Pickles, Picnic, End of a Season

Good afternoon.  I’ve been curating again!  So much fun to make treasuries when you’ve got the time…  Click on each image to be taken to a selection of 16 items by awesome artists and vintage superstars.

Design Your Own Embroidery Hoop by merriweathercouncil.

Picnic! Treasury featuring items by vendors who will be at this weekend’s Picnic festival.

Chilled Dill Pickles Print by hartart13

pickle people Treasuryfeaturing delicious, pickled perfection.

2 Bicycle Etched Pint Glasses by phoenixfirestudios.

 end of the summer Treasury – featuring all those good, Autumn-y thingies.

A real Face-y book page!

Click Here to Get to Little Eye on Facebook

Ok, ok — so when I originally started my Facebook presence as Little Eye I made it a ‘person’ instead of a ‘page.’  Woops!  Now, to encourage you to “like” my page just as much as you like my person I’m offering a 10% off Little Eye at Picnic coupon at my new page’s site.  Here is the link that you must click in order to get there.  You can also click on that gawdy “Facebook” icon to the right.  Or that awesome Little Eye logo above.  Then!  Print out the ol’ coupon, bring it to me when you’re buying awesome bottle cap stuff, and call it good!

Chalk the Walk – To Craft or Not To Craft?

Serious Bakery Eagle. Also, click on this image to apply.

I just got, er… found… an email in my much-neglected inbox about Biddeford’s Chalk the Walk coming up Saturday, September 24th in downtown Biddeford, ME.  A few thousand people generally meander their way through this event that is looking for craft vendors (apply here) or artists to actually design chalk paintings for local business sponsors.  Vendors pay a fee ($25?) but artists play for free (obviously) while businesses pay the sponsor money, some of which goes towards prizes for the best work!

Pretty cool.  I’m deciding right now whether to craft fair it up or not – I’m a busy wholesale lady these days but I do love me some ground paintings, that’s for sure.

Finding My Visual Language

Any handmade, small business adventurer will tell you the hardest thing about start up is choosing a name and choosing a brand.  Although I found my name almost two years ago and am still quite pleased, it’s been a process finding the visual language that is appropriate for the product, appropriate for me, and can be used in multiple ways to accentuate not just one product, but many.

There are more than a few Etsy shops that have a visual language that they stick with that truly works for them.  Two of my favorites (and Etsy superstars who also happen to be part of the “MaineTeam“) are Rocky Top Soap Shop and Long Winter Farm.  Just visit those links and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

So when I was preparing displays for a craft show last week a big, fancy light bulb went on above me and all of a sudden I knew it!  It had been right there all along.  The finish on the back of my bottle caps is a dappled paint in a variety of colors meant to complement the image on the front.  If photography and that pattern exist side by side in my product why wouldn’t I feature it in my background?  Yes!  So I spray painted some tins from the holidays and set them up to sell last weekend with considerable success, since it was a super nice day and not a lot of indoor craft shoppers were milling around.

Then, this weekend when I sat down to shoot some more product to put in my Etsy shop I was pleased to discover the tins work just as well as a background!  Observe:

Milwaukee's Finest Set of 2 Barrettes - $10 at Little Eye Designs on Etsy

Beasts of Burden - Set of 2 Barrettes, $10 at Little Eye on Etsy

The Good Samaritan - Set of 2 Barrettes from Little Eye on Etsy $10

 So, see?  I think it works.  The cool thing is I can spray paint new backgrounds to change with the season and the items themselves as needed.  Really looking forward to playing more with this, but I finally feel like I’m on the right track with my shop ‘look’ and branding.

I would love to know what you think!

Piecework

my living room might as well be a tenement in brooklyn circa 1922

When I was in college I had one of the coolest jobs ever.  I worked for a woman who had launched her own greeting card business and my job was to pick up a huge stack of cards, photographs, envelopes, plastic bags and labels, take them home with me, turn on awesome history channel and nature documentaries, assemble the cards/packaging while I learned cool stuff, put them in a box, deliver them to her and then get paid.  Yes!

The thought of doing piecework (I was paid per piece, not by the hour) was super exciting to me.  The more I streamlined my process the more money I would make.  If I could make 100 cards in an hour and was being paid 10 cents for each – woah!  Ten dollars!  But then if I learned how to economize my motions (combine like tasks and repeat them as opposed to making each piece from start to finish before starting the next) then I could make 300 cards in an hour.  $30 an hour for a college student??  Yah!!

So my skills have come in to play this last month while churning out bottle cap after bottle cap after bottle cap.  It’s glamorous.  I’ve been watching a lot of cop shoes since I’m sick of Netflix petering out all the time.  I brew up a pot of tea, set up my workspace (coffee table:  sorry, boyfriend) and my hands get to work.  My mind wanders and I come up with new ideas while mixing epoxy.  I don’t need to talk to anyone which keeps me focused on drilling little bitty holes in the caps.  Then I come up with something like the picture above at the end of ‘a batch,’ breathe a sigh of relief and think “Oh my God I think I might be crazy!!”

