Friday, December 23, 2011

Some advice about self promotion. Via A Ghouls Best friend.

John Waters with Flamingo Ring

A self promotion story from Sara, Baltimore artist.:

My name is Sara and I am the shop owner of A Ghouls Best Friend. One of the things that I was told about Etsy is that since there are so many sellers on the site it can be somewhat discouraging to keep going when you don't see a lot of sales rolling in. I wasn't going to let that stop me. I wanted to be one of those sellers that hits 100 sale in their first year, not 20. I took it upon myself to find ways I could promote my shop. I have done everything from joining Etsy teams and making a Facebook fan page to putting bumper stickers on my car wearing my own items in public. All of this has not only help me hit my goal of 100, but break it, and only a month after celebrating my first year I am less than 10 sales away from hitting 200! I have also been asked to vend at several events, have my items sold in shops in Baltimore and Provincetown, RI, and have had my items in an Australian fashion show. I am always pushing myself to come up with new ways to promote myself and I have also started to help promote others as well. If I could say one thing about what I have learned from being a shop owner it would be that the best promotion is self promotion! While it may take some time and thought, it will be worth it in the end, besides, who will look out for your best interest better than you?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Popkin's Pet Portraits

Perogi, Queen of Pugs pet portrait Signed archival Giclee Print  8x10

Choose Two Signed pet portrait archival Giclee Prints 8x10Japanese Ink and brush Drawing Session, One hour of Pet Portraits- pug, bugg, cat, birddog or cat pet portrait oil on canvas 12x16
Boston terrier doormat under 50 outdoor rugChihuahua pet portrait pink in pearls Signed archival Giclee Print 8x10Boxer pet portrait - where's the party- Signed archival Giclee Print 8x10dog or cat pet portrait oil on canvas 10x10French Bulldog pet portrait, Pierre-  Frenchie- Signed archival Giclee Print 8x10Swarovski Blue cat pet portrait Signed archival Giclee Print 8x10
- how you selected your name
I do love alliteration, I’m Spoon Popkin & I paint pet portraits! And so, Popkin’s Pet Portraits was born.

- describe your studio
I love my studio! It’s the best place n the world for me. I’ve been at The Load of Fun Studios in Baltimore for over 5 years. It’s a giant mildly leaky warehouse with over 50 artists and theater companies. My own space has skylights and lots of long walls that I fill up regularly!

- talk about your work
Here’s my official statement:

Original, hand painted pet portraits with personality for animal loving humans by Spoon Popkin. 
Capturing the spark of life and character in a pet is what gives me joy and satisfaction. My passion for painting extends beyond oil on canvas to classic Japanese sumi ink and wash paintings, providing a unique and affordable portrait option. As gift for the devoted pet lover or memorial for a pet who is no longer with us, the vitality and energy of your cherished pet will be immortalized to enjoy for generations. 

I’ve had a lot of different businesses over the last 20+ years, designing clothes, making hats, pins, doormats- I still have this one! Damn Good
But I have realized over the last few years that when I paint I am most fulfilled. And the freshness of painting animals is amazing. Every day I’m presented with new challenges that I haven’t seen in 25 years of painting. The reflective eyes of a cat, the wrinkly pug face- so much that’s not found on humans! Getting to the spend my day looking deep into the eyes of cuteness is pretty great!

- where you sell, why do you sell their? (web/real life)
I mostly sell online through word of mouth and my
I just got an archival printer & started listing prints of my past commissions on etsy at my shop here

Over the Holidays I’m selling at a bunch of Baltimore area craft shows
Friday November 25th
Load Of Fun, 3pm-8pm
120 w. North Ave

Sunday, December 4, Creative Alliance's Merry Mart
Baltimore, MD
11-5 PM

MICA Art Market
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 10:00am until Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 6:00pm
· Where MICA - Brown Center's Leidy Atrium and Falvey Hall lobby, 1301 W. Mt. Royal Avenue 

Saturday, December 10, Handmade Holidaze Party
7 Baltimore Artists
The corner of 34th & Chestnut
Baltimore, MD

- what you are doing now, where do you want to take this business
Doormats have really taken off with lots of press, but every time I go paint a pup I’m reminded that this is what I’m really meant to be doing. I’m taking what I’ve learned from promoting Damn Good Doormats & using it to push my pet portraits into the forefront

- obstacles you have faced
There are lots of portrait artists out there! I have to remember that none of them are me and take comfort in seeing that that this work is desired. It’s hard to get attention, but I’m starting with my local customer base, asking them to review me on Yelp & get that google ranking up.

