Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I feel so SPOILED

Thought I would start by mentioning that Adam wrote a VERY good blog about knives that he posted on his Hanged Man Designs blog. You can read it HERE.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Mine was better than I could have ever imagined, and left me feeling giddy and a little spoiled. I got to spend Christmas eve with my Dad, husband, step-mom and daughter. We had a lovely meal and my dad got me a new bicycle....

not just any bike... THE BIKE. I didn't really tell him what I wanted, and he got me THE EXACT bike I wanted. It is an adorable pink Townie Electra cruiser. I saw it about 2 years ago before I knew I was pregnant with Autumn and I kind of fell in love. It is the bike that got me interested in biking (that and the fact that I HATE driving) . It is so undeniably ME. I am so excited! Adam and I and a friend of ours went for a 20 mile round trip ride on Saturday, before I hooked Autumns trailer up- Adam Towed her on my old bike, a hand me down with some very noticeable issues, but quite functional. I went for about a 14 mile ride on Monday towing Autumn, and that trip has a huge incline for a large portion of it. And of course I have been riding it to work. I LOVE IT.

On Christmas day I spent the morning with Autumn and Adam and we went to visit extended family in the afternoon. We had another very nice meal and enjoyed the company of relatives.

I received some money in the mail from my mom and so we decided that I could use it to buy screen printing supplies... somehow... even though my husband and I both know I do NOT need another hobby...

We were planning on getting a yudu setup because it looks soooo EASY, but we found photoez and they have a complete starter kit with ink for about $100. The main difference is that there isn't really a light box, but in Albuquerque we have lots of direct sunlight, so that should not be a problem! I will post a product review after I get it. Here is their website... http://ezscreenprint.com/

It looks even EASIER than yudu! The screens are basically reusable paper!

so I have spent a lot of time doodling and trying to come up with ideas for things to print, but I am leaving for Michigan early Thursday, so I probably will not get to try it until I get home. I have a few sketches already and some old sketches, then I also want to do a few roller derby related Screens too, oh, and probably at least one sugar skull. I probably should have ordered extra photoez screen papers with my order... I am sure these will go a little too fast. It means now that my fashion studio is pretty complete! I just need to get my old surger working, or sell it on CL and get a domestic one that is easier to use.

Hope yours was as merry and bright. This may have been the best Christmas I have ever had... and I was starting to think I was getting too old for Christmas.

And the winner is....

Hi! I picked the winner op my whale hand warmers at random ( from a hat to be precise, since it seemed to be the least original and easiest way to do it.)

And the winner is.... LAURA! I will be sending you an email to get your address :) I hope you love your new hand warmers.

Laura has her own blog as well, so please pay her a visit at theforgottenbrush.blogspot.com. She is also an artist, like me :)

Her etsy store is www.etsy.com/shop/laurart

This piece is "Speckles 'n Shapes" by Laura and you can get to her listing of it by clicking on the picture.

I love prints, and I really love this print "Brushes" by Laura. It is made from a wood block. You can go to this listing by clicking on the picture as well :)

Laura is also an animal enthusiast and 10% of her profits go to charity.

I hope everyone's holidays were as wonderful as mine, i will tell you more about them soon, I don't want to make this post to lengthy to be interesting :)

Also, I added the hamster widget. Isn't he cute? you can feed him.

I will Start a new next Monday.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Brown Paper Packages tied up with String

So, I have not quite made it to the end of my first year selling on etsy. It has been an incredible, wonderful learning experience and I have met some really great people, and purchased some AWESOME items.

One thing that I have found to be an invaluable lesson, that has also managed to save me quite a bit of money over time, is HOW TO SHIP USPS, and that you can ship FROM HOME through paypal. That is pretty awesome.

