Category Archives: Craft

Where’s the $$ ?

Let’s face it, I didn’t open an Etsy store to get rich.  I mainly opened it because I make things, sometimes too many things, and needed a way to get some of them out of the house.  But here’s the thing: I recently shipped an item from the store and when I added up what I spent on packing materials and the actual shipping, then subtracted that from the total I charged (price + shipping), I actually LOST $2.  That didn’t even take the original price of materials to make the item into consideration.

I want to price my items at a level that makes them affordable, but I guess I need to recalculate what that price is so I at least break even.  Sure, I’d like to make money from them, but let’s focus on small steps first, shall we?

In other news, I got business cards in the mail today  🙂  Pictures to come.


Rug is Finished

Yesterday’s post was about the beginnings and a how-to (kinda) of my rag rug using old tee shirts.  Today: the final product!

Using a total of 4 tee shirts, measuring in at 22 inches in diameter, here it is.

The final shirt didn’t quite make it back around on the last row (top left section), but I’ll have to live with it.


Thanks!

A special thanks to the family member who bought from my Etsy shop a while back!  I can’t say who, because I assume the purchase was a gift, and I don’t know if it was given or not.  But thanks, you!

In other news, I’ll be writing about a crochet coral soon.


15% off sale at Etsy!

The Men of Etsy team is having a week-long 15% off sale! You can find my shop here and use BOYSOFSUMMER as the coupon code. Additionally, if you search “boysofsummer” you will find ALL the shops offering this deal (same coupon code). This is a huge selection of shops with many, many different types of items. Christmas in July!

My Etsy shop.


Wonderball!

Now that I’m comfortable working in the round (as this trivet shows), I thought I’d set my sights on something more difficult: shapes! Last night, in preparation for the eyeball The Lady wants me to crochet her (no, seriously), I made my first sphere. Not only did it come out well, but the pattern I was using was written oddly about 7 rows in and I had to figure out some stuff on my own..which is something I’ve talked about before. I “get” crochet enough to be able to problem solve and that’s why I have never picked the knitting needles back up since 2007.

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As anyone who does amigurumi knows, being able to do this well has opened up a whole new world to me! Almost every amigurumi head is basically this creation, attached in different ways. Of course, when The Lady only wants an eyeball, not a whole body, things are much easier.

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I also wanted to show a shot of my “studio” because I built it after one of my readers, Denise, gave me the idea. To paraphrase the movie As Good As it Gets, she makes me want to be a better crafter  🙂

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PS: suck it, Spell Check, “crafter” IS a word!


A Little Bit of Weaving

…pun intended.

Today I joined Etsy Labs and Church of Craft for “Crafting in the Park.” This took place at the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park- Pier 1. Today was gorgeous; the weather couldn’t have been better if someone had placed an order. One of the crafts they were teaching was weaving… on a mini level.

Using a small piece of cardboard as the loom, the warp was created using butcher’s twine (I think that’s what it was) and embroidery thread as the weft. A tapestry needle served as the shuttle.

Once finished (which took over an hour, even for such a small piece), I brought it home, glued on a scrap piece of leather, and attached a pin back. Below are pics of the final product.

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So I ended up with a tiny, wearable rug.


Embroidery Oblivion

This is my newest embroidery piece.  I figured, hey, I like art and I like video games… the two shall join.  It measures roughly 5×7 and I hope to get a frame for it soon (something slightly bigger so the piece sits on a background).  After embroidering the piece, I burned the edges to give it that Kvatch feel.  I also thought this burlapesque muslin looked more Cyrodiilic(?) than any other fabric.

(click image for full size)

Although I really like how it came out, I may end up putting it on Etsy.  We don’t really have the space to display stuff here at the apartment.

After I get a little better at embroidery, I think my big project will involve some of the Skill symbols, like

Block 

Marksmanship

Security

Sneak

Destruction

(P.S.- after burning the muslin, the apartment smelled like we roasted marshmallows 🙂 )


Re: sorta complaining?

In my last post, I discussed how I wasn’t happy that I did a lot of things well but nothing amazingly.  Via Facebook, here were some of the responses that made me really rethink my “complaint.”

My cousin Jeff:

Personally, I think the true mark of talent is being able to do a lot of things well. I would much rather be second best at everything than an expert at one thing, and absolutely clueless about anything else. The second mark of that talent is seeing the flaws in your work. Only a fool looks at his own work an says “its perfect.” The true craftsman says “there’s a gap, I need to smooth that spot, that piece don’t match the other one, and there is another mistake” everyone else looks at the work with awe.

