Monday, September 29, 2008

Top Ten Reasons To Chat on The BBEST Weekly Thread

Our Wonderful Etsy Team encourages active participation. Our philosophy is to seek out and form new friendships and provide encouragement and support to our peers. We have a Message Board (MB), two weekly etsy chat room times, this Blog, Monthly Challenge Activities, a weekly promo thread where you can share all your business news, a Yahoo group and a Flickr Pool. These are all easy and effective ways to get involved in our team at your leisure and in your own style. But, and I think I speak for most of our members, the BBEST Weekly Chat Thread, found in the etsy Teams & Events Forum Section, is the liveliest, most entertaining and ~ full disclosure time ~ addicting BBEST Team feature. It has the unique ability to guide you to all things BBEST, while encompassing the ups and downs of our members' daily lives, covering every imaginable topic ~ and more ~ with a heartwarming blend of tears and laughter.

In the spirit of fun, which is an important thread element, I pay homage to David Letterman, and submit to you now this tongue-in-cheek list. I invite and encourage you to join in. See you there. joon

Top Ten Reasons To Join in the Weekly BBEST Chat Thread

10. All the thrill of a freight train ride without the fuss.
9. Get hip to Exciting New Acronyms like: BBIAB :::TY:::LOL::: YW:::DH:::DS:::DD:::NSDH:::GMTA:::PPF:::BF:::IMHO:::BIA
8. Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate. We like to chat about chocolate.
7. Harken back to your Soap Opera Days with Medical Diagnoses that will have you reconsidering that long overdue plunge into medical school.
6. Type chocolate and people pop out of the ionosphere like daisies.
5. The Friday Night Three Ring Circus.
4. Expand your vocabulary with groovy terms like: lutrador+dorkens+haggis+chutneywalla+copacetic+Johnny Depp+TA DA!
3. You absolutely positively cannot kill the thread ... just occasionally lull it into a chocolate stupor.
2. Ask any question and you'll get some kind of answer after only 15 follow-up questions.
1. We {and chocolate} are here for you.

To find dozens more luscious BBEST Riches, simply search "bbest chocolate".

*Special THANKS to my BBEST friend, Liv, of The Filigree Garden, for her gracious assistance composing my dream photo for this post.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meet the Boomers!

Our next interview is with a new member Uyen, from AsianExpressions.


1. What is/are the name of your shop/s?

2. What kind of items do you sell?
I sell custom made kimonos for men and women, fabric origami peace cranes and butterfly ornaments and some jewelry.

3. How long have you been engaged in your art/craft?
As long as I can remember. When I was 12 years old, my father bought a sewing machine for me along with 9 yards of fabric, sent me to a tailor shop for sewing classes. I learned how to design and make garments from measurements. However, I remember ruining a lot of fabric. Back then I did not know about "measure twice, cut once", lesson learned!
My mother taught me how to make fabric origami and flower ornaments to decorate our home during the holidays or special occasions just as she was taught by my grand-mother.

4. Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional crafts person?
I see myself as a person who likes to create. I like art and crafts or whatever I can get my hands on.


5. What inspires you?
I see beauty in everything and everyone around me.

6. Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio?
Coffee in the morning is a must! I usually get on my laptop, check my email, finish some project I've been working on. I try to list a few items in my Etsy shop or renew some. If I have time, I watch the news on CNN, Read the paper, get some breakfast and work again until time to make dinner. I found it is hard to balance between creating and make time for family.

7. What keeps you company while you’re working on a project?
My music and my 2 kitties.

8. What is your favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?
I love it when I have a customers inquiry about something they have in mind. After the communication, I can come up with the product for my customers that they are pleased to purchase.


9. What is your least favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?
When I make something, if I find a flaw, I have to start over, I'm totally anal about perfecting my craft.

10. What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop/ware?(Do you blog?
I have Flickr, IndiePublic, Facebook. I don't have a blog.
(To which teams do you belong? Do you use other sites? Which ones? etc.)
BBEST (Boomers and Beyond Etsy team), Montana BigSky Etsy team, Interior Design Etsy team and Japan Maniac Etsy team.


11. Related to your craft,tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself in.
I had my kimonos displayed in a local bank lobby. One day I was grocery shopping and a lady commented about how lovely the kimono was. I told her they were my kimonos. She went back and bought 2 for herself and ordered 3 more for her sisters.

12. Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t necessarily know by talking with you in the forums.
I've been disabled since 1996. I went from a healthy person to quadriplegic in 24 hours. It's was a long hall for me and I'm walking with a cane now. It is a blessing that I can walk. I can not jump or run even if my life depended on it.

13. What’s your favorite book and why, favorite movie and why, favorite kind of music?
I just finished a book, "Fall Down on Your Knees" by Marie Mcdowd, wonderful book. I read hand me down books from my sisters-in-law, both are avid readers.
I have many favorites: Little Women, Price and Prejudice, Moby Dick, Madame Bovary, The little Prince, poetry by Beau de L'air, The river Runs through it, Young Man and Fire....
I love classical music, rock and roll, the Stones, Beatles, Fleet wood Mac, Nirvana, Jones Town Masacre, Pearls Jam, Sting, the Who, the Water Boys, Evanescence, Metallica to name a few!


14. Would you care to share any 'words of wisdom' with other aspiring artists or crafters?
Keep creating, making things that you enjoy. Don't seek approval. Make time for family and friends. Be honest, be happy!

Please leave a comment for this wonderful artist/crafter! She would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fascinating Boomers

Since joining BBEST I have met such a nice bunch of people. All are lovely but some are darn right fascinating. Here's a look at three that instantly come to mind.

Pam of Magdalene Jewels falls right into this category. She met the love of her life, Paul, right here in the states and spend 8 wonderful years together. What's fascinating there? The fact that he is from India and had to return home to care for ailing parents and a fabulous job of heading 2 departments of major universities. With 14,000 miles between them they haven't been able to see each other for 18 months but chat and email everyday. Pam says when you find that one special person in your life it is something you will never lose. Okay everyone... say Awwwwww!

Pam and Paul at Mysore Palace

To see more of Pam's lovely work go to Magdalene Jewels


Next on my list is one of the busiest members I know. That would be Katzie of Katzskreations. She works for a theater company but its her second job that fascinates me. She is a choreographer. Now for me, a two left footed boomer I just think this is so cool. She has steady gigs at the Five Star Theatre, Reading Memorial High School,and Parker Middle School. She's also worked for quite a few other schools or centers. She's been teaching children ages 5 - 18 for 14 years now. She's had some favorites including Beauty and the Beast, Crazy for You, Starmites, Once On This Island and The Boyfriend. She loves working with the kids and finds it truly rewarding to see the finished product on stage.
Katzie also makes some beautiful jewelry, this is one of my favorites:

To see more of Katzie's jewelry visit her store at Katzskreations

Rounding out this group is our PQ from both PreciousQuilts and Onawhimsey She has traveled the globe and then some. She grew up in Indonesia until she was eight and finished schooling in Guernsey, Channel Islands. She joined WRAF as a Loadmaster travelling routes covering across the US, Trinidad, Bahrain, Gan (Maldives), Singapore, Hong Kong, Cyprus. She has worked in numerous positions in diverse countries such as Switzerland and Bahrain whilst living in many from UK, Europe to Middle East (Iran,Oman) to Far East which included Tokyo. Now I find that fascinating, don't you? Right now PQ's interest is in the beautiful encaustic art. Here is one of my favorites.

Check out her other lovely works of art right here, Onawhimsey
Thanks go to these three friends of mine that agreed to share a small part of their lives with me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Continuing Saga of Sally and What Else? Chocolate, of course!

