Monday, June 30, 2008

Sourdough Success!

After six long weeks, I was able to finally bake off a successful sourdough tonight!

Back in school, when we covered breads, we ran out of time and didn't have a chance to do a sourdough starter. Six weeks ago I asked my chef if I could start one in class and take care of it at home. So I've been feeding it for six weeks now. A week ago I tried to bake one off and didn't have any luck. Turns out I had let the dough rise where there was a draft-- hence, an ugly, dense loaf. This time I set the dough up on top of my fridge so it could catch the steady heat of the appliance. And it worked! It's still too hot to cut, and not as high as I had hoped, but it is definitely an improvement! And oh! The taste! I had a nibble of the piece that broke off when I tried to dislodge it from the hot stone. It has that sweet, sour taste I love. I plan on keeping this starter going-- hopefully it will last until I get a bake shop someday!

I'm so excited. :)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Etsy Front Page!

I just found out the treasury I created on Friday afternoon made the front page of Etsy! This is the first time that ever happened! Sweet! :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mark Your Calendars!


I will be at this event selling my wares. Stop by and say hello! :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New sun catchers

I'm starting to upload listings in my shop for new sun catchers. One of my favorite ones so far (and I made a variation of this one for my car as well) is the fairy wing crystal prism. This is a crystal with an Aurora Borealis finish, which gives it that gorgeous pink, gold and sometimes blue glow. The one listed in the shop has a beach theme, with black shell beads and stone chips to compliment it.

Speaking of the beach, that seems to be where my mind is these days... so no interview for this week!

Now if I could just get to the beach...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We interrupt this posting...

... to lament my poor car! I finally made my way to Harvest Beads & Silver up in Manchester, Connecticut this past weekend when my car took a beating from a dump truck. In addition to two dents on my hood, a rock slammed into the passenger side of my car's windshield. I wasn't able to get a license plate, since the plate seemed to be mounted higher than usual and covered in dirt and grime. By the time I got close to him to *possibly* find a DOT number, he swerved off on the exit for Hartford.


So that will be a costly repair. I was surprised by the glass inside the car. Luckily the car didn't leak when we had a torrential downpour last night, and the windshield will be getting repaired tomorrow.

But... on to more *happier* thoughts, the trip to the bead store really was beneficial and I found some interesting beads to create new sun catchers with. I have some new ying yang inspired beads, as well as agate slices-- can't wait to create something new with those! :)

(Trying to find my silver lining here...)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Interview with Jenny Flanders Estep

You've probably seen Jenny Flanders Estep's work on the front page of Etsy numerous times. It's no surprise, since her striking nature photography is often selected for treasuries. She's an active member of Photographers of Etsy, and this week's interview! I love to check out her shop, and I hope you will, too!

Jen: In your profile, you say you are a recovering engineer. How do you feel your career choice influences your photography?

Jenny: After years of working with numbers, I felt a strong need to reconnect with my creative side. When I started to get serious about photography as an artistic pursuit, I showed a friend some of my pictures, and she commented on their geometry. I hadn't realized that was such a big aspect of my work, but it makes sense, considering my background. When I pick up my camera, my eye seems to search out patterns and details. Photography has changed the way I look at the world, and I hope I can help others see things differently too, especially the little things they make take for granted.

Jen: How did you decide to concentrate on photographing flowers?

Jenny: Well, flowers have the characteristics I mentioned above (geometry, details, and patterns), plus the added bonus of bright colors that catch my attention! But I would say I concentrate on nature as a whole rather than just flowers. I love the abstract quality a flower or plant can take on when you capture it with a macro lens. I'm fortunate to live in Seattle, a place with amazing botanical diversity, and I snap many of my photos while I'm out walking around my neighborhood. I also spend quite a bit of time in Central Washington, an area rich in fruit orchards and vineyards.

I do have a second shop on Etsy for images that don't really fit with my nature shots -- I refer to them as photos with evidence of humans.

Jen: Is photography your "day" job or something you do on the side?

Jenny: Photography is something I do on the side. My day job is mothering two wonderful little boys, 4-1/2 and 3. After focusing on them for several years, I was ready to do a little something for myself, and photography has fit the bill. To be honest, I still struggle with finding the proper balance. Etsy is my first foray into selling my photos, but I hope to expand my business gradually.

Jen: How did you discover Etsy?

Jenny: About a year ago I was out to dinner with some friends. One of them was asked where she got her earrings, and she mentioned Etsy as a great place to buy jewelry, art, etc. I opened an account about a week later, and it took me another week or two to work up the courage to start listing my photos.

Jen: Do you have any advice for other photographers or Etsians?

Jenny: I think it's important to stay true to yourself and your particular style. Beyond that, I think I'll leave the advice to the professionals!

