Sunday, 13 November 2011

Devaluing My Work :-(

So I posted a link on facebook.. a rant (well written by someone else).. about how some people undervalue handmade work, not everyone.. far from everyone.. but some people.  The longer I do handmade work.. the more I realize this to be true!!  It is so easy to say.. "brush it off", "ignore them", "pffft.. what do they know?" .. but.. not so easy to do. REALLY .. not .. easy .. to .. do. 

And here's why:

Because 99.9% of the people who create, have home businesses, do craft fairs.. whatever ..well..  they love their work.. it is not just a piece of material, a piece of glass, or some trinket.. it is what they (and I) , have put their heart into.  I can't speak for others, but I know that every single piece I make is something I would wear or use.  So today.. when I was told by someone that they could make the very same necklace I have for $2 .. it is one of those things that gets under my skin and I just have a hard time letting it go.  Obviously.. this person had no clue.. shipping the materials (IF you could buy everything for it from one place) .. would cost more than $2.  But I thought I would give you a bit of a breakdown of what goes into one of my glass tile necklaces as far as labor time goes so that you can understand my process a bit better.

Aside from the cost of materials there is my part .. the labor.. the behind the scenes as it were:

Searching for supplies:  no.. I do not just automatically buy from the first supplier I come across, and no, I do not just buy the cheapest supplies I can find.  I research.. and then I research.. and then I research some more to find not only a good deal, but also to try and find supplies that are going to provide a lasting quality!!  There are some suppliers that I go to time and time again.. now.. because I have had nothing but quality experiences from them.  But I have spent more hours online finding them than I care to post here :-) I would average for EACH necklace that I spend 5 minutes searching for supplies .. and I buy for more than one necklace at a time.. I just averaged out how many pieces I buy compared to how much time I spend searching for items.

Images: I wish I was a talented artist and could just draw up a hummingbird at will, copy it, print it.. etc etc.. but.. alas.. not my talent.  What I do though is find images that fit with my style (again.. searching for hours!!), I purchase them, and then I either print them at the size I receive them at, or I customize them to the shape and size that I need <- yes.. lots of editing.  I also have started adding words or phrases to them.. more time.  Average time for each image including putting together a sheet for printing.. 8 minutes

Supplies come in and I wash and dry each piece of glass and inspect all of it.  Average time per for each necklace.. 1 minute

Now.. I get to actually start making the necklace.. yayyy

I cut out my image (rough cut), apply my first layer of sealer to my glass and image and set it, then.. I get the lovely task of holding this squirmy piece of glass in place for anywhere from 30 seconds up to close to 2 minutes until things have set enough that it is not going to move on me while it dries (guess how many itchy noses I get when one hand is covered in sticky sealer and the other hand is trying to hold a sliding piece of glass in place.. LOL) average time per piece 2 minutes

then there is a lovely wating game played of trying to keep my hands off of the piece so that things can set properly (insert jeopardy theme song here) .  Depending on humidity, air temp, or just the finickiness of the piece, it takes a few hours to dry so that you can work with it at all <- no time counted.. just a testing of patience

after that, there is more trimming, cleaning up the edges, sealing, and then waiting for drying again average time per piece 6 minutes

then, another round of finessing and sealing average time 3 minutes.

think I'm done yet?? nope.. still more...

after all this I do another type of sealing with waterproofing .. sometimes 2 rounds of this - average time 3 minutes.

and Finally, after all this has cured and is dry enough I get to add a bail to it and wait for that to dry. average time for a bail - 1 minute (gotta make sure they're centered and hold them so they don't move)

wahoo. the necklace is done.. that's it right??? ummm no.. now.. I need to sell it.. so there comes the photography, editing the pictures (because you don't want to see some of the background stuff that goes on around here :-P ), uploading it to either facebook or etsy, and the write up!!  The flip side if it's going to a craft fair.. the transport, the staging, the selling.  average time per piece 25 minutes. <- yes.. I don't take 10 seconds on each picture.. no matter that my pictures are not professional quality all the time.

---- for a grand total of:
54 minutes .. for one necklace.

Please remember that this is a generalization.  A custom order may not need all the write up etc, but it requires a lot more time to work with emails, and editing the photos to fit the glass, etc, etc. But hopefully you get the hint.

