Inside an Etsy shop

No matter what else is going on in my life, my Etsy shop is open for business and humming along in the background, taking online orders from people all over the world. I opened Earthshards in 2012. Actually, it was the my second shop – anybody remember those kindle covers that I used to make? Boy, were those suckers labor-intensive.

There’s always stock on hand for the Earthshards shop, small earthenware faces that I make in the evenings when I’m not busy. I usually make about 80 each time, which takes two hours or so. They take a day to dry. After they are fired, they are sorted by clay type.

White and terra cotta unfinished clay faces

When I get an order, I select the faces according to the quantity and finish requested. Buyers can order three different finishes, Rune and Relic (walnut ink), Celtic Forge (metallic layers), or Mesa Verde (faux turquoise). I can’t do the finishes in advance because I never know who will want what, so they are finished at the time the orders are received.

From top left clockwise: Celtic Forge, Mesa Verde, and Rune and Relic finishes

Yesterday’s orders set a record – ten! Three were from other countries – Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia.

Etsy orders printed and in progress

After the orders are sorted and laid out, each face is finished with walnut ink, wiped with a studio cloth, and signed on the back.

Then other finishes are applied.Here are some faces getting the Celtic Forge treatment. This takes about four separate layers of various metallics.

The Mesa Verde finish is done with hand-applied acrylics. It’s much like the faux-turquoise finish I wrote about in a recent post.

Once all of the faces are completed, each one is individually wrapped in bubble wrap.

The orders are then wrapped in tissue with ribbon with a packing slip, a skeleton leaf for decoration, one of my business cards, and, of course, a thank-you note..

The wrapped package goes into a padded envelope and weighed for postage. Most postage is $3-$4, but it cost about $24 to send that little package to the Netherlands!

Etsy makes it easy to calculate postage and print labels. You can print them out on your own printer and stick them on. I use spray adhesive. Here are the packages waiting for their labels – then off they will go to the Post Office this morning!

It’s fun to have an Etsy shop. The best part is knowing that your work is going out all over the world to inspire other artists. The extra income is nice, too, but rarely do you get rich with your shop! And it’s definitely a bit of work, as you can see, but you can usually pace yourself.

If you’re thinking about opening your own Etsy shop, here’s a good article on what sells best on Etsy – the trick is to have a niche, I think.

And here’s an example of a creative idea that makes a ton of money on Etsy:

Confetti Momma is a popular party supply shop with more than 75,000 sales, thanks to vibrant colors, unicorn cake toppers, and endless boutique confetti. Confetti Momma found an engaged demographic on Etsy by offering trendy, handmade party supplies at an affordable price.

“My advice is to just get started,” Orillion said. “Let your customers tell you what they like or don’t like and then adjust. Today’s social selling platforms, such as Etsy, make it easy for your products to go viral, especially if you focus on delivering great customer service and a quality product.”

So there you have it – what goes on inside an Etsy shop! If you need advice, just send me an email. And if you know how to take digital photos of your work, you can be in business!

 

Mermaids, fiber arts and Friday freebie

1First things first – the Friday Freebie – I was amazed at the response to the Mermaid Shard Faces that I posted on Etsy this past week. They flew (or swam?) out of the shop and are now sold out, but I’ll be making more of them as a regular item in my EarthShards gallery.

Did I forget to save you one for the Friday Freebie? No! Here’s your chance to get a Mermaid Shard Face of your own to tie to a branch and add mermaid-like elements (See mermaidkaren copymy friend Karen’s wonderful example, left). These faces come from press molds I make from old cemeteries and sculpture gardens, so they have good mojo. Be a SHARDS subscriber by Sunday at midnight and you’ll be in the drawing.

Now, onto the fascinating subject of fiber arts – if you work in paper or mixed media or fabric or felt or anything string-like or woven – listen up! The Call for Entries from the Fiber Artists of San Antonio for their Juried 41st Exhibition at the swanky Plaza Club in November opens next week. If you’re accepted, your work will be seen by zillions of Plaza Club members and guests who appreciate – and purchase – art. So here are your instructions:

  1. Read the info poster (below) to see three great reasons to enter this show with any of your fiber-related work
  2. Then, if you need inspiration, watch the video at the end of this SHARDS post. You’ll see six fiber artists demonstrating easy, eclectic techniques from the FASA Artists Buffet meeting last Monday.
  3. Enter the FASA juried show – the deadline’s not till October, but time flashes by like a mermaid’s tail!16exhibitflyer

And here’s your Inspiration Video! Good luck with the FASA entries AND the Friday Freebie!

eBooks and iCovers

Back in the olden days, when I first started this blog, I was still making a lot of Kindle reader and iPad covers to sell on my first Etsy shop (Steve Bennett of the Express-News did a story on them in 2010 – “Judge eReader by Its Cover”). One of my buyers from that time wrote last month to ask if I would make a custom cover for her iPad – she likes retro elements but with a bit of whimsy. Here’s the cover I did for her, the first in a long time – she just sent me a note saying how much she liked it. Yay! 

The iPad fits in between elastic cords on the inside front cover. It was fun revisiting this project – these covers are pretty labor intensive depending on how many collage elements you add, but you really can do one for yourself. In fact, I also wrote a post on how to make you own! You will enjoy this mixed-media project – it has both attractive form and useful function. Try it!

