As a button

For better or for worse, the adjective most often used to describe me is “cute.” And not in the “damn-she’s-cute-I’ll-buy-her-a-drink” way. More in the “poke-her-and-she-giggles” cute way.

You can imagine, as a  reporter hoping to be taken seriously, I try to do everything I can to get as far from that damn adjective as possible.

But every once in a while it’s nice to indulge in what, after all, I do best.

So I say go ahead, Amy, be cute. And, uh, not just so you can wear this pair of Magpie’s earrings, either…

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Published in: on April 30, 2008 at 7:54 pm  Comments (5)  

Coincidence?

The Etsy website says there are at least 100,000 sellers on the site. Of those, one spotted my pottery and decided her mom would like a handmade mug for Mother’s Day. It just so happened that I loved her jewelry too, and was feeling open to a trade. Then, surprise, surprise, it turned out that this artist happened to also live in Philadelphia. And, most remarkable of all, it turned out she lives down the street, just six blocks away!!

I mean, really…what are the chances?

So I stopped by Oceano’s house on my way home from work today, dropped off my mug and picked up this lovely necklace! Can’t wait to wear it tomorrow!

Published in: on April 28, 2008 at 9:12 pm  Comments (12)  

Hello Sunshine

Some old friends came to visit this weekend and brought me some lovely flowers. Here they are in one of my own Shino vases, sharing the windowsill with my Asparagus Fern. Imagine that the sounds of a Mexican street fiesta with a live band are drifting in through the window (I love my neighborhood!) and you will start to get a feeling for this Sunday morning in Philadelphia.

Happy end of April!

Published in: on April 27, 2008 at 12:22 pm  Comments (3)  

Saturday Critique

Okay, kiddos, break out the red pens – it’s Saturday Critique time again!

This week we’ll be attacking (I mean, offering constructive criticism to) Mind the Craft, a crafty shop that offers a little bit of everything handmade.

As a professional writer, I’m going to leave well enough alone with her great pictures and go straight after what matters to me most – the words.

Let’s have a look at her shop announcement, shall we? She’s got some great humor and personality coming through, but it could use to be sharpened up and shortened.

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Thanks for stopping by! Please take a minute to browse around the shop and see all the goodies I have to offer. I’m restless and have to keep my hands busy so they don’t carry out the evil schemes rattling around in my brain; it was either world domination or that tissue cozy. As a result, I’m always adding new things to the store, most of which don’t fit neatly into a single category.

You can always tell what I’m passionate about/obsessed with at the moment– the store will be full of whatever is holding my interest, though it seems my tendency is to craft accessories of all kinds (Come for the felt appliqué pillows. Stay for my world-(in)famous paint-chip pocketbooks!). Sorry the descriptions are a little bare bones. Copy sucks.

Will be adding napkins, placemats, and other goodies soon–I know, I’ve said that before but this time I promise. X my heart, hope to craft.

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MindtheCraft has got a couple of good one-liners in there. I say, put them out front and create a great lede (that’s what we in the newspaper biz call the first line of the story). She’s got several sentences that strike me as repetitive – so let’s strike them out. No need to hammer people. Also, let’s junk the apologies; making sales is about exuding confidence. When is the last time you saw a car salesman begin a pitch by apologizing to you?

Here’s my rewrite:

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Come for the felt appliqué pillows. Stay for my world-(in)famous paint-chip pocketbooks!

MindtheCraft is full of whatever is holding my interest at the moment! I’m restless and have to keep my hands busy so they don’t carry out the evil schemes rattling around in my brain; it was either world domination or that tissue cozy!

Check back often – there will be more napkins, placemats, and other goodies all the time. I promise. X my heart, hope to craft.

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Oh, and a note about avatars? They are an important part of your “branding” and can attract potential buyers, especially if you are hanging around in the forums. MindtheCraft has a funny little picture, but unfortunately it’s black and white and doesn’t give a sense of what she makes. Since her name doesn’t describe her product, I think she should consider using a picture of her work (like maybe the beautiful, and colorful, pocketbook at the top). An avatar is free advertising – make it work for you!

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Interested in a critique focusing on language and writing? You’ve come to the right place! Leave a comment on this blog post to be considered for next week!

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Published in: on April 26, 2008 at 3:14 pm  Comments (31)  

Frozen Honey

Lovely jewelry and eye-catching photos – all in a day’s work for the Brooklyn-based Peach Tree. All the warm honey and ambers have got me thinking longingly back to autumn…

Published in: on April 24, 2008 at 11:15 pm  Comments (2)  

Feeling a spring in your step?

Check out my bloomin’ treasury!

