Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat..."


Holiday-themed hair flower!  Similar to the one donated to the HAWT HAWAIIAN GIVEAWAY. 

Hey, maybe I should have a giveaway!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cyber Monday --- really?



According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, "Cyber Monday Sales Rose 5%" (also the name of the article). 

However, they also said this:

The surge in online shopping hasn't lifted all sites equally. Experian PLC's Hitwise says that traffic to the top 500 retail Web sites was down 9% Nov. 30 compared with last year's Cyber Monday, as shoppers shifted their browsing to larger retailers.

Sad!  Give your loved ones handmade gifts with integrity! 

Unfortunately, my little souk saw not one sale on Cyber Monday.  :~(

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wedding earrings for Mum!


Oh la la!  I finished a few more earrings for my maids and Mum -- all in the calla lily theme with bronze, teal, peach, and berry as our colors. 

I also tried out a new font for my watermark, but I think it is a little bit too spooky!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Knitting quotes

The only place where housework comes before [knitting] is in the dictionary. ~Mary Kurtz

Really I don't dislike to cook, but what you cook is eaten so quickly. When you [knit], you have something that will last to show for your efforts. ~Elizabeth Travis Johnson

Knitting Club

Fascilitating a knitting club meeting in a high school is a bit like juggling with tangled yarn balls that you're trying to keep in the air all at once!  It is challenging to do well, but once you hit your rhythm... you're set for a while. 

Today, we had a new knitting club member.  I taught her how to cast on and do the basic knit stitch, and then she sat on the couch in my classroom in concentrated silence.  My other club members, two quiet, shy girls, were sitting on adjacent couches, absorbed in their projects.  The only sound in the room was the soft hissing of yarn friction and the occasional "tink" of needles touching.  You could have cut the air with a knife - it was like these young women were taking an exam! 

Once our new member was set to continue on her own for a while, I went to get my newest project - an alpaca neckwarmer for my dad for Xmas.  It is gorgeous yarn that I found in Spooner when I was visiting my parents up there last weekend.  I am just knitting  him a "turtle neck" in the round with a knit 5 purl 5 design for thick, sumptuous ribbing.  I sat down in my classroom chair and started casting on for my project, when I realized how incredibly soft the black yarn was!  I just had to share it! 

I broke the icy silence in the room by taking around my alpaca yarn to show the eager knitters.  They oohed and ahhed at its equisiteness, and then they started to share ideas about their projects.  I asked them about gifts this year for the holidays - bringing up my yearly pledge to make all my gifts.  Pretty soon a conversation and brainstorming session was going about what we should make our families for the holiday season.  It was truly a successful "stitch and bitch" session if I do say so myself.  ;)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bonding with the boyfriend's mom

Crocheting was my second foray into fabric arts - my first inspirations actually came as a 4 year old when I started making wrapped and sewn Xmas ornaments out of felt and colored string.  :)  So, it came as no surprise that I was pretty advanced for a 2nd grader when I took the "Learn to Crochet" summer school class.  Too young to take the class I really wanted to - baton twirling - I satisfied my summer hunger for knowledge (and getting out of the house during the afternoon) with a crocheting class of little girls in summer clothes.  We each brought a bag of cotton yarn, which, over the course of a week, we learned to crochet into square pot holders.  Every afternoon we sat together in the back of an elementary school classroom with little sea green industrial school-chairs rounded up around our instructor, a retired school-teacher herself.  Mrs. Ninas was a wizened, wrinkly woman with big thick fingers that could move yarn in deft, swift motions as she talked.  I remember thinking that her lips and body were puffy and her skin was a translucent shade of pink that comes from sitting in a dark den knitting, rather than stretching your legs in the warm summer sunlight outside.

Despite my critical assessment of Mrs. Ninas' physique, I really loved learning to crochet from her.  She was warm and patient, the way you want your grandmother to be, and she would tirelessly help us unknot, restart, and just generally fix our projects for us.  In fact, I liked crocheting class so much that I took it again the following summer, rather than baton twirling.  That summer we were each supplied with a plastic shopping bag full of 3 skeins of yarn in watermelon colors, which were to become... you guessed it - little square watermelon potholders.

At the end of this second week of crocheting camp, I still hadn't finished my potholder.  The watermelon design proved difficult for me to follow, and the class culminated on Friday afternoon with me dumping the white plastic bag into a laundry basket full of old dress up clothes in the bottom of my closet.  "Watermelon potholders are dumb," I thought with disdain as I tossed my half finished project into the basket.  "In the hot summer, which is when you'd use a watermelon-themed item, don't you eat cold foods anyway?" I wondered.