 

 

What to do with your face

Kiln-Fired Earthenware Shard Faces, unfinished

Sometimes people who come to the Studio and see a basket of my little earthenware shard faces say, “These are interesting, but what do you DO with them?” Need ideas? This week, I received photos from two California artists who incorporate these faces into their pieces.

Erica Seelig, from Ukiah, CA, has a beautiful Etsy shop called A Gathering of Good. She sent photos of these two pieces – astonishing craftsmanship! I told her she has elevated my faces to stratospheric status!

Terra Cotta Woman

Spring Woman

Also from California (Sacramento), jewelry designer Karen Anderson  sent these photos from her Etsy shop, Catching Waves. Karen has such a great eye for matching the shard color and texture to the beads and theme – look!

Sea Goddess – glass beads, earthenware pendant, silver plated brass chain, pearls, moonstones, vintage glass pearls, sterling and enamel earring, crystal dangle, vintage glass seed beads

Wild Coral Sea Goddess – sterling silver clasp, raw coral branch beads, turquoise nuggets, African silver beads, antique silver plated solid brass chain, vintage silver beads, clay face shard, seashell

It’s pretty nifty seeing these inclusions of my face shards in such stunning work.Thank you, Karen and Erica, for sharing your artistic vision.

fluffheadBut enhancing an earthenware shard face doesn’t have to be elaborate – last night, I got a photo from dear friend Carol Mylar, a fiber artist from Colorado, who added a bit of fiber fluff to her Sprig Shard – voila! Instant mini-clay-and-fiber wall piece!

For today’s Friday Freebie, I’m giving three little unfinished shard faces to three SHARDS subscribers, one for each – not a biggie, but lots of potential for creativity, as you can see! And as usual, you can go to my Esty shop, Earthshards, to get ideas for surface finishes. Stay safe and warm this weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Mylar –

My (right-this-minute) Etsy Favorite 5

You know Etsy, right? If not, I’m gonna get you in a lot of trouble, cause it’s an amazing online global marketplace of creative delights. Look at some of the things you can find today on Etsy. These are my current favorite shops (but it may change with every new discovery :)):

etsy1Tomyres Boutique – Ugur Daskan’s art-to-wear collection. Ugur is from Turkey and has a wonderfully creative way with paper and fiber. This is her Wire Statement Necklace w/ Blooming Flowers. The lovely white cocoon necklace that I showed in my last post came from Ugur. She featured the post on her FB page. 

 

 

 

 

etsy2Casa de Charms Shop from McAllen, Texas is where I order milagros for my own artwork. Amador, the owner, is easy to work with and has fair prices and quick shipping. He also has larger milagros and really funny Day-of-the-Dead shopping bags.

 

 

 

 

 

etsy3House of Ceramics – despite its generic name, this studio site has some beautifully designed work like these fired and glazed apples. Una, the artist/owner, is from Fresno, California.

 

 

 

etsy4Buster Bean Knows – this Etsy shop is pretty unique. Here you can find natural stuff, rusty stuff, kitschy stuff – here’s what the owner says about herself – “I live near Sedona about midway between the Grand Canyon and Phoenix with my 3 dogs, Buster (the namesake of my shop), Duncan & Paloma. Buster knows the meaning of life… be creative and enjoy every moment you can.”  Pretty cool.

 

 

 

etsy5Hoooked Soap, form Peralta, NM. I think I like this shop as much for the names and the colors and textures as I do for the soaps themselves. This one is called Dragon’s Blood Exfoliating Soap with Poppy Seeds. Talk about power to the shower – but I think there is something so appealing about artisan-made personal goods, and this shop has that kind of appeal.

It’s easy to get mesmerized while looking around on Etsy – when I was putting this post together, I went down a lot of rabbit holes checking out other stuff and got lots of ideas an inspiration! But now I need to get to work finishing some faces for my own Etsy shop, EarthShards (sneaky segue). Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thinking About Workshops . . . .

etsyIt’s a new year (almost) and I have a new studio space (almost). More about that soon, but I’ll have room to teach workshops on art and the Internet, among other topics. One thing I thought about was offering a workshop on setting up an Etsy shop. It would include opening a shop or gallery of your own, uploading pictures of your work, making a shop banner, taking payments – all of that. It’s so much easier than you might expect. And honestly, even if you don’t sell one thing, the experience of getting your work out there for the world arts community to see is worth the effort!  Let me know if you’re interested.

spiritThe other topics that I personally want to explore is making Spirit Dolls. Joanna Powell Colbert gave my Etsy Earthshards Shop a real boost when she ordered my little faces for her spirit doll workshop and retreat in Washington last year. I hear from people all over the country who send me pictures of their Spirit Doll creations. They are really exquisite soft sculptures, and if we did a workshop in the new studio space, we could also bring in herbs and essential oils to the magical mix!

Both of these would be later in the spring, after the clay and bead workshops that are already scheduled. I’d love your feedback. Oh, and this evening, I’m doing a Sprig Shard drawing – three subscribers will get a Sprig Shard face for their thank-you-for-signing-up prize! I started to give all three to one person, but I think it would be more fun to spread them out. Stay tuned.