Just finished this custom order of dog bone cards, headed for Charleston to a shop called The Tahyo, made famous by Animal Planet's "Pit Bulls and Parolees." I finally made it to reality TV!
Saturday, December 24, 2016
I love a good domino effect. I started a bullet journal, which led to a productive list of potential wholesale accounts, which led to a new wholesale account, which led to a woman named Doris seeing and purchasing my cards, which led to her calling me to start a new wholesale account with me for her new business, Tincture of Time in Albany, NY.
It's an interesting outcome. I put energy into a place in my business that led to my cards being picked up by an energy business. And the energy I put into my cards when I am making them has been pure joy. Hmmmm. Tincture of Time offers "vibrational support to each individual customer... Products are personalized to each individual for use in this moment in time - for in the next moment, we may be something different."
It sounds a lot like my journey through my artwork, changing and evolving all the time. Simpatico! Check out this cool new business here: http://www.tinctureoftimellc.com
Tell Doris I sent you!
Friday, December 9, 2016
Good question. I recently asked the very same question when a friend told me about hers. It's a planning tool and it has helped my business remarkably since I took the advice of my friend to start one. It's deceptively simple but oddly difficult to explain so if you want to know more, just google it. You'll find a hundred different links explaining it, and if you go on Pinterest, you will waste the better part of a month looking at all the lovely bullet journals that people have made:
It's basically a planner or organizer that is meant to be playful and artistic instead of a boring to-do list. People use it in many different ways: for to-do lists and calendars, for menu planners, to keep track of exercise and calories, and one hundred more reasons. My friend knows me too well when she thought I would like it. I love paper to-do lists (I don't use the calendar or sticky notes on my smart phone and never have); I love to scrapbook; I like writing with pretty, colorful pens; I am the type of person who has kept a journal in the past and would again if I had more time; I have a detailed calendar planner system and have always loved setting goals and ticking off accomplished tasks. So this bullet journal thing was right up my alley.
But here's how it helped my business. I have lots of different scraps of paper and lists and ideas all over the place when it comes to my business. I have a list on my computer of the stores I want to approach to carry my cards. I have scraps of paper with drawings of new designs I want to make. I have loose sheets of paper that have facts and figures about stationery trends, best-selling cards, categories of cards, etc. I decided a bullet journal committed to just my business might help organize all these important things in one place. I am pretty good in the other part of my life as far as organization goes but these disparate business things were too disorganized. So I divided my journal into three parts. The first is all about ideas, sketches and notes about tricks of the stationery trade that I have learned through countless hours of reading forums, blogs and other sources. I also have a subsection for plant ID if I press a flower from a place other than my garden and need to remember what it is. And I have a few pages dedicated to flowers that I want to add to my own garden for future designs.
The second part is a list of the current places I sell my cards and a running total of the designs that I sell. At the end of each month and at the end of year, I can see what are my best sellers by season as well as annually and "weed out" — sorry for the intended pun — poor sellers. I can also produce more designs in the categories or styles that sell well.
The last part of the journal is the list of carefully-researched stores or markets that I want to approach to sell my cards. This is the section that has been the most productive one for me. I had a very long list of potential shops to approach that was on my computer. But it was so long that it was actually a bit daunting and I didn't end up approaching anyone at all. All I had to show for my research was a generic pitch lacking passion. But to put it into the bullet journal, it had to be organized and thought out. I dug into the list and researched each shop, going on their websites and social media pages to get as much information about them as possible, including the exact person I should contact to pitch my cards. I culled the list down to only the ones that were an excellent fit and put them in my bullet journal. Each store has its own page and includes including who to contact, a record of samples I sent, what their market is and strategies for getting them excited about my work specific to their market. I sent out a few queries and almost immediately I had a wholesale order from one of the new contacts.
The thing that made the task so appealing is all the colored pens, washi tape and even charcoal pencils and watercolor paint that I used to organize my journal. Something about the artistic aspect made me so excited to scribble, draw, design and play; a simple to-do list turns into a fun hour of crafting and inspiration. I introduced washi tape into my journal and took it to another level. Washi tape is a decorative Japanese tape that has a magical power to make everything you use it on the most adorable thing in the world. I separated each section by using a different color of washi tape. Pages that I will go back to many times have washi tape along the edges to protect the paper from ripping or tearing; it also serves as a tab to easily see the section. Sometimes in the morning before I start my work, I sit down and leaf through my bullet journal just for the happiness of it. Who knew data crunching could be so full of craft supplies and happiness!?
