Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Robot Army begins its march upon the hapless world!


Posted some more Tiny Robots on Etsy. The last Angry Robot of the group, and another Happy heart filled bot! They're shipping with brass hooks for hanging on your christmas tree in addition to the usual black or red necklace cord.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Something I Like

Since I don't have much to say for myself right now, I thought I'd pimp something I love. Ruby of iacua.etsy.com.
Lets be fair, if I were at all wealthy I would just order about 20 things on etsy right now, and a bunch of them would be from this shop. I found this jeweler because - in fact - she hearted my etsy shop. I've since ordered a set of rings from her, and she is absolutely wonderful. She's an SF bay area local, and deserves all the props I can give her!


Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade
iacua.etsy.com


Oh and for the sake of amusement, here are those rings I have, on m hand :-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

All Work and No Etsy


If you start a second business, while business is slow with your first business, you are setting yourself up for this...which is no new items in your Etsy shop while you instead work on better paying, real job work. So here's a picture of finished casts I haven't had time to make anything out of, just to prove I'm still alive.

Oh and I'm adding some robots (badly photographed but I haven't had time to redo the photos) to the shop, just in time for the holidays!

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm Starting a Blog Meme. I shall call it, the Nice Meme

If you are reading this, no matter where you are or what you are doing, at your very next free moment:

Do something nice for someone.

Email a friend to tell them how much they mean to you, send you mom an e-card, do some of your roommates dishes, offer to bring your cubical mate coffee from the break room, tell a coworker how much you enjoy working with them, pay someone elses toll on your commute home (but please don't tell me you're reading this DURING your commute ;-). It doesn't matter what you do, it doesn't matter how big or small, just do something nice.

You don't have to tag anyone, you don't have to repost this unless you want to, but if you can take one moment out of your day, and make the world a friendlier place.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Blogging about SteamPowered

You know, everyone else already has so I don't think I'm going to have to do more then link to things. A basic summary is that it was a fun weekend, and a tiring one, and I still need more sleep.

Check out The Etsy Steam Team on MAKE: Blog

And don't miss our member OrpheusAlchemy in her very own Interview on MAKE:Blog.


And here's an obligatory picture of me, to prove that I not only exist, but dress up. Check out those arm garters by Choklit Chanteuse and the vest by PinkPeacock.


And to round out this little list of links and such, something that will be coming soon to my shop, and which made an appearance at the Con: Tiny Robots

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Steampowered Ho!

I've been working my arse off this past week to get ready for SteamPowered. Thus, no blogging. Frankly these past two months have been possibly the busiest I've been in years. I'm really enjoying the momentum but, I admit I'm really looking forward to November with some quiet time to work on new projects and personal illustration rather then just production.

I'll try to edit this post with some preview pictures of SteamPowered merchandize but...chances are not good so, lets just say there will be octopi and koi and ...tiny robots! If you're in Sunnyvale/San Jose, come by and say hi. Bring me a cup of tea, and I'll love you forever.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

People keep tagging me.

I don't usually do these, but now I've been tagged twice, and really, I've just had a generally frustrating evening and could use something to distract me before bed. So:

Seven facts about me.
I was tagged, first by thepinkhair and then by Catherinette Rings, go visit there blogs.

At the forefront, I shall say I'm not tagging anyone, just because I like to disobey rules. No that doesn't count as one of the seven facts.

These are the rules:
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

And now... seven facts about me:

1) I think best while walking. Frequently I will have thought out whole epic novels in my head, then be unable to string a sentence together when sit down to write it. When thinking I often pace, or pace while juggling. Yes. Juggling.

2) I used to collect marbles. I'm still rather fond of them, but I long ago stopped trying to aquire more.

3) I spent a week in the rainforest in Peru when I was 13. While I was there I carved a toucan, from a freshly cut piece of balsa wood, with a slightly dull pocket knife. That was definitely not the coolest thing about the trip, but it was the random thing that came to mind.

4) At least half of everything I own is orange. I really, really like the color orange.

5) A short animated film of mine played in film festivals in Santa Fe, Nashville, and Boston in 2005. I haven't had time to finish another one since.

6) I play the clarinet.

7) I drink more tea then any other beverage. When I'm working, I always have a cup of tea sitting next to me, and baring when I forget its there and it goes cold, I average probably a cup of tea every hour or so.

