Jewelry Making site to just be full of product reviews. I prefer it mainly to be full of projects (which take a good deal of time to design and write up) with a healthy sprinkling of related information. But, obviously, it is time to dig in and get serious about these books!

And, I love books of all kinds! I got one the other day, A Charming Exchange (see the Amazon add above) that looks amazing. It was all I could do not to start in on it right then and there, but paper grading has taken a major priority in my life these days. I’ve been teaching two composition classes this summer, and they are nearing the end, so that means lots and lots of grading and student hand-holding. (With about a week and a half left, this is about the time many students start getting concerned about their final grade.) Summer school is just so darn difficult!

Unfortunately, most students think that since summer sessions are shorter that means easier, but actually, it’s the other way around. You are trying to cram 16 weeks of curriculum into 6 weeks. Of course, some pairing down has to happen. For example, for one class they normally are required to read a novel and write a research paper on it. I switched that (and am actually thinking of doing this way in the fall too) so that they write the research paper on a play instead of a novel. This cuts down on the length of reading required, but they still get the experience of writing the research paper, which for many is their first time doing one.

But, it’s almost over, and during my brief break between this semester and fall semester, I will get to put my craft hat back on and wear it much longer. Needless to say, I have a huge list of “want to make” craft projects to do!

So, You Have a Few Craft Book Ideas, What Next?

Blogged under Getting Craft Work Published by Tammy on Tuesday 22 July 2008 at 6:31 am

Here is another article as part of my series in Getting Your Craft Work Published.

Even if you have never written a craft book before, anyone who is really into crafting seriously from time to time might have a book idea or two pop into her head. For those with more veteran book writing status, the ideas are probably coming out of your ears if you are anything like me. Of course, I’m not saying these are all good ideas, but they are a place to begin.

Once you do have an idea or two, what do you do next? Which one do you pursue and which one(s) get set aside on your back brain burner?

Well, unfortunately, the ideas are the easy part of this whole process. I can’t tell you how many well-meaning friends and family members have said to me, “Oh, Tammy, I have a great book idea for you.” As if I need their ideas, like they are doing me some kind of favor, which I believe they are sincere about.

So, first let me say a few things about your ideas. Do not try to push them off onto someone else, like me, to do for you. If you think it is a great idea, then go for it, but I doubt you’ll find any professional writer/crafter sitting out on the side of the road begging for design and writing ideas. Just isn’t going to happen.

If you have an idea and you are ready to take it on yourself, my other advice is to be careful who you talk to and how you talk to them. If it’s your mom, I think you can trust her (wink), but if you want to talk to an editor about it, document it. A casual phone conversation can easily become hazy after a year or two while a detailed email complete with a working title, table of contents, project overview, and project images attached may be more easily remembered. I’m not saying it protects you from someone borrowing your idea, and actually, you can’t even be sure your great idea wasn’t someone else’s at a publishers and already in the works. However, let’s just say I’m talking from experience here.

Once you have decided that you are ready to take on one of your great ideas, the next step is to figure out which one. Here are some things to think about as you try to focus on one:

  • What sort of titles are out now that have a similar focus? Make a list by either using Amazon or actually go to a bookstore.
  • How does your book idea add to what is already out there? How does it do it better or fill a void? You’ll want to include this type of information in your book proposal.
  • How are you positioned as an expert in the topic? Are you more of an expert in one book idea than the other (for example published work or awards you could point to in your proposal to show that “you” are the right person to write this book)?
  • Since it’s a good idea to have completed projects in the proposal, which of the book ideas do you already have some projects finished for that you could add to a proposal right away?

Answering these questions can help you narrow down and focus on one book idea at a time, which I know can be difficult. I’m actively talking with an editor now about one book idea and have four on my back burners, so that’s kind of the story of my life!

Expanding My Etsy Experience Via Teams

Blogged under etsy,Social Networking by Tammy on Sunday 20 July 2008 at 4:23 pm

eSmart TeamI really had no master plan about this, but some how I found myself joining an Etsy team. These are groups of people who are all members of and for various reasons “team up” with each other for a common cause, normally to help promote each other. There are tons and tons of teams on Etsy, and though I did at one point look at the lists and think about it, I held off for awhile because I was pretty much overwhelmed by the number of teams that exist and also wasn’t sure how much time I’d have to devote to one, and of course, time I never have a whole lot of!

Then one day I was hanging out at the Etys forums, something I’m doing way too much of lately, and I saw a post where someone mentioned the eSmart Team, a team devoted to exploring social networking as a way to help promote themselves. A little bell went off for me, and minutes later I was a member. I’m not sure how active I will be, but I’ve already got some blog posts set to publish near the end of this month on the group’s weblog, eSmart Team Blog.

Hopefully, I will be able to give as much as I get from this group when it comes to learning more about social networking. If nothing else, it will expand my Etsy experience, and hey I may get a few more fine silver star charms sold!

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