28 November 2010

Going Global - Etsy

New Zealand is a South Pacific Nation, situated in the Southern Hemisphere
We have many creative people within our shores

One way to expand our selling base, is to sell to a community that is interested in buying Handmade

Etsy ( it rhymes with Betsy) is a social commerce website focused on Handmade or vintage items, as well as art and craft supplies.  These items cover a wide range including art, photography, clothing, jewelry, toys..... and the list goes on.

The mission of Etsy is to enable people to make a living making things,and to reconnect makers and buyers

The Etsy community spans the globe with buyers and sellers coming from more than 150 countries.
Etsy sellers number in the thousands

I joined Etsy in  April 2009  to reach a global market.
I have found it to be a very successful platform for my New Zealand Handmade creations

Do click on my Etsy site, to view the layout, profile, feedback etc, so you can gain an overview of what Etsy is all about.     www.softearthart.etsy.com

Cheers      Marie from Softearth's World

23 November 2010

Christmas Sales...

Every year the Community Arts Centre in Hastings runs its renowned Christmas Sales. A wonderful emporium where you can buy beautiful handmade gifts from over 100 local artists and crafts people, products which range from the very affordable to the very special.  Each year it gets bigger and better and this annual sale has become a major event on the Christmas calendar.  

A few of our New Zealand Handmade members will be taking part in this, so if you are in the area drop in and take a look around... you are sure to find something on your list.

Opens from:

Tuesday November 23 - Friday December 24
106 Russell Street south, Hastings, Hawke's Bay
(06) 8789447

22 November 2010

Christmas Ornament Tutorials

Hope everyone is having fun making their Christmas ornaments for the swap.

Here a few tutorials I found for some very cute ornaments. Just click on the pic which will take you to the tutorials.

Here are a couple of other sewn ideas. Beautiful christmas fabrics to complete this Christmas Star are available on the Fabrics4u2 website

Please have your ornament in the post by December 1st so it arrives in time for Christmas.

Happy crafting!


16 November 2010

The Busiest Time of the Year

Are you paddling hard out just to feel like you are only just keeping up or maybe not even? Got that sinking feeling? Not enough stock? Not enough time?

Its such a busy time of the year. Not only do we have markets and shops to keep stocked but the online business starts to really take flight with Christmas just around the corner.

I was researching for my next post last night when it occurred to me the last thing I would want to hear about at the busiest time of the year is about more places to sell my wares that would be added to the list that is already stressing me out!

SO ..... I promise that in January when I am much more optimistic and over the Xmas rush that I will do a post on Online Opportunities! But for now I thought tips I follow to keeping on top of things was much more pertinent to the time of year!

Remember I am a sewer, so it is from my perspective that I write, although I am sure this would apply to some other mediums as well.

Tip 1 - Preparation - Preparation - Preparation!

You can never be over prepared! I have days when I have nothing urgent that has to be done (not in Nov or Dec of course) where I simply sit and prepare the little things I know I am going to need to put a final piece together. Things like cutting up fiddly felt pieces and those little jobs I hate doing and would rather have ready because it slows me down if I don't. If I have a bagful ready it is sooooo much quicker and easier!

Tip 2 - Resources!

Make sure you have ordered in all the fabric, binding, ribbon, thread etc you are going to need because I guarantee that express trip to Spotlight will not reward you with the one thing you desperately needed!!!

Tip 3 - Cutting Out Day

My sister taught me this one. It's really the start of a production line. Instead of making each item in one day I have a cutting out day. All I do is choose fabrics, cut out pieces and leave piles around my sewing room for working on another day. This is also the day I iron pieces and pin everything together. Anything that could hold me up once the machine starts going is done on this day!

Tip 4 - SEW!

Go hard out! You feel great when those pre-prepared piles start to look finished! Don't worry about finishing touches - that happens later. This just gets the bulk of the work done.

