Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"My Mommy & Me" Sale on Etsy!

The Interior Design Etsy Team is having a SALE, May 1 through May 11, in honor of Mother's Day. Each participating shop will determine it's own terms, so "drop in" on May 1st and see what's happening! The slide show below highlights just a few of the items on sale from each shop. Links to participating shops are listed below the slide show. Quilts With Heart is offering 10% off all items, plus FREE shipping!

TR Pottery
ME Pottery
Nicole Rae Photo
Quilts With Heart
Coconut Palm
Feel Design
Citrus Tree
Floradora Inc.
Stray Threads
Diane Clancy's Art
Kat Hannah
Shaded Memories
Lightleak Media
Susannah Tucker Photography
Tiffany Teske
Pat's Pottery
Kristina Law

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Interior Design Etsy Team Treasury

Etsy offers quite a few different ways for buyers to search for items, and for sellers to show their items. One of these is the list of "Treasuries," each built around a specific theme, which displays items from different sellers. It's nice to make Treasuries of fellow Etsians' work, but it's more fun to be listed in someone else's Treasury! Either way it increases traffic to your shop, and gets your brand noticed, which hopefully leads to sales.
There's a lot of talent on Etsy, and the Interior Design Team can claim many artisans. Here's a screenshot of the team treasury I posted today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Addicted To Fabric

When I first started making quilts about 12 years ago, I bought only enough fabric for the project at hand. There were always leftover scraps, and I saved the bigger ones for possible use in the future. But that was the extent of my fabric "stash." I belong to a large guild in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and at meetings and classes I often heard other quilters talking about their stashes, and I thought I knew what they meant. Silly me!

My true stash was not born until 1998, when my daughter requested a queen-sized "charm" quilt. Each patch in a charm quilt must be a different fabric, and the pattern called for over 1600 patches! At the time I had, maybe, 25 or 30 "leftover" scraps, so I knew from the outset that the project would require some serious collecting. I started slowly, begging my quilting friends for a scrap here and a scrap there, and working out trades online. I graduated to buying 5-inch and 10-inch samples from various designer collections, and "fat quarters" from every fabric shop I passed. Each block required 32 fabrics of a particular color, in differing values, so I shopped by color and created a block each time I collected 32 fabrics. At the time I pieced and quilted entirely by hand, and the project took three years to complete. (You can see "Lisa's Charms" near the bottom of the sidebar at right.)

I consider the quilt my opus, and doubt I will ever make another large quilt by hand. But I love the finished product, and by the time it was done I had a fabric stash to die for!!! Sadly, I also had this monkey on my back, this addiction to fabric collecting. Fabric calls to me, ever so softly and seductively. It says, "I will make you happy. I will look fantastic in your quilt. Or, if you choose, I will live happily in your collection forever, until death do us part, and you can pet me whenever you want." Oh yes, it makes promises like that, and the whispers make my head spin and my heart pound, and soon I have another bagful of fabric to sneak into the quilt studio.

I will confess to you that I now have more fabric than my husband knows about. I probably, somewhere, have fabric that even I don't know about. I can't possibly live long enough to use it all. And still, it calls to me from every shop I pass, and from every fabric dealer online. I had to buy a sewing machine so I could try to use it up. Then I bought a quilting machine, for the same reason. Still, the collection grew. I started giving quilts away, and then selling them, all to feed my habit. I quilt full-time now, and still the collection grows. But I'm cutting back, I swear. I can quit whenever I want.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Interior Design Etsy Team

As I've mentioned here before, one of the reasons I moved my shop to Etsy.com is the site's community of artists, who value and promote one another. Etsy encourages the formation of Teams, who are drawn together by region or craft, and who are a source of inspiration and information for each other. Many of us are new to selling our work, or to online sales. Others have sold online but never done a craft fair, or sold on consignment, or advertised their work. It's fine to read articles or books about these things. But it's even better to meet kindred spirits who have been where you want to go, or who want to go where you've already been. We can share our experiences, and everyone leaves the richer for it. We can pool our resources and accomplish more together than any one of us could alone.

The newest team I've joined on Etsy is the Interior Design Team. All members make articles for the home, from handmade furniture to original art work. We all sell on Etsy, as well as through other venues. The link above offers more information about the team, and instructions for joining. Hope to "meet" you there some time!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bull Stuff!

As a member of the "Etsy Bloggers Street Team," I have to blog at least once a month about a topic chosen for the weekly "carnival." I'm new to blogging, and to Etsy, and until now I had never even heard the term "blog carnival!" Why am I always the last to know?

The carnival theme this week is "Bulls." I know absolutely nothing about bulls, and I try to keep it that way, but some people do strange things with bulls. For instance, what would motivate a person to participate in the annual "Running Of The Bulls?" Plenty of Tequila, is what I'm thinking. As a natural born klutz, I was worried by this advice to entrants:
Beware of falling - Bulls are not the only danger. Mainly, it's the number of runners. The chances of stumbling and falling are very high. In fact, most of the people who are injured during the run have fallen and been trampled over by other runners. You have to look in front of you, behind you and on the ground. Once you are in the herd, it's safest to remain close to the bulls because there will be no runners in front of you. If you fall, just curl up and do not move until someone taps you on the shoulder. If you're near a bull and you fall, do not try to get up. If you curl up in a ball, the bull will evade you and continue running. Getting up will cause the bull to attack you. This is the most common mistake made by runners.