Friday, December 2, 2016
To watermark or not to watermark photos. It is a question I constantly battle to answer. On the one hand, I don't want my artwork stolen or used without my permission so I want a watermark. On the other hand, a watermark is rather unsightly and some people don't understand that the artwork they purchase will not have it on the actual art. But if my work is used anywhere, such as on Pinterest, and not given credit or a link, then at least a watermark provides some info on how to find my work. But many people won't feature a photo on their blogs if there is a watermark. You see my dilemma.
In the end, I do watermark my Petal People artwork. I started doing it after someone in Australia contacted me and asked I could change my shipping to include their country so they could purchase one of my cards. But then they said never mind, they would just pull the photo from my page to use. Er....
I couldn't find an easy way to watermark my stuff for free and I am not the most technologically patient person so I just used the easiest program I could. Unfortunately, it made some pretty ugly photos. It didn't help that the watermark somehow made the images bigger so they didn't sit within the viewing square in my Etsy shop:
This week, I finally sat down and decided to be patient and correct my images, make a more subtle watermark and a more attractive overall presentation. After checking out a lot of different watermarking options, I liked https://www.watermarquee.com. I tried using it by testing out the five free photos they offer and I really liked it. On other sites I had to put in numbers and percentages to have the watermark appear on certain areas of the photo. I could never get the math right and ended up with the watermark in the bottom corner and half off the photo, or at a strange angle. On watermarquee, it was easy to drag the watermark where I wanted it, to lighten or darken it, change the color and other options. I paid the $7 flat fee, watermarked all of my photos in about 15 minutes with their bulk option and now can use it for as many photos as I want.
And my photos and my page look so much better:
So much to tweak, so little time... Onto the next project: adding new cards to my wholesale page. I just got 13 new lines back from the printer. Once uploaded, I need to contact all my wholesale accounts to take a look. Then I have to pack up for the craft show I am doing tomorrow. Send your good thoughts to my family - they need watching me spin in circles!
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Monday, November 21, 2016
Last year, I began selling my cards to a lovely little tea shop called Jeans Greens: http://paperandpulp.blogspot.com/2015/12/jeans-greens.html
Last week, I got a call from owner Holly telling me that she had a crazy year, including having to find a new home for her business in a short amount of time. She happily has landed by the beautiful waterfront in downtown Troy and is restocking her herbal emporium for the holidays, inclduing lots and lots of my Petal People cards. I hope you will visit her sweet shop if you are in the Capital Distrcit. Find her at 225 River Street, Troy, NY.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Honest Weight Food Coop began as a buying club and opened to the public in 1977 as a cooperatively owned and operated natural foods grocery store for New York's Capital Region. Since then, it has grown so much that it has moved locations a number of times to its current one on Watervliet Ave. The mission of the coop is "to promote more equitable, participatory and ecologically sustainable ways of living," which includes supporting local makers whenever and wherever possible. I am proud to be among those local makers and am now selling my Petal People cards at Honest Weight!
If you are in the Capital District, stop in, get groceries for dinner, check out my cards and give back; 5% of profits go to local non-profits!
Monday, November 14, 2016
I am so excited that I am now selling my cards coast to coast. Miriam Lara Floral Boutique in California is now a vendor. Check out her FaceBook page for more info: https://www.facebook.com/Miriam-Lara-floral-Boutique-1603744649882704/
Thanks Miriam - and congrats on the newest addition to your family!
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Going way back to 2008 for this Throw-Back Thursday, to the first item that I ever sold on Etsy:
The thing that cracks me up about this listing is that I barely had a description. It read, "Package of six pink Tootsie Toes." I never explained how many cards were in the package, that the pink paper was handmade and recycled from junk mail. I didn't give the measurements of the cards or mention that envelopes were included. I only showed one product photo and the only tag I had on the listing was "paper goods." It's amazing that I ever sold it!
Saturday, October 22, 2016
What amazing art!
