Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Great find!

Well, as you may have read in an earlier post, an Etsy Treasury featured my mom's jewelry, and the treasury was picked by fellow Etsian Sherry Truitt. What a delight to have stumbled upon her shop! I loved her things so much, (plus she has a fabulous blog), that I decided to do a little interview with her. I found out from her blog that she lives in a Craftsman Bungalow, which is a passion of mine, so I also wanted to learn more about that.

Sherry makes wearable art out of everyday tools and pieces of hardware. What first caught my eye was this necklace that makes use of a working carpenter's spirit level. What a clever idea! I asked Sherry what inspired her to begin doing this line of work, and she said:

"Ever since I was a little girl working objects have held a fascination for me. I rarely played with dolls. But give me an erector set, or some Lincoln logs and I could build you a working city. I used to drive my mom nuts, because I'd mix all the sets together. Then, I started collecting levels, compasses and old typewriter keys."

I guess her collection and obsession have paid off! Her shop boasts over 100 items sold, and has been featured on the front page of Etsy.

Having so many choices, I wondered if there were any pieces of jewelry that Sherry wore every day. She responded:

I wear a blue level bracelet everyday. It's one I made about 5 years ago. I just love to watch the bubble move along. Twice I've been out in a restaurant with my husband, and I was asked to sell it right off my wrist. Now I carry an extra with me, but so far no one has asked."

I always like to learn something about an artist that is not directly related to what they make. I really believe that so many things in our lives
make us who we are, and I was fascinated to learn that Sherry and I share a passion for Craftsman Bungalows. I am at a point in my life that it is not possible for me to have one, but Sherry is lucky enough to be living in one! Here she tells us a little about it:

We've owned our Craftsman bungalow since 1992, and have lovingly restored it. It actually wasn't in bad shape because we are only the 3rd owners. Not a lot of modernization had been done. We did have to put new oak floors in a few rooms, and we installed a tin ceiling in the breakfast room. Old bungalows have little closet space, but beautiful wood work. Luckily, my husband is handy, and has crafted a number of built in cabinets. The grounds were neglected when we moved in because the last owner was quite elderly. So, we've been working on the gardens. No hybrids, please! We've tried to add original strains of flowers like, columbine, iris and old fashioned roses. The wisteria in the front yard is over 80 years old. The daughter of the former owner sent us black and white photos of how the house and grounds used to look."

Truly amazing - what a fun project that would be. Well, it wouldn't be fun for me with 3 kids running around at my feet, but maybe someday! I am actu
ally in the middle of re-doing some landscaping at our house, and I like the idea of having original strains of flowers. Sometimes it's good to get back to basics! I wonder if Sherry reads my favorite magazine, American Bungalow?

Thank you very much to Sherry for sharing with us! Please check out her website and her blog! You can also find more pictures of her work here and here. I'll leave you with these few more things (I j
ust can't resist sharing - they are so very clever):

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I think he would be proud...

Today is my brother's birthday. It makes me feel old to think that my little brother would have been 28 today.

When I was fresh out of college, recently transplanted by my husband to a new "big" city, I was desperate to find a job. A degree in graphic design didn't leave me too many options, and I found that the criteria for a "good" job boiled down to 1) paid the bills and 2) I could walk to it. We lived downtown in a cool city loft, and I finally found a job working as a secretary in a law office that specialized in immigration. Within weeks, I moved up the ladder, became a "paralegal" (I use the word loosely since I didn't have any formal training!), and ended up with a swanky corner office on the 33rd floor of the tallest building in town. I remember how proud I was! I brought in some vintage maps to hang on the wall, an oriental rug, and tons of plants. I loved my office. I loved my job (well, it was a love/hate relationship actually)....

My brother came to visit me, and I proudly escorted him all over town. I showed him all the great places to eat, our awesome library that was just blocks from where we lived. I bragged that we were only minutes from the baseball stadium, and finally I took him to my office after hours so he could see what all the fuss was about. He smiled at me. I said "isn't this great?" He said "yeah!" Then as we were walking out, he said "it just isn't what I always thought you would be doing." I asked him what he thought I would be doing, and he said he didn't know. He just didn't think I would be the "corporate" type.

I didn't know it at the time, but he was so right. He was so right.

I think that he would be proud of what I am doing now. It is much more fitting that my office today is a studio filled with fabric, notions, photography equipment, art papers, stacks of books, and my kids running circles around me. Every nook and cranny is filled with interest. All the little bits and pieces of my life smooshed into one little room. I've come a long way.

