Saturday, December 27, 2014

Zap Creatives Review: Acrylic Charms

Hope everyone had a great holiday. Tonight I’m going to write a fairly in depth first review of my acrylic charms from Zap Creatives, a UK based company that manufactures acrylic, wooden, and metal charms, and stickers.

After years of admiring acrylic charms from other artists, I finally broke down and made my first order.

A few years back, Printsess was the #1 acrylic charm supplier that made small enough runs for little artists like us to purchase from. I remember it used to be a big trade secret that a lot of charm sellers were loathe to give out. After Printsess closed their doors, someone else had to step up to the plate. Two companies popped up: Zap Creatives in the UK, and Ink It Labs in the USA. 

I believe Zap has been around a little longer than Ink It, but I had heard some horror stories about Zap. Customer service and quality were something that was hit or miss according to a few other artists I had spoken to. Worried about getting what I paid for, I looked into Ink It. It seemed logical to order from a US-based company, as well as the unending glowing reviews I was finding on the internet. Ordering from Ink It meant shorter shipping times but their prices were a smidge higher. I was pretty ok with that. 

Right about the time I was getting ready to order, Zap Creatives had a sale on their charms so I decided to check it out. Here’s what ended up changing my mind from Ink It to Zap. For an order of 50 charms, Ink It allows only 2 designs whereas Zap allowed 5. Since it was my first time, I really didn’t want to order more than that, but I wanted more designs. I figured if I wasn’t happy with the quality or the service, I’d write my review and move to Ink It.

I placed my order for 50 1.5” white acrylic charms on 11/30, they shipped 12/8, and arrived 12/24.  It wasn’t so bad, although I think the shipping took a little longer than usual because it’s Christmas time.

So a quick note about the customer service. I didn’t have too much interaction with them but the next morning after I placed my order, I realized I could’ve added a free sample pack with my order. I emailed Zap to request a sample pack be tacked on. Didn’t take long before I got an email with a thumbs up. I was very happy with how quickly they responded.

The fun part: CHARMS!
I got my charms in this little bubble mailer.

Here's the sample pack they sent with it. I actually thought it was really cool how they have the pieces stuck to the card so you know exactly what is what. I'm really loving some of these charm examples and might get adventurous one day and order some :D

Here they are! My unicones  turned out really well. The colors are bright and they're actually bigger than I anticipated. 1.5" is a lot of space. Flavors from the top left going clockwise: Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Caramel, Green Tea.

Here you can see about how thick they are. They're pretty hefty charms.

The backs have little paper pieces that you must manually peel off yourself. I forgot about this and panicked a little because I thought the backs of all my charms were dirty or marked. Oops.

Not sure how clear it is, but the left is after I peeled the paper backing off. It's smooth, clean, and glossy.

Alright, so quality. I'm going to be extremely picky here just so it's clear what there is. For the most part, the quality is pretty good. I didn't have any major problems like crooked images, bad cuts, or discoloration. But there were definitely a few small things I noticed.

1. I saw a few of my charms had little dimples. Not sure if this is a result of some sort of clamp or press used in the manufacture process. It's really not noticeable unless the light is on it just right.

 2. About a half dozen charms has bubbles on them. They're usually small and inconspicuous, but I saw them right away.
 3. More bubbles (3 in a group on the chocolate) and some color fading.
 4. No specific picture, but if you look at the above photos, you'll see the lines of color from the printer. Some of the colors had it, some didn't. This is a pet peeve of mine because I think it looks like poor printing quality. However, the black outlines were crisp and solid.

Oops got my finger in this picture. Here are the edges of the charms. You can see they are striated but they are smooth to touch. No jagged edges, no cut corners.

Overall I was very happy with my order. I will definitely be ordering from Zap again (and praying this doesn't become an addiction). Zap was kind enough to throw in a few extra charms. I've heard they do this fairly regularly to preemptively make up for any broken or defective charms. I think it's nice.

I hope that helps a few of you and if you have any more questions, I'll be happy to try to answer.

