Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine’s Savings! 10% off any in-stock pendant purchase!

Visit Creative Art and Soul and enter Coupon Code LOVE10 during checkout to receive 10% discount off your entire purchase.  Coupon Code valid until Friday, Feb 11th at midnight PST.   Coupon Code can only be used for in-stock pendants only.  Sorry, discount not valid on custom orders.   All orders ship Same-day/Next Day. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

2010 Shepherdstown Christmas Bazaar - Featured Vendor - The Cottage of Herbs

The Cottage of Herbs is a well-known Shepherdstown local vendor that has been creating all natural gourmet herb products, delicious dip mixes, seasoning blends, tasty teas and infused herb vinegars since 1983.  One of my favorite products is the Spicy Bourcin herb mix with oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, red pepper and spices.  You can mix a packet of this with cream cheese or yogurt (I use vegan cream cheese, soft tofu or hummus) and spread it on crackers, bagels, or pita bread.  I personally like to spread the my mixture on a slightly burned whole grain tortilla, add avocado, chopped fresh tomatoes, some chopped kale or fresh sprouts and a dash of hot sauce, roll up and enjoy.  Yum!!  
Their Sundried Tomato and Herb Pasta Mix is terrific for a quick lunch or dinner.  I simply saute the mix with some olive oil, and toss with whole grain pasta, add some fresh chopped tomatoes and kale.  Delicious!   The fragrant herbal teas are a delightful after meal calm-me-down. 
Their products not only help spice up your kitchen, they make wonderful gifts!  I am thrilled that they will also be vending at the Shepherdstown Christmas Bazaar (<--- click for dates and times).  You can check out The Cottage of Herbs on Facebook or order from their website.
Is it any wonder now that I am hungry??!!

2010 Shepherdstown Christmas Bazaar - Featured Vendor - Shea Wolfe Designs

Shea Wolfe Designs from the Eastern Panhandle of WV will be one of the local vendors showing at the Shepherdstown Christmas Bazaar.  They create beautiful hand-painted mixed media masks, original paintings and gorgeous wire-wrapped gemstone jewelry.  So much talent!  Shea Wolfe Designs was also awarded best in show at the 2010 Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival!  Wow, that is definitely something to be proud of!  I have seen their creations in person and they are truly amazing.  Come check out the wonderful works of Shea Wolfe Designs at the 2010 Shepherdstown Christmas Bazaar.  See here for Bazaar dates and times.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The 2010 Shepherdstown Christmas Bazaar

From Thanksgiving weekend to Christmas, artists and crafters will be setting up their booths and displays to sell their handmade wares to holiday shoppers.  Although I vend at shows year round, I must say that the holiday shows are my most favorite of all!!  This year, all of my holiday shows are right here in Shepherdstown in one 6-day event!

What used to be known as the annual Shepherdstown Holiday Market is now the Shepherdstown Christmas Bazaar.  The Bazaar is now promoted, sponsored and hosted entirely by the Shepherdstown Men's Club.  Here, you will be able to find gifts for everyone on your shopping list, from your grumpy Auntie Gertrude to your fun-loving tattooed nephew with the rings in his lip.  The Bazaar will mainly feature locally produced items such as fresh greens, homemade jams and honey, lots of unique jewelry, woodworking, photography, glass, hand knit items, pottery, books, and more!  There will also be some local representatives of Silpada, Mary Kay and Arbonne.

This year there are 6 dates for the Bazaar.  Opening day is Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year!
Friday, Nov 26 noon -8 pm
Saturday, Nov 27 10-4 pm
Sunday, Nov 18 10-4 pm
Saturday, Dec 4, 10-4 pm
Saturday, Dec 11, 10-4 pm
Saturday, Dec 18, 10-4 pm

If you're in the DC/Baltimore, Northern VA, MD or the E.Panhandle of WV area, come on over to Shepherdstown, WV and check out the Christmas Bazaar, browse our local shops & have a great lunch in this quaint little town on the Potomac.  Why shop for mass-produced gifts in a crowded chaotic big box store when you can purchase quality local handmade and one-of-a-kind products in a friendly family atmosphere?

