Friday, April 29, 2011

Tips for a Tuesday, on a Friday - Managing Your P&L

Sorry for the delayed post, but I got hit with the flu, and man, had I forgotten how impossible it is to do anything with the flu other than sleep.

I wanted to write a little today about finances. As an artist, my first priority is not managing the accounting part of my business - in fact, just thinking about it brings on a headache. But I found a service called Outright that helps make it all a bit easier. When I joined, it was free. Now it looks to be about $10 per month. But what does it do? You give it access to your business related accounts (PayPal, your business bank accounts) and it tracks your earnings vs expenditures. It categorizes your expenses, keeps track of your biggest vendors, and most importantly, it helps get you ready for tax time.  I really appreciate it's use of graphics to convey information, as I'm definitely more of a visual person.

Sorry for the brevity here, but I'm still a bit wiped out from sickness. Perhaps my next post should be about health insurance...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What are your creative rules?

I volunteer at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art and the exhibition currently on display is E is for Everyone: Celebrating Sister Corita. I hate to admit that I had never seen Sister Corita's work until this exhibition. I am so happy I discovered her! Not only was she an amazing person, she is an amazing teacher and artist! I have been struggling a lot in the studio lately and I feel like her RULES were written just for me to read and get over myself! If you ever feel out of it when you are creating, read these rules and live by them.

* Rule I


* Rule 2


* Rule 3


* Rule 4


* Rule 5


* Rule 6


* Rule 7

The only rule is work.

* Rule 8


* Rule 9


* Rule 10


image courtesy of

Check out the show if you get a chance! Maybe I will see you there.

Do you have any creative rules that you follow? I would love to hear them.

Happy Creating!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The sugar high without the calories

I always think about what kind of food art I would want hanging in my kitchen whenever I have my own place. Meredith Steele (also known as foodpainter on Etsy) from Oakland brings very bold and colorful paintings to the table.

Her popsicle painting pops out with its delicious red on a white and green background; my eye was immediately drawn to this painting in her shop. As an acrylic painting on a recycled wood block, this 3.5" by 5.5" piece of art is a perfect item to remind you that summer is coming, the season for ice cream, froyo, fudgesicles, and popsicles (but, any day is perfect for those, in my book).

I wouldn't call her food art "cute" (though, I could definitely see these paintings being put in a kid's room as well, and I would classify her other non-food art as "cute"), but "tasty". The more I stare at her original popsicle painting, the more my mouth waters for treats. I could see myself collecting a series of popsicle paintings if they existed in different colors: this delicious red, a rich teal, a mouth-watering blue, a bright golden yellow-orange, a multi-colored popsicle, and anything else. There's just a thick, luscious feeling that Meredith's acrylic food painting really has, making me hungry for more sweets.

The great thing about her popsicle painting is that it won't melt and it'll always be there for you to enjoy. Ready to hang and coated with a glossy medium, don't miss out on her shiny delectables!

Check out foodpainter's listing on Etsy now: Popsicle Original Painting!

Tune in next week for the Wednesday Item Feature!

Love & donuts,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day Crafts for Kids.

This weekend I will be attending one of the many (I'm sure) Earth Day celebrations around town. I have had a creative reuse craft table at the City of Fremont's Earth Day Event for the last 3 years. It is so much fun and inspiring to see young folks leading the charge for the environment.

I bring a new creative reuse craft each year and wanted to share some great crafts I found while doing my research this year. This isn't just for kids, so dive in and have fun!

Egg Carton Creatures

Tutorial HERE.

Soda Bottle Terrarium

Tutorial HERE.

Toilet Paper Roll Wall Art

Tutorial HERE

Coffee Filter Flowers

Tutorial HERE

Magazine Mosaic Art

Tutorial HERE

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Silver berries and silver leaves

Pretty flowers, nice cards, brunch, lunch, dinner — things to give and do for your mom next month. And then there's jewelry. Everyone knows that jewelry is a huge market on Etsy. I could spend hours browsing on Etsy for the "perfect" handmade item, but once I find something that really catches my eye, I think and long for it, whether it would make a wonderful gift or go well with an outfit hanging in my closet.

The latest piece to catch my eye is a handcrafted open necklace by Gabrielle Lessard (also known as mangosteenjewelry on Etsy) from Oakland. Her Fine Silver Leaf Berries Open Necklace is simply beautiful. Made from metal clay and sterling silver, the necklace sits on the neck, with the leaves embracing you. The details on the leaves give the necklace an ethereal look; whoever is the lucky owner of this will look like a dream.

