How to turn the proverbial “lemon” into Limoncello….

We have all had those time pop up in our lives.  Times where no matter how hard you try to move forward, things just keep popping up that create a backwards slide.  It’s at these times, we generally have two choices.  We can choose to wallow in our misfortune; to bemoan the fact that our car died, that our hours at work were cut, AND and unexpected trip to the doctor all popped up at the same time.  Or we can pull up our big girl panties and realize that our car will now get better gas millage, we get more time to enjoy with our children, and our family is now healthy and happy. Yes, at these times it may seem over whelming but each and every day it gets a little easier until we look back and say “what was I truly stressing about?”

Each time this happens in my life, I admit I succumb to those dark moments of grief and regret but I also realize these moments are getting shorter and less dramatic.  Age has it’s perks.

So one of the perks of learning from the past is planning the future.  I have decided to follow a dream.   Each day I take one step closer, sometimes it’s baby steps other times I feel like a Kangaroo.  At this moment and time I feel like a hibernating Zombie toad, waiting for the warm rains to stimulate some movement.   There have been alot of recent obstacles popping up that need to be overcome.  The latest in my line of “what now’s?’ is this:

Compounding patchwork... computers should not be quils.

Compounding patchwork… computers should not be quilts.

My primary work station, the one I am delicately writing this little dialogue on, has lost it’s ability to open-close-even stay upright.  It’s one of those wonderful malfunctions that can not be fixed…  The screen of my laptop completely snapped off and is no longer attached to the base… it’s a 5 year old computer and is still running like a champ.   Luckily my absolutely wonderful husband rigged up this snazzy “cast” for my computer.  A wooden base to prop the screen up, complete with a little bit of Sugru and a rubber-band to keep the screen from falling forward quickly (my poor fingers sometimes get caught).

Now my husband is a master at building computers, but pre-fab laptops were not meant to be “fixed”.  He has put together a list of the parts he needs in order to build me a fully functioning desk top, that will not only allow me to expand my photography hobby- but will also allow me to have the ability to set up my own web store front!  I AM SO EXCITED!  I have been designing my web store front in my head for years, and I finally get the chance to do it.

Here’s the hitch(es):  Hours were cut back at my full time job AND we are in the slow season for etsy sales.   Among other things…

Here’s the solution:  I have yards and yards and yards of awesome, amazing, unique, colorful, and completely-ready-to-be-made-into-custom-awesomeness fabric and supplies.  AND at the beginning of august I have 1 full week off of my full time job.  You ask, so what does this mean?  If you would like to help me make my goal of getting a new computer built for my business, by my wonderful husband of course, and stock up your swag bags for the upcoming holiday seasons at the same time, this is for you:

  1. first: contact me to discuss what you would like to have made, it can be an existing design or a custom one.
  2. select fabrics from existing stock
  3. expect your item to ship by 8/11/13
  4. RECEIVE 35% off the price.

* as an extra perk if you order an outfit including a piece made from our wonderful ruffle fabric, receive an extra 10% off that ruffle item.

All items will ship first class, unless priority shipping is cheaper.

This discount is not available for orders through etsy, unless you would like to use a credit card (prearranged custom listings only).  All orders will be done via email,  payment with a paypal invoice.  Our email is ursulaglassgoddess@gmail.com.

Please contact me today to get your order started!  And thank you for helping us reach one of our goals!!!

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How did you do that?

I love to share knowledge, give out little hints and tips to those who ask.  Recently I have had multiple emails asking how do I make all my up cycled items look amazingly new?

Up cycled clothing, items, and toys are a joy to make and a perfect addition to any household.  Contrary to popular belief, they do not need to look used, worn out, have holes, or stains to be up cycled     The point of up cycling is to give used items new life, not just reuse them.

First step:  Find some thing YOU LIKE, that draws your eye.  If you don’t like it why would anyone else?

Second step:  clean it, wash it, dry it, repair it (is there bead work that’s loose? fix it)

Third step: when possible cut along side the seams to get flat pieces of fabric.  If you cut along the seams this gives the edges of the fabric a smooth, unpuckered edge.  All industrial sewing machines cause visible needle holes in the fabric… not attractive.

If you are reconstructing an item using most of the original seams, such as jeans into a jean skirt, this is a good time to use a seam ripper instead of cutting the fabric. Just sew along the original seam holes when possible.