Published in: on April 24, 2008 at 12:33 am  Comments (1)  

Yum

If loving funky, handmade soap is a sin, then color me guilty.

Oh, and also send me a batch of Bonghinatura‘s vanilla and brown sugar soaps, while you’re at it!

Published in: on April 23, 2008 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lava me, baby!

Hot, hot, hot!

These lava bead earrings are the work of Jennifer, at Porterness (though she also attributes some of the work to the help of her cat, Winifred). They look just like gorgeous glowing lanterns to me!

Published in: on April 22, 2008 at 9:17 pm  Comments (1)  

Monday Muck-up!

After loading this mug in the kiln, I tried to shift an upper kiln shelf to improve the internal air flow. I had used some putty (called kiln wadding) to stick the shelf to the posts that supported it – even though I had been told not to. Of course, the post stuck to the shelf as I moved it, then fell off and landed right on one of my cups! I fired it anyways and wouldn’t you know it – the glaze came out better then any other piece in the firing! Damn!

Here’s another story of a slap-on-the-forehead moment, shared by Cynthia last week:

In school I had my first perfectly thrown bowl and after it was dry, I picked it up just by the rim and a big chunk came out. I was so heart broken. Sometimes, I catch myself doing the same thing now, but remember that incident and am more careful. It’s always when I’m rushing too.

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Got a crafting catastrophe to share? Or just a story of learning things the hard way? Post it here and a picture if you’ve got it!

Published in: on April 21, 2008 at 3:15 pm  Comments (1)  

Saturday Critique!

Welcome to the very first Saturday Critique! I’ll be focusing today on the fun and fabulous tile and ceramic work of Barb Jensen, from Portland, Oregon. Barb has a great product and nice photos, but not a lot of sales! So let’s see what else can be done to spiff up her shop a bit.

First off, the banner. 

Barb’s banner is functional, but that’s about it. My eyes skipped right over it. She has wonderful, energetic and eye-catching images on her tile pieces – let’s see them the moment we visit her store. Barb could hire one of the many Etsy artists who create banners to give her a make-over, or try to do it herself. I use photoshop elements, and in this case I would probably cut a 100×760 pixel slice out of one of her tile photos (maybe get the face of that cute little pig in there) and then write her name on it in a contrasting color. Something to get me smiling and interested the second I come in.

Next, the shop announcement:

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I make tile for installation in bathrooms, kitchens and fireplace surrounds. People often buy singles to use as trivets or to hang on the wall. That’s what this site is all about.

View my full tile catalog at http://jensenandmarineau.com

See my husband’s shop with pots and sculptures at http://mickmarineau.etsy.com

Find out what’s happening in the studio:
http://artfordailylife.blogspot.com

*view my profile for shipping policy details

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Good info, but could use a couple of touch-ups. I don’t know what a “fireplace surround” is, could we say “around a fireplace”? The sentence “That’s what this site is all about” is superfluous – and there’s nothing a newspaper writer hates more than that. I would trash it. I might also move the links to the hubbie’s shop and blog to the profile page – lets get straight to the goods.

Also, here’s an idea for Barb to consider: I just love tile, but I’m intimidated by the idea of trying to install it myself! I would feel turned off by the potential hassle. Offering easy-to-follow installation instructions with each purchase would be a big attraction to the DIY buyer, I think. A sentence to that effect could go in the shop announcement and in each product description.   

Barb also offers these sweet little drinking cups. The picture draws me in, but the description doesn’t hold my attention. Barb says:

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The ‘soba’ in the name means ‘noodle’ in Japanese. I have some antique soba cups that are rather small for eating noodles, which makes me wonder if the name may refer to a vessel for a dipping sauce that goes with noodles.
This cup is much bigger than the classic soba cup, measuring about 3 1/2 ‘ x 3 1/2″ and holding a full two cups of liquid. It’s my husband’s favorite cup; for water, juice, soup, ice cream, and whiskey.

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Rather than focus on the history of Soba cups, I believe the description should answer the question, “Why do I want to buy this?” Plus, we want it short and sweet.  Here’s my rewrite:

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These beautiful, hand decorated cups are inspired by traditional Japanese ‘soba’ (noodle) cups. Larger than the traditional antiques (some of which are small enough to be used for dipping sauce), my creations are a household favorite for water, juice, soup ice cream or whiskey.

Each measures about 3 1/2 ‘ x 3 1/2″ and holds a full two cups of liquid. 

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Hope this helps! Good luck to Barb and many happy sales!

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Want to be considered for next week’s Saturday Critique? Leave a comment below with a link to your Etsy shop or blog. Thanks!

Published in: on April 19, 2008 at 8:12 am  Comments (15)