Monday, November 7, 2011

Creatrix Of The Moment: Allison, Paper Party In The House!

In this installment of Creatrix of the Moment, allow me to introduce you to Allison: outdoor addict, thrifting aficionado, paper craft queen, dog-mom, party consultant, loving wife, and entrepreneur extraordinaire!

Allison resides in Tennessee, along with her hubby and adorable fur-baby, Bailey. When she isn't doing outreach work at the Center for Civic Engagement or spending time with her family enjoying the great outdoors, she runs a wonderfully whimsical home and party decor shop on etsy called Hoopdaloop. Allison was so very kind to participate in the Creatrix series and I invite you to read along to learn more about this savvy, fun-loving, inspiring young woman!

Everyone loves a good party! If you could be asked to consult and provide the decor for any specific theme party right now, what would the theme be and why?

I would definitely go for a wedding and reception outdoors and then under a tent for the reception with a shabby chic, rustic vibe! I mostly feature custom paper garlands in my shop, but I would start with those and dream big (but affordable)! For my own wedding, I had a similar feel and spent many hours searching thrift stores for the perfect details and now that I'm older, I have even more ideas!

Do you usually decorate your home for various holidays? What are some of your favorite personal seasonal decorations?

Yes! Last Christmas was the first Christmas I shared with my husband and I spent a lot of time thrifting to find vintage wooden ornaments for the tree. I absolutely loved how it turned out! (Getting the idea that I dig thrift stores?!)

What is the difference between bunting and traditional paper garlands?

Well when people think of bunting, they probably think of fabric, but paper garlands are obviously made of paper. I love bunting, but I also love the versatility of paper garlands. For instance, I was consulting with a bride this past week on her wedding decor (that I am doing!) and was giving her a lot of ideas on how to decorate with her paper garlands. I loved the idea of taking large sticks or branches (think thin branches towards the ends of a tree limb) and putting them in a vase of jar and then draping paper garland over the limbs. You can't really do that with traditional bunting. This is also a great tactic for decorating Christmas trees!

Where do you find inspirations for the colors and patterns you use in your designs?

I have always been naturally drawn to colors. I think my brain unconsciously absorbs color palettes wherever I am whether it be shopping for clothes or taking a hike. I definitely love wild and crazy color combinations and natural hues. I spend a lot of time outdoors so it is definitely inspiring!

What do you love most about your work at the Outreach Center? What do you love most about creating items in your party decor shop?

I love working with kids and teaching them that they have a voice in their schools, communities, and world at large. For my shop, I love working with customers! I do lots of custom orders and my customers always have such great ideas and excited to make their event whether it be a family get together or a wedding special and unique.

Please share your philosophy or thoughts on your particular "creative process". What one thing about creativity/being creative in general holds true for you?

People often limit creativity to "art" or "crafts" and may not think themselves particularly artistically inclined. But creativity is used and can and should be used in so many ways! A great meal, a fun date, an imaginary game with your kids, the way you arrange your furniture or even just your pillows, making something instead of buying it, going on a walk and noticing the shapes of the trees... so many ways. I think creativity is something we should all intentionally foster in our lives and others. For me, I have an Etsy shop and a blog which are obvious outward expressions of my creativity, but I also love to look at the shapes of leaves, cook a good meal, or create crazy imaginary worlds with kids.

If you were to describe your personality in terms of a color, what color would you be and why?

Can I cheat and describe myself as one of my multicolor garlands? This means I choose a mixture of colors bright neons and neutrals and primaries and on and on. I don't think I am consistently just one color. Some days I'm chill and relaxed like a blue, other days I'm a hot pink, ready to get some stuff done! and so on and so on. I will say though that my favorite color is blue! Pretty much any shade!

Tell us what you enjoy doing when you're not working.

Being outside! I grew up on a farm out in the country and spent most days outside playing when I wasn't in school. Even when it rained, I would head outside to do a rain dance :) Out in the country, out in nature... that's where my heart is. I like being outside best when my husband and pup are outside. I also love spending time with my family and friends, reading, and learning new things.

What two or three traits or abilities do you feel are crucial for any business owner or entrepreneur?

