Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Days

A new use for ye ol' etch a sketch. Make seasonal signs. I have a weird ability to draw etch-a portraits. I'll try to remember to take photos of them!

My needle felted shelf elf and his white bunny companion taking a rest from all the seasonal activities. I made him a few years ago. His limbs were wet felted and his face is dry felted.

These are my new floating shelves. I love having a special spot for rotating art shows, seasonal displays, and perhaps MOST importantly, to keep needle felting and vintage figures AWAY from the cats. Cats adore battering needle felted figures. The will go to great lengths to acquire these favorite "kitty toys". I swear they can smell the lanolin.

The combination of ukulele x 2 + 1 trumpet = some extra fun and unusual Christmas caroling! That's me in green.

Winter vacation is a great time to cut up a batch of new paper snowflakes with your kids. Every year I seem to forget how to get the paper folded for a 6-pointer. Yet even the four points are pure magic as you unfold to see the amazing shapes created. They are pretty fun on my purple wall.

This site shows you how to fold 6 points, but could use a little more creativity in the cutting department. For further inspiration, this site has amazing snowflakes with a link to a snowflake flickr group.

Time to decorate your son with pretty lights...... I mean the tree!

Thank you, dear customers and friends, for such a lovely holiday season (Oct-Dec) at Bliss Monkey Studio, Bliss Forest (my plush shop) and Charmish (my charm jewelry shop). Sales, sweet feedback, convos and new friends were delightful. I'm closing up shop for a few days to enjoy some quiet time ..... ok maybe not "quiet time" with my family, but time to play, finish home made gifts, bake cookies, giggle and hide things!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

WInter Solstice

The Winter Solstice Fairy came out to visit on the longest night of the year. We like to take the time to reflect on the last year, the upcoming year and "returning of the light" as each day gets a little longer from here on out.

I made this fairy several years ago. She's about 8" tall, in paper clay, and thread wrapped pipe cleaners. She holds a little drop of sunshine.

Along our merry way, we stopped to visit this Gnome Home.....

Turned out two little gnomes were home! Hello gnomes.

Celebrating the season with a family breakfast at a local eatery. Foamy decaf latte, twinkling lights, non-annoying holiday music, smiling kids and a little break from the santa's workshop feel of my home studio. Yey!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shipping Dates

I'm closing down my shops on Saturday to spend time with my family until New Years. Yea, holidays and family baking, and gift-making time!

I'll continue to ship each day this week to get them to you by Christmas. Thank you for all the lovely orders.

If you are a Family School friend and you need wrist warmers, let me know tomorrow and I'll bring them to school for you. I do have a selection of the 10-teen size, and most colors of mens and women's warmers pre-made. :-)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Interview with Bliss Monkey Studio on the Meet Your Maker blog

Meet Your Maker: Aly of Bliss Monkey Studio

Aly has been in many of our past shows and will be in our show on Sunday, Dec. 5 at Cozmic Pizza 1-5pm. Come say hi and see all her cute products! Catch a glimpse of what Aly has to offer in her shops: AlyTheRed and her plush shop, BlissForest.

Meet Your Maker (MYM): Describe what you make, how, and when you got your start.
Aly (A):I have always been a maker. I have a background in jewelry and costuming for theater. When I got laid off a job several years ago, I decided to see what would happen if I went full time on etsy. I had a few simple, yet creative projects up there, and by giving it my full attention, and spending a lot of time learning and working on lines of like-products, I was able to build a business that supported me.

I currently make wearable art, fingerless wrist warmers, coffee cozies, bags, art quilts, and gnomes.

MYM: What inspires you?
A: My children, nature, daily walks, pop culture, travel, fairy tales, humor, dreaming.

MYM: What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years? (personal, professional, crafting...)
A: I have been slowly expanding my business. I have one employee who helps out once a week. I'd love to need her for more hours. I'd like to get my work into more stores. Write for more books, and sell patterns.

MYM: Is this your largest source of income or do you have another job?
A: Yes, I've been designing full time for several years now. I love being my own boss, setting my hours. I'm excited to get to work when I wake up, and get to be the one picking my kids up after school. Priceless.

MYM: What are your favorite hobbies outside of the crafting that we see?
A: IS there life outside of crafting? Family outdoor adventures, kayaking, photography, playing games, playing ukulele, reading-- I started a book club, teaching crafts to kids (oops, they snuck in there again), traveling, dancing, story-telling.

MYM: An important lesson you’ve learned while selling handmade?
A: It's so important to create and sell only what you love. Make things that are sellable, have an audience, that are well made, but they have to be from your heart. You are a unique being, and creations from your own heart will have elements unique to your life story. This is your special niche.

Combine things you have experience with. So you love to make bags. Many people make bags, but you spent a year working at a hostel in Ireland. Combine elements from your journey (subtle: color, texture, scent, memory or overt: maps, photos, stories) in those bags.

