February 26, 2011

On the Road With TAMMACHAT: Sweatshop-free Clothing

For years we’ve been looking for a tailoring group in Thailand – one that could make clothing with the handwoven cotton and silk cloth that we buy from weaving groups in Northern and Northeast Thailand. At the end of last year’s trip, at a special juried craft fair, we met Kumpor, whose name means “sufficiency.”

We loved their unique, “fusion” designs, so we bought a few pieces and found these sold quickly in Canada at our Fair Trade Textile events.

February 24, 2011

TAFA Team Etsy Pick of the Week: Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues Photo Fabric Art

Since February is Black History Month, it's only fitting that we end our Pick of the Week this month with the fabulous work of Diana Bracy from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Billie Holiday Fabric Photo Art by Diana Bracy 15" x 22-1/2"

Her amazing portrait of singer Billie Holiday is made using a technique she's perfected over the past 6 years turning photos of iconic people into fabric works of art.  Making her pieces can take her anywhere from 20-800 hours!

You can read more about her and her process on the TAFA List or on her Etsy site

*Etsy Pick of the Week feature by Stacey Sharman from Peppermint Pinwheels.  Every Thursday, we will post one item from a TAFA Team affiliated Etsy store. In choosing a Team member photo, we will be looking for beautiful, Etsy Front Page worthy photos.

February 23, 2011

Celebrating Black History Month with TAFA Talent

Black History month is celebrated during February in the United States.  A time when we can honor all the contributions that those of African descent have made to this country, we review history and how it has shaped our lives.  Some of it has been dark with struggles and blood shed.  But, there also has been music, dance, food, politics, and a forward movement towards inclusiveness and equality.

America has been described as the great experiment.  We are a melting pot of cultures.  If we can survive and shed our biases, we might be able to carve the path towards a more harmonious world.  Whatever our ethnicity or cultural heritage, I believe that we live in a fascinating time where we can pick and choose what we bring into our lives.  Our challenge: to break the cycles of violence, to keep what is worthwhile, and to throw away what is hurtful.

Here is a treasury I made in honor of the Africa in our lives:  Click!
The products are not necessarily made by TAFA members of African descent, but spoke to me of the African spirit.

February 17, 2011

TAFA Team Etsy Pick of the Week: Colin's Creatures

This is the second week of our new feature here on the TAFA Team Blog in order to highlight one of our talented TAFA members.  This week's Etsy pick is from Colin's Creatures out of Asheville, North Carolina.  Looking at his Etsy site this morning put a big smile on my face.  His little animals are incredibly detailed (at only 5" tall) and they all seem to have so much personality!

Norsk Kvit Sau by Colin's Creatures

You can read more about him on the TAFA List or on his Etsy site

*Etsy Pick of the Week feature by Stacey Sharman from Peppermint Pinwheels.  Every Thursday, we will post one item from a TAFA Team affiliated Etsy store. In choosing a Team member photo, we will be looking for beautiful, Etsy Front Page worthy photos.

February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day from the TAFA Team on Etsy!

Papaver Vert in Home Interiors

Love is precious.
Hold it tenderly.
Let it grow all around you. 

Castilleja Cotton in Supplies and Patterns

Visit our Catalog of Shops to see all of our LOVEly items!
(Click on the tabs at the top of this site.)

 The Greene Fairy in Eclectic Mix

 Dye Diana Dye in Apparel

Something Else Studio in Jewelry and Accessories

 Lorie McCown in Art Quilts

HeART of Healing Gallery in Cultural Textiles

Love a little.
Laugh a lot.
Seize the day!

February 12, 2011

TAFA Team Art Dolls and Animals Meet Evelyn

Poking around on YouTube, I found this haunting video where two art dolls play the piano together to the song of "Evelyn, Evelyn":

Evelyn, Evelyn is performed by Jason Webley and Amanda Palmer.  Their shtick:  Two female conjoined twins perform together with Jason also acting the role of one of the sisters.  There are other YouTube videos showing live performances of the two as the twins.

