March 30, 2009

Paypal troubles?

I heard that something is going on over at Paypal that's causing new customers to have to wait multiple days before being approved for an account. Last I heard, no one needed a Paypal account to make a credit card payment to an account holder, but maybe things have changed.

I switched my website shopping cart and Etsy site over to "all Paypal, all the time" payment acceptance last fall, since it's cheaper for me, and much simpler for me to process. I don't want to force my customers to have to deal with Paypal's finicky nature right now, so I've added the normal credit card option back to the cart. You can now pay with Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover on either website! Yay!

If you'd like to purchase something on Etsy without using Paypal, just select the "Other" payment option when checking out, and wait for me to send you an invoice for you order. You can then pay it online on a SSL secure server.

I've also been considering creating a layaway plan for people who'd like to buy something, but don't have all the cash right away. I could send monthly invoices for a percentage of the balance, and ship your items when it's paid off. Does anyone think this would be helpful?

[This photo is completely irrelevant to the post, but I couldn't wait to share some more of the new fused jewelry I've been working on! I got the last batch back from the studio today, and I'll be listing things on Etsy as early as Wednesday!]


Custom Traveling Case from Recycled Materials

I just had to share this awesome suitcase with you. I needed a way to transport glass samples easily and safely, so I could show them to shop owners before they placed a wholesale order. My friend, Kori, was cleaning out her garage and was kind enough to give me a suitcase and some high-density foam that she didn't need anymore.

Sean and I cut the foam so that it fits into the case and has cutouts in the shapes of my standard products. Then, Sean spray-painted the foam black so it looks nicer, and the etched designs stand out much better. I've brought it to a bunch of shops already, and I couldn't have asked for a better, custom traveling case!

I was thinking of painting the suitcase a new color, or putting my own artwork on it, but the purple is kind of fun. It's great for now, at least.


March 27, 2009

Crafty Wonderland's 3rd Birthday Bash

We've just confirmed our first show of the spring! We'll be at Crafty Wonderland on April 5th, with new pint glass designs, ceramics, and a big sale box!

Come celebrate the Crafty's 3rd birthday with us, and check out the special events they have going on: that weekend is the Portland premier of Handmade Nation, the indie craft documentary, at the Museum of Contemporary Craft! Faythe Levine (the filmmaker) will be at Crafty Wonderland to meet visitors and sign/sell copies of her book, also titled Handmade Nation. There will also be a special Handmade Nation themed DIY Table project. Some of the crafters featured in her film/book are going to be there as well!

Read more about the film here. Get tickets to see the film and find out about the other cool things happening at the museum that weekend here. I'll be at the Saturday showing of the film with my friend, Adrienne, of Mmm..Fiber!


March 26, 2009

Astronaut Love

I made this jar for a customer as a custom request. The retro-style rocket ship was an image I already had, but I drew the astronauts specially for her. I wanted them to be androgynous, and kinda cute-but-not-cutesy. It was tougher than I thought it would be, but I really love the way they came out.

The rocket and astronauts were sandblasted, along with the heart-shaped hose connecting the astronauts, and most of the stars and moon. I hand-engraved the hose connecting the people to the ship, and added a few extra stars.

This was a lot of work! It was super fun though, and now I've got some fantastic astronaut stencils that I'd like to put on other stuff. I might make a small batch of limited-edition pint glasses with a smaller version of this design wrapping around them. They'd be kinda pricey, so I'm thinking of offering some with just the astronauts. I already have some with just the rocket (with flames!).

You can see a few more photos of the jar on Flickr. I'd love to hear what you think!


March 24, 2009

Video Chat is Really Cool

We were interviewed on Etsy for a "Quit Your Day Job" article, and invited to answer questions in their Virtual Labs! Sean and I got to put our webcam to good use by answering people's questions (and not having to type!). It was really cool, and I can't believe I've never checked out the Virtual Labs before (they're always full when I've tried). The platform is such an ingenius way to interact with people!

There was so much going on, it was kind of hard to tell if we were answering everyone's questions, but we did our best. I'm still blown away by how many people joined us and participated. I hope we were inspirational!

Thanks to Leah for taking the screen shot and sending it!


March 22, 2009

Jewelry on its Way

I know I've been saying that new fused jewelry items are on their way for a while now, but we finally had time to go to the glass studio a few times last week to make a batch of new things. We still have two more small batches to work on this week before we release the new line, but things are coming along swimmingly! What do you think of the glass colors I chose?