Even though I can still think fondly of my corner office that I left behind, I know that I'm headed in the right direction now. Thank you, Ross.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

449 users call thosegreathousewomen a favorite

This is what it says on Etsy when I click on "who hearts this shop" - wow! I remember a time (not too long ago?) when I was totally obsessed with how many "hearts" I had. When one user marks your shop as a favorite, it gives your shop a heart. I would check the count every day (actually multiple times a day, actually multiple times an hour). Now it seems that it has been like a week or something since I even thought about it. I used to click on every shop that showed interest in my work, scouring their shop to analyze why they "hearted me." Did they want to buy from me? Did they "heart" any specific items? Did they admire my work? Did they want to copy me? I swear it drove me batty. Now I guess you could call me a seasoned professional. Does 5 months on Etsy make me "seasoned" I wonder? Is 449 hearts in 5 months a good total? Do I care?

Now that my mom has a shop, I find that I'm becoming obsessed with how many hearts *she* has. I find it amazing that she has so many (38) in such a short amount of time being open (5 days). There is this really cool program that some Etsy nut created called the Heart-o-tron. It tells you how many hearts you have as a shop, how many hearts each item has, how many hearts you got in the past day, and who those hearts belong to. I guess this speaks to the "heart obsession" in all Etsians...

Have you hearted me lately?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Yeh! Greathouse Hardware has sold 2 items!

Everyone congratulate my momma, who has now sold 2 items in her own shop, after only being active for 4 days! My mom is SO cool. No, really. She is. Maybe a little mad.... *wink*

Right now she is living on a sailboat in Key West researching some more artifacts...

I discovered this evening that she was also featured in a treasury on Etsy. That is a collection of great things that another member put together to showcase. Etsy chooses from the treasury list to pick their front page. This is a pretty treasury, so maybe it'll make the front page!Thank you to SherriTruitt for featuring us! She's got some pretty cool jewelry herself - check out this cool necklace that is a level.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I can do this. I think.

So, I'm not sure I can do this, but I guess I'm gonna try! My hubby accountant is trying to get all the tax info on hiring an employee to help my business grow. I guess tomorrow I'm going to open a business checking account and apply for a line of credit. I had no idea that starting a business (for real, not what I've done on Etsy so far) would be so expensive. I'm freaking out over all the expenses. I know, I shouldn't be... but maybe that would be scary, too, if I was calm about the whole thing.

I got in the Etsy forums, and posted there about my woes/triumphs. Read it if you want. Hopefully a fellow Etsian will help a sister out!

Yikes! This is exciting and scary!

The jury is in...

I heard from Real Simple Magazine today, and (although not guaranteed until print time), my I Spy Bags have been chosen to go in their Gift Guide hitting news stands mid-August! Holy crap, I am excited! It's my big break. I think.

They shoot the photos next month, and I had to fill out a "credits" form giving them all the pertinent information. I seriously can't believe this!!!!!! I don't know which they will choose at this point, but I sent them these to choose from:

Monday, April 21, 2008

How did I ever survive without Weebly?

Well, hold your horses, but I found a VERY useful site tonight called Weebly. I'll be spending most of tonight I think trying to get an actual website up and running using their FREE software. Did I mention that it was free? So far, very easy, although I'm still trying to figure out the whole linking with a feed reader and all that. I'm so technologically challenged. Any advice can be left in comments (hint, hint).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I'm not pregnant

A week or two ago, I came across these adorable mother/child t-shirts on Etsy. My sister-in-law has twins, and is still breastfeeding them (they'll be 1 in May), God bless her! I sent the seller a message and requested twin shirts for the boys and a shirt for her.

Funny, right? Well, not as funny as finding out a week later that I should have been sending her this shirt instead... That's right, folks, she is pregnant with #3! We are happy for her, but I gotta tell ya, I was like WHAT? How is that even possible? She is breastfeeding twins for goodness' sake! Doesn't God have some sort of natural birth control built into those milking machines? Holy cow, she and my brother-in-law are going to be SO busy. I know. I have 3 kids to prove it. At least she'll have two going through the same stages at once (hopefully) LOL. I am not envious, however. :) ---- I'll tell you what I am envious of - her super support system. I practically have NONE, okay I really have none, and she has like a whole town. I guess that's what I get for marrying a guy who gets told by the government where he has to live. Apparently, there is a government conspiracy to keep me from my family while in my child-bearing years...

I think this must be the week to announce pregnancies. Are you pregnant? Congratulations if you are, assuming you are thrilled about it, of course. Two other friends of mine just announced as well (and I don't have that many friends, so this is like a REALLY high percentage). I guess it's baby making season... I think I'll pass, on the 9 month afterglow, that is.

E, if you are reading this, don't go out and buy that maternity shirt because I'm going to buy it for you. What size do you want?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Greathouse Hardware

Things are happening here at Those Greathouse Women. We have opened a new shop on Etsy! I wouldn't exactly call it a "sister" shop - more like a very very distant cousin... We have stumbled upon this great body of work in the world known as "steampunk." What is steampunk? Well, that deserves its own post, but you can read this for now.

