Flea Market Project – Key Necklace

I am a big fan of flea markets. What red-blooded craft junkie isn’t?! I am a pretty lucky duck in that I live in the same town as a very neat flea market. Each Saturday and Sunday the flea market is buzzing with shoppers and vendors. Some vendors sell mass-produced low quality clothing or questionable electronics. Other vendors are people who have cleaned out their basement and are looking to get rid of a bit of what they consider to be trash. This is where the treasure is…

A few weeks ago, I walked the flea market with my mom with a goal in mind. I wanted to find some keys. I’ve been seeing skeleton keys all over Etsy and Pinterest – but most of them were replicas made in some far off nation looking to recapture the elegance that once was function. When I see a skeleton key, I think of the ring of keys my Grandma has in her Victorian home. For her, these keys have been collected over years of garage sale hunting and antique shop adventuring. Her keys are used to open doors and curio cabinets that were locked for decades. If a key didn’t fit, it would be added to the key ring and filed away and the hunt for the right key would continue. Now it’s my turn to start collecting.

Mom and I walked up and down the aisles at the flea market; it was a beautiful day and I knew I’d find at least one vendor would have a couple loose keys to sell. I found some other neat things along the way, but keys were hard to find. Finally, we happened upon an older gentleman with a table filled with old bits and pieces. A small plastic bowl held what I had been searching for – KEYS!

There were big keys, small keys, rusted keys, keys that still held a little shine, keys that were ornate, and keys that looked like they came right out of a dungeon. I talked to him for a little while and he told me that he had collected the keys over the years and most of them were probably older than he was. He even had one key – a large, rusted, utilitarian style key – that had come from an old jail cell. Made in America, he said! The real deal! Just what I had been looking for. He told me the smaller keys were usually from cabinets, desks, and other pieces of furniture, while the larger keys were to doors. Good to know! I fished through the dish and picked out about a dozen keys to take home.

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What a score! I am so happy with my find! Fiddling with these keys, examining their unique bits of rust and wear, you can really appreciate how old they are and it’s hard not to wonder what doors and locked drawers they’ve been separated from for so long. A few keys will make their way into some crafty projects – but I feel that some will end up on my own key ring – you never know when there will be a door that needs opening!

Skeleton Key Jewelry by FrostedTreats

Keys with a new life

Enjoy!

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Lia’s Summer Finds

Every year, usually in March, when the snow finally has completely melted and the sun’s rays filter through the clouds, you can find me in flip flops without my coat, and picking out what bathing suits I should buy. Keep in mind, in New Jersey in March, it is still about 40-something degrees and it’s more likely than not we’ll get another flurry or two.  So then, I have to pull my coat back out of the basement and polish up my boots because I’ll get in at least another month of wearing them.

What never fails to surprise me though, is after so many months of waiting for summer and 2 months of delicious heat, why on earth are they showing khakis and thermals at the end of July?!

This makes me want to lash out at the media and marketing companies- don’t they REALIZE how frustrating it is for people like myself who are finally just getting into the slow summer rhythm to go shopping for a pair of short shorts and are instead overwhelmed with sweaters? I like to go shopping for summer clothes IN the summer. And I like to go shopping for fall (which happens to be my favorite season) IN the fall.

In an attempt to fight back this saddening marketing ploy, I will list some GREAT summer finds for those of us who still want to shop for summer during the summer.

This metallic bathing suit handmade by carolinebenoit11, may be a little pricey for my pocket (because I’m a poor graduate student), but it’s PERFECT for a warm summer night. One pieces are very in this season and I love LOVE the one shoulder.

(gold one piece bathing suit | link)

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Oh how I wish I had a little girl to dress her in this! CharmingNecessities is one of my favorite shops on Etsy. I love frills, lace, floral patterns, and little girls outfits that look like they’re made for little girls. If you need a gift for your child, your friend’s child, your grandchild… look at this sweet bubble romper. This picture alone will melt your heart!

(vintage beauty sunsuit in English rose | link)

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Ahoy there! This tiny keepsake bag made my ZiBagz is ADORABLE with a nautical color palate that I love. Again, the nautical theme is very in this season and I love the red and navy blue together :)

(ahoy sailor mini keepsake bag | link)

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And last but not least, this is for the little man in your life! This cute, fully lined swimming trunk made by PigtailsandPatches pulled at my heartstrings. With another few months of warm weather, I could just imagine this bathing suit getting tons of use. I love the plaid! (and the fish!) And the best part? Everything in this shop can be personalized. I am a sucker for personalized, embroidered, initialed items because growing up the unique spelling of my name could never be found on bracelets, cups, or keychains. My poor future children are going to have their name on everything!

