fresh from the Makery: quitting while I'm ahead

Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but I will say, less than a day after my second and most recent craft fair, I'm done with in-person sales for awhile.  The East Bay Mini Maker Faire was great. Despite some last-minute shuffling due to the rain and a $75 outdoor canopy I didn't end up needing, I thoroughly enjoyed participating in such a richly geeky event and felt that my mostly niche market products did better there than at the more general purpose craft fair earlier this month.  I sold seven phone cozies and a fair amount of both the Mother's Cookies notecards and the chick flick stationery.  I was much happier with my display this time around, not only because I had a lot more space to spread out but thanks to a few cardboard displays I purchased (laying either the phone cases or stationery flat didn't work very well at all last time...I mean, really, what was I thinking there?), a lot more signage, with information and pricing clearly marked, and a couple of quirky details, like the old-school rabbit ears antenna I used as a mini clothesline for a few phone cases and the QR tag I created for prospective customers to scan with their Android phones (or iPhones, as a few did, just because they could) to take them right to the custom listing in my Etsy shop.

In addition to the products I had at the last craft fair, including a few additions to my inventory of phone cases, a few of which didn't sell and are now in the shop (here, here, and here), I put together a portfolio of wedding invitations.  Time will tell if the event will produce any new wedding stationery clients. In the meantime, that's where my focus is going to shift because these felty crafts, as enjoyable as they are, don't exactly pay the bills. As my brother would say, bacon bits. Just bacon bits. (Not that the other shop brings home the bacon, exactly - maybe turkey bacon - but you know what I mean.)


fresh from the Makery: let me eat cake!

So, I had a birthday yesterday. As my brother likes to say, sixth anniversary of my 27th birthday, to be precise. Leading up to this year's milestone (I've documented past birthdays here, here, and here), I was a little nervous about the way the numbers were lining up, turning 33 on 10.10.10. But it turns out 101010 is 42 in binary code which, you know, is the answer to life and the universe and all that good stuff. That made me feel a little better. And I had a great weekend. I even baked my own birthday cake. A few weeks ago, I bookmarked this post on Boston Mamas (a blog I still subscribe to, even though I no longer live in Boston, precisely because of posts like this that instruct you on how to make a rainbow cake and rock a unicorn birthday party!). With the one-year anniversary of my Android phone case coming up, I thought, well, if I was to make a birthday cake for my phone cozy's 1st birthday it would be a rainbow cake, naturally. As my own birthday approached, I figured, hey, might as well kill two birds with one stone. Hence, I present you with the general-purpose Android birthday cake:

Since I'm not much of a cook, I knew I needed to cut corners to make this thing happen.  Neal's made a few tasty cakes in his day and I remember him mentioning once that he'd read that if you're going to cut corners, it's okay to use boxed cake mix and save your energies for homemade frosting instead.  I do like me some buttercream, so that's just what I did, using the Best Recipes recipe for vanilla buttercream frosting. I used Trader Joe's box yellow cake mix for the cake itself and it did not disappoint.  Unlike Boston Mamas experiences, though, I do think the yellow cake mix affected the vibrancy of my colors when baked, and might go with a white cake recipe in the future (since all cakes henceforth will, obviously, be rainbow cakes).  But it might also be due to the fact that I went with a more pastel palette, using green, blue, and pink for the cake and most of the frosting.

Isn't that perty?  Also, I only had enough butter for about half the recommended amount of frosting needed for a two layer 8 or 9 inch cake.  This wasn't a huge problem, though, since I knew I wanted to do something crafty with my cake layers and wouldn't necessarily need all that frosting, anyway (who am I kidding, you can never have too much frosting).  I used one round (cut in half and layered) for the Android head and saved the second round for the antennae, mini cake, and this morning's snack.  Since it was also little Android dude's birthday, he got a little birthday cake of his own, (which made its way to my son's daycare today where my daycare provider is likely "enjoying" the aftermath as I type).

Thanks for a great year, little Android dude. Or, should I say, thanks, Google, for making such an adorable little logo with a creative commons attributions license.

