Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sticks and Stones and Lazy Bones

I'm seriously considering changing the name of the card portion of my business to Off the Wall Greetings. I came up with it about an hour ago while I was making dinner. It covers both my WALLpaper envelope stuff and my general snarky/offbeat stuff, and that's pretty much what I do. I was a little surprised it doesn't already exist, but there's no yet or anything I could find by googling it (except the descriptive phrase referring to cards). I already created the gmail account and, but now I have to convince myself it's really worth it to move everything to the new name and make new business cards and all that. Possible logo: wallpaper background with a bent nail? Still just thoughts. I'd love to hear your opinions, though.

And why am I doing this on New Years Eve? Because I decided that while my cold is getting better and I'm finally off the nasal sprays and things ending in "-quil," it wasn't worth forcing myself out in less clothing than the weather would logically call for to some semi-awkward uber-social function full of people I don't know or barely know and sneeze on the one or two people I actually want to see for a few minutes and drink things I shouldn't and spend money I shouldn't and wander home frozen to a pair of dogs that will want to go out and play having already pooped in my kitchen and wake up tomorrow as sick as I was five days ago, all just to have a "proper" New Years.

Instead, I'm curling up with two warm (and appropriately emptied) dogs, a hot drink, and as many movies as I can stand. I'll probably call a few important people to wish them a happy 2009. I might stick my head out the 13th floor fire escape at the countdown to watch the fireworks, since my apartment building has one hell of a view, but that's it. And I'm looking forward to it like crazy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What a NERD!

1:30 in, that's me. I just found out yesterday the thing was on television because we ran into family friends at the movies (after which we went for Chinese, just to be good stereotypical Jews on Christmas) and they asked me about it. Crazy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Move Over, Stephen Colbert

Thanks to Fenris Lorsrai and her LiveJournal for showing me the online Build A Squid. After naming my first Squiddy creation Chester and discovering three other Chesters in the virtual US squid waters, I decided I needed to name the next squid after myself and my shop (which is conveniently named after, well, myself). Now you can make your own squid and check on the progress of mine by clicking "FIND YOUR SQUID" and then "ENTER SQUID'S NAME" and typing in JillHannah as the squid name. I'm pleased with it. I thought about trying to make it look like me, but other than picking the smallest of everything, that wasn't so possible.

This is a very Stephen Colbert thing of me to do, since he's had all kinds of crazy random crap named after himself, like a Hungarian bridge, an ice cream flavor, and his adopted bald eagle Stephen Jr. Well, he certainly has no virtual squid. Who's awesome now, motherfucker?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

does not compute, Chappy Chanukah

My computer monitor died. This would be less of a big deal if my computer wasn't a laptop. Oy. I am heavily reliant on my computer. I use it for both of my jobs (Etsy and my other one). I don't get TV because I can watch anything I really want to see on my computer (Daily Show and Colbert Report mostly, plus lots of Netflix stuff). It makes me feel connected to people I don't get to see and people I don't even know through email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. And all these days without it (almost a week now) are enough to make me go GRRRRRRRRAWWWWWWWWWWWWWRRRRRRRR!

Chanukah starts tonight. As Jewish holidays go, it's far less important than Shavuot, but when faced with the question, "Daddy, where's our Christmas Tree," menorahs blaze strong.
Ok, that's totally not fair. It's cold and dark out. Chanukah is a holiday of light and family and fried foods and games, and that's quite positive and appealing, even if you stick Christmas in August. Purim (my favorite holiday ever) gets more attention than Shavuot, too, and it's nowhere near anything competing for the hearts of Jewish children on the calendar. Purim is another holiday not from the Torah about "they tried to kill us, they didn't kill us, we ate," but this time in then Persia, a woman (Esther) saves the day, and everybody dresses up in costumes and gets drunk. So maybe Shavuot just needs a better marketing department and something shiny, and I need to get my tuchas to my parents' house for love and food and presents. My brother and I are hunting through Etsy for a new wallet (billfold, lots of pockets, leather is good but not required, if you want to help us find something hint hint hint) for my mother. Go handmade.

Chag sameach. Let's eat.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yes, I am just now posting these photos

This is the hoodie I made for the male one-eyed hairless cat named Lucius. It's been a rough few weeks, so you just get to see the pictures now. I'm hoping the kitty-mama will send me some modeled photos as well, but that's totally up to his camera-readiness and her initiative.

Yarn: Lion Brand Microspun in fuchsia
Zipper hand-stitched during two movies, then partially re-done because I'm anal to (I believe) to Tolstoy's Childhood courtesy of (free downloadable iPod-able public domain audiobooks AKA best thing ever).
Hoodie ties ended with jingle bells that were way harder to get on than they should have been but totally made this a cat sweater instead of a generic-four-legged-creature sweater.

Want one? Maybe if you're nice to me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Medical Overshare

Bad week for my guts. Lots of discomfort and then some of the worst pain of my life turned out to be an ovarian cyst that then ruptured. Fun fun fun. It's almost nice to be back to the familiar pain of my head.

Thank you to those who were VERY helpful while I was writhing around and then trying to find out why.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

personal pricing logic of the undead

Doing a bit better as of fairly late last night. I got all of my packages ready for shipping and was perhaps a bit overzealous with the goodies and general package decorating (I'll post a photo if my friend lets me steal his camera before we head to the post office this morning), but I feel a lot better just knowing I could do what had to get done. Being useless is frustrating.

