Health, Wellness & Enjoyment, Making Crafty Magic

More on Goals & Limiting Beliefs

owlsThis is a continuation of my last post on goal setting. I’d like to take this opportunity to delve further into Hunter Thompson’s idea of the decision between going with the flow by designing a life that accentuates your experiences and natural talents OR swimming against the current by re-inventing yourself in order to achieve a goal that may not reflect who you are now but instead reflects the person you’ll have to become in order to achieve that goal. (I hope this is making sense.) I can see the merits in both paths and it’s safe to say that I’ve sampled both.

Ever since grade school, I’ve focused heavily on cultivating my natural talents. I played guitar, was in various rock bands, took vocal lessons, wrote fantastic short stories and poetry and won awards for my artwork. Even before that though, I loved animals. I was born into this world with an affinity for and a kinship with animals. So in my senior year I was faced with a dilemma. Should I go to school for art, pursue a recording contract with my band or go to school for Veterinary Technology?

The veterinary work posed various exciting challenges. I was an honors student in remedial math, I wasn’t particularly scientific-minded, and blood & guts made me rather squeamish (a few months earlier I had fainted in front of my entire high school class when we took a tour of an embalming room at a local funeral home and when I toured SUNY Delhi I almost fainted when the guide began talking about analyzing blood samples). Basically, I was going to have to re-make my mind in order to succeed. Plus, it was the only career path that I deemed meaningful at the time. Thus, I enrolled at SUNY Delhi, I got over my squeamishness, and worked my butt off to be a Dean’s List scholar. I poured all my time and effort into swimming against the current, so to speak, at the expense of my creativity. My natural talents began to rust and after a while I was completely unable to write, play music or draw. I had sold my soul for a 3.9 GPA.

After college I began to realize my miscalculation. (Let me be very clear, I have no regrets about choosing that path. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It led me to my absolute best friends and for that I will always be indebted to SUNY Delhi.) It didn’t take long to realize that I had accomplished the only part of the goal that I found enticing: mastering those things that I completely sucked at such as math, playing with blood & guts, enjoying science, etc… When it came time to get a job, the only challenge there was for me was not accidentally killing something during my shift. And the meaning that I desired in my career was sadly lacking. Sure, I was helping some but not in the numbers I’d hoped. It all felt like a big, hollow letdown. And for many years I continued on this detrimental spiral of trying to find meaning in challenging myself to excel at the things I completely sucked at.

Flash forward to nearly twenty years later (I can’t believe it’s been that long!), I still can’t pick up my guitar, I write this here blog but not to the level that I once could, and I have only just started to draw again. But let me tell you, revisiting my creative roots by making all of the things I do and devoting my time and effort to it has helped me to find meaning and it honestly doesn’t feel like work. I am not battling against a constant current and I’m not trying to be good at things that I’m frankly just not good at. I wish I had realized this several college degrees ago because it could have saved me a lot of time, energy, stress and money.Octopi & sea turtle

Now that I’m starting to appreciate the benefits of swimming with the current instead of against it, I want to address some of my limiting beliefs that have made my swim more choppy. I know now that my creative block during and after college stemmed from the belief that one side of your brain is always less developed than the other–the whole right brain, left brain concept. To me this meant that if I devote my time to building up that analytical, scientific side of my brain than my creative side must be sacrificed. As you can tell, I no longer feel this way. You can balance both efficiently by partnering with those who are good at the things you aren’t and just accept the fact that you can’t be a rock star at everything.

Another example is with drawing. I’ve been trying to draw for years and have walked away from all projects feeling completely and utterly defeated. As soon as I’d put the pen to paper my own judgemental monkey mind and internal chatter would overwhelm me. Some of the chatter was about not being as good as someone else which is ridiculous when it comes to art because it’s a subjective experience and therein lies it’s beauty. Some of it is asking if “wasting” my time on something like art is actually contributing to any greater good? Some of it is about goals again and my self-imposed limitations, the biggest one being that I could never make a living this way so why bother? Then a few days ago something changed. I was hired by my friend to make some jewelry for her store. Proof right there that I can make money doing something artistic.

