Thursday, January 19, 2017

Design This - Crane Origami Earrings

Last fall I met with another local artist, Amy Schultz, to discuss her participation in the 817 Arts Alliance hut at the Texas Christkindl Market. I happened to be wearing my origami crane earrings that day. Amy expressed an interest in them and I explained where they had come from and that I had additional pairs of folded critters in various stages of earring completion, made by the same amazing origamist that had folded my cranes. She suggested that I bring them to the hut for her to look at during Christkindl. That had been the plan, however it was not until she stopped by to pick up her unsold inventory that I remembered to have them with me.

Amy asked if I thought the origami would hold up for a necklace. I hesitated because even though it is coated so that the paper is hardened, they still seem rather delicate to me. She decided to stick with earrings and picked out two pair of cranes, one for her and one to give as a gift. One pair already had its finish on it and I just needed to add ear wires and a dangle from the loop under the crane. The other pair was still only uncoated paper. I added eye pins to suspend the cranes from, painted them with hardener and added complementarily colored beads and gold plated ear wires.

While we were looking over the origami critters, an onlooker appeared fascinated and I invited her to look too. She thought the pair of flying pigs would be perfect for a family member. They were also only uncoated folded paper so I treated them the same as the second pair of cranes that Amy had picked out. Because it had been some time since I had stiffened a pair of the origami critters, I made sure I was up to speed before coating any of my custom requests. Both tests turned out and I now have two more pair of ready to ship origami earrings. The folded flying pigs were my only ones and unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of them before they flew to their new home, unlike the cranes, which I have shared pictures of in this post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Valentine's Day Gift Suggestions 2017

Have you given thought to what you will get your Valentine this year? Will your gift be practical, funny or romantic? That could depend on how long you have known your Valentine, whether he or she is a romantic or a practical type and your relationship status. (Don't forget family members, they appreciate a shout out on Valentine's Day too. Remember when you were in grade school and everyone in your class got a card from you?)

There are fun flying pig Valentine's Day cards in my EclectcSkeptic Etsy shop along with a variety of creations sporting hearts. While there are not as many items sporting hearts in my EDCCollective Etsy shop, there are many practical and pretty creations to choose from.

Order ready to ship items from either of my Etsy shops no later than the end of the first week in February (U.S. addresses) so that your gift should arrive in time for Valentine's Day. If you are interested in a custom order for your Valentine, contact me by the end of January to discuss details so I can complete your request and ship your gift to you in a timely manner. You may find inspiration for your custom item, with or without a heart, in my sold items sections in my shops.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Making Social Networking More Manageable

I still don't know what social media platform I enjoy using the most or more importantly what my target market enjoys using and will interact with my brand on the best. I started using a tool last year for my 817 Arts Alliance organization because trying to post regularly on several social media platforms was becoming too time consuming. The tool that I chose was IFTTT. The way that this tool works is that you create recipes for action based on preset occurrences, if x then y. I set up recipes based on newly published blog posts. I was even able to break that down further and create different recipes based on specific labels I included in blog posts so that a tweet about a music concert that resulted from a blog post would be different than a tweet generated from a post about upcoming art classes.

I realized when I got so busy with the Christkindl Market between Thanksgiving and Christmas that using IFTTT would be a big time saver for me with Eclectic Design Choices' social media efforts too. (I am not sure why that light bulb did not go off sooner.) To start, I will begin with simple recipes that take action based on a blog post being published for just my EDC business Facebook page and Twitter. Going forward if I find it makes sense to split out the recipes for different labels in my posts as I did with my 817ArtsAllinace recipes, I will update them. (Note: I have just created my new account for Eclectic Design Choices and the term recipe seems to have been replaced with the term applet.)

To create a new applet, click New Applet under your account name. Next, click the blue "this" on the page that comes up and select the trigger platform for your applet to run. (Use the search bar to narrow the range of possibilities.) Once you have chosen the trigger platform, choose from any actions that are shown for that platform. Then you will be shown a page when you click the blue "that" to build what action is taken based on your trigger. Tips: Make sure to choose Facebook pages and not just Facebook if you want something to post to a business Facebook page. Unfortunately Instagram will not allow a third party app to post to it, so you can only use that platform to trigger an action, not receive one.

Here goes. Hopefully when I hit publish everything will work as seamlessly as it does for my 817ArtsAlliance recipes (applets). Perhaps IFTTT is something you can use to help you save some time while managing your social media presences and more. (I am not affiliated with IFTTT nor have I received any compensation for this post.)

Monday, December 26, 2016

Artist Spotlight - G & G Creations

Even though I could not find the time to set up a real tree and decorate it this year due to participating in the Texas Christkindl Market, I could not resist buying an assortment of lovely tin snowflakes from G & G Creations, a fellow vendor at Christkindl. Gagik started making his tin ornaments and jewelry as a hobby. His wife convinced him he should sell his creations. They are beautiful. I am glad he decided to get them out there to potential customers.