When reusing lace, avoid ripping the seam.  Just cut the fabric that it is attached to as close to the lace as possible.  If it is a large piece of lace (an adult bodice for example), try to use it as a full flat piece work with the existing seams instead of reinventing the wheel.

Fourth step: IRON YOUR FABRIC.  This step does two things for you; first it gives you a smooth field to work with and secondly it tells you if the former owner smoked.  No matter how many times you wash it, if you add heat to the fabric the smell of cigarette smoke will always be present.  If you are marketing your item as *smoke free*, this is a very important step.

Fifth step: when ever possible work your pattern pieces to exclude holes or worn spots in the fabric…. just turn those parts into rags.

Sixth and the most important, least known step:  Starch. Simple. As. That.

Either before or after you construct an item using your up cycled fabric, starch it.  (1 part clothing starch to approximately 5 parts water)  No biggie.  Use a fine spray and iron dry.  This helps the fabric hold it’s smoothness through shipping and wearing.

Now If you don’t want to use starch (allergies, or for newborns), use vinegar water when ironing.  The vinegar smell goes away as soon as the water has evaporated while ironing.

Viola, that’s how I do it.   The picture below is of the latest set of adult wings I have constructed, on the right hand side over-lapping the rows is the description of what each layer is.  Do they look up cycled to you? Or just plain beautiful?

partsofawing

Parts of a wing

Upcyled, recycled, brand spankin' new wings.

The times, they are a’changing.

adult wing set

Play time

It is always in those moments of deep stress, self doubt, loss, or adversity that people look for support in silly little idioms.   We’ve all heard them, and when times are going great we snort with derision.  But when it is our time to make it through the trough in life’s waves, they stand out.  Everyone has been told:  “the greatest journey, started with a single step” or “where one door closes, another one opens” or my *favorite* “Just let go, the universe has a plan for you”.  Seriously?  Do you honestly think the universe really gives a crap whether or not I am alive, let alone if I can pay my cable bill? Get my car fixed?  I am sorry but that is just a tad too egocentric for my tastes.   In my short life, patterns have become apparent.  As fully functioning adults we need to embrace the patterns and work with them.

With the birth of our daughter, not only did we become an amazing family, but she also gave me an outlet for my artistic creativity.  I have always loved making things, I believe that everyone is unique and has the right to express who they are.  I do it through my craft. I especially enjoy taking old items, I call them “finds”, dismantling them and giving them new life. Either as a toy, an accessory,  a household item, or even clothing.   Since my youth I always collected these “finds”, even today I have pieces I collected years ago… still waiting for their ultimate purpose!

The amazing thing is, there were people who loved my designs (especially those I made for my daughter) so much that they bought them.  Lots of them!  Of course this has added to the  inspiration.

As my daughter grows (we are now into year 2) she continues to inspire the items I focus on.  Does she like to play with cars? or is she more interested in silk scarves?  What is she choosing to wear?  What catches her eye?  Well, for right now there is no absolute answer to those questions.  She will put the silk scarves on her hot wheels and push them around the floor, or she will have 5 socks on one foot, a headband around her neck… and nothing else.  She will crawl into my fabric stashes and pull everything out, just to bury herself in the softness.  But one thing for sure, if I make it for someone else, she wants it.

But times are changing in our household.  We grow and expand, we all learn and move onto bigger and greater things.  Recently I was asked, “if no one bought a single thing more from you… would you still continue to make things? new designs?”  My clear and instant response is “emphatically, totally,  and undeniably: YES”.  I made things long before anyone considered to trade or purchase them from me, and I will be here long after my shop closes.  (Granted I hope that this is a long way off!)

DrossinMethod

Cyprus Dreams

I do not craft my art with intent to sell, I do not redesign to fill the shelves.  I construct works of beauty, because that is what I do.

I love the challenge.

I believe in expressing myself.

And I know there are other people out there that have the same aesthetics as I do.

I do not want to become the next one hit wonder, I do not want retail stores across the world.  What I love most is the pictures sent of other little boys and girls happily playing or wearing my designs.  I love having friends, family, and even complete strangers send me stuff and ask me “what can you make for me?”

