Saturday, October 30, 2010

Going Overboard in the Customer Service Department

by Liz of Lush Beads

I am a HUGE fan of lip gloss and lip balm. I used to buy mine at CVS or some other large drugstore chain. Until one day when I was at a craft show and I found a fantastic lip balm vendor. I started buying from them exclusively.

I'm pretty picky about the lip gloss flavors I'll tolerate, and I'm sure the seller thought it was amusing to get an order for 5 of the same lip gloss every 2-3 months. (I use a lot of lip gloss.)

Early this year, I placed my standard order for 5 tubes of my favorite flavor. The vendor is local, so shipping should not have taken more than a day. A week later and I still not received my precious lip balm, nor had I received any notification from the vendor that my lip balm was on its way. I emailed the vendor, who said they would look into it and send me a new package in the meantime.

Another week goes by, and still no package. This is very unusual, and now I am starting to get annoyed. I contact the vendor again, who asks me to give it a few more days. I do, and still no package. I contact the vendor AGAIN. They say that my package was somehow lost, and they will send out another one.

A few days later, I finally get a package. Hurray! I open it up...

...and inside is 20+ tubes of lip balm, along with a note of apology from the vendor. They felt bad about my package not showing up, so they included "a few extras". On top of that, they refunded my entire purchase price, including shipping. Essentially, I got over 20 tubes of lip balm for free.


Yes, I was annoyed at how long it took me to get my lip balm. And yes, I would have been happy with some sort of compensation. In my mind, an extra lip balm or two would have more than made up for the situation. But 20+ extra lip balms? And a refund of my entire purchase price? I have to wonder what this seller was thinking. The whole thing felt like overkill. Not to mention that I now had enough lip balm to last me at least a year.

Except, I didn't. Most of the flavors were not ones I'd ever use in a million years. I gave a few away to friends to try out, so I suppose it could have resulted in more sales for the vendor, but I also told those people the whole strange story, so maybe not.

My point is: If you make a mistake, it is perfectly OK to compensate the customer accordingly. Just don't go overboard.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Etsy Wish List

by Allison of Fraske Designs

As many of you can probably relate, I enjoy browsing to see what catches my eye. I love stumbling upon something new and interesting. I also love looking at my old favorites sometimes. Here are some items that remain at the very top of my Etsy wish list:

Seven Deadly Sins Plates by Trixie Delicious

Sweet Dreams Decoupage Door Hanger by Trixie and Radar
Cross Section of a Cloud by Cate Anevski

Ghostbusters Wooden Peg People by Randomly Generated

Cushion Cut Aquamarine in Rose Gold Ring by One Garnet Girl

Wine Bottle Cheese Plate and Cracker Tray by Big Sky

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Brings Out the Goth in Me

by Cristina Hurley of Cristina Hurley Jewelry Design

Cleopatra bands, Oxidized Sterling silver and Cubic Zirconia

Oxidized Sterling silver bands, one set with Cubic Zirconia, the other set with Fire Opal and diamonds.

I love halloween. It was and always will be one of my favorite holidays. It was always so much fun- from when I was a kid, up until now that I have a kid. In my teenage and early adult years though, it was a whole different experience. I loved black. I listened to the Cure. I went to clubs that blasted "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus. I didn't really think about being Goth, and I always saw the Goth girls walking around New York City, head to toe black, in their beautiful full length black petticoated skirts, and black hair, eyeliner and nails, and liked it but did not really mimic it.

I think it was the fact that I was really just a struggling kid, making my way in the city in the 90's. And I wanted to spend my money at the clubs and not on clothes...

Fast forward to 2010.

I'm a mom, I have a mortgage, I run my new little shop in Canton, I go to the school PTA meetings, I shop and clean, and yet I still have my old run down Depeche Mode tape playing in my car tape deck. Yes, my car still is one of the last to have an actual tape deck. And I am probably one of the last to listen to an actual tape. But it's AWESOME. It rocks.

