Wednesday, May 30, 2012

God, The Cabbage, and Harry's Eye

Poppy and I have been pretty crazy busy these past few weeks. I'm not sure how easy blogging will be for us, but we'll try when we can. She didn't post today, so I'm going to blab here a bit.

I just rummaged through some old boxes of mine and found an awesome piece I made. It was actually one of the first pieces of metalwork I did. In finding this I was transported back to my first piece. I didn't really realize just how difficult it was to solder, and I chose an extremely difficult subject and creation.

It was my family as a Caulder inspired mobile. Myself, husband, son, daughter, 1 dog, and 1 cat in 3D Caulder style on a perfectly balanced mobile. Fist off, each family member had body with head and 2 arms/2 legs. A few had one piece body and legs and arms separate. Some had one piece legs and head, body and arms separate. So basically they each had 5 pieces - 5 pieces times 7 members. Easy right? The first body. I soldered on an arm, great. I soldered on the next arm and the first one fell off from the heat of the torch. I filed off the solder and started over.

This went on for hours until another student showed me how to set up arms to hold the pieces in place. Oh, I have to set up the whole thing and try to solder it all at once. Not possible with the position of my pieces as some were on the top and some on the bottom. Nice design woman!

The next day in class, I learned about mud from the instructor. Mud, glorious mud. I can't begin to tell you how much I hated, having to clean off the solder and the metal every time I screwed up. I even had to remake some of the pieces. And, as in art, I made the pieces out of different metals to represent the family members, even though they were to be painted in bright colors and it would never be seen. But I would know that I was warm copper, and my children were brass.

Once I finally got all the pieces together it took me another huge block of hours to balance the piece, but it was finally done and exactly how I wanted it. That was my first experience with learning to double your first time expectation to finish a project.

I don't have pictures of that piece, but here is my second project. It's called God, The Cabbage, and Harry's Eye. I was obsessed for several years over the death of one of my favorite dogs, Harry. He was very special to me. He came to me in a dream while he was being born. I didn't know my dog was expecting and while we were on vacation, she had this one puppy. I dreamed I had a dog named Harry and when I got home there he was. He didn't look like his mother, or his father (we knew who that was). He looked just like the Harry in my dream. I adored Harry.

I didn't realize that there was heartworm in our neighborhood, and when Harry was about 5 years old, he got very sick from it. By the time we treated it, he was quite bad, and he died at home from the treatment. I put him in a room by himself to rest and he looked at me lovingly with those big brown eyes. When I checked in on him a few minutes later he was gone. It really tore me apart, because he was so loved, so young, and it could have been avoided.

Between the two spruces by the barn,  
I planted him like a cabbage.
Too young to say goodbye,
Those sad brown eyes,
And for the first time,
God's reflection in them.

That was the poem that I wrote on his passing that inspired the piece. This was another great undertaking, but a labor of love. I learned how to bezel set the moonstone face, form the cabbage petals and the "ground", coil the silver arms, dap the copper eye and etch and silver fill the hieroglyph family members, and how to apply various patinas. I also learned how to make a keyhole lock to allow all the pieces to separate so that the finishes could be maintained. This has, however, been in a box for 16 years and the finish looks the same as the day I completed it.

I know I've said I was a metalsmith, but never showed you any of my work before. These pictures aren't great. The good ones are on slides. I'll try to show you more some day. maybe even find the Caulder style mobile pictures. You see, I really can relate to all your hard work.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shops I like - Jewelry Supplies on Etsy

This week I'm digging into supply shops. I have to admit though, that I buy a lot of my beads and findings on eBay. I definitely buy my rare fabrics on eBay, because they are almost impossible to find anywhere else.

When I'm looking for supplies, I look for a beautiful product at a good price. Photography is very important in grabbing my attention. All of these shops have excellent photography and product.

The First shop is BeadFrenZ. I have known Molly for a long time. The selection she has is outstanding, the Photography is stunning and the prices for what she is selling is unbelievable. This is a definite, go to shop.

The next shop is LeCotillon. Honestly, I haven't purchased from this shop. I found it while searching for something, and the photography just grabbed me and wouldn't let me go. The prices are really good too. Although this seller is in Canada, I would definitely endure the wait to get these precious trinkets.

