Saturday, January 31, 2009

Yes we can!!

Barack O'Flutterbutt is the first Foamie-American to reach the White House.

He raises so much joy, pride, and hope in people's hearts I can only pray he will prove to be as powerful and trustworthy leader as the free world expects of him.

Barack and Michelle O'Flutterbutt

Barack and Michelle O'Flutterbutt definitly brought a new spirit into their inauguration ceremony and to the Neighborhood Ball where they danced their first waltz. To me, they looked like something out of a fairy tale, one where we are all the heroes.

The first lady and president O'Flutterbutt dancing the first waltz.

If you want to own them (think of all the power you will have!!) yes you can! They are waiting for you in my Etsy shop.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oh my god oh my god oh my god

I want this!

A happy tea pot with its very own a hand-knit hat, so adorable! And I don't even like tea that much.

Which reminds me, very soon I will post my birthday wish-list, in case somebody wants to get me a lovely gift of my very own taste. For some reason even my best friends never manage to get me gifts I really like (excluding iPod year of course :o). As soon as February begins, I will post it. And as they say "if you post it, they will buy". Or is it if you.. Ah never mind.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shop update!

I had a shop update last night. So many lovely items, so little time!

First off is Ms. Gladiola Flutterbutt. I was actually planning to make a little Scarlett O'Flutterbutt, but I realized I don't have black hair only I already started her dress. So, I whipped up this lovely lady instead, and even wrote a little song about her:

Gladiola Gladiola so fair
Gladiola the wind through her hair

Gladiola with green-grayish eyes
Gladiola you're my heart's demise

I also collaborated with my mom to create this little bandit - Sanchez Flutterbutt. Sanchez is much less intimidating than he looks, and I suspect his mustache may be fake (I wouldn't ask him about that though, if I were you).

Last but not least, I added a set of 12 stickers featuring some of my puppets (mainly Pinky, but also Santa, Dad, Lola, Felicity, and more). I printed them professionally and you can use them on your crafty project, give them to your loved ones, use them for gift packing, or stick one on your lunch box. The possibilities are endless!
That's it for now. I have lots of work left on custom orders and an international artistic cooperation, and I still don't feel well enough to move swiftly ahead. Hopefully, I will feel better in a few days.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Meet the Artist - With Kirsty Southam

Today I am proud to introduce the owner of the most beautiful unknown shop in Etsy (in my opinion). Kirsty Southam is the creative mind behind Me plus Molly - a shop full of wonderful usable textile art.

Tell my readers a bit about yourself.

My name is Kirsty. Originally from the countryside and now living with my boyfriend by the sea on the Kentish coast (I've just recently moved in!). I've always loved art and craft and creating things. After years spent lost working in retail, I have thrown the proverbial towel in and just want to be happy doing what I enjoy which is my textile work.

Who is Molly?

Molly was my Nan. I was her first grandchild. She was a very stylish little lady that loved her accessories - brooches; hats; gloves; shoes; bags. She had an accessory for every occasion. It just seemed right when creating my accessories and trying to think of a name/label, that I would use her name somehow.

When and how did you begin to create textile art? Is this your only creative medium?

When I was much younger I was always a painter and drawer. It was only at secondary school that I got in to textiles. It just kind of stuck. I love the tactile quality of textiles and being able to make or create something that you are able to use too. I still love to draw and paint, and especially love mixed media and collage, which I am doing a bit more of now to use as a basis for ideas and sketches for new work.

Where do you sell your art? Is this your day job?

My work is for sale in my Etsy store and I have just set up a 'shop' page on my own website too. There are a couple of gallery and craft shops that have my work for sale in and would like to increase the places that I sell through.
I'd love this to be my day job, but it isn't at the moment as there is much needed from me in the way of self promotion and getting my work 'out there' and seen/known by people.

The amount of sales on your Etsy shop is, I think, outrageous. Why do you think your wonderful shop was not discovered yet?

*blushes* bless you! That has to be one of the nicest things anyone could say to me! I think it is because I have found it hard taking good images of my work so people can have a true idea of my work. Also I need to list much more frequently than I have to be seen by people. Also again I need to get on the self promotion wagon which I am not very good at! (I'm hoping that people do like my work).

What is your favorite item of all times?

Does this have to be a piece of my own work? or someone elses? if its mine then I'm looking forward to seeing the end result to the new pieces I'm sampling and experimenting with at the moment! So no pics to see just yet! other than that I like my skinny leg birds! filled with polyfibre and lovely lavender - they smell great and make me smile!

If it's a favorite item of someone else, then it would be the beautiful print my sister bought me this Christmas - one I loved from Cathy Nichols - just gorgeous.

