Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Treasury


My Let It Snow Birdhouse was featured in a treasury by Rosieok. You can visit it here:

Treasury Link

Also make sure to stop by Rosie's shop and visit her cute crocheted animals here:

Rosieok's Shop

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Boxes

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! Mine was pretty good despite being sick still. I think I am finally on the mend today. Since Christmas is done, I have turned my attention towards New Years. Every year people make resolutions where they declare they will give up this or that. The majority of them fall flat. I know in past years I have certainly done the same thing with the same results.

At Christmas the custom is to exchange gifts. It's always a delight to open up a pretty box and find some unexpected treasure inside. This year I got one of those boxes. Along with the camera, my husband surprised me with a very tiny box in the bottom of my stocking. When I opened it there was an incredibly beautiful pair of diamond earrings. The poor man thought I didn't like them because I didn't say anything at first. The truth is I was too stunned to speak, I simply couldn't process what I was looking at. (Yes I know that's hard to imagine me being speechless, but really...no words came.) He rarely buys me jewelry.

When we are children we imagine pirate treasure coming in boxes and we often keep boxes filled with our own little treasures. As adults we like to compartmentalize so we still have our boxes of sorts. I guess knowing all this, it shouldn't come as a big surprise that I imagine an amoire in my soul filled with shelves of boxes as well.

On the bottom shelf tucked into a dark corner is a small cardboard box. It's water stained and smells of mildew. Inside this box are all my misdeeds. Luckily it's not a huge box, and I rarely take it out and look at it's contents. There is nothing I can do to change the past, so I leave it sit and try to learn from my mistakes. I also try very hard to never add anything to this box.

On a higher shelf is a wooden Japanese puzzle box. It contains all the trials and tribulations I have had to go through in my life. Opening the box is difficult, but you can do it if you find the right combination, and you have to be in the right frame of mind.

Still higher sit two boxes side by side. One is inlaid with gleaming white mother of pearl. This box contains all my good deeds and selfless acts. It's a pretty box, but I rarely open it for anything more than to add things to it. I don't like to dwell too hard on it's contents either.

Sitting beside it is a fancy old cigar box. The corners are worn because I open this box a lot! When you open the box it has a bright cheery picture inside the lid and the scent of far away places wafts out. It contains all my cherished memories of people, places and events I have had in my life.

On the highest shelf sits a tiny gold filigree box studded with aurora borealis crystals. It's so delicate it couldn't have been made by human hands. I am almost afraid of crushing it. When you open this box a soft minuet starts to play in tinkling notes. Inside this box written in script on very fine vellum strips are all the secret dreams and desires I have ever had that never came to fruition.

This year for my New Years resolution I carefully opened the box and pulled out a dream that was near the bottom of the pile. It's something I have thought about over the years, and always felt the time had passed for. I realized I am 45 years old, half of my life has passed...but you are never too old to make a dream come true. Whether it's yours or someone else's. That kind of wisdom can only come with age. This year, I am going to make that dream of mine come true. In fact I ordered two small things to get me started. It will probably seem silly to many of you, but that's ok. I never worry over much about what others think. I never have. When the two things arrive...I will tell you more. But until then what I pulled out of that box will remain my secret. *winks*

Maybe this year instead of giving up something, you should pull something from one of your own boxes and add that to your life! Whatever you decide to do for the coming year, I hope it brings you joy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Tail



Even though I am feeling a little bit better tonight, Santa called to ask if I would guide his sleigh because my nose was so red it trumped Rudolphs! I declined however.

I really love Christmas. I don't get the excitement I used to, every year there are fewer presents and surprises under our tree but I think that's what happens when you start getting older and you don't have kids.

Besides, Christmas is about so much more than presents. It's a time of miracles and joy. Sometimes it even brings joy to those we wouldn't imagine it would. What I am about to tell you is 100% true. I am not embellishing or imagining and I have witnesses. You might not believe it, but that's ok because it won't change the fact of what is.

Over the years I have had a lot of pets. Some weren't the greatest, most were good and a couple were very special and even remarkable. Out of all the pets I have ever had, I have never had one that understood Christmas...except for Basil.

Basil showed up on my porch about two weeks after I moved into this house. I opened the door to go check the mail, and there he sat. A tiny grey tiger striped kitten. He wasn't afraid or crying, he was just sitting there calmly on the porch as if he was waiting. I asked him where he had come from, and proceeded to get the mail. When I went back into the house, he walked on in as if he belonged here.

I already had two cats and didn't really want another one so I tried and tried to find him a home. No one would take him, so he ended up staying. In retrospect I am glad he did.

When we had lived here about six months I had the pastor over to bless the house. He went with us room to room, sat in the circle reverently and then moved to the next almost as if he understood what we were doing. When we were done he promptly went back to sleep. The pastor said he had never seen anything like that, and he was rather amused.

Whenever I am sick, or the couple times I have had surgery Basil is always there, watching over me and trying to make me feel better. After my surgery two years ago he would come once an hour to sit on my chest and look me over very carefully. He would put his head down to my chest and listen, it took me a while to realize he was checking my vital signs. He would lay next to me and purr and talk trying to make me feel better. He never left my side for nearly six weeks until I was much better.

But later we discovered Basil loves Christmas. I cannot fathom what goes through his little feline brain, but I know he loves everything about it. He sits and looks at the tree in awe. He never touches it, he never tries to play with anything, he just stares at it. He runs back and forth with me when I decorate it. When it comes time to take it down he gets visibly depressed for about a week after and sleeps in the spot where it used to be moping. The other 51 weeks out of the year he is very happy.

He always sits with me to wrap presents and purrs and smiles. He is the only cat I have ever had that smiled. I always thought the Cheshire cat was merely a storyline vehicle til Basil arrived.

I have a tiny music box that has skaters going around a Christmas tree and Basil likes to watch it, he purrs and purrs while I have the lid open. I have other music boxes, but those don't interest him.

Every year I track Santa on the Norad site and Basil sits on my knee and watches with rapt attention. He will sit and stare at the TV if a Christmas movie is on, but he never pays any attention to the TV any other time.

How he knows the difference I don't know. Every once in a while I have to wonder if he was a guardian angel sent to watch over us. I know that's probably a silly notion...all I know for sure is that he feels great joy at Christmas, and for him it's not about presents or parties or food. It's simply the time of year. Maybe we could all take a lesson from my funny little cat who has more joy in his tail than most of us have in our whole bodies and takes such pleasure in the season.

So on behalf of all us, especially Basil...I wish you all a very Merry Christmas filled with delights, miracles and joy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day 2 Of The Quilt Saga ~ The Aliens Attack


So here I am in the chair again. Moving to the chair from the sofa is a huge undertaking. I have to move all my junk from the coffee table to the side table. It's amazing how much stuff you need when you are sick. Kleenex, chap stick, lotion, an ocean's worth of liquid to drink, magazines, laptop and the TV remote. I should pack a suitcase because I have to move it back and forth each day. I normally sit on the sofa and not the chair, but after R goes to bed he wants me to sit in the chair because he believes it's more comfortable. In some ways it is.

I had just gotten everything arranged, pulled the quilt over me, tucked my feet under and my Westie and two of my cats had made themselves comfortable on me when I realized I forgot the remote. I sat staring at it clear over on the coffee table mournfully for a full minute trying to decide what to do. I considered trying to will it to me, but finally decided my best course of action was to just watch whatever came on.

It was on the Sci-fi channel. They were having a special on UFO's. Now I have a fascination with weird stuff anyway, so I decided to watch it. It was truly enlightening. They gave statistics that 1 out of every 5 Americans believes in alien abductions. 1 out of every 7 knows someone who has seen a UFO. And most amazingly that pilots and cops are reliable witnesses. Once I heard a statistic that if every alien abduction story was true, someone would be abducted in this country every five minutes during night time hours.

Ok so lets look at that for just a minute. Now I have been staying up at night for decades. Decades. I sit near a window that I don't pull the shade on. I have also traveled extensively at night. If there were UFO's out there abducting people you would think I might have seen it at least once, but I haven't.

Secondly why are pilots and cops any more reliable than anyone else? They can mistake what they see. Plus I have known a couple of each that were a tad unstable.