The third shop is HempCraft. What lovely bright and colorful product. And once again photography that clearly defines what you will buy and grabs you off your seat. Great Prices too. I love the fun product.

I am focusing on handmade findings next. First

I'm going to voice a pet peeve of mine now. Some of you make beautiful handmade earrings and you stick those awful 80's style fish hook earrings with the little ball and wire wrap. PLEASE go and change them right away. You don't need expensive ear wires, but have wires that LOOK as though they were handmade. It's kind of like setting a beautifully hand polished stone on a beer can band. Look at the overall design of your work and all of the elements that you are putting in it. Here are some nice wires and more.

The first shop is FoothillsFindings. A wonderful selection of all sorts of beautiful handmade findings. Absolutely excellent pricing for handmade findings (how do they do that?) All price ranges. Beautiful findings.

The next shop is RockisMetalwork. This shop has some of the most unique ear wires I have seen, along with standard ear wires and lovely findings. And honestly, the price is great for the product.

Aren't these just the greatest shops? Please at least take a look. I think when you do, you will be tempted to purchase and even start making jewelry if you don't already :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Poppy's Soapbox - Rocky the Zombie

It has been a crazy last couple of weeks and with money flush at the moment I was able to go way over budget.... This amazing Artist did not make me break the bank though!

Today I'm reviewing Rocky The Zombie

and her Beautiful zombie fairy

First looks- It almost looks like Ranon went to Poppy packaging 101 with the pretty ribbon & tissue... Now onto the shirt, Just gorgeous, super crisp beautiful and vibrant. I just love how it's very Burtonesque with a Rocky The Zombie twist Love, Love, LOVE!

Construction- Ranon uses very nice shirts. This was a 24-36 month and My giant babe was swimming (so it was sized just right because this chunk wears an 18-24 month normally)

Wearability- Ranon uses Permaset inks which are the best! What makes you say that you ask? That is my go to Screenprinting ink! I have shirts with that ink from 5 years ago that look awesome still:) These shirts will stay pretty forever!

Value- $14 for kids $20 for adult size, these are really a great buy and will just make you smile:)

 Go like her on facebook to get in on all of her goodies

Oh yeah, go enter my $25 gift Certificate giveaway too!

(photo editing by Enfant de la mer Photographie )

Monday, May 21, 2012

Life on Mars - a Little Confession

Isn't confession supposed to be good for the soul? I don't know about that. Maybe it's commercialism for the Catholics. I used to be a Catholic by the way, for a few months. But that's another story. I was baptized twice too (don't they cancel each other out) but that's another story too. I'm not really a Christian either. Not really in the sense that I believe in more than one higher power. It's complicated and not what I'm here to talk about.

Here is the confession. I haven't blogged as much as I usually do the past few weeks. Ha! and I bet you thought this was juicy. No, really, that's not it. Are you confused yet? Because I'm rambling. I've been a little depressed the past few weeks. Not able to focus much. People with ADD tend to get depressed now and then and actually, considering I'm not on meds, I think I do very well. So I had a few bad weeks. I added a little nutmeg, cinnamon and clove to my diet and I'm feeling much better. Decaf Chai tea is wonderful for that.
Even the beautiful sun, working in the garden, and listening to the birds didn't help. It has nothing to do with what's happening to you sometimes. It's just chemical. There it is. I've hardly worked on anything the past week or so. Well not really, but not with the vigor I had since January. Just filling orders, not going overboard. I hope it's over now and I can move on.

You've heard me talk about my crazy life and the place I'm living in. This place is so beautiful, the lake, nature, but some of the people here are so odd. This week a police car pulled in the drive and I thought to myself "what did the teenager do now?" It wasn't him, it was the young man who called the police to take him to the hospital because he was afraid his parents were attacking him. I guess the poor guy needed his medication adjusted again. I can't even begin to tell you how unusual it is for me to be the sane and reasonable one. I am far from sane and reasonable. But by compare, I am totally functional.

I was sitting out in the yard with the baby, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw two women walking what I thought were some really huge dogs. After a closer look they were two Shetland ponies. People were walking ponies around our lake, on leashes, not harnesses, leashes.

