Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Life of an Item with BySaraLynn

Creating for me is rarely a linear process. Maybe it’s because I constantly have a handful of projects already started or suffer from major procrastination and I-don’t-feel-like-it syndrome. One thing that remains the same for every piece is it starts out as a doodle. Everywhere I go in my house I can find one of these little scrap pieces of paper with different ideas. That simple flower drawing is where this idea began.

To start this piece I made the kanzashi flower first. This involves folding itty bitty 2” squares of fabric into the petals and stitching them all together. Of course, I have to pick out the right cute button, too.

With the flower made and the embroidery hoop picked out it’s time for a few more doodles. This time they are size accurate and a couple of ideas come out. I like the one with a single flower best. When I pick out my background fabric I start thinking about thread colors. Those get jotted down on my doodle along with different stitches I can use. From the beginning I know this is going to be a bright piece.

Time to get it all on the fabric! I choose to freehand my design on the fabric with an air soluble marker. The marker disappears within 72 hours, often sooner, so once I get started I like to keep going until the stitching is finished.

The stitching takes the biggest chunk of time in the whole process. It’s a very detail oriented process with lots of tiny stitches. With some Pandora, Netflix, or just TV the time goes pretty quick though. In this piece I used 4 different stitches – the backstitch, running stitch, stem stitch, and lazy daisy. Once all the stitching is done it’s time to trim the excess fabric, secure the piece in the frame, and cover the back with a simple piece of cardstock. And there you have it!

Saturday, March 19, 2011



Your Ides of March treasury topped our treasury challenge this month. Check out Squier in the Rat Spotlight to get a glimpse into Rita and Mike's shop.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Looking at an Etsy shop today I clicked on the listing for a necklace. I thought "Nice colours, and it looks like the sort of design and nice long length that such-and-such friend would like."

In the description, the seller used the word "long" to describe the necklace three times, but since there wasn't an image of the piece on a mannequin or a model, and she didn't actually say HOW long, I'm still left wondering. I know, I know, I could convo her to ask, but every extra step a buyer has to take gets in the way of a sale.

This seller is doing a lot right, and has respectable sales and feedback to prove it. But as a potential customer those nuts-and-bolts details are every bit as important to me as knowing her inspiration for the design.

The 20 Questions Your Buyers Are Asking article in Etsy's blog includes a handy checklist of things to think about when listing. After all, size isn't the only thing that matters!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Life of an Item with La Alicia

Hi there, my name is Alicia of La Alicia, earth friendly frills. I make women's accessories with recycled materials. I am paper-obsessed!

I thought it would be nice to share this eco friendly multipurpose paper pouch tutorial with the LabRats Team. Squeak!

1. Start with a square piece of paper. The one I used was 8” x 8”. Place it on your work surface with one corner pointing toward you.

2. Fold the corner pointing toward you up to the opposite point and crease the fold.

3. Fold the far right point in lining it up with the opposite edge and crease the fold.

4. Repeat with the far left point.

5. Fold the top point down along the line that was created with the previous two folds and crease.

6. Unfold and tuck the top piece into the top pocket created.

7. Fill pouch with items on your choice and fold the remaining flap by tucking in into the pouch with the previous one. Viola!

These little pouchlettes can be made in a variety of sizes by starting with different size paper squares. I love to use reclaimed magazine pages and junk mail to make these. You could use any foldable material you like to create these. They’re great to keep little things from getting lost. This size perfectly fits a pair of earrings and a business card.

I hope you enjoy making and using these as much as I do.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Treasury Challenge Finalists

Congratulations to our top team treasury curators for March - SquierGrayFlannelDesignMrooArt, and MollyFinds.
Take a peek at these top treasuries and cast your vote by March 18th.

Ides of March by Squier

March Lab Rats Team Challenge by GrayFlannelDesign

Vernal Equinox by MrooArt
Shades and Textures in Green by MollyFinds

Vote for your favorite March treasury!
Ides of March by Squier
March Lab Rats Team Treasury Challenge by Gray Flannel Design
Vernal Equinox by MrooArt
Shades and Textures in Green by MollyFinds

pollcode.com free polls

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Treasury Challenge Returns!

St Patrick's Shamrock Potholder by ScrapHappieAZ

After a month off the team treasury challenge is back! This month we're keeping the theme loose - absolutely anything to do with March. Here are some ideas - Mardi Gras is this Tuesday so make the biggest, baddest party treasury you can. Same goes for St. Patrick's Day except make sure it's green, just like the beer that day. And, of course, the end of March is the official start of spring. Get your treasuries in by the 11th and the top treasuries will go up for a vote. 