They should start showing up in our Etsy shop in early April, and on our website soon after. I can't wait to show them off!


March 18, 2009

ShapeLock: Plastic for Crafters

I ran across ShapeLock while watching a video of a robot someone had made from a remote-controlled helicopter. They used this amazing mold-able plastic to create the robot's outer shell and legs. I found out that ShapeLock becomes soft at only 150 degrees fahrenheit, so you just need to pop it in the microwave or put it in hot water! The gears in my head immediately started spinning with all the great crafty things you could make out of this stuff!

Is it safe? What is it really? It's a non-toxic plastic similar to nylon or polypropylene. It's endlessly reusable, drillable and paintable. Basically, it's awesome.

I bought a big bag for myself right away, not really knowing what I would do with it. I played with it for a day, and mostly came away with pruney, lightly burned fingers, since I needed to keep reheating the water it was in to keep it mold-able. Once it hits 149 degrees, it's not really moving anymore, no matter how much you poke it! I made a tiny figurine and a few organic-looking rings. I mashed some food coloring into some of it, which gave it a pale blue tint. I'm afraid the rings might lose their shape if they were worn on a hot summer day (or displayed in the sun for too long) so this might not be the best material for sellable jewelry. Just think what else you could do though!

I haven't had much time to experiment with my plastic since that first day, but I did find a great use for it: caps for the new industrial shelves I just put in my office! The tops of these shelf poles were left unfinished, and I was in danger of ripping my sleeves on them while pulling something off the top shelf. In a couple of minutes, I'd capped them all with shiny white plastic slugs (I didn't bother trying to make them look nice). The caps should pop off pretty easily if I ever decide to remove them, but for now, they're doing a great job of keeping me safe.

Check out ShapeLock's website for FAQ's and suggested uses, or to buy your own: They even have free samples available, which would have been a good idea for me. I went with the 250 gram bag, and it's quite a lot!


March 17, 2009

We'll be in "Quit Your Day Job" next week!

I haven't had time to write a real post about this, so I thought I'd just announce that we're being featured on Etsy's Quit Your Day Job article next Monday! I'll also be answering questions in real time in Etsy's Virtual Labs the day after. I've spent the past two days straight working on answers to all the interview questions, and getting photos ready for the piece. Hopefully, we can inspire some more people to take the plunge!


March 16, 2009

Print Giveaway Winner and New Mugs

The winner of the drawing for an autographed Chilly Robot print is Jess!! Thanks to everyone who entered. There will be new drawings in the future, so subscribe to our blog so you don't miss the next one.

If you still really want a Chilly Robot print, there are two more for me to give away. They're going out to the first customers to spend $70 or more on our website or Etsy shop until the end of March (one has already found its new home!). Congratulate yourself for finishing your taxes early, or console yourself with a little something special. I feel your pain.

If you're looking for something brand-spankin' new, check out our new ceramics line! I've been scouring thrift stores for fun coffee mugs and teacups, and we're finally got some of them up in our Etsy shop. Some have been carved through the glaze, so the bold natural ceramic shows through, while others are just frosted on the surface.

Mustaches are by far the most popular design for these, but we're happy to do whatever design you like (although we're limited by the colors/styles of cups we're able to find). New mugs are being added as fast as we can make them! I came down with a cold last week, and have been drinking enormous amounts of herbal tea, making me wonder why I didn't release these ceramics earlier.

You can see more photos of them here, and check out what's for sale here. My favorite one is the little brown one in this photo, since I'm left-handed. I'm going to make more lefty mugs for the shop, because I know we left-handers need options.


March 13, 2009

Scambaiting: 419 Eater

Now that I use Gmail, I rarely see the spam and Nigerian money scammer emails that I know are pouring in and getting tucked neatly into the trash. I'm sure you know the emails I'm talking about. They start with a formal and vague introduction to "Sir/Madam", and go straight into a grammatically incorrect tear-jerker tale of woe that often involves royalty, a dead relative and an inheritence that can only be reached WITH YOUR HELP. It's hard to believe that anyone would fall for this kind of scam, but innocent people are taken advantage of all the time by these criminals (and it's just plain annoying).

