Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year...Meet Sno!

Happy 2012!  Here we are on a brand new year...isn't that exciting!  What better way to start off the new year than with something brand new.  So without further ado I would like to introduce you to Sno. 

The idea for him began about ten days ago.  I was rummaging through my supplies and found a bag labeled lost eyes.  Even though I use the premium quality eyes, they are hand blown glass and occasionally one will have a defect and pop when I set them.  There were two spare eyes in the bag that didn't have a mate.  In my hand they reminded me of my favorite emoticon which looks like this:  O.o

I started thinking that could be cute on something.  I went back and forth...bear...snowman...snowman...bear?  Hmmm.  Then I thought since I am wanting to do something chibi-esque...why not combine both!  Sno is a brand new pattern though.  He has been adapted from my existing snowman and bear patterns, but with some changes.  His head is much larger than the previous snowmen, and his body and limbs are shorter than the bears.  He is the very first fully jointed snowman.

I hope you like him, as cute as he is in the pics...he is much more charming in person!

You can visit Sno on my website from the animals page.

I hope you all have a wonderful year!  I have all sorts of surprises in store for you.

Hugs, K. <3

Friday, December 30, 2011

You Are On The Right Path

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas!  I know I did.  It was quiet, but that's ok sometimes.  We opened presents with my parents via Skype, had prime rib and just enjoyed the day.  I asked for two small things, but R spoiled me pretty well in the present department despite my assurance I didn't want anything else. 

But now that Christmas is over and the last embers of 2011 are about to go out, and I am waiting for the bright new flame of 2012 to ignite...I find myself thinking back over this year.  What stood out?

There were many things that stood out...both for the good and the bad, but the first thought my mind went to was a similiar conversation I had with several artists at different times throughout the year.  So I want to leave this year by giving you all some words of encouragement.

In nearly every full time working artist's life they have that "what if" moment.  I have had it, you've probably had it, and several of my friends had it this past year.  The what if moment goes something like this; What if I should doing something more important with my life?  What if I should have a bigger job?  What if I should be making a larger contribution to the world?  What if what I do is frivolous and meaningless?  What if my life is on the wrong path?

It's part of the nature of being an artist to have moments of self doubt.  They creep into your brain at unexpected moments.  But over the years I have learned a very important lesson.  All works are important.  There are no small jobs.  We are making a large contribution to the world.  Frivolous plays an important role.

I want you to imagine a world where we are all lawyers defending the innocent, doctors working on a cure for cancer or saving lives, erecting tall buildings, playing a political role, shaping the financial structure of a country, teaching the youth of your city, or trying to save the planet.  Those are important things.  Maybe right now, this second after reading that you don't feel like what you do is worthwhile compared to those jobs.

But can you imagine a world where everyone did those things and nothing else?  At first glance that might seem like a nice world.  But it would also mean a world where there is no art, no music, nothing that makes you happy just for it's existence.  No teddy bears to hug.  I don't know about you, but that sounds like a pretty dreary place.

Lets suppose all artists had chosen to become doctors instead.  Lets suppose that we save so many more lives by our being doctors.  What would we be saving those lives for?  Would you want your life extended in a world where there was no frivolity, no cute, no fun just for the sake of fun?

It's noble to think we should want to do something more important in those moments of self doubt.  But I will tell you two is that there is more to saving lives than the science behind it.  And the second is that the universe is a far older and wiser thing than we are, and it's a balanced place.  The perfect yin and yang system.  It's designed that way for harmony and well being of the whole.  As artists we are upholding our end of that perfect balance.  That seems pretty important if you ask me.

So as we wind down this year and reflect on what we might want to change or do better for the coming year...just know in your heart that you are on the right path.  You are doing an important job.  What you do does have meaning.  So whatever changes you choose to make, let them reflect the path your life is supposed to take.  Don't second guess yourself.  You are doing just fine!

Have a safe and happy New Year!  Hugs, K. <3

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Creating A Website

A couple of the questions that came up in the Q & A were about making websites.  I have also had a couple e-mails lately wanting info, seen some artists ask in general and I even offered my (probably unwanted) advice to yet another artist about their website who mentioned it on their blog.  So I thought I would just make a separate post about it.  I have been working on the Q & A post for a few days, and it will be along soon.  Some topics need their own post due to length.