I know I am sure there are other things I should know about shipping that I have not learned yet, but I really think USPS offers a truly superior service. It is VERY inexpensive, and packages seem to arrive at their destination much faster than with other shipping services, which surprised me the most! I also didn't figure out until a few months ago that we could ship things directly through Paypal! How wonderful! Next to each payment you will receive that has cleared there will be a Little button you can click that says "Print shipping label". All you need to do is weigh your items on a very accurate scale (make sure that you include the label (or an extra sheet of paper) and all of the packaging materials in the measurement. I use a kitchen scale that I bought specifically for this purpose because it was less expensive and could handle a heavier item than the postal scales. You also need to make sure both your address and the recipients addresses are correct. Make sure you read the definitions of things like "large" package before you choose it, it will save you money.

It is also easier, and MUCH less expensive-obviously- if you buy envelopes in groups of 10 or so from stores instead of buying them one at a time at the post office. I don't have a Costco or Sam's club membership but I bet they have great shipping supplies there. Also, if you want to ship directly through USPS from home you can bypass paypal by going to usps.com. I use paypal because I don't keep any credit (or even atm cards) in my possession, so the only money I usually have access to if my husband isn't around is our paypal account. (and of course cash, but the computer doesn't recognize that).

One tip for usps ONLY use flat rate boxes to ship very heavy items, and find out your shipping rate through USPS first class mail before going with the flat rate box. I have not had a situation arise yet where I didn't save a few dollars by packaging and shipping first class mail or parcel post. I received a package recently from an etsian that weighed less than 2 oz and was in a $5.95 flat rate box. I was kinda sad because I knew she would have saved a few dollars if she had shipped first class. The items, by the way, were remarkable. I will share them with you all later.
I also got another AMAZING product that was shipped UPS. It seemed like it took forever to get to me, and I am sure it cost more to ship it too.

If you are worried about tracking and such, if you ship through USPS, or paypal you can track your packages online, AND you can even buy signature confirmation on your packages!

I always thought USPS was cheap, but not a very good service. My experiences through etsy has taught me that while USPS is very inexpensive, they also offer an exemplary service.

I can't believe it is Christmas eve already! December came and went so fast! Our first Christmas on etsy has really been a blast! Happy Holidays, Everyone.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Updates on a dress I am working on...

Well, first of all, I am giving away a pair of cute hand warmers! You can enter my giveaway HERE .

I have been doing a custom order for a wedding dress and I have reached a point where I am finally willing to share the progress. This has been an extremely fun project, and I liked having an excuse to spend $70 a yard on lace (even if the laces I wanted the most were all over $100 a yard) . I am only getting about $100 for this dress after materials, But I am so glad to have the opportunity just to MAKE it. I couldn't afford to make it if someone were not paying for the materials.

Just as a reminder, here is the Fashion Sketch of the dress.

This is the top and the underskirt. The top is not pinned on tight to the form. The form is only about a size 2 so the dress is a little bigger than that. The lace is all hand sewn on. I still need to hem the skirt, put the zipper in and cut off the extra netting on the lace.

This is the dress with the top sewn pinned on tighter and the over skirt on as well. The over skirt still needs all of the pleating done and I need to put the zipper in.

The top is fully boned and lined and has these buttons all the way up the back. I need to put some pleats at the top of the corset and then it will be finished.

This is the dress with the over skirt pinned up as it is intended to be. It looks pretty good to me so far!

I also still need to make the veil and the bolero. There is still a lot of work to do, but I am very pleased with the progress I have made.

Also... speaking of weddings.... Adam and I got our wedding rings finally, after being married tor almost 2 years. We got them from http://bendthefish.etsy.com . Mine is very elegant and has a tiny little diamond !I love it!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Where is my Christmas Cheer?

PLEASE ENTER MY GIVEAWAY! ---pretty please--- with a cherry on top, and whipped cream, and sprinkles... It is my very first one, and if I feel like this one is worthwhile I will have more.

you can find it here

So I am not sure why, but I just am not as excited and thrilled by Christmas this year as I am most years. I LOVE Christmas! I love Christmas music, and lights, and trees... and I love buying presents for people, and I don't even mind braving the mall this time of year- even though THIS year I was able to buy ALL of our presents from etsy, and some things for myself as well. Partially I wonder if I am just to busy between Etsy, Autumn, Roller Derby, Working for my dad...