Excellent customer service is the key. From a business standpoint, it's much easier to keep a returning customer than to get a new one. And from a personal point of view, it's satisfying to get glowing feedback and customers who return over and over.

Create with the seasons. Actually, one season ahead. Christmas is such a huge selling time, I stock up over the summer. Feb/March is my time to relax after the holiday rush, AND to create new work for the year, including my new Bliss Bag line. I sell different products according to the seasons. And have learned not to worry when sales are slow during the summer. I use that time to garden, enjoy the kids, and stock up for holidays!

MYM: Any advice to someone about making the leap from hobby crafting to selling?
A: Price your work well. Even if it's a hobby. There are great pricing tutorials online for crafters. Find a formula that makes sense for you. Too many people undervalue their creative work, or forget to charge for parts of their business that cost time or money. Think big and plan for a thriving business.

Invest as you go.

Keep a separate account for your business. Pay yourself and for your supplies from this account.

MYM: Have you had any big breaks? How did they happen?
A: Etsy was a huge break for me. Brick and mortar stores find my work on etsy and put in wholesale orders. Blogs feature my work, which is so wonderful and helpful. A prominent craft book line found my work on etsy and invited me to submit a project for one of their books. They accepted the work, and I've gone on to write "how -to" projects for three other books. My large plush gnomes will be featured in the upcoming January issue of Stuffed magazine. If I hadn't had that first invite to give me the idea and boost my confidence, it would have taken me a lot longer to try these things.

MYM: What are your most effective marketing/promoting tips?
A: I have had to learn a billion things about self promoting because I sell mostly online. I don't know how we can just be studio artists anymore. Maybe someone could clue me in? These days we post on flickr, twitter, we blog, we host facebook fanpages, take our own photos of our work and run websites and paypal accounts. It's really too much. I've learned to follow through with the things I truly enjoy. I love to write blog articles, but I don't feel badly when I'm too busy over the holiday season to do it. I write when I feel like it. My customers asked me to open a fan page on facebook, so I like to share new products there and get feedback. I have learned most of the ins and outs of etsy by reading articles and tutorials. I love the etsy site. It works for artists/crafters who have a good product line, ability to take great photos (I'm always working on this), and time to keep steady with it.

You can also find Aly online on her BlissMonkeyStudio Facebook fan page, her CharmishBeads (the European charm bead jewelry I freelance design for another company) Facebook fan page and on her blog.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday Craft Show

Join me for the holiday Meet Your Maker show on Dec 5th at Cosmic Pizza.
Enjoy a gorgeous selection of hip, handmade gifts, join the raffle, and be sure to stop by my booth for your fleecy wrist warmers, gifts, stocking stuffers, ornaments, and gnome needs!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Autumn Inspirations

It's one of the many things I enjoy about being a designer; I respond to changes in weather, the sky, sunlight, plant life, textures and these experiences are reflected in my work.

My experience is much richer than four seasons. For me, the seasons change slowly. In increments.

Pattern, color, and memories they evoke as we make new ones.

I walk my kids to school most days. We often talk about our dreams on the way to school, and as I return home and to my studio, I enjoy the quiet, notice birds, trees, smells on the wind.


My gnome garden. I love humor and whimsy.

I hope my wearable art pieces inspire people to enjoy the seasons.

I enjoy the photography sessions and hope my photos are fun to look at, as well as helping the product sell.

I'm lucky to have a studio with lots of natural light, that overlooks the garden. I feel connected to the weather, changes in light, the clouds, blooming flowers, even as I rock out in my studio, creating things and sewing up a storm.

This makes me feel warm and cozy. I hope you do too. :-)

Almost all of my photo sessions are accompanied by curious cats.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Awake Asleep Gnomes!

A fresh batch of Awake/Asleep Gnome dolls are ready for play. They are made of pre-washed all cotton fabrics, with organic cotton batting. Safe for chewing babies and a very cute gift. Fabulous for preschoolers who love colorful, versatile play friends, with real pockets for tiny treasures. And of course fun for kids of ALL ages!

The colorful "day" striped side of the gnome has the awake face,, and loves to play hide and seek in the garden. Flip gnome over to play with the cool colors and gently snoring face. Did you know gnomes can sleep anywhere!

This is my own pattern and will soon be for sale so you can create your OWN awake/asleep gnomes with the fabrics of your choice. If you would like a note from me when the patterns are ready for sale, please leave a comment and I'm happy to write you back.

Here's my own Mud Slide Sydney, soon to be eight, modeling with the new gnomes. What did he have to say, "They are soooooooooo cute! Can I have one?"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rainy Day Treasury

Cute Rainy Day Treasury on etsy that included my Sunny Bunny. I just love the colors and theme. Click here if you need to jump to the live treasury page and capture of those offerings for yourself.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Favorite July Blooms

Summer schedule: 7am hop out of bed, smoothie for me and the kids, start outdoor watering, make coffee, get in the studio as fast as possible! I love my early mornings in the studio, door open, cool July air, surrounded by flowers and garden, pets and kids.