I thought the stop animation video was well done and I especially liked how these art dolls conveyed such a depth of mood and emotion.  I have a small collection of cultural dolls from around the world.  They stand on the fireplace mantle in my bedroom.  Our TAFA Team has several artists who dedicate themselves to making art animals and dolls.  Visit their shops.

February 10, 2011

TAFA Team Etsy Pick of the Week: Needle Felted Hearts by Green Baboon Designs

We're starting a new feature here on the TAFA Team Blog in order to highlight one of our talented TAFA members.  Every Thursday, we will post one item from a TAFA Team affiliated Etsy store. In choosing a Team member photo, we will be looking for beautiful, Etsy Front Page worthy photos.

The very first TAFA Team pick is by Green Baboon Designs from Portland, Oregon. 

Needle Felted Hearts by Green Baboon Designs

You can read more about her on the TAFA List or on her Etsy site.  You can also visit her blog, Homemade Serenity.  Happy Valentine's Day!

*Etsy Pick of the Week feature by Stacey Sharman from Peppermint Pinwheels.

February 9, 2011

Etsy Symposium Hits the Craft Community

Yesterday Etsy graciously held an insightful, inspirational symposium to help crafters learn what we all need to do to succeed in our businesses. The symposium, entitled

Success on Etsy Symposium: Let’s Get Off Our Butts: Building a Responsive Business

ran 6 1/2 hours (with some breaks) and was well attended locally as well as online through a live feed that reached about 2000 viewers.

All the sessions will be archived here:

I was an online spectator and decided it would be great to jot down some of the highlights of the different sessions and share them with you here. For a full version with all the details and tips, visit my post at https://cindyrquilts.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/etsy-symposium-hits-the-craft-community/.

The first workshop, The Greedy Crafter: Getting What You Want, was led by Lorrie Veasey | @LorrieMud.

First Priority: Great photos!
Make sure your photos are clear, bright, taken in natural light and set on a background that is not too busy.
Example of good photos: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Spiderbite?ga_search_query=spiderbite&ga_search_type=seller_usernames


  • Use all five photos when posting an item
  • Make sure your cropping is precise
  • Experiment and learn from others
Item descriptions:
  • Item descriptions must be engaging, to the point, descriptive
  • A story can sell, so tell the story of your piece
  • Description can compel people to buy
  • First sentence is key
  • Have a connection with the buyer. Let them hear your voice. Your first chance to do that is in the description.
  • Closing — I am happy to combine shipping on multiple purchases
  • Add an Interior link = SEO tool
Reverse intervention: Email your people and ask what they think is wonderful about 5 of your pieces and what they see. Get catch phrases from your people and use them.


  • Use the Etsi forums — businesstopictures (free)
  • SEO in 6 easy steps manual (look on the Internet)
  • They have to find you. You will see tangible results
  • Consultations about tagging competitively. You can ask for help on Etsy
  • Get your sales up!
  • http://guides.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-search-engine-optimization
  • Drive traffic into your shop. If it were a physical shop you would drive traffic in.
  • Your tools are social media applications: Twitter, blogging, Facebook, etc.
  • Craft fair; talk about your product; hand out business cards.
  • Believe in yourself; invest in yourself; show and feel your commitment! I must sell!
Blog: Customers hear your voice. Use blogs in the following ways:
  • Blog giveaways: blog catalogs
  • bloghercatalog — find customers on a blog; put ad on such a blog; compel the blog to offer your goods; pitch the blogger; don’t pay for the ad
  • Promote your own blog giveaway on someone else’s blog
  • Promotegiveaway
  • Post+ photos+ link to your shop
Practice Exceptional Customer Service


  • Get up early and work
  • Follow your goals! Don’t be distracted!
  • If you want to really do this you have to hold benchmarks and see if anything is changing. Keep your goals on one Post-it Note / day so you can accomplish them.
  • Focus!