For those who know us in the real world, you'll understand why this is a great endeavor for us. To put it lightly, we have A LOT OF JUNK. We're talking junk in greater quantities, higher levels of coolness, and crazier than you've ever seen... and most of it is miniature. You can imagine our excitement when we realized that we might be able to profit from our junk weakness.

Check out these first few pieces of jewelry that my mom made:

I just got them in the mail today, and I was so excited about them, that I photographed them right away and got them up on our new shop site! We'll see if there are even any views - the jewelry market on Etsy is rather competitive...

Oh, and in case you are wondering -- I have not heard back from the magazine yet.

Monday, April 14, 2008

How many times could I have used these? Let me count the ways....

I have just stumbled on the greatest invention, ever. Well, maybe not EVER, but pretty cool nonetheless. Pants in a pinch. Proceeds from my next sale will definitely go toward the purchase of these, and a pair for every friend I have that has kids. Do they come in adult sizes? Hm.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Organization - Get Creative with BreeLeeD

Welcome to my first endeavor into the world of doing features! I'm very interested in how people organize their things, what kinds of creative solutions they come up with, and what kind of creative environment they create for themselves. In this series, I am exploring creative and/or thrifty organization solutions.

Today's interview is with Bree, of
BreeLeeD, who is a fellow Etsy artist who makes quality fabric headbands, adorable zippered pouches, and a variety of other tidbits.

1. Tell us about your creative or thrifty organization solution.

I enjoy making upcycled pencil holders out of old cans. They're very simple and fun to make! Just clean a can very well and dry it with a cloth. Set it aside for several days; this ensures that the food scents are completely gone. Next, get some pretty scrapbooking papers, ribbon, Mod Podge, E6000 glue, a paintbrush and a toothpick. Using a light coat of Mod Podge on the can, attach the paper. You'll need to hold the paper in place for a few minutes. Once the Mod Podge is dry, use a toothpick and E6000 glue to attach a ribbon around the can. If you'd like a bow, just glue one on the top of the ribbon. That's it! It's a very thrifty and beautiful way to make your workspace more organized.

2. What motivated you to use this solution? Function, price, artistic appeal, going green?
I first started making pencil holders out of cans when I was in kindergarten. However, I used to cover them with rocks, lol. My new upcycled pencil holders take that same idea, but the level of creativity has been taken up a notch. Today, craft stores have such a variety of lovely papers and ribbons, that the idea of replacing rocks with pa
per just popped into my head. Upcycled pencil holders are very functional, super inexpensive to make and help the environment at the same time!

3. How does this solution compliment your creative space? I have several upcycle pencil holders - one on my sewing table and one on my desk. I even switch them out every now and then. The one I have on my sewing table helps keep things really tidy, as it holds my pens, pencils, seam gauge, seam ripper, and any other little things I can fit in it. The one I have right now, matches my teacup pin cushion.

If you'd like to learn more about this artist, please visit her Etsy shop, blog, or Flickr account.

Do you have a creative or thrifty organization solution? I'd love to hear about it! Perhaps you found a great old cabinet at a flea market, made a table from an old door, or use old hardware promotional baskets for sorting your wares. Please leave a comment, and I'll send you my short interview.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I find myself wondering what direction to go into lately. There are so many things that inspire me, so many things I am capable of, and so little time to do ANY of it! My mom recently (okay, not THAT recently) sent me this great comic that says it just right:
In case you can't read it, it says "There was a time when I couldn't wait to get married. Then I couldn't wait to have a house of my own. Then... for children, - I couldn't wait! ... Now that I have all the things I couldn't wait for - & can decide what & who I want to be... I've got to wait."

I couldn't say it any better!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Interested in being featured?

I'm thinking of starting a weekly feature to discuss creative spaces, organization, inspiration, anything really. I need a few ideas to get started. And people, I guess. So, if you are interested, or have some ideas, leave a comment!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I should have tied a piece of string to my finger...

I woke up this morning and realized that I promised a custom order last week would ship on Tuesday. Yep. Today is Tuesday. I thought I was giving myself plenty of time with doing the mailing to the magazine and all. "I could ship by Tuesday," I said on Thursday, thinking "that will be lots of time for me to get my act together."

It's a great thing that today is Tuesday, since my Shirley comes on Tuesdays. She got here at 8:26am, apologizing that she was late (she starts work at 8:30am). She is awesome :)

So, even though there is a mountain in my laundry room that is threatening to overtake the kitchen, I tell Shirley that I must make a custom order first, and to UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, ENTER THE LAUNDRY ROOM. You see, Shirley aims to please, and tries to clean up everything when she is here. This makes me feel a tiny bit guilty when there really is a BIG mess when she arrives.

