July 27, 2010

Lucky Finds

I just returned from a mini-vacation to my fella’s parents’ farm, which (much to my surprise) turned out to be a working-vacation of sorts. I’m not complaining, though; since my crafting time is at a premium these days, getting to work on some stuff for the store was a much-welcomed bonus (and one that I took full advantage of!) As a result of a Saturday afternoon spent crafting (and bonding) with R's mom, instead of showing up empty-handed at the store for my shift on Thursday night, I will be arriving with 17 (seventeen!!) new spaghetti necklaces. Some of them are the “classic” multi-strand design, but I’ve added a couple new styles to the mix – with beads and clasps and charms, oh my! I’m so excited to get them up on my wall!

The other big excitement of this past weekend was getting to dig through a wagon and two sheds on the farm in search of rusty stuff. I would’ve needed a u-haul to even make a dent in what I found, so I kept it to what would fit in one rusty bucket. Ok, two rusty buckets. Some of the stuff is too precious to part with, like the butter churn bowl and horseshoe, but some of it will be upcycled and put up for sale in the shop and on the Etsy. First up will be a collection of dragonflies made from salvaged metal and rusty nails…just as soon as I buy a good pair of tin snips!

July 19, 2010


Just when I was about to give up on my Etsy shop*, I received an awesome Alchemy request – 17 custom domino pins for a buyer in New Jersey. It’s a rush-job (they need them by the 28th of July), but they are willing to pay for express shipping to get them there by the deadline.

I am always happy to receive an order, but the timing couldn’t be better for this one. I am all caught-up on stuff for the store and have everything I need to immediately get started, except for the little quotes. One quick stop at Staples to print them on the way home, and I am good to go!

Can you tell I am excited about this project?

*No, not really...I'm not throwing in the Etsy-towel. I still heart the Etsy.

July 18, 2010

The Return of Shop Girl.

As part of our membership in "the collective", we each have to work a certain number of hours in the store. For me, that means two Saturdays (12-5) and two Thursdays (5:30-9). To be honest, at first I thought that it was too much of a commitment for me and the 20 or so hours per month would be time that I could spend doing other stuff.

It turns out, though, that the two shifts I worked this week were 10 of my most-productive hours, as far as crafting time was concerned. I brought my 75% finished pillows with me on Thursday night and managed to hand-stitch them all shut and attach their hang-tags. And, as I finished each one, I just walked over and added them to my display and by the end of the night, I had quite an impressive stack.

I didn't add anything new to my display yesterday, but I did manage to organize a bunch of stuff, finish some necklace cords, make a few new scrabble tile pendant bases, and fix 3 necklaces that have been dogging me for ages. If I had been home, I never would have done any of that...the lure of the lawnmower, dishwasher, laundry room and (ok, I'll admit it) couch would have been too great.

That said, I would have been just as happy...or even happier...if I had been too busy with customers to work on stuff, but that'll come in time, once word gets out.

July 15, 2010

Preparation is everything!

Last night was a pillow party at my house!

The other day, I arrived at work an hour early and had a rare chance to spread my stuff out on the big warehouse tables. In less than 60 mins, I managed to cut (and pin*) a dozen pillows from my latest cache of pre-loved t-shirts. I can’t even tell you how much of a difference it made to have that part of the job behind me when it came time to sew last night. All I had to do was grab my little stack (organized by colour for better thread-changing efficiency), sit down at my machine, and GO! An hour later, I was back on the couch with my pile of pillow covers, happily stuffing them with fluffy feather forms. I didn’t get the openings blind-stitched before bedtime, but I am planning to do that while I mind the shop tonight.

My faves: Bruce Lee (seriously) and Mario, of Mario Brothers fame.

* yes, I finally bought new, sharp pins.

July 12, 2010

Nailing jello to a tree.

Today I wrote on the Winnipeg ECO Collective blog that getting artists organized is akin to nailing jello to a tree. It conjures up a hilarious mental image…just as long as you are not the one holding the hammer. I can only imagine how frustrating it can be, but try as I might not to fall into the “jello” group, in this case I was definitely one of the wigglers! See, the thing is, not only am I generally over-scheduled, but I am a chronic procraftstinator. I’m sure that I drove Jody positively mental in her efforts to get me to meet with her and commit to the collective; then, as the opening date started to loom, getting me to come in and set up my stuff.