Oh, and a few new phone cases (here, here, and here) were added to the shop this morning. I promise the Makery will get back to projects that don't involve robots at some point in the near future.


fresh from the Makery: this week we explore pattern, texture, and glitter

Preparing for the craft sale this past weekend, you could say felt Android phone cases have sort of invaded my work/craft/living space.  But the silver lining to slow sales on Saturday was a bunch of stuff to list this morning, including a facelift on a few existing listings with new images, and several new phone cozies.  For starters, I made a standard droid dude version of my phone case:

Also new is a basic case that includes three colors instead of just two (I've been using a different color for the pocket on all of these limited edition cases so I thought I'd try that on the more basic option):

The original batch of limited edition cases is truly limited since I can't seem to find that patterned felt any longer.  I have enough to make two cases from each combination so they're somewhere between "one-of-a-kind" and "limited edition". "Two-of-a-kind", if you will which, oddly, sounds less, I don't know, special than "limited edition". Doppelganger edition, perhaps?

Anyway, I have found some new textured felt I've been playing with and listed two such cases today, starting with an alligator skin texture in red, paired with a gray Android, lining, and stitching:

The other fun felt find has a cobblestone texture...you know, for that old world effect:

I've got two or three more color combos for each texture that I'll be adding over the next couple of weeks (and/or trying to sell at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire on October 24th).  Finally, I picked up a sheet of glittery, hot pink felt that I toned down a tad by pairing it with a gray droid and lining:

For some reason most of the glittery felt is too stiff to use for a phone case. Why you'd want it pre-stiffened is a little beyond me, but that's why this is the only phone case with that little extra je ne sais quoi that only glitter provides.


back to life...in the cloud

Fresh from my first craft fair, I wanted to share a few images and thoughts.  I've been hesitant to participate in craft fairs until now primarily because, taking custom orders exclusively online until now, inventory has always been a bit of an issue.  But I hunkered down this past week and produced enough Android phone cases and paper goodies to fill out the smallish table I was given. 

There was a lot of editing throughout this last week of preparation - I went from nearly a dozen or so items to focusing primarily on the phone cases, a few Mother's Cookies items, and a couple of other note card sets ready to sell. 

I incorporated a few tips I picked up from a number of different craft fair checklists, including the height variations in my display, the free and edible offering of actual Mother's Cookies Circus Animals, and bringing my craft with me to work on during the six hours of the fair, something that didn't really work out too well in the end.  With the presence of the Mother's Cookies goodies, both edible and easy on the waistline, I decided to go with a pastry shop inspired display, using a silver charger and a couple of different cake stands.  While I liked how these worked visually and for display purposes, they weren't that practical when visitors wanted to peruse, for example, the 65 or so different chick flick notecards I had to offer yesterday.  Additionally, the phone cases, displayed more or less flat, sort of disappeared, prompting the venue's owner and organizer to offer me a little decorative suitcase to use to sort of prop them up.  I actually had an entirely different idea for displaying these that I didn't get around to but will definitely get together for my next event in a few weeks.

I used the elements of my Etsy shop banner for my table sign and thought, how clever would it be to carry this over into my individual product displays using an actual Dymo embossed label maker?  Clever, perhaps, but again, not so practical since the signs proved a bit hard to read.  I think I'll do something similar to my sign name, only smaller, next time around.

Other thoughts...While I'm still looking forward to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire later this month, I'm just not sure the craft fair/sale is for me.  For starters, it feels too close to my experiences in retail, experiences I'm not particularly fond of reliving.  Not to be all complain-y, but it's exhausting having to stand for hours on end with little or no break and repeatedly explain and pitch your products. Much easier to put it on the Internets and let the customers come to me.  Which brings me to the conclusion that the Android phone cases, targeting a niche market as they do, perhaps just fare better online.  Very few people recognized the logo, let alone carried an Android smart phone.  The one guy who did happened to be an employee of Google.  The only phone case I sold yesterday I sold to a woman with a Blackberry.  I explained the nature of the product and offered her my card with my Etsy shop info if she'd prefer a custom order.  I felt a little guilty but she insisted and seemed pleased with her purchase so who am I to argue?

Also, initially I thought, well, it won't be too tedious.  I oughtta be able to crank out several phone cases while I sit there for six hours, understanding of course that I'd experience, with any luck, frequent interruptions to interact with customers and hopefully sell some product.  But I was discouraged from sitting and crafting and I totally get it. I'm just not sure I like it or have it in me to do it too often, let alone monthly or sometimes weekly as some of these hardcore crafters do.

On a positive note, it was a really welcome change to interact with other crafty folks and supporters. One surprising hit were the chick flick notecards, the day's biggest seller (that's not saying much but still), and quite the conversation piece.  And of course, I learned a bunch and I'm hoping the event will prove to be a useful trial run for the Maker Faire coming up.  I'm also hoping to capitalize on the slightly more, er, geeky audience sure to attend.


getting fresh...in person

That's right, the Makery will be shutting down the laptop for a few hours and going mobile a couple of days next month, attending my very first, and shortly thereafter second craft fairs. 

