Wednesday, December 26, 2012

About 3 weeks ago, my husband and I went to an open house at the one art gallery in the small, rural town where we live; Artisans Art Gallery.  It was a delightful evening, filled with yummy snacks and stimulating conversation.  But the most remarkable thing about it was that I discovered the beautiful work of watercolorist Debbie Robb.  Her paintings are so incredibly detailed yet airy and whimsical.  I was in love...
Of course, none of you have ever visited my home, or you would know that we already live in an art museum of sorts.  We joke that if either one of us comes home with a new painting, we will need to make the house bigger, as we are out of wall space!  Yet I was so in love with the work of this artist.
To my delight and surprise, yesterday I received not one, but two Debbie Robb watercolors.  I just had to share this remarkable work with all of you!
This is the larger of the two paintings.  As I sit here while a raging blizzard goes on outside, this charming watercolor makes it spring.  I love the colorful vases and the different varieties of the flowers.  The illusion of the whole thing being back lit, with the shadows coming toward the viewer gives this painting such depth and realism.  The artist's choice of frame is just perfect, in my opinion.  The detail in the painting is simply enhanced by the heavy, busy and dark surroundings. 
This is the smaller of the two. Don't you just love the intricate details of the blooms?  Again, the shadows in the foreground give this painting such depth.  I find it so interesting that this virtually square painting features such a tall and elongated central focal point.  The simplicity of this frame does not distract at all from the beauty of the painting itself.

But here is the most amazing thing about this artist's unbelievable work.....
Can you believe how tiny these intricate paintings are?  I can't even begin to imagine what Debbie Robb is using to create these miniscule masterpieces!  She must be painting with a brush with a single hair!  To get such meticulous detail onto such a tiny canvas....  it just boggles my mind!!!
To my wonderful husband, who gifted me with the larger painting, and my equally wonderful son, the giver of the smaller one....  THANK YOU SO MUCH!  And to Debbie Robb...  please keep painting!  Your artistic gift to the world is priceless and will long be appreciated!  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Miniature Handmade Rag Doll Christmas Ornaments Are On Sale!

Miniature rag doll Christmas Ornaments are on sale at iKnitQuiltSew!  Through December 20, 2013, buy 2 at the regular price of $10 each and get the third one free!  Simply note at checkout which miniature doll you would like at no charge.   

Special orders are okay during this promotion; if you would like them all dressed the same, just let me know...  want them all dressed the same?  Want all blondes?  Not a problem!

My miniature rag dolls are all handmade and designed by me.  Each is unique, and each one is signed.  These tiny dolls stand just 4 inches (10.2 cm) tall.  They do meet CPSIA/US Government standards for toys for children over three years old, too.  They make terrific stocking stuffers! 
Visit my shop soon to get your one-of-a-kind miniature rag dolls!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This blog post is certainly not about “a discussion of art in all of its forms,” as my blog subheading states, but it is one that I have been tempted to write for quite a while.  I find myself inspired by a comment to a news article on CNN entitled, Analysis: Why Romney Lost, to let my fingers fly across the keyboard.

In response to the article, NSL14 writes:

I think you're generally right, and I think the Republicans are in complete denial.  They are accusing the President of cheating, of lying, of all sorts of nonsense.  Some have complained the media is at fault too.  They refuse to look at the fact that the Republican Party no longer represents the view of the world of most of the people living in America.  It represents white, fundamentalist Christian men well, but that's about it.  And they don't represent most of the rest of us, not because we don't like the members of the Republican party, nor because Republican candidates can't relate to us.  The don't represent us, because the Republican platform and the Republican view on the issues of the day are not what we believe. 
We believe that Freedom of Religion is freedom for every American to practice the religion of their choice, or to have no religion at all.  We believe that government needs to stay out of the religion business for every American, not just Christians.  We believe that religious teaching belongs in religious institutions and not in government run schools, and not supported by tax dollars.

We believe that no one should be able to take something, like the right to comprehensive health care, away from anyone under the law due to religion. We believe that a person's body is their temple and they get to decide what happens to their body, and that includes women. We believe that rape is one of the most serious crimes imaginable, that no one deserves to be raped, and no women should have to suffer any additional consequences of being raped after the crime happened.

We believe that scientists aren't evil conspirators and that global warming exists (Just take a look at the glaciers of the world, and you can't missing its reality) and if we're serious about future generations we must do what's necessary to stop our pollution making it worse. We believe that continuing to use up the scarce resources of petroleum energy more and more rapidly makes no sense whatsoever, and that we must develop alternative energy strategies very quickly.

We don't believe that Social Security and Medicare is a handout.

