16 December 2007

Etsy In The News

In the magazine section of today's New York Times is an article about Etsy and the DIY craft resurgence. Titled Handmade 2.0, it is an excellent look into the beginnings of Etsy, and some of the ideals behind it.

As someone who sells on Etsy, I love seeing this kind of publicity for the site. It isn't just a cheery article about how great Etsy is; it also mentions some of the issues that the site, and the sellers, must deal with.

While I haven't sold much through Etsy, I have found it to be a wonderful place to list. I made a classic rookie mistake when I began listing - I expected buyers to just find me. Stupid, I know. However, I am learning and looking at ways to drive traffic to my Etsy shop myself - anyone that finds me through Etsy is a bonus sale!

Please read the article here. If you like it, please email the story to a friend through the NY Times web site, to help get the article listed in the Times Top 10 emailed articles. These appear in a box to the right side of each page, and I cannot tell you how often I look through there to see what is popular. A great way to support Etsy and all indie crafters working for themselves!

Under the Lights

I was finally able to see the production of Madeline's Christmas at the Germantown Community Theatre that I helped make costumes for. I had not seen the script, but read the book, so I was familiar with the story. However, I didn't realize that the blue gowns I made would be worn by the cast for over half of the production! It was rather exciting to see them on stage - I think they looked good, although I could point out the flaws with every one of them! Hazard of the trade--------

I hope some pictures will be posted online so that I can link to them, since I sadly I did not take any pictures while making them.

Quite a thrill to see my work up on stage!

13 December 2007

Hey - I Could Do That #2

And not only could I do it, I would have loved to have done it!! Done what? Last night's challenge on Project Runway. The designers were given a model, who were (in the shows terminology) "everyday women". They weren't tall, thin and barely in their 20s. But there was another twist - all of the women had lost of significant amount of weight!!! Good for them!! They were also wearing what was their favorite garment before their weight loss, and the design challenge was to use that outfit to make them a new one, that fit their personality and new body.

OH MY!!! I would so love to have done that challenge. First, I lost about 70 pounds a few years ago, so I know what is involved in getting it off, keeping it off, and also, how you have to readjust to the new body you see in the mirror. Second, I love to remake clothes. Not only does it keep perfectly good fabrics out of the landfills, it allows me (and anyone I remake things for) to keep their favorite garments around, just in a different form. Plus, it saves money! The only way I could keep myself clothed as I lost weight was to alter and remake as many things as possible. Some things that were in very good shape I didn't bother - I donated them to Goodwill for someone else to enjoy. But many of my clothes are the remade variety.

It was interesting to watch the various designers react to having non-traditional sized models (although get real - this is the majority of people out in the real world!!!) and also to having to use fabrics that were not of their choosing. Some succeeded brilliantly - I was very impressed with some of the outfits - while others never seemed to overcome the limitations they felt they had.

Whatever the designers may have felt about this challenge, I loved seeing what I do presented in a positive light. You CAN remade clothes and reuse fabrics, and still turning out stunning designs that can be work by everyday women!

Now, if I could just get someone to hire me to redesign their wardrobe---------

06 December 2007

Hey - I Could Do That!!

Tuesday evening I took my son to buy the DVD for the third Pirates of the Caribbeanmovie. We are big fans of this movie series, and now own all three DVDs, and as with most DVDs I watch, I always look through the special features to see what bits of knowledge I can pick up.

There is a special feature on Penny Rose, the costume designer, and the coat for Captain Teague (played by Keith Richards). She starts out showing the first version created - it was blue and reused the embroidery from church altarcloths!! However, the director didn't like the color, so they had to find something else.

The red one seen in the movie is made from curtains that were found in a Paris flea market! Oh, how I love that!! I cannot even begin to imagine what the costume budget was for this movie, yet she finds the fabric she needs in a flea market.

There were a couple of other fun details - they needed three versions of the coat - one for Richards, one for the photo double and one for the stunt man. Somehow they found enough fabric for all three. They also had to dye the fabric to get the right color, since the original red was too orange.

