Friday, October 31, 2008

Meet the Boomers!

Our next interview is with Brett, of Van Fleet Street Design!


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

Van Fleet Street Design (I was going to open a second shop called, “Bone Appetite” which would have contained my skeleton art, but decided not to at this time). I am  currently managing my partner’s site WristWrapWorks, which contains watches, bracelets, and necklaces.

2.What kind of items do you sell?

Art…ACEO's, acrylic paintings, colored pencil drawings, collages, “paper prayers”, pastel paintings, prints you name it!

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

I’ve been selling on Etsy since August 15, 2007, but I have been showing and selling my work since 2000. I had my first watercolor lesson when I was 9 but never really stuck with it. I have gone for long periods of time not doing any art, but like a dog to a smelly rag, I keep coming back to it (but it is much more pleasant than that).



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

Ahhh, this is a question I hadn’t been able to answer for quite some time and have only recently been becoming more comfortable with calling myself an artist. I consider myself a professional artist. I have always thought of myself as a hobbyist because I had a full time job/career and was doing my artwork on the side. I was told at a very early age that, “you can’t expect to make money selling art. I was told that you need a real job to be able to live.” I quit my job as a social worker in March of 2008 due to health reasons and took on a new career in art. It has been a huge task getting myself “out there” (some of you might think that that’s not a big leap for me…being out there! But that’s not the “out there” I’m talking about!)

5. What inspires you? 

Color! I need color around me in order to get my creative juices going and it needs to be bright and bold! I am also inspired by other people’s work. If an art piece catches my eye and speaks to me, I could look at it forever and it will forever spark something inside of me. I usually run to paper or canvas and am able to get at least the sketch done. The inspiration is immediate and the response is immediate. If I’m not able to get it down on paper, there’s a good chance it will stay with me until I can, but with this menopausal brain, there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll forget it?

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

As most of the members have already stated, there is no rhyme or reason for any day in my workspace, but I am on the computer first thing. When the muse strikes, I could just up and “poof!” be gone from the thread or chat, or email and become a slave to the canvas or paper! But if the muse has taken leave, I usually clean up (organize) my workspace, dust things off and wait for her return to start a new project.

In the summer, I work on projects, holler at the kids, make sure they’ve eaten throughout the day, answer a trillion questions and remind people that I am working, paint, make videos, go to the forums, answer the phone and the door, make sure the kids have done their chores, remind them I’m working, clean, do laundry, research things on the computer. But when they’re in school, yipeeeee! I exist at a much slower pace. Not much question answering or hollering (which the dog appreciates) and I can get things done without many interruptions…thank the universe for school!

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

Music, our Golden Retriever is always by my side (KayDee or as I call her “Beanie” because she needs Beano), sometimes the TV, our 10 year old Ian when he’s either home from school or takes on the task of bugging me all during the summer, mostly I enjoy just silence.

this one

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

I hate to seem smug or arrogant, but I love sitting looking at my finished piece and feeling in awe of my creation. I think, “Me, I created that piece of art! How exciting!” And I spend a LOT of time looking and admiring it before and after I list it!

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

I was going to say listing, but there’s something that’s an even more “least favorite a task related to my art”… cleaning my paintbrushes, ugh, I hate it. I procrastinate and will sometimes let them sit for weeks without being cleaned after completing a piece. I look at the dirty brushes with dread and loathing, and then I get irritated with myself for not having cleaned them because I’m now on to the next art piece and have run out of clean brushes, and I look at those things sticking up out of that jar of gross water and I don’t want to do it but I know I have to because I can’t afford to go out and buy new ones……..…and THEN I clean them. I know, it’s a crazy process, but hey would you expect anything less than that from me? It’s a good thing I use a great brush cleaning soap that can make any brush like new. Maybe I should contact the company to be in an advertisement?

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.)

Well of course Etsy (posting in the forums and listing/relisting),Etsy teams, my blog, Flickr, MySpace, Facebook,, IndiePublic,, my website, Ning,,, handing out business cards, solo shows, word of mouth.It never feels like it’s enough and is somewhat overwhelming.

