Monday, December 14, 2009

Yearning for simpler times...

All I really want to do, I've discovered, is be free to live my life in ways that make me happy. For me, that's making crafts, baking, making art, going on discovery trips with my camera and sketchbook, parking somewhere in my car and listening to music while making to-do lists, making dinner for my hubby, playing with my dog, making gifts for my family... generally, making whatever I want to whenever I want to is the core of what brings me the most joy.

The cold weather especially makes me want to sit at home with a warm cup of cocoa and make adorable stuff like this:

(Little ornament made by MelissaSue on Etsy:

I honestly think I would be happiest as an old-school homemaker. Making aprons, decorating my house, putting together whatever little crafty items my heart desires.

But Sears won't quit calling and I can't put off my student loans forever. Here's hoping the universe answers my prayers for a lottery win. :)

Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Radio... Live Transmission...

In honor of my return to blogging (as I'm sure all 1 of my readers were quite upset about) I decided to try to embed a Youtube video of Joy Division's "Transmission". Let's see if it worked.. ooh it did! Yay technology.

SOOOOOOOOOO, while I've been away, I got an advance warning of getting fired as of February 1st. This has begun my investigation of how I can return to school. Sadly, the state budget cuts drastically reduced enrollment options for me at affordable state colleges. So I called up my "alma mater" (can you say that if you didn't graduate? I don't even know what it means. Wiki, help me out here), and it's only $16,500/semester for me to finish up my degree. Awesome. It might as well be a million dollars. So now the decision is- go FURTHER into inescapable debt to pursue the dream of finishing my BFA and being an art teacher, or chuck the whole thing and just go back to another soul-killing day job? Ah, the wonderful decisions of adulthood....

Friday, October 16, 2009

How to make a stand-up display "booth" on the cheap!

If you want to participate in some craft faires this holiday season, you may be thinking, "Darn, if only I had a display booth that was cheap to make and quick to set up and tear down. Plus small enough to fit in my car."

So, I'd like to describe how I put mine together in hopes that this will help you out if you want to do it too.

Cost: About $40-$45 for the basics

Tools you will need:
-Small drill bit/drill to pre-drill screw/nail holes
-Screwdriver/hammer (I suggest a power drill instead of a manual screwdriver)

Materials you will need:
-2 or more panels of pegboard [Home Depot sells these in four foot tall pre cut panels, plain, white and silver]
-(2) 1 inch square by 4 foot tall wooden "dowels" per pegboard panel
-At least 2 small hinges per set of 2 pegboards
-1/4" bolts and nuts

Home Depot sells pegboard and these square dowels in four foot lengths (I think the pegboard is 2 feet wide) in the wood section, so no cutting is necessary, and four feet will fit in the back of most sedans. Pegboard can be flimsy, so the majority of the work here is taking these "dowels" and screwing/nailing them onto the back edge of each tall side of the pegboard for stability.

I bought a small drillbit and pre-drilled the holes because I didn't want to crack the dowel. I actually ended up using these ribbed nails that hold better than regular ones because I already had them. You can use screws or nails (as long as they are not too long and won't go through the one inch dowel) and even glue the dowel in place first if you have some c- clamps. I nailed it in every few pegholes or so, nail head on the presentation side.

Make sure the dowels are as close to the edge of the board as possible and straight, because when you put your hinges on, you will be affixing them to the dowel wood. Put the dowels on what you want the "back" of your display to be. (For example, I bought the silver painted pegboard, so I put the dowels on the non-silver side)

Once your panels are fortified with the dowels, you can connect them with the hinges. I suggest buying thin hinges and they are cheaper in packs, plus they come with the screws. You can use two or three (I used two) to connect two fortified pegboard panels.

Check the way the hinge moves before attaching them. The hinge will close flat in one direction and then open to an angle in the other direction. You want the faces of your pegboard panel "sandwich" to meet flat so that it's easier to store and set up/take down, so make sure you are putting the hinges on so that they close the right way. You can connect 2, 3, 4 or more panels this way.

