Friday, December 21, 2007

Look at Zhen Zhen, Baby Panda of My Heart!

Zhen Zhen ("precious" in Chinese) at the San Diego Zoo
is growing and growing! She drives us crazy with her cuteness, as witnessed on the Panda Cam:

http://www.sandiegozoo.org/zoo/ex_panda_station.html

We remember when she was born--no bigger than a mouse--and now she's walking and doing Pilates and even bringing bamboo up to her mouth!
Sometimes in her walking attempts she ends up rolling, but that's no problem. She always gets where she wants to go eventually.
We have no pictures to show because the P.R. dep't hasn't gotten back to us on our request, but that's ok--they must receive so many requests to use their pictures and can't respond to them all. We just love this little girl!

Please visit the Panda Cam today!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why buy handmade? by guest writer CozyCat aka Sonnala

CreativeSundries blog readers: This guest article is by CozyCat, who can be found at http://www.cozycatscarves.squarespace.com and http://www.sonnala.com.

8 Reasons You Should Buy Handmade Products over Commercial Products

1. Handmade products are unique. Do you really want the same scarf, mug, earrings, necklace or other item that 20,000 other people have? Of course not! Handmade items are always unique, even if they are the same type of product because they are not made by machines they are crafted by human beings so each piece will have its own unique characteristics.

2. Handmade items have personality. Life is not about being blah. Life is about expressing yourself and to do that your things need to have as much personality as you do. If you are happy with buying mass produced items that have no personality off a shelf at Wal Mart think about what that says about you. Don’t you want to express some personality?

3. Handmade items are special. When you get a gift don’t you feel a little bit more loved when someone gives you a handmade gift? Everyone loves getting handmade gifts or wearing something that was made just for them.

4. Handmade items last longer. Because they are made from high quality materials and handcrafted by trained artists items that are handmade last longer than low quality imported mass produced items.

5. Handmade goods are high quality. If you are a person who values the quality of an item more than the price then you already know that handmade items are far superior to mass produced items. While a mass produced item may be cheaper initially is it really cheaper when the item needs to be replaced a month later? When quality matters, go handmade!

[I love, love, LOVE this next one!--Sarah]

6. Handmade items are not made by children in sweatshops in Third World countries making 10 cents a day. Experienced and trained craftspeople make each handmade item. So while you might pay a few dollars more for a handmade item it’s because you are paying for quality materials, years of experience, artistic talent, and well-honed craftsmanship. Isn’t that worth paying for?

7. When you buy handmade you are supporting traditional arts and crafts techniques that have passed down through generations. In today’s high tech world the old arts and crafts traditions are being replaced by mass production but when you buy handmade you are saying that you prefer your items to be high quality pieces of art instead of mass produced trinkets.

8. When you buy handmade you are supporting local and small businesses. By paying artists and craftspeople for their goods you are supporting them and all the businesses that they do business with. If you are a person who believes in supporting your community economically then buying from local artists is a great way to support your community and make sure that your money goes to support local businesses.

Keep these things in mind the next time you see a scarf, a bracelet, some great handmade soap or other item and think,” I could get that for half price at Wal Mart.”!

Thank you so much, guest writer, CozyCat! Visit her online at Etsy or at
http://www.sonnala.com.

Featured Artist: Stephanie Strain of SilverShadow




Jewelry artist Stephanie Strain is involved with not just one, but three Etsy shops!


She explains: "Silver Shadow, http://silvershadow.etsy.com/, is my main shop. Most pieces are still in BerryPatchDesigns, http://berrypatchdesigns.etsy.com/ – this has mostly my pieces, but there are several from some of my “sisters” (very dear friends). UnderCurrent, http://undercurrent.etsy.com is the “alternative shop," where I will be putting edgier or more unique pieces."



What a wonderful variety!

Stephanie invites all CreativeSundries blog readers to check out the Earth Path Street Team's Winter Challenge. Vote on your favorite entry--There will be four prize packs given out to voters. Prizes--yay! Find out more info here.



Stephanie took time to answer our questions about her work and her ever-evolving Etsy shops!

CreativeSundries: How did you get started in jewelry making?

Stephanie: I started working with jewelry to give me something to concentrate on and distract me, after my grandmother passed away and while a friend was dying. It gave me a great deal of comfort to create beauty while I was hurting - and to learn about stones, acquire new skills and practice. People liked what I made, asked for more and things just progressed from there. I expect I'll be learning forever, which is not a bad thing.