Tip 5 - Finishing Time

Now you can add embellishments or stuff your work or sew it up. This is the night time work I do in front of the telly. Mindless and you can still understand what is happening in your fav programme.

Tip 6 - Take it Public

Mel from Wildflower Designs had a post about this the other night - Is It Appropriate To Craft In Public? I say absolutely! If you have bits to do that are easy to carry around then why not? Often I will have something in my pocket or bag that is small and discrete - usually just sewing up. I just hate the idea of wasting precious time doing nothing!

Tip 7 - Keep Blog Posts Short and Simple!

Less is more at this time of the year! (My own post excluded of course!) If you feel you don't have time to write a blog post then there are lots of people who also don't have time to read it. Keep it short and simple and informative, with lots of pics, every few days to stay in the loop.

Tip 8 - Enjoy what you do!

For most of us 'making handmade' does not pay the bills. It started as a hobby and probably still is. So it should be fun! It may stress you out but you know you could make the decision to cut back if you had too. However if you are like me it is not the thing I would like to cut back on!

Make sure you eat well, drink loads of water and sleep well. Try not to dream about the next stall set up or what you will write in your next blog post (as I was doing last night). Instead relax .... it's meant to be fun!

Remember we all enjoy handmade and want to spread the word so keep doing what you are doing but tweak it a bit if it isn't working for you.

But whatever you create - keep doing it! Its worth it!


PS: Please remember that all Christmas Ornaments should be posted to swap partners by December 1st in time for Christmas.

14 November 2010

An urban New Zealand landmark

New Zealand has a reputation worldwide for it's gorgeous natural landscape, but our cities have heaps to offer as well!  Capital city Wellington has character and culture, as my daughters discovered on our recent visit there for the 3-day Labour Day holiday weekend.
Here they are in front of the Cuba Mall bucket fountain, which apparently has its own website!  The girls were fascinated, and couldn't stop watching it.  The water pours from a few hoses at the top, slowly filling each bucket, which tips when it's full enough, dumping the water into lower buckets.  The fun is waiting to see when the largest bottom bucket fills and tips.  I was able to get them to turn away long enough to get this shot of them.

Oh, and to work in the handmade...  Even in late October, Wellington was chilly enough for my 7-year-old to want to wear her new hat.  It's a new design I'm working on, a warm, wooly crocheted granny square beanie.  :)

Kya of Clutch Creations

11 November 2010

A Conversation with Irma from Fairyspit Dolls

If there is a small person in your world who loves fantasy, then Irma's beautiful creations are just the perfect gift for them. Her ethereal spirit weaves fantastical whimsy into the real world. They are irresistible. To quote an Anne Bishop book title, they are "Dreams Made Flesh" and collectible. Come, lets venture into Irma's world ... Carol

Who is Irma Hoani?  
Dollmaker, needle felter, artist, dreamer. I am an American expat loving my adopted country and am inspired in countless ways by the beauty of the landscape, the warmth of the people and the wool of the sheep (and alpacas)!

What’s your “handmade groove ?” 

Needle felting...I make mostly fantasy creatures like unicorns and dragons. I also make cloth dolls, paint and sculpt.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)

A lamp, an alarm clock, a box of tissues, Terry Pratchett's "Soul Music"

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire? 

I mostly draw inspiration from a feeling, an impulse, my surroundings at present. When I was younger and developing creatively I was very much into Tim Burton, Jhonen Vasquez, Tim Bradstreet, Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Brian Froud & Brom. Most of those artists are very dark and well that is sort of my thing. Christopher Moore, Terry Pratchett, Terry Brooks and Piers Anthony shaped my mindscape. Movies like Labyrinth, The NeverEnding Story, Willow, The Princess Bride and The Dark Crystal were very formative for me when I was younger and I have watched them countless times. When I am creating, I am listening to anything from Lady Gaga to Serj Tankian to Nine Inch Nails depending on my mood.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?