11. Related to your craft, tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself in.

Last month I received an email from a potential customer who told me that she had been waiting until she got paid to purchase one of my items. She had been looking at the piece, admiring it almost daily and couldn’t wait to get her paycheck and buy the piece. Well, when she attempted to buy it, someone had gotten there first…on the same day she tried to buy it. I felt so badly for her that I offered her 10% off of anything in my shop, but didn’t hear from her again.

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

When I was 5 years old, I wound up in the hospital with a kidney infection that had been misdiagnosed by the family physician. I was in the hospital for a month and had a near death experience due to an out of control fever.


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

I like any book that is unusual or has an offbeat story. The book that comes to mind is “A Gracious Plenty” by Sheri Reynolds. It’s about a child who had been badly burned in an accident in the home. When she grows up, she becomes a loner and is the recipient of everyone’s pity. Eventually she learns that she can hear the voices of people buried in her father’s cemetery. She speaks to them and they tell her about their regrets, explanations and insights. It’s so well written and intriguing.

My favorite movie…that’s a difficult one. I’m torn between “Mirror Mask” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. Like books, these movies are about quirky people and their life situations. I especially love offbeat foreign films.

Oh favorite music…I like a lot of different musical genres such as classical, oldies, Native American, Asian, Cuban, Mexican, but my love is for JAZZ.

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

There is so much talent in the world today and it is so accessible to us, that putting a twist on what you do is of utmost importance. Find your niche and be unique. You’ll find people who string beads, make marks on paper or paint on a canvas, sew something together, but is what they’re doing going to catch someone’s eye enough for them to say, “Gee, that’s different!  I have to have that!” ?? Don’t be afraid to stand out and offer something unusual to the world! Take a risk.

Please take some time and leave a comment or two, ask a question etc. She would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sally and "The Swap Thing"

“Mmmmm!” exclaimed Sally, as I opened the front door. “I’ve haven’t been able to think of anything else since you told me we were having those yummy pumpkin cookies and hot spicy apple cider. I’ll need those recipes, you know!”

“Of course! Come on in,” I said, “and let’s just indulge to our heart’s content while I tell you about The Swap Thing.”

“The Swap Thing!” shrieked Sally. ‘Is that anything like “The Swamp Thing?” It’s almost Halloween, you know…..time for scary movies and all that sort of thing!"

“Nooo,” I soothed. “The only scary thing about The Swap Thing is not knowing if your secret swap partner will like what you make to send to her or him.”

“Oh?” remarked Sally. “Tell me more.”

We dipped the hot apple cider from the crockpot, took the plate of freshly baked pumpkin cookies to the table, and sat down.

“You talk,” said Sally. “I’ll eat,” she laughed.

“Well, first,” I began, ”The Swap Thing means a surprise gift for one of your team members, totally cool and totally free……….something made from your heart to give to someone else. In return, you also receive a special gift from someone else on the team. And, you don’t know until you get it who made it. That is part of the real fun. You wait for days in anticipation, watching the mailbox, and just waiting! While you are waiting, you see photos of all the swap creations posted on the team flickr site. You get to comment on how terrific they are and how you hope every one of them is coming to your house. And people sometimes leave little hints……but you can’t believe them…..they just do it to throw you off the track!”

“Well,” said Sally. “How do you even know where to start to make these swap gifts? How do you know what the other people like?”

“Before the first Swap,” I explained, “There was a questionnaire on the team’s message board where each of us could tell our favorite colors, our favorite materials, whether we liked silver, gold, or copper; whether we were allergic to anything; what our decorating style is; whether we wore bracelets, earrings, necklaces; and more. That helped the people who wanted to join in the fun to know what we might like. There were also guidelines, such as for the first two Swaps, the item we made was to be valued at $15 or more. For the third Swap, it was to be $15 or below. During the first two Swaps, we knew the name of the person who would get our gift. For the third Swap, there was a real twist……we didn’t know until the end!”

“So, how many of your teammates participated in the Swaps?” asked Sally.

“Twenty- four in the first, 30 in the second, and 45 in the September Swap,” I answered. “You can see the excitement is growing with more people participating each time!”