Check out more of Jenny's work in her Etsy shop:

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Interview with Rosemarie Brown

One thing I absolutely love is horse photography. With their large, innocent eyes, horses seem to be one of the most endearing animals to photograph. It was this feature that attracted me to Rosemarie Brown's Etsy shop. Of course, there are many other beautiful photographs that Rosemarie has taken. This week's interview features her photography.

Jen: Your shop has many still life portraits. Tell me more about why you choose the subjects you do.

Rosemarie: Last year I participated in a “Picture Safari” sponsored by a local gallery. On one of the days, my niece, who was visiting and is also passionate about photography, accompanied me. We wandered through a historic brick mansion that had seen better days and the surrounding working ranch land, orchards, and gardens, taking photos, petting the animals, laughing and chatting. At one point, as I was shooting a close up of the exquisite color and texture of the walnut shell mulch the owners had used in their rose garden, my niece asked me a similar question: “How do you decide what to photograph?” I didn’t have a good answer for her and I don’t have a good answer for you! Something catches my eye – light, a shadow, a line, a curve, a color, an incongruity – something – and my heart beats faster. I don’t consciously choose a subject. The few times I have tried to search out and photograph something in particular, I have failed. I photograph what speaks to me and what touches my soul in some way. Every photo is personal. Every photo has meaning. Every photo is more than just the subject. At least to me.

Jen: The animals you photograph always seem to convey a story. Are there any stories you would like to share, or talk about the way you photograph your animal subjects?

Rosemarie: The animals…at every show and exhibit I have done, the animal photographs are by far the ones that are responded to most powerfully. I have one photo – “Louie” – of a white cat peering through a screen. I have had more people ask me where I have taken that photo, questioning if it is their cat! I agree with you, every one of my animal photographs conveys a story. But the story is not mine, it is theirs. I am just the conduit, the channel, the tool. The animals who allow me to photograph them have something to say. What that message is…only the person responding to the photograph really knows.

Animals are such a powerful and beneficent presence on this planet – so often misunderstood, so often taken for granted, so often mistreated. For me, they have been and are my daily salvation and connection to Life. It is a long story how it came about but around eight years ago I reconnected with my ability to communicate with animals. It is not a gift. I am nothing special. I truly believe communicating with animals is something everyone can do. There are many reasons why they don’t, but everyone can. At one time I practiced as an animal communicator. Although I no longer perform that role, my photography quite often incorporates and sometimes requires that level of communication. I see an animal, the question is immediate, “May I photograph you?” If it is yes, I just shoot and shoot and shoot – whatever draws my eye. Sometimes there will not be one usable photograph. Those times the message is for me alone. Just having spent time with that animal has healed something in me, reminded me, reconnected me. Usually there will be one photo that is far and above superior to the rest. That is the one with the message. That is the one I print. That is the one I share.

Jen: Is photography your "day" job or something you do on the side?

Rosemarie: Prior to the birth of my daughter, photography was my chosen profession. I am educated as an architectural engineer and while the work was interesting and easy for me, I quickly learned engineering did not feed my soul. In addition, about 15 years ago I became very ill and went through a loooooong recovery. The result is that I am not able to hold a regular 40-hour-a week job. While searching for something I could “do with my life,” something I could manage physically, and hopefully had a passion for, I had a pet-sitting business, practiced animal communication, practiced Reiki, was the office assistant for the leader in the animal communication field, and did a few other things. I have always had a camera but never considered being a photographer until, on a whim, I participated in an all-photography show. Watching other people respond to my photos was and continues to be an incredibly satisfying and profound experience for me. From that show forward, I have devoted my energy to creating and sharing and hopefully selling my photographs.

These days, my “day” job is essentially caring for my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, my cats, our home, and my daughter’s father – in that order! Photography takes a distant back seat to all the other responsibilities in my life. I rarely have the opportunity to just go out and shoot when I feel like it. And the times with the best light – morning and evening – are occupied by my daughter. I still consider myself a photographer, but these days, my photography is predominantly of things that are around me when I happen to have my camera with me and a minute or two to shoot. And then it is usually months before I have the time to process and print what I photograph. My style of photography has always been spontaneous and utilized natural light. I have never orchestrated a photograph or arranged my subjects. Lately, because of time constraints and because of the incredible photographers on Etsy who inspire me, I have been considering trying still life photography. The whole idea of setting up a photograph and lighting is alien to the way I have always operated. It will be a challenge.

Jen: How did you discover Etsy?

Rosemarie: I belong to a local mother’s club that has a Yahoo board. One day last autumn, a mom was looking for baby’s soft-soled shoes and someone suggested she try Etsy. I had never heard of Etsy but I LOVE to shop and checked it out. I thought I had discovered Heaven on Earth. What a unique and incredible concept to have an international marketplace where any artist or artisan could sell their wares! I signed up immediately and started shopping. I love art and am an avid collector and when my purchases started arriving at my door, I quickly realized I had better start making some more money to feed my new Etsy addiction!