Here are the rules:
  1. Use at least 8 Lab Rat members. You can use our members list in the sidebar.
  2. Include "Treasury Challenge" in the title of your treasury
  3. Tag your treasury with "labratsteam"
  4. Tag your treasury with "labratchallenge"
  5. Tag your treasury with "march"
  6. Link back to this post to encourage others to participate
  7. Leave a comment on this post with a link to your treasury for official entry
  8. Promote & have fun!
Think about incorporating ideas from March's merchandising notes like woodland themes, gardening, and personalization. A few extra tips to make your treasury front page friendly - include a variety of items with a range of prices, don't include yourself, and tag your treasuries. Head to the Treasury to get started or read up on how to make a treasury first. Either way - make the Lab Rats proud.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Its that time again to introduce our new members.

I am sure we have already met them in the labs but I would like to take this time to officially introduce them to the rest of the rats and I hope you all welcome them with open arms and lots of virtual hugs.

Drum roll please...................... here's our February members

Original Art - Abstract Acrylic Painting on Canvas - Origin of Creativity 16x20What is your given name?
Lisa Stevens

What made you want to start an Etsy Shop?
I've been selling my art at local brick and morter shops and art galleries in Nashville, TN for a few years now and decided I wanted to expand my customer base through various online venues, including Etsy.

Which item in your shop is your favorite?
It's so hard to choose! I'd say it's a toss-up between "Annibel Lee" and "Origin of Creativity" because they both came out of a huge creative transition in my life. Also, my whimsical birds on a wire series has been very profitable, so in a way they are also a favorite. In general, my favorites are often the pieces that surprised me at their completion, becoming something better than I'd planned at the start.

Where does your shop name originate from?
My shop name originates from my business name, Paper Finch Studio. You can check out my website for other work not on Etsy at www.paperfinchstudio.com.

AlphabetCityStudioWhat is your given name?

Create Your Own - Infant reversible dress/jumper - size NB to 18 monthsWhat made you want to start an Etsy shop?
Growing up without much money, I was taught to be resourceful and make things from what we had.  My Mom and Aunt were very creative and we would always get together as a family to craft.  The biggest project of the year was to make Christmas ornaments for a tree (or to make a tree!) and other Christmas decorations for the big family Christmas dinner.  When I was in college, my sister and I would shop for earrings and thought, "We can make that!" and so we started to make earrings together.  We sold them at little parties we put together, but was limited to only the people we knew.  We stopped that project after some time, but I always had in the back of my mind, a thought of one day opening a shop where I could sell my crafts.  I knew that opening a physical shop would have a lot of initial investments and overhead and that it would take a lot of my time - and that would mean no time to make things.  I thought of opening a shop on-line, but I knew nothing about websites and e-commerce, setting up a virtual merchant, etc. - AND there would be a big initial investment as well.  Also, I'm fickle, so I knew that if I started out with jewelry, for example, I might later on want to make greeting cards or start sewing clothes or bags, etc.  So, when a girlfriend of mine (OverallBaby on Etsy) introduced me to Etsy, I knew it was what I was waiting for!  A place where people sold their handmade goods - and it could be ANYTHING!  All the logistics of payment, website layout, and even a customer base was all set up! ...and the best part - it was FREE to open up shop!!!  I started with making greeting cards in 2008, but when 2 of my best friends got pregnant in 2009, I switched gears to baby items.

Which item in your shop is your favorite?
My favorite item in my shop now is the "Create your own reversible dress".  I have them in infant sizes (NB to 18 months) and girl sizes (2T to 6T).  The dresses also have a different cut - a wider angle at the bottom for the infant sizes for room for diapers.  I love to see the different prints and combination that each customer chooses - right now I'm working on 4 dresses and all 8 prints are different.  I actually started off with color coordinating the 2 sides, but when my girlfriend ordered a toddler dress with one side pink and another side blue, it rung true that you are getting 2 dresses in one!

Where does your shop name originate from?
When I was trying to come up with a shop name, I wanted to make sure that it wouldn't be too specific in case I decided to eventually have a shop with a bunch of different items.  I also didn't want to use anything that was related to my name, screenname, username, etc.  So, after a lot of thinking, I thought of how my crafting and creativity was nurtured throughout my childhood and thoughts drifted back to my old neighborhood (I had already moved to LA by 2008).  I was born and raised and lived in the Lower East Side Manhattan in Alphabet City (Avenue C to be exact) until my late 20s.  I thought "Alphabet City" was perfect since I could include anything in my shop that began with any letter of the alphabet! ..and then I threw in "Studio" in hopes to give it a feel of a more personal studio vs. a big manufacturing company.  (Also, for search engine purposes, I figured "studio" would help narrow down the searches.)

repurposeddrivenlifeWhat is your given name?
MOVING SALE - Vintage Johnson Bros. Tea Pot made in England - Retro SeventiesKaleigh

What made you want to start an Etsy shop?
I started making teacup candles - and really started to love re-purposing items. To figure out whether or not these would make good gifts for Christmas time, I put them up on Etsy - and they sold! It was so exciting.