Gabrielle's unique open necklace is one that will definitely turn eyes, strike up a conversation, and is something to awe at. From the leaves to the berries, this is a finely crafted and highly desirable necklace. Mother's Day is next month, and this is something special you might want to consider getting before May 8th or before someone else does!

Check out mangosteenjewelry's listing on Etsy now: Fine Silver Leaf Berries Open Necklace

It is also currently at City Art Gallery (828 Valencia in San Francisco).

Tune in next week for the Wednesday Item Feature!

Love & donuts,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What is it really worth?

Should you charge $27 or $39?

Hard to say. Well, unless you’re Ryan McGinness. Then it doesn't matter. You can eschew all formulas and charge whatever you like.

For the rest of us, here's my monthly attempt at making sense of pricing handmade.

Once a month, I will be covering pricing tips and strategies, unusual pricing tactics, interviews with artists (with a focus on pricing), social pricing experiments and pricing advice from around the web. Let me caveat this by saying I'm no economist (lucky me) or expert on pricing (seriously, who is?) but I am obsessed with the psychology of valuation, especially for something that’s hard to quantify, like creativity.

Thought I’d kick off this first post with a unique pricing strategy employed by New York artist Justin Gignac of wantsforsale.

Justin and his wife Christine think about what they want, paint it and charge the exact amount the item is worth.

A painting of a pizza slice $3, Nintendo Wii $239

'Buffalo wings' costs $12.99

'To see showgirls in Vegas' costs $250

Same canvas. Same whimsy illustration style. Wildly different prices. Blows my mind.

While Justin doesn't think he can use this strategy to make a living in New York City, his intent is to kick off conversations. Pricing for story telling. He has painted a check for a million dollars which he hopes to sell some day. Now that would make a great story.

Next month I'll share more thoughts on pricing and we can deconstruct, discuss, and debate. Fun times!


The Whiteout (Junk Rescue)

Kaamchor (Art from stolen office supplies)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Young At Heart: Make a Foam Stamp

There are so many ways to make fun stamps but this one is by far the easiest! Similar to the idea of woodcut, this stamp is the 5 minute, kid friendly version. Hope you enjoy!

-Thick foam sheet. You can find this stuff in the kids section of most craft stores.
-Stamp Pad

1. Draw your design onto the foam. You may want to practice this first on scratch paper so that your image is exactly how you want it.

2.With your pencil, fill in the background (or negative space) around your image with lines, scribbles or patterns.

(Once that's finished it should look something like this)

3. Cut out your stamp.

4. Press your stamp to the stamp pad.

5. Last, press your stamp to your paper where you want the image.

You're done! It's that easy!
Remember, your stamp should be a mirror image of how you want it to look on paper. This means that if you have words, you'll have to write them backwards.

*(Special thanks to Crystal Sasaki for help on this week's Young at Heart tutorial)*

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Legal Stuff - Starting a Small Arts Biz in the East Bay

Okay, so you have your lil’ etsy shop and you you are thinking about doing a craft show, but you don’t have a business license, a seller’s permit, or insurance. Ahhhh! Get legit, people!

According to the California State Board of Equalization (

You must obtain a seller's permit if you:

  • Are engaged in business in California
  • Intend to sell or lease tangible personal property that would ordinarily be subject to sales tax if sold at retail (this includes wholesalers, manufactures and retailers.)
  • Will make sales for a temporary period, normally lasting no longer than 90 days at one or more locations (for example, fireworks booth, Christmas tree lots, garage sale)

You must obtain a use tax account if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • Receive at least $100,000 in gross receipts from business operations per calendar year. Note: Gross receipts are the total of all receipts from both in-state and out-of-state business operations
  • Are not required to hold a seller's permit or certificate of registration for use tax (under section 6226 of the Revenue and Taxation Code)
  • Are not a holder of a use tax direct payment permit as described in section 7051.3 of the Revenue and Taxation Code
  • Are not otherwise registered with the BOE to report use tax

But Dude! If you have a seller’s permit from the State of California, you can get your supplies WHOLESALE! Think about what that could do for your profit margin. Sweet!

Register with the State here:

Fill out the form, pay the fee and mail it in!