(little fish boys | link)

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On that note, I hope all you happy readers are having a wonderful summer and enjoy the rest of the warm weather while you can!

-Lia

Shop: My Favorite Etsy Purchases

Since I spend my days making things, I often find I troll around Etsy.com for supplies rather than taking advantage of the amazing handmade goods. Certainly other makers out there get the same flash of, “But wait, I can make that…” instead of adding something to their shopping cart. Sometimes,  however, we need to realize that in order to really support the handmade community, we need to give credit where it is due and make some purchases. Here is a quicky list of a few of my favorite handmade shops on Etsy that have provided amazing customer service. Check out these fabulous shops and enjoy!

My Little Chickadee Creations

For this past Christmas, I tried to get as many gifts as I could handmade for my family and friends. I came across My Little Chickadee through the EtsyTwitter Team and ordered a set of custom stamped coasters to give to my father. Needless to say, they were very well received! This shop also offers save-the-date magnets and ornaments. The quality is fabulous and the service is superb.

Sweet Petula

I. Love. Handmade. Soaps.

When I saw this shop featured on Heartsy, I jumped on the deal! I was able to order a bunch of wonderfully unique handmade soaps. The soaps came individually wrapped in charming papers, perfect for giving. Though I mainly purchased this for myself, I suppose I’ll end up gifting one or two… Or not. More for me!

What’ve been your most favorite Etsy purchases?

Etsy Shop Reading List

Lately I’ve been overwhelmed and overjoyed at the number of friends of mine who have taken on the challenge of opening up their own Etsy shop. I’ve had my own shop, FrostedTreats for almost three years. It was the best decision I could have made.

Originally I set up shop to thin out the ridiculous stock of charms I had made for fun. Then came the realization that I could also help fund my creative hobbies with the proceeds from my sales. From there my little mini business has continued to grow. Not only am I able to showcase the nifty little trinkets I make to the world, but I’ve also been able to answer questions and illuminate the online craft marketplace for my real life friends. How to take quality image photos, shipping dilemmas, custom order etiquette, and beyond.

 

The best bit of advice I can give anyone just starting out with an Etsy shop is to READ UP! Find resources everywhere. Don’t assume that you know exactly what you’re doing. There are tons of experts out there who can point you in the right direction – don’t neglect the wealth of information around you. Here is a quick list of recent articles around the Etsy-verse.

Starting an Etsy Shop from the Bottom Up by Handmadeology

Though I’ve only highlighted one post from this site, Handmadeology is a terrific resource! Look through and try to absorb all of the wisdom and knowledge available! This article here isn’t quite a step-by-step look at setting up a shop, but more of a “get your head right” pep talk. Valuable advice right there!

Photography Tips for Crafters by Elizabeth Carls

Since your potential customers cannot touch, hold, examine, or try on your creations, the only way they can fall in love is through photos. The perfect product photos are hard to come by if you don’t know what you’re doing. The biggest tip I can give is to use natural light. Set your photo shoot up outside or in a bright room with big windows. Indoor lighting and your camera’s flash result in pretty bland, poorly lit photos. Other than that little tidbit, read through Elizabeth Carls’ article and find out other ways to enhance your images!

Etsy Checklist – Tips to Sell More by Handmade Marketing

Another great seller resource with a myriad of articles aimed at Etsy success. This post gives a brief but well-rounded look at the basics of online craft selling. Photos, SEO (search engine optimization), networking, tagging, social media, etc.

20 Tips for Selling on Etsy by Everything Etsy

More brief snippets of advice on set up and success. Everything Etsy is another good resource to dig through… This site also features Etsy finds, giveaways, a shop directory and sales on occasion. The biggest tip here? Whatever you plan to do with your Etsy shop – have fun with it!

The Great Pricing Debate by IndieFixx

Sooooo, you want to sell your creations. Good – now how much should you charge? This question is one that everyone who endeavors to market their crafts has to battle with. You don’t want to charge too much and scare off buyers, but you don’t want to charge too little and end up broke. This post helps to calm some fears and steer the would-be entrepreneur in the right direction to find that delicate pricing balance. Bottom line – be fair to yourself. If you cannot support your hobby/business with bargain basement type prices – raise them! Don’t feel bad about it either. If you’re creating quality items, higher prices are not unreasonable. Take into account the cost of materials, time and labor, and your talent.

The Etsy Seller Handbook by The Storque

This link will bring you to more links – tons of links – wonderful links. The Storque is run by Etsy itself and posts a number of helpful articles on how to succeed with your shop as well as adorable tutorials and DIY projects! Definitely a must-read.

 

I hope these resources help calm your nerves and answer some questions. Feel free to ask questions here, too! We will gladly impart some of our knowledge :) Take a look now at some wonderful Etsy shops run by some wonderful people!