So yes, times are a changing.  A few big changes in our household will effect my ability to turn items out at a quick rate.  But I know, those who love my work will understand that what they get is well made, from quality materials, and unlike what you find elsewhere.  Even if for the foreseeable future it will take a little longer.

You see, I accepted a new full time job.  Our daughter will be going to school with her father.  The studio will be a footnote in our lives for the time being.   But this also means that my need for an artistic outlet will be in even greater need.  So I hope you will enjoy all the new changes to my Etsy shop and facebook fan page, and will enjoy all the new designs that flow from my head into reality!  Even if they take a little longer to make an appearance.

Sad Birdie

Sad Birdie

The times are a’changing, and we are looking towards these new adventures with open arms!

art appreciation

This last May, my dear husband presented me with the most unique, incredibly beautiful, and mystifying birthday present.  A girl will never complain when she is presented a stone that is 449.4 carats, a deep green, and sparkles like crazy.   But there was only one problem, it’s not an easy stone to wear… Unless you get to wear a coronet all the time.  I mean seriously, can you imagine this around your neck, let alone your finger?

So after much ooh-ing and awing, this little beauty shunted it’s way around my studio work table and eventually started to collect dust on the bookshelf- top shelf to be exact.  I kept looking for fun settings, a bracelet, a pendant, or possibly a staff topper, to no avail.  So for a couple of months, unfortunately- it became forgotten.

Recently I was searching around Etsy.com for some supplies,  ironically  probably for something benign- like bais tape or some such, and I came across this fun little artists shop that specializes in Fimo Clay sculptures: Clay by Kim.  As I was scrolling through her pictures,  intrigued to delve deeper into her shop further, I came across mermaids, fairies, and DRAGONS.  SQUEEEEEEEEE! I was in heaven.  After searching through all her sales listings I started snooping into her sold items.   I came across this fun OOAK listing for a dragon wrapped around a stone. HA-HA!

I did not hesitate- I dropped her a note.

Not to bore you with the details, all I can say is that after 15 messages back and forth… all in an incredibly timely manner… I am the proud mama of my very own little dragon “Lucia Bella”.

I know there are lots of artists out there that specialize in Fimo, each one has their strengths and talents.  But if you are looking for the fanciful, with incredible attention to detail, and amazing personalization I highly recommend talking with Kim.  Even if it’s not listed in her shop, she will happily make it happen for you…

Hello, and Howdie-do

Sorry it’s been a tad bit of time since I last graced the pages of Valkyries Rest, let’s just say things have been happening and has left little time for blogging.  But as a “second half of the year” revised goal, I have decided to pick up the proverbial quill and jot down some of the joy and happenings!

So while we are on the subject of goals.  Do YOU set yearly goals?  What do you do once you’ve reached them?  Every new year, by the end of January I decide on a minimum of 5 yearly goals- personal and professional; write them down and tape them to the back of the calendar.  Then on New Years I open them back up and review.  Well this year, I have had to revise those goals, because 4- out- of- 5 have already been reached.   SOOOOOOO, it’s time for the semi-annual cleanup, so to speak.   And to set broader goals, it seems.

You will notice to the right ————–> of the screen there are a couple new buttons to press.  Go ahead, I know you want to, Press them… this post will be here when you return.

Buttons pressed? good, welcome back.  Those are my TWO stores for Ursula’s Handmade Treasures! I am so excited.  Granted Etsy has been good to me, and I enjoy their format, but it has become too simple and I’d like to diversify.  What are your thoughts?  I love hearing feedback (especially constructive… I delete negative Nellies) and advice.  I have learned over the last 3 years that networking really does have its benefits, as long as you know how to “weed your garden”.

Okay, enough rambling.  Off to finish some more wings and attempt to put together a sales plan for my upcoming art fair booths (yup, Ursula’s Handmade Treasures is officially making their physical debut in October 2012).  Toodles.

Just a sample of a previous custom order. Awesome huh?!

Fashion Fabrics… now they are in, ooops- now they are out!

So I love finding all kinds of new fabric, stuff I had never tried before, and just want to make something… anything with it!  I am lucky enough to have a well loved hospice resale store close by, this is where I find most of my “vintage” or one-of-a-kind finds, but I admit I do most of my fabric shopping on line.  Granted each and every computer screen has a little different color set up or resolution, so it is very hard to fully trust what you are looking to purchase is good quality.   But through a couple friends, I learned that most of these online stores are more than happy to send  you samples (usually bolt ends or seconds) for a big $ discount, samples that you can actually experiment with.