8:32am - I hunker down in my workshop to make a fish shaped eye spy bag from scratch. I didn't even have the pattern cut out or anything. Huh, not what I wanted to do today, but hey someone has to support the Shirley fund.

Done. Shower. Go to post office. Eat lunch.

and just like that, it was time for Shirley to go home. No time just for me. I guess that's what I deserve for forgetting to make my custom order.... At least I didn't let my customer down!

I better get some laundry done before Thursday when Shirley comes back.

Monday, April 7, 2008

More on my new products!

Well, my baby rudely interrupted my last post LOL, so I'm back now! Hmmm.... I was going through my latest and greatest.

So, I decided the jellyfish wasn't all that great, and I moved on to the starfish. It wasn't that great, either. I guess there's nothing too special about them - I couldn't really think of a way to give it any personality. Starfishes don't have faces, do they? Or maybe right in the middle, but then where would I put the window? Anyway...

So, we get down to the ones that I DO like! I made some whales. I just love whales. My first prototype turned out alright, but not much personality. I worked on him a bit, and then came up with this guy:
I think he is pretty special, don't you? His spout is made from white embroidery floss, which I knotted/sewed on like doll hair. Inside of each little knot is a spot of fabric glue. I hope this will hold up to wild hooligan children. Or at least normal children (if there is such a thing)...

Ah, then I moved on to my shark. He is a lot of work. a lot lot lot of work. My first prototype had a fish-shaped window. I decided that this was 1) too much work, and 2) didn't look proportionately right with the shape of the shark. My next prototype made use of the same eye pattern I use on my small basic I Spy Bags. Here was my final design:

And, who can have a sea-life collection without a seahorse? At least a try at a seahorse? I took a stab at it, but it's just not quite right yet, either. The pink unfinished one I made first, then the aqua one (which still hasn't been stitched up yet as you can see the straight pin in it still). I burned out a little on the seahorse as it wasn't coming together, so maybe I'll get back to it if there is any interest.

I've been quite absent, I know!

I swear I have a good excuse! I have been in "the zone" designing new products. My poor little Etsy shop has been totally ignored for the past few weeks, and I've been buried in bits of fleece and poly-pellets for days! Thanks for my wonderful husband, who kept the kids out of my hair long enough to develop some WONDERFUL new designs!

I began by thinking of different groups that I would like to see developed. Some ideas I had were sea-life, space, farm animals, wild animals, aviary, and insects. I started in aviary, and thought about how I could further develop my chick and to come up with some other birds. My mom found me some perfect yellow fleece to create a duck, and I thought I could simply make my chick in red with a black beak and call it a cardinal. Of course, I've already made it in blue, but I (duh) never thought to call it a bluebird! It didn't hit me until a customer requested a bluebird - then I was like... hmmm... I could have a whole line of birds!

Then like magic, I went to my mom's in Indiana for Easter, and while there I received an email from Real Simple Magazine. It's like they were reading my mind - or at least on the same wavelength! She said she was interested in my chick, and could I send her a sample for their editorial review, where they would consider it for inclusion in their special issue gift guide! I emailed her back and let her know that the chick was part of my aviary series, and I was also working on these other series... She emailed back that they were interested to see what I had in space and sea-life.

So I got to work developing those lines. First, space. I already made a simple spaceship. Mostly, it was born of the love of the space fleece and desire to do something other than the norm with it. Unfortunately, my supply of the space fabric was dwindling, so I needed to think outside the box. I redesigned the ship. Prototype #1 turned out looking like one of those water beetles that I hated seeing in the pool as a kid. Failure. Prototype #2 got stuck in my machine and was ruined as I cut it out. I invested in some stabilizer. My final design was almost perfect, and my good friend and neighbor suggested some flames coming out the back... so here it is:

The wings and the flames are made from felt, and the stripes are embroidered on with my fancy schmancy new sewing machine. I think it turned out quite cute!

I also created a flying saucer. This was a bit more difficult to develop - I had to figure out some kind of legs, and make sure it didn't look too much like a hat. My first prototype, which is now in my sale section on Etsy, looks a bit weird - kind of like some crazy space monster. The legs turned out looking like teeth or something! A few prototypes later, I ended up with this:

I think this one is especially cute! I photographed it on a piece of sky poster board that I found here. It was a lot of fun to make, and I love how the antenna came out crooked.

I also made a round bag with a moon shaped window, which was okay. My mom really liked it, but I don't know. It sold already, though, so I guess it was good enough. I'll make more. Someday! I tried making a shooting star, which was a failed attempt - maybe I can expand on my space collection another time.

Next, I got to work on my sea-life collection. This was a really fun genre! I drew up plans for a jellyfish, seahorse, starfish, shell, shark, whale, and octopus. I really tried to make the jellyfish work, but something just wasn't right. Here are my attempts:

I'll be selling them in my sale section soon!

Oh, baby is crying, so I will post more later!