Studio Musings

Friday, December 27, 2013

Beaded Baubles and Holiday Ornaments

experiments with Debby Zook's Beaded Bauble design

Hope you've had a wonderful holiday this week. One more holiday to go!

I love creating Christmas ornaments and this month I've had a great deal of fun building geometric shapes with bugle beads - icosidodecahedrahns to be precise.  They're spheres made up of triangles and pentagons.  Debby's design that she taught at the bead retreat used smaller bugle beads and had a 12mm bead in the center for stability, but I wanted to see what I could do working with some bugles from my stash without a central bead.  Thought I'd share a peak at some of my experiments. 

Had to go buy some Fireline for these experiments - Superlon just wasn't going to work, between the bugles and the crystals.  Simply too many sharp edges.  Finished off an entire spool of the crystal, and most of a spool of smoke.  Most of these were sent off as Christmas presents, but a couple stayed here at home (mostly the early, slightly misshapen attempts - my tree is the home for all my Misfits like the sad little red one at the bottom).

Most of these were made with 6mm bugles.  The two larger ornaments used transparent silver 8mm bugles - the color difference between the two is due to the thread, as they're both made with the same beads.

Then I decided to see if I could make the shape work (ie keep it from collapsing in on itself) with 12mm transparent crystal bugles.

midpoint of large sphere, interior small sphere completed
About halfway through the interior sphere with the crystal bugles, I realized its interior was large enough for one of my smaller baubles to fit inside.  So, I made another smaller bauble in bright red so it would be visible from inside its cage of white. 

Once the red icosidodecahedran (try saying that three times fast!) was complete, I had to figure out how to suspend it inside the larger sphere.

playing with possibilities

using stacked crystals to span the gap on either side
I used smoke Fireline for the red sphere, and crystal Fireline for the outer sphere, and attached the two using the cyrstal thread.

Finishing the crystal sphere - like building Superman's spaceship!

Adding the points

the stacked ornament, hanging on my tree! This one is MINE!

Here's wishing everyone the very best of New Years! Thanks for your time, your attention, and your caring.  And here’s to you reaching your goals in 2014.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Coffee Shop Meetup with an Etsy Admin

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to attend an Etsy Meetup with Melinda, a Project Manager from Etsy.  Part of their 'Home for the Holidays' program, Etsy apparently invites and encourages their employees who are traveling for the holidays to set up local meetings with Etsy sellers.  It was a fun chance to peak 'behind the curtains', even just in listening to Melinda's response to the community's comments.

After starting us off with a round of introductions, she asked us to go around and share something we particularly liked about Etsy.  Since I found this interesting, I thought I'd summarize some of the highlights:

Getting Started
  • It's an easy intro to the online marketplace.  You don't need a website, or a shopping cart, don't need to know HTML.
  • Easiest no maintenance shopping cart.  (I agree!  I once took an entire quarter-long course at a local community college on designing a shopping cart using wireframes, HTML and PHP).
  • Clean, elegant design - very professional.  
  • The ability to copy a current listing and make just a few changes to set up new listings.
  • You can start without a lot of inventory (I can attest to this as my shop opened with exactly one item!).  
  • You can play around and experiment with inventory and ideas.  (though I'll add a warning here - this can be an INCREDIBLE time sink!)
  • Information and Statistics - Etsy provides metrics on numbers of visits and which of your pages are most popular, also info on which of your keywords are most popular.
 The Marketplace
  • Etsy is the 900lb gorilla in the market - if you want an online shop Etsy has presence it's hard to beat
  • One of my favorite comments was from a woman who mentioned that she mostly did fairs & shows, but her show customers kept asking if she had an online store.  So she finally opened one so she could say "Yes".  And then suddenly people were buying her jewelry who were 'not her customers.  People from France and Nebraska!'.  Places she'd never been.  I've seen this in my own store, and it's AMAZINGINGLY WONDERFUL
  • A 'certain type of person' comes to Etsy.  This was stated repeatedly; that people had wonderful experiences with Etsy customers.  I'd have to agree. 
  • One seller apparently started her store back in 2008 and left it for years.  When she came back to it last year 'it was all still there' (no active listings, but all of her data had been saved).  Once you open a store, it's yours.  
  • Community - many of the local sellers had made close friends through local meetups
  • A number of Etsy sellers also buy supplies on Etsy.

