Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Featured Etsy Seller

I've been meaning to feature an Etsy seller on here for a while. My first seller that I want to feature is the wonderful TheBannerQueen. She makes fantastic banners and avatars at really reasonable prices. She also runs a blog over at The Banner Queen blog. The reason that I want to feature her is because she and I are usually on the forums at the same time, and she is one of the best people on the forums. She's open, friendly, helpful, and above all positive. Sometimes on the Etsy forums, people get negative and whiny - banner is never one of them. She sets a fantastic example of how to behave online, how to be part of a community, and just be a nice person! And for that, I salute her.

Monday, 25 February 2008


I'm on cuteable today!!! Check it out here. I'm really excited because it's the first time I've been featured on a blog - yeh!!

Sunday, 24 February 2008

buy buy buy!!!

With the economic downturn affecting nearly all parts of retail, including handmade I'm sure, handmade retailers have a decision to make. Do they (a) tough it out, pinch their pennies, and take the slowdown as an opportunity to restock their stuff or do they (b) attempt to kickstart the economy with a bit of retail therapy of their own? Today, I chose the latter, and went on a bit of an Etsy spending spree.

First up is this beautiful print from Madelaine - isn't it sumptuous? I adore the richness of the colours tempered with the look of emptiness and decay. It reminds me of some Sam Taylor Wood photos that were taken in rural Georgia.

Secondly, I bought this great pin from Lupin. I've been following Lupin's work for a while - she writes a great blog over at bugsandfishes, and I've been dying to treat myself to a pin of hers for a while. I love brown, pink, felt, and tea - what's not to love?

I saw this tin from HummingbirdEyes a while ago, and didn't buy it. Naturally someone else did, but when I saw it as available again, I jumped at the chance. It's going to be perfect for keeping my buttons in. Right now, they are in an old honey pot, and my buttons do actually smell like honey. Actually, that's not really such a bad thing, but I still love the tin.

Finally, craftpudding just makes gorgeous stamps. And who would say no to a piece of cuteness like this? Impossible.

As a sidenote, I discovered craftpudding and lupin, not through Etsy itself, but through flickr - another reminder of just how important non-Etsy promotion is.

Oh, and I've spent the day listening to the Juno soundtrack whilst sewing up some more magnets - fantastic. An absolute must for everyone who likes whimsical music and pay attention to lyrics.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

bad days all around

It looks like everyone was having a bad day today. Something blew up on the Etsy servers today, and everyone's view counters are shot. I guess it doesn't really mean very much in the long run, but right now my shop looks very lonely and unloved with everything at 1 or 2. Bless! I guess I could do some mad promoting to get views in, but it will even itself out over the next day or so. I did some myspace promoting today that might bring some more people in, for a start. And on my end, I spent last night making some really cool felt whales that I was going to turn into magnets, apart from my bag of 50 magnets completely disappeared. The last time we saw them, my boyfriend was complaining that they weren't candy, and then, well, we don't know. They have vanished. We have turned the flat upside down, and they are nowhere to be seen. Very random. I've ordered more, but in the meantime, no shop updates! I am working on a bright blue octo to join George in the store - I can't wait to take pictures of them together, because that is going to be so cute!!

On a side note, I saw Juno, and it is sooooooo awesome!! I wish I as that cool as a teenager. Well, without the whole pregnancy thing, of course. I'm not even ready for babies now.

Friday, 22 February 2008

one week of no productivity at all!

That's right - in one week, I managed to just make one plushie. One!!! That is shocking. Especially since I made an inventory list of everything that I want to make for the Glasgow Craft Mafia Market (see my new picture for it in my sidebar!), and I am more than sorely lacking. Still, I've had a really hard week for work with a new job which is really exciting. For once, I don't have hours and hours to play with at work, so no more wasting around on the Etsy forums and playing on flickr!

This plushie is using my current favourite technique - felt applique. I just absolutely adore the neatness of the effect, the rythme of doing it, how it all fits together. I think I'll be doing a lot more of it over the couple of weeks. Can't wait!