Small mysteries revealed. Well not really, but maybe it was more interesting then staring at your wall or watching yet another youtube video?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I had an actual post, but instead...

I am in the process of writing something interesting and useful, but I'm completely exhausted from lots of rushing and a fantastic weekend at the Handcar Regatta with the lovely and talented Choklit. So it will wait, while I say this:

I have just received my invitation to Spoonflower! Its all over now...I'm going to go broke printing fabric for myself...not to sell, not to craft with, just to make stupid things like throw pillows and jackets FOR MYSELF. Its sad, but it is the truth.

And an edit, because I felt guilty here's a picture of one of the koi, cast and finished, to your amusement.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How fast do YOU work?

An addition or perhaps an informal response to Totusmel's blog post for the day, about unsolicited pricing advice. I want to address something that ties with pricing, and that she touched on in that post.

Speed of production.

The speed and deftness with which you complete a task is a real consideration in any 'trade'. But it seems to be one that crafters selling in a small way often forget. Being able to do something that creates a well made finished product doesn't mean you've 'mastered the craft' as it were. While it is true that one of the first questions to ask yourself before selling an item is "is the quality of my work appropriate for sale", but even once you reach a point where you are making something that you are proud of - that is well made and sellable - you may be working long careful hours and generating many cast offs to create that one lovely well crafted item.
Half the battle, of learning any process, is doing the same things faster, improving your work methods and your turn around times.

In my 'real' business I charge more because I work faster, I know that clients are willing to pay a higher hourly rate knowing I won't be taking days to finish the work.
I realize that I have to pay myself a smaller hourly rate for my jewelry, simply because I'm not that fast at it. I tend to to it while multitasking, drift in and out of the project, and in general make a fair number of mistakes. The final product is one I am happy with, but as yet it is not created at a speed which would allow me to consider the above materials price to be a decent hourly wage.

There is something to be said for pricing based on the amount of time put into your work. But you have to look at your own process realistically and understand when you are taking longer then might be expected to finish a piece. Its an important part of learning any trade. And I am, of course, still learning!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

To Join the Octopus

Those cupcakes just looked so pretty I left them up for awhile. No seriously, been busy and stressed. But here's a peak at some more sculptures to be cast as jewelry parts (like those flowers and that Octopus ). More of these to come I expect, slowly.

For now....I'm still playing catch up. I'm not allowed to offer to do/organize/make anything more until November...official personal rule!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Something Completely Different

I always find myself posting here when I should be doing something else (in this case, printing cover letters, and label sticker things), but anyway...something entirely different. Crochet Cupcakes.

I made this set of four for a Steam Team friend as part of a trade (for wondrous eco-friendly cleaning products! You can check out more info on those at her Blog). They're for her daughter, and I really enjoy the idea that they'll be played with, and fed to teddy bears at tea parties.

They're fun to do, and invent a variety of toppings for. And this brings me to the sort of question of this blog post.

I don't feel particularly comfortable with the idea of selling them in my Etsy shop, because honestly there are about a million free cupcake crochet patterns out there and of course these are loosely based on one of them. And I don't really enjoy the process so much that I want to make a million of them.

But they're just such a happy little thing. Everyone likes cupcakes. I've been pondering a solution to bring happy to the world without simply making and selling them.


So here are my solutions up for consideration, anyone should feel free to comment on them or add suggestions!

First: Offer the pattern for free here. Its a fairly simple pattern, with a few vaguely complicated bits that I still need to fine tune, but really anyone could make a crochet cupcake (assume you know how to crochet hehe)

Second: Offer 'pay it forward' cupcakes now and then in my shop. Pay it forward is the idea that you give someone something for free more or less, and then they do the same for someone else. So for the listing fee and shipping, you would get a cupcake.

Third: Charity cupcakes. Sold now and again with the small proceeds going to a charity of one sort or another. Probably my own local animal shelter or soup kitchen.

Things to consider.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Madcap schemes

I lately haven't felt like I have much to talk about. But just now, in the midst of making another long list of thing on the back of an envelope (I like using envelopes for lists, they are long, they come every day in piles in my mailbox for free, and they're always on my desk) I thought of something to ramble on about, at least for a few paragraphs while I drink my tea before I go to the bank/post office/used book store (hey, its on the way).