Another interesting fact is that Kenneth Arnold who supposedly made the first UFO report said they were chevron shaped and looked like saucers skipping across the water. He didn't say they looked like saucers and yet a zillion UFO pics since have been saucer shaped. Which incidentally is one of the least aerodynamic shapes out there. I find it very curious that people think this is what they see and that some of them think they are being abducted.

While I find it very hard to believe, I guess skeptics are people who haven't had an experience yet. I wasn't there, and I can't say for certain it didn't happen. I just find it highly unlikely.

After the UFO show I sat through what had to be the worst remake E V E R of War Of The Worlds. I finally decided it was time to get up and get the remote. Maybe I should just go to bed.

This flu has to end soon...I can't take another night of inactivity and bad TV!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Under The Quilt

Since I decided to take it easy a few days ago, I have gone to Denver, done a bunch of house work and went out twice today to brave the crowds. My husband didn't seem to think this was "taking it easy" so he made me call the doctor. I guess he was right, I was getting worse instead of better. I have also been remanded to the chair with a quilt. Sigh~

The good news is I now have antibiotics and am (trying) to behave myself tonight and do nothing. It's not easy to do nothing...especially when you have so much to do! I am laying in the chair under a quilt with a cat, a dog, a pile of magazines, the remote and my laptop. I suppose now...I am taking it easy!

I hope I kick this thing by Christmas. Especially because my husband makes a prime rib every year and I look forward to it because it's so amazingly good! I remember two years ago I ate it then went to the emergency room. It resulted in emergency surgery, but at least I enjoyed the prime rib first!

I still have presents to wrap and things to clean...and I want to make a new bear pattern...and...and...and...oh well, at least for now I am sitting still...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Unplugging

A couple weeks ago my husband brought me home a present...but it wasn't one I wanted. He gave me the flu. I have been making a valliant attempt to fight it off. I have a good day, then a bad day, good...bad...wash, rinse, repeat. Ugh!

I had so much I HAD to get done that I kept pushing myself until it was done. I didn't take any days to stay in bed and fight it off. So now that I am done with all that had to be done, I think I mentally caved in to it.

Yesterday I decided to escape and go shopping. It was fun but I think I over did it and I came home worn out. Today I tried to do things, but I didn't succeed. I am going to take a day or two and try to kick this thing.

I have been trying to decide what I want my website to look like in 2009 and I can't quite get what I want. So between that and needing to rest to get over this, I am going to unplug myself from the computer, chores and everything else until I am more healthy.

I know I owe some of you e-mails, thank yous and I promised to do a write up on my other blog for another artist. But it's just going to have to wait!

I will return when I am a little better. Joy to you all! See you on the healthy side!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

~*~ Louis ~*~


I am going to be in an ad for Lollishops in Somerset Life and a special publication called "Marie" also from Somerset coming out this spring, so I had to make something for the ad. I tried to get a Marie, but he insisted on being a Louis!

A Blue Treasury


My Let It Snow Birdhouse was featured in a treasury by PinkSugarPrincess! I love this one, it's gorgeous! You can visit it here:


Click Here

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Squeaky Wheel

Another thread popped up on Etsy yesterday discussing repeat artists and types of items on the front page. I keep saying that collectible toys aimed at adults get no love, both on here and in the forums, and I said it again in that thread. Well ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to tell you they listened! There is a mohair bear on the front page of Etsy this morning! Granted it has a lower price point, but still...it's progress! I believe in giving credit where credit is due! Yes Virginia, the squeaky wheel does occasionally get greased!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's My Anniversary!

Today is my 28th anniversary of making that first bear. I remember sitting at a card table on my porch in Phoenix doing it. It turned out so badly I never wanted to make another one! Little did I know so many years later I would love it and still be hard at it!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Weirdness Of Screaming


I never sleep with my husband, but yet I never sleep alone. Now before you cover your eyes in shock, I am not talking about my romantic life. That is not for public consumption. No...I am talking about actual sleep.

I think not sleeping with him is one of the things that keeps our marriage working. The man can make more noises than are found in nature. I don't know how he does it. He is very tall, and despite having a king size bed he also thinks he should have it all. If I sleep with him at the same time he has been known to hit, kick and thrash about doing bodily harm. I know he doesn't mean to, but between that and the noises, for my own well being I go to bed when he gets up to go to work. It works out well because he is a day person and I am a night person.

When I go to bed, the dogs go to their respective places to sleep because they aren't allowed to get on the furniture. The cats are however, so they all pile into bed with me. Basil sleeps on the other pillow, Rizzo at the foot of the bed, and Gypsy who has a serious attachment to me, has to sleep really close to me. She is a comical, laid back type of cat, but she really loves me and wants to be near me most of the time.

The other morning she decided to try something new and crawl under the covers. She draped herself across my waist and as I was about to doze off she decided it would be a really good idea to put her frigid nose in my armpit. I let out a scream because I was startled.

I am not much of a screamer, but that nose was COLD! It woke me right up. As I was laying there (without the cat, because she got tossed to the floor) I was thinking about how odd it is that we scream when we are startled or frightened. Every other reactive noise we make makes sense. But why do we scream? If we are in a situation where we are being threatened and feel fear, wouldn't it make more sense to be very quiet so that whatever is threatening us doesn't find us?

Animals have a flight or fight reflex when they are threatened or scared. So why do humans scream? I fell asleep finally before I figured it out. My funny, weird girl crawled back on the bed and stayed out from under the covers. Good choice on her part...hey maybe screaming does work?

The Big Bang

I really love science and ancient history. In fact I have recently been reading about m-state super conductors. It's absolutely fascinating. They can rebuild DNA strands. There is some thought that m-state gold may have been baked into bread and this was the manna talked about in the Bible. If that is the case it explains why people lived to be several hundred years old.

The one thing I have never been on board with is the big bang theory. I always find myself back at the same question every time someone slightly alters the theory. What was the catalyst? Things don't just spontaneously explode into a universe. There has to be a catalyst. I much more prefer the static membranes in string theory. Of course there is really no way to prove either.

Regardless how the universe began, creation is messy. Any kind of creation. Just watch a birth. Messy! When you work at home and you create it's no less messy. Right now my house has reached a new level of disaster.

I come from a long line of very neat women on both sides of my family. My Mother and both of my Grandmothers always got up and cleaned the house. I used to be very neat too, I worked for Merry Maids when I was much younger. Somewhere along the line when I started making bears full time, the house won. I am not sure how it happened. At least I know what the catalyst was. A messy husband, 3 dogs, 3 cats and mohair everywhere.

When we lived in an apartment it was easier to keep tidy. As weird as this might seem, I had more room for things than I do in this house that is twice the size. I am not sure how that happened exactly, but I just know I can't seem to get it together. I do clean, don't think I don't. But the minute I clean something it seems as if mess takes over again almost instantly. The only reasonable explanation I have is the big bang theory!

My New Years resolution this year is to get it under control and get more organized!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bleu Cheese And Green Beans


I went out to lunch yesterday with a friend I hadn't seen in years. We had a lovely time despite a completely flaky waitress. She was so bad it got to the point of comical. When I ordered, I ordered something that was supposed to have bleu cheese and parmesan on it. Along with the many other mistakes she made, after two tries I managed to get what I ordered, sans bleu cheese. I gave up at that point and just ate it. My friend commented that she didn't like bleu cheese. Until recently, neither did I. In fact I wouldn't even go near the stuff. When I was a little kid I loved green beans. In my adulthood I cannot stand to even look at them. I like most veggies, with the exception of those and brussel sprouts. *Shudders* Those I never liked.

All this made me think about how our some of our tastes change as we progress through life. Lately I have been wanting to design a new bigger bear pattern. I worked for years to make that traditional bear that I felt was just the right look and shape to suit me. It's what I liked. But I have been thinking I want to do something a bit more on the cute side for a while now. I haven't sat down to do it yet. Aside from being insanely busy, I was afraid maybe some outside source was unconsciously influencing my decision.