We believe in the individual promise and dignity of every person and believe all people should have the same rights and privileges of citizenship, just because they are people, and because they are Americans. We believe that everyone should be able to love and live as they wish as a couple. We believe in inclusion, not exclusion.

We believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and believe that every American deserves its benefits, and needs to fulfill its responsibilities.

When the Republican Party embraces those ideals, they might relate to the rest of us.
This eloquent comment sums it up pretty well.  Yes, the country split nearly in half - meaning half of the voters still hold to the far right wing, antiquated beliefs.  But a bit larger half voted for more modern, evolving stances.  Looking at the leaders of the Republican party is like looking at our elderly parents/grand parents...  we love them but they have no idea what our day to day lives are like, what dilemmas we face, what our kids are dealing with.  The good old days were - but they're gone now.  This latter group also elected the younger candidate two elections in a row.  There is definitely a message here.

As much as the Republican party needs to realize this, so does the Federal Government, all the way up to the current occupant of the Oval Office.  We're still recovering from an economic free-fall that was 30+ years in the making.  We have failing infrastructure and global warming.  We have a public education system desperately in need of revitalization.  The government at all levels needs to stop protecting me from me!  The government needs to stop passing judgement on changing social values and govern in line with them.  Please stop wasting time pontificating on how wrong we are for holding views different from yours.  This is not governing - this is simply a waste of taxpayer's (my) money.

And while I have your attention, I have seen more obstructionist politics in the Congress in the last four years than I have in all the rest of my lifetime (and I am old).  You are all in your cushy jobs in government to represent (read protect and serve) us.  Being the "party of no" is not satisfying this mission.  Being unbending doesn't work either.  All of you need to retake "Compromise 101" so that we can accomplish some meaningful progress for everyone.

We are the United States of America.  We all need to start acting like we believe it.


Friday, October 26, 2012

HandmadeArtists Blog Ring
Featured Artist

I would like to introduce April, also known as BrooklynBeadGoddess.  April is a native New Yorker, growing up in Brooklyn.  She creates lampwork beads from molten glass, and then jewelry from those beads.  Her work is so colorful and unique!
Lampwork Bead Bracelet
Take this bracelet for example.  It is a celebration of whimsy and a virtual color explosion!
Lampwork Bead and Coral Necklace
How about this lampwork bead necklace?  It includes 15 lampwork beads surrounded by coral and sterling silver.  Talk about an eye-catcher - this is certainly a showstopper!
Lampwork and Swarovski Crystal Earrings
These wonderful earrings include lampwork beads and Swarovski crystals, suspended from sterling silver ear wires.
BrooklynBead Goddess can be found on her own website, her shop on HandmadeArtists, or her shop on EtsyThe holidays are coming.  Any of April's beautiful pieces would be treasured gifts! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Click here for all the details on this Red Ladies Headband!

It's fall and winter is coming.  I can hardly keep RED Ladies Headbands in my shop!  So there's one back in my shop again today.  These headbands are all hand knit.  They are adjustable for a perfect fit, closing in the back on one of two buttons.  Easy care is something I definitely keep in mind when choosing my yarns.  All of my headbands can be machine washed and dried.

I have headbands without flowers, too, for those of you who would prefer.
Click here for all the details on this purple headband and cowl!

Not into headbands, but looking for something to keep your neck warm?  Because they are adjustable, my headbands can double as a cowl!  This pair is in my shop now, too - you can buy just one or buy both if you'd like a set!

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my blog...  I really appreciate it!  You can visit my shop by clicking here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

HandmadeArtists Blog Ring
Featured Artist
I had to share Debbie's profile picture with you before I get into her beautiful leather work.  How can you not want to work with this happy, laid back, dog-loving lady!  I have never met or spoken to this artist, but feel as if we are friends.  Debbie and her husband, John, live just outside Sedona, Arizona, with their dog, Rosie.  She's an avid gardener and loves communing with Mother Nature.  As their shop name implies, she and John work in leather, but not just leather ...  hand beaded leather.  Each and every one of their pieces is entirely handmade when ordered.  But just from the pictures, it's well worth the 3-4 week wait while they create something especially for you.

This is a medicine bag made from soft elk skin, their leather of choice.  The bag itself measures 3 by 4 inches (not including the fringe) and is the perfect size for storing a small treasure.  What a terrific gift this would be!  The beaded bear claw is so distinctive.

