Vintage Camera Love- FPOE Treasury

Etsy rolled out a new feature called Treasury East. From what I can tell this is a treasury system that is pretty much accessible to anyone who wants to curate a list of items- their fave shops, or displaying an ad, for example. I've never been able to nab a "regular" treasury spot, but this one was easy to do. I decided to focus on the ladies who sell their photography on Etsy- fPOE- and their beautiful works showing their collections of old cameras (and one videocamera) :)

Etsy's treasuries are a great way for sellers to showcase their favorite items from fellow crafters and artists, and the administrators behing Etsy often troll through the beautiful lists of treasuries and use some of the popular ones for their front page. A front page appearance is what will bring clicks and sales, so it is extremely coveted.

While I like the idea that treasuries are hard to come by- they are special, and being included in one is often a great honor- they're still elusive to those of us who don't stay glued to the computer waiting for them to come around. I like the idea that this new type of treasury is available for anyone to create and share.

Also- there is an easy way to save your treasury into an uploadable or emailable format! Click on the link for the treasury you want to upload, then go to the Thumbalizer website, type in the link url, and watch the program "thumbalize" before your eyes. Pick your ideal resolution, save as a .png file and you're done!

To have a  peek inside Etsy's current treasuries, click here- and don't blame me if you go broke shopping!

Featured: Rachel Ballard, of Moonflowers photography

Today's ambush is the kind I LOVE. The kind where I find (somehow) an undiscovered-to-me artist and Etsy shop that I end up really adoring! The lucky victim is Rachel Ballard of Chicago, whose beautiful Etsy photography shop Moonflowers was an instant fave.

Rachel is a self-professed camera addict, and she uses both digital and film to create the dreamy moods of everything from fabric and antique thread spools to surreal beach scenes. But my absolute faves are her Carnival series! You would not believe the color that a Polaroid film can show- even as a scanned print. And I love that the photos have the quality you would remember a picture of the carnival to have- summery, slightly faded skies but vibrant flags and stands. I can almost taste the doughboys! Here are some of my faves!

Visit Rachel's blog to learn more about her and her beautiful, unique way of seeing the world.

The Alphabet, all using Butterfly Wings!

Ok, this is really one of the coolest- and most beautiful- things I've seen lately. I was contemplating a trip to Deerfield, Mass, home of the Yankee Candle factory (yum) and the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory, when I stumbled across this awesome piece of photographic art available for purchase there and online:

 Above: The Butterfly Alphabet, by Kjell Sandved

Yes, those are all real photos of pieces of butterfly wings! The website says of the artist, Kjell Sandved: "Kjell (pronounced shell) Sandved was an exchange student working in the Smithsonian when he discovered a perfect "F" in the wing of a butterfly display. He spent the next 24 years traveling to over 30 countries world-wide searching for the 26 letters of the alphabet in the wings of butterflies and moths. During his search, he also found numbers, smiley faces and hearts."

I can't wait to visit this place. It looks like fun. And I just love how the photo of their gift shop shows the employees decked out in antennae. :)

Above: photo from the website of the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory, Deerfield, Massachusetts.

New Pieces!

All pieces are being made available on my Etsy shop today!

Beach Fences.  8" by 10" Print

Marina.  5" by 5" or 8" by 8" Print

 Light Play. 5" by 7" Print

The Cove. 5" by 7" Print

All available on my lovely little Etsy shop :)

Sights and Sounds of Spring

Just thought I'd share some with you!

Duck, Wickford Harbor, Rhode Island.

Wrinkly winter berries drying in the sun.

Buds of unknown flowers.

For some European flair for your springtime, check out the Mosaic Monday post on the Female Photographers of Etsy site...My Parisian Gargoyle is featured.

 And lastly, for those longing to get back on the boat again (or for me, the Block Island Ferry- as I'm a big sickie on small boats), check out the Photographers of Etsy team blog's Monday Boat mosaic featuring my new print, "Galilee".

Have a great day!

Put Some Spring in your Etsy Shop!

Most people look at two times of the year as times of "renewal". One of course is the calendar New Year, when our intentions are good and our future is bright and shiny...The other is the start of the traditional school books, sharpened pencils, more structure to our days (and for parents, more time for yourself!) Me? I feel the time is now- my sales are starting to pick up a bit, and day by day the sun feels a bit warmer on my face. I know soon I'll be lounging by the pool instead of logging dark and stormy hours at my computer. So how can we think about renewing, re-inventing and re-invigorating our Etsy shops, as we do ourselves this time of year?

Refresh your Banners and Avatars. Showcase new items, and get rid of that banner showing things you've sold. Try showing things you can't sell, or haven't sold. Make it a little brighter, a little more colorful. Change your avatar to something bright and fresh- a photo of yourself wearing a new work of jewelry, a sparkly water photograph, your niece wearing a new knit hat. If you can, include a photo of yourself somewhere. It reminds people that you're human, in a virtual world of connection.