I used four panels, then connected them in pairs so that I could take them apart and make them easier to carry. (You may get crappy parking and need to walk a long way.) When affixing the hinges, trace them onto the wooden dowels first, including where the holes are, and preferably pre-drill the holes with your small bit again to avoid cracking the dowels. The round pin part of the hinge should rest in a small space between the panels as you put them together. Your "booth" should stand on its own when at least two panels are hinged. It will be sturdy when open as long as it's on semi- level ground.

Now, I don't suggest buying tons of the pegboard hooks specifically made for that because they are expensive. I bought 1/4" by 1 1/2" inch bolts. The 1/4 inch bolt should fit through the pegholes perfectly (either by twisting in or just pushing it through with a bit of force). The bolts will droop, however, so you can either use a washer/ nut system or just two nuts (putting one on the bolt first, all the way down, then pushing it through the pegboard hole, then putting another nut on and tightening to keep it straight), depending on what you are displaying. These are quick and easy to use, and cheap if you get them by the box/bag. And since bolts have a head, you can also display items on the rear of your display.

Coincidentally, the 1/4" measurement is also what a standard hole punch uses, so those of you with tags or jewelry, this is an easy way to make your items fit nicely and orderly onto the bolts.

Bear in mind that most people do not want to bend way down to look at stuff. A small table (like a tv tray- $9.99 for a nice wood one at Walmart) can be placed in your 90 degree angle of pegboard display, and you can place items that need to lay flat on it. You can also get a table runner or tablecloth or make one and put that over the table for added display panache. This will also allow you to potentially put boxes under the table while hidden by the cloth.

THIS IS IMPORTANT IF IT’S YOUR FIRST SHOW: Set it up at home with your items before you head out into the world to make sure you can fit what you want. Make sure you can put your

most eye-catching goods at eye-level so people will want to walk closer. Make sure you have places to display pricing or other signs. Walk back and forth as you look at your display- people will be coming from both directions and you don't want to miss any opportunities. You can even leave the bolts in if you want to save yourself some setup time, just be aware that they could scratch painted pegboard if you handle them roughly.

That’s it! If people need pictures (I originally posted this in a google group that doesn’t use photos), I’ll take some and update with the images, just comment to let me know. Good luck!

Marianne of and

Thursday, October 15, 2009

30 items in 30 days

In conjunction with the holidays, I've decided to try out what I'm calling "Project 30". I'm going to list one new item in my Etsy shop every day for 30 days. I'm going to keep an eye on my analytics and compare it to the previous months afterwards to see if it improves traffic in general, but of course the most telling part will be whether or not I get any additional sales.

So my weekends have been full of crafts. Nothing like huddling up to the sewing machine on a rainy day with some hot chocolate! ;)

Photos soon!

Monday, October 5, 2009


So lately I've found myself daydreaming a lot about getting laid off. One one hand, I'm totally appalled by such an action, but on the other hand, I find the realm of possibilities to be so alluring. It started with rumors about our office getting closed, so it may happen in reality. But that was just fuel for the fire.

I started to think- what if I went back to school? What if I really got things together with the craft business? What if I were able to bang out hundreds of art pieces all of a sudden? What if I launched that ecommerce site I've been thinking of for months?

I'm finding myself living in dreamworld like 80% of the day. Which can't be healthy, really. Although I suppose that as long as it doesn't interfere with my reality duties too heavily, it's not that bad, right? Yikes!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What are you doing for the holidays?

Back from vacation! Missed everyone! As I'm planning to gear up for the holidays, I'm curious- what special things do you have planned for the holiday season?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Items & New Shop!