But I am going to let you in on a little secret, your best asset is your network.  Most small seamstress businesses are more than happy to share their thoughts on a particular fabric, or even better yet a great source!  I love it when someone gives me a “lead”, even though 90% of the time it is a dud.

This brings me to my point.  When we found out we were pregnant, there were many decisions to make.  Luckily we were both in agreement that she would be cloth diapered.  Not only is it truly cheaper, and incredibly easier than disposables but it also is good for our daughters health and the environment!  So I went looking for supplies, at that time none of the big box stores carried any of the items I needed.  I came across a couple COOP and bulk buy Mom’s blogs, but ended up getting my FOE (fold over elastic) and industrial sew on velcro off of Amazon.com.  The PUL (Polyurethane Laminate fabric), which is waterproof and incredibly durable was a little harder to find… but I lucked out. I used a little secret: go to the clearance section.    PUL, which normally goes for 8-15$ a yard online, can be found for $2.50-4 if you can handle a non-popular color… I ended up with a light silver and a peach.  If you want to have a fashion PUL, you can use it on one side and the cheaper on the inside.  Easy peasy.

Recently I was tipped off that Joann’s fabrics had started a whole “cloth diaper” section, complete with patterns and matching FOE!  So cute.  Until I saw the price.  WHOOOOO  they are banking in on the home movement to cloth diaper!   For $15 a yard you can get PUL with dinosaurs printed on it, matching FOE for an additional $7 for 3 feet,  Velcro for an additional $3.5 for 2 feet, and if you want to use snaps instead you can get the set up for $12 + $5 for refills.   One diaper cover comes out to approximately $25…. for a do it your self!  OMG’s   THIS DOES NOT EVEN INCLUDE THE ABSORBENT INSERTS. This is just for the cover!

Would you like to know some good, reliable, suppliers for diaper cover materials?  Fabric.com (they have a whole section just type in “cloth diaper”), amazon.com, hartsfabric.com.

Secondly, fabric comes and goes out of fashion, we all know this.  Look at corduroy, was in in the 70’s back in the 90’s and now making a resurgence.  All the classics make the cycle.  This last year, when I was looking to make some fun Bellydance outfits, I went looking EVERYWHERE for stretch ruffle knit!  Do you know that in September 2010 there were only 3 American suppliers of the stuff (that was not back shelf clearance)?  One was rufflefabric.com, fabric.com, and of course MOOD in New York (but they have flippen everything!).    Even then, the color selection was increadibly minimal.

Recently ruffle fabric walked the catwalk at New York Fashion week, bringing back the fun that had been around years ago.  Now you can find ruffle stretch knit fabric everywhere… even saw a dress design at K-mart.   Super cute!

The problem?  Ruffle fabric is not cheap.

I walked into Joann’s today and guess what I found?  Ruffle knit fabric, the project runway name brand.  They have a few colors, mainly for Halloween.  I picked it up and tested the material, MY FINGER WHEN THROUGH IT!!!  The best part, they are charging the same price for this crappy material as the higher end suppliers!  Another attempt at banking in on the latest fad.  I have already warned many prospective clients against fabric.com and hartsfabric.com as a good supply for ruffle fabric.  I have purchased lengths from them and have not been happy with the quality.  Now I am adding in Joann’s and Hobby Lobby.  If you really would like to play with this material, stop off at rufflefabric.com.  Not only do they have great customer service, but they have high quality material.

I am looking forward to some of the more natural fabrics to come back into vogue, even though I do already have some good suppliers for hemp-silk, bamboo, and wool fabrics.  I just look forward to when these are sought after again by the average consumer.    BTW these good suppliers are hemptraders.com, dharmatradingco.com, and ecofabrics.com.

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Last thing to note and this is pure semantics.  When an abbreviation is used, it is not pronounced out as a word.  ie:  USA is not “uh-sah”, PUL is not “pull”,  FOE is not “foe”, SCA is not “skah”, and NAOH is not “no-ahh”.    So when you go to the store and ask for PUL, FOE, or silk for your SCA outfit please keep this in mind….