After lunch yesterday, I don't think so. My tastes have probably just changed. As artists if we don't grow and change things up a bit once in a while we become bored and stagnate. I will continue to love those traditional bears with their long snouts, limbs and small eyes...and I am sure I will make more of them. But I don't think there is anything wrong with adding a new type of bear into the mix.

I have enough insanity in getting things done to last me through the weekend. But next week I am going to take some time to sit down quietly and work on the new bear. Stay tuned for the results!

(The pic above was taken long ago with a webcam, so the quality is pretty poor, but I just loved those four bears! They are Picasso, Paris, Tweed and Edgewater!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It Must Be Said!

Everyone has a pet peeve. Now I have said this before, but I must say it again. Mine is people who don't return their carts in parking lots!!! If you can spend an hour in a store why can't you take 20 seconds to return your cart? 20 seconds of your time could save someone hundreds of dollars in car repairs. 20 seconds of someone else's time could save YOU hundreds of dollars in car repairs! Nuff said!

~*~ Let It Snow Wooden Birdhouse ~*~



I have been working on this cute little birdhouse for a few weeks now. It's the first birdhouse I have ever done!

You may visit it on my website at:

Blondheart.com

or:

Lollishops

or:

Etsy

Monday, December 8, 2008

Another Treasury For Me This Week!


I feel so honored to have been included in another treasury. What a great eye Longfellow has for putting things together! You can visit it here:

Treasury Link

While you're looking don't forget to go visit her wonderful jewelry!

Longfellow's Shop

Now if you will excuse me...I am going to go have a look at some of those other items!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Self Promotion And Social Networking

I have a no soliciting sign on my door. Lots and lots of sales people tend to ignore it and ring the bell anyway. It never occurs to them that maybe there is a larger reason behind that sign than just not wanting to buy something. I am a day sleeper. So nothing annoys me more than having a pushy sales person at my door who not only ignored my sign but also woke me up. Do you think that results in them getting a sale? No. Never.

I view my computer screen the same as my door. If I wouldn't let a person into my house through my front door for any variety of reasons why would I let them into my house through my screen?

As I have mentioned before I have my things for sale on my website, Dawanda, Etsy and Lollishops. People talk a great deal about promoting their shops on these sites. They want to know how other people do it. I read these a lot. I have even tried a few of them with little or no results. I also see them saying they promote their shops to their friends and families. Really? No REALLY? I have mentioned these sites as a whole to my friends and family and told them what to expect from other sellers by looking at them, but I don't promote my own shop to them. They already know what I do for a living. I don't know about you, but if my Mother wants something I made I give it to her. She is my Mother for crying out loud! The same with my friends, if they insist on paying anyway...I certainly don't send them to an online shop so they can go through the entire check out process, pay for shipping and I can give Paypal a cut. If they did that to me I would find that really strange and think long and hard about their friendship.

Many people don't think the site is responsible for promoting us, I don't see why not...I am giving them a cut of my sales or a listing fee. They have just as much obligation to promote me as I do them. They are making money every time I promote in the simple fact that a new customer will most likely be a return customer because they aren't going to just stop at looking at my shop in most cases. They are going to look at lots of shops and items for sale and probably in the end they are going to buy something else on top of that initial purchase.

So what about the rest of the world at large? What is the right way to promote to them? We have Twitter and our blogs and all sorts of places to network. But imagine if you will for a moment...an insurance salesman in your neighborhood. If he rang your doorbell every day or even several times a day to try to sell you some insurance would you appreciate that? Would you just finally cave in and buy something? And if you actually did, what if he kept coming back day after day to try to sell you more?

Where did we get the idea that non stop hammering was the way to make a sale? I suppose in some instances it works. But I don't think I would sleep very well knowing that is how I run my business. Coincidentally since I have stopped almost all self promotion the past few days I made a sale last night...go figure!

I suppose my perspective might be a little different since I did shows and sold to shops and advertised for 25 years before moving my business to the net. I was used to the regular sort of selling where I make the effort to show up and the customer makes the effort to come and see me. It was mutual agreement.

I saw a video the other day of a man talking about social networking. He said he expects to make 0 dollars from Twitter. He views Twitter as a party where he meets people. Once he gets to know them he invites them to his blog which he equates to his house. In his house he has personal things and also things that reflect what he does for a living. By getting to know people and make friends they find out what he does and they are more likely to mention it to someone else even if they are never going to make a purchase. I thought this was brilliant. It's the way I like to do it. I post pics of what I have just completed because I like to look at pics of other people's stuff and I think many of them do too. I also think it's a good way to keep a back up record of what I have made and when. I post a link to where they can find it and I have links on the sidebar to where I sell my works. If you want to go look you can. If you don't...no pressure. I clearly want to support these selling venues because if I didn't I wouldn't have shops in them. But ultimately I am in business for myself because I want to make sales for myself. I do occasionally post a link on Twitter, but I would rather just chat with people a bit on there than post link after link after link. That gets old real fast.

I find in the long run I have made more friends and more sales in the end by doing it that way. Maybe that's why they call it SOCIAL networking and not SALES networking?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I Never Made It To Venus


Blogging has been something of a journey of self discovery for me. I don't know how many people feel that way because everyone uses their blogs for different purposes. Through the act of making observations about things I see, I think about what I want to write and make observations about myself as well.

When I was a child we moved a lot, 167 times by the time I was 16 to be exact. I was always the new girl in school and an only child, as a result I was painfully shy. When you combine that with an unusually high IQ I inherited from my Father, I don't think I had the socialization that most kids get that develop lasting friendships. I did gain other skills that many people don't though. I have no fear of change, I can go places by myself, whether it's to lunch or across country, and I am very self reliant. I think it's also what predetermined my wanting to be a teddy bear artist. I loved my few stuffed animals, they represented something steadfast to hang on to. Maybe I just want to provide that feeling for others.

When I got a bit older we stopped moving and I made friendships in my teens and early 20's with other women. Some have lasted a lifetime and others haven't. But that is true of anyone.

Yesterday I was running errands and stopped for lunch. There were three women, clearly friends at the table next to me. I didn't want to intentionally eavesdrop...but they were easy to hear while I was munching my turkey sandwich. They were what is referred to as girl's girls. Most women fall into that category. They are typical women that feel at ease with other women, the way a man's man is at ease male bonding.

It was like a scene from a movie, they were eating, talking and laughing and being very sweet and supportive to one another. I felt a momentary pang of envy that they didn't have to eat alone. One of the women got a call on her phone and had to leave. The door hadn't even closed upon her exiting, and the other two started gossiping and tearing her to shreds with the voracity of piranha. For me the envy was over.

As I left I thought about my own friends. I realized I am not one of those types of girls, and neither are most of them. While I love and adore my female friends...most of the friends I have had in my life have been male. I have always wondered why this is. Yesterday I think I stumbled upon the answer. I tend to be very straight forward in my dealings with people. I say what I have to say to a persons face and stand behind it. Now I can't say I have never gossiped, but I don't drip honey to my friends faces and then attack like an angry swarm of killer bees when they are gone. If I am nice I mean it, and if I am less than kind, I mean that too. That's not to say I would ever hurt someone maliciously and intentionally. I have never engaged in games or manipulations to get what I want. That's probably why so many men have told me I am not like other women they know.

That's how men deal with things, so that's why they relate to me on a friend level. While I am a girlie girl, I am just not a girl's girl! If women are from Venus, and men are from Mars...I wonder where I came from?

Upon realizing this, I hit on another truth I have been trying to figure out for years. I have noticed that I get misunderstood a lot...A LOT on the internet due to my frankness. As mentioned in posts earlier this week, people think I (or anyone for that matter) am angry or hateful when I type certain things as opposed to the truth, which is that I am just making a calm observation. I don't do well in large groups of women online either. But yet people usually respond favorably to me in real life because they see and hear me, so they understand how I am saying things, and it makes a huge difference. People read more into it online.

I was observing another exchange this morning on the internet between women in a large group that I belong to. One of them made one of the remarks that comes off as nice at first glance but is really a catty remark meant to make another woman take notice that she has subtly been insulted. The woman the remark was aimed at may or may not have been me. I couldn't really be sure.I also don't care to be honest, I don't have time to peruse the handbook to find out.