The second workshop, Beyond the Comfort Zone: Presenting Yourself Professionally was led by Vanessa Bertozzi | @vanessabertozzi, who is the Director of Community and Education at Etsy.

Four basic questions

  • Why is your shop unique?
  • In five words describe your aesthetic.
  • What is your story and why should they care?
  • Describe your ideal customer and the world they inhabit

Use 5 words — playful, fresh, modern, young, innovative …

Ask three people in your life who you trust to critique your shop.

Expect growing pains. You need to take a cold hard look!

What do they think of your products? Would you buy this?

Hone your craft; hone your branding;


  • Show a presence
  • Have a good name
  • Have more than 5 listings; a dozen is better; fill your shop so it looks like you are making an effort and investing
  • Offer a custom listing if you can — I’m a one-person-shop and I can still personalize* customize* my item for you!
  • Write in the 1st person


  • Product shots should have catalog quality
  • Photo styling; story in the photo; vignette in the photo
  • Packaging and labeling — very important to show your label
  • Headshot or portrait — make it impressive! Represent yourself
  • Have style

Reach out

  • Prepare your Elevator Pitch – you have a really short time and space to connect with your customer.
  • Connect to your product with an artistic flair
  • This could be your opening on your bio?
  • Newsletter and promotions: Use mailing lists, but content has to be new and fresh and not just another email of junk
  • Inspire
  • Bio should be short, sweet and personal. Images should be low-res;
Etsy Secret Sauce
  • Take part in the community and give back
  • Make Friends
  • Join Teams
  • Make Treasuries
  • Join Challenges
  • Blog together
  • There is strength in numbers
  • Use Favorites

The third workshop, Attract Your Target Market — You’re Not Walmart, was led by April Bowles-Olin | @blacksburgbelle.

Target Audience

  • What sets you apart? age, gender, married status, virtues, hobbies, beliefs, interests
  • What sets your product apart? color, technique, subject
  • Characteristics of the ideal customer? What are her interests? age? income? what hair color? clothes? eye glasses?

If you include the likes of your ideal customer in your photos she will find your work appealing.

  • What problem do you solve for your customer?

An artist solves an empty wall. Adds light to a room
Get into your ideal customer’s head what story she is telling herself while she is looking at and thinking about your product.
It is so worth it to splurge on this amazing piece!

  • Can you make your product even MORE appealing to your customer?

Sell to people the way we would want to be sold to. Don’t be pushy but if it is the right product it will be the right sale.

The fourth workshop, Ascertaining Your Awesomeness & Articulating it Without Sounding Like an Ass, was led by Michelle Ward | @WhenIGroUpCoach.

What makes you different? What is your uniquity? How do you differentiate yourself?


Mission Manifesto
* the only wrong answer is: I’m unique because it is me and there is no one else like me… *

1. Why do you rock people’s socks?
2. Why are you doing what you do in terms of your business?
3. Why do you think you can succeed in this business?
4. What do you want to be known for in your business.
5. Why do you care about your field?
6. What difference do you want to make in this field? What do you do differently that makes your work unique? If you had a goal to change the field, what would you do?
7. Summarize each answer into one sentence for each question.
8. Tell your pitch in 3-4 sentences.

The last workshop, Reaching Your Dreams: One Goal at a Time, was led by April Bowles-Olin | @blacksburgbelle

  • Decision Paralysis: too many choices…

Leaves you stuck; you waste time deciding what to do next; your willpower goes down

  • Decide now — what to do tomorrow! Goal setting.
  • How you make decisions down the line?

Take action over and over. That’s your success.

