Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vote For Your Favorite in the May Challenge!

Papaya Fashion Bracelet by AudreyGardenLady

Swarovski Crystal Bracelet by Inner Muse Jewelry

Lavender and Flax Pillow by Aquarian Bath

Mosaic Mirror by Memories in Mosaics

Abalone Natural Shell Pendant by ClassynChic

Melon Delight Gourd Bowl by cvdesignsfl

Sandpiper and Shell Necklace by fishbonesilver

Seaside Charm Bracelet & Earrings by DevineDesignsJewelry

Pincushion Anya by QuirkyDolls

Once again the many talents of the FEST group shine in this month's challenge.  Our theme choices were "Emerald" or "Living in Florida Style."  It's up to you - vote between now and the end of May - look for the poll on the left sidebar.  The winner receives a shop promotion on this blog!  Good luck, everyone!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Interview with Inner Muse Jewelry

Meet Tammy of Inner Muse Jewelry:

Who are you?
I'm a wife, mother to two grade school daughters, former bench top scientist, presently a jewelry designer, crocheter and general crafter. Oh, and Mini Golf Pro!

What do you create?
I create jewelry using lampwork focals. I started collecting lampwork beads about 5 years ago and decided to put them to better use than just sitting in little plastic storage boxes. I also create jewelry using bead crochet and other bead weaving techniques and try to incorporate fiber into my designs.

What was the main inspiration for your shop?
The lampwork beads are truly inspiring all by themselves. Each one has a story to tell and I try elucidate that story using accent beads, texture, shape, bead finish and overall theme in each of my jewelry pieces. I'm a textural person, I love the feel and three-dimentionality of bead work!

How did you come about your store name?
After many years of being a molecular biologist in a laboratory, I decided I wanted a change of scenery. I told myself I was letting out my 'inner muse' and so the name was born.

What is the crafting utensil you cannot live without?
My crochet hooks. Especially the tiny ones for the teeny weeny beads!

What is your favorite material to work with?
I love working with about anything that can be used to make jewelry, but I'd have to say, Swarovski crystals really make my day!

What do you enjoy most about making the things you make?
I enjoy the entire creative process: tinkering around with the design elements, choosing a palette, selecting the shapes and finishes of the accent beads, watching the project take shape and then ripping it apart and starting it all over again with a totally fresh perspective :P

What is your life like outside of Etsy?
I'm married to an attorney, I have 2 daughters (6 and 8 years old) and a yellow lab named Princess, who lives up to that lofty name.

What is your favorite feature on Etsy?
I love the treasuries. Such diverse items and themes and very clever names and descriptions. It's been awhile since I've managed to snag one myself, I better get on it!!

What do you enjoy "window shopping" on Etsy on your free time?
I love to look at other jewelry artists and their designs. It's very inspiring and feeds my curiousity about how other designers approach their craft. I also enjoy looking at metalsmiths and their fabulous work. I'm not a metalsmither so I probably do more than window shop when it comes to rings.

Do you have a tip for other Etsy sellers?
I think the general 'vibe' on Etsy right now is that sales are slumping across the board. Some shops are still thriving, but the 'chatter' has been increasingly focused on making sales, marketing, increasing views, etc. I've narrowed my focus on Etsy and I'm switching to a custom order basis for the forseeable future. Basing my sales on custom orders means I don't have materials cost up front. When I receive an order, I place an order for the beads and have money in hand to get the project going. Until the economy picks up, I feel this is where I have to invest my time and energy.

What other interests do you have?
I'm a New York Times Crossword addict. I also enjoy Sudokus and reading books.

Where in Florida do you live?
I live in South Tampa and love it! I moved here in 1996 from Chapel Hill, NC. The public schools are wonderful here and my girls are really happy, so I'm really happy!!

Could you recommend a fun activity near your Fl home that other members might enjoy?
I love the Florida Aquarium! Lots of great activities for kids: Pirate ship with sprinklers and fountains and a wonderful exhibit inside. The river otters are just adorable!

If you were a dessert what would it be?
Key Lime's a little bit SWEET and little bit TART...just like me =}

Monday, May 17, 2010

FEST Spring Fling Blog GIVEAWAY

It's time for the Fest Spring Fling BLOG GIVEAWAY and we are really excited to present a wonderful bracelet from Audrey of AudreyGardenLady AudreyGardenLady . Audrey creates gorgeous affordable gemstone jewelry and art and this beaded memory wire bracelet is no exception.