For years, I’ve loathed making jewelry because I’ve never felt like it’s an individual expression of who I am. I would cringe whenever parents looked at my jewelry and said to their kids that they could go home and make the same thing. It made me feel embarrassed and ashamed because I knew I could do better. For the longest time I’ve tried to phase it out but in all honesty, it’s my best seller at craft shows so I can’t rightfully kill the cash cow. My vision was always to make jewelry that expressed my love for animals and art. I’ve been wanting to move in this direction for years but couldn’t get past my own judgements long enough to actually finish a single thing. (Okay, that’s not true, I’ve finished one drawing in the past 20 years and that is the Hazardous Materials skull graphic, which I love).

However, with the deadline approaching for the OC Local Mojo store, I knew I had to bite the bullet and either stay the rather unfulfilling course or tap into those talents that I gave up on so long ago. Last week, I purchased some Sharpie markers, grabbed a few sheets of printer paper and the dam immediately broke. No monkey mind. No peep of mental chatter to speak of. I just dove in and made up my mind to go with the flow by fully honoring my gifts. The drawings have been coming easily and effortlessly ever since and I can’t wait to incorporate them into my jewelry…

After having only completed one drawing in the past 20 years, I’d say these aren’t so bad. In fact, I really love them! Mistakes and all! And it’s absolutely strange because I was always a very precise technical drawer who specialized in extremely tight line-work and was never able to let loose despite my best efforts. Needless to say, I have no idea where this scribble style has come from. Perhaps it can best be explained by this TED talk. I can’t wait to see what some time away has done to my song writing!

So maybe this rant seems rather incoherent. I guess this is my way of saying that swimming against the current and drifting with it both can lead to great places but swimming against the current too far, too long will only leave you spent. I only recommend it in small, exciting bursts.

Making Crafty Magic

A Few Cautionary Tales

I was just swapping consignment horror stories with a friend this morning and I decided that maybe it’s time I shared mine. I wanted it to not sting as much before I went and said something publicly, for fear I’d say too much, but the burn is never going to go away. Let’s just ease into this with a brief lesson on retail and some definitions. Besides selling at events or online, there are a few ways people can get their crafts into the clutching hands of the masses:

1. Wholesale–This is when the crafter sells their product(s) to a retail store owner (aka the wholesaler) at a 50% discount off the retail price. Then the retail store owner marks up the product(s) by 50% (or whatever they wish). The retail store owner usually pays the crafter for the products upfront so this is usually a desirable scenario for the crafter. The only downfall being that they only make 50% of their potential retail sales. That’s why it’s always best to cultivate those personal sales and vending opportunities.

2. Space Rental–This seems to be rare but this is the deal I had at The Treehouse and I loved it. Every four months I signed a rental agreement and was responsible for paying a set sum of money each month. This set sum of money was put towards the cost of running the store and with 30+ crafters pitching in, the system worked. At first we all paid the same amount in rent but over time it was adjusted to more accurately reflect a small percentage of each crafters sales. For example, selling five bars of soap each month at $5 each doesn’t come close to a fine artist selling a painting for $200 or a jewelry maker selling ten pairs of earrings for $35 each. (Truth be told, anywhere you go, the soaper will usually make the least because they’re selling $5 items instead of $30 t-shirts or $50 necklaces. Each crafter could sell 10 of each and there’d be a huge difference in profit. It makes me chuckle sometimes because I think a lot of folks assume I’m making bank by selling soap but that’s soooooo faaaaaar from the truth. I’d do a million times better if I just focused on selling jewelry or handbags but I’m too in love to give it up [Soap, I can’t quit you!].) So the only drawback I’ve experienced from this system is having all crafters pay equal rent. If you find yourself in that situation either get out or renegotiate.

3. Consignment–This is where my cautionary tale begins. Consignment is where a crafter places their products in a shop and waits for them to sell. Once something sells, the crafter usually gets 60% of the retail price and the shop owner gets 40%. You can see this is a better deal than the 50% with wholesaling. However, with consignment you don’t get paid until something sells whereas wholesaling you get paid right from the start and your worries are over. Usually people go for the wholesaling deal because that 10% difference is worth not having to worry about what happens to your product after it leaves you.