Usually I play Christmas music constantly as soon as it seems reasonable- I think usually Thanksgiving is acceptably the beginning of Christmas festivities- but this year we STILL have not put up our tree! We haven't even decided on a theme (last year it was "new baby" and the year before that was "pirate"). It will go up tomorrow because I need to start wrapping presents and if the tree isn't up I will not have any place to put them.

I also love snow.

And I love the peppermint brownies from Starbucks (but I am on a diet right now that does not allow them). I love Turkey.

I love the traditions of Christmas.

I love the false joy that comes from pretty packages, excellent marketing, and obscene commercialism. I mean, I am a true hypocrite as I am not a religious or even spiritual person and I celebrate this holiday so voraciously.

But, for everyone, whichever religion you follow-or don't- HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

Enjoy the season, it only comes once a year, and pretty soon we all have to turn that Christmas music off.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An Update

As I have mentioned before I have been having several medical issues since Autumns birth. The one that bothers me most is the complete inability to lose the weight I gained while I was pregnant.

I gained 100 lbs, and have only lost 40 lbs, making me 60 lbs over my pre pregnancy weight. After I got the results for my blood work and everything was normal I was very disappointed-as I have mentioned before I have never wanted to find out that I WAS SICK more than I did then, because either way I FEEL sick. I reduced calorie intake again pretty drastically. I was expecting SOME progress when I went to the doctor for my follow up appointment, but I was not so lucky. I weighed ONE POUND less than I did at my last appointment. That is CRAZY- I cut somewhere between 300-500 calories out of my daily intake! That includes not eating anything that has more than 5g of fat or any red meat or pork.

The doctor has put in a referral for an endocrinologist so hopefully going to see a specialist will shine some light on the subject. I know that something is wrong. I keep convincing myself that maybe if I do this or that it will make a difference, but I have made HUGE changes in my lifestyle and diet- which were both already healthy- and I have not any weight since my 6 week check up wiht my gyno.

Fortunately I have the most amazing daughter to show for it, and a very supportive husband.


Monday, December 14, 2009

My First GIVE AWAY and also a TUTORIAL: How to Make Hand Warmers

So, arm warmers are a pretty big seller in my store. I use old wool sweaters and I felt them by washing them and drying them. This creates a dense fabric with edges that do not fray, even when unfinished.

There is a limited amount of sweater that is usable for arm warmers, so I also like making purses, pouches, wallets, baby hats, baby shoes, and anything else I can think of with the remaining felt scraps.

I have a HUGE collection now, though many of the sweaters I have in my stash still have parts that are good for making arm warmers.

I also received a custom order for a pair of hand warmers this weekend, which seemed like an excellent opportunity to use some of the smaller scraps that I have.

So, to start out you will need some felt scraps from a wool sweater. If you need to make them, wash and dry a sweater on high heat a few times.

Trace your hand on a piece of paper to make the pattern, then add seam allowance. I used 1/4 of an inch. Draw a straight line with a 90 degree angle on either side across where your knuckles will be and also where your wrist will be. Draw a curve from the top of the thumb to the bottom. Then cut out your pattern.

Then pin your pattern to your fabric. You will need a total of 4 pieces. if your fabric is doubled just cut the pattern out twice. If it is not- for example I did not have enough of this black sweater to double it- then cut 2 with your pattern face up and then cut 2 with your pattern face down.

It is not necessary to put an applique on your hand warmers, but I think it looks way more awesome :). If you ARE going to put the applique on the easiest time to sew it on is BEFORE you sew up the sides of your hand warmers, but I usually do it after wards because I think that placement of the applique is easier after the hand warmers are sewn. I often wish I had done it BEFORE sewing up the sides when I am working on ARM warmers and my hands are cramping up, but since there is better access into the hand warmers it makes little difference when the applique is sewn on. This applique was made from my own original drawing of a heart, Iron-On transfer paper and recycled poly felt.

