Saturday, February 28, 2009


I thought I would give you a little update on my ballet lessons. If you have been reading since January then you know I decided to do this. I haven't mentioned it in a while, but I am still working on it. I am not doing too bad all things considered. Neither is Gyspy. (You can see her pic at the right, last one.) She thinks it's her duty to do this with me...although her positions are a But they are working for her!

I have noticed that my posture has improved and so has my balance. I can stretch a little further too. My arabesque isn't to shabby either if I do say so myself! It's been pretty addictive really, I catch myself doing the basic positions while I put the dishes away or folding laundry. The biggest obstacle I have had so far is my hair. I can't put it up like you're supposed to because it makes my neck ache from the weight of it all. But I have learned for my purposes a braid works just as well. Afterall it's not like I am dancing across the floor yet. I am still working on moves and positions.

All in all, I am really glad I overcame my thinking that I was too old, and decided to do this! If you want to learn something new, go for it! You won't regret it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Why Artists Are Crazy

I have this horrendous pounding headache right now. I're probably thinking then why are you typing Kel? really isn't going to make my headache any worse. I don't think it could get much worse unless it crosses the line into migraine.

Part of my headache is from sinus pressure. It's that time of year when the dust gets dryer and yet the mold count goes up. I am constantly broke out in hives and my head hurts.

But that's not the only thing causing my headache today. I have a little stress from knowing that in a couple hours my Mother has to drive Jim home from the hospital and it's 90 miles. Luckily it's going to be a nice sunny day.

The last thing that is causing my headache are patterns. I have all these pattern designs running through my head. Designing new things has always been sort of feast or famine for me. I get ideas in a clump. I don't sketch anything out before hand like many artists do. I can envision how to turn two dimensional pieces into a three dimensional animal in my head without having to sketch it out. There is nothing wrong with sketching them out first, it's simply never been a step I have used. In art class I never blocked anything out either, I just sat down and started drawing or painting from the middle. It used to make one of my art teacher crazy. He thought that was wrong somehow. *shrugs* We each have our own process.

What I am having trouble with this time is that I want to make something simple. There is a certain innocence in things that are cute in a simple way. I want to capture that. As I was mentally stitching this pattern six different ways, I realized something. I have never made anything simple. Bears have a lot of pieces and gussets and such. My chimp pattern has over a dozen pieces and my dragon had two dozen. I haven't made either of those in a while. I can't even keep the starfish simple, they have beading and multi layered color applications. It's much harder than you might think to keep it simple. I keep wanting to add things to what I am designing in my brain and then I mentally smack myself and say no no NO!!! This is one of the reasons why artists are crazy. We tend to over think things sometimes, and we always want it to be perfect...knowing all the while that it never will be.

I hope I can do this, but to be honest I am not sure I can do simple, innocent and cute. Maybe I have had too much life experience? *gigglesnorts* I will keep you updated on my progress. I am going to get out the sketch pad and draw the pieces later today. But for now...I am going to go take some allergy meds and go to bed!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I was tagged by Holly at Haute Country Vintage to list five things about myself.

So lets see...

1. I know so much useless trivia it's mind numbing. Like for instance I know what the Antikythera Mechanism is, what it was used for, and that there is a copy in the brass museum in Bozeman, Montana. I know about microclimates in pyramids, why Mars can't be colonized (no plate tectonics) and that most goth kids don't even know the origin of the word gothic. It's derivative of goetic which is Greek meaning magical architecture. I could go on for pages and pages boring you with all sorts of utterly useless stuff.

2. In contrast to the above...I can't ever remember my cell phone number. I have had it now for nearly a decade and I have no clue what it is. But yet I can remember the Drake Equation. N = R* fp ne fl fi fc L Go figure.

3. Novocain has absolutely no effect on me at all. It doesn't numb me in the slightest and dentists never believe me until they try it. Sadly I have to go the dentist today.

4. I have never been dumped by a guy. I always did the dumping until I met R...I decided to keep him!

5. I have almost 400 pair of shoes. I have recently tried to curb my shopaholic ways. I am not doing too bad either. I did fall off the wagon recently when I saw a really cute cerulean blue clutch. I like purses too...and jewelry...and clothes...and...*starts humming I Enjoy Being A Girl...*

Rules of tagging:

1. Link to the person who tagged you

2. Post these Rules in your Blog

3. Write 5 Random things about yourself

4. Tag random people at the end of your post and link to them

5. Let each Person know they've been tagged
I tag:

Pandy Potter Bears

Autumn Rose Crafts

Pat's Place...



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Twitter And Blog Followers, And Givaways

I noticed Monday that I lost two followers right after gaining two. I also noticed that several other bloggers commented in their blogs about the same thing happening. Apparently our followers aren't dropping like flies case you aren't aware of this, there is some type of glitch they are trying to fix that is causing people to be private that were previously public. So if you have noticed a drop in your followers...that could be why. I don't know if that's what happened to mine or not. I pruned my blog list that I follow the other day to remove people who haven't posted in months or their blog is gone all together and I think I accidentally removed a couple I hadn't meant to. So if I removed you from my list, don't take it personally. I did it really late at night. I try to follow everyone in return who follows me.

I do the same thing with Twitter. But I do actively remove people who only post links and don't ever just talk. Twitter is sort of odd to me. I have 230 followers. Out of those people I think I have initiated following 3. The rest followed me first...but yet lately when I log in and say hello I don't get a single response anymore. It's very weird. Why did these people choose to follow me if they aren't interested in responding to me at all? Did they just do it because they thought I might be a potential customer? I would hope not because I can almost assure you I won't buy from them if they can't even say hello in response. I have initiated many of the blogs I follow because I find what they write interesting. The few people I chose to follow on Twitter were for the same reason. I never know exactly how to find people to follow on Twitter, so I guess that's why I don't really initiate it.

Recently I won a blog give away. When it arrives I will show you what I won and link you to the blog I won it from. I was pretty excited about it. I haven't won anything in many years. So I thought it would be nice to do the same so that someone else can have that feeling. Unfortunately I can't really afford to give away a whole bear. I made a mohair order last week and about croaked when I saw how expensive it had gotten. It was never inexpensive to begin with. I had several tubs full and I haven't had to order any in a couple years. But I did have an idea for a nifty little thing, and if it works out I am going to give one away. So be sure and watch for that!

Also I updated my other blog with a new pic if anyone is interested in taking a peek at that.

Cirque de Lune

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Right now subjects of the paranormal, aliens and cryptids are pretty mainstream on TV. With the popularity of Ghost Hunters and UFO week on The History Channel, more and more of these types of shows pop up all the time. Even Animal Planet has gotten into the act with their highly dramatized show, The Lost Tapes.

I can't help myself I have to watch many of these shows. I watch them all with the rapt fascination and skepticism of them being studies in sociology with a need for ratings. Why do people believe in monsters? Do any of them really exist? They say that in every legend is a kernel of truth. But what is the truth? What part of our psyche makes us fearful of the unknown?

I have always had a healthy terror of any body of water larger than a swimming pool. It's not the water that terrifies me, but what might be in the water. That might seem odd because I live on a mountain, 1350 miles from the nearest beach. The thought of a great white shark makes my blood run cold. I know they are largely misunderstood animals, and I feel compassion for them in a way. That compassion still doesn't make me want to encounter one. It makes me want to encounter some unknown sea monster even less. But yet there is a part of my little Scottish soul that wants there to be sea monsters. I blame it on Nessie.

Nessie has been reputed for years to be a plesiosaur. I wish more than anything it was a plesiosaur, but in truth it's probably just a type of eel or a sturgeon if it's anything at all. The odds that it would be a plesiosaur are remote considering they breathed air and had to surface. I suppose it's possible that it could have adapted over the centuries but aquatic dwelling creatures don't have to evolve very fast. Their environment doesn't change nearly as rapidly as land does. In my humble opinion sea monsters have the best shot at being real since so much of the ocean is unexplored.

So what about aliens? We have all heard of alien abductions and UFO sightings. I had an astronomy teacher who said something once that I found really to be really sound reasoning. He said that if something from another solar system had the technology to travel this far they would either make their presence known from the get go, or we would never have any idea they were here. I can't say they haven't ever visited, but it does seem rather unlikely to me.

