Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Handmade Christmas-Tree Ornaments

These handmade Christmas tree ornaments are unbreakable. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I'm going to show these and explain in brief detail how I made them. They are all simple and reasonably fast to make. A lot of them are created from repurposed materials and some are from kits. Kits are handy since they can save you time tracking down materials and you don't end up with a lot of leftover odds and ends when you are finished.

About 22 years ago, we were at a large charity yard sale. There was a beautiful crystal chandelier there for only $5. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be wonderful to clean up, take apart and use the crystal beads and drops as tree ornaments.  The beads that gracefully draped over the armature of the light were joined together with thin gauge craft wire. We had dug up a small cedar tree to use as a Christmas tree that year and along with the crystal drops and some painted wooden ornaments from a kit, I tied some red, narrow satin ribbon on the ends of some of the cedar branches and the tree had a very Victorian look to it.
At another yard sale, a few years later, I found a book of counted cross stitch ornaments and worked up some of those for the tree. That year, I also did some crocheted stockings that are reversible and some crochets snowflakes. They are pictured here along with one of the wooden kit ornaments I mentioned in the first paragraph.
These little angels, I call Asthma Angels. When my son was young, he had asthma. For years, I looked at the plastic inhaler container, trying to figure out a way to craft with them. I came up with the angel idea. First, I spray painted the bases gold. The heads are wooden balls, painted for the faces. Their wings are stiffened scraps of lace. Before gluing the wooden balls to the asthma container with hot glue, I glued a 5 inch piece of ribbon on the insides of the container to use as a hanger. After gluing the ball on, I added some polyester batting for hair, then glued a small circle made from a glitter pipe cleaner to the head for the halo.
These are kid friendly projects and were done with my sons Cub Scout pack one year. This picture has ornaments made from some of the notched craft sticks I used for the train village. A simple snowflake embellished with paint, glitter paint and odds and ends that range from acrylic jewels to large sequins. On the left side of this picture is a glitter pipe cleaner stem icicle that was cut to a 6 inch length, then wrapped around a pencil. The hanger is a strand of metallic DMC embroidery floss. We had some cedar limbs in the yard, my husband cut them into discs and the Scouts decorated them with glitter and a lot of odds and ends. Ribbon is hot glued to the sides of the disc for the hanger.  If your kids are young, you should probably be the one in charge of the hot glue gun.
The clothespin reindeer was made by my son's preschool teacher. It's just 2 clothespins glued together, one turned upside down and glued to the others and some googley eyes and a ribbon added. The painted wooded heart was another Cub Scout project. The hearts were painted gold-or whatever color you want, with acrylic paints. When dry, they were embellished with glitter paints and whatever odds and end were on hand, including flat back, faceted, acrylic gemstones. Ribbon is glued to the sides of the heart for hangers. This beaded star is made from 6mm acrylic, faceted beads woven on craft wire.
At an after Christmas sale, I found a box of the satin thread ornaments for .25. I used scraps of lace, ribbon, glitter paint and the flat back gemstones for accents on them. Kids can do this project, too.
For these colorful ornaments, I used some Christmas fabric that I cut shapes out of. Then, I embroidered around some of the area with metallic DMC floss and lightly stuffed them with polyester 
fiberfill. I whip stitched the edges together and sewed ribbons ends together on the back for the hanger.

These are shoulder pad angels. This idea comes from Aileen-she used to have a craft show, magazine and lots of craft products on the market. She is the creator of Tacky Glue. These angels are probably about 16 or 17 years old.  I got some blouses with shoulder pads at a yard sale. Cut them off the blouses and covered them with fabric. I added some satin balls with faces painted on them by using fabric glue and decorated with glitter paint. Their wings are stiffened ribbon and lace and the hanging ribbon is glued between the body and the wings.
These felt ornaments are among my favorites. The penguins are from a kit, but I loved making them so much, I got more felt and made patterns for  the snowmen and the reindeer. The antler pattern is an applique pattern. I had a string of those little acrylic lightbulbs that I decided to add to them to the antlers. The snowmen are made from glitter felt. All are stuffed with polyester fiberfill. The reindeer eyes and snowman nose are embroidered on.

These icicle ornaments are made from a kit. One for the gold and one for the clear. They are acrylic snowflake beads and round acrylic beads on a chenille stem.
The clear tree in this picture is from a kit. It's 6mm acrylic beads woven on a thin gauge craft wire. I had some glass beads I wasn't going to use for anything, so I took the tree ornaments one step further and used those to make the tree ornaments with different color craft wire. I made an attempt to weave some snowflakes using acrylic beads but instead wound up with the freeform shape that is in this picture. I made a lot of those as it was a good way to use up leftover beads.
I hope these two blog posts about handmade decorations and ornaments have given you some ideas for this holiday season. Many of these are easy for kids to do, so what better way to have some good quality family time before Christmas and create some great holiday d├ęcor and some even better holiday memories.
If you would like to know more details about making any of these ornaments, just leave me a comment on my blog, along with your email address. All blog comments are moderated, so I will not publish your email address when I publish your comment.


Monday, November 15, 2010

A Handmade Christmas-Decorations

In the next few blog posts, I am going to show you some Christmas decorations and ornaments I have made throughout the years. As I was editing the photographs, I noticed how many of them are showing their age. That's fine-they have nice memories with that age. Many of them are made from recycled items partly to save the budget, partly to be “green”, and partly because that's what I had on hand to create with. I call the style Victorian Folk Art Eclectic.

It's safe to say that 99% of our holiday decorations are handmade. I started doing the handmade Christmas stuff when our son was 18 months old. He was quite mobile and I didn't want him to break any decorations and hurt himself, so for years, our house and tree decorations were unbreakable. It also cut down on the “no, don't touch” factor. Once I started, I couldn't seem to stop. I was a holiday craft magazine junkie for many years. Many of the things you will see in these posts are from magazines I no longer have. If I did, I would certainly give credit for the inspiration where credit is due. I modified a lot of the ideas to suit what I had on hand or what I was seeing the final outcome look like in my head. I laid in a good supply of glitter and glitter paint because of the things I have always loved best about Christmas is the color and sparkle.

The first picture is of Glitter Village. This has gone on the top of many different TV's over the years and is certainly showing it's age. It's lasted 23 years. I used empty cereal and cracker boxes to make it from a scaled down pattern of a gingerbread house. The centerpiece is on a piece of foil covered cardboard with cotton balls glued all around. The trees have 4 inch long trunks that are folded about an inch down and glued to the foil. The individual ones either filled out the top of the TV or wherever there was an empty space.


Next we have Mr. and Mrs. Claus. They are made from the tubes from plastic wrap and foil. I think those are sturdier than paper towel tubes. The outfit Mrs. Claus is wearing is a strip of dark red velvet that is glued to the tube with spray glue. Her apron is cut from a piece of lace table cloth and tied on with a piece of ribbon. Parts of her apron is highlighted with white glitter fabric paint that has yellowed over time. Her hat is simply a round piece of velvet that I made a yoyo out of. Santa is wearing a red sticky back felt suit with a black sticky back felt belt. A gold glitter fabric paint belt buckle adds a bit of sparkle. His feet were supposed to be a large wooden heart, but since I didn't have one of those, I cut a large heart shape out of corrugated cardboard and painted it black. His hat and arms have thin gauge craft wire in the sleeves so he can hold his candy canes. Mrs. Claus also has wire in her arms so she can hold her bell bouquet. She has no feet because her apron supports her. The faces are the bases of those satin thread ornament balls you see in the dollar stores. They have a smoother surface than regular styrofoam does and it's easier to paint. They both have hair made from polyester batting. They are about 18 years old.