  • Creative dream goal.
  • How much do you need to earn? How much do you want to earn and why?
    If you don’t know, Get Clear on Money!
    Is your business realistic? Figure out if your business model will work?
    Do you have to knit 12 hours/day + marketing to make ends meet? Maybe you don’t like that idea?
  • Maybe instead… think out of the box
  • Pattern in a newsletter people pay for ~$10.
  • PDF files of patterns
  • Teach
  • Make some items as well.
  • Your goal is attainable but you have to be clear about what you need to do.
  • What is the sign your dream goal is met? What is the feeling associated with that sign?

Fear? Excitement?
If your logic and your excitement are not in sync you have a problem… Find the feeling and hold it; recall it when you are in a funk.

SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely

  • Crap excuses: Time; other responsibilities, bad camera, tired, lazy, don’t feel like it, don’t know what to do next, don’t see results…

Don’t allow those crap excuses!

B/W rules of business.

  • Every week I post M, W, F.
  • Every week I send a newsletter.
  • Add 5 items to your shop every week.
  • Dream goal is so far down the line you need to shrink the span till you reach that line.

What would you tell a friend if she said what she wants to reach a dream goal?

Actionable tasks — high leverage tasks that will show immediate rewards.

To do lists need to be done in one day. There can be no more than 6 things that take an hour each on that list. Prioritize the items. There are no choices. SHRINK the list!

1. First do high-leverage tasks.

2. Focus on the stuff that works. Don’t spend loads of time wasting time on Facebook and Twitter– that needs to be done but not for hours.

3. If something isn’t selling don’t fix it. Stop.

4. Take action consistently.

5. Stop the crap excuses.

6. You will make it and do well. This is what it takes!

To see a more detailed version, visit my post at https://cindyrquilts.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/etsy-symposium-hits-the-craft-community/.

On the Road With TAMMACHAT: Spinning Understanding -- More About Silk

A recent newspaper in the UK ranted about the "slaughtering" of silkworms to produce silk. This inspired the following blog post, as we travel in Thailand and Laos visiting women's weaving groups, many of them producing their own silk organically.

Occasionally people ask us whether silkworms are killed to produce silk. Our answer is “no, but…”

Killing the worm, which is actually a caterpillar, would defeat the purpose. Caterpillars spin the cocoons that provide the filaments which comprise silk thread. But cocoons contain pupae and, when cocoons are boiled to loosen the gum that holds the filaments together, the pupae are cooked much the same as an egg is boiled. And, just as a boiled egg will never become a chicken, a boiled pupa will never become a moth.

Read this blog entry on TAMMACHAT's blog. And visit TAMMACHAT Natural Textiles to learn more about our passion and work with handwoven, naturally dyed textiles that support rural women in Thailand and Laos through fair trade.

February 6, 2011

How to Control the Appearance of Your Etsy mini

The Etsy mini is a wonderful tool that Etsy provides for its users.  Both buyers and sellers can use it to promote their favorite items.  Sellers use it to show off their shop items.  The Etsy mini is code that can be posted in any blog or website.  We use it promote our TAFA Team members and to post ads on the sidebar of our main site, TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List.  Every TAFA member who has an Etsy shop also has the Etsy mini on their member profiles.  The mini is also what we used to build our Gallery of Shops on this blog (See the category tabs under our banner).

Most Etsy sellers know how to grab the code.  For those who don't, Timothy Adam created a tutorial in the following video:

Timothy has made a huge contribution to the Etsy community over the years with his blog, Handmadeology.  Loaded with tutorials, reviews and tips, it's a great resource for Etsy sellers.  He's come a long way since this first video on Etsy minis!

The video shows how to grab the mini code and paste it to your blog.  It doesn't go into how the mini looks or what items can be chosen for it.   This is how you control the appearance of your Etsy mini:

Items for Sale

When you go to "Your Etsy", the backbones of your Etsy shop, the default view is a list of the items that are for sale in your shop.   The following images are screen shots.  Click on them and you will get a full-size view which will help you see the content.