Sew up the sides with a regular stitch. Try them on and make sure you like how they fit. I made these smaller because they are really stretchy and they felt better that way. When you are happy with the fit zigzag stitch over your original stitches (make sure that you back stitch at the beginning and end of your seams so that they do not unravel) and cut off the excess fabric.

This is what the custom pair looked like when I was finished. Pretty awesome.

I shipped them out this morning. :)

SOOOO... I am pretty sure I said GIVEAWAY:

I have been meaning to have one of these for a while now, and have actually created my own arsenal of great AcrylicandSteel.etsy.com Items to give away. In Lu of the tutorial just given I decided to make a pair of hand warmers to give away.

one reader will receive these cute blue whale arm warmers . The felt on these is VERY dense making them a little tighter than the other pair I made using the same pattern, but they will stretch as far as you make them. I think a young girl... or even a teenage girl would just love these. I am 26 and I love them!

To enter:

1 entry- Follow my blog
3 entries- Go to AcrylicandSteel.etsy.com and post a link in the comments to your favorite item
10 entries- purchase ANYTHING from my store during the duration of this giveaway or ANYTHING from any of my friends at the christie cottage's buy and sell thread (There is a new one daily today's is http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6377432&page=26), the Booty buy and Sell Thread http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6363199or The Crazy buy and replace thread http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6377598&page=29. (12/14/09-12/28/09)

Please post a comment for each of the above ways to enter and provide your etsy shop url in the comment as well, or some other way to contact you if you win. If you make a purchase from any of these stores please also leave the transaction ID in the post.

A winner will be picked December 28, 2009. I will also Feature the winner's store on my blog, unless the winner does not have an etsy store or requests that I do not feature their store.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Adam finished the kitchen knife he was working on, and it is really beautiful! The base is so simple but so pretty!

Adam and I worked together on this piece. It is a custom order. A very nice and fun guy ordered it for his best friend, The Bomb Dylan, who skates for Prison City Derby Dames.

I love making things for everyone but as a a derby girl, it is especially fun to make things for other derby girls, refs and fans. It did not turn out quite as well as we had hoped, we tried 6 times and used three different bearings... of course the one we went with was the first one. I guess that should be no real surprise :) What I really love about this necklace is that it has the skaters name in it- and I love that because I never would have thought to do that! I guess that one of the many why custom orders can be so much fun!

I also had several items to list this morning! I only finished listing the two letter openers. They were a custom order for another etsy seller http://BDOODLES.etsy.com Adam made those, obviously. This was fun because Adam works mostly in wood so he got to have bun and get creative with antlers. It is also fun because the antlers were provided by the bdoodles and they are meaningful to the people she is giving the letter openers to. It feels good to make these kinds of gifts, just like it feels good to give and recieve them. I need to go list those 6 bearing necklaces! Two of them were salvaged from issues we had with the custom order, and then the others were made because we saw some perfect pre cut inserts when we went to the jewelry store to get the silver for the letter opener in the picture.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Great Gifts, and why customer service is SO important

Between Autumns birthday and Christmas I have made quite a few purchases on etsy. I would like to start sharing them with you, one shop at a time.

Adams birthday in august I had an unfortunate experience. I purchased a few items and the items from one of the sellers never came. After trying to contact them several times I finally got a convo a few days after Adams birthday that the items had shipped. The next day I went to leave feedback for the wonderful items I received from two other sellers and I noticed that I had no place to leave feedback! The seller had cancelled my order! I contacted etsy right away and got my money back from the seller... but I was REALLY UNHAPPY with that transaction. These orders for Adams birthday were the first I had ever made on etsy, and if this order had been the only one I would not be likely to buy anything off of etsy again. Obviously everyone on etsy gets to run thier shop pretty much as they like, as long as it meets the general guidelines that etsy sets forth- and the transaction described clearly does not-but how you run your store is a reflection of the ENTIRE etsy community- besides, most things in life are more fun when you do them with a smile on your face. I DO NOT RECOMMEND purchasing anything from happyfamily.etsy.com especially if you have any interest in receiving your items in a timely manner.