There are days when I wish I could be like other women, but most days I am glad that I am not and neither are my women friends. It's far too complicated to learn the customs and the lingo and from what I hear...Venus is just too darn hot!

New Treasury


I was featured in a treasury today by Katbag. It's full of all kinds of lovely higher end pieces from Etsy. Be sure to check it out here:

Treasury

Also stop by Katbag's shop and see her lovely creations. You can visit her here:

Katbag

Sexy?



I really enjoy watching the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show they have every year. Not only do I like pretty lingerie but I also like the show for the creative inspiration aspect. Now I know what you're thinking...how can a teddy bear artist gather inspiration from lingerie? Well you can, anytime you have a mix of textures, colors, fabrics and amazing accessories like the woodland angel wings this year you can definitely draw inspiration from that.

I will admit I wasn't as impressed this year as I have been in the past with the wings and the outfits. But the thing I notice most every year is that the models get thinner. I know that thin is in, thin is supposed to be sexy...but I just wasn't seeing it. Some of these girls this year were so thin, they detracted from the lingerie. You have to have hips and curves and a little meat on your bones to fill out what you're wearing even if it's just lingerie! I have to wonder if this trend towards thinner and thinner and thinner continues if we will just be seeing the clothes go down the runway on skeletons purchased from a morgue in a few years?

I know everyone's definition of sexy is subjective...so take a look at picture of the models and you decide if you think the girls above has the healthy vivaciousness that they should! Is that really sexy?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Is It Really So Bad?



I figure this week is a wash as far as lighthearted posts go, so I am going to give in to the urge to make one more serious topic. I have been following a new blog from someone I met on Twitter. The blog is called Maria Write Now. Even though Maria and I have only exchanged a few words through Twitter, I have decided I really like her. She made a new post today about a desire to be a writer. I think she has what it takes, and I will be buying her first novel! But reading her post brought forth a secret desire I have always had. I think she has a far better chance than I do, because she is more articulate, eloquent and adheres to the rules of English better than I do. Lets face it, I make the longest run on sentences ever. Not to mention my thoughts are all over the place.

The past two days I had a friend visiting, she told me I am one of the smartest people she knows and that I should be a writer because I associate things that most people wouldn't. People keep telling me this, but I will leave the writing to Maria. I don't think I am that smart because I don't understand the things people do at all.

My friend and I went to the mall yesterday to get Christmas cards. I am really behind this year. Normally I have my cards addressed and my shopping done by the middle of November at the very latest.

I have always enjoyed Christmas shopping. I take delight in going out to really find something that I think the recipient would love. Then I bring it home and wrap it up into something that even Martha Stewart would probably be proud of. But this year everyone I know wants gift certificates. Seriously gift certificates...not because they don't like what I have bought them in the past, but because it's easier!

Why is easier good? A present is something that someone makes an effort on your behalf for. That is part of the gift! The fact that someone took time out of their life to put forth thought and effort for YOU. That is the part that makes me happy to go out and Christmas shop.

So I haven't been terribly inspired to go out and buy gift certificates. When we got to the mall, there were no carols playing in the shops, very few decorations and no joy in the air. I had a hard time finding cards that said Merry Christmas on them. Most of them had sentiments like Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings. *Frowns*

When I paid for my cards at the Hallmark store I was chatting with the girl at the counter. When I was done she thanked me for not being nasty to her. I just stood and stared with my mouth agape. I asked her if this was something she had to contend with a lot. She looked kind of mournful and said yeah everyone was in a bad mood this year.

I realize that we can't be overly Christmasy, or even say Merry Christmas anymore, or hang lights or decorations because we might offend someone. Now take two seconds and think about that. Lights and decorations and songs offend people. I find this really puzzling. How is it that something someone else takes part in offends us if it doesn't include us?

There are lots of holidays and celebrations that don't pertain to me, but I don't get offended because other people celebrate them. I don't think anyone should change the name or any aspect of anything they believe in because it doesn't suit me. How did we get to this place of being offended because we can't be or choose not to be included??? It reminds me of a child throwing a fit because they can't play with another child's toy. When you think about it that would be as silly as me getting offended over Mother's Day because I was never able to have children.

The fallout of all this is that people are not filled with joy anymore at Christmas. No one will let them be. You can feel it like a palpable thing hanging in the air. All this political correctness to spare people's feelings and easier living is also killing their feelings to the point of mental numbness. The more careful we are of people's feelings the more miserable EVERYONE involved is. No wonder people are crabby, that would make me crabby too.

Now over the course of this blog, if you have been keeping up you know that I am Lutheran. You also know I am not prejudice against anyone elses beliefs because I think when it comes right down to brass tacks it's more or less all the same and people have the right to believe anything they want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. I have had Wiccans say "blessed be" to me on many occasions, I also have been wished a Happy Hanukkah before, and various other types of wishes for wellness or holidays. I wasn't offended, I took it in the spirit they intended it...as a kind gesture to me. So what if I am not Wiccan or Jewish or Buddhist. Should that negate the sentiment? Does that mean that the person had ill intent or that I should feel offended? Of course not! How on earth did we get to this point?

Maybe we all need a little Christmas right this very minute! The next time someone who has a different belief set than you do wishes you something, just say thank you! It might make you feel as good as they do! So all I have to say is Merry Christmas to all, and to all...a good night!

Lipstick And Diamonds In The Rough

I was all set to tell a light hearted story about my funny cat today. I felt that it was time for something amusing since my last posts have been rather serious. But another serious issue is on my mind this morning.

I have had the internet for about 13 years now. It's an interesting reversal to most aspects of life. When we go out in the world at large the first thing that hits people's consciousness about us is our physical presence because sight is the first sense that reacts from a distance. It's the first thing we get judged by, like it or not. Most people respond favorably to something they find attractive. I am not saying only pretty people get love, it's more about what you identify with as to your definition of pretty and ugly. I can honestly say I have never found anyone to be just flat out ugly based on their appearance because I know there are more to people than we see at first light and if you judge people by one aspect of them you miss out on a whole lot.

I think human beings are beautiful, all of them. They are like diamonds with many facets. They can be cold and cutting or have a brilliant sparkle depending on which way the light hits them at any given moment...most diamonds have flaws and inclusions that don't detract from their overall beauty. It's also important to remember that all diamonds start out in the rough. Like diamonds, when it comes to people you usually get the bad with the good all in one package. There are also a variety of diamonds out there that are really good manufactured fakes.

The internet is the only place where we are judged first by what people read that we have said and people are judged on their personality before their appearance, but we still never see all that a person is based on a few typed comments. We also read everything based on our own perception of what they said, what we are feeling at given moment and our own experiences so we may be seeing the diamonds under an artificial light of our own making since they are behind glass and we can't touch them. When you combine that with the fact that there is no set precedent on the degree of "reality" people view the net you just open yourself up to all sorts of judgements every single time you post anything anywhere. Some people present themselves the way they are in real life, others like to only put their best face forward 100% of the time, yet others make up a persona that doesn't even remotely reflect the true person behind the screen.

But then it turns the corner and the way we judge one another is back to preferring the things that define our opinion of pretty. It makes people start to feel like the girl who doesn't think she should go down to the mailbox without her makeup on. She feels that if she doesn't keep herself attractive every minute of the day people will find her ugly.

For some reason there is the oddest perception online that people are black and white. If you ever express an opinion, no matter how kindly and gently you try to put it people will find you ugly if it isn't completely positive. Why do you have to be angry and hateful if you express something that isn't perfect? If doesn't mean you are mad or even dislike what you are talking about, lots of adults can express less than favorable comments in a completely calm, objective and rational manner. If you sacrifice addressing an issue that might need resolving and only say yes it's good, it's great I love everything about it, don't change a thing, then you are pretty.

I don't understand how once a person logs onto the computer we feel they have lost those subtle shades and nuances. People want to be able to express their opinions and points of views but they don't want anyone to go against that opinion...if you do...you are clearly being ugly. Others are afraid to express their opinion and never say what's on their mind for fear of recrimination, so they only spread joy and hearts and flowers to the point of never getting their voice heard or anything solved, but at least they can remain pretty in front of the masses.