First of all, I want to impress upon you that I am certainly no expert at this.  But I try and I seem to get a lot of compliments on my I am going to plunge on in!

If you do not have a website, it can be pretty intimidating to start from scratch.  Lets face it, we are artists,  not programmers.  But in this day and age we have to wear many hats if we want to have a web presence. 

Lets start with the basics.  There are many WYSIWYG programs out there.  For those who don't speak geek, WYSIWYG means What You See Is What You Get.  These are basically "drag and drop" programs.  They do not require much, if any coding skills.  It's a great thing to know how to code, but you do NOT need to have this ability any more in order to create a nice site. 

When I was going to set up my site, I did a comparison search.  I wanted the most user friendly program out there that gave me the freedom to set it up any way I wanted to.  I looked at several sites that review programs and they all pretty much said the same thing.  The #1 rated program cost several thousand dollars.  I couldn't afford that, but it had flash with it.  Most of us don't need flash.  (Motion images.)  The #2 recommended program cost $26.00 at that time.  I thought hey I can afford that!  It's a program called SiteSpinner and it's available from  It's up to about $33.00 now.  Still completely affordable. 

When it arrived, it came in a small padded envelope and the cover of the disc case is pretty unassuming.  I thought oh no, what have I gotten myself into.  Something about it seemed intimidating.  But I popped it in and downloaded it and was truly amazed.  When you download it, it comes with a tutorial that is written in plain, understandable language.  It is truly the MOST user friendly program I have ever encountered.  If you have your graphics ready, you could have your site up in about 2 hours.

After you get a program to create your site, you will need a domain.  There are so many to choose from it's hard to know what to use.  For this step I went to a friend who had been creating websites for years.  She suggested

I have used it right from the beginning.  I have never hit a bandwidth wall, it never goes down.  They do maintenance about twice a year for maybe an hour or so, and they do it late at night when traffic is low.  It costs $120.00 a year.  So ten bucks a month is pretty good.

Ok so you have your program, you have your what?  I certainly don't want to offend anyone...but I have noticed that a lot of bear artist's sites are somewhat lacking or tend to look dated.  Websites are like anything else we make.  They go through trends, and while you want to be true to yourself and what you make, you also need to stay current.  That can  mean incorporating a little of the latest thing into what you do.  Lets face it, that's how people stay in business. 

There are a lot of sites out there who use that main solid color square in the middle with the floral (or whatever) repeating background.  Sadly that makes your site look so ten years ago.  Again I am really sorry, I don't want to offend anyone, but I am honestly trying to help you here because the goal is to sell things and I can't sugar coat it.  If you and your customers are comfortable with that all means keep it!  Keep in mind though, most of us would not always return to our favorite real life specialty stores if they never changed the displays or store window.  Your site is your store and you have to keep it fresh and interesting.

My first rule is always continuity.  Your site needs to reflect your style of bears.  Mine are traditional with a little is my site.  You can go really fancy, you can go pared down...but whatever it is you choose, it has to make sense with what you do.

The second rule is keep it simple.  Make sure it's easy to navigate and easy to read.  When we surf the net we don't want to spend a lot of time figuring things out.  When people have to do that, they just get frustrated and click the X.  Who can blame them? 

Keep your personal stuff off of your site.  Don't include pictures of your pets, your husband, your kids, personal stories about your life, etc.  Put that stuff on your blog and/or your facebook page.  People go to your site to buy stuff.  If they want to know you more, they will click the link you have provided, to your blog or your facebook page.  The only text walls you should have in your site, are about yourself as an artist, possibly where you create, and your latest news about your work.  Also make sure those links aren't the first ones on the list.  Put the work you have for sale as your first links.  This is why people come to your site.

The next thing of course is pictures.  I am always striving to take better pics, and I am not that great at it.  But every photo editing program has tools that will brighten, clarify and sharpen your images.  So many sites I visit had dark or blurry images.  If you don't know how to use these tools, just bring up an image, copy it and start pushing buttons to see what they do.  It's not hard to learn and if you ruin the's just a practice copy.

