Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Anyone Can Do It! Making Fashion Rings With Mylana

Handmade Rings by Mylana
 Got 10 minutes and a few basic parts, why not make your own fashion cocktail rings? They are very inexpensive to create and allow you to upcycle vintage and natural materials. You can use stones, beach glass, salvaged jewelry part, buttons, fabric, designer papers, vintage books, and old greeting cards. All you need are a few simple materials and a dash of inspiration!

Let's make a simple vintage themed cabochon ring today; tomorrow you can begin your own designs.

-Glass or acrylic cabochons
-E 6000 jeweler's epoxy
-ring bases
-decorative paper
-rag for polishing and wiping glue

Note: you can also make magnets, brooches, or pendants using found materials. Simply mount a magnetic back, pin back, or bail on your finished cabochon. You can purchase all of the materials for rings or other projects at any major craft store or jewelry making supply.

 I purchased my supplies at Fire Mountain Gems online, but you can also get most of the items at Hobby Lobby or Joann's Fabrics. The papers are from vintage textbooks, designer scrapbook paper, an acrylic painting by me, an old map, and a digital collage sheet, purchased online from Etsy.

Now, follow allong step-by-step as we make the ring.
Text and images to embed inside the ring.

I chose an antique music sheet design and I am tracing the cabochon with a penicl to cut it to size.

The paper is now cut to match the size of the cabochon.

The E 6000 epoxy spread on the back of the cabachon in a thick layer. When you glue the paper to the cabachon, make sure to smooth out the layer of glue and any air bubbles. Have a rag handy to wipe excess glue.

The image is now glued to the cabochon. Allow to dry for 2-3 minutes.

Now, apply a large dot of epoxy to the back of your image and center the ring in the glue. You need to use a generous amount to make sure the ring base will be firmly anchored.

Allow the ring to dry for 48 hours before wearing.

Additional decorated cabochons that I made for future projects.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Writer's Block and Lack of Inspiration: Ideas to Generate Creativity

Need Inspiration?
How ofter do you find yourself ready to start a project, but totally out of ideas? I like to paint and write poetry at times, but it seems that I do more staring at a blank surface than accomplishing anything creative. If you are like me and feel like you could be more productive with some good ideas, read on for a few suggestions on how to break out of a rut. Whether you draw, sew, write, or take photos, everyone needs a little help to innovate your projects.

1) Pay attention to your dreams.
Do you ever have weird and wild dreams full of fantasy creatures and otherworldly tales? When you are sleeping, your brain conjures up an alternative universe that you could never imagine while awake. Take advantage of your dreams by keeping a notepad by your bed or telling a partner about any particularly vivid dreams.

2) Exercise regularly.
Physical activity is a great time to meditate and let your mind wander, especially if you are trying to focus on something other that the physical work your body is doing. It doesn't have to be strenuous, anything that raises your heart rate and clears your mind. What is good for the body is good for the soul. I like to focus on a design concept I am considering and then take a long walk. I let myself picture different versions of the piece I want to make, or perhaps an original way to word a poem or prose. The bonus of doing outdoor exercise while contemplating your art is that nature itself can be an inspiration. Ahhhh, the scent of dirt after a fresh rain or frost coating pine trees!

Clay Pot From Cleavaland
Home and Garden Show
3) Play the "What If?" game.
What if I were designing a gown for Princess Diana in the 80's? What if I needed to make a clay pot for an ancient emperor? What if ghosts exist and where would they live? What do crop circles really mean? What if Lincoln was never shot? What if the dinosaurs never became extinct? What if cars could fly? What if we knew exactly what our pets are thinking? What if the the Mona Lisa had a frown?

They key word to this mental game, is "play"- don't forget it is supposed to be fun. Even in fine arts and literature, not everything is serious and stuffy. Let your mind imagine the unusual. This is a particularly fun game to play while exercising, or while in the car. You can do it alone or with someone else, but be careful not to forget your new ideas!

5) Listen to a Child.
Children are wonderfully imaginative and love to engage in fantasy play. They see the world in a totally different light that adults, and that can be extremely refreshing. Asking a child about his or her art project or summary of a  storybook will give you insights about situations and objects that an adult could never see. If you don't know any childeren to interact with, try reading youth literature or watching kids' TV. What message is conveyed in the poem or song? Do you think this is an important lesson for young people? How can you apply that message to your art or craft?

