Monday, October 09, 2006

Lip Balm

I can't stand that famous lip balm that you can buy at every supermarket, drug store, convenience store, discount store - you get the picture. I know they've improved the formulation and its not the stick of wax it used to be, but I just can't move past it.

So as winter approaches, I was on my annual search for the perfect lipbalm. I actually found one a few year ago that I really liked. It was based in shea butter and was smooth and creamy and $8 a tube. And my dog loved to eat it which is always a sign that I have found the right one.

Well, I decided to try to find a better lip balm on Etsy. I happened to be in the forums one Saturday night a few weeks ago when I spotted a SNS (Saturday Night Special) from Daisy Cakes Soap's for lip balm - buy one get one free!. I quickly checked out this shop and found a latte flavored lip balm - my absolute favorite lip balm flavor. I ordered two (remember, one was free).

When I opened the package that arrived a few days later (with a free sample of soap inside) I was beside myself with joy. I had found the perfect lip balm on my first try. "This gentle vegetable-based balm, like all Daisy Cakes Soap's balms, is vegan-friendly. It soothes & protects lips without petroleum or chemical preservatives. The base for the balm includes cocoabutter, sweet almond, avocado, & jojoba oil and slick candellila wax instead of beeswax". It is subtly flavored with a vanilla latte, and has a rich, creamy texture that is exactly what I wanted. And it is only $2.75 a tube.

The true test of this item was validated yesterday when I walked into my bedroom and my dog was eating my new lip balm. Luckily I have the free one to hold me over until I can order more. Daisy Cakes Soap's also carrys soaps, soy candles and gift sets.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Try A ZineToday

I admit it. I have never read a zine before. But I have become very curious about this little niche in the universe of publishing since becoming an Etsy shopowner.

As near as I can tell, zines are self published little tomes that fall into many categories - comics, cookbooks, DIY info, art, fiction, non-fiction and even the rantings of folks who have something (and actually sometimes nothing) to get off their chests. Here are just a few randomly selected from my Etsy search:

The Big Exit by Sputnik Press, the story of what happens when nuring home patients get restless

Gas Tank by Gas Tank, a collection of vegan recipies

The Relishdress Reader by Relishdress, a monthly crafty zine

Zoombie Coloring Book by Pickled Punk, 20 pages of monsters for your viewing and coloring pleasure

Anon by 2 Little Wings, a zine of non sequitur thoughts, art, and collage

So, having admitted to never having read a zine, I cannot actually recommend any of the zines items I have just listed. But I am going to pick one of them and purchase it tonight and begin my foray into the world of zines. I encourage you to do the same.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Etsy Alchemy Is Disable

It appears that in preparation for v2 of Etsy, due this fall, the Alchemy feature on Etsy has been disable on a temporary basis. This has caused me to have a bad day, because I have done more than half of my business over the past month from Alchemy bids.

What is Alchemy you ask? Alchemy is a place on Etsy where anyone can go and request to have almost anything custom made. Buyers ask for things to be made and any Etsy seller can bid to make them. Once the buyer decides on a seller and the seller accepts the project, its a go. It is a great tool for newbies at Etsy to find some business that hopefully becomes repeat business. I just sent off three Alchemy projects this week and I have three more in the pipeline.

So, please, please, please Etsy ADMIN, bring back Alchemy very soon.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Today, Its All About Me

I'm a little under the weather tonight and I don't feel like thinking too much, so today my featured Etsy shop is mine - MLR Studio. I opened my shop in June 2006, but really didn't pay it any reall attention until mid September. Now I am addicted.

MLR Studio started out as my line of handcrafted jewelry. To date, I have really only featured OOAK and limited edition items on Etsy. These items feature rich colors, plus vinage, natural and handmade pendants and lots of recycled and found objects. I specialize in custom designs and revivals of old and tired jewelry. My creations are appropriate for almost any age and can work for special occasion, every day or "just because". One of my favorite items on Etsy right now is this PMC pendant made from an abandoned wasp nest.

