Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bird Watcher Note Cards

I have created a second pair of boxed sets of heavy card stock blank note cards. As with the first pop art set, I am partnering to have them printed on heavier card stock than I can print on my laser printer and then packaging them in sets of six (three of each image) in clear boxes.

I settled on the theme of bird note cards by asking the owner of Potager's Other Stuff, who carries some of my ready to hang photographic art prints and wanted to stock some of my boxed note cards, what images she might like to see on a new set. She suggested birds. Cardinals have been popular images in my matted and ready to hang pieces so I decided to work up a set of note cards with a male and a female cardinal. I found a couple of wintertime images that I thought complemented each other nicely and went with them. Those images got me to thinking of other tufted birds. I had recently finally gotten a few nice shots of a blue jay. While yellow-bellied sapsuckers are not as tufted as cardinals and blue jays, they can raise the feathers on top of their head to a peak. Plus, I had gotten a few good shots of one just the previous winter. I decided to pair it with the blue jay. These new boxed sets can be found at Potager's Other Stuff and in my EDCCollective Etsy shop.

If you have any ideas about what images I should consider working with for a new boxed card set in 2017, I'd love for you to leave your ideas in the comments section.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Missing Monarchs

While watching a Little League regional tournament game on a trip to Michigan last month I overheard someone asking another person if they had seen any Monarch butterflies lately. They had noticed their absence and had heard about the butterflies being in decline. I joined in the conversation and added that the decline is unfortunately real and the butterflies needed help. I urged the two ladies to plant locally native milkweed in their gardens as a host plant.

You might be wondering if any reasons have been identified for the decline in Monarch butterflies. They migrate from winter havens in Mexico to as far north as Canada. It takes more than one generation to complete this migration. There have always been dangers out there that the tiny flyers needed to avoid in order to accomplish their Herculean feat. They overwinter in Mexico in large groups in order to survive the winter. However some winters like last year have events like the late sleet storm that killed many butterflies. Migrating butterflies have to avoid predators (including unintentional ones like cars) and find nourishment and host plants to lay eggs on in unknown territory. Fluctuations in temperatures sometimes get the migrating butterflies out of sync with the native milkweeds they count on along their route. Also, since crops such as soybean and corn have been genetically modified to be herbicide resistant, monarchs have lost vast tracts of land where milkweed mingled with crops and provided for the butterflies.

That last point brings me back to the advice I gave to the ladies at the Little League tournament. Now that the majority of corn and soybean fields that line the Monarch's migration routes are devoid of milkweed, it is imperative that a concerted effort to plant more milkweed is undertaken. You can help by planting milkweed native to your area in your gardens, encouraging parks and greenspace managers to do so and (my favorite fantasy) get legislation through that would require farmers that plant pesticide resistant crops to plant compensating swaths of native milkweed on their land.

During my stay in Michigan I discovered a wonderful linear trail in Kalamazoo. Along the trail I spied local milkweed in various stages; in bud, in bloom and setting seed. During my trip I only spied one monarch. It was just outside Albion. (Images in this post are from my trip.) Hopefully since humans have drastically altered the Monarch's landscape to their detriment we will be able to find alternative areas to plant the milkweed that is essential to their continued existence.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Design This - Custom Etsy Shop Cover Image

You may recall that I shared some changes that Etsy made to shop layouts during April in a previous blog post. Prior to the change I was approached by a fellow Texas Friends teammate asking if I would be interested in helping her design a shop cover for her shop, JackrabbitFlats, in advance of the changes going live. I was happy to oblige.

At the time there was a thread on the Etsy forums where shop owners shared their new shop covers that I had her look at. We discussed what we liked about some of them that caught our eyes, whether to incorporate her old shop banner as part of the new cover photo and more. JackrabbitFlats' shop owner sent several product photos over for me to work with. I made a rough mock up incorporating her old shop banner with representative items and sent it over as a starting point for discussion. (See above.)

Eventually she decided that she wanted a cover image that was only a collage of representative items from her shop. (Shop names are prominently displayed just below the cover images in the new layout.) I played around with various layouts and finally arrived at one that I really liked. While I had been given more items than were in that iteration, I felt adding more of them made the image too cluttered. I sent the second rough mock up to my customer and not only did she agree with my assessment but she also loved it. Now that I knew what the final layout would look like, I edited each photo for color and brightness before sending the proof for approval. (See below.) After getting approval and subsequently payment, my custom creation was uploaded and ready to grace the shop JackrabbitFlats when the new layout became live during April 2016.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thanks for the Treasuries - July 2016

Two Etsy shop owners let me know they had featured one or more of my items in a treasury during July. Nine July Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my creations. Another one included one item from each of my shops. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during July. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)

I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below a link to the Etsy sellers that let me know they had featured one or more of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like.

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the links to the shops whose item catches your eye.

This shop owner turns graphics into button dangle earrings, hair clips, keychains and more.

Handcrafted quilted items make cheerful gifts full of homemade goodness and care.