Print from Cathy Nichols's shop

Looking for more of Kirsty? This is her Flickr and this is her website.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I have a dream

I have a recurrent dream since I have been a girl. It is more of a nightmare than a dream actually.

In the dream I have an orange Y shaped slug I keep in a box, and after much mutual suffering, I accidentally kill it. This nightmare has been very persistent, and has been coming and going for the past 20 years or so. Or as one (me) may put it - 20 years too many.

A while ago, I noticed an Etsy shop that sells handmade slugs in all sorts of colors, and low and behold - they were all Y shaped. I guess my dream was not that far off. Anyway, I convod Martha, the shop owner, and told her about my dream and asked if she can help me make peace with it. Martha offered to make me a peace offering slug. After some deliberation, we decided it should arrive with a bouquet of flowers with a little note saying "Let's be friends". And so, today she showed me the finished product.

I just purchased him, so I can't tell you if it works or not. But I am sure this is a major step in my making peace with the slug nation and if that works, there is still hope for peace in the middle east.

Tonight, BTW, I had a wonderful dream about Glen Carter. Should I get a polymer clay Glen Carter as well? No way in hell. This is one dream I would be happy to reoccur.

Glenny singing Gethsemane, I want to have his baby

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First we'll take the post office then the world - Global shipping 101

If you want to increase your market, you have to offer international shipping to your online customers. That is a must in cases such as mine, shipping from the middle east, but also for US residents. After all, what is the use of an online market if it is not made global?

I see many sellers are asking about international shipping, trying to gather as much information as possible while they consider adding this service to their online shops. I hope my experience can help not only Israeli sellers, but sellers worldwide.

So, this is what I've learned about international shipping:
  1. Use bundles
    Ship as much as you can in bundles (using padded envelopes in different sizes) as opposed to boxes. Boxes cost more to ship.
  2. Be responsible
    Use registered mail to provide excellent customer service. Save the receipts (bearing the tracking numbers) in an orderly fashion and make notes of expected delivery dates. This will enable you to rescue "lost" packages, and be proactive with your customers.
  3. Canada??
    The most expensive country to ship to is Canada. I have no idea why that is.
  4. Peace dude!
    Make sure you are not trying to ship to an enemy country (happened to me only once, with Malaysia of all places..).
  5. Express shipping prices
    Express shipping (EMS) to the UK costs 1/3 more than express shipping the US and rest of Europe. That is not the case for regular registered air mail. Again - I have no idea why that is.
  6. Offering express shipping on Etsy
    You are not allowed to sell an express shipping item. Instead, you are requested to advise your customers you offer this service on your Shop Policy Shipping section and instruct customers to convo you for details and pricing. Then you should either edit your item price before they purchase, or send them a money request via PayPal (or whatever service you use).
I think that's it! If you have something to add, please comment.

Pinky shops both online and offline.

Custom made husband

It seems the item most popular by men on my Shop is a hand puppet. I have been getting several orders for custom made mini and full size puppets in the past two months, mostly by daughters who were looking for a cool gift for their dad.

This one, that I finished last night, is by far my favorite. It is a custom made husband!

The lovely lady who ordered him, sent me a picture of her Muppet loving husband and asked for his look alike in mini hand puppet form. Well! Obviously I was thrilled to create a blue eyed, blond, bearded Foamie hubby for her.

Now, usually my mini hand puppets arrive naked apart for a little tie, scarf, or similar accessory. But the thought of sending this family a spitting image of their daddy in the buff was unacceptable to me (I cannot afford sending a bunch of kids to therapy, I have to think of my future kids' therapy too you know). Therefore I subcontracted my mom to knit a smallish short sleeved sweater. Last night she was too sleepy to finish it, so I had to do some sewing while watching the Obama inauguration (the tears I shed make an excellent excuse for the shape of the seams).

Gosh, he turned out so cute! I don't want to part with him, and he doesn't want to part with my mom. They spent lots of time together over the past couple of days, and have truly bonded (this is the most time she got to spend with any of my closer to her age puppets, finally - a Foamie she can really talk with). Unfortunately, I must ship him tomorrow, since I already have a week delay on all my custom orders due to the "I am in too much pain to do anything creative" week I had. Oh well - off he goes, and on I go to start one custom giant and one custom midget.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Meet the Artist - With Nifty Knits

My second Meet the Artist feature is dedicated to a new discovery I made very recently. I am proud to introduce the very talented, fun, and brilliant Heather of Nifty Knits!

Tell my readers a bit about yourself.