Japanese Artist Tightly Rolls Newspaper To Create Incredibly Realistic Animal Sculptures
by James Gould-Bourn
For most us, newspapers are for reading. But for Chie Hitotsuyama, newspapers serve a whole different purpose. Because as you can see below, the Japanese artist doesn’t use them to catch up on the sport and gossip. She turns them into incredibly realistic animal sculptures instead. She makes them by densely rolling, twisting, and binding pieces of wet newspaper. The process is done entirely by hand and she even uses the colored print to enhance the contours and gradations of her subjects. From red-faced Japanese macaques to languishing lizards and even a giant dozing rhinoceros, Chie creates the most stunning sculptures from something that most of us simply throw in the trash. It’s a brilliant way of turning bad news into something more positive.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Last winter, I blindly dove into selling my greeting cards wholesale. I suddenly got a burst of confidence and approached businesses without fear but also without a clear plan. I landed a few accounts and THEN I sat down and set up a system for keeping track of inventory, orders and payments. It made for a chaotic start, especially when I had to learn everything about making a line sheet, which is a wholesale order form, and a catalog, as well as terms for selling my work. I am happy with what I made with limited time and even more limited technological savvy. (A shout-out to the website Issuu for being a great wholesale resource.)
Now that I am rolling along with my wholesale business and have a diverse set of businesses that sell my lines, it's time to redesign my line sheet and catalog for 2017, including - wait for it - introducing 13 new card lines.
Looking back, I am actually glad I bit into wholesale selling the way I did, even if every marketing professional would advise against the way I approached it. Every step gave me new energy and excitement as well as an urgency to get things done rather than take too long on making them perfect and thinking out every decision to its exhausting end.
Last week I took my new designs to the printing house to be scanned. I am waiting for the proofs and then the printing will begin. Interested in selling my stationery as a wholesale account? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about your business. I will send you a link to my online wholesale line sheet. Or check out my cards in my Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PulpArt?ref=hdr_shop_menu§ion_id=6245993
Friday, October 14, 2016
I will be selling at the annual Shaker show in Albany, NY. If you are in the area, please visit my work at the show. I am packing and pricing like crazy today and cleaning off my display racks to make everything shiny for set-up in less than two weeks!
Friday, October 7, 2016
My pressed flower Petal People seem to be making it on blogs all around the world, in many languages. Pretty cool! I remember the days when the most people I could get to see my work was whoever showed up within a 25-mile radius of whatever craft show was I was selling at...
Monday, September 26, 2016
So sad to read the news that Etsy retired treasuries: https://www.etsy.com/teams/7716/announcements/discuss/18084346/
Treasuries were really neat collections of items, curated by Etsy shoppers and shop owners. Items were chosen for themes or colors or holidays and I always found new and interesting things on the site that I would not have come across in any other way outside of other people searching and creating a tight little package of the best of what they could find. Etsy completely overhauled the front page to its current iteration and I have missed the old one ever since. Treasures were chosen by Etsy for their pleasing design and put on the front page of the web site, which changed every hour. I still miss them and never take the time to poke across the massive website on my own so I rarely see all the talent and terrific ideas out there.
This is a treasury for Father's Day featuring my plantable paper mustaches:
Here's another one that appeared for Valentine's Day, featuring my plantable paper hearts:
A lovely spring treasury, celebrating everything it has to offer, including rainy days, with my plantable paper umbrellas. I got many clicks into my shop as well as sales from these features. Goodbye treasuries! I loved you well...
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Thanks to Brett of I Am The Lab for this mention of my seed bombs!
"IAMTHELAB is dedicated to showcasing the best of modern handmade style for women, children and gents. My goal is to find and share the most talented makers and introduce them to the widest audience possible. But that’s just a small part of what the LAB is all about. If you’re a maker, I want to make sure that you are getting your piece of the handmade pie. IAMTHELAB has as its core mission a deep committment to helping modern makers utilize every resource available to encourage folks to think handmade first."
Saturday, September 10, 2016
Here's something you may not know about me. I love visiting antique shops and going to auctions. Sifting through old things, finding rusty metal whatchamacallits, repurposing scuffed up items, bidding on something unwanted whose new function I can clearly see... I love to recycle and I love to give new life to something whose life has wound down. A couple of months ago, I found this cool wooden dish rack and made it into a display for my handmade cards.