Just an amusing side note...someone I knew for a while a long time ago who had always seemed rational sat me down one day and said they knew I was an alien. They knew what part of the universe I had come from and how I had arrived. The scary part is they were quite serious!!! I had absolutely no idea how to respond to that. What could you possibly say! I don't know why they thought that. I really never spoke to them again after that either. I will admit to being slightly eccentric, but I am pretty sure I originated on this planet! *grins*

Then of course that leaves us with the last myth in our triple crown of weirdness...ghosts. I think people want to believe in ghosts because they need affirmation there is an afterlife. I don't need that affirmation, I already believe there is an afterlife. I believe it because of theology and science both.
I would explain, but that would make this post too long to read, so you will just have to take my word for it.

But what happens when you come face to face with something you don't really believe in? I think that if you live long enough you are going to eventually encounter something that defies explanation. Besides, there are so many reported sightings of all those things mentioned above, that not everyone can be wrong now can they?

I had such an experience nine years ago. If I heard this story from someone else I would probably be skeptical or think they misinterpreted what they saw. I don't expect you to believe it, I can only swear to you that it is true. What you do with it beyond that is up to you.

We had lived in our perfectly normal middle class home that was built in 1986 for less than a year. At that time we had an Akita. She had a routine where she liked to stay up with me for about an hour after R had gone to bed, then she wanted to go into the bedroom and sleep with him next to the bed. It was a night like any other, and I went up to let her in the bedroom. When I opened the door something immediately rushed out at my face, causing me to jerk backward because it startled me. The best way I can describe it was just a puff of smoke or a small cloud. It reached a little higher than my head and I turned to watch it travel across the living room and vanish on the opposite wall. It wasn't wafting along like smoke, it was really moving fast. Sheba saw it too, because she chased it all the way across the room jumping up trying to get it.

Was it a ghost? I don't know...I am not willing to say it was because I don't really believe in ghosts. At least not in the conventionally accepted sense. But I do know it was something. I know I saw it. I spent the rest of the next day trying to figure out what possibly could have caused it. I have never found a single thing to explain it. If anyone has any possible explanations I would love to hear them because it has bugged me ever since. I am not fond of things in my house that don't have an explanation. I have never seen it again either.

Since then I have had a couple other minor incidents that don't carry much weight. I was in the bedroom one day when I heard a distinct male voice say R's name right next to me. I was home alone. Then one afternoon I was sitting down in the family room and a penny fell on my head. There was no shelf or anything above me where I could figure out it could have come from. Maybe it was just a penny from Heaven? *grins again*

The world is a fascinating place filled with mysterious things that we have yet to discover or find an explanation for. I don't believe in 99% of monster sightings, but it's still fun to think about. Besides who am I to judge...I wasn't there for most of them!

(The above pic was taken about 6 years ago, and I can't believe how much shorter my hair was! But I thought it was appropriate for this post since someone thought I was an alien!)

Less Stressed

I am happy to say that Jim came through the surgery just fine. He is feeling pretty rotten, but that's to be expected.

I spent very little time on the computer the last few days and I feel so much better for having done other things. Sometimes we need a break I guess.

It's going to be a great day in Colorado weather wise and I think I am going to take the dogs for a walk later. I need to start getting in shape for this 3 day walk in August. I am going to do the 60 mile walk for breast cancer if I can get enough sponsors. I have to get $2300 in pledges, and I am not sure how I am going to do that. But I have faith that if I choose to do this they will come.

I have never known anyone who had breast cancer, but I think it's an important cause and I want to do my part because it effects so many women. If we don't take care of each other on this planet...who else will?

So I am going to hop off the computer again and go shower. I hope you all have a great day!

Monday, February 23, 2009


I think nearly all of us aspire to be good people. I also think most of us do a fairly good job, but we fail sometimes. I know I do. But I keep trying.

Have you ever met someone that does manage to be a good person all the time? I mean all the way through to their soul, not one of those people who just puts on a good show. The type of person we all aspire to be?

I am lucky enough to know one of those people. His name is Jim. He is my step Dad. Jim has to be the very best person I have ever met. He is kind, he has compassion for everyone, he has a faith that is bottomless. I have never seen him complain, get mad or falter. I am sure he has at some point, but I have never seen it. He is helpful to others. He is just a truly good person.

This morning he has to go in for surgery. They are removing one of his kidneys. I am kind of stressed about it. Actually I am really stressed about it. I am stressed about a lot of things today. It's been a rough weekend.

It's always scary when someone you love goes in for surgery, especially if it's a major surgery. But I keep thinking he doesn't deserve this. I know it doesn't work that way. It's still hard not to think that though.

I know he will come through this ok. I have faith he will...but it doesn't stop me from worrying. How do you stop worrying?

Friday, February 20, 2009

~*~ The Fabulous Miss Funella ~*~

Here she is in all her bright finery, dreaming of bygone days when she was a performer on the Boardwalk. Miss Funella can be found on the bears page of my website if you would like to see more pics of her:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Playing With My Pattern

I decided to play with my pattern a bit for my 9 inch bear tonight. I made some alterations and cut one out. Hopefully later today I will have something wonderful to show...wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Cosmic Sense Of Humor?

This was my horoscope for today:

"It's the best day for you to try pushing the envelope or getting folks to explore new options. You have some great personal energy to work with and most others should want to follow along."

Considering my previous post...I found that to be ironic and rather amusing.

Also I took a new pic and added it to Cirque de Lune if you're interested in looking at that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rapid Expansion

Sometimes I miss the pre-internet era. We all lived in our private spheres of existence. Very few people had any idea what the world was really like. But maybe the world wasn't really like that then. Sure we have always committed wars and other atrocities against each other, but the average person didn't engage in that. Then along came the internet and things changed dramatically in a really short period of time. Too great of rapid expansion in any form creates fissures and cracks in a stable structure thus weakening it. In this case it created a type of culture shock. When the culture is the thing rapidly expanding, and it doesn't have a set precedent for that type of cultural behavior it can have a detrimental effect. The degree with which people take the internet as reality varies so greatly that everyone deals with it differently. Some people are like me and do exactly as they would in real life. Others see it as a way to present themselves in ways that aren't how they would be if you met them in line at Starbucks and started chatting while looking them in the eye. Yet others present themselves in ways that have nothing to do with who they even are. Sadly that can lead to people getting hurt through online predators. Since there is no set precedent, people fall through the cracks and fissures without a comfortable place to land.

I thank God that I hung out with my friends in high school and college and spoke to them instead of "texting." I don't really understand texting, you're holding a phone...why don't you just call the person you want to talk to? I have always loved the phone, but nowadays even that has changed. People don't sit in their homes and focus on a conversation with the person they are talking to nearly as much. We are forced to listen to the lives of complete strangers while we are shopping or sitting in the doctors office. I don't like my cell phone that much. If I am going to use it, I try to use it in my parked car where I still have a modicum of privacy. Isn't it funny how all our modern conveniences are supposed to free up our time to be able to do more and yet we have less time than ever to fully devote to being able to focus on just one thing?

I am also happy I didn't have to use the internet as a dating service. I met my husband face to face and built a relationship that way. I based my opinion of him on what I got to know instead of running to Google to find out if any embittered ex girlfriends had posted trash about him. Nearly 20 years later we still have a great marriage too, go figure. I miss doing business face to face as well. I touched on how we have to be photographers to set up shops and websites, and writers because as artists we are expected to blog. All these things bring a higher stress level to our every day lives and cut into the time we would be doing other things. People have taken licence to be really vicious sometimes because they don't have to look someone else in the face to say what is on their mind. Nor do they have to accept responsibility for their words because they can hide behind facades of anonymity.

I have met some really wonderful people over the years and I am happy for that. But I think with the onset of the net, our worlds expanded so rapidly we couldn't quite handle it. While we are able to reach out and connect with people all over the world at the push of a button, we also have learned to have distrust in those people as a first instinct. The last thing our world needed was one more reason to have distrust in each other.

A while back I set out to help a group of people who were engaging in really bad behavior. I saw that they were hurting themselves with this behavior, and tried to reason with them. Naturally they didn't trust me, they thought it was all about a means to an end to get something for myself or to simply rile them up. I don't suppose they ever stopped to consider I wouldn't have any reason to do that. They also assumed that I was too stupid to see their side of the story. That wasn't even remotely true, I did see their side...but I just felt they were handling it in the worst possible way and that far too many people, including themselves were being hurt in the process.