For example, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, everyone knows his story- the lesson is that someone who is different might have something extra special that makes them wonderful. So, how do you apply this to your art, design, or writing? Let's say you make leather crafts, could you design a dog collar that might be appropriate for Rudolph's personality? How about jewelry? Add an unexpected touch of red to one of your common designs. Like photography? Try to identify something like a misshapen tree or person wearing something unusal and try to make it appear beautiful. Are you a poet? Imagine the woods where reindeer live and try to capture the sights and sounds from the view point of an animal. Maybe you could even knit a scaft that you think Rudolph would wear.

The key is to take the theme of childrens' conversations and media and apply them to your own art or craft. Again, a great mental workout while you are exercising or cleaning the house.

6) Try to modernize a classic.
Think of a character from classic literature and rewrite thier story in a different time period, or remake a historical object into your modern version. For instance, write a poem about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn if they were growing up today, paint a portrait of a robot in traditional cowboy garb, decorate your pottery with skyscrapers and factories instead of a standard design, paint Van Gogh's "Starry Night" with a space shuttle or acid rain in the sky.

 7) Open a book.
No, not just any book, or your favorite, but something dramatically different than your current tastes. Maybe you enjoy sci-fi thrillers, but rarely explore other genres. The solution to stimulate creative thinking is to go outside your routine. Flip through a steamy bodice ripper and pick a page at random. Next, read the page and choose what you think would be an interesting title for your piece from the writing. Then, craft your work from there.

For instance, let's say I was making a soap, and couldn't decide on the scent, color, or shape. In my moment of indecision, I flip open the sultry (and probably cheesy) romance novel and identify the phrase, "lustful kiss". Normally, I would never use that wording, because it is completely out of the norm for me; however, that is what will make my creation different than my typical soaps. So, now I know the inspiring phrase for my soap, "lustful kiss", and brainstorm how to translate that to a soap. I would probably come up with something red and fiery with a spicy cinnamon note mixed with a traditionally romantic aroma, such as rose.

This experiment for generating ideas also works great with dictionaries and textbooks. Be sure whatever you pick is outside the norm for you. Cookbooks and recipe magainzes also make for strangely fabulous themes and titles. I would love to see what someone would paint from the title, "Smoked Sausage Soup"!

8) Call a friend.
The key is to step outside your normal routine and away from autobiographical inspirations to source original ideas. Ask a friend to think of a famous person, common object, historical event, geograhic place, or activity that he or she really enjoys and take that as your theme. Hypothetically, you ask your friend to name an interesting historical event, and he says, "The War of 1812". Of course, that is not something you think about on a daily basis. Do some quick research on the war and time period and identify something that speaks to you, and implement it in your project. This could be anything from designing a military inspired brooch to writing an epic poem about a gunship battle.

9) Pump up the volume!
Play some music that is not your normal selection, or pick your favorite song and close your eyes while you really, really listen. Think about how the words and beat make your feel and what types of scenery or objects would appear in your version of a music video. If you are a woodworker, what would you build to suit the setting? Would it be modern and polished or rustic and rough hewn? If you are a writer, could you come up with a plot based on the song? Even something like sewing childrens' clothing could get a creativity infusion with some new music- put on some big band and design something retro inspired.

10) Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery...but...
Don't be a copycat! Instead, look for art, writing, and crafts that appeal to you and borrow some of the design elements, colors, or themes. Love Southwestern architecture? Borrow the colors and patterns for your next quilt. Find a great necklace, but you don't want to steal the design? Use certain elements, like the colors, shapes, or materials, and incorporate it into your piece. So, instead of trying to duplicate that jasper pendant, try to use that stone in one of your rings. Sometimes, simply browsing other artist's work in the same category lights a spark for your ideas.

Thanks for reading today's entry from Clare Corcoran of the Etsy shop Mylana.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Let's Make Gift Tags! Five Minute Project

Is there anyone else out there like me who has a weakness for buying decorative paper and stamps? I love these crafting items, even though I don't scrapbook or make cards, but, I can use them to make personalized gift tags to spruce up my items before shipping. I also make tags for holiday and birthday gifts. You can choose designer paper or themed stamps for any occasion!

