Monday, November 22, 2010

Welcome to my studio :)

Just a quick pic proudly presenting my latest creation. I'm in the middle of a shoot and suffering from an attack of unshakeable optimism. My recent photographic action proved to be a total success and
a) my pics are getting fairly decent
b) it takes one tenth of the time it used to take
I'm happily snap-snapping.
Only my knees hurt like hell from ceramic tiles.
One more universal mystery solved - now I know why human kind invented pillows!

Friday, November 19, 2010

New pics off The Box

Sample of what you can get by building a lightbox.
And if you saw how unprofessionally my box looks - OH, HOW YOU WOULD LAUGH!!!
Screw it, it's supposed to work, not look.
And does it work? Funny me, I thought that once I have The Box, taking pictures will become holiday in Hawaii. Instead, it looks like I'm starting on another trial-and-error learning quest. I see some improvement here, but...
I start to think I should've posted a pic of myself splashed on the floor in front of The Box with my elbows propped up against an overturned guitar amp. I feel like laughing, not like being professional (blah!). Must be the weekend getting at me? ;)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Photographic charge!!!

After many sleepless nights spent on worrying how to improve my little online shop (ok, I do exaggerate here again... but only slightly :), I concluded that the biggest issue I still have troubles with are bloody pictures. Much better than they used to be, they keep on being my Achilles' heel - too dark, too dull, backgrounds with ever-changing colour... Time to do something about it.

As I've said many times over, I hate photography. Hate, hate, hate, as passionately as it gets. Each time I'm forced to take up a camera, I'm whining worse that a puppy missing its mother. It got so bad, that I actually started to avoid CREATING new items, knowing that at some point I will have to snap the picture. The warning bell rings - definitely time to do something about it!

Let me be painfully exhibitionistic here and tell you a story or two on how does my picture taking process look like. It's a grim painting, so be warned. First - batteries on their last breath, which let me take about 20 pics at one go, rarely more. Then the mandatory charging break of few hours! I got a habit of photographing only one item at a time, so making images of one line of jewellery - see my zodiacs - becomes a task stretching over weeks. That is, it would be weeks, if only... There are some other factors involved. I take my pictures in my living room, next to the balcony to catch light. But what if it rains? And here in Ireland it does it a lot, sky being so overcast that we live in perpetual shadow. Plus, I tend to live in very irregular hours, often sleeping during the day and staying up all night, so no light = no pictures. Weeks become months.

I say stop. I scratched the bottom of my miserable purse, dug out few quids, and went shopping. First - BATTERIES!!! No more 5-minute long photo sessions!!! Oh relief! Then - a cheapest possible table lamp, to add to the one I already have. I've spent some time reading various tutorials and researching options of my camera, so now I have much clearer idea what to do to make it work. Next step - hunt for a decent box and making a light tent. This is still to be done, but I'll be up and running any time now.

If it all goes according to the plan, I will soon have lots of lovely, alluring pictures and much more items in my shop. Plus, maybe, more pics to adorn this blog with :). Well, there's nothing like some action.

Fingers crossed!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This is all getting insane

One pissed off post for a change.

I'm hanging around the forums, browsing Etsy things and getting angrier by the minute. I did try to have a light approach, not to treat everything seriously etc., and sometimes it even works, but there are moments when I just want to scream. Or hit someone with a brick.

I'm doing cross stitched jewelry. I've listed a pair of earrings today and travelled to 'needlecraft' section to have a nice look around and see how I stand out against competition. And then...

What competition??? Half of the items in 'cross stitch' subcategory don't have anything remotely to do with cross stitching! There are magazines, patterns, beaded items, pin-and-thread creations, pictures, ANYTHING, but things that were actually cross stitched are few.

Same with ever-discussed question of resellers. There are screams and screams about it in forums. I guess if I said what I really think I would get sued, so I'll keep it to myself, but can't stop myself from one simple statement - why the hell would Etsy remove them if they bring them money???

There was a thread in the forum yesterday on how Etsy brand is being associated with low quality and basic crap - and you know what? Some people expressed actual surprise! True, there are AMAZING artisans lost in Etsy's labyrinths, but proportions are getting scary. Sometimes I'm under impression that maybe one in 100 shops shows something really breathtaking, the rest is just hopeless junk.

People are getting better and better in marketing, SEO and similar, but forget about the actual product. And nobody seems to mind. What a shame.

Might be the time to start looking for a new e-venue.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to get exposure?

I've been struggling with this issue every waking moment (o.k., I AM exaggerating here :). But it takes some time and work and brainstorming.

If you are an Etsy seller you surely know what I am talking about. There are million trillion sellers out there, all desperately trying to get customers to look at their items. Because of this crowd, it's bloody hard to get noticed. Unless, of course, you are willing to spend a fortune on constant renewing. But that goes rather against the whole idea of a business, am I right?

So, back to the always-surfacing question - how to get exposure? I can speak only from my own experience, and so far what I found out is:

- Blog does not really work ( :( ). Not this, anyway. I have a funny feeling that if I started writing on something having nothing to do with my Etsy shop, it would work better. Just to give you some statistics - I have days with 60-80 blog views, but only few, if any, translate to Etsy view. Tough.

- - I've already written about it here. No rush in the shop either. Maybe one, two extra views, but that's it. Still, it's always an outlet and you never know.

- Etsy forums. This is my main reason for writing this post. I did some experiments yesterday and I'm astonished by the results. I spend half the night yesterday on Etsy forums. Not being serious, not trying to give any decent advise, just blabbing my heart away and mostly adding a touch of humour to oh-so-serious posts. It was... well, I wouldn't call it inspiring or a pleasure, but it was kinda fun. Especially a long, long thread on How to Make Money When You're Deadly Broke :). But let's have a look at numbers. Usually I get an average of 5 visitors a day, with 20-something pageviews. Yesterday - 50 and 132 accordingly. An absolute record! Now, I'm not sure if it's the target audience I'm looking for, but at least I'm SEEN. Which, with the Web more crowded by day, is getting more and more difficult to achieve.

I guess I did not invent gunpowder with the above. But my aim is not to be an all-knowing expert, I want to tell you what WORKS based on my very specific experience instead. Fresh reports will be delivered as my adventure progresses :).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Playing with prices?

Here's some news - special offers don't seem to work. I did as promised in my previous post, I've listed three pairs of earrings at a special reduced price and - nada. Not only I didn't sell anything, even views were extremely low.

Well, I did give it a try.

Anyway, I'm tempted to get totally wild and start playing with prices. Let's say I'll put something up at out-of-the-blue high price, a hundred quid or so... I may still not sell anything, but at least some people may want to see what the hell I want to charge this much for and increase my views this little bit.. Or they will be deeply offended by my cheekiness and they will tell all their friends how bad I am :). I don't really enjoy playing market psychologist, but I'm getting much less serious about my shop. See, I tried to be professional, reasonable, all that, and nothing came out of it, so maybe I'll just get wild? Even if I don't sell anything - no change there, right? - at least I will have some fun.

What's more important - I started the whole Etsy thing to be able to do what I want. NOT to earn money, NOT to get recognition as a crafter, but to be able to create something exactly as my fancy takes me. My shop is my creation, my items belong to me (until somebody buys them), I can do anything I want with them. Anything, anything, anything.

There, I've said it. I feel much freer already.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Special offers (grrrrr)

I'm giving up.

I'm going to introduce a limited time special offer for next three items added to my Etsy shop. I'm bringing the price down from 35 to 25 dollars.

I'm really angry about it (can you guess??). The reason being - no, not that I'm some stingy witch who's crying for her potentially lost money. The reason being - I'm compromising my beliefs and it hurts.

Let me show you the picture. My earrings take about three to four hours to make - not a chance in the world to do them quicker, that's the peculiarity in stitching. Every stitch has to be sewn by hand, I cannot get around that. So I can't introduce any time-saving techniques. I guess I'm glad, because this means that my items get my full attention, fully special treatment, I'm putting my time and care there. Add some materials to that and you will see that I'm not really making any money with prices as they are.

Then - I have no sales. Nada, not a single one. And two people close to my heart suggested this is because of the price. I heard today - 'You tried everything, you changed descriptions, changed pictures, posted on blog, but you didn't move the price'. So ok, here's where I break. I'm willing to give it a try, just to see what happens.

What I hate about it is that the bullshit marketing I hate so much has finally caught up with me. Now I will have to use those hated phrases, to tell people out there how fantastic it is that I brought prices down. It's not fantastic. It's supporting all the wrong ideas. It's giving up, it's losing my personal fight. But here we go, I'm doing it.

