Thursday, April 28, 2011

Life of an Item with CassieArt

My initial inspiration to begin sculpting buckles from clay came out of necessity. I love to wear a belt to add a bit of surprise and fun to my look, but I couldn't seem to find what I had in mind. On a whim, I decided to create my own. The process has been so fun, I've not stopped yet.

This squirrel buckle was created with a little backyard friend in mind. I remember it like it was yesterday...spring had just sprung and I decided to put some flowers in the ground. That weekend, we went out of town and upon our return, my entire flower bed was empty! My poor blossoms had been plucked off and just the shriveled stem remained. Then, right before my eyes, the furry culprit returned to the bed to scrounge for more flowers. Finding none, he's since taken to driving my poor cat Asha crazy by devouring the bird food we leave on our deck.

Even though he ruined my flower bed, he's so stinking cute, I had to dedicate a buckle to him. When I come up with a buckle idea, I begin by sketching out my design. Once I'm happy with my sketch, I transfer my drawing to a heavy card stock paper that allows me to trace the image into clay multiple times.

From there, I begin rolling out the clay. My favorite thing to do is roll the clay through my stash of vintage lace. I've also found burlap, stamps and even place mats offer a great variety of textures for the clay. Once rolled over a texture, I then trace my image into the clay.

After that, the buckle is finished for now. The clay must dry out completely before firing, so they usually take about 3-5 days to air dry. Once dry, the buckles are what's called greenware and ready to be fired in the kiln. That first firing leaves them with a bright white look called bisqueware. Think of the pottery you see at those glaze-your-own pottery shops, that's the same thing. My glazing process can take 2-3 additional firings, depending on the desired glazed effect. My crackle and metallic glazes often require more firings.

Once out of the kiln, I can begin pairing the buckles with my stash of mostly-vintage fabrics for the creation of the belt. Often times, I cannot find just one fabric to accompany the buckle, so I'll create a reversible belt. Some of my buckles are reversible also, so the belt can be worn four different ways.

So, that's the process for making my belts. I currently have a new backyard fri-enemy: a mole. Because of his lack of cute, I don't anticipate any mole-themed buckles soon...but you never know!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Time to Check In!

Japan Relief - For the Dog Lover by Rctees
Just a friendly reminder to fill out this quick form to maintain your Lab Rats membership. We like to know you're still around and still want to be part of the team. Thanks!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Feature Friday with Senioritis

Please give a warm welcome to our fellow Lab Rats - Garrick, Beth and Jillian of Senioritis

Where can we find you?
In our ongoing quest to take over the world, senioritis can be found here:



Famous Senior of The Day:


For monthly updates on all things senioritis please feel free to check out our newsletter:

1) Tell us about yourself, your shop and what brought you to the Etsy community.


Hi, my name is Garrick and I have a design problem.

I started senioritis with my sisters, Beth & Jillian, in 2006. Our childhood was typical. Winters ice fishing in the Pacific Northwest and summers spent swimming with the sharks by the Great Barrier Reef.

We climbed Mt. Everest for the first time in 2000, when Jillian was 11, with our sherpa Noomsey. Looking out from the summit we were inspired to start an apparel and design company. The rest, as they say, is history.
Our Shop

We are the purveyors of colorful inspiration.  The designs in our shop pay tribute to famous, and sometimes infamous, people throughout history with their words of wisdom and our artwork.  Many of our designs carry inspirational messages and we like to work with bright colors so make sure you have some sunglasses handy ;)
Finding Etsy

I’m going to have to give our mom credit for this one.  I don’t even remember the conversation but back in May of 2009 she had mentioned Etsy and that we should check it out.  I went online that day looked around the site a bit and created an account.  Fast forward about 5 months and we had our first print listed.  Several months after that we discovered the forums and the Virtual Labs, and got to meet a bunch of awesome Etsians!

2) Walk us through a typical day in your life.
I’ll go with a Saturday as that’s the day that we do the most work for our Etsy shop. 

I’m usually up by 6ish and the first thing I do is grab my computer.  I check out Google Analytics since we use it to track several of our sites and then I fire up Outlook.  After getting our email sorted, it’s time to post our Famous Senior of The Day (#FSoTD).  Once this has been done, BINGO, time for breakfast!
Breakfast usually consists of some senioritis oatmeal ( and some type of citrus juice or whatever flavor juicy juice was on sale that week.  After breakfast it’s workout time, Wii Fit, Cardio Boxing, the gym; I like to switch things up.