Then Melinda asked the question that let the genie out of the bottle - what fix/changes would you like to see on Etsy?

The conversation quickly became embroiled in the issue of resellers who sold extremely inexpensive factory knock-offs of finished items, jewelry in particular.  This was a real hot button for a lot of people, and I can see why.  Apparently there's a whole team in Etsy that searches for and researches these issues, banning sellers who don't meet Etsy's guidelines.  Reporting a store helps point this team in the right direction (and does NOT get you in trouble with anyone at Etsy - a side question that came up).  But Etsy is a smaller company than I'd realized - about 400 people total, according to Melinda's guesstimate, with many teams working evenings and weekends to try to keep up with work.

Me being the slightly pushy person I can be when I have a goal in mind, finally broke into and hijacked the conversation with my own wish list (it took three tries to hijack the conversation, but with each attempt I gained a little more traction).  My requests:
  • How to enroll my store to include shipping upgrades options in individual listings?  I've seen other sellers that had this option, but couldn't figure out how they did it.  Turns out there's a Beta Team you simply need to sign up for here and waalaa, it's available to you!  Score!  
  • Allow sellers to type in their own keyword pairs for Search Ads.  I recently tried out their version of 'ad words' with very little success because the only keywords I could use were the one's they provided/suggested.  The term I most wanted to optimize for, "freeform peyote" wasn't even offered as a possibility.
Then others jumped in with some fantastic suggestions including such things as
  • Allowing sellers more than ten categories to organize their inventory (having recently had to search through one of the larger Etsy stores looking for a particular item, I have to agree!).
  • Change Vacation Mode, so shoppers can still look at your catalog, viewing items (and prices), they just can't make purchases until the seller returns and turns off vacation mode.  This would be fabulous!  Right now, vacation mode vanishes your entire store, which isn't good for continuity. 
  • Combined Shopping Cart - where you can add multiple items from multiple stores and check out all at once.  This is the holy grail for Etsy, but complicated by the fact that they allow individual stores to accept so many different forms of payment.  But there is apparently a team trying to get some version of this functional for stores (and shoppers) willing to use Etsy's in-house payment system (rather than Paypal for instance).  

 In the little time remaining, Melinda shared a bit more about Etsy and their corporate culture.  According to her, they look for people who are interested in and passionate about craftsmanship as well as technology. Because of the nature and fusion of their business, Etsy has a much higher female/male ratio than most US tech companies, with some departments like editorial and marketing which are almost entirely female. 

We met at the original Cherry Street Coffee in Pioneer Square, one of my personal favorite places that fits well with the Etsy theme as the coffee shop is also a small, independent.  A big thank you to Melinda to take the time out from her holidays to come meet with all of us!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Beading is Better with Friends Two-for-One Sale

It's a little late to ship physical packages in time for Christmas delivery unless you live really close to Seattle or choose Priority mail.  Luckily, there's still plenty of time to purchase PDF beading tutorials, delivered directly to your inbox or the inbox of your favorite friend!  

And because beading is always better with friends, I've decided to host a sale on my PDF books and tutorials in my Etsy store this weekend (December 21-22).

Purchase one of my tutorials for yourself and I'll email a second one (of equal or lessor value) for free to anyone you like as a gift!!  Just leave your friend's email address and which pattern you'd like me to send to them in the 'Notes to Seller' during check-out, and whether you'd like me to email their gift this weekend, or on Christmas Eve, your choice. 

So again, what I need from your for your friend's pattern:
    * Their email address
    * Which pattern you'd like me to send (the same one your purchased or another of equal or lessor value)
    * Do you want me to email their copy this weekend, or on Christmas eve?

Want to send both copies to friends?  Or is the tutorial you wish to purchase for yourself less expensive than the one you want to send?  After wrestling with these possibilities, I went ahead and set up new, manual download listings for this weekend only for all of my PDF tutorials.  With this listing (which I've labeled in the title and the first image), I will have to personally email the download code to you or the email of your choice.  This means there may be a little delay in receiving your tutorial as I won't be online continually, all weekend.  But I will plan to check my computer regularly.
Any questions?  Let me know - this is the first time I've done this so I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be a 'learning experience'.  Hopefully a good one.  :)  And feel free to share the word!

This is a special sale for readers of my blog and Facebook - I'm not directly referencing it anywhere on my Etsy store. 