“Do you make the same thing every time?” asked Sally.

“No,” I replied. “The first time I made a large red tote bag; the second time a purple tote bag with an orange flower (items had to have a flower the second time); and the third time I made two butterfly washcloths. Butterflies were the theme for this last Swap we did. It was to honor Pat from Precious Quilts (her avatar is a beautiful butterfly) who was stepping down as an administrator to devote more time to creating.”

“And what were your secret swap gifts?” she asked.

“Oh, they are all beautiful!” I exclaimed. “The first time, I got two beautiful pendants from Lemachi Designs. The second time, I got a beautiful long teal necklace with matching earrings from Maggie’s Handcrafted Studio, and the third time, I got a gorgeous silver butterfly necklace embellished with colored beads from Magdalene Jewels, whose name is also Pam, by the way!”

“That is sooo cool,” replied Sally. “Sounds as if you really enjoy participating in The Swap Thing!”

“Oh, yes!” I exclaimed. “I love making things for other people and anticipating their pleasure at receiving their surprise gift. I think The Swap Thing is one of the neatest things our team does!” I said, as I took another bite of my pumpkin cookie. “By the way,” I said, “Here is where you can find the recipes."

Then we took our cookies and cider and headed for the computer to check out the fabulous Swap creations of the Bbest team members..... and to wonder..............when will that next Swap be? And what will be the theme? Ahhhh! The anticipation!

Monday, October 27, 2008

What's On Your Plate?

Creatively speaking, that is…

The flow of artistic inspiration is never in a straight and steady line. Sometimes we get into a pleasant, productive groove while working on a project. We treasure these types of moments when our ideas come to life easily, and the techniques we employ perform flawlessly. Then there are those other, more frustrating times when it seems the well of imagination has run dry; times when the materials on our work tables fight us and we struggle to craft anything cohesive.

Would we really want the creative path to be completely even and free of bumps and glitches? Though, at first, we might relish the idea of a consistent crafting life, the ruts in the road and detours on our journeys are what expand our creative horizons by pushing us a little further outside our comfort zones. When thwarted in one artistic avenue, we may try a new method, venture into a different craft, or even develop a skill that was hidden beneath the surface of our usual pursuits. Even confronting a stubborn problem and working through it moves our abilities to a new level of creative insight filled with exciting possibilities.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. observed, “Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.” That stretching may sometimes feel uncomfortable, but it is essential to growth in any vocation or hobby. Take a look at what’s on your plate – or work table. Is it a gourmet meal of perfectly arranged, completed tasks? Or is it a mish-mash of half-cooked ideas and underused tools? Either way, just remember that you can still eat the “dessert” of creative satisfaction at some point in the future. You may just have to do a little mental stretching before you can digest it all.

For a little inspiration, some members of the BBEST Team share what’s currently on their crafting "plates" and suggest ways to jump-start creativity.

Often rearranging your craft area will provide the stimulus needed to move in a new creative direction. Surround yourself with items that you love and that make you feel peaceful or energized, whichever best suits your crafting style. The lovely work space below belongs to Kate of Heron Kate. On the table (left) is a floorcloth painted with a border of chickens and vegetables that Kate is working on to go in a client’s kitchen. The shot on the right shows the whole room with bright morning light coming in through the windows. Kate comments, “The drawing board on the back wall is an antique that my Dad found for me when I was in college. It's very heavy and is one of my favorite things.”

When life changes keep you from pursuing your usual crafts, you may need to spend time becoming reacquainted with one of your other interests. Jill of Jill's Treasure Chest recently moved and is still unpacking. She explains, “One of my challenges is going to be spending more time on my other crafts as moving made a good part of my ceramics/pottery inaccessible to me until I get a shed built. So I'll be spending more time with jewelry, possibly some sewing and crocheting. I may have some ceramic bisque that can be painted with acrylics, that I can still work on.”

Revisiting a childhood passion as an adult may get your creative juices flowing. Elaine of Rosegardenfae has had a lifelong interest in drawing. Recently she took a break from making her lovely jewelry to take an art class where she found she really enjoyed sketching self-portraits. Although she decided not to return to the class, she intends "to continue drawing and maybe get into some water color too." Elaine's series of quick-sketch self-portraits can be found in her online photo gallery at Flickr.

