Thursday, December 30, 2010

Etsy Shopping ... yes, it's for me

As luck would have it, there was a nice pile of money in my paypal account right before Christmas, so I bought myself a few presents.  This etsy shop is my latest obsession.  I purchased these 2 cups with plans to own lots more from this talented potter.

You really must check out Creative With Clay.  I'm sure you will be amazed by the explosion of color in this fun yet functional pottery.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Kahlua Chocolate Walnut Squares

This is a recipe I've been making for years and it never fails to please.

(one does not need a fork to eat this -- I just want you to think I'm civilized)

Kahlua Chocolate Walnut Squares

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup Kahlua
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 TBSP Kahlua

Cream the butter with brown sugar and egg until smooth.  Stir in 1/4 cup Kahlua, flour and baking powder.  Fold in chips and nuts.  Spread in greased square baking pan.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Cool for about 15 minutes.  Brush the top with the 1 TBSP of Kahlua.  Cool completely.  Spread with Brown Butter Icing.  Cut into squares. Or rectangles. Or triangles.  Or don't cut it at all and eat the whole thing yourself.  I won't tell.

Brown Butter Icing

2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP Kahlua
2 TBSP milk or cream
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Brown butter in small saucepan over low heat.  Remove from heat.  Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Meet Marilyn

I recently decided that I needed wanted a dress form form as a photo prop for my scarves and necklaces.  I had been using a glass vase for modeling my scarves and I must admit, it was quite lame.  For my necklaces, I was using a display easel/bust similar to the ones I use at craft shows.  This worked alright, but longer necklaces never looked quite right on the easel.

I searched ebay and with the help of another etsy seller, found the perfect dress form.  Of course, shipping to Alaska added significant costs, but I was willing to do it anyway.  Then, a friend suggested a I post a wanted ad on Craig's List.  Within one day, I had a response from a woman (former seamstress?) who no longer wanted hers!  I picked it up yesterday. 

Meet Marilyn:

She's simple and basic and precisely what I was looking for.  Yay for Craig's List!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Earrings with Vintage Components

This is almost the last of these vintage brass twists.  At one time, they were part of an antique necklace that I purchased at one of those antique malls we so often visit on our trips Outside.

(for those of you that don't live in Alaska, the term Outside refers to the lower 48).  

I had lots of them, but sold all of the earrings I made with them.  This pair, and maybe one other, are all I have left.  They are incredibly interesting elements -- embossed, twisted and framed.

From the bottom, where there is a convenient loop, I added dangles of black vintage glass beads.  It just seemed right to use vintage beads with these vintage twists.  Click the photo to go directly to the listing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Iolite Earrings

I've had these iolite briolettes for a couple of years, but had a hard time making pairs of them. On the strand, they all looked the same, but in reality, there are variations in size, color, shape and drill. I know this is an old refrain, but it's a consistent problem (?) in the world of beading.

Even these two stones aren't an exact match.  There is a slight color variation and the sizes aren't identical either.  Such is the beauty of handmade jewelry!

If you must have these earrings, click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Video Share

An online friend of mine tweeted about the video.  It is a must see video for anyone who has ever done a craft show.

(If anyone can tell me how to resize a youtube video so that it actually fits my blog, I would be ever so grateful)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rethinking : Selling Online

Yes, I've been doing a lot of thinking about this lately.  No, I have no immediate plans to close my etsy shops.  All I've been doing so far is thinking.

You're probably wondering what is prompting all this deep thought.  Even if you're not wondering, I'll tell you anyway.

As many of you know, I sell my work at craft shows, the state fair, on consignment at galleries and wholesale to gift shops.  All of those sales venues result in Sales In Bunches.  I've never actually counted the number of sales at any one of those venues because it does not seem like a relevant number.  Only on etsy is the number of sales visible and attention-getting.  I always measure the success of my business by the amount of money I make.

ALERT -- the crux of my deep thinking is about to be revealed

Why does it make sense to sell (and ship!) items one at a time halfway around the world??  Okay, sometimes it's 2 or 3 or 4 things at a time.  And sometimes it's only a quarter of the way around the world.  But I think you get my drift.  Selling online in small quantities is not only the polar opposite of earth-friendly, it's inefficient and expensive.

Think about all of that packaging and time involved in getting each individual parcel ready to be shipped.  When I look at the etsy sector of my business, I sometimes laugh out loud at the sheer silliness of it. I'm sure there's a better word than silly, but that's what is coming to mind right now.

I have no alternative to what's going on with online shopping, but I hope this post has prompted you to think about your online selling and shopping habits.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Emerald & Tourmaline Earrings

I've had this graduated strand of chubby emerald rondelles since Tucson (last February) and finally started using them.  Does anyone else do that?  Save up your most special beads for several months before actually cutting  the strand?  And have I mentioned that I really, really dislike graduated strands of gemstones?  I use most of my gems for earrings, and matching up beads from graduated strands can be ridiculously time consuming.  But I digress.

I made a pair of these right before the Bad Girls of the North craft show in Fairbanks in September.  They sold pretty quickly, so I made another for the Anchorage show.  But they did not sell, so I listed them in my etsy shop.

I topped the emeralds with a tight cluster of earthy, multi- colored tiny tourmaline rondelles.  The combination is rich and warm.  If you feel you must have these, simply click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A New Scarf Pattern

I rarely enter contests or giveaways, but in this case I'm glad I did -- because I won!  Brenda from Phydeaux was offering a giveaway of some knitting patterns from her etsy pattern shop.  I won my choice of 2 patterns and have already completed one.  This is the pattern I just completed:

I did not use as bulky a yarn as the pattern called for -- mainly because I wanted to use yarn that I had in my stash and none of it was super bulky.  Here's my version in a slate-ish blue wool/alpaca blend.

The pattern gives the scarf a really nice texture.  I'll probably make this scarf again and again!

What, you don't knit?  Then you really should check out Brenda's shop of hand knit accessories, Phydeaux.  Her work is absolutely lovely.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Auntie's Beads

Recently, I was approached by Auntie's Beads to select some items from their huge selection of beads and beading supplies and blog about them.  After much deliberation, I selected some 10 mm lapis beads and a super chunky variscite bead/pendant.

The lapis beads are beautiful and quite glossy.  I have not yet decided how I will use them, but I will definitely post it here when I do.  The size of these beads is consistent and they have such nice metallic pyrite inclusions.  That's one of the characteristics that I love about lapis.  That and the rich, bright color, of course.

This variscite pendant is like no other stone I've ever seen.  I do have some variscite rondelles in my 'stash', but because they are relatively small, they don't have the impact that this stone has.  The color is a bright apple green (love that) with lots of interesting cream colored matrix.

Keep checking in for progress on how I will use these gorgeous stones.