When I signed up with Etsy, I never considered being a seller. Prior to the birth of my daughter, I sold my photos primarily through art shows, exhibits, and galleries. Since her birth, I don’t have the time to do so. Plus, we moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to a rural area in Northern California where the opportunities to display and sell art and photography are very limited. When I started really looking at the photography on Etsy, I thought this might be my answer. I opened my shop at the end of January. Time has shown, while Etsy is an amazing place and community, selling there is not as easy as I had thought. It requires an incredible amount of time for marketing and promotion that unfortunately I don’t have. Still, I love Etsy. It is my first and favorite choice for all my shopping. And maintaining a shop there is so easy, I expect I will always be a part of it.

Jen: What is your favorite feature of Etsy?

Rosemarie: How could I choose just one! I truly love Etsy. The website is so beautifully designed it is a pleasure to visit it. There aren’t any flashing lights or gaudy color schemes. There is a simplicity and cleanness about the site that I find very attractive. You can go into any shop and discover the personality of the artist and their creations without having to figure out how everything works because it is the same in every shop. I admit I rarely use most of the features on Etsy. I pop into the forums occasionally but rarely participate. The few times I have, I have had my heart and ego crushed. So I generally stay away! I love the treasuries though it is impossible to go through every one. I have found some incredible artists and shops through the treasuries. Generally I just search for what I am interested in. I have been shopping there for a while and have quite an extensive favorites list! I live very quietly and while I use the Internet often, I am not really all that Internet savvy. I have learned so much about business online and discovered sites and assistance all through Etsy that I would probably never have discovered on my own. Etsy is an incredible marketplace and wonderful community. It has become a very important and dear part of my life.

To see more of Rosemarie's work, visit her Etsy shop:

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Interview with Ms. Ninnerfish

This week's interview features Melyssa from Ninnerfish Art. Melyssa is a gifted artist who does custom pet portraits on Etsy. (I've already gotten two!) She also has a wide selection of ACEOs for sale as well. I love her style, which is a blend of realism complemented by a pop-arty feel (yes, I do believe I just made up that art description!). Without further ado, let's get on to the good stuff!

Jen: After studying to become an artist, how did you decide to concentrate on animal portraits?

Melyssa: Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted to be a vet. In fact, my original plan was to major in Zoology in undergrad and go immediately on to vet school (and get out of Ohio once and for all). Miami University (of Ohio) was the only in state school I applied to and my high school art teacher persuaded me to send them a portfolio of my artwork. I got a call from them one day offering me a full-tuition scholarship to major in art and my parents pretty much told me, "You're going to Miami and you're going to major in art." I think I'm probably one of the only art students out there whose parents were excited about their major! I guess that's kind of a long-winded prelude to answering your question. I paint animals now because they've always been a major part of my life and painting them is kind of a bridge in between the two worlds (art and zoology) for me.

Jen: How do you balance your "day" job with your portrait business?

Melyssa: My day job right now consists of going to school five days a week (I went back to get that Zoology degree I always wanted) and working at a vet clinic as a tech a few hours a week. It gets pretty stressful, so painting is a great way to unwind and turn off my brain for a few hours. You can always tell when I haven't had time to paint because my class notes become less about recording the lecture and more about doodling. I'm also really bad at finishing things if I don't have a deadline looming over my head. I hardly ever finish a painting that I do for myself, but if I'm painting for somebody else, and they've given me the money, and I've told them "I'll have this to you in 6 weeks," then I'm committed to getting it done and doing it right. I need that kind of pressure.

Jen: What is your favorite medium to work with? Why?

Melyssa: I paint mostly with acrylics now, because they're so easy to clean up and there's no need to keep a jar of dirty turpentine around, but oils are my absolute favorite medium. They have a luminosity that you just can't get with anything else. And that smell... mmmm.

Jen: What is a Ninnerfish? Tell us the story behind your shop name. :)

Melyssa: I honestly have no idea what a ninnerfish is. For some reason, my little sister started calling me that back when we were kids (I call her "Loafy"). She even commandeered the SportsCenter theme song for me, singing "ninnerfish. ninnerfish." when their intro comes on. I told her jokingly a few years ago that if I ever got my own business, I'd name it Ninnerfish. I had to keep the promise. It kind of suits me.

Jen: How did you discover Etsy?

Melyssa: I belong to an internet group of artists that trades ATCs (artist trading cards) and one of the members mentioned Etsy. I'd had my own website before, but was only making sales sporadically, and Ebay scares me, so it seemed like a great fit. I listed a painting I'd had laying around for awhile and it sold the first night. That's how I got hooked. Oh, Etsy, my drug of choice!

To see more of Melyssa's work, visit her Etsy shop:

Buy Handmade