First up, you can find me at the Knit One One monthly craft sale in Berkeley on October 2nd from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Whatever I don't sell (and everything I learn) from this craft sale will be transported to the first East Bay Mini Maker Faire in Oakland on October 24th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I'm just a little freaked out, not only because I've never done a craft fair before but also because the beauty of taking custom orders online is that I don't necessarily have to find the time or space for major inventory.  But, if I learned anything from three years of art school, I know it'll all come together in time.  If you're in the area, stop by and say hello!  The K11 sale is free to browse and you can get tickets to the Maker Faire here.

For now, back to my mountain of felt...


introductions and yellow polos

I started this blog a couple of years ago and only remembered it recently because I came across a stack of calling cards I had printed with the image you see to your right on the front and the blog address on the back. I actually had to look up macro to refresh my memory as to what exactly my point was. I'm still not sure. I think it had something to do with recently receiving my MFA and feeling frustrated at the lack of teaching and exhibition opportunities and the general mystery of how to get from point A (terminal degree in studio art) to point B (cushy tenure-track teaching gig). I think, perhaps, I wanted to use this blog to get to the bottom of my love/hate relationship with the art world. And maybe have a good laugh in the process.

After two years of trying unsuccessfully to land any kind of teaching gig I officially (I declared it on Twitter, that's how) ended all efforts to woo the academic art community. I embraced my crafter identity and became a bit of an accidental entrepreneur (it's better than waiting tables, if you ask me). While I've been busy making stuff, I haven't really made any art, per se, for, oh, going on three years now. I thought maybe I was okay with that. Until recently. A growing urge to get back into the studio inspired a partial takeover of the garage and a good rifling through of several boxes of materials leftover from grad school art projects, including the cards that coordinate with this poorly planned blog project. At this point, I'm feeling pretty good about my "lifer" artist status. I'm in it for life, so I guess it's okay if I'm going through a bit of a dry spell. Right?

Anyway, ultimately I think I wanted to find the humor in all of these art world shenanigans, even as I find myself moving farther and farther away from the art world. The stuff we laugh at is usually unofficial, on the periphery, captured in the images taken at an art opening. So here goes.

Research for my thesis project took me to London, where I visited the Tate Modern one day and witnessed not one, but two other visitors dressed exactly as my husband.

And, who knows, there might have been more lads dressed like this but after the second image was captured I was promptly scolded for taking pictures. Could it be that contemporary art is ideally viewed while sporting a casual combo of denim and yellow polo? 


a corner of one's own

As I've mentioned a couple of times recently, the family and I just moved. A move not exactly on the scale of the 3000 miles we crossed with one Pod o' stuff last summer but a move that involved buying our first house, a 1950s single family in an "up and coming" neighborhood.  It's not a fixer-upper by any means, but the list of projects inside and out is still overwhelming.  In particular, the whole back yard thing freaks me out. This is the first single-family house I've ever lived in, aside from bunking up with an aunt or two as an infant with my then newly single Mom and brother.  My step-Dad and I lived in a duplex once, and that place had front and back yards. There was grass that I mowed and edged (I loved edging, which I think tells you a lot about my personality), roses that I pruned (never did we think to bring the cut flowers inside the house...such was life with a single father, I guess), a patio that we built, a shed that we once accidentally locked our cat in and spent a day driving around the neighborhood expecting but hoping not to spot familiar roadkill (we discovered him in there eventually and he went on to live another 15 or so years in two other countries).  So this whole yard thing is pretty new to me.  There are lots of spiders.  Needless to say, I've taken the lead on several indoor projects and let Neal take the reins on taming our little piece of Oakland.

One thing I've been pretty excited about, though not a perfect space, is the chance to carve out a little studio area.  Neal and I share the office, which I use for work and other paper crafts, but for anything that involves paint or chemicals or other materials I'd rather my curious toddler not have access to, I'm now officially using a portion of the garage below a window that gets surprisingly decent light.  It's ridiculously stuffy in there and the flooring probably contains asbestos but it's not much worse than the last studio I had, as a grad student here.  No joke.

And check out the light table I scored from the previous occupants!  I'm still not sure what the previous tenants/owners were using the garage for since they probably parked their car(s) in the front yard, entirely covered in concrete (the house may have little curb appeal but I tell you, that front yard is super easy to maintain).