I very, very rarely will do consignment now and if I do it’s only in very small batches that I can stand to lose…because there’s a chance I will lose! For over a year I had my products in a soap shop in the Hudson Valley. The shop owner made her own bath and body care products but approached me about helping her fill in the gaps. For example, she didn’t make shampoo, cleaning sprays, liquid soaps, beer soaps… and she wanted to offer those products to her customers. Everything was fantastic for over a year. I was paid every month, she contacted me as soon as I was low on something, and I even made extra money by watching the store for her on occasion. I was building a great customer base out of that store.

Then things went south for her and her business when she completed an extremely large wholesale order and the buyer decided that she was going to pursue a refund through Paypal because she wasn’t in love with the fragrance. Places like Ebay, Etsy and Paypal believe that the customer is always right so they allowed the wholesaler to remove the money from her account. She made a several thousand dollar order and never got paid for it and none of it was ever returned. So let her story caution you! There is very little online protection for sellers and a ton for buyers. It’s an extremely unfair, one-sided system. Seller beware! Her story only gets worse but I won’t go there. Let’s just say that you should always be wary of large wholesale orders unless you know the person. At least send them a sample of the exact thing you’re going to make for them so if something goes wrong you’ll be able to say that they knew exactly what they were getting.

From there things began to spin out of control for her and she couldn’t keep up. To put this in time perspective, I had completely filled her store when I left for Yellowstone in May, she even had extra stock in the back. We were all square at that point. When I returned from Yellowstone in August, she was, unbeknownst to me, in the throes of all this drama. I went to visit her and the store to see if anything needed restocking AND to ask her why I hadn’t been paid since April. She told me I hadn’t been paid because nothing of mine had really sold. Humm, from April to August nothing had sold? I was onto her.

Soon after that she had lost the store and became impossible to contact. Over the next few months she became extremely slippery. Eventually, I sent her a very legalese email saying that I, in the very least, wanted my products returned to me by such and such date or I’d take her to small claims court. I even was kind enough to state that this wasn’t about the money she owed me, we could work that out at a later date–perhaps a payment plan–I just wanted my products back. She responded by saying that she’d “mail” them to me. Now, she lives just a few minutes from my house and I offered time and again to pick them up. Why spend money you don’t have to ship stuff across town? Seems kinda dumb…or devious? Calling her bluff, I said okay, but that I’d require a tracking number so that I could make sure the packages didn’t get lost. Well, I heard nothing back. Shocking!

I went to an event where I knew she was vending to confront her. (She was there with all my beer soap so at least I was able to get that back.) Right there in the middle of the farmers market she broke down while recounting what she’d been through in the last few months. I felt awful for her but told her that she had to remain in contact with me so we could get this all sorted out. At the time she thankfully agreed and was glad that I wasn’t going to pursue small claims court. Well, long story short, soon after she took the rest of my stuff and moved across the country. I still see Facebook posts on how she had a great day vending at such and such market and how she made a lot of money. What people don’t know is that she’s made a lot of money off of me and is still doing so. I wish I could reveal her but she is sooooo litigious that I can see her suing me for harassment or defamation so I don’t want to go there.

I hope by telling this story you don’t make the same mistake I did. In hindsight, I should have pulled out of the store when I returned in August. As soon as I saw that ship was sinking, I should have bailed. I wish I could say that having a contract with her would have made a difference, but I know that she’d have just as easily broken it. At least maybe this will save someone else. It was my first retail experience and it definitely was a lesson and luckily I’m wiser for it.

Making Crafty Magic

Tip of the Cap: The Nature Makers

I just wanted to share with you a few of the makers who have been absolutely blowing my mind lately (yup, my mind has been bottled, boggled and blown by them). These are the folks that can take something as simple as a stick and turn it into pure magic. I’m constantly astounded by their innate ability to artfully and respectfully incorporate natural objects and materials into their work. To me, they’re a cut above the rest. They inspire me to keep moving forward while at the same time intimidating the heck out of me with their talent. Darn them! I appreciatively and frustratingly shake my fist at their creative genius!