As a result of Mr. Migraine I'd left up my Black Friday-Cyber Monday sale an extra four days with the quick note at the top of my Etsy shop that I was in Migraineland and shipping might be delayed but that meant the sale got extended because I was too dead to take it down. Today, I was going through to bump all of my prices back up and remove the "25 PERCENT OFF" from my titles when I decided perhaps I'm better off leaving most of my cards at $3. I know I personally am more likely to buy from a shop with $3 cards, since I don't like to buy just one at a time and almost $10 when you figure in postage is much more daunting than $8. In fact, I might even buy three cards at $3 each when I would be loathe to buy any from the shop that's selling for $4. Hopefully I'm not the only one thinking like this right now. Also hopefully I have cards that people want and find. That's the huge first part of it. The price just seals the deal. So pretty pretty please if you have a friend you think would like my shop, send them the link, and hopefully this afternoon I'll still feel better enough to work on general whoring (AKA marketing).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Migraine, shiny happy things

Coming soon to
Looks like I'm doing "B" as my "Merry This & Happy That" card with recycled wallpaper envelopes...just as soon as I can get home and be productive without this stupid effing migraine ruling my life. I've was stuck at my parents' house from Monday through Wednesday because I was completely dead and couldn't drive, and now I'm at a friend's house for the same reason. Even being on the computer hurts my eyeballs and stabs my brain a bit, but I can only spend so many hours laying around dead with the dogs (thank goodness for dogs). I don't know how long I'll be stuck here now. Here is much closer to my own apartment and if I go really nuts and am well enough to do a big walk but not a drive I can walk home with my dog in the lovely 21° F (9° with wind chill) weather. But until then, I put a note up on my shop that I'm migraining and my shipping may be delayed. Fun. Good way to get sales. Wasn't the migraine thing why I started the shop in the first place? Well, this is my life and I have to deal with each piece of it as it comes.

A friend of mine from camp back in junior high also came down with a life-changing medical problem around the same time I did, but hers is much worse and had the potential to kill her. Now, she's getting sicker and sicker and she's been in the ICU for weeks and prayers and hope may be the only medicine left right now. My thoughts are with her, and I remember my own pain is quite managable by comparison.

Happy post!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

vote vote vote vote vote

I want to make one version of my "Merry This and Happy That" card. Right now I have three finalists for the layout. The people in my family all like different ones, so I'm putting it to a vote. The winner of the vote is the one I will print. That simple. Your vote is way more influential than in any presidential election. You should feel special. Please judge each version on its own merits and not the lighting/photography since I'm still at my parents' and had to use my sister's camera with its complete unfamiliarity and lack of manual settings.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Merry This, Lacking That

Today, December 1, was supposed to be the big Coming Out Party for my "Merry This and Happy That" cards. Listing them on Etsy, photos up on Flickr, Twittering my brains out, and then dolling myself up in business cute (not to be confused with business casual) and hopping around to appropriate-seeming salons, coffee shops, and boutiques in the Andersonville, Lakeview, and Lincoln Park neighborhoods of Chicago (time and other life-factors to determine where and how many such places I'd hit before the day's end).

Today, December 1, I was still not quite happy with the cards when the cleaning people got to my apartment and I had to leave with the dog so he wouldn't eat them (the people, not the cards), and after digging my car out of the snow and heading off to run an errand or two, I rolled down the driver side window to help finish clearing the snow when CACHUNK the whole window fell off its track and down into the door where it stuck, jutting up slightly and uselessly. And it was cold. And wet. And I had the dog with me. And I don't have a garage or any indoor safe place to keep my car for any length of time other than my parents' house 45 minutes away.

So my car is in the shop and my dog and I are both back at my parents' where I'm trying to get work done. I brought a suitcase full of paper and tools and my computer and such and I'm hoping to be at least somewhat productive and double hoping that they can finish my car tomorrow (a maybe at best from the mechanic).

This is the kind of thing that is far from tragic or terrible. It's not a big deal and only a temporary annoyance, but it's still frustrating. As they say in Yiddish, "A mench tracht und Got lacht" (please note it rhymes), or, "A person plans and God laughs."

Cards may be up later tonight. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. But there should be cards.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Holy Sales, Batman!

QUICK "Black Friday" update before I go out and brave the live shopping world myself with my brother and his fabulous girlfriend (something in the past my family has avoided but I've always kind of wanted to do, just because it's there and entertaining in a sick, crazy way):

Lots of places will be pricing items below cost today. I used to work at Circuit City, and we could see what the cost to the store was of an item (they estimated in labor and crap, too). The day after Thanksgiving, one of the managers made a big deal out of showing us a bunch of the "doorbusters" and other random sale items that were selling for significantly less than the cost to the store. So why did the store choose to "lose" money on these items? These were not things that had been sitting on the shelves, where any sale would be making more money than the $0 they were currently pulling in (like I talked about last entry). For the Circuit City model (and many other stores like it), they pull you in with some main big fabulous deal that really is a deal, but then count on you buying accessories like batteries, remote controls, blank CDs, software, etc. where they charge way more than cost and make up for the loss on the initial item and then some.
Can you do that? I'm not doing it so much in my shop. I'm going with the "everything on sale, things that already exist can go to any price because they already exist and things that would need to be made can go very close to cost and no matter what it's good to get people into my store and buying because if I can get them hooked on my product while it's cheap then later when it's not on sale they'll come crawling back because my wallpaper envelopes are made out of crack and I use really nice papers that are laced with heroin*" method myself, but if you think creatively, I'm sure there are ways of using the Circuit City method in your shop, too. Or the drug dealer method. That works, too.

Now where are those leftover cinnamon rolls?

*no actual drugs in any of my products, I'm afraid, but if you're a paper or texture nerd like me, they are fairly addictive.

Photos (items for sale on Etsy):
grey gardens ava bag by cookoorikoo
brass mushroom earrings by carolinableu

Monday, November 24, 2008

PRICING superduper simplified

I've written about pricing before. I will probably write about it again. I was an economics major at Oberlin College for three years (my "taking time off" for a variety of reasons became permanent, but that's another story), so I do actually know what I'm talking about.

This is the unbelievably simplified version of how to price the things you sell. I should charge you for it, but I'm not, so go buy crap from my shop instead.

