It's friday - and I'm happy to present a family of artisans next. Featured Artisan of the day:
The Big Yellow Chair team is made up of Carl Connett (me), my wife Amber, and our children. We’ve always had some sort of creative projects going, but Big Yellow Chair became our official creative outlet in 2008. Our first Big Yellow Chair products have been art mobiles. For my day job, I run a database programming business called Extra Mile Data.
Can I look you up on facebook?
Yes please - http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Big-Yellow-Chair/108979157273
What is it you're making and how did you get into it?
I saw my first large-scale kinetic sculpture soon after engineering school and was captured by the movement and how it interacted with the environment. A decade later, I discovered Alexander Calder and mobiles. It wasn’t until I had a family, though, that I tried making something kinetic myself.
We have a picture of Amber and me painting a large-scale wooden sculpture in the front yard, with our first son at 18 months old, “helping” us paint. When he was 5 years old, he drew an airport scene with crayon that became the pictures for the pieces of my first mobile. At age 8, he provided some drawings that were the inspiration for the pieces of the Space Mobile (our first Big Yellow Chair product), while Amber provided the whimsical design of the wires. I did the production work and everybody in the family helped with assembly. We’ve had other children along the way, and they also take part in discussions about what we make and how it should look.
What does your day look like?
Currently, we’re a home-schooling family with young children and I run my programming business from my home office, so we’re all together much of the time. That allows us to have a lot of creative discussions during the week, but it is still difficult to find time to produce. During peak periods of working on the mobiles, I set aside parts of specific days during the week that I can devote to production.
Any tips for other artisans/crafters?
We had an unexpected opportunity pop up in August. An artist friend suggested that we submit one of our mobiles (an exploded view of a mobile phone) for the “Art from Found Objects” exhibition at the Monmouth Museum in New Jersey. The mobile was accepted and we made our way to the opening reception in September. We received a lot of encouragement by the other artists at the opening, and the exhibition will give us a month to share our art with the public outside the Etsy shop. So my suggestion is to look for, and invest in, other kinds of opportunities beyond Etsy.
I am Rachael Smith! I'm 25, live in Leicester, UK and I've been
working as a freelance illustrator for just under two years now, it's
taken a long time to get where I am but things are finally starting to
I work weekends in a bar, but mainly because I enjoy it; it's a nice
social place to be when you have a job that means you're locked up in
your studio for most of the week! Monday to Friday, and usually a
couple of hours Saturday and Sunday, you'll find me in my studio.
What is it you're making and how did you get into it?
I mainly draw, although I do make craft items - as you've seen in my
shop! But drawing, and drawing for children especially, is where most
of my passion lies.
At the moment my biggest project for a client is illustrating a
chidren's novel - so I'll be doing the front cover and inside, black
and white illustrations, which so far has been tremendous fun. I have
lots of personal projects on the go too - I'm always dreaming up ideas
for children's picture books in the hopes that I'll catch a publishers
eye someday. Actually, at the time of writing I have a meeting with a
children's literary agent next week who is interested in my work - so
What does your day look like?
Well, I wake up at around 8 and feed my hamster :) Then I'll head to
the studio and upload a new Flimsy to the Flimsy blog. Then I'll look
at my (usually horrendously long) list of things to do and choose what
to prioritise. I try to balance doing work with marketing, so I might
work a few hours on a project and then work on a new editorial
postcard to send in a mailout - for example. If I've sold anything on
the shops then I'll package that up to take down to the post office
when I have a minute. I usually try to spend a little time on personal
projects such as my new children's book idea, or thinking about what
my portfolio needs. I'll come home between 5 and 6, spend a little
time with the boyfriend and maybe do a little bit of sewing if we
watch a film or whatever. The work never stops, hehe!
Do you have any advice for other artist/Crafters?
If you want to make a living from your art/craft then my advice would
be to do it as a hobby first. Also make sure it's what you REALLY want
to do before you start making sacrifices, because unless you're
extremely lucky - you'll have to be very patient waiting for people to
catch on to what you do. You might also have to spend a little money
on getting yourself a website, sending out promo material - that's on
top of the money you'll need for art materials, a space to work etc
etc. So it's best to plan these things. Having said that there is
NOTHING like the feeling of setting up on your own and getting
clients. Getting paid for what you love doing is just brilliant, and I
know I wouldn't be happier doing anything else.