So I was excited when I recently came across an old rusty chicken feeder. I liked its shape and size, and it had such an interesting history as an implement on a farm. When I hung it up on a wall in my kitchen, it took on a very different purpose to hold my napkins and placemats. Part of me would really love to veer off and open up a new Etsy shop dedicated to repurposed items, especially for the kitchen. Here what the feeder looks like up on my wall:
Maybe if I collect enough items then I will have to start selling old stuff to clean out inventory and that will jump-start a new business. At least I am going to use that as an excuse to get out there and get back to shopping. I'll let you know what I find!
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
A new delivery of bubble mailers. Holy cow, it's hard to find a place to store 400 bubble mailers in my tiny studio. They are piled and pushed into all available nooks and crannies, shelves, and anywhere a few will fit. And that box in the last photo holds another 200. Zionks!
Thursday, August 25, 2016
I walk the fine line. Am I an artist? Or a craftsperson?
I read this article it cleaned it right up for me: http://stamm.com.au/art-versus-craft-the-final-word/
I read this article it cleaned it right up for me: http://stamm.com.au/art-versus-craft-the-final-word/
Art versus craft, the final word
by Suzette Wearne
I graduated in 2014 and I now work primarily in the field of ceramics. At the opening of my first group show, I was asked whether what I make is craft or art. I’m not sure I know what the difference is. Can you help?
Academics and curators agree that in this post-disciplinary age, with unprecedented lateral movement across all fields of creativity, the difference between art and craft is less clear than ever. They are, of course, wrong. The categories are distinct and immutable and determining which one your practice falls under is easy – just apply any of the following five tests.
1. Take your wedding ring off, tie it to a piece of string, and hang it over one of your works. If it swings in a circle, it is craft. If it swings back and forth, it’s art.
2. Did you draw on technical knowledge and a repertoire of skills to complete a work with a meticulous degree of aesthetic realisation? If you answered yes, you’re making craft. Or, does it resemble something on the reject pile at a Sophia Mundi humanities fundraiser? If so, it’s art.
3. To which of the following statements do you most relate?
a) I think people understand me most of the time.
b) I think people understand me some of the time.
c) Monkey monkey Paddledust is hiding in my scarves.
a or b = craftsperson
c = artist
4. In a reboot of the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, what would Viggo Mortensen do with one of your works if he found it in a shelter recently abandoned by cannibals?
a) Drink tea or cordial from it.
b) Burn it for fuel. There is literally no other purpose it would serve in an apocalypse.
a = craftsperson
b = artist
5. How do you feel after a session in your studio?
b) As though I have unwittingly opened a wormhole to a universe of existential questioning. That flock of screaming lambs I wanted so much to leave behind stalk me at every turn. While I am heavy with the realisation that this path is a solitary one, I know it is the only one of any worth.
a = craftsperson
b = artist
There you go, Bethany, the difference between art and craft. Good luck with your career, whichever one it is.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Love these cool angles in the photos that a customer sent me of my plantable paper hearts being used as favors at her black and red wedding reception. Thanks for sending them along!
I just wanted to share some pics of the favors at the wedding! They turned out great! They're growing even!
Thursday, August 11, 2016
You may have noticed, if you have been poking around my Etsy shop, that I am away from my studio this month. My banner has an announcement about being away and my processing time for shipping orders has been changed to a couple of weeks. Although I am fitting in some fun during this time, the month of August is hardly summer vacation for me. This time away is all business.
I am lucky enough - or unfortunate enough, depending on your perspective - to live in a town that is heavy on summer tourism. Very, very heavy. Saratoga Springs is known for its healing springs and the water that bubbles forth, but even more so for the horse racing that triples the population of my little upstate New York town every summer.
For hotels, restaurants and shops, this population boom pours money into our local economy. But you can't increase from a population of 30,000 to 100,000 and have enough beds for every visitor. That's where the cottage industry takes over. And by cottage industry, I mean not only cottages, but houses, condos, apartments, lofts and any other dwelling that can be rented out during this equine explosion to the people willing to pay absurd amounts of money to stay in Saratoga in the summer.
