March 31, 2011

My Beef with Heartsy: A downward trend towards junk on Etsy

by Lesa Werme of Fairytale Incorporated

Hello fellow TAFA Team followers.  This is my first crack at blogging here.  I need to warn you...  I did not give this the 24 hour rule.  So, contents of this post might be hot and spicy.  But it is fresh and no contamination has set in.  Here it goes:  Today's Daily Rant Special:  My Beef with Heartsy.

I tried the Heartsy opportunity on Etsy.   It's kind of like Living Social or Groupon for the artist community.  It provides your clients a limited time opportunity to purchase discount vouchers for your goods or services.  Visit the site here.

Wow wee.   What a waste of time.  My work qualifies and is being reviewed.  However,  you can review the overall ratings of your offer on your account.   There are 5 categories where people can vote on whether they would purchase your product:

  1. Yes   
  2. Definitely 
  3. Probably
  4. Maybe
  5. I Don't Think So
  6. Definitely Not.    

I was horrified at the Definitely Not responses.  It proved my theory.  Esty is an overrated crap show.   "Definitely Not" is so harsh!  Jeez.   I would have preferred the snarky "I Don't Think So" any day.

That being said, I have purchased interesting things on Esty.  But Etsy is becoming  harder and harder to shift through the junk.  And if the curators allow the general viewing public to determine the quality of product it is sure to lower the bar even more.  Can "Etsy Not Hand Made But Made in China" be far behind?

One last observation.   With the "Yes Defintely" button being pushed 500 times of more on some items...there oughta be a lot of wealthy artists out there...  It seems to me no one is putting their money where the button is.

Proves my theory.  "If you show 'em junk...they'll  buy it."

It might take some time.  But eventually, just maybe my theory will change to, "If we show 'em quality...they'll taste it."

Heartsy is not affiliated with Etsy, but encourages the cheapening of products on Etsy.  This excellent article on Handmadeology shows how participating in these discount efforts can actually put sellers in the red.  Yes, perhaps you will draw new customers to your shop, but if they are only looking for freebies, they might not be the kind of customers you would want in the first place.

The images in this post are the items I submitted for Heartsy.  Visit my member profile on TAFA to learn more about Fairytale Incorporated.

March 28, 2011

Lisa Call -Investigating Boundaries

The title of one of Lisa's ‘08 exhibitions, "Investigating Boundaries" seemed a good title for this post. It is 2011 and Lisa Call continues to investigate the boundaries, her work is expanding the boundaries between traditional quilting and art.  Enjoy the observations and insights of Lisa Call.

1-  What led to your choice of fiber as the creative medium for your art?
I came to making art at time when I was making traditional quilts. They naturally fell together. I have explored other mediums but they don’t provide the same tactile experience that fabric does – direct manipulation of the materials with my hands. I miss the hands-on process when painting or drawing. It just doesn’t feel the same. I also think fabric is much more flexible and versatile than many other choices, something I appreciate. I use exclusively 100% cotton woven fabric and love the inherent grid in the woven structure of the material. It appeals to me on a basic level that I can’t necessarily explain, it just feels right..
2-  Are there any contemporary quilters or quilt artists that you specifically admire?
Nancy Crow, Sue Benner, Deidre Adams
3- How has the recognition and acclaim effected you as an artist?
My successes have given me confidence, which allows me to trust myself more. Paradoxically, the more recognition I receive, the less I look for and need it. Although I am always honored and humbled when I do receive acclaim. I find that more and more, inner strength is what fuels me, but that inner strength was build upon previous accomplishments.
4-  How have you handled the business side of your career?
I'm very focused and take it seriously. I created systems to keep it running smoothly. I write about the business of being an artists on
5-  How would you describe your quilting style?
Abstract contemporary textile paintings. I strive for simplicity and spareness.
6-  Describe yourself in 5 words.
Creative, Focused, Dedicated, Quiet, Caring

To read the full interview go to my blog.