The little polar bears that are all dressed up are those little honey bottles you see in the grocery. Getting those cleaned out is the hardest part of this project and getting the label off completely. To paint the inside, pour a little bit of white acrylic paint inside and swirl it around, trying to coat the insides completely. It will take 2 or 3 coats to do this. Be sure and let each coat of paint dry completely before adding the next one. If necessary, you can touch up inside with a small paintbrush. The part where the label was is painted like a gift with real ribbon glued on the package. The hats are made from small childrens' socks that have had the foot cut off. They are glued to the lip of the bottle. The top is tied tight with embroidery floss and glitter pompoms glued to the top. Ribbon scarves help their little necks warm. They have been around for about 16 years.

In one magazine, I saw pecans painted to look like penguins and fell in love with that idea. I didn't want them to be tree ornaments, so I painted some and made a wreath. I glued the small grapevine
wreaths together with hot glue (plain on the back and glitter glue sticks on the front) and wove ribbon through them to give them a bit more strength. This wreath has been around 16 or 17 years.



One year we grew some bottle gourds for birdhouses. These 3 were the last of the harvest and not really large enough for birdhouses, so I made a snow person family out of them. Prepping the gourds was the biggest part of this project. They sat for a year to dry out. After sitting that long, they has some mold spots on them, so they got soaked in a mild bleach and water solution, then sanded. Then, they got a coat of Kiltz primer as an additive prevention against the mold spots poking through the paint. Then they got a couple of coats of white. They have polymer clay faces and arms and Mama Snowman has a crocheted hat and Papa Snowman has a felt hat. All their hats have white glitter on top of them. The silver buttons are silver glitter paint. They are probably about 15 years old.
 

The craft sick houses go under the tree. I used to set up a model train under it and one year, decided it needed a village. I forget where I got the craft sticks, but they are the ones with notches in them and the house directions were included-along with a lot of other projects. painted the insides white and with the back and sides open at the top, you can smush small lights in there.  Painted with glitter paint of course.  There are more of the houses, but these 3 were on top in the chest I keep the house decorations in.

Some of the house decorations I have made over the years have not survived. Like the star wreath I made out of drywall mud. It was a great idea-spreading the mud out on wax paper and then when it got semi-dry, I cut out stars with a cookie cutter and let the mud finish drying. Spray painted them gold, then did a light brushing of metallic red paint over them. What didn't work was using it as a front door wreath. I wasn't thinking about drywall mud not weathering well here in the humid south.

If you think I have made a lot of house decorations, just wait until you see the next post-coming on Thursday. It's got the Christmas tree ornaments I have made over the years in it. I still have to finish taking some of those pictures. I have a bunch.

If you would like more details on how to make what I have made, just let me know and send me your email address. My blog comments are moderated and I won't publish it.












Saturday, November 13, 2010

Banned and muted from Etsy

Today the email I have been expecting any day arrived. I am closed, banned and muted by Etsy. I am in an outstanding group of talented people who have had the same thing happen. The only reason they even noticed me was that yesterday, in the so-called "Coral Rebuttal" thread, a seller and I did not see eye to eye regarding the rebuttal. The thread was closed after my last reply and today came the email.

When I closed my shop this summer, I said in the announcemnt to just google me to find me. According to Etsy, that's in violation of their TOU's since I'm linking to another venue. HUH??? Google me andn you will find, probably in this order, my AF, this blog and then my neglected Zibbet studio.

After Etsy violated it's own TOU's in what turned out to be Coral Gate, I went in and directly said "you can find me on AF under the same name." So, according to today's email, that's why I am no longer welcome there. Awww!!! LOL! My first thought when I saw the email was "damn, it took you long enough". I will still read and follow the threads, though. Not many sellers frequent the forums and they need to be made aware of the changes Etsy is making that are going to negatively affect them. They are turning the place into a hip ebay-and ebay sure isn't about handmade. There has been a mass exodus of sellers there lately-well not really an exit. A lot of people are just expanding onto other venues. Getting the lifeboats ready for when the HSS Etsy goes down like the Titanic and since they have already hit the iceberg, they are slowly taking on water. I have a feeling the holiday shopping season over there is going to be disappointing to the sellers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Irfanview Free Photo Editing Programs

I have fiddled around with this program, Irfanview, a little bit, but not too much. Sometimes I just "don't get" something the first few times around. Being left handed and living in a right handed world, this is something I've gotten used to. I know it's a good editing program, because I've seen  positive info about in different forums and nothing negative.

I do know a jewelry maker who uses it and thinks it's great. So, I emailed my friend Margaret of Bohowirewrapped (isn't her jewelry gorgeous?) and asked about Irfanview. Below is a copy and paste of the questions I had for her regarding this program. If you have more questions about the program, the Irfanview link will take you to the answers.

1. When you edit a photo, does Irf. Save the original photo as well as the modified copy?




Irfanview asks you where to save it and allows you to rename the file as a copy or save as the original.



2. Can you batch edit with it?



Irfanview has a really easy to use batch edit/resize/resample function



3. Is it easy for you to navigate around in?



It's like having a photo album where you can just flip through the pictures. You can also open the thumbnails in a separate window for easy comparisons.



4. Are there plug-ins you need to install to use the basic functions?



There are plug ins available for fanicier work but for simple editing it's all in the main program



5. Can you make a banner with it?



It can be used for banners but I've found that I use at least 3 programs when I make banners:



Irfanview

Corel PhotoHouse

The Gimp



6. What are your favorite features?



There is very little to dislike about Irfanview.

Irfanview is the easiest program I've used for simple editing.
 
So thanks, Margaret for anwering those questions. You are a sweetheart.  I know the menus and things are laid out in an easy to find way, so I don't know what it is that's keeping me from getting the hang of this. I am bound and determined to be able to work with this program.
 
I've got a couple of more free photo editing programs to tell you about, but they are going to go on hold for a couple of weeks.
 
For a couple of years now, I've been wanting to blog about my Christmas decorations and ornaments. They are all handmade. I finally got into gear and decided this would be the year. I am in the process of photographing everything and getting blog posts written up about how I made them. Since our nest has been empty for a while, I stopped doing the whole house decorating thing a few years ago and just put up the tree. Getting these things out to photograph has been a wonderful trip down memory lane. Some of the stuff I made is over 20 years old. It's showing it's age a bit, but I've always liked a vintage look-especially when I look in the mirror. LOL!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photoscape free photo editing program

This is the second blog post about free photo editing programs you can find online.

Photoscape is another great free program. 
This program  is easy to use, easy to navigate, and has some fun things to play with added in. Among the special filters you can process your pictures with, you can also do animated GIF and combine photos. Photoscape also gives you the ability to batch edit your photos. You can also do screen shots with it.

