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Hello!!!! St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner (March 17th) Yay!!! I always get a little reminiscent around this time– it was the day after St. Patrick’s Day (1998) that I went on my trip to Ireland. What an amazingly beautiful country! I would LOVE to go back, this time with my trusty camera instead of a jerky boyfriend (who ended the relationship while we were there) and have the opportunity to capture the countries beauty on film…

In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful and safe St. Patrick’s Day celebration and enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day themed gems that I found!

spring green heart felts ornaments set of 4 / eco friendly upcycled love decorations spring green heart felts ornaments set of 4 / eco friendly upcycled love decorations

Wednesday Inspiration- St. Patrick's Day

1. Sterling Silver Necklace – Shamrock Clover

2. 7 Crochet Shamrocks by SJ and Joe

3. Saint Patrick’s Day Baby Booties / Slippers – Green Shamrock

4. Warm Cable Scarf – Grass Green

5. IRISH Hearts – St. Patricks Day BOGO SALE – Two gorgeous wave-turned beach-stone hearts decorated with beautiful green shamrocks.

6. Summer Greens Batik Cathedral Window Pillow Cover – 18 Inches

7. Real Four Leaf Clover Inlaid

8. 12 St Patrick’s Day Edible Glitter Shamrock Fondant Cupcake Topper for St Patty’s Day

9. Green Rosette Headband

Hope you have a wonderful day!
-April
http://www.creativeapples.etsy.com

Hello!!! Welcome to this week’s Featured Handmade Artist!! Please allow me to introduce you to Ryan, from TheBloomingThread!
I just love the hand-stitched items in her shop! I have a real appreciation for all things stitched and sewn since I’ve tried to sew, and failed miserably…
One of my most favorite items in Ryan’s shop atually not sewn– it’s this lovely little necklace:

Featured Handmade Artist- TheBloomingThread

Violet Garden - Tiny Botanical Bottle Necklace w/ Sage Green Vintage Rhinestone

Don’t you just love it? I love that there is this teeny tiny dried violet blossom in there. So feminine and pretty… Here are a few other favorites from her shop:

Featured Handmade Artist- TheBloomingThread

Hi Ryan! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi there! My name is Ryan and I’m in love with hand stitching! live next to a small town, in a smaller town that’s surrounded by rolling green hills, farm life & vineyards, sunshine and the ocean just north of Santa Barbara, Ca. (Tough, I know!) I’m fortunate to also be surrounded by a creative circle of family and friends. I work for an Energy Resource company doing accounting and date entry reporting that monitors our resource usage. So you can only image how happy I am when 4 o’clock rolls around and I get to scoot home and use the more creative side of my brain!

What is the first craft project you remember making?

Haha, oh man…this is such a great question! Those shoe box dioramas were the first thing that popped into my head! My kindergarten teacher (Mrs. Jarvey!) was so awesome. She always gave us great craft projects and really encouraged us at a very young age to explore being creative. I’ll never forget her. She helped us enter our elementary art shows, and really gave us a sense of freedom to express ourselves in ways past Crayola. We did clay projects and visited a studio space of one of the kids who’s dad was a professional sculpture, created paintings, paper-mache. I remember even making our own crayons! And let me say, this was no art school, or private school by any means! Just a public school teacher with a heart of gold.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Inspiration is everywhere! I’m inspired by the mood of a song, a scene from a movie, the brick detail on local coffee shop around the corner. Really, I know that sounds cliché but it’s so true. Most of my inspiration comes from being outside. There is just something so spectacular about rich color and texture that keeps my creative mind going.

Can you describe some of your creative process?

If it’s forced, it usually doesn’t get far off the ground. I try to keep an open eye and mind for new designs and projects. When something strikes me, I jot it down, sketch it, imagine it…give it the chance to evolve and take root. Then execute! It’s not always a clean, organized process but it translates my ideas pretty well.

What is your most prized handmade possession?

My boyfriend painted me a 3 piece canvas set of flowers from an Arizona Tea can. I know that probably sounds so dorky but they have the most beautiful scenes on their cans! He painted me the “Georgia Peach” design close up. So the flowers fill the frame of each canvas and continue onto the next as they are mounted aligned. This shop actually makes some super cute things from the AZ cans too! www.etsy.com/people/FunkyRecycling

If you could give one piece of advice to a new etsy seller, what would it be?

I’m still very new so the best advice I can give it to stay plugged in with the updates and features happening on Etsy. Etsy always has “Featured Seller” and “Quit your day job” interviews loaded with great artist and creative minds that can give solid pointers on what helped them along the way. I like that old saying of “not having to reinvent the wheel again”. Also, join a team. I’m on ETTEAM and its awesome! They’re so fun and excited about Etsy, it helps really become a part of the “Etsy Community”. It also doesn’t hurt to have the extra promotion and traffic to your store.

