Sunday, February 27, 2011

Craftopolis


Okay Etsy sellers - do you know about Craftopolis?! I did not. Now I do. Now you do to.

I linked up my Etsy shop and my Google Analytics to this site and it came alive with info. Its hard to put words to how good it feels to look at Craftopolis and see that hundreds of people are looking and hearting my shop every day. Some days this month it has been thousands! What a pat on the back. I already knew this information, but somehow seeing it all laid out visually and politely made my eyes boggle. Somehow it all seemed so amazing. Makes me proud.

Go check it out for yourself. You do have to have your Google Analytics set up, but if you sell on Etsy and haven't done that yet, its a good thing to do.

Did I mention there is a "Batch Editing" function on Craftopolis. Oh yes. Batch editing (can you see me swooning). Say the cost of your materials goes up, log into craftopolis and you can adjust all your Etsy prices at once.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I made Milk Liqueur

Im so excited to show off my latest weird crafty project... making milk liqueur!

Evidently this is an old recipe that infuses Grappa with the tastes of sweet chocolate milk. Its a little scary, seems contradictory to my every notion of what not to do with milk. And Grappa - seriously?! I was really intrigued by this recipe because my father loves Grappa and I think its particularly foul! Evidently you can't even buy Grappa in most states (its like grain alcohol, but made of grape skins) - but Oregon not only sells Grappa, I found some that was locally made here in Portland! Usually you can only buy Italian Grappa and this imported product can be very pricey... the local product was much more cost effective. I could have used grain alcohol (for the really cheap version - and yes I can buy this in Oregon as well, there seems to be not limit to what kind of liver pickling booze Oregonians will sell ya) and I also could have substituted vodka for the Grappa. All the blog articles I read about making milk liqueur used vodka. I used Clear Creek Distillery Grappa.

Ingredients:
I used equal parts of
  • Grappa
  • sugar
  • whole milk
plus a few ounces of shaved 70% dark chocolate, half a lemon and a vanilla bean
Its pretty simple, you put it all in a clean jar and shake occasionally. This concoction sat on my kitchen counter for 10 days looking thick and strange. After filtered the ugly goop I ended up with a golden liqueur that tastes like milk chocolate for big girls. The best milk chocolate ever. Although its a sipper... a whole glass of this stuff would render me uselessly drunk and consume half of what I made! Instead I bottled it in these tiny little bottles. All I got out of a whole bottle of Grappa was four tiny bottles of liqueur. And it took SO LONG to filter. Good grief I went thru a whole box of coffee filters and a package of cheese cloth, filtering and re-filtering. But one drip at a time my golden liqueur slowly accumulated.
Wow its good. Surprisingly good. Although I don't know if I am patient enough to do this again. I am tempted to geek out and do a comparison between using a base of Grappa v. Vodka v. Everclear. But honestly all the filtering made me a little batty - and I find the smell of grappa to be pretty disgusting - it permeated the whole house while I was filtering for hours. But the taste is nothing like the smell. The taste is awesome. Chocolate milk for big girls. Oh yeah.

if you are as intrigued as I am - here are the blogs I read that got me started in this crafty quest

Friday, February 25, 2011

I'm not a quitter...


As I sit here eating a breakfast sandwich that is oh so tastey, I am thinking about the Portland Saturday Market. Notice the bagel - its from Gabriel's Bakery here in PDX... he sells his baked goods at the PSM as well as all around town in grocery stores and whatnot. I met the baker that owns this company at the PSM years ago. He would set up a small tent down by the Burnside Bridge and sell his baked goods. My brother came home with a bag of his bagels one Saturday and we were amazed by how marvelous they were. I became an addict of his chocolate hazelnut scone, having one for breakfast every weekend. Ridiculous. We became fast friends, the baker and I (not the sweets and me) - his name is Amilcar, he is from Peru. He puts cream cheese in his cookies (1/2 butter 1/2 cheese makes them stay tall and chewy), he uses quinoa in his breads, he makes the biggest cinnamon rolls ever. Basically everything he makes is delicious. On the weekends he sells his baked goods around town at the local farmers markets and the PSM and whatever pastries and breads they have left at the end of the day is donated to the local soup kitchen. Sometimes on Sunday evenings they would leave a paper sack full of goodies in my booth as I was tearing down for the day. My freezer was always full of Gabriel's baked goods. What kind of heaven is that?!