Roots and Feathers: What can I say about Laura that I haven’t said already–without sounding too much like a stalker? Probably not much. Here’s what I’ve had to say about her in the past:

I completely adore and idolize Laura. She’s just the whole package. Her site is a blend of bohemian fashion, jewelry design, astrology, nature appreciation, and soul-searching. She’s completely unafraid to reveal her most deepest truths and personal struggles. This honesty and fearlessness has garnered her legions of devoted, supportive fans, including myself. Plus, her and her hubby are so darn cute together! They warm my chilly little heart!

roots and feathersIf you like what you see, just know that Laura goes out and collects the feathers, branches and bones herself. These are truly made from start to finish by her sweet, creative little hands.

Sacra Luna: Okay, it’s hard for me to even fathom that 2013 marked Ana Marie’s first year as a jewelry designer. WTF?! Are you kidding me? She literally can’t keep anything listed in her Etsy shop for more than a few minutes. That’s of course because she’s freakin’ awesome at what she does. Here’s a great example of someone who is successfully using Instagram as their primary marketing vehicle. She takes the most haunting photos of her work, pairs them with beautiful statements about nature and the world around us, tells people when she’s putting her work in the Etsy shop and each piece is sold within minutes of posting! And she’s a sweetheart who puts up with me verbally drooling all over her Instagram posts. I can’t wait to see what 2014 and beyond brings for her!

sacra lunaHere are some of my personal faves:sacra lunaWild Ivy Creations: Okay, if you only do one thing today, make it hitting the “follow” button on Natasha’s Instagram account. Just the dog and cat photos alone will make your life worth living. Natasha seamlessly and uniquely blends natural elements with metalwork. She’s got a real gift for design and her shop offers a wide variety of items such as jewelry, note cards, ear cuffs, fans, wall art and everything inbetwixt. This is the first shop I would visit if I was unsure of what to get someone.

wild ivy creationsHere are some of my personal faves:

wild ivy creationsGipsy Dharma: Okay, I am not a leather girl but I’m totally cool if others embrace it (no judgements here). I do my best to avoid wearing it because I really don’t want to support the evil empire that is the factory farming industry. If I’m going to put some leather on my bod, it’s probably going to be from the thrift shop. With that being said, Gipsy Dharma gives me much, much, much, waaaay too much pause. Their boots are some of the most gloriously crafted things I’ve ever seen on this very planet. I’m drooling just thinking about slipping my feet into a supple pair and lacing them up. Ahhhh….

Gipsy_DharmaAnd to placate my leather issue, here’s what the FAQ section of their website states:

Do you make vegan boots? Where does your leather come from?

I’ve been trying for months now, however I’m still searching for the right materials to do the job, but I assure you that I’m trying really hard! Some materials just do not work with my designs and others that do work would more than double the cost of the boots. Also, I’ve had a few people write to me, expressing their surprise that I’ve still not been able to have vegan boots made. Well, the truth is that it is very difficult to find alternatives to leather, that do not produce very harmful chemicals as they are being made and do not pollute the environment for hundreds of years after they have been deposed of. So a lot of people who are eager to save the environment seem to be missing a point here, because non leather unfortunately does not necessarily mean good for the planet…

As for the second question, I make sure that all my leather comes from sustainable sources, i.e. no animal is ever killed for their hides.

So for now, it looks like leather may be harder to replace than one would think but I give Gipsy Dharma props for trying. No matter, I’ve found a solution to my inner conflict. I plan to win a pair. Yup, each week they give away a free (shipping included) pair of boots. Lady Luck, please, let’s finally make friends or call a truce because this girl needs a new pair of cruisers! And yes, they make super-fly dude boots too.

Making Crafty Magic

Exciting Times for The Treehouse

The Treehouse in New PaltzThe Treehouse is a small retail fine craft gallery in New Paltz, NY. Since 2012, owner/artist Kathy Preston has gone from representing eighteen Hudson Valley artists to over thirty-five artists in a variety of media, from emerging artists who have never sold their work before to established artists with decades of experience. Kathy is in the process of moving to a new space right around the corner that would allow The Treehouse to create a new community arts hub with over twice the retail space, room for a full-service tailor shop, and workshop space for adult and children’s art classes. Kathy will be partnering with Cindy Capraro in this new phase. Cindy has been a professional costume designer and tailor for television, theater and dance for the last 18 years. She is also an artist known for using found and discarded objects to create beautiful and unique art and home décor.