Anyone who knows me for more then a few months learns, that I am a sucker for new ideas and schemes. I'm always coming up with something else I'd like to make or do. Were I to write all my project ideas down on a sheet of paper (I do this regularly in small amounts) I could probably easily plan out all my time in creating things for the next few years. I've only recently learned to remind myself that making things actually takes time - I've never been good at time (always late, always saying I can do more in a day then is possible). And I can never wait until I've complete a project before planning the next. Actually I can rarely wait until I start the last project before planning the next.
I have an actual list - tucked into a sketchbook - of things I would LIKE to do. My real to do list doesn't even GET to them because of the things I should do, have to do, get paid to do, have deadlines for, etc.

And I don't really think this is a bad thing. I suspect it frustrates people, I will show a design, be very excited about an idea or plan, and tell people about it, and then not actually do it in any decent amount of time. But all this plotting serves the important purpose of keeping me enthusiastic about life. I thrive on the energy of planning and designing, and that gets me through the actual process of making things which I often fine it hard to stick with. And it gets me through less then amazing jobs that pay the bills but don't necessary inspire a lot of excitement. I just really like having something to be excited about ALL THE TIME. As often as possible, every waking moment.

So, when I start posting designs and concepts here, and pay off never comes, I apologize in advance, just you know - smile and nod and try not to make fun of me.

As a friend once told me "You wouldn't be happy if you didn't have at least your next 10 projects planned."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Building Tiny Robot - Part 2

I should have known better then to say 'over the course of the next week'. Although to be fair I did, actually, do everything pictured here that week, as since then I've been really very busy.

At any rate, here are the basic pieces of the Tiny Robot. Cut brass tubing, and thin sheeted walnut, a watchmakers vial and a few itty bitty gears, I haven't decided which gears to use yet.


The pieces go together like this to form the body of the robot. (Excuse the blurry photo, its hard to hold pieces together with one hand and the SLR with the other and keep both steady as it turns out). The gears and some copper wire will decorate the interior, once everything is positioned and adhered together. As you can see everything needs more sanding at this point, and I'll eventually finish the wood with something, possibly olive oil (although I would apply oil after anything requiring epoxy glue has been already glued). I'm also pondering ways to darken the interior of the brass tube, to show off the vial and gears better.



Bet you were wondering what was going to go inside that vial, weren't you. A squid. A very small one. In order to allow him to squish a bit to fit tightly into the vial, I made the squid out of a questionable substance called "Bake and Bend" by sculpy. I original bought the stuff with an eye for stop motion animation, and used it only once - to make entry wounds for bullet holes (for which I must say, it worked alright in a pinch, but is a little to non-pliable for).

Bake and Bend bakes to a sort of slightly bendable rubbery substance. It also has a curiously chemical smell, and has been doing odd things to the dye on its plastic wrappers in the year its been sitting in a drawer. Its also annoyingly soft and I refrigerated it for a day before sculpting with it, because at this scale, I kept accidentally squishing my work!
He'll be shaded with some acrylic paint, before going into his vial for good.

The head of the robot had been left for later, because how its build really has a great deal to do with how the light bulb on top is lit. And so far, electricity confuses the daylights out of me. But I absolutely refuse to go to all this trouble and NOT have the little guy light up! In part 3, I've no idea what will happen, but probably...electricity. And hopefully very few fires or explosions...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tatting is not a lost art Challenge entry

A short break to test a number of things.
1) Blogging from flickr, which I've never done and am kind of unsure about.

2)To show off how the casts eventually turned out from the sculptures I posted a bit ago. Aged with acrylic paint, by the way.

3) To get some comments on a possible new photo set up for future shop photoshoots. Wood replacing the leather I'd been using. More of that later, I intend to go a bit farther and do some still life sets for jewelry shots and see if I like that as a way of showing the work.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Am I worrying just a little to much?

I think probably the 4 (possible as many as 5) individuals who read this blog will have some input on this, so we now take a break from your regularly scheduled program (Building Tiny Robot) for a bit of self-analysis. Its not as depressing as the subject makes it sound, I promise.