NOTE: This means that you gotta collect SALES TAX when you sell stuff within the state. You have to collect the right amount for the right county. The tax ISN’T due on April 15, either it is due Jan. 31, and you get fined if you don’t do it on time. Watch your back!

Keep awesome records, and be a pro.

You ALSO need a business license for the City in which you operate.

City of Oakland

Link central is here:

Follow this link,

fill out the form, mail/fax it in with your fee! Bam. More legit.

But Myrrhia, I don’t know what my business classification is!

But, I STILL don’t know what my classification is!

Pumpkin, you make jewelry (beads, bags, tee-shirts). You are manufacturing.

Say what? Yes, you are a one-human, two-fisted factory.

City of Berkeley

Follow this link

Fill out the form, mail it in with your fee.

Other cities in the East Bay?

Do an online search "City of _______ business license"

Again, it will be a form, a fee, and you can mail it in. They make this easy for you because they want you do to it.

You are all good with the city and state now.

Ficticious business name.

Do you do business under a ficticious business name? "A what?" you say.

Are you Jane Doe Jewelry? No. You are "Fairy Princess Rosamond Jewels"--that is a ficticious business name. If you use this name online, on a banner on your craftshow display, or on a business card, you are using a fictitious business name, and you gotta do some paperwork, Pumpkin!

First, make sure your name isn’t being used by someone else.

Follow this link:

Click the link “Online” accept the terms and conditions, and do your search.

Phew! You thought up a unique name. Register it before some other Fairy Princess comes along!

Choose your county:

Follow the instructions at that county's website.

If you county is Alameda, use this form, here:

You can do it by mail. Follow the instructions here:

After you get your stamped application back from the clerk, you need to put a notice in the local paper regarding your fictitious business name. The papers know what do to. Try to get a cheap one. East Bay Express will do it, but it is kind of expensive. I found a good rate with the Inter-City Express.
Within 30 days after the fictitious business name statement has been filed with the county clerk, the statement must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the statement was filed. The newspaper selected should be one that circulates in the area where the business is to be conducted. The statement must be published once a week for four successive weeks with five days between each date of publication. An affidavit of publication must be filed with the county clerk within 30 days after the completion of the publication. (Sec. 17917 B&P Code, Sec. 6064 Gov. Code.)

Any person who executes, files, or publishes any fictitious business name statement, knowing that such statement is false, in whole or in part, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1000). (Sec. 17930 B&P Code)
A. Unless the statement expires earlier under (b) or (c) below, a fictitious business name statement expires five years from the date it was filed in the office

You know what all of this means right, you are totally legit. Yay! You have to pay taxes. Awwww . . .


Please please PLEASE don’t skip this step.

I think of this like a parking meter. Sure, you could get by without putting your coins in. The meter maid NEVER comes around. You are just parking for a sec. No big deal. RIGHT? Yeah--right! I put $2.00 in even if I really only end up needing $0.50 of time, just as INSURANCE against that $75.00 ticket.

Insurance is cheap for you now, because it is based on gross receipts (the total money you take in on your business, before costs). It’s worth it!

If some whacko online customer gives your spikey metal necklace to their three year old as a toy and baby hurts itself, they might sue you. “Ha ha!” you say, “Too bad so sad, they can’t win that case.” No, they probably won’t, but who is going to pay the filing fee to answer the complaint? Who is going to draft the answer to the complaint so you don’t get a default judgment? Hrrrm…you would have to hire an attorney, wouldn’t you? How are you going to pay for that?

A standard insurance policy gives you a coverage type called “duty to defend or indemnify” that means that the insurance company pays for the attorney, pays the filing fee, and gets that whacko to go away FOR you. It’s worth it.

Okay, smarty pants, where do I get this insurance? I can’t tell you who to hire, but I don’t recommend going online. Get a referral to an insurance agent from someone with a small business that you respect.

Make sure that they ask you lots of questions about your operation, your equipment, and your other insurance policies. It is a big red flag if they don’t.

Use someone you like talking to, because at some point, you might need more or other coverage tacked onto your policy, and you want to feel comfortable talking to him or her about what is going on.

For example, a boutique may want to be added as an “additional insured” on your policy. You have to call up your agent and get this document drafted so you can provide it to the boutique.