The Portland Saturday Market has been an endless source of interesting friends in my life. I feel reflective lately, contemplating the PSM and its potential. And contemplating quitting the Portland Saturday Market. Yup. Quitting.

I have reached the point of outgrowing the market. I busy myself with shows and selling wholesale and online selling and teaching... doing the PSM every weekend is a bit much. I have to face reality. So I quantify what I get out of the market as opposed to how much it drains me.

To be honest I've been thinking about this for years. Clearly change hasn't happened fast here in the Garden of Leah. I like to stop and smell the roses, rather than rush from one thing to the next.

Its all about the people. The friends at the PSM are a crazy bunch. Its an international motley crew. Something straight out of the new show "Portlandia". Everyone has a such incredible stories, and everyone works so hard. When I think about what the PSM has meant in my life, I can't help but think about the people.

There should be a book about the PSM, portraits of the artists and stories... I would read it!

But here is what I've been thinking about lately (writing it down makes me feel nervous... accountable): I would teach classes on the weekends (for years I have only taught class during the week) and sell a Groupon for these classes. Basically it would be like selling my teaching classes wholesale. This has two appeals for me:
  1. what I make each weekend as an artist would be predictable and dependable
  2. my classes would be full
It would be a lot of classes, so I would be teaching 2 or 3 weekends a month and I would quit the PSM. The market is not a predictable income, and its very exhausting in so many ways.

I meet a lot of great people thru teaching classes, I love to pry people's stories out of them and listen to them talk about themselves. The dynamics between people is particularly fascinating to me... and there is something therapeutic about playing with fire and talking about one's self. Perhaps its my interest in psychology, perhaps its my love for people - either way - its one of my favorite parts of teaching. I like to joke that I turn everyone into kindergarteners: pink cheeks (from the flame and excitement) and big smiles and clumsy awkwardness.

Its a different crowd than the Portland Saturday Market though. I would greatly miss the people of the PSM. I know I could always go down and visit the artists down there, and hang out with them socially and whatnot... its different though when you are a vendor. The comradery of the work involved, its like a family. I have learned so much about Portland because of my involvement with the PSM. It has inspired me, enabled my growth, supported my endeavors and pushed me to use alarm clock at least once a week.

ps. I am still on the fence though, and planning to vend asap as the market reopens next weekend!

I Heart Art:Portland Party Friday Night


I'll be there - how 'bout you? Come join me for some crafty good times! There are some fun crafting tables, some music, some cake, some Etsy shop help... I think someone from Etsy is flying out to join us.

I Heart Art: Portland is now one year old and we're celebrating the occasion! Its been a great first year and we have a lot planned for 2011. It rocks to be a crafty artist living in Portland. It rocks so much that now Baltimore has joined the fun and they have started an
I Heart Art: Baltimore. We're downright inspiring :)

Come to the party - celebrate local craftiness and learn more about the
I Heart Art organization.

7pm PNCA be there or be square
1241 NW Johnson Street
Free and open to the public.
I Heart Art: Portland
Advocacy, Education and Support for Portland's Vibrant Community of Makers

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I like this green mobile...

I like this mobile a lot. I might make more, not sure yet. After taking some pictures of it and really loving, I listed in my Etsy shop. Frankly I'm surprised someone hasn't snapped it up yet. Its a deal, its not too big, and its eye-catching. This little dancer will hang happily in someones home/office/garden. I know this for sure.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Researching Etsy Traffic Sources


I knew something had caused a wave of traffic to my Etsy shop... its never easy to know why. But its possible to find out!

So I checked out this website called CraftCult and found out why. It was an email from Etsy! One tiny little picture in their email newsletter, one small wave of traffic. Excellent.

This website CraftCult is pretty darn useful! You can see all sorts of information concerning your shop, like if you've been on the front page, if you're in a treasury, if you've receive new hearts, theres even some graphs. I like it a lot. The stats Etsy finally gives us on the site itself are pretty slim and not so interesting. CraftCult seems to be picking up the slack. They even have a "vault" of screen captures of front pages. How wonderful!