I'm slowly adding my library to my ipod (considered vintage already by the geniuses at the Apple Store), my old CDs I bought in the 90's, and inevitably I notice how much of a who's who of the 70s, 80s and 90s Punk, New Wave and Yes, Goth Scene it is. Oh boy...

Now to the most interesting part of this long story...

Lately a few people have mentioned how "goth" they consider my work. I had not really thought about it, or made a conscious effort to do it, but I can definitely see what they are saying and why. It is infused in my cells, i'ts all that immersion in the 90's listening to all that music and experiencing the scene that had so much influence on me and my work.

Pretty cool... Maybe I can now go and buy that black skirt I've been wanting for about 15 years.

Long live Morrissey.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Boston Vegetarian Food Festival

by Laura Collins of Pansy Maiden

I am extremely excited to be a first-time vendor at this year's Boston Veg Fest this weekend! I've been an attendee for the past four years and I love, love, love this event. It's not a craft fair, but there will be a handful of vendors offering really great cruelty-free accessories (like myself and Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe, to name a couple) This FREE event is very much about the vegetarian food, but even if you aren't a vegan or vegetarian, you should totally come on out.

Try some veg foods you've never had before. There will be samples of vegan convenience foods like milk-free whipped cream, vegan pastries, ice cream made with coconut cream instead of cow's milk (yum!), a plethora of different kinds of faux meats... You never know, you might even walk away with a (Pansy Maiden) bag full of meat-free goodness! Oh, as a special bonus, there are some very interesting speakers scheduled to present during the fest, as well as some inspired cooking demonstrations.

Since this is a free event, you really have nothing to loose! Come on over, stop by my table to say hello, and make sure to bring your appetite :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Market Dogs, South End Open Market

By Kerry of Khawkinsphoto

It is fun to see all the dogs at the South End Open Market. It is a great place to shop and take your dog out for the day. People love having the photos taken of their dogs. Although, many dogs don't seem to care you are taking their photo and don't know they should pose for the camera. Many of the smaller dogs had some cute outfits on. They are hard to resist fawning over.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Mosaic - Fall

1. Salsa Sea Glass Nugget Earrings by Sea Glass Things
2. Felted Fall Leaves by Cozy Cottage Creations
3. Large Vegan Weekender in Golden Brown and Yellow by Pansy Maiden
4. Blue Leaves Miniature Book by White Sparrow Bindery
5. Sepia Weather Vane Matted Photo Print by Lucie Wicker Photography
6. Vintage Inspired Spun Cotton Horse by Vintage by Crystal

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Here Comes The King

By Beth of Elizabeth Brennick Designs

My daughter's friend's dad works for a company W.T. Wilson, based in Pawtucket R.I., designing pewter figurines and gifts. Everything they manufacture is made in their factory here in the USA. A company contacted them to design and make crowns for their annual outing where they will be given to their employees as awards. The dad knew I sewed and asked for me to design and sew the lining for the crowns.

There was a couple of meetings where I showed samples of fabrics with pricing and then a sample of the actual hat for the okay to go ahead. The outside was done in a very nice red velvet fabric with a matching cotton liner. I sewed eighteen of these crown hats! It was crazy, I felt like a factory and red velvet fuzz was everywhere. I constructed them by sewing six panels that looked like elongated triangles. I did this process to both the red velvet fabric and the cotton liner. After, I had to make sure the seams matched up to the bars that went from the base to the tip. It was difficult to measure and stitch the individual panels so that they fit the odd shape of the crown properly - I did mess up on a couple but hey I'm human.

All said and done they came out great and both W.T. and the customer were very pleased. Also the reimbursement for my work really paid out well. I also have future work with the company - hopefully it's not crowns again!! The above photos show them in gold, bronze, and silver. The photo below is them getting packed up and ready to be shipped off.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A SoWa Success

by Jessica Burko of Reclaimed To You

Above photo by Kerry Hawkins featuring work by Bancroft Studios

On Sunday, October 10th Boston Handmade participated in the SoWa Open Market. This was our third year exhibiting as invited guests and we were delighted to continue the annual tradition on such an auspicious day as 10-10-10.