Once all of this stuff is out of the way I check out what’s going on with Etsy.  I like to use the activity tracker because it’s simple to view and easy to read, basically it rocks.  We answer convos and print invoices as necessary,
After this it’s time for the real fun stuff, time to start creating!   This usually takes me right into lunchtime.  After lunch it’s more creating with the occasional tweet, facebook update, and blog post.  By the time I turn around most of the day is usually gone.  I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun ;)

3) Name your top 3:

Beth: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; David Copperfield 

Jillian: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Girl Who Played With Fire, Black's Law Dictionary 
Garrick: The Richest Man In Babylon, Don’t Know Much About History, Captain Underpants


Beth: Sara Bareilles; Adele; Regina Spektor
Jillian: Sara Bareilles, Guster, Jason Mraz

Garrick: Jay-Z, Sinatra


Beth: Modern Family; Parenthood; Gilmore Girls 
Jillian: Bones, Gilmore Girls, Fairly Legal

Garrick: Yankees, Discovery Channel, History Channel

Web sites:

Beth: Gawker; 
Jillian:, googlemaps and youtube 

4.) What are your top 3 shops on Etsy?

We have way too many to list but here’s a few shops that we really dig their style:

5.) What projects are you currently working on?

top secret project - a sneak peak!
This was supposed to be a secret but since you asked we’ll share ;)  We’re currently working on a higher end line of pieces; we can’t give too many details but think museum style display!  We should have a few teaser shots on our blog soon.
6.) Where do you hope your shop will be in a year?

One year from now we hope to take over the world, but at the very least, we expect to have consistent sales on a daily basis. 
At this point, the vast majority of our Etsy sales come from people with buyer only accounts, which is great.  We would love to get some more exposure and share our work with our fellow Etsy shop owners as we feel there’s tremendous room for growth within this group. 

We also plan on expanding our apparel line and increasing our brick and mortar presence.

7.) What suggestions/tips would you offer to someone new to Etsy?
Below are some things that helped us as a bit when we were starting on Etsy (and continue to help us); perhaps you’ll find them useful as well. 

Getting Started on Etsy

·         Etsy has a bunch of moving parts, don’t get overwhelmed:  Take things one step at a time.  There is a ton of information on Etsy but when we got started we found that the best way to learn how to list an item was to list our first item.  Remember, the only way to learn to swim is to get wet ;)

·         Know why you’re setting up an Etsy shop:  Will this be a hobby, a way to earn extra income, part of a career change, a virtual gallery for your work, a way to leverage online presence etc. 

·         Write your own definition of success:  Is 100 items in your shop success?  Is 5 sales in a month success?  We don’t have an answer but you should have a feeling of what you consider success.  Once you have your definition, don’t worry about what others are doing, put on your blinders and focus on your goals ;)

·         When in doubt ask:  We think that the Virtual Labs are a tremendous tool.  After about a year of attending various sessions we continue to learn new things each time we attend one.  It is a great environment to get feedback and ideas from fellow Etsians and experienced Etsy admins.  If you have a question don’t be shy just ask and someone will gladly help out.  Remember, we all start in the same place, the beginning ;)

·         Last and absolutely most important in our opinion:  HAVE FUN!!! 

If you have any questions about anything please don’t hesitate to reach out to us (, we would be more than happy to help our fellow Etsians if we can!
Last, but not least, be sure to stop by the Senioritis blog for a visit, pick up a free sticker and enter their sticker contest!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Sticker Contest HERE

May Merchandising Trends and Tips

May is almost here! By sharing our merchandising tips, our goal is to create a healthy balance between promotions for traditional holidays, seasonal changes, cultural events, and lifestyle trends. It's also a great way to change up the way you approach managing your Etsy business.

Stay Engaged in May
 Our central merchandising will focus on Mother's Day, graduations, and Father's Day this month. While emphasis will be placed upon the seasonality of the Northern Hemisphere, it's important to remember the Southern Hemisphere is preparing for autumn. Maintaining seasonally appropriate options year-round is good practice for boosting international and overall sales.

Mother's Day: Make sure to have expedited shipping options available to take advantage of any last-minute shoppers in need of the perfect gift.

Graduation and Teacher Gifts: As the traditional academic year comes to a close, think about offering items that would show appreciation for teachers or a sentimental congratulation for graduates. Personalization, handmade cards (think monetary gifts), and keepsakes are always sought after. The typical college year comes to a close in early to mid-May, while high schools tend to close in mid to late June. 

