Monday, November 26, 2007

Curious What the Fuss is About?

I talk a lot about Etsy on this site, but still I'm not sure that very many people know much about it, so here's two nutshells' worth (first someone else's nutshell, then my own nutshell).

Essentially, it's an online marketplace on which anyone can open shop as long as they are selling in one of three categories: handmade items (i.e. art, jewelry, pottery, furniture), vintage (over 20 years old), or supplies (beads, paper, yarn, etc.). The great focus is on handmade items, and you can find anything from a firepit for your backyard to a purse made from a hardcover Nancy Drew book to an original painting on gallery-wrapped canvas.

It is not an auction site; the prices are set by the seller. Just like Ebay, however, Etsy itself doesn't handle the actual payment, so once a sale is "completed" on Etsy, the buyer still must proceed with a payment method. Sellers offer a number of methods of payments, from PayPal to check to bank transfer (in Europe); most prefer PayPal (which has come a long way in recent years - you don't even need a PayPal account to use PayPal to pay with a credit card and the seller still won't have your credit card details).

There are some drawbacks: the search function is less than perfect, but still functional (the main catch being that if you wish to exclude things from your search, you must use the word "NOT" in front of a word, instead of a minus sign as you would on the Internet). And the features are not necessarily intuitive. Many have odd names and so you must explore them to figure out what they are (like Time Machine 2, which shows what has just been listed, and I think is the BEST way to get an overview of what's selling on Etsy, and Treasury, which is a great way to be introduced to new sellers and have someone else do the searching for the really cool items you might not find just browsing). If you're looking for something specific, the category list is probably the most basic way to find things.

Prices vary widely, so you can find something for any budget. And the quality of items for sale varies widely, too, sometimes even within one person's shop. But I think most people would be impressed at the way the average quality skews heavily in the direction of excellent, unbelievable, even awe-inspiring.

In short, Etsy is a fantastic place to do your holiday shopping. And although all prices are in U.S. dollars, it's not limited to U.S. residents; there are both buyers and sellers from all over the world. One of them might be your neighbor. And, with limitations, most people will ship all over the world too (the limitations mostly concern things like soap or perfume that might be prohibited in customs regulations).

If you're still wondering why you'd want to buy handmade, I'll answer that in an upcoming post. In the meantime, just go check Etsy out.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Use What You've Got.

If you were on an island with no paper, and you had to make a map of the island so you could remember many years down the road where you had buried your fabulous treasure and pass that information on to your wily pirate protege, what would you do?

Use wood, of course.

Claw Island

Deception Island

Sea of the Sun

Introducing my latest project, treasure maps on wood. These will be going with me to the Handmade Parade in Norfolk on November 10, and if they are still with me at the end of the show, will then make their way into my shop.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Treasury Map

It's a very lucky day for me... My artwork is featured in two Etsy treasuries at once! Wowza. Yippee!

My Kingdom of Delight print is featured in Happily Ever After


My brand-new tiny framed original, Four Masts, is featured in Sailing Like Columbus.

Stop by soon, because that first one is expiring in three hours. Thank you, piratesandpixies and kerri9494!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Speechlessly honored

Mrs. Dragon, of Fantasy Artists of Etsy (FAE), has featured my artwork on her blog this week. I have no words of my own to express the gratitude I feel for her words. It's a tremendous honor to be highlighted, an even bigger honor to be highlighted so eloquently, beautifully, charmingly.

I feel a little like Sally Field right now, and that's not a bad thing.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Showing off


My first live-and-in-person art show/sale was a great success. A few of my magnets and prints and one of my very favorite paintings are on their way to new homes, and I wish them well in their journey (and I hope I get used to this sweet sadness when I say goodbye to an original, because it is such an incredible feeling to think of other people gracing their walls with my paintings).

Equally as important, this was a fantastic opportunity to explore the public side of being an artist. The event was not huge, which was a great thing for me, because I never felt overwhelmed, and I also had a chance to practice reaching out to passersby and talking to people without worrying too much about interrupting one person to talk to someone else.


Of course, it always helps to offer chocolate. Sometimes, I practically shouted, "Hey! Come get some treasure!" And people would give me a funny look, which in itself is not necessarily uncommon at an event like this one, and then edge closer, and look at me questioningly, and I'd add more quietly, "It's chocolate." I think it is a worthy goal to make the world a better place by handing out free chocolate.

But I was both surprised and delighted by how many people stopped by my table even before the offer of chocolate. So many compliments and questions and conversations about maps and cartography. Many people signed up for my mailing list, took brochures and took MOO cards. (If you're one of them, hello and welcome and thank you for stopping by! Please let me know you're here!).


I was very proud of the way I set up my table - after hours of tormented thought about where I could find a tablecloth big enough for a ten-foot table, it occurred to me that a canvas dropcloth, the house-painting kind - would be a bit like a ship's sail. Perhaps too big for me to iron, but attractive nonetheless. Al suggested the fishing net and the shells, and he built the display board for the little paintings.


