Monday, November 01, 2010

Dyeing is easy

Panicked frenzy here, as I get ready for my own show next weekend. This is the first time I've committed to a full 10x10 booth by myself, so I am retooling my displays a little bit. My sister was nice enough to make an Ikea run for me, as I live 2 hours from the nearest one and that tends to be a splurging sort of event. Only needed some WILMA curtains, but wasn't sure the color was quite right. They were close, a bright kelly green, but my displays tend to be more lime-ish.
So I dyed them!
Past dye experiments have taught me that it never is as easy as buying one box and going with it. I purchased some yellow, green and red just in case. The yellow and the green just made the curtains a little brighter, so I added a tiny bit of red. (Red being the opposite of green, it will tend to "brown out" green) Simply using hot water in my kitchen sink was easy and effective. I had a snippet of fabric next to the sink, and just kept checking my curtains against that until it was right. (you can see the orange-brown color the white label turned) I'll post finished product photos after the show, or come visit!
Plaza Palomino in Tucson Nov 5-7 booth 85

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ring display and banner ideas from Alice Istanbul

Alice's banners drew me in. Two large images of her jewelry on live models hung from a pole that had been threaded through the roof trusses of the booth. I whispered loudly to my sister-in-law to check out the banners, “they say images on people sell better...what do you think?”

Super-friendly, Alice wanted to know who “They” were. We agreed we had gotten the info from craft show guru Bruce Baker... then Alice drew us in to more conversation. Initially, I thought I was just going to steer my group in, and out of her booth since I wasn't in the market for quality jewelry. Most of her wares were in two large glass cases on top of tall tables. But Alice's open discussion and enthusiastic participation kept us there. Long enough for my sister-in-law AND my mother-in-law to buy beautiful earrings!
  • Don't assume a dishy conversation about business won't result in a sale! Be nice.
The banners? Alice says the jewelry on models DOES make a difference in the positive response she gets from customers. (again, I will bring my better camera with the wide angle lens next time!) My sister-in-law is a crafty gal, a Harvard MBA and a biz consultant. Qualified! She felt images of jewelry on a model makes the piece look more expensive. (In a good way.) Food for thought!

After I looked closer, I realized Alice used a very innovative technique to secure her rings.
She used two free standing towel holders as a base, and created some wiggly wire pieces that curl around the support. Alice's rings are threaded with ribbon and hung from the wire. Customers are able to try on the rings, without Alice having to worry that they will walk away! Her rings also have a lot of texture and design on the back side, so although the rings hang upside down, there is a lot to see. She has placed a mirror under the rings to view the topside.
This display is the complete antithesis to the rings shown on a block of wood with nails that I shared with you here. Which suits your style?

The little birds on the towel stands blend nicely with the vintage iron elements used to drape and accent the jewelry within the cases. Alice's jewelry does have a bit of an archeological feel to it, so the architectural pieces support the aesthetic beautifully!

I had so much fun visiting with Alice...after we exchanged cards, we realized we had tweeted in the past. Warm and fuzzy crafty community feelings all over. For my next show, I am going to print out my avatars from Etsy and Twitter to put on my table, and hopefully some of my tweeps will recognize me and say hi!

See more pictures of the ring display on Alice's blog and visit her website!  Alice Istanbul

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

LOVEly pincushion

Had a weakness for small teacups since I was 11 and a friend gave me one for my birthday! Found these sweet little orphans and decided to make pincushions out of them. Filled with sand, they are heavy enough to stay put, unlike those damn tomatoes that roll all over when stabbed. (the "tea" is made of recycled sweaters...) I'll be showing at the Big Brothers Big Sisters show November 5-7 at Plaza Palomino, and these babies will be available for your gift-giving pleasure!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Display ideas from Junkin' Julie and Repurpose on Purpose

A BIG post with lots of ideas from Julie Mckinney and Gail Ross.