From the site:

So what is scambaiting? Well, put simply, you enter into a dialogue with scammers, simply to waste their time and resources. Whilst you are doing this, you will be helping to keep the scammers away from real potential victims and screwing around with the minds of deserving thieves.

Although this site concentrates mainly on the Nigerian 419 scam, we are happy to deal with other types of scams if and when the opportunity arises. We also have a large team of experts dedicated to the removal and closure of fake scammer banks and sites.

This is why I'm in love with the 419 Eater website. It not only gives you ideas for getting back at scammers on your own, but it's completely entertaining to read through what others are doing. One seasoned veteran scambaiter even managed to convince a scammer to record himself reading the entire Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book aloud (the audio files are about halfway down the second page, but it's entertaining to see how he got there).


March 11, 2009

Autographed Print Giveaway

Last December, I drew up this dapper robot specially for The Sampler, who print gocco'ed a whole bunch of 'em up with shiny gold ink! My ghetto fabulous copies got lost in the mail, but I just received a few to give away. Each 5x7 print is autographed by yours truly, and comes in a cellophane bag, ready for framing.

I'm going to give one copy away here on the blog--you just need to leave a comment to this post with your favorite thing about winter. C'mon, it's almost over, but I'm sure there's something to like about this time of year! Make sure there's a way for me to contact you if you win, too. I'll randomly draw a winner on Monday morning (March 16th).

The others will be given away to the first 3 people who order $70 or more from my website or Etsy shop by the end of March. Get a jump on Mother's or Father's Day, birthdays or even next holiday season, and get a collectible piece of art for free!


March 4, 2009

Before & After

I just spent the past few days reorganizing the apartment. We decided to swap our bedroom and home studio (for space-issues and neighbor-noise-issues), which allowed me to get a bunch of industrial shelving units for all my stuff! These shelves are $55 apiece at Home Depot, and so completely worth it. They hold up to 2,000 lbs. and are completely adjustable. I only needed a rubber mallet to put them together. So. Awesome.

I posted lots more photos on Flickr and added personal notes about my stuff (in case you care about my stuff? I don't know. It was fun to do.).

I don't know if you can tell how completely awesome this transformation is, but you'll just have to believe me. I actually enjoy spending time working at home now! Packing and shipping is much more efficient. And above all, the cat approves.

Maybe this will inspire your own spring cleaning or reorganization! Don't be afraid to get some really nice shelves.


March 3, 2009

Consider yourself insured

I've decided to include insurance with all priority mail and international orders, from now on! I had to raise shipping prices by $1 to cover this benefit, but it makes all orders more secure for everyone.

I realized when I was doing this that our shipping prices might seem kinda high to some people (they seem high to me!), and I thought maybe I should explain where all your money goes.

I get all my priority mail boxes for free from the USPS. They have a variety of sizes, which are usually convenient. The USPS has some pretty outrageous prices when it comes to shipping heavy things like pint glasses, so I usually have to send them in Flat Rate boxes to get the best deals. They even charge extra based on the shipping location, so someone in MA could end of paying twice as much as someone in CA to get the same item with normal priority service. I try to average out the actual costs, so everyone pays something fair.

I've considered offering a cheaper shipping option through another carrier, but UPS and Fedex don't deal with small packages. It would actually be $80-100 to ship a pair of pint glasses! Parcel Post is the cheaper USPS option, but I'd have to buy my own boxes, so the end price would be the same as the flate rate prices for most things. I'm going to look at small boxes this week, to see if I can find something to ship shot glasses in, so they don't have to go priority mail. That could save you a few bucks! Too bad pint glasses are a little too big and heavy for that.

It's been a few months since we've had this many boxes to ship out (you may remember this photo from back in December), but it's amazing how much time it takes to pack and ship things every day, even with just one or two orders. Recycled newspaper doesn't crumple itself! We're happy to have found a source for recycled packaging now, so all orders in the future (when we run out of the bubble wrap we've already purchased) will be packed completely in recycled materials. Yay for the environment!


March 2, 2009

Glass Jar Picture Frames

I can't stop thinking about these innovative Glass Jar Frames from Photojojo!! Not only are they adorable, but I can't get over the fact that I could etch things onto the jars too. Pretty flowers, fake mustaches, the location that the photo was taken (nice travel souvenirs), numbers, letters, etc. etc. Now I just have to decide what to do with them!


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