Shepherdstown Christmas Bazaar
War Memorial Building
102 E. German Street
Shepherdstown, WV


Monday, May 24, 2010

Good-bye EZ-UP! Hello Flourish Trimline!!!

I've had a love-hate relationship with my EZ-up...or should I say EZ-UPs (plural!).  I went through 3 EZ-UP canopies in 4 years due to the frames snapping during bad weather (2) or while folding up the canopy (1).  The first 2 EZ-UPs were a lower-end model and each only lasted me about 2 shows before the frames snapped.  The third was a moderate priced model that served me well through at least 60-70 shows...however, I've had to replace several of the frame bits at least once a year due to breakage.

The one thing I did love about my EZ-UP is that I could unfold it and have it up and ready by myself in less than 5 minutes.  However, my biggest gripe is that even if I had the tent weighted with 120 lbs of weights (30 lbs in each corner) and had it staked down, the canopy would still shake violently in the wind and the frame would twist and snap.  I spent more than enough shows hanging on to the canopy in fear of complete destruction. 

I've seen too many of these pop-up canopies take flight, land on cars (I saw one land through a Hummer's windshield!) or on top of someone else's canopy.  I've seen them tumble and roll through crowds and over children and take down everything in their path.  Arriving back to a show for the second day after the canopies have been up overnight, I've seen EZ-UPs and other pop-up style canopies broken and scattered about like a field of dead dried daddy longlegs with their legs all askew.  Sadly, peoples displays and belongings would be destroyed as well.  When these frames snap, the metal ends are sharp as razors and I've seen many people cut badly by these, one man required stitches.  The other thing is that the EZ-Ups are not waterproof, so leakage and water pooling was a problem which made me resort to modifications using extra tarps, pool noodles and hula hoops...more stuff to lug around.

I have had to pull down my canopy during several shows in moderate wind to ensure the safety of my customers and everyone else.  I recently even left one show as soon as I arrived as I knew the EZ-UP would not be able to withstand the conditions.  That same day I heard from a friend about another person whose weighted EZ-UP lifted in the wind and the foot caught the vendor in the mouth, ripping out her front teeth and cutting her face badly.  That was the last straw.

For the last couple of years, I have been looking at 2 other canopy types, the Flourish Trimline and the Light Dome Finale.  Both are heavy duty professional barrel style tents.  The Trimline is mainly composed of snap-together steel poles while the Finale is mainly made up of anodized aluminum poles.  I've watched both of these canopies in action during shows and they are incredibly study.  At one show where I was forced to take down my canopy during moderate winds and rain, the Finale canopy next too me was unphased and was open for business.  One great thing about both of these is the wind/heat vent at the top of the canopy which lessens effects of winds and allows air to pass through. They are both fully waterproof.

YAY! The other day, my luck changed!  Lucky me!  I found a used Flourish Trimline with mesh sides on Craigslist however, I had to drive from West Virginia to New Jersey to get it.  The seller was super kind and accommodating and allowed me to place a deposit via Paypal to hold the canopy until I could drive to NJ.   Once I arrived several days later, the seller was generous enough to offer to show me how to set it up, but I declined as I really didn't expect him to do that...I had seen multiple pics of the set-up canopy and all the parts were there.  I also had a 4-hour return drive back home so I really didn't want to take the extra time nor waste these lovely people's time.

