Friday, April 15, 2011

Chasing the white whale

Okay I have been up to many things: chasing my white whale! This is the phrase my husband says because it has been my personal mission to achieve colour on wood.  The white whale is a reference to Mobey Dick or so I've been told.


Well there have been two whales (colour on wood and metal).  This post will be about the first new thing I've been chasing adding colour to wood.  I love wood but I also love colour, so how do I do it?  Well I should say, how do I create bright colours that are durable, completely non toxic/food safe and do not contain sealants that have mineral oil.  It has been a trial.  Really.a.trial.


Many colourants some are beautiful and produce stunning colour: like aniline  dyes.  They soak in the wood and you can see the grains ..brilliant.  Well brilliant in colour maybe not so as an idea. It's not safe for little hands.


Others are safe for most, but not completely such as milk paint.  It is a wonderful paint unless you have an allergy to milk/milk proteins.  Most people don't have this allergy and that is why people use it.  My girls have this allergy.  It's true, most children don't have this allergy but some do and finding out by a reaction to a toy is not something I would ever want.  Maybe with a sealant it would be okay but if I'm not sure I'm going to boarder on "no". 


There is paint: non toxic paint or water colour that can be used.  They both produce beautiful colours but then you have to seal it.  Finding a sealant that doesn't contain mineral oils is impossible.  They say it's safe after it is curred but how safe? I heard or read somewhere that it is still carcinogenic mildly so I guess, but still I'm making teethers. Or sometimes they say food safe..but then you read the fine print and they say right after not for children's toys.  Apparently okay for salad bowls and corresponding spoons but not children. How can something be food safe but then not safe to put in your mouth?   So somehow there is a distinction.  Boo'urns. 


I want safe and I mean food safe!  But good news: I got it I caught my darned whale!  I achieved vibrant colour through food colouring.  During my research I found several blogs and articles saying that it can not be achieved.  That the colour will bleed. The problem is that it lacks a binder.  And it is true depending how you do it.  You can't treat food colouring as a paint.  After days and failed attempts and days researching I got it.  I won't give away my my whole process but the key is a touch of vinegar.  


Anyhoo I thought  I would show the results.  I hope they are well received :)  I'm planning on trying some pastel colours this weekend.  I'll show the results.



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tweet tweet!

Tweet! News, news and more news!   While I was writing my last post a couple news worthy things have happened - woot!  We started making teethers.  It took a chunk of my time research safe woods, and child safe finishes but the results were worth it.  My husband and I really wanted the teethers to be 100% child safe and natural.  No mineral oils, varnishes...no curing.   We got it!  Our teethers are chemical and toxin-free! It's locally grown and responsibly forested Canadian maple. Hand sanded and finished with a baby safe unscented beeswax polish (ingredients are: beeswax, olive oil, carnauba wax). That's it.  No other finishes are applied.  To the left is a picture of one of them (the birdie is my favourite, but we have designed others and more to come). 
What is even more important is to be completely honest about what our ingredients are.  It sounds cliche, but as a parent I understand being fustrated wondering if one of the products I'm using is going to be involved in some recall or to find out later that there was a chemical added to the toy that actually made it unsafe (BPA, etc).  Saying it's safe is one thing and but telling the ingredients that are applied is better.

Now the next newsworthy thing is that we were featured on the FP again!  Woot!  In this treasury created by CelesteLambert.  It is wonderful to make it there.   It means our work is interesting and the painstaking effort getting photography up to par is working.  It's nice to have that validation.   I thought I'd share the treasury and give a thank you to CelesteLambert for creating this awesome treasury!

'Sweet and Simple' by CelesteLambert


MOUNTAINISH by Brooke W...

$100.00
Blake Signature Ring

$32.00
V . oxidized sterling s...

$59.00
L'Inconnue de la Se...

$13.00
All natural BABY TEETHI...

$12.00
Woodland Nymph .. Antiq...

$360.00
Sweetheart, 18 x 24 inc...

$500.00
Handmade koa, hand cut,...