The treasure chests were a natural display option; and I am very, very pleased by the "brass" sign for the Interimaginational Institute (this photo from the practice table I set up in our living room the night before).


I wanted it to look like the brass plaque one might find outside some kind of Victorian academic society housed in a pompous stone building in an old city, and in the right light, I think it does.

Next time, I'd like to add some more props to the fantasy/make-believe side of things... I love the way the net and treasure accented the treasure maps, but the realms and lands were slightly underflaunted, even if they didn't complain, not once. The purple velvet scarf - a hand-me-down I've had tucked away for years - was a good royal touch, though.


All in all, a great first outing. AND, as you see, I got to dress up, which is always a good reason to get up in the morning.


The larger paintings, I hope, pending my acceptance to the show, will be going with me to the Handmade Parade in Norfolk on November 10; until it is time to prepare for that show, I will make some of the smaller framed mini-paintings available on my Etsy shop, starting tomorrow afternoon. The magnets (which I don't make by hand) are available on my Cafe Press site. I will be experimenting with my own handmade magnet recipe soon, so keep an eye out for those!

Happy travels, my friends.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I've been working on getting out of the house and the studio and, well, refilling the creative well, lately. The past two weekends have been great, a good dip into Virginia's artistic waters.

As mentioned in the last post, I took a lovely drive on Saturday up to Onancock for the grand opening of the Red Queen Gallery; it was a marvelous day, filled with incredible art, good conversation, amazing weather, a a ship, a stop at the Book Bin in Onley on the way back, and some breathtaking views of the Chesapeake Bay (I've driven over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel so many times that it takes a lot to make me stop the car for a closer look, but I did on Saturday, and I'll be posting those photographs on the other blog shortly).

And on Saturday, the 8th, I headed down Route 13 to downtown Suffolk for the "Taste of Suffolk" festival. My real purpose was to see a group of artists participate in a painting circle, hosted by Angelia of Red Thread Studio, who posted a note on the Etsy forums. Each artist worked on a canvas for 20 minutes, then passed the canvas on to the next person. The result was a collection of six vivid collaborative pieces of art, which were auctioned off at the end of the day (I'm still disappointed that I didn't win one, but, ah, well).





It was fascinating to watch the works in progress, growing and changing with each artist's uniquely identifiable touch, and the artists themselves were charming and very willing to chat with the passersby. Definitely worth the trip.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Coming Attractions

It's always when I post the least that it seems the most is happening. That seems a bit backwards. I'll work on that.

Sea of Zest_1_CU

I am delighted to announce that I've joined the Fantasy Artists of Etsy street team, and I look forward to becoming part of this amazing group of artists.

I've also signed up for two art shows/sales in the Hampton Roads area:

I'll be in Artist's Alley at FantaSci 6 at the Hampton Roads Convention Center on September 29 and 30.

And, pending acceptance, I will be part of the Handmade Parade hosted by the Norfolk Craft Mafia on November 10.

I am very excited about both shows (although a bit nervous). I've been drawing and painting like a fiend to have enough work just to fill up my table. (Which also means that if you had any intention of purchasing one of the originals I have in my Etsy shop right now, step right up, because I'll be taking them with me to the show in two weeks).

If you're in the area, please stop by and say hello.

This weekend, I also had the opportunity to attend the Grand Opening of the Red Queen Gallery, in the charming town of Onancock, Virginia, where ten of my paintings are eagerly seeking new homes. It was a marvelous event. The gallery looks beautiful, open and sun-filled and colorful, and I am both awed by the work of the other artists and honored to be in their company. If you're anywhere near there, do stop in, and, while you're there, take a map of the town, also drawn by yours truly. And on top of seeing the gallery and meeting a number of wonderful people, I took a jaunt down to the wharf, and scrambled all over the Godspeed for a while. Any day with a ship in it is a good day, is it not?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Flights of Fancy, Flights of Fantasy

I've put a few more maps up at The Interimaginational Institute for Fantastical Exploration & Cartography, including this one:

Kingdom of Whimsy_main

because some people might wish to visit new kingdoms after they go treasure-hunting. All that treasure -- gold, I assume, although the maps don't specify -- could be useful at fairy markets and the like.

As more lands are discovered and mapped, or as more lands are mapped, and the maps then discovered, the Institute will offer those for your exploring pleasure, as well. And remember, your purchases support future mapping expeditions!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Won't you join me?

On an incredible and unforgettable voyage in search of new lands, hidden treasure, terrific tales and fantastic adventures?


And in celebration. Because today is the first anniversary of my Etsy shop, and although I have not spent much time tending my shop in recent months, I am back - with something that came out of the blue and wraps up so many of my long-tucked-away childhood dreams in one.

I am pleased to announce the opening of:

located at

All I wanted to do when I was a child was go places. I pored over maps for hours, sent away for travel brochures from places I'd never heard of, read National Geographic and Condé Nast Traveler from front to back, spent hours dreaming of becoming an explorer and a cartographer. What better way to live a life than to go all over the world, find new places and then make maps to tell everyone else?


