Friday, December 21, 2012

Winding Down the Season

The Christmas season is pretty much slowing here for gifts. I'm looking forward to some breathing time. I'm very happy with how this year's holiday season is going so far. My sales have been doubled since last year, which is just fantastic! I was also really happy that the variety of things I've been able to sell has increased enough that my "sold orders" page no longer looks like this:
I pretty much sold only a handful of different things despite all the items in the shop. Sorta disappointing as an artist but I guess it's good on the business end still... but I'd rather be an artist >_< This year my "sold orders" page looks more like this!
I can't wait until Christmas Eve when I finally get off work and have Christmas to spend with everyone. Heck I already had an early Christmas with my bestie. Will upload the fruits of that exploit soon.

Currently still wrapping up tons of orders and preparing for my first 2013 show: KawaKon! I'm going to have jewelry as well as all the new stationary ready to roll. Currently my wonderful hubs has my flash drive with all my bookmarks to be printed and I'm going to start on some notepapers and new drawings for buttons.

Also been slowly working on a redraw of one of my old, old, super old pictures from high school.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sample Bookmarks

So I've been crazy busy between work and life that orders are actually taking me a full week to get out. (And I apologize for that). It's gotten so busy that I've started batch shipping orders out instead of doing it as I get them. That way I sit down about 2x each week and bust out a single batch of orders. Saves me time and a lot of unnecessary work. Even now the orders pile up as soon as I finish them and I am so excited that it's such a busy year!

Well on the bright side, I do manage to treat myself to a few days off here and there. With my precious down time I've been doing a little drawing and SHABAM! those print items I've been promising for weeks (months?) are finally coming to fruition.

There's a print shop right down the street that does any size and any kind of prints. They're also extremely nice and have the cutest dog that greets you at the door. So I went in with my bookmarks and had one of each printed as samples.




But wait! 

Here's my thing, I don't know which Harley Quinn and which Apple Girl to use. The bigger or smaller characters? I haven't decided yet but everyone (except moi) seems to like the smaller character. Hmm.

These bookmarks are 2x6 so they're not too big. They're also printed on 12pt glossy paper so no need for laminating or any other protection. In future free time, I'm going to start getting my favorite ones printed up for sale on both Etsy and at conventions. I also have my notepad designs ready, and will be moving into other stationary items like envelopes and letter sets.

Hopefully this will do well and maybe one day I can replace my jewelry with this because I am getting too worn out making jewelry and selling it for... less than what I could and should be. Or maybe prices may see a hike since I never upped them much after the new fees for Etsy were setup.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tis Almost The Season

Finally got around to updating info and policies for the holiday season! Ok so business first: new policies.
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*Domestic orders
USPS First Class (2-5 days). Last day to place an order for Christmas delivery is Dec. 10.

*International orders
USPS Int'l First Class. Last day to place an order for Christmas delivery is Nov. 20.

Faster shipping options will be honored for both domestic and international, please contact me for a revised listing reflecting the cost. Please keep in mind that the postal service gets really busy about 2 weeks before Christmas so plan and shop accordingly!

I set these dates to allow time for Christmas delivery and in case something does go missing or is broken, I can ship out a replacement in time for the holiday (most of the time). However, I cannot give a full guarantee that every item will arrive before the holidays and I will not offer refunds because something arrived a day or two late unless you are shipping it back as per regular policy. All other policies will be honored as usual.
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 Ok so new things! I uploaded 8 new items today for my first wave into the holiday season and I figured it wouldn't hurt to share.


So some of these are not so new, such as the butcher knives and koi fish, but this is the first time I've put them up online. The grenade and rifle earrings are limited (1x rifle, 2x grenades) but all the others are in stock/made to order.

Also some other changes that have been put in place are the methods to purchase buttons. I used to have listings set so you would purchase "packs" because it was unfeasible for me to list dozens of individual buttons, especially since they don't sell for much anyway.  Too much time for not enough return. However buttons can now be selected individually.


Now you can select one or just the few that you like :)

More new things will be uploaded over the next couple of days and I'm hoping for a good holiday season. Currently I'm working on hand drawn cards and those should be up in about two or three days. First I need to wrap up this weeks orders! Busy busy (but I hope it gets busier!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Magic The Gathering Collection

As of 2 weeks ago, I was taught how to play MTG by my dear husband who knew I'm a total sucker for crap like this. Of course I'm completely hooked to the game and it's like a small war inside my head to not go out and buy more cards. After all, he already bought me the Return to Avacyn fat pack and an angel starter deck as gifts. -_- Must resist.