These gals personalities are just as exuberant as their recycled jewelry and their well suited re-purposed displays! Idea after idea in here...couldn't even crop some of the photos. Julie and Gail say they love going to junkyards and finding materials with which to make their displays... it's as much fun as making the jewelry itself. Even their business cards are embellished with old bottle tops. I must say, their displays spoke to me, as I have some of the same components already stashed in my studio waiting for their day in the sun.
Vintage library cards are re-purposed as display cards for new brooches. (Pinned to a dress form near the entrance to the booth.)
A vent pipe is the perfect size for headbands. Simply hung from the canopy frame. These wires with hooks are sign hangers from a store display supply house. You could make your own, using ribbons or chains.

Anything with holes in it can hang earrings. The bird is a whimsical touch! Antlers are perfect for chains.
The scrabble tiles make wonderful signage! Those are old fashioned ice cube trays with beans in it to display little items. If your style is more modern, you could use plastic ice cube trays in a color that goes with your work! Muffin tins work well too. Notice the table covering is PLAIN. More pattern here would make a customer crazy!

Their displays suit their jewelry so well...and display quite a lot of it in a small space. Nothing spare or reserved about anything in here! I could NOT get a picture here without customers getting in the shot. They couldn't keep their hands off, which is a very good thing.

Look at all the different components that went into these two pieces. Lamps, colanders, wrought iron doo-dads, rubber stamp holders, faucet handles, lion and tigers and bears, oh my! Adding embellishments made out of the same material as your product is a Hot Tip. Here, they used old brooch pieces and bottle caps. You might add rhinestones, vintage neckties or the broken ceramic remains of a kiln accident!

I asked how they attach things. Julie says that E6000 glue is the re-purposer's best friend. I agree...I've used it to adhere glass stones to glassware (a slick to slick nightmare!) Julie also added that she uses plumbing pipe flanges to add the rakes to the colander. Buying the closest size pipe to the handle allows the top to be removed from the bases, making things much more transportable for shows. Another great thing about their displays: if they have lots of stock, they could load up the base of the rake stand with more earrings. Or keep it simple by showing less. All with the same piece looking fabulous, and taking up the same amount of table space.

I also saw a few S hooks and wire making the displays work. A bike rim suspended from the canopy is a great way to make use of vertical space and get pendants right at eye level.

These displays work so well for these products because the "junk" is not disguised in either place. You can plainly tell what is what. If your product is more subtle, you might want to consider unifying your displays as to material or color. Maybe painting everything the same color...or sticking with just rusty metal objects. Remember that you want your products to shine! In this booth, the displays are really a product extension, and make the tiny jewelry items larger to attract more attention.

Learning to view everyday objects as display components is a great skill to cultivate. So experiment! And have fun with it, like this ladies certainly do.

Got questions? Email Gail or Julie!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Curried Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Fall is FINALLY in the air here is Tucson. For a change of pace, here is a recipe! Yes, I very occasionally cook. This is one of my family and friends favorites, and is always on our Thanksgiving menu. Easy enough for every day though. I don't remember where it came from...maybe Bon Appetit magazine in the late 1980's?

Curried Pumpkin Soup Makes 6 cups

¼ cup butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 t curry powder

¼ t ground coriander

1/8 t crushed red pepper (this will give it a sm-med kick. Add more if you prefer)

3 cups chicken broth

1 ¾ cups (1 16 oz. can) pumpkin

1 cup half and half

sour cream and chives for garnish

In large saucepan, melt butter. Saute onion and garlic until soft. Add curry powder, coriander and red pepper; cook 1 minute. Add broth; boil gently, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Stir in pumpkin and half & half; cook 5 minutes. Blend in blender (or with hand-blender)

Can make ahead and reheat.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Earring Display ideas

The owner of Fused Glass Fantasy, Mari Aoki Knight's booth was filled with light and sparkle. Her showstopper is a series of large glass flowers mixed with wire to form a statement necklace! Really gorgeous! She created these elegant earring displays that have the same curvaceous feel to them as her jewelry. Using a similar material for your displays as you use for your merchandise is always a good technique for making everything work together. Mari beefed up the scale, but repeated the same curly-cues that her dramatic jewelry uses. Smart girl!