-cardstock paper, either plain or decorative
-stamp and ink, optional
-hole punch
-twine or ribbon

Here, I am making a gift tag for a thank-you gift to send to a customer who purchased this necklace from my Etsy shop, Mylana. I stamped leaf designs on the paper and cut it into 2 inch strips. Each strip, I then cut in 2 pieces and folded them in half, punching a hole about 1/4 inch away from the edge.

Now, I will show you, step-by-step, how to thread the string or ribbon through the tag. After the pictures is an example of a votive candle wrapped up with a tag.

I hope you have fun making your tags!

Fold a piece of string in half and thread the loop part through the hole. Pull until the loop is about 2 inches long and then open it with your fingers.

Open the loop and bring the tails over the top, sliding them through the loop.

Keep pulling the tails through the loop until it is tight. The gift tag is finished!

Attach your gift tag to item.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Paper Bags and Cleaning Rags: Houshold Objects With Crafty Uses

Time is money, friend! We have all heard that before and it seems to be the one thing that no one can have enought of. Here are a few tips that I have discovered or borrowed from another source to make crafting and cleanup easier. Depending on what you make, maybe you have some of your own to share with us, too!

1) Glass Jars are amazing and very useful. It also feels good to reuse something that might have otherwise gone in the trash. Many food items come in glass jars. This picture here shows glass jars being used to organize art supplies. This sight has more ideas for reusing jars:

Handmade Candle in Repurposed Jar
One of my favorite crafts is candlemaking. Thick walled glass jars are great to use for making candles. I particularly like the jars from Classico pasta sauce. The most important thing to do is to test and get a wick size to match up with your jar and make sure the jar can withstand the heat of a burning candle. I also like to use pasta jars and other jars as drinking glasses. Here is a candle I made in an old pickle jar, that is available on my etsy site, Mylana.

So, yes, there are a TON of things you can do with glass jars- make vases, fill them with beans and pasta for Italian themed decor, even use them to organize small screws and other hardware...but, how do you get those pesky labels off? Sometimes it is a huge battle to remove the paper and sticky glue. I have uses Goo Gone and other solvents, and the labels still did not come off!

Save yourself some elbow grease and grab a jar of petroleum jelly. Take a clean, dry jar and slather a thick layer, about 1/8 inch, over the whole label and extend it a bit beyond the margins of the label. Now, let your jars sit for a minimum of 24 hours. A sunny location is best. They come off even easier if you let them sit for a few days. After the alotted time, the label should easily peel from the jar, leaving no paper behind. Then take a washcloth or dish scrubbie and remove the glue residue. This should come off easily. If it is still stubborn, apply more Vaseline and let sit for another day. Wash the jars with warm, soapy water when you are done, and they are ready for your projects! 

In a pinch, Vaseline is also great for chapped lips or very dry skin. I use it to remove stubborn mascara and eye makeup. Simply close your eyes and massage a dollop into your eyelashed and eyelids and then wipe off with a warm, damp rag or paper towel. Your eye makeup should be all gone, plus there are no fragrances to irritate your eyes. Some people dislike using petroleum products, so if you want, you can make your own un-petroleum jelly using beeswax and oils. Here are the instructions:

2) The modest brown paper lunch bag is a crafty person's delight, plus, at 40 bags for 1.00 dollar in most grocery stores, they are more than affordable.

Need to wrap a small gift? Place it in the bag, roll it up, and tie with rustic twine. You now have an eco-friendly wrapped gift with county style. To personalize it further, you can use rubber stamps or paint to decorate the bag before wrapping. If you really want it to stand out, you can use decorative cloth ribbons as well.
Paper Bag Art Journal

I really like this website, Creativity in Motion, where she explains how to turn paper bags into personalized art journals. See this link here:

To keep kids occupied on a rainy day, grab a box of crayons and a stack of lunch bags and have them decorate their own lunch bags to take to school.

Big brown paper bags also make good material for covering textbooks that you can doodle on, and they can also be cut up and laid out flat to use for painting or oil pastel drawing. When I was in grade school, we cut them in a large oval and wrinkled them up, then drew designs on the brown paper that resembled a tanned and painted animal hide.