My next step with these suckers is to take a few and run them through a stress test. I will bend, throw, drop them in my purse for a week, and run over one with my car. We'll see how they hold up so check back later for that bit of fun.
Follow Up - Second Order

I ordered a second batch (pegasorbet!) from Zap Creatives and was a little mmore disappointed with the quality. My second order consisted of 75 1.5" charms and I had a lot more defective charms. A lot of the charms has areas where the printing must've flaked off or just never printed. I have white spots about 2-3mm on 11 of my charms. A majority of the defects were on my Midnight Nebullamas which is unfortunate because I was expecting 12 but only have 6 that are in sellable condition. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the bad ones.

On the bright side, shipping only took 2 weeks instead of 3. But based on this order, I might have to rethink ordering from Zap and swap to Ink It.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Postal Delays

Every year I put up a little disclaimer about how the postal service gets really bogged down during the Christmas season. Really it's just to cover my butt because I'd never experienced a massive delay in delivery services in the last decade just because it was Christmas. The occasional package would get stuck somewhere for a day or two, but that was it.

This year is a nightmare. Ever since I moved to Columbia, USPS has been a nightmare and the whole Christmas rush thing is REAL. I'm so sad.

Here we are, days before Christmas, and I'm still waiting to receive almost a dozen packages. Granted, most of them aren't exactly gifts or anything, but I sorta need them. Soon. I've been telling myself, "Any day now. I'll just wait until tomorrow before crying." It's been several weeks for some of these items. -_-

I guess I'm just a little bummed out. Doll parts are missing, my charm order from Zap Creatives, supplies for my show in 10 days. And a bunch of convention artists got together to do a big Secret Santa exchange. I'm one of the unfortunate ones who still hasn't received their gift. Fortunately my giftee received hers about two weeks ago! Crazy thing is, I shipped her gift off and paid for 2 day Priority shipping and it took FIVE DAYS to get to her. Holy snap. Of course another friend shipped me a box of homemade cookies and it took 3 days to arrive with Firts Class mail. What the heck is happening?!


Just kidding. I'm not that dramatic. Although I do want my frickin mail.
Hope the rest of you have better luck, and anyone waiting on mail gets blessed by the postal fairy to get your stuff quickly!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Meet Maeva

I completely forgot to post this one! Just finished it a few nights ago. I've created a new OC by the name of Maeva. Not gonna lie, I'm not sure what I want to do with her yet. Well, other than customize a BJD after her. Cannot wait!

Once Upon a Retail Dreary

So my Christmas orders are finally pouring in, a little later than last year. And ladies, I'm seeing a lot of Michaels and Tylers and Erics on those orders ;)

Quick promotional stuff before the fun!
Christmas delivery for domestic orders ends Dec. 12th. 
That's right around the corner! I've still got lots of cool stuff in stock, plus the 3 for 1 print deal is still up! Go to my Etsy to get your shopping done! (But you should totally read this story first.)


Onward! So this magical time last year, I was a lowly calendar stand worker at the mall. Let me start by saying this: I had NO IDEA that people actually bought calendars. I never understood how those stands managed to pop up year after year. I sold so many calenders in one season I was promoted to manager, plus I got pretty buff from lifting all those boxes.

So most people pay with card. I ask for their ID. Simple right? After months of asking for ID, it became a verbal reflex as soon as I saw plastic. Most people thanked me for checking, the rest didn't seem to care.

The fun part. This pimped out looking, older black gentleman came to buy a single calender. He hands me his credit card and shabam, "May I see your ID please?" Before I can comprehend what's happening, he screams, "Do you know who I am?!"

Now I'm looking at him real hard. Rolex watch, long fur coat, fedora, sunglasses (indoors), gator skin shoes, shiny gold jewelry. So I repeat myself, telling hi it's just store policy.

Oh man he throws the biggest fit I have ever seen a sober grown man throw. He's yelling about how offended he is that I wanted to check his ID, how I clearly don't know who he is. This goes on for about ten minutes. Fortunately, there was no one else waiting to check out, although other mall employees were starting to gather.

Fun fact: I was completely unmoved. I didn't feel awkward or guilty, or even embarrassed that a customer was going berserk. My only thoughts were:

1. It's one generic calender. He can get it anywhere. Even Walmart.
2. I bet his credit card is stolen.

In fact, by the end of those ten minutes, I was completely convinced his card was stolen and he was trying to make me uncomfortable enough to just swipe his card and go. Well my lovely friends at security appear and he calms down instantly, hands over his ID, and leaves with his calender. Credit card was legit. That big fit, for one calender.