The delicious aroma of Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake was wafting through the house as the doorbell rang.
“Sally,” I said, as I opened the door. “Come in.”
“Oh, my!” exclaimed Sally. “You have done it again! I thought the dessert we had last time was marvelous, but this one smells even more glorious! I must have the recipe.”
“Of course,” I replied. “But, first let’s go take it out of the oven to cool so we can frost it!”
“I can hardly wait,” Sally said with a deep breath. “And, you can tell me about your Etsy team while the cake cools. Remember, you said you would last time we indulged ourselves with a chocolate cake.”
“Okay,” I answered. “Let’s sit down.” We did.
“First, the Boomers and Beyond Team is totally terrific! It was the first one I joined when I first signed up for Etsy in October 2007. I can’t even recall how I found it! What I remember now is that this very nice lady named Pat answered my query about the Boomers and Beyond, told me what to do to sign up, and about a chat room where I could meet other team members and have a real time chat. Well, I told her I was rather shy and wouldn’t know what to say, but she said it would be fine, and I discovered it was! Talk about friendly!! That is one of the greatest traits of the team members. When a new shop owner signs up, she or he is welcomed on the weekly team chat thread by other members. Usually, the oldies will go to the newbie’s shop and look at the items listed and then tell the new member what they saw and how much they liked it.”
“Wait a minute,” said Sally. “What is this weekly chat thread all about?”
“Well,” I replied, “Each week a chat thread is posted under “Community” on Etsy. One of the team administrators does this for us. In the introduction to the thread, you can find all sorts of information: links to the team blog, the message board, treasury west, squidoo, yahoo group, flickr, and this is followed by a complete list of all the team members. There are 300 or more team members, by the way!”
“No way!” exclaimed Sally.
“Yes,” I answered, “And there is even a waiting list of people who want to join!”
“That must be some fine team,” said Sally.
“You have no idea,” I replied.
“Well, what do you do on this chat thread?” queried Sally.
“We chat! About this, that, and everything. We tell each other about what we have just made, whether we have sold anything or not, if we have any local shows we are doing. We look at each other’s new listings and say how much we like each other’s creations! We try to find ways to market our creations to people who are not on our team. Sometimes we talk about the processes involved in how we make things. Lots of times we say we hope the PayPal Fairy arrives today. That’s a fun way to say we will enjoy having sales when they happen!”
“Do you only talk about business?” questioned Sally.
“Oh, no!” I said excitedly. “We talk about what is happening in our lives, with our kids, grandkids, other family members, pets, jobs. We discuss the weather and express concern for people’s safety, such as with Hurricane Ike. We share our trials and send positive thoughts to those who are having illnesses or injury or other difficult times. We joke, talk about our travels, music, books, movies, and food.”
“Food?” asked Sally.
“Yes, that is one of the favorite topics, especially if it involves chocolate!” I replied.
“Speaking of chocolate,” said Sally. “That cake must be cool by now.”
We went into the kitchen, got knives, spread the frosting, and sat down at the table to indulge ourselves.
“Mmmmmmm!” exclaimed Sally. “This cake is more than fabulous. Your Boomers and Beyond Team sounds fabulous, too,” said Sally.
“Oh, they are,” I answered. “They are simply the Best! Actually we call our team Bbest!”
“I have just two more questions,” Sally said. “You said there are more than 300 members on your team. Do you know everyone?”
“Oh, I wish I did! But, I have to admit that I don’t.......not yet, anyway.....but, I have a plan for that,” I said.
“What is it?” asked Beth.
“Well, that will have to be for another day,” I answered. “Meanwhile, what was your second question?”
“What about that recipe? Beth asked.
“Anything for you and the Bbest team,” I replied! “After all, it’s chocolate!”

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Directions:1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. 2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. 3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings. VARIATIONS:ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost. BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes. "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa3 cups powdered sugar1/3 cup milk1 teaspoon vanilla extractMelt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Meet the Boomers!

This week I would like to introduce to you, Liv from The Filigree Garden and Rescued Beauty.

1. What is/are the name(s) of your shop(s)?

The Filigree Garden and Rescued Beauty

2. What kinds of items do you sell ?

The Filigree Garden offers handmade jewelry and accessories created with a combination of new and vintage/recycled components. Rescued Beauty sells vintage and recycled/thrifted beads, fabric, jewelry odds and ends, crafting and sewing notions.

3. How long have you been engaged in your art/craft?

I have been sewing and crafting all of my life but I have been working on jewelry in earnest for only a short time.I tend to get into a new craft intensely at the beginning, trying to absorb a lot of information all at once.

4. Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson?

I am a semi-professional hobbyist-craftsperson. The definition changes depending on how I feel on any given day!

5. What inspires you?

I am inspired by the beauty of nature. Flowers, leaves and animals often come into my creations in some way. I am also inspired by being around other creative people, such as I have found on Etsy .

6. Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio

There is no typical day. I don't even go into my workroom on a regular basis, which is often a problem. I squeeze work time in between family,volunteer and household duties, especially in the summer and fall when I have a large vegetable garden to tend. I make notes and sketches for new designs while I am doing other things or working at the computer, so I always have some project in the back of my mind. My work table is often cluttered with many different projects going on simultaneously. Periodically I will get in a mood to wipe the table clean and start fresh. At that time, I will take everything off of the work surface, put everything away, and set up the supplies to work on one or two of the most pressing projects.

7. What keeps you company while you're working on a project?

My lap top is usually running. If I work late into the night, I will have a TV on, playing reruns of sit-coms I missed when they were on first time. Or I may have the Etsy forums page open so I can check in on team conversations. During the day I may play music on the lap top if I can't have the windows open. Otherwise I will just listen to the sounds of the trees and birds outside.