CreativeSundries: Have you had a chance to collaborate with other artists?

Stephanie: Collaborating with other artists is a BLAST! One of my colleagues from EAST lives near me and we got together on the promotion pack that she was putting together (for the Street Team members), to send to various publications and organizations - we had the BEST time brainstorming and ideas were popping like firecrackers :) It was fun and inspirational.



CreativeSundries: What, if any, are your favorite materials, stones, etc.?

Stephanie:
There are so many!!! So many textures, colors and patterns! That's why I love natural components (except metal, of course), though I do use high quality glass or crystal as accents. Metal: Sterling silver or Argentium, Copper, some leather. Stones: Jasper (moukaite, ocean, kambaba, autumn and scenic, especially), Ruby in Zoisite, Amethyst, Cultured Pearls, Pyrite, Agate (moss, banded, fired), Moonstone, Garnet (deep red varieties, mostly), Turquoise, Jade (Nephrite - true jade), Labradorite, Onyx, Pietersite, Malachite, Chrysocolla, Hematite (true) Azurite, Lapis... Probably lots more. Also like goldstone (man-made): "brown" and blue. Love WIRE. And want to learn true silversmithing/metalsmithing, so I can cast my own pieces and work my own pendants. Love subtle (not "noisy") dichroic and like good lampwork and fused glass.

CreativeSundries: What is your favorite piece you've made?

Stephanie:
It's the Pile of Leaves piece that was for the EAST Autumn Challenge. It was my most involved piece thus far: convertible. It can be (1) a DOUBLE strand necklace or (2) you can open the double clasps on the upper strand and have a SINGLE strand necklace and a BRACELET. I picked a 5 color palette of faceted cultured pearls, matching 11/0 seed beads, carved fancy and ocean jasper leaves and carved bone beads and put everything (almost) totally randomly; the theme was "Autumn Leaves" and leaves fall...randomly. It was fun and I like it very much.





CreativeSundries: What are advantages of using vermeil instead of sterling silver or gold?

Stephanie: There are a couple of advantages to using vermeil vs gold, the most obvious being cost. Vermeil is gold over sterling, which is cheaper than gold itself, while still having the high quality of both. I prefer sterling and copper myself, but do sometimes like golden tones. To me, vermeil is the best of both worlds, to get "gold" without the high cost of true gold. As an aside, gold-filled is better than gold-plate, of course, but both have higher possibility of metal allergies than sterling, vermeil or gold.

Thank you for taking time to talk with us, Stephanie!

Be sure to visit Stephanie's Etsy shops:

http://silvershadow.etsy.com/

http://berrypatchdesigns.etsy.com/

http://undercurrent.etsy.com/

Monday, December 17, 2007







Today's featured artist is Mary Hamilton of http://DreamON.etsy.com. Her shop features beautiful watercolors and acrylics, both originals and prints. Below is one of my favorites, appropriately titled Egret with Attitude!



In her Etsy profile, Mary explains, "I always loved to cut, paste, paint and draw from my earliest memories. Creating art is what I do, it's built-in by my creator, He enables me, and I love it."



Mary's college degree is in art. Of her technique, she says, "I value the presence of a recognizable subject in my paintings. I love it when the center of interest appears in the midst of background objects that aren’t so well-defined. I want watercolor to look like watercolor, and I want my paintings to have a painterly look, not a photographic copy. Therefore I am an impressionist, because I don’t want to over-control the media.I love to paint using a variety of techniques. Having taken an experimental art class for the last 4-5 years, I am likely to paint anything, and I'm always 'playing.'"



Mary took time to chat with us about her work and her Etsy shop.

CreativeSundries: I see in some of your works on Etsy that you used both acrylic and watercolor. How did you decide to do that? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

DreamON: There were different reasons for each one. The martini painting has a gold metallic background, and there is no watercolor product, I'm aware of, which are like that. The "Underwater Acoustics" painting started out as a complete abstract watercolor, which went through two additional steps: the first was defining what I "saw" in the abstract. The second phase was playing with the transparencies of the watercolors and marking off geometric shapes. In the third phase I put on black acrylic gesso which is about as opaque as you can get. The "Lets Take a Spin" painting was created by taking an old painting which already was a combo of watercolor and acrylic and merging it into a white piece of paper which was treated by stamping and dragging acrylic colors onto it (there is more about the techniques used in this painting in the early days of my blog).