Sometimes a custom order request gets you to look at what you create from a new perspective. Barb of Blazing Needles writes, "A customer for my fundraiser scarves wanted an argyle with their frat name on it - 30 scarves. I had (done) a faux argyle, but never thought of making it a fundraiser. The scarf turned out great and now I am adding it to my website...It was a new design for mass production. It took me a day to figure out how to put in the tassels and get my machine to work on 3 colors. Making one scarf is way different than making 30. But I really liked the idea."

Gunnel of gunnelsvensson was inspired to sew her latest mini quilt by one of her customers, a Swedish woman who asked her to make one as a custom order after seeing Gunnel's work on Etsy. Gunnel sounds excited as she speaks of her latest project. "It´s only 5"x5"´s from scraps from old fabrics, and lace, some embroidery and the beads are from an old necklace. I have (been) tea-dyeing the fabrics to get the old touch!"

Holidays and special occasions can lead you to stretch your imagination in the process of preparing items for your shop. Nancy of Katz's Kreations was recently working on a wintery earring idea when she came up with her latest Snowman Earrings. She explains, "I already had Christmas earrings and necklaces but wanted something that was not only for the holidays but for all winter long."

Taking a familiar technique and experimenting with new materials can enliven your excitement about your art or craft. Pat of On A Whimsey elaborates, "I am in the process of trying to paint my waxes on canvas and producing larger pieces. All a bit scary really! My first one I entered into the contest and also loaded it up on Encaustic-International where I have been lucky enough to get some really favourable encouragement from experienced encaustic artists. Always helps to get critiques from people who really know nothing about you! The difference with canvas as a support to encaustic card is that it is more absorbent and, of course, the texture is totally different. This can provide a 'softer' look to the work." Red Flower (seen on left) is Pat's very first work in this technique. The photo on the right was entered into the ArtScuttlebutt contest.

For Carolyn of Lil' Baby Thangs developing a new version of an item that she has been making provides creative satisfaction as well as new opportunities for recognition within her crafting field. Carolyn is currently working on a new pattern for ballerina baby booties. She details the pattern-making process. "For me, developing patterns in various sizes, is a long drawn out process. I have my basic sole pattern that I use. Then I design the tops of the booties. I do a lot of sewing 'drafts' in muslin to make sure each piece in each size go together just right. I then hand create the patterns on the computer in color coded sizes, to make it easier to see the size you want to make. This pattern is different in that the length of the bootie is not based on my 'base sole pattern'. It extends beyond the sole to allow little toe to grip better, just like real ballerina slippers. I then sew up my newly printed patterns in cute fabrics to double check my pattern piece fits and see my finished results. Then I am off to take pictures and write up the pattern directions and make my pattern covers. I publish and print my own patterns and I also convert them into PDF files so they can be downloaded. Two of my patterns have been picked up by and are included in their catalog. My NEW Airplane Bootie Pattern will also be in their next issue. It is exciting to me that this avenue has opened up."

Finally, there's nothing like playing with color to spice up your crafting life and supply endless inspiration. Myfanwy of Sassa Lynne offers a glimpse into her current felt dyeing process which produces a rich rainbow of hues to treat the eye. Myfanwy expains how she brings color to her felt. "These dyebaths show one of the methods I use to colour the fabrics I sell in the Etsy shop. It is the method that is probably most familiar to buyers. Fabric is crammed into a tray and the dye added, thoughtfully and carefully. After the fixer is added it is left to stand for a minimum of three hours, but preferably overnight. (photo on left) The next stage is the rinsing. This takes a long time as the water must be totally clear by the time it is finished. Finally it is left to dry. It's hard to believe that these colours emerge from such a mucky water bath!" (Dyed felt is shown on right.)

To see what other new and exciting projects our BBEST team members are working on, search for BBEST Team on Etsy or flip through the pages of BBEST's photo album at Flickr.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Meet the Boomers!