In late 2006 MLR Studio will feature my new accessories and gift lines, in addition to several new jewelry collections. These items will be available just in time for holiday shopping, so check back often. New items are listed everyday.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I want to start felting. But, I just can't fit another category of crafts into my studio right now. So when I say that I am so jealous of Tara the Etsy shopowner responsible for Funky by Tara you'll know why when you visit her shop.

While her bio states that jewelry is Tara's passion, her shop leaves one with the impression that her current passion is felting. Tara is self taught and from the looks of the items she has listed at Etsy, she is a very good student. The items at Funky by Tara range from accessories items like felted acron earrings and card cases to houseware items such as felted bowls, and my favorite, a felted lidded jar, all in the colors of autumn. Her prices are great and she encourages special orders. I cant wait to see what she lists next.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fused Glass

The result of the process of layering bits and pieces of glass of multiple shapes, colors and sizes and then firing them in the kiln is called "fused glass". This process can be repeated numerous times until the artist obtains the desired look. Many fused glass artists add dichroic glass into the mix. Dichroic glass appears to shimmer and change color at different angles and can look like foil or leafing inside the glass.

The Etsy shop featured today is Glass House Jewelry a newbie to Etsy, having joined just one month ago. A NY artist, this shopowner has been designing glass and jewelry for museums and boutiques. Etsy is her first experience in selling directly to the public.

The items sold at Glass House Jewelry are mostly finished jewelry pieces created by the artist and featuring her fused & dichroic glass cabachons, pendants and beads. She also has some PMC pieces. All items are one of a kind due to the uniqueness of the glass. Prices in the shop are reasonable and "special orders are welcome". It says so right on the front page of this shop.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


All Esty shopowners must select a category for every item they list in their shop. Speaking from experience, it is not always easy to decide which category is right for some items. For example, I have several pendants in my shop that were created using two materials - abandon wasp nests and PMC3 (precious metal clay - it fires to .999 fine silver for those of you not in the know).

If you check out my shop today, you will find these pieces listed under the Jewelry category. But not long ago, I had them listed as Art. Why did I change my mind? The truth is I didn't - these pieces are Art to me. But the business person side of my brain kept telling the artist side that the buying public would be confused by calling jewelry Art.

Today, I am featuring two Etsy shopowners, with very different perspectives, who can definitely call their work Art without confusing anyone.

Nina Kuriloff (NYC) has been working as an artist for over 20 years. Her work is exhibited in galleries throughout the US. When you enter her Etsy shop, you are greeted with original artwork that explodes with color and swirls and curves. You'll find portraits, landscapes and nudes all of which exhibit Kuriloff's distinctive style. And while this writer enjoys just about everything in this shop, its Kuriloff's trees that really made me a fan of this talented artist.

The other featured shop today is Xom. This Texas shopowner is a full time film student whose canvas is clothing and medium is the sharpie marker. His work is all original, drawn directly onto tee shirts, accessories and yes, sometimes even paper. His perspective is urban meets Pirates of the Caribbean. You'll find items in a variety of sizes for men, women and children. Xom also takes custom requests.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Doodads & Thingies

As I was looking through the Etsy Treasury this morning, I found the item pictured above and I just could not wait to share. Have you figured out where the "M" came from? I'll give you a hint. The Treasury topic was "Recycled".

Allison Strine is an award winning mixed media artist by day and a wife and mom by night. Her Etsy shop, Allison Strine Designs
is an explosion of colors, words and "Ladybirds". The 1.25" collage pendants are original works of art on the front with fabulous little expressions of "exuberance" on the back.

My favorite item, however, is the pendant I mentioned at the beginning of this piece. The "M" pendant , and the rest of the alphabet for that matter, are made from recycled vintage license plates, fabric, glass, lead free solder and sterling silver jumprings.

Each pendant is unique and comes gift boxed. Prices range from $10 to $20. 30" ball chains are available for $1 extra. Allison Strine Designs will create a custom order for you if your letter or number is not available when you visit the shop. Just contact her and you'll have your own little trinket made just for you.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Am I an artist, designer or craftsperson?

In an effort to end the ongoing debate in my head, I searched the definitions of artist, designer and craftsperson on and received the following results.

An artist is a person whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination. A designer creates plans to be used in making something. And a craftsperson is a creator of great skill in the manual arts.