That’s not really something the product development department needs to worry about.  Human resources, though, better make sure there’s an ice cream cone and a walk up the Eastern Prom for employee wellness as soon as this order is over!

The spread above is my normal workspace.  I’m brainstorming how to move it upstairs so the live-in, very tolerant boyfriend doesn’t kill me.  In any case, for any of you interested in epoxy process here’s a little rundown:  Underneath that big ol’ tupperware is a grid of bottle caps in various stages (some are drilled with jump rings in them, some are empty caps that have just been half-filled that will be drilled after they are dry.  The half-filledness supports the drill and makes them break less frequently).  Once I’ve mixed and poured the epoxy (with the windows OPEN!!) I put the tupperware on top to keep naughty little cats out and to prevent dust (and naughty little cats’ fur) out of the caps.  Then I use the top of the tupperware as a workspace for my next task (gluing images in, assembling charms, gluing pins and magnets to the backs).  That’s how I manage not to usurp the entire dingdong coffee table.  If you have more questions about pouring epoxy please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

Audrey, Where Have You Been??

Hiding! Ok, actually just giggling.

Short answer:  busy!

Long answer:

Since The BIG THAW completed its wonderful, whirlwindy, nutso course I’ve been doing a few excellent things.  In no particular order… celebrated three birthdays, spent quality time with family, got really, really, really, REALLY sick, got better, got sick again, can’t hear out of my right ear for 48 hours (current), have been working on an enormous wholesale order, have been building stock for tomorrow’s craft fair (9am to 1pm at the Williston West Church, Saturday May 7th, Thomas St. in Portland’s West End) and desperately trying to clean my house… only to mess it up again very quickly with the previously mentioned wholesale order.

Bottle Cap Wine Charms, $10.00 for a Set of 6

It’s pretty cool.  A beer and wine novelty supplier out of Washington State saw my work online, contacted me, and enlisted me to make a bunch of these wine charms.  One of the really great things about making things with my hands is that oftentimes my window shoppers and customers are the most inventive with ideas for new products.  Without them I wouldn’t have made pendants (necklaces), wine charms, earrings, custom magnet and pin sets, wedding favors, alphabet magnet sets, and on and on.  This is the latest addition to my line up.  What’s next?  Mike Cunnane (of Brass Cankles, Huak, Rattlesnakes, Sunset Hearts fame) suggest ‘beer medallions’ as a beer drinker’s alternative to the wine charms.  I am so on it.

Together, at last

Talk about a whirlwind month.  After 8 years of us not being in the same room, college buddies and bestest ladies in the universe (myself included) met up in Boston.  The reason we were able to do this was that Jet (center) was visiting with her boyfriend who is the director of photography in upcoming film Bellflower.  It’s going to be in theatres in August and we got to see the flame-throwing car that Evan built for the film.  And lit it up in the parking garage outside of Boston University!  Rock.  Well, anyways, she lives in Ventura, CA and Shira (right) lives in Boston and me (left), I’m the yokel who decided to move away from any major metropolitan area.  I love Portland.  But I think I might love Jet and Shira more.

Brunch! Family!

You know what else I love?  The Good Egg.  It’s even better when, once a year, my grandmother (on the left side of the table) visits with her brother and his wife.  This year I joined them along with my aunt, uncle and two cousins who were down for the weekend from North Haven.  My cousin bought a lobster boat with his own money saved up from hauling traps by hand for 5 years – he’s 15!  Pictures of that to come.  🙂

The BIG THAW Pictures are coming soon!

I got some awesome pictures of vendors, shoppers, helpers and purchases from The BIG THAW.  The images will be up on the website shortly (finally!!) as soon as I can get twenty minutes to do it.  So bizarre to look back at them and think how smoothly and wonderfully the day went.  Yesss.

Clothes are Awesome! Share them!

That’s Kate in an awesome dress at Althea and Jay’s marriage celebration.  Coincidentally, she’s involved with a team of Portland fashion bloggers who have organized Swap Maine, a citywide clothing swap to benefit Goodwill of New England.  It will also benefit you because you get to pick out clothes you like just for donating your own!  Or paying $10 at the door.  It all goes to Goodwill and you get to fill a bag with awesomeness.  The first 250 shoppers will receive a swagbag, and included in it will be your very own Swap Maine/Little Eye Designs bottle cap pin.  I’m excited to work on this, support great writers and support Goodwill of New England.  Yes!  Please click here for more information about how you can join in the fun.

That’s all for now, I’m sleepy and I have to sell a bunch of stuff tomorrow!  Seriously.  My craft fair dream is to sell half the stock I bring… if I did that tomorrow maybe I could finally catch up on my student loans.  Which I just deferred.  For a year.  Thank you, pro-credit score governmental initiatives.  Maybe I’ll start looking at grad schools now…?