This hydrangea photo
is one of the first ones I took when I got my DSLR. It needs some post processing (PP) to look like it did in real life. I went to the “Bright/Color” tab clicked it and then went to “brightness” and chose “middle”. Then I adjusted the backlight to +75%. I'm happy with the way the picture looks now. I cropped it
with the easy to use crop feature, then I saved it. Photoscape saves the modified photo and saves the original, too. It lets you select the quality of the JPEG that you save, also. These are just a few of the features this program has.

I wanted to show you some of the filters included in this program for PP, so I played with the same photo after I had edited it.

The Box. I haven't seen anything like this on any of the free programs. I think it's pretty neat.

Crystallized-which I think is pretty cool.


 
There are several other filters in this program that I like, but these two are my favorites.
If you are looking for free photo editing programs, why not download this versatile program and give it a try. If  a techinically challenged person like me can get around in this program, anybody can use it.




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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coralgate-another major etsy fail

If you are of my generation, you will remember sit-ins to protest the Viet Nam war and other injustices of the 60's and early 70's. The war ended and sit-ins as a form of protest quietly faded into the sunset.

Flash forward to today and the sit-in on Etsy over a blog post about coral. Doesn't sound like a big deal, does it? It is and I will tell you why.

Etsy used to be about promoting the handmade movement and to me, the individuality that goes with it. Recently, that has changed profoundly. Featured in the latest Etsy blog post, the Storque, or the Dorque, as some are fond of calling it, was a jewelry designer named Temple St. Clair. Now, Ms. St.Claire makes no claims at all to making her jewelry-she out sources it somewhere. Included in the blog post was a "don't use coral-it's endangered" comment along with a link to a petition to sign to boycott people who use coral in making jewelry or whatever they handcraft. Now, there are a lot of wonderful jewelry makers on Etsy who use coral in their creations and they were a wee bit ticked off to put it mildly. Etsy is basically backing a petition that goes against something they legally sell and took money from people who listed items with coral in them. Once again, they have stabbed their customer base in the back. That's something Etsy has down to a fine art by now. Another thing they have down to a science is violating their own TOU's when and where they please. It happened often with this blog post.

Threads calling for the post to be removed were quickly closed and all the "troublemakers" were shunted to one thread to post in. I tried to start a different post about it, but it too, was quickly closed. If you want to talk about coral, the shameful lack of response from admin. and why everybody is really pissed off now, this is the thread to do it in. This thread is now nearly 1020 pages long and growing. It has become a sit in. Etsy sellers worldwide are participating in it and keeping it going. I'm sure we will all end up muted and closed down, but since a lot of sellers have closed up shop over this, I don't think it will be a problem. It's my belief that Ms. St. Clair is wanting people to boycott coral so they will feel good when they go to Target and buy her mass produced petroleum based resin new line of jewelry.

In a nutshell, this is what the problem is:
1. sellers are upset because the storque article:
a. gives unclear and even false information about a material commonly used on etsy, and
b. urges readers to boycott this material, while
c. directing readers to an off-etsy website (which violates the terms of use) for self promotion.

2. sellers feel betrayed because they've paid their fees to list these items in good faith, and feel that etsy took & is taking their money while promoting this suggested boycott by leaving the storque article up.

3. many people are angered by the lack of discussion, answers, prompt attention, total disregard for the terms of use that we must abide by, and apologies that focus on small issues but miss the bigger picture.

4. many people are also angered by the complete glossing over of the fact that this is NOT about coral, and the fact that anytime someone mentioned this fact they were closed down.

Here is the thread I started titled "Etsy Dearest" that was quickly closed. (If you want to see more of the closed threads on this topic, go to the EB blog-you will find a link on the right of this post and then go to Closed Threads.)
This is titled after the movie Mommie Dearest in case you don't get that and it's an open letter to Admin.. I was going to put this in a blog post and still might, but I wanted to be sure admin. saw it. I know, I'm asking for my shop to be shut down by being a loud, dissenting voice here, but I closed my shop here months ago over the lack of respect etsy has for it's sellers-the ones who pay the bills.

You have shown time and time again that you have nothing but contempt for the people who have made etsy what it used to be-an e-commerce site for handmade items. Coral gate is the last straw-it's like spitting in the face of all those who have supported you the last 3 or 4 years. That's despicable behavior. If it wasn't for the wonderful people who created the handmade items you used to sell here, you would be nowhere. Instead, you have become almost a joke. Allowing people who sell mass produced stuff in sweatshops in here to sell disguised as collectives. Now, you allow a "guest commentator" or whatever you called her in that so called apology, to come in and post links to her off site sales when she doesn't even make the jewelry is selling. She designs mass produced stuff using petrolieum products. For crying out loud-remember the Gulf Oil Spill???

You are the most hypocritical bunch of people I have run across in ages. You have been hiding behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz, but now, that curtain is being pulled back, and you are being exposed for the frauds you are. IMHO, you are slowly killing what you built by your constant thoughtlessness in your lack of response to sellers, your bland, robotic responses to sellers and all the other ways that you denigrate them. But that's right, you have the money and don't care. What do you expect from a guy who conned his way into NYU or wherever it was. I have to go dig out last Dec.'s Readers Digest. It's not a site I care to be associated with. I bet you will find in the coming weeks that I'm not the only one who feels that way. Don't worry, we will keep the starry eyed newbies up to date on how you are.

So now, click the sit in link and join us, if you would like to. We have marshmallows. If you are interested about coral and how it is farmed, just google "farming coral or bamboo coral". You will get some very informative links that will take you to other informative links.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Free Photo Editing Software-Photo Pos Pro

I have spent some time looking at free photo editing programs that I have found online. I was looking for something simple and easy to use, besides Picasa, without the learning curve that the Photoshop programs seem to have. I have found a few programs that I like for different reasons and have decided to blog about them because I know I am not the only person looking for these. I am somewhat technically challenged so ease of use in any program is a priority for me. I am not a professional photographer. I consider myself to be an advanced hobbyist. I don't need a ton of bells, whistles and special effect stuff to do my editing.

The camera I have is a Pentax K-X. It's a great digital camera, but I am kind of new to the world of DSLR photography, so I have a lot of test pictures I have taken to get used to the camera and it gives me a lot of material to practice editing with.
The first program I am going to tell you about is Photo Pos Pro .  This program has a lot of hints and tips for editing and I like that. It's an easy program to get around, too.


I used the program to make a banner for my destash studio. I have never made a banner before though I have tried to make one several times. Using Photo Pos Pro, it was easy to do. It took me a couple of hours to create this. I'm happy with it-especially for a first try.




It is also a breeze to use for editing photos. This is one of the test pictures I took to see how the different colors would work with the camera settings I was using and how the lights I was trying in the light box were colored.


You just open the file in the program, go to Colors, and adjust. Cropping and other edits are just as easy to handle with this program.


Photo Pos Pro has a built in Help manual and Tutorials section included with the download. If you are looking for a fairly versatile free editing program, I recommend this one. I like it.

This is just the first of a few programs I have downloaded and will be reviewing. I am not an expert at editing photographs. I will be mostly be giving you my opinions on ease of use, what kinds of bells and whistles they have and what kind of plug ins, if any, are available. I'm hoping it will also help me make up my mind which ones I want to keep. I just can't decide.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hey Etsy....

Do you know you have serious morale problems with your sellers who happen to be YOUR customers? If you don't, and your reading comprehension is better than your customer service skill are, you just might realize it if you finish reading this. Hope your attention span is that long.