8. What is your favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?

Designing and coming up with new ideas is the most enjoyable part of any craft for me.

9. What is your least favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?

I hate marketing myself, especially in person, which I tend not to do. My next least favorite task is editing photos and listing items because they are time-consuming.

10. What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop/ware? (Do you blog? To which teams do you belong? If you use other sites, which do you use? etc.)

As I said above, I don't like marketing myself and I don't do enough of it, which is a problem for someone who wants to earn money from a craft! I have accounts at TalentedDatabase, IndiePublic, and Flickr. Besides the Etsy shops, I also have a shop at iCraft which is a Canadian site similar to Etsy. The URL is: . I spend most of my social time at Etsy where I belong to three teams: BBEST (Boomers and Beyond Street Team), Trashion, and NEST (New England Street Team). I dohave a blog at . I enjoy writing and taking photographs, so blogging has fulfilled that creative need very nicely, even if I don't post very often!

11. Tell us about afunny, strange or unusual situation related to your craft that you found yourself in.

Sorry I am really drawing a blank on this today!

12. Tell us something about you that we wouldn't necessarily know by talking to you in the forums.

I design web sites as another side job. We've been home-schooling for the past 10 years.

13. What's your favorite book and why, favorite movie and why, favorite kind of music?

I tend to read non-fiction now more than I ever when I was younger.So my current favorite (as in "most referenced") books are subject-driven books on gardening, crafting or philosophical topics. A book that really moved me was "The Gift of the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It really spoke to me about finding peace and moving on from one stage of life to another.

I don't really have a favorite movie. I don't see a lot of movies until they are on television. I do enjoy comedies and romances in general-movies that leave me with a feeling of hope and optimism.

In music my tastes are all over the board and vary by day and mood. I tend to listen to Native American online radio stations or new age music while I'm working on jewelry if I want something calming. In the car I like pop, rock, jazz and new age or "oldies" from the 70's and 80's. (When did they become "old"??)

14. Would you care to share any 'words of wisdom' with other aspiring artists or crafters?

Oh, the tough question is last! I am still learning and being inspired by others, so I would say never stop learning and being open to looking at project from different angles; receive inspiration from everywhere. I often get caught up in worrying about designing things that will sell (when I stress out about money), which takes me away from what I enjoy making. This is something I would say to AVOID doing! The old adage of first doing what you love is still the best.

Please leave comments on this blog for this versatile artist, she would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Approaching your blog like an interior designer

Designing a blog is in many ways like decorating a living room. You’ll make decisions about the impression you want to create, the color and mood you want to reflect, and the size and space you want to address. And much as you do when you redecorate that living room or rearrange its furniture, you’ll find yourself making choices more than once. What guides all decisions, however—whether you’re redoing a room or revamping a blog—is the people who are going to use the room or read the blog. In other words, as you make design decisions—whether you’re a beginning or long-time blogger—how you intend to reach out to your audience will play a major role.

While this post will not provide you with everything you need to know in order to design or revamp your entire blog, you may find some general guidelines that are helpful. Click on the images to view sample blogs.

Identity. Pretend you are a stranger, visiting your blog for the first time. Is it clear from your banner’s title and subtitle what the purpose of your blog is? Would a graphic image enhance that understanding? Do you need to add a further explanation in a side bar? Does the reader know who you are? Consider adding a photograph of yourself so that your readers can begin to identify with you.

When you visit the blog of Scottie Acres, for example, you know immediately that Dayna loves Scottish terriers. Her blog banner, as well as her side bar, provide a clear identity.

Layout. Take a look at your blog to see how much white space you have. White space represents breathing space for the reader. Take a tip from print magazines. Note that most magazines print text in multiple narrow columns, breaking them up with images. Two or three columns is probably the most commonly-used format, both in print publications and on the Web. Don’t force your readers to rock their heads back and forth to read a long line of text. This becomes tedious very quickly! Interestingly, you can fit more text into multiple narrow columns than you can into a single wide column.

A great example of a balanced layout is found in the blog of The Filigree Garden. Liv combines text and visuals in a balanced format that will leave you breathless only because of its beauty.