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Design Improvements

My crocheted matryoska dolls have proven to be pretty popular, but I have always had a hard time making their faces in a way that I was totally happy with. I have also been doing a lot of felt applique recently and absolutely loved the look of it, and how easy it is to manipulate to get the effect I wanted. Yesterday when I was making another set of dolls, instead of making crocheted faces, I decided to do felt ones, and it is such an improvement!! I am so pleased with the new dolls - I think they look doubly adorable now. I think one of the great things about crafting is the development of skills - you can visibly see my development. That is so rewarding.

Friday, 15 February 2008

shipping tomorrow!!

I've been biatching for the last week or so about how my consignment order was draining my creativity. Well, I finished a few days ago, and today I was photographing it before sending it to Newcastle tomorrow. I'm really pleased about how bright and colourful they all turned out - yellow is such a shiny, smiley colour!This is my favourite picture I think - he just looks so happy to be surrounded by all his felty friends!
This is my latest creation - aren't they adorable? My dad is a dentist, so it was a matter of time before I made teeth. They are magnets, but I guess they could be brooches are anything.

myspace madness

I've just spent the morning clicking through myspace adding friends and using my EtsyMini as a comment. I have found that promoting on myspace does tend to lead to more hearts and views on my work. I'm not sure I've had a sale through myspace yet, but who can tell. And hearts are bookmarks for future views - who knows when a potential buyer might come along. So I'll do a little bit more this afternoon, interspersed with some genuine hard work (I've got to put together a report for work!), and then tonight will be back to some serious crafting. I've realised that I've got about 4 weekends until my first craft fair, and that threw me into a bit of a panic, especially since one is going to be spent in Israel. Weekends are my most productive time, so I'm going to have to work extra hard over the next couple to get enough wares for my debut at the Glasgow Craft Mafia Fair in March. I'm super excited about it though. I am not really expecting to sell much, or even make it even on my entrance fee, but I'm hoping it will be a good opportunity for meeting other crafty people, and maybe make some future sales with my business cards etc. I haven't even thought about what I need to take - I've never even been to a craft fair, never mind actually exhibited. If I start thinking about it though, I'll start getting stressed. Not a good plan.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

crocheted cuteness

IMG_3962, originally uploaded by mooseandbear.

These little cuties were made for a custom order I got last week. I actually have started making a third set, because they seem to be pretty popular - I get a lot of comments on the photos on flickr, which is nice.

I did a showcase this week on etsy in the gift guides section. I might as well have ripped up my $7. My views and hearts were not substantially changed from a normal day, and I had absolutely zero sales. I guess the main learning from that experience is not to do it again! Like I said in an earlier post, somethings you have to learn for yourself. Sales are actually quite low at the moment, I feel. I've had one big order of 5 things, but not much else. Perhaps it is because I haven't been doing as much off-Etsy promoting, like myspace, so I think I'll spend Friday night clicking around myspace adding friends, comments and my mini-Etsy everywhere. Perhaps that will give me a boost.

It's also Valentines Day today, so tonight will be Etsy-free. I'm looking forward to chilling out with my boy, eating some nice food, and having a wander round the neighbourhood.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

back by popular demand!

Last time I made these guys they only lasted an hour. Fingers crossed they're just as popular this time around!

Tomorrow I'm flying to Manchester in the morning, and Amsterdam in the afternoon. Then it's a day in Amsterdam and back to Manchester to drive to Halifax. My boyfriend asked whether Moose and Bear would be coming with me, and whether I would have to declare 5 kilos of felt at immigration. And the honest answer is yes, I will be taking my mad-crafting bag and coming back with a whole load of new stock. Definitely octopus, and maybe some ninjas.