I had planned to hang my purchases in front of a window but they fit perfectly with the small holiday vignette I did find the time to put together. It is amazing how much sparkle the snowflakes have in low light. Perhaps next year I will hang them in front of a window.

Click the images to get a closer look.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sudden Temperature Drop Affects Wildlife and the Christkindl Market

This little brown bird exemplifies the song lyric, "Baby it's cold outside." I don't think it would be possible for it to fluff its feathers any further in its attempt to stay warm. It is sitting on a storage bench on the south side of my house, so it probably found the warmest microclimate in my yard.

Yesterday we saw a high of 72 degrees in the early afternoon before an extreme cold front blew through with gusts just over 40 mph that dropped the temps to 22 degrees F at midnight. An hour after the first north blast, the temperature had dropped 15 degrees. It was in the teens before daybreak and never got above 30 degrees today. It is supposed to be above freezing tomorrow so the icicles (photo from a previous freeze) on my rosemary that overhangs my waterfall should start to disappear.

With the subfreezing temps and brisk winds resulting in wind chills that never got out of the teens, the Texas Christkindl Market closed on Sunday. It is expected to open again at noon on Monday as the temps will be a bit better and the winds much lighter. If you have not finished your Christmas shopping, I am sure all of the vendors would be happy to help you cross off items on your gift list. We may have some of our doors closed on our 817 Arts Alliance Hut to keep the temperature inside a bit warmer but we will be open for business.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

817 Arts Alliance Texas Christkindl Market Hut Halfway Point

Ok, it is a couple of days past the halfway point. I have been very busy working at the 817 Arts Alliance hut, making a little more product when I can and keeping up with my Etsy orders, that I am afraid I missed the midpoint by a bit and a couple of weeks of posting as well. I am happy to report that all 14 local artisans and the Mayan village international fair trade partner have had sales. We appreciate our customer's support and hope everyone loves their purchases.

While no one artist has sold out entirely of their creations, there are several specific things that have sold out and are not expected to make an appearance again at this year's market. Ellengant Creation's Jingle Jaws fish and her caged dragon necklaces are examples. Anna B's lighted Christmas trees are currently sold out but she is hopeful that a couple of more might make an appearance by the end of next week. I am hopeful that I can have some more of my agate slice night lights with nature charms or flying pigs ready before the end of the market, but I am not making any promises. Sky Imaginings has brought out more of her knit and crocheted goodies and Ladybug Bath has restocked her soaps and candles. Stock is limited however.

Today's weather was perfect. The market was alive with visitors enjoying the food and drink, shopping and the new children's area, Peppermint Park. It was a pleasant change from our brush with the blue norther last Thursday, whose effects were felt very strongly through Friday. (We had a visitor from Michigan that found it fairly balmy, unlike the two friends he was visiting.) It looks like the forecast calls for ups and downs in temperature for the final two weeks and a bit of rain on a couple of days. I hope you will find a day where the weather and your schedule allows you to come out and enjoy the experience at the Texas Christkindl Market.

A couple of views of our hut and a happy customer (Santa hat by Sky Imaginings) are found in this post. You can read the artisan statements when you visit and view a wonderful selection of unique, many one of a kind creations, that is until they find homes with someone.

Post Update: I should have included a link when I wrote this post to an article that Downtown Arlington Management Corporation shared the previous week about the 817 Arts Alliance Hut. I was very pleased to have our hut featured.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

First Time Venture Being a Vendor at the Texas Christkindl Market

First let me say that I hope you have had the opportunity to have a Happy Thanksgiving with those you care about. Personally this has been the nicest Thanksgiving I can remember in a number of years. Hopefully it will help fortify me for the next four weeks when I am participating as a vendor at the Texas Christkindl Market which opens tomorrow at 5pm on the north side of the baseball stadium in Arlington, TX.

My alter ego, 817ArtsAlliance, has as part of its mission, a goal to empower small local artisans so they can bring their creations to market. Towards that goal, I was permitted to secure a hut at the Texas Christkindl Market this year in order to showcase creations from such artisans who otherwise would not be able to participate for a variety of reasons. I have arranged for fourteen local artisans, including myself, and one international handmade fair trade member to be a part of the 817ArtsAlliance hut this year. (Post update: Photo below taken by a friend on our second night.) While many of the artisans have limited stock available, their talent is far from limited. They are passionate about what they create. For some, when their stock is sold out there will not be any more coming. Some others will likely be restocking but with the nature of many of the handmade items, exact replicas are not expected in all cases. What does this mean for you? Come out early for those one of a kind OOAK pieces that speak to you and check back now and then to see what new items may be on display through the end of the market on December 23. Unique, handmade treasures for a variety of people on your gift list or yourself can be found by thoughtfully browsing the 817ArtsAlliance hut. If you don't find what you are looking for in our hut, there are many other wonderful things to be found in the remainder of the Christkindl Market.