Dedication- because it's a lot of work and not always easy. Ingenuity- a lot of times you have to do the best with what you have and know to succeed. Love- you really have to have a passion and love for what you are doing. If you don't, you will probably burn out and even if you don't it won't be worth it.

Not only is Allison a most gracious interviewee, she also is a generous soul. She has kindly offered a coupon for 15% off the total purchase for any items in her store for the readers of this blog. Simply enter the coupon code mizcreatixrox to apply for your discount at her store, Hoopdaloop.

Thank you to Allison, for taking the time to share and for being an inspiring example of what a being a Creatrix is all about!

Be sure to also check out Allison's blog, A Girl and Her Scout as well as her Facebook and Pinterest pages.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Musing Monday: Audio Books, I Hardly Knew Ye...

Miz B over at Should Be Reading hosts a fun weekly blog event revolving around the wonderful world of books and reading. I've been making a serious effort to get back on the book-reading wagon over the past few months, and so far, I'm kinda proud of my progress. an attempt to draw out the dusty, dormant bibliophile within, I thought it would be cool to start participating in these memes.

Today's topic:

Do you listen to audiobooks? Why, or why not?

For the life of me, I just cannot get into books on tape. I have tried on several occasions in the past, but to no avail. The first time I ventured into the realm of audio books, I borrowed one of the Patricia Cornwell novels in the Kay Scarpetta series. I thought it was an excellent selection in which to break my audio book cherry-y'know....murder-mystery, strong, smart female detective heroine--all the stuff that makes for an intense, gripping read.

Yeah, so I totally fell asleep within the first half hour of listening.

I even gave it another shot the next day. Same results. I thought maybe it was the novel itself...but I'd read other Cornwell books the old fashioned way and hadn't found myself bored by any means. But I didn't want to give up so quickly. I wondered if perhaps it was the *way* in which I was taking in the audiobook. Maybe lying on my bed while the book played on my headphone set was just asking for trouble.

Next time I would be wiser.

I tried an Amy Tan (The Kitchen God's Wife) novel for my second book-on-tape experiment. And this time, I put the tape on my stereo while I was cleaning my house. I figured, I hate house cleaning, but maybe by having an audio book playing while I was participating in my least favorite chores, I would be distracted enough so I wouldn't realize I was cleaning in the first place. I imagined time flying by and becoming completely engrossed in the story, and then hours later, I would reach literary nirvana AND have a sparkling clean house! I really believed I was on to something here.

The problem with that program was two-fold. Firstly, whenever I needed to move into a different room of the house, I had to really crank up the stereo or else strain to hear the audio book (my stereo was in the living room). Secondly, I learned that I am not all that successful at doing two fairly concentrated activities at the same time. Either my mind would wander while scrubbing the bathroom and I'd miss out on a portion of the novel, or I'd slow down my cleaning process to follow along with the story and end up taking twice as long to load the dishwasher. Also, vacuuming is not conducive to listening to an audiobook.

I even tried to listen to audiobooks while at the gym. Unfortunately, I found that this made my workouts go slower. Or at least that's how it felt to me. When I listen to music during a workout, I feel pumped up, energized and before I know it, I've done a half hour on the elliptical machine. Listening to a book-on-tape made me feel like I was moving in slow motion...and five minutes would go by like five HOURS!

I wouldn't even dare attempt to put a book on tape/CD while driving. Just see my track record above. Yeah, could be dangerous.

So, that's where I stand on audiobooks. Not a fan, never was and doubtful that I ever will be. They just don't mesh well with me. Throughout my life, I've never cared for being read aloud to...back in grammar school, "story time" left me feeling a little restless. Maybe the book-on-tape concept is lost on me due to some residual effect from my school days. I much rather prefer to take a book into my own hands and soak up every beautiful written word on the page in front of me.

What's your take on audiobooks? Do they work for you?

{Image Via: Bookworm}

Halloween Extravaganza

I want to extend heartfelt thanks to all those who have been visiting from Vanessa's Halloween Blog Party. I appreciate the kind comments and am so loving discovering all of your blogs as well! I am astounded at the diverse, unique and extraordinary creations I'm all simply knock my striped witchy socks off! In fact, I am so impressed with what I've seen at all of your fun, festive blog parties that I created a special Pinterest board to highlight the amazing things I've come across though Fanciful Twist blog hop. Come stop by to get a glimpse at all the Halloween happenings!