I feel awful. This, too, happens.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How about a bracelet?

There, I have just given away my secret. Or, in other words, told you what my latest project is.

I am not yet sure how it will turn out. See, what I love most about my project is that they 'make themselves'. It's very simple. If I hit the right idea, making it into a tangible reality is piece of cake and I'm loving every bit of it. If the idea is not so great, soon I'm losing interest and simply abandoning it. I'm not going to get freaky and talk about destiny, let's just say that my creations enjoy bits of personality.

I've already tried making bracelets once upon a time, but it proved to be one of those failed projects, so this time I'm a bit apprehensive. Yet, I'm giving it a try. So far it's going smoothly. If it all works I'll be screaming with pride so you'll be sure to know. If it doesn't work... heheh, I might just as well treat it with elegant silence :)

I'm still wondering how to finish off the new bracelet. Of course it's cross stitched, but I'm hesitating whether to put it on felt or on leather backing. Any suggestions?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Zodiac jewelry

I silently launched my zodiac jewelry line.

Three signs are up on Etsy by now, pendants only, but I will add earrings and sets later on.

I was going to wait until I have the whole range photographed, but one evening I just decided to get on with it and see what happens.

Nothing much happened :)

The views are pretty low and it makes me not-so-happy. I want my items to be seen! How are they to be liked if nobody knows of their existence??? I guess patience, patience is the key, but it is not that easy to summon.
I guess I do not have that much choice, I just have to wait and see what happens. And hope like hell that some Readers will visit my little gallery on their travels.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Right place, right time

I am not a religious person. At all. But I do believe in some kind of spirituality, and that's what this post may smell of.

Don't know how about you, but for me, everything I do requires right timing/conditions/enter whatever you want. And it applies to absolutely EVERYTHING, from craft to work to fun to intimacy. When regarding to crafting it means one particular thing - there are no shoulds.

I'm reading a lot of teach-yourself online sources on how to develop a successful home based business, and most of them advise creating some kind of routine and sticking to it. Do this or that everyday, blah blah blah. Sometimes I'm in this really self-perfecting frame of mind and I'm even trying to. Guess what - never works.

I much prefer my own way of doing things. There are no shoulds. You know all those voices that tell you that you absolutely have to do this or that or something terrible happens? I tell them all to shut up and I kick them out of the door. The reason being - they are a terrible bunch of liars.

Ultimately - what would happen if I don't list/stitch/write when I don't feel to? See, inner critic saying that my business will never get off the ground is pure bullshit, for one simple reason - I love what I do. I stitch because I enjoy it very very very much. I'm putting all this online because I kind of like it too. And if I'm in no mood to do any of this - the only thing that happens is that I avoid making/publishing something of inferior quality. I don't need to force myself to do any part of my work if I don't feel like doing it. I'm sure as hell that some time will pass and I will be able to do this with all the joy and satisfaction.

This 'rule' applies to everything. I don't care if you take it up or no, but I can tell you one thing - following it makes me one happy person. Listening to shoulds and ignoring what I really want to do makes me miserable. Which one would you prefer? I have no doubts.

And you know what's the best part? Some magic happens, that it all works out fine in the end :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bored to tears

I was really, really bored yesterday. More than that, I was THIS close to writing a post about it! Luckily for me, someone distracted me halfway through typing, I saved a draft and returned to have a look at it only today. What a pile of rubbish it was! Delete, delete, delete!

Why I'm telling you all that? Because I want to admit that boredom DOES happen. I guess everyone gets those moments, when nothing seems interesting, worth of your attention or a smile. Man, how frustrating those moments are!

I've observed one thing yesterday. The harder I struggled to think something up, to find something interesting to do, the worse it actually got. Not only I wasn't really hooked, I also started to hate things I would otherwise love to do! Lucky me, I didn't end up stitching so I can still embroider a thing or two :).

New items added to the shop almost daily. Check it out, make my day :).

Oh, by the way, did you know that a new book by Terry Pratchett has been out for about a month? I found out yesterday-ish and have been itching to run to a bookstore ever since. Broke as I am, I will have to wait some more, but if you are bored and looking for a good read, I shall wear midnight would be the perfect antidote. Even if you don't treat Pratchett as a guru (god incarnated, the wisest creature on Earth :) as I do, you're guaranteed a good laugh.

Nothing kills boredom better.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Surprise, surprise!

Let me bore you with some stats today.

Until yesterday, my total blog pageviews for this month equalled 104.
Then the surprise arrived - 80 (!) visits within one day.

I AM not only surprised, I am positively shocked.

I am also wrecking my head trying to find an explanation for this phenomenon.

Do I have a good fairy out there who corralled some readers and kicked them in direction of this blog? If so, hell, I'm grateful, dear Fairy :)

Or does it have something to do with the subject of my last post? I'm wondering - is it maybe that there are more people out there who are tormented (:P) by some metaphysical questions and stumbled here in search for answers? I find it quite hard to believe, but as long as I don't have any intelligence on the subject, I can let the imagination soar.

I would very much appreciate some feedback, though. Can I ask you a favour, dear Reader? Could you let me know, in comments or otherwise, what paths brought you here, on this website? What were you looking for to find my humble persona? I'm not being nosy, just curious :). Well, I can offer something in exchange - if you tell me what you liked, I can promise to write more about this subject. Does it sound like a good deal?

All this is also to say hi to all who travelled here, even if by accident. It's more 'cool' to pretend indifference, but I'll be brave enough to say that I DO care, that it feels pleasant to be read and that I feel grateful.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


There will be some philosophy in today's post, so if it gives you the creeps - turn back here and run!!!

See, I'm curious. One of those big, 'what it's all about?' questions. It's not really that I'm looking for an answer - I guess everybody has one, and surely I've read so many versions of how it's supposed to be like and what we are supposed to do, that my head starts spinning as soon as I think about it. But I'm still curious.

I was given a book today, on how to defeat self-hatred. I think it's a big, big, big issue and I would so much love to live without this cruel critic in my head, and maybe with some joy instead?

One of the things the book (and many others) say is that acceptance is the key. That the greatest blessing a human being can achieve is to accept WHAT IS. It's hard to do, maybe one of the hardest tasks out there and it surely brings a lot of inner peace once you manage to get there. All the magic, all the happiness is there, just as promised.

And yet... If we accept what is, how could we ever CHANGE it? Where the hell would a motivation for a change come from?

I do understand and value the tranquility that acceptance brings. It might be the only possible way out of hopeless situations, those that we simply cannot escape. It's a fantastic anaesthetic when you're stuck somewhere and cannot leave. But it's nothing, NOTHING, compared to satisfaction you feel when you successfully change some deep shithole in your life into something better. It can feel like a paradise, because not only the reason for your pain disappeared, you also have the knowledge that it was you who caused it.

See, I don't know, and probably never will (and how much I've weakened this post by saying so - wouldn't it be great if I had The Answer?). What I do know is that sometimes acceptance is only giving up sweetened by some agreeable self-lies. And sometimes the need to change is just fear in disguise.

What a messy life we're living, hey?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First sale!

Ok, I'm pale and proud and just have to say something about it.

Last week I have made my very first online sale. No, not on Etsy (though I would very much love to:), but on Ebay.

Just to put everything into the right perspective - I am richer by one whole euro after this success, but it's not about the money, not right here, not right now.

Ebay does this wonderful thing once in a while - they announce 'free listing' weekend. So I figured that if I have completely nothing to lose, it's worth a try. Just to get accustomed to dealing with customers, etc. etc.

I've gathered some paper craft supplies over last few months, so this is the direction I went. I've put on auction sets of paper cut daisies in four colours. After my first try - nothing happened. Same after the second. But after the third... THE email arrived into my mailbox, saying - You did it! Your item sold!

I was quite stressed about my ability to provide fantastic customer service. The very phrase brings bad associations to my mind after some years of payroll jobs, when I was paid to sell goods I didn't give a toss about. But I tried my best. I thought of the buyer as of a friend. I waved aside all inner screams about professionalism, and simply tried to add some warmth to the package. I've slipped in some extra daisies - hell, just for luck. I've hand written a sincere thank you note. And guess what - I already have a very good feedback. But more important than that - I feel great inside. I feel I've handled it just as I wanted to. I know I will be able to handle any future transactions in exactly the same way. It's a great relief. It feels fabulous.