March 27, 2011

The Beauty of Handmade

I've always had a weakness for handmade objects--

there's a beauty inherent in the work of the human hand that is somehow lacking in all things mass-produced, regardless of whatever stellar design qualities they may possess.

The imperfection imparted by touch is endlessly fascinating -- the jag of a line as it reflects a heartbeat or breath, the slight wobble of a stitch as the needle makes its way across cloth, pushed by a thimbled finger.

That no two hand-crafted objects will ever be exactly the same is surely part of the appeal.  And the context provided by the thoughts and feelings of a living maker informs each work as well, placing it in a specific moment, a specific place.

"That a thing made by hand, the work and thought of a single craftsman, can endure much longer than its maker, through centuries in fact, can survive natural catastrophe, neglect, and even mistreatment, has always filled me with wonder.  Sometimes in museums, looking at a humble piece of pottery from ancient Persia or Pompeii, or a finely wrought page from a medieval illuminated manuscript toiled over by a nameless monk, or a primitive tool with a carved handle, I am moved to tears.  The unknown life of the maker is evanescent in its brevity, but the work of his or her hands and heart remains."

-- Susan Vreeland

And thank goodness.  We can forever know something of the maker by the fruits of his or her hands, giving us a priceless connection, a glimpse into another human being's time, place and heart that transcends the value of the object itself.  

When you give handmade, you give . . .


A little piece of yourself.  
See? Beautiful.

Susan M. Hinckley
Small Works in Wool


March 26, 2011

Our TAFA Group on Flickr: A Great Place to Visit!

One of the things I encourage TAFA members to do is to have a presence of Flickr.  Have you ever gone there to look for inspiration, new ideas, images to support a blog post?  Well, it is one of the best places to find great photos and to meet new people who may share some of your interests.

A key thing to do when you set up your images on Flickr is to use good tags so that people will find your images.  Those tags will show up on searches and they can be organized in themed slide shows.  Once you have an account, you can also join groups that have those themes that interest you.  Our TAFA group now has 87 members submitting images to our pool, totaling 859 items!  Who knows how many we will have in a year?  The slide show above pulls in images that have been tagged with "Etsy".  But, you could also use shibori, quilt, felt, etc as key words and come up with different sets of images each time.

These slide shows can be posted anywhere where html is accepted, blogs or websites.  And, many of the social media sites have apps where flickr images can also be shown.  You can save images that you like as favorites, make people that you like your contacts, and use the slide shows and apps in creative ways.  If you ever use someone else's image in a blog post, make sure that you ask them for permission first.  It's a big no-no and a copyright violation to use these photos without crediting the owner and without their knowledge. 

Come visit our TAFA Group on Flickr!  Network with our members and get to know them.  You will certainly enjoy their talent and absolutely wonderful explorations in the world of textiles and fiber art!

March 24, 2011

TAFA Team Etsy Pick of the Week: Handmade Felted Flower Bouquet by IngerMaaike

I don't know about the weather where you are, but here in Northern California, I'm ready to see a little spring sunshine. Since the world and the weather have been doing their best to be darn depressing, I was looking for a little bit of simple and pretty for this week's TAFA Team Etsy pick.  And, what do you know, a couple of clicks through the TAFA Team on Etsy shops, and I found just what I wanted.
Handmade Felted Flower Bouquet by IngerMaaike
These beautiful hand felted flowers are made by IngerMaaike in SørFron, Oppland, Norway.  They are so fresh and fragile looking.  Just what I think of when I think about the first flowers of spring.

You can read more about IngerMaaike and see her other felted clothing, scarves and home accessories 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.

March 20, 2011

Are your photos where it's at?

You can get with this, or you can get with that.
your photos where it's at?

Posted by Barbara Harms/Asian Art And Quilts

I loved saying that. the car ad with the cool mice.
But, let's talk seriously for a minute about the photos you are taking for showcasing your work.

My own early photos will, at the very least give you a good laugh, and at best demonstrate an important lesson for many new sellers. Most importantly, you must believe, and learn; the photos you take for your listings make the difference between a sale or not even getting a passing look.