What are some of the ways you promote your work?

I try to use and wear my own creations. I have a messenger bag with lots of detailed stitching that’s become my favorite go-to carryall..and I always get asked about it. I also:
Blog: TheBloomingThread.blogspot.com
Facebook: facebook.com/TheBloomingThreadFanpage
Twitter: @BloomingThread
Store: TheBloomingThread.etsy.com

What are three websites you couldn’t live without?

Etsy (duh!), Ebay, and Pandora. The rest are far too many to name.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Time goes by way to fast, so I really try to focus on the where I am in my life at the moment and absorb as much as I can. So to answer the question, in 10 years I hope I’m happy, healthy and have a sweet little home with little ones dancing at my feet and absorbing all the blessings I have then too.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

Haha, that’s an easy one. To have a better memory! So, brain power I guess!

Thanks so much Ryan!!! It was a pleasure doing this interview with you!

Please be sure to stop by www.TheBloomingThread.etsy.com and check out the rest of Ryan’s awesome designs!!!

Is there any shop that you think should be featured? Would you like me to feature your shop? Please feel free to send me an email aprilbern at gmail dot com!

Hope you have a wonderful day! Hang in there– only one more day until the weekend!
-April
http://www.creativeapples.etsy.com

I am beginning to feel like a broken record (and here it is again) I am so ready for winter to be over. We’re teased with sunshine today and it looks deceptively nice out, but it’s still really really cold… I am really looking forward to longer days, warmer weather, and many consecutive days of sunshine! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these bright and sunny finds from etsy!

Felted Wool Acorns in Lemon YellowFelted Wool Acorns in Yellow Lemon

Wednesday Inspiration- Sunshine

1. Pettiskirt Bubble Romper – Sunshine Yellow

2. Bit of Sunshine- Sterling silver and golden yellow chalcedony necklace

3. sunshine gingham – yellow check fabric button post earrings

4. Vintage Pear Stone Coasters – Set of 6

5. THINK HAPPY. BE HAPPY – Inspiring 8×10 inch Print

6. Sunshine – 5×7 Fine Art Print – BOGO Sale

7. Sunshine Party Thank You Tags (PRINTABLE)

8. Lemongrass Poppy Seed – Handcrafted Exfoliating Shea Butter Soap

9. Lemon Sugar Cookie-Wiches -1/2 Dozen

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a great day!
-April
http://www.creativeapples.etsy.com

Hello! Welcome to this weeks Crafty Connections! Each and every week I scour the interwebs and gather the best tutorials, tips, and informative links to help with your handmade craft business. In addition, I’ll post links to cool crafty DIY projects, and blogs I think are worth following. I hope you enjoy this weeks links!


  • Empowering Ways To Use Twitter

    Collants Twitter
    Good news: There are ways to get people thinking beyond the 5-second attention span (empower others) AND actually glean substance for your own work (empower you) from your T-interactions.

If you know of any good handmade craft marketing resources I should include in the next Crafty Connections post please don’t hesitate to email me, or leave the link(s) in the comments section! I would love to be able to share these great resources with everyone! Also, are these links helpful to you? Let me know! I appreciate the feedback!!!! Thank you so much!

-April
http://www.creativeappples.etsy.com

Hello! Happy Wednesday! Oh man, I am so ready for spring. Last week we were teased with near 60degree weather. That was so awesome! The mountains of snow were finally starting to melt… Fast forward one week– more snow. Okay, so yesterday was a mere dusting compared to the nearly two feet we received a few weeks ago, but seriously? I am so so so tired of the snow and cold weather. I did see a little robin outside my apartment last week so that gives me hope that spring is just around the corner…. I hope you enjoy some of the awesome robin-themed finds from across etsy! I hope spring is starting in your neck of the woods!