Other issues with insurance are your tools and equipment. Most crafters live rather close to the bone. Your only source of income may be selling your necklaces. What if the speed freaks in the apartment below you burn your building down trying to make meth? Do you have renters insurance? You do? I could just kiss you! They might give you money for your mattress and your bike.

They might EXCLUDE coverage for your lap top, your soldering gun and all those handmade beads that got burned up, because they are used in your business. Make sure it’s covered! Better safe than sorry!

Feeling overwhelmed? You don't have to do it all yourself. If you have questions, email me at, or give me a call (510)421-9005.

It's Friday! What's up with this weekend?

I'll start with tonight. Go to the Cotton Mill Studios in Oakland for an Art Show, Open House and Fashion Show.

More details here:

The Olive Hyde Art Guild in Fremont has it's 43rd Annual Textiles Exhibit up!

The gallery is open Thursday – Sunday, Noon – 5:00 pm, during exhibitions. Admission is free to the public.

43rd Annual Textiles Exhibit
Exhibition Dates: April 1 – May 14, 2011

Our Textiles Exhibit is our largest, longest running exhibit – in its 43rd Year! It has the highest visitor count and exposure of all our shows and runs for a full 6 weeks. The Olive Hyde Art Gallery is committed to showcasing the best new work and exciting work in the region. Artists are selected based on originality, skill level, and the ability to bring fresh diverse work and ideas to our community. The Gallery is divided into 3 exhibition spaces, therefore lending itself best to show an array of techniques and concepts from artists working in both traditional and conceptual ways in the realm of the fiber based art.

More details here:

If you like California History, Photography, or need some inspiration, here's an exhibit for you:

Photo Exhibit - Family Portrait China's 56 Ethnic Groups.

At the US Chinese Art Museum, 4690 Tompkins Ave., Oakland, CA, 94619. Starts April 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm.

I love writing this blog, because it helps me find out about galleries and museums I never knew about!

Check this out, JFK University Dept. of Art and Consciousness is having it's faculty show. It ENDS this weekend. Gallery hours are 12:00 to 5:00 pm, and it's at 2956 San Pablo Ave., 2nd Fl, Berkeley, CA, 94702. (This is that gorgeous long building on the corner of San Pablo and Ashby.) This sounds really interesting. Their educational program focuses on the transformative capabilities of art. I want to see! Sparse info here:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Zen and the art of Inspiration.

I am a fan of ZenHabits and read it often. I ran across 30 incredible places to turn when you need inspiration the other day and wanted to share a few of my favorite "places" with you from that article. For fun, I am pairing it with a few works I found that inspire me (all EBAC team members).


Pull out an Ansel Adams or Walker Evans book. Instant inspiration!

Aaron Fung

The ocean.


I go outside and walk, breathe deep, notice all colors, sounds, smells and think of what I’m grateful for.

Books: library, store, my bookshelf. Grab a latte and cruise Barnes & Noble.

Happy Creating!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Take me out to the ball game

It's time for baseball. Why do I know this? Because my boss at work is a long-time Giants fan who took the day off for the Giants' Opening Day last week and by the time I'm commuting home on Caltrain now, I'm surrounded by Giants fans left and right. While orange is not my favorite color and baseball is not exactly a sport I'm interested in, Rosemary Alonso from Oakland (simply known as RosemaryAlonso on Etsy) does capture my interest with her black and white photography.

The contrast in her photography is striking from the dark stitches of the baseball to the way the sun shines to brighten up a few of the dirty spheres behind bars. The angle of the shot reminds me of the masses of Giants fans that gather on the train platforms anxiously waiting — in the same way, the baseballs are piled one on top of another, seemingly endless, waiting to be used again.

Available in three sizes (4x6, 5x7, and 8x10), Rosemary's prints are made to order and take a little time to process (so be patient, her work is worth it!). Between the three sizes that she offers, they all fit snuggly in standard photo frames and would be a great gift for a real baseball (or photography) fan. She signs all of her prints and ships them lined in plastic in a sturdy cardboard mailer for protection so you'll receive the print safely. While her listing is specifically for an unframed glossy print, if you have particular photo preferences, go on and send her a message! She takes special requests from color to paper choice (matte or glossy), size, shipping preferences, and framing options.

Play ball! Check out RosemaryAlonso's listing on Etsy now: Play Ball, Waiting for April - Glossy 4x6 Color Print

Tune in next week for the Wednesday Item Feature!