My name's Heather, I've lived with my lovely husband for an outrageous 30 years and we have three grown-up children. I used to be a teacher up until last year when I got bitten by stress. I'm now without a "day-job" but have lots of time for knitting :-)

We live in the beautiful Kent countryside in the South of England.

Where did you learn how to knit?

I learned to knit as a child, I think my grandmother taught me. I remember making a teensy dress and hat for my Cindy doll. I hadn't knitted for decades up till last year - knitting turned out to be almost as effective as meds for combating stress.

* I have to agree. Nothing like a creative outlet to revive the soul.

Do you develop your own patterns? If so, do you sell them or would you rather keep them to yourself and sell a finished product?

When I took up knitting again I used patterns, in fact I almost didn't realize at first that I was "allowed" to make stuff up! Now, a year or so on, I much prefer just picking up my needles and making it up as I go along. I don't sell my patterns - if you could see the scraps of paper with lots of crossings out and vague diagrams, you'd soon realize why!

Pinky and his new friend Owly posing for the camera.
In the background, a wonderful vase of forever daffodils.
Both Owly and the flowers were knitted by Heather.

How long have you been selling online and where?

I started selling on eBay about 6 years ago, but didn't offer my knits straight away. There is a "bargain basement" culture on eBay, so I tend to just focus on the holiday seasons there. When my son's girlfriend told me about Etsy I didn't think I was good enough, but she kept on at me until I opened Niftknits in April last year. I've now got another shop where I can sell in my own currency.

What is the most important tip you have to offer to online selling newcomers?

Only one?!?!?! I think the most important lesson I had to learn (and keep on learning!) is to really value my work. Quality photos and descriptions really do matter. Every now and then I have a tantrum and mutter "if I was an excellent photographer I'd sell photos, not knits!" but if people can't see clearly what you're selling, how can they fall in love with it?

What is your favorite item of all times?

My favorite item is usually the one I'm making right now, and my newest knit is no exception to that rule. I've been doing careful research (aka watching Meerkat Manor on TV) and have created my own pattern and knitted some sweet little meerkats. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to offer them for re-homing just yet, I love them too much!

I just love silly one sitting and looking at the camera

Want more of Heather? You can find her on Twitter and on Flickr too. She also has a second shop, Naughty Knits. Oh my!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Please vote for me!

I was just notified that I was selected for the Top Items poll as part of the Shop Makeover project on the Storque!

Yes, my little Cream Puff Flutterbutt is one of the nominees, and if elected I will get some lovely advertising as a prize. So please vote for me here!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Victoria of the United Kingdom

Please help me in welcoming Alexandrina Victoria Queen of the United Kingdom, Empress of India (also known as "why do you make puppets when you are in pain and cannot concentrate anyway") to my collection of Flutterbutts.

In my mind, Victoria is a sad and romantic of what happens when love turns sour. Her great love for her husband Albert lasted long after his death, taking Victoria farther and farther away from her once cheerful and faithful self. She became bitter, detached from her children, and eventually left her name to a decade of great progress but also great poverty, harshness, and child abuse. What a complex, powerful, and interesting woman she must have been.

I had a vision of Victoria Flutterbutt in my head for days now, and thought I might make use of this day of rest at home to make her. Not a very good idea. Anyway, she is at my shop in all her glory. I am sure whoever buys her will be very pleased, even though her hair is darker than I wanted..

Victoria of the United Kingdom
You have to admit mine is cuter though

Victoria of the United Kingdom
I am quite pleased with her hairdo

And now - off to the shower and moaning in self pity (which surprisingly makes quite an excellent pastime).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I am so sore, I need some candy

Thursday night marked the starting point for a rather painful weekend, having some small surgical work done. 15 minutes in and out caused two days (and counting) of small yet nuts driving pain. All I want to do is sleep, so all my plans for puppet making weekend were deserted in favor of sitting on the sofa and moaning in self pity.

My other new shoes

Everything I wore for the past two days was spotted with blood, so I am constantly playing I am in that movie where Ray Liotta was shot in the chest and is driving around in order to revenge a bit before he dies. I keep getting out of my car bent holding my chest in pain, it looks so theatrical! Anyway.

I did add this cute little card to the shop though.

Two is company card
Great nail polish isn't it? It's Mac's Fireball orange in case you were wondering.

And on other news - Victoria Case, who makes the most wonderful, cute, and funny rubber stamps ever (not to mention she sells them at a wonderfully reasonable price) is holding a blog candy in her blog. Whoever wins it will get a wonderful pack of stamps and other goodies. Boy, I want to win! So keep your fingers crossed for me.

