Monday, June 29, 2015

Lessons from my mother

Mom at 16, nothing but legs,
boobs and attitude.  
My mother had a saying.

My mother had many sayings, most of them memorable, quite a few of them containing the word "shit" or something else that got me in trouble for repeating when I was a kid.

But overall, they've held up well.

Take this little gem, which I repeated to myself a few times yesterday when I started the pointless, "I wish the show had gone better" refrain in my head.

Mom would have said . . .

"Wish in one hand, shit in the other.  See which one fills up first."


She followed that up with, "The only time it's okay to wish is at Christmas.  The rest of the time, the hell with wishing.  Go do what needs to be done, and if you can't do it, get someone else to do it for you, and if you're good, you can convince them it was their idea to do it."

I believe she first imparted this piece of wisdom when I was about six.  At the time, all my wishing was probably (absolutely) focusing on what I wanted for Christmas.  But she did repeat herself, and eventually it sunk in.

Wishing won't get the job done.  All it will do is make you feel worse about whatever didn't work out right the first time.  Wish in one hand . . . or find a way to do what needs doing.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Highs and lows

Today was the Narberth Music & Arts Summer Festival.  I did this one last year, and it was a pretty good day.

Today, not so much.

Today, in a word, sucked.  On ice.

There are days like that, and thankfully they don't happen very often.  Today, at least, the weather was fabulous (after drenching rain all day yesterday), the other vendors were great, and I came home with an amazing gift from a fellow vendor, blog reader and one half of a multi-talented couple.

One of Damp Cellar Turnings' shaving brush and bowl sets
In addition to being a pretty impressive home winemaker, the shop -- called Damp Cellar Turnings (because their damp cellar is where all the magic happens) -- has a wonderful selection of handmade wooden items (mostly pens and shaving-related goods), all of which are lovely to the touch and reasonably priced.

The wine has moved from the counter to the wine rack, and in some cases the fridge.  There wasn't time to chill it in time to be the glass (or two --  don't judge) that I needed after I unpacked after my day.

Some days, you're the pigeon and other days you're the statute.  

Do statues drink wine?


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Venues

One of the most difficult parts in building this business is trying to get my work into new venues -- stores, markets, etc.

It's been a good week on several fronts, in that respect.

Locally, I've now expanded into Bucks County at Spunky Candles & Crafts, a cute little shop in downtown Bristol.  They started out as a candle company, but once they found a retail space they realized it would make a more interesting shop if they invited other makers to display their wares alongside, so there I am.

Also, I sent a batch of dresses to upstate New York to my artist friend, Maria Wulf's, open house this weekend.  She and her husband, writer/photographer Jon Katz, do an open house at their Bedlam Farm twice a year, and Maria turns her studio into a gallery space.

You can read about the Open House here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sweater season

Not really, but it is in my house.

There's a thrift store down the street from my house.  I've mentioned it before, but it really is one of the best parts about where I live -- it almost makes up for the corner bar, the Penn students and the general annoyance of living just feet from my neighbors.

They do frequent half price sales, and they're where I get most of my sweaters that I turn into mittens, animals and random other goodies.

But it isn't sweater season right now.  Technically.  They get donations all year long, but they don't have the floor space to keep a four-season display out, so most of it goes into storage after it's processed.

Sometimes they get too much, and then they sell bulk bags -- 50 pounds of clothes for $10.  One of the saleswomen suggested a few weeks ago that I ask the manager to have a bag made up for just of  nothing but sweaters.

I didn't know I could do that.  I asked; he said yes; and this morning, as I went past on my way to work (yes, I'm still at the temp job, it's been extended but I'm coping), one of the employees told me I could pick up the bag tonight.

It's a big, clear plastic trash bag with FORTY POUNDS of sweaters.  Almost all of them are wool, quite a few of them have already been accidentally felted for me.  There are even a few cashmere blends.

And all this fuzzy goodness cost me 30 cents per pound, or $12 for the entire bag.

I'll be doing this again, just as soon as I figure out where to stash this load.

Apparently it's sweater season, after all.

Monday, June 15, 2015

It takes a village to make a bear

Thanks so much to everyone who left a comment on my prior post about this bear.  As you can see, I took a little bit from each of your suggestions, and in the end, I think I (we) came up with something that will make the customer very happy.

I did end up using all five fabrics in the end -- the light blue for the body and half the arms/legs, the My Little Pony fabric for the head and the other half of the arms/legs, and the yellow terry romper for the ears and foot pads (including the original tiny Izod alligator, just because).

The difficult fabrics were, obviously, the Dresden plate and the shamrock prints.  I decided instead of using ribbon that I would make a tie from the shamrock fabric, and then, as suggested by Glenda, I appliqued the Dresden plate on the belly.  Because nothing succeeds like excess, I cut out the center circle and filled it with a pony.

Somehow it's both trippy and fun, and kind of feels like a bear that a child might design -- all those bright colors and random prints ended up working out, after all.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Letting Go

I'm still wandering through my house, throwing things out, sending bags to the thrift store (a belated exchange for all the bags I've carried home), handing off to friends, and I'm about to start a (hopefully) profitable relationship with Craigslist.