And there's another 'free listing' weekend on Ebay starting yesterday, so who knows, maybe soon I'll have more experiences of the kind?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Autumn blues

Is it just me or everything suddenly turned cold and nasty?

Mid-October, mornings are getting misty and I keep my socks on when I go to bed at night (or morning, as it so often happens, me being an owl-type of person).

More blues inside and for some reason I cannot find enough energy to radiate optimism and belief in glorious future. Very non-marketing, heh?

I blame it on the autumn blues and I'm going to stick to it, at least here.

So, news from the shop will be quite cold and unenthusiastic, too. Nothing much happens. A handful of new views every day (hey, one item is at 99, one more and I can celebrate! A friend of mine tells me that the sales will start once I hit 100 and that statistics don't lie - hell, I hope he's right:), an item renewed once every few days, but that's it. Pretty monotonous.

Well, there's a new banner popped into both Etsy and the blog (which is here! here! scroll up to the top and see for yourself!) - I seem to finally be getting hold of graphic programs. A side effect of web design course. What do you think? At least now it shows what I actually do.

I also started work on a website for NoKitschProject. I have quite a clear idea for the whole thing set up in my head and I will get there eventually, but with the autumn atmosphere smashing my head to pieces it's going slowly, oh sooo slowly. Making a website is a simple affair, but it's unbelievably time-consuming. Also, after some point, very repetitive. And I'm waiting for some inspiration to come up with the words that will be just right, not some nauseous cliches or pure marketing bullshit. Quite tricky.

As I said, I'll get there eventually.

I'm also halfway through photo session for my new zodiac jewelry line - I have about a quarter of the pics, but can't bring myself to move and finish it off. Autumn blues again, and the fact that I'm fighting an endless battle with my camera does not help, either. I want to put them up on the web in one go, so that the collection stays whole, so I cannot move until the photographic task is done. I'll get there eventually...

Shame, because I'm quite curious if the zodiacs will be liked. Hell, I'm a bit low hope-wise these days, and I'm losing belief in value of what I do. I know I shouldn't (how come that people doing cruel, nasty, soulless things NEVER seem to hesitate?), and I know this too shall pass, but I'm only human.

That would be the end of autumn blues for today, thank you very much. Hopefully I will write again soon and in a better mood. Hopefully I won' t need the spring to arrive.

Oh, above you can see another pic from my playful session with Vanda. Quite something, eh?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tech news

I've started a web design course some time ago. Bit too early to say whether I will hate it or love it. However, straight-from-a-class mindset can end up effecting all sorts of discoveries...

If you are an Etsian, you will probably find this one useful. Did you know that sections in your shop actually work as keywords to the main website of your store? So the more sections you have, the bigger your chance of being found in Google? Maybe it's general knowledge, written somewhere in The Rules, although I doubt it. I did not know until today. I found out only because I took a fancy to have a look at HTML version of my store and thanks to my course, I knew what to look for. Who knows, maybe I will be able to publish more smart tech tricks as my classes progress?

I also noticed there is a new 'Stats' section in Blogger. Curiosity killed the cat, but it also allowed me to learn that total visits to this blog as of today count 346. Nothing too impressive, heh? I stay optimistic as I assume it will only get better. But back to my stats - I also found out that my blog is being referred to from a Russian website, or so it would seem after my not-so-specialist analysis. Imagine my confusion when I realised that the above mentioned website is all written in Russian. I can't even READ Russian, much less understand it (although I wish I could), so I have no way of telling if it's all a big accident, or have I some secret Muscovite admirers or someone is slandering me shamelessly certain in knowledge of my ignorance :)

Another surprise I dug out is a visit, not too many days ago, from a reader in Vietnam, who improved my stats by QUITE a few pageviews in one sitting. Well, let's forget PR for a while. I want to confess that according to Blogger stats, this is the first person who actually seemed to sit down and read through my blog instead of simply flying over a post or two (or such is my happy conjecture). Hereby I want to acknowledge this special Vietnamese guest with a big Thank You and my sincerest hope that you enjoyed your reading :)

That's it :) End of tech stories for today. More to follow.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Organised chaos

I felt tempted to write some sort of a philosophical thesis here (might be an afterglow of reading Salman Rushdie's essays - yummy!), getting into heavy ideas and pseudo-intellectual jargon, but - oh, relief! - I managed to stop myself just in time.

I have two reasons for writing this post:

1. Few days ago, browsing Etsy forums and bored to death (ha, if you're reading this as me being bored BY Etsy forums, you're quite right), I stumbled upon a question "Is your workspace neat and organised or messy and chaotic?". It seems that people - which possibly means YOU, reader - are interested enough in the subject, because the thread was +300 posts long (and counting). So let me make this small concession and for once write about something that appears to be interesting to the general public (even for reasons not entirely clear to my humble self...).

2. I've noticed quite extraordinary behavior in myself roughly relating to the subject, and I'm surprised and amazed enough to turn it into a little story.

Let me confess straight away - I'm a messy person. As messy as it gets. I'll spare you the picturesque details, but I have a mess in my apartment, mess in my car, mess in my head, wherever you care to check. Organised chaos, I call it, and I'm happy with it. I'm not happy with people judging me for that, but that's a completely different story.

It's pretty much the same with my crafting. My supplies are stuffed into a big, happy, colourful bag. Their very sight cheers me up, although it includes not a trace of order. I usually have bits of stitching scattered all over the place (and needles, too - one day I'll probably die of something sharp through the heart. Quite dramatic, hah?). Certain pair in my earring collection even travelled with me to a camping trip and partly came into existence on a rocky beach somewhere in Connemara, me sitting on a rolled up camping mat, sunning in front of a freshly pitched tent.

And yet, something strange occurs. My digital files used for building Etsy website are kept in sterile environment. Every file, every single picture is correctly named, every item is placed into its own folder, each in the correct cathegory, etc. Moreover, I experience real discomfort if this is not done STRAIGHT AWAY. If a batch of new pics is not sorted immediately and just sits there on the desktops, I have trouble sleeping. Now, can you explain that???

I can't, but to be frank, I'm not really that bothered.
As Terry Pratchett once said through one of his characters - "Things just happen. What the hell."

Friday, August 13, 2010

On importance of play

I have to admit - taking pics gave me huge pleasure today and what an unusual occurence that is!
All because of a friend of mine, Vanda, who was my guest today and who shared with me a day's work at the camera.
I didn't want to kill her with boredom so I decided to steer away from my usual photographic routine. I brought out all sorts of different items to use as background and we let go of the reins. No limits, no rules, let's get wild and enjoy ourselves.
To my huge surprise, I did enjoy it immensely.
Vanda has a great eye for finding ordinary items that can turn satirical with good arrangement. I've snapped a few unbelievable pics today following her instruction - I'll publish some here so that you could appreciate them too. Note: even if I did not treat the day's work seriously, I've ended up with tangible, quality material.
But the greatest gift was personal - I was reminded how important bringing play into work is. Without fun, even the most beloved activity can turn into tiring chore. Today's happening showed me that it doesn't have to be so - and for the first time in a long, long time I enjoyed photography!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Background question

Before taking any pictures, I spend a lot of time choosing a background. I've learned that this is a very important part of taking good pics.

(Now, seriously, why the hell taking decent pics is soooo complicated and you have to think of soooooo many factors and I'm not a bloody photographer and I want to stitch not to take bloody pictures!!! - excuse me here, that was my inner child talking)

So the very first thing I've learned by trial and error - BIG error, sometimes - is that if you do not know that much about photography, stick with white. Maybe one beautiful day I will learn how to use other colours as well, but experiments so far proved to have disastrous effects.

Like pics of my Sea Inspirations necklaces (you can take a quick look here to see what I mean). I've put them on the background made of little coral pieces, all natural, but kind of beigey-greyish colour. My noble idea was to create my very own beach (in a baking tray, heh heh). I still like the idea, but the pictures... Not impressive, to say the least. They do NOT catch the eye, and, unfortunately, on Etsy this is their function. Conclusion: 'coral beach' pictures that you can view now in my shop are the first and the last of the kind that you will see.

I'm sticking to white, then. But - there are whites and whites. I find the 'piece of paper' kind of white extremely boring (unless it's a really good quality, textured paper but that's another story..). I really liked the idea used by loads of Etsy sellers, which is to take the pics on an open book. For some reason it looks great - might be the bookworm inside me sympathising :) I do not enjoy copying somebody else's ideas, though, so as much as I admire this setting, I decided againt it.