I remember how sad I was when I heard that Mrs. Ninas died a few summers later.  Perhaps it was her warm puffiness, or her patience with my unfinished potholder, but I was really sad that we never crocheted together after that class.  I guess it didn't occur to me that she probably didn't "hang out" with little girls from her crocheting classes, especially ones who'd rather be outdoors than in a dark den crocheting pointless potholders.  When I heard about her death, I knew it was final.  My fingers couldn't recreate those once-familiar patterns of movement to crochet.  Although I'd tried to pick up the project from my closet a few times, when I hear about her death, I knew my crocheting career was over.  I threw the unfinished, pointless potholder away.
But lately I've had the strangest urge to learn how to crochet again.  Today I saw these adorable purses online, and I thought -- hey, they're the same shape as the potholders!  :)

I realized then that I have a new crocheting partner - Jase's Mom.  I've been really wanting to bond with her over fabric arts anyway - we're both knitters, but she also crochets these beautiful blankets.  It will be a perfect bonding opportunity!

Have a little help from my friends...


Although I was proud of being a ONE-WOMAN-MACHINE - doing all the financial investing, designing, creating, photographing, modeling, and listing of my creations - all by myself, I finally had to ask for a little help from my friends. 

Paula White, a dance student of mine, offered to come over to my apartment to take some photos of my goods.  It ended up being a very successful afternoon! 

This is one of the photos that Paula took of me in one of my new fascinators.

I was so pleased with the photos of my work that I recruited a few friends to model my fascinators at the dance studio this weekend.  Although we didn't have the gorgeous late afternoon light that Paula and I worked with (on my balconey), I think I got some beautiful shots of the flowers in different hair.  Specifically, I recruited Kelly and Ra, who have very beautiful and unique hair.


I'll post pics when I manage to get them off of my camera...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Marvelous Musings


I've learned that I really like Ranunculus!  I think it looks nice with the pearls and beads nestled into the petals - like a delicate bird's nest.

I ordered some tiny white ranunculus flowers online from afloral.com, and I was very pleased with them!  They are like these tiny bells, just waiting to be filled with white pearls, shells, and glass beads.  I think I shall use these to create my bridal hair piece, which I've been working on designing for about 4 months now.  So far, I know that I want to have two flowers - one at each temple - that hold my hair back and hold up a silver chain circlet, which I think I found the perfect bead for!  I ordered everything on etsy.com this week, and I'll surely have many new ideas once I see the actual beads.

Fantasize



Doesn't it look like my fascinator is actually a fancy thought bubble sprouting from my temple?  I love it!  I decided to call this one fantasize because it reminds me of a beautiful thought bubble.  :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Etsy


SUNBEAM

"Buttercups in the sunshine look like little cups of gold.
Perhaps the Faeries come to drink the raindrops that they hold."
~ Elizabeth T. Dillingham, A Faery Song


SUNBEAM has a striking yellow silk flower filled glass beads and fresh water pearls twisted on thin wire and nestled into the petals - just like fairy raindrops!  :)

I was quite proud of how this listing turned out, don't you agree?

Blue

"Blue
Oh, so lonesome for you
Why can't you be blue over me?
Blue
Oh, so lonesome for you
Tears fill my eyes 'till I can't see"
~ Patsy Cline



This luminescent blue necklace reflects light differently indoors and out! The striking black-wire-wrapped blue glass heart pendant looks navy blue when seen indoors or in the shade. However, when direct sunlight hits it, a striking brilliant blue is revealed!  The blue glass beads on the necklace react the opposite way to light - looking duller in sunlight and iridescent in shade or indoor light.

I ADORE this set...  I'm not even sure if I can sell it, but admittedly I need the money --- not to mention that I have a lot of blue jewelry already. 

Re-energized


Seeing Sasha bask in much-missed sunlight this morning, I got inspired to take some photos of my new jewelry line - WHIMSY - outdoors.  Beautiful!  The warm, bright morning sunlight brought out new elements in my work that I couldn't capture with the camera otherwise. 

Not to mention how re-energizing it was for me to get outside again!  I think I'm going to make time to walk to work this morning, rather than taking my car and rushing about as usual.  :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wedding set

I'm so excited!  I finally decided on a design for my bridesmaids' earrings for my wedding set that will be a gift to them.  I am using materials I love, and if I have left overs, I plan to make a few things to sell in my souk.  I know my mom will want a set too... what about Jase's mom?  I wonder if she'll want some earrings to match the bridal party?  I bet she will. 


I just purchased the materials from etsy sellers this morning, after a long night spent shopping, drawing plans, and comparing prices online.  I decided on a calla lily theme, using these beads as the "center piece" of the design.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tramps and Thieves...