It's kind of funny because none of those people know me at all. Nor did they take the time to get to know me. They just leaped to the conclusion that my actions were all about me and discounted me with the quick press of a button. At the time I shook my head and wondered why I had bothered.

I know why I bothered's because I still remember that world where we lived in that smaller sphere. People still had a willingness to help each other without thoughts of themselves. I liked that world and sometimes I try to bring it to the internet because that's the world I still want to live in. It rarely works though. The phrase "no good deed goes unpunished" has never been more true anywhere than on the internet.

Quite often what I see just makes me sit staring slack jawed at the screen in amazement. I remember once I made a funny, light hearted comment to someone and they took it in the worst possible way and made a six paragraph rant over what a horrible person I was on their blog. I was utterly horrified that anyone could have interpreted such an innocent comment in that way, and I left convinced they had serious issues so I never went near them again. Having abject hatred thrown our way from virtual strangers can be really hard to take. No matter how hard we try to let it roll off, unless we are made of stone it still effects us. It chips away at that foundation of faith and trust in our fellow man.

I find myself wondering lately if it's all worth it. I have never been a person who worried much about what people thought of me because I knew where my heart was. I knew that even when my words were harsh it was often in an attempt to help someone else see reason. I have made harsh posts with the motivation of helping others see what I have learned and sometimes you can't serve that up on a fluffy pink cloud to properly get your point across. But people don't read it as your wanting to help them, they just read it as you being hateful. I suspect part of the problem is that many people don't fully read what is written. They skim over it and draw a conclusion based on what the skimmed from it. I am sure some people take time to read every word. If I read a post someone made, I read every word so I can get the full effect of what they were trying to say.

After yesterday's post I once again read the words I have written many times before, and I realized how sad they sounded. I am sad, I don't want to be misjudged all the time. It's tiring to have to put disclaimers on all your words and try to explain that your motivations are good all the time just because you choose to speak freely. It doesn't matter how clearly you develop a thought, or try to explain what you are saying, you will be misunderstood. It's just a fact you cannot control. I do want to put a disclaimer in here anyway, because I don't want anyone to feel bad or think they caused me to feel this way. This isn't about the comment I receieved from my reader or any comment I have ever received, it was just a moment of self clarity.

I think I finally understood why so many people only post pretty pictures and positive thoughts. It's exhausting to just be yourself on the net. Maybe it's time to retreat into that private sphere for a while and let the rest of the world expand rapidly without me. I should just post new works and keep my words to myself. I always wore a rose colored monocle because I never saw the world through one type of lens as being completely good or bad, but lately I have discovered the meaning of feeling world weary.

A Cautionary Tale

For years I have tried to impress upon R that he isn't invincible. He hasn't outgrown that phase yet. Most men get there earlier in life, but he hasn't realized he isn't Superman. I tell him that sometimes smart people do really dumb things.

After tonight I can certainly attest that's true. I have been trying to clean my desk. I have an amoire for my computer and it has all these lovely cubby holes and drawers and it really is a catch all for endless amounts of junk. I have been tackling it one cubby hole at a time.

Tonight I was sorting through some books and found a CD stuck between two of them. It was labeled back up and dated two years ago. I didn't need it any more so I thought I would throw it away. But with all the identity theft and what have you I have gotten cautious about what I just pitch in the trash. So I thought it was a good idea to break it in half.

Having a good grasp on physics, I used what I thought was the correct applied pressure in the right way to snap it in two. I bent it ever so slightly back and forth a couple times to weaken the center and then gave it a good snap. What happened next was all simultaneous within a split second. It's going to be hard to describe it, but I will try...

There was a really loud crack, immediately followed by the sounds of things bouncing off the walls. I felt pain in my face above my lip, my cheek and in my chin and I was momentarily blinded by an array of dazzlingly bright reflective confetti.

The CD did not crack in half like I expected it to. It exploded into dozens of pieces of knife edged plastic shrapnel that went all over the room and stuck in my face. Thankfully I had my glasses on, and closed my eyes from the instant glare. The laser readable coating peeled off it and shattered even further than the plastic into pieces so fine that they were hard to pick up. I finally gave up and got the vacuum.

If you ever have the urge to do this...don't. Just don't. It honestly would have never occurred to me that it would shatter like mercury glass. I am lucky it wasn't worse. R was less than amused when I told him what happened when he got up this morning. He worries about me, but he never tells me that. Instead he just gets annoyed because he can't protect me from everything...even myself!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Struggle To Figure Out My Responsibility

Whenever someone says something to me that catches me off guard I stop to think about what they said. I wonder what their motivation for saying it was, and what I should take away from their comment...but I will come back to this in a minute.

I have mentioned before that when I was a child I spent part of the time living with my Grandmother who I adored. She taught me a great deal about compassion and respect for my fellow man, animals and the planet at large. She also taught me to express my creativity with joy, enthusiasm and abandon. These were the happy times and I am grateful for them. What I don't usually mention is that when I wasn't living with her I spent those times being afraid, intimidated and nervous. I learned to be quiet and not draw attention to myself for fear of what might happen. It might surprise you to know that in retrospect, I am grateful for those times as well. We cannot change our past, so there is no point in lamenting what might have been. We can only take away the best part of what we learned from it and let the rest go.

I believe that what we go through in life, whether good or bad shapes who we are and how we view the world. Those times that weren't so pleasant taught me to be a quiet observer. Through observation I learned a great deal. The fact that I had a bad side to my childhood shouldn't be a big surprise because lots of artists have a quiet little well of pain deep in their souls they draw from. We want the world to be a more beautiful or comforting place. It's why many of us become artists, and definitely not something to be pitied.

I have stated many times before that when we put our thoughts on the internet we have no control over how they are interpreted. That's why I tend to be long winded and repetitive, because I try to convey what I want to say as clearly as possible. However we read things from our own perspective because without hearing someone that's all we have to go on. I know that our words have the potential to carry a lot of weight, but it's a risk I decided somewhere along the line I am willing to take. I have also said before that I usually say things in the manner of calm observer but often that is misinterpreted. While I freely admit I have very decided opinions on things, I never get the same kind of reactions when I am discussing them face to face with someone that I have in the past year and a half on the internet. I am always open to hearing and considering another point of view. I find that extremely fascinating and have thought a lot about it and how it pertains to how we interpret the world around us with the information we are given. I never expect people to agree with everything/anything I post. To be honest I have never completely gotten over the surprise that so many people even stop to read my blog. I am flattered that they do even when they don't agree with what I write. I am even more flattered that some of them return after they have disagreed with something they have read.

One of my readers made a comment this morning that they always have a reaction to what I write, sometimes they agree and sometimes they are irritated. They didn't expound on that so I don't know what irritated them or why. But it made me think about a post I made last March. I found myself wondering once again what is our responsibility as bloggers? You can read the post here if you are interested:


Here it is nearly a year later and I still don't have an answer to that question. I have noticed that many people just put pretty pics and positive words on their blogs, but I have also discovered that sometimes they are not the way they portray themselves and they do it out of fear of judgement, recrimination or simply losing a sale, more than a need to show their true selves or feelings. Sometimes when you see another side to their personality somewhere else that isn't so nice, you are shocked by it because you thought they were really sweet all the time from what you have read on their blog. Maybe some people create a world in their blog they want to live in as opposed to the one they really do live in? There is nothing wrong with that, and I wonder quite often if I should be doing the same. I just can't quite bring myself to do it. At least you won't get any surprises if you see me elsewhere.

The bottom line is, I still don't know what my responsibility is. I don't know exactly why people choose to read my blog or what they hope to take away from it. I have never been sure if my responsibility is to my readers or to my own true self. So basically I go with whatever is in my brain at any given time, hoping to find a happy medium. Occasionally when I post I am irritated over something too. More often than not I am either surprised, pleased, excited or just puzzled. In reality I am a pretty positive and amiable person, but when I do think deeply about things it's cathartic to put that in black and white. It helps me exorcise whatever made an impression on me from my brain. Quite often what I post gives me surprising insights to myself.

