Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Weekly Featured Artist/Etsy Seller--Mariola

Before moving forward with my next weekly feature I would like to thank Elena of Elena's Fancy Beads and Elena's Felting for being a great feature!   I really enjoyed working with you and we all loved your creations!

Darwin Fish - Glass Dome Print Pendant Jewelry P928
Darwin Fish
This week's featured artist and Etsy seller is a lovely lady by the name of Mariola, a resin jewelry artist and owner of Clear Beauty (what an awesome name for a shop full of resin pieces!).  I stumbled upon Mariola's work about a month ago and instantly knew I had to feature her.  As a beginner in resin work I am very envious of Mariola's flawless work and her definite style.  Many of her pieces include fun, kitschy focals such as the Titanic, Uncle Sam, Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, and my favorite, Munch's The Scream.  These necklaces are high quality and VERY affordable, and there is something for every personality!

Extra Large Pendant Blood Orange Fruit - Round 38mm BO4
Blood Orange Extra Large Pendant
While I love Mariola's pop culture necklaces, what really caught my eye was her fruit jewelry...yes, they contain REAL fruit!   These necklaces, pendants, rings, and earrings are so gorgeous I couldn't stop looking at them.  I am amazed at how Mariola managed to keep the bright colors inherent to fresh fruit and at how flawless her resin work is, especially when working with what I imagine to be difficult subjects.  And her photos truly capture the lusciousness of the jewelry.  I just want to take a bite out of my computer monitor! 

So naturally I had some questions for Mariola, which she happily answered for us.

Strawberry Silver Ring 18 MM - Adjustable Size S3
Strawberry Silver Ring
Beautiful Real Fruit Resin Kiwi Earrings K11
Kiwi Earrings
Real Orange Diamond Shape Pendant - 1 inch O3
Orange Diamond Shaped Pendant
Real banana fruit resin pendant - round 1inch silver B1
Banana Pendant
The Scream Edvard Munch  - Glass Dome Print Pendant Jewelry P922
Edvard Munch's The Scream Pendant
Edgar Allan Poe - Glass Dome Print Pendant Jewelry P966
Edgar Allen Poe Pendant
Tarot Death XIII - Glass Dome Print Pendant Jewelry P946
Tarot Death Card Pendant
Erika with a K: Hi Mariola! Love your work and also love your shop’s name, Clear Beauty. How clever! Before we begin, can you tell us a little about yourself and your life?

Mariola: Hi! I'm a 25 year old woman, living in the UK for 5 years with my husband. We both came from Poland. I have full time work and my hobby – jewelry.  Apart from that I'm very happy, sometimes crazy, but always with a big smile on my face!

Erika with a K: So my first burning question is how did you get the idea to use real fruit in your jewelry?

Mariola: As a little girl I use to put fresh cherries on my ears, pretending they were earrings! I love fruits, love their colors, taste and look. Dried slices of orange were always hanging on the Christmas tree (and my ears, of course ;-) ) But they never last for long.
When I started working with resin I remembered the dried fruits... And I thought: Let's try to cover them with resin! And it's worked!
First I have made orange earrings, after I tried kiwi, and strawberries, and bananas... They all looked cool – dried and covered with resin.

Erika with a K: How did you get started working with resin?

Mariola: Well, in that point, everything started from my husband...
He became interested in a mix of resin and marble dust.
The thing is that resin gives you many opportunities. All you need is just head of thousands ideas!

Erika with a K: What brand of resin do you use?

Mariola: I am still experimenting with resin but at the moment my favorite is Ice Resin.

Erika with a K: How long does it take for you to finish one of your pieces?

Mariola: Considering the fact that I have full time work, it's take about 7 days.

Erika with a K: For people like me who are just beginning resin work, what advice can you give us?

Mariola: The most important one – don't give up! You also have to be patient and practice a lot!
Do not worry if something will go wrong – that will make you closer to success.

Erika with a K: Do you work in any other jewelry techniques? Do you work in other art media?

Mariola: It's like I said before – I keep experimenting. My head is full of many ideas and I hope I will improve my shop soon. But at the moment resin is the main material.