Typeface. Use unusual or fancy typefaces sparingly. Allow the content to speak for itself, not for the typeface to draw attention to itself. A rule of thumb that the print publishing industry often uses is a limitation of two typefaces. Often one typeface will feature seriphs, or “tails” that are added to the letters (as in Times New Roman), while the other typeface will have no seriphs at all (as in Arial). At all costs, avoid using italicized and/or bolded text for the main body of your post. The reader will tire very rapidly, and move on! If you browse through various blogs, you will discover that typeface size is also important. Older readers will find tiny text difficult to read, while overly large text creates an impression that the audience is very young. Again, readability should guide you in making typeface decisions.

In Coffee Pot People, Ani limits herself to one readable typeface and varies it only by size (one size for titles and a smaller size for body text) and weight (boldfaced text).

Color. In choosing colors for your blog (both text and background), let content, mood, readability—and a color wheel—guide your decisions. Avoid using too many colors; two or three complementary colors are more than enough. If you choose a dark background such as black or navy blue, select text that will not appear to make the letters vibrate. Conversely, if you choose a light background, make sure that the text contrasts adequately so that it’s visible.

Very bright or very dark colors can sometimes tire the reader’s eyes, but in The Spinal Column, Brett balances a dark background with subdued blue text lines that have been spaced wider apart, giving the eye a visual break.

Navigation. Readers have a tendency to focus on the upper half of a Web page (or on the upper third of a printed page). For that reason, place information (especially links) that you really want your readers to notice in the top half of your blog page. Newspapers use a similar principle, utilizing an inverted paragraph format when publishing articles. The most important information is near the beginning of the article, with successive paragraphs containing less critical information.

Place links to information in places where readers would expect them to be, and make sure the link itself clearly identifies what will be seen when the reader clicks on that link, especially if downloading of a file follows. No one likes to be surprised in this way.

In Kimbuktu, Kym clearly wants the reader to focus on her beautiful bags. Almost the first item you see is an Etsy Mini, a widget consisting of pictures that are really direct links to items in her shop. In addition, a side bar contains links to a Gallery of her products, besides other information.

A word about widgets. Many bloggers use pre-designed Web gadgets known as “widgets” to draw attention to their blog. Some widgets are hit counters that track where visitors come from, while others allow you to show slide shows or display videos. There are even widgets that allow readers to vote, assess personality, compose pictures, solve puzzles and much, much more. While these are certainly fun, less is more. Be mindful that widgets that include moving graphical representations may be difficult or impossible for your readers to view, since not all browsers accommodate them equally or well.

As with every other suggestion in this post, let your audience needs and a sense of balance guide how many widgets you include in your blog design. Keep in mind that many widgets are designed as marketing tools for someone else, so your needs and the designer’s may not always match. Research the source of these tools carefully, and read fine print acceptance agreements before you use them.

Maggie’s Crafting Adventures features a VerticalResponse marketing widget designed to increase her readership. By entering an e-mail address, individuals may subscribe to Maggie’s newsletter.

The above suggestions for blog design are not hard and fast rules; as with any so-called rules, there are often good reasons for breaking them. But hopefully these guidelines will serve as a starting point as you assess your own blog design needs. Think about your blog in the same way that an interior designer would approach your living room, and you’ll know where to start. For more information about why and how to blog, read an earlier post: “What’s the buzz about blogging?

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Bbest means to me

'What is BBest?

The BBEST Team is a vibrant and talented group of Etsians aged 40+ who are dedicated to Etsy which is synonymous with quality handmade items. Our very diverse group provides a place to chat, exchange ideas, help and support like minded members who call themselves the Boomers and Beyond Etsy Street Team.'

No doubt you have read this before. In fact, it is a copy and paste from the sidebar, but I wanted to begin my first post on this blog by reminding everyone what an individual group the Bbest team is and by saying how proud I am to be a member.

I am a relatively new member, in fact next month, October, will mark six months since joining and I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every day. I was introduced to the team by my friend Liz and thanks to her I was able to take my first tentative steps towards my first sale. Initially it was the other team members in the UK who provided encouragement and help as I was only online at breakfast, but soon I was drawn in by the friendly atmosphere and members from all over the world became more than just internet buddies, they became personalities who were friends. Time and time again they have offered truly constructive suggestions and have also supported members as personal crises have hit, with offers of both help and encouragement.

I would like to look again at the first paragraph and just emphasise what a great group this is.

We are:

vibrant - that means we are 'pulsing, throbbing with energy, vigorous, lively and vital'

talented - as a group we have 'ability of a superior quality'

dedicated - to the team we are 'wholly committed'

quality - we produce goods that have 'a grade of excellence'

diverse - our goods, personalities and cultures 'differ one from another' to the benefit of the whole

With all these qualities at our disposal is it any wonder that the Bbest team is such a cohesive group?