You Yankees up there in Brooklyn need to wake the hell up. Not only are you putting your sellers at risk, like the treasury fiasco that  had the real names of people on them instead of their shop names. I know it may not be a big deal to you, but to the sellers on their who have been terrified by stalkers-take time to read the threads-it is a huge deal for them. What do you do?  You take the yellow brick road and close the shop of a vocal, yet very sales productive, seller. Guess you did not want to hear the truth that she-and many others spoke.  I won't name her here, but those who read this should be able to get the hint. Here's the link to the first thread in the forums calling admin.'s short attention span to it. Next time, it might be credit card numbers-what does etsy care?

Closing shops and muting sellers in the forums seems to be standard for you guys. Time out adult style.  That's business like-NOT!

You lure people in with the bait about how easy it is to sell online-and free, too. Free to set up a shop-that's about it. There's the 3.5% FVF (final value fee) to you, the .20 per item to list for 4 months which seems reasonable until people realize that in order to be seen on that messed up search of yours, they have to keep renewing items on a nearly daily basis.

People ask for selling tools, you give them idiotic, cutesy plush phone booths. Probably paid for with the money you got from all those dimes you got when people relisted.

You roll out unasked for changes-a new shiney-to calm things down. Instead, it stirs things up because you aren't bloody bright enough to test the changes before rolling them out. (Again, think treasury fiasco for one-there are many more.)

You messed with feedback. Here's the link for that. You botched up the sales tax roll out-go to the 7th post down if you click this link.

I could go on, but I will stop for now. I would never, ever recommend this site for anybody to sell on. You aren't out for the sellers in any way at all. -you are out for etsy. You will always be able to drag more novice sellers in and get them to eat a few cupcakes and have a few glasses of Kool-Aid, so you will continue to make money when they give you their relisting dimes. The best thing that could happen to etsy is that when etsy goes public-if it does after all these fubars, Fred Ward and the Board, will take a huge broom to the place and get some people in there who know what customer service is, who know how to run a business and decide to run etsy like one. Not have some yuppie goof who scammed NYU to get in, like Kalin, did running the show. I would be a little concerned if I had a multi million dollar company to have somebody like that at the helm. Doesn't exactly inspire a feeling of confidence in the place, ya know.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Things I forgot to mention about ArtFire

I had been sitting on the previous blog post until I was about to burst, so I published it in a hurry.  I am an ArtFire Maven and had advance knowledge of this announcement. The ArtFire Mavens are a group of sellers who get to play with all the new toys first. Before anything is rolled out to the site, we get to put it through its paces and find any bugs or kinks. We also brainstorm ideas with Admin. on what something should look like or how it should be worded. They are great at listening to and implenting our feedback.

Anyhow, I wanted to mention some more things about why I prefer ArtFire over Etsy.
1. The flat fee. There is no final value fee when something sells, except for whatever percentage the payment processor takes. I like the multiple payment options, too.
2. Admin. there is responsive to problems and bugs. They respond in the forums and one of them, Tony, has even started a thread called Photography Q&A that has grown to many pages. All to help the sellers.
3. Admin, is good about letting you know when and why if the site has to go down for some reason. I think there has been once in the last year that it went down unexpectedly and that was due to severe weather impacting the servers.
4. I like the seller categories. Besides the usual Handmade, Supplies and Vintage, there is a Design category. An example of what goes there is, say, I designed purses, but had 3 of my neighbors making them for me. Still handmade, but not by me, so they go in design.
5. The Collections are similar to etsy treasuries, but a lot different. They will be rotated on the FP of ArtFire, and, if somebody is in a Collection that has made the FP today, if they are in another Collection, it won't be eligble to be on the front page for X (as yet to be determined) number of days. It won't be the same people with the same stuff  showing up time after time, day after day.
6. You can promote yourself in the Collections. It's ok. Some people have made Collections with just their work and that's allowed. Collections are a promotion tool. Google likes them. It is nice to create them with other studios' items. I've found some wonderful shops that way.
7. Pro studios have a gallery where you can show off custom work or work that has sold.
8. ArtFire gives Pro studios a blog that is indexed by google.
9. The flagging system at ArtFire actually works. If somebody is selling something and calling it vintage and it's not, four different studios can flag the item and the item will be removed until admin. checks it out. The sellers is not removed-only the item. If a seller feels items are flagged in error, they can appeal and explain to admin..
10. Last, in this post, but not least, by a long shot. I like the way the site looks. It's getting better every day. I'm not a chrome and glass, owl and cowl kind of person. I'm more English countryside and shabby chic. Barefeet or mocassins over stillettos any day.

If you haven't seen ArtFire yet, click the link at the top of the page. It's worth looking at and who knows, you might decide that for $5.95 a month, its a great deal.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

If you sell online you might be interested in...

a HUGE announcement from Artfire. If 20,000 sellers sign up, the fee to have a Pro Studio will be 5.95 a month-locked in. That breaks down to .20 a day-as much as it costs to list one item  on Etsy where you have to constanly renew and relist to be seen. It's one of the many ways ArtFire plans to celebrate coming out of beta. If 20,00 sellers DO NOT get in on this, THIS DEAL IS NOT HAPPENING.

I'm going to tell you 10 things about Artfire that make me prefer AF over etsy-or would make me prefer it if my etsy shop was not on permanent vacation.

1. Items are automatically pushed to google shopping with its' 25-30 million monthly shoppers and to TheFind.com with its' 20-25 million monthly shoppers. So while people may say that etsy has more traffic, Artfire has more potential shoppers.
2.Artfire has rapidcart which is a remote widget (similar to etsy mini), so people can shop from it right off your blog or your FB kiosk.
3. Artfire has no account check out. People don't have to set up an account to purchase from you. They can just go through the checkout steps in whichever payment option you accept. ArtFire is set up to take google checkoout, amazon payments, and REM as well as paypal.
4.Artfire search is not done by what was just listed or renewed. It's based on the search query-like google or yahoo.
5. Pro Studios can customize their studios with categories, custom colors, widgets and more.
6. Help guides for all the things you need to know to sell on Artfire-including extensive guides to SEO.
7. A contact phone number for Pro sellers if you need to contact admin.. Real people in a real office setting answer your questions.
8. Artfire has coupons, batch editing and over 30 other seller tools to help you sell.
9.It doesn't matter to Artfire is you sell elsewhere and include links to the other places. They want you to be successful.
10.Artfire lets you have 10 pictures in your listings.

So what are you waiting for?? Hurry on over to Artfire and check out the details on this super group deal.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New destash studio on Artfire

I have opened a destash studio on Artfire -DWDdestash-to sell off the excess Lake Superior Agates I have. I may add other stones or beads to it. I haven't decided yet.

I designed my banner and avatar for the studio-my second version. The first version was too light once I got the studio set up. It was fun doing that and I learned a lot from it.

Stop by the new studio and say hi.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Arfire Stimulus Sale Ending Soon

This great sale will be ending on Aug. 31.. If you haven't shopped for those unique handmade gifts yet, now is the time to get shopping.

There are all kinds of sales going on in the Artfire studios right now. My DancingWindDesigns studio has a BOGO on beaded earrings and ornament drapes. Other studios have deep discounts, free shipping and much more.

