Monday, November 26, 2012

Petal Ornaments

Just stopping in for a quick post to showcase some ornaments I've created this holiday season.  I love the layers of petals - they are really light weight and look great on a tree.  Hope you are enjoying your Monday!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Am

This time of year can be very busy but I try to keep it slow.  I like to take time off around Thanksgiving to unwind a bit from a hectic first part of the school year, busy work days, and very excited boys who are looking forward to holidays.  I use the time to rest, enjoy my family, center myself, and start to think about what handmade items I want to make this year.  Each year I've expanded the handmade gifts that I give to family and friends.  I love receiving handmade gifts as well. 

Giving handmade gifts is a way of saying, "Here I am.  A piece of me for you."  I think some people still think handmade is a cheap way out of buying a gift but I disagree.  My mom has made quilts for my boys and gave them as gifts.  They LOVE their quilts and are very put out when we have to take them away to clean them from time to time.  This year I am going to blend some handmade items into my boys' gifts.  Typically we just buy all of their gifts but I want to incorporate more handmade for them too.  They watch me make things with love and have put in requests here and there for things they might want.  One year they all wanted crocheted winter hats.  I took them to the store to pick out thick yarn in the colors they wanted.  They loved being part of the process and watching it come to completion.

I have learned over the years the people who really appreciate handmade and the people who don't appreciate it as much.  I know there are some who will throw the handmade gifts in the back of the closet because it's not as exciting as something purchased in a store.  That's ok too.  We're conditioned to want those things.  There is a growing movement towards more handmade, well made, artisan gifts though and I love being a part of it.

For me, handmade gifts means there is a tangible part of me that will be around for a long time.  I love to think about my boys passing down things I made for them to their own children and grandchildren one day.  The idea of them wrapping themselves up in a blanket I made or hanging one of my photographs on their wall to look at long after I'm gone gives me comfort. 

I am very thankful for my abilities to create things that I love.  During hard times, it helps me find my way back to my true self.  It helps me wind down after a long day.  When I feel like the corporate world stifles me, it helps me strike a balance so that I can be happy and successful at work and still know that I have an outlet for my creative side waiting after hours.  It gives me more patience to be a better wife and mother.  It makes me feel like me.

I think most artists and crafters feel this way.  This year, if you are given a handmade gift, just know you hold a little piece of an artist's heart.  Even if the person giving the gift didn't create it, they sought it out just for you.  They wanted to give you something that was part artist and part you.

I hope you have the opportunity to slow down during this time of year and just enjoy.  Just be.  I know I am.

Friday, November 23, 2012

DIY Button Flowers

As promised in a previous post, here is a tutorial for making colorful and easy button flowers.  They are a great addition to add a pop of color to any room AND they don't die!  I like making multi colored flowers but I also really like to make monochromatic flowers.  The monochromatic flowers are great to enhance accent colors in a room.

Things you'll need:
Floral Wire - I used 22 gauge
Wire Cutter

Cut a piece of floral wire in the desired length.  You will need to double the length because you have to fold it in half to string on the buttons.  Leave a little extra length at the bottom so you can twist the wire once the buttons are in place.

Here's the fun part -- design your button flower.  Place the buttons (and any other fun things you decide to play with - like a washer) in the order you want them displayed.

Now string the buttons onto the wire.  Start with the top button first and make sure to pull it all the way to the top of the wire so there is no gap between the wire and buttons.  Then add the other buttons.

Once all of the buttons are on the wire, pull them to the top so they are tight.  Then twist the wire to secure it under the bottom button.

Now keep twisting the wire all of the way to the bottom.  To make sure the buttons stay in place, hold the wire in place under the bottom button and then use your other hand to twist the wire pieces.

Once you have twisted the wire to the bottom, use your pliers to bend the sharp ends down.  Then wrap them around and cut off the ends.  This keeps the wire from unraveling and it also gets rid of the sharp points.

Now you have one flower finished!  You can make as many as you want to fill vases, Mason jars, tie with ribbon, or find other fun uses.

Enjoy your flowers!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Craft Show Lessons

It has been a while since I last posted.  Between work, my boys’ schedules, and preparing for the craft show, things have been hectic.  It has been a good hectic though.

The craft show was this past Saturday.  It was the first craft show I have done in several years and it was my first craft show selling non-jewelry items.  I chose to do this show to get my feet wet and maybe start selling at shows regularly.  I put a lot of eggs in this basket.  I wanted to make money but mostly, I wanted my work to be liked and appreciated.  Selling or displaying handmade work is like putting a piece of your heart (and your pride) out on a table.   It’s difficult not to take it personally when someone walks by without even a glance.  You want them to see the love, ideas, and work you put into each item.  I did my best not to give sad puppy dog eyes to everyone who walked by me. 

I learned a lot from this show and thought that I could share those lessons with other people who want to start selling at shows.  I did sell some items and I received some good feedback.  However, I did not sell much at all.  The first few hours of the show, it made me sad.  I doubted my talents and myself.  Then I started noticing some things.  No one was really selling much.  More than half of the show was independent consultants and not handmade items (candles, make up, kitchen items – the kind of items that people host parties at their house to sell).  That made it difficult for the handmade vendors to compete. 

LESSON NUMBER 1 – ALWAYS ask if the show is 100% handmade.  If it’s not, then reconsider if it’s the show for you.  There was some great talent at that show that was being overlooked because of the mass produced NON-handmade items.  One of the things I enjoy about shows is talking to other artists about their craft and their process.  I met a girl who had beautiful pottery and found out she set up a pottery studio in her backyard shed.  I bought a hand dyed silk scarf from a lady who had an interesting technique of dying silk using men’s ties for different textures and looks.  I also bought a fabric rug from a woman who uses a 100-year old loom to weave the rugs.  It has been in her family and the trade passed down over each generation.  I love that I have that history on my kitchen floor right now.  Can those mass produced items provide the same thing?  Nope.  The ladies at those tables were very nice and just trying to make money but I learned that I missed not having more artists to learn about and get to know.

LESSON NUMBER 2 – Figure out a way to accept credit cards.  I had decided not to accept credit cards because I wanted to see if it was something I needed to do.  I only lost one sale because of it but I need to figure out how I’m going to do that going forward.

LESSON NUMBER 3 – Be willing to take advice from seasoned sellers.  The lady at the table next to me was selling jewelry and has been doing shows for a number of years.  She was a wonderful resource.  She gave me some advice about credit cards and gave me the email address of a woman scheduling for an actual handmade show in December.  You would think that people selling would not be friendly due to the competitive nature of selling but it’s not typically like that.  There is a true community among artists and crafters and I love that.

LESSON NUMBER 4 – Just because you aren’t successful at one show does not mean that your work won’t be successful somewhere else.   I think part of my issue was that the show I did was at an older church in town.  The majority of the shoppers were much older people who were lovely and gave me good feedback, but I think my work would do better aimed at a younger demographic.  I just need to find the right shows for me.

LESSON NUMBER 5 – When all else fails, have your husband stop at the liquor store on the way home from the show.  It takes the edge off a bit.  Also, a date night right after the show is a beautiful thing for blowing off steam.

Was this show everything I’d hoped it would be?  No, but I decided to learn from it and move forward.  I have some ideas about some other things I want to do before I do another show.  I still love everything I put on that table so I know I’m doing what’s right for me.

I have a lot of things to share in future posts and some DIY posts to come.  I’m looking forward to a slow paced week and time with family.  Happy Thanksgiving!