I would be very happy to win all these :o)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Meet the Artist - With Shay Aaron

This is the premier of my new Meet the Artist series, and who better to interview for my very first feature than my much loved and admired polymer clay artist and friend, Shay Aaron!

One of the reasons I love Shay's work is his sense of humor, which shines through his work as well as his photographs. In fact, Shay and I are constantly scanning the web for miniature furniture and utensils to use in our photographs. Unfortunately for me, he usually gets to the good ones first.

Here are the questions I sent Shay, and his answers. Hope you will enjoy and appreciate his work as much as I do (I own quite a few pieces of his work).

He is also a very spiritual kind of guy.

Tell my readers a bit about yourself and about your shop.
My name is Shay Aaron, next month I will celebrate 24 winters, I live in the central region of Israel with my little nutty family. I used to work as an actor and as a production assistant, and now I'm teaching crafts for a living. This year I'm planning to learn stage design.
I've been working with Fimo polymer clay since 2005. I love to create tiny foods and candies. Before I knew anything about polymer clay, I used to create miniature items out of paper clay (Das). It was not pretty at all. Recently, I've lost more than 120 pounds, so any chocolate I touch must be inedible. That's life, folks!

Shay teaching a polymer clay workshop for a group of very engaged kids

Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration in almost everything. From my mommy's kitchen to Britney Spears. I was inspired by several polymer clay miniature makers and Re-Ment's toys.
There are some artists which inspired me the most. I'm in love with Wanda's jewels. Her work with resin is absolutely stunning, kitschy, and unique. * He also said how much he loves my work, which I just had to censure!

There are not many guys doing your type of art. Why do you think that is?
Men shouldn't make crafts. Guys need to work in their garage and keep fixing pergolas. The truth is that I don't have an honest answer for that query. I just love the fact that I'm one of a kind.

What is your view on the Israeli crafting community? What would you like to see change?
For the last year I discover some great Israeli crafters who make great arts. Most of them sell their crafts on Etsy. I see beauty in it, and I wish for more Israeli artist to expose their art.

My favorite piece by Shay. I should really buy it shouldn't I? Oh wait, I already did.

What new directions would you like your creative work to take in 2009?
Oh, there are so many ideas up in my head, but sure I'll keep making the same great miniatures in the current year. I hope to learn and experience with some new techniques and planning to write some tutorials of my mini projects.

What is your favorite item out of everything you created and why?
There is no such a thing. I believe in all my creations and it's too difficult to choose one. I adore my latest mini food items, my mini Falafel and Hummus, I think they are one of my best creations.

Falafel necklace by Shay Aaron

Hummus necklace by Shay Aaron

Looking for Shay's work? You can find his online shop here. He also has a Flickr and will soon open an English blog. In the meanwhile, this is his Hebrew blog.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The author of these (web)pages is frozen and dry

I was thinking I better ask what you - my 12 wonderful readers - want me to write about. Just please don't ask me to write about the war or politics. I like to keep my views to myself on these topics, especially in international debates. As far as the war is concerned - I am safely out of the missile range (unless there is something nobody's told me).

What ever shall we write about next?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I saw a few of my Livejournal buddies did this and I thought I will give it a try myself, since I didn't make any new year resolutions (well apart for walking twice a week).

In 2009, raisinlike resolves to...
Cut down on my painting.
Admit my true feelings to wildernesscat.
Buy new peanuts.
Keep my illustration clean.
Apply for a new design.
Start a lasagna fund.
Get your own New Year's Resolutions:

I would not even bother posting this, but starting a lasagna fund is actually an excellent idea.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A weekend of many orders

This is one busy weekend. I had a ton of orders at the very last day of December, and has several custom orders to finish this weekend, plus some items I had on my to do list, and get items ready for shipping. In short - all I did this weekend was sleep and work (okay, I did some shopping too, but that's for another entry).

Since I live in the land of international shipping, and my international shipping guideline for Valentine's Day is January 29th, I had to start working on some new Valentine Flutterbutts. And indeed I have.

New Valentine's Day Flutterbutts
These are Funny Valentine Flutterbutt and Be my Valentine Flutterbutt posing for the camera.

I also made this little one, on a custom order. He was made to resemble this manly Flutterbutt I sold last year. I think I did pretty well.

On top of this, I am yet to make a surprise hamster for a customer, get started on packing items for the post office tomorrow, I also have a blog give away to think about. Any ideas for a give away will be appreciated!

Not including the few hours of photographing items, editing images, cooking and some more cooking, not to mention actually sleeping for 14 hours straight tonight, I think you can call this a busy weekend.