But last Friday, I did an event in Philly with another crafter, and he's getting these plates.  He was kind enough to give me a ride -- the event starts at 2:00 p.m. and my knight in shining Subaru isn't available until 6:00 p.m. -- and he makes really amazing jewelry from old china.  

I have a plate rail in my dining room, lined with old plates in blues, browns and reds.  These are extras.  The top left is mutton dressed as lamb (new plate masquerading as old).  There are two chipped Blue Willow plates, a brown-and-white transferware called "Royal Mail", which I already have 3 of on the rail, and the red Asian-inspired plate.

That one has a story.  A former co-worker went to Spain at least 10 years ago, and asked what I wanted.  I asked for pottery -- preferably folk art style, something that definitely said Spain.  She brought back this sort of Red Willow-looking plate, which is lovely but not what I wanted.  I thanked her, because it was a gift and it was nice of her to think of me, much less schlep a plate all the way from Madrid, but I've never found the right place to display it.

And it's gone now, because I realized that the gift and the gratitude and the memory are sufficient; I don't need a plate that I'm never going to use, stored away in a cabinet that could be holding something else.  It's going to make some lovely jewelry, and I might even treat myself to a piece of it -- it might not look good on a plate rail, but I'll bet it will be lovely on a silver chain.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Where do I go from here?

I got a custom bear order recently.  The buyer said that she'd originally contacted a large company somewhere in Vermont that made custom bears, but after receiving her fabrics, they contacted her and said they were no longer in the custom business and were just doing straight production work.

I think I understand why.

Do you see these 5 fabrics?  Do you see any relation between them, other than that all 5 obviously mean something to the woman who chose them?

There's some My Little Pony print cotton, which I think started out as a skirt; some shamrock print; a spongy pale blue that doesn't match the blue in the pony fabric; a quilt print cotton with lots of dark purple; and a bright yellow romper with red and blue accents (and a tiny Izod alligator).

I've been staring at these fabrics for the better part of a week, trying to make them come together in some kind of harmony.

So far, no harmony.  More like really, really dissonant jazz . . .  the kind that very few people understand, or can even listen to.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bowls for Sale

Yay me!  I finally got some microwave bowls listed on Etsy.

I only started making these microwave bowls back in March, but they've quickly turned into the fastest-selling item at craft shows.  It's only now that I've finally gotten some  up on Etsy for people who can't make it to an in-person event.

I guess they're just one of those things that you don't realize you need until you see it -- because who, after all, hasn't burned their hands on dinner at one time or another, and then realized despite the blisters, the food's not completely warm even though the bowl is volcanic?

Problem solved.

Bowls are $12 per set, plus shipping.  They can be found here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

It's only temporary

Lily does not approve of any activity that messes with mealtime.
I mentioned last post that I'm temping again.

This is for several reasons.  It was a long winter, as we all know, and it isn't cheap to heat a big old drafty house, even as minimally as I choose to heat it.

Add to that the fact that Mario's house still hasn't sold -- doesn't anyone want an inexpensive, not unattractive, really convenient house in West Philadelphia? -- and things have been tight.  Shows and Etsy and in-person sales have been good, but they're no replacement for an office salary when the savings dip.

I have a line that the bank account isn't supposed to cross.  It's an arbitrary, self-imposed line, and it moves, depending on circumstances, upcoming events and knowing that I can replenish it soon.  But lately I've been drifting closer to that mark and considering whether or not I should go back to work for a while.

Which I don't want to do.  I love how my life is going, how much happier I am with less stress, less money, less reasons to have to get dressed up and make nice when all I want to do is sit home and make things.  So going back to work full time was a no go.

I've been doing some daily work, organizing and paperwork, for a neighbor.  It's okay, but it's one day a week and she drives me batty because she's so chaotic she makes me look super-organized.  And I'm not.

Annie just doesn't want to be
on the menu.
And then, after the holiday weekend, this happened:  Tuesday morning my phone rang.  It was the temp agency, and they asked if I was busy the rest of this week.  Same office I worked for last summer, and if I'm willing, they have a two-week stint later on in the month.  Add to this a scheduled week at a different office next week, and suddenly I have four weeks of employment stretching ahead of me, which is more than enough to replenish the bank account to a place where I'm comfortable again.

I wasn't thrilled about the two solid weeks, but it turns out they're willing for me to work whatever days during that two week period suit my schedule.  I'm a known quantity, and they figure I can get more work done in three days than someone unfamiliar with their systems can do in five.

So in the space of a few days, I went from fretting about finances to having more work than I'm actually willing to do.  Instead of griping about it, I found a way to make it work, and I will.  I'm grateful I have several places that are willing to ask me back, give me work I can do without thinking too hard, and pay me more than I make working at home.

It's a good thing; it helps the budget, and it reminds me that I'm really, really happiest when I'm making less (but doing what I love).