It wasn't until I told my mom that story that I realized he was probably throwing a fit because he thought I was ID'ing him because he black. Cuz you know, I'm so racist. WHAT.

This is a fond memory of mine from my holiday retail days, although I'm not sure why. I just wanted to share with you since you guys are all doing your Christmas shopping :) Ok, I'll tell you another story next time!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Feature by Librarian Lavender!

In the past I've received countless offers for features in blogs, YouTube videos, and other social media platforms in exchange for free product. I have always been skeptical of the return I'd get from some of these promoters, and steadfastly refused all offers. However, I'm changing my policy on this. Instead of free items in exchange for exposure, I will provide a custom coupon code for you to use. You are welcome to promote it however you want. Once the coupon has been used 25 times, I will send you any item of your choice from my Etsy shop as a thank you.


The very first entity I've established this new policy with is a lovely blogger that goes by Librarian Lavender. Lavender has graciously promoted Sweet Apple Tea on her blog.

Lavender promotes and shares all sorts of neat things, from Etsy store features to book reviews to product review for beauty supplies, fashion, and accessories. All her fun excursions can be followed on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media platforms.

For those of you looking for neat stuff to check out, she regularly updates her blog with reviews and promotions. Give her some love!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ice Cream Unicones!

I haven't had the chance to do any drawing since October so I sorta went overboard after I got a little time yesterday and today.

First things first.

Ice Cream Unicones!

These pretty little things are an original idea. I've done some Googling to see if anyone else has really done anything with it but it looks like there's not much floating around the internet. So I can safely say these guys are pretty darn original and I'm not stepping on any toes.

There are currently 6 flavors and I plan on adding a ton more. I've ordered my first batch of acrylic charms from Zap Creatives and hope to see them before Christmas. I was only able to order five flavors, so I excluded Mango for next time. I've already got whole new flavors lined up and ready to go!

When the charms arrive, I'll do a quick review of Zap's quality and customer service, and put these babies up on Etsy. They'll also be travelling conventions with me next year. My long term goal is to promote these unicones enough to start a Kickstarter to fund plushies. Sound like a plan? Totally.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Etsy Favorites

Current Etsy favorites of mine!

Current Events: Ferguson "Protestors" Get Run Over

So this whole Ferguson thing is a topic I wanted to avoid since it's sparked so much heat on every side. Those closest to me know how I stand and I'm not going to touch the actual issue. I am going to share this video, which I found kind of hilarious.

So there comes a point when your "protestors" become "rioters" and are endangering others, causing hazards, and just being a pain in the ass for the rest of the world. I'm not saying protesting is bad. I'm saying when you have two thousand people standing on an interstate where cars would normally be driving 70mph and need to slam on their breaks is bad, or when rioters burn down a couple dozen buildings and ambulance crews can't help anyone caught in the chaos is bad. Seriously, you guys, there's a line.

So in Minneapolis, a car attempts to roll through one of the crowds blocking a roadway. And by the looks of it, a major roadway.

So the car rolls through and pisses off the whole crowd, who surround the vehicle and begin hitting it, jumping on it, kicking it. You can see the windshield start cracking as the video continues. Maybe the guy was rushing to the hospital to see his dying mom. Maybe his kid is sick at school. Maybe he just needs to poop really badly. In any case, I'm pretty sure he has the right of way.

In the lovely state of Missouri, the driver is justified to use lethal force. Hell if you were in the car, you'd fear for your safety too. What if they disable your vehicle? And drag you out the window, tear your kids from the backseat, and stomp you to death? Or just hurt you, but you're going to be bleeding there for a long time before help can come.

So with all this craziness going on, I've constantly been asking, why don't the cars just drive through? You don't have to slam into the crowd, but your vehicle has the power to roll through and push them out of the way. Wouldn't that be considered a hit and run? Depends on how you play it. It's dangerous to get caught up in a crowd like that.