The light table was originally across the garage, mounted in a square space haphazardly carved out of a lofty storage shelf, perched on screws on one side and lifted up by the handle with some wire on the other.  My guess is they were using it to photograph objects (hey, maybe they're on Etsy!), since at the time of inspections there was also a medium format camera in the garage (that was cleared out before we closed and received the keys).  But at a good six feet off the ground, this still seems like a bizarre setup to me.

Anyway, I officially set up my little studio space today with a $35 table from Ikea and a good rifling through of boxes that I hadn't opened since Boston.  Unfinished projects are looking pretty tantalizing after a couple of years of collecting dust, I have to say.  And check this out - remember those glitter globes that were the centerpiece of my thesis installation?  After the show closed I packed up the globes as is, water and all, figuring I'd have time in the spring to empty them out, clean them up, and decide what to do with them.  Well, that never happened and this is the first I've seen of them since deinstalling that show.  And get this, the water has totally evaporated!

There's never been any sign of leakage, as far as I could tell.  Each globe is packaged in styrofoam and its own little box.  All looks well.  But those babies are dry!  Crazy, huh?  Okay, maybe not that mysterious, considering the adventure they've been on the past couple of years but still surprising.  And in a good way since this will make repurposing them a little easier. Oh, and uh, there will be owls this time around, that much I can tell you.

Finally, in the spirit of tackling projects and using materials I was discouraged from pursuing in art school, I also discovered a whole bag of these miniature Adirondack chairs.  I'm not sure if I'll incorporate the AstroTurf that, until recently, covered our back patio in the final project or not, but I kinda like it for now.


fresh from the Makery: eight is enough

It's Tuesday, you say? Really? Meh. Might as well be Monday. And keeping things fresh, how about two more limited edition Android phone cozies?  First up, we have a purple/baby blue tie dye phone case:

And another animal print phone case (are these Cheetah or Leopard spots?)...

...makes eight!


fresh from the Makery: because Androids need a little pick-me-up, too!

My recent move forced me to take a much-needed break from all things involving felt and thread.  But after the dust had started to settle and my "day job" Etsy shop had been re-opened, I still wasn't in the mood for the pressure of custom orders.  Instead, with some recently purchased patterned felt burning a hole in the proverbial crafty pocket, I got to work on eight limited edition Android phone cases, six of which I listed in the shop this morning (trying to finally get back on track with this whole "fresh on Mondays" idea...we'll see how long it lasts).  I just couldn't wait to finish the other two but plan to add those later this week. 

Unlike the custom listings, these phone cases are already made and ready to ship, "prêt-à-porter," if you will.  They measure 3 1/4 by 5 1/2 inches and will fit most Android phones (even the iPhone...and yes, I have made an Android phone cozy for an iPhone user).  Unfortunately, they won't fit the insanely long Droid X, which is almost 1/2 inch too long, but that's what the custom listings are for, here and here.  Without further delay, here are the first six, beginning with a tiger stripe/purple/black combo:

Next we have your classic camo:

Followed by a tie dye cozy that reminds me of the "big stick" cherry pineapple Popsicles:

In addition to classic camo, we have a blue version:

...and a pink one:

And last but not least, a blue/green version of the tie dye material used above:

Stay tuned for the other two later this week!


Rubik's Cube Giveaway!

Okay, one more thing before I head out for a bang trim and then I swear I'm going to devote the rest of the day to packing!

As a yet-to-contribute member of the 360PR MomSquad (most of their surveys and such address families with kids older than mine) I recently had the opportunity to participate in their new educational initiative, You CAN Do the Rubik's Cube.  Even though my son is too young to even attempt solving this thing, the program played on my childhood nostalgia (spending my formative years with an older brother and a bunch of male cousins in a not so great neighborhood of Reno, NV, the way I remember "solving" the cube was primarily by rearranging the stickers) so I jumped at the opportunity to get one of the kits pictured above and below.

Inside you'll find a Rubik's cube, a solution guide, as well as instructions for making your very own Rubik's Cube cake!  Throw a "block" party! Get it?