Your customers (and sales) are dependent on the quality of your photos, so here goes, you be the judge.

Which product would you choose?

You can go with this
or you can go with that.
[a slight disclaimer, none of these have not been sized for the proper dimensions ]

Scarf Image #1

Scarf Image #2

#1?- A hanger and a hand showing [with dye on the hand even]
Or #2?

Model #1

Model #2

Which model would you choose?    #1 or #2?

I should get a few points for thinking outside the box with the bear.
But what does that photo say about my professionalism?

So what do you think?

Remember, the photos used in your listings make all the difference!
So tell me, what is wrong with these photos?  What would you do to improve them?
By sharing our thoughts and examples we WILL improve!

And, I think we all could benefit from help to take better photos, yes?

March 19, 2011

Etsy Tips on Photographing Your Product

Those of us who sell online depend on our photos to showcase our products to potential customers.  The importance of having good, if not great, photos cannot be emphasized enough.  A photo should be so good that you can imagine touching it, wearing it, displaying it, and owning it.

Danielle, who often puts together great tips for Etsy sellers, brings together a list of great resources on photography in this guide.   There are tips on what camera to buy, how to prop your product, lighting, and so on.  The links take you to Etsy forum tips and outside sites.  Even veteran photographers can use a refresher and see if there are any fresh ideas that can be explored.

One of Etsy's strengths is its dedication in providing tools for its shop owners to succeed.  They have consistently offered tips, tutorials and advice on a myriad of topics related to owning a shop.  Even if you do not have a shop, you can take advantage of these photo tips for your own projects: blogging, family photos, etc.

Do you have any photo tips to share?  
What tricks do you use to have great results?

Are you frustrated with your photos?  
What is the hardest part for you?  

Perhaps we can do a little problem solving and tip sharing of our own right here!  Leave a comment and make sure to sign up for email responses to this post if you would like to follow a discussion on photography.

March 17, 2011

TAFA Team Etsy Pick of the Week: Recycled Sweater Book Covers!

I was looking for something green for today's TAFA Team Pick of the week, St. Patrick's Day edition, and came across this cute paper-back book cover made by Emily Ugolini of Nothing But String in Southern California, US.

What if you don't want anyone knowing you're reading a steamy romance while riding on the subway?  The perfect solution, an eco-friendly book cover! 
Book Covers by Nothing But String

I love used books!

This is a green product, in more ways than one! Hee, hee, hee!

You can read more about Emily and see some of her other amazing work with fine thread Irish crochet 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.

March 16, 2011

Give People Reasons To Buy Art-

posted by Asian Art And Quilts

I spend a lot of time contemplating who buys what I’m selling and why.

As a fiber artist, one of the biggest reasons my customers tell they are looking to purchase art is for redecorating.

They may ask questions like; Why spend money on artwork? Can I afford it? Does artwork make that much of an impact on the design? By providing answers to these questions we help 'the art buyer' and create a customer.  

Here’s some reasons why choosing art for interior design is key.

-Art work injects personality into the interior design.

-Art work may be used as a strong and enticing focal point for a room.

-Art work gives a home a unique individual touch.

-Art can be the inspiration for the room’s color palette, and inspire other elements such as texture and lighting.

-The addition of art work can pull a whole design scheme together . It’s the icing on the cake. It’s like having your shoes match your outfit. With out it, a room just doesn’t look finished .

With these ideas in mind, lets get the word out! After all; there is so much amazing work to choose from on the TAFA team!

March 15, 2011

A few words of wisdom 
for the creatively inclined . . .

(from smarter people than myself, I might add)

Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born every day; to feel a sense of self.

-- Erich Fromm

So you see, imagination needs moodling -- long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.

-- Brenda Ueland

Creativity can solve almost any problem.  The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.

-- George Lois

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

-- Scott Adams

Now let's open the windows upstairs and let our music out, 
even if it's just a few notes.

March 14, 2011

Is customer service really dead?

posted by Barbara Harms AsianArtAndQuilts

For many fiber artists and quilters your sewing machine is an important tool, so I want to share my recent experience with a local business where I had purchased my sewing machine, a Viking Sapphire.