Also I have noticed that a lot of bear artists save their images as png images.  That's great because they are clear, but png images can be bandwidth hogs.  I save mine all as jpg images, BUT there is a trick to that.  When you save your images before you hit that save button there is a tab that will say advanced or options...depending on what program you use.  When you click that it gives you an optimizer button.  It will make your image better and you can save a jpg that is about 98% as clear as a png image and won't use nearly as much bandwidth.  Some domain's offer more bandwidth than others.  If you hit your bandwidth limit for the month your images go bye bye and are replaced by hideous signs that say bandwidth exceeded.  Your only choices are to pay more money or wait until the next month.  That is not something we ever want to happen.

Now for me personally when I am shopping, I don't need to look at 47 images of your product to know if I want to buy it or not.  In fact I personally don't care for image overload, especially if you have provided nice decent sized pics that are clear.  I use one image and a different image for the thumbnail on my site and five on my blog/etsy/bearpile.  People like images, but they like diversity.  If they have to spend too much time looking at one piece, they will get bored and not move on to the next piece.  Also image overload can cause customers with slower computers or smart phones to have lag on the page loading.  Think about it, when we go shopping in the real world most of us don't pick up a piece and turn it over and over and over in our hands before we buy it.  We pick it up, look at it from a couple angles and say yes I want this or no I don't.

You have your program, your domain, and your pictures...but what about all those extra graphics?  Where do those come from?  For me, I make a lot of them.  But sometimes I can't make what I want so I go to  Stock images can be purchased from this site for a fee.  Most of them are very inexpensive and royalty free for things like decorating your site or your blog, etc.  Just make sure you read the royalty info before you buy an image. 

If you aren't the sort of person who likes to play with images or you simply don't have that ability in your repertoire, there are lots of places and/or people you can buy graphics from.  You simply have to start searching on the internet.  Or you can ask a friend to help if you know someone who can do that kind of thing.  But as someone who used to sell Etsy's good to have an idea in your head of what you want before you ask someone to make something for you.  Remember though, they can't see what's in your head.  They can only go on what you tell them.  So be clear and specific about what you want.  Also be forewarned that some people charge hundreds of dollars for design, you do not ever have to pay that much to get good graphics.  Do a search, you will find someone who charges reasonable fees.

Once you have everything else in place, it's time set your paypal buttons.  I know a lot of people have trouble with this.  Setting paypal buttons is so easy, just follow the instructions or find a tutorial.  You do not have to use their ugly yellow buy now image either.  You can make your own image and upload it to an image host like which is free and put the code into the special box.  You only have to do it once and you can change the image if you change your site design.

At this point you should hit your publish button and have your own website.

Some other important tips to remember...

* Learn to tag in order to get better hits from Google

* Mark things as sold when they are, and don't leave sold items on your available pages for months on end.  People get frustrated when they want to buy something and can't have it.  Move it to a gallery page or remove it all together in a timely fashion

* Use Google analytics

* Do a mailing list

* Don't forget to clearly state your policies and include an e-mail link in case people have questions

*Don't do a website and then send people to your Etsy shop to buy things, people don't want to chase you all over the internet, and if you're only going to sell on Etsy, why do a website?

* Have fun with it

* There are set no rules, it's your business, your site and the sky is the limit!

* Keep it interesting and creative so it holds people's attention and they want to come back

Good luck with it, and if you need help or have any questions...don't hesitate to ask!  I am happy to help!

Hugs, K. <3

Monday, December 19, 2011

~*~ Sugar Plum ~*~

I have to say, I was beginning to think I was never going to get this bear done!  I have been working on her for DAYS!  She was in the works even before the last two were finished.  I hand dyed her mohair a dusty plum, I did the polka dots on her legs...I made her SHOES! There was so much gathering on her tu tu...she wore me right out.  But I think she was worth the effort.  By all rights, I should charge five hundred dollars for this bear!  Of course I am not going to...

So meet Sugar Plum!  She is available on my website at  for much less than five hundred dollars!  *giggles*

Now I am going to go collapse in the chair and watch a movie!

Hugs, K. <3

Saturday, December 17, 2011

~*~ Slalom ~*~

Slalom and his little friend are ready for the slopes!  I just finished him, and he is available on my website at

Off to do the bear next!  I swear I am going to get caught up soon! 

Hugs, K. <3

Thursday, December 15, 2011

~*~ Cupcake ~*~

I have been playing with my pattern again, and I have come up with a slightly different proportioned bear.  Not to worry, there will be the regular ones still as well...but I wanted to do something a little more chibi style.  It's something I have wanted to do for ages, and I am finally getting around to it.  I have to work up to it slowly though, since my brain has done traditional for so long.  Miss Cupcake is the first step in that direction, and has a little bigger head and shorter body than bears in the past.  She still comes in at a hair under 7 inches, so she is the same size as the others.