Movies, music, random musings. Mostly movies, though :)

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?
I really don't know what events are out there. They aren't something I seek out, but I would love to attend events relating to dollmaking, fiber arts or fantasy. I really want to do shows but I don't know what is out there in NZ or I find out about it after the fact :)

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?

Work, gym three days a week, felt, sleep. If I had my way, I would be home all the time working on my dolls in progress. Alas, the day job pays most of the bills. I really just take whatever free time I have and use that for inspiration and creation.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?

I wouldn't call it a screw-up, but I was making a unicorn head when I noticed a slight resemblance to Falkor the Luck Dragon from The NeverEnding Story. That same unicorn head ended up becoming the centre of my favourite piece.

Kitchen table or studio?

A desk in the corner of the lounge.

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?   

A workroom of my own with a nice view, more storage for my supplies, hand carders, more wools and fibers. I'd like to learn to spin... I think making interesting yarns would be a very cool thing. Dyes and the patience and time to dye my own wool. I'd also love some animals of my own to "grow my own" wool.  My dream is to open my own doll supplies shop where I would sell all sorts of supplies, teach felting classes and sell my work in the shop along with other local artists.

09 November 2010

dream time for your creative business

Setting intentions is like creating a map by which you navigate. Most of the time we hold the way ahead within our minds and can move intuitively or with deliberation. By holding the way ahead within our minds we are able to adjust them according to whatever situation we find ourselves in.

Sometimes life gets in the way and emotions, other peoples expectations, or the demands of daily life can, like the wind can blow us off course. Creating a written map of where we want to be, within certain timeframes allows us to deliberately choose the path ahead. Creating a map that is uniquely ours gives a purpose to the daily achievements we create in our lives in order to reach wherever it is we are going. The map is visible and tangible and allows you to identify who you can ask for support, what it is you need to know in order to get through, and to a particular part. It lets you know when you have got there, where you will need to go next, what else you may need to find out, or to create a place for it all to happen.

I am a great believer in dreaming big, to push beyond the borders of my thinking, my beliefs to the world beyond. It's out here where I live, breathe all the possibilities into being. Often times its a place where I also meet my potential self, the one who wants to, she who knows. She who speaks quietly and firmly and lets me know I can do it ... She who helps me map and dream my possibilities?

Dream Time Practice

Find a place where you will be uninterrupted. Lock the door if you have to, then Lie down, on the floor, on the bed, on the couch and be still. Do you remember what this feels like, being still?

Breathe gently, deeply and let each breathe carry any tension out into the world. Breathe in stillness, of mind, of body of the inner world.

Allow yourself now to dream, to dream all your possibilities. Let yourself have it. Colour it up with all the sights, sounds and feelings of a dream come true, make it big, go for world domination in your dream ... imagine all the invisible hands making everything and anything possible. Ask your muse to guide and show you, you may have questions for her.

Are those butterflies fluttering with excitement in your belly yet?

Next step is to map it all down on paper ... draw pictures, rip them out of magazines, get the key words on the page, colour, dance, hum, play music. if the critic turns up, IGNORE it. Can you be on fire with the magnitude of your dream, burn that map into existence. Oh, and did I mention, get the biggest pieces of paper you can find, make it visible and real. You are birthing your dream into reality, a dream that can birth change.

So while you are doing that I'm going to be getting some questions ready for you. Questions to help you to land your dream even more firmly.

I'm Carol Neilson, coach, writer and artist with a passion for motivating and inspiring women to live their dreams. I invite you to become the cartographer, the explorer, the traveller of your life. I help you map the edges and beyond of your knowing by guiding, coaching and healing as we journey. I show you how to interpret the language, the stories and the new territories you may encounter. I give you tasks, new ways of viewing the world, daily practices to embody your understanding and Touchstone Values to navigate your journey by.

08 November 2010

Christmas Tree Ornament Swap Ideas

Our first Christmas Ornament Swap is underway!  For those entered, the deadline for mailing your ornament is 1 Dec.