With so many stories of nightmarish service after the sale, I think a good experience is worth sharing.

After having my Viking Sapphire for almost 2 years, and its problems from the get go I took it back to the shop. I had had it with this machine and really wanted something else-another brand. I was prepared for a battle, had my game face on & ironlike resolve, “I wanted satisfaction! I expected the big brush off or run around. Isn't that the kind of service we have come to expect of most businesses these day?

But instead of a battle, where I anticipated a need from me to rant or rave, shout, cry, jump up and down, turn red, you know all the things people are usually forced to do to get any customer satisfaction--the unexpected happened -- the owner dealt with us personally, and I was given full credit for what I paid for my machine 2 years ago.

He said that he would be happy to replace my machine with a new comparable Viking’s machine. He felt Vikings were good machines, but if I had lost confidence in the company, he would be happy to give me full value of what I paid, towards any machine I chose.!! and, as if that wasn't enough, he replaced accessories and threw in an extended 3 year warranty to boot on my new machine, too.

Finding this kind of service, after the sale, is unbelievable in this time of self-serve & no customer service.

And, ME!  I am loving my NEW Janome Horizon. -- After all, when you think about it, this is good business practice, cause when I go to purchase a long arm, where do you think I’m going to go?
Check my blog for the low down on the Horizon.

March 13, 2011

Idea Cupcakes

Truth be told, there's really nothing new under the sun.

Without thinking too hard, it's probably easy to guess the origins of this piece:

Persons of Interest, Susan M. Hinckley,  2006, Collection of J. Greening

Do you see it?

Well, while exercising on the elliptical one day (sweating like a pig), suddenly The Brady Bunch came on TV. Ahhh, now  you can easily see how "Persons of Interest" was born.

 The secret of creativity is knowing 
how to hide your sources.

-- Albert Einstein

And then there are occasional cases of flat-out stealing ideas,
(which everyone does whether intentionally or not).

I save lots of things that I like, and put them in files or on the fridge or on my bulletin boards in hopes that a little bit of wonderfulness will rub off on my creations.

...if we had to think up everything from scratch,
we wouldn't get a whole lot done, would we?

Scratch cake is great when you have time, but thank goodness for cake mixes because they taste great and they're easy and economical too.

... to make good things, you have to make a lot of things (think of them as idea cupcakes).

And the way to have a lot of good ideas is to have a lot of all kinds of ideas and then throw the not-so-good ones away.

So feel free to beg, borrow and steal.
Take someone's idea and stretch it in your own new direction.

(I don't think the Brady Bunch will even mind 
when they find out what I've done.)

 Susan M. Hinckley
Small Works in Wool

March 6, 2011

Terry Aske Interview: Who says retirement can’t be fun?

Interview by Barbara Harms AsianArtAndQuilts

I frequently cruise the pages of Etsy looking at the art quilts. There’s a lot of talented artists with beautiful work. Terry Aske is one of those really special artists that you have to stand up and take notice.
I recently contacted her for an online interview. Here’s what she had to say.

1-What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated?
I am self-motivated to create because designing and creating with fabric makes me happy. Even when I am working on one project, I am usually daydreaming about possibilities for the next project. Having the Etsy shop motivates me to keep creating and to finish each project I start. It provides me with a forum where I can show my creativity to a wide audience.

2-Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas from everything around me – the colors in a garden or landscape, the shape of a building, the design of a wrought-iron gate, etc. I try to make notes or take pictures whenever I see something that inspires me. This time of year, I am inspired by the beautiful autumn colors of leaves and trees, and I have a number of quilts that reflect that theme. .

3–Who or what have had the most influence on your work?
The dark intense colors and precise geometrical patterns used by Amish quilters were an early influence. I love the bright, informal style of the Gee’s Bend quilters. The quilt artist I admire most is Ruth B. McDowell Her interpretations of in fabric are amazing. I have read all of her books and in 2008 had the pleasure of attending one of her 4-days workshops. I have made several art quilts using the freezer paper template piecing technique that Ruth teaches.