In the real world being pretty all the time can sometimes come at a very ugly price. If you don't think so look how many models have eating disorders and drug addictions. But as long as they don't let the world know we all think they are pretty and applaud them for their outward appearance right? *Arches an eyebrow*

Behind every screen in the world sits a real live human being that has opinions on things, some we agree with and some we won't. That doesn't make them ugly, that simply makes them brave enough to show their true face to the world and express themselves in an attempt to get something accomplished. They run down to the mail box some days with makeup...and some days without. Now I suppose by the end of all this you are thinking I got caught up in some drama. In fact you would be wrong this time. While it barely brushed against me, for the most part I was observing it and feeling sad once again. It did make me want to step back and not say anything more anyway because some days I don't care, and some days I want to be pretty like anyone else. Most people who make the largest impact in this world roll up their sleeves, take a deep breath and do it with their naked faces exposed at least some of the time. The next time you stop to put on your makeup, just make sure you aren't halting progress in the process. Maybe it's time to put down that lipstick tube and go out and mine for diamonds in the rough.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oh The Irony

I don't put much stock in horoscopes but I get mine delivered to me daily via e-mail just for the entertainment value. Today's horoscope oddly fit the tone of my week though! It said:

"You've been banging your head against the wall for far too long -- now it's time for you to step back and look for a new approach. You may be able to bypass this latest obstacle entirely."

I hope this one actually comes true! *Giggles*

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fitting The Mold

I know you're probably surprised that I am making another post so soon after my last two, especially when I am probably jumping from the fire into the frying pan here. But I have had one of those storms in my brain all week that clearly was leading me along a path, and it's finally come to a head. (Pun intended!) I think in the long run despite all the people who read my Etsy post, I have learned the most. I also think that sometimes my subconscious is far wiser than my conscious.

When I was in my teens and twenties I had this uncanny ability to pick the next big fashion trend. I was always the first kid on the block to have the latest thing when people were still in the "eww" phase right before they embraced it and wanted to be wearing that hot item. By the time they embraced it I was off on the next thing. As the years have rolled by I have lost that ability, I think it's because I found my own style and don't care what the current fad is as long as it works for me and makes me happy. Sometimes that involves something trendy because I like it, and sometimes it doesn't.

Fads and trends extend further than the fashion world though. Lately I have heard the phrase "Cafe Culture" bandied about quite a bit. In a weird way something impersonal as the technology of computers have brought us to a point of where we want to be more social and intimate even on a business level. Now if you're an artist you have always been a part of cafe culture to a degree, because we interact on a more personal level with our customers. But it seems as if lately everyone wants to get intimate in the way you would if you were chatting with a pal over coffee.

Things like blogging and Twitter and yes even Etsy have upped the anty on that a little bit. For some reason people aren't happy just buying something they like that catches their eye, they want to know the person who created it on a level that is akin to being their friend because it makes the item more special in some way. They are more interested in the biography of the creator rather than the history and motivation of the piece. If you come off as charismatic that can work for you, if you come off as abrasive it can work against you. I am not really sure which I am at this point. Maybe a little of both. *Shrugs*

One thing that I am certain I am is a magazine reader. I really love magazines. A lot! In recent years the Somerset brand magazines have practically dominated the craft scene. They are expensive, but the paper is high quality, the pictures phenomenal and they are a wealth of inspiration.

One of the publications they put out is called "Artful Blogging." Last year at some point after seeing my first copy of this magazine I posted about it. I was convinced I was doing the blogging thing all wrong. I felt I needed to paint my blog with soulful lush images and words, the way one would paint a canvas. The people featured in it are portrayed as being unique, artistic and as having a way with words and images that makes them stand out. I secretly dreamt of creating my blog as a work of art and wanting to be featured in the magazine. While I do agree that with the last two, lately I am starting to have my doubts on the unique part. I have noticed that all this uniqueness is presented in a certain same way that makes it the current trend that many are jumping on board to do.

Many people have been trying to capture that quality in their works because they want to emulate what they see and be cool and trendy too. I would imagine they feel it will increase their popularity and traffic and thus sales. I have been thinking for a while I should do that too. But tonight I was smacked upside the head with one of those big ole mental bricks that I toss at myself when I start getting these kinds of thoughts. I wondered why do I want to fit into this mold? I admire and appreciate that type of thing and if it's who you are then you should do it. But it's not who I am. I can't photograph a close up of part of a worn out shoe with a bird sitting in it wearing a rhinestone bracelet around it's neck and write an ode to it that sounds insightful and avante garde in a way that makes people look at shoes, rhinestones and birds in a whole new light and want them desperately because that's not my perspective and it wouldn't spring forth from the depths of my soul. (To the best of my knowledge, I never saw a pic like that. It was an example, so I am not singling anyone out.)

I have determined today, that this is probably another reason I am not popular on Etsy. They tend to favor people who photograph their work in that style. But enough about Etsy for one week. The trouble with trends and trying to fit the mold of the current thing that is popular is that we become dissatisfied with what we are already capable of and we doubt the style we have already built up. We discount what earnestly springs from our heads and our hearts because we don't think it's good enough. Sometimes this can be a growth period, other times it can cause people to stagnate by trying to do something that isn't true to their nature. Another type of fallout is that people really like the current thing and in trying to emulate it they copy someone else and over saturate the market with it until people get sick of it and move on to the next trend where the cycle starts all over again.

We get smart about developing our own fashion style at some point in life, so why do so many of us forget that we should stay true to our own style in our other areas of life? I think it's important to remember that we need to believe in ourselves...our TRUE selves, what we are about, who we are, and how we want to express that. I will probably never fulfill that secret dream of being featured in Artful Blogging, because I am too wordy and don't post enough original, stylish pics. But I will rest easier tonight knowing that I make what I make and conduct my business the way I do because it's who I am and I woke up today realizing I don't have to fit into any type of mold.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wow!

When I wrote my previous blog post I never imagined so many people would read it. I figured maybe a couple dozen might read it, mainly other bear artists that I linked it to. I have a widget that keeps track of my stats, and since I wrote the post I have had 743 unique hits and 118 repeat visitors. I can't say how all those people felt about what I wrote, but I did receive about 200 responses grand total through e-mail and comments on the Etsy forums as well as the handful of comments on the blog.

99% of the people who responded agreed with what I wrote at least in part. That being said, I really want to thank everyone who visited and took the time to really read it all. I can't speculate if anyone that works for Etsy read it or not. I have no way to know that unless they tell me.

But I still feel it's my responsibility since so many people read this, to make something very clear anyway, even though most people who replied didn't take it this way...in no way was I suggesting that Etsy is a bad company or that people shouldn't sell through them or that no one with high end merchandise isn't selling.

It is important to remember that Etsy is a fairly young company that has increased their customer base to somewhere in the neighborhood of 250,000 sellers in a very short time. Like any of us, during their growth phase they are going to have a learning curve. During that learning curve I sincerely hope that they figure out a solution to representation of the handmade industry that benefits the most people possible. I don't feel they are there yet. With that many sellers competing for consumer dollars in a smaller market not everyone is going to be a success story. I never suggested that Etsy could give every seller free promotion on the front page or the gift guides. But I do think it's within their power to give certain types of items the same exposure they give to others by broadening the types of things they feature.

I think they should try to stick to their mission statement of wanting to provide a place for people in this business to make a living by combating the image that it's a place to get good stuff cheap. I also think that anyone who has been in business any length of time is going to not put all their eggs in the Etsy basket unless they are selling their socks off through them and making a fair profit for their work.

It's up to us as individual business owners to decide if it's worth it for us to put the time and effort into promotion of our shop on Etsy to gain clients over another venue that might be working harder on our behalf or that we have more control over. The answer will be different for everyone based on a multitude of variables.