I welcome the comments I get from readers regardless what they think or how they feel about what I have posted, and I am very rarely offended or upset by any of them, because those comments make me think the same way that some of my posts might make some of you think. Luckily no one has ever called me a bunch of foul names. *grins* Stopping to ponder something is never a bad thing. If you do disagree or are irritated by something I post, I would really love to know why.

~*~ Purple & Blue Starfish ~*~

I made another starfish in a little more vibrant colors than the last. You can visit it on my website at the link below: animals page

You Make The Rules

A few minutes ago I saw some people talking about what stores take as a percentage for consignment and they were discussing whether they needed to raise their prices in other places to accommodate the store pricing. In fact one person suggested they "shop around" to see what stores have the best consignment percentages. Shop around with your own work to leave it in a store until it sells and then get paid...really??? I have to admit I was rather flabbergasted. Since when do people allow others to dictate the terms of their business? Is this something new or were they just a rare few new to the business world?

I have never done consignment except with one shop because the shop owner was a friend. (I wouldn't recommend doing that either because sadly it didn't turn out well.) I suppose there are people out there that don't realize that many shops prefer doing consignment because they are not responsible for insuring that merchandise. If the store burns down or the piece gets stolen you are just out that time and money on supplies and they aren't under any obligation to refund your losses.

Any serious business person sets their own terms and when they are approached for consignment or wholesale they are ready with those terms. The shop can take it or leave it. I have always done wholesale, and I set my own terms. They are fair to both of us and I have never had any complaints. I have a set percentage for the split that never varies for anyone, and an opening order minimum so that I am properly represented. I would never consider wholesale at the percentage they were discussing let alone consignment. They were getting a bad deal if they take it. Of course you should leave information about what you do if you think a shop would be interested in you, but to shop your work around looking for a good deal from the store...I can't even process that.

It's up to each of us to decide what we feel is fair for our work, ultimately it's your business and you make the rules. It's never up to a store to dictate what you should or should not do. You wouldn't go into their store and tell them how to run their business, and I am sure they wouldn't like it if you did. In the long run they will respect you more if you come in as a professional with set terms and a contract.

I am not saying you shouldn't do consignment if you're comfortable with that. I am just saying you should be aware of what it entails before you do it, and if they really respect your work and want your items in their shop they will accept your terms as long as they are fair to both of you. If they don't want to abide by those terms, then there is a good chance it wouldn't have been a good fit anyway because they might not value your work and properly take care of your items while they sit in their shop.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Picture Perfect

I remember my first bear show as if it were yesterday. It was 1982, I was 18, living in Phoenix and it was an outdoor show in front of a strip mall. The space was only about 15-20 dollars and you were responsible for bringing your own set up including table and chair. I had never been to any type of arts or craft show before and had absolutely no clue about display.

I showed up with a ratty old green card table, a folding chair and a coffee can to put money in if I earned any. It didn't even occur to me to bring a table cloth. I set the bears in three straight rows as if they were a marching band. I sold out and left with orders for more. I can only attribute that miracle to the naive exuberance of youth and inexperience.

Over the years I have learned a great deal about setting up an eye pleasing display that conforms to the continuity of what I make. I have taught classes several times at shows in the past about teddy bear show survival and touched on how to set up a display that works. People have asked me to critique their displays, and even sometimes their bears. It always makes me slightly uncomfortable to have someone come and ask me to do that because I never want to discourage someone, but I also believe they wouldn't seek the counsel of other artists if they didn't want some real feedback. I have always tried to point out all the things they are doing right and then offer some ways to make it better.

But on the internet there are no table displays and people can't walk up and touch your work. They can't feel how delightfully they are stuffed, or see how good your craftsmanship is. It's very difficult to get the full effect of anything you purchase because all you have to go on is a picture. Some people are amazing photographers and others aren't. Either way it isn't necessarily a true reflection on what you are purchasing.

I am sorry to say I have gotten several things from other artists that had really fabulous photos only to be a little disappointed when the item arrived. Conversely I have gotten a couple things that the photos weren't that great but I was utterly delighted when the item arrived.

You would think my experience with display would carry over into my photography, but I am not finding that to be true. When it came to taking pictures, I was always pretty good with my old 35mm, but for some reason I am not doing as well with digital. With the 35mm I took some really great photos of the bears doing things and captured the spirit of that bear. Maybe it's not so much a difference in cameras, but simply because when I photographed something with the old camera there wasn't as much pressure to convey so much information about each piece and I was allowed the creative expression I needed. I knew I would go to the show and my customers would pick them up and bond and they would go to good homes without a huge amount of effort on my part. They always managed to sell themselves so to speak and I was just the curator in the back ground answering technical questions and explaining my motivation.

In today's art market you have to not only be proficient at your craft, but you also have to be an excellent photographer with the ability to create a mood and yet show the piece to it's full advantage so the customer knows what they are getting. I keep trying, but I am just not that good at it yet. I have several pictures of bears that really don't justify them. I have photographed them several times each with a different set up and simply can't capture their true spirit. There is also a certain type of photography that is popular right now, and I am struggling with that as well. I have a love of symmetry and that isn't the current fad.

Like that teenager from long ago, I have the urge of a beginner to set the bear down and take straight on photos from all sides showing the complete piece without frills. But that isn't going to cut it compared to the next person who does know how to key into that style that makes people want to buy something. I believe that what ever the current fad in photography is at any given time plays into our subliminal psyche that motivates us to want to buy into a feeling as well as the product shown.

One of the current trends I have noticed on Etsy and a few other places is to show things on a plain white background. I know it works for a lot of people, but I don't live in such an austere world and I know the nearly blank canvas look won't work for me. I have also seen people make beautiful collages. I tried that with my Valentine picture two posts back. I like those types of images, but I don't think I captured the essence of that style either to be honest.

I have decided it's time for me to find my own style, hone my photography skills, and try to embrace this new art form that I have to employ to stay in business. I took my first step to do that last night when I created a second blog that will be artistic (hopefully) and filled with images and words that convey feelings that come from deep within that well in my soul. They are in there, I just need to find a way to get used to bringing them out and see what they tell me. There will be photos of things I have made as well as many other things. Some posts might just be words. I don't know what it will evolve into yet, but that's half the fun. It won't receive as many updates as this one, but it won't be filled with the every day workings of my brain or my life either. If you would like to visit it, you can do that here:

Cirque de Lune

Like those people who came and asked me to critique their displays, I invite you to join me on this journey of self discovery and feel free to critique my work. You might see something that I won't because I am too close to it. I won't be offended because I know I have a lot to learn. I don't want to create cookie cutter images in the style of any current fad, site or magazine. So I will be photographing anything and everything that catches my fancy to find out what my style is. Some will be contrived and others will be spur of the moment like those in my first post. I took the dog out this morning to discover an ice covered world and braved frostbite while in my nightie and a sweater to get those pictures.

It won't be picture perfect, but I hope you enjoy it regardless what you take away from it, or whether you choose to share your thoughts with me or not.

Valentines Day

I hope everyone had a wonderful day today! I know I did. R made it back from his trip tired but ok. I think he is coming down with my flu though. But we still went out to dinner at Briarhurst Manor which was just fabulous. We ate in the sitting room, and they served a six course meal! I didn't eat all day just so I would have room. I was so proud of R too, he absolutely hates seafood and yet he stepped outside his comfort zone and had the oyster on the halfshell that was topped with a champagne sauce and caviar. He didn't even flinch. I was so shocked he ate it! The poor man has a terrible time with the amuse bouche every time we go out to a nice dinner. Last time it was stuffed grape leaves and he didn't really want to eat that either. He is a meat and potato's guy, but he does take me out for nice dinners every once in a while because he knows I enjoy it.

He also had the warm strawberry soup which he really liked! I had the lobster and black forest truffle bisque but I tasted his and it was really very good. I also had duck liver pate' and pear chutney on flatbread, an asparagus salad with more black forest truffles that was heavenly, and then we had passion fruit sorbet, and Steak Fabrizio for the main course. For dessert he had the chocolate mousse, and since I am allergic to chocolate I had the orange blossom creme brulee. Just between you and I, I think I had the better dessert anyway! I have a weakness for creme brulee!