Now.. I may not be the artist who paints the picture, but my time is valuable.  For the work I do and the attention to the details that I try to provide for each and every piece I should be making $15 - $20 per hour for an hourly wage.  However, living in the real world, there are those out there who devalue what they do for similar items down to the point where they are not making an hourly wage, barely covering the costs of the material.  So to survive in business while I try to grow and expand and bring all of the new creative ideas forward that I have.. I have to devalue my work too and I hate it, but I got into this business, and I have to work with that.  The necklaces that I charge $12.99 for .. should be $25.  My bracelets cost about double what my necklaces do.. but guess what.. I'm not even charging enough for them either.. AND the bracelets I make are completely unique.  I have searched, and seached and I can not find a single other person selling bracelets like mine.  There are some glass tile ones on ebay and such that are glass tiles glued onto bracelet blanks.. but not a single one is hand made by connecting all the tiles by hand with rings.  Why am I not charging more for them?? because I want everyone who wants to buy one to be able to afford them.  Times are tough.. the economy sucks, but I think people still need to have beauty around them.  And I hope that what I make is bringing a smile to someone's face!!  Yes.. this is my business.. I want it to make money, but I also am not a cutthroat CEO who only wants to make money.  I want people to be happy too!!

Thank you for reading this (if you got this far).  I feel so much better after getting that all out.  And please.. the next time you are at a craft fair or farmer's market.. even if you're not buying.. tell someone who does handmade how great their product is.. and what a good price it is for all the effort they put into it.  After all.. they are just doing their job.. and it's nice to be paid a compliment for that :-)

Have a great day (or night) :-)

And here's a couple of pics of my table from this weekend's fair (taken today after I started to move a couple of things around).  Not bad for feeling so unorganized this time!!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Looking for a Custom Piece??? I Can Help :-)

I have been trying and trying... and trying some more to get a note done on facebook to advertise the fact that I would LOVE to start doing custom items for you!!  But facebook doesn't seem to want to cooperate.. sooo.. I'm just gonna leave a link to this (genius huh.. lol)

Anyhoooo.. on to business. 

I have been playing with the idea for a while of offering custom creations, so I've been practicing with the program I bought, as well as a couple I found online; and now that I can actually use them, I'm really looking forward to working with people on custom creations.

I have done a couple so far ..
A heart shaped glass tile pendant with a picture of my friend's grand-daughter. <- no picture of that one since I don't want to post pictures of other people's kids :-) 

Then, I had someone contact me wondering if I could do something that wouldn't require a metal chain (or even clasp) touching her skin since she is sadly allergic to metals.  and here's what we came up with ..
a leather cord with the clasp by the pendant

I'm happy to say that she loved it.. and yes.. it still has metal in it, but it just requires a slightly higher necked shirt so that the metal never touches her skin

As I mentioned before, I did a picture as a glass tile pendant.  So I took some of my pictures from when we went to the Calgary Zoo and made them into magnets to give you an idea of what a picture can look like under the glass:

This is a 7/8" and a 1" square glass tile of the same butterfly (different shots though)

This snow leapard is one of my favorite shots from the zoo.  This picture was cropped and then I added the text so we could remember when we went later on in life :-)

This is what the original photo started off like.  And I have made the cropped image into a 2" square as well and the quality is still great.
The other thing I have been doing is adding text to images I have and here are some of the results:

I did a custom necklace of this Inspire pendant, but in brown for another lady and it is just as pretty in the brown!!

As long as the word, name or phrase fits, just about anything can be put onto this type of image where there is enough of a blank background that it will show up nicely.

And lastly for pictures, this is one that I made up with ALL 7 of my kid's names on it.  It was the first custom image I did and I learned from it (I will move the names closer to the center for sure!!).  But I love it.. and I love that I can have something will 7 names on it... there aren't too many images I could actually do that on :-)

So.. if you have something you would like made into a pendant, a magnet, or a bookmark please let me know.. or if you have another idea please let me know.  I will be upfront with you about whether or not I can actually accomodate your request and also if there will be any extra cost involved. (there may be up to a $1. for sizing / cropping your image and extra printing costs .. that is $1 for the entire order by the way, not each piece...  but nothing else unless I have to order in something I don't carry regularly)

You can contact me either through email or Facebook :-)

Talk to you soon :-)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Craft Shows .. do's and don'ts??