The post I made below was my own experience and what I observed through studying the site. I am not an expert when it comes to what will work or not work for every seller. I feel I am qualified to say I am an expert on making the type of bears I do, due to nearly 3 decades of perfecting my craft and being out in the world as a seller of those bears. However the learning curve never ends no matter how long you have been in business. It is my sincere hope that you will look upon what I have written and take away from it more realistic expectations of the site. If you supersede those expectations, that's wonderful! But if you don't, perhaps you at least have some idea why despite your best efforts to make it work, it hasn't after reading my post. Maybe you will take what I have learned and research it further to find even more answers and solutions.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Good, The Bad And The Etsy

In October of 2007 I was hitching a ride down the virtual highway on a turnip truck, when I fell off and landed on the front page of Etsy. I remember being utterly enthralled with it. An entire site devoted to shops for people who make things! How fabulous is that!? I looked at the site quite a bit, there was so much to offer. So many pretty pictures of amazing things people were making. I signed up right away but I didn't open a shop. I noticed that most things were on the lower end of the price scale and I was doing pretty well on ebay at that point. For some inexplicable reason I thought it would be a conflict of interest to sell there as well.

A few months went by and ebay decided to change their policies and pricing. A lot of people were unhappy with the new changes and chose to leave the site. That combined with a personal problem I was having with a scam artist that they couldn't have cared less about caused me to leave as well. So I went that same day and set up my shop on Etsy thinking this was going to be great! I noticed there weren't a lot of bear artists selling there yet, but I knew they would come in time. As time went on they did come.

After setting up my shop...nothing happened. I thought that was rather odd, but I figured people couldn't find me there yet. So I waited...nothing happened. More bear artists came and a team was set up dedicated to us, and I thought NOW people will start finding out that we are there! They will start to be comfortable with higher priced things for sale since Etsy was growing and more types of people were selling their wares. Nothing happened, but not just for me. Nothing happened for most of the bear artists. Not even bear artists who have shops that sell out the minute they do a personal website update.

We set about trying to get a category for ourselves because there really wasn't an appropriate place for us. We were finally given a sub category under the dolls and miniatures section. Sadly there is no indication from looking at the front page that we are there. But we are! We moved our stuff to the new category full of hope. In the interim I bought two main showcase spots, started going into the forums to use the promotions section, using twitter for promotions, and pretty much doing everything I could to get not only attention for my own work...but the work of all bear artists on Etsy. I even changed my photos two times, because on some level I was certain I was doing something wrong. Nothing happened.

I finally decided to really make a concerted effort to find out why we weren't selling. After doing the showcase spots I discovered no one sells very well by buying them. This is probably because they are only accessed by a small unobtrusive link on the front page. So I started studying the people who are successful, the way Etsy promotes people in the Storque, the treasuries that make the front page, the gift guides, etc. Slowly but surely I started noticing things. Many of the kinds of things Etsy tends to promote are hip and trendy and aimed at younger buyers. Ok...there is nothing wrong with that, but not every buyer on Etsy is going to have those tastes. They don't really feature as broad of selection in their promotional venues as they could. I have never once seen an artist teddy bear featured on the front page. There may have been, but I have never seen one. I look at the front page a few times a day since I am doing this research.

They have about six types of items that they have made into stars. Everyone says that the treasuries are controlled by the users and not the site, but a lot of people caught on pretty quick and started including those six types of items in their treasuries in the hopes of getting their treasury to the front page. It's working because I never, EVER see a treasury on the front page that doesn't include at least one of those six types of items. So this all became very interesting to me. I have been watching for about two and a half months now. But I still wasn't certain the lack of promotional love and being buried in the doll category was what was keeping bear artists from selling on there.

At long last, today I have hit upon that answer due to many posts in a thread made in the forums. Apparently the media touts Etsy as being a place to get a good deal. They have been compared to an online flea market, a bargain basement, and worst of all...a place where you can buy fine handmade goods for less than Walmart prices!!! Etsy has done nothing to dispel that notion, in fact they have embraced it and perpetuated that idea. This weekend they have given promotional space to people who have discounted their items by having sales or free shipping. They created a sense of peer pressure for sellers to discount already fair or even low prices in order to get featured. They had hundreds of people signing up to do sales in hopes of getting some exposure because they can't get it from Etsy any other way, and then they only featured a couple dozen who chose to take the biggest discounts. While I don't believe that was their intention, I also don't believe they stepped back to look at the big picture and the future ramifications of that type of thinking.

Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having an occasional sale. I chose to do it this weekend as well. It had nothing to do with Etsy and more to do with with rewarding people with a little break in prices who chose to stay safely in their homes on the busiest shopping days of the year. But if you are someone who is already making very little if any profit on your work and you discount 30% you are not only cheating yourself, you are under cutting and cheating every other seller out there who feels they have to compete. That didn't really happen with bears because sales aren't really something that has ever been the custom in the bear world. But I saw it happen to many other types of vendors. The next time they choose to have people sign up in order to get featured I am sure people will offer even bigger discounts to the point of taking a loss on their items in order to get that coveted exposure.

There was a time in this country when people took pride in their skills at making things. As a bear artist I still take pride in being able to make something that I know will last, that I have put my heart and soul into and that is unique and special in a way that can't be bought at department stores. The cost of supplies for making a bear are not cheap, they are also very labor intensive. My prices are very fair for what I make and you get what you pay for. Sadly artisans with that mindset are not being recognized by Etsy. All the bargain basement hype is detrimental to us all.

I fully understand that Etsy is a business and they want to make money and have a slick looking homepage to draw shoppers in. There is nothing wrong with that. But their mission statement is to provide a place where people can make a living selling handmade. I don't know why they aren't supporting their own concept by taking their promotional efforts in a different direction, or at very least many directions to support all types of artists and crafters, professionals and hobbyists alike. They never seem to focus on the fact that handmade items are usually unique and well crafted by people who put a great deal of time and hard work into their creations rather than saying that handmade is a bargain that can be had for a song. I am not going to close down my Etsy shop because I have already paid for an ad coming out on the 8th on Craft Cult. I am not saying that my lack of sales are completely their fault, I am sure part of the fault still lies with my shop in some way. Nor am I quite ready to give up on them because I hope maybe they will figure this out and do something about it. However, I am going to stop wasting so much of my time and effort to support them if they don't want to return to the favor to so many of us.

It makes me very sad that such a wonderful concept got so far off track. I could easily make one of those six items they love so much, and I am sure I could make a lot of sales if I sold them cheaply. But that isn't what I am about. I have worked too long and too hard to devalue my skill set or my work.

Edit: I wanted to add the link to the article and a thought to this. We are given the choice as to how we run our business, we are given a choice whether we want to sell on Etsy or not. We have not been given a choice as a majority on how we want Etsy to promote the arts and crafts industry as a collective. That is a very large issue we have no control over unless we make our wishes known to them by speaking out.

Article Link

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stopping To Think

As you know from my previous post I am running a sale this weekend. Many people in the arts business are. I was in the Etsy forums last night and there was much discussion about how much people are selling by running these sales. The answer was not much, followed by the perfunctory comment that the economy is bad. They keep saying on the news that the economy is bad and affecting sales this year in the major department stores. But I started really thinking about this. They say every year on the news that sales are down from the previous year. But yet a lot of companies are thriving. Besides, when has the news ever been that reliable of a source for the truth? Sure some stores have gone out of business but in my opinion it was because you could always get the same stuff from some of their competitors for less, like Linen's & Things for instance. They never really sold anything that spectacular and their prices were always above other stores. I think they would have gone out of business anyway.

Our gas has dropped by more than a $1.00 per gallon. I don't know a single person that has been laid off or taken a pay cut. I know there are people who have, I just don't know any of them. But people get laid off and take pay cuts all the time, even when the economy is good. Groceries are coming down from over inflated prices. I haven't seen any significant increases in my bills.

So all this makes me wonder...is the economy really that bad? Or is it a simple case of two things...prices got inflated very quickly because of gas hikes but they are coming back down to normal now. Secondly...maybe people think the economy is bad because everyone keeps parroting what everyone else is saying about the economy being bad and we are all buying into that perception?

I was saying it too for a while, but really nothing in my life has been that greatly affected. There is nothing wrong with saving for a rainy day, but if we all stop buying things the economy really will crumble.

Food for thought...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Website, Lollishops & Etsy...Oh My!


