Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Oh, the things I have to update. But in the meantime, I give you a picture of my brother and my Christmas Gingerbread Duplex and a million good wishes for the season.

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

First define, then discuss.

This is a response to a blog post written by meganauman and featured on Hello Craft.

I would like to preface all of this, for those that don't know me, with the facts: I come from a long line of crafty women, I am a crafter, I have an Etsy shop, I've been in a craft mafia, I am a founding member of a craft collective, I support crafters locally and on Etsy and I also love making crafts with kids, especially my honorary Goddaughter.

As a crafter who makes things, but doesn't MAKE things, I appreciate what the author is saying, but I don't wholeheartedly agree. I take particular issue with the "ripping off" section of her argument. There is a certain responsibility asked of crafters to be creative, but often creativity is taking a good idea and making it better or cheaper. I would argue that there is very little that is 100% original, especially in a market where we are constantly striving to create something that feeds our soul as well as bring in a little cash. I studied art history for a semester in community college, so I am by no means a well-versed student or patron of the arts. But I do know that throughout time, the evolution of art has been fueled by borrowing.

I have argued in my blog, on more than one occasion, that there ARE crafters (and more accurately, artists posing as crafters), charging an arm and a leg for their handmade wares. I should clarify that there is an enormous distinction between artists and crafters, in my mind, and too often there is a blurred line, especially as it relates to successful businesses and access to selling markets. I do not argue that there is time and effort, nevermind creative vision, required to make something deeply beautiful and unique. However, I do take issue with the amount of wool being pulled over our collective eyes. I am as much a consumer of handmade as I am a participant in its creation. And I get tired of people posing as high-end designers when many of their materials (in my most relevant example, WoolEase acrylic/wool blend super bulky yarn) cost less than $10. And why would that preclude me, or anyone, from teaching myself how to make what they are making using the same yarn for less...and even charging less? Doesn't that make craft more accessible? Isn't that what the DIY culture supposedly encourages? Conversely, I've grown tired of artists posing as crafters and causing the median price point to dramatically increase every year at craft shows and markets.

I come from a long line of crafters. My great-grandmother worked in the Garment District of New York City making hats for women who didn't quite care how much time and creative energy she dedicated to the millinery process. She would walk by high-end department stores and see dresses and accessories in windows, and go home and make them for herself and her children because she couldn't afford to pay the prices arbitrarily slapped on merchandise by money hungry corporations. I don't really see how this is different in the handmade movement. My grandmother was also an amazing crafter. There wasn’t anything she couldn’t make; everything from intricate lacey doilies to dioramas in eggs to pompom hair ties and aprons for me. She even sold things locally now and then, and I don’t imagine she charged more than cost. My mother, too, is a crafter. She’s currently an avid scrapbooker and paper-crafter, but she can crochet expertly, she decorates cakes like a pro, and can also sew with great skill. Many ideas were garnered from craft books, tutorials and their peers. I call that inspiration.

I've taken the time to self-educate on techniques and eagerly wish to learn more about jewelry making. I never went to any sort of design school nor have I spent a second in anything that could be considered a "studio". I didn't have teachers, professors and colleagues telling me the value of my creations, and I don't have a degree to place next to my wares as justification of my hard work and creative vision. Neither did my great-grandmother, my grandmother, or my mother. We just make to make, because my family never had the means to buy things that other people made. I was enamored with the felt creations on Etsy recently, so I went home and bought some felt, taught myself embroidery stitches, and have filled the homes of friends, loved ones and even work associates with delightful felt ornaments.

As far as my crafting and business is concerned, I am 100% committed to making everything affordable. Always. And by affordable I mean less than $50. I refuse to buy any materials I feel are too expensive, I shop around for good and fair prices, and I reuse, recycle and upcycle. I try to buy in bulk whenever I can to cut costs, and I also take into consideration the price of an item before I make it. I do not assume that anyone can readily afford what I make, but I do make sure that it won't cost them a hefty percentage of their paycheck. I've worked full time for $8/hour. And I know that I deserved to feel and look pretty, while contributing to the crafty movement, without having to sacrifice a meal or warm clothing. Sometimes I want to ask high-priced crafters and whom do you think you are catering? It is certainly not people like me.

Is paying for supplies, plus labor, plus creative vision acceptable? Absolutely. Are the only reputable crafting businesses those that have been vetted by some arbitrary crafting authority and deemed 100% original? Absolutely not. I'm sure there are excellent examples, even just on Etsy, of people who are less than concerned about "ripping off" a fellow seller's idea. Sadly, this is business too, and a cutthroat one at that. In order to avoid everything we've escaped by finding our place in the DIY movement...specifically legal entanglements, copyrights, patents and succumbing to the mainstream machine, we must accept that there will always be design thieves and we have to hope that karmic retribution will take responsibility for any sort of lesson that they need to learn. And there will always be people who snub you because what you are selling costs as much as their weekly grocery bill, despite how lovely and expertly crafted it is.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SALE TODAY, gone tomorrow.