This flirty piece features lovely blue lampwork beads with freshwater pearls, blue and turquoise silver lined beads and beach strung glass. It's a beauty!

HOW TO ENTER: Enter to win this fabulous bracelet by visiting Audrey's Etsy Shop at AudreyGardenLady or any of the FEST Team Members listed to the left on this page. Find your favorite item, share it with us and tell us why you love it. Remember to leave your email or contact info so we can reach you if you're the winner. Winner picked on June 25th. Simple and Easy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Interview with Star & Crossbones

Who are you?
I'm a thinking, dreaming, exploration-happy, science-loving, granola-eating, tree-hugging "hippie" skeptic with a strong sense of compassionate justice and an appreciation for sharp pointy things and things that go "BOOM!" ;) I love a good story. I like to be logical and realistic — and I think it's both to think the universe is cooler than many people realize. ;)

What do you create?
My Etsy shop has a funky mix of stuff in it right now — handmade chain mail jewelry AND textiles/fiber arts stuff. My boyfriend, Brian, makes the chain mail, while I make hand spun yarn, stitch markers, handwoven items and knitting patterns. I'm not sure I've seen that combination of offerings anywhere else ;), but aside from that, we try to offer different styles of handmade items than we see other people making.
With my hand spun yarn, I dye my own spinning fiber in colors inspired by nature, mythology, and pirates. The yarn in the shop right now mostly has long color transitions — the skein starts one color and ends another color, so that whatever is knit from it will be at least three colors. Next I'll be adding solids/semi-solids.
On the hand wovens, I like to weave airy pieces with more color than weight, since Florida isn't really the best place for heavy winter wovens. I especially like to use recycled and hand spun yarn, since it lends a lot of character and uniqueness. I'm planning on offering more handwoven accessories soon — purses, tote bags, belts. My newest loom is a 32-inch, which I got because what I *really* want to do is weave fabric to make clothing and costumes out of. I'm aiming to have some summer clothes in the shop in the next couple of months, and some costumey accessories like belt pouches and pirate sashes and bandannas soon after that.

How did you come about your store name?
My business name, Star and Crossbones, is a personal in-joke about pirates and Jedi and the other weird fantasy-based bits of my identity that I was trying to nurture by starting the business. It's partly a reference to the pirate flag, the Jolly Roger — a.k.a. the skull and crossbones — while the "star" part is a two-pronged reference to all things fantastic and also to Star Wars, which has been a big part of my inspiration to create. (Yeah. I'm a geek.) Anyway, Star Wars pushed me over the line into REALLY learning to sew, so I could create the perfect Jedi costume, and once I had that momentum, it was natural to learn the other fiber/textile-related crafts I'd had my eye on for a while. Basically, the name is my way of reminding myself of the origins and goals of the business — to be myself, to explore my creativity, to be independent and free-thinking and create beautiful things that inspire me and hopefully inspire other people.

What is the crafting utensil you cannot live without?
It sounds generic, but scissors are a giganto part of the things I make that I love most — I need them to cut paper and other decorations for mail art/altered art like artist trading cards, to cut fabric for costumes, and to cut commercial yarn for weaving and knitting. I really enjoy cutting fabric — once I'm extremely sure that I know exactly where I'm cutting. ;)

What is your favorite material to work with?
Either fabric with great drape and lots of texture (even if that texture is "smoothness" ;)) or jewel-toned gemstones. (You can tell if I really like a gemstone or bead because I usually go "Nom nom nom" like I want to eat it. ;)) I think what fabric and gemstones have in common is that different types have distinct traits, personalities and uses, and there's a lot of variety to explore within the different types. And they both have great pokability and visual appeal — meaning I like to touch them and stare at them. ;)

What is your life like outside of Etsy?
Well, I had an office job (as an editor for a government magazine — woooeeeooo) up until I left it in October of last year to work on Star and Crossbones and to get my head back in the academic game — I've been wanting to get my graduate degree in anthropology. Right now, though, there is only the Craft. ;) I'm hoping that now that I make my own hours, though, I can start to do things again that I didn't have time or energy for while I had the office job.
For one thing, I used to love outdoorsy stuff like spending the day at the beach or the park, camping, hiking or learning about local plants and wildlife. And I used to write a lot, mostly fantasy novels and what I call "rant poetry," which is like detoxing with words. ;) I super-need to finish writing a book this year; it's pretty pathetic how long I've been working on some of them. I also love reading and stage combat and I'd love to get back into dancing — someone I know from Long Ago has a ballet studio now, which seems like a sign that I should start again. AND I'm just finishing up my Web design diploma — so right now I'm doing lots of homework, but soon ... soon I will escape!
Oh, and I play a lot of silly Facebook games ... yeah, I know. It's ridiculous. ;) (Come friend me if you want to play with me, though.)