$
Tie bar alpaca, silver ...

$68.00
Bronwyn's Crochet C...

$75.00
Citas Inspiradoras, Una...

$
Mouse Trap

$
Upcycled tote. Grocery ...

$59.00
Japanese Spring - Vinyl...

$39.00
Little Bend Dog Bowl-Ze...

$75.00
New-Velvet Bag--Double ...

$37.00

Sunday, April 10, 2011

As promised

I said that I would share my secrets.  Or I should say what I've learned through my several months selling, researching and talking with my Etsy peers and other awesome people on the interweb. 


And one of my favourite shows I'm going to do a little myth busting:


Myth 1-There is a secret to success

I'm going to go out on a limb and say this: "don't pay for advice under the guise that there is a secret".  Why?  There are a lot of people that say they know how to make your business a success.  People make business out of selling secrets and will make claims like they know how to make tons of sales.  Every Etsy sellers dream right?  Right, but ...well sad news folks but it's not that easy.  People will tell you your dreams can come true because you want it so bad that that logical part of your brain shuts down and believes. There must be a secret..right?  Don't buy into it.  "Psssst...my first secret there are no real secrets!"   There is tons of information out there.  A lot of people tell their secrets and that is why there are no secrets!  There is no information that that those moguls can tell you that isn't already out there that other successful people giveaway for free.  Now you can by books, but they aren't going to make  you an instant sucess.  It's just now you don't have to research as much, a bit of a time saver really.
 
Good news, a lot of people tell their secrets.   On Etsy: there is business topics, Etsy success, critique forums, blogs, other Etsy sellers among tons of other off site groups, forums and blogs.  What makes Etsy awesome is that sellers readily give out great advice and if you have a questions you can post and other people will try and help.  Also there is a ton of information offsite too.   People want to be interesting (to get traffic and blog followings) but also want to give back.  There are a lot of people who pour their heart and souls as well as hard earned cash into their business.  And as a fellow Etsian you want to help because you understand the trials and challenges.  So if you want help on selling on Etsy, look to Etsy.  There is a real community there people that are successful share tips on everything, tons of articles made by Etsians to help out. There are also non Etsians that post tips too.  Life is hard but anything worthwhile is worth fighting for.  This leads perfectly to the next myth.

Myth 2- If I'm not selling now I'm never going to get it


I can't tell you how many times people have written in the forums some variation of "why aren't I selling?".   The first problem is managing expectations.  There are a few businesses that get instant success but most people have to work hard for months or years before they can achieve their goals.   You have to attack your business from several angle all at once all the time. 


You need great:
- Product
- Pictures
- Policies
- Customer service
- SEO (tags, announcement, etc)
- Promotions (twitter, blog etc)
- New product, designs


I'm going to give some great links to help:
http://www.etsy.com/teams/7702/sassy-critiques/discuss/6850672/
http://www.etsy.com/teams/7702/sassy-critiques/discuss/6769535
http://www.dragosroua.com/100-ways-to-improve-your-blog/
http://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/business-topics/discuss/6815226/page/1/
http://www.etsypreneur.com/2011/02/learn-basic-seo-for-etsy/ (note there has been a change in the searchablitiy of titles more terms the better)
http://www.etsy.com/teams/5002/etsy-success/discuss/6846240/page/4/
http://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/business-topics/discuss/6847067/
http://www.etsy.com/teams/5002/etsy-success/discuss/6850739/


Honestly the list goes on and on.   There is wonderful advice links out there.  You need to keep on challenging yourself and improving.  I truly believe that success will come you just need to challenge yourself. 


Myth 3 - I've done everything I can.

You are never done learning, challenging and trying new things.    Improving.   And if you are thinking well ..she's all talk. 


Here is one of the first product shots I had in my shop:


Here's my new photos:

My husband and I could not have gotten to where we are now unless we had the courage to take the first step.  And I have many more steps to go and it will be a lot of work but worth it in the end.   I hope this helped push others to take more steps too.