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:


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

See my husband’s shop with pots and sculptures at

Find out what’s happening in the studio:

*view my profile for shipping policy details


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:


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.


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:


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. 


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


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)  

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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very insightful. I love her style though and she is very professional

  2. Great critique! I’d love one, please! – thank you!

  3. Wow! Imagine my surprise to see this in my inbox! Thank you so much!
    I have been bugged about my banner for a long time, but too busy to do anything about it. Now I am motivated.
    Your suggestions are right on the money. I get bogged down with the writing sometimes and don’t pay enough attention to making it interesting.
    This was a very insightful and useful critique! Thanks you for taking the time to write it.

  4. wow what a great idea with this critique!! I love all the comments you made and I hope it helps her!!!

  5. Hi!
    I LOVE your blog and your saturday crtique!!! I have signed up for your emails and can’t wait for next week!!!!

  6. Hi there,

    I was psyched to see your message in the forums, so I’d love to be featured on your blog.


  7. Very insightful, indeed. I’ve just recently started to list some of my projects and could really use so helpful insight.

  8. Hi,
    I enjoyed reading your critique and definetely learned a few things. Please consider my shop for a future critique!

  9. I’d love to have you critique my blog at and my Etsy store at
    I think your critique is very fair, objective and constructive.. thank you for providing us this opportunity!!


  10. Good comments on the review ! I have made recent changes to my shop lately as well, but would welcome and more suggestions to help increase my sales.


  11. Hi there,

    How fabulous of you to devote a little time to helping up and coming indie artists/crafters. Please consider us for a Saturday Critique! Thanks!


  12. Good solid critique that shows how a little tweaking can improve things a whole lot. I’d be happy to have you critique my blog, I’ve had it less than a month and am still working on it.

  13. Love the critique, great info for the featured seller and for anyone with an etsy site!!!

    I’m always open for a critique!

  14. Wow! Just when I think I’ve seen all the best stuff Etsy has to offer. I love Barb’s goodies and I’m off to spend some time at her shop.

    Thank you for sharing this artist -your blog is the BEST


  15. My maternal grandmother was from Italy and always had her fingers moving about on some little lacy thing – usually white or (what a strange word) “ecru”.

    Like most children in a household of grandmothers and aunts (were they always “old”?) from the “old country” I was surrounded by beautiful lacy edgings on anything that had an edge – whether it was towels or sheets or pillow cases or table cloths or napkins or long-forgotten “hankies” – even lacy items that were made specifically to create an edge to accept a lacy edging – like doilies or collars or even more table cloths.

    I guess I took all this lace and edging stuff for granted until I realized that my grandmother’s ever-moving fingers actually created this intricacy. What great fun that must be!

    I tried to “make stuff” – but I had no pointy sticks nor strange stringy endless long things.

    While Grandma Philomena was making ravioli or cannoli her mystery handful (a strange squarish ball stabbed by a shiny skinny sharp thing) was always stored safely high up high on the “china closet” – a forbidden territory for any obedient child.

    It took a couple of years to gain Grandma’s respect and patience (after constantly staring over her shoulder at her hands) before she actually allowed me to touch and hold this magic. She really had no choice in the matter because I eventually became less obedient and got a close up look (and try-out) of the verboten “mystery handful” first-hand (pun intended).

    I got my first lesson in the proverbial “chain stitch”. That was fun, but soon became boring and senseless. Then single crochet, then double, then triple (or treble as I learned later when I learned to read), then shell, then cluster. Wow! !Who makes up this stuff!!!??

    Now . . . . what on earth was she doing with those TWO really long sticks – one under her arm and a swiftly disappearing ball of itchy long blue strings?

    Knitting – my destiny!

    AHHH! Knitting – needle nirvana. Nice necessities. Never-ending knots. This new found fun was even better than crochet.

    The long stringy things are thicker, easier to handle and came in nicer colors than eewwy “ecru”. Now if only there was a way to get around the itchiness (I eventually learned just to make stuff and never wear it – ahhh – process vs. product can be very expensive)

    Reading brought new discoveries. I learned about cables and bobbles and YOs and PSSOs.

    Soon my mom bravely let me hold a real needle – the one with a sharp point and frustratingly short spider-web-thin stringies. I raided the rag bag for discarded sheets, drew pictures in pencil on cut rectangles, and embroidered in back-stitch on all the lines.

    Then came the new curiosity of what my mother was doing with all of those pins, fabric pieces and delicately thin paper?? So, I gave Grandma Phil a break and found a new teacher to pester followed by permission to use the SEWING MACHINE – that black metal goddess that hid like a buried treasure under an old bedspread.

    I became permanently obsessed – and since childhood – no one in my family has seen my face for more than a few seconds – they only see the top of my head bent over some fiber and needle thingy.

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