Don't forget that cats love paper bags too! If you can't use your old bag immediately, see if your feline friend has interest in it. Cats also like the small lunch bags, stuffed with catnip and stapled shut. They will happily play hiding and pouncing games with most paper bags.

Finally, if you have way too many paper bags from shopping, or extra gift wrap after the holidays, consider shredding the paper and using it as filler to pad boxes for shipping or to line a basket when you are making a gift basket. Brown paper confetti strips look exceptionally nice as a filler for any country themed or primitive gift basket.

3) Arm and Hammer is right, there are one hundred and one uses for common baking soda; however, I will share with you a few uses for the crafty individual.

Who likes those fancy bath salts from the spa retailers for a long, hot soak? I do! If you want to make them yourself, and reusue your old glass jars for packagine, here is a simple recipe for a relaxing bath soak:

-1 part baking soda
-1 part salt of your choice (kosher, epsom, sea salt)
-Food color if you would like color (use sparingly, make sure it is FDA approved)
-Fragrance (body safe, used per manufacturer's recommendations)

If you have never used frangrance or essential oils before, I highly recommend starting with the smallest size fragrance oil from a reputable supplier before trying the essential oils from the health food store. While they might be all natural, some are very irritating to the skin, or increase sensitivity to sunlight. When you order from a bath and body supplier, you can see if the oil is skin safe and how much to use in your product. Take for example, this Apple Mango Tango fragrace from Bittercreek North:

There is a chart provided telling you exactly how much to use in a bath salt soak. Too much will irritate the skin. If you want to go with the essential oils, make sure to research first with ones will not irritate your skin and the maximum safe percentage.

Baking soda is also great in the kitchen and for clean-up after crafting. Sprinkle in the garbage disposal to kill odors or make a thick paste with dishsoap to scrub your hands after painting or other crafts. The abrasive nature will scrub that paint or glue right off!

4) Old towels and clothing should NEVER go in the trash! You can cut them up for shop rags, an essential for all crafters, or get a fabric scissors and cut 1/2 inch strips of fabric to make chunky recycled ribbons. In general, terrycloth and soft, absorbent materials make the best rags, while silk and synthetic fabrics make pretty ribbons. Save denim and cut it up to make patches for decorating jeans or jean jackets. You can also make purses out of the seat, if you sew.

If you decide to make recycled fabric ribbons, a new trend is to wind them around wooden clothespins to storage and display. A collection of ribbons and twine wrapped around clothepins, or presented in one of your reused and decorated glass jars, makes a great gift.

5) Lastly, I will add a common object that is invaluable in the kitchen, the common plastic shower cap. If you are like me, you buy nice storage containers with lids to organize all your leftovers, and somehow, the lids dissappear! Use a shower cap to cover bowls and plates with leftovers when you can't find that lid. You can get a pack of 8 caps at Dollar Tree for 1.00 dollar.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

PIF= WTH? What Is Pay It Forward and How Is It Good For Me?

Wrap Bracelet
Pay It Forward, is a term coined from a 2000 movie starring Helen Hunt, as an alcoholic mother, and Haley Joel Osment as her son. Frustrated with home life, the son sets out to change the world, one good deed at a time. He calls his random acts of kindness, "Paying It Forward". The idea is that if everyone made small gestures of kindness, the world would be a better place.

So how, exactly, does that apply to handmade crafts?

"Pay It Forward", or PIF, is a growing trend in the handmade marketplace. For shoppers, it means getting items practically free, or incredibly inexpensive, in exchange for your pledge to pay the kindness forward. Of course, no one will actually know if you fulfill your end of bargain and pass on the good deed, but your conscience will!

The wrap bracelet above and several other items are featured in my handmade shop, Mylana, as a PIF listing, for only 20 cents. That's right, anyone can purchase select items for 0.20 USD. I will even ship the item free with another purchase from my shop.

So, what's the catch?

You have to pass on the good deed or perform a random act of kindness for someone else!
PIF Stone Necklace
The benefit for shoppers is obvious, get items for little cost and pledge to PIF to someone else when you purchase the item. This can be anything from listing something in your own shop as a PIF, or if you don't sell, giving to the Salvation Army, or buying a stranger her morning coffee. Whether you choose to bake your neighbor cookies or give to the food pantry, giving back to the community in return for getting a nice item is a great feeling. So, hit the handmade online markets and look for some PIF deals today.