If I was able to grab the blog link left behind at Vanessa's original part post, I pulled a favorite photo or image from the participants blog. Below is a tiny taste of the Pinterest Fanciful Twist Party Board I've created...but it really doesn't do justice to the immense, incredible Halloween blog extravaganza that took place. So many amazing things to see...from handcrafted give-away items, to whimsical holiday creations; delicious and diabolical art to scrumptious feasts; haunting, silly stories to spooky, funky Halloween decor. Visit the board and follow will find inspiration and an abundance of Halloween gloriousness!

Special thanks are in order for Vanessa for putting the blog party together...that woman is beyond magical! She personifies Creatrix to the nth degree! Vanessa, you are an inspiration more than you can ever know.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Summoning The Creatrix

The time is drawing near. Soon, the Eve in which the magic and mystery of secrets, the spirits, beginnings, and endings will be upon us. While Samhain is a holiday of remembrance and honoring those who have passed on, it also a time for celebration...for feasting, fun, games, tricks and yes...even a few treats! Come join the festivities; all are welcome.

Now before we start the actual celebration; you have to pass a little "initiation". Oh, don't's no biggie. It's just something all the new kids have to do...think of it as a way to show you believe in the magic of the season. That doesn't sound so scary, right? Right! Come on then; take my hand and I will lead you to your initiation destination!

I'm sure you're wondering what this is all about and where we are going. You should probably wear something warm as it gets quite chilly at night this late in the autumn season around here. Oh I know it isn't quite nighttime yet....but you'll spending a little while at your initiation site and nightfall will arrive before you know it. Let's start walking, shall we? That wind is starting to pick up a bit, do you feel it? I've brought along some blankets and other items in my tote bag, so don't worry. Isn't it fascinating how at dusk, your eyes can play tricks on you--especially when the wind blows and the near-bare branches of the trees cast such creepy shadows?! For instance, just now it looks almost as though there is a long, bony arm reaching out beside us and motioning with a decrepit pointy finger! How bizarre!

We're almost there now. Just ahead...see that barren land beyond the path at the end of the street? Why yes, that is in fact the cemetery. Didn't I mention we were going there? Oh, I didn't, did I? That's was supposed to be a surprise. Surprise! stop here. It's time for the initiation rite to begin. Yeah, I know...hanging around at night in a cemetery isn't really your gig, but trust me, this is tradition. And tradition is very important at the Creatrix Samhain Soiree. Help me spread the big fleecy blanket on the ground...right over there, in front of that tombstone.

Ok, now lie down upon the grave. Fold your arms across your chest just as though you were lying in a coffin. It's alright, there's nothing to be frightened about. What's that sound, you wonder? must be an owl! Yes, I'm sure that's what it is. I brought something that will help...let me rummage around in my tote bag...ah yes. Here we go. I'm going to place a candle right on top of the tombstone and you'll be able to see better. How's that? Better? See, *there* is the owl...he's just hanging out in the tree overhead. It's as though he's watching over us. That's a good omen. I assure you, it is!

All you have to do is lie quietly right where you are. This is the part of the initiation that might seem a little spooky, but as I said, it's tradition. You just need to remain silent and listen very carefully. What are you listening for? You'll know when you hear me. While you are listening, I am going to recite a little incantation...
When two or more are gathered on All Hallow's Eve,
A deed must be done for those who believe.
The dead have been silent for one whole year,
Now they must speak and the chosen one will hear.
Within the midnight hour you must walk with the dead,
Their graves of stone will mark their beds.
Carry a beacon to show you have come,
Call to them, "I am the chosen one."
Listen carefully for what you shall hear,
For it tells you your fortune for one full year.
Light one candle and leave it on a stone,
When the flame goes out, return to your home.
After the dead have spoken on All Hallows Eve,
They all shall visit your bed and your dreams.
Shhh....I hear something! Do you? I think the spirits are about to reveal your fortune for the next year! This is it...the moment we've been waiting for! What will the new year bring, I wonder?

The air really feels chilly now...oh wow! I have goosebumps all over my skin. The ghost woman hovering over us looks as though she's ready to speak now. So let's pay close attention to what she has to say.