Rethink your photographs. We all have them. Those listings that are a little lacking in the visual interest department. I get carried away and want to list all my new jewelry and then forget to switch my lens to macro. Or maybe all winter you've had a hard time shooting pics in daylight, so some of your items had to be shot indoors, and have a yellowish cast. Now, the sun is out later, so take some of those old tired items back outside in the yard, drape some pretty fabric over a chair, set your camera on macro, and go!  Then update your photos in your listings, making sure the best shot is the first one. Even if you can only do one new shot of each item, it can help. Look at the slight difference below between one of my necklaces taken using indoor light (LEFT) vs. natural daylight (RIGHT).

Both have a light background, but the 80's heart piece shows much more detail and depth. The one on the right was also shot using my macro setting and the other was not. Better yet: show yourself involved with your item: wear it, hold it, take a photo of someone using it!

Advertise for yourself. Do you have another more than one Etsy shop? Place that link on your shop's homepage. Do you have a blog, that buyers on Etsy might be interested in reading or following? Place the link to your blog in each of your listings and on your homepage. Are you part of an Etsy team? If so, download their team button and use it as one of your thumbnails when listing items. It shows you are part of a team effort and a serious artist who is involved with the Etsy community. In this listing,  I show my Female Photographers of Etsy team logo below my piece.

Restock your packaging decor. I love buying from Etsy for many reasons, but one of the cheap thrills is the delight of opening someone's handmade packaging and envelope, raffia, bows or tissue paper, and then reading a handmade card or note. I also collect my fave stores' business cards and save them. So why not pick up some inexpensive items at a bargain store (or shop on Etsy) to spice up your packaging? Colored tissue paper, clearance bows and ribbons, pretty cardstock, and small thank-you cards related to the theme of your shop are all you need. Have everything ready to cut, stick and pack for your next shipment! And next time you pack a really nice sale, why not snap a pic of it! Then you can add this to your thumbnails, and show buyers the care you put into your packaging, as well as your wares.

These are just a few tips to spark up your Etsy shop...I plan on doing them too! Happy Spring!

Ambush Victims - Cassia Beck & Mandy Bryant

I love this idea that my Etsy team, (Female Photographers of Etsy) came up with. It's called an Ambush, and every few weeks a "victim" is chosen and everyone goes shopping in their Etsy shops, blogs about them, and generally makes them feel good for a day or so. Not only is it nice to do, it's fun to have an excuse to shop...:)
I'm running a bit behind, so I must mention our last ambush was Cassia Beck, owner of two lovely shops: Cassia Beck  and Lola's Room! I purchased a vintage, summery, sunshiney postcard set from Cassia which had prints worthy of framing. Swoon! See below!

I can feel the sun already. And today's victim is Mandy Bryant, recently featured in F-stop magazine, whose slightly surreal, dreamy, vintage-processed pieces are pure heave. Her shop is called The Light Fantastic, and that's a great description, as all her pieces have an ethereal, warm light to them. I love the dreamlike images of girls and balloons and the idea of escape and hiding that she conjures, such as in the piece below "Don't See Me."

The best thing about these two talented ladies is that their work is not only totally original and beautiful, it's affordable! Check out their shops and see what I mean.

I love being able to support the talented photographers of fPOE, it feels so good to give back to the artist community...and live in a dream for a day (or forever, if you're lucky enough to own a piece.) :)

Etsy: Newbie To-Do List

I started selling on Etsy in the fall of 2009. I opened one shop, and then another, and before the Holidays it was like a frenzy of making, selling, packing and shipping. Then it calmed down...a lot. And I had time to think about what I really wanted to do, and how I wanted my shops to look. In the end I decided to have two shops, one dedicated purely to photography, and the other to my love of vintage and handmade jewelry, mostly unique necklaces. I'm no power-seller (maybe a buyer!), but I learned a few things here and there that I wished someone had told me, so I thought I would include them here. sooo...

Before You Open

1. Think about your goals for the shop. 
Do you want to have fun? Make money? Start a real business where you can quit your day job? That matters in the long run, so at least start thinking this way early on.

2. Decide on a name
This category could actually fill an entire post, but don't overanalyze it. As Etsy stands right now, you cannot change your shop name. Don't pick something cutesy, or too niche-y. For example- if you think you might like to include vintage clothing on your shop at some point, don't call it "Jenny's Jewels." Something as simple as your name + the word vintage would work. If that shop name is taken, experiment with other names- your dream child name, a cool pet name, whatever. Write them down, doodle them, picture the name on a business card. Then do a search online and on Etsy to make sure no one else has a similar name. (quick note: I originally used the word "The" before my shop name, and while this works for some people, I hated having to search for myself using "The.." I would just rather type the shop name.) 

3. Go shopping!
Yes, it sounds counterintuitive to spend money before you're actually making any on Etsy. But you must get a sense of what others are offering, and it helps to see how they're shipping and packaging their wares. I found out that I enjoyed receiving a handwritten note or card when I purchased, so now that's what I include on every purchase from my shops, too.