I am dead serious. If I told you everything that happened around here, you would not believe it. Sometimes I don't believe it. Like the ponies. I would have sworn it was just a dream. Maybe I need my medication adjusted (or get myself on some).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Poppy's Soapbox - May Giveaway

Since I'm a slacker(for those of you who know me feel free to LOL) I didn't get a review together this week! Why, because with my 30 other orders I was designing and making the Gilda The Griffin Hoodie(My little Pony for you non Bronies) anyways since I promised a giveaway I'd better at least follow through with that:P
How Does a $25 Poppys Wicked Garden Gift Certificate sound?

Each step equals 1 entry! (I'll be checking) Be sure I have a way to contact you too!

#1 Follow this blog and add a comment, I follow this blog

#2 follow my Facebook add a comment that you follow me!

#3 go through my shop  and let me know what you would like to see me design (or your fav design) in a comment!

#4 Tweet Want to win a $25 PoppysWickedGarden gift Certificate? Enter here and post that you tweeted

#5 Facebook Want to win a $25 PoppysWickedGarden gift Certificate? Enter here and post that you tweeted

Winner will be picked by on June 1st

Bonus contest on Facebook Tag to win this Cherry Tutu is still open:)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bizz Buzz - Retention and Rewards

Seller sites for e-commerce. It's almost like they think THEY are what makes them what they are, and you should be grateful that you have a venue to sell on. Did you know that YOU are what makes them what they are and THEY should be grateful to have you there?

Today I received a Congratulations from eBay. I've been a seller there for 6 years (actually Poppy started the shop and I took it over 4+ years ago). I've probably had 4000 - 5000 sales, maybe more as I have over 1900 feedback and the rate of feedback is 50% or even less now that you can't leave negative feedback for buyers, no matter how bad they are and how they shaft you. You think Etsy is bad? Try selling on eBay. And now they can have PayPal hold your funds if you are new, sell out of your category, or sell an item over $250. Whaaaaat?????

Back to my  notification from the President and CEO of eBay. After 6 years of making them money (decent money too with the fees they charge) Did I get a one day discount on fees? No. Did I get a gift certificate for an eBay Purchase? No. Did I get Cake and Ice Cream? No. Well what the hell did you get?

I sold on eBay for 6 years and mad them, I guess about $4000 in that time (averaging sales) and all I got was a lousy virtual certificate that I had to print myself. They suggest that I print it and display it proudly. Does it have my name on it? No. Does it say how many years I've been a seller? No. Does it have Balloons and Ribbons? Yes. So here I am, displaying proudly this piece of crap that means absolutely nothing and isn't even personalized so you have to take my word for the fact that I've been a seller there for 6 years.

In case you didn't get it, I'm not proud of this piece of crap. And this is not a Reward or a way to Retain sellers. As a matter of fact I'm pretty pissed. I was thinking about re-opening a store and now I just feel like dirt and I'd like to sell at a venue that genuinely cares. Or one that takes the time to at least have the computer generate a certificate with my shop name and the total years on it. After all, it's just virtual. How about an anniversary discount eBay? How about a free listing day on your anniversary?

Oh and eBay? Thank you for making my day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Poppy's Soapbox - SunflowerRadiantLove

O.K. since I keep telling Saskia over at Sunflowerradiantlove that I'm going to review her beautiful Waldorf Inspired dolls, that is exactly what I'm going to do. I promise I don't only review kid stuff though:P Her Custom Waldorf Inspired Knotty blanket doll mama and baby

First looks-These remind me of when I was a little girl, my mom Cinders(you know the loud mouthed lady that runs this blog) made Waldorf style dolls. I was in love as soon as I tore open the package.

Construction- Very well made with lots of hand stitching and attention to detail. the stuffing is sturdy wool so they are heavier and more sturdy than you would imagine!
Wearability- Luna eats her little knots and tosses her across the room all day long and they still look brand new.

Value- $28-$32 Hello, 2 toys in one for around $30 and handmade too! Great deal(you may want some even if you don't have kids)

You can find her on ETSY
and thank goodness for me she also will sell directly from her Facebook

Now let's talk about my Handmade challenge, spending $25 a month on handmade is not really that hard when you get going but still I may need help:P I hope you guys decide to accept the Challenge too!