So I've been crafting like mad these past couple of weeks, and I've opened a new Etsy shop to focus specifically on upcycled items- UpandUpcycled. I also finally made a lightbox, and I have to say the pictures are WAYYYY BETTER. If you have a shop and you haven't done this yet, you must. I just used printer paper, white posterboard, tape and a box I had laying around. Here's an example of photos with the box:
This was my first item added to UpandUpcycled, a sweet little armadillo pincushion, which sold instantaneously. If only all listings worked that way! :)
I have also been making linoleum cuts and printing. Here's a nifty Star Trek tie I adore.
I also made this rad Paris clutch out of an old pillow cover. I may unlist it and keep it. Haven't decided yet. :)
Just in case you didn't know, I have the world's cutest dog. (In my opinion, of course) I also whipped up this Robin Hood costume, and will be posting the pattern for it soon. Yay!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Etsy Wishlist

Oh, Etsy. Full of goodies. I can honestly say there's never something I'm NOT curious to search for. Here are some things I have been meaning to purchase forever, and am just waiting for a lottery win, or a good commission month, or finding a $100 bill on the ground... I want these!! :)

This hot/cold therapy pack is from TheFerrisWheels's Etsy Shop
Do not eat! Pink grapefruit awesomeness (soap) from SunBasilGarden
Sweet stack rings from KiraFerrer in Hawaii. Aloha!
Heart! Heart heart heart!!! Fab upcycled poppy clutch from GetReadySetGO
Gorgey-mc-gorgeourson! Love it. Cotton cloche with vintage flourish from BonniesKnitting 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Handmade Stories?

Once you're bitten by the Etsy/Handmade bug, it can be a lifetime affair. I'd love to hear some stories on how you got turned on to handmade, how you turned others on to it, and how you found it to be successful.

I find that sending people items I know they'll love is effective, or giving handmade gifts as well. Any other ideas to help spread the handmade love this holiday season?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Five Fabulous Lino Prints

As promised, I picked out five nice linoleum print/products from Etsy. I see that the love of printmaking is worldwide- 3 out of 5 of these Etsy sellers are outside of the US! Enjoy!

This mouse plate is from
This floral print is from
This great lino-printed notebook is from in Australia
This lovely lino is from in Ireland
And this colorful iguana print is from in Canada

A go at printmaking!

So in general, I've always been jealous of printmakers. Whereas I may take 20 hours to complete a one-of-a-kind painting and can't afford to make any quality prints of it, these clever craftspeople spend a couple hours on a plate/woodcut/lino block, et voila! Potentially hundreds of prints, priced to sell and not a bad profit margin at that. I eventually realized that I, too, could learn some printmaking. So I picked up some easy-cut linoleum and made my very first print. Watch out world! ;) I'm also going to be highlighting some of my favorite printed goods via Etsy today to celebrate. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 21, 2009


See the listing:

See the listing:

See the listing:

See the listing:

See the listing:

Well, since it's awfully difficult to nab a treasury on my beloved Etsy [ especially with the firewall at work blocking access to it ;) ], I've decided to post some of my favorites here. I am always inspired by colors. I went to a local thrift store the other day and found some remnant fabric- about 5 yds. of a fabulous coral linen and a scrap of chocolate microfiber. Seeking out coral and chocolate combinations on Etsy, I found some yummy, warm, gorgeous pieces. I know it's not quite full-fledged Autumn yet out here in California, but I am looking forward to it. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Handmade Crusade Part 2

Okay everyone, ready for reason #2 to buy handmade? You'll never guess what it is...

AFFORDABILITY. I know. You're thinking- seriously? This one's off her rocker. But it's true. When you buy retail, what happens is that a buyer for a store chain negotiated a discount from the manufacturer for purchasing wholesale. Then they shipped it and packaged it (potentially), and paid people to put it up on shelves and work registers and all that good stuff. So the price you pay only equates to somewhere between 10 & 30% profit in most cases for the store you bought it from. The rest is overhead.

When a crafter sells an item online at a site like, for example, his or her overhead is greatly reduced. You are paying them for the cost of the supplies and the time it took for them to make it, but most crafters end up underpricing work just to sell SOMETHING because some grocery money is better than no grocery money. It doesn't take a lot of looking to find something handmade that's surprisingly affordable.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Handmade Crusade Part 1

Welcome to any new readers who may have found this blog through my Etsy shop. If so, it's preaching to the choir to tell you why buying handmade is great, but that's not the idea. The idea is to tell everyone who isn't buying handmade -yet- why it's awesome. If there's someone you know who seems to be a retail junkie, feel free to share this post with them. Otherwise, for the members of my street team, I have a plan in the works for this holiday season on how we can spread the word. Stay tuned!