 "Currently for Sale", default view of Your Etsy

Notice the stars to the right of each item.  If you click on those stars, they turn green and become featured items in your shop.  The Etsy mini will automatically pull the last items you listed as the images shown in the mini, unless you click on these stars.  Once you do that, the mini will show your featured items.

Featured Listings

Next, you will want to choose the order in which these featured items are listed in your mini.  If you don't, the mini will default to when they were listed, most recent being displayed first.  The sidebar has a section of links related to how the shop is set up.  The first has to do with the items in the shop.  Under Items, look for Featured Listings.  Click on that and a list of items shows up.  Those are the ones that have the green stars. 

Featured Listings in an Etsy Shop

Notice that there is a group of four items at the top, separated from the rest.  Those four show up at the top of the Etsy shop and are also the first four in the Etsy mini.  I normally keep at least 16 featured items so I have a long list of items with green stars.  

At the far right, there is an arrow with an up and down box.  Click on that to move the item up or down.  It's a slow process and I don't know why Etsy doesn't use the same process as it does when we select the order in which images appear on our listings or in treasuries.  At any rate, this is how it is done now and hopefully, some day they will make it easier.

Final View of Your Etsy Mini

I choose to keep 16 items featured because that is the largest mini that is likely to be used on other sites.  Here is what my mini looks like in my TAFA Member Profile:

If you go to my profile, you will see it live.  If someone clicks on one of the items, it takes them to that item in the shop.  If they click on Etsy, it takes them to Etsy's home page.  If they click on rayela, they go to my shop.  (Tricky how close Etsy places their link to our shops...)

Again, the first four items at the top of this mini are the same ones that show up at the top of my shop.  It is very important to keep at least four featured items so that the four gallery sized spots are filled.  Often people forget and if there are less than four, the shop looks unorganized.  If one of the mini items sells, the next one on the featured items list takes its place.  It's a good idea to have at least six featured items.  As I sell both things that I make and vintage cultural textiles, I try to keep two of each in the first four.  You might want to organize things by color, type or price.

Advertising with Your Etsy Mini

If you use the Etsy mini to advertise your shop, that first item is especially important as it is the one that will show up if one gallery size image is used.  Make it a good one and change it often.  We have ads on our TAFA site and accept both images and the Etsy minis.  Here is what mine looks like at the time of this post:

 Etsy mini ads on TAFA's sidebar.

I hope this tutorial has helped you understand how to maximize your Etsy mini's performance.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment and check the box to receive emails on new comments as we will answer here.

Explore our Gallery of Shops on this blog to see how our Team members use their Etsy minis.  These are a block of four gallery sized minis.   We hope that you will also see something that is a must-have and shop from them!

Interested in supporting TAFA with your Etsy mini as an ad?  Visit our Sponsor page for rates.

If you found this tutorial helpful, share it on facebook, email it to your friends and blog about it.  I did it because I searched for something similar to share with some of our TAFA Team members but didn't find anything how to control your Etsy Mini's Appearance.  Now you know how to do it!

February 3, 2011

TAFA Celebrates Year One!

TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List is celebrating it's first birthday!  This video showcases many of our members in a fast, upbeat gallery show.  About half of our members have shops on Etsy, so you will see many of our Team members here.  Enjoy!

February 2, 2011

CraftGossip, A Great Resource for Etsy Crafters

Are you familiar with CraftGossip?  Their editors are charged with finding what is going on in the craft world, offering daily snippets that point to great tutorials, trends, new products and whatever else is happening on the web.  Denise Felton, editor of the Needlework section, has been a staunch supporter of my doings for years now.  She just posted a nice bit on TAFA's first birthday. 

Developing a relationship with CraftGossip is a good business move, especially if you have an Etsy shop.  Take a look at the different editors and see what they focus on, find the one that best fits you and introduce yourself.  They are always looking for new material to post and will guide you on how to go about making your news their news.

Thanks to both Denise and CraftGossip for such steady support!