Please comment below on your favorite(or your own) shop Write a sentence about it with the shop link, remember I Can't buy on Etsy(though other Handmade Challenge shoppers probably can) So if you want me to buy add an alternative link!

Also be sure to follow this blog because I'm doing a Giveaway next week :D

a PS and mini lesson from Cinders:

If you want to leave a clickable link on your comment here, or any other blog, here is a little tutorial from Black Cat Design.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Life on Mars - Bigger is not Always Better

The title of this post doesn't really fit. I mean, it's more like shinier is not always better, or more expensive is not always better. I'm rambling today. Just one of those days. I'd like to write a book. Maybe just a book of my ramblings. Do you think it would sell? Amazon is accepting books to publish as Kindles. You get a percentage too. Maybe I shouldn't share that. Too much competition.

Anyhow, it has been another interesting week. My son went to Mayo Clinic. (For those of you who don't know he was born with a congenital heart defect. Basically it was so deformed, doctors didn't think he would live past 20. Miracle of science, it was rebuilt when he was 19).  My son spends a lot of time talking to me while he is traveling, because he gets bored. Looks like he does not need surgery yet. Drs are putting him on more medication, and implanting a defibrillator. That will regulate his heartbeat and start it up if it stops. It's all good.

We live in what could be considered a nice neighborhood, or not. It's usually peaceful, cottages on a lake. We live right across the road from the beach. It's peaceful if you don't mind the occasional hunter's gun's going off or the occasional meth lab explosion and accompanying fire department sirens. People get bored out here and they drink a lot or use meth. Not everyone, but a decent percentage.

The roads here are terrible. Last summer the heavy rains washed out a lot of road and there are huge holes. Our association pays for repairs, but so many homes here were foreclosed on and most of the rest of the members are too broke to pay dues. So this weekend some of the members rented equipment and volunteered to fix the roads themselves. They did a great job. And after they were done working, all weekend, they came by and volunteered to fix our lousy driveway. It's pretty decent now. Now all we need is a car.

There was a supermoon and meteor showers. I'm not sure that woman realized that the flash she used for photography wouldn't actually reach the moon. At least not before her lens closed.

I used to make decent money. I had a nice house with paved roads. I liked what I did, but not who I worked for. Bigger, is not always better.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What's Cooking - Meatless Breakfast Sausage

So I've been trying and trying to find a way to get oatmeal in me and not gag on the sweetness of it. It's not that I totally hate sweet, but for breakfast, yuck. I mean I hate cake (yes really) but I like jelly beans and chocolate (OK dark chocolate) but oatmeal for breakfast? Gag!

So I've been trying different ways to make sausage - like my Turkey Sausage. Good, but I think I can still get rid of the meat. I'm trying to cut out wheat too, so I had to think of a good additive. Grits are good. They make a nice thick polenta and cornmeal mush. So I tried grits and I think I have the recipe. I use an egg in this, so it's not vegan, but I think you could easily use egg substitute or they might just stick together without the egg. I'm not trying, but feel free to try yourself.

I cooked the grits and the oatmeal with 1c grits / oatmeal to just a little over 1c water to get them thick and dry. I found it easier to do in the microwave, but you decide, try stovetop in a pot. This was my last attempt. It was a bit spicy, you might want to reduce the cayenne to half, and I love garlic so I might have added another teaspoon.

Oatmeal is not only healthy, but cayenne, turmeric, and garlic are three of the best spices you can put in your body. The turmeric also makes it a nice golden color.

Meatless Breakfast Sausage

2 C dry cooked grits
2 C dry cooked oatmeal
1 egg
2 T poultry seasoning (or just sage)
1 T turmeric
2 t garlic
1t cayenne
oil to fry - I like a soy oil for this

Cool the grits and oats. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. I did this by hand, because it's pretty thick and sticky. Heat just a bit of oil in a large frying pan. make a ball about 1 1/2" diameter and flatten to a small patty. Drop in pan, saute until brown, flip and do the other side. I got about 10 in my pan at a time.