Jody was persistent, though, and I have to credit her for not giving up on me! 8 hours (!!!) before our invite-only preview on Saturday night, I was in the shop getting my shelves hung and fluffing my pillows. (I’m sure that if I had left it any later than that, Jody would have attached me to the wall and left me there as art!) What can I say? I was having issues with my display materials and the opening coincided with an inventory count that was called at short-notice at the day-job. Gah!

Excuses (and a few new grey hairs) aside, I think I can honestly say that we pulled it off. By the time R and I arrived at the shop on Saturday night, it was full of smiling, champagne-drinking people who had nothing but wonderful things to say about the shop and all of the amazing goods on display. After making the rounds, it was fun to stand back and watch people say “wow!” when they came through the door, and then “ooh and ahh” as they made their way around the shop. Granted, they were “friends & family”, but they looked like a fairly honest, unbiased bunch.

I suppose the true test will come tomorrow when we open the doors to the public. We’ll see if I sleep tonight at all, or if I let my excitement/nerves get the better of me. Of course, if that happens, I can always use the time to make a spaghetti necklace to replace the one I sold during the party!

July 7, 2010

El Cheap-o Display-o

One of the biggest challenges that I have been faced with since starting my crafty business is how to display my product effectively and affordably. While there are hundreds of commercial display options out there on the market, most are prohibitively priced; especially when you are trying to *make* more money, not *spend* more money. Spinners, racks and stands all add up to a big expense and are often a gamble for a crafter who is still trying to figure things out and who is faced with the challenge of different table sizes/set-ups at nearly every sale.

The opening of the shop is proving to be an interesting exercise because it is forcing me to come up with something that not only follows my esthetic, but that of the store itself; plus, whatever I come up with has to be both fabulous AND frugal. Thankfully, “my colours” (black & white) are the same as the shop colours and Jody has all sorts of things for me to appropriate. So far, I have ganked a bench, 2 empty frames, a magnet board, a curio cabinet, a towel bar (for hanging t-shirts) and a shelf…at least, I *think* there’s a shelf.

My only big headache (so far, knock wood) has been trying to find something to go inside the frames to hold my pendants and pins. My first thought was to upcycle a bulletin board or two; they’re everywhere, right? Wrong. Then I went in search of new cork, which turned out to be both frustrating and expensive. Ceiling tiles? Homosote? Nope. Nope. I finally decided on peg board, but only on the condition that I could avoid using big, ugly pegs. I came up with the brilliant solution of using machine screws while wandering the aisles of Home Depot last night. The #10s fit the holes in the peg board *perfectly* and I can use them two different ways – head-out for the pendants and shaft-out (ooh, that sounds really inappropriate!) for the carded pins. Total cost for pegboard and screws for two frames? Less than $15.

July 6, 2010

Holy shirts!

With the mascot away at the lake, I have been making more frequent visits to Value Village in search of cool, upcyclable goods. As with any thrift store, sometimes you luck-out and sometimes you leave empty-handed.

Thankfully, my last couple of visits have been of the lucky variety. Last night I scored 2 awesome t-shirts, 2 boxes of rare, vintage dominoes (double 9s!!), a couple old books, the original “Careers” board game, a weird stock exchange card game, and a vintage Ouija board* (which I was almost afraid to bring into the house…).

Anyway, I was so excited by my haul that I raced home and got straight to work cutting up a pile of t-shirts that will (hopefully) be fabulous, smooshy pillows by bedtime tonight. Or, at least by the time the shop opens on the 13th…

*Fun fact: did you know that Ouija boards were made in Salem? Heh.

July 2, 2010


July already? How did that happen?

For the past 2 weeks I have been telling everyone that the shop will be "opening in July", and, even though I am fully aware that July follows June, for some reason it seemed like such a far-away, abstract concept. It's a whole 'nother month, for pete's sake! Now that we are two days into it, though, July is very, very real and I am *this close* to calling a craftemergency. Or, at the very least, red-flagging everything on my "to-do/to-glue" list...