Start your Christmas shopping early with this sale and save some money. Nothing is better than a cool, one of a kind gift to stand out from the crowd.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Handmade Photography Light Box

With the help of my husband, I now have a handmade light box designed for shooting jewelry.  Since there are tons of tutorials on the internet for doing this, I combined a couple that I liked to get mine. I thought I would share the" how to" aspect of it. It doesn't cost much, either.

Here is what was used for this one:
plastic box clear or frosted-(size of your choosing)
tri-fold display board-like the kids use for Science fairs (got mine at Walmart for less than $4-it's an Elmer's brand)
sheet of poster board
3/16" eye bolts, nuts and washers-this one has 6 (home supply-about .30 ea.)
White Rustoleum paint (if you aren't in the US, that's a spray paint specifically for metal)
2 clamp on lights with daylight or full spectrum light bulbs
drill
chisel or other flat object for opening eyes in eye bolts

Here are shots of the eye bolts before opening and after. Open them however much you think you need to so your necklaces/bracelets will fit on them. Before you start the other stuff, go ahead and get a coat of paint on them, so it can be drying. You will probably ding the metal in the eye bolts when you open them, but that's ok-the paint should cover it. Give them two or three coats. You don't need to paint the threads of the eye bolts.


Here's the plastic box with the tri fold mat under it.









Find the center of the side and mark it. Measuring out from, decide how far apart you want the eye bolts to be. From the center, this one is 1 1/2" on each side for a space that's 3" wide. The holes next to it are 2" from the neighboring hole. Drill those out. There is also a hole centered in the end of the box for the really long necklaces that I make sometimes. Here's a picture of the drilled holes



In order to get the light to reflect, you need to cut the tri fold board down somewhat, so it forms a three sided cover for the plastic box. Just measure and cut according to the size of the plastic box you are using. The top of this one folds over to the edge of the plastic box and the sides come out to the edges. This plastic box has a rim along the top, so when the box is turned sideways, the edges of the tri fold board will catch and hold in the rim.
Now, it's time to add the lights.


Since I was trying to do this on a budget of little to nothing, I only bought one work light-the silver reflector one.  I already had the gooseneck light. Besides, the store only had one of the reflector lights left.
Here is the shot of two of the hooks attached to the top of the box. I moved the piece of poster board down so you could see the white part of the hooks. After you get the eye bolts through the plastic, it's important to use the washers between the plastic box and the nuts. It will help keep the nuts more secure than the would be against just the plastic.














The poster board was cut to fit the inside of the box, also. It has a small portion that overhangs the edge of the box. It was getting humid, hot and very overcast when I got done taking these pictures, so I just hurried and snapped a necklace shot to show how it works. One of the advantages, for me, of a light box like this is that when I am finished, the hooks and lights and any props I use, will store inside the box and the tri fold board and poster board will store flat underneath it.



I should have taken more time to set up the lights and get my tripod, but this will give you a general idea of how it works.
The overall cost of this was probably less than $12. I already had the plastic box, one light, the light bulbs, the washers and the Rustoleum. The tri fold board was about $5, the poster board maybe $1, the reflector light $5, and the eye bolts .60. Even if you started from scratchand bought everything, you could probbly do it for about $20.00.










Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jury Duty called and I answered

This was an interesting and trying week. I was called for jury duty and ended up sitting on a jury. This blog post will explain what jury duty is like in my little corner of Georgia. It all started with a summons that arrived in the mail telling me to report on Aug. 9. Even though all of this is now a matter of public record, I'm not going to use real names when I talk about the victim and the defendant.

On Mon., all the people summoned were seated in a large meeting room. The Clerk of Courts called the roll, then divided us into two groups-Panel 1 and Panel 2. We were told that this would be the seating order and to remember who we were sitting next to. I was in Panel 1. After a few minutes, Panel 2 was called to go into a courtroom where a civil suit was being heard. Some time passed before Panel 1 was called into the criminal courtroom. We walked single file into the courtroom and I wasn't sure if I felt like a sheep being herded or if I was back in elementary school. The front 14 people filed into the jury box and the rest of us sat in the courtroom seats.

The judge addressed us by telling us what the young man at the defense table was charged with. Then the District Attorney and the Defense Attorney asked us several questions-did we know any of the attorneys, did we know the defendant or the victim and things like that. The attorneys conferred among themselves, then chose 14 people-12 jurors and and 2 alternates-and the rest of us went back to the original meeting room. All of this had taken about 2 ½ hours, so the Clerk of Courts told us we could break for lunch and to be back in 90 minutes.

After the lunch break, we all returned to the meeting room where we sat for abut 45 minutes. Then we we called back to the criminal courtroom where the same procedure was repeated. The judge told us what the defendant was charged with and the attorneys asked us questions. One new question included this time was asking us if we had children. We went by rows and stood and stated how many children we had and their ages. You see, this defendant was charged with child molestation. The attorneys then conferred with the attorneys at their respective tables and then names were called for the jury. I heard my name. After the people who were not chosen had been let go, we were given instructions to report back to court on Wednesday morning and to not discuss this case with each other or anybody else.

What this case was is this: A girl had gone out of town on a family emergency-her father had had a massive heart attack. She left her 3 ½ year old son with her 23 year old live in boyfriend. She was gone for 5 days. After she returned, the little boy, Josh, told his mom, “that Papa Bill  put his weenie in my mouth and dirty water came out and went all over the blue blanket”.

Wednesday morning, I reported to court-dreading it the whole time. In the jury room, we were given notepads and pencils and told to write our names on the top page, but to use the pages under that for our notes. We were also told that from that point on, except for lunch, we would be escorted everywhere by a bailiff. So, we went into the courtroom and were sworn in. The District Attorney made her opening statement and the Defense Attorney made his. Then, the District Attorney presented their case. We heard from the first person to interview Josh and saw the video of that interview. Then we heard testimony from the police Lt. who interviewed Bill and saw the video of that interview. Bill denied several times that he had done it, then said that he had been at a neighbors smoking pot. When he got home, he put Josh to bed and started watching some porn. He said he didn't hear Josh get up until Josh tripped over a pair of shoes and fell so his mouth landed exactly where it did to bring these charges. Of course the detective did not believe this outrageous story, so Bill changed his story 2 more times before finally saying he did it. After that video interview, we heard testimony from a forensic interviewer who specializes in interviewing child victims of sexual abuse. We heard from her and saw the video of her interview with Josh. That took about an hour. Through it all, the little boy stayed consistent with his side of the story. Some of the things he did in his interview with the forensic interviewer were also good indicators of abuse. When the interview pointed to the mouth on the drawing of the little boy, Josh would not name the mouth but his words were “I didn't do that. Bill did”. Then we heard from Josh himself. After he took the stand, the DA was careful to ask him a couple of questions about his ability to know the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie. He repeated what Bill had done. Then, we heard from his mom. She stated that after she had confronted Bill about what he had done, she took Josh and went and stayed with friends. Bill packed up his belongings, including the blue blanket, and vacated the apartment. The District Attorney then rested her case. The judge then recessed us for lunch with the caution about not talking to anybody about the case. We got 90 minutes for lunch. I ate, but while I was eating I kept going over in my mind what I had heard that morning. Not in a looking at the evidence kind of way, but wondering what leads people to make some of the horrible choices they make sometimes.