"Do not fear, mere mortals be...
I've come to share good news, you see.
The year ahead will bring joy and mirth,
You will revel in the joys of the earth.
Nature's inspirations shall help you to see
The world around you offers so much beauty.
And when the days seem dark and stale,
Remember this night, this moment, if you will.
For you have all you need inside of yourself;
your gifts and the stories you have to tell--
can always be summoned and used to invigorate
and give you a myriad of reasons to...

Such good news! There was really nothing to be afraid of...but sometimes we need to be startled a little in order to remember that there is much that we hold back from expressing on our Creatrix Journey. So as this Witches New Year approaches, I thought it would be a good time to remind us all that we need to think about what it is we wish to do with our creative prowess. We all have the ability to create, transform and inspire. But we also have a tendency to make excuses, and refrain from fully exploring our creative potential.

And now, for those of us who were a little spooked by the ritual, let's take a moment to calm our nerves...I brought something that might help.

Ok, so maybe libations aren't everyone's thing. Either way, I invite you to have a yummy beverage of your choice, think about your creative process and the things that sometimes scare you about it. What are you most frightened to express? What ways might you be able to deal with those fears and demons that can inhibit the creative process?

And when you're ready to join in the reveling and get into the spirit of the season, come on over to Vanessa's Fanciful Twist 2011 Halloween will surely find inspiration there! Be sure to scroll through the comments underneath her party post so you can stop by all of the other parties being held by the Creatrices who are taking part in the celebration!

{Samhain ritual components and incantation via: The Wiccan Book of Rites and Rituals, by Sister Moon}

Monday, October 17, 2011

Creatrix Of The Moment: Petunkalunka - Joyful Jewellery Designer

I recently had the exquisite pleasure of interviewing the merry, multifaceted, magnificent Petunkalunka! A bit of a Renaissance Woman, Petunkalunka is a clever jewellery designer who currently is residing in Japan working as an English teacher. Her wit and charm are practically intoxicating! Check out what she has to say about work, creativity, music, jewellery design, and more--

I love that you often seem to have a "story" behind the creations of your jewelry pieces. For example, with the Picasso Autumn Cube items, you had blogged about memories linked with music played in your childhood home inspiring your design. Do you find that certain themes (musical, cultural, artistic, etc) or memories impact your creations? How would you describe the way your creative process is inspired?

"My family watched a lot of old musicals and movies when I was growing up—The King and I, The Glenn Miller Story, White Christmas, Singin' In the Rain—and I think those bright Technicolor and Vistavision tones stuck with me, not to mention the high fashion of the time. The women always seemed so effortlessly elegant. That's exactly what I want from my jewelry. Effortless elegance. In my imagination I am a brown Rosemary Clooney, singing "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" while surrounded by svelte men in turtlenecks.

My inspiration comes from many places. I create something because I want it to match one of my outfits, or because a friend says "I want to buy something like blah blah blah," and I think, I could make that. Having even a pretend customer in mind gives me a little more focus. A more recent piece is the direct result of looking through a spread in Vogue and seeing bright color-blocking on page after glossy page. Four years ago while watching Apocalypto (twice) I made a bracelet, necklace, and earrings set that was clearly influenced by the intricate Mayan jewelry and all the rich turquoise. It took a long time to finish, though. I kept pausing, gripping the pliers in one hand and the unfinished necklace in the other, my heart pounding, yelling at the screen "Run, Jaguar Paw! Run!" That second half is intense."

How do you decide what to "name" your pieces?

"It's usually the first thing that comes to mind, which means it's based on whatever I was thinking about when I started making the item. If not the first, the one I think would appeal most to the consumer. Despite the fun of hollering "Yeti balls! I'm a'wearin' yeti balls!" to myself in the comfort of my apartment, I think "Yeti Eyes Yarn and Gemstone Necklace" comes closer to the playful sophistication for which I aim."

If you could only have one album/CD playing in the background while you were designing your next jewelry piece, what would it be and why?