Fashion: Options for summer emphasize showing some skin, open toes, lightweight materials, and sun protection: sunglasses, sunscreen, makeup, balms, hats and coverups. Summer dresses, shoes and accessories, and options for hair are key.

Gardening and Artisanal Food: Thoughtful cultivation of food is becoming less a trend and more of a sustainable movement. Think in terms of what you can offer toward organic methods, growing, non-processed options, recipes, and education around sustainable food options. Expect farmer's markets, raising animals, community gardens, and co-ops continue to grow in popularity.

Weddings, Proms, and Celebrations: Embrace your inner teenager and think about glam prom options with a touch of sparkle and edge: dresses, shoes, jewelry, bags, hair accessories, corsages, and make-up. Smack in the middle of the busiest time for wedding season, think about how your line can offer or evoke outdoor options for both the ceremony and after-party. 

Emerald is May's birthstone; May's astrological signs are Taurus  and Gemini (April 21 - May 20:  Taurus, May 21 - June 21: Gemini).

Trending Topics:

Cinco de Mayo: Celebrations and honor of Mexican culture: beverages, food, festive decor, bright colors, and music.

Gadget Accessories: With the recent iPhone and iPad availability on Verizon, coupled with the release of iPad 2, accessories for smartphones and tablets are on the rise.

Letters, Numbers, and Symbols: Large vintage signage letters, letterpress blocks, monogram housewares, and typewriter keys.

The Indoor Garden: Glass domes, terrariums, air plants, window herbs, succulent plants, garden markers, and planters.

Fashion: American prep, nautical, and equestrian references. Tribal, geometric, and color-blocking. Peekaboo cuts, sheer panels, and lace. Wooden platform heels, reversible swimwear, and vintage sunglasses.

PersonalizationMonograms, initials, text, numbers, zodiacs, constellations, portraits, custom labels, stamps, fingerprints and family trees.

Vintage: Globes, maps, crates, baskets, barware, industrial appliances, farmhouse, typewriters, cameras, brass and cast iron animals.

Natural history and woodland forest themes and animals, namely birds, owls, squirrels, hedgehogs, chipmunks, bunnies, butterflies, feathers, nests, eggs, acorns, leaves, trees, branches, woodgrain, and natural colors.

If you'd like to stay engaged and involved with the approaching merchandising themes, use them in your own artistic voice as you add to your shop. They can be translated in your listings, photos, shop announcements, descriptions, tags, titles, sales promotions, and more.

If you make items that would fit well with the themes outlined, try stocking up and listing them in advance to take advantage of potential shipping deadlines and site features. Do you already have items in your shop that meld well? That's great! Now it's time to revisit those items to make sure your tags, titles and descriptions reflect keywords that shoppers might be looking for this time of year. This is also a great opportunity to revamp your item photography with a new look. Check out some great how-to's for item photography to get started.

For those of your who enjoy making treasuries, we'll be looking to highlight lists that interpret these themes in a creative and cohesive way throughout the site. Please tag your treasuries accordingly.

See the rest of the May Merchandise Desk in the Storque here:

Edited and images chosen by Chelsea Rainbow

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Your treasury received the most votes this month. Thanks so much to everyone who made treasuries and voted. Peek into NewHopeBeading's shop in the Rat Spotlight.

Friday, April 15, 2011

April is Sticker Time for Senioritis
Swing by, say hello and pickup your sticker HERE

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Life of an Item with SmithAndDaphne

Hi, all - this is Kristen from Smith & Daphne! I’m slowly working on creating more items for my shop, and one thing I’m focusing on is my line of animal pillows. I’ve been really inspired by the woodland trend that’s been happening, since it’s something that I love. At this point, I have a fox, a hedgehog, and a bear:

Each pillow starts with the drawing process. I’m not exactly an “artist”, so this sketching process has stretched me.

As you can see, there can be many versions of an animal before I get to the final one. I’m really drawn to graphic shapes so I wanted to use simple silhouettes, but you lose a lot of defining detail when you’re only working with an outline! It takes me a while to find the right balance for each new animal. The sketching often involve research, as well. For example, I now know two new facts about bears. 1) They walk flat footed/heel-first, like we do (many other animals don’t). 2) They move the legs on the same side of their bodies at the same time - unlike, say, dogs, which move diagonally-opposite legs together. Fascinating, eh?