I thought - what I'm looking for? White + texture. For the first batch of pictures I've found it in (mystery revealed...) an old shirt that I don't really wear that much. Or did I already write about it somewhere here? It's an old story anyway, and I wanted to publish some news, so here's another way in which I managed to get a background both white and textured.

Stitching canvas!! That was like a revelation. It definitely has texture - one that I very much like, too, very neat and elegant. Plus, it feels right, to present needlecraft goods on stitching canvas. It's like displaying tools of my craft.

There is a backside, though. When seen up close, the texture is magnificent, but give it some distance and it turns into ordinary boring white. I didn't find a way to get around that (yet!), but since I've spent an hour or so ironing the damn thing I'm dead set on using it in my pictures for quite a while now.

That is, until another idea arrives :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Back to photography

Since I've finished a batch of new items and have them display-ready, time has arrived to once again dig out my faithful camera and turn into a photographer.

Not much changed since the last time - I still hate taking pictures.

But in order to do what I do, I have to grab myself by the throat, push the camera into my unwilling hands and try to do the best I can. I noticed two things in the process:

1. All the usable pictures that I've snapped so far take up 50 mb of my disc space. All the crappy, hopeless, not-so-perfect, boring, (...), uninteresting pictures take up more than 1 gb. This example clearly illustrates that the professional photographers don't lie when they say that you have to take plenty of shots to get a single good one.

2. It got much easier than when I was doing it for the first time. There, that's optimistic news!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


As promised, I'm proud to present the outcome of my 'insect' inspiration from another post.
It was a bit tricky to transfer a honeycomb pattern onto canvas using only squares (that always takes some thinking when creating cross stitching designs) but I feel I managed ok.
So here's my gift to all the bee-lovers out there.
I will put it up on Etsy some time in September.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Behold the outcome of a month or so of my work.
It's a middle stage, they still need some finishing before they are turned into actual jewellery, but the main, most time consuming part is done.
I feel bloody proud.
I thought some maths would be interesting here.
Every pendant is made of 361 cross stitches and approx. 152 edging stitches. That together makes 513 stitches, each and every single one hand sewn.
With earrings the figures are 242, 176 and 418 accordingly (per pair).
Pictured above are 16 future pendants and 14 pairs of future earrings.
So what you're actually looking at consists of 14,060 stitches and is equal to hours (HOURS!!) of my work.
All together it wouldn't fill a jam jar.
I guess this proves that the size doesn't matter after all :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Turning cross stitching funky

Hey, I guess I've found my mission :).

I came across couple of posts here and there saying "nah, cross stitching is not groovy and no fun" or something along these lines and it caused a big wave of rebellion rising inside my head. Might be just my stubborn nature, but I tend to resist being put into any kind of sorting drawer, be it with regards to my life or my work.

So the big thing I want to say is - cross stitching is only a medium. It's a way by which we can express ideas, just as writing or sculpting or painting. You are given a way of transferring images onto canvas and then it's up to you. You can dream of the wildest images, you can change shape of the canvas, you can mix it with any other materials you want - sky (and your imagination) is the limit.

Once you get past the "stitch by pattern cross by cross" phase, you can create your own patterns as you go. I can, anyway. The longer I work with this medium, the more ideas come my way, and the fresher, the more innovative they tend to get. I don't have enough words to express how big an adventure this can become. There are few limits if you are brave enough to follow your own vision and this is made tangible in the items created.

You think cross stitching can be only employed in making nice and boring wall hangings? I'm here to prove you wrong. Have a look at pictures of my pieces somewhere in this blog, or make a quick detour to my shop to see for yourself. I invite you also to try for yourself, to play with your canvas, with your colours, with your ideas.

And do come back to have a look at my new ideas as they grow.
They are happy to be seen.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Ok, let's make one thing clear: trying to sell anything online is a never-ending hunt for exposure. It's nice and soothing to think of the web as a marketplace with six billions potential customers browsing around. But big part of this group has no access to the Internet at all, or does not know how to use it. Some more are out because they just don't have a habit of buying online. Even more can't be taken into consideration because ..(insert any reason you can think of and multiply by whatever you want).

Now, how many websites are there? Around 200 million, according to a quick Google search. Of those, big number will try to do exactly what I'm doing - which is to sell, often items from more or less the same shelf. As I'm actively against aggesive (and bullshit-dripping) sales techniques - and I'm a minority here! - I need to cut my potential customer group even further.

As mentioned milion times before, I'm not going to get views by 'I follow you, you follow me' strategy, because I simply don't respect it. I can't afford paid advertising. I'm not going to leave meaningless comments on every forum I stumble upon, and there's only a limited number of subjects that interest me enough to leave a thoughtful one. So, what can I do?

Well, one of the ways I found out is to subject myself to somebody else's judgement... I dug out somewhere in Etsy forums and started to use it just to see what happens. The idea is simple - you submit your creations to the website and others may judge it. Three items a day, for two weeks, for free. Nice and easy.

The highest rating I got so far was something around 9 (out of 20). The lowest - 3.5... Hmm, how should I say it - it bloody stung! How come, my little beloved things, on which I spend HOURS and because of which I get continuous rides between elation and blackest depression roughly three hundred times a day, and somebody gives them three out of twenty??? ^%&*%&*#%!!! For few days I felt deeply offended and didn't even check Plaincraft website again.

But then I thought again. There's a saying: opinion is like ass - everybody has one. True enough. So I was rated by those guys, who simply hated my items, or were not impressed at all. Somewhere out there must exist (and the very statistics prove my point here) a group of people who will instantly fall in love with my creations, even if this group is (substantially??) smaller than the other one. That's the crowd I'm trying to reach. To find them, I need to put my name out there, just to make it possible for THEM to find ME. And if it means having to survive criticism of the other group? Well, to hell with it, after all I can't blame anyone for having ass...

So I promptly listed three new items on Plaincraft and intend to keep on doing so. And that brings me this one tiny step closer towards my goal.

Oh, if you were interested - I didn't notice any particular rush in the shop since I did that. But you never know.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stitching as a remedy

I mentioned few times how stitching puts me into a trance-like state, when the big world outside seems to be somehow less important and the slow, colourful, patterned thoughts sailing through my head get the steering wheel for a while. Man, how pleasant is that!

Now I'm discovering a new facet to this diamond - stitching can be a rescue remedy.

When something seems to fall apart, really worries or scares the shit out of me - hell, how do I stitch then! Like insane, I can tell you that. I don't think it can solve any actual problem (well, if the Etsy shop eventually moves off the ground it may solve at least one.. the cashy one..) but it helps to ground you when you're freaking out. Panic attacks have no chance of surviving slow, regular stitch-stitch-stitching :).

It soothes, it reaches some deep, calm place inside and allows me to hide there in times of anguish.

And I will have something tangible I've made myself to account for all the time lost in thoughts.

So, my shop will soon be blooming with new products. Watch this, it only gets better :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I got a bad case of insectomania.

Ladybirds have featured in my work for quite a while now, but now it's time for wasps and bees as well. Wasps are really just a warm-up - the pattern is easy to make, the colours bright and vivid. Bees are my main target at the moment.

I've always been attracted to those buzzing creatures, maybe one beautiful day I'll get to be a beekeper (I hope so!!)? There must be some old magic hidden in the hives. Not mentioning pure beauty and magnificence of a single bee on a flower...

I've seen a display in Bristol zoo once upon a time, where a hive was put in between two glass sheets, so that every detail of its structure was visible. Wouldn't mind to see it again, and the idea - ha, tasty! Bee lore is something I've only briefly touched, but one of my plans is to dig deeper. Once a beekeper told me that bees are more likely to sting you if you wear perfume. Apparently they don't like if someone tricks them and pretends to be a flower! Another tasty story I've picked up is more folklorish. A good beekeeper has to bring his bees up to date with all the gossip from the household, otherwise they don't keep well. Plants grow better if you talk to them, well, why not bees?

If you are a beekeeper and think it's complete bullshit - argue with Terry Pratchett, not me :) I got the last bit of folklore from his Lord and Ladies - a bit of read as sweet as honey and as sharp as sting!

Insect-inspired jewelry will arrive into my shop as soon as I finish it, so keep watching.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On the art of pricing

I travel around Etsy and Etsy forums and stumble across the subject quite often.

There appear to be quite a few formulas to use to calculate that perfect price. Apparently, having one is supposed to make you a successful businessman (or woman :).