After the lunch break, the Defense put Bill on the stand. I, along with most of the jury, had been watching him throughout the morning. He showed no emotion during anything. Bill testified to the fact that he had been smoking pot and eating Xanax before going home, and putting Josh to bed and everything else. He also mentioned that there were others who could have done this to Josh. Suddenly, there are other suspects in this case. Don't think so. He went on to say that he dropped out of school halfway through 10th grade and that his dad and stepdad had beaten him. Happens to thousands of others and they don't go out and sexually abuse kids. He also stated that he confessed because he was intimidated by the police Lt., but his body language didn't show that at all. There was supposed to be another witness for the defense that afternoon, but since he couldn't be located, we were released for the day and told to report back the next morning. The next morning, the witness who could not be located had been located. He was a character witness for the defense. He got on the stand, stated his name, and when asked if he knew the reputation Bill had in the community he said that he did. When asked if that reputation was good or bad, he replied good. When the District Attorney was asked if she had any questions for the witness, she did not. I was left with the feeling of “who was this masked man?”

We then heard closing arguments from both sides and got instructions from the judge before retuning to the jury room for deliberations. We had to wait to start deliberating until we got Bill's signed confession, the paper he signed where he waived his Miranda rights and the written jury instructions. While we were waiting, we chose a foreperson. Once we got the paperwork,, it didn't take long to find him guilty on one count of aggravated child molestation and one count of child molestation. When Bill heard the first guilty verdict, he kind of sagged on his feet, but his face again showed nothing. In Ga., the sentence for aggravated child molestation is a mandatory 25 years with no possibility of parole. He will serve everyday of that 25 years. He got 20 years for the child molestation charge. The sentences are to run consecutively. That means he will probably still have time to serve after doing the 25 years-if a person like that even survives prison. Even if he gets out, he will be a registered sex offender, and be on probation for the rest of his life.

Do I think that this guy is a threat to any kid walking home from school past his house? No, I don't. He didn't seem to be that ambitious. Do I think this guy is a threat to any kid in his home? Yes, I sure do. If he had been found not guilty, I bet he would have found another girlfriend with a small child and done the same thing. It's just the vibe I got while watching him for a couple of days. He's a pedophile, but too lazy to hunt for victims.

After it was over, I was home, I had a deep melancholy feeling descend on me. I'm not sure why. After all, this guy wasn't going to hurt any more kids. Maybe it was the fact that he had changed so many lives by his actions. Hopefully, Josh is young enough, he can get past this without much of a memory. The lives of Josh's loved ones are all changed because of Bill's actions and Bill's life is surely changed.


I know that having this small glimpse inside of a pedophile has changed me. I'm not sure I will feel clean again for a very long time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Introducing my neighbors

I would like to introduce you to some of my neighbors. They are pretty good neighbors-no loud parties at all hours, no cars racing around the neighborhood. Some of them even help us keep the yard in shape by keeping the grass trimmed and they don't let the pears spoil on the ground when they fall. They also help with mosquito control.
Without further ado....
This neighbor has recently moved. I had to evict her when I decided to reclaim the front porch swing. She's a gold silk spider. They are called that because the webbing they have is a wonderful gold color. It's incredibly strong, too. I once read an article that said slaves used to weaqve baskets from the webs. It was something in National Geographic, so I'm pretty sure that it's true. I can believe it. They catch so many mosquitoes in their webs, don't bite and never try and come in the house. I like having them around.

Next is George V. He is decended from one of the first gopher tortise we met when we moved in. My son named him after my dad. We have a bunch of these on the property-probably at least 8 out front and several in the power line pass through. I love having them around, too. They are an endangered species and I am very protective of them. Just ask the electric guys who came out a couple of years ago to trim the trees away from the power lines. They almost ran over a turtle hole and I gave them hell about it, too.

Next we have Spot and his mom, Goofy. Goofy is a doe-we figure about 15 years old. We named her Goofy several years ago because her left ear doesn't stand up right and she looks goofy. She can do semaphore with that ear. However goofy she looks, she is pretty much the matriarch of the does in the area. I think most of them are are daughters, anyhow. Spot is a huge fawn now which is why we think he is a he.  This picture was taken about a month ago. He was still kind of small then. I haven't been able to catch a new one of him. He's grown a lot, but for some strange reason, still has spots. None of the other fawns do. I hope he loses them one day, or he will make an easy target for the hunters.  Look to the left of the shot-you can see him in the grass while Goofy munches pears.

Last, but not least is one of the few fox that reamin in the area-at least around our house. There were so many of them that between the fox and the coyotes, they wiped out the rabbit population in about three years and pretty much everything else that lives on the ground including quail and whip-or-wills. Then, there were so many fox, they ran the coyotes off. This guy is old and limps, so I feel kind of sorry for him. He's right in the center of the shot-posing nicely for me. You might have to look hard to see him.
I hope you enjoyed meeting my neighbors.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another innovation from Artfire

Artfire has rolled out live another innovative, fabulous new feature-the Curated Collections. These are similar to the treasuries that etsy has, but better becauses they are much easier to create. There is no copying and pasting involved at all. The hardest part is choosing from all the wonderful goodies what to add to your collection. Pro studios can create an unlimited number of collections, basic studios, one per day.

All you have to do, is open the collections tab in "My Collections", then as you look for things to add, there is an "Add to collection" button on the items. All you have to do is click that button and viola', the item has been added.

Here is a link to the main page of the  Curated Collections .  Scroll through and see all the lovlies.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Organic Dog Shampoo

It's been hot and dry here in south Ga. for a long time. The fleas are flourishing and driving our poor little bichon, Sparky, crazy. I really don't like using chemical stuff on animals. It gets absorbed into their skin and system and I know that isn't good.
I tried a bunch of different organic stuff on sparky-everything from two pounds of food grade diatomaceous earth-recommended by Mother Earth News, to other organic shampoo. None of it worked. Finally, one day in the Artfire forums, a seller who rescues Italian Greyhounds, started a thread about some shampoo she had purchased from a seller whose studio name is Essensu, http://www.artfire.com/users/essensu and how wonderful it was on fleas. Best thing, it was organic. I contacted the buyer of the shampoo and asked her all kinds of questions. Then I contacted Tami, of Essensu. About 10 day later I had Sparky's shampoo.

I am really happy with this shampoo for Sparky. It is lavender scented, and it does keep the fleas at bay. Sparky haqs gone from getting bathed every other day, to a bath about every 4 days. He is a much happier little dog for two reasons. He isn't that fond of having a bath, so this new schedule is working out great for him, and he isn't being tormented by fleas too much in between baths. I also got some lavender oil to put on his collar. I "charge" his collar up every day with a few drops. After all, could so many of our Grandmothers have been wrong about bugs not lliking lavender?

Essensu also sends out free samples with all her orders. I got a wonderful sample of Orange Blossom and Honey facial scrub. I love it. It smells yummy and after using it, my skin isn't as dry as when I was using my other facial scrub. This was a win win situation all around.