If you already made it and it is sitting around and there is only one like it
(usually paintings, sculpture, some jewelry, and anything else that is already done and you can't or won't be making more similar to it based on its sale) then you want to choose your price based on the most you think someone will pay in an amount of time you're willing to wait to get paid.
That's it. I don't care how much your materials cost or how much time it took or any of that. The thing is already made. You already spent that money and time. It's gone. "Sunk" as they say in Econoland. Now it's just a matter of how long it will sit on your shelf. Are you willing to wait a longer amount of time in hopes that someone will pay a higher price? Or do you price it lower so it sells faster? Your choice. But remember: 1) however much it finally sells for is more than the $0 it is currently making you and 2) unless you are selling milk and eggs, not everybody will want your item at any price, no matter how low. There may be someone out there who really wants and is willing to pay a higher price for your whatever, but if she never knows it exists, putting it on sale a dozen times for the wrong audience won't do you any good.

If you already made it but you will make more based on the sale of this one or if you only make it after it sells or if you adjust how much you make based on how much you sell in any way, shape or form, pricing is a bit harder. You're actually looking for the point where supply meets demand. I'm not going into how to collect extensive pricing data right now, even though that's the real way to figure this out. You need to know if you charge $20 and you sell 5, how many would you sell by charging $15? If you sell 6 at $15, you may think "great, I sold one more!" but it's not great because you make $100 selling 5 at $20 (5 x 20 = 100) and only $90 selling 6 at $15 (6 x 15 = 90). Can you still sell 5 at $23? $25? When do people buy less based on price? Data data data. And even that is hard to know for sure since there are so many other things going on, like how much you're advertising and holidays and the economy and and and!!

So! Here's the easy version for you: figure out how much each item costs you to make. I always like to figure in a little extra to account for my many mess-ups along the way, since they are a part of the cost of making my cards. Then figure how much time it takes you to make each thing. Give yourself a minimum wage (your particular government's, a "living wage," or sweatshop labor rates are all good places to start). Add those two numbers together. Now don't charge less than that. That's what it's worth to you to make more.

EVERYBODY: Look at what other people with similarish items charge. Look at how many sales they have and when. Look at what they're selling. Just because somebody is charging a lot for something in your category doesn't mean anybody is buying at that price. It can be scary to see the people at the ends of the pricing spectrum, but look at their sales numbers. How many more sales are the people at the bottom getting than the people in the middle? If it's not a lot, then the people in the middle are probably making more money. If the people at the bottom are selling two or three times more than the people in the middle, then maybe you should be pricing at the bottom, since you'll most likely make more money total. If the people at the top of the spectrum aren't selling anything, then it's not worth it to price at the top of the spectrum. But if the people at the top are selling regularly, it might be worth it to price towards the top because your sales will still move and that may be a lovely place for supply to meet demand.

Now go! Price things! And buy my business card sized "thank you" notes to include in all the wonderful items you are about to sell (I have tons more not listed, so please convo me if you're interested)

photos (all items for sale on Etsy):
Original Mixed Media Artworks by TwoHiddenHeads
1900 Story County Bank of Ames, Iowa, Check from Artouette
a paradox - super mario question block cufflinks by pixelparty
Money Bags Pinback Button, Badge by catlover1

Sunday, November 23, 2008

DIY Trunk Show Chicago visit and purchase

I bought art! Face Beans 7" x 5" by Luisa Castellanos of Pock-It Palz. I need to do that more often. I don't buy myself wall art with any regularity because it is a bit out of my current budget (food, clothes, shelter being the only things within my current budget, and even those are questionable). But basic functions be damned, bring on the happiness!

Yesterday, my sister and I went to the DIY Trunk Show as spectators. I always feel a little weird now going to shows as a non-vendor, but it's way more relaxed and you actually have time to look at things and go back and consider, and it's totally fun. I also like having a second person with me while poking at things (as a vendor, any second person you've bribed into joining you is back at the booth while you run through the other tables) so I can share my thoughts and opinions out loud and point at things and say "buy that for me." Plus, with my sister, we have her entire life's worth of history and development of style and taste and understanding, so it's particularly entertaining to jointly coo over the same table of funky prints or yet another amazing but $65 and we know we'd lose it hat, and then come to bags that I think are the greatest things ever as she stands quietly trying not to make gagging noises at me, and two minutes later we are in the same situation over necklaces or pillows but in reverse positions.

Ah, sisters. Ah, crafters. Ah, humanity.

My highlights for the day:

Pock-it Palz in general. Plush things that eat their own little baby plush things, and other great plush things, and the painting I decided I couldn't live without. I actually liked a number of her paintings, but the one I brought home was my favorite.

loosetooth. Her pillows pulled us in but the Talking Alligator print may be my next art purchase. You can't really tell from the website, but it's gold foily and feels very multi-dimentional somehow, plus they're all signed and numbered and very professional and delicious.

MAKA designs. Her Etsy site isn't doing her work justice. I really loved her necklaces, and I'm not a big jewelry person at all ever. Hammered nickel and a really appealing aesthetic. I don't need to buy myself jewelry since I hardly ever wear jewelry, but it definitely stuck in my mind.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Carnival WINNER!

Congratulations to Wehaf Urchiken, winner of FOUR thank you cards with recycled wallpaper envelopes. Since there were arguably 22 valid entries, 22/5 is a little more than four, so one of her envelope/thank you cards is the 4 1/2" x 2 3/4" size bigger minis (makes more sense when you see the photo). Also, she said she liked paisley, and lucky for her, I've been very paisley lately, so it's a whole paisley collection! In fact, I love damask, but I'm waiting for paisley to show up as its sister everywhere pattern. It seems like I'm not the only one. Let's get a trend going here, people.

Didn't win? There's more in my shop, and I'm always happy to take custom orders for any number and any general paper request. I have palm trees, rocking chairs, and deer heads. Right now I'm just trying to get more general ones listed and umph my visibility, but maybe some weird hunting scenes would do that, too...