Yipes. One? If I'm designing something I would wear all day every day then it'd have to be Donald Ryan's The Sweetest Sounds. Smooth, relatable jazz standards with an occasional calypso feel; my kind of stuff. It's music I can sing with, but it isn't a distraction because I know it so well. Yes, the pianist also my father, so it brings back good memories of listening to him play while I ran around at home. If you think I'm biased unfairly, I challenge you to check him out at (the other Ryan is my younger brother). He has played at Carnegie Hall and he's in the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, you doubting Thomases.

If I'm going to make something based a piece of of current trends, then I'll listen to Janelle Monae's Archandroid with "Tightrope" dance breaks. That lady is just friggin' cool, and both of her albums are so carefully thought out it's as though I'm listening to an opera in R&B clothes."

Tell us how you became involved with the Japanese Exchange and Teaching program.

"It was my third year in college when I realized that I didn't want to be a teacher, after all. I was double majoring in elementary education and French, the former for practicality and my love for children, the latter because my college didn't have a music major and I loved the professor. While I found many of my education classes challenging and inspiring, I realized that the life of a teacher was not for me. Yet there I was in the middle of my college career with half of two unrelated degrees and little time for do-overs. In the midst of my hohmuguh-I've-wasted-half-my-higher-education crisis I applied for a study abroad scholarship in Angers, Vallée de la Loire, France and got it.

I spent the first half of my senior year in Angers, going through culture shock without realizing it and learning to think in another language. Despite many of my frustrations as a foreigner, I loved it. It was such a different feel from living in one of the youngest states in America. I learned to be a wine, bread, and cheese snob. I learned to like fish. Gradually I stopped getting a headache from listening to French all day in class. I got my landlady's adorable granddaughter to like me. Right as I was really warming up to the place it was time for me to leave.

Not only did I learn that fluency in another language is impossible without spending time among native speakers, but I also gained a strong wanderlust. I spent the rest of my senior year stressing about how to work with children without being a teacher, and how to travel the world without going broke or only being a tourist. On my older sister's suggestion I made an appointment with the career counselor, who asked me some questions and gave me a couple of aptitude tests. She suggested the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program as a way to both satisfy my ken for travel and teach without staying in the Midwest. A year later I was leaving for Japan. Long story, but as Bugs Bunny would say, "You aaaaasked for it!" Then he would throw a pie in your face."

What do you like most about living in Japan right now? Least?

"I clearly have a hard time choosing anything. More than the food, the proximity to other countries, the history, the socialized health care, the trains, the scenery, the friends I've made and people I've met, my current favorite thing is how accomplished living abroad makes me feel. I've learned traditional Japanese calligraphy, play taiko, earned a black belt in aikido, and can have half a conversation in Japanese. Moreover, I've learned self-sufficiency and the value of taking my self lightly. Operating in a different culture and language is humbling on a daily basis. The language barrier is always frustrating (I'm a college graduate but a functioning illiterate!). Even after four years I constantly make mistakes. It's my own fault, though. I don't study much on my own. On the upside, the Japanese people who've known me since I arrived have commented on how much I've improved. Plus, I no longer feel like I'm misrepresenting all of America if I have to ask the waiter to read a menu to me.

I hate winter. That is why I will not stay another year in this job, is because of winter. Winter is the worst, all day, all the time. There is no insulation in the buildings and no central heating in schools. They have smelly kerosene heaters that they don't drag out until about December 1st, so I teach with stiff fingers and three layers of tights. I do not exaggerate. Winter. Sucks. Yeti balls."

Would you define yourself as a goal-setter? What do you believe about setting goals in general?

"Oh boy, am I a goal-setter, and how! I'm just not a goal finisher. I'm very easily distracted and often set goals that aren't feasible in the time I've set. My father once advised me to set a timer for 20 minutes, and to stick to one task until the timer goes off. Then I can decided whether or not to move on to something else. That works. Otherwise my general philosophy is to set small goals that lead to one larger, but to let go of some goals when circumstances change. Example A: I'm preparing to move halfway across the world again in ten months. I had thought that I'd stay in my hometown for a few months while looking for a job in France, but after my parents ran into some health problems I decided to put living in France on the back burner. I know I'll get there someday, but I'll wait until I've spent some quality time in the Midwest.