In the grand excitement of learning the rules and terminology of the wonderful world of Magic, I finally understand a lot more jokes and conversations I've seen and heard at conventions and online. Like a lot. I'd like to feature a  few really cool MTG related items from Etsy. Sadly these are things I will probably never buy since I try not to get sucked into fandoms but other MTG fans should definitely take a look!

One of the coolest things I've found are these 3D card/life counters. Granted we just scribble our scores on paper since we're cheap as hell, these would be super nice, eh? I've seen a lot of these 3D cards but I think no one does it better than Tigress Graphics. The cuts are clean, the layers are well thought out, and the end product looks very professional.


Another great 3D card maker is IntangibleVirtue. These cards are very nicely cut as well, but what I really like is that they use foam board between layers, which creates a much bolder 3D look for the image as a whole.
 

Of course there are quite a few deck boxes made of leather and wood, jewelry made from spindown dice, and MTG themed items, but I love the use of the cards. Here are a few more quick picks:

Recycled mini notebooks by StalkingMarla, perfect for a portable nerd-out to scribble out random whatevers. Click to go to the listing.

More wonderful items by one of my favorite acrylic jewelry designers, LicketyCut. Click to go to the listing.

 
Custom leather deck boxes by FoxAndDragon. These are some of the nicer leather ones I've seen and they do custom orders! Click to go to the listing.

Now I've seen people selling dice bags and dice by the handfuls and it took me a really long time to understand it. This adorable orc dice bag by MyFunkyCamelot is perfect for anyone who wants that super cool bag for all their dice! Click to go to the listing.


Friday, October 19, 2012

$100 Etsy Gift Card Giveaway

Finally Etsy has begun their gift card program. I've been waiting for this release for a long time. I mean, how cool would it be to get a gift card you can spend at any Etsy shop? There are only a bazillion.

As a promotion, Etsy is raffling off (actually I'm not positive it's a true raffle, it's just some sort of giveaway) ten $100 gift cards. Neat right? The best part is you can do it through FaceBook and the only real personal info it asks for is an email if you are a winner. Not bad. Click this link to enter for a chance to win.

With this release at the almost beginning of the holiday season, I'm hoping to see some people actually using the gift cards. Hell I've put out how many coupon codes and I think my codes have been used... twice in the last 360 sales. Seriously people, take advantage if you're going to shop anyway.

So I know I already said this but I will begin Christmas/holiday stocking as soon as Halloween is over. I'm sorta riding off my premade stock right now being lazy since I have no shows and lots of other new things to do (like play MTG!) But that glorious ride is coming to and end soon so it will be back to work probably by next week. I will also be announcing my holiday ship dates and all that jazz on here, FB, and Etsy.

Currently at the top of my shop:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New Items

I have been updating the Etsy shop like it is nobody's business so click to it and check it out. Here are a few pictures of some of the new things I've put up :)

Totally getting into the Halloween spirit and all that jazz.











Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Design & Business Cards

So I've been desperately been needing new business cards but couldn't design one that I liked enough to fork the money out for. I only have a dozen or so of the old cards left (totally waited until the last minute), not to mention that they have my personal phone number and my old last name on them. I used to put my number on them since most of my sales were local but ever since Etsy took off, I really don't like giving out my number to strangers all over the world.

Moving on, in a strike of genius I scribbled out a little character and fell in love. New business cards are on the way and this is what they look like:


I ordered them from GotPrint.com and this is my first time with them. I'd say I'm pretty happy so far. I got a free sample kit from them so I can actually feel and see all the different shapes, papers, and items they print before ordering. Also, they only charged $8.50 + shipping for 500 cards. That's less than half of what Vistaprint, 123Print, and any others I found were asking. Crazy.

GotPrint also has a great turnaround time (although that will be determined for sure after I receive my cards). I used to buy my cards through Vistaprint and OvernightPrints but both their production and shipping times were ridiculous. I waited almost 3 weeks for OvernightPrints for 50 business cards the first time I ordered from them. Vistaprint is just overpriced unless you don't mind them branding their name on all the "free" stuff. That drives me nuts.

After I get my cards, I'll write an official review of GotPrints services for those of you who are interested.

So I've officially adopted this little cutie as my most current design logo. I've already put her up on FaceBook, Etsy, and my own desktop! Of course this means another free wallpaper! The color is in RGB for the wallpaper but CMYK for the business cards so those will come out a little duller but that's ok.