This makes between 20 and 25 patties. They freeze really well and I just reheat in a pan or microwave.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shops I Like - Cubits - StudioBotanica - TheHickoryTree

This week I'm looking forward to the garden. It's been a crazy winter and an even crazier Spring. I think April was colder here than it was all winter, and March had days as warm as Summer! I hope to plant my veggies as soon as I'm sure we're not getting snow (like in June).

These three sellers are nature lovers like me. All three have very different product, but all three celebrate the garden and nature. I love what they have to offer. Two of the sellers I know, the third is a shop I recently found  and love too.

The first shop is Cubits. Like their banner says, organic, rare and heirloom seeds. And what a selection there is in this shop. Someday my garden will be filled with these treasures. I can't wait to try the Organic Lemon Cucumber or the Heirloom Tomatoes. Look at these yummy veggies and fruits. Head over to the shop right now and get you seeds, I did. Great selection of Herbs too. What can I say, my mouth is watering.

The next shop is Studio Botanica I've been acquainted with Cristy for quite some time. I remember when she first started selling and wasn't sure which craft she wanted to focus on. she's a very talented person. I think her love of nature pushed her in the right direction finally, because her new shop offerings are just wonderful. My personal favorites are her pressed flower and leaf rings and pendants, but her botanical vials and plant printed flowers and journals are great too. You really need to stop by and see her work.

Finally we have The Hickory Tree I recently came across this shop. I'm not only a big fan of nature, I'm absolutely fascinated with stones and wood, and does this shop have the wood. The shop is filled with some of the most unique buttons you could possibly find. For those of you who do not know wood, finding spalted maple or hickory or even lilac wood buttons are just a delight. So beautiful and well crafted. These are all made from branches, which is wonderful because branches fall naturally, or they do have to be thinned from trees, helping rather than harming the tree. You have to take a look at this shop, really! These buttons are really great for fiber artists, but there are more things in the shop too.

It's been such a beautiful adventure. I think I'll go sip some coffee out in the sun and enjoy the day. Please stop by these great shops and get yourself a little treasure or two.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Poppy's Soapbox - BrookeVanGory

First off I have officially decided to commit to buying at least $25 in handmade a month (of course I usually spend more) If everyone committed to spending $25 a month on handmade, Just imagine how many artists/crafters could be happy doing what they love :).... O.K. onto business, Today I'm posting about BrookeVanGory Diaper bags. I personally adore Brooke but that does not bias my opinion of her product in the least, because that's how I roll :P

I own 2 BrookeVanGory Diaper Bags The Expedient weekender bigger with a zipper closure and the Fundamental tote, a bit smaller with a magnet snap closure (pink Hello Kitty) They are both pretty roomy though!

First looks-Since you can custom make these any way your heart desires these really make me smile, I spent forever choosing my favorite fabrics and I felt like it was Christmas morning when it came.

Construction- Beautifully made with attention to detail. Lots of top stitching and quality sturdy twill reinforcement!

Wearability- These bags will Last just about forever! Seriously I use my Fundamental every day and it still looks brand new:)

Value- $52.99-$99.99 really for a designer handmade bag that will last through several kids Is truly amazing. I actually just bought one for my BFF for her first baby and she adores it too.

you can find her on Artfire

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What Evah - Support is not Enough

I've been encouraging Etsy sellers to joint this protest. because I think that you should be able to stand up for what you believe is right. But I've recently read a blog post that I think you all should read. I guess with honor, there comes sacrifice and I feel that I should warn you.

Please take a few minutes of your time to read The Hands of Handcrafted and How I was Expelled From Etsy
You will be shocked and amazed because this honest seller had her shop shut down because Etsy accused her of using her "public areas" of her account "to demonstrate or discuss disputes with others or with Etsy". In other words, that she might have protested something. Decide for yourself if her words were inappropriate.

My fear is that if you join the protest that Etsy might retaliate. If you join the protest and put your shop on vacation on May 10, please do not leave a message on your shop as to why you are closed unless you are willing to loose your business there. I realize that many of you are so angry that you don't care today, but realize that Etsy is the best venue for vintage and handmade. It' has taken my daughter and myself a solid year to get back on our feet again after our Etsy disaster.

I'd say be brave and stand up to them. But be cautious about it. Don't take unnecessary risk unless you are willing to start from scratch. Good luck to you all.

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