Erika with a K: I know you have just begun on Etsy. Is this your first business endeavor, or have you sold your work elsewhere?

Mariola: Yes, Etsy is my first serious business endeavor. But I hope to extend my business in the future.

Erika with a K: What advice can you give us about business and/or starting an Etsy shop?

Mariola: Believe in yourself and don't give up. I know it's hard to be beginner on Etsy. It can take a while before you will sell something. But – be optimistic!

Erika with a K: Your photos are lovely. Do you take them yourself? If so, can you give us some ideas about taking high quality photos?

Mariola: Yes, I'm doing all photos myself.
To make high quality photos you will need a good camera. Light is also important too.
Most of the time I'm taking photos outside, in my own garden. But like we all know, Great Britain is a rainy country and in these times I have to use light tent to take photos.
Always remember to take more photos than you need. That will let you chose the best one.
And also remember to check them before you finish.

Erika with a K: Do you wear your jewelry?

Mariola: Yes, of course! I love my orange earrings. Summer it's a perfect time to wear jewelry with nice fresh colors.

Erika with a K: If you could describe yourself in one word, what word would that be?

Mariola: That is the hardest question! But I think it will be PERFECTIONIST.
I like to do my work perfect. I'm doing this for so long until I am 100% sure that it is ideal. (My Husband does not like it especially when I tell him to clean up ;)

Erika with a K: Do you have anything else you would like to say?

Mariola: Thank you for being interested in my shop. I am glad I had the chance to tell you a little bit more about me and my hobby.
I would like to wish everyone loads of luck with their work, hobby and passion!

Thanks so much Mariola for answering my questions!  I wish you the best of luck with your business and your Etsy shop.

Please remember all work and photos are the property of the artist.  Do not reproduce or use without her permission.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Thrifty Finds May 27

I went to Goodwill on Friday instead of Monday this week because I was looking for a costume for my school presentation.  I didn't find a costume, but I did find a bunch of things I knew just couldn't wait until Monday, 25% off day.  These things would for sure have been gone today if I left them and I would have been kicking myself, especially over the horse candle holder.

Here is a list of my haul:

1.  Pink ottoman which I am using for a toy box.

2.  TV tray.

3.  Vintage horse candle holder.

4.  "Relax" sign for my bathroom.

5.  Set of teal and gold glasses.

6.  Vintage plate.

7.  Green clutch.

8.  Grey ankle boots from "Hot Kiss".

9.  Vintage Japaneses egg cups.

10.  Circle paper cutter. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weekly Featured Seller/Artist: Elena of Elena's Fancy Beads and Elena's Felting!

Before we move on to the next (and again was my birthday last week!) featured artist and seller, I want to thank Christine, Shay, and Syndey for being such lovely features!  I wish you 3 the best of luck!

Fancy Beaded Necklace "Lone Leaf"
Lone Leaf
Moving on, this week's feature is a very multitalented artist and Etsy seller, Elena from Elena's Fancy Beads and Elena's Felting.  This woman is double trouble doing both felting as well as bead weaving, and her creations are so unique and absolutely fabulous!  I found her through her beadweaving (a medium if you know me at all you will know I LOVE!), particularly the piece on the right.  And as soon as I saw her work I knew I had to feature her.  Her beadweaving is SO unique.  She uses mainly peyote stitch, creating tapestry-like and tube pendants, which are very clean, earthy, and fun!  I have never seen anything like it before, and I have seen a lot of bead weaving! 

After talking to Elena, she pointed out to me she also has shop selling her felted creations, Elena's Felting, with more extremely unique work!   Not only does she do the more "usual" felting work, like scarves and shawls, she also creates jewelry, purses, and rugs!  And her felting, like her bead work, is earthy while colorful and absolutely beautiful.  

So I'm sure the question on all of our minds is, How does she have the time to work in 2 mediums in 2 Etsy shops as well as juggling life?  And as always, I feel the artist herself can say more about her work than I, so here is our interview!

Felted Red Passion Bracelet
Red Passion Bracelet

Erika with a K: Hi Elena! Before we begin I have to tell you I love your work. So unique! And can you tell us a little about yourself?

