29 Feb 2008

I wonder what's new at DaWanda?

I feel like I've been featuring a lot of items from Etsy lately so I thought it was about time I floated around some of the other big trading sites that are there for handmade/crafted goods. Today I picked DaWanda and clicked on the "New Arrivals" section. I stuck with the English site of the 3 they have on offer as my French and German aren't all that great. I was pleasantly surprised at the variety I found.

This pretty little bag was the first thing to catch my eye. It was made by Nunofelt and is a great example of felting, both needle and wet. The colours are so warm and cheerful, great for brightening up any outfit. Nuno has lots of other gorgeous and unusual items in her shop and all are very reasonably priced.

Is green your colour? These gorgeous wire wrapped earrings from Natural Jewels, with their Jade and Aventurine stones, look so intricate and delicate. They could be worn with a classic gown or a t-shirt and jeans and not look out of place. Natural Jewels shop has a cohesive look to it with many other pieces that echo the style of these lovely earrings.

Just added is this pretty printed dress for a toddler. Stella-Luna's shop tag line is RetroKinder and that pretty much explains what she sells. Colourful retro style clothes for young children and babies. The fabrics she uses are eye catching and fun and the clothing has a definite European feel. Now I just need to find a baby that I can buy some of them for!

Zimbo is a cuddly fleecy monster that longs to be scary, but sadly for him, just isn't. He's so cute you just want to scoop him up and smoosh him! He is one of a whole gang of plushie Fluffles made by Mariska. I've fallen in love with Otto. I might have to adopt him.

This piece is called "we follow the sun" and is presented as an 8" x 8" print. It was created by Seasprayblue. I like the seed head shapes and the texture the piece has. I think it would look gorgeous framed in a plain light wood frame hung in a group of her other work.

So that was my little trip through DaWanda's newly listed pages. There are hundreds of other lovely goods there. Why not go and take a look at what's on offer. I'm sure you'll come across something you will love.

28 Feb 2008

Want to see what i've bought?

I thought that today I'd show you some of the items I have purchased from independent artisans in the last couple of months. Each one is different, but each one is very special. It's one thing to leaf through the pages of websites and show you items that catch my eye, but these are all items that I paid out cold hard cash for because I loved them so much. I've taken the handmade pledge and buy as much as I can from small businesses rather than from large multi-national companies. These are just a few of my purchases.

I ordered these gorgeous slippers as a birthday present for myself. Mommayaya, a relatively new seller on etsy, custom made them for me. Not only was it a pleasure chatting to her to get the perfect colours and the right size for my feet, but she made them in record time and shipped out to me much faster than I could ever have hoped for. I love them to bits! I live in a house with stone floors and they keep my toes toast warm even on the coldest days. I would recommend her to anyone and everyone that needs a pair of slippers. Don't forget to take a look through her sold items as well as the ones in the shop, because there you can see more of her custom made orders.

Befair made this lovely bag that I gave my sister as a Christmas present. I choose it because of the lovely design on the front and when it arrived I wasn't disappointed. It was as good in real life as it looks on the screen. My sister loved it too. Befair has an announcement in her shop saying she is taking a break for a while whilst she emigrates. I'd strongly advise you to keep checking back to see when she starts trading again if you are on the market for a great bag.

I had never used a solid shampoo block before until I ordered this one from beadartandbubbles. I purchased it along with some of her gorgeous smelling soaps and lip balm. They all arrived beautifully gift wrapped very speedily. The solid shampoo is great for getting any residues, like gel or hair spray from your hair leaving it squeaky clean and soft. Her shop has been closed for a while but I'm glad to say she is back and still selling lots of yummy looking and smelling soaps, butters and balms. Welcome back Abi!

This is Vincent, and Vincent takes care of my mobile phone in his belly. He stops my lovely phone from getting scratched and bumped inside my bag. He is made from lamb’s wool by feltathome. They have lots of wonderful bags, brooches and other phone/mp3 covers in their shop and they give each lovely character so you feel like you are adopting the monsters rather than just buying some goods. They have a frog waiting to be kissed at the moment so go along and see if it's your prince.