Any other questions you want to answer?
Um, my hamster's name is Genevieve - in case anyone was wondering.
Are you always putting off getting your holiday preparations done until the last moment? This year, you can just work along with me to get things done early! This is the second installment of my "get ready for the holidays" series here on my blog. You can still go and read last weeks installment right here. This week: The Dudes on your list.
Mens Foaming Shower Scrub
I'm sitting here all cuddled up in my blanket and I feel halfway human again after taking some cough medicine and a paracetamol, so I'll tell you what I've been up to :-)
My husband is currently in germany, visiting THE largest european games fair and I get to stay home sick with two sick little kids. Yay! Luckily, he didn't get sick - one of us has to go and buy all those fantastic new games that come out there...
So, I'm using the time alone (or at least, without him) to get started on my husbands Christmas present. I'm not telling you what it is - sorry hun, no peeking!
I don't know about you, but presents for guys are the hardest ones every year, especially for my husband. So I decided that this week, we'll focus on the guys. I found yome nice things on etsy, but I'm sure you can come up with more! But lets keep this organized:
Step two (do this NOW):
Add to your list
You probably remembered some more people that need to go on there during the last week. Add them.
split your list
The Dude Scarf, by iWunder
now, go over your list again and split it into people that will get actual presents and those that will just get a little something.
Mark your list
Mark all the Guys on the "Presents" list. How many guys do you have on there? How many of those will get something you have to make? In my casee, that is only my husband. We still have time to make something biggish, especially if there are only one or two guys on there. Here are some things you could make or buy for a dude:
Food gifts: Spicy chilli oil, BBQ spice mixes, a mountain of cupcakes, spiced rum
I stay away from books and DVDs - we end up giving those to eachother ALL THE TIME. If you see no danger of that happening, here are my top three books to give to a guy at the moment: Anything written by Terry Pratchett, A Game of Thrones by GRR Martin and Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss They are all fantasy books, but all three authors stand out as especially awesome :-D start crafting something that your husband/dad/best friend will get. Don't start baking yet, that might be a bit too soon ;-)
Custom Cufflinks by jubilantwares
Are your christmas cards designed yet? If you had fun with this, why don't you make a calendar? The girls over at Weeds and Wildflowers are having a fun calendar design challenge where you design one page and get everyone elses page, too!
you and your partner decided not to give eachother anything for the holidays? Make something anyway. Don't spend a lot of money on it, but maybe make a bunch of his favourite cookies and wrap them up nicely.
I'm not going to tell you how much you can spend on presents and materials, but you should definately take a look at your finances to see how much you can afford to spend. If money is tight, go over your crafting supplies to see what you could make that will not cost you anything that might still make a nice gift. I will give you ideas for your "little something" list in one of the next installments that will not cost you much.
So, what's next?
Next week, we will focus on presents for kids and teens - fun to shop for! You're doing great! Keep up - we'll get it right this time!
When I was quite young I would make my own doll clothes as my family didn't have a lot of money. my mother taught me to sew as her mother taught her. that was where it started, eventually I figured, if I can design doll clothes, why couldn't I design real live people clothes. The first thing I made from scratch (no store bought pattern) was a pair of aprons for my sister and her husband... i believe I was 13 or 14. Then I expanded into making crazy and bizarre punk rocker style skirts for myself as a teen (I was a bit of a wild child). It progressed from there into pants, tops (none that I've made to sell just yet), hoodies (also none for sale... yet), bags and now tutus as well. I have fun simply and purely creating with no pressures of making everything uniform, or making a dozen of the exact same thing.
Can I follow you on Facebook/Twitter?
I have a group on facebook that I will sometimes give sneak peaks of items to come and updates. Anyone can join, just type into the search bar on facebook: hacafracek and you will see: "HACAFRÁČEK (hatz-ah-frah-check): a clothing thingy" come up as a group.