Many thanks to Nancy Dale for the original idea for this sale!  (I took advantage of Nancy's sale last weekend and purchased her wonderful Calliope bracelet tutorial for myself and a friend). 

Better yet, all purchases this month include an automatic entry into my Blackberry Pendant/Because You Rock Giveaway to be announced on January 2nd.  See my earlier post for more details and other ways to enter. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spring Class Signups for Fusion Beads starts Today!

Today's the day to sign up for Spring Classes at Fusion Beads.  Download the spring schedule by clicking this link.  Call or stop by to signup, 206-782-4595 from 10am-7pm PST.

If you love beading and live anywhere near the Seattle area, you owe it to yourself to check out their catalogue.  They have one of the best class line-ups you'll find anywhere outside of a national beading conference.  (I've even known people who schedule their visits to family in the area around beading classes they want to take!  Just saying...)

There are classes in bead weaving (including guest instructor Laura McCabe), cord & Kumihimo, wireworking (definitely take a peak at Marilyn Moore's wire-woven forms!),  metal working, fusing, chainmaille, faux bone, crystal clay, resin classes and more.

I'll be teaching two classes this time around:

Make your own Fancy Fish Friend Saturday, March 29th
My Personal Planets class is a great intro to Freeform Peyote, Saturday, April 12

Monday, December 16, 2013

Newest Issue of Creative Spark is Now Live!

The latest issue of Creative Spark, (the fabulous on-line beading magazine produced by Hope Smitherman and ZnetShows ) has hit the newstands, er airwaves, er Internet.   This time around, the focus is pearls, with a little crystal sparkle thrown in for good measure and features the original jewelry designs from eighteen designers, including yours truly.

interior page of Creative Spark glossi featuring Christina Miles Champagne necklace set
I fell in love with Christina's Champagne necklace!
But that's not all.  Besides the eye-candy and inspiration of seeing so many designs (I loved seeing just how unique the designs all were, starting from a similar set of materials), there's also: 

Photo spread of Primrose bangle by designer Karen Williams
Like my Primrose Bangle?  There's a free tutorial!
Color:  Check out Amy Severino's gorgeous color palettes in winter themes

Creative Spaces: Enjoy a peak into each of the designers' work spaces as we were all asked to share pictures of our studios. 

Community:  Be inspired by a gallery of bracelets created for the 7000 Bracelets of Hope project.

Classes:  Check out three diverse tutorials from design team members (including a little right angle weave project I worked up) and a fourth tute from one of ZnetShows wholesale buyers.

And because it's entirely digital, Hope was even able to embed a video tutorial (as well as a couple other surprises)!  How cool is that?

Best yet?  It's absolutely free to download.

Don't just take it from me - give it a click and check it out for yourself.  (A note to tablet users - because it is sooo image heavy, I had a little trouble bringing it up on my iPad.  It's best to start it loading and then walk away for a little bit.)

ZnetShows is even hosting a giveaway for those willing to help spread the word about this fabulous resource via social media.  The full details are included in this post on ZnetShows blog.  (As a designer, I'm not eligible for the giveaway - but you certainly are!)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sally Russick's 3rd Annual Ornament Hop Reveal

beaded ornament by Shirley Moore with Christmas card and little bag
Shirley's beautiful ornament and card (my first Christmas card of the season!)
Last year I missed the signups for Sally's Ornament Hop, but not this year!  I love handmade holiday ornaments, and the chance to trade with another one of my amazing beading friends was too great to pass up.  

Even better, I was paired with Shirley Moore - the first person besides my husband and best friend to follow Baublicious.  I can't tell you how exciting that was, to realize someone who didn't know me had liked my blog enough to click the Follow button!  Shirley has a wonderful thirst for knowledge and spirit of adventure - she's constantly trying out new techniques and patterns.  The ornament she made for me is no exception.

closeup of Shirley's ornament
Her note in the lovely card she sent to me read, "the pics from the tute were a LOT more symmetrical than reality!" and "I do think it's pretty, even if I had to become an octopus to assemble it".  Hah! Another octopus found it's way into my blog (and an angel card - another of my favorites; yes the complete list of things I love would be quite odd).  :-)

Shirley, I wholeheartedly agree - your ornament is gorgeous!  So elegant.  It's currently in a place of honor as the only ornament on our tree and will definitely find a special place in my studio for the rest of the year.  Thank you my wonderful friend! 