4-How have you handled the business side of your career?
I work part-time, so my quilt business is not my primary focus. However, even a part-time business requires some time spent on paperwork, marketing, etc. I watch for articles and blogs that discuss new ideas for organization, promotion, selling and the like. I have learned a lot from other Etsy sellers.

5-How would you describe your style?
My style is contemporary. I’m fascinated with nature themes and geometric patterns. Some of my quilts are pieced, some are fusible appliqué, and some are a combination of techniques. I love bright, intense, complex colors. My favorite color is chartreuse; you’ll find at least a bit of it in almost every one of my quilts. I often use dark backgrounds, as they make the bright colors “pop”.

6--Describe yourself in 5 words.
cheerful, calm, perfectionist, creative, enthusiastic

Visit Terry Aske's Member Profile on TAFA

March 4, 2011

Affordable Original Art-AND I’LL PROVE IT!!!-Asian Art And Quilts-Barbara Harms

I live in Oregon, home to hippies, yuppies, up and coming professionals, many well to do , artisans, and yes, many of us regular middle class folks. There is a great cultural scene here. Much diversity from Portland to Eugene and every city in between. With all the different lifestyles, most of those folks have at least one thing in common. They appreciate original artwork and one of a kind objects of desire. And who wouldn't? You have an original one of a kind item on the one hand and on the other hand a print or copy with a zillion others just like it flooding the market/ Which would you choose if money was not a factor? Most people would prefer the original. But, the biggest reason why many don't even consider buying original artwork is the perception that it is very expensive and out of their reach .

But I have a news flash for you, a lot of original art work is more affordable than you imagine. To prove my point - a little comparison online shopping.

First up are some framed prints from a couple of popular stores.

A framed print costing $179.00 from Target.where there were limited choices vs huge number of original art available at this price.

Bed Bath and Beyond had a print on stretched canvas frame selling for $99 , and another example for $219. Wouldn't it be money better spent on a wonderful, unique creation? How about...

Work from team TAFA members!
Betty Busby, an acclaimed artist, has several beautiful pieces starting for around $120.00, and there are dozens upon dozens of other great artists selling comparatively priced works, beautifully designed and executed. Click to see just a few including: Terry Aske - Diane McGregor - myself Barbara Harms or check our artist members who sell their work on or their own websites.

Am I making my point? I could go on and on, but you get the idea; why buy prints for roughly the same price as original works of art? Your choice, but if you can afford to buy an art print at a dept. store, you can afford original art for same output of deniro! Original art collector? Yes, you can!

I love sharing my thoughts and art on my own blog, and have written further on this subject and others. Please click over to read more.

Submitted by Barbara Harms/AsianArtAndQuilts

March 3, 2011

TAFA Team Etsy Pick of the Week: Suitcoat Purse

I admit, I'm a sucker for reclaimed textiles, especially when they're done in a clever fashion.  The work of Heather Lair from Gimli in Manitoba, Canada does just that.  In this piece, she's turned a wool suit into a purse using the collar as a handle.  How cute is that?!
Suitcoat Purse by Heather Lair Designs
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.

March 1, 2011


Betty Busby-Fine Art In Fiber
Posted by Barbara Harms AsianArtAndQuilts

–Who hasn’t taken note of the amazing work of fiber artist Betty Busby? She is a member of Team Tafa, and her work is prominently displayed on TAFA's site. One look at her work and you’re hooked! It is beyond description.

Some of her recent accomplishments include
“Welcome to the Jungle” received the Best of United States award at the International Quilt Festival in New Hampshire.

The Brush Gallery in Lowell, Massachusetts is showing Sea Urchin I & II

“Binary Fission” is premiering in Birmingham, England as part of the traveling SAQA exhibition, “Art Meets Science”

She has made quite a name for herself in the art world., and with the slow acceptance of art quilting as actual fine art, that makes it an even more impressive. Best of all, she graciously allowed me to feature her on my blog . Please click over to read about more of her and her work!