Hey Kids! Head on over to my Etsy shop:!

You'll get 25% off your entire purchase and a priority shipping upgrade on me! Fantastic!

Check out my fabulous wares:

Buy Handmade

Sunday, December 14, 2008

From the QCC

From all of us to all of you...enjoy this festive season! Support the handmade crafters in your area by buying handmade. Buy from the QCC!

Ginger Bucks!

I've added a new section to my Etsy shop...ginger bucks! These are my own version of a gift certificate. I'm really proud of the photos and the general marketing presentation I've created. They're redeemable at any time, and they don't expire so long as I'm in business. They're a great way to let your friends and loved ones pick out their own design rather than mulling over the multitude of divine choices endlessly.

I've devised a whole plan too for managing these. It'll require some more bookkeeping and organization, but I hope the rewards will be plentiful. I'll have some available at Rock 'n' Shop too so that people who live a cash-only lifestyle can purchase them and use them online without the need for a credit card or Paypal. I'm a genius!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Busy busy busy!

I have a horrible habit of never remembering to take pictures until it's too dark to take advantage of natural light. So all of these shots are kind of blurry, but you'll just have pardon all that.

Here are my three biggest project of late!

The Earring Tree Prototype - my attempt at organizing the earrings I've made so they are available visually but not a mess all over my desk. I'm going to work on streamlining this and I'll probably make a few to sell at Rock 'n' Shop.

The Massive Assortment of Button Barrettes - just a whole bunch of fabulous and funky barrettes to sell at Rock 'n' Shop or Chop Shop. They'll probably be $2 each. So easy, so quick.

The Christmas Tree - self explanatory. Santa has already arrived.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Where in the world is Meaghan Sandiego!?

OMG guys. Where have I been? Do you feel neglected? Need anything? Can I refresh your drinks?

I don't know if you use Google Reader as a blog feed aggregator, but they have this nifty feature wherein you can look at details for blogs that you subscribe to, and it'll tell you how many subscribers have connected with that blog. Well, despite my hopes and dreams for guns-blazing infamy, I only have 15 subscribers. But also...I HAVE 15 SUBSCRIBERS! Hi guys!

Moving on. I've missed TWO, count 'em 2, Recipe Tuesdays. And probably a ton of other stuff. So I'm going to give you two "recipes" right now and then get some gears cranking and fire off some other fancy stuff to keep all 15 (+ ?) of you entertained. I am nothing if not a good hostess.

Recipe Number One

We begin with a recipe...of sorts. See, I found out through one of the food blogs that I subscribe to via Google Reader that there is this new fandangled site called Food Gawker. Being the gawking fan that I am (I admit here, fully, that I have a staring problem...specifically when it comes to peoples' butts...but I digress), I thought it would be ideal...FOOD + GAWKING = nom nom nom. Well, this site rocks my socks off. Food Gawker is basically a recipe aggregator...they've set up some sort of web scraping algorithm or something that searches for beautiful photographs of food AND recipes, together, and then posts the picture with a brief explanation on their site. From there you can click directly to the blog that posted the picture/recipe. It's that simple! There's a wide range of recipes, too. Everything from Potstickers to "Do you know what the heck this is and what I do with it?". They are also being bombarded with a slew of holiday cookie recipes, which is AWESOME. These are recipes from high-fallutin' chefs or homemade cook-bloggers who fiddle with old recipes and post them for their friends. So like I said, while not a recipe this website provides access to more recipes than you could possibly need.

Recipe Number Deux

This is a Food TV recipe that I "modified". Essentially, I modified it by neglecting to apply the icing. I'm not a big fan of frosting/icing so it just seemed superfluous to me. These cookies are delicious, fluffy and almost cake-like on their own. The spice combination is reminiscent of a pumpkin pie, without the gooey sweetness. They're a great tea cookie, or a light dessert after a heavy meal. I would, and do, make these year round because I love pumpking and cinnamon so much. But they're a great addition to a holiday cookie tin. I've included the icing ingredients in case you want to make it. You can also garnish an iced or un-iced cookie with a pecan or some cinnamon/cinnamon-sugar.

Oh, and trust me, while I could care less about the intricate growlings of a man's stomach, I can assure you that no man can resist these. I have no idea why. I heard once, though, that men are incredibly attracted to the smell of cinnamon. OMG. Since when did this because Cosmo? Enough of that. Make the cookies.

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting (

For the cookies:
1 c. sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 tbls. Maple syrup (if you’d like)
2 eggs
1 c. canned pumpkin
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground all spice
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
2½ c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt (not necessary if you use salted butter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Add the maple syrup and eggs. Mix to incorporate. Add the pumpkin and mix to incorporate. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix well. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges. Cool on racks. OPTIONAL: When cool, ice with cream cheese frosting.

For the frosting: (the cookies are great without, but if you wanna)
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese
1 c. confectioner’s sugar
¼ c. milk
1 tbls. vanilla extract
zest of one lemon

Frosting: Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy in a mixer. Beat in the powdered sugar until smooth. Add milk and vanilla, beat until smooth. If frosting is too thick, thin with a little more milk. Fold in the lemon zest. Spread!