I've really enjoyed the custom orders for wedding flower sets that I've gotten this fall.  It is so fun to collaborate with a bride who's coming up with color combinations, flower ideas, and a vision of what she wants her "big day" to look like.  The brides I've worked with have been sweetly excited about their flowers and custom orders.

However, it hasn't been entirely fun and games!  First, one of my packages of supplies for a wedding in January was stolen from in front of my apartment door.  That's right.  Bad vodoo karma mysticism vibes are coming that thief's way - let me tell you!  The worst thing is that when this foolish thief stole my package, they didn't realize that they were getting lavendar freesia stalks in silk, green ivy, and delicate white lily of the valley bushes...! Geez.  What are they even going to do with that box?!  I wish they'd just give it back to me.

Unfortunately when I complained to management, they claimed there was nothing they could do. They have installed cameras in some areas of the buildings, but other than that they can't do anything.  *Hrumph!* 

Tonight I reordered the supplies from the same vendor, but shipped them to my boyfriend's house with hopes that they'd be safer in transit there.  I sent an etsy-convo to the buyer apologizing and giving them a discount on the item they ordered. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Edgar Allen Poe

"Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it 'the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.' The mere imitation, however accurate, of what is in Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of 'Artist.' "
~Edgar Allan Poe

Darker creations of mine:

Darker Still

Bewitching

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wow! Vending is super fun!


After a very busy weekend spent traveling, vending, taking workshops, performing, and then coming back home to Madison again to teach and take a class here, I am exhausted! 

Luckily today I got to sleep in.

I had an amazing time vending at Full Circle Bellydance Festival in Cable, WI at the beautiful and scenic Telemark Lodge

I also got a chance to spend some quality time with my Mom during slow hours in the day while the event attendees were in workshops.  We had a great time setting up my store, having a nice leisurely lunch together, and taking a Raks Assaya (Egyptian cane dancing) workshop from the beautiful and talented Aliayah Sahar, one of the workshop instructors and featured headliner for the event.

Upon returning home, I was happy to discover that I more than paid for my travel, workshops, and expenses by vending.  I'm definitely considering do this again!

PHOTO: Sarah, a bellydancer from Northern WI, modeling her favorite veils in front of my traveling souk.  In addition to my own bellydance wares, I also vended a few hand dyed silk bellydance veils for my friend Vashti.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Here's the Holiday Giveaway I'm a part of:

Artist's Statement

Well, I worked on writing it, and although I'm sure it will not be the FINAL draft (think of all the editions of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass!), this is an introduction...

Welcome to My Souk!

"Souk is Arabic for "Marketplace"

Art - whether danced, sewn, painted, written, knitted, or drawn - is our effort to communicate our fundamental beliefs about the world.

In my art, I want to celebrate the elegant strength of the feminine spirit.

I have a strong love for the frivolously beautiful and the whimsically formed.  I love to find splendor in the unconventional, the everyday, the natural world. 

My Art - hand crafting and dancing - embodies a sense of freedom, vivacity, and wonder that I want to commemorate in all of us.

- Ayperi

Inspirations

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
~Thomas Merton

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.
~Henry Ward Beecher

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.
~Georgia O'Keeffe
 
Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
~Aristotle

The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure.
~Dale Carnegie

The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

Treat a work of art like a prince. Let it speak to you first.
~Arthur Schopenhauer

True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.
~Albert Einstein

Preparations and musings

In working on getting ready for the event this weekend, I'm using some spare time at work to create a flier about myself and my business.  Ultimately, I want it to communicate the preciousness of my work to me... hoping that when people read it, they will understand the inherent value in my pieces. 

I have to admit that I feel a little nervous about vending this weekend.  What if nothing sells?  What if other vendors have similar wares to mine?  What if... what if... what...

Then I remember why I got started doing this in the first place.  I LOVE every single one of my pieces.  I really love to make them.  I spend a lot of money, time, and effort making them, and I do it knowing I may never be compensated fully for the effort.  I suppose my fascinator art is the same as my dance - ultimately, I do it because I just love it. 

I made the rule for myself that every single one of my fascinators should be something that I'd wear myself - so if it never sells, I won't feel the slightest regret keeping it myself.  I would have to say that this is pretty much true! 

Well... off to work on my artist's statement...Here is a new piece I made last night to bring to the festival this weekend.




EMERGING line

I have had some left over teensy, tiny flowers -- you know the little ones that come on a flower stalk that are supposed to look like emerging buds?  I generally deconstruct a silk flower, and recreate it, replacing insides with beads, changing the petal layout, and creating something new, so as far as my normal creations go... those little flowers are useless. 