To discover how diverse we are just search under bbest team to find an item of both interest and quality.

Monday, September 8, 2008

It's Not Just About the Chocolate Cake!

“Where did you get that gorgeous piece of pottery?” Sally exclaimed as she sat down at the table where we were about to indulge ourselves in pieces of dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate frosting.

“Oh, I’m so glad you asked. That’s handmade by an artist in Colorado. She makes marvelous raiku pottery. And lucky for me, she has a store on Etsy. We are even on the same team.....the Boomers and Beyond Team.”

“Etsy?” Sally asked. “What is Etsy? What’s a Boomers and Beyond Team?”

“Well, first, you’re going to have to wait for the next chocolate cake to hear about our team. But, let me tell you about Etsy and handmade! Etsy is the most remarkable online site for buying and selling all things handmade! You can find almost any handmade item in any color or medium or texture or design that you can imagine,” I said. “There is jewelry, pottery, polymer clay, paintings, paper art, fiber art, wood, metal, glass, candles, soaps,....things for babies, children, adults, homes, pets.........the list can just go on and on,” I continued. “Most importantly, it is all handmade!”

“Why the big emphasis on handmade,” asked Sally. “Wouldn’t it just be easier to go to your local discount store and find something cheap?”

“Aha!” I said. ’’You have just hit one of the nails on the head, as my Grandma used to say. I’m not interested in cheap. I’m interested in quality. And, that’s one of the attributes of handmade creations............good quality! And there are so many other reasons I love buying handmade.”

“Handmade items,” I went on, “reflect the talents, personalities, and souls of those who make them. When you buy handmade, you can just feel the love and passion that went into creating the item. You feel appreciation for the talent and skills that were used by the artisan or crafter. Your handmade item has life because every artist puts part of his or her heart and soul into every creation.”

“Moreover,” I continued, “when I buy something handmade, I know I am getting a unique, perhaps one of a kind item that fits my tastes, my personality, my eye for color or design, and also know that not everyone is going to have something just like it. This happens, you know, when I shop at the local discount store...........lots and lots of the same item in the same color available for lots and lots of people! Buying handmade makes me a trend setter, not a trend follower.”

Sally started to speak, but I kept right on talking. “Sally,” I said, “what do you think would happen to all of the artistic and crafting techniques and mediums that have been used to create for thousands of years if people didn’t buy handmade items from these creators? Well, I’ll tell you what would happen. This art would gradually disappear if no one sought after it and bought it, and future generations would never have the opportunity to see it, buy it, and appreciate it. So, we really need to support our local artisans and crafters and their multitudes of expression.”

“Local?” Sally asked. “You just told me you got that pottery from an artist in Colorado!”

“Sally, let me explain a little more about that. Local can mean right in our own community, or our state, or our country, or even the world. We are using local here to mean individual artists and craftspeople, or small businesses, no matter where they are located on the planet. That is what is great about Etsy! It is a worldwide community of local artists and craftspeople. No matter where they are, when we buy their handmade goods, we are supporting them in their local communities and boosting the economic, cultural and social vitality of the places where they live.”

“And, I almost forgot..........many artists are upcycling and recycling as they create their handmade goods. As opposed to mass production with its effects on our air, soil, and water, those who have imagined a way to use items that would otherwise add to the earth’s waste, are actually working to protect our environment.”

“Wow!” Sally exclaimed! “You’ve convinced me! Buying handmade can only be good............good for the artists and craftspeople, good for me because I can get exactly what I want, and good for the local and global community. Now, just tell me one more can I see all these handmade creations on Etsy?”

I sighed contentedly as we picked up our forks to finish our chocolate cake. “Well,” I said, “this is what you do.....”

Friday, September 5, 2008

The next Boomer Member to be interviewed is Berit of clingingimages!
1.What is/are the name of your shop/s?

clingingimages and NiceOldStuff

2.What kind of items do you sell?

I design and hand paint static window clings that have the look and texture of stained glass, yet are removable. I also have some prints and ACEO’s of my watercolors in my shop, but the window clings are my passion right now. They are so much fun to make, and such a beautiful and versatile home decoration. I love that they can even prevent birds from flying into windows!

In my vintage store I sell collectibles and other old but nice goodies I find when I’m out antiquing and scouring garage sales.

3.How long have you been engaged in your art/craft?
I started painting window clings about nine months ago. I haven’t been able to stop!