What is your favorite feature on Etsy?
It's not really a "feature," but handmade stuff is AWESOME, and I'm glad Etsy is around to highlight the range of weird, wacky, beautiful and inspiring stuff people are making out there. Maybe my favorite feature is the inspiration factor? ;) The Alchemy section is also really neat — I never actually use it, but I like to check it out and see what people are asking for. It helps keep me from getting stuck in a single-themed creative mindset or feeling like people are only interested in one thing.

What do you enjoy "window shopping" on Etsy on your free time?
Totally! I'm weirdly obsessed with the food category especially. I'm a closet foodie wannabe — I just haven't put in the hours to really count as one yet.

Is there an online "tool" that you like to use?
I am constantly checking Google Analytics and BlogPatrol for Web traffic statistics, and CraftCult for heart statistics. There's also CraftCount, which gives specific sales numbers for the top Etsy sellers in different categories. (Not that you can tell I'm a big fan of statistics and research...)

What other interests do you have?
I think I covered a lot of that in the "What's your life outside Etsy like?" question, but to add a few, right now I'm practicing for the dragon boat races that are happening locally on May 1 (, and after that I'll be going back to a local play reading group full of lovely talented actors who have been nice enough to let me read with them. Maybe next year I'll be doing pirate cannon/weapons demonstrations again, too.

Where in Florida do you live?
Right now I live in Palm Harbor, which is not terribly far from St. Petersburg, the city where I was born. One of the cool things about living here is that I can pretty much indulge whatever mood I'm in without going more than 45 minutes away from the house (and it only takes that long because of traffic, not physical distance ;)) — there are art fairs, campgrounds, beaches, upscale shopping areas, animal sanctuaries, organic farms, thrift stores, gourmet restaurants and bakeries, music festivals and museums and libraries, all relatively close to where I live. Now I just need to organize my time and finances so that I can fit all of them into my life. You might think that after spending my entire life here, I'd have the hang of it, but apparently not. Things change too much. ;)

Could you recommend a fun activity near your Fl home that other members might enjoy?
The Tarpon Springs sponge docks are fun to visit — there are some great Greek restaurants (especially the Hellas bakery, if you like sweets), you can watch the fishing boats come in, there's some touristy kitschy shopping, and there's a cute tiny aquarium with a lot of personality. The owner dives with the sharks himself ... and if you want to see a guy hug a shark five feet from where you're sitting, that's the place to do it!

What are some other sites to find out more about you and your art?
My craft blog:
My Flickr account:
My Facebook fan page:
My crafty Web site:
My Ravelry account:

What animal would you like to be for one day and why?
A dragon, so I can be big, pretty, scary, magical, and capable of flying, but still be able to talk. And also so I could go find a bunch of magical thingies to keep using if/when I had to stop being a dragon. ;)

What “super” power would you like to have and why?
The ability to grant other people objectivity, emotional balance and rational thought. :D Because it frustrates me ridiculously when people hold themselves and/or other people back out of negativity or ignorance based on fear. (I'm pretty sure I just made that question more serious than it was meant to be, but I'm weird like that. ;))

Thanks for interviewing me! It was the first interview I've ever done as the person answering rather than the person asking. ;) Hopefully everybody else enjoys reading it as much as (or even more than!) I enjoyed doing it.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Challenge Time...Show Your Handmade Mojo!

Time for another FEST challenge!

Make a new item with one of two themes:


OOOOoooo my FAVORITE COLOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


"Living in Florida Style"
Beaches, everglades, sunshine, wildlife, tropical flowers.........

and enter the MAY Handmade Team Challenge!
Remember to mention the challenge in your shop announcement, along with being a FEST team member. Do not list the entries here. Follow the link on the right side bar, to the May Challenge thread on etsy and list your items and links there.


COME ON NEWBIES.....jump in and share your handmade talents!