Lisa the Marshmallow Yeti Monster

Meet Lisa, the Marshamallow Yeti Monster. I just finished her, after starting designing her yesteday. She took a lot longer than I expected, with all those applique felt circles, and her face took forever. I'm still terrible at faces. I really wanted to use buttons for her eyes, but none of the buttons I had worked, and even now, I'm not sure what sort of buttons would be good. Her face, actually, all of her, is very Japanese kawaii influenced. She's probably the biggest plushie I've yet made, and whilst I prefer making small things (and have a whole bunch of teenies planned), I'm quite proud of her. I also hadn't used plain cotton thread for stitching felt before, and it was a lot more secure than I thought it would be. I hope she finds a good home soon. I have hardly anything in my shop, and a showcase on Tuesday, so I've got my work cut out to get enough in my shop to make it worthwhile. Back to the crochet hook!!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

moving onwards

If you have read my previous post, then you'll realise that last night I was having a hard time with Etsy, and being accused of copying (I wasn't). What I should have pointed out was that this was not coming from the seller themselves, but someone else entirely. However, I did convo the seller, let them know that I was removing any similar items, and that I hoped that the situation hadn't caused any problems. I got a really nice message back saying that they appreciated my actions, and that they hoped that I wasn't now feeling limited in what I could do in the plush world. It was such a great message to get back, and today I feel ready to get back into the crazy world of Etsyism, and have spent the day working on a new design that will be posted later, once I have enough stuffing for it. I have run out, again.

Big thanks to the supportive comments I got last night as well - mucho appreciated!

Friday, 8 February 2008

conflicting and challenging time

This week I have had to deal with one of the most challenging things in Etsy that I have come across - the question of originality. It turns out that some of the pieces of work that I have been making, most notably, my small swearing toys, are a similar concept to some of those that a seller on Etsy already makes. At first, I thought, well, that's weird, but not unheard of - ideas are rarely unique, and Etsy is a truly global marketplace. There is Coke and Pepsi, so there will inevitably be pieces that have a similar look, even if they are developed millions of miles away. However, I have just received an accusation of copying, which didn't make me feel comfortable at all. The last thing I want is to have my brand associated with a lack of originality. So I have decided to stop making those toys, and to phase them out of my store as well, and delisted the most similar ones today. I'll be working on new designs over the next couple of days to rebuild my store stock, and I really want to just leave the whole thing behind me. I am sure that I am not the only seller to go through this. I know I would feel angry if I saw what appeared to be copies of my work, and I don't want a seller to feel that. I guess it is just one of the conflicts of having a truly global marketplace - how does one genuinely manage copyright issues?

is it business or pleasure, sir?

One of the enduring conflicts that I have whilst working on Moose and Bear is figuring out whether I am doing it for business or pleasure. I know that it will never become a full-time occupation for me, but there is still the question as to whether I am looking to operate at a profit or not.

For example, this week I have been working on fulfilling a consignment order. To be honest, it hasn't been fun, because I have been working to order, rather than doing what inspires me. And yet, if another store asked me to do consignment, I would probably say yes, because I know that getting my product out into stores is a good move for me. Also, I purchased a spreadsheet from JJMFinance the other day for $5 to track my hearts and views. To be honest, if I was looking to operate on a profit, I would have taken an hour and built one myself. And whilst I am looking to track my hearts and views from a marketing perspective, I have a feeling it is really more about vanity. I also purchased a showcase (advertising slot) on Etsy for next week. I have spent some time in forums and have learnt that these are generally not a good idea, and don't give a good return on investment. However, I really wanted to actually experience this for myself, rather than take the perceived wisdom from the forums. I guess I am very much at the point of this being a hobby for me, albeit one that I'd like to be self-funding at least, and it is at the moment. It would be really nice if it could become more than self-sustaining, but that is a dream away at the moment.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

more good feedback

froggie desk pet, originally uploaded by mooseandbear.

The lucky recipient of Andrew the Studious Frog Desk pet left me great feedback that he was already making her study harder! Getting great feedback is such a good feeling - sometimes in the big bad world of Etsy where there is so much talent and variety, I can feel that I'm not up to scratch and that I shouldn't be there. But hearing that customers love your product just makes that go away and you realise that what you are creating does have value.

I've been mad crafting at the moment for my consignment work. I'm halfway through an order, and I want to get it all done by Friday and in the post on Saturday. That would be more achievable if I hadn't actually lost the felt I bought over the weekend. Everything else I bought from JL that day is accounted for, apart from the felt. Either I've lost it, I'm going mad, or it never made it into the bag at JL. Either way, I'll have to be back on Thursday night to pick up some more.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

brand new steve!