Lucie Wicker was the organizer of our presentation this year, and here she is in the above photo with her photographs on display.
The show on the 10th was extra special for one of our newest members, Diane Ivey of Lady Dye Fiber Arts and Design. Seen above, the SoWa show was the first time Diane ever exhibited her work. She brought her spinning wheel too, so she could demonstrate her yarn spinning techniques.
I was delighted to see our group members exhibiting together on such a beautiful fall day, and I took the opportunity to purchase a few gift items for friends and family including the beautiful necklace above for my Sister-In-Law made by Nancyrosetta.
Showing our work together is one of the things that makes Boston Handmade great, being there for each other through times of thick and thin is another. I'm excited for the upcoming public and member-only events we have scheduled and to our winter show season.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Desk Calendars for 2011

by Lucie of Lucie Wicker Photography

They're in! My 2011 desk calendars are now available in my Etsy shop. Much like last year's calendar, this one was a labor of love and I think it really reflects the work I've been doing lately. Serene, calming landscapes in romantic sepia and black & white; I wanted to pick images that were striking yet soothing-
It's never too early to start thinking about the holiday season and this calendar makes a great gift! I will be selling them online and in the local shows I'm participating in this fall (click here for a full schedule).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Flourish Co.- Highly Recommended!

by Amy of Bumble Belly Designs

I just had the most fantastic experience today and thought I would share it. Approximately 2 and a half years ago I purchased mesh walls for my EZ-up tent to display my work at outdoor shows. Prior to that I had a wall system that I had built with my husband.

(an indoor show showing the homemade walls)

It had worked fine for indoor venues but was unsteady on uneven ground and in windy situations out of doors. It was heavy too, and required help to get it in and out of my car and setup at the shows. These were the reason I invested in the mesh panels for my tent.

(my mesh walls that I have used for outdoor shows)
Last year I continued to use the old walls for indoor shows but they had become warped and crooked from all the handing. So I knew I was going to want to do something different. Something that I could handle myself like the setup I had for my tent.

I contacted the company and explained my needs. I have multiple shows, all with different footprints. I need a system that can go from a 10x8 foot booth to a 7x7 foot booth.. I spoke with Tom, an extremely helpful and friendly employee of Flourish Co. He pulled up my information so he knew all the pieces I already had for inside my tent. He walked me through their website where there is information on how to customize the mesh panels I already owned and then after only 2 hours sent me a detailed estimate on the additional poles and hardware I would need to create a flexible system to meet all my indoor show requirements. I was floored! What service! and to top it all off he helped me to use the pieces I already had so that I would be saving money! The cost was a third of what I thought I would have to spend. The whole experience made my day!

These panels are very well constructed and easy to put together. The poles do weigh a bit but are compact and you can bundle them in groups that are easy to handle. I can't recommend the system enough and I have had nothing but the finest service from this company. I already feel like my initial investment has paid for itself and was so pleasantly surprised that it would take so little to adapt it to my interior needs. They are the best!!!!

Flourish - Canopy's and Display Walls

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Winter Show Preview

by Jessica Burko of Reclaimed To You

'First Snow', original encaustic mixed media painting by Bumble Belly Designs

Yes, summer has recently ended, Halloween is just around the corner, and then there's Thanksgiving, but here at Boston Handmade we are preparing for the winter art and craft show season like our tails are on fire!

We have two big group shows coming up during the first weekend in December so SAVE THE DATES:

Saturday, December 4, 11am - 5pm

The Holiday Fair at First Church in Jamaica Plain

Sunday, December 5th, 12-7pm

Boston Handmade at the Bazaar Bizarre

Felted nesting bowls by Cozy Cottage Creations

Members of Boston Handmade will be debuting new designs and a wide variety of unique, handmade, perfect holiday gifts for everyone on your list. You can always check out what we have coming up by taking a peek at our event calendar and joining our Facebook fan page and you can get reminders and special announcements via email by joining our email list. As we get closer to December more exciting Boston Handmade plans will be revealed so stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Letterpress Printing with Antique Metal Plates

by Melissa of Pressbound

A few weeks ago I printed covers for a new set of my art deco mini journals. The illustrations come from antique metal plates I purchased a few years ago. What better opportunity than to snap some photos and walk you through the process of letterpress printing with antique cuts!