One word of caution is to look over the PIF item details closely. Some unscrupulous sellers will advertise an item at a low, low price, but try to gouge you on the shipping. That's not nice. A true PIF listing will have a reasonable quality item with an accurate shipping charge, not an inflated price or inferior item.
20 Cent Bracelet
As a seller, why might it be a good idea to experiment with PIF? Below, I will give several reasons why one might consider doing it.

1) If you cannot afford charitable donations. The holiday season is coming up and maybe you don't have spare change to toss in the red kettle, but you have something you made or supplies to list as a PIF, hoping that the buyer of your item donates to a good cause.

2) To get exposure for your handmade goods. When shopping online, many people sort by lowest price. Having a low priced item gets people in the door to see your other things. Retail stores often do this by offering a popular item at an incredible price, hoping that shoppers buy something else. This is called a "loss leader". Only engage in this type of marketing if you really need the exposure and you can afford to give the item away at practically no cost. Think of it as giving away items in exchange for traffic.

3) You want to give shoppers a good first impression of your personal character. If you are an established seller, you might not want to offer PIF items, knowing that most likely, you will attract bargain hunters and those who might not want to pay full price anyway; however, an occasional high visibility PIF listing, or charitable donation, makes you look like a concerned and caring citizen.

4) You are a new seller to a venue and need feedback to build rapport. Face it, when shoppers see an online seller that has never sold an item, or with zero feedback, the customer is a little skeptical. Having a few sales under your belt makes you look reputable and trustworthy.

In my online Etsy shop, Mylana, I have sold perhaps 5 PIF items for 20 cents, the lowest price Etsy allows. From experience, I can say that it does attract traffic to my shop and generates buzz. Whether or not the customers will return is another matter. I fully understand that I am possibly courting the buyers that would not pay full price anyway, but I am hoping that a great product and great service will lure them back. I only list PIF items when I have excess inventory that is not selling or I really need the traffic.

At the end of the day, when I see that my handmade item has sold as a PIF, I feel good because I hope that the buyer will indeed pass on the kindness, as well as look favorably upon my shop for offering them the chance to purchase a nice treat for a low price.

I don't always have PIF items listed, but please see my online shop for a chance to score a PIF deal- just remember to pay it forward to someone else:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pampered Pooches: Handmade Natural Dog Treats Made in Middle Tennessee

IbdBoutique is a bakery for pets and offers a variety of made-from-scratch, fresh dog treats, prepared by owner, Robin, from Murfreesboro. She even tastes all her products! "I wouldn't give my dogs anything I wouldn't eat myself," is one of her mottos, and I am sure your dog will agree with her. See her shop here:

Peanut Butter and Carob Dog Cookies
Robin has a great shop with unique products and reasonable prices. Here is what she has to say in her profile about her shop"

"It's official, I am a "dog person" - you know, the kind of people that think of their dogs as their kids and treat them as such? That's me! I'm the proud mom of Wyatt - a dachshund/chihuahua mix and Dyson - a border collie mix. They are both beautiful, crazy, loveable rescue dogs, and yep, both black dogs! Hence the name for the boutique.

The seed was planted for the Little Black Dog Boutique a couple of years ago when I visited a dog store that sold dog cookies so cute I would have eaten them myself! Combine that with my love for cooking, sewing, crafting and entertaining, and the idea for the boutique was born!'

This is a picture of one of the little black dogs. What lucky dogs they must be to live with a momma who owns and operates a doggy bakery! Although the treats are delicious, they are made with ingredients that you can feel good about giving your dog. Spoil 'em rotten, the healthy way!

Robin was also genereous enough to answer a few questions about her business and products. Thanks for your time!

1) Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your dogs?

Hi! My name is Robin. I'm 41, been married for almost 2 years to my awesome husband, Berry (yep, there's hope for even us old chicks!) and have two sweet yet crazy dogs - Wyatt and Dyson. Most recently I was the manager at The White Room Too, in Murfreesboro, TN, which is a bridal and prom salon. I REALLY felt the call to start my own business, so I left the bridal world and have been striving toward that goal since then!
2) What treat do you make that is each dog's favorite? 