Love & donuts,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tips for a Tuesday - Tools of the Trade

A couple weekends ago, I was at a craft fair. The woman at the table across from me was selling some beautiful jewelry - lots of semi-precious stones in abundantly rich color. People were stopping frequently to admire her work. Many declared they wanted to take something home... but when they were told she didn't take credit cards, many had to pass.

Now, there's an ethical consideration here in that people will buy things on credit that they can't really afford... and given our current economic climate, many are digging themselves deep holes for non-luxury items, like groceries. So, as purveyors of non-essential goods, I suppose one has to decide how they feel about being responsible for others' financial decisions...

That aside, I've decided that I too would like to eat, and so I signed myself up as a merchant with Square. Now, I'm sure many of you have heard of Square, but for those who haven't, I'm considering proclaiming myself their unofficial spokesperson (nope, don't work for them, just love them!). Quick summary: started by one of the founders of Twitter, Square provides owners of smartphones (iPhone, Droid) with a handy little device that plugs into your headphone jack and allows you to accept amd swipe credit cards. Their fee structure is more reasonable than most other merchant services. And, it's a local company. So if you find yourself at craft shows hoping to capture a broader audience, I wholeheartedly recommend checking out their service.

You can either key in the card number or swipe it. The card holder actually signs your screen, and you can send off a receipt via email or text message that very moment. Funds are deposited in a couple days. Honestly, this has been one of the best sales tools I've added to my handy box.

And that is my quick tip for this Tuesday!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monthly Seller Feature: Sarah's Stuffed Socks

Hello there! This month's featured seller is Sarah's Stuffed Socks!

Purple Hedgehog $26

Based in Orinda, this recent college grad, loves creating these cute creatures for the younger humans in her life: "All of my sock animals are 100% hand sewn. So they take me A LOT of time. Even though they are so labor intensive, I continue to make them because I love them so much. I hope you and your loved ones will love them as much as I do."

Striped Sock Elephant $25

SALE: Green Plaid Monkey $24

And just look at those prices! These are a steal and would make excellent handmade gifts for the youngins' in your life.
As Sarah mentions in her profile: "My mom is a professional crafter, so I have been doing one craft or another pretty much since I could first hold something. My new favorite craft is making sock animals, of course."

Her designs are inventive, playful and obviously crafted with love!

Young at Heart: Workshops and Classes Worth Checking Out

This week I wanted to share with you a few links I've found to kids arts programs in the East Bay.

Bay Area Youth Arts: offering classes in African jazz song, dance & percussion for all ages.

Museum of Children's Art: Located in downtown Oakland, MOCHA has daily art camps fall-spring and weekly summer camps, weekday and weekend Drop-in Art Studios, Free after-school programs featured at a variety of Oakland libraries, exhibits and more.

Bay Area Girls Rock Camp: Providing week long summer camps for girls ages 8-18 where they get the chance to learn an instrument and write perform songs with other band mates. This program has lots of hands on mentoring and instruction from female volunteers.

Kids N Dance: An exciting dance and theater school for kids. With a few locations in the East Bay, they offer themed classes, camps and birthday parties that are interactive and fun. They have a few great videos that show you what you can expect. (I watched one on their musical theater camps and I fell IN LOVE!! I've had the opportunity of working in children's theater and i can tell this program has a lot of heart.)

Street Style/ Dream Seam: A fashion program for ages 14-25 located in Oakland. This organization has offered workshops, classes on fashion merchandising, galleries and fashion shows featuring the work of the East Bays finest young designers.

East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse: Besides finding awesome deals on salvaged art materials, the Creative Reuse provides educational outreach, organizing after school programs
and special community events.

The Junior Center of Art and Science: a non-profit organization with exhibits, events, workshops, classes and summer camps since 1954.

Studio One Arts Center: With such a large variety of different mediums offered, some of the highlights are poetry, ceramics, sculpture, flower art, stained glass, jewelry making, digital photography, yoga, dance, drama, drawing and more!

I'm sure that there are even more programs and organizations in the Eat Bay that I have yet to find. If you know of any that you would like to share please let me know. I'll be searching for more and keep you posted!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Upcoming Events!

Hi there. There are lots of fun things for crafters and craft lovers to do this weekend.


Have you checked out the Royal Nonesuch Gallery yet? It's been on my list for quite a while, there is a great excuse to go now.