Renting my house out for four weeks every August has become a natural rhythm to my year. The dance begins in June when I walk around my house and take a look at it through a stranger's eye. The upstairs hallway needs to be re-painted; the central air conditioning should be serviced; the front porch has a column that has some rot. Then I call my handy dandy contractor and start scheduling. The Fourth of July means it is time to tackle the basement. When I first started renting, I would carefully assign a way to get rid of the flotsam: old toys would go to friends who had younger children; I could salvage something else with a little paint or with some repair work; unwanted books were collected and donated to the library; good things we no longer wanted could be sold at a yard sale or on Craigslist. It took more planning and running around than I have the patience for 12 years later. Now I just pick a sunny Saturday and put unwanted stuff out on the sidewalk with a "free" sign and pitch whatever is leftover at the end of the day. Done.
A clean basement means I can start packing up things here and there, putting them in containers and bringing them down. Renters expect that a house will be depersonalized and look much like a B&B, but with the convenience of home. (I leave my fridge full of condiments, salad dressings and even leave behind eggs, butter, milk and cheese. Who wants to rent a house and then have to go buy all kinds of little foo stuffs? I leave the basics of salt, pepper, jelly, ketchup, mustard and, in the case of my fridge, anchovy paste, chili paste with garlic, Better Than Bouillon and soy sauce.)
By the middle of July, I have worked through most of the house and am very happy with all the excess stuff that is out of my life. I hit the clothes closets and start by packing up the winter stuff that I won't be wearing until fall and end with summer stuff currently in my wardrobe rotation. I eventually touch every article of clothing that I own and we all purge a surprising amount so that we don't end up storing things we will get rid of when we unpack.
The next step is a deep cleaning. I used to do this one by myself and I am a rabid deep cleaner. I figure if I am going to clean something once a year, then I am going to use a toothpick to get in all the tiny places and really clean it. But, again, after renting for more than a decade, I have learned to be smarter. I now hire two women to come for half a day. We all clean top to bottom, and it's done all at once so nothing has time to get dirty again.
The last stop is my studio. I wait until the morning that I am moving out to change the shipping times, then I put any of our remaining personal items in, lock it up and get the heck out of Dodge. I consider renting a part-time seasonal job because of the hours I put in getting the house all ready.
But lest you think I take time off while renting, I am fitting in some work here and there. Nobody can take a month off when they own their own business. I have been staying with family in another state, where I have been looking at new places at which to wholesale my Petal People cards. I am researching possible venues that match my criteria, visiting shops to check out the look and feel of the place and its customers, collecting business cards, and making mental notes about display ideas so I have a good list and am all ready when I send out my wholesale inquiries early in 2017 for the spring gardening season. Oh and I am also raiding everyone's gardens for flowers to press for new designs to create this winter when everything is quietly sleeping under a blanket of snow.
I thank the customers who are still purchasing out of my shop with long processing times for being so patient and understanding while I am away. I will be back soon!
Monday, August 8, 2016
I love maps. I have an entire wall in one room of my home covered in maps of all the places my family and I have been. There's a world map, maps of of city streets, maps of state and national parks. I have framed maps, maps that I made into handmade books, and books of maps. I even had an artist create a custom map-like papercut for me. (The different colors indicate water depth.) It's the body of water where I spent my childhood and most of my life as a young adult.
So when I came across Matt Cusick's map art, I was smitten. If you can't tell, the pictures that he makes are made entirely from little pieces of maps. It looks like he cuts shapes along coastlines to create the jagged lines of some of the areas of the wave. Since my favorites colors are the blues and greens that you see in the ocean, I am drawn to his artwork that features waves and water. And, of course, since this art is made of paper, I think it's the coolest thing.
I would love to see one up close. How magical and creative. Makes me want to get some old maps and make something! To see more, check out his website: http://www.mattcusick.com/paintings-collage
Friday, August 5, 2016
Sometimes I can only blog about the narrow focus of handmade paper and my pressed flower art card business for so long. The truth is, there are a lot of areas of life that are inspirational and influence my work that I never talk about. Here's one of them: vacation. Travel has deeply influenced my work, whether it is something about the colors or landscape that I see, work that I come across at an artsy shop on my travels that give me an idea, or the opportunity to walk away from my business completely and then return with fresh eyes examining ideas started before a trip.
