Monday, December 28, 2015

Paper art

I am standing in a hotel lobby, waiting for the elevator when I see some art on the wall that catches my eye because it uses paper in an interesting way and I am always attracted to art that uses paper, handmade or otherwise. There are broad strokes of black ink on the page and then torn pieces of paper attached so that it creates depth and shadows. I am intrigued. I consider it. I look closer. I stand back. Then I read the placard that says it has been created by a 5th grader. Doh!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Handmade on eBay?

I guess you know you are on a successful selling platform when everyone else wants to copy it. Here the story:

eBay Launches New Artisan Collective
By Ina Steiner
December 09, 2015

eBay wants to be in on the craze for handmade goods after Amazon launched an Etsy-style store, and it launched the eBay Artisan Collective on Tuesday. Do Etsy and Amazon have anything to worry about?

eBay launched the Artisan Collective and encouraged its marketing affiliates to promote the curated collection. Scott Parent posted on the eBay Partner Network blog a post in which he called the Artisan Collective "an all-new destination for unique artisanal finds. This curated collection was launched to highlight crafted goods and high-quality treasures."

But artisans looking for exposure may be disappointed. Parent said the collective is made up of several small batch makers including Three Bird Nest, Milk and Honey Luxuries, and Mystic Knotwork.

Interestingly one of those sellers, Three Bird Nest, was at the center of a controversy recently when its high-profile founder departed the Etsy site, though by choice or by request isn't known for sure.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Postage increase

Just took a big gulp when I saw the postal increase coming January 17, 2016. There will be a 12.8 percent average increase for domestic First Class packages, with the most notable change for packages weighing less than 8 ounces. Since I ship most of my products via USPS First Class mail, and they are usually less than 8 ounces, I am wondering how much of an impact this rate increase will have on my online business. Yikes!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Throw-back Thursday

Remembering when I used to make wedding invitations featuring my handmade paper and a real pressed flower on every invitation. Phew, those wedding suites of paper were a lot of work! This particular order had wedding invitations, smaller RSVP cards AND thank you cards. They turned out so pretty that I was sad to see them go.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Etsy seller handbook feature!

Yay! I just opened an email from Etsy that has my shop as a feature.

That blog post from Hill City Bride has been an amazing source of marketing for my shop, bringing in thousands of views. I wrote it several years ago and gave the basics for making plantable paper shapes. (Because of the traffic it brought to my shop, I later went on to write several tutorials that are for sale in my shop. They outline much more detailed info, tips for problem solving, information on different kinds of recycled paper content and more.) Years later and I still get daily views from Hill City Bride, which leads to likes for my shop, which gets me more exposure across Etsy, which hopefully drives more sales.

I remember once reading about Etsy pushing shops to promote themselves outside of Etsy to bring traffic in. Many sellers were irritated by this idea and believed that they gave Etsy a slice of their income to do the promoting for them. This blog post is a stellar example of why that outside marketing is so important. And here's a visual to back it up, showing what happened to my stats as soon as the email went out:

Thanks Etsy. And thanks Hill City!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Jeans Greens

A while back, a woman named Holly contacted me and asked if I wholesaled my cards. The day before she called, I had just decided that I was going to start wholesaling them so I wash't sure if it was a little freaky or a little divine intervention that brought her to me. She said she thought my cards would be the perfect pairing for her store, Jean's Greens, which had lots of herbal things in it. When I went to her website ( to check out the store, the first thing I saw was this quote:

Nature uses as little as possible of anything. ~ Johannes Kepler

A quote that basically sums up my philosophy of living and how I think. Then I read the explanation of her shop and I was hooked:

"As I move about the shop among the teas, the herbs, the preparations, the gifts, the jewelry, the books, the everything, I am struck by how many hands have had a hand in creating all of it. Mugs were shaped, oils strained, leaves picked, seeds planted, boxes shipped, shelves stocked, packages wrapped, and more. So many hands, so many caring people, so many others who make Jean’s Greens possible. As the old table blessing goes, “Bless the hands that have prepared this meal from seed to table.” As I consider the many hands that are our partners, I too, silently give thanks for all the hands that have blessed our path… Our cover this year reflects all of these hands. Some we know, some we never see; but we know they are there, preparing and caring. In this year, I invite you to think about the many hands in your life—hands that care, support and shape your journey, hands that guide you on your way. And consider how your hands make a difference in the lives of others, completing the circle. May they be instruments of love and light in this year."

I am thrilled to now be selling the Petal Petal cards shown below at Jean's Greens Herbal Tea Works & Herbal Essentials, located at 1545 Columbia Turnpike in Schodack, New York. If you stop in, tell them Martha sent you!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

My Christmas elf

Today, I heard a little sneeze come from somewhere deep in the branches of the Christmas tree, then I felt something bat at my leg. I think it might have been a little Christmas elf. Later, he had to nap in the warm sun to rest up from all the hard work of spying.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


I have been asked by a local alternative school to teach a week of papermaking as part of a section on electives at their high school. It's rather intense because I will be teaching for 5 full school days, 8:30 am to 2:20 p.m. I have taught papermaking for years in adult ed, after-school programs, summer camps and the like, but usually as one- or two-day workshops. So I am wondering what the heck I am going to teach to fill out so many hours and days. Making paper is cool and can go in many very creative directions but for five full days to high school age kids?!

But I am excited for the challenge and have been diving into all of my books on making paper and teaching papermaking to come up with a lesson plan. The more I plan, the more I have been reminded about all the fascinating things about making paper. I have planned a field trip to a paper manufacturer to see the commercial process of making paper. I am going to teach making paper using the dip method, which is the way I learned, but I will also teach the pour method. I plan to have a session on watermarks, on using clay molds to make cast papers, and we'll try our hand at designing and making a pulp painting to give to the school for their annual fund-raising auction. I am focusing half the day on studio work and half the day on classroom studies but it means I have had to hit the books myself to brush up on all those little things I used to know, including about some of the science of making paper - like the role that surface tension plays in papermaking, and all the interesting details about the cellulose molecule - and, of course, lots of social studies on the origins and history of paper. There is a fascinating story about how Egyptian mummies were imported to the United States so they could be stripped of their linen bandages to make pulp when there was a rag shortage.

So glad I kept all my fantastic books collected over many years about making paper by hand and teaching papermaking. Time to take a break from holiday crafting to hit the books!