4.Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson?

Well, in my twenties and thirties I was a professional artist with credentials! I have a BfA in Ceramics and used to teach and have regular shows. This was when I lived in Europe, but I decided to let that go when I moved to the USA some 12 years ago. Now I consider my window clings a hobby, albeit an addictive one.

5.What inspires you?

It could be anything I come across on a given day. I’m always on the lookout for images. Animals and nature are high on my list.

6.Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio?

My “studio” is a large desk with surrounding countertops in a corner of my living room.
My typical day starts with coffee and etsy. I usually draw and paint in the morning, because I have a part time job. On my days off you might find me at my desk until my neck gets too stiff to continue!

7.What keeps you company while you’re working on a project?

My cat Charlie! I live out in the country and enjoy to work in quietude and silence.
When my husband and I are both home at night, I like to paint while he watches TV or plays on his computer.

8.What is your favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?

Apart from designing new images that would be coloring in the outlines! Those are the two things that involve most of my creativity.

9.What is your least favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?

Having to cut out the forms. I should hire someone to do that for me.

10.What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop/ware?(Do you blog? To which teams do you belong? Do you use other sites? Which ones? etc.)

I have a blog, but it’s shamefully neglected. I signed up for DaWanda, a European site, and iCraft from Canada, but I gave up on those after a few weeks, because I was spreading myself too thinly.
I am a member of the Freethinkers team, Bbest, the Interiordesignteam and WIST, the Wisconsin street team. However, I find that I am most active with the Freethinkers and Bbest.
I’ve done a few craft shows this year, but I find those rather frustrating.
One thing I’m excited about is a booth I just rented in a local craft mall! I live in resort area with lots of tourists, and this mall is huge and gets lots of customers.

11. Tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation, related to your craft that you found yourself in.

I haven’t done this for very long yet, so there’s not really anything I can think of, except for getting washed away by weather at a craft fair. But I guess that’s not very unusual!

12. Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t necessarily know by talking to you in the forums.

I’m seriously considering becoming an American citizen.

13. What’s your favorite book and why, favorite movie and why, favorite kind of music?

My favorite book is A Course in Miracles, because here is finally a piece of scripture that makes sense to me. My favorite movie is Groundhog Day, because it shows exactly what we do as human beings when we are asleep and unconscious, and how everything changes when we finally wake up. It does this by using humor and without being preachy! My favorite kind of music is classical, but I like all kinds of music depending on my mood!

14. Would you care to share any 'words of wisdom' with other aspiring artists or crafters?

Stay true to yourself yet be open to change and improvement. Give it all you’ve got yet don’t take yourself too seriously, Throughout, a sense of humor is a good thing to have!

Please leave a comment for this wonderful artist! Surely she would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What's the buzz about blogging?

If you’re like me, when you first joined Etsy you probably asked other, more experienced Etsians how to promote your shop. One of the suggestions you may have heard is that you should consider blogging.

“I don’t get it,” you might have responded. “What’s the connection?”

If a blog is done appropriately, it provides either direct or indirect visibility about the products you sell by exposing a slice of your life, your personality, your interests. One of the reasons that buyers are drawn to Etsy rather than another online shopping site or even a brick-and-mortar business is the personal touch that many sellers make a part of the buying experience. Your blog reinforces that personal connection, especially if your shop announcement and your blog cross-reference each other by providing a Web address.

“But what am I supposed to write about?”

The answer to that question is as different as we all are from each other. There’s no right or wrong way to blog, but in terms of drawing visitors to your shop, there are some factors that will impact the size of your readership, and whether folks will be inclined to “check you out” further (and possibly your shop). Here are a few guidelines to consider when posting to your blog:

Are you writing for yourself, or for other people? Maybe a little bit of both? Ask yourself whether you would be interested in reading this post if someone else wrote it. If not, ask yourself what would interest you. That’s the real you, and that’s the person potential readers/buyers want to meet. In other words, be yourself; let your personality shine through your blog!

Joon of joonbeam, for example, blogs about her love of old treasures in “Finding Neverland.”

Visuals. Think about why you visit a shop on Etsy. What attracts you first? Likely it’s an image you see in a treasury, The Storque, a link to a photo, or a front page feature. Make sure your blog contains visual elements that are interesting, eye-catching, possibly thought-provoking, maybe even humorous. (But remember that humor is a subjective thing and that you also don’t want to offend.) Look at other blogs to see how they are laid out visually, and adapt what appeals to you. Consider adding an Etsy Mini to your blog, which is a graphical representation of products in your shop. Clicking on an image in the Etsy Mini takes blog readers to that product in your shop. (This is one of the “extras” you’ll find on the left side of the page when you click on Your Etsy in your shop.)

