Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Christmas In The Bag

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Yeah, sorry, it is super early, but I’m still working on my shutters and since I wanted to get an early start listing my Christmas items in my Etsy, I thought I’d give a preview of them here.  The listings on Etsy are for three months and I’d rather have them listed early than hanging around for a period of time after Christmas.

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I’ve got a bunch of small pillows.  I’m just giving a group shot here and you will be able to see them individually in my shop.  All these pillows measure about 6 x 9.

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These red and white document fabric stockings have a creamy white quilted fabric on the back.

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New in my shop this year are these burlap gift bags, which could be used to hold an actual gift or for decorative use.  This one has lots of decorative trims and tassels on it.

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This one has some lace going all round the top opening and a cluster of three snowflake buttons hand-sewn in two opposing corners.

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I’ve made one for myself for decorative use, too.  I won’t show that one until I’ve decorated my home for Christmas though.   Just stuff them with some shipping boxes that you would throw in your recycling.  I will most likely have mine near the fireplace and tree.

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You can tie them off or leave them open and “overflowing”.  I’ve only made the two for my Etsy shop because I wasn’t sure how they would do. 

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I also have the wine bottle bags I did last year (first picture above, too).  I’m planning on getting all these items listed in my Etsy shop by the weekend, if you are interested.  

Thanks for looking! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Artist Behind The Etsy ~ Dakota Designs By Vicki

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Being a part of the Etsy community, not only as a seller but as a customer, I have come across many talented individuals.  With this series, I hope to introduce you to some of these creative people, finding out where they find their inspiration, and a little bit more about them. 

Good morning, everyone!  This morning’s feature is some stunning jewelry created by Vicki at Dakota Designs by Vicki.  Such gorgeous pieces Vicki creates and so affordable!  Perfect gifts for others or yourself.  Enjoy a peek at some eye candy this morning!

Thank you Kathy for inviting me to post my story on the "The Artist Behind The Etsy"!

Greetings from a windy and chilly South Dakota!  Fall has definitely arrived in South Dakota and it's my favorite time of the year.  I was born here and have spent most of my life in this lovely state.  My husband and I have 5 children and 6 grandchildren (4 girls and 2 boys); the most recent grand daughter born on October 3rd in Chicago.  I work full time in the banking industry and we are small business owners, so I lead a fairly busy life.  Several years ago we purchased my mother's lake home and 6 months out of the year we travel every weekend to our cabin.  I create most of my jewelry at the cabin; sitting in the screened in porch overlooking the lake.  I am inspired by the peaceful setting and beauty of the water and surrounding nature. 

Swarovski crystal earrings, aqua earrings, trendy jewelry, bridal earrings, wedding jewelry, dangle earrings, handmade

Swarovski crystal earrings, aqua earrings, beaded earrings, heart earrings, handcrafted, handmade jewelry

I had always wanted to design and create jewelry and dreamed of having my own store one day.  As most of us know, life can be very complicated and busy, and my dream was buried under the every day duties and responsibilities of working and being a wife, mother and grandmother.  My family's needs came first and I found myself deeply entrenched in making sure their needs were met.  My son was deployed to Afghanistan for 15 months and during this time, his wife and son moved in with my husband and I.  They were expecting their second child, who was born and lived in our home for the first 4 months of her life.  After she was born, we suspected that something was wrong as she was not meeting milestones as expected.  She was eventually diagnosed with a severe neurological disorder called Angelman Syndrome.  We learned our granddaughter would never be able to speak and would suffer from seizures.  I spent the next few years educating myself on this syndrome and learning about the challenges she would face.  She is thriving today and one of the greatest joys of our family. 

Swarovski earrings, Beaded earrings, aqua earrings, trendy jewelry, crystal earrings, cottage chic jewelry

Baby bracelet, baby gift, infant jewelry, baby girl jewelry, baby girl bracelet, baptism bracelet

Recently my husband was injured in a fall while at work.  He was working on scaffolding and fell 6 feet.  His injuries were severe and he spent 4 months in a nursing home and had several surgeries.  He has never quite recovered and will most likely not return to the line of construction work he has done his entire life.  It was during those long months of his recovery and much soul searching on my part that my dream to design and create my own jewelry was reborn. 

Turquoise bracelet, wrap bracelet, yoga jewelry, seed bead bracelet, beaded bracelet, yoga bracelet, handcrafted, trendy jewelry

Ocean wine charms, beaded wine charms, housewarming gift, birthday gift, wine glass accessories, trendy jewelry

I discovered Etsy and was in awe of the beautiful jewelry I found there.  I admired (and purchased) some very lovely pieces from talented fellow Etsy designers.  I was inspired by the beauty of the jewelry I found on Etsy and wanted to learn how to design jewelry and have my own store.  I spent a great deal of time reading jewelry design magazines, surfing the internet for articles, blogs and how-to videos; basically, learning everything I could about how to design and create jewelry.   I began practicing and making jewelry, most of which my mother admired.  So, with 1 fan, and all the courage I could muster, I opened my Etsy store.  