But I grew older, and most people do, I deemed some dreams unreasonable and shelved them away in my mental attic while I went on to other activities. I got the impression at some point that there was nothing left to discover, really (something I realize now is somewhat untrue, even in the age of the amazing Google Earth, but I was convinced I was too late back then). Yet, I never lost my love for stories of explorers, discoverers, adventurers, pirates -- and for the maps they used in their exploits.


As I've grown older, I've realized that the most uncharted land of all is that of imagination. There will always be room for adventurers, explorers and dreamers to roam and discover freely. And there will always be a use for new maps.


So I put dip pen in ink and brush in watercolor these past weeks, and I present you with my maps of imaginary places. Treasure maps, journeying maps and maps of kingdoms filled with magic.


I have been so lucky that even as I changed my plans, my life has still been filled with incredible experiences, expeditions and countless journeys to amazing places. And of all the things I've done with my time, this cartographic project has been one of the most fulfilling, the most fun, the most joyous.

A few of my maps are already available on Etsy, and more, including a map of the Kingdom of Whimsy, will be up over the next few days. Please pass the word to those you know who might like to visit me at The Interimaginational Institute of Fantastical Exploration and Cartography. You'll need no luggage for this journey; just a good sense of adventure and a bit of spontaneity.

Friday, April 13, 2007



From my last drawing lesson. Our instructor had us cover a paper with graphite, and then draw by erasing and using a pencil (9B) to add only the darkest shadows back in. I think it's a pretty good likeness of me. Better than any other self-portrait I've done.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


My Christmas cards started a fire. I've been working on various block prints this month, and this week, I made these, for assembly into cards:


and these:


I am so pleased with both of them and with the whole printing process. It's so different from painting, and I love it just as much, in a very different way.


I've been using thinned acrylic paint instead of inks, but today I went to Jerry's Artarama to get more rubber blocks and lino blocks to carve, and decided to try some water-soluble printing inks. This will be my first lino carving, too; I've been using Speedy-Stamp rubber sheets. I do believe the lino will be better for letters, as the rubber is so squishy that it smears the paint on smaller details (I think it would have been better if the paint were thinner, too). But the rubber is easier to carve away and I think the lino will be easier to carve into, so I expect to use them for different purposes.

I've been inspired lately by this book:

by Anne Desmet and Jim Anderson.

It's full of beautiful examples, many of which are simply stunning. It explains everything neatly and concisely, in a straightforward, matter-of-fact style, while not talking down to the reader (so many books these days assume the reader is either already an expert or in fifth grade) . And the authors make even the more complicated printing methods seem entirely possible and doable, and fun, to boot. Which is really why I like printing so much in the first place.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Getting Territorial

I am pleased to announce that I have settled on a web hosting company, and registered a domain name, and will soon have a web site to call my own.

I will officially unveil my site address once I have something to show.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Practical Voyeurism

Like many people, I think, I am fascinated (perhaps even obsessed), with other people's home offices and studios. Call it practical voyeurism. I look for tips and ideas and inspiration.

This morning, I just discovered Boss Lady and her Flickr pool, Women's Workplace Wednesdays (via Make It, a blog for craft entrepreneurs).

I might contribute, someday, when I get a working camera again. Sigh.

I've been soaking up pictures of Alicia Paulson's amazing studio in the February issue of Romantic Homes and the Spring issue of Better Homes and Gardens' Creative Home magazine. And now, there's even more pictures of her home in the next issue of Romantic Homes. Can't wait to pick up a copy.

And then there's my long-time favorite (well, long time in the blog world), On My Desk, which is a gift to the world from Linzie Hunter.

As for me, I've been scouring furniture sites, art supply sites, and office sites for the perfect studio furniture, and honestly? There's not a lot of options out there. At least not in my price range. I suppose furniture is like anything else, though. Follows a trend, and if you don't like the trend, well, tough. And white furniture, which I prefer in a small room like mine, just isn't big these days. But even beyond color, there don't seem to be a lot of super-functional options out there. I want a painting/drafting table and desk set that combine storage with attractiveness, and I really don't want all my supplies be out in the open (so no ladder desk), but I want everything to be close at hand. I also don't want to have to keep moving things out of the way every time I switch projects (Off the desk or table, yes. Out of reach, no).

Perhaps I should become a furniture designer just to get what I want. IN fact, once I get over my irrational fear of cutting my fingers off with the table saw, I might do just that. In the meantime, I am hoping to piece together a mish-mash studio that works.

Friday, February 02, 2007


I've found a new place to spend money.

It's much, much closer to my house than A.C. Moore (which I still love and always will) and has amazing prices. It's almost all art supplies, instead of art and craft supplies mixed together. And it's got that urban warehouse-y feel, which just tickles my inner artistic fancy. It's just what I thought Virginia would never have. And it's only a 5-minute drive away.