TheDevilsWallpaper made this funky monkey with is interchangeable underpants. He was another gift I purchased for a friend of mine, whose nick name is The Bovril Monkey. He loved him. I do think I might have to ask Deb if she can make up a pair of undies with a jar of Bovril on the front so that this cheeky monkey magnet has a different pair of pants for every day of the week.

This stunning piece of silver wear was a gift for my niece. I loved the Poem stamped onto both sides of this bracelet. My niece had been ill for sometime and I just felt the words rang true for her as she had to live in the moment, live in the day. This beautiful piece was hand crafted by Deliasthompson. Her whole shop is chock full of other gorgeous jewellery. I'm sure I will be buying more in the near future.

Are you looking for a t-shirt with a difference? I was. I wanted something a little different for another niece. She likes to wear clothes that she won't see walking towards her on the other side of the road. She is one of a kind and likes to dress that way too. Luchaworkshop made this gun toting Eskimo. I picked it because of the line work style. It just appealed to me and my neice loves it too. She wears it all the time and has had many compliments from friends about it.

All these sellers have been great to do business with and have all given much better service than any multi-national has ever given me. The way you get to talk to the people that actually create the items and the way it feels like they are making these items specifically for me and my loved ones is a very special feeling. Go on; give buying from independent traders and crafters a go. You'll be happy that you did!

27 Feb 2008

Competition time!

This is for all you people out there with some graphics skills. We are having a month of features about people that re-cycle, up-cycle, re-purpose and re-use materials in their goods. March is going to be a month of celebrating all the more environmentally friendly made goods that can be found for sale on the net. So, we want a new banner that reflects that. The banner needs to be 857 x 94 pix at 72 dpi (yes I know it's an odd size, but it's the size we have now) It must be predominantly orange and purple and it must reflect the theme of recycling. You have 5 days to make your entries and submit them to the web address pictured below. So get them in before 12 noon (GMT) Monday 3th March.

All the submitted banners will be put up on the blog and visitors will be allowed to vote on them. The winner will be the person that gets the most votes by end of voting on 12 noon Friday 7th March (GMT) and the banner will used on the blog for the remainder of the month.

The winner will get an advert for their shop/website put in the side bar under "sponsors of Autonomous Artisans" for a month. All entrants will get a link for their shop/website put under their entry, so please remember to send the link you want used with your banner submission.

Good luck and get banner making!

26 Feb 2008

Do you need handmade supplies?

I'm an avid fan of handmade supplies over mass produced supplies. Why do I buy them? Because it makes the items I make from those supplies more unusual and in some cases utterly unique. Handmade supplies may cost a little more, but they will give your finished products a special quality and make them stand out from the crowd. I make most of my Pirate Pixie Hats from hand painted hand spun Bluefaced Leicester wool because it means that each hat is very individual in colour and the BFL wool is the softest wool I've ever found. I've yet to find a commercial mass produced yarn that made of BFL fibres.

Polymer clay beads like these always amaze me. I've tried many times to make patterned beads and have failed miserably. Keeping the patterns crisp and not ending up with a merged blob clay mess is very hard. Aslancrafts has a great many beautiful beads with intricate patterns in her shop. They would make pretty necklaces or bracelets, but I'd quite like to use them as buttons on my bags.

Well, with my love of BFL yarn how could I not pick some to show you. This colourful bulky weight yarn is a perfect example that shows off well how lustrous BFL wool is. I adore the mix of colours PrairieDaisyhandspun dyed the rovings before spinning this 2 ply yarn. I might have to buy some and make a new Pirate Pixie hat

JamnGlass made these incredibly gorgeous lampwork beads. The milky swirling peachy reds, cherry and blue/greens make a great mix. You will also find in her shop hand dyed ribbons of many colours.

Vansantdesigns has some fabulous hand marbled silk charmuse stretch fabric for sale. I chose to show you this blue one because I just loved the sumptuous hues and swirling shapes, but be sure to go and see the other fabulous marbled silks she has on offer if blue isn't your colour. There are so many projects you could use them in to make an amazingly unique and stunning item.

These copper pinheads attracted me just by their colour. The coppery ends and rose red tips look so pretty bundled together. Glittercritters shop has many hand made supplies mixed in with gem stones, glass beads and pendants.