First I had to cut down paper. I chose to print the images on sheets of Revere Suede 100% cotton paper which comes in 22 x 30 inch sheets. I had to cut each down to 4 x 22 inch strips on a giant slide trimmer. This took about 45 minutes.

Next I had to set up the form in the press-bed. This is usually the most time consuming part of the process and takes some planning, measuring, and troubleshooting. You start with an empty press (above) and must arrange everything between "furniture" which are varying sized pieces of wood and metal to "lock" the form in tightly so nothing moves when printing.

After an hour or so the form was "locked" in. Then I mixed red ink and put it on the large metal roller which disperses the ink to rubber rollers beneath called the form rollers.

I aligned my first sheet of paper into the grippers (those big circles) and the image was inked onto the paper. But I still needed to do more adjusting.

My image printed too light. Which meant I needed to add another layer of "packing" to the tympan, which is the yellowish paper on the feed cylinder. After some tweaking I managed to get a decent print and ran all 80 sheets of paper in red.

Then the ink needed to be cleaned from the press so I could switch to printing in brown and blue. Cleaning the press is my least favorite part. It takes about 20 minutes and a solvent must be used because the inks are rubber based. We use Citrus Solv which is slightly less toxic then the more standard California Wash.

Then the process is repeated for both blue and brown inks. Though the form basically can stay the same with different plates being switched out in the new colors.

In the end this took about 6 hours to complete, with a short break for lunch mixed in. That was about 2 more hours than I thought it would take. But letterpress is full of surprises and challenges so I always take longer than what I anticipate.

Despite that I can't wait to get to put these little guys together. They'll be making they're debut in new colors with a few new illustrations this holiday season!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Mosaic - Halloween

1. Skulls Miniature Book Ornament by White Sparrow Bindery
2. Ghost Pendant by Nancy Rosetta
3. Spider and Web Pin by Lush Beads
4. Spun Cotton Vintage Style Halloween Witch Girl by Vintage by Crystal
5. Needle Felted Bat by Cozy Cottage Creations
6. Orange Poppy Felted Wool Brooch by Stray Notions

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Favorite Tools

by Karen Mahoney of City by the Sea Ceramics

I *love* getting new tools to use in the studio. I have far more than I need, yet I still want more. Many items are used once and set aside to gather dust. Others I have because they were free and I thought that it might be perfect for something someday, but they too sit. I do however have a few favorites I've acquired over the years that I absolutely love and don't know how I could work without.

First, I love my Creative Industry bats. I have many, but at times not nearly enough. They are made with injection molded plastic so unlike some other bats, these do not warp or flake apart. They are super easy to clean and equally easy to release from my throwing wheel. They are also available in small square sizes so they take up less shelf space for smaller projects.

Next, I love my rosewood-handled knife. It seems to be available only at The Potters Shop, the studio I work out of. It cuts through clay nicely, no matter what stage of drying it is in, and has a handle that is very comfortable and sturdy to hold. I think it feels so nice in my hand because it was made by hand, from Roger and Lindsay Watts of England. We sell a ton at the studio and potters always call us back to tell us how much they enjoy it. It beats a standard fettling knife any day.

Some of my other most used tools are my Sherrill ribs. Before these became available in the last few years, rubber ribs for potters were limited to two sizes of the same shape and a 'soft' and a 'hard' type. Neither were particularly hard or soft and the material used for both quickly became dry, causing cracks and burrs on a rib used to smooth. The Sherrill tools are available in six sizes and shapes, and four levels of hardness. I use at least one of my many daily and have not had any of them crack or burr in the least bit after years of use.

When I use a brush in the studio it's always one of my bamboo ones. They are so comfortable to hold and easy to clean. The bristles hold a ton of water, slip, or glaze and they paint it on so smoothly. I may take a shot at making some of my own this winter.
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