I HAD AN EXCELLENT EXPERIENCE at the other two stores I ordered from, and I loved http://elementalshop.etsy.com so much that I will probably return to them for some Christmas shopping.

This is what I ordered for Adam:

I ordered it in natural. This shirt is awesome. I don't screen print- though I want to learn- but I am pretty sure the printing was very good quality. They also use special water based eco-friendly ink, and it is wonderful. It is softer than other ink, but we have had the shirt since August- and Adam wears it A LOT-but there is no fading or deterioration of the print. They use organic cotton American Apparel t-shirts. They are SOOOO Soft. That matters even to a wife, as I would rather cuddle with Adam when he is wearing a soft shirt than a thick scratchy one! From what I can tell they are not currently offering THIS shirt, but they are offering many other great designs!

Here are a few of their current designs:

I LOVE THIS SHOP, and highly recommend them for your holiday purchases- especially since it can be so hard to shop for men on etsy, making it hard to do a handmade Christmas, and they have some really fantastic shirts. I am sure they have something for almost everyone.

ok then,

Have a fun Saturday.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Manly Soap

Amber? Vanilla? Sandalwood? Currants? These are some pretty typical scents for masculine targeted soaps. But in my opinion they just don’t hack it. Now Pine Tar - that is a manly smell! I just received some Pine Tar and Goat Milk soap from http://www.etsy.com/shop/hillsidebathandbody and it is some excellent stuff!

Throw some pumice or coffee grounds or ground up avocado bits in there and you should be able to scrub off whatever got stuck on you while working in the shop.

If you want a more complex smell, toss in some peppermint, tea tree oil, black pepper, or maybe juniper or black walnut. I had some juniper soap that I just loved, but finally ran out of that. There is just something special about a soap that comes in BLACK. Anyway, none of this sweet or fruit or vanilla stuff. If you are a musk fan that might work too but I am definitely not.

I haven’t seen any burned metal, axle grease, or horse sweat soaps yet, but that would be about the only way to get a more masculine soap than Pine Tar.

Anyway, that is my opinion.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

A new kitchen knife

I finally finished up the kitchen knife that I was working on. It looks a little different than I planned at the beginning, but that is the way it goes some times. So without further ado...introducing LS1, my first Santuku inspired slicer/carver.
If you are into recycled goods, the steel for this came from the leaf-spring of an old jeep or dodge truck. It is most likely 1086 or 1095 steel, similar to what I've used on past knives.
Erica gave me the wood for the handle last year, it is Tulipwood, and very pretty in my opinion. The Corby rivets are brass.
The whole thing is about 12 1/2 inches long with a blade of 5 1/4 inches.
I think it turned out pretty well.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tip for non-paying customers

HI ! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Mine was pretty good.

Our store did very well on Friday and Sunday. On Sunday we actually had a record day of 6 sales, but two of those appear to be non-paying customers and after a few days of contacting them I think I will be canceling those two orders. Those are always sad. One of my Items was my most hearted item, and I think it would have sold over the busy weekend if it hadnt been for the non-payment.

I have learned a trick for non-paying customers that has worked every time until recently. Many customers do no know how paypal and etsy work, and some customers just *expect* to be invoiced. If you send them a polite convo, and email and a paypal invoice you will usually recieve payment within a day or so.

This week I think I will be doing a givaway. I may have decided on an item to give away already, or I may pick multiple items to give away. I will put it up sometime this week.

Also, for a future tutorial I am thinking about doing a tutorial on how to make a kimono style robe. Is that something that interests you all?

Ok, take care for now.