Little Robin Zipper PouchLittle Robin Zipper Pouch

Wednesday Inspiration- Robin

1. French Script Pillow Cover “Robin” from Gathered Comforts

2. Mod Bird and Silver Nest with Turquoise Eggs

3. Robins on a Branch Brass Filigree Bird Necklace Vintage Style Altered Art

4. Our Nest – The Perfect Little Sign to Help You Feather Your Nest in Robins Egg Blue

5. Round Robin – 8×10 Art Print of my Original Watercolor Painting

6. Fine Art Print. Nesting In Numbers. Sepia Photograph

7. Red Robin Bird Felt Clippie

8. Gray Autumn- rustic fall inspired soft gray and burgundy with a pop of crimson red photograph of a robin in the woodlands of Chicago- Fine Art Nature Photograph- 8×8

9. Robin Birds Garland Handmade of Muslin Fabric

Thanks for checking out all these great etsy shops!!! Have a great day!
-April
http://www.creativeapples.etsy.com

Hi! (I’m back!) Welcome to this weeks Crafty Connections! Each and every week I scour the interwebs and gather the best tutorials, tips, and informative links to help with your handmade craft business. In addition, I’ll post links to cool crafty DIY projects, and blogs I think are worth following. I hope you enjoy this weeks links!

  • DIY- Crafty Spring Bouquet

    a cute homemade gift idea for Mother’s Day – or an adorable addition to girlie birthday parties, baby showers, or bridal showers!

If you know of any good handmade craft marketing resources I should include in the next Crafty Connections post please don’t hesitate to email me, or leave the link(s) in the comments section! I would love to be able to share these great resources with everyone! Also, are these links helpful to you? Let me know! I appreciate the feedback!!!! Thanks!

Hello!!! I’m super excited to introduce you to Allison from LoveTheBaby. I love her shop! Now that my good friend has a baby that I get to play auntie to, I’ve been shopping for quality handmade baby goods. I feel so much better about buying baby Siena something handmade. Allison sells handmade vintage inspired quilts, bibs, blankets and more!

Featured Handmade Artist- LoveTheBabLove these handmade crocheted washcloths!
Check out some of her other super cute handmade baby items:
Featured Handmade Artist- LoveTheBaby

Hi Allison!! Can you start out by telling us a little about yourself?

Hi. I’m Allison. I’m a native Houstonian and now make my home in the Texas Forest Country of East Texas. I was trained as an archaeologist at Texas A&M University, but for the past 13 years, since marrying my wonderful husband Roger, I have been a homemaker and more recently, office manager of Roger’s law practice. So, my days are mostly filled with answering phones, typing letters and keeping the office running smoothly. Evenings I so love to relax before a blazing fire in the fireplace and squeeze in some sewing when I’m not trying to keep up with everything else that needs to be taken care of at home.

What is the first craft project you remember making?

What comes to mind is my sister and I at the local five-and-dime sorting through bolt after bolt of fabric laid out on huge tables. With our finds we made patchwork pillows. Oh, and then there were the Barbie clothes. Our Barbies had all kinds of unique dresses with sashes made from a medley of fabric scraps.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration seems to come from what came before. When I was trying to come up with a quilt pattern recently, I found myself excitedly looking through a book of traditional quilt block patterns, searching for one calling out to me. I was so happy to find in that book, also, quilt patterns that I admire, but had no idea that they were traditional patterns. We are very fortunate to have several quilts made by my husband’s grandmother in the early 1900s. They are tattered and torn from years of use, but the fabrics and the simple patchwork patterns keep bringing me back to them. I cannot wait to reproduce them for my Etsy shop and larger ones for us to keep, too.

Can you please describe some of your creative process?

I haven’t ever considered myself to be especially creative, rather that I follow instructions well. But I do find designs popping into my head occasionally. I try to jot them down, stew about them, sort through my fabric stash, buy new fabric, take measurements, refine the pattern a bit, then make an attempt at cutting and sewing. It seems like a long process from idea to finished product, really. I probably spend way too much time on that “stewing” part.

What is your most prized handmade possession?

Now that I think about it, our house is full of handmade. And there are a number of things that come to mind. But there is only one that is the most special. For our 10-year anniversary my husband asked my brother, who is an artist, to paint a portrait of me based on a photo than he had taken of me. I had no idea this was going on. When it arrived in the mail and my husband showed it to me, I was speechless. Not only had he done such a loving and generous thing for me, but he asked my brother, whom I love dearly, to paint it. It is a treasure that I hold close to my heart.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new Etsy seller, what would it be?

Have an identity. I spent a long time floundering after opening my shop and being deeply disappointed in the lack of enthusiasm from the buying public. I had no cohesive look, no identity, no “brand”, as they say, and I really didn’t know that I needed one. But, after spending lots of time on Etsy reading the blog, looking at other shops, and perusing the forums, I finally found a direction for my shop and that look that pleased me. Once I arrived in that place, creating for the shop became so much easier. The fabrics began flowing and the sewing machine humming. There are not enough hours in the day!

What are some of the ways you promote your work?

My shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/LoveTheBaby

I must admit that I do not facebook, twitter, blog, etc. Blogging does seem fun to me. I like the idea of a blog and I certainly enjoy reading them, but I fear that all those things will take up vast amounts of my time and energy.

