Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Believe it or Not: Dreary Weather Inspired Bright Tropical Colored Fish

Alas, here in Maine, the neon like autumn colors of leaf peaking season have passed and the past few days have been gray, chilly, and dreary. Being a southern gal who delights in bright sun light and the vibrant tropical flora of Louisiana, I caught my mood waning. But rather than give in to the call of the couch, a pile of blankets, and a good movie, I decided to create something that would transport my mind and my mood to a warm, sunny and colorful place.

Rummaging through a closet of projects that were put on hold, I came across 17 terra cotta fish shaped clay pots, which had originally been bought as supplies for a fountain I intended to make as a house warming gift for one of our sons when he moved into his own place. That was many moons ago, so I shook my head and chastised myself for letting my good intentions evaporate into "nada".

Then, "Ding!" The light bulb went off in my head. As I looked at the fish, I began dreaming about all the places I'd rather be. Tropical colors began dancing before my eyes, and it only took a few minutes to gather up some brightly colored paints, and voila... my mood brightened as I painted away.

These pots originally came from K's Studio in Portugal and are approximately 6"x3"x3". I used a glass enamel paint which was oven cured for durability. Each is a one of a kind original, but they were all painted using the same colors making them complimentary when grouped together. Each fish is a unique one-of-a-kind piece and has been assigned a number as part of this limited collection of 17 fish.

A grouping of them would make a stunning centerpiece in a beach side bungalow, or they could be used as decorations during a tropical themed wedding and then be taken home by members of the wedding party. Use as a pot for a small plant, fill with glass marbles or individually wrapped candies, or use as a pencil holder to brighten up your work area. Wherever you could use a splash of cheerful color, you can use one or more of these fish. You'll find them individually listed for sale in my Artfire Studio: ByCoco -- Art for Everyday Enjoyment.

This is the time of year, I'm usually focused on creating traditional holiday themed pieces, but even though these tropical looking fish don't conger up images of enjoying hearth side warmth during a snow storm, they do make me feel Merry, and I hope they'll do the same for you or for someone you know who likes tropical things.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quick and Easy to Find Handmade Stocking Stuffers

Are you looking for one of a kind stocking stuffers that won't break the bank? ArtFire.com, makes it easy for online shoppers to find unique yet inexpensive items as gifts this holiday season. Take a look at Artfire's Stocking Stuffer Trend Page.

On that page, you'll have quick access to items priced $10.00 and under that have been hand crafted and sized to fit in a traditional stocking. Below are just a few examples of what caught my eye when I went browsing through the stocking stuffer trend page:

Please help the rest of us quickly find unique and fun gifts by leaving the URL of stocking stuffers that catch your eye in the comment section below. Or if you sell your handmade pieces through another online venue like Etsy, 1000 Markets, IndiePublic, Dawanda, etc. or even your own website, and your item would make a good stocking stuffer, feel free to post a link to the item you are selling.

Have fun shopping... And don't forget that most of the artists and artisans selling online are open to filling a custom order. Just contact them through their online shops to make your request.

And, as always, Kudos for buying handmade!

Tips for Transforming the Ordinary into an Extraordinary Experience...

Sometimes good ideas are born from "mistakes" and excellence is experienced.

Last week, my husband made apple sauce from the Maine grown apples we harvested, but alas, there was "a little" more sauce than we had jars. (The Mistake: we ran out of jars.)

After dinner, while the left over apple sauce was still warm, we decided to spread it over some Gillford's vanilla ice cream for dessert...Umm, Ummmmm, Good! (The Good Idea: warm apple sauce over ice cream.) It was like eating hot apple pie a la mode, without all the work of making a pie.

I was amazed at how the apple sauce transformed plain old ordinary vanilla ice cream into an extraordinary dessert. So the next time you run out of chocolate syrup, or whatever topping the kids are asking for, open up a jar of apple sauce, add a little cinnamon and other pie spices (optional), heat up a portion (microwave works just fine), and pour enough to blanket a scoop of ice cream.

What's that? "Too out of the ordinary!" you say? You are afraid your kids will balk. Well, forget the kids. Sneak a private taste test. Yes, you deserve something deliciously uplifting. Why not treat yourself to a bowl of this heartwarming combo when no one is looking. Chances are you'll decide to keep this little tip to yourself to ensure that your household's apple sauce and ice cream supplies don't mysteriously disappear from the kitchen while you aren't looking.

However, should you decide to share this dessert idea with your family, and if you succeed at convincing little Mikey and the other naysayers to try it, I bet they'll like it. Be forewarned though; there's a good chance that they might not stop eating long enough to actually say, "Thank you, Mom." But, as you watch them change their tune from "Yu-uck!" to, "Umm, Ummmmm, Good!" you'll know that you're a cool Mom in their eyes, at least for the moment.

Have you used an unusual topping to turn plain ole vanilla ice cream into an extraordinary treat?
Share your tip in the comments below.

And, Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sell Your Handmade Arts & Crafts through ArtFire’s Free-For-All

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade

Do you like to dabble in crafts? Do you make your own gifts by hand? Have any of your family or friends suggested you try selling the items you create? Do you already sell online but want to try another venue?

If you answered yes to any of the above, now may be the right time for you to take advantage of the ArtFire Holiday Free-For-All--Just click on the graphic above. Artfire is the fastest growing handmade venue on the internet and is offering a risk-free way for potential sellers to test the market.

During the month of October, those who sign up for a Basic (free) account can use the the Global Product Editor and the Etsy Importer, which are features usually reserved for Verified ($12/month for life) account sellers. During October, even basic accounts can list an unlimited number of items in their studio. And there, are no listing, selling, or other fees.

It almost sounds too good to be true. But, Artfire is hoping that new sellers trying their venue will be so pleased with their experience that they will continue on as an Artfire seller after the holiday season. So this is their way of “Paying It Forward” and helping all handmade artists have a very merry holiday season.

This is one time you might not want to procrastinate. After all, it’s a Free-For-All.