Dot Mobile

This mobile is a tribute to the beauty of clear glass. The little bubbles that make me happy. The look of liquid frozen in motion. And yet it is a bright colorful mobile. Each clear glass circle is decorated with a colored dot. I melted one color on each disc - the seven discs play in the wind and the colored dots cast shadows. I like it. I like it a lot.
If you'd like to meet this mobile in person (as in hang it in your home/office/garden) it is available in my Etsy shop: click here

Saturday, February 19, 2011

100 Steps to a Private Beach Vacation

This mobile I made today is simple and small... little blue discs the color of the ocean, one deeper and darker than the rest, one sand colored disc at the bottom. I was telling some friends about a trip I took to Costa Rica years ago... and this story about a villa I found in Manuel Antonio inspired this little creation... the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean...
Heres the story: my 100 steps to paradise.

I was in Costa Rica, it was the rainy season and I was traveling alone. I had no agenda to my travel plans, and even less money to spend on travel expenses. I took a bus from Quepos to Manuel Antonio 3 times (back and forth) looking for a hotel that was both wonderful and affordable - finally walked up the same road for the 4th time and found this place. It was a beautiful resort with a hotel on the beach and grand villas up on the cliff. The place was nearly empty, 3 or 4 families were staying in the hotel so I inquired about the villas. They offered me a great deal, but warned me to check it out before I paid. Sure enough, the lazy American tourists had opted to stay in the hotel because it was on flat land right next to the beach - the villas were incredible but up endless flights of steps. This picture shows one section of the steps, each time you turned a corner there were more steps, and then more. :)
I was in heaven. There were about 100 steps and I gladly took them each time I wanted to go down to the beach or head out to find food. I was walking distance from the Park of Manuel Antonio and my view was something you'd see on a post-card. For a few precious days I was the only person staying in these villas. There was a security guard who would patrol the whole grounds just for me, stopping to speak Spanish with me when I was around. Monkeys would stalk my breakfast and iguanas that would lounge on the stone steps. I was convinced I had the nicest villa (in my mind it was the honeymoon suite) because the biggest of the iguanas (the iguana king I called him) seemed to live on my roof. I could hear him up there, his huge claws scraping at the tiles, and one day I climbed around above my villa to catch a view of him. He was huge.
So thats the story. It was a great set of steps. An amazing view of the beach. And it didn't rain once the entire time I was there. Off season rates and good exercise to boot. I say take the stairs!

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Personal Collection of Little Terrariums

I thought it'd be fun to share pictures of a few of the little terrariums I have sitting on the table next to me... they are sorta funny, some have grown in odd ways. Each precious little world.

I love this one - its the tiniest ever - I kept it for myself because its so friggin' small.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Glass Fungi

Why invite a mushroom to the party? ... cuz he's a fungi!
I've been making these tiny glass mushrooms to go in my little terrariums... thinking about just selling little packs of these in my etsy shop... little glass mushrooms for all your terrarium needs... for now its just a thought...

Aren't they cute. Quite the fun guys. :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cobalt Blue Glass Mobile

Want to add an accent to your cobalt blue glass collection?
How about a mobile.


.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Glass Eyes

The Glass Eye Maker from Tomas Leach on Vimeo.



Glass eyes... I have always been intrigued. They are amazing, hard to recognize and rarely talked about. A friend in grade school had a little brother with a glass eye (he was born with a birth defect)... my mother had a friend as a child that had a glass eye (he had punctured his eye with a stick)... Did you know Sammy Davis Jr. had a glass eye (he lost his left eye in a car accident). There is always a story behind the loss of an eye, perhaps its the legend that comes with the prosthetic that intrigues me, perhaps its sheer curiosity. Honestly though, I am a glass artist and particularly obsessed with the process of crafting glass, so its the object itself that really catches my attention. Handmade glass eyes - Ocular prosthesis - Venetians began making them in the 16th century but they were fragile and uncomfortable. Later Germany became the source of higher quality glass eyes and the US stopped importing them during WWII. The glass materials were also made in Germany so American makers of prosthetic eyes started using acrylics. Now they are made out of all sorts of materials, I guess we just call them "Glass Eyes", sounds better than "artificial eye". I found this video on Etsy about a London based glass eye maker.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Photo Shoot on the Beach