What are the three websites you couldn’t live without?

The New York Times online: http://www.nytimes.com/pages/index.html

I’m always learning something new here

Craftopolis: http://www.craftopolis.com

It’s addicting, but a useful tool

http://www.trueup.net/

For the fabric obsessed

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I just want to be happy and healthy.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

Time travel. I have always been interested in people who came before us and what their lives were like. Historically speaking, there are writings that give insight into their lives. Even prehistoric peoples have left us something for speculation. But, usually it is only enough to tantalize us. How thrilling it would be to travel back in time to discover what their lives were really like, their daily lives, and how the bits and pieces they have left behind contributed to their greater culture.

Thank you so much Allison!!!! You’ve got a fabulous shop!

I hope you all have a chance to stop by Allison’s shop and check out her beautiful quality handmade baby items!
http://www.LoveTheBaby.etsy.com

I hope you have a wonderful and WARM day!
Take Care!
-April
http://www.creativeapples.etsy.com

Wow! What a snow storm! So far, we’ve received a little over 20 inches of snow in the Chicago area. Some suburbs have received up to 23 inches. It’s officially the third largest blizzard since Chicago began keeping records more than 120 years ago. And it isn’t quite over yet. There’s still a chance of lake effect snow. It was so crazy last night– not only was it snowing sideways and complete white-out conditions, there was thunder and lightning too. Winds were fierce at 50-70 mph at times and people were stuck in their cars for hours on Lake Shore Drive last night.

Today, my poor car is completely buried and there are snow drifts up to the windows… Yeah, I’m not going anywhere for a while. Chicago is essentially shut down. So today I’m working from home (and shopping!) I hope you are someplace warm and safe and enjoy today’s blizzard inspired finds from etsy!

BOGO SALE Cardinal in the Snow

Wednesday Inspiration- Blizzard

1. White winter hymnal – An ethereal winter fine art photograph – Winter wonderland

2. SALE ONE WHOPPIN COWL In NEUTRAL CREAM

3. 8×10 Winter Ice Cream Photograph

4. nor’easter no. 4 / original painting on canvas

5. BLIZZARD SALE: 60% OFF ORIGINAL PRICE Fingerless Gloves with Black Eyelash Cuffs – Hand Knit

6. A BEST SELLER Wool Felted Acorn Ornaments – Set of 12 in Winter White

7. Blizzard – White Rose Ring

8 Massive Pom Pom Hat in Dark Grey

9. blizzard a 8×10 fine art winter scene nature photograph

Hope you have a warm day!
-april
www.creativeapples.etsy.com

remember my contest from last week? Well, I have some winners!!!
First of all, thank you everyone for your input about witch cupcake to add to my etsy shop!. I really appreciate your thoughts and comments!!! The cupcake that received the most votes was cupcake number 3!

Happy Birthday Cupcake Trio Greeting Card
You can buy it here
http://www.etsy.com/listing/66981828/happy-birthday-cupcake-trio-greeting

Now, for the part you’ve been waiting for– the winner of a a set of five new cupcake greeting cards is
random number winner
creativeapples contest winner

Thank you soooooo much Tiina!!!

And thanks again to everyone for your help!!!!

Hi! I am so happy to be able to introduce you to a super nice and talented jewelry designer, Amy from amyholtondesigns.

I love Amy’s natural, easy, and feminine style. Her love of nature is imbued in each and every piece. And the COLOR! I’m just so in love with the turquoise and the different color sapphires. (really? I had no idea that sapphires came in anything other than blue!)

Featured Handmade Artist- AmyholtondesignsLOVE this piece.

Here are a few other pieces from Amy’s shop that I love
Featured Handmade Artist- Amyholtondesigns

Hi Amy! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Amy Holton, a tried and true Texas girl born in San Antonio. I lived for a few years in the Philippines, returned to the U.S. (Virginia), then lived most of my life in and just outside of Houston. I now live in Austin (hands-down the best city in Texas) with my husband. I inherited four amazing stepchildren, two here in Austin and two in England (my husband’s English).

Despite a long artistic background, I actually studied finance at the University of Texas and was a research analyst for Enron in my former life. After I was laid off with 4500 of my closest friends in December 2001, making jewelry became a bit of an obsession for me. When we moved to Austin in 2007, I was able to focus on building my business full-time.

What is the first craft project you remember making?