You know, I'm a quiltmaker. Jobs don't come much more sedentary than mine, and I admit that's one of the things I like about it. I don't "do" running. But if I did, I would leave the bulls out of it altogether.

If running with them is dangerous, how much more so is "fighting" with them? I know you get to use a cape and a big sword, and the bull is unarmed... Come to think of it, I'd root for the bull, who was minding his own business, just looking for some shapely cows, and suddenly thousands of people are cheering for some guy in a glittery outfit to KILL him. I'd be mad, too!

Lastly, if you don't want to run with bulls or engage them in a one-sided fight, you can always ride one. It looks fairly simple, until they open the gate.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Martha Would Approve

My husband and I have been "empty nesters" for about a year now,
which has taken some adjustment. But we've gotten used to it, and now
get to enjoy things like having Sunday brunch today at our daughter's.
She did a great job; even Martha Stewart would have approved. She has
feathered such a cute little nest for herself, and she even keeps it
neat and tidy -- very unlike her former room at my house!

Seven days in a row!

It must say something about the lack of drama in my life, but I'm
really intrigued by my visiting cardinal. Today marks the seventh
morning he's come and tapped on my window. What's up with that??

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Feeling Blue

Working from home has many advantages, but one drawback can be
loneliness. I don't miss anything about my previous job except seeing
my coworkers on a regular basis. Occasional visits are great, but
they just can't replace the daily conversations, kidding around, and
sharing the details of our lives with people who know us well.

That's why I like the way Etsy encourages the formation of teams and
makes it easy for us to contact each other, "heart" each other, and
join blog rings and message boards. All of these help alleviate the
isolation I sometimes feel.

I recently joined a group of local quilters who meet every week. I
belong to a large quilt guild too, but this new group is much more
informal. Mostly we just stitch and talk, admire each other's
projects, and share tips and encouragement. (As I've said here before,
I've never met a quilter I didn't like!)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Visitor to the studio

This poor little cardinal has been pecking on my window for THREE
DAYS! I've never heard of a bird doing this, and I'm starting to
wonder if it's a sign of some kind. Anybody know? (Maybe she's trying
to tell me to wash windows!)

Have A Cow!

This little cow was the perfect "baby buddy" for my latest quilt. The fabric is "Hungry Animal Alphabet" by Janet Frisch, and there's a cow in the "C" block. The buddy cow
has her own coordinating mini quilt. At baby showers it's always the
buddy who gets the oohs and ahhs! (You'll note that I still have to finish the binding.)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Etsy Blogger of the Month!

I love having a shop at Etsy.com. There's a real sense of community there, with artists sharing information and supporting each other. One of the things Etsy does is encourage the creation of Teams to promote one another's work. One of the teams I've joined is the Etsy Bloggers Street Team. They select a "Blogger of the Month" and all of the team members link blogs with him/her. This month's BOTM is StormyDesigns! The photos above show just a few of the many beautiful items in her shop. Stormy is a polymer clay artist in Virginia, and she is very active on Etsy. You can read more about her on her blog. I hope being the featured blogger brings you lots of sales, Stormy!


By the way, in case you're wondering, The tax guy turned out to be a woman this year, and the process wasn't as brutal as I feared it might be! The end result is that I can devote another year to Quilts With Heart. My goal is to at least break even this year, which sounds pretty pathetic, doesn't it? I mean, solving world hunger, now there's a GOAL! Winning the World Series, there's a GOAL! Then there's mine: breaking even in the business. How humbling.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Tax Time

We see the tax man tomorrow, and I'm dreading it even more than usual. It's been one year since I left nursing and started my quiltmaking business. From the start I've treated it as a full-time job and have worked at least 40 hours a week. The fun tasks were shopping for fabric and designing, cutting, piecing, layering, quilting, binding and labeling quilts. The less fun tasks were creating and maintaining the web sites, blog, and virtual store/shop --- photographing items, posting listings, advertising, and tracking site statistics. The occasional sale was a rare but exhilarating event, though it did require the additional work of packaging and shipping, tracking the package, and leaving seller feedback (not to mention that excruciating wait for buyer feedback!)

So, okay, it's work, even if it is mostly enjoyable work, and even though friends and relatives consider me "retired." The only problem is that there's no payday. Whatever money makes it's way into PayPal stays there ever so briefly before making it's way back out of PayPal and into sellers fees, fabric stores, office supplies, sewing machine repairs, etc.

I didn't expect to show a profit in this first year, but I had carefully protected myself from knowing just how much money I was losing. I filed the receipts but never totaled them until a few days ago, when I started preparing for the tax guy. I had known I'd be discouraged by the totals, and I was. I had known I'd find it hard to justify all the hours I put in, and I do. There is a certain amount of joy derived by creating something beautiful and sharing it with others. But not enough!

So, tomorrow I will find out if I can afford to continue working at this for another year, or if I'll have to get a "real" job. Truthfully, I don't feel optimistic about Quilts With Heart's chances of survival.