Well, after taking some abuse, the driver decides FUCK THIS SHIT and hits the gas, taking a few rioters with him. I love this part. Love it so much it hurts. Not because I want to see people get run over (maybe just a little), but because it's about damn time someone did it. You don't get to attack someone in their vehicle and get away with it. God I wish more people had the balls to defend themselves.

So anyway, you can enjoy this video over and over and over. That's what I'm doing.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Overstock Prints Sale! Buy 1 Get 2 FREE!

I'm clearing out some overstock prints on Etsy. They're in perfect retail condition, not defects or anything like that. Just trying to make room in storage for new art.

All right guys, anyone interested in a clearance sale of overstock prints? 3 for the price of 1, artist's choice.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Shopping at Hobby Lobby

I seem to write a lot of reactionary articles these days, mostly following negative comments and attention. That’s probably because I get more new negative material than positive. Not saying that there aren’t a lot of positive, art related things, but I can only tell you guys so many stories of adorable children saving coins to buy a charm so many times before it gets old.

I think it’s fair to assume that most of us artists and crafters know about the whole birth control controversy involving Hobby Lobby that happened a while back. Here’s a quick summary for you guys. Hobby Lobby, a family owned company with Christian values, wanted the health insurance they provided their employees to exclude birth control. After a long fight through a lot of courts, the company won.

Why is this important?

Well it’s certainly caused backlash, because I know a lot of artists and crafters have since boycotted buying supplies from them. Even I’m sitting here like, it’s a pretty big middle finger to employees to say, well we run this corporation with our religious values, so you’re going to have to deal with it. It’s not the company’s business what kind of medical procedures, prescriptions, and details the employees use.
So you probably agree with me up until here. But how about this: if you don’t like it, get a job elsewhere.
Sounds pretty douchy, yeah? Well that’s tough luck. In the end, HL is a privately owned, family run company, no matter how large the chain is. They get to make those determinations. And even though I’m anti-religion, if the owner is religious, they can run their business with as much religion as they want, and it’s up to consumers to decide whether or not they still want to shop there. Separation of church and state only applies to government (even though we all know it doesn’t), so private companies can still “close on Sundays for worship”, “provide Christian-ized health insurance”, and set aside break times for prayer. 

It’s unfortunate that employees can’t get unbiased health care, but freedom goes both ways. HL says they won’t pay for the birth control, not that they won’t allow employees to use it. This is passive. Consumers and employees can shop elsewhere and find jobs elsewhere. This is also passive. But for people to demand a company to compromise their values because the company and the people don’t see eye to eye, that’s pretentious. 

So here’s what’s up. I still shop at Hobby Lobby. Not often, but I don’t have any problem walking in those doors to pick up supplies. When someone asks me where to start with their jewelry business or polymer clay charms, I’ll say Hobby Lobby. Not because I’m so totally rooting for them to use Christianity to dominate the art world, but they’re easy to locate and have what you need.
The story behind this article:

Several weeks ago, a woman approached me and started asking where she could find the specific powder I use for shimmering my charms. I told her it’s available online but it’s cheaper to buy it at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon. If you saw her reaction, you would’ve thought I asked her to sacrifice a baby and a puppy to a fire god. The string of epithets that came from her mouth included words like bigot and homophobe. She stormed off, proclaiming she would never want advice from someone who supported such an evil company.

You guys, that’s so dumb. I shop at Hobby Lobby, I don’t worship Satan. And even if I did worship Satan, it doesn’t make me any more or less than the person you were talking to ten seconds ago before you knew that.

So if you feel strongly one way or the other, please remember that there are normal people on both sides of the debate. And if you’re stuck in the middle, it’s not as big of a deal as some people make it out to be. Nothing is ever as dramatically important as it seems. Well, nothing like this anyway.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Obligatory pre holiday post!

Every year I start my Christmas sales in October. This year things got rolling a few weeks late because I had two conventions this month that threw me off schedule. So once again, I have started pre-season orders and batches for Christmas.
The information:
Holiday Deadlines
International Nov 30
Domestic Dec 14

These deadlines allow me enough time to make "made to order" items and for shipping to arrive before Christmas.