My Flourish tent came with a waterproof vented top with skylight illumination panels to let more light in, 3 lower stabilizer bars, 3 heavy duty mesh display sides, 4 fully waterproof zipper sides, bags for poles, top, sides and other bits, anchoring stakes, and lamp brackets to add lighting.  I saved over $900.00 from buying the complete set-up new.  I was happy that Flourish has posted canopy set-up tutorials on You Tube as the kit didn't have any instructions and I was a bit scared after seeing all the bits and pieces.  Taking into account the time I took to chase after the dog, talk to my neighbors, answer the phone and watch the videos, I'll say it took me about one hour to put the entire canopy together including the lower stabilizer bars, 3 mesh sides, and 4 zipper sides.  Everything fit together nicely and it was pretty intuitive to get it all together.  To my surprise, the zipper sides zip up super easy and seem very sturdy and well made.  My main limitation is that I'm not tall, so I found that my step ladder helped made reaching the top and adding the zipper sides much easier.  Now that I know how to set up the Trimline, I think I can get it together a lot quicker next time.  I was a bit unsure that I could actually put it together all by myself, but I managed just fine.  My only injury was a blood blister when my hand got caught between 2 snapping poles.  Ouch!  Gotta watch that!
The mesh sides are terrific!  They are meant to be able to hang artwork such as framed prints and paintings but I will use them to hang new wood panels that I'm designing for pendant displays. This means no more tables and tall folding displays that can topple in the wind or by an over excited child!  My entire booth design is now under renovation.  My new booth design will allow more people inside my booth at once and also will allow me to display twice as many pendants. I'm so excited!  Wheeee! 

I plan on adding 4 40lb sandbag weights, an awning and a banner stand from Flourish.  I can't wait to use my new canopy at my next show this weekend!

In closing, I'm not condemning EZ-UPs as they are useful and they do have their place.  They are affordable, easy to put up and they work well under the right conditions...however they scare the hell out of me when the wind starts up.   If you use an EZ-UP, be mindful and weight it down well with at least 30 lbs on each corner and stake it down when you can.  If the wind picks up, consider removing the fabric top or taking the entire thing down for your safety and everyone elses.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

FireFox Add-ons I Can't Live Without

There are many web tools out there that utilize Etsy's API (application programming interface) such as EtsyHacks, CraftCult, Craftopolis, Cr8tivity, and more that assist Etsy sellers to do business, interact and shop on Etsy more efficiently.  These aforementioned tools are fabulous and really do enhance the Etsy experience.  But I'm not going to describe these tools here.  I want to share with you some other less-known tools out there that were not specifically made for Etsy sellers, but also help to make working on Etsy more workable.

FireFox is an open-source browser which means that they have exposed their API source code to the world, so that anyone can develop products, fixes and helpful tools that you can attach or add-on to your browser.  Many people use FireFox but have no idea that you can easily add on additional tools or scripts to customize their browser.  Thousands of FireFox add-ons are available, but I will describe some of my favorites that I use on a daily basis.  I know you will find these useful too!

ScreenGrab is the easiest way to take a screenshot of any website and works much better than your computer's built-in PrintScreen function.  Once you download ScreenGrab, you will see a small icon in the very bottom right hand corner of your screen. When you click on the icon, you get the option to either Save the image to your harddrive or copy the image to paste later.

What makes ScreenGrab so great is that you can copy or save as an image your visible screen shot, your entire web page no matter how long, or a selection of a page.  This is a wonderful tool to take full screen shots of Etsy front pages and treasuries. Once you take a screen shot of the entire page, you can crop out unnecessary portions using your photo editor.

Sticky Notes
Have you ever wished you could add a sticky note on your Etsy page?  Now you can with XSticky - Sticky Notes.   I love how the EtsyHack called Sold Orders Plus adds the notes to seller, and other vital buyer information all on the Etsy Sold Orders page for easy referencing.  There are many times when a customer places an order and does leave specific information in the Notes to Seller section during checkout that I need to process the order. Sometimes I will receive a convo with the information later, other times, I receive an email.  I like keeping this important info along with the order to make processing the order simpler without having to later go back and search thru convos and emails for the information.  Enter the Sticky Note!
With a simple right click, I can add and position a sticky note next to the order and add the information I'll need later.  If I close the window, close Etsy, or even log out and then return later, my sticky note will be there.  The sticky note is easily removed with a simple click when you're done with it.   See the example below (click to enlarge).