Elena:  We came to Canada almost 14 years ago from Russia. I have a family – husband, son and dog; I work as a Drafter, and I have two hobbies – felting and bead weaving.

Erika with a K: My first question is how did you begin doing bead weaving? How did you learn?

Elena:  I love stylish and fancy jewelry... jewelry you can wear with evening dress or in the office... One of my friends making beaded jewelry as well, so I thought – why not? I can try and create something different and (I hope) unique, something new, something stylish… And yes - this is my style and I hope you will like it! Talking about learning, it was self-study – I’ve found a lot of free tutorials on Internet, I’ve bought and studied several books about making beaded jewelry. I was making my first bead weaving project more than 2 months starting over again and again until I had result I liked.

Erika with a K: And I noticed you also do felting, how did you learn to do that?

Beige Sepia Cafe Mocha Pastel Rustic Wool Shawl and Brooch (set)
Rustic Wool Shawl and Brooch
Elena:  Yes, I have Etsy store “Elena’s Felting” Felting is a long traditional craft in my native countries Kazakhstan and Russia where I was born and raised. People there continue to use felt in many interesting and creative ways. I learned from a lot of great artists, I had workshops taken here in Canada, England and Russia.

Erika with a K: Which medium do you prefer?

Elena:  I love both mediums I work with – wool and beads.

Erika with a K: What advice can you give anyone who does or wants to begin doing bead weaving or felting?

Elena:  Be patient; practice a lot; take workshops; use any information you can find.

Erika with a K: Who or what are your biggest inspirations?

Elena:  Hard to say… honestly. It’s just coming… Sometimes it takes a time to come up with idea, and sometimes it’s like light strike – boom! and you have complete picture in your mind.

Erika with a K: What do you do in your free time?

Grassy Light Green Wool Silk Pendant. Gift 35
Grassy Light Green Wool Silk Pendant
Elena:  You know, I almost have no free time at all ;) I have full time job as Drafter, I have family – husband, son, dog – I’m taking care of, and we have house with large backyard (planting time now!!!), then I am doing my bead weaving and felting… so I am very happy if I just can sit with book or in front of TV for an hour… Saying that, I wouldn’t change my life – I really love what I am doing.

Erika with a K: Do you sell at any other venues besides Etsy? If so, where?

Elena:  I am participating in different local handcraft shows – One of a Kind Show in Toronto, Just For Us Originals, The Moose Show… This year I’ve applied again for One of a Kind Christmas Show and Just for Us Originals.

Erika with a K: What business advice can you give us?

Elena:  It’s pretty hard to start your own successful business… be optimistic, don’t give up, tell yourself – I can do it!

Erika with a K: And I’m dying to know, who is the model in your photos?

Fancy Bead Tube Jewelry "Midnight Blue" Peyote Stitch Design
Midnight Blue
Elena:  This beautiful woman is my best friend Marina; I desperately needed model to show my felted stuff and fortunately she agreed to try… she is not a professional model, but she is very talented and now she is like beautiful face of my store.

Erika with a K: Is there anything else you want to tell us?

Elena:  Erika, I am very glad you were interested in my beaded jewelry, and I hope your blog readers will like my jewelry as well. Best wishes to all your readers!

Thanks so much Elena!  We wish you a ton of luck in your business!  Keep up the good work.  

Please remember all photos and designs are property of the artist and are not to be used without her permission!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

First Custom Job

I just finished my first custom job ever!  I am really coming to love doing custom work because I get to work in media I don't usually work in.  For this job I used polymer clay to make a pair of earrings patterned after the "Dalek" from the TV show, Dr. Who.  
Dalek photo to recreate
Work in Progress
I used red glittery Fimo clay to make the base, pushing it on the table to create the angular body.  I then added the black "neck" as well as the black around the bottom.  I used my pasta roller to roll out the silver clay and created the silver strips around the middle and on the neck.  I then made the red top and put the wire for the attachment through it (with a bent end so it doesn't slip out and left straight until after baking), and attached it to the top.  Then I added the "eye".  I then cut wire to create the 2 tools sticking out the front, and added a black piece of polymer clay (glued on after baking) for the suction cup.  I didn't bother creating the whisk.