A little endnote here: there's something terribly anti-climactic about a random number generator. It takes less than a second and then that's it. It's the fairest way (you should see all the statistical analysis stuff about the way they did the Vietnam draft because of how they didn't properly mix the drum of numbers), but way less exciting than if I had lottery balls flying around a glass vat or a big sparkly light board or models holding briefcases.

Monday, November 17, 2008

EtsyGreetings Blog Carnival Giveaway Spectacular

Step right up and see the Amazing Flexible Giveaway!
It's EtsyGreetings Blog Carnival time!
I don't normally do blog giveaways (and by "normally" I mean "ever"), but this one's for the team and I'm making it special.
Leave your comment to win anywhere from two to 15 business card/gift card sized "thank you" cards with recycled wallpaper envelopes!
Here's how it works: Leave a comment on THIS blog post to enter. One entry per person. I will take the total number of entrants and divide it by FIVE to determine how many card/envelope sets go to the winner, so tell your friends to increase the prize! Total prize will not be less than two sets or more than 15.
If, in your comment, you tell me your favorite wallpaper envelope (one from my shop, the photo, or something general you hope for like "pink floral" or "red plaid") I will do my best to include it in your bundle should you win!
Then head on over to everybody else's carnival booths and see how much EtsyGreetings goodness you can fit into your life.
Contest open to all earth addresses. Yes, I will ship outside the US. No, I will not ship into space. Contest ends 11:59 Central Time Thursday, November 20, 2008 so I can RANDOMLY select a winner (random number generator is my friend) and post Friday. Entries insulting my mom will be counted. Entries that are blatant ads for other crap will not.

Can't wait to win 'em? Buy 'em!


I'm working on a treasury of things that look like vaginas that are are not supposed to look like vaginas.
I'm not sure if I'm making a political statement about censorship and labeling things as "mature" or if I'm just being an 11-year-old boy and giggling at things that look like cooter.
Either way.
If you happen to find something that is an unintentional lady-bit (NOT your own items, please), send it my way. Thanks.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Business Trip?"

I went to Brooklyn! I took silkscreening at the EtsyLabs! I met Etsy admin people! I silkscreened my "Why is a raven like a writing desk" Venn diagram onto a bunh of manties. I had wonderful good times! I will elaborate more later and upload pictures, but oh what fun! I want to live at my friend's apartment so I can go to Monday craft nights at Etsy all the time and craft and play with people and make things and have happy good times. Oh, the happy good times I had! Not just with Etsy stuff, but the Etsy stuff was certainly fun. I'm still beaming, and it's not just the hangover.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Artistic Nudes

The big question of "mature" listings and "artistic nudes" and "I don't want to be slapped in the face with a giant cock"* is buzzing again in the Etsy forums.
LovingLee's original oil painting, mouth-watering and available on Etsy

When you list certain things on Etsy, you have to include the tag "mature" so that people who don't want to see explicit content can opt out of it in their searches, while others can look for it directly when they want the dirty shit fast.
Give it a minute. This go2girl trinket treasure box actually is a nude. Should it be labeled "mature?"

From the "Dos and Don'ts":

Mature content

  • Mature content is defined as: sexual activity or content, profane language or graphic violence.
  • Items containing mature content must be tagged "mature".
  • The first thumbnail image should be kept appropriate for general audiences; additional images in the listing may show the item in its entirety.
  • Artful representation of the nude human figure is allowed. The context of the nudity determines if it is a mature content item.
  • Items are subject to review on a case-by-case basis. If Etsy evaluates the content to be mature, you will be asked to edit the listing to comply with these policies or remove the listing entirely.

Mature content listings will remain in all public searches by default; users can restrict results by using the exclusionary search term "NOT mature" ("opt-out" search status).

Some people are concerned that photos and other "artful" representations of things normally covered by bathing suits should not appear in the first photo of any listing. They don't want to be looking around at handmade mugs and jewelry and sweaters and then see a penis. They worry their children might be in the room when a boob appears on the screen.

Others site famous works such as the Sistine Chapel, Venus De Milo, and DaVinci's Vertuvian Man, only to be reubuked by parents who wouldn't allow their children near such art (or any television, movies, or life experiences they deem unsuitable) until they are "older." The United States was founded by Puritains. Some days that's clearer than others.

My parents chose to raise me by awkwardly explaining everything related to sex and sexuality in the most scientific way possible. But they never hid art from me. We went to the Art Institute all the time. I was embarassed. I wish I hadn't been. I hope if I ever have kids, they will be aware that they need to stay covered in public places and that no one has a right to touch their private parts unless they say ok, but that there's nothing ugly or dirty about a breast, penis, or vagina. I still think breasts look like udders and vaginas are the grossest, ugliest things on the face of the earth, and I have these parts. I see them daily. I'm used to my own, but it's a damned shame that something that shouldn't be seen as vile or wrong so frequently turns my stomach or makes me giggle.

It's funny, but the "mature" items are actually the least mature way of looking at nudity.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for immaturity. I sell cards with swear words and poop on them, for fuck's sake.

For whatever reason, more conservative parents tend to like the argument that they should be the ones to decide what's best for their children. I don't know why this sentiment doesn't echo at the other end of the spectrum, since a stronger governing body is more likely to push towards the middle of the bell curve, alienating both "No seeing skin below the neck until he's 18" and "If I want to buy my 5-year-old a lap dance, you can't tell me otherwise." But while right wing totalitarian governments should theoretically scare the crap out of the "libral"-minded, "states' rights" and "parents' rights" and what're basically the great great great (etc.) grand-children of the anti-federalists in the United States all seem to be the conservative right-wing element. When an ideology that should, in theory, spread out in a much less partisan way, goes flopping quite so significantly in one direction, it means one of two things. 1) The other side is totally missing the point/oppertunity/hysteria of the ideology and should really start checking out the Kool-Aid or 2) the ideology is being used as a front or an excuse and isn't tied to the cause at all.

