Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Long time no post

Phew - it's been way too long since I've had a chance to post anything!  The holidays were all too busy, not only with the usual flitter of holiday cheer but with the addition of having a bunch of custom orders - including finishing the huge order I blogged about oh-so long ago (which turned out AMAZING, by the way).
(that's all of them lit up and pretty!)
Since January, I've had the privilege of making quite a few custom-orders for new Etsy customers, which has been fun and challenging at the same time.  Some of them want me to take something I've already made and tweak it slightly (different colors, design, etc.) and some want me to match an item they currently have or replicate one that was accidentally broken.  The latter makes me a bit more nervous - since I didn't make the originals and as hard as I try to match them, I'm a different artist and do things differently so they will never be exactly what the customer had before.  I just want to make sure the customer enjoys what they've paid for!  I'm also a perfectionist, which doesn't help.  But so far, no complaints - let's hope it stays that way!

I haven't had as much time as I'd like to work on all of these orders due to crazy work hours, but luckily everyone has been very understanding and isn't expecting their items right away.  I just can't wait until May rolls around so I'll have an unlimited amount of time (until mid-July anyway) to not only get these ones squared away but to play and create my own designs again!

Until next time - let the creativity flow!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Work in Progress - tackling 16 candleholders in a month and a half

I got an Etsy message last week that was both exciting and terrifying at the same time:
A woman in Michigan commissioned me to make (16) 4x4 candleholders for her to give to all of her employees on their birthdays next year - which is awesome (and she paid me up front), but also super scary because now I really have to do a good job!  Not that I wouldn't have anyway, but I feel like when there's a lot of money involved and they give you free reign to do whatever you want there's a lot more pressure to make sure you don't disappoint them.

I've been a little worried, especially with the amount of time I have to do them.  Normally getting an order in the beginning of November that isn't due until the very end of December is plenty of time, but when you're working a 60-hour work week on top of trying to get other orders from co-workers and friends finished (and preparing for a craft fair!) it can get a bit daunting.  But somehow yesterday I was able to get the patterns decided and the glass cut for ALL 16 of them!  It had to have been that extra hour we gained with the time change. :)  Magically I had enough glass and enough time (even after doing 5 loads of laundry) to get it done - and I've been able to use the grinder and clean all the glass for 6 of them.  They're sitting beside me here at work in case I have some spare minutes to start putting the copper foil on them (yes, work is nice enough to let me do that when I have time).  I have to say, being able to tackle that hurdle has been a huge relief - now I just need to get them all finished.  But I have a little under two months for that, right? ;)

Here's a picture of the glass piles for all 16 candleholders:
I made sure to get at least one of every color of the rainbow!

I will definitely update as the process goes on - fingers crossed it all goes smoothly!!

1 Craft Fair down...more to go?

Now I can officially say I've attempted to hock my wares at a craft fair...and I have mixed feelings as to whether or not I'd do it again.

Here's what I enjoyed about it:
*I met a bunch of really great people, both extremely talented and very nice.  Luckily the two ladies I sat between were fun to spend 7 hours of my day with.
*I sold 5 items (including one custom order), which was enough for me to break even after purchasing a scarf, a gift for someone, and the cost to participate in the fair itself.
*I got a lot of really nice compliments from everyone who visited my table, telling me my stuff is really pretty and very cool.  A lot of them also took my business cards.
*I have very nice friends who took time out of their days to come say hello, to support me and keep me company for a little bit.
*I now know the experience of craft-fairing.

Here's what I didn't really enjoy about it:
*I was sitting by the door and was FREEZING all day, even in a North Face jacket (thank goodness I brought it!) and a scarf - one of the items I purchased out of necessity.  I'm wearing it again today - it's a pretty great scarf and I totally don't regret buying it.  But still.  It took an incredibly long, incredibly warm shower to make me feel like a human again.
*While I got all those compliments on my stuff, those people didn't buy anything.  And even though I had 5 sales, I only had 5 sales, which was frustrating.  Though let's be honest, I could have had none.  So it's better than nothing, it just made me a little discouraged.
*There wasn't much traffic.  There were a lot of amazing tables of stuff and I actually feel bad for most people who were there because I don't think they had crazy success either.

All in all, it was a good experience and I'm glad I did it.  Heather, the Etsy seller who put on the event, did a great job and I hope they made a lot of money for their missions trips.  I'm glad she contacted me on Etsy and I'm glad she liked my stuff enough to invite me to participate.  It's just something I'd have to do a bit of thinking about before I tried it again.  Maybe next time I'll check to see if it's a place that gets a lot of traffic and/or is on a bit of a bigger scale.  And you know, if I get asked to do this same one again next year I'd probably do it because it's for a good cause and everyone was so nice.

 My set-up.  I didn't have a fancy banner or anything - but I did have cute bags and tissue paper to give to those who bought stuff. :)

 One side of the table. 

The other side of the table.

Now I just need to figure out how to peddle the rest of the stuff I made. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Craft Fair

So I'm officially participating in my first craft fair!  I've never done one before (but always wanted to) so when I was asked by a fellow Etsy seller if I'd be willing to, I jumped at the chance!  It's going to be held on November 5th from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm at Faith Presbyterian Church in Long Beach - all booth entrance fees will be used to help with their overseas trips and I get to keep 100% of my profits.  Win, win!  A perfect first-time craft fair experience.  I'm very excited and a little nervous!

I've been feverishly crafting over the last few weeks in an attempt to "stock up" on items to sell, so I've been quite busy - but it's been so much fun!  I'm quite proud of some of the stuff I've created and am hoping that this will help spread word about my shop and lead to more sales and/or custom Etsy orders.  We shall see!