 

Adina and Gem

High quality jewelry made with colorful beads, sterling silver, and a keen eye for style.

 

Yardsale Press

Funky art prints, cool coasters, and LOTS of great color!

 

Enjoy, makers!

 

 

ReUse: Sweater into Mittens

It’s no secret that crafters love to reuse materials from everyday items to bring a creation to life. Repurposing outdated, torn, or just plain blah clothing into new, usable items is a great way to live a little greener and save a few dollars on supplies.

Recently, I saw a simple step-by-step on the Etsy blog, The Storque on how to use an old sweater to make new mittens. [LINK!]

(image from The Storque)

I have the pleasure of babysitting my niece after school on weekdays and she is the most crafty Kindergartener in the world. She loves to make things with Aunt Jessie and Aunt Jessie loves to chance to teach her something new.

Last week we decided it was time to do some sewing. Kay*, my niece, chose the decorations and helped with the tracing. Aunt Jessie did the cutting and sewing. I dug through my clothes and found a sweater that had been sitting unloved at the bottom of a pile. I wish I would have taken a before photo, but here are the results!

Her mittens – Buttons and lace were the decorations of the day!

My mittens!

 

You’ll be seeing more of this grey (gray?) sweater soon, makers! I was able to do a little more scavenging with the remaining material. So far, I’d say this sweater has already had a great second life!

 

We’d love to see your repurposing projects! Post in the comments section :)

Thing-A-Day ’11: Day 2

February 2nd – Groundhog Day and Day two of Thing-A-Day 2011! Woo! I’ve seen a lot of baking going on today with the other TAD’ers! Save me some, k?

(now on Etsy)

My clay charm today is my attempt at capturing a trend:

Silly Mustaches

I don’t know where these little guys came from… I don’t know why they’re so darn trendy… Regardless, I hope you like it. Happy Day Two!

[link: thing-a-day]

Books: The Handmade Marketplace

I’m going to be honest here, when I was a child I was a bit of a handful. Not only was I one of those kids you would see in the amusement park strapped to a leash, but I was also a master of knock-knock jokes and a perpetual tormentor to my two younger brothers. Many times have I heard the words, “be patient!” and “who broke this?!”

Somewhere in my path from 4 to 14 to 24, I’ve mellowed out a bit. The exact cause cannot be pinpointed, but I think it had to do with the fact that I love to read. Quiet time with a book seemed to soothe the little beast that I was. I’ll always remember something my Grandma told me after she busted me tossing some books around and stomping on them,

“Jessie, books are our friends.”

For some reason or another, this little statement has stuck with me. Eventually shelves filled with Babysitters Club, Goosebumps, and Nancy Drew novels gave way to college text books, though those were usually sold back to the bookstore promptly at the end of each semester. Today my bookshelf – or rather pile of books that can no longer fit on my bookshelf – is cluttered with everything from Anne Rice to ancient Greece to Abigail and John Adams (two of my faaaaavorite historical figures) to books filled with sewing patterns and cutesy projects.

Whatever you choose to read, there’s a lot to be said of both quality and quantity. To read too much, in my opinion, is nearly impossible. Recently I’ve taken to reading as much as humanly possible on turning creative thought into something tangible and worthwhile. There is a ton of information around the internet about how to make your handmade art into more than just a hobby. Though that may be the in-a-pinch way to read up on the subject, nothing can beat the wealth of knowledge that can be gained from sources in print.

One of the most informative works I’ve read so far in terms of handmade marketing has to be The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and On-Line by Kari Chapin.

Not only is this book beautifully illustrated, the information is presented in a way that makes marketing actually quite interesting and understandable. How to decide if your craft is in demand, how to set up your online presence, how to build your brand, even how to get involved in selling your creations at local fairs and markets – it’s all here. While I’m no book reviewer – nor do I really feel the need to try to be – once I read this book, I knew I had to tell people about it. I first handed my copy off to Alex (a fellow misc•maker, whom you shall meet soon) as she was just beginning to sell her crochet masterpieces. Next, the book was passed to Elizabeth, another collaborator here. pssst – Liz, give me back my book. Now I’ve taken my praise to the internet – Do you see what you’ve done, Kari Chapin?! What I’m getting at here is that if you’re interested in learning how to market your work as an artisan, this book will definitely take the edge off that big “M” word – Marketing. If you’re on the search for a sort of text book for crafty business models and resources, I’d highly suggest taking a look at this book. This book is definitely my friend :)

-Jessica

(Disclaimer: I have received absolutely no compensation to prompt this review.
I’ve merely enjoyed learning from this book and I wanted to share the knowledge.)