Swarovski bracelet, Swarovski jewelry, crystal bracelet, trending items, handcrafted jewelry, beaded bracelet, trendy jewelry, handmade

I continue to expand my knowledge on designing jewelry and each piece I create is made with care, using quality beads and fine components.  I am currently working on learning the art of Kumihimo, an ancient Japanese form of braiding, and hope to add my new designs in December.  I also enjoy using pieces of vintage jewelry in my designs and hope to expand my collection.  In the bracelet below, I incorporated a pair of vintage clip on earrings into the design:   

 Swarovski bracelet, vintage jewelry, upcycled jewelry, trendy jewelry, gold bracelet, handcrafted bracelet, repurposed jewelry

I love making bridal jewelry and offer custom orders of individual pieces or sets like the one below:

Pearl bridal earrings, bridal jewelry set, pearl bridal jewelry, Swarovski earrings, pearl earrings, bridesmaid earrings, handmade

Flower girl bracelet, flower girl jewelry, pink flower girl jewelry, pearl flower girl bracelet

I want my customers to be happy with their purchase and ship orders the same day I receive them whenever possible.  I also include a free pair of handcrafted earrings with every order.  Most of my customers are women and I like to think that if they are at all like myself, they lead busy lives and a little surprise along the way is a nice way to brighten someone's day. 

Aurora Borealis earrings, Swarovski earrings, crystal earrings, dangle earrings, handcrafted jewelry, handcrafted

Thank you again Kathy, for having me on  your Sunday feature "The Artist Behind The Etsy"!

Thank you, Vicki, for sharing your story.  It is amazing how personal the stories are that bring us to sell on Etsy.  You can visit Vicki’s Etsy shop here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shutters In The Dining Room

For about a year, I’ve been feeling that I need something on the wall in the dining area to flank the mirror I found at an estate sale. 

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The wall is big enough (and high enough) that it felt like it really needed something else along with the mirror and French signage.  I had considered transferware plates, tureen lids, server lids, some kind of framed botanicals or bird prints, and, finally, shutters.

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As you can see, I went with shutters.  Unfortunately, it has been raining here quite a bit so the pictures are not going to be the best.  After going around and around with the different options I finally decided on shutters and figured that I can always hang a plate, tureen lid, wreath, or picture on each shutter. 

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I think I can do more with the shutters here than if I went with any of the other options.  And, there is still enough room above the mirror to add three small plates,  if I wanted.  The shutters were also more readily available.  I was able to find this pair at the antique mart where I used to have my booth.  

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Also, in their favor, they are affordable; I paid $24.00 for these.  I also picked up a sample pot size of CeCe Caldwell Vintage White, which they happen to sell there, too.  I am going to add a wood embellishment to the tops.

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Meanwhile, I hung them up to get a feel for how they would work in the space and I am liking how they look here.  The blue is so pretty ~ kind of faded and the insert is a couple of shades darker than my wall.  Not too keen on that color though. 

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I took one of the thin white shutters I have in our guest room and held it up against the wall before I bought these and white would work fine here.  I was concerned that white might disappear against this light beige wall color.

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I plan on adding the wood embellishment and painting them over the weekend.  I’m eager to see how they turn out!   

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Some Fresh Looks

I got the latest Ballard Designs catalog and, contrary to what I normally do, I looked through it rather than putting it in the recycling right away.  I try not to look through catalogs anymore because I tend to order things that I wind up having buyer’s remorse about.

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The Ballard’s catalog is a weakness for me!  I love to look through the catalog for inspiration and sometimes an idea will pop out at me that I can copycat.  Of course, I wound up ordering a couple of things.  I thought a change to our dining area would be nice and ordered this burlap with jute fringe tablecloth. 

108 inch Fringed Burlap Tablecloth

Our dining table is 48” round so I couldn’t resist the sale price on this tablecloth.  Although, I will have to remove it when we are going to be eating at this table since it is dry clean only. 

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The second thing I ordered was this indoor/outdoor rug, which was also on sale.  I put this down in the laundry room area. 

Antique Letter Indoor Outdoor Rug | Rugs | Ballard Designs

It will need a rug pad underneath to keep it from slipping, especially since the entrance to the house from the garage is here and that is the entrance we use.  Don’t need anyone slipping!  That’s on backorder, so for now we are being careful.

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Excuse the mess ~ I was doing a bunch of laundry and just shoved things out of my way so I could put this rug down to see how it looked.

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I have one more thing I just want to get for the dining area.  I hope to have that by Wednesday and will share it with you later this week.  It is something I finally decided on after going over different options, so I’m excited to finally get it done!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Artist Behind The Etsy ~ Sideway Signs

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Being a part of the Etsy community, not only as a seller but as a customer, I have come across many talented individuals.  With this series, I hope to introduce you to some of these creative people, finding out where they find their inspiration, and a little bit more about them.