So I guess the answer is I am all three.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Etsy Shop Owners Support Breast Cancer Charities

October is Breast Cancer Awarness month and there are a number of Etsy shop owners who are donating some or all of the proceeds of their sales to charities dedicated to finding the cure. There's MLRStudio and Sea Breeze Creations who have each created pieces of jewelry to bring focus to the cause and are donating a portion of the profits raised by sales of these items.

Our focus Etsy shop today is Atomic Rose Boutique. This shopowner is participating in a 3 day, 60 mile walk in Philadelphia on 10/6-8. She opened her shop to donate all profits to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund and to date has raised over $2125. She and a group of crafters make all the items for sale. Some of the items were donated by other Etsy shopowners who are credited on the Atomic Rose Boutique front page.

Prices range from $1 to $20 with shipping included. Their most popular item to date has been the "Slippery Nipple" soap on a rope which retailed for $5.50 and appears to be sold out right now but is really worth taking a look. I'd check with Atomic Rose Boutique to see if they are going to be replenishing their stock .

Finally, I'd like to single out Robotpop. This shopowner brought Atomic Rose Boutique to the attention of this writer and has donated a portion of her shop's sales to Atomic Rose Boutique in support of their efforts. It is this kind of generosity that makes it easy to support the shops of the Etsy community.

New Feature - Daily Reviews of Etsy

Starting October 1, 2006, Craft Trend Watch will feature a daily review of some of our favorite Etsy Shops.

For those of you who don't know about Etsy, let me catch you up. Etsy is an on-line shopping venue that features only handcrafted merchandise, presented in shops which are operated by thousands of independent artists, crafters and designers. You can shop by category, color, materials or by individual shop. You can find everything from lipbalm to fine works of art. The pricing is more then reasonable and the service is first rate. You can leave feedback if it isn't.

One of my favorite features is Alchemy, where anyone can request a custom order (the sky is the limit) and any Etsy shop owner who feels they can handle the job can bid on it.

Most shop owners accept credit cards through PayPal and will ship internationally. Some accept checks.

Please bookmark this blog and check back often. You don't want to miss one day of the wonderful world of Etsy.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Etsy & MLR Studio get some good press!

I recently had the opportunity to work with a well known author (Oprah Book Club selection well known), designing a future project related to her new book. We made our connection via Etsy. It was a great experience and I really am looking forward to completing this work.

And as if this experince wasn't already positive, this author writes about Etsy and MLR Studio along with several other Etsy artists on her blog.

Thanks, Jackie, for your kind words about Esty, MLR Studio and all the independent artists, designers and crafters who appreciate your support.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I Have a Thing for Vintage Pendants & Beads

I am addicted to vintage pendants and beads. I can't get enough of great german carved glass pendants and I'm using them on many of the pieces I am creating for my fall/winter 2006 jewelry collection at MLR Studio.

One of my favorite and most reliable resources for vintage beads and such is The Beadin Path. They have a great website and a retail location in Freeport ME. Whoever buys their merchandise has exceptional taste and quality control standards. I can honestly say that I have never received a thing from them that was not of the best quality.

They also sell Swarovski crystals & components and all the basics.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Not Martha

I recently found Not Martha, whose author offers her insights on everything from home decorating to the new sandals she's searching for - complete with links to the relative info.

Of particular interest to the chronic crafter is her "how to make stuff" page, which gives detailed instructions (complete with pictures), on a myriad of projects she has undertaken.

I have not personally attempted any of these projects, but the instructions look clear and easy to follow.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Etsy - Check It Out!

Etsy is a website for crafters, artists & designers to sell their wares at a very low cost to a worldwide audience. The only caveat is that the items you intend to sell on Etsy are handmade and not mass produced. This is a great venue for all indie crafters, artists & designers to get a foot in the cyberspace doorway.

Upon joining Etsy, you receive you very own website which is simple to use even if all you've ever done on a computer is answer email. There is a tiny fee to list each item. Item listings last for six months or until the item sells or you remove it yourself. When an item sells there is another small fee which is a percentage of the selling price.

Etsy is worth a look if you don't have a website now or if you are looking for a quick, inexpensive way to get more traffic to an existing site.