Briarhurst Manor is this beautiful Victorian mansion, and it's going to be featured on an upcoming episode of Ghost Hunters. I don't know if they found anything, but I did notice that they are now offering haunted tours so I am going to guess they did. About halfway through dinner I caught my hair on something and it really yanked it. In fact I let out an audible "ouch." I looked to see what it had caught on, and couldn't figure out since the back of the chair was completely smooth and there was nothing else for it to get caught on. R was teasing me that a ghost pulled it! Of course I don't think that was it, but it was funny.

It was a wonderful, romantic evening and I will treasure the memory forever! We have been very lucky to have some great experiences over the years, and I know we will have many more.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Here it is Valentines Day already. This year is flying by! R will be back from his trip this morning and then we are going to spend the day together. I am so happy he is coming back. I think he is too, it sounds like it was a long tiring trip for him.

I really love Valentines Day. I have always had a great fondness for hearts and romance...and pink of course!

I have received a little extra love this year too! My vintage pin was featured in a treasury by LAS Pottery which you can see here:

Full Moon Fever Treasury

And a treasury by avidhunter3! You can visit that treasury here:

Fly Away Home Treasury

Also Janet from It's an Evolution did a blog post about her adorable Valentine Tree and she included a pic of my velvet strawberry heart ornament which she got from me on Etsy! She has a lovely blog, be sure and check it out here:

It's an Evolution Blog

I have lots more to blog about...but I've been much like the white rabbit all week, and as usual I'm late...I'm late for a very important date!

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentines Day filled with all the love you can bear!

Friday, February 13, 2009

~*~ Cheery Little Bluebird ~*~

Despite my shoulder I finally managed to get something new made! I guess I am anxious for Spring! You can visit the little bluebird on my website: Animals Page

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Yesterday and today haven't been quite as good as Monday was. As it turned out my step dad has to have another surgery. The reason the first one went so well is because they didn't do anything really. He has to have a kidney removed. That's delayed until the 23rd, and I am very worried over it because it's such a serious surgery. The good news is once it's done and healed, he shouldn't have that horrible pain.

R is on his way to Toronto today for a training seminar and had a layover in Chicago, and his connecting flight has been delayed twice due to weather. I am on pins and needles until he gets there safely. I guess it's normal to worry about the people you love but it's hard being on this side of the fence. It used to be me always traveling, and I was usually pretty lucky. I was rarely delayed on any of my trips. I was delayed at O'Hare when I was 13 though. I was traveling by myself (can you imagine) to Winnipeg, and the flight was cancelled. Must be a normal part of traveling from Chicago to Canada! The good news there is that he didn't have anything important that needed doing today! Edit: He is staying the night in Chicago and they may travel on tomorrow or come back depending.

I am experiencing delays of my own on nearly everything. They determined I have tendonitis in my shoulder, but now it seems as if I am getting it in my right shoulder as well. It's not that uncommon to develop it in the other one when you have it in one already. It's taking me about five times longer to do everything, which is kind of frustrating. The good news for me is that I do know how to control it more or less and it means I probably won't need another surgery. I got yelled at by the doc for not having the cortisone shot, but I am a bit leery of that. Cortisone can ultimately weaken the tendons, so I would rather treat it with ice packs and doing very little and basically suck it up and grin and bear it through the pain. It hurts like crazy right now but I am a tough girl, I can take it.

I spose I should go run my errands. Hopefully I won't experience any delays with that!

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Good Day!

Today is turning out to be a great day! My Step Father came through his surgery just fine, which I am so relieved over. I am honored to be the featured artist on the front page of Lollishops! And I lost five pounds on top of it!

Confessions Of A Teen Idol

I like a little bit of reality TV, but I don't get caught up in every reality show that comes down the pike. Somehow I got really hooked on this show. I am not the sort of person who ever cares much about what anyone in Hollywood is doing beyond their performance in a show I watch, because I have other things to concern myself with. Even as a teenager I didn't get all goofy about most teen idols. (There was one...but he isn't on this show.)

If you haven't seen Confessions Of A Teen Idol, it's on VH1, and it's about a group of guys from various shows and movies who enjoyed fame at some point in the past few decades, trying to jump start their careers again. Some I remember clearly, and some I just know of in passing from seeing their shows advertised. I never watched Baywatch or The Real World.

I just watched tonight's episode and I found myself really rooting for these guys to succeed. I think that many of the things they have had to hear during this series have been pretty harsh and I have felt bad for them several times. It's fascinating to watch their growth.

I started to wonder why I cared if these guys succeed, and I realized the answer pretty quickly. Aside from the fact that you get to see these actors as their true selves laid bare as real human beings who have the same struggles we all do, there is a larger reason I find myself caring. I have always believed that no matter who we are, what kind of successes or failures we have had in the past, or how old we are...that we should all be able to come back at any point in life and make a success of ourselves in anything we choose. Sometimes, like these guys, we mask our fear, uncertainty and lack of confidence with vanity or anger. But if we can get past that we can do anything we want to do. It's important to somtimes get outside of our comfort zone and take risks on opportunities when they present themselves.

If I didn't believe that, I would probably be working behind a desk as a computer programmer somewhere right now. But I wanted to bring my business to the internet and make it work. It will work. I won't give up until it does.

I know these guys will never know who the nameless, faceless people they have no concept of, are watching the show and rooting for them to win, but maybe there are enough people out there who feel that way, that our positive energy and thoughts will help them. Maybe...there are people out there that all of us have no concept of rooting for us to win? I certainly hope so, we could all use some positive engery and thoughts aimed our way.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Facebook & MySpace

Normally I don't fall prey to doing whatever everyone else is doing just because they're doing it. But this week I did. Now keeping in mind I am not a spring chicken and I have no kids, I always had this perception that Facebook & MySpace was mainly for teenagers.

I used to have a MySpace page. Actually I had two of them, one for business and one for me. I finally stopped logging on and they sent me a notice that if I didn't log on my pages would be deleted from inactivity. I still didn't log on. I don't know if they are still there or not. I got so much spam from having them, that it didn't seem worth it. I should probably think about revisiting my work page, but I am really not that enthused.

This week I saw a large group of people talking about their Facebook business page, so I went ahead and set one up just because I saw everyone else was doing it. I mean why not right. Some of the pictures kept disappearing and I had to re-upload them for some reason, but I more or less have it all set up.

The thing is, I am not sure what the point of it is. I tried to look for other Facebook pages...just general ones involving things that interest me. I really couldn't find any. The site seems hard to use in general. At least on My Space I could find things. Maybe I am just missing something? Sometimes I think I am just getting old. Technology can be great, but sometimes I miss a simpler way of life.

Anyway if you really want to have a look you can, here is the link:
My Facebook Page

Note: I tried to reciprocate to the people who are fans, but I guess unless I have a personal page I can't add you as friends? I am still trying to figure it out...

Edit: I just had a peek, my MySpace pages are still there...go figure! I went ahead and updated it a little. I need to add new pics but I didn't get that far yet. Here is the link to that if you're interested:

My MySpace Page

Saturday, February 7, 2009

End Of A Crazy Week And A Mix Up

R is always supportive and never says anything about things that sometimes don't seem to get done around here. But he has no idea what I do all day. In fact I suspect he secretly believes that I just lay on the couch reading magazines and watching The History Channel or playing on the computer most of the time, and then occasionally roll off to pop out a bear or vacuum, pretty much letting everything else go. That couldn't be farther from the truth. I admit I do like The History Channel, but I am constantly doing something.

I wish I had a few more minutes each day to sit down and do absolutely nothing. Sometimes when I blog I look at what I have written and it's very telling of how my week has been. For some inexplicable reason when I am really stressed I seem to blog more. I make long, intense posts about some subject or other, that is usually an extension of what's stressing me out. Clearly this week it's been work and my struggle to figure out online selling venues and where to go next with them. I always feel restless about those posts afterward, because I think I should have posted light hearted, happy things with pretty pictures and flowery words instead. That's what people prefer to read I think. My life isn't all pretty pictures and flowery words though, and I can't always keep whatever is going on in my brain and my life from coming out in text. I kind of wish I could. Most people manage it beautifully. People often leave me kind comments or praise for those posts, but it never stops me from thinking I am committing a grievous error in the unwritten laws of blogging.

I had a about 150 little things I needed to keep track of and get done, and about 6 big things. I have been running around trying to get them all done, and wondering why I had bitten off more than I could chew this week. Especially since I am fighting this flu again. I hate not keeping my word so I push myself to do everything I say I will no matter what, I don't always succeed though. Right now I am behind on a couple of those things and it's eating at me. I will get them done as soon as I can.