Lately, I've been not really finishing anything for my etsy shop, mostly because I've been experimenting with new directions and processes. Nothing wrong with that, really, but I've noticed that I've begun to put an enormous amount of weight on trying to include something "original" in every piece. By original I mean something completely crafted by me, rather then a store bought or recycled item. For some reason, not including something like that in a piece has become synonymous in my mind with 'copping out' or 'not giving it my all' or 'not being creative enough'. This is born mostly from an effort to try to step out from the crowd of Etsy sellers making necklaces out of wire and beads, but I wonder if I'm not going a bit to far. It means I don't have new items for my shop, which hurts both my sales and my ability to publicize. It means I spent more time generating pieces that aren't really up to the same quality as the bead and wire ones, while I try to perfect processes I haven't used in along time (or invent new ones wholesale). And I wonder if I'm not focusing all my energy on these new 'original' pieces for misguided reasons. Prejudice, if you will, against something that because I find it mechanically easy to accomplish I assume is worth less.
It should be said, I've always been a bit of a sucker for the harder path. I am after all, a 2d animator who refuses to work in digital 3d, and an artist who was arguably better at academics before university. But I wonder, am I putting value on something just because its more difficult to accomplish?

I'd be interested to hear other peoples thoughts.
In the mean time, I will be photographing a tiny clay squid, writing up how difficult it is to invent a way to clamp down a brass tube if you do not have a proper tabletop clamp, and pondering why a 1.5v battery will not light a 1.5 v light bulb.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Just barely once a week

I've been at a loss, lately, for useful things to say. Its been enough trouble just keeping all the things I'm supposed to make and do straight in my head, pondering deep philosophical art thoughts really hasn't been happening. So this is an update really only to cover two things.

First, Totusmel informed me recently that she was passing the arte y pico award on to me. Which is far to nice of her. And I don't really have anyone to pass it on too, so I'll just say thank you and mention the award here, so that if anyone wants to hand them out to some blogs, you can. Since Totusmel may well be to blame for me starting to say more then just "I made this have a picture" here, I'm pretty honored that she enjoys my ramblings enough to offer me an award.

Second, this week I'll be making something crazy and new, and you'll get to come along with me on the journey. Including, unless I feel particularly self conscious, all of my stupid mistakes!
I will be making this:It may, or may not, light up, depending on how smart I feel, and how easily (to be read - without driving/buying gas) the parts I would need can be obtained. But it will, rest assured, contain a squid regardless. I haven't done mixed media sculpture in a good long while, so expect false starts and complaints and other such excitement along the way.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Finding Inspiration - suggestion the first

Some little while ago, Totusmel posted in her blog asking for suggestions and inspiration. I offered something up that inspired her and she created this lovely piece -
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=13121250

So I thought maybe it would be worth reiterating here, a way I often find inspiration. Themes and elaboration on them. I've had great success working though a theme to all its possible conclusions for inspiration. Usually a more abstract idea or broader 'thing' works the best, because you don't want to constrain your brainstorming too much. But even something like "This orange origami camel sitting on my desk" can work. I'll use the example that produced my suggestion to Totusmel, because I've been working with that theme a great deal lately: Airship captain.

I did this piece http://sarahdungan.blogspot.com/2008/05/i-think-its-done.html and from there, proceeded to do some airship designs, some airship captain sketches, and a set of images for pendants based on the idea.
In basis you explore outwards from the idea. Airships, captain of an airship, pilot of an airship, the environment an airship travels in, the far off lands an airship might visit, the wife pining at home (classic sailors mythology right there). The mechanics of how an airship might work. An airship port maybe? Just keep listing until you simply can't think of anything else. Then see what sparks your interest and go from there. And remember theres no harm in reiterating a theme until you feel your through with it! Sometimes the best ideas come in herds.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Finding the uniqueness in a trend

I recently made a pact with myself, to try as hard as possible to avoid complaining. There are a pretty good number of people pointing out the problems of the world, and very few offering solutions to those problems. And while there is certainly value to airing grievances, complaints, and issues, I think I would like to approach the world from the other side. I would like to speak from the side of solutions, epiphanies, and ideas.

With that in mind, I intend to address a topic that has been much discussed lately, and one that has been on the minds of a number of those of us in the Etsy Steam Team. It was posed to me recently, and most eloquently, by one of the dashing fellows behind the upcoming The Handcar Regatta "Where is the you in it?"