Um, ALL of them! They go crazy whenever I am in the kitchen baking. But I must say that the pumpkin peanut butter bites are a huge hit with them - they scramble for crumbs that fall on the floor!
3) What ingredients do you use (or not use) in your dog treats that make them different than commercial treats? 

NO PRESERVATIVES!!! I really try to make everything organic, if possible. If not, only all natural human grade ingredients. Even the coloring for the frosting I'm using for the autumn treats (coming soon) are organic and plant based. No chemicals, no dyes, no corn, no salt, no sugar. My dogs eat healthier than I do!
4) How long do the dog treats stay good for? 

Since they don't contain preservatives, they will last around two weeks in an airtight container if not refrigerated. If you choose to refrigerate them, they will last several weeks longer. They can also be frozen.
5) Do you have any items for cats?

Not yet. I pretty much focus on my dogs. But if I get a demand for cat treats, I will look into it. :)
6) I see you do custom work, can you tell us about any of your special projects? 

Nancy K came up with a great idea for a pumpkin pie cookie, so that is in the works (thanks for the idea Nancy!). Also will be rolling out a big holiday gingerbread treat for the pups in a few weeks. 

Gourmet Dog Biscuits

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unique Craft Supplies From TaDaa Studio

Oilcloth Patterns
If you enjoy crafts, what is the most
satisfying element of the art? Many people would answer, "Buying supplies of course!".

The search for fun and unique items to create fabulous designs is a neverending quest for those who like to create, and TaDaa Studios, of Murfreesboro, TN offers some amazing finds. See all the items in her etsy store here:

Read on to discover more about TaDaa Studio and her assortment of craft supplies. The owner is brand new to the TN area, having relocated from Michigan where there are different products and trends for crafters; therefore TaDaa studios offers some new products that are a delight to discover.

Thank you, TaDaa Studios for answering some questions about your shop!

1) Please tell us a little about yourself and your hobbies and what attracted you to selling supplies instead of finished products?

I've always been crafty and grew up in a house full of sewing, DIY, arts and craft. I did craft shows selling mosaic stain glass pots as a side business after college while I was working in the corporate world and before kids. After my girls were born, I decided to stay at home full-time and when the kids started to go to school full-time, I really needed an outlet and didn't want to go back to the corporate grind. I decided to get into the supply business since I was often frustrated that supplies I needed for projects were difficult to find and my offerings are eclectic based on what my interests are. I still make some finished goods and kits, since I know lots of folks are always saying 'I could make that' and I'm just giving them a headstart with the supplies so no late night crafty projects and realizing at midnight you are missing a component.
2) I love the fairy doors; can you tell us more about these, what they are used for, and ideas to decorate them?

 Fairy doors are very common in Ann Arbor, Michigan where my family recently moved from. A local artist started placing the doors around town and it just blossomed into a phenomenon. Many families have fairy doors in their homes, so a fairy can move into their home. The fairies often arrive for a lost tooth but many just visit to leave notes of encouragement and treats and accept gifts from the children in the house. It is a very sweet experience and really adds some magic to your home. We offer kits for folks to paint to match their decor or many embellish with miniature items. We also have finished doors that are fresh and fun colors with simple white molding.
3) You have some unusual fabrics in your store, can you explain how oilcloth and chalk board cloth work?

Oilcloth and Chalkcloth are great waterproof fabrics most commonly used for tablecloths, simply cut and lay on the table and edges do not need to finished since it won't fray. They add a punch of color are really festive. Chalkcloth is fun for parties, label all the foods on the menu or assign where folks are sitting, they can even keep score in game or just doodle. A perfect idea for the kids table at holidays too.
4) I see you were on HGTV, do you have a link to the feature? What was the product?

The HGTV item was our wool felt rosette pillow kit..., it was featured as 15 Fresh Handmade Gifts show, we were in the kit section.
Here is the HGTV link

Here is the store

5) Is your shop having any sales or promotions?

We are closing out our fabric side of the business so we have lots of great deals on Amy Butler, Heather Bailey and other designer fabrics...

6) You are new to TN, what is your favorite local place to eat or shop that you have found?