I think every baby should have a pair of moccasins - how about you!  These beautiful tiny moccasins are for a new to 6-month-old baby.  They're made from soft, white deerskin and feature rainbow-colored glass seed beads. 
Native Leather Flute Bag
This native leather flute bag is also made from elk skin.  It has long, flowing fringe and a drawstring closure to keep your flute in the bag and safe.
It's so easy to see the rustic influence in all of Debbie and John's work.  The attention to detail is incredible.  Their pieces exude old-fashioned craftsmanship and their personal pride in their handcraft.  This couple is the epitome of, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well." 
ThunderRoseLeather shops are on HandmadeArtists, Etsy, and their own website.  They also have a terrific blog, and a Google+ presence.  If you are in the market for leather anything, this is the first, and last, place you need to look.   

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

HandmadeArtists Blog Ring
Featured Artist
YankeeBurrowCreations consists of the mother/daughter team of Debbi and Amanda.  They are truly a multi-talented duo, offering everything from jewelry to home furnishings. 
Crochet Dish Cloths
The simplest things in their locations are just lovely.  This delightful set of four hand-crocheted dish cloths lists in their shop for just $15.  They are created from 100% USA grown cotton yarn and measure a generous 9 x 9.5 inches.  These are almost too pretty to use!  And with the holidays coming, what a delightful accent for a kitchen or bath!
Straw Floral Wreath
When I first landed on their shop's home page, I was so taken with their latest listing - this straw floral wreath.  Anyone can purchase a wreath base at a craft store, but it takes a special touch and flair to end up with such a well balanced and striking display piece.  Offered at $25, this is an accessory that is both beautiful and affordable.
Red & Purple Swirl Ornament
This glass ornament has the paint inside.  It measures 4 inches to be a striking piece on a tree.  It's also mentioned in the description that this ornament could be set in a bowl to be a holiday centerpiece.  What a terrific idea!  You can own this ornament for just $6!
The YankeeBurrowCreations Blog is a simply delightful read.  You can find out more about these talented ladies, read about other artists, see their latest projects, and read the latest chapters in Debbi's The Power of Love.  They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
This duo is amazing!  Visit any of their sites soon and see for yourself!     

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

HandmadeArtists Blog Ring
Featured Artist
The diversity of artisans who are jewelers is so incredible!  This week, I had the pleasure of exploring TheAlchemistsVessel, a shop featuring the work of a delightful lady named Alix. Alix works in different metals and with semi-precious stones. She incorporates some amazing and intriguing charms into her lovely chainmaille and micro-maille.  Maillers work with rings which are joined together to create wonderful and intricate pieces.  Take a look...

Pearl Maiden Faire Micro Maille Flower Earrings

Shining Armor Silver Plate Chainmaille Necklace

12 Hour Blues Chainmaille Watch

All of the items above are 'clickable' so that you can see additional views and perhaps treat yourself to one of Alix's beautiful works.  You will have a wonderful time visiting TheAlchemistsVessel

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Your Package Should Say “I Care

sold sign

The thrill of receiving that email which reads, “You made a sale!” is almost indescribable.  And then there’s the rush to get the package in the mail.  But it’s the little things that turn a one time buyer into a repeat customer.

Everyone can run to a big box store and pick up something similar to your item that was perhaps made overseas, wrapped in plastic and placed on big box store shelves.  But your handmade item is different, right?  The buyer’s first impression of your item needs to drive that message home…. “not mass-produced,” and more importantly, “I care.”

packageSo what does your packaging look like?  How much thought goes into it?  Let’s start with what arrives in the mail.

Your package arrives in the mail, and for the sake of this article, let’s say that is was handled carefully by the shipping service.  What does the customer see?  A nice clean box or envelope with a neatly written or typed label or a reused container with something scrawled on the outside?  Your name should be prominently displayed on the package.  This will excite your customer (“Oh boy – my purchase is here!”)  But think about this,,,  how many people saw that package during the shipping process?  A couple?  Ten?  Hundreds?  Don’t miss this advertising opportunity!

Pretty packaging from the talented Danni of Oh, Hello Friend
CAUTION!!  Don’t tape that package closed to the point that you need a full surgical team to get into it!

Once the box or envelope is opened, what does the buyer see?  A loose item or something more?  When wrapping your item, you could use an organza bag, tissue paper or the Sunday comics.  Whatever it is doesn’t really matter as long as it adds to the ambiance of the item. It should add that “I care” element to the buyer’s experience.  Think of what the mass-merchandisers would do, and then do just the opposite!

Be sure to include a thank you note.  Again, you want to be different than a big box store.  And certainly, take care of business – your business card needs to be included.  There’s nothing wrong with including a small gift or a gift certificate or a discount code good on a future purchase as well.

Your item needs to be safe in transit and recycling/reusing packing materials like bubble wrap and Styrofoam peanuts is a good thing.  But don’t use it if it’s soiled, loaded with old tape or writing.