Cindy will run the sewing studio and also offer sewing classes, full-service dressmaking and tailoring. Kathy has local artists committed to leading after school and weekend art and craft classes for children and teens, as well as teaching adult classes in drawing, illustration, paper marbling, knitting, crochet, mosaic, jewelry design, printmaking, and more. As The Treehouse grows, so will the breadth and scope of instruction. In this new location, they’ll also be able to offer affordable hourly rates for group meeting space, and free open studio sessions for people to come with projects and receive feedback and assistance. They are focusing on reuse, repurposing, self-sufficiency, and sustainability– building practical skills that also nurture an appreciation of fine art and handcraft.  Kathy is looking for new artists to sell their work in the expanded location, as well as artists interested in teaching classes. You can find out more at www.treehousenewpaltz.com or mail Kathy at treehousehandcraft@gmail.com. Anticipated opening dates are March 1 for the shop and April 1 for the workshop space.

♥ The Treehouse is also running an online campaign right now where donors can receive fantastic perks like tailoring, art, class discounts, and more here ♥

I’ve been lucky enough to be an artist at The Treehouse for more than a year now (it may actually be more like two years–I have no concept of time at this point). Through this experience I’ve had to the opportunity to meet many new customers, artisans and friends. I’m so excited that these two lovely ladies are pursuing their dreams to the fullest and taking the entire community along with them to help others do the same. I’m crossing my fingers and toes that this move will happen because I’ll be right there knocking on their door. Whatever you ladies need, count me in! For more pics of just what kind of crafty curation Kathy is capable of, even in the smallest of spaces, visit my post here.

Farm Life, Making Crafty Magic

My cat-like reflexes vs. the sheep from hell.

socks and flip flops
It’s high fashion here all the way.

Greetings from the snowy depths of Connelly, New York! These back-to-back winter storms picked the perfect time to pummel us: my two days off! That suits me just fine since there’s nothing I hate more than driving in bad weather. I did however get the most awesome tires put on my car a few days ago–they cut through snow like a hot knife through butter–but still I’d rather be warm indoors instead of cold and wet working outside. Sadly, work is coming too soon. Weekends are just an awful tease sometimes.

Before I forget, I have an update on the fox that was found slumbering in the barn. A rehabber took it and instead of rabies (people seemingly jump to that conclusion about every sick/injured wild animal) it had a severe case of mange, which was treatable. I’m so relieved there was a happy ending because there was some mention of having the police come out to shoot it. Craziness!

Work was work. I wish I could tell you that my body has grown accustomed to it but that’s not the case at all. I’m still sore: from my fingers to my toes. I have a kick-ass shin splint that makes it so I have to hobble along. I naturally waddle as it is so adding a hobble to my waddle probably looks very special, to say the least. Still, it’s gotten a little easier. My feed runs are going smoother and I’m getting faster which pleases everyone. I’m becoming more comfortable working around horses but that’s probably because I’m now terrified of roosters AND sheep. Good gracious my whole world is turning upside down!

cows, goats and gators
Clockwise starting at the top left: The calves tasting the gator.; Caleb the cow enjoying his hay. I think we’re related because he has the Hazard chin.; The calves just chillin’ out.; Playing got your nose with Mr. Tumnus.

On Monday they sent me in to clean Briggs & Stratton’s stall. These are two of the most fearsome, loathsome sheep you’ll ever want to meet. They are cute on the outside but pure evil on the inside. I always want to think animals and people have good intentions but that’s soooo not the case with these two. They warned me right from my very first day to just stay the heck away from them because they don’t like people. I guess they enjoy luring visitors by looking really cute and friendly and as soon as you reach in to pet them they ram your fingers and hands into the metal gate. Knowing this, I was not thrilled to go in with them. However, they armed me with a large water cooler jug and told me to hit them on the head if they came near me. I thought that was pretty cool, in a sick way. I mean, how often do you get permission to actually hit something on the head by your employer? Never! So I looked at it as a potential stress-reliever/challenge.