Hope you all enjoy these small updates. I'm so excited about this character, still unnamed, that I've obsessively put her up every where. ^_^ It's nice to finally have an updated, coherent theme for all my things.




Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review for Artists: Aoi Uma Con



So I just got back from Aoi Uma Con in Louisville, KY (run by Nostalgia Conventions LLC.) so as usual I’m going to write my review. The usual disclaimer, this review is not about the show itself, it is meant to be a perspective for future artists who are interested in selling at this show.

From my understanding, this was the first Aoi Uma Con however the pamphlet said it was their second one. Not sure which is correct but either way the show is very new and small.

Dealer/Artist Space: Mixed Feelings
A majority of the artists were placed in the hallway and were assigned tables. I was very happy with that. Also, none of the tables were stranded at the end of a hallway alone because the programming rooms were stretched across the hall as well. The tables were placed in small groups of 2 or 3 with plenty of walking room around the sides so you never had to step across someone else’s space to leave your table. Since it was in the hallway, I tore down every night as per protocol and set up every morning.

Unfortunately, a couple unlucky artists were placed in the dealer’s room which was around the corner in a lonely little part of the hotel. Although the dealer’s room was fairly small, the artist tables were easily overshadowed. Also on the poor note, we were given 5 ft tables. While the contract didn’t state what size tables would be provided, I was expecting a 6 ft table minimum. That 12” may not seem like much, but everyone noticed it.

Overall I was lucky and placed in the hallway with easy access to power and a doorway to the parking lot. However, I would say that the few who were placed in the dealer’s room were not so happy with it.

Variety: I <3 Quality Control
This show was great for variety. I met many new artists who had little or no show experience but great products. I will say that nothing was the run-of-the-mill crap which was nice. At the bigger shows you often find the artists/crafters who don’t do quality control because they just want to make the buck. Only a handful of artists had prints but even among the craft items there was a great mix.

This year there were many top hates and Lolita accessories, chainmail and kawaii jewelry, acrylic charms, stickers, buttons, fleece hats, even original paintings and a comic artist. I was very excited to buy and trade.

I loved meeting all the artists! So much great talent for such a small show. Definitely worth the trip for me.

Sales and Attendees: Like a Dead Duck
I do not speak for everybody when I post this. About 3 or 4 of the artists broke even and went home with a little extra money from this weekend but we were the lucky ones, especially since we were the ones who came from out of state. And again, that’s 3 or 4 out of 20ish. A lot of the others I spoke to didn’t even break even.

On Saturday, I know that many artists were talking about how much they’d made on Friday. Now, everyone knows Friday is the slowest day and you should never judge your sales based on Friday, but most artists made enough for dinner and that was it. It was extremely depressing all around. Saturday was a slight improvement and Sunday was… well, about the same.

As for attendance, this was the smallest and slowest show I have ever been to. On Friday there were maybe about 50 people aside from staff and exhibitors. The numbers upped throughout the weekend but I noticed that about half the attendees had one day passes. I won’t try to guess the total attendance of this convention but it was slow enough to where I and other artists were just leaving our tables because we were so bored. I mean the hallways were practically empty half the time so not much to do.

I’d call this one a dead show. I made enough to justify my extremely long drive and freezing hotel stay but I don’t think I’ll be going back next year.

Staff Attitudes:
One single complaint. I never received any information about times, loading, badge pickup, nothing. I had to write several emails to get a “We’ll be sending out the info on x day” (never happened). The day before the show I sent one final email and got the load in time, which was frustrating.

With that out of the way, I LOVED THE STAFF! Every year I rave about how great the ASTL staff are. This is pretty much going to be one of those. J The staff were chill and easy to work with, although I honestly only identified 2 of them the entire weekend. No staff shirts of obvious staff badges (everyone’s badges looked the same). One super nice guy offered to help me tear down on Sunday. How nice.

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All in all this was kind of a bust. I made about average for a show (probably because of my travel costs) but I even skimped on the meals and shopping so I can’t really make any excuses. I did enjoy the company of the other artists and I hope to see them at other shows again.

For artists who are looking for a show for the bucks, I’d save this one unless you know you can pull in the big bucks. Hopefully this show will continue to grow and become a better experience for future artists.

