Dec 2, 2010

How to Avoid Long Lines at the Post Office This Year

How to Avoid Long Lines at the Post Office This Year

1. Buy all your gifts from stores that will wrap and ship them for you.

2. Shop from catalogs or on the Internet and have all the items sent directly to the recipients.

3. Use a post office that has a self-service center where you can weigh and purchase postage yourself. I love these!

4. Shop and mail early, ideally before Thanksgiving. If not, then check the Post Office website for shipping holiday deadlines.

5. Time your post office visits for nonpeak hours: early morning and mid-afternoon on weekdays. Avoid Saturdays, lunch time and the period between 4:00 p.m. and closing.

6. Go to the post office at opening time if you can't avoid a Saturday visit.

Nov 26, 2010

Easy Holiday Food Gifts to Make

I love to get homemade food as gifts during the holidays. Giving gifts from the kitchen is really a fun way to get creative and save money, too. Hereare a few ideas to get you started~

Cookie Mix in a jar by

Kumquats in spiced syrup from Cooking Light

Homemade Lollipops

Chocolate dipped pretzels from Good Housekeeping

Obviously, a pretty container adds a lot to these kind of gifts.  You can use plain old mason jars for mixes or jellies and even find pretty containers at the grocery store or at Walmart. Let your imagination be your guide! Add a simple hand written label or hang tag cut from colored paper, and you have a gift that's truly memorable and appreciated.

Black Friday 15% Off Facebook Sale!

Hop on over  to the Iktomi Clay page on Facebook and become a fan! Facebook fans get 15% Off their total order until December 1 in my Etsy shop.  This is a great opportunity to pick up some authentic artwork for yourself or your friends and family at a great price!

Oct 31, 2010

What's Going On

I've been so busy since I last posted. My mom was here for a few weeks and basically I did no clay work or anything creative for a month. Then, I got the horrible news that I was to be laid off from my job. Since I'm a single mom and the only income in my family, it's been very stressful- thinking how I am to bring in enough money to support this house. I'll try to make more income from my clay work, and hopefully, something will come around soon.

I started working on lots of sculptures and Christmas ornaments. Tons of things are drying-which makes me antsy. I wish they would hurry up and dry already! I want to start firing!  Anyway, here's a bit on what's been going on in my studio....

I've listed a few angel ornaments in my Etsy shop.  I made a batch with glazed bodies and hand painted faces like this one. There's even a little bit of gold around the halo. TI like how the angel wings came out on this one - you can see the underlying clay color under the white.

These are sold as a wedding topper set.  The birds are 3 inches long and the nest is about 1/12 across.
They make a pretty display on a cake for a nature or outdoor  wedding.  I love the mottled blue glaze on those birds!

 I've been painting lots of majolica work lately.  These ornaments are all done that way - painting colored glazes over an unfired white base- then firing them so they melt together. I think it's a fun way to get color into my work.

Sculpting a horse head for an animal spirit guide.

The sculpted horse. Still very wet clay - that's why it looks so gray. It'll fire white, though!

I made these all last night. Horse, parrot, panda, mouse, coyote, and rabbit. I was tired when these were done. I thought I'd sleep in this morning, but I was up at 7:30, again in the studio.

Sep 6, 2010

My Latest Sculpture - A funny Lady

Still in the wet clay stage, I thought I would share this lady I'm in the middle of sculpting. She's pretty wacky looking, isn't she? I started with a pinch pot base, added the midsection and her ample boobs.  Then I attached the arms and neck.

I made the head separately and stuck it to the neck and then added the hair. It was starting to dry out and I came up with a trick of holding a wet washcloth in my hand to keep the clay moist while working with it.

Aside from the arms and neck, this sculpture is entirely hollow. I hope (hope, hope) that it fires nicely and that my glazing enhances the piece rather than makes it ugly. I'm not really sure how I want to glaze it. Anyway, after letting it dry for a few days under plastic, I'll fire it next weekend.

Sep 4, 2010

Latest Iktomi News and fresh pottery!

   The new website is up and running! Please feel free to stop by and visit. I have links to my online shops and a little about my clay and what motivates me. I plan to add more to the website and will probably take advantage of the ability to have a blog linked to the site.


New for Fall- lots of buttons!  I have tons of buttons to list in all kinds of styles - rustic and earthy, modern and colorful, stamped, and hand painted. These are slowly being added to my Iktomi etsy shop. I have a few dozen to list, so keep checking back often to see what new buttons are being listed next!

I'm totally in love with my hand painted buttons and pendants. It's so much fun thinking up ways to add color and a little illustration to such a tiny canvas. These would be so cute added to chunky handknits or other sewing project.

Fresh out of the kiln this morning - check it out; cute little majolica ornaments with a sea life theme. I have holes on the top and bottom to hang a little shell or starfish below. I'm not sure how I'll finish these - we'll see. I used Amaco's Gloss Decorating Colors (GDC), which are designed for majolica decorating. The range of colors is wonderful, and you can use it on low fire and high fire clay.