Creative Sundries: What is most rewarding, and most challenging, in your work?

DreamOn: Most rewarding is when I am able to satisfy myself that I have a good painting and find that someone else loves it enough to add to their personal collection. Most challenging is trying to accomplish a good painting, and nothing seems to work right. Also a close second to this is "me" trying to sell someone else a painting. I am not a born salesperson, and this is really difficult for me.

Above: Keep Off, watercolor and acrylic

CreativeSundries: How did you become involved with Etsy?

DreamOn: I had heard of Etsy through another artist's blog when I was just doing some surfing. I had done some exploring of Etsy sites to see whose art was selling and whose was not. Then I sprained both of my ankles by not being aware of a step and finding out after the fact. While I was sitting around a lot, I decided to bite the bullet and go ahead and open a shop on Etsy.I have learned so much in the last 2 1/2 months about how to set up the shop, then started blogging, then joined the 90 day challenge and found out even more about blogging. It's been a very positive experience for me. Everyone has been so helpful when I have needed it. I love the Forums, but I have been too chicken to try the chat rooms, as I hear it moves very fast in there. I only set up my shop on October 8th, so I guess technically I'm still pretty much of a newbie.

Thanks for talking with us, Mary!

I asked Mary about giclee prints, the type of prints she uses for her artwork on Etsy. She responded, "I could try to explain giclee, but this from Wikipedia does a much more excellent job."Giclée (pronounced [ʒiːˈkleɪ] "zhee-clay" or /dʒiːˈkleɪ, from French IPA: [ʒiˈkle]), is an invented name for the process of making fine art prints from a digital source using ink-jet printing." That's good to know--I'm going to look into that for some of our artwork!

Shop: http://dreamon.etsy.com/

Web site: http://www.mary-hamilton.com

Blog: http://DreamsAboutArt.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Featured Artist: Susan of CSerpent Designs






Today we're chatting with Susan of CSerpent Designs, CSerpent.etsy.com, whose Etsy shop features beautiful handmade artisan jewelry. Her work ranges from bracelets to wire-wrapped designs to embellished bookmarks!


CreativeSundries: What do you enjoy most about your jewelry making?

Susan: What I enjoy most is when the beads speak to me! When that happens I can make a design in a flash! When they aren't talking I have to gather various beads/color together, play around with them until I figure out a design. The beads come up with much quicker ideas than I do - lol!

CreativeSundries: Do you have any items that are your favorites to make?

Susan: Hmm - favorites?? I think the wire-wrapped dangle bracelets - LOTS of charm wire-wrapped on and all the beads wirewrapped together. They take a lot of time but look sooooo luscious and have such a bling factor!


Creative Sundries: What is most challenging in your work?

Susan: What is most challenging is trying to make something different! Anyone can string beads -- but to combine them in unique and interesting ways is the challenge. I actually learn a lot from my mom. She doesn't make jewelry much but when she does she comes up with interesting combos that look good!


CreativeSundries: Oh, great! We love mother-daughter teams! What are your future plans for your work?

Susan: My future plans are to start doing more wirework. I had a great time hammering out a copper bookmark! I've got tools and tumbler on my Christmas list so hopefully Santa will be good to me - lol! And I've got some gorgeous lustre beads on order (they have a metallic sheen) so I'll be making some great designs with those as well.


Susan of CSerpent Designs is a member of several Etsy street teams: I'm a member of CCCOE (California Crafters Club on Etsy), JET (Jewelry on Etsy), etsyBEAD (bead lovers of all sorts), BeadHive (started on Ebay and has now joined Etsy a group of jewelry artisans who all use high quality components to create artisan quality jewelry) and TBO (Tranquil Beading Oasis). In her profile, she explains, "these groups we share ideas, provide support to one other, teach and learn all in the name of continuing are respective handmade crafts."


Be sure to visit CSerpent.etsy.com!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Featured Artist: Samantha of JoyaVerde







Joya Verde --a beautiful name for a beautiful Etsy shop! The shop owner is Samantha, who lives in Minneapolis (yay, EtsyMN!). The shop stands out not only for its fine handcrafted jewelry but also for its generous spirit: With each purchase, Samantha makes a donation to help save the rainforests.