Please remember that the Christmas holiday is extremely busy not just for me but for the postal service as well. Order early to make sure your items arrive on time. While I've never experienced delays during the holidays, they do happen. Also, double check your shipping dates and addresses if you're leaving town or traveling. I will only ship to the address on the order form.

I cannot guarantee delivery dates unless you want to upgrade your shipping to expedited, priority, or overnight. (Save your money and just get it early.)

Normal refund and exchange policies will be in effect. If an item doesn't arrive by Christmas and you want your Money back, you will still have to return the item.
As always, order early so you're not worrying at the last minute, hoping the mailman brings it the day before Christmas Eve! I've already started my Christmas shopping ;)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Crystal Fair St. Louis: Review for Artists

Replaced all my displays with pony stuff. Looks weird.
Whew, I’m topped out on ponies for the rest of the year. Just got home from Crystal Fair in St. Louis, my first My Little Pony event. So I heard about this even about a month in advance from an artist friend, and applied fairly last minute. The application and payment was quick and painless, and communication from the staff were prompt. So let me say this, I did not realize this was a dedicated pony event until two weeks before the con. It hit me like a sack of dominoes. The two weeks between Archon and Crystal Fair were pretty much me frantically working on pony things until my brain shut down.

This was their second year and last year was pretty good, according to artists who’d attended before. I won’t say I walked into this convention with high hopes, but it was certainly going to be a new and fun experience for me. 

If you know me, I’m not a big pony fan. I mean I think they’re cute and very creative. If you read about my adventures at Anime Zap earlier this year, you might recall my being snowed in at the hotel with the lovely Alexis Hejna of Honeysuckle Rose Creations and being brainwashed with episodes and facts about MLP.
So a pony convention. Yeah.

Application and Pre Show

As I mentioned before, I applied just weeks before the show. I emailed them my app and paid over paypal. $75 for a 6’ table. Not bad. Artists who applied earlier said they were asked to send in a check.
So I’m not going to lie, after it dawned on me that this was a pony con, I wanted to back out. Like really bad. Their FB page was still seeking artists pretty much right up to the week before, and that made me nervous. Most conventions don’t have to hunt for artists that close to the actual event unless they’re having a hard time accruing them, which is bad news.

Well I figured it was still worth the shot and held my breath. I’d already paid and I didn’t want to be that jerk that paid and backed out all in the same month right before the con.


Crystal Fair was held at the super ritzy Sheraton Westport Plaza Hotel in St. Louis. Wonderful hotel staff that went above and beyond to help us load in and set up. This is the kind of hotel people want to get married in… literally. We shared the hotel with an unhappy wedding party and this is a very important factor in how the weekend played out, in my opinion (and pretty much everyone else’s).

Anyway, the actual hotel entrance is around the back of the entire Westport complex, which consists of restaurants, cafes, boutiques, office buildings, and luxury accommodations. There’s also a McDonald’s in the parking lot. There was a parking garage as well as outdoor lot that was more than enough so parking was not an issue.

The inside of the hotel was gorgeous. Beautiful chairs, clean marble floors, weird hotel lobby sculptures.
This was a great location because it was easy access on and off the highway, with plenty of food options within walking distance.

Saturday night a few of us went up to Kobe Grill for hibachi and it was the greatest dining experience of my life. For real. I highly recommend to anyone that doesn’t mind dropping the money for exceptional food, chefs, and atmosphere.

Vendor Space

The artist/vendor room got changed at the last minute. We were supposed to be right smack up where all the panels and events were, but the wedding party booked parts of the hotel and somehow we all got booted down the hall with the room sliced in half because the other side was being used for the wedding ceremony. Talk about tight quarters. I had to request to move because I was afraid my backdrop would block too much of another artist’s table.

A few artists were in the hallway up by registration. I think this caused a lot of confusion because people seemed to not realize there was a whole other room with vendors down the hall. However, staff were quick to put up big signs and even direct people our way the best they could.

So the room locked up each night, which was nice. Vendors and artists were all mixed in the room, but it was fine. None of the vendors were the ones with giant displays and gridwalls, taking up several booths. Everyone had a table and it was pretty difficult to tell one from the other sometimes.