From start to finish, your item and the way it’s packaged and shipped needs to exude, “I care.”


Monday, September 17, 2012

HandmadeArtists Blog Ring Featured Artist of the Week:

I'm not a major consumer of jewelry - my wedding rings are it on most days.  But that doesn't mean that I don't admire and appreciate skill, ingenuity and patience.  Pam of A Bead Thing possesses all of these qualities and more!

Pam deals in beads.  This alone makes me shake my head.  But the fact that Pam works in beads of all sizes - from large cabochons to seed beads - has me completely "wowed."  Take a look at the variety this talented artist has in stock in her shop.
Teal Seed Beads woven with brass wire necklace
Wire wrapped Jasper pendant

Emerald Swarovski Crystals & seed bead bracelet

Swarovski Crystal Earrings that look like flip flops!

Tell me you aren't impressed!  All of the items above can be seen in more detail by clicking the captions.  Each and every one of Pam's creations are original designs and one of a kind.  Many are made to order!

Visit A Bead Thing to see more of these wonderful creations!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Don't you love it when someone takes the time to send you a picture of themselves using something you made?

I filled a custom order for Cowboy booties in bright yellow and black.  Looks to me like this order was for Steelers booties, not Cowboys!  LOL!!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

HandmadeArtists Blog Ring
John and Debora Rasmussen

If you like jewelry, this is a fabulous shop to visit.  First of all, it is fully stocked with 441 items for your browsing enjoyment.  And the price range in this shop reflects the tremendous inventory, ranging from $4.85 - $1,000!  Debora designs all the beaded and craft items; John is a gemologist and artisan jeweler and metalsmith.  So what can you find in this too-drool-over shop?  Let's start at the low end and work our way up!

Here's a hand-beaded key chain.  Who says the attachment on your keys has to be boring?  This delightful little piece sells for just $5.
These baroque pearl earrings are so interesting because of the random shapes of the stones.  They can be yours for just $15!

Perhaps you're looking for a stone you can have set.  John will be happy to do that for you, or ship you the stone so you can do it yourself or have it done locally.  This lovely 9.2 carat lemon quartz is priced at $46.

This ring is truly a stunner.  With the trend toward non-diamond engagement jewelry, wouldn't this be wonderful!  The center stone is a peridot, surrounded by topaz.  Priced at $74.98, it's affordable as well!

This pendant features a beautifully clear quartz cabochon set in silver.  Accenting the focal stone is a round brilliant faceted citrine gem which is prong set.  This striking pendant sells for $100.

I noticed in exploring this shop that many of the stones are mined by this creative couple.  So not only are you getting a handmade piece, but a piece that was created literally from the ground up!

John is an active member of the handmade community, and has written several posts, the most recent being on photography, for the HandmadeArtists Blog.

Whether you're looking for a trinket, a loose cabochon, or a beautifully set piece of fine jewelry, you will be happy that you visited RassmussenGems! And the $1,000 piece?  You'll have to visit and see it for yourself!!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Word or Two (Hundred) About HandmadeArtists

I've joined the Blog Ring on HandmadeArtists, and the feature for the first week is the site itself. I've posted about HandmadeArtists before, and I'm delighted to do it again!
This is such a wonderful, diverse and multi-faceted site!  There's a shop, a forum and a blog.  The HandmadeArtists shop is limited to only artists - there are no resellers, no supplies (unless the supplies are handmade) and no vintage.  The eclectic group of artists who call the shop home are simply wonderful.  Currently, there are just under 500 artists' shops located there, and you could easily spend a day or two just browsing their delightful creations.  From a shopper's point of view, it's clean, crisp and easy to navigate.  From the artist's point of view, it's simple to load items, easy to customize with sections, and it's not expensive to use.  For a flat $5 per month, you get your own shop site and a boatload of promotion from the owners, Andrew and Kimberly.

If you don't need a shop or aren't a shopper right now, the HandmadeArtists Blog is a great read.  Articles are contributed by members on virtually any topic; there are great tutorials, wonderful food for thought, selling and photo tips, and artist spotlights and features.  This is another site where you could easily spend a day!
Not a blog reader?  Maybe you're into interactive discussion!  The HandmadeArtists Forum is a place to ask a question, express an opinion or simply find out what everyone else is up to.  Artists and art enthusiasts from all over the planet congregate on the HandmadeArtists Forum. There are sections for virtually any topic you can think of, and trust me, if you post something, you will get topical and valuable responses.  The forum is a very positive place to hang out!

If you haven't visited HandmadeArtists yet, you are truly missing out on some wonderful things, no matter what your tastes or needs are!  Drop by today and see what I mean for yourself!!!