Jan 5, 2011

Out to lunch...

So, I've been "out to lunch" these past two weeks. Absolutely got hit with the holiday tidal wave. And in the magazine world, it gets even more hectic because you still have to produce an issue in the same timespan as non-holiday-time. Same deadlines, less days in the office. Oof.

What else. Oh, I've been cast in a new role as the lead blogger for this new craft social networking site that's launching later this month, CraftFoxes.com. You should totally check it out and sign up to be alerted to the official launch date. And I'm not saying this because I write for it, but because it's really going to be a cool, comprehensive source for anyone who has even a passing interest in crafty things. There will be tutorials galore, a list of craft stores organized by area (this is what I'm excited about, since there is nary--yes, I said nary--a Joann fabrics or anything in a 20-mile radius), easy-to-navigate posts, the whole shebang. So, sign up for CraftFoxes here! And, of course, if you want to send anything over to my attention for editorial consideration, feel free to email me. I really am loving getting to know all the fabulous crafters out there, I've been making so many friends.

I'm also doing all sorts of business-y projects relating to my etsy shop, which I will post more about in the coming days. I'm finding that the hardest thing in the world when it comes to having your own line of anything, isn't the production process. (Right now, I have that down to doing an assembly-line set-up, with cutting pieces one day, hemming the next, and so on.) It's organizing the whole business. Because it is a business. It's figuring out what sells and what doesn't, how you can better serve your customers, establishing a consistent look and changing your pre-conceived ideas of what you thought your business would be. Does that make sense? Like, I was pretty sure the pin-up aprons would be the main seller, but it turns out it was the Wonder Woman apron, a kind of on-a-whim design.

Let's see, what else...I was talking to my new e-BFF, Katie of LemonJitters (who has a fab new digital design blog, TheCommonJar), about how it's hard not to automatically compare yourself to other bloggers out there. You know, the ones who have mastered 100 different cool craft techniques, executing each perfectly, photographing them beautifully, selling a bajillion versions of their designs online, they blog everywhere, etc. etc. And it almost makes you want to give up, doesn't it? Well, it shouldn't. We forget that we're in a small corner of the internet where like-minded people convene. If it seems like everyone else is effortlessly fabulous, well, guess what? It's not really "everyone else". It's still just a small portion of the population, not the norm. So, deep breath, attitude adjustment. Stay positive and glamorous.


Dec 23, 2010

Better than Bows: Cupcake Paper Gift Toppers

So, I was up until 2 am last night wrapping gifts, when inspiration struck to stick cupcake papers all over each present. This sounds ugly in theory, but the result (above) ended up looking lovely. I used these old holly-covered cupcake wrappers that I bought on super-sale after the holidays last year (the original idea was to use them FOR cupcakes, but then it occurred to me that it doesn't seem right to use holly-print things beyond Christmas).

What you do is: Cover the area of the gift you want to decorate with double-stick tape. Then, take a wrapper, bunch it up at the bottom and stick it to the tape. Keep doing this until you end up with the giftwrap equivalent of a glamorous boa. Ta-da!


Dec 22, 2010

Holiday Messes...

In the middle of organizing gifts, sending out packages, wrapping presents, finding the ornaments, finding my tree (a lovely little white faux tree that is only just now going up today!), fulfilling apron orders, ordering even more gifts for people I forgot, working on articles (on-deadline!), working ahead on articles, planning menus for parties and somewhere, somehow, sleeping, the above mess happened in my studio.

I'm totally into the holiday spirit and all, but I always have trouble keeping things neat and tidy during this time of year. I thought I was alone in this, some sort of yuletide failure, and got tremendously hard on myself...and then I read Pip's inspiring post on how she has the same trouble during the holidays. If Pip, blogging and crafting superstar has trouble keeping her sanity during Christmastime, then I can give myself permission to let myself go a little bit to the messier side of life, albeit temporarily. Everything will be okay, I keep saying...