What do you think your product is worth?
If you, being after all quite intimately acquainted with your product, think it is not worth much, how do you expect strangers to value it higher?

Saying I really like to repeat - cheap is not great value, cheap is just cheap.

As a customer, I feel offended by most of marketing tricks used to try and get me to buy. When I see a 9.99 price I feel someone is trying to play games with my brain and immediately steer away. When I see free shipping, I'm aware that price of the actual product went up by those few bucks to cover this missing shipping cost.

The very basic thing marketing trends are trying to make us forget is - sellers are not beneficients of humanity, they are out there to earn money.
If something appears to be free, it means that you are going to pay for it some other way.
If something appears to be extra cheap, it means that supplies were extra cheap and labour was extra cheap. Usually that compromises quality VERY much.
If something appears to be a miracle and have all of the above not applicable, but still being extra cheap, it means that there's something you do not know.

These are the rules I'm reminding myself of when shopping. When selling my own stuff, I assume that my customers are at least a bit like me and I don't offend them by treating them like brainless dummies and promising free miracles.

Skillfully and time-consumingly crafted items cost. It's worth it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Handmade business cards

I wrote some time ago about my plan of hand-making my business cards.

I seemed to have been a little jinxed on that, because whatever only could go wrong, went wrong. I won't go into details, after all being deadly boring is not my ambition here. Today's announcement though is - I've made it!
I did not manage to do one single thing, which, as you can see, is - MAKE MY MIND UP :)
Then again - do I have to? I didn't very much like the idea of making x copies of exactly the same design, I would probably snore off halfway through. But what if I focus on colours/font (fancy way of saying 'my handwrite') as branding and leave a bit more space for imagination with the flower bit?
Truth 1: When put together, they look fairly consistent.
Truth 2: I enjoy diversity very much.
Conclusion: They pass.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Just a thought...

Just a little thought I had today.

Every single day we do thousands of completely 'unimportant' things. Like dressing up, piece by piece. Like washing dishes, combing hair, buying groceries. Small, ordinary, everyday activities that everyone can do.

But can they?

When we were little children, there must have been a day when we combed our hair on our own for the very first time, when we finally didn't need help when putting a jumper on (giving our carer a reason to celebrate), when we were allowed to embark alone on this adventurous journey of buying some bread in a shop across the road. And how bloody proud we were when we did it.

I feel that reminding myself of those obvious facts may have huge philosophical implications for me. :)

Because when you think about it for a second - 'adult' life is the same process, only brought to a higher level. There's some new things around us that we may choose to try, to do for the first time, and then feel just as proud as when doing up our laces without a help.
Or we may decide not to, because we fear failure.
As children we were somehow braver.

It made me think of all the things I have already learned, but because now they seem so easy, I completely forgot the pride bit.
Like (I guess) everyone else, I need to feel proud of my achievements to be happy. Now, I didn't happen to discover rocket science, so to feel this contentment I need to notice and appreciate small things around me.
This powers me to do more. And who knows, maybe one day there will be enough power to make this trip to the Moon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sea Inspirations

Things are speeding up.
I opened the new section today - new project, new chapter in my creative development, new lessons to learn...
I'm excited and a bit anxious how will it go down, but here only patience is the cure.
Why with every new solution you also get a bunch of new problems?
Two appeared straight after I launched today:
1. I will probably need to find some other way to take pics for this line - as much as I love the background of natural coral, it's a bit dark. Well, before I give the idea up for good I'll try to find some win-win solution, but something clearly needs to be done about it. Maybe some advice? How to keep the coral as background but make the pic brighter? I'd appreciate it very much!
2. Better description/search words. Or better category? I've listed this item as jewelry (well, that's what it is...) but new items in jewelry section stay new for about 10 seconds... Bit to short to be seen. I'm all against fighting competition, I'd rather stick to my own niche. Having a category all to myself is quite unlikely, but again - brainstorming waves go this direction and hopefully a solution will present itself.
They usually do, you know?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ocean Wave

Here's the final pair of my earrings collection, proudly listed in the shop this morning under the name of Ocean Wave.
You may notice that the geranium petals are little frayed.
This is a serious danger accompanying stealing from public flowerbeds after dark :).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New projects

I'm nearing the end of my earrings line. All the pairs are stitched, photographed, described and (all but one) put up in my Etsy shop.

What next?

It looks like I'll be working on two projects simultaneously. First is my seaside inspiration jewellery (I'm always torn between American and British spelling of this word..) - I already have a bunch of necklaces ready to go, tons of beach debris to work on and mountains of ideas.

The second project will be a sequel to my cross stitch earrings story. Someone suggested one day that I should expand the range to include necklaces/pendants. I like the idea, so already started to work on some items.

Soon I'll divide the shop into sections and will update as I go.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I hate taking pictures!

There, I've said it.

You may remember me starting a photography experiment some while ago, and I think it's time to announce some results.

I'm still cautious enough to add 'at this stage of my life' somewhere in this sentence, but the outcome is this - I hate taking pictures, it's a chore, it does not give me any pleasure, it's never brimming with inspiration and my pics are at best mediocre, at worst - well, hopeless. I like spotting things to snap, but when it's time to touch the actual machinery, my energies go all flop. Hate the bloody thing.

But why am I bringing this up? Because after a lot of inner wrestling I decided to be kind to myself and to stick with a minimum-photographic-input formula on this blog.

I'm aware that blogs are much about images and that it may turn some people away from mine. On the other hand - I'm a writer, not a photographer. Forcing myself to take mediocre pictures to show up here consumes loads of my time and happiness, and compromises quality of writing (well, pissed off, depressed writers do have their moments of fame, but I'm not planning career in this direction just at the moment). Besides, I know that I enjoy blogs that you can actually read much more than the ones that are only pics with titles. So maybe, maybe (!) I'm not alone out there.

I'm not going to ban pics completely, of course. If a photo opportunity presents itself and if it's a pleasure to take it, or if a subject simply shouts for being illustrated, I'll be happy to go ahead with it.

I'm just not going to feel guilty anymore about posting without pics three days in a row.

As Alice (in Wonderland) in recent movie said - 'This is my dream. I make the path!'

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to deal with silence

Privately, I love silence. I love silence when there's no radio playing, no cars roaring, no meaningless words spoken for noise's sake. Did you notice how scare of silence people are today?

But never mind that, it's business silence I'm going to try to tackle today.
So you do have your shop set up, you are listing something every day, you try to be visible on the net but... nothing much comes out of it. No sales, views are slow to come, no spark, no movement.

It's tempting to give up.

Well, I'm not giving up, that's for sure.

A big observation I made right after I started doing my online business. Don't know how about you, but I need to resist the feeling of urgency. Like - I need to get sales NOW, I need to be seen by millions (hehe) NOW, I need to have a hundred different projects going all the time, to be constantly busy and buzzing around.

Well, no. What I really need is to sit back and take time to recharge my batteries. What I really need is to focus on the idea I have at any given moment, play with it, turn it around in my imagination, give it time and energy and allow it to become really special. And if no project seems attractive right now, I need to stop forcing myself to do anything, just to keep my conscience clear - 'after all I AM working on my shop, aren't I?' type bullshit doesn't do much good, just makes me feel rotten inside.

I believe that quality is much more important than quantity. I believe that my work will gain much more from me stepping back and reading a good book (or whatever else I do to feel better) so that when I'm really ready to do some work, it's exceptional and looked forward to.

Not even mentioning how tortured I feel when I'm trying to force myself to do anything, as opposed to creating out of real joy.

I can see the difference. Can you?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

How to fix a burn hole

Do you know those? If you happen to be a smoker, I bet you do. Even if you stay away from cigarettes, you cannot underestimate viciousness of campfires or sparklers.

I am a politically incorrect fan of cigarrettes and those little burn-outs ruin my clothing quite often. Now, I got this striped top from my sister not too long ago, and I managed to kill it straight away (if she reads this blog, she's probably going to kill ME). Besides, that's the only thing in pink that, to my surprise, I can tolerate, because it actually makes me look very good. A solution was called for.

I have whole lot of multi-coloured felt bits from my other crafting projects. The other things you would need are some hemming tape and hot iron. Step one: you think of a pattern you want to use to cover your hole. Step two: you cut it out in both felt ((or whatever fabric you have on hand) and hem tape. Step three: you arrange it on your burnt item and iron it on. As easy as that.

And the final effect?
I think the pics speak louder than any words.