Which item in your shop is your favorite?
Probably the retro Johnson Bros. Tea pot - how redonkulous is that?  

Where does your shop name originate from?
I have never read a Purposed Driven Life but knew that it sounded familiar. A Repurposed Driven Life is just that - a life that is driven to get every use from the junk that we collect over the years. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it is cost effective and more importantly fun!

3princessesengravingWhat is your given name?
Rachael Hardiman

Brown Wood heart pendant romanitc victorian bohemianWhat made you want to start an Etsy shop?
I've always loved creating things but never thought of myself as a business/sales person. I had this really weird concept of business: that pushy buy my stuff; money, money, money; and, no friends in business attitude; which, always scared me away because that is sooo not me. My family has always worked with wood and wanted to keep the tradition, then my husband got the idea of having an engraver business. Bought the engraver and haven't looked back. Then I found Etsy and fell in love! I love the sense of community.  People help each other care about one another.  It's about unique ideas and things, creating something with pride and making friends, supporting one another.  I opened shop and haven't looked back.

Which item in your shop is your favorite?
That's so hard: I'm torn between my heart pendant and my circle wall art The pendant feels like I'm carrying on the family tradition sanding things by hand and I love how it looks.  The circle wall art because I stepped out of my comfort zone. I had no idea of how it would turn out when I first started designing it and ended up creating something pretty neat.

Where does your shop name originate from?
My shop name: 3Princesses Engraving is named after our three little girls.  My husband and I wanted the name to mean something to us so we named it after them.  Our name probably confuses a lot of people (no princess styled items-ha!) and the name is rather long but I couldn't imagine having any other name :)

Gerdasgarden / Heart4him
GerdasGardenWhat is your given name?   
Apple watercolor printGerda Collins

What made you want to start an Etsy shop? 
This is my second shop, I wanted to focus on my paintings.

Which item in your shop is your favorite?  

Where does your shop name originate from? 
My first name is Gerda and I wanted to share my love of plants/gardens

Welcome to the team and we hope to see you in the lab soon.

Squeak Squeak!



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Life of an Item with Cantrix

I am inspired by many things, sometimes it's a photo in a book or on the internet, sometimes a song or even an idea, but really I'm just inspired by color. When I created this colorway I didn't have an actual picture that I went by. Some of the most fun in my "dye lab" (read tiny kitchen) is when I stand with a blank skein of yarn, my dye, and the desire to create something unexpected. I love putting together colors you might not usually think to put together. Often times those are the best combinations! This colorway in particular has some great pastel and bright colors that you might not expect to see with each other but I think what really makes the colorway is the balance of the sable brown.

Every time I dye yarn it starts the same, I take out my tools - bowls, measuring cups, spoons, and whisks as well as all of my 'ingredients' - powdered drink mixes, food coloring, citric acid, and of course yarn. All of this goes on top of my stove, because it's easiest to clean up. The actual dyeing is really quite simple. I just add my ingredients to water, and dip my yarn in it however the design of the colorway requires. As I create a new colorway I keep very detailed notes so that I can recreate it again. Once the yarn has had the dye applied as needed it goes in the microwave. The heat sets the dye. At that point it's mostly done. I let it cool for some time because as it cools down the dye sets further into the yarn. Once it's cooled I rinse it thoroughly, roll it up in a towel, step on it to get the water out, and hang it up to dry. It is usually dry by the following afternoon and ready for pictures.

I don't have a fancy light box or anything for photos, I just use a big roll of white paper in front of a window with nice light. The white paper really simplifies the photo taking and lets the colors of the yarn shine. The white comes in handy though because I can use it to adjust the white balance on my camera and once again when I take the photos to my computer to edit them. Getting the color absolutely correct is difficult but essential when color is your main focus. I use Picasa to edit my photos and I am almost always able to get the color to look right with little adjustment. Then it comes to listing. I have a love hate relationship with listing. It is fun, but time consuming. I try to enjoy the creative aspect of it by having fun with the names of my colorways. I often get my husband in on it (he also has an etsy shop recordtime.etsy.com) and he actually came up with one of my most popular colorways, Mean Mr. Mustard http://www.etsy.com/listing/54365028/mean-
mr-mustard-hand-dyed-merino-silk we are big Beatles fans. Sometimes the names come from my inspiration for the colorway or sometimes the yarn just reminds me of something. My goal with my shop was to create colorways I could duplicate so that I wouldn't have to go through the entire listing process every time I list a new item. That is now the case. I still enjoy doing a one of a kind or new colorway from time to time, but it's really nice when something sells to be able to 'renew sold'!