Majolica painted angel ornaments. I can't wait to make more of these cuties. I have some super mini angels painted the same way. The minis would be perfect for a mini tree with a handmade ornament theme.

I made a few new handmade buttons in this batch, too.  In this photo you can see my new faux bois (woodgrain) buttons - and do you see the adorable little hedgehog babies? They're all sitting on my mousepad for this pic.

Aug 25, 2010

A couple of Happy Things

I made lots of little hedgehogs last night. They're so simple; just a ball of clay with a pointy end and a few pokes with my stick - but it's amazing how much personality they have when they're done. The ones in the picture are still wet clay. They'll shrink from drying and firing and get even smaller and cuter. Making these really made me happy.

I got my shipment from Crop Circle Clay! It showed up on my birthday, isn't that good luck? Diana is such a talented artist. These mugs and bowl are decorated with crop circle designs and fun typography  with the words "peace" and "imagine".  They are so pretty and this tiny iphone photo doesn't do them justice. However - they make me extremely happy!

Aug 22, 2010

Pointers about Freebies

These little hedgehogs will be fired and glazed in bright colors. Some of these will be used for little gifts that I add to packages. I generally include a free gift for sales over $25, if I have something small on hand.  Including free gifts (also known as freebies)  is a touchy topic for online sellers. If you sell on Etsy, Zibbet or Artfire, you'll find plenty of sellers who include a free gift- whether a few beads, a bookmark or another small item. Other sellers feel that adding extra gifts for a sale just eats into their profits and should not be expected by buyers. 

One comment I've read in one of the many Etsy forum threads on the subject, is that sellers fear that buyers will be accustomed to extra gifts and freebies. I don't think buyers have gotten to that point, yet. While a few buyers might feel slighted if they get a freebie from one seller and not another, most realize this is an unexpected gift and don't expect it every time.

Adding a gift is something I do for sales over a certain dollar amount. Sellers need to determine whether it's worth their while to include one. I think it can be a good way to foster goodwill and make your shop a standout in the mind of your customer.

Some things to remember when including a free gift if you are an online seller:
  1. Don't include religious or political items in your package. They most likely will be unwanted and discarded. Your online business is not the place to make personal statements or proselytize.You never know if you're inadvertently insulting your buyer.
  2. Keep the weight of your free items to a minimum or be prepared to pay extra shipping for the extra weight of your gift. Buyers will resent paying for an item they didn't ask for and may not want.
  3. Don't send obviously used, broken or cast off items just to be able to say you include a free gift. What you send to a buyer says a lot about you and your business.
  4. Don't expect thanks for your free gift to a buyer. Remember, it was your choice to send the freebie, and don't take it personally if your buyer doesn't acknowledge it.
  5. Wrap your small item carefully or tape it to your invoice to guard against loss. I've had my gifts go missing because they were lost in the middle of a pile of packing peanuts. Live and learn.
  6. Don't include items that may cause allergic reactions; including (but not limited to) scented items, candy, food, herbs, flowers, etc.
There are lots of items to use for free gifts. I use small clay figures, handmade buttons, pendants or magnets. Often, these are things I've made in bulk specifically to add as gifts.   Here are some other  ideas.
  • Bookmarks with your original artwork, printed with your shop name and url.
  • A percent off coupon for your shop. You can print these easily on your home computer.
  • Small plastic bag with a few beads from your stash. If you sell these in your shop, add a note of the name or listing in case your buyers want more.
  • Stickers or magnets with your art and business name.
If you're a buyer and you get a free gift from your seller,your first thought when seeing you've gotten a freebie is often, "Sweet!".  Please remember that your seller made an extra effort to send you this little happy, and hopefully, it's appreciated.

Aug 19, 2010

Looking for Creative Inspiration

      When I'm looking for inspiration, often a magazine will get my creative juices flowing. I spend a lot of time in bookstores, so I'm pretty familiar with what's on the shelf. When I do come across something new, I  get excited. I wanted to share a couple of discoveries. These magazines are full of color and style - fun to look at and chock full of inspiration.

The French version of Marie Claire is a new favorite of mine. Nope, I don't read French, but that's okay. This is the DIY Marie Claire and although pricey at $9.00, it was fun to see what's new and trendy in a European market.

Here's a page inside. I like these takes on a nautical look. 

Stampington, the stamp company, put out this card sampler magazine. I like card magazines for ideas on layering and pattern. It's also great for coming up with color ideas. Lots of good ideas, but leans heavily toward the 'cutesy'.  Expensive. I probably will skip this one next time, but you might like it if you're a stamper or card maker.

A page from the sampler book. If you don't want to design, I guess you just copy these.

CMYK is an art mag geared toward the design and illustration crowd. I love this one. Lots of really good design that will take your mind into new directions. Another one like this- probably even better- is Communication Arts. These are also keepers. You can go back over and over and always see something new.

How could you not be inspired by these adorable animals on these beer labels?

If you want exotic style and color, try Hawaiian Style. I love this magazine, because looking at the wonderful photos just makes me drool. Great photography and amazing homes make this a joy to read. 