How many times a day/week in your business do you write the same convo, email, feedback, thank you note, or info on how to check-out to your non-paying buyer?  How about listing descriptions, washing instructions, shipping info?  I used to save these snippets in WORD, but then I'd have to go sort thru my hundreds of files, find the file, open the file, copy the file, paste the file, close the file....OK that's not so bad, but there is an easier way.  The FireFox Clippings add-on saves and manages your frequently used text to paste on any website or email.  Once you have the add-on, all you have to do is highlight the text you wish to copy, right click over the text, click Clippings then New from Selection.

A new box will come up and you can title your text anything you like.

Later, when you have to type or send the same message, all you have to do is right click, select Clippings, and choose the clip of text you'd like to paste in.  This is such a time saver and one of my favorite add-ons that I use daily!!!

Linkification turns any text that looks like a link or a URL into a live clickable link.  On Etsy, you may add URLs to your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or other website in your shop announcement, profile or item descriptions. However, your URL will NOT be live and clickable because it redirects outside of Etsy as only internal Etsy URLs are live links.  Viewers will have to copy and paste the URL into their address bar to check out your sites. That in itself is not a huge problem, but with the Linkification add-on, it is awesome to not have to do that as the URLS become live and workable. Just click away!  Here's what my shop announcement looks like with the URLs added (click to enlarge).

I hope that some of you will find these FireFox add-ons useful.  If you use any other add-ons to help manage your Etsy shop that I didn't describe here, please post about them in the comments section.  I'd love to hear about them.   Cheers!

Monday, March 15, 2010

First Craft Show of the Season!

Yay!  I just got the word that I will be vending at the 2010 Shenandoah Bloomin' Wine Fest in Winchester, VA, Friday April 23rd (3:00pm to 10:00pm), and Saturday April 24th (11:00am to 6:00pm). 

The event will have two outdoor wine gardens featuring 18 Virginia wineries. Artists and crafters will be set-up along the Old Town Mall while food vendors will be located in two separate food court areas.  There will be live music on two separate stages. 

It was a pretty fun time last year and I'm hoping for an even bigger and better event this year!
I hope to see you there!  Cheers!

Click HERE for more info about the event.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Year, New Blog, New Newsletter

 Cool Pic from the Human Calender Project

OK, well, it's a bit into the new year...OMG, it's MARCH already! I've been a bit down the last few months because of the cold, dark, snowy winter, the lack of craft shows...and well, I can't put all of the blame on the slow economy, really.

I've tried to spend my down-time wisely by planning and organizing for the new year, developing new pendant designs, giving my Etsy shop a make-over, implementing new marketing strategies, applying for craft shows and festivals for 2010, designing new craft show displays, and getting in touch with my inner self (when I can't think of anything else to do).

I'm also relaunching this blog with updates on new designs, sales and promotions, current events, business tips and advice, who knows what else. I'll also showcase some of my favorite artists and crafters and provide you with lots of glorious eye-candy! Yum!

I've also just started my new monthly newsletter (see sign-up form in the right sidebar). Each person who signs up for my newsletter will be entered into a drawing each month for a free Tree of Life pendant. Winners will be randomly chosen and will be contacted by email. What Fun!

Friday, March 12, 2010

About me & Creative Art and Soul

I worked as a wildlife biologist for over 15 years and loved every minute of it. However, I had a creative bug in me just fighting to get out and I never considered myself to be an artist. I recently discovered the intriguing craft of sandcarving and was immediately hooked. I love to experiment with different substrates, i.e., glass, wood, stone and tile. The name Creative Art and Soul stems from my lifelong desire to unleash that nagging creativity bug, to produce something artistic that will make people happy, and my willingness to look deep within my soul to find out exactly what I am made of and what fulfills me. Thank you for your interest. If you like what you see here, please tell your friends about me, my products, and Creative Art and Soul. Please keep checking in with my blog as new posts will be added often.