For garnish: whole pecans or a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Recipe courtesy Food Network/

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hopelessly devoted.

I've done a fair amount of search-and-click for great prices on promotional materials. I found a great seller for paper products (business cards, merch cards, etc). And I tirelessly searched for a company or person who made and sold reasonably priced buttons. You know the type...the 1" hipster button (as I like to call it) that you find pinned to the hats, bags, shirts and fanny packs of the world's cheapest roving publicity devices...human beings with a penchant for the left-of-center, homemade, next-door neighbor kind of merchandise. Well, folks, I've found them. And like the subject of this post indicates, I'm hopelessly devoted.

Mod Buttons, operated as a side business of Poseur Ink, is a fantastic online business dedicated to the production of 1" buttons! YES! Their prices are FANFREAKINTASTIC and their production team, which consists of a totally sweet Rachel and completely helpful Mike (there may be more, but these folks have been my contacts), are top notch. I've e-mailed them three times over the past four months, and received two shipments of high class buttons. They are attentive every step of the way, including helping me with design assistance, and their casual approach to communication is really fantastic. They work with a multitude of different types of people and groups, from bands to non-profits to folks getting fancy for their bar mitzvahs!

So if you've got a small business, or a music festival, or a crafty organization to promote, I highly recommend Mod Buttons. You won't be disappointed.

I'm a mover, a shaker, a felt ornament maker.

So, whoa. Who knew I'd go from lazy, working drone to this magnificent busy lady with a crafty business and a crafty collective and a crafty nook and one of those spot lights that follows me around and highlights my eyes just like leading ladies in some of the smokiest, sexiest movies of all time. I'm talking ridiculously awesome here, people. I'm practically famous.

Ok, j/k. Totally not famous. But busy? Yes. And feeling fulfilled? Oh hells yes. I've managed to put into action a lot of fantastic things this year. This is the stuff that makes you look back at your life and feel content and proud, I say. Here's what I've done this week:
  1. Put together a fantastic Sweet Stocking Workshop for my kid friends at Rock Candy Baltimore. It should go without saying, however, that the person to exclaim, "God, I wish I could just cover everything in my life in glitter" was not a child. The stockings were magical, cute, wacky avant-garde terrifying, and soaked in the stuff of legends...namely, glitter glue. I think the kids had a great time. Here is the fruit of their/our labors. Candy Claus (who Ruby TOTALLY knows, and she can't tell you who it is but SHHHHHHH, she might later) will return to Rock Candy on Saturday December 20th to fill the stockings with candy treats for all the participants. DUDE! SWEET!

  2. Met with a fellow crafter, Michelle, and hit the ground running with our Queer Crafter Collective. This was a group imagined in the sticky heat of Phasefest 2008, where Lara, Michelle and I spent numerous hours on the back patio of Phase selling our wares and fighting over the smallest of small oscillating fans. We decided that DC has way too many crafty queers and that we should have a collective for all of them, where we can get together and host meetings and crafty sit-ins, sell at awesome events like Rock 'n' Shop at the Black Cat, and spread the joy and fun that is the DIY movement. Right now we have five members and we're presently recruiting. Applications due January 1st, 2009! Get 'em in! Tell your friends! And see you at Rock 'n' Shop.

  3. I took all the extra felt from the Sweet Stocking Workshop and sat down for most of Saturday and Sunday creating hand-stitched felt ornaments for friends and loved ones. I used cookie cutters (and a funnel; needed a circle shape) for fun shapes, blanket stitched the edges, stuffed them with poly-fill and added cute ribbon so they can hang from trees, doorknobs, or even the knob on your dishwasher. I realize the picture isn't great, but it rained all day yesterday. Good pictures were hard to take. I also made a special ornament for my Mom and a tooth fairy pillow for my favorite kid of all, Ruby. She's been losing teeth like it's her job these days. She's also been losing them in her backpack. I told her that the tooth fairy doesn't rifle through your personal belongings. Gotta keep these things organized!

  4. I celebrated my first dairy-free Thanksgiving and was thoroughly fulfilled. Em's father was kind enough to cook all the primary food products with Earth Balance buttery sticks instead of butter, so I even got to have stuffing! I made pumpkin pie and apple pie. I devoured the apple pie a'la mode with some awesome Soy Dream French Vanilla. It's been so long since I've had anything remotely close to a pastry, so that pie was a dream come true. My next quest: dairy free cut-out cookies for the holidays!
  5. Oh yeah. If you haven't traveled that way yet, head to Patch Ink for my store closing sale. I'm might reinvent Patch Ink as a supply selling kinda place, but in the meantime I want to clear out that stock and also give you a fantastic deal.
All in all, I'm busy as all get out but I really love every minute of it. I'm even having a great hair day. Unbelieveable. Not even the dribble of ginger ale I just spilled on my shirt can bring me down. Hahaha. I'm ridiculous.
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