- good things that have happened
I get to paint for a living! I’ve been featured in bmore Magazine , my work hangs in the home of Jeff Lewis of BravoTV’s Flipping Out, supported many human & humane causes including: Maryland Animal Sanctuary Rescue , Bowling for Rhinos, Pints for Pits/BARCS, MD SPCA, Moveable Feast, Chase Brexton Health Services

- bad things that have happened, what did you learn from them
I haven’t had anything bad yet... don’t jinx me!

- other/extra stuff

- Contact information.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to make a picture necklace with Sara Vogel from AGBF, Baltimore Artist.

My name is Sara and I am the shop owner of A Ghouls Best Friend on Etsy. In my travels I get a lot of questions about how I make my necklaces with the pictures in them. When I was given this opportunity to make a tutorial on one of my many craft projects, I knew it was a no brainer that I had to share how I make my necklaces. I never had a tutorial to show me how to make these necklaces, so I had to Iearn through trial and error. I hope you enjoy my tutorial and take away a few tips when it comes to making these types of necklaces.
There are several types of settings that you can use. This picture shows a few various types of cameo settings made in different sizes and out of different materials. You will find some made out of metal and resin with different types of designs. For this tutorial, I am specifically using a resin cameo setting with an 18X25mm oval shaped space for the image I will be using. 
Supply List!
1. The setting you wish to use
2. A bail if your setting has no hole to add a jump ring. (This is how you attach the chain you will be using)
3. A chain (ribbon and any type of chain will do)
4. The image you wish to use (Mine is a picture of Baltimore legend, Divine!)
5. An epoxy resin sticker that is the same size as the space on the setting meant for the picture
6. Super Glue (I have two types of different strengths that I use for different step as you will soon see)
7. Scissors 

Most of these supplies can be found at a craft store or from suppliers on Etsy. If you don't mind waiting for supplies to arrive, you will find better deals from sellers on Etsy than you will at a retail store.

The first step is to glue your bail to your setting. The picture I am using is a portrait so I will be gluing the bail in the middle of the top of my setting going long ways from top to bottom versus left to right. (Portrait versus landscape.) The glue I am using is Gorilla brand glue. I like this glue because it is stronger than most super glues and dries quickly. Sometimes you will find super glues that dry quickly, but don't have the strong hold that is needed for projects like this. It is important to remember that the bail is what connects the chain to the cameo setting and to make a quality product you want your glue to stand the test of time and daily wear and tear.
After you apply the glue, press the bail and the setting together and hold it for at least 30 seconds. This helps to secure the bond. When you use the glue, remember that less is more. You don't want to use more than a drop of glue because you don't want to have a mess when you press the bail to the setting. when you get run off there is also the chance of accidentally gluing yourself to the setting or anything else in your craft area. 

This is a picture of how your bail and setting should look once they are attached.
The next step is to put your epoxy resin sticker on top the image you have chosen. There are a few important details I want to give you before you proceed with this step. 

First off, choose a picture you would wear yourself. I always do this and it has never failed me. I like to add my personality into every piece that I make and it's amazing how many people have similar tastes and styles as I do. Now, as far as the picture, you can cut something out from a magazine or newspaper, but beware, when gluing these to your setting there is a high possibility that your image may come out cloudy when the glue dries. I will explain this more later on. My recommendation is to print out your own images and use photo paper. It may cost more, but it is worth it! 

My last tip, is take your time. Once you have place your sticker in place you cannot remove it without messing up the picture and ruining the sticker from being used again. So take your time and even measure if you need to because you don't want to waste supplies. 

Once you have your sticker in place, rub the sticker to make sure it has attached itself to every part of the image. This helps to avoid getting bubbles within the sticker and makes your necklace look so much better. If you are having trouble doing this, flip the image face down and run the bottom of a spoon against the backside of the area where the image is. I highly recommend this if you are using a large epoxy resin sticker. I use these with my pill boxes and buckles as well.
Your next step is to cut out your image. Be very care while doing this. You don't want to accidentally cut the sticker, which is very easy to do. These domes are meant to protect your image being used and improve the quality of your necklace so you don't want to accidentally cut your sticker so that it doesn't look like a perfect oval.