Why buy handmade?
Oh, where do I start? There are lots of reasons, but today we're going to focus on one of them-

Ever watch Antiques Roadshow? Notice how the older something is, the better the quality of the craftsmanship seems to be? Some of the work I see seems near impossible to me, because the skills needed for these crafts have fallen off over the years. That's because as we neared the industrial revolution and the economy changed, it didn't make as much sense- profit-wise- to keep making things by hand. Machine-made is a good idea on some items, like cars. But when was the last time a button fell off of a new garment you bought after just a couple of washings? Or that you ripped a seam by removing a tag? Or that a piece of jewelry just broke, without any stress whatsoever?

Handmade artisans make their goods because they're passionate about it, and almost always, the quality of handmade work is exceptional, especially when compared to assembly line products. Part of the reason for this is that most of the time people who handmake goods also hand-sell those goods. People who buy them often look the maker in the eye, or talk to them directly. They're accountable. And they respect their craft, their work, and their buyers. They aren't going to look you in the eye and take money for a pile of crap. And most crafters give their goods as gifts to family and friends, and they aren't going to give a gift of poor quality. When I make something, I always ask "would I buy this? would I be happy with the quality, the design, the function?"And I don't sell it if the answer to any of those questions is no.

Every dollar I earn is hard for me to get, and money isn't coming easily for most people these days. So when you have the decision to get a $10 shirt at WalMart- or a $10 handprinted garment from a craftsperson through Etsy- go handmade. And support the handmade crusade by telling a friend!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Fridays

While we're all familiar with "a case of the mondays", I think we've all come down with "the fridays" as well. The alarm goes off, and you think "It's Friday!", which is the most compelling reason to get out of bed- so you can get the darn day over with- but then the entire work day consists of a herculean struggle not to sprint for the door. 9 o clock... 10 o clock... by noon PST, the east coast is essentially already enjoying the weekend- jerks. After lunch, as food coma sets in, it's margarita daydreams... youtube videos... lolcats... is it seriously only 1 pm? AAAARRGGGHHHH.. and the clock drags by like the battery is low and it's eventually going to stop before it's time to go.

It's just like that last week of school where you wonder every day why they make you show up since nothing useful is being accomplished anyway.. only it's every single Friday, instead of once a year. :) Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All Hands/Return of the Aesthetic

As a logophile, I am fascinated with words- where they come from, what they really mean when you look them up, what people commonly think they mean these days.. so we just had an "All Hands" meeting this morning, a term I'm pretty sure comes from "All Hands on Deck!". As in, there's some sort of sea-faring emergency that requires everyone's assistance. However, if an anthropologist were to drop in on our "all hands", I'm pretty sure they would determine that it's some kind of corporate news meeting composed of 90% ego-stroking, akin to the harrowed "mission accomplished" debacle. Of course, it included the fact that we need to keep working hard to ensure the shareholders stay happy and rich. I kept listening for something that might actually apply to our division, or to me, yet nothing manifested and I found my mind wandering to the fact that I only have one pair of walking shoes and that my account is overdrawn.

This morning, on the drive in to work, while I watched planes draw gridlines of dubious particles across the sky and the resulting smoggy haze, I thought about the state that art is in today. You can rarely pin down a "movement" like impressionism or cubism until some time after the trend has come and gone and you can see where it came from and where it ended up. And so I thought of the art history classes I had loved so much and the recent periods- the bay area figurative movement in the 70's, the photorealism period of that same decade.. and the pieces I'd seen in the MOMA from the 80's and it occurred to me that nothing stands out so much anymore, and hasn't for growing on 3 decades now. I could be completely wrong, of course- perhaps there's something like Steampunk or the Arts & Crafts movement 2.0 that's brewing these days that will actually be defined as an important, influential period. But it seems to me that it's the return of Art as the Aesthetic.

Granted, people are still making things they are passionate about, that might say something important. But fine art tends to be expensive. And art isn't necessary, the way that a mortgage payment or food is. So clearly it's fallen off. Galleries have closed. Art programs in school went the way of the DoDo awhile ago. And with the patriot acts and the constant increase of things that threaten free speech (they're out there), Art for Art's sake seems to be waning.