Samantha explains, "My mission is to create stunning beaded pieces while also giving something back to the world. With each purchase, I will donate $1 to Sustainable Harvest International, an amazing charity that is dedicated to restoring the rainforests and creating sustainability in the communities around the rainforest. They have received a 4 star rating on Charity Navigator. According to the Sustainable Harvest website, http://www.sustainableharvest.org/, a $25 donation plants 100 trees. So, each time you purchase a beautiful piece of jewelry, it's like you are planting 4 trees!"


Isn't that awesome? Samantha took time to answer our questions about her work and shop:

Creative Sundries: What inspires you in your jewelry making?

JoyaVerde: Simple elegance is what I strive for in all my pieces. I love clean lines, with a bit of sparkle. I’m inspired by the idea that the jewelry I create is dancing around on someone’s ear, or gracing someone’s neckline. It’s exciting to think that someone is selecting a piece I’ve made to compliment their outfit. I’m also inspired by donating a bit from each piece to a wonderful charity like Sustainable Harvest. Although $1 doesn’t seem like much, every little bit adds up, and knowing that I can do my own small part is a good feeling.


Creative Sundries: How did you get involved with Etsy?

Joya Verde: I heard about Etsy from a magazine article and thought it would be a fun place to sell the kind of jewelry that, in the past, I’ve made for friends and family.2.


Creative Sundries: Do you take custom orders?

JoyaVerde: I love taking custom orders! It thrills me to know that I’m making a piece specifically for someone based on their request. Knowing that a piece has a home waiting, as it is being created, gives the piece a special purpose. It is also so rewarding when someone gives me a vague idea of what they want and is then excited when I create something that they love!


Creative Sundries: What are your favorite materials to work with?

JoyaVerde: My absolute favorites are Swarovski crystals! The range of colors is spectacular and the way the light reflects off of them makes them an elegant choice, yet they are also versatile enough to look great with a classic pair of jeans. I also like working with stones like onyx, agate and jade. They make great additions to simple necklaces.

Creative Sundries: What do you love most about your work?

JoyaVerde: Spending time in the bead store and finding inspiration in the wonderful colors, and then getting home and putting all my ideas together is the most fun!


Creative Sundries: What have you found most challenging?

JoyaVerde: The most challenging part is trying to venture out from the kinds of pieces I normally create to make something completely different.



Be sure to visit JoyaVerde on Etsy!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Featured Artist: CraftyMoose!

What a great name! CraftyMoose!




CraftyMoose is a wonderful shop on Etsy that features French beaded flowers, beautiful art dolls, cute mini-quilts, holiday decorations, and much more.



I love this ACEO:



Title: If you're still waiting for your ship to come in...row out to it!

It is done on 140 lb. watercolor paper, acrylic paint, and decoupage. She explains--"What is an ACEO? If you know what they are, they are completely addictive to make and to own! For those not familiar with them, ACEO stands for artist cards, editions and originals. They are small works of art in any media, the only criteria being they measure 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"."



The beaded hummingbird (pictured at the top of this post) is gorgeous and very intricate! From the description: "I hand formed this hummingbird with 20 gauge black wire. His wingspan is 5" and he is a little over 5" long. I used a variety of czech glass seed and bugle beads in different finishes to bead the body & wings. The head is beaded in metallic green & ruby transparent and the chest in peach with a pearl finish. The wings are done in crystal clear, topaz & copper. There is clear monofiliment attached so the hummingbird can be hung in a window or from a mirror."



What a fun shop! CraftyMoose explains, "I have been crafting for as long as I can remember. I am self-taught and have enjoyed painting, needlework, quilting, polymer clay and jewelry making. Most recently, I have found myself drawn to beads and have returned to the art of french beaded flowers. I enjoy making original, one-of-a-kind butterflies & dragonflies. I am also introducing a new line of one-of-a-kind beaded art dolls and suncatchers."



You might be wondering how the name CraftyMoose came about! In her profile, she explains, "The name Craftymoose came about because of my love of crafts and my husband's love of moose. My avatar is the head of a 4'+ tall moose I made him one Christmas!"



Shop: CraftyMoose.Etsy.com



International shipping? Yes!



Custom orders: Yes!



Blog: http://craftymoosecrafts.blogspot.com



Web: http://craftymoosecrafts.com