Kjoosupplies has an abundance of beautiful felt beads like the ones above in her shop. These ones are such a beautiful green I chose them to feature, but all the beads in her shop are gorgeous so it was quite hard to just pick one set to show you.

So go out and look around for some handmade supplies to buy, so you can not only support another small independent artisan, but so your finished goods have that extra special detail that makes them stand out from the crowed.

25 Feb 2008

Artisan of the Week, Felicia of Fluffy Flowers

Felicia is an active member of the Etsy community and it's been a pleasure talking to her on the forums there. I asked her to be an Artisan of the week because I love her sense of fun and the way she expresses it in what she makes. Add to that the fact that a lot of what she makes comes from recycled sources and I just couldn't resist inviting her to tell us a bit about herself. You can find all her lovely creatures at Fluffy Flowers on Etsy.

1. Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?
I'm Felicia of Fluffy Flowers. I grew up out in the country in Florida in the seventies when there where still lots of farms around. Eventually I made my way to middle Georgia and although I still feel quite landlocked, I do enjoy the seasonal changes and mountains. I've crafted all my life and the last year or so I've spent a lot of time making handmade loveable creatures from recycled clothing.

2. What led you to take up your craft?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision. All of the women in my family are extremely talented. So talented in fact that I was a bit intimidated by their creations. When it came time for me to choose a craft I picked one that no one else in my family did, knitting. I figured there would be no one else’s work to compare it too!

I’ve spent many years trying out different crafts and only fell into creature making by accident. I’m a big supporter of recycling and I had a lot of old clothes that I hadn’t donated yet. One day I went to the pile and found an accidentally felted wool sweater and somehow managed to turn it into a kitty. At that moment I knew I had to make creatures.

3. Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
I really enjoy making adorable creatures from stuff that would probably end up being thrown away. One of my favorite creature is Skivvy the Bra Wonder . She was made for a Use What You Have Challenge and is constructed from two pushup bra inserts. I giggled the entire time I was making her and she turned out even cuter then I expected.

4. Which part do you find hardest?
The toughest part is when I can feel the creative energy in my fingertips but everything I try is a disaster. That's when badly formed creatures go flying across the room and I storm out of the studio in disgust. I find its better to wait a day or two before going back and trying again. We all have bad creative days but hopefully the good days will out number them!

5. Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?
I'd like to try new and innovative creature making techniques. I'm also planning to expand my Fluffy Flowers shop into a bigger and more diverse place.

6. What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Don’t be afraid to try. If you have creative design ideas then let them out and see what happens.

7. Name other artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?
There are so many talented folks out there that its almost hard to say! I've got a whole blogroll on my blog of lovely folks I admire.

8. What is your favourite sandwich filling?
Peanut butter & Jelly, of course!

Thank you so much for letting me share my Fluffy Flowers world with your readers.

Thank you Felicia for taking part in our blog. Captain Skulduggery Dug likes the look of this little Thomas Tillerman Pirate kitty. So if he goes missing, you know where he is! He'll be sailing the seven seas with her. I very much look forward to seeing all the new critters that arrive in your shop. They all have such great stories to share. Take a look dear readers and see if Felicia has a creature for you to give a new home to.

22 Feb 2008

Puddle Dancing is so much Fun!

Do you remember when you were a little child that you viewed everything slightly differently to how you do now as an adult? Everyday was a great adventure and every new thing you came across filled you with wonderment. Life was exciting, gooey things you happened upon didn't repulse you and poking things with a stick was your scientific way of examining anything that looked a bit too stinky to touch with your fingers.

Climbing trees was one of my favourite pastimes. I loved being above the world in the branches away from everyone, where I could daydream of being an astronaut or a rock star. Etui clearly loved being in the trees too. This picture captures perfectly the delight of being high up and free from the ground.

You chewed on crayons to see if the different colours had different flavours. Don't these toddler friendly crayons from Lilbitsthree look yummy? I'm guessing the light blue ones taste of Palma violets and the red ones of strawberries.