So my friend Megan over at The Mrs.  is doing a craft-fair link up party and asked me to join in.

There are some really great articles on there with lots of tips and advice for anyone wanting to participate in a craft fair.  So I'm not really sure what else I can add to all the awesome tips that people have already put up.. but here goes :-)

I've only done 4 craft fairs in my short little crafty life (notice I said crafty life.. not life!!)  My BEST one to date was definitely the most recent one this July 1st for Canada Day.  And it got me to thinking about why?? At all of the shows I have gotten tonnes of compliments on my work.. but the first 3 were nothing like I had hoped they would be with respect to sales.  And.. to be honest.. as much as I wanted people to like what I created, I wanted them to buy it just as much!!!

So for this craft fair I figured that since I have a good stock now, I didn't need to worry so much about "would I have enough?"  I know now that I'm not going to sell out and come home with just my tables and a pocket full of cash .. ok.. I know it.. but I still want that.. LOL.  No.. this time I decided to focus on my display.. to make that creative, to make it more inviting somehow.  Since I sell small items like jewelry and magnets, it doesn't matter how creative I am with them, if I can't draw people in then I'm not going to sell anything. ..... make sense???

And... I'm SO blessed to have met up with some very creative people on facebook, and my friend Tricia from I Heart Rock n Roll (and my crafty things too) also happened to be doing a craft show not long before mine and she posted a great tutorial for a display she made (see here ---> Picket Fence Tutorial ) .. anyways.. to make a long story shorter.. it gave me some ideas of my own.  I bought and painted and made my own necklace holders (yep.. you can even check it out here ---> Jewelry holder tutorial  , I painted wooden stands bought from thrift stores, and my AWESOME hubby and kids built me a wooden riser to fit my table so that I could add some height and depth to my one table.  All in all.. I loved my display.  There are still things I'm planning on adding to it, but I was so thrilled with it and I think my enthusiasm showed!!

Here's some of the pics from it: 

oh.. and it wasn't the greatest of July days.. so ya know.. bare with me on the darker pics

What people walking by saw: 

This wasn't the end result.. if you look reaaaallll hard you can see my cork board in the back right hand corner... I ended up moving it to the front left side... and almost sold out of everything I had to put on that board!!!

My magnets and Canada Day pins.. they started out semi-organized and ended up being quite the jumble by the end of the day.. I just couldn't keep up

The next few are of my larger table.. see the 3 canvases.. yup.. painted by yours truly (artists of the world you have nothing to fear.. LOL)

My first few craft shows I had the majority of my necklaces as just pendants, neatly displayed in a couple of nice wooden trays.. This time I put a chain on every single one and laid everything out.. I'll tell you.. I sold 50 necklaces that day.. yes.. 50 .. compared to only 4 or 5 at each other craft show over 2 days!!!  (but I also had a pricing strategy this time.. so read on :-D )

and last, but not least, my cute little cork board that I hung my leather corded necklaces from
this is the board I ended up moving over to the front side of the tent.. and it seemed to work!!!

And lastly.. I also worked on a pricing strategy.. specific for the day..

Canada Day was a day of fun.. people weren't out like at a fall craft fair.. looking for Christmas presents , they were out to have a great day of celebrations and to party.  So for me to sell jewelry and magnets, and headbands etc etc, I figured I would have to:

1) Have a price point for the day that wasn't too high since it would be more of an impulse purchase for most people and
2) Make my price point something that was easy to part with cash wise (ie.. like a $5 bill , or a $10 bill.. something where people weren't going to have to hand over multiple bills unless they were buying more than one item.  
.. Now.. did I take a hit on my profits.. yes.. a large one.. BUT.. I acheived what I wanted to that day.. a lot of sales.. and .. a lot of sales with people taking home something with MY business name on it.. access to my email, and to my facebook account. 