As for the two pounds of diatomaceous earth-it's going to go in the yard. I do believe it works, just not on the animal itself.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Resellers

Resellers are a hot topic around handmade swelling venues lately. They compete with handmade sellers and often have inferior goods for a lesser price. In the case of a seller on Etsy, she was going to have a spread in a magazine about her items. One of the magazine staff bought a purse on Etsy-from a reseller-and was so disappointed in the quality of what she thought and what should have been handmade, that the magazine cancelled the spread. The Etsy lost and ultimately, so did the rest of the sellers on Etsy.

What is a reseller? This definition varies depending on who you ask. Since this is my blog, you get my version.
To me, a reseller is somebody who goes to the website of mass produced items, say purses, and then buys 5 bags in style A, 10 bags in style B, and so on. Then, once they get the items, they either take a picture of it or use the picture from the website, find a place to sell them, and list them. The problem I have with them is when they list these items on a handmade venue and pass them off as handmade. This is a an outright lie. It is not handmade. Handmade cannot compete with mass produced price wise, either which is another sore point in the handmade community. A lot of people say that supply sellers and vintage sellers fall into this category. I don't think so. Everybody who makes handmade items needs supplies and as long as the seller is not passing their supplies off as handmade, more power to them. The same with vintage. I love vintage stuff and have some vintage books and my vintage glass. As long as they call their stuff what it is, I don't have a problem with it. Just don't try passing off that little red glass vase you bought at the dollar store off as a vintage Cranberry Glass vase.

What are the handmade venues doing about this?
Well, Etsy does not appear to be doing a whole lot about-except changing how they define the subject. They have yet to settle on a fixed definition. It's why my shop is on vacation in Etsyland. It will stay on vacation until the last item expires.
See, on Etsy, you pay .20 per listing, plus a percentage of the sale price as a commission to them-don't forget to add in the paypa fee, either. All costs to be figured in the price of your product and passed along to the consumer. Now if you make handmade purses, you pay Etsy their .20 to list your wonderful creation. If you are lucky, you will be on the front page of E with this new listing for maybe 20 or 30 seconds. If you aren't lucky, you will be buried by a reseller who has just listed 20 or 30 "handmade" purses which will push your honestly listed handmade bag to the back of the bus. All the while Etsy admin. are saying that they are working on coming up with a solution. They are going to allow resellers there-they haven't come right out and stated that yet, but it's obvious. They bring in too much money for Etsy to not allow them. As usual, Etsy does not have a plan.

Artfire has started to deal with the reseller issue by vetting their handmade artisans. I have copied and pasted the application that has to be filled out to be considered for the Certified Handmade Artifact.

Artisans must meet the following pre-requisites before an application for the Certified Handmade Artifact will be accepted:


1. Artisan must be a PRO member of ArtFire for at least 60 days.


2. Artisan must be in good standing with ArtFire.com including


a. No outstanding cases concerning non-delivery of product.


b. No outstanding cases concerning mis-representation of products for sale


c. No outstanding cases concerning other violations of the ArtFire TOU


3. 100% of the items in the Applicants studio must be listed in Handmade or Fine Art. Studios with commercially produced supplies and destash are not eligible. There are two exceptions that can be made. You may list Handmade supplies in the "Supplies >> Handmade Supplies" categories. You are also allowed to have gift certificates to YOUR studio listed in "Media >> Gift Certificates".


4. Artisan studio must be complete and contain sufficient information including:


a. An avatar


b. A banner


c. Complete Studio Policies


d. A Bio with photo


5. Product photographs must be in-focus and of a reasonably sufficient size.


If you feel you meet the above requirements and you would like to submit an application to receive the Certified Handmade Artifact, please answer the following questions in full and send your complete application and photos to handmade@artfire.com

1.

What is your ArtFire User name?

2.



What is your main handmade craft, including the Main Category you list your craft in? (I.E. You make hand knit scarves so you list in the “Knitting” main category.) :

3.



Do you list in main categories other than your main craft?

4.



If yes to the above, what other handmade crafts do you create and list on ArtFire? Include the Main Category you list in as well.

5.




Please explain in brief but concise detail your handmade process for each main category craft you list on ArtFire. (I.E.if you make Quilts AND Knitting work. Please explain each of your creative processes separately.)




You must include at least two pictures with your email showing your handmade process. You will need to provide:



• At least one picture of your workspace



• At least one picture of a “work in progress”. (I.E. a scarf that has been half knit but not completed).




You may submit more than two pictures. However we must see at least the two pictures detailed above to be considered for the Certified Handmade Artifact.

I have one-you can see my new widget on the side of my blog. I'm proud of it. I did have to move the Lake Superior Agate Nuggets out of this studio.

Will this cut out the resellers? Probably not. It will let customers know who is handmade and who is not and that's a start. After all, giving the customers a good feeling that they are buying what the seller says they are selling can lead to good customer satisfaction. Not all handmade sellers will have this artifact, though. Some of them want to leave their supplies they are selling off in their studios. Artfire has a monthly fee. There are no listing or final value fees (percentage of sale), so there is no real financial gain for them to have resellers on site listing 100 mass produced purses in one whack. It's a venue for handmade, supplies and cool vintage stuff.
If you want mass produced, go hit a big box store like Wal or K Mart. Be careful what you buy there, though-some of that stuff has cadmium and other dangerous stuff in it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Have a clean Christmas

Yep, it's another blog post about the Twelve Days of Christmas in July Sale going on at Artfire. This post is about all the handmade soaps, bath stuff and lotions for sale on Artfire.


Like anything else that is handmade, soap is extra special when it's handmade. You have a bar of great scented stuff that will get you clean without a lot of harsh chemicals that the mass produced stuff has. To make it even better, it's way prettier than the mass produced soap, too.


These aren't in any kind of order, just as I found them on Artfire using the search term "TODCIJ soap".


From the description and the picture, I think this Italian Orange Ginger Soap by http://www.artfire.com/users/HartleySoapCompany would be divine.




Bonnie Bartley, aka soapsmith http://www.artfire.com/users/soapsmith makes some really cool and unusual soap. Like this beautiful Ruby Rock soap. I would probably buy it, and love looking at it so much I would never use it. LOL!






If you need a great joke gift for a coworker or neighbor, this Lump Of Coal soap would be perfect.
This beautiful, soothing Lavender Soap comes from http://www.artfire.com/users/YourTime . I love the scent of lavender.




Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some of my favorites

I thought I would show you a few of my favorite things from the Twelve Days of Christmas in July sale on Artfire that's going on now. Remember, I said a few. There are so many things available and so many different types of sales from BOGO to discounts to free shipping. You should really try and beat the heat by getting a little bit of Christmas spirit early.
Here's a beautiful necklace by my friend Emily of Exqusite Studios. http://www.artfire.com/users/ExquisiteStudios

This toddler purse is the perfect gift for the little miss in your life. It's perfect for the little girl who wants to take her posessions with her. It's designed and created by VaBchQuilter.http://www.artfire.com/users/vabeachquilter

The final, but by no means least favorite in this list are these cool glow in the dark Christmas ornaments by BAKidagain. this is only one of 1000 ornament designs available, including many different designs honoring our military men and women. http://www.artfire.com/users/BAKidagain


Monday, July 12, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas in July on ArtFire

Starting tomorrow is the Twelve Days of Christmas in July sale on Artfire. There are so many sellers participating this year, it's going to be super!

For all of you crafters, there are supplies on sale. All kinds of supplies from scrapbooking supplies to jewelry making supplies. For you early bird shoppers, there are gifts galore on special. For those of you wantinghandmade Christmas ornaments and decorations, they are there, too.