Simply made of copper tubing and wire which she then painted gold. Notice she wires the base to a glass block as needed for stability. Mari brought up her display from Tallahassee, Florida and when you travel, it is nice to have lightweight pieces...but don't forget about wind! You can also make bean bags that match your tablecloth to place as needed. It is always a good idea to pack some tape too, just in case!

Copper tubing is relatively inexpensive and found at most hardware stores. It is easily shaped or drilled as needed and could be used as Mari did, or even more extravagantly to form trees or supports for your wares.

Spray paint is The Great Unifier! Just about anything can be painted, even if it has texture. I've seen suedette jewelry busts and tiny faux Christmas trees recolored with paint to great effect. A single color of paint can make your whole display cohesive, even if the items are from different sources or are of different design. If your jewelry has an earthy vibe, try painting different wood bowls or frames collected from thrift stores in the same color to collect items on your table. Do you make girly headbands? Try cheap-but-extravagant metal pieces like serving trays and candelabras all painted in shades of hot pink and drape your items over them!

Not a seller? You can try out these ideas for displaying (and containing) your things on your dresser. Feel free to post links to photos of what you do in the comments.

Mari does not have a website, but you can email her here or find her on Facebook.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Norcross Art Fest - Atlanta Georgia

Just returned from a trip to Atlanta, where my husband got to play tournament golf with his dad and we all got to celebrate the in-law's 50th wedding anniversary. The ladies spent Saturday at the Norcross Art Fest, where we walked our feet off and saw lots of talented vendors.

My interior design background, along with a general love of all things repurposed makes me adore talking about creative craft show display options. Over the next few weeks, I thought I would share some of the nice artists I met with you, and discuss what makes their booths interesting to me. (Next time I will bring my good camera, and hopefully get better shots!)

Let's start with the booth shared by Rachel Greenfeld & Kim Quinn Nicholson

After I took notes on Saturday night while I edited the photos, I visited their websites. I had noted how chill these girls and their booth was, but didn't know that Kim's etsy shop tag line is “laid back, cool and simple” Yup. You nailed it girl!

So. The lesson here? If you are relaxed, and want to emanate that feel in your display, don't get too fussy or precise with your presentation. You can still look totally professional and make your items intriguing. These girls used unfinished and rustic materials, (paint-y ladder, sanded down window frame, painted two by four and nails, handwritten/stamped/type font on traditional manilla tie tags ) to send that easy-going message.

I really liked how their booth used some traditionally “male” pieces to display their wares. I don't know that they did this instinctively or on purpose...but both the cigar boxes and the vintage ladder are both kinda masculine. Rachel's belt buckles and the jewelry that Kim makes are not girly-girly and I bet their display pulls in women AND men who will like their work. (The booth was full the whole time I was there...) Note the aged painted box on the ladder. One could do something like this to store your bags and tissue paper at a show, or larger products spilling out. The ladder also shielded their chairs from view.

The whole booth has a very "go-ahead-and-touch-it" feel. Loved the burlap over the lacy vintage table cloth as well as the nails simply driven into the wood block to hold rings. Very casual and not too precious. Suited the wares very well.

Note how they have a buckle sitting on the shabby child's chair, under the window frame display. It is always a great idea to have items readily available for customers to pick up and touch. If everything is carefully pinned and displayed, people are often afraid to interact with the merchandise.
They also used risers well on the tables. Some wooden boxes were hidden under the burlap towards the corner, and an overturned bucket lifted a display plate. The mini pumpkins gave a little pop of color without going full-on thematic or being distracting.