Well, my optimism didn’t last long. Ten minutes went by of them leaving me alone and then Stratton cornered me in their stall, head butted the water jug right out of my hand sending it flying into the yard, and all I could do was dodge his full-force ramming. I was terrified. I grabbed him by both of his horns, spun him around and kicked his butt out the door. I was hoping this would deter him but instead this made him even angrier and more persistent. Meanwhile, Briggs was sneaking up behind me in the hopes of ramming me from behind. They were working together with the goal being to pummel me to death. I did what I could to artfully dodge them while I made my way to the gator to radio for backup. While Alex was coming I waited in the gator–which has no doors and the windshield was completely covered in snow–I had no idea where they were as they each circled around me like hungry sharks. Every few seconds one would appear and charge into the gator to ram me and I’d have to quickly jump to the other seat and jump back because the other one would immediately do the same from the other side.

When Alex finally got there all he did was yell at me to do something or I would never get out of there. I had no idea what to do. Eventually, they walked over to him standing at the fence-line with the intentions of luring him into a hand pounding. This gave me a window of opportunity to drive the gator out. Then Alex demonstrated how he deterred them which consisted of seriously pounding on them with the water jug. I guess I just wasn’t aggressive enough, even in the face of being hurt. I truly believe that beating up on anything, especially an animal, is wrong (which it is) so I felt bad for having to hit a sheep–even if my attempts didn’t even phase him. (Please note that sheep–because they ram one another–have extremely thick skulls, so no amount of smacking with a water jug will ever result in seriously harming one.) Still, it just felt like I was perpetuating some sort of vicious cycle.

I’m sure my work would not appreciate me telling you all this but there’s an important lesson here. Animals aren’t stupid. When they start their lives being abused, they learn that humans aren’t to be trusted and they act accordingly. Briggs & Stratton were rescued from a canned hunt operation so there’s a good chance they were mistreated. With that being said, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary is truly a sanctuary for all animals and I admire them for accepting those two demon-seeds for who they are and just letting them live out their days in peace.  Just because they’re not lovable doesn’t mean they’re not deserving.

Now that you know all that, I encourage you to watch this video of Briggs & Stratton and laugh along with me. I like their captions and their cut-aways. As soon as you see the footage cut away, the person behind the camera was probably mauled!

petunia the pitbull, fantasy book, natural art
Clockwise from top left: Petunia sleeping in.; Some of my shells and feathers getting ready to transform into art.; Tome of the Undergates…great read! I can’t suggest it enough!; Some of my photos transfered to canvas, sorting my shell collection and figuring out how I’m going to mix these medias.

Aside from that unpleasantness, all is very well. I’m even managing to get some artsy fartsy work done here on the home front. I have tons of shells, horseshoe crab tails, crab shells, invasive water chestnuts, acorns, nuts and feathers lying around that really need to be put to good use so I’m incorporating them into art pieces. I’ll keep you posted on what I come up with.

water chestnut art piece

Making Crafty Magic, Tutorials

Tutorial: Handmade Heat Packs & Sachets

herbal heat pack tutorialWell, if you’ve been following this blog at all recently, you’ll know that I’ve been a hurtin unit. My belly aching has been sounding like a broken record. Ouch this, ouch that! One of the few things making it possible for me to even stand in the morning has been the religious, nightly use of my homemade heat pack. Originally, I made one for myself and one for a friend with migraine relief in mind. Luckily, I haven’t had even the slightest headache in a while so I haven’t been able to test it out (knock on wood). However, my friend has been finding her’s to be helpful. Instead, mine has been employed in the sore muscle relief capacity. Let me tell you, I need to make an entire outfit out of this blend!

If you don’t know how to sew, have no fear. You can use iron on hem tape at best or a sock at worst (just fill it and knot the open end). Here’s what I used:

♥ Scrap fabric

♥ 2 pounds of jasmine rice (not the microwaveable kind…yuck)

♥ 0.02 pounds of calendula from the bulk herb section of the health food store

♥ o.04 pounds of chamomile from the bulk herb section of the health food store

♥ o.o5 pounds of lavender from the bulk herb section of the health food store

♥ 2-3 drops of rosemary essential oil added to the mix

♥ Velcro to seal up one end so you can empty and refill it.