Art for Beauty's sake is fine and always will be- making things that are bright or happy or pretty has never seemed to be threatened and is a natural part of humanity. Our appreciation of beauty is hardwired- a symmetrical face in a person tends to make them "prettier" to us because our genetic hard drive tells us it means they are probably healthier, DNA-wise, than the unsymmetrical (Thanks, Discovery Channel!). And when you look at the artist's ability to make art- especially in America- it often comes second to the day job. There isn't time to fully explore a deep, sociopolitical issue in one's art if one only has a few hours a week to make art. And I wonder if it were possible for me to do art full-time.. what wonders would I create? What concepts might I delve into in a way that informed me and others? What impact might I truly have.. if. Only if.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gei Money

Sadly, our office is completely devoid of artwork. VeriSign, where I used to work, had a Ross Bleckner painting on the second floor of the lobby. They had tons and tons of original art on every wall, in every department, and I loved them for it. Sometimes I would go on "artventures", wandering around areas I didn't know anyone in and pretending to look for a backup printer or something so I could discover all the gorgeous little gems they'd acquired somehow. I envied them for that. The art wasn't just in the lobby, so visitors would know they were cultured, it was everywhere. For the employees. If it ever got to the point that I just couldn't bring myself to dial one more phone number without projectile vomiting, I could always go and stare at some art and take a few deep breaths and chill out.

Here, however, our wall decor is a lot like Office Space. There's a giant red banner about how awesome we are, and a thousand copies of the same cheesy sales posters.. where do they get these things? Is there a Little speech bubbles that say "identify" in them.. clip art of someone on the phone with the words: "Obviously you have a reason for feeling that way- do you mind if I ask what it is?".. ways to combat the "send me an email" response...

Don't get me wrong, these things can be handy. I stare at them enough, I use some of them, remarkably they actually work from time to time, and I can't fault them for that. But now someone's used some colored foil party letters- like the kind you might use to say "Bon Voyage" or "It's a boy!" and stuck them up on the wall in front of me to spell out "GEI MONEY". Granted, it was intended to say "Get Money", but apparently they were fresh out of T's, and so it's an I instead of a T that kind of looks like a T with just half of the top part (connector between letters), but I can tell. And since there's nothing else to look at, like a decent piece of art, or even a "hang in there" lolcat, I find myself staring at "Gei Money" all day.

And in my brain it sounds like "gay money", which is remotely hilarious, especially considering the irony that there's nothing happy or carefree about how damn hard we have to work to get that money. And as if we need to be reminded. Here I was, thinking I cold called people all day for fun, but luckily the misspelled, festive command to continue being a corporate monkey reminded me what I'm supposed to be doing. Thanks guys.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Attacked by my desk

The fact that I'm happily married isn't what I attribute to the lack of effort I put into my physical appearance- it's my job. I'm in security sales, so my day is spent calling businesses that are super excited to receive my unexpected inquiries, and that requires wearing a giant fashion-forward headset. Therefore, fingernails of any length interfere with phone dialing and typing, earrings are painful after a few minutes of getting squeezed into my flesh, makeup is predominantly unnecessary since they haven't added webcams to our sales toolkits yet, and styling my hair is useless unless I incorporate the headset dent spanning my cranium (which I have yet to master).

And just now as I put my headset back on, my grip slipped, and the headset snapped back into its brain-gripping shape in the wrong place- the side of my glasses- smacking them into the bridge of my nose in a painful, eye-watering manner. I check out my battle wound in the mirror they give us that says "real people, real values" on it that I think we're supposed to use to make sure we're smiling while we're talking, but which is really used by most of us strategically to see when our boss is walking around the pit, and I have a big red welt under my nose rest. Sadface.

It's as if my office equipment knows that I am frustrated and distracted and reading Etsy Storque articles and is slapping me around to say "get back to work!". If this catches on and my monitor puts me into seizure with flash-strobe or something, I am totally going home sick the rest of the day. Then I can do something fun, like finish up my botanical mini-canvases.