I have updated my website for Christmas, you can have a look here:

Blondheart.com

Lollishops will be opening today, and it's fabulous! You can look at that here:

Lollishops

In the spirit of Christmas giving, I am having a sale this weekend on Etsy, which is the first sale I have ever had in 28 years, so take advantage of it while you can! It might be another 28 years before I have another one! (I will honor the sale price if you purchase directly from my website as well, just put "blog" in the e-mail header.) If you would like to purchase anything please send me a convo and I will adjust the listing price for you here:

Etsy Shop

Thanks a lot, hugs, Kelly

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


I would like to wish everyone, their families and friends a lovely Thanksgiving!

Human Nature


Lets suppose for a moment that it's 4500 years in the future. Lets also suppose that all written records have been obliterated. Archaeologists stumble upon Mt. Rushmore. What would they think? Would they think that the four presidents were gods we worshipped? Would they think it was a place of rituals or burials of important people. Perhaps they would think the presidents noses pointed at water sources or were a way to keep time.

I love ancient history, but I always find it fascinating that archaeologists go straight to one of the mentioned formulas above. I was just reading an article on Stone Henge. As usual the theories for it's use were a giant calendar, a place of worship, a burial ground or a place for ritual sacrifice. While I am sure that's very possible, I have to wonder why no one considers that maybe it was just art...or a market place. Maybe it was an entertainment center with plays or parties. Something deep in the recesses of my Celtic soul tells me they haven't found the right answer yet.

While I realize that religion played a much larger part in ancient cultures than it does today, human nature doesn't change that much. We have always had a sense of humor, something that is rarely depicted in pop culture. But I am pretty sure neolithic people enjoyed a joke as much then as we do now. We have always loved, art, entertainment and gathering together for a merry making.

There is the argument that there are a lot of burial sites around Stone Henge...ok but think about current culture. We bury people in organized cemeteries, but some people choose to do some pretty outlandish things with their remains. We like having a testament to our lives and we choose to express those as uniquely as we can.

I don't need to know what Stone Henge was used for, I can simply revel in the fact that our ancestors went to great lengths to build it and that in itself is a testament to the human spirit!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

~*~ Snow Queen Bearbit ~*~


I am having fun with these little funny bears, and I added a new one to Etsy. You can visit her here:

Click to see the Snow Queen

Monday, November 24, 2008

Split Personality?

I have noticed as I go along that many people do two blogs, one for work and a separate one as their diary of sorts with personal things. I find that kind of interesting. I guess it never would have occurred to me to do that. I do have another blog, but it's only for featuring other artists a few times a week.

Way back when I started blogging I never thought anyone would read it anyway and I used it to say whatever was on my mind or whatever happened to me at any given time. I posted pics of my work because it was a good way to keep a record in case I forgot to write anything down.

Low and behold right out of the gate people did start reading it. As soon as I discovered this I began to wonder what my obligation was? Did they want to know me as a complete person with many moods, just to see pics of my latest works, or did they want to read only the good stuff and buy into some type of fantasy people sometimes have about artists? Was my blog just for me to exercise things from my brain, write it all unvarnished or did I have a commitment to my readers to only write the happy?

The truth is, I still struggle with this question sometimes. But along the way I found a formula that works for me. I don't know if anyone agrees with it, but that's ok. I figured that if someone only wants to see the new things I made they will just look at the pictures and aren't going to take time to read my usually wordy posts anyway. I could have chosen to just post the good things that happen, or dress things up to create a fantasy world where nothing ever goes wrong, but I chose not to do that either. I used to follow a blog that posted like that and I had to stop reading it, it was clearly contrived and I couldn't take the sugar rush. Overall I am a pretty happy, positive person, but I am a real person too. I go through times that are rough, most artists do. I prefer to read about real live 3 dimensional people, so I post like one.

Now you may not agree with me, and I am in no way saying to do otherwise is wrong. Ultimately our blogs are ours to do with as we see fit. Some people don't want to share their lives and others need a fantasy for a variety of reasons. It's up the reader if they want to come along for the ride. Some people buy a season pass, others take it for a whirl now and again, and still others just peek through the fence to see what it looks like.

I truly appreciate everyone who takes time out of their busy schedules to stop by, regardless how often, for how long or if it's to just to take a look at pics. I hope I never let anyone down by what they read, of course sometimes our words are misread or misunderstood or people just flat out disagree, so it happens. I do believe that people feel a certain comfort in knowing that more people have the kind of concerns they have and sometimes you can get together and brainstorm towards a common solution. I am always thrilled when someone is inspired by what I have written. I combine posts about work and real life because work is part of my real life. I guess blogging is kind of like life...it doesn't come with a manual and we just do the best we can!

~*~ Smidgen Bearbit ~*~


I just wanted to make something sweet and simple. Smidgen is on Etsy, you can visit her here:

Link to visit Smidgen

Saturday, November 22, 2008

~*~ First Frost ~*~


I just made a fun little retro inspired Christmas piece and listed it on Etsy, it will also be on my website tomorrow. You can visit it here:

Click Here

Irony And Compassion

I am sitting here working on a fun little tree and deer vignette tonight and while I was waiting for the stain the base to dry I hopped onto one of the handmade sites forum to do the gab and get seen gig for a few minutes. I stumbled upon a thread a person had made to complain about people who complain. (Yes that is ironic isn't it!)

I read through part of it and posted a few replies trying to reason with her to give people the benefit of the doubt which fell on deaf ears or in the case of reading...deaf eyes I guess. I said it doesn't really bother me when people complain especially about lack of sales because I know they usually have a deeper reason behind those complaints over face value. We are all feeling a bit of a money crunch this year, and it's really effecting people who want to buy Christmas presents and do frivolous things like eat or pay the power bill. So it's easy to get frustrated and wonder why someone is doing better than you are when you know you have been working hard.

After I left the thread I was still thinking about it a bit. One of the main reasons that people don't sell well is because of the photographs of their items. But the truth is some people are just not born photographers. Or in others...like me for instance...we have old cameras and haven't been able to buy a new one that takes sharper pics. Refer back to those frivolous things we spend our money on like food and heat. Not only that but when it comes to the handmade world things rise and fall in popularity and sometimes people aren't in the right niche at the right time. But the one thing that struck me through out all the posts people made in the thread...it never seemed to occur to any of them to try to HELP the people who were complaining. All too often when people complain over something it's a cry for help that they don't know how to ask for.

Last night I saw another thread that a woman posted about wanting to make a blog chronicling her journey of being mentally handicapped and still being a successful business person. She wanted to know if people thought it was a good idea. I told her I thought it was a great idea, she could be an inspiration to many others and go a long way towards being accepted as a serious business woman. But most of the people in the thread said no don't do it, it's too controversial and people won't buy from you if they know this about you! Seriously that requires a few more exclamation marks!!!! Why on earth would someone not purchase something based on that? She is a human being like any other. For her it's not a controversial topic, it's a fact of her life. We all have our burdens to bear, they simply come in different forms. I looked to see what she was making, she had some amazing jewelry.

Sometimes I think we live in an odd world that has too much irony and not enough compassion.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Things That Go Bump In Your Head

I don't keep the same hours most of the rest of the world keeps. Even as a baby I didn't like to sleep at night from what my Mother tells me. The problem with being on a different schedule than everyone else is that people make noise around the neighborhood or you have to get up to be somewhere during those daylight hours so I don't always get as much sleep as I should.

This week has been like that, so last night about 9:30 it caught up with me and I laid down for a nap. I fell asleep almost instantly which also is out of character because I have chronic insomnia and it takes me about an hour to go to sleep. I had the oddest dream.

From all the dreams I can recollect I have never had one quite like this one. The dream started out in my Grandmother's attic room but it wasn't decorated the same as hers was. I remember there being distince peach and taupe colors. There were three beds and I laid down on the biggest, most comfortable looking of the the three that had a quilt and a pillow with a lacy pillow case to have a nap. Now I know what you're thinking....no this isn't a Goldilocks with the bears thing. My husband laid down to nap with me but he fell asleep right away and didn't wake up during anything that happened within the landscape of the dream. While still in the dream I was awakened in the dark by a noise. I couldn't see anything and for whatever reason I didn't turn on the light. I could hear all kinds of odd noises like people were moving around and whispering to one another but I couldn't really tell who they were, how many or what they were doing or saying. I felt a vague sense of danger and fear, but nothing ever really happened.