I think slavery and gay marriage are #2s (states rights my ass). I think this may be closer to a #1, since I really believe this is all an issue of control. But what the hell do I know?

*Not QUITE a direct quote, but dear lord I wish it was.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Good Advice for Sober Babies

Running your own business is a lot like having a baby. Everybody has all this advice for you and all of it is well-intended and much of it is "good advice," but there are so many things that are so personal and so personalized that you have to weed through what seems like a common, universal experience (and other people want to tell you their experience will be your experience) and find what applies to you, what works for you, and what doesn't. Meanwhile, you have to be careful not to be an ostrich with its head in the sand for things that truly are universal and not write things and people off as "oh, that just doesn't apply to me" when they actually do. And all this information and research still can't keep you from walking into tons of problems that you have to learn the hard way for yourself, and other things you'll just never learn. On the plus side, when you screw up your business you're mostly just hurting yourself, whereas if you feed your baby vodka and ping-pong balls, you may also harm the baby.

Now if I can only reach that beautiful internal point where I can say, "This is what I'm hearing from other people, this is what I've learned, this is what I'm doing. That's that, and I'm ok with that."

Maybe that'll be my new attempted mantra: "That's that and I'm ok with that." You should try. it. It'll be good for business.

*Alice in Wonderland "Very Good Advice" record available from ricracandbuttons's Etsy shop

Monday, October 20, 2008

Eveloped in Wallpaper

I have wallpaper envelopes coming out of my ears.

A few weeks ago I started making a new version of my "screw email" cards with recycled wallpaper envelopes. People liked them a lot. Some people said they loved the envelopes and the feel of the cards but wished they had a different message, so I designed some cards that said "thank you" to fit in the same envelopes.

Find more photos like this on Indiepublic

Then I was at a favorite local coffee shop and noticed they had gift cards with crappy envelopes that didn't fit right. Lightbulb went off in my head right away. I talked to the shift manager and left some of my "screw email" cards and envelopes with the suggestion that I make specialized gift card sized ones with or without cards that said something giftcardy or the name of the coffee shop or something.
I was back a week later with a handful of envelopes in perfect gift card size and cards with the messages "thank you" and "don't spend it all in one place," the latter being my idea of funny.

That particular coffee shop owner still hasn't gotten back to me despite much cheerleading on my behalf from several of his managers (he went out of town for a week and I've stopped by a few more times, c'est la vie), but on Wednesday a different coffee shop expressed serious interest, and everyone I show any of my envelope/card combos to gets really excited and thinks they're the greatest things since sliced bread. It's all pretty exciting and flattering.

Find more photos like this on Indiepublic

And the latest exciting news and my real inspiration for writing: one of the people to whom I gave some of my cards/envelopes was my therapist. After all, much of what we talk about is me being sick/demi-dead (really no secret after my last few entries), and this was something I could do/make even on my demi-dead days. She loved them and asked me if she could show them to a friend of hers who sells high-end jewelry. I said of course! She was a little concerned about the confidentiality and what to say if the friend asked how she knew me, but again, I don't think it's such a shameful thing to be in therapy. As long as she's not telling her friend what we discuss, a connection is a connection, and why is a therapist any different from a dentist or a personal trainer? Ideally, if time and money were no object, everyone should have one. It's healthy. You don't want them talking about your particulars, like your gingivitis, flabby arm muscles, or recurring sexual fantasies about gorilla suits, but we're all human and imperfect and seeing specialists to work on things to better our lives is positive. Not shameful.

That being said, my therapist's friend is having a jewelry show on Thursday and loved my cards and wants to feature a display's worth of them for sale! So now I have to come up with a way of displaying them that is
  • ●portable (so I can drop it off with my therapist on Wednesday)
  • ●classy (I've been doing farmers markets and craft shows, but this is high-end jewelry, which has a different feel to it)
  • ●self-explanatory (I won't be there to say "the ones on the top are $1.75 or 6 for $8 and you can choose your own card and envelope combo, blah blah blah")
I'm thinking of going to Target or JoAnns and getting a big cloth bullitin board/frame thing or two and then using cards of the two sizes as "signs" to say "cards my size are $_ and come with the envelope of your choice"

If you have any other ideas/suggestions, I'm more than happy to hear them. Keep in mind I don't want to spend more than about $15-$20, since my profits aren't that high to begin with.

Also, if you own a business and want some gift card envelopes and/or cards, let me know! It's a sliding price scale based on how many you want and if I ever find a faster more efficient way of making them (still working on that...I'm up to about 10 an hour, which is ass-slow but I can watch a movie or listen to audiobooks or have a migraine at the same time, a major plus).

I've been making envelopes for days. Plaid, floral, solid, weird, paisley, stripes, you name it. And they're coming out of my ears. Let's just hope they do well selling Thursday, on Etsy, and in the universe.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Etsy Story

(written for the EtsyGreetings blog. this is already the "shorter" version. yikes.)

My desk. Really.

Etsy saved my life.

That's an exaggeration, but my little Etsy universe is certainly responsible for some huge positives over the last year. Maybe not my mortality, but some days it feels like it.