I guess my advice to anyone wanting to do a craft fair is this... research each particular one.. don't assume that what you have for sale is what people want at every fair.  And then.. if you still decide that a fair is something you want to do.. plan your strategy for display and price according to the market you're going into.. some artisan markets you can price higher.. some you have to price lower.. but.. LOVE what you do, and have FUN doing it.. greet each and every potential customer (makes them feel liked.. and cuts down on theft).. and no matter what.. SMILE .. if you look like you're having a bad day.. no one is going to want to spend money or ask a question.

Well.. I hope this helps someone.. and if not.. I hope you can send me some of your ideas to help improve on mine :-) .. Have a great day all!!!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Craft Fairs .. and the Power of Prayer

Wooo hooo.. the first craft fair of the season (for me anyways) was this weekend.  Yeah.. I'm happy now.. but I was a complete basket case for a couple of days weeks before it.  I'm a planner.. a list maker.. an ocd organizer.  And it is so hard for me to not be able to control things...

Take for instance this Canada Day..

I got accepted into the crafter's corner for our local festivities..
step one.. check.

 I made up all my product (and then some!!!) .. all ready to go..
step two.. check.

 I worked on my set up and made holders and painted holders for all my goods..
step three.. check

 2 weeks before I started checking the weather reports.. all sun and good stuff (I mean it'll be July.. how could it not be good weather)..
step four.. check 

 1 week before.. I double checked the weather report.. mostly sun.. and a few clouds..
step four.. still checked.

5 days before.. the weather report now says mostly cloudy..
 step four.. gulp.. still checked 

 3 days before.. cloudy.. with a few showers.. crud.. but I can still deal with that.. after all.. I'm under a tent..
 step four.. check 

 The day before.. rain, rain, and more rain in the forecast..
I cried..
no more check on step four :-(

 I mean.. we paid money for the tent, we paid to get into the craft fair.. and it's going to pour down rain all day?? No one will come out, I won't be able to sell anything... add to this is the fact that my husband has not been able to go back to work for over a week because the road into the town he's working in is washed out, and the road into the mine he's working for was closed down due to the heavy rains as well.. I worked out our money situation and we have the choice to pay our bills or buy food (and with all our kids... food it would be)

So.. I prayed .. Dear God.. please let me at least make back the money we paid out so I'm not being more of a burden to my husband.  ... Lord.. please provide for my family.. yes.. I'm sure you can guess how my prayers went. 
And then.. I did what is hard for me.. I did my very best to leave it in His hands.. and I did pretty well at that.. I wasn't as nervous, I actually slept the night before and I woke up with the "what will be, will be".. attitude ..
I still didn't expect to do well.. I woke up to clouds and rain.. But..  you know what.. when we left to go and set up.. the rain stopped.. I got everything into my tent.. and the rain started again.. timing..perfect timing.  So, there I was set up.. all alone and cold.. very cold..(and I'm thankful too that my wonderful husband brought a heater back with him an hour or so later).. But.. I figured since I was there I was going to make sure I smiled at anyone who came out in this weather.. whether they were walking by my tent or coming into it.. if they were as crazy um.. brave as I was by being out on such a day.. they at least deserved a smile :-)
And then it happened.. my prayers were answered.. Someone came into my tent, just after I finished my set up.. and bought something .. at quarter to ten, I made my first sale.. and then I didn't sit down again until 5:40 that evening because He smiled upon me that day.. and I had more customers than I could ever have hoped for.
No, I didn't sell out of everything.. but I made enough.. we can buy our groceries, and pay our bills, and I was given a gift too.. there was enough left over for a couple of items that some of my friends make that I have wanted since I saw them.  We don't usually have a lot extra, and we still don't.. but it was a wonderful, wonderful day and I have been saying thanks over and over.  It was humbling and amazing all at once.

This Bible verse says it all to me,  and I need to try and live it better!!

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
What else can I say.. I hope you ALL have a wonderful and safe holiday this weekend, whether you're celebrating Canada Day or Independence Day.  We live in two very blessed and wonderful nations :-)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Bucket List


Do you have a bucket list??

Is it all fun stuff??

Is it all about you??

Does the thought of crossing something off of that list scare you because it means you're getting older, or excite you because you have accomplished something??

I was chatting with a friend recently (as in right before Father's day) about bucket lists.. She makes these amazing ones ... totally customized

(see.. totally awesome huh)
Here's a link to her etsy shop if you (like me).. just really really really have to get one of her boards!!