I loved the line “I would much rather be second best at everything than an expert at one thing.”  It kind of made me think of the concept of the Renaissance Man, people who tinkered in many different areas, including art and science.  Then I read my friend Jodie’s lines

I feel the same way! I’m not GREAT at anything, but I love trying my hand at everything. Once I get pretty good at something…. I’m ready to try something else! Creative ADD.

These are two artists whose work I admire.  My cousin’s metal work is simple amazing (and of course I want to try it!).  To be in the kitchen, cutting vegetables with a knife you made yourself must be a really cool experience.  Then there’s Jodie who makes gorgeous glass jewelry and who won a big ole’ gingerbread house competition at Grove Park Inn.  Even my mom, who helped foster this love of creation, weighed in:

Son, did you ever notice that I am also “not great” at anything? Once I learned how to do something “well” I was on to learning something else. For me, it was never about perfecting an art, but the learning… that was the fun part.

Maybe I was just in a foul mood that day… but also their words were really powerful.  They’re right.  I don’t create to operate as a business.  If that was the case, I’d make one thing and lots of it (or variations thereof).  I create because I enjoy creating.  As Mom says, “the learning is the fun part.”

Maybe it’s the crappy weather, but I just haven’t felt like creating lately.  Especially not for creation’s sake.  I guess not working on any projects combined with seeing some amazing stuff being created around me made me feel like there wasn’t a point to what I have done over the years.  But in truth, that’s not who I am.  I create for the fun of it.  I just need to remember that… especially when I’m not working on something.


In which the “artist” questions himself

I blame my mother.

But then, don’t we all?

Growing up, there was one thing I learned more than any other from my mom: you can do anything.  I saw her sewing, doing cross stitch and needlepoint and latch work.  My father would take us boys on a trip and we’d return to find she’d re-wallpapered/painted the rooms.  She owned a scroll saw and would make toys for us down in the basement.

Frequently she involved us boys in these varied tasks, like when we all colored pictures on transfer paper and she made bed spreads for us with the pictures.  I remember the smell and feel of wallpaper after dunking it in the trough of water.  Somewhere along the way, I picked up a love for crafts and making art as well.

So I blame my mother for my desire to try as much as possible 🙂  To date I can say I have worked in all the following areas: crochet, knitting, water color, book binding, paper making, tie dye, clothes design/making, machine sewing, hand sewing, photography, graphic art, font creation, drawing, altered books, embroidery, jewelry making, embossing, pastels, picture framing, glass plate decoration, stuffed animal design/creation, glass etching, calligraphy… there’s  much, much more that I’m just not thinking of.  And that’s just in the broad field of Arts & Crafts.  I’ve also written plays, short stories, poetry, songs.  I played trombone for 7 years.  I have acted professionally for over 10 years.

But here’s the point I am heading towards: in all these endeavors, I have frequently risen from “not bad” to “pretty good.”  But never beyond.  I’m a good actor.  Maybe a pretty good actor.  But pretty good doesn’t set me above many others when it comes time for casting.  7 years of trombone and I still wasn’t very good at all.  My eye for photography has never been that interesting.  My drawing has always been labored and looks labored.  After years of crocheting, I’d say I could be rated at Advanced Novice.

There is nothing that I feel I do exceedingly well.

While that may not be a terrible thing, it still bothers me.  Even when it comes to my ideas for creating, I feel second-rate.  I see things and think, “Ooo!  I wanna try that!” and then I do THAT.  Exactly that.  Rarely does something I see/experience act as a springboard for something new.  Rarely do I come up with my own concepts.  Sometimes I can’t even put my own spin on concepts.  I might think, “I am going to write a story that takes place after an apocalypse (because I read World War Z) and the lead character is going to live in a casino (because I play too much Fallout: New Vegas).  Never mind, he’ll live on an aircraft carrier (wait, that was Fallout 3).”  I know there’s nothing new in the world (Dime Store Prophets quote) and that all the stories have been told.  The key is putting ones self into something old and making it new.  I just can’t seem to find the Me to put into something, though.  I’ve never been sure how to make it my own.

I guess I spent too much time when I was younger trying to copy exactly what my mom was doing, trying so hard to do it “right.”  I never bothered to color outside the lines and see where it took me.  As an adult, I have a lot of things I can do, but nothing I can do very well.


A Making-Books Book

For Christmas, the little lady got me a book that I had drooled over at a local bookstore, Unnameable Books.  The book is How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith.

I was taught bookbinding in New Mexico back in 2002 by an amazing artist, Bev Taylor.  Since then I have made a few books, including the guest registry/photo album for a friend’s wedding.

If you are even mildly interested to making your own one-of-a-kind books, do yourself a favor and get this book.  There are some very basic and quick books to start with and it works its way up to coptic stitching, which I have only done once, but with great acceptable success.

This video shows a really neat “Instant Book” using techniques shown in this book.


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