Saturday, March 29, 2008

Here Comes the Bride-Run for your life!

In honor of the new Etsy Wedding Team, I decided to share my own bride experience-or at least as close as I'll ever get to it. My Halloween costume three years ago was a homage to Tim Burton's Corpse Bride.
I already had the dress-I had made it two years before for a project in college. I slashed apart the bottom of the skirt added black Venician lace to the corset top. Then I airbrushed the colors to mimic the movie version, Burton-esque swirls and all. I made the veil from scratch with decorative stitching, paint and the blue rose wreath-and the bouquet to match. Then I made ribs out of porcelain craft clay and stitched them to a piece of black velvet for the hole in the corset.
And here is the finished product:I made a glove with bones to mimic her skeletal arm, painted my skin bluish-white and wore a black and blue wig to complete the outfit. The pirate is my sweetie J, I made his costume too. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Brand Spankin' New: The Etsy Wedding Team!

Yes, it's true! a bunch of etsy members have banded together to to form the new EtsyWeddingTeam. Within mere hours, the numbers of interested parties had swollen to 30+ in answer to Middleburg's query in the forums.
I personally can't wait to see what all the new members make! Hand crafted elements are the perfect touch for weddings; handmade favors make your guests feel extra special. My sister is getting married in January of 2009 and I am making silk mango calla lilies for the favors-I am still in the design stage but they are going to be breathtaking.
I have always love the pomp and circumstance surrounding weddings. All the time and energy and planning spent on making one day as perfect as possible. Well, now there is a whole team of artisans that can help make your day as special a possible!
I am going to be directing my energies to making a line of bridal tiaras and wedding wings. There may also be veils and ring bearer pillows in there too!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It's a Sweater! (purse)

In the immortal words of El Guapo (nod to The Three Amigos), I shall tell you how a charming, but unworn sweater became a purse.
I had this lovely sweater languishing in my closet for over a year. The yarn was spun with metallic silver thread so I could not get away with wearing it to the office. So I decided to recycle it into a new, super-fun accessory. The torso of the sweater was already the perfect size and shape, so I trimmed off the sleeves and collar and sewed up the bottom in a box shape for more carrying space. I added a lining of vintage cotton fabric with a dusky tree print so nothing would poke through the sweater and to give it added strength. I also added a reinforced pocket on the inside to keep small things from rolling around on the bottom, and added a vintage metal zipper for the closure. Next I decided to crochet a wavy carrying strap, which I attached on each end, one side in the front, one in the back. Then I crochet 3 matching green flowers for an accent and used a scrap of the sweater for an embellishment swirl. I even used the ribbon loops that were to keep it on the hanger around the top edging.
So, that is how I created this cute little bag. I periodically go through my closet and pull out things that I don't wear anymore, but I cannot bring myself to throw them away. Maybe it is my pack rat syndrome or because I hate to waste anything, but making cast-offs into something new is a great solution. Other ideas include turning old pants into skirts or combining several different items in to a new patchwork wonder. You are only limited by the scope of your imagination!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Farewell, Dark and Blurry Pictures!

I just spent the whole weekend rearranging my tiny workroom so I could fit in a permanent photography corner. I have tubs of supplies now stacked to my ceiling but I don't care as long as the pix are better!
AND here to the left is an idea of what it looks like! In my traditional ghetto fabulous style, I used a clothing rack (that my boyfriend actually trash-picked for me-that is true love there!) and used it to hang a large panel of muslin that I dyed a pale gray. A second, smaller piece covers the floor and the base of my dress form. Then I went nuts at home depot and bought a bunch of clamp lamps and 100 watt bulbs so I could place them above, in front and on each side to minimize shadows. My next project will be to make diffusers for the lamps to reduce harsh shadows.
So my picture taking possibilities went from this (red) to this (gray).
I am pretty happy with the results at the moment. I still think I need a lot more light though.

And while I am on the subject, how about a peek at my ever-so ghetto fabulous light box! I made this baby out of a mid-sized card board box.
The sides and top are sheets of velum and the back to bottom curved sheet is watercolor paper-I wanted the toothy texture on mine. You can see my lovely clamp lamps in action-just remember not to leave them on long or unattended-this is a fire hazard from all the heat generated by the lamps and it must be watched when in use! I know it is not pretty or super professional, but it really does get the job done. My jewelry pictures are sooooo much better now than before I made it-see the difference in the two pictures here of my aquatic potion bottle necklace: on the left is before and on the right is after. Yikes!
Good pictures are uber important, that cannot be emphasized enough. They are your calling card, how your customers recognize your work and your self-representation all rolled into one little package.

Monday, March 17, 2008

And now for something completely different....

