Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Spy a Toadstool!

A taste!

Another taste of my new I Spy Bag designs coming up! Three are in the works. Think woodland, forest, nature. I'm having so much fun :)

And a taste of some beautiful vintage flower posies I'm photographing for the supply shop. I still need to work on the descriptions with my mom, so they aren't quite listed yet. She knows more about antiques than me... and flower identification.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A new line is coming!

Just wanted to give you a sneak peek... Been sketching out some new designs for I Spy Bags that I'm really excited about. Drawings are complete, patterns are in process, and I chose some fabrics this morning to begin working around. I'll go to the fabric store today to gather up some extras, and hopefully have time leftover to start cutting!

Stay posted :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Trinkets - Doodads - Charms - Miniatures - Novelties

When I first started making I Spy Bags, I (of course) researched all my competitors heavily and really strove to make mine different. One of the things that made mine unique from the start was that I really paid attention to what I put inside the bags. Most makers put ordinary household items in their bags: pennies, rubber bands, paper clips, pieces of ribbon, foamies, confetti, etc. Besides being boring, some of these items are risky (pennies are toxic if swallowed, and a paper clip can easily be bent to poke right through the plastic window). I'll admit that my first $50 spent on trinkets included mostly beads, buttons, and baby shower and wedding favors that I purchased in the craft store. I had no idea that it was so incredibly hard to find those little doodads. Everything I found was either too sharp, too big, or not durable.

A few weeks into selling I realized that I had a product that people wanted, and to make money, I had to bite the bullet and start buying in bulk - admit to myself that I actually might go through 144 of an item. It just wasn't feasible to be paying a quarter for a single charm. I found some lovely vintage charms on Ebay, some fun beads and things on Etsy, and checked some local holes-in-the-wall for goodies.

Eventually, these just weren't cheap enough for me and I started looking to the big cats. Most really big manufacturing companies wanted nothing to do with little old me. Buying 3000 butterflies wasn't enough of a quantity for them to take me on as a client. With diligent research (hours and hours and hours and hours), lots of emails, and a few phone calls, I secured a handful of wholesale accounts and placed my first minimum orders. That was about a year ago.

Today my stock of vintage charms is nearly depleted and I am sad. All of those original items bought at the craft stores are long gone, and I am getting bored with my 3000 butterflies and plastic babies by the case.

I'm still confident that you will not find better items inside another I Spy Bag - mine are truly the most unique. To try and get that point across, I decided to put a picture of the possible contents on each of my listings. That picture was taken about a year ago, and I realized today that I should really take a new one. For one thing, there is a plastic gun in the photo that was part of a dozen or so random charms I got in an order, and I've never even put a gun in a single I Spy Bag except by special request. I can't tell you how many emails I get requesting that I specifically NOT put a gun in their child's bag. I get it.

Last night I found myself browsing the old haunts looking for new arrivals and milling over whether or not to reorder a few of my favorites. Realistically, I do not need any items right now. But I love having the variety, and while I used to have over 300 different items, technically I've sold many of those varieties and now I'm down to about 200 or so. Yes, I know I only need about 50, but what fun is that? I guess I need to be certain that I will be making I Spy Bags before I go and order a million more trinkets!

Here are a few on my wish list:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Silk Waldorf Marionettes

I was recently asked to take some promotional photos for my daughter's school of these traditional Waldorf silk marionettes. I think they turned out quite nice, and I hope the school is able to use them for a brochure or poster or whatever.

I thought the shoot would be quite easy, but as it turned out, it is quite difficult to hold a marionette AND take the picture at the same time. I ended up using my 12 second timer a lot, which was hard in its own rite since I was then photographing blindly (without seeing the picture composition at the time of the shot). Interesting, to say the least, and a great learning experience. I'm always up for learning new things! Next time I'll bring an assistant :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Where is Spring?

Well, spring may not have completely hit here in Michigan, but it is in full swing down in Southern Indiana where we spent the Easter weekend at my mom's. Her place is simply magical this time of year - I wasn't ready to leave! A few pictures....

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Missing Pig!

Has anyone seen this little piggy? He came upstairs with me for a photo shoot, and never made it back to my studio.... maybe he went to market.

Around the house

That's where I've been, in case you're wondering.

If you have kids, you know that a change in seasons means more than just opening the windows and switching to lighter jackets. It means tackling a mountain of clothes from last year - what fits? What can be passed on? Is this too girly to be passed on to your brother?

Last weekend, I washed ALL of the winter clothes - snow pants, snow bibs, snow suits, gloves, hats, scarves, coats... knocked all the mud off and wiped down the snow boots. I folded it and put it all away. Of course, it snowed on Sunday night (stuck!) and we had to drag it all back out on Monday for school. Michigan in winter means that the kids wear snow boots every day. So, that means that they haven't worn any other shoes in months. Guess what? None of their shoes fit from last year, so suddenly we are out of shoes. We have a mountain of shoes and none of them fits anyone. Sigh.

Finally, I feel we have transitioned to spring. Yesterday it was in the 70s, today the sun is deceptively shining - it is in the 30s. Sigh.

Easter sales for me were pretty good - I'm so glad I was stocked up and prepared. Last week I was looking at a pile of brown bunnies thinking "why did I spend so much time on these and now they haven't even sold?" In a matter of days I was sold out. Phew! I don't even have any Easter eggs to carry over until next year :)

Today I'd like to take a break from work, and make some little spring animals for my kids' baskets. I've been sewing deer and lambs and pigs for weeks.... it's time that I put a little of that energy into them. Tomorrow at Handwork Group, I think I'll snag a few patterns from the other artists and make... well, I won't spoil the surprise!