21 Projects x 21 Days x 21 Hours is a show where each day another art "happening" will take place. All the projects are interactive, and look super fun. Here's the line up for the weekend:Friday, April 8, 7:30-8:30pm

Friday, April 8, 7:30-8:30pm

Sad Vicious with Scott Vermiere and Steuart Pittman
Don't miss live drawing and/or painting by local rock band Sad Vicious!!! Sad Vicious will either draw side by side as a sort of "live drawing meets rock band meet and greet" or exhibit a new form of performance never done before in which Sad Vicious plays rock guitar music and paint splatters the images of artistic, social, and political icons on a wall!!!

Saturday, April 9, 3:00-4:00pm
Phobianimation with Samara Halperin
Participants will make flip books of their phobias... from eggs to spiders to bridges. This will be a fun way for people to share their phobias and make something good come out of them.

Saturday, April 9, 5:30-6:30pm
The Fictitious Art History Lecture Series with Seth Murchison
Select participants will choose from a group of slides from the UC Berkeley Art History department's glass slide collection, now property of Seth Murchison, and spend some time composing and delivering a lecture or fictional narrative based on the slides the come up.

Sunday, April 10, 1:00-2:00pm
Make Your Own Paint with Judi Pettite
Learn how to make your own paint using earth, plant pigments, and/or dye. Judi Pettite will then lead a discussion of the historical context of pigments as art medium.

The address is 4231 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA 94608

The 21 days will be up on April 17, 2011. Check the schedule here.

ANARCHIST BOOK FAIR (It's an Art Show, too!)

This weekend in San Francisco, at the SF County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. More details here.

Another ART SHOW!

It's the last weekend to see Mayumi Hamanaka's art show at Swarm Gallery in Jack London Square, in Oakland.

Swarm is a really sweet gallery space, and Hamanaka's art is just plain inspiring.


The Cotton Mill Studios in Oakland are a hotbed of talent and are featuring guest artists PLUS a fashion show, next Friday, 4/15/10 from 6pm to 10pm. Fruitvale BART will get you there.
Info here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spruce up that ol' zipper jacket!

I walk my dog every morning, usually while still wearing my pajamas. My pjs don't have pockets and neither does the sweater jacket I usually wear, so I decided to add pockets so I'd have a place to keep my keys and my hands on those extra foggy mornings.

If you have a sweater, shirt, or jacket that you would like to make all fancy with some new pockets, then check out the tutorial below!

1. Find a fabric for the outside of your pocket and some fleece or other cozy fabric for the inside of the pocket.

2. Cut the pockets in a slight "U" shape. The opening of the pocket is 5 1/2" and the end of the pocket is 3 1/2". The distance between the opening and the end is 6". Now, of course, you can change the size of the pockets to fit your hands and jacket perfectly.

3. Stack the outside fabric on top of the inside fabric and cut the inside of the fabric about an inch from the top.

4. Fold the extra outside fabric over the inside fabric, iron and sew down.

5. Pin the pockets to the jacket where you feel they will be most comfortable.

6. Sew in place!

Yay for a cute newish sweater jacket with pockets!

upcycled unlimited

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bullets, stars, mushrooms, and bricks

Mario is such an iconic character, that even without being present, items from his "world" are just as loved by video game geeks. For someone who still has a clean, working 8-bit NES (Nintendo Entertainment System for those too young!) with stacks of bulky game cartridges, I'm attracted to the pixelated world of Mario, Zelda, Tetris blocks, Excitebikes, Kid Icarus and ... the list could go on. Outside of the pixel world, the world of Mario lives on in fashion apparel, home decor, and STAMPS!

Jessica from Oakland sells original handmade stamps in her Etsy shop, Enchanting Stamps. In the midst of her elegant underwater-themed stamps and cute ice cream stamps, her Super Mario series stamps pop out and really catch the gamer's eye. Designed with her 6-year old son in mind, her hand carved Super Mario stamp set includes a mushroom stamp to help grow healthy bones, a brick stamp to build solid grounds, a flower stamp that might result in fire breathing, a star stamp for invincibility, and a Bullet Bill stamp.

Hand carved into durable rubber, Jessica's Super Mario stamps give a soft, nice feeling good for paper and fabric projects. As a matter of fact, I think these stamps would be ridiculously fun to stamp on hands, but that's because I like writing notes and things on the back of my hand. The stamps are made to order, and if you'd like different (older) versions of the Super Mario world items, just ask Jessica, who says herself that she'd be happy to make custom stamps.