Once I have the animal’s shape finalized, I draw it on plain white paper. If necessary, I can scan the image and resize it on the computer to print either a larger or smaller silhouette. (It was actually a much more difficult process to enlarge the image than I expected. My Mac didn’t want me to make an image that would print on more than 1 piece of paper.) I use fusible interfacing to transfer my shape into felt and place the felt on the fabric. The fusing process makes it simpler to keep my shapes consistent, and it also allows me to decide whether or not I want my hand-stitching to literally attach the felt or just enhance the design.

Each of my pillows has hand-stitching around the silhouette. I vary the stitches I use as well as the embroidery thread color. I usually pull out my boxes of thread (these were originally my mom’s!) and set them out next to the fabric to help me decide which to use. Sometimes I use a tone-on-tone look; other times, I go for contrast. I often watch Grey’s Anatomy or another TV show or movie while I stitch - it’s time-consuming!

After the applique is complete, it’s time to make the fabric into a pillow cover. I almost always use French seams in my covers for durability, and sometimes I use one of my machine’s decorative stitches as a little accent on the back. I include a small label on most pillows, but I just place it on the inner half of the envelope-style opening, so you only see it if you’re inserting or taking out a pillow form. Right now, I use iron-on printable fabric with my shop name and website that I cut into strips - quick and easy.

Each pillow is unique, but I can easily duplicate and customize them. My very first sale was a custom order for a pillow just like one I had listed but in a different color. I’m always open to custom requests, and I enjoy working on them. I have plans to keep expanding this product line, and luckily, once I have an image created, the entire process is much simpler. Many of my other items are one of a kind and not so easily recreated - it’s nice to have a “go-to” item that offers room for creativity but still lets me relax a bit on the design process.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Treasury Challenge Finalists

Congratulations to ImpossiblyAlice, Giggles, and NewHopeBeading on having the top treasuries this month! Vote for your favorite and the winner will be announced on the 16th.

It's Not to Early to Start Shopping for Mother's Day by ImpossiblyAlice

April Forest Friends by Giggles

Green Equals Earth Day by NewHopeBeading

Vote for your favorite April treasury!
It's Not Too Early by Impossibly Alice
Forest Friends by Giggles
Green Equals Earth Day by New Hope Beading free polls

Sunday, April 3, 2011

2011 Style Inspiring Muses for This Year’s Crafts

Crafting in General
For this year I put on my thinking cap and came up with a plethora of crafts in demand. The demand for eco-minded craft supplies like naturally-sourced woods, recycled resin and metal, beeswax, and affordable natural and organic fabrics (in bold colors and prints - of course!) will increase in 2011.

Colors from nature will be the trendiest shades in 2011. This includes bright jewel tones like honeysuckle pink, rich yellow, fuchsia, deep red, plum purple, teal, and earthy tones like grey, dusty browns, natural greens and blues.

If we were to have a 2011 runway show, fabric combinations like lace and flannel would adorn the models, as well as shorter hemlines, lots of layers, and clothing with advanced details like creative and structural pleating, smocking, pleasant finishes and detailed embellishments. The top fashion style of 2011 is one that mixes the 1940’s and 1970’s with modern finishes and techniques!

2011 look books will include more symmetrical designs and vintage patterns. The types of fabrics crafters want to work with the most include comfort fabrics, high contrast prints and stretch knits.

In the world of jewelry making, material imitations using clay, fused plastic and resin are predicted to be popular in 2011. We may also see the millefiore technique making a comeback! 

Sewing, Embroidery and Quilting
In 2011, newer techniques like stitching on mixed media and free form stitching will grow in popularity as advanced needlework artisans look to take their craft to the next level. Embroiderers will take advantage of more in-the-hoop designs and a spike in the creation and use of vintage embroidery transfers. Quilters will increase the use of non-traditional embellishments and will leave us in awe with detailed art quilts, a popular activity especially amongst hip crafters.
Knitting and Crochet
In 2011, the types of yarn knit and crochet artisans will prefer are super soft acrylics, wool and natural yarns. Crochet techniques, such as using a double-ended hook and crochet-cables, will be trendy. Cabled knits are predicted to be a hot knitting technique in 2011.

Using layers, ephemera and inking edges to give paper and embellishments an aged and antique look is a hot trend that’ll continue in 2011. I foresee a strong growth in the creation and use of digital scrapbooking image sheets.