I was looking for a gift for my hubby (yeah.. 2 days before father's day.. I was so NOT on top of things as usual) and Brittany (aka 41 West Designs) suggested a bucket list for him.  My first thought.. YES.. that would be awesome, woohoo.. gift taken care of.  So the hubby and I sat down together that evening and I ever so casually asked him what is on his bucket list.

Yes, that's me deflating.. I always seem to somehow forget that I married the most mellow, easy going man in the universe.  He doesn't have a list of things, he is just happy taking things day by day and if we do things great, if not.. c'est la vie.  I however do have a bucket list.. which I will (sort of) tell you all about in a moment, and this got me to thinking about it.. again.

First, I just wanted to clarify for those of you who may be horrified that my hubby didn't get a gift for father's day.. he did ... he got a new barbeque.. and now to sign my own death warrant in the gift giving department.. I sent him to the store to buy it.. He was very surpised in the morning though when the kids gave it to him.. 'cause he's just awesome like that :-)


on to my bucket list

I do have a bucket list.. however the reason I said I will "sort of" tell you about it is because it is ever changing.  When I was a teenager (a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away), everything on it was about me!! I was going to travel the world, I was going to make a million dollars, I was going to single handedly fix the problem of world hunger (so wish that one had worked out).  Then I had my first son at 19 and my whole world changed, but not my bucket list, I still wanted to do it all.  Zip forward a few years and I have added a lovely daughter to my life, but my relationship with my oldest 2 childrens' dad was not a good one and it ended, badly.  No important change on the bucket list though.. still all me, me, me. 

Add on a few more years.. I'm married, have moved towns, have 2 more darling sons (and another on the way).
 Here's where we slow it down a bit.  While looking for a school for our soon to be kindergartener my husband threw me a COMPLETE curveball.  He says to me.. "How about putting him in a private school?  I found this one I want to look into more.. Cedars Christian School" .. WHAT?? I was shocked.. we had NEVER discussed our religious views.. EVER!!! 
But thankfully, we were both ready to rediscover and learn anew all about our Lord and Savior.. and so another wonderful journey began...

sorry.. as usual I got off track... (and I forgot to shut the screen door so I'm being eaten alive by mosquitos..ugh)

Yes, another journey began.. and my bucket list has changed.. for the better.  Oh don't get me wrong.. I still want to do things just for me, but there are others.. and more important ones too.. so here it is as of today

Bungee Jumping


Survive Motherhood

Get to a healthy weight and maintain it

Move to Texas

Do a Missions trip.. somewhere.. anywhere as a family.. more than once!!

Learn something new about the Bible every day <- this one will be easy since I'm homeschooling my kids and Bible studies is one of their subjects!! :-D

Get my testimonial written down on paper so that I can one day share it with others

and the one that will be the hardest for me...
Get Baptized

So now.. I have added to my bucket list some items that might seem kinda odd to a lot of people, but they are things I feel God is leading me to do, and they are also the hardest to write on here because now they are out in the open and everyone knows.

And in case you're wondering why being baptized is the hardest for me.. I have a few BIG fears in life... being in front of a crowd where EVERYONE is looking at me.. is one of the biggest :-(

So.. there you have it...
What's on your bucket list?? Seriously.. I'm nosy and I would love to know :-)

And don't forget.. go check out 41 West Designs on etsy... here.. I'll even give you the link again just to make it easy :-)






Wednesday, 15 June 2011


Ok.. so it's been almost 3 weeks.. soooo bad :-(  .. It's not like I have nothing to say.. I hardly ever stop talking... so .. why can't I write anything?? Well.. sadly it's because ...I'm sad (so as I babble and stumble through this post.. please.. forgive me).

 My wonderful friend Amy and her family are leaving this week... not just moving house.. not just moving to the next town.. but moving.. all the way to Idaho for a few months and then over to Indonesia for at least 4 years!!!

Why??? you ask..    Well, they work with Mission Aviation Fellowship of Canada (MAF Canada).  God has started them on this wonderful journey and as sad as I am for myself I am also so truly excited for them because I know them, and can see His love and grace shining in them.  