Speaking of felting . . . and we were in the previous post . . . let's get to know Chrissie, one of our Boomers from beyond the pond.  [Ed. note:  Reader beware:  British spelling follows.]

What is the name of your shop? makeyourpresentsfelt

What kind of items do you sell?   Decorative and useful items made using the ancient traditional technique of wet-felting.  Some other textile items have snuck in lately too!

How long have you been engaged in your art/craft? I learnt to felt just over a year ago, but I have been a crafter for half a century.

Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson?  I take a professional pride and care in all I make, but I do not rely on my crafts to earn a living.

What inspires you?  I don’t know how to answer this – I don't think I've tried to analyse it before. I know that I depend on and am enriched by the natural world around me, literature, music, simplicity, love and friendship and I suppose all those things are bound up in my desire to create.

Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio? There is no such thing for me, as my crafting has to fit around so many other things in my life.  If I'm lucky enough to be able to devote the day to felting, then I'll spend a little while playing with wool roving, getting some ideas, work at the kitchen sink for a couple of hours felting with hot water and soap and rub-a-dub-dubbing to 'full' the article.  While it's drying I'll perhaps take some photos and list something in my Etsy shop and catch up with what everyone else is doing.  I'll probably do some hand-sewing or embroidery or experiment with something completely different and then make sure I've cleaned up in the kitchen so that my husband doesn't come home to the smell of damp sheep!

What keeps you company while you’re working on a project?  Ideally, the radio commentary on England playing an international cricket test match!  Or a CD with some lively music, so that I can 'sing' or jiggle about while I'm felting.  As my husband plays the bagpipes I often get jigs and reels for company, whether I like it or not!

What is your favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?  I love every aspect of felting:  it's a magical process that turns raw wool into just about anything you like.

What is your least favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?  Got to be getting rid of the soap scum from the sink and vacuuming up all the wool fluff off the kitchen floor.

What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop?  Besides my Etsy shop, I post photographs to various Flickr groups, and I belong to BBEST. I am teetering on the verge of starting to blog, I shyly hand out MOO business cards occasionally, and sometimes wear my felt jewellery if I think it might attract attention.  So, you see, I'm fairly hopeless on the marketing front!  I do sell quite a lot of stuff outside of Etsy, by word of mouth and at my friend's country restaurant, where I occasionally have a craft table.  I have also been asked to make some felt vessels for an exhibition – in 2010!

Related to your craft, tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself.  Recently I was asked by a Native American artist to swap some of my felt 'pebbles' for a handful of the real article from a beach on his island home in Puget Sound in the NW of USA.  I was so taken with the way the request was made, that I sent off a parcel without a second thought and it has led to a really lovely online friendship.  My DH has decided we need to go and visit that beautiful area and has almost got his suitcase packed - I can't believe that this stemmed from a few woolly rocks!

Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t necessarily know about you by talking to you in the forums.  You should see me tango! I'm not going to admit to anything else in a public forum . . .

What’s your favorite book and why, favorite movie and why, favorite kind of music?   You can't make me narrow it down to one!! I love any movie that can make me laugh out loud and weep buckets and doesn't feature a car-chase. Favourite book might have to be A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, illustrated by E.H. Shepherd.  It's loaded with pathos, wit and wisdom and Shepherd's simple drawings capture the feel of the stories so beautifully.
Music is the hardest to narrow down – I love all kinds of music, depending on my mood.  Stuck on a desert island I might want a young Ella Fitzgerald singing Cole Porter.  Sublime voice singing tremendously clever lyrics to fantastic tunes – and I know most of the words, so I could sing along!

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

Please be sure to leave comments for Chrissie, now that you know her a little better!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The scoop on felting

Much like the ebb and flow of the sea, many handcrafts surge and recede in popularity. Today there is a high level of interest in the art of felting, but in reality this craft goes back as far as the history of man. Asian nomads used felt for their tents, their clothing and their floor coverings. Brides got married while sitting on a cloth of white felt, animals were sacrificed on a felt blanket, and Mongolian horsemen hung felt figures inside their tents to bring them good luck and ward off evil.

