Sunday, May 31, 2009

100 Sales, Big Hairy Beads, and a Down Week

I made my 100th sale on etsy today so I quietly went "W00t!" I've been selling my beads since November 2008, so I'm quite pleased with that number, and sales have been picking up pace, so it makes me feel good about the future. I might not have to go out and find a real job afterall. :-)

Here's a picture of what I call My Big Hairy Beads. They look like some sort of sea creatures. Maybe I should call them Interstellar Megaplankton.

We are going to be tent camping in beautiful Palo Duro Canyon in Texas this week, but I'll bring you more incredible etsy talent next week. Enjoy your week!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Monsters For MS <3

While shopping etsy, you come upon a fair number of sellers who claim to give 10% from the sale of an item to charity. That's more than I've done at this point. But i recently chatted with an artist who not only donates 100% of the sales of her item to the MS Society of Canada, but she sews beautiful monsters! Seller blinkymuffin will ride in an upcoming fund-raising bike tour, and she says she has already sold 25 monsters, all of the sale price going straight to the cause! (See the "MONSTERS FOR MS" page on Facebook.) " Every monster will help make the next step (or pedal) towards a cure for MS." This is an artist with a huge heart and boundless creativity, as the variety of her monster designs will attest. So in purchasing a monster from this seller you can look forward to the warm fuzzy feeling from knowing you've donated to a worthy cause, PLUS the more tangible warm fuzzy of a cuddly, unique, hand-sewn monster of your own!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Very Special Glass Fish Beads

VanOliveLampwork, etsy seller, makes the most ingenious lampwork fish I've seen. These are wonderfully unique, and large, and organic. It is fun to speculate as to how they were made, since the artist says they are made "off mandrel". They are so tactile looking, with all the impressed eyes, and skeletons, scales/dots, and fins. And the fin placements... brilliant little tufts of fin!

Tomorrow, another seamstress of fantastic little pet monsters.

Sock Monkey Cards and Wonderful Creatures

I don't know what it is about sock monkeys (SMs) but i have posed and photographed mine, just as so many other people have (as a web search will attest). Teddy bear enthusiasts have photographed the objects of their obsession also, but teddy bears seem to end up in top hats and bonnets, and seated primly at picnic cloths spread with tea service, or am I stereotyping? Whereas SMs seem to be posed in real time, doing modern things, and usually aren't wearing much at all. Photographing SMs has become big business for Sockmonkeycards, an etsy seller, who photographs posed SMs and produces note cards. (Click on pic to go directly to her shop.) I am especially fond of the beach scenario photos, but also available is a full range of special occassion themed cards for everything from graduations, to birthdays, to Father's Day.
CreaturesNorthwest is a wonderfully creative maker of sewn creatures and an etsy seller. So many of her creations have sentimental appeal to me that i found it difficult to pick two for illustration here! From the artist: "I do use new socks, new gloves, and recycled sweaters when making creatures.... Some, however, are made from new fabric I buy at the store. (I work at a fabric store & spend the rest of my time at thrift stores, garage sales, and the Dollar Store finding supplies.) I like new creative challenges so am constantly experimenting with new fabrics & recycled found things -- I especially like incorporating new or used hardware things (nuts, washers, bolts) into the creatures. It's an ever-evolving process. : )" [Click on photo to go directly to her shop.]

Monday, May 25, 2009

The "F" Word (Fad)

I wasn't a fan of the sock monkey (SM) way back when i was a child. I never had an old aunt that made me one, and anyways I wasn't fond of wool . But i was a precocious sewer of stuffed toys, and remember hand sewing mom's scrap fabric into "animals" with some legs and button eyes. Then making jointed bears, making SMs, and beanie critters. I never lost the love of making fabric animals, and now i'm the old aunt that makes sure all of her nieces and nephews have SMs and other handmade sewn animals.

I began collecting secondhand store SMs while i was in college. The SMs made from kits and patterns have no charm for me. But if the maker put some real love into their SM and didn't just try to make it look like the standard Redheel SM, those are the good ones!! Counting the ones i've made and my collected SMs (including knit and crochet versions), i must have between 20 and 30.

We seem to be going through a significant SM fad. I mean, you can even find SM kits and toys and key chains at WalMart. But for those of us who appreciate the original concept, i.e. lovingly handmade toy from something you have at hand, we can choose from "character" SMs (eg. cowboy SM, batmanSM, exotic dancer SM), SMs from wildly colored/striped socks, and in a related craft, there are the sewn "creatures" which have also enjoyed a popularity boom of late.

I found a maker of lovely SMs on etsy recently: seller littlelittle. (Click on a photo to go to her shop.) Using nontraditional socks, she sews her SMs to be loved toys, rather than fad objects. Her "baby friendly" versions have no features that can become a choking hazard, but instead have obviously hand-sewn eyes and ear stitching. These are simple and charming, made to be loved, squeezed and dragged around by a leg. Which is one of the truest points of a SM, after all.

Please check back this week for more SMs and sewn creatures, as well as special bead finds!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bead of My Dreams

"Envy" is such an ugly emotion.