P.s. That ghostly halo in the corner isn't a spirit, but the light from my laptop. I used my new smartphone, which has the unfortunate tendency to make me feel not-so-smart, to take the photo.

Dec 14, 2010

Christmas Favor Idea: Tiny House Boxes

Even though these town house gift boxes (from Martha Stewart, of course) are too charming for words, I will attempt to write about them anyway. The illustration-inspired containers are meant for cookies and such, but with a ribbon they also are keepsake ornaments. The free template is pre-illustrated, but if you'd like to do custom, just trace the box parts onto cardstock and take it from there. I was seriously thinking of doing this with houses inspired from my illustrations, but then discovered that I have absolutely no time during this pre-holiday crunch. Between making aprons for orders, doing the whole "email everyone before they go on vacation" thing and trying to wrap up my gifts, I think I'm getting all of five minutes' sleep each night. It'll be worth it, I keep telling myself...

Hang in there!

Image via Martha Stewart

Dec 9, 2010

Coveted: Handmade Batik Pillow Covers

I would say "How fabulous are these batik pillows from my etsy friend SisterBatik?" but that would be a completely rhetorical question--and not because you can't answer me. (Well, I guess you can via comments...but you get the point!) Because they're clearly individual works of art, for only $20 a piece. They're completely handmade, from each unique print to each individual stitch. Sigh. You can find them here.

Image via SisterBatik.etsy.com

Dec 7, 2010

Peek inside the new WSJ Magazine

When Domino magazine went away, it was a pretty big deal over in Magazineland (did you know I work there? Because I do. It's right near "PublishingIsDyingVille" and south of "PanicOpolis"). It was one of the earliest casualties of the shelter magazine folding epidemic of 2007-09. Admittedly, I had a soft spot for them since they kindly featured my old blog on their website, way back when. In 2006. Which makes me feel Internet Old. But because of that mention, I got to have a career in magazine writing, and for that I'm endlessly thankful.

I've since kept all of my issues, which I carefully read and sigh over.

But luckily, Deborah Needleman found a fabulous job as editor-in-chief at the new WSJ magazine. Above is a peek into the decor spread, a tour of Roxy Music front man Bryan Ferry's home. As you can expect, it's got that artsy-chic mix-and-match look that few can pull off. Like the above image of a paint-splattered chair, a gift to Ferry made by (and from) Rolf Sachs. If I had this in my home, my apartment would take on a Hoarders-like feel. In his house, with this photography...it looks artsy and fabulous.

Anyway, go look at WSJ and enjoy!


Dec 4, 2010

Behind the scenes of an etsy photo shoot...

I was trying to photograph a few milkglass items for my etsy shop when a certain cat named Cookie decided to jump into the frame. (She's not for sale, guys!)

But you can see my little set-up that I use for photographing for etsy. I use a small table that I've layered with 2 fabrics--a heavy white canvas, then a sheer polyester-ish fabric (it's really dress lining material). Why two? The white canvas nicely smoothes the surface, then adds brightness to the sheer top layer, enhancing the blue hue. Next, I iron the fabrics on the table. Sometimes I will leave a crease in to help me position/align objects (these always get cropped out, of course).

The table is placed by a south-facing bay window that I have in my kitchen. It's a shame because all the fancy architecture in my house--1920's molding, a marble fireplace, a huge front window with plantation shutters--is in the North-facing front side. Since I live in a brownstone on a narrow street, facing other brownstones, this room is in a perpetual Cavern of Darkness. Like the Motel 6 ad slogan, I always have to leave a light on in that room.

Anyway, the only time I get crisp sunlight in the kitchen right now is between the hours of 2pm and maybe 3:30. This leads to me running around the apartment like a madwoman, muttering to myself about how I'm about to lose the daylight. That said, I always keep my props close by and do really simple vignettes like the one above, with vintage books.

All that, and then a cat jumps into the frame.