We all think it, when we log into Etsy and search 'steampunk', or see the three millionth comic character wearing goggles - how do you stand out in a trend that is rapidly gaining more and more of the same sorts of styles? You love your gears, and your watch movements, and your brass filigree, but everyone else seems to be doing that as well. What will keep you an individual?

I believe its a way of thinking about what you're creating, as opposed to what you use to create it. Don't think about Steampunk as a visual style or a fashion style. That's the kind of thinking that can end with you browsing countless shops trying to decide what makes something steampunk, worrying you aren't steampunk enough, trying to follow trends so carefully that you start creating from the trend, instead of Creating the trend.

Instead, think of steampunk as a setting. A fabulous place filled with strange steam powered inventions, undiscovered countries yet to be explored, with a pervading attitude of adventure and invention! It doesn't matter if its the past that never was, the future that won't be, another world, another dimension, or your back yard, and it doesn't matter what everyone else is wearing. When you sit down to create, think of what you would wear or do in a world like that. Think of what other people would wear. In my world, gears are the fodder of the poorer classes - making decoration out of discarded bits of machinery, readily available. Maybe in your world, gears are a status symbol for the inventive geniuses of the universities. In my world, I wear suspenders and a cowboy hat, and tack my cravat down with a gear pin. Maybe you wear delicate silk and pearls, and pine for you aeronaut lover lost during a flight to the north pole. Don't think about the way other people's work looks, think about the way something from a Steampunk place COULD look.

Then in the end, you can at the very least be satisfied that you've put the You into Steampunk.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A sneak peak


A little peak at some things I've been working on for jewelry. This is an example of the perils of having a built in camera in your latop. Instead of getting out the SLR you think 'I'll just set these on something white and tilt the screen a bit...there -click-'.


Sculpted in 'super scuply' which is always that disturbing fleshy pink color. There's another variation thats grey that I keep meaning to switch too. But if you only make tiny things, your big box of super sculpy lasts for quite awhile.

Friday, June 20, 2008

For Future Personal Reference, something not to do

Don't open a shop on Etsy, then realize its already June and you have a book deadline at the end of the month. If you do that, people will start to BUY things in your shop and you will have nothing made to replace those things with. Then you will feel a little silly, and talk about it in your blog.

I will put up pictures of things like drawings for resin cameos and pictures of sculpting pieces for necklaces, and things about crochet...soon. But in the mean time, just that little warning, word to the wise, learn to temper your enthusiasm better then I do (not at all).

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wood carving 101, and a new necklace


When Taueret asked me about the possibility of doing a trade on Etsy, I got excited. She's an excellent weaver and I love textiles...a lot. As we went back and forth about the design for her necklace, I decided that I wanted to add a bit of something extra special. So, after a long while of not working with it, I got out a little piece of walnut wood and went about carving a leaf charm.

It was a lot harder then I remember. Hack sawing out the shape was fine, but then three million years later I'm sitting there filing going "I remember this bit as going faster." Ah the rosy glow of nostalgia!

This was also my first time using olive oil as a finish. I've seen a number of eco-minded crafters use it on things like wooden buttons, and I thought I'd give it a try. I must say it worked nicely. If I find myself crazy enough to make my own wooden buttons, I'll be trying it again. I've got that nice piece of cherry....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The necessary introductory post

I hate the first post in an empty blog. But there's an order to these things, and to just start posting as if this blog had been here forever and I was just continuing on would throw the universe out of alignment and threaten the very fabric on the inter-webs. So here is the obligatory statement of purpose.

I've been blogging for awhile in the grand tradition of the 'sketch blog' over at http://sarahdungan.blogspot.com - but I never say much, just throw up art and run. Now that I've started my Etsy.com adventure, I wanted to have a separate space to blog about that, and about craft projects in general - the sort that have nothing to do with the sketches and illustrations that go up on my other blog space. And here it is! New work, new projects, design sketches, long rambling process discussions, and other related thing will all appear here now and again.

And so, to wrap up, here are some shout outs to other blogs that I enjoy.

The Etsy Steam Team blog - cheating, because I'm on the team, and I contribute but that's no reason not to post it!

Taueret's Weaving Blog - Lovely weaver on etsy, with a nice blog with insight and book reviews among other things.

Wunderkammer - Craft blog with some really fabulous crochet work and a few little free patterns.

Moon's Creations - crochet artist I met helping put together a charity auction on Deviantart. Lots of cute little critters.