How about the competitions down at the park to see who could get their swing to go the highest without your tummy turning somersaults? Do you remember that stomach turning feeling as you seemed to hang in the air for an age before you plummeted your way back down only to soar back up the other side? Krisblues bunny rabbit seems to be having a much more sedate swing than I ever remember doing as a child.

"No!" was a word I hated to hear as a child. It usually meant I was not going to get that extra chocolate chip cookie, or that I couldn't go out to play for just 5 more minutes. This beautiful photo by Meren is the spitting image of me when I was trying to turn the charm on with my dad and doing the hang dog look. It was usually followed with me pleading "oh please daddy" about a thousand times. How my poor dad didn't lose his marbles raising four kids on his own I'll never know.

copyright 2008 Laurie Nadeau

What about Dancing in puddles with an imaginary friend like OuOu Little lady is on this card? It was so much fun donning a pair of Wellington boots and splashing about in the biggest puddle you could find. Sploshing about until your legs were dripping wet and you were able to take off your wellies and tip the water out...

Well I can let you in on a secret. I still puddle dance. I still pull on my pink polka dot boots and go stomping in giant puddles...You see I have an inner child that's about 6 years old and I let her take over as much of the time as I can. Letting your inner child come out to play lets you see the wonderful simple joys that the world has to offer. All the rapturous fun filled things that you realised were there when you were little still exist. You just have to let them come into your life. Go on. I dare you. Run down the park and jump on a swing and just see how high you can go before you feel your lunch coming back to haunt you!

21 Feb 2008

Bunny man and so much more!

I just stumbled upon a brilliant shop on Etsy. It' called PlaiderPillar and is stuffed full of fun goodies, including a cute guy in a bunny costume. What more do you need in one shop?

See my title doesn't lie. Here is the Bunny man holding an inflatable yoga ball monster! A house is not a home without a yoga ball monster! Especially and bright orange one.

Davey has a head that zips off, a foot long tongue and 6 foot arms... Now Girls what more could you want in a man, other than he remembers to put the seat back down?

The shop also has a range of "sneaky Pete" hats and and arm warmers. They have many colours and patterns to choose from.

This is my personal favourite from the shop. Captain Sammy Stringbean can come and join my Captain Skulduggery Dug's Pirate Pixie Crew any time he likes. He's strange and unusual, so he'll fit right in!

Yay for those haphazard moments when you stumble upon the bazaar and wonderful things that life has to offer. Visit the shop and enjoy. It's worth the click!

Colourful Critters update

Well it's Gone 9am here and there is silence across the road. No singing, no banging, no smashing slates.... No builders. It looks like the critters must have struck in the night, because the critters are nowhere to be seen and neither are the builders. Oooooo lummy! Who'd have thought Plushies could be so effective?

20 Feb 2008

Colourful Critters

I'm collecting up an army of cute looking critters that can attack the noisy builders across the road from me. These little sweeties might look cute, but behind that demure exterior lays a savage beast, coiled ready to spring and gnaw their way through your ankle bone, so you fall over, allowing them access to your neck! There is going to be a builder blood bath if those workmen don't stop whistling at the passing women, singing along loudly to their slightly out of tune radio and throwing roof slates down crashing to the floor, spraying people, cars and the pavement with thin, sharp slivers of slate! So little critters come unto me! Mwhahahahahahahahahahaha!

I can hear you all laughing. You all think that Pinky looks about as scary as a new born kitten. Well let me tell you, Pinky got her name from chewing peoples little fingers off when they didn't do what she wanted them to. She is the ring leader of my gang of critters. Feltmeupdesigns thinks that the reason she looks so sleepy is that she is out all night at the disco. Pffft! Pinky is running the whole of the lower east side docks illegal diamond import trade. That's why she never comes home before dawn!

Tippy might just look like your average turtle, but beneath that shell there beats a heart of iron. Tippy is so nicknamed because if you ever need ideas of where to get something a bit dodgy Tippy can tip you off as to where to find it. Nods as good as a wink to a blind cat.... He turned to a life of crime because it was so easy to get away with it. Everyone, including TwoDancingCrows believed that this slow moving creature could do no harm, so no one is ever suspicious of his behaviour and that shell is a perfect hiding place to stash the cash.