Oh, also - my green vase is featured in the main event photo - pretty cool! Find it here

If you're around, head on down to not only check out my table, but help support the other vendors as well.  Huzzah!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

First Post - history of my love affair with glass

Here it is, my first official blog post.  I've been told by a few folks that I should create one to help advertise/promote my Etsy shop, so here I am.  Promoting.  Go to my shop, yay!  Does that work?  No?  Okay, let's see...

Find my shop here:

There you'll find a plethora of stained glass items, all handmade by me!  I specialize in candleholders & vases, of both the mosaic and soldered variety, and am hopefully going to start selling picture frames soon.  I'm always looking for new design ideas and am very excited when I find them.  

I fell in love with stained glass when I took a class at a community college on a whim about 10 years ago.  My first project was a 12x12" square with a circled mirror in the bottom left corner and orange & yellow "rays" to make it look like the sun.  I was pretty stoked about it.  My mom still has it, actually - next time I go home, I'll take a picture and post it here.  

I then learned how to sandblast glass - my second project (which is in my garage) was of a purple butterfly at night, with the moon and patterns on the butterfly "blasted".  I'll take a picture of that one, too.  It's a great piece, but my brother accidentally broke the moon not long after I finished it and I've never been sure what to do with it.  Should I fix it?  If so, how?  Should I just leave it as-is?  It does look kind of cool...

After that I decided to try a mosaic piece and fell in love.  It's 15x15", with a 12x12" mirror placed in the middle.  Ladybugs, the sun, flowers and vines all surround the three inches around the mirror.  

I had so much fun with that one, I decided to tackle something even bigger for my next venture - a coffee table!  I found an old one at a Goodwill, with part of the top missing.  Once I measured and got the right piece at Lowe's, I got started.  I didn't have much of an idea of what I was going to do, except for some reason I really wanted a funky circular pattern thrown in there somewhere.  Once I finished that, I got the idea to make the bottom a grassy area with flowers and ants, and part of the top like a night sky, complete with stars.  The middle proved a little more difficult, but threw a few dragonflies in and managed to pull it off.  The one thing I don't like about the piece now is the silly circle pattern in the corner, it doesn't seem to fit.  Oh, well.  To finish everything off, I found a (now pretty ugly) purple color and painted the remainder of the table.  It stayed that way for years until I couldn't handle it anymore and painted it brown.  I also added some edging and plexiglass around the design to protect it a little better.  Up until just recently I was using it as my coffee table, it's now hanging out in the garage waiting patiently to be shown off again someday!

Soon after, I ended up moving to a new state and became super-busy with work and adjusting to my new life.  My love for glass kind of went by the wayside.  One day when at a craft store, I saw them selling cheaply-made mosaic candleholders and thought, "I can certainly do that!" - so I bought a couple clear tealight holders and started small.  Most of my projects were given to friends and family as gifts until someone suggested I try selling them.  This was before Etsy was around (or at least well before I discovered it), so I took them to the flower shop up the street.  The woman was very sweet and agreed to sell them for me, with herself taking a small piece of whatever was sold.  It was only fair.  The only problem was they didn't really sell, so a couple months later she asked me to take them back because at that point they were just cluttering up her shop.  I was back to square one.  

Someone told me to try eBay, so I took photos of the stuff I had and listed a couple items.  Nothing.  I started to get discouraged.  Then one of my friends asked me to custom-make a mosaic vase for her and insisted that she pay me for it.  So I did.  I got the bug again, especially for mosaics, so I hit up thrift stores in the area to find old vases in cool shapes and sizes.  I began feverishly mosaic-ing things with no idea when or where or how I'd get rid of them.  At that point, I didn't really care - I was just having fun.  I was running out of places to keep them, though, so I started to look into craft fairs or renting spaces in retail shops.  Problem was you had to pay money up front in order to do that and at the time I couldn't afford it.  Cue frustration and discouragement again.  Grumble, grumble.  

Then one day my boss found out that I dabble in glass in my free time and told me that I should have a sale here at work.  She was sure people would really love my stuff and would love to help me out.  So, I packed up my boxes of creations and hauled them in.  Within a couple hours I had almost completely sold out of everything and made enough to pay my rent for nearly the next two months!  It was amazing.  Not only was it a great boost of self-esteem, but it made me realize that I just need to keep working at it - because people do enjoy my work, I just have to find the right avenue with which to get the word out.  That's where Etsy came in. 

I opened my shop in 2010 and made my first sale not long after.  Even though it was to someone I knew, it was pretty exciting.  My first Etsy sale!  Yay!  A couple sales trickled in here and there, but it wasn't as rapidly as I was hoping.  Once I got my first sale to someone I didn't know, I was encouraged again....but a couple months went by before I was able to sell anything else.  Earlier this year I got the opportunity to custom-make a set of 5 candleholders for a stranger (yay!) and she loved them so much she ordered 5 more not long after!  That was a definite encouragement boost.  My sales come and go: for a period of time they'll be one after another, then it'll cool off for a few months.  I am featured in many treasuries, which makes me very happy, and I've started using the Etsy Search Ads to try and bolster some sales, but I'm not quite sure how much it's helping yet.  We'll see.  Maybe this blog will help, too. ;)  So far I've made it up to 20 sales.  Not terrible, but dangit, I want more!! 

Even if I don't have massive Etsy success, the one thing I can say is that I'm very glad I have great friends and family who love and support me enough to request custom pieces and refuse to let me do it for free.  Friends who see my talent and encourage me to venture out and try to sell my art.  Friends who pass out my business cards to their clients, who display their pieces proudly and "advertise" when asked where they got them.  Friends who ask me to make candleholders for their upcoming wedding and post links to my page on their own blogs, encouraging people to head my way.  It's a pretty great feeling, knowing I have people like that in my life!

But enough mush, let's get me some sales! :)