One Christmas, when we lived in Virginia, I remember sitting around the table as a family painting wooden Christmas ornaments. My mom is very crafty too! I was probably about 4 years old.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Countless places! Sometimes I surprise myself with what gives me an idea for a new piece. Fashion obviously, a beautiful neckline that just has to have the perfect necklace. Also books I’ve read, period films, architecture, artwork and nature (I know…everyone says that, but it’s true). Colors translate into gemstones for me and can therefore find inspiration in just about anything. Just checking Pantone’s color trends for each season can give me countless ideas!

Can you please describe a little of your creative process?

Call me strange, but I really enjoy fiddly, tedious projects, so this is right up my alley. Not to mention, what a beautiful medium to work in! I really enjoy the creative process, which for me is sometimes very structured, but more often very organic. Designs emerge and change as I work. I often purchase gemstones just because they appeal to me, not always because I have a design in mind for them. This can be very dangerous (and expensive!) but they eventually find their way into one of my designs.

What is your most prized handmade possession?

A quilt made by my paternal grandmother. I never saw her sew and she never seemed the type to, but I know she made this and one other small quilt. I this quilt was my favorite when we would stay with my grandparents as kids. It’s made up of white blocks with pale yellow borders. Each block has a large gingham butterfly in the center, outlined in black embroidery. When my parents went to help prepare my grandparents house to put on the market after my grandmother’s death, they asked me if there was any particular item I wanted. Immediately…the butterfly quilt was my answer. Despite our contemporary décor, the butterfly quilt lives in the window seat of our bedroom.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new etsy seller, what would it be?

Be persistent and take advantage of the wealth of advice on Etsy, not only from the staff, but also from the community. Etsy sellers are so supportive of each other. Also, be patient. Success isn’t simply a matter of posting some items and the orders start rolling in. As with anything worth doing, it takes work. Utilize social networking and get your name out wherever you can.

What are some of the ways you promote your work?

Do you have enough room in your blog for this answer ?! Promotion alone can be a full-time undertaking!

My main website is my own at http://amyholtondesigns.com

Of course, I also have my Etsy shop and I’m also on Zibbet and ArtFire.

Flickr is a great place to keep a profile of new designs as well as an archive of retired pieces.

I have my wholesale line sheet on Trunkt.

I think a Facebook Business Page is essential for keeping customers and potential customers informed as well as for networking with other designers, suppliers, etc.

I’ve made some really good friends and connections through Twitter. From other artists and Etsy sellers to fashion designers, photographers and people in the know in the fashion world, it’s a great place to connect. I love my tweeps and I love interacting with my followers! You can find me at http://twitter.com/AmyHoltonDesign (You have to drop the ‘S’ in Designs. Twitter doesn’t allow quite enough characters to fit my entire name).

I use my blog in lieu of an e-mail marketing campaign and also to connect on a more personal level. I think when you’re buying from an independent artist, it’s nice to know a bit about them personally as well. My blog is currently divided into three parts. One highlighting new designs, and some creative struggles under the section “In the Works at AHD” and another as an avenue to share the works of other artists in “Etsy Love.” I also include a bit about me under “In the Life Of…

I know people often ask to be added to mailing lists and then regret it (I’m guilty as well). This way, they can follow my blog in a number of ways as they choose, whether it’s through Facebook, Google Reader, Twitter, or RRS feeds. Plus, I find it’s a bit more personal way to keep in touch.

What are three websites you couldn’t live without.

Only three?! I’m starting to think my laptop is permanently attached to my body…
Facebook (because it’s just so great for networking)
Google Analytics (It’s that corporate background! I like data )
I have to say Flickr because it’s such a great portfolio and archive.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I hope to expand the brand and be represented in many more boutiques both stateside and internationally. While I’ll never go mass-produced, I’d certainly take on a small staff to help fulfill orders and
keep things going. Of course, the designs will remain my own. I don’t think I could ever step away from
creating.

if you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

The shallow answer is to complete tasks simply by wishing them done.

The deeper answer is to have the power to bring back loved ones I’ve lost in my life, if just for a day…or to know for sure they see me as I am today, happy with my husband and stepchildren, content in my lifestyle
and doing something I love. I’m very close to my family. I regret that my husband never met three of my grandparents (though he did ask my paternal grandfather for permission to marry me) and many other family
members he’s heard so much of, but never had the opportunity to meet. Same with my stepkids. They’re as close to my family as they are their biological family and there are so many people I wish they could have met.

(Wow! Thank you so much Amy! I should have asked how you find all the time to promote your creations! I am impressed and inspired to check out venues such as zibbet and trunkt now…)

I hope you have a chance to visit Amy’s shop on etsy and stop by her blog and some of her other social media outlets!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/amyholtondesigns

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