Lolly the Pink squirrel has a massive complex about being a male, being pink and cute looking. He was taunted so much as a young boy by the other squirrels in the oak tree it pushed him over the edge. He's lost all grip of reality. Don't upset him, because when he loses his temper lots of blood, guts and sticky mess seem to ensure. All I'd have to do is tell him one of the builders said he looked like a girl and BAM! One builder, turned inside out. Ewww... it's very messy. If only sugarsnaps had made him blue.... *le sigh*

Kezzaroo's Honey bear might look like a cheery little fellow and he usually is, but behind that smile is a bear brain trained in the art of Kino mutai. Trust me; this is not a bear to be messed with. That being said, I have picked him for the team because of his chivalrous nature. He is always polite and genteel to everyone... until the prove that they do not deserve respect. Then he sorts them out swiftly. No fuss. No mess. I think Honey bear will be a calming influence on Lolly and stop him from attacking the wrong people.

The last member of the crack team is Bruce. He is on the team primarily to help the others up the scaffolding. He is world renown for his fast climbing skills and on his ability to keep his head in a crisis. Siansbury has had him pumping iron for weeks to make sure he is toned and buff enough for any job he gets sent on. For Bruce is a soldier of fortune. If you can pay the price, this monkey is yours! Thank goodness Pinky just sold of the latest batch of diamonds; otherwise this monkey would be out of our price range!

So, this is my crack squad of plushie critters that will take on the evil builders. I'll update you as to how they got on later!

19 Feb 2008

From one self confessed tree hugger...

So, I confess. I am a fully paid up member of the tree hugger's society. I adore trees. Without them the world would be a much different place. The bigger and more gnarled they are the better. I'm not really into the conifer type. I like the deciduous broad leaved ones that show you the seasons passing in their leafy colours. Oaks, beech, Lime, elm, fruit trees, silver birch, mountain ash, and maple... all these types of trees excite my senses.

This apple tree print by Jellybeans is from an original water colour she painted and I have long admired it for its beautiful colours and its sweeping form. I think if it were real tree it would take more than one person to hug its entire trunk.

This photo pendant from TheIntuitiveGarden in cool aqua blue with a bare tree reminds me of winter. Thankfully the trees won't be nude for much longer as spring is on its way. Outside my window I can see the bright yellow catkins starting to show on the trees and the bronze coated buds that indicate that soon the leaves will be bursting forth once more.

This silk screen printed t-shirt from Satisfactory not only has a tree on it but a galleon too! Not that I'm a pirate-aholic or anything... well ok as I'm confessing to hugging trees today I guess I can confess my pirate addiction too.

Kierstin Oliver's Seuss inspired mug, most certainly deserving of a plug. The colours delight, such a beautiful sight. Clay turned to trees, and me they sure please. Hmmm... ok, so I can't rhyme like the master, but at least I tried.

As regular readers of this blog will know I'm a bit of a colour addict and this gorgeous painting of a tree by Andrew Daniel caught my eye. Bold colours and textures all combined with the image of a tree... how could I not feature it?

This pretty little tree embellished sewing case is from the BlueBananaShop. For such a compact case is sure can hold a lot of sewing goodies. It's perfect for the sewer that's on the move.

So have I convinced you yet that trees are the greatest? Are you itching to run outside and hug a tree? Well if you are just go now, run off and find a lone tree and give it a squeeze so it knows you appreciate all it is doing for you.

Place to advertise, promote and get yourself seen.

We have talked about promotion on a budget in a general way already, but I thought it might be of help to give you a list of some of the sites that you can submit links for your website to. Remember to look through each site before posting to see if it is the kind of place that suits your market. Remember, targeting you own market is one of the keys to succeeding. Don't waste your time submitting your link to a site about the best ways to butcher a cow if you sell vegetarian sausages. They more than likely won't put your link up, but if they do, their target traffic most likely won't click on it.

This is not a definitive list. There are thousands if not millions of sites out there you can promote yourself on. Some of these are networking sites; some are just directories you can submit links to. Always read each sites rules before you join. It is pointless spending time promoting on a site only to have it all removed because you have broken the terms and conditions of using the site.