Felt in the traditional sense consists of wool or animal fibers that, when washed in hot water, shrink and lock together to form a sturdy, thick fabric. This is known as wet felting. The fabric can be cut without the edges unraveling, and is relatively resistant to moisture. This makes felt perfect for domestic uses such as hats, coats, shoes, blankets and much more.

Today artists can take wool roving (yarn that has not yet been twisted or spun into strands) and felt it with their hands using hot water and soap. When the wool is laid out in layers going in different directions, and those layers are rubbed or agitated, this causes the barbs of the wool fibers to grab onto each other and permanently interlock. When you crochet or knit with wool yarn, and then wash the final product on a hot cycle in the washing machine, you are doing essentially the same thing, except that this is known as fulling. Cutting up wool garments and shrinking them in the washer is also fulling. Sometimes artists will combine synthetic (acrylic or nylon) or plant-based (cotton, linen or hemp) fibers with animal fibers, but the best fulling results take place with protein-based animal fibers. Traditionally felt is created from sheep wool, but technically you could full fibers from rabbits, cats, dogs or even your own hair.

Needle felting is the commercial answer to dry felting, or interlocking wool fibers without the use of water. Barbed needles puncture wool fibers repeatedly, causing them to interlock. Fabric can be formed in this way, and fibers can be permanently attached to other fabrics as well. Needle felting can be accomplished both by hand, or with a special sewing machine tool. Clover makes a range of hand needle felting tools that are available in many fabric and craft stores. Commercial felting machines like Baby Lock's Embellisher or Nancy's Notions Fab Felter speed up the needle felting process considerably.

Boomer artists have explored both wet and dry felting, producing a wide range of products. Chrissie of makeyourpresentsfelt, for example, has created this adorable Felted Egg Cosy.

Check out this lovely Needle Felted Daisy Brooch by Lori of DreamWhimsey.

Sue of Felt4Ewe wet felted this beautiful Inlaid Flowers Hat.

Evelyn of creationsbyeve utilized hand felting to produce her Purple dahlia bag.

Nothing could be closer to the traditional wet felting tools of soap and water than Cross My Heart Felted Soap, created by Kimberly of thewildhare.

While Carol of SandFibers is usually known for her beaded creations, this Fiesta Swirls Felted Cuff features needle felting.

Liz of lizplummer made the foundation felt of her Cocoon small textile wall hanging by hand.

To learn more about the art of felting, you may wish to explore the following books:

  • Crocheted Pursenalities: 20 Great Felted Bags, by Eva Wiechmann
  • Fast Fun & Easy Needle Felting: 8 Techniques & Projects--Creative Results in Minutes, by Lynne Farris
  • Felted Crochet: Bags, Pillows, Bowls, Hats, Throws, by Jane Davis
  • Not Your Mama's Felting: The cool and creative way to get it together, by Amy Swenson
  • Pursenalities: 20 Great Knitted and Felted Bags, by Eva Wiechmann
  • Quick & Clever Felting: Over 30 Stylish Projects Using Felt Applique, Needle Felting, Wet Felt and Other Easy Techniques, by Ellen Kharade
  • The Embellisher: Let's Get Started! by Myfanwy Hart
  • Warm Fuzzies: 30 Sweet Felted Projects, by Betz White

Monday, October 20, 2008

A is for ....

The best bit of writing for the Bbest Blog is searching through the items that have been created by the members.  There is so much out there that is good quality and interesting.  I decided I would do an alphabet search.  Here is the first of a series, all these items begin with 'A'

Firstly a collage from vintagescraps entitled 'About A Boy'. 

On a background of wise words from 1917 "Mastery of Words Book, this 5x7 little collage combines original text page, hand stamped scrap of 1920's music paper, with 1957 catalogue and typewriter, 1919 report card, and 1907 boy's clothes pattern image.  What fun, and full of memories of yesteryear.

'A' is also for Autumn, and the colours of autumn are depicted splendidly in this pendant from ccvalenzo.

'Autumn's Best' Fused Glass Dichroic Pendant features nothing but the best autumn colours in this striking and glowing pendant.  It's hard to resist.