Here's the complete list of participants (can't wait to see all the other lovelies): 

hanging from my Christmas tree
Sally Russick (the hostess with the mostest) and Beth and Evie McCord
Patti Vanderbloemen and Susan Kennedy

a little dark, but a different look at the structure

Friday, December 13, 2013

EtsyRAIN is becoming Seattle Handmade

Our local Etsy group, EtsyRAIN is becoming Seattle Handmade, complete with a new website (currently in beta) SeattleHandmade.comMarlo Miyashiro, our intrepid leader announced the name change just before Thanksgiving.

Her email was tad confusing, but I had a chance to speak with her during the EtsyRain holiday sale.  So here's the scoop as I understand it:  we will still be a support and meetup group of local Etsy sellers, but we will also be more.  Apparently Marlo received frequent contacts from crafters who didn't have an Etsy store quite yet, who didn't feel they could join in until they did.  From what she said, the change to Seattle Handmade is designed to make the group more open and inclusive to active crafters in all media, regardless of whether you have an active store on Etsy or Artfire or you sell through craft shows or you're just thinking about selling your work.

Personally, I'm really excited about this change.  I've learned so much from other crafters - lots of the ropes about what is effectively running an Internet-based business.  Not so long ago, this was all new to me and my local group were a great sounding board for questions and ideas.  If you are even considering opening an online store (whether through Etsy or some other marketplace), I HIGHLY recommend you check around to see if you have a local team.  Our members come from all over Western Washington state: Seattle, Everett, Bellevue, Renton, North, South, East… we have had members as far North as Bellingham and as far South as Olympia!  So even if you live outside of a major metropolitan area, there still might be a team in your area. 

Back to Seattle Handmade, the new membership format is a paid membership, which is different from EtsyRAIN.  This makes sense to me, as every organization or club I've ever belonged to needs some sort of operating fund to handle group expenses.  My read on it is that they are also using this as a sort of barrier to entry, hoping to attract people who are truly interested rather than just the random passerby.  But that's just my take.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out - I hope that it doesn't act as too much of a barrier.

Now I just have to get better at making it to meetups!  It's soo much harder when its full dark by 4:30pm.  I think that will be one of my New Year's resolutions.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Let it Snow Beaded Snowflakes

Snowflake by Helen L. - this one reminds me of a Celtic knot
We had a great time at Fusion Beads this past Saturday working on Snowflakes and Stars.  Here are a few pictures from the class, spruced up for the holidays. 

Three Snowflakes by Vala R - she planned to finish them up later
a lovely Snowflake by Kelli J.

Two colorful stars by Sam S.

Teaching the class, several of my students had the same issues knowing when to add the bugle bead finials, and several people wanted diagrams for my newer snowflake combos. 

It got me thinking, and I spent the day putting together an four-page addendum to my Snowflakes and Stars tutorial.  The update is available for immediate download as an extra file when you purchase my PDF pattern and I'll include the download code with any new kit sales, too.   I've also sent Etsy convos to everyone who's purchased a snowflake pattern or kit within the past year.  So check your inbox if that's you.  If you purchased your copy more than a year ago, email me (or leave a comment) with your Etsy username and I'll send you the update code as well.  One of those little extra things I can do for my blog readers. 

Oh, and the frames are from the holiday version of an iPhone app called Postage, but it doesn't seem to be available in the App store anymore. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013 Etsy Rain Holiday Show Trip Report

I arrived for my volunteer stint a little before the doors were set to open on Saturday and found this line waiting to get in to the 2013 Etsy Rain Holiday

Guess I didn't have to worry about the change of venue (last year at the Seattle Center, this year at the Cruise Terminal on the waterfront).  Entry to the show is free, but the first fifty people through the doors each day received wonderful gift bags filled with cool stuff from the vendors.  Boy are those bags Popular!

I spent the first hour or so simply greeting people as they walked through the door, then I got to wander the floor spelling vendors who needed a little break. 

It's both fun and slightly awkward jumping in to man someone else's booth.  "Hi!  Aren't these things great?  Nope, they're not mine, I just get to pretend they are for another fifteen minutes or so.   Ladybugs?  Uhm, yeah, I think I saw some of those a moment ago.  Let's look and see what we can find...."

But cruising the show itself was great fun, so I made a little Treasury to share some of my favorites.