Okay, now you are almost done. You should have a cut out image with a epoxy resin dome on it and a setting with a bail attached. Now you are ready to combine the two.
When I glue my picture onto my setting I always put the image in the spot I am gluing to make sure that it is going to be a good fit. I then use Crazy Glue to glue the image in place. I prefer Crazy Glue that comes in a bottle with a brush much like nail polish, this way I can evenly apply the glue. I apply the glue to the setting first and then add the image. 

Again, remember that a little goes a long way. You want to avoid run off and dried glue where it can be visibly seen. Also, if you are using an image from a magazine or something that isn't thick like photo paper, the more glue you use, the more likely it is that your image will come out cloudy once it has dried. 
Once you have your picture in place, hold it down for at least 30 seconds to ensure a secure bond. 

Once you are done this is what your cameo should look like. At this point your last step is to add a chain and you are done!

When you think you are comfortable with making these types of necklaces you can really have some fun. This picture is of a Frankenstein necklace I made. I used a thick metal setting, a jump ring, a metal chain, and a toggle clasp with a skull and bone. I put the chain together myself and printed the Frankenstein image out on photo paper with my photo printer to get the crisp, clear image. 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and picked up a tip or two. In the end practice makes perfect and once you get into making these types of necklaces it becomes insanely addictive and the ideas and possibilities are endless!

Thanks Sara Vogel, Baltimore Artist, for this awesome tutorial! Visit her here:

A Ghouls Best Friend with Baltimore Artist Sara Vogel

Four Bulb Dangle Earrings
Karen in Shabby Chic WhiteBarbara Shut Your MouthZombie Necklace
Pink and Black Spider with Retro SettingGhostly Zipper BroochUndead Elvis in Acid Blue with Retro SettingDragon Zipper BroochA Divine NecklaceDivine as Babs Johnson with Teal GemsAcorn Necklace and Earrings Set

- how you selected your name

When I was picking my shops name I already knew what kind of items I was going to sell. I knew that I was going to focus on accessories for women that like horror movies and items that are sweet and twisted. When I say sweet and twisted I am referring to items that are cute, but edgy at the same time. For instance, I like to make flowers that are hair clips, but their centers are eye balls or skulls. Knowing that I would be making items like this I wanted a sweet and twisted name as well and I came up with A Ghouls Best Friend.

- describe your studio

My studio is technically in a small room that I call my closet. I know that sounds strange. I am currently living in a basement with my four pets (2 dogs and 2 cats) and my husband (we just got married this past Halloween!) We have a small room that holds our dressers, bookcases, a mini fridge, and my crafting areas. I have a counter, a large table, a cabinet of drawers filled with supplies, and boxes upon boxes of finished items and even more supplies! Since the closet is rather small, I try to keep everything as organized as possible, so naturally everything is labeled like some crazy lady with OCD took over. Now, even though I have my supplies in this room, I tend to take whatever I am working on into my living room and I create at a table where I can feed my Netflix addiction. I can't work without background noise and Netflix + Xbox Live = Amazing background noise! 

My husband and I are currently house hunting and trust me, craft room and man cave are at the top of our must have list!

- talk about your work

On top of my Etsy shop, I currently work full time at a book store. I don't want to name names, but I can sell you a Nook like it's my job.... oh wait..... 

- educational background within your work? 

I went to college at Villa Julie College (now known as Stevenson University) and graduated in 2007 with a BS in Human Services (counseling and socail work). I only took the once required art credit, but grew up in a family of crafty people. I come from a family filled with quilters, sewers, jewelry makers, and wood carvers. Maybe I was born with the crafty gene because it didn't come from all of those family and psychology classes I took.

- where you sell, why do you sell there? 

I sell primarily on Etsy. However, I also have two shops in Hampden that carry my items year round. One is called Kiss N Make-Up and the other is called In the Details. Both are located on the Avenue. I also like to vend on First Fridays at a salon in Ellicott City called Ohh Lalal Salon and at Sonar for their Sunday Flea Market. There is also a shop in Provincetown, RI called House of La Rue that also carries my Divine necklaces as well. On top of this I like to attend burlesque festivals and earlier this year vended at The Jim Thorpe Burlesque Festival and will most likely vend there in the early spring of 2012. 