I get migraine headaches. I've had them my entire life. They suck. People who say "it's just a headache" need to be punched a lot. A "migraine" is actually a type of headache as opposed to just a really bad headache. You can have a really bad headache that isn't a migraine. You can have a migraine that isn't so bad. (Good info from the National Headache Foundation here.)
Migraines involve much more than just head pain. Mine start with the volume on my senses getting turned up - I notice smells and light and sound all brighter and more intrusive. I can smell static and saran wrap and sometimes scents that aren't even there start crawling up my nose and poking me in the back of the throat. I hear anything high pitched or sudden well above the level of my surroundings and have trouble following conversations. Then my vision goes wacky. I see things flashing in my peripheral vision that aren't there. Sometimes I lose my peripheral vision completely. Everything starts to feel like I've been staring into the sun and the splotches cloud my sight. Then light starts turning into pain. It pierces into my eyes. At that point, I have to lay down somewhere dark, even if the real pain hasn't begun.
Then there's the pain. It throbs and pushes and gags and takes over every bit of my consciousness. It scrambles my thoughts and the whole universe is sharp and hurt and I try to sleep and my dreams are scrambled and I have the migraine in my dreams and I want to drill holes in my head.
My dog in my bed, with whom and where I spend my migraines

At different points in my life they’ve varied in frequency from one every few months to months at a time with no relief. Mostly, they’ve gotten worse as I’ve gotten older.

At age 22 and without having finished college, I got my dream job: a humor writer at American Greetings. It was amazing. Go into an office and produce about eight card ideas a day. When they hired me, they said not to expect to have anything published for the first six months as I learned the tone and style and everything about card writing.
It was my first real job and I moved into a new city while my friends all graduated college and went other places. The migraines got worse. I'd have them every day for a month. I had to take all kinds of sick days. I started having to inject myself with DHE to break the migraine cycles. It helped, but the more work I missed, the more stressed I got and the more migraines came. I tried to work some from home, but it's hard to be funny when you hurt all the time. My boss kept telling me my ideas were "too clever" and "too weird" and "not WalMart enough." My American Greetings mentor thought I was great and funny and working hard and a long-term asset to the company, especially if I could figure out my health. He stood up to my boss for me time after time.
Even with all the missed work, I still managed to have about two dozen of my ideas get published into real cards.

Five months after I started at American Greetings, I was "dismissed," the official reason being I didn't produce enough publishable cards. I'm sure it had more to do with my migraines than my actual card-writing abilities, but I was devastated.

I eventually moved back to Chicago (I grew up in the city and a bordering suburb). The migraines were less constant. They still showed up from time to time, but I could hold down a job or two. I missed writing, so I went back to school to get my BFA in creative nonfiction. I loved the program, loved most of my classes, and loved writing all the time.

The summer of 2007, the migraines crept back up. They held on stronger and longer again, like when I was in Cleveland. I started the fall semester with spotty attendance, then even on the days the headaches weren't all-encompassing, I couldn't deal with the train or the bus. Too many bad noises and flashing lights. By October, I had the headache full-blown all the time. I had to take a medical leave from school. I saw a new neurologist and got more pills, tried acupuncture, was willing to do anything I hadn't tried before, but I was completely useless.

I found Etsy. My hair stylist told me about it. Then a friend of mine had some of her photographs up on the site. Staring at the pretty pictures of things people made was something enjoyable I could do. It would distract me from the pain until I couldn't stand the brightness of the screen anymore and had to lay back down.
One full month of constant blinding pain forced me to rethink my life. I couldn't keep lying there, doing nothing. My parents were supporting me both financially and emotionally, but I go crazy if I'm not doing something day after day.
Instead of just staring at other people's pretty things, I made some of my own. Knitting was something I'd been doing a lot of in my migraineyness, since it felt somewhat productive and required very little light or sound. I started making cards again, and even opened my box of my rejected ideas from American Greetings to find things that were just "too clever" or "not WalMart enough," thinking they'd be good for Etsy. I opened a shop in November.

I found the chat rooms and suddenly had some form of human contact when I was vertical late at night. I'd spend hours talking to other sellers and staring at more pretty things and learning all things Etsy. My cards started to sell. I got a better idea of what worked and what sold. Chatroom people put me in their treasuries. I put them in mine, which tended to have elaborate themes (the 12 Monopoly tokens, Pink Floyd songs, Dr. Seuss books) and be more clever than gorgeous. I joined EtsyGreetings and the Chicago Style Crafters teams. I figured out how to print directly on the 5.5" x 4.25" blank cards I bought at JoAnn Crafts. I came up with new card ideas and designs. I can't draw to save my life, so I enlisted the help of my close friend who lived far away to draw me a tank, sheep, berries, and a match for "Tank Ewe Berry Match." She emailed me a whole sheet with variations to choose from, and after a long time perfecting things on PhotoShop,I had a new most popular card. I wasn't selling much, but I was selling, and it felt good.

Etsy taught me to use my digital camera. I went to Wednesday night critiques with HeyMichelle in the virtual labs and had even more human contact. She'd talk for hours straight on her webcam and I felt like there was another person (besides my family and my best friend) who came into my apartment. It became clear how important the photos of my products were, shooting things at angles and in better light.I learned how to build a lightbox, learned how to use "curves" in PhotoShop, and the importance of backgrounds.

My dad found me yet another neurologist, but this one was different. He spent three hours with me at my first appointment, asking questions about my history and understanding things that I never knew were related to my migraines. My ability to smell static is apparently not insane (as most people tend to think), but an ability to smell ozone. It made perfect sense to him as he wrote it down. Before then, I thought I'd exhausted all the currently available drug classes, tests, and diets, but he gave me a number of different possibilities for treatment paths, all of which were new and untried. He wanted me to call him every week with updates so we could tweak things, and have a new round of hefty tests (my last MRI was 10 years ago, plus he wanted extensive bloodwork done) as soon as I could get my health insurance straightened out. (My health insurance fiasco could be a book in itself, but basically I thought I'd gotten a year on the plan at my school, they thought I'd gotten six months, so I was uninsured and then became uninsurable because of my "pre-existing conditions." Months and months later, I managed to get on the ICHIP program through the state of Illinois that exists for the otherwise uninsurable.)