One of those things I had to do was the talk radio spot we did this morning. I wavered back and forth on it all week. I set up the account on Blog Talk Radio, had a heck of a time figuring out where to put all my information and then last night I couldn't log in. I also went to Blockhead Radio and many of us were having troubles with it throwing us off line and crashing our computers. I wasn't completely clear on the fact that they weren't related sites either.

I had committed to do it though, so I had R wake me up this morning 15 minutes before it was supposed to begin, after all it was radio so it's not like I had turn into a glamour doll for it. I got coffee, (actually R got it for me, good guy that he is) wandered down to the computer and checked my mail. It's a good thing I did too, because I found out they weren't the same site, and we needed to set up a new account on Blockhead. I did this very quickly with a little trepidation, but the site worked smoothly this morning and I was able to participate in the show. I sincerely apologize to those of you who went to the other site because I had the wrong information and you missed the show. I tried to look for it on the site so I could provide a link, but I can't find a place where it was cached to. Maybe they don't do that? If I find it though, I will post a link. The show turned out to be a success, and we all had a great time. I missed some sleep but it was worth it.

I have a couple more little things to do to get caught up with everything I needed to get done this week, but tonight I am taking some time off and we are going to the book store, and to grab a bite to eat. I need to go have a shower so I can do that, I guess I will stop here. Maybe next week will be calmer and I can post those kinds of pictures and words that you would all rather see! I can't guarantee it though...sometimes the glitter from yesterday is a little tarnished.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Blog Talk Radio

Saturday at 1 pm eastern the Etsy Artist Bears & Friends Team will be interviewed on Blog Talk Radio. I will be participating in the least I hope, I was having some technical issues with the site tonight. I am sure I will have it straightened out by tomorrow.

If you would like to join in the conversation either via chat or calling in with questions you can do that by signing up with the site at

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Crunching The Numbers

Since I have talked mostly about business this week, I am going round it out and make yet another post about online selling venues.

I saw a discussion earlier about number of views people get in one place over another. One person was congratulating another on over 1800 views on one item. I don't know why people get caught up in that. In fact I think if I had 1800 views on one item and it hadn't sold that would be a clear cut signal that venue isn't the right vehicle for what I make. They seem to think number of views equals a good site to use.

I have one item listed in four different places, it was listed 4 weeks ago, at the same time in each one. Here are the number of views it's gotten each place:

Biggest selling venue: 172 views

Second biggest selling venue: 24 views

Newer selling venue: 25 views

Specific type of selling venue: 82 views

Many people would say I should go with the first venue because I am getting the most views. Really? Do you know what those numbers mean? It means that many people looked at it and didn't buy it for any number of reasons. The only number that means anything is the number 1. The one person who does buy it. The number of views a thing has are really irrelevant. If you have 2 or 2000, what it takes is for the right person to see it and buy it. Sometimes that's simply luck of the draw.

We are provided with all sorts of ways to check our stats on these sites. Google Analytics is really popular on several sites right now. I didn't bother with it because I don't really see that it means anything other than a lot of babble that makes the site seem impressive because they want you to think if you're getting views then you're doing well. If you're not getting views then you feel bad because you think you are doing something wrong in some way, when you probably aren't. The only way it would mean anything is if you knew why each person looked at it and didn't buy it. I look at all sorts of stuff for reasons other than intent to purchase. So that doesn't mean it's a reflection on the quality, price point or anything else to do with it. Sometimes I just like to look at things because they are there.

Now lets look at my stats for sales, I haven't been featured in a mainstream way in the first three of these venues and to be honest I haven't overly promoted any of them because my main loyalty is always my own site:

Largest selling venue: 12 mostly lower end sales in 12 months, I was forced to add some 5 dollar graphics in order to cover my expenses. I finally got sick of doing them because people expect the world for their 5 bucks and I quit bothering with them.

Second largest selling venue: 0 sales in 5 months, this is ok though because it's free to list and based in another country.

New venue: 1 high end sale in 3 months, not bad...not good, but it's a new venue and hasn't hit it's stride yet.

Specific type of selling venue: 5 mid to higher end sales in 2 months, this one paid off because I made a profit for my small effort and money, and I will probably stick with it the longest. In all fairness I have spent a few extra dollars to be featured in a more prominent way on this one.

Thankfully the majority of my sales come through the real world and my website. It provides significantly higher figures. I also did really well on Ebay before they got ridiculous with their policies and fees and I left.

So you need to weigh what the numbers really mean before you get caught up in the hype. There just isn't enough imformation and too many variables to really make them workable.

The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants

Since my past three posts have been pretty serious and about business I thought it was time for something a little more on the light hearted side!

If you haven't seen the movie, it's about the trials and tribulations of four teenage girls who work through their issues and share a magical pair of jeans while on summer vacation. The most magical thing about these pants is that they fit all four girls perfectly despite differences in size, height and body shape.

I wish I could find a pair of those pants because I belong to a different sisterhood of traveling pants. Most of mine travel south with any type of activity. (It's ok to laugh because it's caused a few comical and embarrassing moments that were pretty darn funny in retrospect!) Just today I had to grab my waistband to keep my pants from falling down in 7-11...again! Yes it's true, my pants fell off in 7-11 once. I have quite a few pairs of pants most of which don't fit me properly. If they fit my waist they are too tight in the hips, if they fit my hips they slide right off of my waist.

I blame Kate Moss for this. Ever since she sashayed onto the scene with her overly thin surfboard figure, women have been striving to be built like 14 year old boys. Models and movie stars have become overly thin and devoid of definition between their waist and hips. Naturally since these are the people who have a symbiotic relationship between designers and set the trends in fashion all pants have been cut from the same cloth so to speak.

I am a curvy girl, I have a big chest, round hips and a proportionally smaller waist. I am not a size two and I don't want to be. Really! I am not just saying that because I have no hope of achieving it. I am proud that I come from a long line of Celtic women who aren't surfboards. That's not to say I couldn't stand to lose some weight. Regardless how much weight I gain or lose my proportions never change.

Designers create their sample fashions in a size 0, when it trickles down into pret a porte' they enlarge the pattern to fit more sizes. But they don't really alter it in any way. So in essence whatever size you get, it is still engineered towards that ultra thin, stick straight surfboard body.

Magazines always urge you to get your clothes tailored. Well that would be great but quite honestly I am a starving artist and I can't afford to do that. Ok well maybe I am not starving...if I were my pants would probably fit! I suppose you might think since I sew I could alter them myself. No. Like a reverse vegan of the sewing world, I only sew things with a face. If it hadn't been for an extra credit project in home ec where I made a stuffed elephant I probably would have gotten a really low grade. I don't like to sew clothes and I am not good at it.

So I wander through life holding onto my waistband, dreaming of the days when those beautiful healthy looking models of the 80's were the fashion and waiting for the trends to change back to where women are curvy and proud of it.

What I Learned From My Study Of Selling Online

In my previous two posts I talked about online selling venues. I have also talked in the past about selling online in general. I have mentioned many times that I have been studying all aspects of it for months now, to see how to make them work. I will tell you what I have learned. Please keep in mind that what I have learned applies to myself, I am not an expert. You may not find that it works this way for you. This is an insanely long post for which I apologize, but I hope you take something positive away from it if you take the time to read it all.

One of the most important things to remember is that whether you have been in business five minutes or fifty years, it's a constant learning curve. I have been in business for 28 years. I have rode waves of major success and seen business drop off only to come back and ride another wave. In order to stay, you have to figure out how to ride those low tides to the next high tide and maintain your work ethic and public presence. You have to be adaptable to new ways to sell, especially if the way you previously employed is dying off.

Longevity does give you insight and an ability to look at the big picture. But in order to have a successful business you have to be able to admit that you don't know everything. Business's that have staying power learn to adapt (within reason) and are always open to suggestions from their customers for improvement. I am not saying you need to follow every suggestion, but you should at least stop to consider it and your customers motivation for suggesting what they did. Especially if you have more than one customer making the same suggestion. You have to be able to handle the negative with the positive without taking it personally. While it's important to stick to your main concept and mission statement, business's that aren't willing to admit they might be doing something in a less than productive fashion and take steps to correct that very rarely survive. There is no shame in admitting that you don't know everything.