A sigh of relief as now I may not get killed by my big Sis.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My first time...

My first time as a featured seller has arrived :).

Natalie from CrescentMoonPapers invited me to be a guest appearance on her blog some time ago and - tah dah! - here I am, with couple of pictures and a little interview (now when I'm thinking of it, it's my first time being interviewed as well. What a bounty of new experiences!). See for yourself (here) if you don't believe me ;).

It feels weird as I'm only slowly getting accustomed to being out there and being SEEN. Usually I prefer to shy away from any attention but I'm gradually realising that in order to be independent, I have to be seen. How else are people to know about my existence? I'm happy to stay out of social focus in my private life, but in business - either go out there and tell people that your product is good or die ;).

It's a hard work, juggling between authenticity and marketing when in plain public view. I'm commited to staying away from bullshit marketing ('uniquecutefantastic x, crafted by the DaVinci/Picasso/y himself, in pure gold studded with million carat diamonds, and all for unbelievable $9.99!). On the other hand, I still want to sell my product (otherwise why would I bother with setting up an online shop?) and when thinking of what I do, I still err on the side of judging myself far below my capabilities. So it takes a bit of inner work to say - hey, I'm out there, and my product is good. Not bullshit good, but good to make you happy with.

Anyway, the first ice is broken and I'm the star of the day on Natalie's blog. Big thank you for having me up there, Natalie!

Friday, July 2, 2010

I don't do Facebook!

I don't do Twitter either, or any other of those social networking sites.

I recognise that it's probably killing my business, with all the missed advertising etc., but hell - there's only so many things I'm willing to sell for money.

I think it stinks - pretending to be everyone's friend only to get more exposure on a website, or to get that warmish feeling 'how popular I am'. I guess some people use Facebook and the likes in order not to feel lonely, but it doesn't seem to work for me - having loads of internet 'friends' to tell me how 'awesome' I am does not make me feel less lonely. And my ego does not need a boost.

Just along the same lines, I have a problem with social networking 'etiquette'. I came across a post on Etsy forum, where a seller said something along the lines of: if someone hearts you, heart them back - it's common courtesy.

I thought I'm supposed to like someone's shop (blog, project, website, fill in what you want) because I like their WORK? Because I consider what they do valuable and extraordinary? Not because someone told me they liked mine?

It seems pretty cheap way of getting recognision. Who cares if your work is any good or not, it's enough to shower someone with praise, and due to 'etiquette' they will mark your product as favourite, not because they think it's any special, but out of sense of social obligation.

What's the point in having 'favourites' then? Why not call it - people that like ME and I'm paying back?

I say screw it. If it makes me impolite, rude, anti-social - let it be. I'll end up with much less appreciation, but at least I will respect those opinions.

And I will feel real gratefulness.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Flower hunt

You may have noticed how I'm using flowers (or generally plants) as props in my photo sessions for presenting my cross stitched earrings. I tried it at the very beginning as a random idea and I was swept off my feet by the beauty, so I kept on going in that direction.

I take my pics one at a time. One day, one flower, one picture.

Now, I bet that's not the most efficient way of getting the pics and if I was doing that in any employment, I would've been fired for procrastination ages ago.

But then each single picture has a story to tell. It may not be important to anyone but me - but hell, it IS important to me, full stop.

At the beginning I was happy with a humble daisy straight from a green patch in front of my apartment. I've kept those pics online because a) there is nothing wrong with a humble daisy, just the opposite b) it illustrates earlier step on my journey.

Then I became a bit more ambitious (and after all there's only so many flowers growing on a streetside lawn) and desired to go for something flashier. First of all, more colour - I've noticed that bright flowers help to bring attention to my product and gather more views. Also, I wanted to have a different flower accompanying each pair - I put a lot, lot, lot care into crafting each one, so I wanted to take an individual approach here (as opposed to assembly line treatment).

Yet, the flowers don't fall from heavens (well, if they do, they never decided to materialise themselves in this area :) and I'm bloody broke so I can't simply go to a florist's and make my pick. Another task was added to my list - flower hunt. Hedges and flowerbeds in my area were my first source, but I'd drained it pretty quick - after all landscapers don't have poor crafters in mind when doing their job - so I had to re-adjust my observation skills to include mental notes on what flowers grow where (and when!).

Jasmine on the picture above is my loot from exactly this type of a hunt. I noticed the bush more than a year ago, when desperately clinging to any scraps of nature and beauty on the way to the office I worked for at the time. Jasmine is pretty special to me, so it stayed in my memory and the time of its blooming coincided with me opening the shop this year. Synchronicity? :)

I nearly missed it, even so. I knew the flowers are up there, but couldn't get myself to actually moved my ass and go pick them. I thought I'd miss it due to good old laziness... but then one day I actually did go for a walk in the jasmine area and here they were - late bloomers!

Here it is, my flower-hunt loot, and here's me, crowing with pride :).
Or joy, more like it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

All the sugar in the world

Milan Kundera in his Unbearable Lightness of Being gave a definition for kitsch that no one has yet managed to beat for me in good few years. I would love to quote here, but since I don't have the book on hand, you will have to trust my description or otherwise read the book yourself (bloody worth it!). So, according to the text, kitsch is nothing else that all the forced and acted emotions that are not really there, but we would oh-so-love them to be there. Like pretended friendship and generosity for a person you know would jump into your partner's bed at first chance. Like official parties where you actually hate all the formal bores around you, but hell, if you speak out you'll end up either socially anathemised or without a job. Like shop assistants smiling from ear to ear at your sight and jumping into their charming best when the only thing they think of is how long until their break. Like charity collectors, who give you long stories about suffering children but forget to mention that your donation covers also first class ticket to an exotic destination for a big fat company bonzo, who, when there, will indeed give a scrap to the kids and jog off to his company expense account 5 star hotel and golf tournament afterwards. Like...

Oh I know I'm balancing here on a line between kitsch and an outward lie, but more intimate examples are not something to put onto a public read. What I'm trying to say is that we seem to have a serious problem with admitting that the truth is not all sugar and glitter. And with accepting this fact. I'm so tired with people for whom everything is fab and brill and fantastic, no matter what you'll put in front of them. Example? Comments on any article in Etsy blog. Not that they are all there to get advertising, no, no...

The truth is out there? Not anymore, I sometimes think.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Supplies from around the world

Now, I bet I will get chastised by all the eco-conscious out there, but at least at the moment a good story is more valuable to me than environmental consciousness. Feel free not to like it if you so choose.

This story is to wonder about two things: how ideas materialise on their own if only you hang on to them and how each part of my new small project has a big story to tell.

I've been toying with the idea of making some business cards. Putting aside all the business advisors screaming it's a complete MUST, I felt that I want to have a little something with my name on it in case someone asks where to find me. I could write on a scrap of paper, but I will be much happier to give away a little pretty card instead.

I looked for ideas for a while, or, to be more precise, marked the project as 'open' and waited for ideas to flow in. And, slowly but surely, they did!

Now, I don't want to go into too many details - first of all, not to spoil the surprise, but also I have a feeling that the whole process, although unbelievably magical to experience, would be plainly boring to read. I'll just say that my supplies include an unusual gift from my sister from years ago, one thing travelling to me from Australia even now, another from UK and another freshly bought on yesterday's trip to Northern Ireland (man, that was a long drive..). Every single thing I'll be using in this project has a big story to remind me of and I'm sure it will change the energy of finished cards.

Well, I guess the only thing left to do now is to post the picture of it when ready. I'll try to do it in few more days, but I have to ask you for a little patience there.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Who likes ladybirds?

I have to confess something - few years ago I got a terrible ladybird fixation :).
It's not as strong as it used to be, but I still can't help smiling when I see one of those creatures. What had me so captivated? I don't have a clue, maybe the colours, maybe the fact that they are supposed to fulfill your wish, or any other reason I can't think of just now.
And finally the fixation proved useful - I have put ladybirds onto my freshly released pair of earrings. You can click here if you want to see more pics.
Ha, I'm really proud of this one!
Just curious what the reaction will be like.

Friday, June 25, 2010

And the answer is....