This is what I want to do - this is how I want to design costumes and wardrobes. Reuse as much as possible, to keep perfectly good fabrics from being thrown away and necessitating the creation of new ones. I know it won't work all the time (it may not even work MOST of the time), but having it as a starting place will hopefully keep me looking in the right direction.

03 December 2007

Buy Handmade

There is an online pledge available stating that you will buy handmade items this holiday season. Now I think this is a great idea - not only do I make things that I would LOVE for someone to purchase as a gift, but it also helps to personalize the gift. However, I have not signed the pledge. Why? Because for the majority of people I want to give gifts to, there is nothing I can think of to get that they would want that can be handmade. And let me quickly add - no one on my list really NEEDS anything. Everyone is able to purchase anything that they need (and mostly likely the majority of wants as well!) so that is not even an issue. When considering items to give each person, I try to take into account what they enjoy, what they could really use, and what they would appreciate having. And for many of them, handmade items don't seem to fit in.

My mom, however, is always happy to receive handmade items, especially if handmade by me! For Mother's Day this year, I sent her a variety of things that I made for her, and she commissioned me to make a shawl for her this summer. I even had some ideas on what to make for her for Christmas - but while visiting over Thanksgiving, I found that she really needs a meat thermometer and a thermometer for her oven since her thermostat seems to be way off. She can easily afford to go to the store and purchase them herself, but I thought these would be the perfect things I could get for her.

My dad also appreciates handmade gifts, and I made an afghan for him a few years ago -something to throw over his legs if he wants to take a nap in his recliner. But he doesn't need anything, and really has very few wants. My great idea was to take a picture of my son and two nephews at Thanksgiving, print it, frame it, and give it to him for Christmas. What a great idea, right? Except, I never got the picture taken!! Trying to get the three guys together without one of my parents noticing and commenting on it was hard enough (and yes, I could have just told them what I was up to and quit asking questions!), and I kept forgetting! Last year I did get my parents a one year membership with Green Dimes and I may renew that for them. Not handmade, but something that would be of value to them (my parents could have wallpapered their house several times with the amount of catalogues they received!)

But in thinking about the pledge, I'm going back over my list, seriously researching ideas, and trying, really trying to come up with handmade items for more people on my list. My nephews will most likely get gift cards of some sort (which is what they ask for!), but my sister, and several friends, may find themselves recipients of awesome handmade items. I'm not sure if anyone I'm giving to this season reads this blog, but in case they do, I'm not saying anything else until after the holidays!

And now a story - rather sad, but it taught me a lot. Eleven years ago, my son had just turned one and Christmas was fast approaching. I was still married, and as usual, we had very little extra money for Christmas. At the time, we were giving to everyone in both families, so I sat down and came up with things I could make that I thought would fit in with each person's interests. My dad has a sweet tooth, so he got some homemade candy; the women got a variety of bath products that I put together myself, etc. I may not have been fancy, but I had really tried to match the gift with the recipients likes. More importantly, I gave of my time, since I didn't have the money - and my time was VERY valuable to me because it meant less time with my son (I was working full-time and he had been in daycare since he was 3 months old).

Needless to say, the gifts were not a hit at all! I don't really remember my family having much to say (and since they are my family, I probably cut them some slack and ignored them), but my in-laws were obviously not impressed. I think they felt if they had gone into debt to get me something, I should do the same for them! I was disheartened, but reminded myself I gave up time with my son to try to give them something they would use and enjoy - if I missed the mark, then I missed. Now that I'm divorced, I no longer worry about what that group thinks of me or my gifts - and this also plays in to my struggle with finding handmade gifts for my family. But at some point, I set a budget, come up with a list of things I think everyone would like, purchase them and wish them the best. I hope it is a good match, but if not - the world will not end! Maybe I'm getting old, but I don't care what I get for Christmas, or if I get anything for Christmas. My expectations have dropped as the years have passed - and so has my stress! I try to make sure my son enjoys the entire season - and not just the gifts he gets under the tree. And since he is with me for New Year's this year, I want to spend some time on New Year's Eve talking to him about what he wants out of 2008 - goals, things to work towards, positive changes in our lives, that sort of stuff. Hopefully this is a tradition that will carry us through his teenage years and into adulthood.

I hope everyone has a blessed, stressless, happy holiday season!