 Front before baking
Back before baking

Then I baked the earrings, and created the loop from the wire to attach to the ear wire.  And I painted over the entire earring with acrylic gloss medium (not shown in the photos).  The finished measurement was 1.5" tall.

My client received them today and LOVED them!  I was getting so nervous to see what he thought, so it made my day to hear this:

Finished, hanging
Finished, front
Finished, back
"I freaking love them! When I first saw I said "god damn this looks awesome" you did a great job on them. Ill for sure contact you again when I need something made."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Weekly Featured Etsy Seller--College Soap Company!

So my weekly features are back from a 2 week hiatus!  Thanks Rhiannon for being such a wonderful feature!

This week's featured Artisan and Etsy seller is a mother and 2 sister team, Christine, Shay, and Sydney of College Soap Company.  These 3 lovely ladies started their Etsy shop selling soap and other bath and body products to help fund Shay and Sydney's college educations.  Isn't that awesome?  I love to see 2 young women so dedicated to their futures!

Orange Ginger Sugar Scrub

Orange Ginger Sugar Scrub

I have yet to try their soaps and lotions, but I have heard they are amazing! These ladies are so talented in what they do they can offer a huge variety of products, from the traditional soap bar to sugar scrubs to facial clay to laundry soap.  And their photos make their products look so yummy!  Honestly I feel none of my words can do their shop justice, so I'm going to let them and their photos speak for themselves!

Erika with a K:  Before I begin my interview I would love to commend you on your beautiful shop!  And this brings me to my first burning question:  Who does your photography?  It is gorgeous!

Christine- I take all of the pictures of our products for the Etsy site. It has been such a learning curve for me. I looked at lots of other shops and their pictures, played around a lot, took hundreds of bad pictures and then finally I rounded some sort of corner and started taking better pictures. I downloaded a photo editing app called Aviary and that helped tremendously.
The College Soap Company Gift Card and Soap Sampler
Gift Card and Soap Sampler

Erika with a K:  So when and how did you begin to make soap?   Was it before or after the girls needed to make money for college?

Christine- We are a family of 4 kids so basically we needed to start college savings when each of them was But we actually started this particular college savings when the girls were 10 and 12 quite a few years ago.

Erika with a K:  How does a typical order go for you?  Is the soap made ahead of time or are they done to order? 

Sugared Pink Grapefruit Scrub
Sugared Pink Grapefruit Scrub
Shay- A typical order for us can either be a breeze or a nightmare. Sometimes we are like a little perfect shop and have everything we need and are able to ship the package that day. There are other times however when it seems like everything is working against us. If we don't have a certain product it's not really that awful because we can always make another rather quickly, if the product we are out of is soap, that's when we start to panic. We panic because our soap takes about 2 to 3 weeks to neutralize or cure. However we always get the order out, and hopefully our customers love the product as much as we do.

Erika with a K:  How do you come up with new scents and products?

Sydney- We create new scents and products by following trends and what the big corporations are doing. However we do like to go our own way too. Shay and I are a great team together because I really like testing out new scent combinations and Shay is always thinking of new product ideas. We mesh so well, like I could bring her a scent combination I was working on and she would smell it and say how perfect it would work in a scrub or something else she was working on. We also try and keep in mind holidays and seasons too.

Erika with a K:  Can each of you tell us a little more about yourselves?  

Super Fizzy Bath Bombs
Super Fizzy Bath Bombs
Christine- I am the mother of four kids, two girls and two younger boys. I am also a registered nurse and work full time as the clinical coordinator of the obstetrical unit of our local hospital. I have always felt this need to be creative and found a great outlet for that in our soap business.

Shay- I am a high school student, and a full time employee of the College Soap Company. I am an Internet shopaholic so I have a summer job in addition to the CSC to satisfy my shopping needs.

Sydney- I am a middle school student( soon to be a freshman). Right now I like to spend time with my friends and have as much fun as possible before all the high school homework keeps me home.

Erika with a K:  Where do each of you plan on going for college, and what do you want to study?