I was driving through Oughterard, Co. Galway, focused mainly on the road in front of me, when my passenger shouted - hey did you see the bells?
What the hell? I thought. Bells? Are we passing a church or something? Or was it a huge botanical speciman, big enough to spot from a speeding car?
A stop was ordered, a parking found and we went to investigate. And bells we did find! Huge pair of wind chimes, hung from two ancient trees in a roadside mini park. We tried them out and they sound just as well as they look.
What an extraordinary idea! I have no clue whose - if the maker or the idea giver ever happens to stumble upon this blog, I would be happy to hear from him/her. I bet there's a good story accompanying this one!
So here's the pic to answer my riddle. Note the troll bridge in the background!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Road trip discoveries

I've been driving around Ireland quite a lot recently.

First of all, I bought my first car and I'm enjoying the newly acquired freedom of travel. New possibilities opened up, but then - speed of moving around means that I'm not able to see things I would see if travelling on foot. Shame, but I believe some sort of equilibrium exists and I might find it one day. The best of both worlds...

My other reason for travelling is the endless hunt for inspiration and experience. Even if I'm not back home with a new idea (or materials!) for a project, there are always memories, little pictures in my head that are at least that tiny bit out of ordinary. And since I'm trying to be good and take my camera along (see my promise few posts back), sometimes I manage to actually transfer one of those pictures on the screen for other people to see.

So what IS pictured above? I'm wondering how much can be guessed based on the picture alone. The perspective is quite unusual and might make the riddle more challenging. If you guessed - ha, congratulations! If not - let me explain it all in the next post, more conservative pic and location included.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mission accomplished

Castle day is gone and nearly forgotten now.

Among other things we had had an archery display and the tools of the trade are proudly displayed above.

21 kg draw strength bow made by Lukbis in Poland - piece of art in itself, even more stunning when actually put to work (although no, we did not hunt any tourists this time:).

My jewellery stall was not a success, I'm sad to admit, but muffins proved quite popular and made it worth my while.

Well, it's good to move on.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Muffin insanity

Another one of my how-to-live lectures? Naa, this time it's plain news.

I'm baking muffins for the open day up in the castle tomorrow. I'm a bit dizzy already and there are still another three batches or so to bake.. Well, I've heard of scrying with chocolate, maybe I'll invent falling into a trance with muffins tonight.

But there's so many yummy treats here! I've started with classics - blueberry and double choc, but then got more creative - almond (and I love almonds, so added twice as much as in recipe), banana + choc chips + roasted walnuts, spicy apple and I may even go as far as some peach and something muffins if I have any strength left.

Fingers crossed before the day zero!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Potato enlightment

I was reminded today how precious love is. Not the Hollywood-flick-pink-bubbles love, but the everyday, ordinary, down-to-earth kind. I realised how much I was missing softness and beauty in each act.

This happens sometimes, when I get carried away by the Ideas (capital I is essential here), and brain takes over all the energies. Ha, beautiful things can be created this way, but it's all sort of.. dry, lacking this particle of light, this quality of caressing peace inside. And this mode consumes loads and loads of inner fuel, and does it quickly, too. The way to keep going is to stuff oneself with movement, activity, excitement, the more extreme, the better. Some probably can work great in this pace - I know I can't. Not for long, too soon I'm out of breath and empty inside.

Then there's alternative - to infuse each act with soft, delicate love, or to be more precise - to open oneself and allow love to flow in. To put aside all the worries and ambitions, slow down and to focus on experiencing the love that's there anyway. Anytime. Sometimes difficult to achieve, but for me - priceless.

You don't need a prince charming to feel that, you don't need perfect body or a state of art house, you don't need a meter long list of success, nor any other of those things that mass media present as so desirable. You just need to go a bit deeper in and let yourself feel what's already there. Once I happened to fall into an all blissful state of this kind when... peeling a potato. Imagine that! Potato enlightment, sounds surreal, ha? But it only shows that there's love in even the most banal activities. And if you can laugh afterwards - even better.

I think it's extremely important to follow this energetical track when creating things. Probably beautiful objects can be made in all the other states of mind as well, whatever works for anyone in a given moment. But for me - I know I need a dip into this source. This is where I get the inspiration from, this is what translates making into pure joy and adds heart and soul to the tangible object I end up with.

Necklace Flower

A little something to be proud of.
This is a finished batch of my clay-seashell necklaces, made specially for the open day in Dunsandle Castle.
If there's any left over at the end of the day, they will go to etsy, although they may need to wait a little in the queue - still have lot of earrings to put up.
Making these was such a joy! The end effect surprised even myself. What started off as messing with what I had around at the time, ended in a coherent line of pretties to uplift everyone's mood.
I particularly love the way they look all together. Do you?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday bloody Monday

I'm not the greatest friend of Mondays even if I'm my own boss.

But today's share of work is done, two pairs photographed and up on etsy.

Magic of being seems to escape me today, so I'll let images talk instead of moaning on.

Here's more pics.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Writing vs photography

I guess I'm much more of a writer than a photographer.

I promised myself to update this blog fairly often and in my dream world a stunning picture would accompany every single post.
But then the reality sinks in and I find myself behind the schedule with no pics worth looking at.

For example - yesterday I went for another one of my shell-hunting expeditions, this time to Coral Beach in Carraroe. Place is unbelievable in its subtle beauty, no flashy colours or anything (apart from maybe the ever-present emerald green), but I bet the spirit of zen-like tranquility reigning there could be somehow translated into an image. Especially with a black-sailed ship passing by, the sails full of wind and water so blue...

But of course, I had to forget my camera.

Not the first time, as well. Actually, I forget the camera more often than not. Completely don't have a habit of taking it with me. I love travelling light, but well, some compromise needs to be put in place if I want to manage a decent blog. And a camera after all is not that heavy :P.

What I'm trying to say, getting distracted all the time, is that writing comes to me so much easier than taking pics. I could go on for hours at a keyboard but when it comes to photography I'm all forgetful and stuck up and need to actually make myself do it. It must have something to do with natural predispositions, I'm thinking - or maybe I'm wrong? Maybe all this happens because I DO have a habit of writing and I can't say the same on snap-snapping?

What do ya think?

That's my next plan: a bit of experiment on myself. I'm going to focus a bit more on taking pictures, spend more time on it, etc. and we shall see if it's going to get any easier with time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Society overdose

Grrr, I've spent so much time with people recently that I don't know who I am anymore.

I'm not that good in setting my personal boundaries. More often than I would like to, I end up with people pushing their opinions, decisions, energies on me and it hurts. No amount of affirmations or self-conditioning seems to counteract it. It's like if I had some big open holes in my energy-body, through which all the rubbish from people around me gets sucked in. So I face a choice - either sterilise yourself, so that no feeling remains alive inside, or let it all get into you and spend loads of time and energy to get it out of the system later on. And you know what's the worst part? Most of the time I go out not because I choose to, but because I have to - to get some money for the bills, to satisfy one administrative office or the other etc.

And instead of slowly going the direction that may eventually free me from all that, I get fired by anger and burn some more.

I still have so much to learn.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dunsandle Castle open day

An event coming up, and I'm going to stick my fingers in the organisation of it, so I thought I may just as well mention it here.

Dunsandle Castle is opening for the summer and does it in a big way. There'll be arrow shooting, sword banging, blacksmithing and castle touring, and I'll be there as well both giving tours and trying to sell/promote my creations.
The Big Day is Sunday the 20th of June and if you happen to be around and feel like jumping back to the medieval times, do drop in for a moment. Free entry!
Check out for more details.

Monday, June 7, 2010

She sells sea shells...

Still fighting with a bit of creative block (probably caused by too much time spent in the Big Busy World. Did you notice how this can kill any creative urge? If you did - you're sooo like me:).

But the time flies, and I start to miss the feeling of doing something with my hands. The first line in my collection - earrings - is done. Amazing how they got me burning, but when their time of fulfillment came - the ideas just stopped flowing. So now I have twenty-odd pair ready, half of which is up on the shop website, half still needs putting up (check it out from time to time, I take pains to update it every day or two), and the only things left to be dealt with are photography/marketing issues. Quite gripping in their own right, but with a completely different vibe.

I miss the other, trance-like feeling of actually MAKING something. I try to fill the gap with impromptu domestic projects - like baking a cake, for example. Last night - apple/peach shortbread tart, brimming with cinnamon and raisins, adapted from a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (check out his inspiring book The River Cottage Cookbook - I carried it with me even for field trips, at least for few good days) - yummy. And I enjoy it immensely. But still - I think the time gets slowly ripe to start on another finger-fiddly project.