It's a long, roundabout story about how we ended up taking a trip to Iceland instead of a different destination. I won't bore you with the details except to say that it started as a trip somewhere else with a stopover in Iceland on the way. (Icelandic Air allows passengers to book trips with stops in Iceland for up to seven days with no additional charge. It's a great way to add a little oomph to your trip and get a twofer vacation.) But the more we starting researching Iceland, the more we were intrigued and wanted to spend more time there.
I gathered so many great travel tips from friends and family who had preceded me. I thought I would share these tips because they are unique to Iceland. It is becoming such a hot destination that I hope somebody out there is googling travel tips for Iceland and stumbles across my blog for a little help.
There are many ways to see Iceland and many areas with varied weather, landscape and activities. We saw tour busses, bicyclists, campers and hitchhikers all over the country but we chose to rent a car and strike out, traveling around the entire country on the Ring Road. No matter how you figure it out, these tips will make your trip much better.
PACK YOUR OWN TOWEL. There are geothermal "hot pots" all over Iceland. These are hot little swimming holes that take the form of public swimming pools, expensive spas and even rustic swimming holes that are a 20-minute hike off a road. If you have your own towel you can save the the expensive rental costs of towels at places like the Blue Lagoon, or you can use your towel when you are out in the middle of nowhere and discover a good place to take a dip.
BRING AN EMPTY WATER BOTTLE. Iceland's tap water is delicious. In many places, you will smell sulfur in the hot water because it is heated using the country's efficient, eco-friendly geothermal heat. But if you run the water on cold, you will find crystal clear water and never have to pay for a bottle of expensive water.
RENT A 4X4. Many of the famous sites in Iceland - like roaring waterfalls and spouting volcanic geysers - are just a few steps from a main road. But if you have a 4x4, you can take the less traveled gravel roads and discover intriguing, less visited sites that have fewer people.
EAT HOT DOGS. Hot dogs are inexpensive in a country of very expensive food. But don't eat them to go easy on your wallet. Eat them because they are delicious. My mouth is watering thinking of the wieners I ate from food trucks, gas stations and restaurants across Iceland. What makes them so good? They have a natural casing, which gives them a satisfying snap when you bite into them. But unlike American hot dogs, they are made mostly from Icelandic lamb, along with pork and beef. This is organic, free range, grass fed, hormone free Icelandic lamb, and you can taste the quality. I am a strictly-ketchup-on-my-hot-dog person but I was glad I branched out and tried them the way Icelanders eat them with raw white onions and crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep, and remoulade, a sauce made with mayo, capers, mustard, and herbs. They stuff all of the fixins into the bun under the hot dog and garnish it with mustard. *Sigh*
BRING WATERPROOF RAIN PANTS, BOOTS & A JACKET. The weather is unpredictable. Whether it is windy or rainy, this clothing will keep you comfortable and dry. If you want to get close to waterfalls - and there are so many waterfalls that you will stop looking at them because you have seen so many (notice the waterfall in the background of the hot dog picture?!) - you will get soaked without waterproof clothing.
GO A LITTLE FARTHER. We saw many people jump out of their cars, see the obvious sight and then leave. But if you explore a little farther, you will see so many wonderful things. For instance, we went to this amazing waterfall where you can walk behind it and feel the spray on your face:
It was stunning and we loved it. We would have been thrilled if we got in our car and left. But instead of going back to the parking lot, we followed a paved path down until we saw this sign to another waterfall that we couldn't see from the road or the parking lot:
There was a break in the rocks and we had to walk in a river (remember those waterproof boots?) to get into the base of the waterfall, but then we came to it:
At the Glacial Lagoon, we took in all the cool icebergs floating around the lagoon and looked at the tongue of the glacier coming down from the Highlands. Amazing.
But if you leave the crowds follow the icebergs downstream to the ocean, you can see seals playing in the water and escape the crowds of the lagoon (as well as the noise of the boats doing tours of the area.)
If you have any additional travel tips, let me know. I enjoyed Iceland so much, I would go back again. Happy travels!