It's easy to find the sellers who are participating-all you have to do is put TDOCIJ in the ArtFire searchbox and the products will show up. You will be pleasantly surprised at all the goodies.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Life can really catch up to you

It's been ages since I have blogged. I will give you the cliff note version.

First of all, I managed to tear a muscle in my upper left arm. Being left handed, this has not been a picnic. I didn't realize what I had done-thought I could just "walk off" a little strain or something. Couldn't have been more wrong. I'm trying my best to doctor it myself with the help of webmd and google. We don't really have the mega bucks it would take for me to go see a doctor. I've set my beading aside because I know that pulling 20 feet of thread through a bead a ton of times would not be helping my arm get better.

So, how have I been passing the non-beading time you ask.
I have come into new ownership of a wonderful Pentax K-X dslr. I love it. I used to have a Pentax K1000 (back in the days when cameras used film) and the lenses I still have will fit my new camera. So I have been spending non beading time learning to work my new camera. I have re-taken the Lake Superior Agate nugget pictures and a bunch of other pictures topractice. The world of digital photography is a lot different than the 35mm world in a lot of respects. A lot of things are still the same, just different technology and different ways to acheive the same goal-good pictures.

I've also been seriously considering kissing Etsy goodbye. I am so fed up with no views, resellers, others who flagrantly violate the TOU's and the way Etsy treats their sellers. If you sell a ton of stuff there, violate their TOU's to your hearts content. If you don't, or voice your opinion about how admin. there does things, they are randomly likely to shut your shop down. It's gone on long enough and I've had enough. I think Artfire and Zibbet will be giving Etsy a good run for their money and soon. Artfire is a little closer to doing that than zibbet is right now.

That's pretty much the cliff note version of the last month. I left out how outraged and devastated I am over what is happening in the Gulf. Me and a few million others. I will not be this long in blogging again. I got sidetracked with a new camera forum http://www.pentaxforums.com/index.php I am learning a lot there, but am kind of caught up now and it's easy to keep up with it at this point.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Protecting our children

This is a blog post about a little girl I never knew, but whose story has affected me profoundly. I can't pinpoint the exact reason it has, I think it's a combination of several things.

This post, in part, is Somer's story. This post, in part, is an angry cry for justice for all murdered children everywhere.
One gorgeous last Oct. day, little 7 year old Somer Thompson was walking home from school with her twin brother and her older sister. It was reported in the news that there was a spat of some sort between the siblings and Somer ran off from the group. The others continued home. It was the last time little Somer was seen alive. Somehow, a predator got his hands on her in the few short blocks between where she left her siblings and her home. For two days the people of Orange Park, Fl. searched, prayed and held vigils for Somer. Her small body was found in a landfill about 25 miles from where I live. She had been abused and then thrown away. What kind of twisted person can do that?
There is a man who was picked up on child pornography charges that has been charged with Somer's murder. The police and investigators seemed to take their time to build the case, so maybe he is the guilty one and will pay for what he has done.
A few years ago, little 5 year old Christopher Barrios was going through the mobile home park where he lived and had been about a block from home visiting his grandmother. He was returning home when a family-a family mind you-dad, son and mom-of convicted sex offenders grabbed him. According to the news reports, he was tortured before he was killed. They put him in a trash bag and dumped him alongside the road where he was found several days later. The mom of the twisted family has gotten life without possibility of parole, while the other two have gotten the death penalty for their part in Christopher's death.
I am all for the death penalty in cases like this. If you do something like this to a defenseless child you should pay the ultimate price. Does it bring closure for the families? I doubt it. They can know that these monsters won't hurt anymore children ever again, but it won't replace the huge, gaping hole they will carry in their hearts forever.
We have to put a stop to this kind of crime against our children and we have to do it before there are more adorable faces on the news whose lives have been cut short way too soon. You can start by clicking on the link below and signing the petition for Somer's Law. This law is an amendment to Megan's Law. It will further increase the distance that convicted predators and child molesters can live in regards to schools and parks. (I will say that the man accused of Somer's murder had not ever been convicted of a crime related to a child.) Somer's Law will also change the issuing of an Amber Alert so it will take place within 30 mins. of a child going missing.
We need to lobby legislators for much tougher sentencing for people convicted of crimes against children. Personally, I resent my tax dollars being used to house these people and give them medical treatment that I can't afford, for the rest of their lives. I feel that if you abuse and kill a child under the age of 16, it should be an automatic death penalty. It's harsh, I know, and some will consider it cruel and unusual punishment, but what happens to our children when they are in the hands of these predators is also very cruel.
In closing this rather long winded post, I will tell you one of the reasons I am so passionate about this. In 1984, my 16 year old step daughter was murdered. Her body was found three weeks later in woods about a mile from where she was living with her mom. She and her mom had had an argument the night she disappeared, so the police considered her a runaway. Unless Karma has caught up with whoever killed her, that person is still walking the streets.
The killing of children has got to stop and it's up to us to stop it. If we don't protect our children, who will?
Please take a moment and sign the petition of Somer's Law.
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Somers-Law
If you are worried about getting spammed by this site, you won't. I signed this petition about a week ago and the only thing Ihave gotten from them is an email acknowledging my sign up.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lake Superior Agate Destash now happening

I'm getting rid of some of those Lake Superior Agates that were in the three pounds I recently acquired. I'm doing that in my Artfire Studio which you can find here http://www.artfire.com/users/DancingWindDesigns

If I was born as a 5 year old master beader who didn't have to go to school ever, I might be able to bead all these nuggets by the time I hit 70. since that isn't happening, I'm getting rid of some of them. They are perfect for wire wrapping or setting in bezels.

Here are just a few pictures of some of the different lots I am destashing. If you are interested, keep checking back becaused I probably have at least a pound to sort and photograph and list. What is listed now is probably 1/4 of what I have.



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jewelry by Sherry is the AFlessthan(10)sales guild

featured studio this week. http://www.artfire.com/users/jewelrybysherry is the link for this beautiful studio. Sherry is a retired military wife who started crafting while her husband was in the Canadian Navy. Sherry is located in Ontario, Canada.

Her shop is full of wonderful handmade jewelry. One of my favorites is this Turquoise and cloisonne necklace. It is beautiful!!!!!!!!!! The turquoise beads highlight the blue in the cloisonne perfectly.

I also love this copper Swarovski pearl and gold plated bead necklace. It has such a warm and inviting look to it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The featured AF Shops With Less Than (10) Sales

this week is Kaotic Krafter http://www.artfire.com/users/kaotickrafter .
Tina is the creator of the wonderful, upcycled goodies in this shop. She recycles old clothes as much as possible for her creations. Among the many creations you will find in her studio are crocheted hats, bags and purses, fabric and felted flowers, notebooks, journals and date books, cards and a section for Emma's Creatures. Emma's Creatures are designed by Tina's 4 year old daughter and are made and stuffed with recyled clothes and yarn. (They take custom orders for them, too.) Emma designs them and helps cut them out, then Tina sews them. Emma gets all the money from her creature sales.
Be sure and stop by and visit this "chaotic" studio. You will see some wonderful handmade items that you won't find any where else. To prove that, I will show you a couple of pictures.