I also have a twitter account: http://twitter.com/Hacafracek
What is it you're making and how did you get into it?
I am actually a paramedic (EMT) in British Columbia and am also studying full time to get into Medical School (I'm still two years away, it's a bit of a haul). I've been in the medical field for over five years now and I love helping and supporting people in their true hour of need. I feel privileged as a paramedic to have that opportunity to represent hope for that 10% of the population that find themselves in a medical/trauma emergency. So where does Hacafracek and all my sewing come into this? Studying sciences full time, living out of a bag most of the time and off of student loans, and then spending "days off" in an ambulance or in a hospital... well the lifestyle begs for a cheery artistic outlet. Having several generations of seamstresses and sewers behind me, the passion and knack for design is in my genes. I've been sewing for a very long time, longer then my medical career for certain, and in hopes of helping with school and helping with nerves I've decided to make a little side business of it.
What does your day look like?
depends on the day. day type 1: school, study, school, study, maybe find time to eat, volunteer, school, study, pass out, do it all again next day.
day type 2: study, pager goes off, take off in ambulance, do that thing that paramedics do, paperwork, study, maybe sleep.
Day type 3: just sew and sew and sew... and maybe hang out in a fabric store daydreaming for a couple hours; and possibly have my wonderfully talented man lovingly take photos of my creations.
Any tips for other artisans/crafters?
Ignore the traditional "rules", make your own and just create.
We all love good cake, right? I have a really easy recipe for plum cake that I have perfected over the last plum season that I would like to share with all of you - and if I can bake it, so can you!
Hello there, are you all enjoying the wonderful fruits and vegetables this season brings? I love shopping locally and therefore have bought quite a big amount of plums, peaches and grapes in the last couple of weeks. Also, a friend of mine has a plum tree in her garden and so we ended up creating this cake to make our husbands and kids eat some of them, too!
What you need:
for the dough:
60g of (soft) butter
120g of sugar
180g of flour
2 table spoons of baking powder
for the fruit layer:
1.5 kg (about 3 pounds) of plums - you can use more or less depending on your taste buds and the size of your cookie sheet
Before you start... That's what I usually forget to do - you can still get the cake done if you forget about these steps, but it's easier if you do them...
take the butter out of the fridge
preheat the oven to 180°C Prepare the plums (you can do this later, if you want)
Step one: the dough
You do not have to use this recipe - if you have your own recipe for a basic yellow cake or want to use a baking mix, please do so - this is supposed to be easy, remember? Also, a side note to my recipe - it usually calls for separated eggs and beating egg whites - you can do all this if you want, but it's not necessary for this cake :-)
mix butter, sugar and eggs until you get an even, somewhat runny dough
add the baking powder and about half of the milk, stir
mix in about half the flour
add the rest of the milk
add the rest of the flour
mix until smooth
Now, that wasn't so hard, was it? And the hardest part is done :-)
Step two: Spread the love dough You can of course spray your cookie sheet or grease it or whatever you prefer to do - I just like baking parchment because it's so much less mess to clean up.
Put a sheet of baking parchment on your cookie sheet and spread the dough on top of it. make sure it covers the whole sheet
Follow me so far?
Step three: fruit layer
you can do part of this step at some earlier time if you want - you can wash and cut the plums whenever you have the time. Wash the plums slice them in half and remove the stone
Quarter them if desired
Place them on the dough
Step four: finishing touches
In my opinion, there's really no such thing as too much cinnamon - or at least there was no such thing until I overdosed it on this cake at one point. Don't overdo it - the plums should still be visible :-)
sprinkle the cake with brown sugar
dust with cinnamon Step five: bake check the cake once in a while - if you push in a knitting needle (or any other long, pointy appliance) into the cake, it should come out without any dough sticking to it. Don't worry about the cake getting too dry - the plums provide plenty of moisture
Bake the cake for 45 minutes
Now, do you agree that this was really, really easy? You can add a frosting, if you like (not all over, just a drizzle), but I think it's great the way it is. Enjoy!