  1. http://adsbay.com/
  2. http://abwa.org/
  3. http://adwords.google.com/select/Login
  4. http://barefootbusiness.com/
  5. http://blogger.com
  6. http://bobbiisdesignsndeals.com/
  7. http://boingboing.net/suggest.html
  8. http://cmather.com/
  9. http://community.livejournal.com/etsy_lj/
  10. http://cracker.com.au/
  11. http://craftersbuzz.com/
  12. http://craigslist.com
  13. http://del.icio.us/
  14. http://designstolove.com/
  15. http://digg.com/
  16. http://dmoz.org/add.html
  17. http://expo.live.com/
  18. http://facebook.com/
  19. http://flickr.com/
  20. http://fogster.com/
  21. http://freecraftfair.com/
  22. http://google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl
  23. http://indiepublic.com/
  24. http://kijiji.com/
  25. http://linkreferral.com/
  26. http://linktiles.com/
  27. http://myartplot.com/
  28. http://myspace.com/
  29. http://oodle.com/
  30. http://robotlaundry.com/
  31. http://ryze.com/
  32. http://search.msn.com/docs/submit.aspx
  33. http://seocompany.ca/
  34. http://stumbleupon.com/
  35. http://stylefeeder.com/
  36. http://stylehive.com/
  37. http://thisnext.com/
  38. http://weekly-market.com/

A good bit of advice I've had in the past about networking sites is, stick with one or two sites to start with and be an active member. Once you are well established on one/two site then you can venture to others and start to network there. These sites will be easier to network on because you will find people there that already know you from the first couple of sites. Remember it is always easier for old networking friends to find you if you stick with the same user name and the same visuals, such as banners and avatars. Always keep the original site you started on as your main networking branch, so don't neglect it. Use the other site like a tree uses sub- branches, to get its leaves out into the light. The sub networking sites in your system can catch the people that haven't heard of you before, but if you try to spread yourself on to many sites you will end up losing touch with your main network as you won't have the time to keep all the sites updated. Most of all make it fun. If you aren't enjoying it, you will soon find it a bind and a trial to do and eventually you will let it slide.

Good Luck!

18 Feb 2008

Sailing the seven seas

Captain Skulduggery Dug is on a mission to find lots of treasure and then spend it all. I thought I'd give her a few pointers where to go shopping with all her lovely bootie!

Captian Skulduggery Dug found this treasure map hidden in PaintandInk's map emporium. She believes it to show where Bluebacked Jake hid the treasure of the five Spanish Galleons. If she finds it, she and the Pirate Pixie Crew will be rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Thomas Tillerman might be small but he is the best compass and chart reader on the high seas. Captain Skulduggery Dug would do well to have him along for the ride to be sure they find the right place. FluffyFlowers trained him well in the art of keeping a steady course, but he doesn't come cheap. They better find the loot or there may well be fur flying!

Well shiver me timbers if this little lady doesn't look like she's on the search for treasure. She better not be after Cap'n Skully's bootie, because she'll be in for a long walk off a short plank if she tries. Moonlightwhispers will have to save her from the sharks!

Even your puppy can join in the pirate fun with this collar from YuppiePuppie. I'm guessing Captain Skulduggery Dug probably has an eye on one of these for Doubloon her dog. He'd probably only wear it on special occasions. Most of the time he is seen with a spotted 'kerchief around his neck. He's a bit too flea bitten to be classed as a Yuppie Puppy!

This gorgeous pirate wenches dress is the only item so far in thewencheswardrobe. I'm going to keep checking back to see if more get added. I can't see Captain Skulduggery Dug wearing this, she likes trousers not dresses. It makes it easier to leap from ship to ship when she is plundering their treasure. Maybe in time the shop will be stocking nice leather pantaloons.

Siansburys makes the most gorgeously detailed sock monkeys and I was delighted to see on pinkdoodle that she had made gift cards with the photos of her Jack Sparrow monkey. He is so detailed and well made I think he deserves cards to be printed of him. Captain Skully can send out these cards to her rivals to gloat when she has found the treasure!

What Pirate goodies can you find that Captain Skully might buy with all her treasure?

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