Fondant and decorating gels will take the cake in 2011, so to speak, for cookie, cupcake and cake decorators. Decorators will continue to advance their craft by producing highly realistic details and representations out of edible products. On the cooking side of things, the demand for locally grown food, gluten-free food and organic food and the adoption of cooking with fresh, seasonal foods will all lead to healthier crafters in 2011.

Personalized, one of a kind items will be the go-to gifts for crafters to make family and friends in 2011. Accessories for gadgets like cameras, phones, MP3 players, iPads, Android Tablets and Kindles are popular gifts for the tech-savvy crowd. For the practical crafter, reusable gifts such as quilts and small wearables like scarves, wrist warmers and hats are sensible gift options that can last a lifetime.
For the advanced crafter, giving a gift basket with handmade goodies like washcloths, potholders, cleaning supplies, food, candles, soaps, and beauty supplies is an enjoyable gift that is met with open arms. 

Sorry I couldn't fit more items in this blog, but it was so long as in is. I hope everyone learns something from my guest blog and contact me if you would like ~ ChelseaRainbow/Jacqueline Gikow

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Treasury Challenge

Baby's First Egg Hunt Onesie by PeaPodRay
Yay! It's time for another treasury challenge! I loved seeing all the different ideas used to inspire your treasuries last month and so this month we want to encourage the same. Keeping April in mind here are some ideas straight from this month's merchandising notes. There are two big holidays this month and another one to prep for - Earth Day, Easter, and Mother's Day. The on trend topics still include spring, gardening, personalization, geometry, and woodland themes with a few new ones thrown in. Pick out your theme and enter your treasury by the end of April 8th. Then you know what happens - the vote! 

Here are the rules:
  1. Use at least 8 Lab Rat members. Try using our new member shops tab.
  2. Include "Treasury Challenge" in the title of your treasury
  3. Tag your treasury with "labratsteam"
  4. Tag your treasury with "team treasury"
  5. Tag your treasury with "april trends"
  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!
Some more tips - include a variety of items with a range of prices, don't include yourself, and tag your treasuries with a few more relevant keywords. Head to the Treasury to get started or read up on how to make a treasury first. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

Friday, April 1, 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 March members.


Puzzle soap to benefit autism awarenessWhat is your given name?
My name is Misty.

What made you want to start an Etsy shop? 
I love making soap and needed something to do with what I made...Etsy was a perfect solution!

Which item in your shop is your favorite?
I am rather partial to my puzzle piece soap because my son has autism.  But I love my rubber ducky soap too!

Where does your shop name originate from?
My name is Misty Dawn.  Because of this, my uncle called my younger sister Foggy Morning.  I loved the way it sounds, so here I am!  :-)


Two Alice in Wonderland ornamental wooden blocksWhat is your given name?
David Wilson

What made you want to start an Etsy shop?
As far as the real reason goes my memory doesn't quite stretch back that far. It appears that I have filled my mind with far to many other pieces of information to recall anything that happened more than a week or so ago however I can give you the reason that I continue to work on my shop to this day. In the next 6 months I am hoping to depart on a religious mission and I am attempting to gather together some extra money in order to pay my way for two years. In addition to this I enjoy the crafts which I participate in and being an etsy seller allows some of my materials to be purchased.

Which item in your shop is your favorite?
My favourite product in my store would probably be one I don't even have in my etsy shop yet. I'm working on my pencil sketch art, specifically the anatomical sketches which I love so much so keep an eye out for those which should be coming soon. For the sake of being able to put an image to this paragraph though I would have to say my 'Alice in wonderland ornamental wooden blocks (set of two). I just love the way they came out and they were a lot of fun to make.

Where does your shop name originate from?
The name of my shop really has no relation to anything in it. The name Hammingen is merely an online username which I use for every one of my accounts, hence with creating my shop when I was new to etsy I used my username as my shop name as well. Since then the name of my shop on my banner has changed to 'from the other heart', which I like to think represents the type of soft and rustic style items which I like to create.


Green Dragonfly Brooch
What is your given name?
Hi, My name is Cindy Warner.

What made you want to start an Etsy shop?
I was encouraged to start an Etsy shop by my friends who are Etsy fans. After I investigated Etsy for myself, I thought it would be perfect to sell my jewelry.

Which item in your shop is your favorite?
My green dragonfly is my favorite piece. It’s my favourite because it’s my first.

Where does your shop name originate from?
My name is Cindy and I Bead. Therefore Cindy Bead was born.

Squeak Squeak!