3. Order business cards. There are tons of great sites with inexpensive, or free, offerings. But without a business card, everything you ship out will seem rather lacking. People save business cards, especially fun ones, colorful ones, or ones with good information on them. It's also easier for someone to hand out your card when someone asks where they got that funky necklace than for them to try and explain Etsy. Ship two cards with every purchase if you can. My fave source: Use their mini-cards as labels or to offer coupons for return customers. Their website has tons of ideas!

Designing the Shop

4. Think about the personality you'd like to inject into your shop.
Most of it will be via the items you're selling, of course! But you still have control over your banner and your avatar- the little icon people see you as on forums and in listings. Do you sell really cool and unique items that will make people salivate just seeing them? Then upload a pic of one of the items and use that as your avatar. Do you sell a service or something more personal? Use your own photo. It makes people feel better about doing business with a human being. You can design a banner using Photoshop, Picnik, Picasa, Flickr, or any other online tool, where you can control the image yourself. Or how about making one online with a free banner maker website, like this one!  It's easy and you don't need any graphic design skills to do it. Just a pic, or text, or both- and put in the 760 x 100 pixel parameters, and upload it.

5. Taking photos of your items:  
Photos of Stuff. Do you sell small items, that are difficult to see? You might need a lightbox. Search online for instructions on how to make your own. You also need a digital camera with a macro setting (usually looks like a tulip icon). This allows you to get in close to the subject and grab some of the detail your buyers will need to see online. Do you sell clothes or jewelry? Invest in a bust- check out local business supplies or surplus shops for racks and busts from stores who've gone out of business. Or try a creative jewelry display by draping items over a pretty cloth or blanket. Use natural daylight when possible- never indoor light! Your shots will take on a horrid yellow cast that looks even worse online. Trust me.

Photos of Art. If you're selling art, like canvases or photography, you can upload a straight-up file of the image, but remember to keep your image small. Anyone on Etsy can right click and save your image. It's best to let people know that the resolution they view on Etsy is not very high quality, but that your piece in person will be much richer in color and detail. Also- show how the piece might look framed, for buyers' convenience! Check out Big Huge Labs for ways to upload your art with a nice mat. You can even customize the colors.Think, how would a buyer want to visualize this piece in their own home?

6. Tagging. 
Once you upload and add items, you have the option to "tag" them with 14 various tags. Etsy will start you off with the obvious, jewelry, etc. Now, once you use up the first 3-4 obvious or mandatory tags, you get to pick several others to help buyers find you! Think: who would buy this? What color is it? what type of decor does it fit? is it for a man, woman or child? (or pet!) How does it feel/ sound/ look? If I needed or wanted one of these, how would I type it in a search form like Google to find it? Always use all 14 tags- and read the tagging rules on Etsy, if in doubt. If you run out of ideas, or hit a wall, open a new browser and search for similar items on Etsy and see how others have tackled their listings. Aha! You might have forgotten an entire group, like "equestrian prep", that suits your item! (really, that's a category, I found it while tagging my Horse necklace!) If others are tagging with it, buyers are looking for it. Also, keep in mind what's going on in the world, season, region, etc when tagging. Is it Mother's Day month, graduation time, or the beginning of Spring? Or is it the start of the Holiday season? People's searches will change depending on those things, too.

I'll continue this article in the future with more information, but first, some Etsy-speak you might like to know before your shop opens its virtual doors.

Etsy Speak

Convo: Etsy's conversation feature. Works like an email, using the person's Etsy shop name. Click on "contact seller". This opens up the convo, and continues as long as it's with the same seller/buyer.

Renew: to renew at item in your shop means to pay the $0.20 listing fee again on an item so that it jumps to the top of your shop list. Not only that, it jumps to the top of anyone else's search for related items. You can renew any item anytime you wish. Tip: renew items that haven't seen many views. They could have been uploaded during a time when not many people were online, and quickly gotten lost in the sea of Etsy items added since then.

Marking: this is what you put in a forum thread when you want to save the article to read for later, but don't have much to add. Etsy allows you to search in forums you've posted in, so by "marking", you've "posted" and can find the forum thread again.

Mary's Easter Basket

Looks like Phoebe!!.....

Like I need these....

Super funny Peeps plastic necklace!

New magazine so I can learn to Photoshop myself to look like this! and finally...

 Beautiful Easter lily plant, which I later learned is poisonous to cats...we'll put it up high somewhere ;)

Photos and Postcard from Another Era

Old photos of unknown, happy babies? Antique Dutch postcards? How could I resist these! Antique shopping in New England is pretty fruitful, if you're willing to drive a bit (most Rhode Islanders are not) and spend time in musty old barns and climb rickety stairs and have the patience to hunt. Anyway, I found these irresistable.

Above: the sender wrote her name and the recipient's name above the little girls heads.. how funny!

Above, I think this one says 1972. Not an antique, but cool stamp.

Above, a dancing Doll of Italy...unknown date. Reminds me of the Greek dancers at my church festival.

Above: I have no idea what this means, but isn't it cute! Reminds me of "Heidi".

Above:  One-cent stamp on a postcard from 1913.

I love the laughing babies (above)! The little girl looks so serious.

Above: my favorite, a little Dutch girl with adorable poem that makes you sound native if you read it out loud!
Happy Easter weekend!