More photos at Rachel's Flickr page

Be sure to check Rachel and Kim's Etsy shops to get a closer look at their work

I'll be posted more photos from other vendors in coming weeks...would love to hear your comments!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Buying Dilemna

Is this not the cutest set you've ever seen?? The chairs PIVOT along the back edge to bring you closer together. This is just the kind of thing I happen across, don't buy and then forever haunts me. I have absolutely no place for this. Husband would kill me if I brought it home... But it would be so cute in a small kitchen for two. Or in a large hallway as a little telephone rest stop! Or a front courtyard, in view of a sunset for a spot to rest with your sweetie while you sip a glass of wine.
Do YOU have a place in your life for this? Contact me ASAP and I will play furniture matchmaker. I love to do that! Almost as much as keeping the treasures I find!

Challis Necklace

On the worktable now I have some new necklaces made with recycled scarves combined with the sweater felt. On this one, I used a floral wool challis scarf with a bit of silk scarf too. Softly colored wood beads, some vintage pearl buttons and cotton thread to bind the pieces together! It was fun to put together!
Feels like it walked out of Anthropologie to me. How would you wear this piece?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Flower rings you won't sneeze at.

Monster sized rings are my newest creation. Actually started off life intended to be shoe clips, but my favorite shoe store closed its doors. Sniff. Plunked some ring-y bits on and WOW! I am in love. These are large...2 inches or so. But so lightweight they are comfy. Since they are recycled sweater felt, they are also not over the top blingy. So you can wear them with jeans and not feel like Vegas is calling. Wore one out to shop yesterday and people came from across the store too get a closer look. This is part of my new wholesale collection, and I would love to hear what you think! Do you know a shop that would love them? I'm making a list, and checking it twice!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

another new design!

I just created this fabulous cuff bracelet using recycled sweater felt. The colors range from deep purple through various blues to a soft green and back again. Feels really lightweight but is very dramatic. Lots of sophisticated color schemes are popping to mind for this design! I've got both silver and gold toned bracelets. Let me know what you think!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Custom Orders Accepted

I just finished making this custom order. Even though I don't have a line in this style, I do love it and often make such delicate things for myself or gifts. This one is a short length of sterling silver chain, embellished by dangles of semi-precious stones and freshwater pearls on handmade copper headpins. I love the mix of metals and the rustic-ness of the copper contrasted with the lightness of the stones. Super wearable!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

hula hoops?

New colorful earrings in lotsa colors! Each pair has its own personality and asymmetrical color mix. Some are soft and subdued, others hot and spicy. All are lightweight and fun! What do you think?

Monday, March 15, 2010


I found this book last week and with it, a flood of memories! This was one of those books from childhood that changed me. I think I already knew how to sew when I got it, but its imaginative illustrations left a mark. Clearly, it was creative all the way through and I loved it! I remember poring over the Scholastic and Lucky book catalogs that arrived from school, choosing which books I wanted to order. The days that books arrived to take home were the best! Couldn't wait to get home and go through my new purchases. Hmmm. The more things change, the more they stay the same, don't they?

Sewing and making stuff makes me happy too!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rioting Necklaces

Today I finally got to do a little creative stuff! Still don't have a lot of energy as I recover from the Mother Of All Colds, and I (ahem) had to test the cable, as we have been having a lot of trouble with the signal. So I mostly camped out in the living room and worked on things that have been sitting out for awhile. Someone suggested that I create some sewn pendants, without the heavy stones, and I found some great ready made chokers at the gem show this year. Here is attempt number 1! I am trying to create more wearable, less expensive pieces.

In that same vein, it was also suggested that I sell ready made accompanying items, to help boost the bottom line. I am looking at some wholesale things that I could quickly add bits of sweater to, as well as things like rings that go with my jewelry, but that I don't make. What do other artists think of this concept? Is it a cop out in some way?
And those of you who just buy you think that dilutes my handmade things too much?
I am considering opening up a store front on my own website for my complete collection. I desperately want a REAL brick and mortar store, but that is just not likely to happen in this economy, with two kids in/on their way to college! So my concept may just have to go online... I want to offer a full line of housewares, lamps and furniture (to order) as well as all the vintage things I love to collect AND bits of jewelry!