What can I say, I like to stay busy. I love selling on-line because it helps me reach a larger audience that goes beyond my own backyard. I had a lady in Australia that bought a large amount of my hair clips and brooches for a fashion show featuring her own designs. She had her models wear my items during the show and let them keep them as a form of payment. My shop was given a huge shout out and in return I now have a few sales every month from Australia. If I didn't have an on-line shop, this may have never happened.

I love selling at local stores because I can give the small shops in the area whole sale prices and in return I get more requests for custom items, more whole sale orders, and I am helping out local businesses make money in rough times. One of the shops that carries my items has had great success with selling the earrings and necklaces I make that have Natty Boh and Divine on them. 

I also like vending at festivals and events because even if I don't make a killing on sales, I am still getting my name out there and self promotion can really go a long way. 

- what you are doing now, where do you want to take this business

I have just hit my 1 year mark on being a seller on Etsy and have hit over 150 sales. This is amazing to me because I know some shops that have been open for a year that barely hit 20, let alone over 100. Right now I am working on new items for the holidays to help open my shop to a newer audience that may have overlooked my shop before. Not everything I make is horror movie related despite my shops name. In a dream world I would love to solely get my income from Etsy and be able to quit my day job, but with looking for a house to buy and not rent, I don't see quitting my job as a wise financial decision. 

- obstacles you have faced

Most of what I make has not been taught to me. I learned how to make certain things through trial and error. Also, working a full time job five days a week has made me learn to get better with managing my time to accommodate time for friends, family, craft shows, my pets, and life in general.

- good things that have happened

I have had so many wonderful things happen in the past year that it is hard to pick just one or even a few. However, I do owe all of these good things that have happened to something I learned. One of the best things that could have happened was learning the value of self promotion. I think I owe a lot of my success to my shameless self promoting. I have a Facebook fan page for my shop, a Twitter account, a Blogspot account mainly geared towards my shop, and I made an investment in business cards, bumper stickers, and signs for events. I also joined Etsy Teams to help myself out. If I hadn't pushed myself to use these networks I may not have been as successful. 

- bad things that have happened, what did you learn from them

I have found that sometimes I get over worked and need some me time. I also have found that from time to time I will get in a slump and will need motivation to craft on. When I started making accessories I had no intention of selling my items, I was just making them for myself and friends. It was a hobby and a stress relief. To keep myself from thinking of crafting as work I think about when I first started making items and why I enjoy doing this so much. To keep a positive attitude and not make crafting into work I take breaks from it to do chores. This way I am actually doing boring work and I am even more eager to get back to crafting. 

- other/extra stuff
- Contact informationE-mail:
Facebook Page:
Twitter: @Aghoulsbestfrnd

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wonky Dawn

Christmas Mustache coasters
Pac Man ornament setHappy pills ornamentsRubiks Cube ornaments 6pc
Rubiks cube tissue cover plus bonusTetris ornaments 7pcSanta Mario ornamentTetris tissue topperSpace invader magnets1up earrings

I am a crafty mama of 2 awesome kids. My husband came up with my shop name, Wonky Treasures. I'm know as Wonky Dawn to all my friends so I wanted to have wonky in there somewhere. It's one of my favorite words & I'm a little wonky, so it just fit. 
My shop is filled with mostly random handmade items, whatever floats my boat that day. I work with plastic canvas, duct tape, bottle caps, recycled game pieces I find shoved in the couch & bead work. Most of my items are for the nerdy big kids at heart. Old school video games & retro cartoon items are my specialty. 
I would love to sell enough crafts that I can make a real living on. Right now I have my etsy shop & I sell on ebay & to my friends & family. 
My dream one day is to have my own spot in an actual store. Right now I'm taking over the dining room table, calling it my studio. I'm always dreaming of a zebra print craft room with space invaders on the wall. The coolest thing so far that's happened is that I got an order from an actual comic book writer to sell my space invader bottle cap necklaces at the comic book convention. The writer even gave me a shout out on her website, awesome. 
The only bad thing is keeping up with my rubiks cube tissue box orders. So many orders, so few hands.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christina Coffman, handmade wreaths.

Holiday at the Beach
Traditional Holiday Wreath with Plaid Tartan Bow and PoinsettiasTraditional Williamsburg WreathFrosted Leaves and Poinsettia Wreath
signalmountainwreathBlue Christmas
Editor: " You'll love this story, it's about an amazing woman and some amazing will power to stick with wreath's. The wreaths she makes, may I say, are beautiful."