Another 'A' for 'Autumn' brings us 'Autumn Day Flower Focal Bead from ZudaGay


This beautiful flower features focal sculpted petals on a sturdy base and a button for the centre.  It needs no more than a plain cord to transform it into a lovely piece of neckwear.

'C' is for candle, but 'A' is for 'Apple Clove Soy Candle - Highly Scented - Vegan from ajscountrycottage

Cute, highly-scented 8 oz. square mason jar soy candles will envelop your room with the cozy, homey scents that make a house YOUR home.

Lastly, today, 'A' is for Alligators All Around Stroller Blanket!  Made by cindyjoy this too is worth a look.

Alligators circle around this blanket, ready to protect your little one from cold and drafts. All bundled up and ready for giving, this blanket is ideal for tucking around your little one in the car seat or the stroller or as a play mat or just for cuddling or napping.

For more items that begin with 'A', or for items that begin with any other letter of the alphabet just pop along to Etsy and search for 'bbest team' under tags and titles.

Next time I'll be on the lookout for items that begin with 'B'.  I wonder what we'll find.....

Friday, October 17, 2008

Meet the Boomers!

Say hello to Barb of BlazingNeedles!   Barb is well known to those of us who hang out on the team forums, and has both an Etsy shop and a separate sales web site for personalized items and spirit wear. 

What kind of items do you sell?  My Etsy shop sells hand loomed and crochet items. These include personalized blankets and scarves, small knit bags, and funky items like mug rugs and cacti.  I also have a line of Judaica – Jewish items.  My web site sells fundraising scarves and hats for schools, symphonies, clubs and teams.

How long have you been engaged in your art/craft?  I have knitted and crocheted since I was a small person when my mom taught me.  I started selling about five years ago.  I'll have my first Etsy anniversary in December.

Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson? Professional. I took early retirement from my engineering job and started my business.   I now do it full time.

What inspires you?  I love it when someone likes my art enough to purchase it for their own. That is an incredible high.

barb3 Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio?  I am a morning person. If it is a beautiful day, I am outside with the sun and work in the evening. If it is a rotten day, I work all day. DH also has a home office, so we share a bowl of oatmeal in the morning and work in a walk somewhere during the day.

What keeps you company while you’re working on a project?  My thoughts.  I like the quiet, though my machines can get quite loud.

barb2 What is your favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?  Definitely the design. I love the start of a project – a clean slate, a bunch of yarn and an idea.

What is your least favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?  Finishing up the ends of any project.

What teams do you belong to?  Do you promote on other sites?   I blog, but not consistently.  I am on flickr and Squidoo.  I do shows when I can – my son’s soccer schedule comes first.  I do direct mailings for my website.  I belong to etsyFAST, etsyknitters, etsyhookers, and etsychai as well as BBEST.

Related to your craft, tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself.   I live in PA, but was in Disney for DS soccer tournament when my dream came true:   I saw someone wearing one of my scarves!  I ran after her to introduce myself.  I think I scared her to death!

Tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t necessarily know about you by talking to you in the forums.  Hmmm – I have a degree in education and taught school in Illinois for six years. I found out I really didn’t like teaching that much and got a degree in engineering while working as a drafter.  I ended up as a software development engineer. You never know where life leads.

Do you have a favorite book, movie or kind of music?  No favorite book, but I like early 20th-century social novels like those of Sinclair, Dreiser, etc.  I like biographies and reading about people and lifestyles.   Movie?  Gone with the Wind.  Music?  The stuff I grew up with, Motown, Elvis, early Beatles, etc.

Would you care to share any 'words of wisdom' with other aspiring artists or crafters?  The trick is to find something you like to do, hone your craft, and then get someone to pay you to do it!

Be sure to leave a comment for Barb!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Which Came First???

Gorgeous mosaic cake pedestal by

Jane's Designs

Eco Friendly Chicken Print Grocery Tote by


Aceo The Hen and her new family from

Backroom Treasure's Shop

okay...not chicken but ya gotta have a rooster! Right?

Round Rooster Window Cling Suncatcher, Stained Glass Effect by

Clinging Images

or the egg????