I don't want to disclose too many secrets before anything is actually done, but just a bit to keep you hooked on - the ocean looks like my most likely inspiration. I've started on a series of hunting (mataphorically speaking..) - gathering expeditions, travelling all over Ireland from beach to beach, searching for different flotsam and jetsam specific to a particular area. Got good few handfuls by now (hopefully I'll manage to follow up with some pics soon) and there's more to come. Next destination - Coral Beach...

And of all that I'm planning to create something beautiful.

But for now - shh, let's not frighten the inspiration away! Let's allow it to mature in warmth and silence to see what will emerge!

Friday, June 4, 2010

De gustibus non est disputandum

Which means - you don't discuss personal tastes.

I won't, but I'm still amazed how different likes/dislikes people have.

I'm watching closely views in my shop, trying to see which pair proves to be most popular and more often than not it's the exact opposite of my favourites.

For example my non-marketing pair "A Moment of Sadness" which is my maybe least favourite of all beats records of popularity view-wise. How come?? And then again - the freshest design on the website, Chocolate Cross, is one of my picks of the whole collection (and I know them all, even the ones that have not yet been shown, ha!) and even so it is soooooooooooo slow to gather the views. Why does it happen? Search me.

Maybe my personal taste is much different than that of 'general public' (yeah, it gives me a slight smug feeling along the lines of 'how individual I am'...:), or maybe I gathered to little material for my statistics to come to any conclusions. But whatever is the reason, it's a pleasant surprise - funny to think that even the creations that I'm not exactly proud of can be seen by some stranger as perfect.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Soaring views

No, it's not about any fancy new ideology, it's just that last night seemed to add some extra charm to my creations, because views of each pair rose sky-high. Hardly any left now with 1-digit number of views! Makes me quite proud. Adds some motivation, because I'm hitting some sort of a slow-down in creative energies.

I've crafted twenty-odd pairs of earrings that now wait in the queue to be put on the web (and to be snapped with my faithful camera first...) and I'm a bit at loss as to what to do next. I started a new line of jewellery, bracelets this time, but making them somehow does not give me such a joy so I guess they will be discarded. I don't want to compromise my joy with any reasoning about market values and other - if it doesn't make you happy, it must be that bad - to paraphrase slighly Sheryl Crow's popular song.

It doesn't help, either, that I'm bound to fulfill my obligations with my old office and to work there few more days, starting tomorrow. Somehow all of my spirits sink at the very thought. Not that I have something against the place, it's just that it's so unlike me that it physically hurts to go there again.

Well, heavy armour on to survive next week and in the meantime - big hunt for fresh ideas! It's quite difficult to describe the process of brainstorming for new handmade projects. It involves going through all the different things I've ever tried to see what I feel like at the moment, and then thinking long and hard how could I enrich it, what fresh element I could add to make it something yet unseen. You need to get a bit crazy for that bit sometimes:).

But what a revelation when I hit the right one! Boost of energy that can last for weeks.
Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lilac for Luck

My latest addition to NoKitschProject on Etsy was inspired by lilacs. Well, May is already gone and I didn't think to snap proper photos when lilacs were in bloom. Above the flower I used instead, shape-wise nothing like lilac, but when you think of the colour...
Ha, to see the actual earrings you need to make a quick detour to the shop.
And when we're there - a question or a whimsical query of mine - have you ever heard of 5-petal lilac flowers being lucky? I've never met anyone who heard of it and I start to think it might've been my Mum's trick to keep me occupied for hours, me going through huge bunches of lilacs, counting petals flower after flower. Man, I must have found mountains of luck in those days:) Help me out (and save my Mum's reputation as a folklorist:)!

Monday, May 31, 2010

7 is the magic number?

My seventh pair of earrings is up on etsy!
Finger's crossed so that it brings me luck.
I wouldn't really mind making a sale, just as a boost of my confidence, showing that somebody out there likes what I do. But all in its time, the trick is to stay calm and do your job regardless of anything.
I called the pair on the picture A Moment of Sadness, and wondered for quite a while whether I should stick with it. After few years of brainwashing in a conventional office, I remembered all those 'no negatives' rules out of marketing schools and I guess they reached deeper inside my head then I ever thought. But then again - I recalled all those moments when I read marketing products (fantastic, brilliant, perfect, ideal, blah blah blah) and thought - GET REAL!
I'm not even trying to say that calling a product good is an outright lie, what I was missing all the time is exactly what I had been told to leave out - a little bit of negative. Life itself is a mixture of positive and negative (sometimes it's even difficult to distinguish between the two!) and if something lacks one of the aspects so definitely, it feels fake. I don't know how about you, reader, but if I sense that someone is trying to hide something from me, I'm instantly on my guard. Obviously, I'm much less likely to buy off someone I'm cautious of.
Authenticity is becoming more and more important to me, because it's one of the very few things I have discovered that is able to make real magic happen. And I wanted to somehow share the story behind my earrings number seven. I was really sad when stitching them. I thought my world is falling apart, I was lost and confused. And it gave me some consolation, when picking colours and design for the earrings I went for dark, sombre shades in line with my mood. If felt like accepting the moment I'm in, going right ahead with it so that I can live through it and move on. Plus, even such a dark time allowed me to create something beautiful, something I could touch, and feel proud of, especially that it takes some courage to admit publicly that you're sad in today's popculture-infused world. And I DID say that, even in product description on my shop - see for yourself.
Well, the moment of sadness passed, the earrings stayed, and I hope like hell they will soon find a happy new owner.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Shopping, shopping... Photoshopping!

I'm proud to announce that today I have created my first banner - see above.
Starting an online business has so far proved to be a fantastic excuse to take up new things. This time it happened to be photoshopping.
Each etsy shop comes with a space for a banner, and I was toying with the idea of getting one. After all it's a shame not to use a resource that's there anyway. But how to get one? Obviously I did not have anything ready, and until today the only program I used to create any graphics was Word - and you probably know how basic is that. I could buy one, but then, my principle is falling back on buying only as a very last resort.
I let the idea to grow in my head for a while, than started browsing the net - not really convinced anything might come out of it. I knew of Adobe Photoshop - but a free trial I downloaded did not want to run properly, and buying a full version for $600.00 was just as unlikely for me as a trip to the Moon, so again - alternatives, please. I asked Google the Wonderful what other graphic programs are out there, and after few missed shots I found something perfect - Phoenix.
Not only it has most (or maybe all? Who knows) features I associated with photoshop, but also offered on their blog a ready-to-use template for creating banners for etsy. Fate or what?
I never expected I would catch the bug so quickly - playing around with pictures proved to be so much fun! It took some effort - me, being a complete beginner, for whom even the most basic tutorials seem to be written in some foreign language - but in the end I think I've learned at least few tricks. Enough to do a banner that makes me quite happy and very proud of myself! Somehow, overcoming an obstacle with one's own resources brings twice as much joy as simply having someone do it for you.
There's so much potential there as well. I only started playing and still know next to nothing, but ideas on how to use this photoshop further are already flowing into my head. How about a newsletter, funky and colourful, so that it attracts attention straight away? Or maybe my very own business cards? Leaflets?
Yupee, the world is my shrimp, as Terry Pratchett would say.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Internet inspiration - double edged sword

I'm right after a good session of digging through the net to find some ideas.
And how do I feel? Like if somebody had attached a thousand leeches to my elbow to suck suck suck all the fresh blood = fresh ideas = any traces of well-being left in me.

Do you know it from your own experience, perhaps?

There's so much stuff out there, so many projects, so many people. Some are outright there to trick you and to make you buy/believe in bullshit. Because of their plentitude I'm on my guard against EVERYONE now - tires the hell out of me.
Some are just cheap and kitsch and ugly and don't have anything gracious on them.
Some seem to be so great that I instantaneously feel that I'll never be able to do something worth second look.
God, the Earth is so CROWDED!!!

Leaving everyone to their own, what is a person supposed to do if they want to exist somewhere there, if they want to offer a product, but not enter the newly-emerging online rat race?

I guess I will need to cut down on the amount of time spent looking for 'inspiration' online.

It only makes me feel unworthy and tiny - after all, there's so many people doing fabulous things, selling it in a fantastic way and being oh-so-cool. Where am I compared to that?

Then I have another thought - what if I close my eyes completely to what those Other People do? What if I focus on doing my own thing, what if I let my dreams, my perceptions, my emotions inspire me instead of looking for inspiration from someone else? Whatever happens to my creations - the time and joy in creating them is mine. Nobody is able to take it away from me. I am here and now, I have two hands, all the time in the world and million ideas in my head and the rest can go hang.

Easier said than done, but I guess that's the right direction to go.