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Friday, April 30, 2010

Inspiration- The Book of Lost Things

  I am a voracious reader of fairy tales, young adult fiction, fantasy and anything related to teaching. I have always felt my love for children's literature stems from my childhood struggle learning to read. I was born with tiny ear canals and fused bones in my inner, which causes lots of ear infections and required five ear surgeries to "fix". As a result, I hated to read anything as it was often laborious. Eventually, I discovered the great escape of literature, but by then I only had time to read what was required of me during school. It wasn't until college that I really got to read what I wanted to read. I had a lot of catching up to do.

 Traveling back to childhood is certainly a theme in my life (as you could probably tell by my profession). Much of the art and literature that inspires me harks back to my childhood, ideal or otherwise. Recently, I discovered The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. It follows the classic fairy tale plot line of boy-to-man, but it takes a twisted turn into a fantastically nightmarish world. You'll meet all the classic "helpers" and "villians", but it will be unlike anything you have ever imagined.

  I love twisted fairy tales like those by Ursula Le Guin and Margaret Atwood, because I often feel like I had a classic childhood turned on its head. I'm also a bit mischievous. This is also why art like that of The Little FoxHidden Eloise, Inside the Black Apple and Mark Ryden really appeal to me. There's something just a bit off about those smiling girls of "unspecified age".

Do you know of any other modern versions of classic fairy tales? How about fairy tales with a twist (original Brother's Grimm don't count)?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Inspiration- What Dreams May Come

  While I believe my whole life serves as inspiration for the arts and crafts I create, there are certain images, books, movies, etc. that resurface time and again. It's not just the beautiful imagery or liberal philosophy, but in some way these things resemble my childhood, my life, my arcadia.

  I wasn't sure where to start, so I thought I might begin with obscure. A movie I watch over and over for the beautiful cinematography is What Dreams May Come. It is also a very classic love story that hit me at the age when such things first start to really matter. In essence it is a classical story line with modern imagery, but it was the oil painting inspired heaven that truly captured me.

  There are some really great scenes when the main character first enters his self-made heaven (before he has fully accepted this new reality). His interaction with the oil paint landscape is full of great texture, brillant colors, and an interesting philosophy for us dreamers and artists.

  If my imagination were to create my heaven (assuming such a thing exists) it would likely be a mixture of Rivendell, Narnia, Ireland, the Redwoods, and the forests and fields from my childhood. I would like to believe I would try to invent tiny faeries, elegant elves, wise ents, singing mermaids, and maybe the white stag or talking wolf. I'd like to think that all my favorite animals would be there, which change continually as I discover more obscure and endangered creatures. I have a particular affinity for hedgehogs and canines of all sorts (wolves, red foxes, dogs). You can imagine the birds, animals, insects and trees I grew up with in the Midwest, but somehow I think Red Pandas might sneak in there too. It would be a place to build tree forts, fly like Peter Pan, talk to the animals and live free to imagine as a child does.

  What would you imagine? What would your ideal "heaven" be like? What would your mind create?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Setting Up Shop!

  By now I have read some much information on Etsy and online craft selling that I not only feel a bit over-whelmed, but indebted to a few key resources.

  Firstly, if you are considering opening your own shop on Etsy (or any other online venue), you must check out The Storque Blog for detailed information on selling, setting up shop, and marketing yourself. It is well worth the time and energy to read all that you can here.

  Secondly, as recommended by someone on Etsy, you must get your pretty little hands on a copy of The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and Online by Kari Chapin. You can find it all your local bookstore or at Amazon. Chapin is really good at covering the nitty-gritty without blowing your mind. She's included a lot of input from big players in the handmade marketplace and it is illustrated by one of my favorite artists (and apparently the top seller on, Emily Martin of The Black Apple.

  Thirdly, if you're not already, become a buyer of handmade crafts online. Obviously I recommend but there are many other online marketplaces to try out. Not only are handmade items and communities more unique, but Etsy does a good job of maintaining secure and positive transactions. It will also give you the chance to experience what you do and don't like about online sales.

   For instance, I have discovered that pictures really do tell a thousands words and that I don't even bother with shops containing fuzzy, cluttered or hard to see pictures. I want to be able to almost feel the product before I buy it and quality pictures from many angles really help. Also, detailed product descriptions are not something to skimp on. I shouldn't have to email a seller to get more specific information about a product as that wastes my limited time. The description doesn't have to be a drag either. Quirky back-stories draw me in and help me to further connect with the seller. Can you tell I am a sucker for words?

  Unfortunately, I am also a sucker for eye candy. Sometimes I actually Google search Images with the key word "beautiful" or "enchanting" just so I can feast my eyes on a variety of visual inspiration. That means that those shops with beautiful banners or Flicker links with additional pics of their products always attract me faster than the typical shop. A brand-image helps too. If all your products, pictures, etc. fit a theme or are aesthetically pleasing at first glance you instantly strike me as professional and talented. I understand the whole "don't judge a book by its cover" but our modern world is full of fast paced imagery and you have only seconds to attract a customer, so make the most of your visual opportunities to captivate your audience.


Welcome One and All!

  Today marks the beginning of my first formal contribution to the world-wide crafting community! For too long I have been a watcher, participating only in my rare free-time, and silently wishing I were brave enough to do what I love. Crafting, like reading or playing an instrument, puts me in that peaceful place where I am free to be me and free from the mundane stresses of life. About six months ago, I decided to aggressively pursue my passions.

 It turns out that my background in environmental restoration, B.A. in English lit., artistic family history, nature-loving childhood, vast library of children's literature, passion for learning, and teaching experience, as well as experience in Mom & Pop toy sales, have all converged to inspire me to create beautiful, durable children's toys that inspire the imagination.

 The following posts will be a documentation of the creative journey I am on to becoming a young businesswoman and connected crafter. Along with a passion for children, I also garden at home and at my school, read extensively, and generally seek out beautiful things in my life. I hope to be able to share all of these with you, as well as my triumphs and tribulations creating my first Etsy shop.

 I can't wait to connect with you and learn from you, so please don't hesitate to contact me with comments, responses, suggestions, constructive criticisms, requests and whatnot. It's all about community!

 Happy crafting!