IMG_3914, originally uploaded by mooseandbear.

I've been working on a brand new Steve since last week. Steve the Robot was originally made at the beginning of the new year, and he sold in just a couple of weeks. He was part of the original "moose and bear" crew - the softies that make up my avatar and business cards, and that I blogged about how attached I was to here. Anyway, I've made a new Steve, with some design changes. To be honest, whilst I was making him I had a nagging feeling that he just wasn't as good as the old Steve - he's a bit bigger for a start. But, actually, now that he's finished, and I've taken pictures of him, spent some time with him, understood his feelings and really bonded, I think he's not bad at all. My shop was also looking like a crochet free zone, which is okay, but I like to give my customers variety, so I'm glad that I can list him tonight and bring some variety back to Moose and Bear.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Trust the Masses

Last night I wrote a post about how I wasn't sure if I should list my little ducks, as I didn't think that they were in keeping with the rest of my store look. Well, I shouldn't have been so worried. They have officially become my fastest selling item, lasting less than 24 hours in my store. I'm really pleased, and will be relisting them really soon.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Friday Night WIP

IMG_3874, originally uploaded by mooseandbear.

On Fridays I get a guaranteed couple of hours peace and quiet as the boyfriend is at a basketball game. Given that I've been away from any type of filling recently with staying in hotels, I had amassed a fair number of wips that I wanted to get finished. This is them all spread out of the table demanding attention. The guy on the bottom left is a new design and I'm really proud of him. I finished him last night, and he went up for sale today. Even Kate, my little sister was quite impressed. I had a definite idea of how I wanted him to turn out, and he did pretty much how I wanted, which is unusual for me!

This is how he turned out - pretty good, no? I just posted him on sale, so I hope he goes soon. He had better - I just had to spend an obscene amount of money on new glasses as Ori stood on mine this morning.

I've been working on these little cuties forever - they are just far too cute!! Right now they don't really fit with the aesthetic of my store, and I was thinking of maybe offering them as a PIF, or saving them until closer to Easter, or, well, I don't know.

My store aesthetic is causing me problems, making me potentially look like I'm some kind of schizophrenic crafter - angry bunnies and cute little ducks just don't naturally mix, do they? It's something that has been bothering me for a while, and I'm still unsure as to how to follow through yet.

Finally, I was left some fantastic feedback last night - one of my customers even wrote me a poem!!! I really can't thank them enough. Great customers are just amazing, and it is such a glowing feeling to know that my creations are being loved and appreciated by someone other than myself.

Friday, 1 February 2008

away from home is great for industry

IMG_3813, originally uploaded by mooseandbear.

Yesteday, I sat on my hotel bed and cut out felt, sewed, embroidered and generally made a mess from 5 until about 10.30, with only some short breaks for essentials like green curry (the only edible thing on the holiday inn menu!). I never bring stuffing with me whenever I travel as it just takes up far too much space in my tiny rolly bag. So I now have 3 bunnies, one swearing amoeba monster, and a newly designed "drip paint" monster to stuff tonight. The new bunnies and swearing amoeba (I really need a better name than that!) are great thanks to my lovely new felt colours from paper and string, and I really want to list them, but instead they are getting packaged up and put in a box and sent to Newcastle, where they will be my first consignment order. I will photograph them though, and turn them into part of my catalogue that I'm building. I'll be listing my new "drip monster" over the weekend, along with tonight's second burst of super industry. Thanks to all this entirely focused, internet free crafting that I've been able to do, I now am ready to get back into promoting the wonders of Moose and Bear, and, even better, go supply shopping!! John Lewis have lots of new felt colours in, so I'll be dropping in there tomorrow. Bugs and Fishes posted about not having the exactly right colour of thread for felt, and I feel her pain, because I'm the same right now, so I'm going to get some new thread, and a whole heap of buttons as well. Nothing makes a crafter happier than going shopping for supplies!!!