I am still figuring out my way around town, as we have only been in Tennessee for 2 months, so far I love the Saturday Farmer's Market in the Square and try to make that a regular stop each week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Event: Visit Hookin' It Forward at the Red Kettle Fair Sat. Sept 24th

Handmade Owl Hat
Crocheted Monkey
The 4th annual Red Kettle Craft fair is Saturday, September 24th in Murfreesboro, TN. There will be crafts, food, fun, children’s activity area with free parking and admission! The mission of the Red Kettle Craft Fair is to “put on a top notch event that supports The Salvation Army Shelter and Social Services in Rutherford County”.

There will be 94 vendor booths both inside and out with two food vendors, “Soul Food” (Turnip Greens, Green Beans, Pinto Beans, Meat Loaf, Chicken, Chess Squares, Mini Pies) and “Lisa’s Kettle Corn” (Kettle Corn, Flavored Corn, Shaved Ice, Apple Slices & Caramel, Cokes & Water).

Other booths include, candles, canned goods, crochet items, jewelry, baby and children items, monogrammed items, stained glass, Tupperware, and lots more! A full list of vendors participating and the item they’ll be selling is listed in the Notes section of Red Kettle Craft Fair’s Facebook page

Hookin’ It Forward will be there selling our crochet items for babies and children. Some items we’ll have are listed in our Etsy shop, but we have lots more inventory for the Red Kettle Craft Fair! Including a variety of bunny lovies, owl plushies, various kinds of animal hats, and lots of warm earflap caps for babies and children of all ages. 

A portion of all of our process from the fair and our Etsy shop is donated to charity. For more information, please visit our profile page

Directions can be found using this link ~

Info on the Salvation Army of Murfreesboro can be found here ~

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Junior Achievement: Interview With A Young Artist

Anna, Young Business Owner
Arts and crafts are a vital component of any child's education. We all remember learning to color, cut and paste, and playing with paint. The reason we encourage children to learn through art is because it makes learning about science, nature, and everything else more fun; it gets kids excited about learning. Remember learning how to splatter paint in kindergarten with leaves or a teacher showing you how to mix colors? That is bringing science and nature into the classroom where kids can explore the subjects in a hands-on fashion.

Most children also enjoy arts and crafts as a hobby or play activity, but let's not forget that this playtime is an excellent chance to supplement what kids are learning in the classroom. We need the future generation to be thinkers and creators, people who can generate original ideas and follow through with a project.  Whether it is sketching a house or putting beads on a string, the arts encourage children to learn basic academic concepts like counting and stimulates independent, creative thought.

Today, we will hear from Anna, a 9 year old that is operating her own etsy store. Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade goods. Anna makes all of the items for sale in her store and oversees the packaging and shipping, and, with a little help from Mom, she manages the money. Anna gets to donate some of the profits and spend a little of her earning for things she likes. 
Anna's Cat in Tree Art Print

To adults, the educational value and lessons to be learned are obvious, money management, marketing, math, computer literacy, and more; however, to Anna, managing her shop is FUN! One of the most important things to help with a successful education is cultivating a passion in kids for learning, to embed the desire to explore and investigate. Naturally, this produces more inquisitive learners and future leaders with creative problem solving skills. Starting a business as a child, is a great self-esteem booster. Knowing all this, it is easy to see the value in young entrepreneurship, but to the kids, the important parts are the fun of creating and managing and earning money to spend and save.

Without further ado, let's hear what Anna has to say about owning and operation her Etsy shop. After the interview, will be commentary by her mother pertaining to internet safety and parental supervision of business activities. Please see Anna's Etsy shop here:   

1) Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your art, and how you decided to make an Etsy shop?

I am nearly 10. I am a child black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I am homeschooled. I love animals and bugs. I am a Christian.First my mom had one and then I just really wanted an Etsy shop. Then over the summer we started making it. I just really love drawing. I thought maybe I could sell some cards and stuff. Because, I really love drawing. I love drawing animals. I love taking pictures. It is really fun to have a shop on Etsy. You get to know a lot of nice people. 

2) What skills are you learning from running your own business that help you in school (things like math, writing, computer skills, and reading)?