Just Some Updates

Have a few updates since I've been so busy these last few weeks:
  • I am officially done with conventions for 2012
  • Jewelry boxes are now available on Etsy
  • Prints (bookmarks, ATCs, post cards) will be available over the coming weeks
  • Etsy coupon for 10% off: MIRABELLE expires Sept 30

Sorry for the quick post but here's a new wallpaper for your desktop. Little Harley will be the first in my series of print items so enjoy it for now and I'll post more new things as I finish them!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rock Climbing Gear

So a few weeks ago I started rock climbing at a local gym, Upper Limits, and it is FANTASTIC! I haven't had this much fun with a sport since high school and goodness knows I needed it. My four years at college were pretty dark years for staying in any sort of shape. So over the course of having gone climbing 3-4 times a week for several weeks, I began to accumulate my own gear (on sale!), mostly from the Alpine Shop. They are the most chill and helpful people in retail, seriously.

So while I'm picking out my gear I'm thinking Gosh this stuff needs to be colorful! Ever since I grew out of my "black" phase, I have moved to the extreme end of the spectrum--bright and obnoxious. So I picked a turquoise Black Diamond harness, violet climbing shoes (Mythos are sooooo comfy compared to all the others), lime green ATC, blue caribeaners and an orange chalk bag... with fuzzies!


It's a pretty awesome color combination if I do say so myself. Costs a small fortune but with a membership at the gym, lots of free time ahead, and an absolute love for climbing, I say it's ok. Oh wait, what's that super cute face you ask?


This is my chalk bag, lovingly named JuicyFruit. I put his face on last night with a little bit of E6000. Originally he had giant eyes and no fangs but I opted for cute rather than weird. I also have a pair of little horns that I wanted to put on. They're sitting on my desk right now but I just can't seem to decide if I want little pokers or mini ram horns that spiral. Maybe I'll just leave him as is.

So there's my craft tidbit for the post. Of course. Happy climbing!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Natsucon: Review for Artists


Natsucon was my debut several years ago and I gotta admit it has yet to fail me. As you read this review, keep in mind it is intended for artists and does not reflect a large portion of other events at the convention.

Dealer/Artist Space: Plenty of Hall to Go Around

Natsucon has always chosen to keep their artists in the hallway. Years past, it’s been wherever they could put artists but after a small planning disaster that left many artists upset about space last year, they opted to keep all the artists near the front lobby and registration area.

Of course, not having a locked room has both good and bad aplenty. On the good, you pretty much can set up and tear down whenever you want. Even though the convention schedule claims artist alley closed at X o’clock, most artists chose to remain open for at least another half hour to hour for those end of the day sales. Also, there is plenty of space between tables so you never have to walk around anyone else’s space or squeeze between tables. We were given 8’ tables which was nice. Being in the hallway is also nice because the traffic walks by constantly. That and I didn’t have to go anywhere to see all the cosplayers in line for the masquerade.

However, at $90, it was a little pricey for many and almost deterred me. And here comes the bad. With no lockup, you have to tear down every night. For me and all my little jewelry, it’s pretty much a small nightmare every time. Granted I’ve got it down to an art by now but it’s still very inconvenient. Also with all the artists stretched down a long corridor, it was difficult to see any artists around you, let alone chat with them.

Variety: You Can Find Anything

I think it’s safe to say that Natsucon features many “new” artists every year. Maybe not new to the art thing, just new to the area. I always meet the most people in this artist alley. This provides a decent variety of things to pick and choose from. Natsu features more craft and hobby artists than some of the larger conventions but it’s a pretty good variety. Plenty of plushies, amigurumi, jewelry (yay!), prints, bookmarks, Lolita, etc.

If you’re looking for more specialized things, perhaps this isn’t it. I’ve yet to see a dedicated comic artist or specialty artist (for example someone who sells anime props or BJD items) at this show. Perhaps in the future they will start appearing.  Anyway, even for print artists it was a great variety. There were so many different styles and types of work that I really enjoyed my window shopping.

Sales and Attendees: A Pleasant Surprise

Previous years of Natsu’s artist alley have yielded pretty good sales. Usually artists broke even and many made a bit of extra cash. This year pretty much blew my mind. We almost reached our Anime STL record from last year, easily making this the second best show I have ever done. I barely got the chance to leave my table without being called back by my table buddy for a question. It was the same for a lot of the other artists as well. There were so many people in front of tables I didn’t get to say hi to some people until the end of the weekend during tear down!

The attendees this year were fantastic, as usual. I think the timing of this convention is far enough departed from KawaKon and ASTL that people are missing the action and willing to spend a little more to enjoy themselves until the next con in the spring.