However, it struck me that they'd look BEAUTIFUL emerging from a bun, french twist, or up-do!  I've decided to call them "EMERGING" and I'm selling them for very inexpensive prices.  I'd like to give them with items sometimes too - because they match other altered flowers in my shop.  I think it would be so beautiful to wear a bun, twist, or up-do with a fascinator on one side and an emerging bud coming out of the other side of the bun, tying the entire hair style together!

I took this picture of them in one of my hand-folded boxes, which I'm planning on stocking up on for this weekend...  so much to do!

A Long Day's Night...



Another long night of crafting...

Tonight I watched "Memoirs of a Geisha" and unintentionally ended up making verdant green, jade, and jeweled pieces. 

Overall, I spent 2-3 hours making more fascinators to get my store fully stocked before my first ever vending experience!  I've vending small amounts of bellydancing trinkets, but never THIS much OOAK items, and I've never sold items that I've been so personally and artistically invested in. 


This is one of the items--one that I actually made with my mom in mind.  She'll be at the event helping me vend, and it will be really nice to spend time with her.  The green and crystal centerpiece is actually a vintage earring from my grandma's costume jewelry.  I know my mom's going to love it.  :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Artist's Statement?!

Today I got the nicest message from a buyer! She told me that she loved my work and she's giving it to her sister-in-law-to-be on her big day. She also asked me to include in the package an "Artist's Statement" about my work. When I saw it... I was like... Uhhhh, What? An Artist's Statement is something that goes on the wall of a gallery... I don't even have a business card! :P

But then I googled "Artist's Statement," and luckily Molly Gordon's site (linked to title) saved my day. I'm currently working on it, and I'll post drafts as they come.

Finally!


I've never used Blogger before, but I used to maintain an account at Live Journal.  After SEVERAL hours of working to customize my blog's layout, title font, background color, comments settings, photographs, header, and gadgets, I'm completely exhausted.  Although I like the fact that Blogger's interface looks so professional, I really do NOT like how long it took me to work on this!  I could have made several Live Journal accounts (albeit less attractive accounts), not to mention--- the fascinators I could have made in this time... 

I think I need an IT person already.  Yikes! 

Well, after many hours, I'm feeling ready to share my store, my store's connections / advertisements (blog), with the world via an interview with the Haute Hawaiian Holiday Extravaganza, which I'm excited for.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First-time Featured!


Very exciting!  One of my new fascinator photos has been featured!  This means that my shop is getting good exposure.  I've been trying hard to take nicer photos of my items being worn.  I noticed that most of the best sellers have models wearing their items.  I am currently taking my own photos against my bathroom door, using the mirror over the sink to make sure I'm in the view of the camera (peeking into viewfinder of camera through mirror!).  I felt quite clever when I figured that method out.  :)

Cappuccino and Cream


Last night I spent a stolen night crafting and watching old movies on ancient VHS tapes that my mom brought me from her basement. I made beautiful fascinators with ivory, bleached peacock feathers, cocoa-and-cream-striped-feathers, and stripped white hen feathers.

At 10pm, I decided to forge forward with the fascinators, and stayed up late with my camera, photographing, uploading, and listing. The computer portion of my store is most certainly my least favorite part, perhaps because long hours in front of a monitor are often a part of my other career... But I have to admit to nerdily having a great time geeking out with a thesaurus looking for silly and extravagant names for my soft, sweet creations, like "Cappucciono," "Caramel," "Sepia," and "Intrigue."

*ahhh* Life is good.

Newbie

This fall I finally heeded the urgings and support of friends and dance students by opening my own store - specifically, a store aimed a bellydancers for costuming, dance gear, hair flowers, and other crafts.

Initially, my idea was that I would work mainly on tribe, but then I soon realized the clunkiness and slow-speed of the site would be too hindering. Then, I considered ebay, but the addicting and untidy nature of auctions really turned me off. I wanted my online store to be calming, neatly arranged, and items to be priced in a way that reflected their value as a handmade good. I wanted coming into my store to be like walking into an old book store off a side street - a place full of comfort, soul, and soft incense. I wanted shoppers to come to me with questions or ideas for customized items... not feedback or bids.

Ultimately, I decided to open a store on etsy-an online forum for artists to display their wares at a very inexpensive listing price. Thus far, I've been extremely pleased with etsy's services, and I've only encountered a few glitches (my first international shipping order). The other great thing has been the online community. Everyone is really polite, interesting and interested, and unique. Most are craftspeople or fans of the arts, so people are sympathetic to the artists' dilhemma... to sell or not to sell.