Just a few of the fabulous treasures from the show
And here are a few call outs for my favorite favorites:

EdiblesSweet Caroline Jams are sooo incredibly yummy!  I bought some last year to give as gifts, but ended up keeping them for myself (oops!).  This year I came home with a little jar of Winter Spiced Blueberry.  Some of her other flavors include "Masala Chai Spiced Apple Butter" and "Pomegranate Lemon Jelly".  I love her stocking stuffer sized jars - great taste-samplers, amazing flavors and the empty bottles are so pretty, they make great storage containers in the studio, so it’s a triple win.  Score!

Mortar and Pestle Tea Shop at the holiday show
For sheer coolness factor, Mortar and Pestle's booth stole the show.   A purveyor of fine teas, tisanes and mulling spices, their booth felt like you'd stepped into a 19th century shop with a Steampunk flare all the way down to their costumes (take a look at their website and you'll see what I mean). 

They even offered freshly brewed samples of their various teas at a beautifully appointed tea bar at the back of their booth.  I came away with a double package of teas wrapped as letters to Santa (like the ones in the top left of the photo).  Won't say who on my list it was for, in case they happen to read this.

Illustrations:  I fell in love with the Mysterious Monster illustration by Pricsilla Jo and spent way too much time trying to figure out who on my Christmas list (besides myself) might want one.  I love her style, and I love all the little sea critters in this piece in particular. 

DIY:  Who doesn't love owls?  Reinvented by Me has lots of great patterns, including a fun stuffed Owl pattern that promises to show you how to make ten different fabric owls.  Enough for every Strigiforme lover on your list!  (Psst... Did you know that a group of owls is called a Parliament?)

MayhemHere has a cool take on the ‘paint-by-numbers’ gift with their Zentangle your Own Animal cards complete with card, brush, paint and a tip book.  Some of their other work is a bit creepy for my tastes, but they have the coolest Totoro print.  If I’d seen that at the show, I would have totally picked it up for Joe for Christmas. 

Shadow boxes by Sparrow and Sundry
Table Toppers:  I'm never quite sure what to do with them, but Sparrow and Sundry's shadow boxes were a blast to look through.  To add to the coolness factor, she's made use of modern LED technology so each of them has a little light (she includes extra batteries with each purchase, too!) 

This was one of the booths that I babysat for a bit, and I had a great time chatting with passerby about their favorites.  I even made a sale! 

Here's a Full List of the vendors and their websites/Etsy stores in case you'd like to browse some more. 

I also learned more about Etsy Rain's imminent name change, the whys and why it's so cool.  But that's food for another post.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Because you Rock Giveaway

Thank you!  For stopping by and reading my blog.  For participating in the challenges I've hosted this year.  For purchasing my kits and tutorials.  For spreading the word and helping to make this the best year yet for my Etsy store.  For sticking with me through the year.  It is truly thanks to you and everyone else like you that I can continue to produce new patterns and tutorials like my Fancy Fish Friends. And you rock!  

I've decided to host a little Give Away to say thanks for all your support and to finish out the year on an upswing.  

What will I be giving away, you ask?  How about a little beaded bead pendant like either of the two pictured at the left.  I'll even make it in whatever color the winner desires (provided I can find beads in that color).  

How do you enter the giveaway? Here's how:
  • You can get an entry for visiting my main Etsy store, favoriting an item, then coming back here and commenting to let me know what you chose.  If you've favorited an item in the past, you can use that if you'd prefer.
  • I'll give you a bonus entry if you let me know why you chose that particular item or items (I'm looking for concrete, constructive ideas here - something beyond 'because I liked it' which, while cool, doesn't give me much to go on in terms of continuous quality improvement).
  • I'll also give you a bonus entry if you make a concrete suggestion for future additions to my Etsy store - something you'd love to see in 2014.  
  • I'll give you an extra entry if you mention and link to this giveaway on your blog or Facebook page, too.  Just comment on my blog and let me know where you've posted. 
  • Anyone who makes a purchase at my Etsy store automatically gets TWO entries.
  • I'll also give an additional entry for every $25 in purchases - so if you made a $50 purchase, you'd get four entries.  For this purpose, I'll be counting all purchases made between November 15th and December 31st, 2013.
  • If you've made a purchase in my Etsy store previously and you buy something between now and the end of the year, I'll give you an extra entry for being a repeat customer. 
Winner Selection and Upping the Stakes
I'll be choosing the winner (and if there are a LOT of entries - winners) randomly.  Lastly, if I break my Monthly Sales Record for my Skunk Hill Studio Etsy store, not only will I do a happy dance, I'll add in a separate Grand Prize of a Fancy Fish hand-stitched by me.  But that's only if my December sales top those from July 2013 (my best month to date). 