Take a deep breath and relax…
While the cake is baking, you can go ahead and get some of the holiday preparation stuff done that I talked about on Tuesday - believe me, TODAY is the day to start, if you haven't already. You can also still get your own Veelana Doll custom made for the holidays, if you want!
"I'm going to be done early this year with my holiday shopping/crafting" - Is that something you can hear yourself say? But somehow it never works... Then this post is for you! Join me in my quest to get my holiday stuff done early this year.
Hello again - I know I have been a bit lazy with posting lately, but here you go - new week, new post :-)
I have (Again) decided to get my Holiday stuff done soonish this year and not wait for the last minute. And this time I have made a plan! I will post my progress on my blog - just not the individual presents :-)
Waiting for Santa Christmas
Collection Jester Hat
Step one (do this NOW): set a deadline.
I will be done with most of my holiday crafting by november 22nd - thats when we leave for our vacation.
Not everything will be done, but most things should be ready. No last minute sock knitting this year, I hope! What will your deadline be? Feel free to share!
make a list of people who will get presents/cards:
I have a paper list here - I will mark everyone who gets something bought, something handmade by me, something small or just a card/letter
Pick the most important people from that list
You know... Mom, Dad, spouse, kids, grandparents, grandkids - just the core group - the people whose presents should take up most of your efford :-) Just put them on top of your list
check your half finished projects
I know you have them, almost everyone does :-) Take a look to see if there is anything that is almost finished and that will make a good gift for someone on your list. How much time do you think it will take to finish this? Do you have the supplies?
Snowflake Mittens Crochet PATTERN
Extra Credit (Do this whenever you have the time)
start adressing your holiday cards/letters
This may seem really early, but I did it this way two years ago, just adressing one or two envelopes whenever I had the time and doing the holiday cards was a breeze that year
Finish one of your "almost finished" Projects from last year (two years ago?)
...or get started, or decide that you're not going to use any of them (that might be a good opportunity to throw them away...)
Design your christmas card!
If you want to make your own christmas cards (and I think you should because it's really easy), start by picking the picture(s) you want to use.
Gingerbread Cottage Playset Printable Paper Craft by FantasticToys
So what’s next?
next week, we will talk about some more preparations you can get started on as well as some exciting craft ideas for this winter. There's still some time, so this is the time to get started on those slightly bigger projects.
And since that's what I usually struggle with most: Gift ideas for the husband!
If you found this article helpful, follow this blog or "like" Veelana's Design on facebook so you will not miss next weeks installment!
Keep creating, Vee
If you want to get one of my custom dolls early for the holidays, order one now! Tell me you read this Blog post and I will add an extra outfit. They are available with wool stuffing, too!
My name is Rhonda and I'm the proud owner of Moonworks Apothecary. I'm a modern-day eclectic witch & a second degree Reiki practioner.
I started Moonworks Apothecary because I have a passion to create and help others. Creating products for magickal workings, rituals or body products to empower and bring out the God or Goddess in you brings great joy to me.
I charge each product with the purest intent for the highest good of all, I infuse products with crystal energies & charge them by the moon. YOU are my main focus while creating each product.
When and why did you start selling your products?
After spending 16 yrs in the IT field and 5 yrs in the medical field I decided to quit my day job to pursue my passion. I've been hand crafting soaps, candles and magickal workings for about 10 yrs for the general public but have been making these items for myself, family and friends for many years before that.
I have several wholesale accounts that I attend to and haven't had a chance to completely stock my website or etsy store with everything that I make. My goal before the end of this year is to update these stores with my complete product line. If you're looking for a special product that you don't see, let me know!
What would you tell artisans who are just starting out?
If I had any tip to give other crafters I'd say, do what makes you happy. Take the leap of faith and go after your dream of owning your own business. If you stop enjoying it then it's time to quit.
Do you have a freebie for our readers?
Blog readers will receive a free herbal beeswax mini taper with every order, just let me know you're a blog reader!