Egg Nog Soy Candle from AJ's Country Cottage


Monday, October 13, 2008

Variations on Pandora

One of BBEST Team's greatest membership perks, to me, is the sharing that happens every day. I love to learn. The weekly chat thread is an encyclopedic cache unmatched by any other. Not even we know what subject will spring forth at any moment and lead to yet another and another. And speaking of one thing leading to another...

We talk about music a lot on the thread. This week, I shared a website called Pandora. You can read more about it on Wikipedia but, in short: it is an automated music recommendation and internet radio service created by the music genome project. Users enter a song or artist that they enjoy, and the service responds by playing selections that are musically similar. Users provide feedback on the individual song choices — approval or disapproval — which Pandora takes into account for future selections. For example, I have John Denver, Josh Groban and Hans Zimmer stations. It's very cool and exposes you to many new artists. {And searching Wikipedia for Pandora also led to the Pandora as a myth entry ~ another fascinating read.}

So, one thing leading to another, yet again, I did an etsy BBEST search for Pandora and found the beautiful lampwork bead seen above by our own Susan Lambert. It seems there are bracelets called Pandora? Live and Learn.

Then I decided to try a Pandora only search. Wow! Too much information! So I narrowed it down to the vintage category and found this groovy old box and both the shop, dahlilafound , and the owner's profile are delightful, so I share them with you.

Lastly, as my Pandora is a music based find, I did a 'BBEST music' search and found this that I adore in BethPeardonProds along with many more lovely items.

Etsy is sometimes too much fun. Is that possible? I think not. And so, my sharing friends, I thank you and please feel free to leave a comment with a nifty find of your own. I learned on WIKI that the pandora site is currently no longer available outside of the US so perhaps one of you knows of a similar site to share with our international members. I hope so.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Meet the Boomers!

Name of shop?Kate1 
My Etsy shop is called HeronKate, my business name is The Blue Heron Studio.

What kind of items do you sell?
I have an eclectic mix in my shop. I do paintings with a southwest theme, paintings from my garden and have recently started making collages with women as the theme. When I joined Etsy I learned about ACEOs and have been doing some of those. 

I also paint floorcloths, some home decor items [placemats, trays, boxes] and I have a few vintage items for sale too. 

How long have you been engaged in your art/craft?
I’ve been doing artwork since I was a child and I majored in art in college.

Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson?
I consider myself a professional artist and have a business doing faux finishing, making floorcloths and painting furniture.  Most of my floorcloths are custom orders.

What inspires you? 
My garden, my travels, materials that I find.

Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio.
There is no such thing!  If I’m working at home then I often work all morning and sometimes into the afternoon in my pajamas.  Yes, they have paint on them.  While I'm working, I'm kept company by music, visits from friends, and checking in on the Boomers forum.

What are your most and least favorite tasks related to your art/craft?
My favorite thing is starting a new painting and knowing what I want to say with it.  My least favorite task is sanding an old piece of furniture prior to priming and painting it.

What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop/ware?
My blog is mostly pictures of custom work I have done,Kate3 such as this custom table.

I am also involved in our county’s annual Studio Tour, where I have several hundred people visit my studio in two weekends in December.  Hopefully they will buy things and/or order custom work. [Editor's note:  this is a really big show in NC.  Below is a portion of the tour map, and a link to the site.]
mapTo which teams do you belong? Do you use other sites? 
I belong to Gallery United, VAST, Interiordesignteam, Studioart team, and of course BBEST.

I also have paintings on Boundless Gallery, another online site, but have had no response from that.

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

What’s your favorite book and why, favorite movie and why, favorite kind of music?
I love The Little Prince because of what the fox said: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;  what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
My favorite movie is Casablanca because it reminds me of my first love.
My favorite kind of music is jazz, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, and especially Bill Evans because he reminds me of my last love.  I also like Patsy Kline, Bob Dylan, and lots of other music.

Would you care to share any 'words of wisdom' with other aspiring artists or crafters? 
I guess everyone says “Just do what you love,” which is all nice and lovely, but most of us will also have to get a job or marry someone who has one.

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