I hate clothes shopping. I can never find anything that fits right or looks right or fits my sense of style. So what's a girl to do?
Make my own of course!
I've been rabidly reading each new release of Altered Couture and Belle Armoire Magazines but long before I found those wonderful publications I have been embellishing here and altering there to develop my own unique look.
Most recent in these attempts resulted in this adorable baby doll shirt. This top actually started out as a button-down men's shirt and has been transformed into a super flattering, feminine baby doll shirt. It is fun and flirty and equally wearable with jeans or dress pants. The design incorporates ribbon ties that gather the waist and bust peasant-style to fit your unique shape. The top is a single piece of ribbon that is laced through the back, over the shoulders to form straps and through the front to tie in the center. The pocket and buttons down the front remain functional. I get mad compliments whenever I wear mine (it is green with pink ribbons) along with queries of where I found it. So I decided to make a few and put them in my etsy shop.
This is my own original design, so please respect the copyright. I do plan on releasing a tutorial in the near future, so stay tuned!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Learning to go the distance

Up from the Ashes was the brain child of myself and my friend Julia. Back in 2004, I had just made some wings for a photography project in college and Julia and I and our friend Lorraine decided to go to the Spoutwood May Day/Fairy Festival in Glenrock, PA. They were huge and awkward, but we lost count of how many people told us how awesome they were.

Through a convoluted connection of friends, I was put in touch with the wonderful folks at Earth&State in Media, PA to see if my wings would sell on commission in their store. To my surprise, they were wildly popular-which may have had something to do with the 5' fairy sculpture I made for their front window. One day soon after Julia and I decided to start our own independent artisan company. So we filed the paper work and applied for the Maryland Fairy Festival in 2005. That was our first real show and boy were we in for a big surprise. We had a tiny little tent I and jerry-rigged a contraption to display my wings and hats. It was a very windy, chilly but sunny mid-May day. Despite the cold, we all forgot sunscreen and had horrible burns to show for it. And we had no idea that the melting temperature of Julia's soaps and candles were low enough to get soggy from the sunlight!

We have learned a bit since then. We have have been thrilled to go to the Maryland fairy festival every year since. The picture to the left is from 2006-we still had the little tent but I had a (slightly!) better set up for my wings-especially after learning how brutal the winds could be there. In 2007 we scored on one of those big ez-up white tents and that was a dream come true on how easy it was to use and how sturdy it is (sorry, I can't find my 2007 pictures!).
We remembered to bring sun screen and icy gel packs for Julia's soap! The fairy festival is such a blast because of all the awesome people from all over the place you get to meet. The local craft fairs can be fun, but I usually get a lot of really strange looks!
In October of 2007 we joined the big league at Faeriecon International at the Philadelphia Convention Center. That was an amazing experience, unfortunately not one we are going to repeat.
There were so many amazing artists and vendors, but not nearly enough people there to purchase things. Julia was a model in the Sunday fashion show (the picture on the left-outfit and hairfall by the amazing Marley of Darklocks) and my wings and mask made appearances on the runway on both Saturday and Sunday. We think we will go back this year as attendees-and maybe for the fashion show. :)

We are gearing up for the Maryland Fairy Festival this year-it is in the beginning of June this year-and I can't wait!

If I were to offer advice to crafters or artisans just starting out, I would say don't be afraid to go just for it. It can be nerve wracking, and disappointing, but the best way to find customers is to put yourself in a place where they will come to you!
Another important thing to think about is the market you are trying to reach-my wings can sell like hotcakes at a thematic fairy festival but I may only sell one or two at a local arts and craft fair. And there is nothing wrong with diversity; having a range of products enables you to reach a range of markets and customers.
Never be satisfied with your product-but be happy with your progress so far. You should always be working to improve your technique or presentation. I find myself randomly brainstorming about how I can improve my step for the next show. If you have the space at home, try doing a trial set-up of what you want your booth/table to look like-that will help you tremendously in setting up for the actual show, and give you time to work out any kinks.
Always bring extra water and snacks, sun screen, lots of business cards, hand sanatizer, wire and pliers!
Anyway, that is just a little bit of wisdom gained while we are learning to go the distance.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

If you could have wings, with what would you fly?

I have spent the last two months designing new fairy and dragon wings for production in 2008. But this has got me wondering...I know what kind of wings I like, but what would my customers like to see??
My dragon wings were created to meet the demands of the boys dragged to fairy festivals, so are there other fantasy creatures out there that would like to have wings?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Klunk the Plushie

A while back my talented boyfriend decided to design some cute little creatures-I don't really remember why but they were so adorable I decided to make one. This little guy is called Klunk. He is shaped like a little blue mailbox and is about 5 1/2" cubed. He is made from fluffy blue fake fur, his tummy is orange and he has little orange felt feet and horns. His eyes are big white ovals of felt. He is entirely hand stitched, too.
I am interested in opinions on this little guy-does anyone think he would be purchasable?
J doesn't have any confidence in his extraordinary skills, so he could use a little validation on his little monsters. To see some of his other nifty works, visit his deviant art page here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I am the Favorite Find of the Day and Mask Making Madness

Charmaine the High Desert Diva, was kind enough to feature my Water Element Leather Mask on her blog, which can be viewed here.