Look at these pretty rooms! Don't you wish you could be there?

Now, remember, the purpose of looking in magazines and books is inspiration - not copying. I find, if I look at the photos a while then put it away, I create something from within me, not just a straight up knock off. Isn't that the best way to go?
Now go forth and make things!! ~~~~

Aug 17, 2010

Get In the Kitchen!

I've been intrigued with kitchen gadgets lately. I don't know, for some reason, when I go to Target or Walmart, I stand in front of that wall of kitchen stuff transfixed - as if all my foodie dreams have come true.

Look! a strawberry huller! Oh, I can picture the delicious shortcake already. I should get that, might need it in case a midnight urge to have strawberries and cream overcomes me. Hey, what's that- a mandoline? Oh, no thank you. The last time I tried that, I took off the tip of my finger. Yes, on the first carrot. It went into the trash immediately. But say, now. There's a lemon zester- so tiny, so cute. I know I had that recipe that called for lemon zest and I had to resort to a grater. I should really buy that...

 You know the story. I have a drawer full of little items that I've bought that I rarely use. Still, I love kitcheny things.
Oven Mitt by Different Folks
 This oven mitt by DifferentFolks is fun and modern looking. I love the hugging salt shakers. Too cute. I love how you slip your hand inside them.

Salt and pepper shakers are one of the most collected items and it's not hard to see why when you look at these crazy vintage duck shakers. Probably fifty years old at least, these made in Japan beauties have the right mix of kitsch and sweetness. Available from DianeA and a steal at $12.00.

From my glass fusing days, I'm still in love with kiln-formed glass. These are some of the prettiest spoon rests I've ever seen. Layers of colored glass are fused together to make a functional piece of art. I think you could match just about any kitchen color scheme with this selection. Available from Kristysly.

This tiny stoneware bowl is one of mine, that I think is perfect to use as a small prep bowl or salt cellar. You can hand wash it but the dishwasher is not recommended. I hand painted the birds in glazes, so they never wash off. I use these kind of tiny bowls all the time for all kinds of things. Some just to hang around the kitchen and look nice. Available in my Iktomi shop.

Check out this laptop stand. The only thing I wonder is if I'd remember to change the settings so my computer wouldn't 'go to sleep' after 5 minutes. It's a pretty cool idea, though. Get it through Amazon.
Yikes, this looks scary. It's a citrus reamer. I know, I know...
Anyway, you want to be the first on your block to own one of these slightly dangerous looking gadgets, don't you?  I know I'm tempted. If nothing else, just to show it to friends.
Hey Carl, got any citrus needs reaming? Check this out! 
From Art and Cook, various department stores.

Aug 15, 2010

Hand Printing Experiments

I stayed up late last night making more block prints and stenciled work. After a trip to Michael's, where I discovered a fabric paint from Tulip; Soft Fabric Paint - that needs no heat setting (!) , I sat down and had to try it out. Of course, when you do these things they always take longer than you think. That's why I was up until 2:30!
Here's the first print with the Tulip Soft; the red flowers are block printed with Tulip Soft and the blue bird is a rubber carved block print with fabric screenprinting ink.
I like the lost and found edges of the hand printed flowers. In a closeup of the bird, you can see
the loss of detail that I think comes from the use of the thinner screenprinting ink.

This fabric is also quite a tight weave, which is nice for holding detail and makes for a crisp and polished tea towel when folded, pressed and laid on a breakfast tray beside your brioche.
I also block printed on a looser weave flour sack towel. You can see the level of detail is much lower, and this lends a rustic, authentic feeling to the towel.

and a close up-

In addition to the flat weaves, I tried printing on a waffle weave towel, with surprising success. I'll be test driving these towels myself to see how they perform. I really like how the colors work together and the graphic style reminds me a little of a scandinavian look.

I played around with some other ideas and made some test prints, but didn't print whole designs with these images yet-

I'm a huge fan of mid-century, danish modern style (funny, because for many years I hated that look with a passion!) , and I've got lots of ideas how I want to incorporate that into some new designs.
In addition to the block printing, I'm still working on more intricate designs that I'll actually screenprint the images myself. Hopefully, those with get finished soon. That will be a fun challenge and I'll be sure to blog on that when the time comes. 

Let me know what you think in the comments section. Do you have any favorite color combinations? I struggle with that sometimes, and I love to hear what other people think. Tell me what your favorite images or styles are. You might open my mind to some new ideas I've never thought of before!

Aug 8, 2010

Little Girls, Foxes and new stuff

The Bird Caller.
Fox Spirit Guide .
Rabbit sculpture. 3 in. high.
Lighthouse. 3.5 in. high.
Little Cat animal spirit guide. 3 in. high.
I listed a few new items in my online shop on Etsy.  The top photo, The Bird Caller, is actually the second I've done with a girl and birds on her outstretched arms. I like the expression on her face - which is just how I'd feel if I had an armload of birds.

Visit my shop, Iktomi, on Etsy if you'd like a closer look at my new work.