I basically eye-balled the herb amounts so don’t sweat it if you have more or less. All of the herbs are completely optional. They’re great for migraine relief but not essential for muscle pain relief. I was able to make two hot packs plus two sachets (for those stinky drawers) out of the mix. The packs can be either put in the refrigerator or microwaved depending on your ailment(s). The total cost of the rice and herbs came out to be around $5.00. Not too shabby considering that a vendor at the farmers market sells them for $12 each.

Here’s to a pain-free existence!

Making Crafty Magic

Making Crafty Magic

I’ve been on a creation kick lately and I thought I’d share with you some of the things that I’ve made, just for crafts and giggles.

craft projects
From top left working clockwise: 1. I finally finished my double-sided t-shirt quilt. It took me years to complete but I love the final result. 2. A bag and wallet made from t-shirt scraps. I’m still debating on whether I should sell them or keep them. 3. These were a custom pair of earrings for a friend’s mother. They came out really sweet. I forgot how gratifying making jewelry can be. 4. My knit chair cozies were made from a thrifted pocket scarf that was previously owned by a giant. You could tell it was handmade but someone got rid of it because it was just enormous. I cut the scarf in half and now I have a place to put all of my sewing items when they’re not in use. Score.
skull quilt
I’ve had an obsession with skulls for as long as I can remember (me and every other twelve-year-old girl). This has led to having an overabundance of skull clothing. Most items were worn out or Petunia has baby-bit them to shreds. (Baby Bites=when Petunia nibbles at clothing to the point of creating holes.) At first I was going to make a wrap skirt out of them but then just decided that my butt-ugly, yet comfy chair needed a proper cover. I also have an old comforter that I refuse to get rid of for sentimental reasons so I used that for the backing and also to make cushions out of. Voila!
Soap ingredients and fabric labels
Since December was great for sales, I made enough money to reinvest in kicking things up a notch or two. I designed some awesome fabric labels through Spoonflower, purchased a load of natural soap colorants and exfoliants, reordered lotka seed paper, more soap labels are on their way, sodium and potassium hydroxide just arrived, bulk oils are coming and I have a whole world of new soap gadgets to put to good use. I just need to order shipping envelopes and I should be set for most of 2014. That’s a fantabulous feeling!

Making Crafty Magic

Herbal Infusion Offerings

ABM_1388544381I spent New Year’s Day refreshing my selection of olive oil herbal infusions. Below, you’ll find a list of available infusions that are waiting to be used in a salve, lotion, body butter, hair & body oil or whatever else one can dream up. (On board are hops, rosehips and lemon balm…I’m just waiting on some containers to put them in.) They’re ready to use right now and available through this listing as a salve. If a salve isn’t your cup of tea, just ask me to use them in another product; I’m flexible. To reflect these new improvements, the ingredients in my essential oil conditioner will now include chamomile, nettle and rosemary infused olive oils because they’re fantastic for hair (I’m also using nettle extract too!). So let me know if you have any questions.

♥ Burdock Leaf & Root (Arctium lappa): acne & boils and skin rashes. *organic

♥ Calendula (Calendula officinalis): acne & boils, athlete’s foot, insect bites & stings, breast tenderness & sore nipples, diaper rash, inflamed skin rashes, nettle rash, varicose veins and wounds & bruises.

♥ Chamomile (Chamaemelum noblie): headaches & migraines, skin rashes and irritated skin. *organic

♥ Comfrey Leaf & Root (Symphytum officinale): acne & boils, fungal skin infections, healing wounds, inflamed skin rashes, stiff & aching joints and healing bruises & broken bones. *organic

♥ Dandelion Leaf & Root (Taraxacum officinale): acne & boils and nettle rash. *organic

♥ Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia): acne & boils, cold sores, canker sores, insect bites & stings, chicken pox and shingles. *organic

♥ Lavender (Lavandula officinalis): back pain, insect bites & stings, burns & sunburn, headaches & migraines, insomnia, neuralgia and stiff & aching joints.