Shay- I love to read so I would love to go to a college with a great liberal arts program. I haven't picked out a certain school yet but I am still looking. I hope to get a job in the publishing industry so I can write the college soap story. LOL

UnderCarriage Soap for Men
UnderCarriage Soap for Men
Sydney- To be honest I don't really have a clear cut plan on what I want to d when I grow up or where I want to go to school. I do plan on continuing to help the College Soap Company grow and develop.

Erika with a K:  What goals are you trying to reach with your shop? 

Christine- One of our ongoing goals is to produce the best natural products we can. A short term goal is to generate a sale every day. We have strings of days where that happens but followed by a lull of a few days. A long term goal is to open a small retail space. We are also working on our goal of putting together a small scholarship for a local high school student who demonstrates an entrepreneurial spirit.

Erika with a K:  Do you sell anywhere else besides Etsy?

Christine- We do most of our sales locally through word of mouth, we also sell on Ebay and do occasional craft fairs. This year we started doing in home soap parties, modeled after pampered chef. Those are our favorite as we do a whole fun presentation that gets people to start really looking into the ingredients in the products they buy and we help to sort out safe from potentially dangerous ingredients. People always leave the party having learned a great deal and toting some of our products as well.

Erika with a K:  What advice can you give us about the business end of selling on Etsy  and other hand made venues? 

Soothing Milk Bath Tea
Soothing Milk Bath Tea
Christine- I mainly run the Internet side of the girls business and I have learned quite a bit. When we first opened our Etsy site, I sat back, checked it every day and couldn't understand why nothing was happening. I learned that for Etsy and other similar sites to work you need to work them. So I joined teams, promoted other shops, made treasuries etc. I also learned that the pictures are your most important front line. The customer can't pick up your product, feel it, smell it so your picture needs to convey more than just an image. Of course you need good solid products behind the picture as well. We all have also learned about the importance of community. People really are so generous and want to see us do well, people like yourself have offered us so many opportunities to promote and sell our products. So in the end our three point advice would be take great photos, promote till you can't promote anymore and be an important part of your community, whether its an online community or your hometown community or both!

Christine, Shay, Sydney- We would just like to thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity!

Thank you Christine, Shay, and Sydney!   I wish you the best of luck!  

And remember, all photos are copyrighted to Christine at the College Soap Company.   Please do not use them without her permission! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Thrifty Finds May 6

Today was a breezy (literally and metaphorically) trip to Goodwill for my weekly thrifting fix.  I didn't find as much as I hoped as again I didn't get there until noon.  But I didn't come away empty handed. I got 2 sets of 70s era dishes. And it being Santa Fe, I had to walk to the car while a mixture of rain, snow, and hail pelted me and my new finds. 
And just to include another set of beautiful photos, here are some lovely vintage buttons, again from my grandmother.  I was sorting through these today picking out the ones I will no longer use and plan to list on Etsy.  These are the ones I found: 

As always the above items will be listed and for sale soon in my Etsy store!  Feel free to contact me to reserve anything. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

And I love my Grandma, too!

Package from Grandma!
So I'm postponing this week's feature until next week, and until then I have some lovely eye candy for you. Yesterday I came home to a huge package of vintage goodies from my grandmother. She sent me so many beautiful things, I was ecstatic!  All of the items in the photo (well maybe not ALL of them) I plan on photographing and listing on Etsy.  Stay tuned!  And if you are just dying to own one of the items (the Shirley Temple coloring book, perhaps?), let me know and I will make a reserved listing just for you with a 10% discount!

And because I'm now in vintage mode,  I also want to share with you the gorgeous collection of brooches I have received from both my mom and grandma.  These were originally collected to make brooch bouquets, but honestly, those are nearly impossible to make!  So I gave up, and now plan on listing all of these on Etsy or repurposing into new jewelry pieces.  The same applies as above, if you are interested in a piece, let me know!  And if you are interested in trying your hand a brooch bouquets, I recommend this tutorial....Project Wedding:  DIY brooch bouquet.  Also, here is an example (below left) of a mixed flowers and brooches bouquet my talented mother, owner of the North Dakota wedding decorating company, "I Do"...Balloons, Weddings, and Events, made for one of her brides.  Please remember all images are copyrighted to the artist.  Do not use them without permission!