My upcoming show is this weekend, Saturday, December 3rd at the :
Gary J. Arthur Community Center at Glenwood
2400 Route 97, Cooksville, MD 21723
Take Route 29 north to Route 70 West to Route 97 South for about a mile, and you'll see the center on the right by the library.

What is your favorite thing about the holidays?
My favorite thing about the holiday is getting together with my kids and husband. The turkey for Thanksgiving and then the day after, my daughter and I go get the tree and trim, not only the tree and mantle and deck outside, and start putting up our village of over 20 houses and scenes from the past - tradition and holiday music are what I love the most!

Why do you make wreaths?
I not only make wreaths, but also make many other items with flowers, silk and fresh. Everyone loves wreaths and I believe they follow the seasons of our life. A Spring wreath to say, "It's time to come out of hibernation", a Summer one to say it time to get out in the sun and play, Fall brings beautiful colors and wonderful changes in your life, as well as the trees, and finally, Winter says it's time for cleaning house and putting the garden to bed and welcoming Tradition.

How did I select the name of my business?
This was easy. I grew up on Signal Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My mother was a horticulturalist and my father loved all things natural. On the weekends, my mother and I would go hunting for wildflowers in the mountains and also naturalized ten acres for their homes. My parents died suddenly, two weeks apart. My mother of cancer and my father in a fire that destroyed our home. When it came time to name the business, it was very easy - Signal Mountain Wreath Works - in honor of the gifts of nature my parents gave me.

Describe your studio.
Right now, it's my dining room floor as I prepare for the show this weekend and a storage bin! We are going to be moving up to Monkton, Maryland in the Spring to a very old house that has a little work spot for me. I will have a store for anyone to come and watch, take lessons or just pick a few posies.

My work?
Interesting questions. I've been in the corporate world for over 20 years, and no matter what I do, I find a way to incorporate flowers. My friends have always said, "Quit and make wreaths, design landscapes and sell flowers, you love it, it's you". So I decided to do what they say. As in my profile, I wrote about a lady that was dying of cancer at a show in North Carolina who said "do what you love and love what you do, and then handed me a bunch of lavender tied with a pink bow" - that was it! My husband and I decided to do just that and we will be traveling the country to shows. If anyone has any suggestions for great shows, I'd love to hear about them.

Where do you sell and why there?
My son, who's an Industrial Designer, told me about Etsy and I started a shop there. The operative word is "started". I've been so busy that I haven't had the time to fully utilize it's power to share and sell. My feedback has been great and I will be giving my full attention to that after my show this weekend. I also sell to everyone who asks for anything - I decorate houses for events and the holidays, design gardens, and do work for all requests if I can. I just had a request for a baby announcement wreath for a boy - pale blue hydrangeas with a silk bow - simple is best sometimes.

What am I doing now and where do I want to take my business?
Right now I'm putting the final touches on 200 wreaths for the show on Saturday and all that goes with it - displays, giveaways and waiting for my daughter to come into town to help. She's earning her Masters as a Physician's Assistant on December 15th - you can tell I'm an unbiased mother! As I mentioned before, when we move the plan is to have a little house, stone if we can find one, and work on my wreaths and have people come to visit.

What obstacles have I faced?
For now, preparing for a show I just found out about a month ago, making the necessary number of wreaths I need and finding the materials I need. I have the love and passion to design - wreaths make themselves. I see ribbon, make a bow, and then the wreath tells me where to go, whether it be traditional, victorian, modern or whimsical - it's amazing.

What good things have happened?
The love and support of not just my family, but all of my friends who are so glad that I'm finally working on what I love - all things green and beautiful!

What bad things that have happened and what have I learned from them?
Time management - especially with this show. I always push myself too hard. I'll have to work on that - again - after the show. My hope is to work on my Etsy Shop and have time to prepare for the coming of Spring.

Thank you for the opportunity for this interview. You may find me on Etsy, and on Facebook under Signal Mountain Wreath Works or by my name, Christina Coffman.

My upcoming show is this weekend, Saturday, December 3rd at the :
Gary J. Arthur Community Center at Glenwood
2400 Route 97, Cooksville, MD 21723
Take Route 29 north to Route 70 West to Route 97 South for about a mile, and you'll see the center on the right by the library.