I started getting better. I went back to acupuncture and kept going weekly. I finally called the therapist my internist recommended (chronic pain is demoralizing). I started the EtsyChai team (the Jewish Etsy team that I've been neglecting lately) and I made it to my first Chicago Style Crafters in-person meeting.

I finally had an answer to the "so, how've you been" question that didn't involve me breaking down into tears: “I started my own business.” I got a tax ID# and saved receipts and felt very official. It may not have been paying my rent, but at least it was something to do and it paid for itself. As I had more and more good days, I signed up to be a part of CircaCeramics' open house/trunk show. It was my very first show and I sold all of two cards, but I felt like a real, normal human being and that was a triumph in itself.
I signed up to be a part of a rotating group of crafters (all from the Chicago team) selling Saturday mornings at a local farmer's market. If I had to back out of one of my weeks last-minute, there were still others in the tent for a two-vendor presence.
I got more involved in EtsyGreetings, too, and started a data pooling spreadsheet for the team.

I wish I could give a more conclusive happily-ever-after to all this. I now have good days about 3/4 of the time with the occasional day where I feel completely fine with no migraine-related anything. My Etsy shop still isn't paying the rent or booming or anything, but with the addition of the farmers markets and other craft fairs (when I can make it), it's more than covering costs. I now work from home for my aunt and uncle's nonprofit, which gives me less crafting/Etsy time but I feel more like a functioning member of society. I just started making and selling mini-cards with recycled wallpaper envelopes, and I'm hoping to sell gift card-sized ones to local coffee shops and boutiques for the holiday season.Etsy truly has been my shiny happy thing over the past year, and as I function more and more like a normal human being, things can only get better.

Etsy love.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Angry Head, Crafty Heart

My head is misbehaving. I was supposed to have a table at the Handmade Market today, and while I tried really hard to go, I couldn't stay vertical long enough or deal with the sun without too much pain to function. I've been like this more or less since Wednesday, and it's not good. I'm having trouble keeping up with life. I want to be a real person, and when I'm feeling ok I do all these real person things and get frustrated by my own hesitancy to do more and make specific plans with hard deadlines and wonder if I'm just being a big fat chicken-butt. But then my normal daily mild migraine morphs back into Evil Death Migraine and I'm useless. I try to be productive and do productive things, but I can't think straight and I screw up my work stuff and can't concentrate long or hard enough to do the things I need to, anyway.

So no Handmade Market today. And I have all these cute envelopes and mini-cards I want to list on Etsy, but right now I'm just not up to it. I'm only even on the computer because I put it on my nightstand so I could use it from my bed, and I keep having to close my eyes and type blind because the glare is bothering me, but lying around doing nothing all day was getting old.

Let's be businessy about this: anybody who is interested in some of my new screw email or thank you cards (they're just like the screw email ones, but in a different font and they say "thank you") with wallpaper envelopes, if you comment or convo me or email me, I will send you a grab bag at $1 a card/envelope set instead of the normal $2 each (plus shipping). You can request color schemes, florals, paisley, plaid, stripes, etc. if you want. You just have to be nice and know that they may get mailed tomorrow and they may not get mailed for a week and I just can't deal with lighting my lightbox and photoing and whatnot to make an Etsy listing, so you're getting them on the super-cheap.

Sorry I'm so fussy. Constant blinding pain makes me fussy.

Why isn't my acupuncture appointment until Wednesday?

*Photo Light and Time by sevenbridges available on Etsy, and such a wonderful illustration for a migraine

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Friend and Family Fabulous Females

This has nothing to do with crafting, but I can't name names in my other blog, and this requires some linking to real people for it to be worthwhile.

Three women in my life are on amazing journeys right now: my sister, my college roommate and bff-type person (one of a few bff-type people in my life, I'm lucky to say), and my cousin.

My sister is with her college bff driving across the US and back visiting all great roadside attractions, major landmarks, and random friends possible. Then the two of them are going to work on an organic farm in Costa Rica through the WWOOF program.

My college friend is running around Europe with Farmer John of The Real Dirt on Farmer John and Angel Organics to help him research biodynamic farming.

My cousin is biking around the the US with three of her friends (all female) in a post-college trek of amazingness.

All three are kindly keeping blogs so we mortals may live vicariously through them.

Today, I didn't do the farmers market because I didn't realize until last night that I was the only person signed up and I couldn't get anybody with a tent to join me in time. I could have gone out there tentless, but at 6 AM on a cold October morning, I lacked the inspiration of my grab-the-universe-by-the-testicles friends/relatives. Now, I'm demi-flattened again by another stupid migraine. But tomorrow! [Head willing,] the universe's testicles are mine! I will do something.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I found most of this on Monday when I was completely zonked with a migraine. Now I have a medium migraine right as it's time to post the treasury.

I'm also interested in the treasury naming process. I was really tempted to use the word "testicle" in my treasury title to get people's attention, but then I thought some of those featured might not be thrilled to be under such a heading. With over 900 treasuries currently up on Etsy, we'll see if anybody looks at mine, anyway.

White Point Vessel by upintheairsomewhere
Vase with Texture Overlay in Black and White by marymeestudio
Atomic Bowl. red by elementalclaystudio
Small Curvy Vase with Green Accent by kimwestad
dancing cruet set by annaspots
Porcelain Tippy Toe Bowl, Peacock Blue by carolbarclay
Chopped Baby Box by SusanKiffinDavidson
Coral Anemone Vase by janellesonger
9 oz bowl honey bee (black) by CircaCeramics
Sex Pot Mug by pinkkiss
Pet Bowl Set in Magenta by MSPottery
Tilt-A-World Forest Animal Dish by fruitiflypie

Thursday, September 18, 2008


New advertising toy/addiction thing:

Screw the traffic exchanges. Those were random everybodies randomly clicking random crap. LinkReferral is a traffic exchange, too, but it includes a reviews section where you can give feedback to the creators of other sites and they can leave you feedback as well. There's a whole complex points system based on how many reviews you submit a day (up to five for credit, more credit for better reviews) and how many sites you just view a day (up to 30) and then you can mark a site a day as a "favorite" and post in the "forum" as well, and all these things that push your site higher on their list for other people to look at.