♥ Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha): acne, boils, canker sores, gum problems and oral thrush. *organic

♥ Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica): insect bites & stings, diaper rash and nettle rash. *organic

♥ Peppermint (Mentha piperita): digestive headaches, eczema, nausea with headache, respiratory infections, skin pain and neuralgia. *organic

♥ Plantain (Plantago major): healing bruises & broken bones, stops blood flow, encourages repair of damaged tissue. *wild harvested

♥ Red Clover (Trifolium pratense): Used to treat skin conditions, normally used in combination with other purifying herbs such as burdock. *wild harvested

♥ Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): circulation problems, migraines, and tired & aching muscles. *organic

**Herbal info taken from The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier.**

Disclaimer: Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease or substitute care by a medical practitioner. All recommendations are believed to be effective, but since actual use of this product is beyond our control and can vary from individual to individual, no guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken.

Making Crafty Magic

The year to come

face masks, smoothies, tinctures, herbal references, t-shirt quilts, soap suppliesHere are some pics of my day thus far. Today, I received some items that are going to take Sweet Pea’s to a whole new level of awesome and I thought I’d share the love. After whining on this blog for so long, I finally broke down and purchased Andrew Chevallier’s Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Now I feel confident enough to be able to publicly list the medicinal properties of the herbs I use. In this field, it’s always wise to have a consistent resource to reference because if you don’t…well let’s just say the FDA will shut your arse down. Ideally, my blog postings and Etsy listings will become a little more educational, which is what I’ve always intended.

Petunia and I ran/trudged through a snow storm to pick up the book from the post office today. As soon as we got back I slathered on a clay mask and began to flip through my trusty friend. If you read my other blog, you probably already know that one of my resolutions is to take more photos of myself. I’m nowhere near comfortable with seeing myself and one bad photo can easily ruin my day. So, here are two shots of me. I know I have a mask on but it’s a start. Baby steps! As you can see, Petunia was thrilled to be back in the warmth. Another resolution is to eat better and enjoy more smoothies. I usually have one a day but I’d like to bump it up to two. As you can see, I’ve been smoothie-ing it up and have been hiding some tinctures in there as well. My smoothie recipe is here.

Today, I also received a few silicone soap molds and some gear to help make my work even purdier. Some natural colorants and exfoliants are on their way too. This will allow me to remain as natural as possible while also letting me experiment with colorful designs. In the next few weeks I hope to make another oil order only this time I will be ordering in bulk. This will save me more than $0.75/pound which will hopefully offset the cost of the natural colorant and exfoliant additions. So my prices should stay the same. Yes!!!

So far so good 2014! The rest of my day is going to be spent cleaning and finishing my t-shirt quilt, which has literally been years in the making.

Making Crafty Magic

Swirlin’ Soap

2013-11-20 17.46.36I finally tried the in-the-pot swirl technique I found over on Soap Queen TV. It turned out fairly decent for my first attempt and honestly, it was fun as heck!  Because I’m usually working with a high concentration of coconut oil, high temperatures, and fragrances that speed up trace, my soap mixture tends to seize up on me before I get the chance to do anything fancy. Why do I put up with that crap, you ask? Well, I enjoy a harder, longer lasting bar with a ton of lather. The trade-off is that it’s less moisturizing so I compensate by adding avocado oil at the very end to super-duper fat my soap. It’s a vicious circle really. The rule of thumb is lower temps, more olive oil, and essential oils instead of fragrance oils generally means more time for fun. Recently, I was asked to collaborate on a project for a seed library and I came up with some demo bars. Since I was using a carrot juice base, increasing my olive oil content, and experimenting with natural colorants, I figured I should put the swirl to the test.

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Dollup your colors on top of one another.
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Take a knife or small spoon and circle around the outside once and then figure-8 through the inside. Do no more than that.
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Pour that soapy goodness into your mold. Gel phase would be a good idea to really make your colors pop so insulate that puppy.
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Voila! The carrot color kinda stole some of the thunder but it still looks pretty neat. And yes, it was raining when I took this soapy porn pic. It’s soap, it’s gunna get wet at some point.

Not too shabby. My only regret is that I swirled too much. One swirl around the pot with a spoon or knife is plenty. Well slap my hand, I was having too much fun and I took two trips around. Nevertheless, it’s awesome and I’m selling a few bars in my Etsy store. They’re made with vegetable oils, 100% carrot juice, natural colorants, and are scented with basil and sweet orange essential oils. They smell pretty amazing–very much like a fragrant herb garden.