Before I introduce today’s artist, here’s a hint -

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When I put the gallery collage wall together in our small foyer/entry, I came across Carlton’s Etsy shop, Sideway Signs.  After seeing his New York sign I just knew I had to include one on my wall to reference where we came from, where we lived our whole lives, and a place we love. 

I have since been thrilled to see other signs Carlton has in his shop, which include subway signs ~ a nice reminder of being a commuter in my early working days, where the New York subway system was a part of my daily travels.  But please look at Carlton’s work for yourself and see what this talented young man can do!

Sideway.Signs.co

I'm 22 years old and I just graduated from college at Miami University down in Oxford, Ohio. I received my degree in fine arts with a focus in studio art, painting. I'm a very creative person, and love to make things, and work with my hands. I've never had a real job, I've just always done my own thing, doing side jobs or making and selling things. One of my friends in school told me about Etsy, so I gave it a shot. This was about 3 years ago, when I was doing home portrait drawings and started selling them on Etsy. I did alright, probably selling about 8-10 drawings. I really don't know how it happened but I started making wood signs and stenciling words onto them and thought it was pretty neat. I started off just doing city names, and the first day I put a sign up on Etsy I received a request for a custom sign. I was shocked and my parents could not believe it either. So from there I switched over from doing pencil drawings to making wood signs and painting them.

Times Square 42 Street Station Distressed Subway Sign - Hand Painted on Wood

I've always loved New York City and the whole atmosphere of the place, so naturally I drew inspiration from there. I stumbled into creating NYC subway signs (2 years ago), and they ended up being very popular on Etsy, so I made more and was doing quite well for myself creating some extra income while in college. Then I found out the signs were trademarked and I could not make them anymore, which was a real bummer. From then on my Etsy shop slowed down considerably. I stuck with it though making other signs and making enough money as a part time job as I finished up college. After I graduated college I was not sure what I wanted to do but I just did not want to look for jobs. I wanted to do my own thing. One day over the summer I woke up, and I thought I want to make the subway signs again and start a business doing it. I sent an email over to the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) and said what I wanted to do and why they should grant me a license. After a lot of back and forth talking with them, licensing agents, insurance agents and months of work I was finally granted a license to create replica signs. For me this was a huge deal, I was extremely happy about it. I knew they would sell and I would not have to worry about competition because I was the only one who was allowed to make replica wood signs.

 Downtown & Brooklyn A C Line Distressed Subway Sign - Hand Painted on Wood

It's been about a month since I signed the contract and I've already had my best month this year on Etsy in terms of sales and views. Things were slowly turning around and for the first time I truly thought I could turn this into a successful business. Now it is just a matter of advertising and selling the signs. These are the best signs I have made so far and I have made a lot of improvements since the first few signs I started making 3 years ago. I guess the reason I wanted to recreate the signs was because they are such an iconic, well known design, and millions of subway riders in NY see them everyday. A lot of people have a stop they got off at for work everyday, or people travel there and they want a souvenir to remind them of their visit. Sure, there are a million little cheap plastic empire state building souvenirs to buy, but I was offering something else. Something that was a little more personal and they knew that I was making a sign just for them.

Distressed Wood American Flag - Hand Painted 

Most recently I discovered Kickstarter, which is essentially a place for people to post projects and get people to pledge money supporting their projects and in return they get something, usually a product. I was not sure what to expect with it but I gave it a try, and I met my goal of $5,500 dollars in 5 days and I am now over $9,000 with 25 days to go. So I've been blown away by my success on there, and now I've got hundreds of signs to make for Christmas for people all over the world. If nothing else, this proves they will sell and people want them. 

Yankee Stadium Subway Sign - Hand Painted on Wood

I think what really got me started with doing all this and making the signs was that I could take a raw material, such as the wood boards and turn them into something of greater value. I could sand the wood, paint it, paint on letters and turn it into something completely different. I just enjoyed the whole process of creating something for someone else, from designing it on the computer, making it, then shipping it out to them. 

New York Subway Exit Sign - Hand Painted on Wood

A lot of my signs are relatively simple with bold text on a black background. I've always been interested in Graphic design and it is amazing how much the font can change a mood or feeling. Certain fonts people won't even take seriously while other fonts suggest money and power. I think my signs tend to lean more towards the serious side, bolder, modern and not as playful. I don't make the "kiss the cook" sign or the "live, love, laugh" sign. I don't want to make the cliche signs. 

Rockefeller Center Subway Sign - Hand Painted on Wood

For me this is no longer a hobby. I really want to turn this into a successful business. I don't know what it will be like in a 5 years of even the next year, but I'm constantly coming up with new sign designs and there are 100's more subway signs I still have to make. 

Penn Station Subway Column Sign Distressed - Hand Painted on Wood

I also have a website that I am working on, but is in the very early stages right now. - Sidewaysigns.com

Thank you, Carlton, for sharing your story! It sounds like you are off to a great start with a dream job ~ doing what you love and loving what you do.  You can visit Carlton’s Etsy shop here.

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