Dayna of Scottie Acres has a visual feature called Wordless Wednesday that pulls you into her blog every week.

Content. For many people, what to write about is the Big Dilemma that prevents them from blogging. Think about the magazines you read. What kinds of articles draw you in? Maybe you like how-to information, product reviews, editorials, the shopping section, contests or questionnaires. Your blog can contain the same kind of information. If you make jewelry, provide how-to tips or links to useful information. Review a new tool or a book about your craft. Take your readers on a shopping trip to Etsy shops you admire, or feature a specific Etsy seller. Ask readers to visit your shop and name their favorite item; offer an item in your shop as a prize. Invite your readers to participate in your blog by completing an opinion poll. Think about what inspires your passion, and introduce your readers to that passion. Make sure your blog content is interesting, relevant to your audience and/or useful.

Alysa of Alysa Merle Handcrafts provides tips about her craft, most recently about the use of plarn.

Frequency. Try to post regularly to your blog. Regularly, of course, will mean different things to different people! But keep in mind that the adage, “Out of sight, out of mind” is relevant to how often you should post to your blog. Have you ever thought about why stores where you infrequently shop continue to mail coupons, fliers and advertisements to your home? Without those regular reminders, these businesses would likely not be the first ones that come to mind when you are ready to shop. Likewise, you want to remind your readers that you have a presence not only on the Web, but especially in your shop. A word of caution, however—a light touch is probably more appropriate when it comes to advertising your Etsy shop and its wares. A blog that exists simply to point visitors to the items in a seller’s shop is not likely to retain an audience.

Myfanwy of Sassa Lynne at Etsy blogs regularly about Etsy items that appeal to her, often those of Boomers.

“So, how do I get started with my first blog post?

Before you start blogging, explore several different platforms to decide what appeals to you, and what appears to be most user-friendly. Frequently used blogging platforms are found at Blogger, TypePad and WordPress. Browse other blogs, and examine several different layouts. Sketch out on paper how you would like your blog to look. Make a list of ideas for future blog content. Ask for help in the Forums, especially from fellow Boomers. You may also wish to read “Team Tip: Is Blogging Important?” that appeared recently in Etsy’s newsletter, The Storque. Above all, don’t be afraid to take the plunge!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The first official day of Autumn!

Where did the last 9 months disappear to?  Here we are at the beginning of September, in the last quarter of 2008!

Today our American members are enjoying a holiday called Labour Day.  According to Wikipedia Labour Day is officially celebrated around the world to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers.  America celebrates this event today whilst other countries use 1 May for their celebrations.  The origins of the concept came from the eight hour day movement which meant that eight hours of the day should be devoted to work, eight hours for recreation and eight hours for rest!!!  Hands up all those who follow those ideas!

Instead, I would rather concentrate on the Autumn theme which comes as a welcome relief after the hot summer days which normally occur during the summer season.  However, around the world, the weather has truly been exceptional in every degree.  Sometimes super hot or sometimes super wet depending on which part of the world you live.

So, let's reflect on a traditional Autumn or the Fall as our American friends prefer.  Images appear in your mind of nature providing a splendid last show of what she is capable of and to remind us of the bounty we reap.  Colours of reds, golds, browns and oranges etc abound!

This image from  clingingimages depicts the bounty of Autumn to me.
Cornupcopia, Horn of Plenty Roman Style Window Cling Suncatcher with Stained Glass Effects image
GlitznGlass  reminds us of another event to celebrate! Halloween with this Pumpkin Palm Wax Candle scented with a blend of orange, cinnamon, clove and a touch of apple.

image Leaves begin to fall in the Autumn and backroomtreasures captivates this image beautifully with this ACEO Original Watercolor Painting Oak Leaf
image As the leaves begin to fall, the cooler winds start to blow and so thoughts go to warmer clothing such as those created by bagsandmorebypam showing a lovely Autumn Red Poncho image To complete the look why not try these earrings from a shop called streetnoodles - a pretty addition to any wardrobe Copper Leaves II image
So, you are all set to enjoy this beautiful time of year.  Check out more ideas from the Boomers and Beyond Etsy Street Team otherwise known as the BBEST Team to celebrate the first day of Autumn and beyond!