I'll announce the winner(s) on my Blog on Thursday, January 2nd.

Make sure I have a way to contact you in case you are the winner (the easiest is if your profile is set up so I can send you an email).  If for some reason I am unable to contact you, I reserve the right to choose another winner.  But I'd really, really hate to have to do that.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Things in my Etsy-verse

I thought I'd put together a quick post about new listings in my Etsy-verse.  Most of my 'new' listings are really variations on established themes.

First there's my new Beaded Bead Collections. 

Purple Frost pendant necklace by Karen Williams - kits available on Etsy
Purple Frost pendant kits, $25
One of my Corset and Stays beaded beads, my Purple Frost kit comes with everything you need turn it into a pendant necklace or ornament, including an extra long headpin and a ribbon necklace blank. Looking at it here on my blog, the angle on the pendant in the photo looks a bit wonky; I may need to try and retake this photo. 

I'm a sucker for beaded Christmas ornaments, so I had to turn my Corset Beads to the task, coming up with my Yule Tidings kit with all the beads and materials to make six beaded beads.  This kit includes the full PDF of my book Corsets, Caps and Stays (if you'd rather the print version of my book, let me know - as a blogger friend I'll make the substitution for free through the new year). 
Yule Tidings Miniature Ornament Collection - kits available on Etsy
Yule Tidings Miniature Ornament Collection - Beaded Beads kit, $54
While it doesn't show the whole collection, I think this is one of my favorite photos
The bead on the far right above reminds me of a Japanese lantern, I love the warm of the dark bronze metallic iris beads against the deep ruby red and olivey greens. 

Want to tackle a larger project?  There's my Stars at Midnight necklace kit.  This is the necklace featured in my book - I finally gathered all of the materials and put together kits so you can make your own version.  Including again, a full PDF of my book

Stars at Midnight long necklace - kits available on Etsy
Stars at Midnight long necklace kit, $62

I've also brought back my Personal Planets series of freeform peyote beaded beads.  This was one of the classes I'd proposed for Bead & Button and Bead Fest, but since neither were interested, I'm slowly adding the kits to my Etsy shop.  For now, there's Quinacridone Summer (inspired by a painting by the fantastic artist JJ Jacobs) and my newest beauty: 

Whispers in Pink, freeform peyote beaded bead - kits available on Etsy
Whispers in Pink, freeform peyote beaded bead kit, $41
With Whispers in Pink, I had a great time playing with magatamas, tila beads and baby spikes and included all three in the kits.   The strong silvers and blue-greys combined with the spikes give it a harder, almost industrial feel, but the whispers of pinks and lavender add a hint of the romantic, keeping it from tipping over the edge. 

Whispers in Pink hung from its Kumihimo braid
Whispers with its Kumihimo braid
This is one of my all time favorite beaded beads.  And the photo above is another of my favorite photos. I love how Whispers seems to float in a sea of darkness, like a planet drifting through space.

All of my Personal Planets kits include two base beads and more than enough seed beads so you'll have some left over when you're done.  In the photo at right I used some of my extra beads in a Kumihimo braid, finishing it off as a necklace. Each kit comes with my extra-long headpins to make quick pendants.  Whispers is a little more expensive than my Quinacridone Summer kit simply because the beads (including the 14 baby spikes) are more expensive. 

Then there's my newest Fish Friend kit.  Way back in college I had a Betta Fighting Fish named Mordred in just these colors.  So I thought of naming this kit after him, but for now it's simply called Rumble Fish, because I think that's fun enough as it is.  (And that was one of my favorite book titles back in the day). 

Rumble Fish, 3D Beadwoven Fish kits available on Etsy
One of my Rumble Fish hanging out in some coral, $45
Each of my Fancy fish kits should make three to four fish.  They all come with four bead cores, and I've used each kit myself in the testing process.  Others in this series include Ellie the Elegant (also known as my Wedding Fish kits), Rosie the Red and Blue Fish, who are stuck with the Dr. Seuss name for life. 