Last week I had an impromptu photo shoot with my friend Naomi. Her and her husband Yed own a jewelry business YedOmi and we took pictures of their work on the beach
Ingredients:
Natural light, sun about to set
beach props (dried shells, sand dollars and starfishes)
amazing jewelry

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fog + Portland + Camera = Fun

This morning I got up early and went on a photo adventure to capture the fog. Alright, so it wasn't all that early (I am a night owl) but the fog was persistent and I ended up driving around town for a couple hours checking out different sights...

The St. Johns Bridge (photo above) is simply gorgeous, so I headed there first. There is a beautiful park underneath the bridge, with a pier that let me get out on the water to take a few snapshots... there was a goose honking at me as I took pictures. I think he was calling to his girlfriend, or telling me to go away!
I then drove up to the shop to unload my kiln, while thinking about other locations for photo shoots... I passed the Old Historic Columbian Cemetery on the way to do some errands and couldn't resist pulling in to check it out... my photography teacher in high school used to take us to cemeteries to take pictures - and those were always my favorite photo adventures. Something about the different grave-stones and the old stories they contain. The details in the carvings, the remains of flowers left to pay respect, the general decay and crumbling of the years... I have always wanted to check out this old cemetery in N. Portland and it was certainly a neat adventure although I didn't take a whole lot of pictures... there was no fog at this point (wouldn't that have made for some incredible pictures!) just a funky old cemetery. There are a few pictures in my flickr account if you are curious... link
Lastly I stopped at the Grotto, there was still a bit of fog and I had been trying to get a good photo of a tree in a field in the fog... I had circled the Rose City Golf Course looking for just the right perspective on a beautiful tree. Golf courses have great trees and open fields, I thought this would be perfect, alas the fog was being elusive and coming and going without giving me the view that I was craving... so I headed over to the Grotto, they have beautiful trees and dramatic religious sculptures nestled among these trees. Sure enough the fog rolled back in for me and I wandered the Grotto appreciating the sights. Such an incredible place.

If you want to see more pictures, check out my Flickr account

Monday, February 7, 2011

Airplants in Globes

I've been listing some new airplants in glass globes online - check out my Etsy shop if you are interested!

Working in the Sunshine

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Harvesting Wild Mussels


We bought some 2011 Fishing (specifically shell-fishing) licenses at the local store. An impromptu beach vacation with friends gave the opportunity to hunt our own seafood dinner!

Our beach cottage was perched on the beach of Lincoln City, on a cliff overlooking the ocean and giant rocks that become exposed at low tide. The rocks are covered with wild-life, a free aquarium to explore and discover.

We brought some buckets and chisels and pliers and paint scrapers... tools are definitely helpful. Last year Tim and I went without tools, just a bucket, and this was silly. Now we know. Mussel beards are really strong (the little hairs that hold the shell to the rock) and tools help to pry the shellfish and save your hands from injury.

Not only did we collect mussels, we also harvested some edible barnacles that look like parrot beaks with long mussels that hold them to the rocks... I had seen Anthony Bourdain eat them on his show and he said they were delicious. They were a little more difficult to harvest, but they ended up being super tasty! (even better than the mussels I dare say!) It was a little creepy that the barnacles made noises as we harvested them. Naomi and I squealed and screamed a bit as they hissed and blew bubbles and spit orange juices at us. What can I say, the barnacles put up good fight! We won.

After harvesting and cleaning and cooking them we had a delicious traditional Moules Marinieres. What a great time! Enjoy the slide-show


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Beautiful Pictures



My Nikon D80 whispers sweet nothings in my ear, take more pictures, play with me, find beautiful images and feel the creative juices. Inspiration. Seriously, I took about 1000 pictures over the last few days... I made Tim pull the car over so I could take pictures of these old train cars... and my little friend in the pictures is 6 and looks so sweet when he plays with his trains... Ah to be 6. When I look at these pictures I can hear his dad bellowing "Alllll Aboard!!!"

My View This Morning...