Mask making is something I learned in the past few years. I remember seeing my first leather mask at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire years and years ago. I was entranced by the shapes and modeling that was possible in the medium. So a few years ago, my ever-so-thoughtful boyfriend gave me a kit for my birthday that contained a few pieces of leather, a face form and a video on how to make leather masks. I was overjoyed! I could finally unravel the secrets if those beautiful masks I had so long admired. Unfortunately the instructions provided and on the video were very vague about certain important points. I spent about a year developing my own techniques for making super sturdy, yet delicate masks and various ways to finish them.
The Raven mask pictured here is a relatively simple design that molds close to the wearer's face and has an long beak. The beak is a design element that must be planned for in the design stage to ensure that enough leather is cut to create the correct shape.
After I had my technique down, I worked on creating designs that would test the limits of the material and myself.

The Forest Spirit Mask, pictured here in Autumn coloring, was created using scraps of thin leather that were hand cut into leaf shapes and scored with the vein pattern. The individual leaves were then applied to a simple domino mask base of a medium weight leather. I took a great deal of time molding each leaf to look as natural as possible. I applied the paint with my trusty airbrush, carefully applying color in light layers for a natural look. I wanted to convey the feeling that you had scooped up a handful of fallen leaves and pressed them to your face. I think that I was pretty success full.
In my continuing efforts to push my personal envelope, I decided to recycle a piece of rabbit fur into a mask. I chose the basic domino as my base, and after I molded it to the shape I desired, I glued on the rabbit fur with leather cement. I had to seal the edge with something that would mot de-laminate so I used glittery fabric glue because it dries into a tough plastic. I've never seen anyone else use fur in this manner, so I hope everyone will have a little respect and not copy the idea!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Hey everyone, feeling a bit old today so I thought I would run a sale in my etsy store: 15% of anything you purchase today, March 8th, in honor of the anniversary of my arrival in this world. :)
Today would be the day to order a pair of custom wings like this->

Friday, March 7, 2008

I'm a featured artist on another blog today!

Etsyian CopperSpringsLeather has so graciously decided to feature me in his blog today. See the interview here.
I have met so many wonderful people through etsy. Shortly after I began selling, I was introduced by EvesOriginals to Faeetsy, the Fantasy Artists of Etsy Street Team. They are so supportive and always ready to fire off encouragement. The contests and exhibitions have been challenging and it is wonderful to see so many talented artists come together and help promote each other.
And now for something completely different...
I am so glad spring is just around the corner! I love the energy of rebirth that totally transforms our surroundings. It is like awakening slowly from a deep sleep, the slow return of vitality.
Soon the early flora will appear, shaking off the last icy grip of winter, tentatively rising into the sunlight.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Just keeping my hands busy

I've never been able to sit still for long-I've always had to keep my hands busy. Even in grade school, if I wasn't doodling in the margins of my note books, I was making tiny sculptures from wire that I scavenged from broken telephones or radios.
I love working with wire. My latest craze has been producing all sorts of tiara and crowns. They are more than just hair accessories to me; they are tiny, exquisite sculptures that you can wear, a way to show your personality and individuality in a most majestic fashion.
I just finished this one-I call it the Red Queen, after Lewis Carroll's character in "Through the Looking Glass". Yes, I have been asked on many occasions if my intricate wire work has affected my sanity. I guess the jury is still out on that one...although my dad used to joke that he thought I was the unibomber because I used to carry around little spools of wire along with pliers and wire cutters in my purse when I was in high school.

No, it was just my bizarre compulsion to create, which possesses me still. I cannot tell if that is a good thing or not most days. I have more "hobbies" than anyone I know, no social life whatsoever, constantly broke from blowing all my $ on art supplies and yet I am happy as a clam when I am in my work room with my music on and newest project in hand.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hello, hello? Is this thing on?

I decided to join the next century and start a blog to share with the world at large all the happenings in my magical little workshop.
From here I can tell you about upcoming shows, custom projects I'm working on, new designs and re-designs in my product line, and hopefully give tutorials on techniques I am learning. Hopefully, because I am still working on being internet-savvy.

And for your viewing pleasure I am pleased to announce the Fantasy Artists of Etsy have posted a new exhibition with the unusual theme of March Madness. No, it has nothing to do with basketball! It is all about the flights of fancy (or fantasy) that takes hold of your mind and heart with the first breath of spring air-spring fever, if you will.
See it here at