But as i try to suppress it enough so that it doesn't taint my reporting here, allow me to introduce these beads by lenorasdesigns. (Find these "Champagne" beads on her ebay, and click on the bluegreen beauty for her etsy shop.) When i came across these lampwork beads of hers, my heart rose like a Rachmaninoff crescendo. THESE were the dots of opalescent beauty that i would give anything to be able to create! Alas, my peasant nature keeps me using a lowly propane torch, which i understand just won't cut it when it comes to working the Double Helix glasses. But then i was partially saved by the thought that i have produced some decent opal effects, through lots of experimenting, using simple silver foil and affordable glass types. But still,... why do my eyes get all drippy when i look at lenorasdesigns dots?

I may be a peasant by choice, and "Less is more" could be my mantra. Lenorasdesigns sells sets of these beauties, as well. And these beads in multiples are indeed opulent and stunning. As an admirer looking in, it seems to me that a single one of these beauties deserves to be coveted like something rare and one-of-a-kind. (And then again... If i could make these, I'd fill the bath with them and drown myself in beads!) I envy this artist, but i don't begrudge her her ablility to make these beads. Even if i didn't make them, i couldn't be happier that they do exist and that i can ogle them and drool over my monitor to my heart's content. Bravo, lenorasdesigns!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Noteworthy Chickens

As a lamp-
worker, most of my blog entries are bound to be bead-
related, but I enjoy so much more than glass. Tomor-
row I want to show you more glass bead beauty, but today I devote to chickens! Three etsy poultry offerings recently made me smile (click on photos to go directly to the item in the seller's etsy shop):
Yarnmiracle knits lovely toy animals (and her sales help support her local animal shelter). She designed this knitted chicken pattern which has obvious huggable squishiness. You have to admire the details of the attractive full thighs with the skinny lower legs and feet, and the details of the wattles etc. on those regal heads. Wonderful pattern!

KarenLHoward is a mixed media folk artist. This is her "Badminton Hen" done in wire and wood. Check out the leg stripes and the reach on that racket wielding wing. Something i found to be really interesting about her shop was in just looking at the thumbnail photos of her pieces: almost all of them read as illustrations to me, rather than photos of 3D works. I can't figure out if this is due to her use of color and line, or if it is due to the way she composes her photos. Her photos themselves would translate to terrific illustrations.

Littlebitwired is a multitalented maker of art dolls, puppets, masks and jewelry. Her "Peep" is a combo of gourd, wire and apoxie with a crazy little stare. Now that's a face!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Because round beads get boring...

I'm feeling genuinely enthu-
siastic about writing about other people's goodies. I could have used this blog entry to inform you that i put fake tan cream on my legs this morning. But i'm hoping that no one out there finds that interesting.

Instead, i want everyone who reads this to go check out a super creative lampwork beadmaker: her etsy shop is called Gaialai-Glass Artist. Get there by clicking on these photos of her work.

There are thousands of lampwork artisans out there, but most of us stick to the classic "rounds" or rely almost exclusively on bead presses to produce beads of repeatable and predictable shape. I'm not sure if we do this for ourselves or our customers. I personally prefer to work without the regimental look of bead presses, and i like the look of handformed tabs and nuggets, etc. But I have never produced quantities of interestingly handshaped beads like this person. Gaialai's "Lagoon candlesticks" beads should make any jewelry designer want to rise to the challenge and work equally out-of-the-box to produce extraordinary pieces using them. And check out her "Limitz Fairy Bell flower necklace"! As if the design of the piece wasn't eye-catching enough, that color combo is going to get heads turning. And do also look into her other etsy shop where she sells her knitted jewelry and knitted beads. She's a very inspiring artist.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Let's Talk About You

You know what? This self-promotion stuff just doesn't come naturally to me. I find it really difficult to tell the world what I'm doing and thinking. But I've always loved to write, and i like the idea of blogging, so I'm going to keep it up. Only I'm going to change direction and promote other people instead of myself. So stay tuned for what i think will be some really interesting blog entries! If I see a fantastic color combination that some quilter has thrown together, I'll report it. If I find a bead pattern I'm drooling in envy over, I'll show it to you. When i taste a really satisfying merlot, I'll reveal it here. When someone tells me how to get your neutered cats to stop spraying in your house, I'll let you in on the secret. So please stay with me!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Girls Who Love Goldfish

There was a song about girls who love goldfish. This was back in the late 70's, early 80's. But I'm drawing a blank on the band. I had the cassette. Played it in my '67 Beetle. Car's name was Nil. Nil Beetle. That was a play on a SCTV character named Bill Needle, who was like Andy Rooney, only entertaining. But that's enough Memory Lane for now.

I used to keep goldfish and koi. Last week I made a few goldfish and koi beads and I've turned them into zipper pulls. I love the white koi with orange-red splotches, big white lips, and whiskers. I'm going to have to keep that one for myself, but others will start turning up in my etsy shop ( soon.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cheers for Monkeys

I am quite fond of monkeys. I'm making "team" monkey zipper pulls to order, and a listing for this offer will be up on my etsy shop soon. Monkey heads with caps in team colors, or their very heads could be in team colors. Here's a few. I think the blue and grey cap and blue and white cap could be Toronto Blue Jays. Sock monkeys just look great in a fez, so that's the default hat on a sock monkey, unless it's a sporty sock monkey. Hopefully your team monkey never needs a rally cap!