A friend told me today that she had been making Christmas cards and has begun to write the first ones. Recent cold and rainy days here in New Zealand “inspired” her.... Bit early for my taste, in my family cards were sent out a few days before Christmas. But I must admit, thoughts about what gifts to make came around this time of the year and it was very exciting to secretly enquire what would suit for the individual person and then to make it. Locked doors kept up the surprises till the last minute and it was making everyone very curious what was going on behind them! A very special time of the year indeed!

We also had a tradition going for us three kids to make a new item each for the Christmas Tree every year.

Two classics:
Paper Hearts, stunning in black and gold, but also very effective just in brown paper with a fancy ribbon, and they can be filled with traditional sweets. Fold the chosen paper and cut two shapes as from pattern below, then weave into each other. For a flat decoration you can put a piece of cardboard a little smaller in size inside and glue the hearts to it, or add ribbon as desired and filling.

Guilded walnuts were a bit tricky, we had to eat lots of nuts to end up with a few nuts with clean split shells! The two halves are glued together after removing the kernel, with some string or ribbon held at the round end. Can be guilded with gold paint or gold leaf, and various decoration added on top like dried flowers, tiny cones, bells, or glittery stuff if you keep the nut shells natural. You can also glue a ribbon around the walnut as if you packed a parcel, on the top you knot the ribbon while shaping a loop. Very special if you capture some colourful feathers with the knot!

These are just a couple of idea for handmade Christmas Decorations.  Be creative and have fun with it!

Our Christmas Ornament Swap has closed to new entries.  If you signed up, you should have received an email with your partner's details.  If you haven't yet, please let us know.

- Ingrid of Silverworks

04 November 2010

A Conversation with Rosie from Honey and Spice

It seems only natural to me that a woman who loves creating mouth watering desserts would easily segue into concocting beautiful handmade soaps. Add in a childhood spent creating exotic combinations served up in a rusty teapot and you have original, from the heart memories. Rosie reminds me of the chocolatier in Chocolat, what was her name again? She blends and mixes to create nurturing love for your body. How could you NOT have one of her lip balms in your bag, or treat yourself to her skin food?  Carol 

Who is Honey and Spice ?
My earthy handmade soaps, lip balms, body lotions, massage bars and conditioners! Based in beautiful Dunedin.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”  
I love 'making' Fullstop! Amen.
Fabrics, beads, driftwood, shells, wire, pastry, soap, ceramic, paint. Soap is my biggest addiction I can see I am never goint to tire of this even when I'm grey all over (halfway there) I'm sure I'll have my wooden spoon in hand, bent over my glorious soap pot and in my own little world!

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)
My soapmaking bible, Some jewelry clasps and fastners, ipod, a tub of powdered seaweed, swimming goggle case, my menu for work, a empty tissue box I couldnt bare to throw away because I love the design and my lip butter which I always put on before I snuggle down.

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?
My art school friends are a constant source of inspiration. We were taught to really challange all boundries and as the cliche goes, think outside that square. I am very much inspired by all the people I have 'met' through Felt (NZ handcraft website), their handcrafts and designs really amaze me, and it has got me more excited and driven about my own projects/purposes
Music I am loving- Edward Sparks and the Magnetic Zones, Angus and Julia Stone, Lisa Mitchel, Cocoa Rosie
Books - I'm loving unearthing old recipe books, both cooking, and cosmetics And I love getting the taste magazine in the mailbox each month :)

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?
More of a listener than a talker, but don't start me on soap, your eyes will glaze over and well beyond!

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?
I have just done three recently, oh I wish they were free!! ~ Kiln Fired Glass, Soapmaking, Ceramics. If I could have 3 more, Glass Blowing, Small Business Course and Website Design. and a Painting course ... ok thats 4

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?
Its always busy!! working as a chef, making and selling my soaps, painting the house, landscaping the garden, looking after 5 bantams, 2 doves and a ball off white fluff. Friends and family at the moment are squished into all the crevices!!