I think this set of stamps is brilliant, since I imagine having this if I were still a kid and being able to create my own Mario world via stamps and just keep stampin' bricks along and drawing Mario and Luigi where I please. While this doesn't come with a supply of ink, this would still be an awesome gift for the older gamer, the younger gamer, and really anyone who is a fan of Mario. Each stamp is also available individually, but it's definitely a bargain to get the whole set!

Check out EnchantingStamps' listing on Etsy now: Hand Carved Super Mario Stamp Set 1

Tune in next week for the Wednesday Item Feature!

Love & donuts,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tips for a Tuesday - What to do with all that freedom

So I quit my day job about a year and a half ago to pursue this whole art-as-a-career thing. I'd spent the last 16 years working for someone else, and decided it was time to take that big leap into the unknown to see if I could actually make ends meet doing something I love. I had a lot of support from the people that care about me, which has been wonderful. I've learned a lot of important lessons stumbling along, and I'd like to take this moment to share what has been the Most Important One Yet.

Get a planner!
Maybe it's your handy electronic companion that chimes to remind you it's time to eat. Perhaps it's some lovely, worn, leather-bound, refillable pile of pages passed down from your dad. Whatever you choose to use, actually use it. I went from having to wake up at 6am every day to get to work by 7:30am to work work work til noon to inhale my lunch for about half an hour to work work work again til 6pm to drag my weary bones home by 7pm to eat something more to stare at the tv or computer for a bit to eventually crash around 11pm or so just to wake up and do it all again the next day to (pausing for a breath) having absolute freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. It was jarring, and to be honest, I think I spent about 6 months staring off into space. And those were 6 months that my savings were being consumed without much attention to replenishment.

Without the predetermined routine set by regular employment, I was lost. I finally dragged myself out of my stupor and picked up a couple books about making your craft into a business (thank you, Meg Mateo Ilasco). In Craft, Inc., (highly recommended!) she suggests keeping a time journal for a week to see where one's inefficiencies crop up and how to go about managing one's time. Her suggestion of breaking up things into manageable tasks proved helpful.

I decided to start my year with a fresh new planner that I would use to the gills - to write in breaks, and tasks... to create my own routine of starting the day with a walk with my pup + coffee, then on to the business of the day for a couple hours (email, shipping, etc.,) followed by lunch, leaving time for creativity in the afternoon, and then actually committing to a stop time. It is really easy to just hole up and totally forget to have a life! This is also a really easy way to burn out. Having my trusty planner also gives me items to check off, which is oddly satisfying.

So, there you have it - my tip for a Tuesday. Find yourself a way to be disciplined about your work life, and your social life will thank you for it!

BTW - one of our EBA team members has a lovely planner in her shop!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Young at Heart: Secret Message in a Puzzle How-To

What you will need:
-recycled cereal box
-pencils, markers or pens
-glue or glue stick
-this template

1. Download the template here, print it and cut out the puzzle on the SOLID LINES ONLY.

2. Cut open your recycled cereal box so that you have a flat drawing surface as big as your puzzle. (I used the front side so that there weren't any bends and creases.)

3.Use your glue stick to cover the back of your puzzle guide with a thin layer of glue or if you are using a glue bottle make lots of SMALL dots. Just make sure to cover the entire surface, even the corners.

4. Press the gluey side of the puzzle guide to the printed side of your cardboard.

5.Use your (CLEAN) hands to flatten the puzzle down and let it dry.

6.Cut the cardboard from the edges of the puzzle.

7.Turn over the puzzle and write your secret message on the blank side.

8.Now you're ready to cut your puzzle pieces out. Cut along the dotted and dashed lines of the puzzle guide.

You're done! You can send your puzzle to someone in an envelope or give it as a gift.

Now that you know how it's done, you can make a puzzle from just about anything. Try gluing a picture of you and your best friends or drawing something to the blank side of the puzzle. *I would love to see what you come up with!!*

This is just one fun project with recycled cardboard. In this case, the cardboard helps keep the puzzle pieces strong. In other projects cardboard can be used for tons of things. It's easy to cut, easy to draw/paint on and there is SO much cardboard being thrown out all the time. (It's free!)

So give your unwanted cardboard a second life and make someone you know a puzzle to brighten their day!

Thanks for reading and Enjoy!