I worked for many years before the onset of the internet. So bringing my business to the internet has been a little bit like starting over. No matter how much you have sold in the past, on the internet you're a small fish in a big pond, because it's so easy to set up a website or a shop through one of the myriad of online sales venues that more and more people are doing it.

I have spent a year and a half trying to figure out the best way to drive customers to my website. What I have discovered is that a lot of the options online don't work for most people. Many people use Twitter to link bomb to their site or shop. While you may get sales from it, you run the risk of alienating a lot more people who could potentially be a customer. Social networks are called social for a reason. I have mentioned before that I remove anyone from my list who does nothing but post links. Even the people who intersperse their chatter with links don't really prompt me to click on them unless I get to know them and build a rapport so that I want to see what they have made. I post a link maybe 1-2 times a week and the rest of the time I just chat and get to know people because I like to meet people...they are interesting.

Blogs are a great way to make people aware of what you do as long as you don't cram it down their throats. People read blogs because they are interested in the people writing them. I have links and images to places I sell and what I sell on my sidebar. I post pictures of new items with a link to where to find those items and that's it. I also intersperse those posts with a lot of other kinds of posts. My blog is about all sides of me. I don't separate my personal life from my professional one because what I do is another facet of my life. There is nothing wrong with having separate blogs, it's really just a matter of personal choice. You have to remember that some people will admire you for what you write and some won't. You also have to be ok with that. It's easy to be misunderstood in your intent online because people can't hear you. I tend to say things in the calm, even manner of an observer, but people often read what I write as me being angry. I am rarely angry. It's up to you how you choose to present yourself, but for me, I like people who are three dimensional and real. It's fine to always put your best face forward, many people like to read only positive things. I prefer to throw it all out there and be as objective as I can. Judge me however you will, I can't control that, nor do I want to. I just know that in order to be true to myself I have to be as real online as I am in person.

On the internet we are literally bombarded with ads from every direction. Most of us don't come online with that intention. If we are going to shop, we seek out where we want to shop as our main focus. But when we are hit with ads on a site that we went to looking for something else we tend to tune those out. The only time I click an ad from someone I don't know on a site I went to for another reason is if they have a really, and I mean REALLY eye catching image. But what appeals to me might not grab another person's attention. Also it's important to remember that there are so many places to put ads that it can be overwhelming to choose where to spend your money. A few dollars here and there might not seem like a lot, but it can add up real quick.

Online selling venues have proven to be a great success for some, but not for the majority. There are certain keys to making those work. You have to have a product that is in line with the concept of that particular venue so that you are hitting your target audience. It's also important to remember that some of these sites are run by people with less business experience than we have. They are a business of their own with the goal of making money, they don't know you and they don't really care that much about you. If you don't sell they already have your listing fees. Many of these sites tout themselves as being open to everything, but in truth if you don't blindly follow the precedents and trends they set and drink the purple koolaide without question you won't get featured, you won't be seen as much as you would like without an insane amount of your valuable time spent on promotion on your part. If you're willing to do this, that's great. You can be very successful. If it's cutting into the time you might want to use for creating things, spending time with your family, cleaning, getting out of your house and computer chair, and just generally living your life...then you might need to go a different route.

People have this idea that these venues don't owe us anything in the way of promotion. But if that's true, why are we bothering with them? The whole point of these venues is to get seen and let people know your product is out there. If they are only going to promote a handful of people who don't even sell the same type of product you do, then how will you get seen? How will people know to look for you or your type of product? If you're going to spend a lot of time and money promoting your shop on one of these sites, it's just as easy to promote your own website where you don't have to give these venues a cut from your sale or pay listing fees. I know there is a general idea that it's better because they have a large customer base. That only matters if those customers are buying from you. Websites aren't that hard or expensive to create. In the long run if you create enough product to support it, it's cheaper to have your own site than pay the fees to a venue. With the programs available you don't even have to have programming knowledge, although it helps. If you are an artist, then you should be able to create a pleasing site because it's another form of creative expression and you control how it looks, what gets featured and what image and feeling you want to portray.

Another thing I see over and over is people blaming the economy. Ok yes, the US economy may not be that great, but I can think of quite a few people who do website updates with expensive, non essential items that sell out within an hour of doing their update. On the internet you aren't just reaching one country, one economy, one market or one earning class. People are still spending. Billions of things are sold every day online.

So what is the answer then? For me...there are a couple simple answers. One is if you want to use a sales venue, find one that is specific to your target market and art form. Yes your competition will be greater, but so will the customer base be because they are looking for what you make. There is no harm in leaving your other shops open as long as it's not eating too far into your time and profit margin. You will still hit a few people who weren't aware of you and your product. But look upon it as cheap advertising and don't expect great sales if the concept of the venue isn't mainly geared toward your style and what you make.

The second is, have a great product that is well made, don't cheat yourself or your customer on price point, have great customer service, learn to take good pictures (I am still working on this one, but I am getting there) and pony up the money for print ads in magazines. The reason print ads are more successful than online ads is because when someone sits down to read a magazine they are focused on images. Your brain is geared towards looking at images without distractions. Plus the ad never expires. People save magazines to reread, they pass them on to friends, they leave them in doctor's offices and laundromats. So you have the potential to hit several people with one magazine, and to have that ad seen a few times by one person. I have gone back as much as a year later to look at a site I saw from rereading a magazine. If you pay for a week's spot on a site after that week, it's gone. If you pay for a print ad it's forever in that issue. It's not inexpensive to advertise in magazines, but in the long run it's worth it. There is also a general perception that if it's in print it's more serious and professional. Just make sure you choose a magazine that is appropriate to sell what you make. For instance it would be folly for me to try to sell teddy bears in Handyman magazine.

The last piece of advice I can offer is don't worry about anyone else's business. One of the interesting things to me is when I see someone on a forum making a post about a business practice someone else has. Why do you care? It doesn't pertain to you. The only time I study other people's business practices is to learn from them, or if I intend to buy something from them. But what they do, how they do it, what they charge, what kind of customer service they have...that's up to them. It has no bearing on my business. Don't play the comparison game either. If someone sold a bear for $4000.00, good for them! That's great, I am happy for them, but it has nothing to do with me. I am not going to copy that bear, their style, or anything else because it wouldn't work for me the same anyway.

Just remember to be yourself in all your flawed glory, learn to admit when you are wrong, celebrate your triumphs, learn all you can, don't take yourself too seriously, know that it probably won't be an easy ride but believe in yourself and stick with it, make smart choices, don't blatantly copy anyone else or jump on the latest fad bandwagon just to sell, spread the wealth and help others, realize that it takes time to build a business, and you will be a success.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'm Flattered, But No Thanks

Last night I received a lovely little e-mail from someone I met through Lollishops. (I am not going to say who it is because I don't want to cause any trouble for them.) They read my previous blog posts concerning selling venues and saw a mock up of a suggestion I posted to the Lollishops forums before they disappeared.

My kind friend thought that I should make my own selling venue for people who make handmade. This has been suggested to me a few times before so I thought I would address it here. I am deeply flattered that people think I have the ability and objectivity to do this and make it work. I would be lying if I said it hadn't ever crossed my mind. But never seriously.

My intent for studying these sites so carefully was never to make my own. The only reason I did it was an attempt to figure out how to make it work for me and be another facet of my business. As I pointed out in my previous post, I don't think I can make some of them work. If I ever did choose to do something like that, I would probably make it just for bear artists.

Over the years I have also considered opening a real life shop filled with fun things, but I have never done that either. The reason I don't consider it seriously is because I don't want to be a slave to that type of business. I like having the autonomy to work when I feel like it for 5 days straight in a creative haze and then doing nothing for 3 days. I am an artist at heart and at personality. While I like the freedom to make my own website look any way I choose to reflect my own style, I don't want to take on that responsibility for a large group. I think owning a shop or a website of that nature would suck the soul right out of my creativity...and vice versa.