I also hand made her collar and flower on her bow from German wool felt.  I was inspired by a vintage pair of felt baby shoes I bought ages ago.  Naturally winter white wool gets a bit stained and moth eaten over the years, so I have done my best to recreate that feel.  I am really happy with how she turned out..if you ask me she is a confection!  (Ok that was kind of a bad pun!)  At any can visit Cupcake on the bears page of my website at

Edit:  Cupcake has been adopted.  I want to thank everyone for their inquiries from Bearpile about her.  I was surprised how many people were interested in her!  I had quite a few requests for her when I got up.  I guess I will continue on with this style of bear!

In other news...I will try very hard to get to the Q & A tomorrow, you have waited so patiently while I have been cleaning/entertaining/working/going for follow up visits to the doctors, and I appreciate it.

As for my follow he seems to think that I have arthritis in my knee and a ganglion cyst under the knee cap.  But my question was...why didn't any of that make it hurt before I fell?  He didn't have an answer but offered to give me a shot behind my knee cap.  He said I would feel much better if he did, I said probably but that he wouldn't.  So I respectfully declined the shot.  I have gotten better over the years with needles, but not that good.  To have a shot behind my knee cap I am pretty sure I would have to be sedated.

I also had my bi-annual checkup today with my regular doctor.  I have to go in twice a year so I can get a blood test to check my thyroid and my kidney function, so while I was there we discussed my knee problem and he is going to request my x-rays and MRI results and review them himself.  I like that idea, because the other guy keeps changing his mind.  I trust my regular doctor so much more, so we will see what he has to say about it.

The other bear and the snowman should be along shortly!

Hugs, K. <3

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Weekend

I figured you were tired of looking at the pic of my toe, so I was playing with the camera tonight.  Ridley was happy to accommodate me and have his pic taken.  Most of his Christmas friends have been adopted so he thought it was good to have a little play time to keep him from being lonely! 

It was such a busy weekend, but we had a nice time.  Shopping was great, I found some lovely treasures at The Barn.  I got a ring that can only be described as a pink chandelier for my finger!  I actually squealed a bit when I saw it!

Plus I swear all we did was eat amazing food this weekend!  R made prime rib Saturday, and we went to Red Lobster on Sunday because it was my Mom's birthday Monday. 

They are leaving in a few minutes, and I am sad to see them go.  That's the trouble with's always sad when the fun ends!  Of course it does mean that I will have time to get back to work.  I have a snowman nearly stitched up, you will be seeing him in a day or two.  I also have two bears in the works.  I am a bit sleep deprived, so that's the first priority today. 

Wednesday I have to go have my follow up from my MRI.  I know some of you asked what the result was, and I was supposed to go last Tuesday, but I rescheduled it.  It was below zero and icy all day and I didn't want to run the risk of falling on my head and doing more damage.  Lets face it, that was a very real possibility with my track record.  My knee paid the price this weekend and it's swollen to twice it's normal size today, but it was worth it!

At any rate, I guess I will get going, Mom and Jim should be stopping by soon on their way out of town. 

I hope you all had a lovely weekend!  Hugs, K. <3

Sunday, December 11, 2011

You Won't Believe It

Ok so if you actually ventured over to look at this post, you're probably thinking...Kel, why am I looking at this disgusting picture of your foot?   I know...but it's so bizarre, I just have to tell you. 

As you know I am oh so, SOOO clumsy.  But sometimes my little mishaps just defy logic...and gravity! 

Last night I took a nap until about 2 am, then I got up and finished all my cleaning and stuff I had to do.  About 7:30 am, I decided to have a little nap until my parents arrived. 

I was sleeping soundly when they arrived at 12:30.  I got up and grabbed my bathrobe off the hook.  I have done that hundreds of times without incident.  The hook I have for it is this heavy, decorative metal thing with a big ceramic tile in the center of it.  It's very and stuff.  Well today somehow when I grabbed my robe it caught and pulled the hook off of the nail and it flipped in the air and came smashing down on my toe. 

Long story short...ok maybe it's too late for that...but toe is broken.  Can you believe it?  What are the odds on a thing like that?  It's just crazy.  Plus I think the doctor is starting to think R is abusing me!  (Not really.)