How do you have variety when everyone is selling MLP merch? That’s what I thought before I arrived. Granted, everyone was selling pony stuff, but it was all so different. Print artists all had their own unique styles, there were plushies, hats, bead sprites, and candles. Even Build A Bear was there with all their official MLP plushes. 

Only three or four artists, including myself, had non pony stuff mixed in at our tables. Talk about pony overload! Unfortunately, I didn't manage to grab cards or photos of everyone but here are a few of the artists that were right across from me :)


As blunt as possible: sales sucked. And it was all around. Returning artists said they didn’t come close to last year, and everyone was just happy to break even by the end of the weekend. 

But I don’t want this to be a red flag for anyone interested in the convention. Crystal Fair did everything right, and I honestly believe everything would’ve been amazing if not for the wedding. So how does one wedding affect an entire convention?

The bride had a little meltdown that she was sharing the hotel for her special day with a bunch of kids dressed as ponies. Everything from having the convention move rooms so they could have their ceremony and reception in specific places, to wanting to take pictures in the lobby. At one point on Saturday, con staff came around to explain (and apologize) that things might die down for a while because the wedding party wanted clear halls for their photos. Seriously. So foot traffic got restricted and the room was essentially dead.
Also as I mentioned before, the vendors room was waaay down the hall where there were no panels, events, or even convention related decorations. Unfortunate.

Weekend breakdown for sales: it was just dead all weekend. You could walk away from your table for an hour and not miss a thing. I think I spent a lot of time chatting with other artists and just milling about. Honestly, it was like that point where everyone’s in the same boat not making money, so everyone just gets really social. I would say there were never more than 5-10 people in the room shopping at a time.
Some of it might also have to do with the fact that a lot of the attendees were young children with their parents, so not exactly people with a ton of pocket money. Also, Build A Bear was a big money sink for a lot of people. $25 for a big pony plush? Hell yeah, I’d spend it too. I do believe that BAB was hard to compete with, especially for the plush and hat makers. Ugh, I wanted a Spike so bad.

Note: I barely sold or traded and pony stuff. In fact, I sold almost entirely Pokemon and Studio Ghibli jewelry and original art prints. Weird. 


The CF staff are amazing people. All of them. Quick to reply to emails, they’re very active on their FB page. Polite, helpful, flexible at the convention whenever something needed attention. The poor crew was so exhausted trying to work out problems the wedding had caused, and do their best to direct traffic to vendors and keep things running smooth. They did everything convention staff should do and more.
I’d like to also point out that the volunteers were also amazing and very helpful. 

Final Verdict

Despite being the worst sales I’ve had since doing conventions, this was an incredibly fun event. I do believe that everyone broke even by the end of the weekend. And you know what? THE STAFF GAVE A DAMN. They came by and checked on us individually, asked for feedback, and even apologized for the little disasters that happened out of their control.

I had a BLAST meeting and chatting with everyone, doing art trades, and just hanging out.

There’s just something about artists that attend anime-eque cons that always seem to be more… cheerful. I’ve attended so many shows that are scifi, fantasy, or just more classic adult nerd oriented where I made good money but it just felt like crap all weekend. It’s like the people at those events are so jaded and “professional” that they’ve forgotten how to have fun.

Not Crystal Fair. Even the introverted artists were fantastic conversation and everyone was relaxed. By Sunday we had all resigned to, “Eh, I broke even. So other stuff blah blah blah.” I’ve only been to a handful of conventions that had such a great atmosphere and by the end of the weekend, I was in a fantastic mood coming home with my little bit of cash.

The convention was well run and with great staff, I think they just hit a patch of bad luck this year. I heard nothing but great things about last year and I believe they will have nothing but success in their coming years.
For pony fans and artists, please do attend. I highly recommend it, especially with such great staff. I want this convention to grow into something big and amazing. I, however, am not sure if I’ll be going back. Simply because I don’t know if I can gear my portfolio to sell that much pony stuff. XD It was really difficult for me to get enough pony stuff organized together and change out all my displays. Nevertheless, GO! Crystal Fair is a fantastic event and it’s guaranteed fun.

Con booty: the sole judge of how much fun I had. Candles, bead sprites, pocket watch, and a game mat. Yeah. All good stuff!