Then my dog decided he had to go outside and woke me up, so I never finished the dream. I am sure it's symbolic of something, but I can't quite figure out what. The thing I found most odd about it was the fact that since my mind created the dream, shouldn't I have known what was going on in the dark?

I am sure that it wasn't representative of concerns that people were talking about me behind my back because I have never really cared if people talk about me or not. I am also very much in control of what I do, so I don't think it was concerns over not knowing what I am doing in some repsect.

If anyone has anything insightful to shed light on this (pun intended) I would be interested in hearing it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Can't See The Forest For The Trees


Every Sunday I enjoy looking through the ads in the paper. Last Sunday the Kohls flier had some bottle bush trees on sale for half price. I really REALLY love bottle brush trees.

It all started because I had a collection of snowmen. I would put them all on my mantle downstairs at Christmas time. I had some old bottle brush trees that were the right size to compliment my snowmen so I rolled them in crystal glitter and added them to the mantle one year. Each year I would find the trees here and there and add to my collection. Eventually I decided I loved the trees more than the snowmen. The trees became the focus and snowmen are now the accents. I also use a lot of them in my Christmas pieces.

I really wanted the trees from Kohls, but I was afraid if I went into the store I would get swept up in the shoes and jewelry and sweaters...oh my! I didn't want to spend terribly much this week, so I decided to order them from their website instead. They had three sizes in two colors. The smallest cost 3.50 and the largest 7.00. So I ordered several small ones, a few medium and two large. It didn't tell the size on the website but I figured for the price they couldn't be very big...not more than 2-6 inches.

Today I got a confirmation that my order was about to be shipped. Then I got another confirmation...and another! I was concerned something had gone wrong because the site had frozen up when I placed the order. I was afraid I was getting a triplicate order and maybe even charged three times. I called customer service and got this very funny guy. We laughed quite a bit over the course of the conversation, and he checked to see what was going on. He said finally that the reason I got three shipping notices was because the order was split into three boxes! I was very surprised that my little trees were coming in so many boxes. As it turns out...they are 11", 14" and 18" tall! I about croaked, I am going to have an entire forest when they arrive!

I guess the moral of this story is always find out how big the items you are ordering are before you order them! After having a "down" kind of day, this was the first part of a really great ending to the day.

The second part was my other blog. I was all set to feature someone but they didn't get pictures to me today, so I needed someone rather fast to write about. I made a thread on Etsy asking for anyone who wanted to be featured. I was surprised that it took a little bit to have anyone respond, but the first person who responded turned out to be perfect. I only started this blog this week but so far the happiness people have gotten from what I write about them gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside. It really is better to give than to receive. Even if you can't see it right away because you're surrounded by a forest of trees! *giggles*

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Caught In The Web

I am usually pretty optimistic, but I have to tell you my enthusiasm is flagging today. Not a single woo has passed these lips! I think I am suffering from internet burn out. Trying to run a business on the web is exhausting. It's very competitive because every creative person has an outlet now to display and sell their items. While I think that's great, and wish we had that option decades ago...trying to stand out from the crowd is time consuming.

The self promotion is never ending. If you are on Etsy you need to chat in the forums so that people see you, include you in treasuries and get to know you. Twitter is another good tool, but you need to find a balance between personal tweets and posting links so as to maintain good etiquette and not turn people off by posting nothing but links. I remove people from my following list who do that because I like a little personal interaction along with the sales pitches.

I currently have items for sale on my website, Etsy, Dawanda, Bearpile and very soon... Lollishops. All those shops have to be maintained. On top of that The Lollishops Guild, Mohair Divas, Toy Collector, my blog, Plumdrop and Flickr have to be updated every time I have new pictures of items...*collapses on the floor*

On top of the time and cost of supplies to make my pieces, I have to spend hours setting up displays to take photos, take the photos themselves, crop the photos and adjust the color to display the item as close as possible to real life, upload the photos to the endless sites I am on, announce the photos and then if the item sells I have to package it up safely, drive to the post office and usually wait an hour in line to mail it. (And people wonder why artists charge so much for shipping.)

The end result of all this extra work is that I have quite a few less hours a a week to devote to making new things, spending time with my loved ones, reading, cleaning and workin the flab off my backside from sitting in the computer chair.

IT'S MADNESS I TELL YOU! *giggles* The truth is all this effort isn't producing satisfying returns like shows used to. So in order to maintain my sanity and be able to fit in my chair, I have made a very big decision. I think I am going to start spending the money to advertise in magazines after the first of the year. I am getting a new snazzy camera for Christmas so I will be able to take even better pictures! Advertising is very expensive, but it reaches a huge audience and I think in the long run it will save my sanity.

Every time that I have advertised in the past I have generated really great sales. I should have just kept doing it. This time however, I am going to invest in some main stream publications as well as the bear publications. So watch for those ads, I will keep you updated on when they will be coming out and where. And keep in mind that when I start to do this, it may become difficult to get my work. So if you have been thinking about getting one of my things for yourself as a little present, now might be the time.

~*~ Rich Chocolate Velvet Rose Presentation Box ~*~



I was very busy last night working on this little box! You can see it on Etsy by clicking the link below:



Click Here

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Woo!


So tonight I discovered that I am a woo girl. I didn't realize there was a specific name for it, and apparently it's not something people look particularily favorably on. The truth is I have been a woo girl for a long time, but it's not something most people know. I confess, I can get pretty enthusiasic at any given time and shout out a well placed "woo", I do own a pink cowboy hat, and I have been known to wear Ugg boots with shorts or a slip nightgown. So yes, I have hit the triple crown of woo-ness! I am even married to a yeah dude.

But I don't think there is anything wrong with self expression and enthusiasm. In fact the new blog I have started is sort of my way of giving a big woo to all the talented people I run across while strollin down the virtual highway. I am having so much fun with it already and I have only featured two people. It's almost more fun to write about other people and why I like their stuff than it is to write about myself...I said almost. I am a Leo and we are known to be slightly vain. *Grins cheekily* But we are always generous to a fault, and I can tell you it is definitely more rewarding to write about others.

So the next time you see a woo girl in the wild, treat her kindly...she is just expressing her joy to be alive. Maybe she will include you in that joy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name


Sometimes life works in very mysterious ways. Yesterday I completed the set up of my new blog The Rose Colored Monocle. I set it up because I wanted to feature other artist's work. I put out a call to several places on the net for people who might like to be featured. I decided to leave it up to fate and the first person to respond would be my first feature. Amy from The B-Line was the first person to answer. She makes lovely jewelry and things, but the thing that really caught my attention was some rose rings. I love rose rings and have been trying to find one that would fit over my large Irish peasant stock bones! So I went to bed thinking I would call the first post "A Rose By Any Other Name."

Now here is where it gets weird...I woke up and had a conversation on Etsy from JulieChristie who makes lovely glass items. (Go check her out!) She featured Little Garbanzo in a treasury in Treasury West on Etsy named of all things...A Rose By Any Other Name Is Still A Rose! I guess that's proof positive that what you do in this world does come back to you...sometimes very fast, and in ways that make you hum the Twilight Zone Theme! Go check out the treasury, it's beautiful, and don't forget to visit the links above to see Julie's work and my new blog!

Click here to visit the treasury

~*~ Catch A Falling Star ~*~


I managed to make something sort of unique. I love the whole idea behind star jars and I have recently become fascinated with terrariums. So I combined the idea. The moss in this jar is not alive however, it's preserved so there is no care required!

I have it listed on Etsy, click below to visit it:

Click here

Thursday, November 13, 2008

~ Glitter Star Christmas Ornaments ~*~



I love those glittery silver star ornaments, so I made a whole bunch!

They are on etsy if you would like to visit them:

Click here

~*~ Little Garbanzo ~*~


I just added a new bear to Etsy. He will also be on my website a little later. If you would like to visit him, click the link below:

Click here
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Current copyright laws allow for all work to be automatically protected when it is created. All original artwork, photos, text, logo, descriptions, and derivative works from Blondheart are not to be copied, imitated or distributed in any way. All rights reserved solely by the artist, Kelly Dauterman.

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