The worst part is it's on the other leg from my knee.  Today I am taking my Mother up to The Barn in Castle Rock for shopping.  She always hears me rave about it, and she wanted to go.  So I will be hobbling around with a double limp!  *Giggles*  I am such a mess!

Sorry for subjecting you to the pic!  It actually looks better than it does in person though!

Oh and I guess Blogger is working on the blurry header problem.  It's not just me who has this glitch.  It's some issue with Picassa.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Blogger Glitches & Company

You may have noticed that my header is very blurry.  Apparently this is a blogger glitch some of us are having, and there is nothing I can do until they decide to fix it.  So I apologize for that, but it's out of my hands.

Also my company is arriving in a few hours, so I won't be posting much until next Tuesday.  See ya then!

Have a lovely weekend, Hugs, K. <3

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mozzie's New Friend

Mozzie got a new friend yesterday and he was so, SO excited that he wanted me to tell you about it.  He has decided for himself that since the deer is so small he must be one of the "eight tiny reindeer" of infamy.  In fact he thinks it's Comet.  I think he may have overheard me talking about cleaning the powder room yesterday and using Comet, and got confused.  At this point I just don't have the heart to tell him his new pal is from Williams-Sonoma and not the North Pole.  As for the little fawn...he doesn't seem to mind Mozzie's enthusiasm or being called Comet!  In fact he just smiles and doesn't say anything...hmm...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Site Design & Mailing List

I got the new layout done!  I have some tweaking to do still...but it will keep until after my company comes and goes next week.  I have to get the house cleaned next.  Plus I have an appointment at 10 am to find out what the MRI showed on my knee.

I like the new layout, it's not as fussy and it will be easy to change for each update.  Plus I wanted something different from what other people have.  I think I achieved that.  I wanted to do bigger thumbnails, but I may have gone a tad too big, so that's one of the things that will get tweaked later! 
Also the new newsletter service is now in place, so you can sign up for that either by using the link at the right or on the details page of my site.

So go have a look!

As always your feedback and thoughts are welcome.

I haven't had a chance to finish the new snowman or the bear...but they are coming.  I just have to clean my house since company is coming too!

Busy...busy...busy...Hugs, K. <3

Friday, December 2, 2011

Website Update For December!

Here they are!  If you would like to go visit them, you can do that on my website at

Hugs, K. <3

Thursday, December 1, 2011

25 Hours And Counting, Changes For Next Year And Sneak Peek #4

Here is your last sneak last night when I photographed him for the little peek, he wasn't dressed yet.  He has a very cute hat and string of bells on now.  But you will get to see it tomorrow.

There are still two pieces in the works that won't quite be ready for tomorrow.  I have a snowman and another bear cut out.  I also thought I would redo my website, but I underestimated how busy this time of year can really be...and how much I can physically get done in a 24 hour day.  Hand sewing and distressing is a lengthy process.  I have been working from the moment I get up until I fall into bed on the five pieces I do have ready.  I am really proud of them though, they are a nice little group, and I hope you love them too!

I have been giving the coming year a lot of thought and what I want to do for that.  All year I have been going back and forth on whether I want to do group updates every so often, or put up each piece as it's made.  I have come to the conclusion I can do both, and that should make everyone happy!  So for now I am going to have group updates every 4-6 weeks and a new piece will pop up about once a week or so in between.  We will see how that goes, and I am certainly open to your thoughts and suggestions.

Another change I have coming is that a little later this month I am going to change my newsletter service.  I never could quite get the old one to work the way I wanted it to.  But with the coming change you should get a monthly newsletter.  I will let you know when I have it ready and you can sign up for that.

I also have a new website design I have been working on, and I really like it.  But it won't be quite ready for tomorrow so that will come along a little later in the month with the newsletter change.

Also I haven't forgotten about the Q & A, and I will do that in a couple days after I get the update done tomorrow.

As of yet I haven't heard the results of my MRI.  They said it would only be a day or two, but it has been more.  I don't believe I will need surgery since it seems to be healing finally, but I have to wait for the official word. 

I have company coming and I need to decorate my tree which has been up since Sunday.  So it's going to be a very busy month!

I hope you all have a lovely day and I will see you in 25 hours...and counting!
Hugs, K. <3
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