And all of this would still be lame and sucky if, for some random reason, a huge number of Etsyians are all on the site. Shopping: jewelry/crafts. More than anything, LinkReferral has become my new way of poking through shops that I otherwise might never have found. Plus, I like critiquing, but not so much the critiques forum on Etsy, where you wade through too many "I just listed this item. What do you think?" (thinly veiled promo) posts and generic effusive comments and "rate the avatar above you" threads where the same person has posted every other slot for 16 pages. So a few thoughtful reviews in the name of "credit" on LinkReferral suits me fine.

And they have porn. You can get the exact same credit for going to the porn sites and rating them as you can going to Etsy sites. I only went surfing through these once (ok, so I'm back on there now that I'm writing this blog post) and found a lot of dead links (which I dutifully reported), but there was definitely some hardcore gay male action to be found including a very well built man swimming around a pool and jerking off to sleezy music. My straight male friend who was sitting beside me (the one who had egged me on to "check out the adult section!" in the first place) gaped at the screen flabergasted and speechless. I win.
Masturbation muscles counted towards my 30 hits for the day

*The AMAZING clay beefcake image is a magnet by bencandance and for sale at

Monday, September 15, 2008

Etsy Site Outage Today

Ok, who the hell is Chad? Wasn't he responsible for all that trouble down in Florida during the 2000 elections? If so, what the hell is he doing working for Etsy?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sweet Mother of/at Renegade!

and Father, too.

The Renegade craft fair is a big deal in Craftland. Started in Chicago in 2003, blah blah blah, now also in Brooklyn and San Francisco and four times a year in each place (I think). Here's their website for all the accurate primary-source information your heart desires.

I didn't feel ready as a vendor to apply in time for this one, but I wasn't about to miss going.

Car's still in the shop. Raining like the dickens (whatever way the dickens rains) all weekend. Wicker Park is half wayish between my apartment and my parents' house, so I thought it would be a lovely thing to do with them if we could meet there. But since I'm still automobilicly impaired, they agreed to pick me up from my acupuncture appointment, which was at least 20 minutes closer to Renegade than my apartment.

I called them after I finished getting poked. It was still very cold and wet outside, and they had apparently decided to go shopping for stools for their new kitchen this morning in the exact opposite direction from their house, Renegade (farther), my acupuncturist (even farther) and my apartment (farthest). They were caught in traffic still closer to the stool store than anything else so after much discussion and debate over the various routes and possibilities afforded to me by public transportation, my mom told me to go eat lunch somewhere and they'd come and get me.

I did and they did.

To be honest, it took a few more frazzled phone calls from them, but they found me and we found Renegade.


  • ■ Meeting the human behind my first ever Etsy purchase (I only bought six and gave them as presents, but she doesn't have six as an option right now)
  • ■ Seeing Betsy (aka Foxglove Accessories) for the first time since she got back from her honeymoon and meeting Mr. Betsy.
  • ■ Seeing the other "core" members of the Chicago Style Crafters who were there, in action: PixelParty and Cookoorikoo (another Mr. and Mrs. pair, but without a neighboring tent, they were having a hellish time with wind and rain and a persistently un-Velcro-ing tent side), Something Beautiful's warm-smelling if not warm-temperatured space, Donovan Beeson/16 Sparrows looking put together yet sarcastic as always, a probably cranky but definitely smiling CrankyPickle, and I barely snuck in a friendly hello to CircaCeramics as they seemed to sell things as fast as they could wrap them.
  • ■ My dad insisting we come see this shirt he really liked, then him buying it for me. I really like it, too. All graphic and branchy, and then there's the monkey! I was just thinking the other day that my long-sleeved shirt wardrobe sucks. Now it is one shirt less-sucky.
  • ■ Meeting Daniellexo from Etsy. I have no idea what I thought she'd look like, but I was surprised somehow that her particular face went with her particular person. Not in a bad way or anything, more like when you first see and hear Kevin Clash and find out he's Elmo.
    So Danielle, if you're reading this, I just called you Elmo. You gonna take that?
  • ■ Seeing things in person that I recognized from Etsy (MikeandMary and RainyPrints come to mind)
  • ■ Being totally awkward and weird as I said, "Oh! You know Diana Baumbach!" to the proprietors of Tugboat Printshop. Backstory: when I first began my Etsy obsession, my "BFF" from elementary school (Diana) mentioned she had friends on there and sent me their link: So when I was walking by their booth, I stopped and made a dork of myself. Go me.
  • ■ A few other noteworthy booths from which I made sure to get cards:
    foldedpigs. Fabulous dinnerware with brains, hearts, roaches, etc. Delicious. My mom was really tempted to get a roachy serving bowl for Thanksgiving, but our usual Thanksgiving guests are a bit on the conservative side for that. Pity.
    up in the air somewhere. Really great ceramic semi-functional sculptury design pieces. I want someone I visit a lot to own them and display them in an appropriately design-conscious environment. That person will never be me.
    huzzah! Video game nerd t-shirs in their most brilliant and pure form. I have to get The Blueprint T-shirt for my friend for Christmas. It's just too perfect and too him.
    Pink Kiss. Again with the clay, but these are more "pottery" and much prettier with words and images that look almost like they transferred when wet paper was left sitting on the piece before it dried. I liked the look and I liked a lot of the readable text and the unreadable text, too. I like text as art. Suck it.
I need to get my application together for Holiday Renegade. Sell my snarky card crap and dog sweaters in December. That would be swell.

Wow. I've completely degenerated into sleepyhead stooopid mode since I started writing this post. Think I can get images on here before I pass out and electrocute myself by drooling on the keyboard?