Staff Attitudes: Smooth Sailing

The staff were really great. The artist alley director stopped by a few times to see if we needed anything and even gave artists a cookie on Friday. I didn’t get a chance to explore much this time around (busy, busy!) so my interaction with staff was pretty minimal. I would like to note that all the Natsu staff are really level headed and don’t seem to have a power trip like other cons. Very easy to work with and that’s really important. Heck I didn’t even hear a single complaint from any of the attendees either and that’s rare!

I think the only scuffle I had was with a volunteer who was kind of a jerk but almost in a flirty way. I couldn’t even explain it. Well, that’s really got nothing to do with staff so moving on!

Organization was a little quirky because the preliminary schedule online (released just a few days before the convention) didn’t match the final schedule that was never uploaded. We ended up arrived 2 hours early on Saturday. Oh man was I tired. When I emailed with questions though, I got quick replies so that was really nice. Way better than waiting 2 weeks for an obscure answer.
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If you’re looking at Natsucon, I’d say go for it. You’re taking a risk because of higher table prices but it’s been the most consistently growing convention I’ve been to. Each year seems to get bigger and better without losing any of the positive qualities in a convention. I’m very impressed.

Natsu was my very first convention so many years ago and sadly it will be my last in this area for a while since I’m leaving for the coast soon (unless I can convince the husband to let me come back for next year!) I will really miss the good things this convention has to offer but I’m sure that next year it will be bigger and better.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Natsucon Grab Bags Ready!

Finally got the grab bags for Natsucon prepped! I opted for lunch bags this time because those miniature gift bags were never the right size. The tiny gift bags were too small for plushies and the larger ones looked so sad and empty since jewelry is so small. These lunch bags we re inexpensive and perfectly sized! Each ones filled with double its value in goodies.

I cut rainbow strips of cardstock and wrote the value on each of them as well as a brief list of the things inside. These grab bags will include:

  • Plushies/amigurumi
  • Polymer clay jewelry
  • Stickers
  • Paracord accessories
  • Pinback buttons

I've noticed that a lot of people don't like tearing the bags open when they're stapled or taped plus it's hard for me to cannibalize a bag for other purposes or taking unsold ones apart after a show. So this time I've punched holes through the bag (at the fold) and the colorful tags and pinned it closed with an anime button. They're looking pretty good.


These will all be at Natsucon this weekend in St. Louis so stop by and pick one up for a ton of goodies!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Naval Wedding Treasury

Finally a new treasury! With my own wedding just around the corner, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite blue, purple, and Naval themed wedding items from Etsy.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chobits Decoupaged Jewelry Box


Project: Decoupaged jewelry box
Materials: Mod Podge, manga
Time: 4 hours
Difficulty: Easy!




The process was a new one for me. I don't normally do paper crafts or anything of the sort. Originally I was going to use magazine clippings from Newtype USA, an anime magazine that's out of print, but the Mod Podge made the colors bleed. I opted for manga pages instead. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the only manga I currently had free was Chobits 3.


So I took to a heart wrenching blade to my beautiful pages. Oh it was so hard to do but once I started it wasn't so bad. Also if you're going to cut pages from a book, I suggest an Xacto blade even though I used my AF knife. First blade on hand. -_-



 So I also have a full table paper cutter that helped me cut the pages into appropriate sized strips and squares to glue onto the jewelry box. Although it was fun and easy, it was a really slow process. Getting the thinner strips to fit correctly was pretty rough. Andway, Mod Podge on the back of the paper, stick on and let dry. Then I sealed over each piece with another layer of Mod Podge and move onto the next piece.

So first I dusted off the surfaces of the jewelry box.



 And my first ever piece of decoupage! A great point in my crafting history! Da da da da!
 Progress:
 

And there you have it. I finished over with 2 more layers of Mod Podge to make sure all the corners stay down but it's not bad. Decoupage holds up much better than I expected. This baby will be up on my Etsy soon and I can make similar items since I have a few more jewelry boxes and many more pages of manga. Other jewelry boxes featuring clay decor will also be uploaded soon, all to be available on Etsy as well. Any that don't sell will be brought to my conventions for display and sale.

The Mod Podge works pretty well. Better than the 50/50 glue/water concoction some others use. The smell is a little strange but that's only if you get real up close and personal with it. Clean up is really easy. I think more decoupage is in my near future.