Joke!

Etsy Shopping: The Golden Rule

Lately, thank goodness, I have been making some sales in my Etsy shop.  Where I normally depend on wholesale and consignment “brick and mortar” shops to keep Little Eye Designs afloat, this year is showing me already that there might be an internet market for these little bottle cap things!

It’s all fine and good to reap the benefits of a put-together shop and a network of customers who appreciate quality work.  But I realized this week that in order to truly be a part of the community and keep Etsy (and my business) strong, I’ve got to shop there, too!  It’s a good thing I’ve been looking for some summer essentials this week.  Please ogle all the goodies I got:

Pinecone and Chickadee - Click Image for Website

Ladies’ Wolf Tee, $28 from Pinecone and Chickadee.  A lightweight, airy tee with a suspiciously poet-y design is perfect for throwing on over a bathing suit after an impulsive river swim in the summer.  I spotted this at their table at The BIG THAW and couldn’t get it out of my mind.  Coupled with the fact that I just found a metallic, leopard print gold and black mini skirt at Find (the perfect match) this just had to be mine.

SJohnsonPhotos on Etsy

“Searching the Dial” set of 3 Postcards from Shaun Johnson, $5.  Don’t forget to write!  I don’t know where I’m going on vacation this summer but wherever it is I think jotting down some notes to friends on the backs of these is just about right.

Bread and Butter Vintage: More than just the basics.

Vintage Italian Sunglasses, $28, at Bread and Butter Vintage.  O.K., don’t get me wrong, everyone knows I’m a cheap lady who scoffs at ‘marked up’ items at Goodwill ($7.99 for a dress??!  Only if it’s Pucci!) but these glasses are so unique, so perfect, so interesting, so… mine.  I bought them a couple days ago which unfortunately means you can’t have them.  But you CAN have any number of things sold at Bread and Butter Vintage’s Etsy shop, which is awesome, and the photography is magnificent.  Besides, summer ladies can never have too many tortoiseshell glasses.

So basically.  Next time you think to yourself “I need to get some sunglasses” or “a lightweight t-shirt” or “postcards” or really any luxury (or even essential) item turn your computer’s internet browser towards Etsy rather than jumping in the car and heading for Target.  I mean, we all love target and you can’t beat clearance underwear for $1.25 but I’m really thinking now (with the boost in sales and the happy feeling I get when the mailman comes) that giving back is a huge element in being a part of it all.

Craft Sale Alert!: West End Craft and Treasure Fest

Well, well, well!  Still reeling here in East Bayside from this weekend’s BIG THAW and so excited about how it turned out.  So excited, in fact, that I decided to hop on, last minute, to a craft fair that will be held in a couple of weeks (May 7) in Portland’s West End at the really lovely Williston West Church on Thomas St.  I remember taking a Tai Chi class there when I was super little with my dad.  What a lovely neighborhood for a spring walk and a stop-in at the fair!

There will be about 15 vendors and the proceeds from the tables will go to The Children’s Nursery School, located in the West End.  Given these are my old stomping grounds I’m happy to help old neighbors out while I peddle my wares!

Please stop by between 9am and 1pm for some good times for a good cause!  Here is some of what I’ll be bringing:

Emergency Instructions - Found images from airline pamphlets

BIG THAW magnet and pins, left over from last weekend!

Music Caps in Pins, Magnets, Necklaces and more!

Set of 6 Bottle Cap Wine Glass Charms

Ooohhh and so much more.  It’s my first ‘solo’ craft show so I’m going to have more room than I know what to do with!  I’m hoping to have my beer bottle medallions (inspired by Mike Cunnane of the Rattlesnakes, Huak, and Sunset Hearts) finished by then, too — a ‘working class’ twist on the wine glass charms above.  See you there!

I Showered: Woohoo!

Planning a craft fair is a little like having a newborn infant in the house.  The free time you used to have for little things like cooking dinner, watching a movie, laundry, going on a walk, etc. all take a backseat to the huge responsibility you have.  Instead of a little baby I am responsible for the happiness of 30+ vendors at tomorrow’s BIG THAW Arts, Crafts and Vintage Sale at 10 Mayo St (Mayo St. Arts Center) from 10am-4pm.  Annnnd in some ways it’s easier than being a Mom because it’s not like if I don’t feed the vendors they’ll cry but in a lot of ways I’ve found myself foregoing daily luxuries (showers, leisurely strolls) to paint a sign, make a blog post, etc.

Good news, though!  I showered this morning!  After getting up extra early to do an epoxy pour for the THAW magnets and pins I was like “Hey!  I could be clean today!” and jumped in the shower for a few, glorious minutes.  You’ll all be thanking me tomorrow for my powdery fresh scent.  The thought just occurred to me:  what will I do on Sunday??  Empty nest syndrome, here I come.  Might as well start planning for The BIG FREEZE… haha…