I want you to do something for me...please :-)

 Go and read their story on their blog: .. seriously.. go and read it.. they are truly inspiring!!!!

or.. if you're a facebook junkie like me you can follow them on there too:

So now you know about some of the wonderful friends (more like family!!) I have been blessed with ...Something else you should know about me.. I don't cry in public.. and yet this week.. I can't seem to stop.  It started at church on Sunday as we prayed for our friends, it continued again when we had a farewell supper for them, and let me tell you.. hugging her boys for the final time is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.  Simon is 4.. a day younger than my Josh (and a head taller).  He calls me Mama Paula.. it's my all time favourite nickname :-)  .. He didn't really understand why I had the tears when I hugged him and said goodbye.. But Luke (he's 6 and my darlin' Aydin's friend).. he understood and I think that made it harder!! I did not want to let go!!!!  So the boys have now gone to spend a few extra days with their grandparents, and Amy, Ben and the girls leave on Friday.. (just so ya know.. I'm gonna be even more of a wreck that day) ..

I have been so incredibly blessed over the last 4 years to have Amy in my life.  She is such an inspiration to me, definitely the type of person who you meet and aspire to be like!!   I honestly can't put into words the gratitude I have to God for bringing her into my life when He did.  Knowing her has made me a better mother, wife, friend and best of all.. daughter of God.  

Thank you Amy, for these last 4 wonderful years of has meant more than you can ever know :-)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Taking on Too Much!!!!

Ever have those days (or weeks) when you just feel like you're
Too Busy
and you just can't seem to catch up or catch your breath?? 
Welcome to my life lately.  Hubby got put back on swing shift so he's doing 2 weeks days, 2 weeks nights.. so I prepared for nightshift again ... and it turned out to be 1 week of nights and then they switched him back to days for this week.. and.. oh my gosh.. I need a stable schedule to function so that has just thrown me completely off track. 

 Here's all I have to do in the next couple of weeks:
Get the kids to finish their schoolwork

Print and get together samples of their schoolwork for their teacher

Go to the kids' year end party

Soccer games and practices (2 boys)

Swim lessons (3 boys)

Piano lessons (1 boy)

Remove the rock garden from my lawn

Clean out the garage so that we can get to the kids' bikes (and mine)

Somehow keep the house semi-clean

Somehow keep the kids fed.. ok ok.. we'll maybe clean them too

We (as in the hubby and I) also have to find the time to re-shingle our garage roof.

And finish sanding and mudding one of the bedrooms downstairs so I can paint it and lay the flooring so that Davin will finally have a room again.. not that he minds sleeping on the sofa bed in the rec room.. tv all night long.. he loves that.. lol

I've also gotta finish getting ready for the big craft fair because I DO NOT want to leave it all to the last minute... and so saying that I just ordered some more items yesterday to make up yet another new product.. what was I thinking??


I've offered to help a friend pack up her house ready for a missions trip to Indonesia for the next 8 years of her life.. talk about mixed emotions there.. yayyy.. so thrilled they are going to be doing such wonderful work for the Lord.. booooo.. I'm not going to see my friend for a LONG time.. I've found out that it is possible to cry happy and sad tears all at the same time!!

Plus just the day to day life things like diaper changes, laundry, cleaning the bathroom.. ya know housework!!

Oh.. also almost forgot.. I've starting exercising.. 30 minutes on the treadmill.. at least 3 times a week!!

Needless to say... I am a TRAIN WRECK and am going to derail soon if I don't find a way to organize all of this and let out the emotions in a healthy way.

About the only thing I have decided from my list of things above is that my friend and her family will take priority.  She is so amazing!!! After having her 4th baby (by c-section this time) just over 2 weeks ago she is packing up her house, making sure it is clean for showings so it can sell, and still SMILING!!!  I need to take lessons from her :-)

Ok.. so thanks for letting me vent a bit and get that all out... I would
 to hear from you with tips on dealing with "life" when it throws a bunch at you and you're just not ready for it!!!!!

One bright note for my day.. I completed my headband holder project yesterday (baby steps.. baby steps).. here's how it turned out...

Now I just have to paint the toy blocks.. umm I mean headband holder feet.. so that they're a more neutral color and it's good to go!!!  What do you think??

Have a wonderfully blessed day all :-)