What is your favourite creative screw-up?
Well most recently I was making a big batch of lovely rose and lavender soap, when I added the essential oils, the batch immediately seized and set like concrete in a split seccond. I was heartbroken! So I quickly set about cooking it out and 3 hours later of stirring, it came together! It turned out beautifully, the scent is sweet and spring like!  People that have seen and smelt it are loving it!!

Kitchen table or studio?
Both and every where in-between!! My studio is lovely and sunny and looks out to the garden but I usually dominate the lounge in the cooler nights and the kitchen when im soaping!

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?
I want to travel through the small villages of India, Vietnam and France. Own a little backpackers on the coast of the south island with a little bakery/tea house, and a gallery where the locals can sell their wares and of course a soap shop!! I plan to be overrun with bantams, kids and live somewhat self sufficiently.

You can find Rosie at her Felt store and she also is on Facebook Just click on the links and explore.

02 November 2010

Market Etiquette

Stall promoting New Zealand Handmade at Poukawa Market, Hawkes Bay

I thought I would jot down a few of my favourite do’s and don’ts that I stick to when attending a market – both as a stall holder and a customer. I don’t profess to be any great expert I just go by how I like to be treated and apply it in my own dealings :)

Stall Holders

  • SMILE … it goes a long way
  • Welcome people looking at your stall – say hello, engage them with a simple comment … “how are you enjoying the market” is always an easy one if nothing else seems appropriate :)
  • Introduce yourself to your stall neighbours – you meet some great and really interesting people and can learn some tips about other markets you may not know about among other things
  • Be courteous, friendly and open to discussing your products and why you do what you do (if asked!).
  • Go the extra mile … don’t have what your customer is looking for? Suggest an alternative or let them know you are happy to make custom orders.
  • Be attentive – if you see someone looking at a particular product but making a comment to their friend that they’re not sure about the colour and you have others under your table – let the customer know. This is not the same as ‘pouncing’ described under things to avoid below!!
  • Make eye contact – I know this sounds obvious, but I find this all the time – I wear sunglasses at outdoor markets but I always pop them onto my head when I have customers so we can make eye contact.

AVOID (at all costs!)…
  • Looking bored, tired, disinterested – not good looks and not going to get you sales :).
  • Ignoring customers. A relative or friend has come to visit? Probably best to leave big catchups till after the market (or when you have a break in traffic) – people looking at your stall can feel like an intruder and will move on if they feel they are interrupting your private convos. (This applies to texting and taking cellphone calls as well)
  • Getting in customers way – there’s really no need to reach across someone, rearrange something, or just generally stand in the wrong place when someone’s looking at your stall – give them room to move and look.
  • Pouncing on people and not letting them go …Leave it to the tele-sales people – they get hung up on… you’ll likely get the in-person equivalent if you try this approach!
  • Dissing the market/organizers – it really is best to tell the organizer if you have a problem, not your customers.
  • Gossip – Oh my goodness, as a customer I’ve heard this more than once – a stallholder talking to her helper “See that guy over there? He used to go out with ….”, “Check out that woman at the next stall’s hair”. Ah, no thanks!!
  • Packing up your stall while customers are still looking…. please No, no, no. Wait till they’ve gone, and if someone comes along in the middle of packing… stop. Still a potential customer, still deserving of your attention and time.


  • SMILE, be friendly … stall holders are putting themselves and their wares out there – they can be having a bad sales day and your smile could make all the difference :)
  • Ask questions, request assistance. Expect good customer service – you are entitled to it.
  • Wait to be served. Often customers come in ‘waves’ and if the stall holder doesn’t have a helper they can’t get to you as quickly as they (and you) would like. Patience grasshopper :)
  • Let the stall-holder know any issues – I really appreciate when people tell me if a sign has fallen down etc.
  • There’s really only one thing that no stall holder wants to hear (and it may be true, but perhaps don’t say it to your friend within earshot)…. “I/you/Aunty June could make that”.

Are there any tips you have or market stories you’d like to share?