I passed my kit along to my niece and nephew but there's still one kit up for grabs and I thought, what a great opportunity for a little giveaway?  To tie the kit into the crafty nature of this blog (and nostalgic nature of this particular post), I also wanted to share an image from Neal's childhood, a mere four-hour drive away from my Reno stomping grounds at the time in the central valley of California (perhaps we crossed preschooler paths at Denio's?)  One year for Halloween, Neal's Mom made his brother Ryan a Rubik's Cube costume:

How freakin' cute is that?! (And how rad is that orange carpet, eh?)  I have a few ideas of my own as far as translating Rubik's cubey goodness into felt and thread but sadly won't have the time to make any of that happen for a couple of weeks, after the dust settles from yet another family move.  In the meantime, what crafty, cubey ideas would you like to share in an effort to win the Rubik's Cube kit up for grabs?

Post your ideas and/or links in the comments section and a winner will be selected at random on Monday, August 16th!


What's black and white and hot pink all over?

My new Android phone cozy, that's what!

Finally! I got myself a smart phone and of course it was an Android phone (the Samsung Galaxy to be exact):

And of course I had to make my phone a cozy straight away and of course I went with the "droidette" logo:

And of course it's hot pink:

Well, the droidette is hot pink, as is the lining.  And the backdrop for these images. Too much?

I swear I'm not 13.  I have had an awful lot of coffee, though. In my packing procrastination, I'm getting all sorts of other stuff done.  But this is important.  I couldn't let my brand new phone go floating around in my purse, unprotected by eco-felt, any longer.

So far I'm very pleased with my Samsung Galaxy, although to be fair I'm upgrading from a Razor so it didn't take much to impress me.  But even Neal, who's holding out until he's eligible to upgrade his now old-school G1 in another month or so, seems to like it.  In fact, he can't seem to keep his hands off it. Maybe this girly case will keep him away.

Yep, that's my baby.  Oh yeah, and there's a picture of my kid on it, too.


fresh from the Makery: a wicked phone cozy

You can only buy someone a Sephora gift card for so many holidays.  Which is why, when the birthday of my sister-in-law was fast approaching (and then came and went just as quickly), I got the idea to combine two things I believe to be mildly over-rated - Wicked, the musical, haven't seen it and while I agree that the soundtrack is catchy, I could not for the life of me get into that book; and the new iPhone (sorry, Kelly, no offense intended; y'all know I'm an Android gal) - into a gift I hope she'll enjoy until the next iPhone comes out or Wicked ends its run on Broadway, whichever comes first.  Here's what I came up with:

I kept the design relatively simple, focusing on Elphaba and cutting Glinda out altogether (and yes, I had to check the Wikipedia page for that important info).  I limited my palette to the green, black, and red found in the design, primarily using green and black felt and thread for the case, face, hat, and hair, and accenting the design with embroidered red lips.

The red is also used for the interior lining.  I love saving the best color of the three for the part seen least. It's a bit Dracula-esque from this angle, don't you think?

I used my new Samsung Galaxy to photograph the end result as it's similar in size to the new iPhone (but far superior in capabilities, but that's neither here nor there, now is it?).

The black felt continues around the back:

I sure hope she likes it (and doesn't wish I'd sent her another Sephora gift card, after all)! This baby won't be going in the shop because I'm pretty sure it would be copyright infringement if I actually made any money from it. Just a one-of-a-kind kind of thing I thought I'd share here! Next up: my very own phone cozy. 'Bout time, right? I still have a couple more orders from the Mashable backlog to send out first.  Oh yeah, and move. Again. Sigh.


I spy something hot pink in Berkeley

You know, there's just not enough of this color in the world.  When we went to London a few years ago (three years to be exact...how time flies when you reproduce) I remember being struck by the frequency with which I was able to spot this usually elusive hue in an otherwise, frankly, kind of gray city-scape.  Hot pink on buses and taxi cabs:

In entrances to art museums:

And on outdoor cafe umbrellas (don't these make you want to shake your hips, just a little?):

The other day I realized (and I forget now what I saw but believe me when I say whatever it was it was hot pink) I've been seeing more and more of this color.  Perhaps reconciling the loss of my hot pink Razor (at least my Blue Tooth is still magenta) with the spontaneity gained from having the kind of connectivity I now have with my Samsung Galaxy (an Android phone, naturally), I thought it would be fun to document hot pink sightings. 

First up, then, in the parking lot earlier today outside the Paper Source in Berkeley, this mysterious building next to the AmTrak train station:

The entire building is magenta - it's pretty rad. I would've ventured closer but as you can see, the building is surrounded by a pay parking lot.

PS - You can read more about my thesis related travels here.

PPS - And don't worry.  I'll be sure to dress up my boring black smart phone with a cozy that will definitely include a little hot pink. Or animal print. I'm not sure yet...