And in case I haven't shared it here yet,  I've also put together some new Snowflake kits, like this one:

Peppermint Twist Beaded Snowflakes - beading kits available on Etsy
Peppermint Twist Beaded Snowflake Kits, $27.50
Each kit is designed to make LOTS of snowflakes - it just looks prettier in the thumbnail when I only include one. 

So that's what's new at Skunk Hill Studio.

My Stash to Your Stash

I've also openned a new little shop called MyStash2YourStash for, you guessed it, Destashing!  I was totally surprised that someone else hadn't already grabbed the name.

I'm a collector.  I start into a new artistic or crafty medium and I start collecting.  Many of the items in my studio were gifts, some have been passed on to me by other crafters, much of it I've purchased.  When I move on to something new, the old gets carefully stored away against future need.  But after moving my studio (and everything in it) twice this year I've decided that maybe it really is time to let a few of these things go to new, loving homes.

So far, what you'll find are my Crazy Quilting grab bags containing smaller squares of fabrics, lots of trimmings, buttons, braids, lace, yoyos and more.  I spent ---far---- too much time putting together these themed kits, but I'm really hoping people will love them.

All the listings in my new Destashing store

Some of the items in my Garden Greens collection

from my Arabian Knights grab bag
While I collected all of this for crazy quilting, I've also used them to make ornaments and decorate masks, and they'd work well for Barbie doll clothes, too.   I just popped over to MyStash to grab the screenshots and discovered it has an admirer!  Wow, someone found my store through search!

After the new year, I plan to add more to both stores.  Let me know if there's anything in particular that you'd love to see.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Calendars

As has happened so often of late, I'm way behind on my blogging.  My plan is to catch up this week with a blog post every day, just to see if I can do it.  Future posts will look at the additions to my Etsy store and the openning of a new, smaller store; I'll be announcing a give-away as a thank you to everyone who's helped support me this past year and this holiday season, and I'll be writing up a trip report on the Etsy Rain holiday show. 

But since today is December 1st, my thoughts are on Advent Calendars.   I love this time after Thanksgiving, leading up to Christmas and one of my favorite traditions for as long as I can remember have always been advent calendars.  A few years, I bought this fun, tree-shaped advent calendar from Starbucks.  It came with little chocolates in each of the drawers.

While it was cute enough, the next year I took it to my studio to give it a little make-over:

Each year, I keep an eye out for something new to put into the little drawers.  What has become a tradition is dividing Clement Clarke Moore's The Night Before Christmas into fourteen quatrains for inclusion in the drawers.   

This year through much roundaboutation, I came across Melissa's Etsy store, Loo de Loop.  She make gorgeous hand-sewn Advent calendars (I'm afraid it's too late to order those this year), but perfect for me, she also sells these fun activity pages for your calendar as a PDF download.  So I bought a set, but then I got to thinking that they didn't really match the color scheme of my current calendar.

I have Illustrator, I said to myself, wondering just how hard it could be to make my own pages.  A quick web search for Illustrator tutorials and found pay dirt:

*  A fantastic video tutorial by Alma Loveland on how to create decorative border frames.  (More free tutorials at nicolesclasses.com
*  A slightly less-clear, but still useful tutorial on how to make Snowflakes using Dynamic Shapes by Astute Graphics
*  Another Snowflake tutorial on Calobee Doodles that I haven't used yet, but looks much easier.  Their focus is design, the blog is beautiful and they have an Etsy site where they sell digital download Advent Calendars!  I love the circularity of all of this. 

My design based on the tutorials
At the right is my new design.  Like my pretty green borders?  I drew them myself with my pen tool.  I love all my little snowflakes - every single one is based off of a single six-pointed star.

Curious how they'd look in person, or would you like to download them for your own calendar?  The poem is long enough, that I've placed it in two files and uploaded both as PDFs to my dropbox.  Feel free to download them for your personal use:

     Page 1
     Page 2

It's kind of fun to watch them download, because the snowflakes appear first, a sprinkle at a time scattered about the page, with the frames coming last.  So it looks like it's snowing!

This morning I cut all the little slips of paper, both from my sheets and the ones I purchased from LoodeLoop, rolled them up, tied them with yarn and stuffed them into the appropriate drawers.

Since I don't have kids to open the drawers and it feels a little odd to open them myself, I make Joe open them and hover over his shoulder.  He's such a good sport!  Today he opened the first drawer, which contained the first quadrain of the poem and today's activity "Pick Out a Christmas Tree". 

His response?  "Ah, it's our to-do list!"