After some Brainstorming on Facebook I found out that a lot of people find my fiber fill stuffing a big turn off. So I ordered 2 kilos of wool stuffing at an extremely nice german place - I will order there again just to talk to the nice girl on the other end. If you've ever been to germany, you know that friendly service isn't really a given :-(
So, I ordered some wool and I got it very quickly and its sooo beautiful! I now get it why you all want your dolls stuffed with wool!
I still think that fiber fill has its good points and I will continue to stuff some dolls with it, but its hard to get passionate about it. I'm totally in love with the wooly stuff now <3 I have already started making some dolls with it and it feels so much nicer! And then there's the smell of the thing - clean and nice and a little bit wooly. It came in a giant box and rolled up...
I could go on raving about it, but that would probably be unnecessary - you know how great the stuff is, and now I do, too.
The wool stuffing is not the only thing that is new. I also ordered new fabric recently and I have gotten very good at cutting it. The quality is nicer and there are more colors to choose from - and I can now get two dolls from a 25cm piece (although the 25cm I ordered are probably closer to 30cm...) My daughter loves the stuff, too. She takes a piece and blows it all through our apartment - very good practice for speech developement, I'm told :-)
Who are you?
We are a married couple (going on three years! whoo!) who started our Etsy shop back in October 2009. "Kenny is a self taught artist with formal training in Computer Science while Rene holds the title of Accountant, Organizer, Fact checker, Craft extraordinaire, Auditor"(it's not plagiarism if I steal from myself!). We both hold Bachelors degree, but anticipate obtaining our Masters. (Rene: Masters of Taxation /Kenny: Computer Security.) Right now we maintain our day jobs in sales, but hopefully one of us will be able to commit 125% to Etsy within the year.
What is it you make?
We started with posters & postcards, and recently added 1 ½ inches pin-back buttons.
How Did you get started on Etsy?
Not sure. A co-worker introduced us to Etsy. We never heard about the website so we did a little investigation. What was Etsy and how did it work? We signed up for the site in October 2009; however it was a little more than a month before our first listing, then another month before our first sale. Since that time we’ve never looked back!
What does a typical day in your life look like? 7am: Wake up. Rene goes for a run. Kenny checks & replies to emails
8am: Rene returns and breakfast is made
9am: The next couple of hours are spent creating, printing, & wrapping.
Noon: Post Office. Orders are shipped three times a week (Monday, Tuesday & Thursday). One of us braves that dreadful long line! Most of the time we print shipping labels from PayPal. However, our international orders dictate we visit the post office
1pm to 3pm: Thrift Stores Adventures. We love a good deal, so we visit thrift stores not really looking for anything, but hoping to find treasures.
4pm to: Kenny spends countless hours marketing the blog and our shop; surfing websites, searching Google analytics to come up with the prime searchable title for each listing. He also spends time in chat rooms and Etsy Forums.
730pm: Jeopardy (oh how we love Jeopardy)
8pm: Dateline. News. or a movie then off to bed.
I guess every parent knows those times where you just can't get any sleep because your baby/toddler/kiddo is colicky/teething/sick/in a bad mood. It's 3 am., you're up, the kid cries on your shoulder and maybe goes to sleep there - but will wake up as soon as you let go. You know you're not going to get any sleep anyway - and here are my 10 favourite ways to use this time more productively, or at least to make the night go by faster...
Dorian, age 8 months
Read a book! you can do that while walking around in your living room with a baby on your shoulder - and when was the last time you actuallyfinished a book?
Watch your favourite reality TV show - both my kids love Survivor and will cuddle up on the couch with me when I turn it on
Re-watch your favourite TV shows. I find that some explosions are fine (If it's not turned up too loud), but even "castle" is too scary. Current faves: burn notice, big bang theory, how I met your mother
chat with someone in a different timezone
I blog - I'm pretty good at typing with one hand now...
Catch up on all the blogs you've subscribed to
start researching something. I started diving into the whole world of busines topics
look at cute stoff on etsy
Take a walk! If you feel safe in your neighbourhood at night, put your baby in a sling or a sroller and get that exercise you're not getting during the day
play those silly facebook games
So, what do you do? If all the comments together give me 10 new ideas, I'll post them here!