So thank you to everyone who has suggested it along the way, but no thank you. *smiles*

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bad Relationships

I think we have all seen people in bad relationships where one person is giving their all to it in order to make it work, and the other party acts like a dirtbag, neglecting them, taking advantage of them and not giving them the proper respect they deserve. Often the second party is a player who makes tantalizing promises to these people and every other person they have a relationship with, rarely being able to live up to those promises because they are only interested in themselves and what they can get out of it by putting as little effort into the relationship as they can.

As a very strong woman I have often wondered why these people stay in these relationships. I have watched the hurt, frustration, and sheer denial and always thought if it was me I would get out fast and never look back.

I have heard the excuses people use to justify being in these relationships. They keep hoping that if they put enough love and support into it things will change and get better. They feel that they have invested so much time into it that they can't simply turn and walk away from it.

I think there might be another reason they stay so long...I think many times they don't realize they are in that type of relationship until it's too late because things progress slowly and it seems so promising at first.

This morning, much to my surprise I realized I was in one of those types of relationships. I sat there wondering how on earth this happened without me seeing it?

I am not talking about R, so don't try to get me any help or suggest I leave him. No, R is a peach and would never treat me badly. I am quite lucky in that relationship. I am talking about a different relationship.

I went back to look at some of the posts I made on my blog this morning concerning a specific topic. I had read a post on another blog that really opened my eyes. The person posting it had provided links and statistics and facts that were hard to dismiss. I wanted to see if I had been too harsh or simply assessed the situation incorrectly despite this new information, so I tried to read my posts objectively and as if they had been written by someone else.

The irony is it read exactly like every woman I have ever met in a bad relationship. They know something is wrong, but they aren't quite sure what it is. They know they should get out of it but they stick with it using all those same excuses and go into denial. Even after reading it and knowing what I now know I am not quite willing to get out of it just yet.

The relationship I am talking about is with Etsy. If you have been following my blog, then you know I have been studying it for a while now. Despite learning all that I had learned about how they skew towards a young, hip audience, use mall mentality, only feature certain types of items, feel they have the right to create trends, and largely ignore the rest of their population of sellers needs and concerns...I still thought it had to be mostly my fault in some way.

I, like many others had put a great deal of effort and money into promoting my shop, which was to their benefit because any type of promotion brings customers to them as a whole. Etsy doesn't do much to promote the vast majority of their sellers, they leave that to us. The certainly could, they have the resources to do it. They make promises of creating a venue for sellers of handmade to make a living, but then they ignore many of our needs to make that happen.

Recently they even took away the guarantee of those 30 seconds of front page and time machine exposure after you list a new item. Instead of stepping up to fix the problem by adding more squares they made an announcement after the fact saying that we shouldn't expect that for our listing fee. They made it clear they don't owe us anything for our listing fees other than the listing. They only made the announcement because so many people were complaining that renewing was pointless without being certain we would make it to the front page for our few seconds of fame. Conversely they do feel that our listing fees gives them the right to pressure us into doing things their way in some instances.

This morning I read this and was shocked. It's another long post, but worth the read and you might find it very enlightening: Sun>Moon Blog

They have a large team of people working for them, but yet so many of the things they do seem counter intuitive. Ultimately they are not only hurting us, they are hurting themselves as well. But like the player, they refuse to see it.

I was looking at the gift guides yesterday and I noticed a seller that was featured in four different ones. It's a seller that has been featured many times in the past as well. It's nothing personal against the seller, but what they sell is certainly not to my taste, and I am sure not to the taste of many customers and I found myself wondering again why one person needs to be featured so many times when less than 98% of the population isn't getting any at all. This type of thing happens a lot. Their sellers pleas fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. Why does Etsy deign to give so much love to a handful of people when they neglect the rest of their relationships? Why do they think they can tell us how to run our businesses as long as we are sticking to their TOS. Sometimes they try to pressure us into doing things we aren't comfortable doing.

I am not going to completely leave my shop because I figure it still hits the consciousness of a few people who weren't aware that I was out there, but I have stopped renewing, stopped promoting and stopped put my love into this unhealthy relationship. I list an item and that's it. I have lost respect for them because of the many things I have seen and heard about their treatment of sellers. Case in point in the blog post listed above. Most of us wouldn't allow ourselves to be walked all over in a relationship with a significant other, so why do we do it in business? Sadly I still harbor a tiny flicker of hope that it will change for the better, so I don't completely close the door yet.

I have concluded my study of these selling venues as of today. I think I have learned most of what needs to be learned at this point. I am sure part of it is still my fault as is the truth with any relationship. Afterall it takes two to tango. But I think most of the blame lies with them. They ignore whole genres of art, don't listen to sound advice when people give it and pretty much do whatever they want. Like the players mentioned at the beginning of this post, I doubt they will change despite my hopes to the contrary.

I think it's important to step back once in a while and assess all the relationships we are in and ask ourselves if we are getting what we need from them. Especially if we have wandered into them blindly, filled with hope. If the answer is yes, that's great...stick with it. If the answer is no, maybe it's time to rethink things. Some of these types of relationships we find ourselves in can be just as abusive, demoralizing and hurtfully impact other aspects of our lives as one with a partner who treats us badly. Each of us is worth more than that.

Monday, February 2, 2009

~*~ Green & Brown Starfish ~*~

I made a starfish, I haven't made one in a few years and I was pining away for Summer.

You can visit it on my website here:

Blondheart ~ Starfish

Casualities Of War

I am not a vindictive person. I always figure karma will handle that so I don't have to. When I am upset or annoyed with someone I tend to march straight up to them and lay whatever is on my mind right out on the table right to their face. Once it's done I am good and life can go on without further attention to it. I guess I don't understand the need to be vindictive, what purpose does it serve? If something isn't working out the way I had hoped, I close the door...then turn and walk away without a backward glance. Usually when people are vindictive it backfires on them. But they never seem to see it coming.

I ran across something recently that truly gave me pause. A few people were upset over something, and were being very vindictive in the extreme about it. It almost seemed as if these people are trying to start a war. Not a war among nations. God knows we have enough of those already. Just a small, silly war. The problem with wars is that there are always innocent people caught in the middle. Many of whom get very hurt. People have this opinion that if you aren't against something, you are for it. It may not be as simple as that. Sometimes people are doing what's best for them at the current time, and simply trying to stay afloat amidst the chaos.

Before people try to start a war, maybe they should think what it would be like if someone was trying to start a war against them. How would they feel? Who would get hurt in the process? What would the long term fallout be? What would the backlash against the person who started the war ultimately be? What if the war ended up taking food out of someones mouth that really needed it? How would they feel then? I guess maybe some people just don't care as long as they can feel vindicated in the end. But ultimately, isn't that what all wars are really about?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

~*~ Basil Biddlesworth ~*~

While everyone else is watching the Super Bowl, I have been hard at work. I just finished a new bunny! He is available on my website, you can visit him here:

Blondheart ~ Basil Biddlesworth

Surprises In The Mail

I think we all like getting mail, unless it's junk or bills. I love running out there every day to see what might be in my box. Granted people don't write letters much anymore since the onset of e-mail, and it kind of makes me sad. I still have letters that my Grandmother wrote to me when I was a child. She has been gone now for about 14 years, and I cherish those letters.

It's also pretty exciting to see the glossy cover of your favorite magazine or a package containing some special little treasure you ordered. Even better is a gift that you weren't expecting from someone very thoughtful.

But what I never expect is a surprise in my e-mail. However, I got one! I was checking my e-mail and going through the usual mail announcing the new round of people who have decided to follow me on Twitter. I seem to pick up at least one or two new people a day. Yesterday I had four new followers. When I got to the third one, I thought the name looked really familiar, but it was out of context and I couldn't place it for a few seconds. Then it dawned on me that it was the name of one of my favorite authors. An author whose book I am reading right now in fact. I thought it was either a coincidence or a maybe fan of his, that chose to use his name. As it turned out it was really him.

Then I realized last week I had been discussing books with another twitterer and told the book I was reading so he must have done a search for his own name and added everyone who mentioned him. The really fun thing is, he isn't there simply to promote himself, he is actually talking to people. How cool is that! I believe this is my first brush with anyone famous since Elizabeth Taylor bought one of my bears some years back.

I will give you a hint as to who it was...he wrote the last Indiana Jones installment. *winks* Today brought another author following me. I have to confess I haven't ever read any books from this one, but it was a name I recognized right away. Maybe I will check into his work as well.

You just never know what the mail will bring!
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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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