I am learning math, how to run a business, and you learn a bunch more things. I learn about cost, profit, and shipping. Having an Etsy shop makes learning fun. 

3) Do you think you might be interested in a career in art or having your own business when you are older?

I might do it for fun but, I want to be a veterinarian. The business I would like to have would be a petting zoo on my farm and horse rides, and a bunch more things on my farm.

4) Do you have any goals that you are saving your money for?
I am saving money for the tigers, and I am saving money because I don’t like to spend a lot. But, if I had a million dollars I would buy an Ipad, and I would make a sanctuary for bugs. I am also saving for a car and maybe for college.

5) I see you donate 50 cents from each sale to charity. What charities are important to you?

My first favorite one is the World Wildlife Fund and my second one is World Vision.

Handmade Swan Greeting Card

Thanks, Anna, for answering those questions! It certainly looks like you are one ambitious young lady with a big heart. I think you are a great role model for other young people. The future needs more people like Anna.

Now, parents these day are scared and concerned about internet safety, child predators, and online scammers, how does a guardian protect a child online if he or she decides to start a business? I asked Anna's mother to contribute to the interview with some advice for the adults. 

1) What advice can you give to other parents whose children are interested in starting an online business about internet safety and protection? 

For me, safety is the number one issue. I am very careful with what Anna can and can’t do while on the internet. Anna has to get permission to get on the internet and we monitor her activity very carefully. She is not allowed to go onto sites that are social sites. Such as, facebook, or gaming sites where people can communicate with one another. That includes 
Etsy. All communications to and from Anna go through me.

She is even limited to only certain shops that she can look through. Some things on Etsy aren’t appropriate for children. I believe it is extremely important to teach Anna about why we are so careful with internet usage. Keeping Miss Anna safe is my job and I take it very seriously. Also, it helps to have a husband who knows about computers. He is able to do things to make computer usage by Anna, as safe as possible.

Now, for an Etsy shop for kids. Wonderful teaching tool! It has really helped Anna develop her creative side. Also, she is learning about cost, profit, book keeping, selling, advertising, the lessons go on and on. It also gives her responsibility. When she has an order, it is up to her to get it ready to go. She has truly enjoyed having her very own Etsy shop. My advice would be to find what your child really loves doing and turn it into a sellable product. The big thing for me is, I want to jump in and do things for Anna but, I restrain myself. Anna can really do this without too much of my creative interference. It is amazing what children can come up with, even without us parents telling them what to do. Lol It is hard to step back sometimes.

I do still help Anna with many aspects of her shop, but her products are hers. I may make something from time to time if she is wanting to learn something new. My goal is to get her to where this shop will be totally run by her. Of course, chatting and convos, still will be monitored by Mom. If someone has a child that loves crafts, and wants to try selling, go for it! Not much too loose in trying. I did make sure Anna wouldn’t get upset if she didn’t get sales. I told her, sometimes sales just don’t come. It doesn’t mean you are not a good artist. Once I was sure she understood this, we opened her Etsy shop. It has been a lot of fun.

Do you have any tips on how to help manage the money and protect your child from scams or bad people?

Anna has a binder just for her Etsy shop. It contains different worksheets to keep track of what she has sold, cost to make that item, shipping, discounts, etc. We keep one worksheet that keeps a running total of her actual profits. Deductions are taken from Anna’s Etsy purchases as well. Basically like keeping a bank ledger. At a certain point, we will sort her earnings into spending, saving, charity, etc. Then off to the bank we will go.

Anna also keeps a charity worksheet that shows her sales as well as mine for the donations to save the tigers. Fifty cents from everything she sells and I sell goes toward saving the tigers. Once we reach $50 we will send the money to the World Wildlife Fund. She already reached her goal for saving the polar bears.

As far as protecting Anna from the stinkers out there, I monitor everything. I see her messages before she does. I do much of the responding as well. I want people to know that Mom is very involved and will not allow any funny business. So far so good. We try to keep things simple. This helps as well. We have met some incredibly wonderful people on Etsy. Many of whom have encouraged Anna greatly. But, like I said, I always read the convos before Anna.

...Mom, you deserve a pat on the back! Kudos to you for encouraging your child and being an active parent. That is all excellent advice.
Rossett Spoonbill Drawing by Anna