I've recently realized how important it is to spend the first few hours of the day in the art studio, when it's cool, and I'm fresh. Why didn't I learn this before? Afternoon hours are for office time, shipping, playing with the kids, going to the pool, running errands, and if I'm a lucky girl, also sipping iced latte and reading or drawing all together.

Over the last two years, I've developed a deep love for flowers. I am a little in awe and in love with them. It's a joy to water each morning and see what has bloomed.

Volunteer squash blooming prettily. What will it be? Wanna take bets?

I left some flowers in the garden over last winter, and this is what turned out. So pretty and bright, it's worth devoting a little room to them.

The OMG Clematis outside my art studio window. Wow!!!!

Ms. Grace enjoying her princess hut on the patio.

Project of the day: find a flower you are attracted to. Sit with it. Take a series of photos or sketch or water color your bloom.

The Friendly Kitchen Dishcloth

Crochet or knit yourself a stack of pretty dish cloths out of colorful cotton yarn. Relaxing project, cute in the kitchen, very clean to use, work great for dishes and counters. Kinda old fashioned, kinda hip style for your kitchen.

What? You got some homemade ones from Aunt Nelly and they got all smelly and gross, now you'd never use them again?

That's so sad. HERE'S the secret you need to know: Dish cloths are good for one day. At the end of the day, rinse well, and hang to dry overnight. Pop them in with your regular laundry. This makes them the cleanest thing around for wiping cutting boards, counters and dishes. Now who wants a yucky old sponge?

Tip: make a basic set of seven for your dish washing, one for each day, then make a second set in another color that will be just for wiping counters. Makes a great kid project!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hawaii Bliss Bags - art for your life -

The summer Bliss Bags are in! The Hawaii bags were inspired by a series of dreams. They combine all my favorite things: color, free motion quilting, hidden messages, raw edge applique, and functional art.

One bag, two looks. STRIPES SIDE: Each stripe is free-motion quilted with abstract Hawaiian designs (flora, maps, waves, earth, sky, water, sun), and the word "Hawaii" is hidden in quilting somewhere on the bag, as are hearts (because you are loved). Raw edge applique finishes the top edge of the bag - shabby chic look. It will fray slightly, giving the bag more texture, as you use it.

SIDE TWO: Flip the bag over for a second look. Fabric print with art pocket feature - perfect for cell phone or camera. (On this bag, the flower is the pocket.)

Top edges are finished with a raw edge applique technique of overlapping squares. These are so much fun to stitch up. Lots and lots and lots of thread!

Your perfect bag for summer, or to keep up your sunny disposition all year long. Interior fabric is a bright orange print of sliced oranges.

Organizer zippy pouches, in matching colors!
clutch bag
camera bag
receipts or punch cards.

NEXT UP: Same style of bag in Oceania blues and blue greens!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fairy Photography

Good morning from the Fairy Flower garden. Photographing flowers is endlessly delightful. Try something new: Fairy photography, that is taking a photo as if you were a fairy.

Fairy photography
  • set your camera for close ups and adjust for special lighting conditions (sunny, cloudy)
  • get close to the ground (how tall is your fairy?) and turn your camera upside down (lens up), that's right, you can't SEE what you are shooting!
  • imagine your camera is a fairy walking through the woods, or the flower patch, looking up at all the lovely tall plants
  • snap several images before peeking at your image screen- the results may surprise you!
  • try shooting from the underside of a leaf with holes
  • what is the fairy's view of YOU?
Fairy Photography

  • Share Fairy Photography with your children, then hand over the camera and see what they come up with. A great summer photo album project.

View from the top again. Enjoy your fairy photography and please leave a comment with links to your own fairy view images.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gnome Garden

The new gnome garden! I finished this yesterday. I turned a mound into a "terrace" and added new plants.

Seeking: female gnome garden figure of regular gnome stature, who likes huge snails, standing around, greeting guests, and gardening. Do you like cool Oregon weather? If you are female and a gnome, I encourage you to apply.

Overview of the gnome garden. Poppy demonstrating proper use of pathway in the walkway garden.

New arrangement of the heart rocks, Quillan's flower pot and bird's water cup.

Singing Rocks family.

Arrangement of plants in pots and the toad bath. (You know how filthy toads get. Part of gardening really is a service to nature's creatures, right?)

Mr Scoop also using the pathway. What gold star kitties they are today!

I need some special tips on getting step-ables to GROW like crazy in my shady walk way garden. I've been working on this for three years now and can't quite them to take off. Some die off during the winter, which doesn't help. I plant only shade tolerant species and water them lots! Any good advice?

Overview of the walkway fairy garden on a cool Oregon day in May...........