Example B: I was determined to make five billion necklaces from a complicated original design and be famous for my incredible taste and style. I would be jeweler to the stars!!! Before I had finished even one of the original design I saw that my multi-strand necklaces were gaining more attention than anything else in my shop. I like making them and they're less labor intensive than the original design concept. So that's my new focus. I'll do those original designs when I have time, or in short sections like on the Elegant Breast Cancer Awareness necklace."

What do you wish more people knew or understood about what's involved in creating handmade goods?

"The time it takes! I've blogged about why I set my prices "so high." For every hour I spend making a necklace you can bet I've spent another hour trying something that didn't work. I've been messing with a skein of yarn for the last two weeks, trying to figure out how to string some heavy agate on it without bending the necklace out of shape. Then there's the time it takes to get a good photo or ten, editing the image file, tallying up the cost of materials and labor, etcetera. Just posting an item on Etsy takes me at least 15 minutes; usually closer to 30. How do I get visitors to want my stuff without sounding like an ignorant tween or a douchebag? It takes thought and revision."

What is one jewelry creation you are currently the most proud of?

Always the last piece I sold. I feel like Sally Field. "You like me! You really like me!"

And it's no surprise why so many people like Petunkalunka...who wouldn't? She has style, she embraces life and laughter, and she encompasses what it means to be a Joyful Creatrix.

Please stop by Pentunkalunka's shop on Etsy and keep up with her latest adventures in Japan on her blog, Handmade Something Or The Other. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Be Your Own Work of Art

“What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?”

- Michel Foucault

The People of Walmart

Allow me to be upfront before you read any further.

This is not a post about the infamous website in which jabs and mocking fun are poked at the shoppers and consumers of Walmart. If you clicked on this piece in hopes of viewing ridiculous images or haughty commentary highlighting the very special breed of folks who are often found wandering the aisles in the middle of the night at their local Walmart, you will be sadly let down.

Having gotten that out of the way, I wanted to point out some interesting news I read yesterday. It appears, that come next spring, Walmart will begin selling crafts and items created by third world country female artisans.

Right. I said Walmart.

So, what's the big deal, you ask? Well, beyond the logic that the Walmart business model seems to be in direct opposition to organizations premised on Fair Trade tenets, what does this potentially mean for the American artisan/handicraft designer/artistic entrepreneur? What about the thousands of jobless Americans who struggle daily in this nightmare of an economy? Why hasn't Walmart tapped into the the local circuit of artistic talent that prevails in the United States...people who would likely benefit from having some of their creations sold?

Oh right; that would probably be less cost-effective than say, reaching into the highlands of Guatemala to snap up goods labored by a poverty-stricken villager who has no grasp of the connection between capitalism and globalization that drives Corporate America today.

Let's not even get me started about the history of Walmart and its poor reputation regarding the treatment of its employees. Or the fact that pretty much all of the goods sold there are already made in third world countries by folks who are socially and economically deprived.

And for the record, I don't condemn those who shop at Walmart or who might even be employed in their stores. Hell, the way things are in this country, it just seems more practical to try and save money where one can. And if you work at Walmart? Bless you for having a job.

What frightens me about the Walmartization of craftsmanship is twofold:

  1. Will the artisans of these far-away lands be taken advantage of by the corporate machine that is Walmart? Will they truly be treated fairly and paid appropriately for what they produce? Will their items become mass-produced just like every other product sold in places like Walmart (and other large, chain markets)?
  2. What does this imply for those in "first world" countries who already try to make their living by creating one-of-a-kind art, jewelery, clothing, etc.? I'm talking about the people who work hard to promote their products as original pieces that would *never* be found a corporate chain store. How does something like what Walmart is arranging impact them?
Think about it. If the newest, coolest, trendy item can be purchased for a couple of bucks at Walmart, what happens to artisans who are independently trying to sell their wares at higher costs? I brought this thought to the business forum on Etsy and there was a LOT of discussion that ensued. Some of it was positive and hopeful, but much of it was rather negative, and rightfully so for the most part.

Oh, and speaking of Etsy? You know, that vast online venue that seeks "to empower people to make a living making things"? (said Etsy founder and father, Rob Kalin, who by the way, ceded his CEO position at Etsy in 2008). So it turns out that as we live and breathe, one of Etsy's current board members, Mr. Jim Breyer, also happens to sit on the Board of Directors for Walmart.


Coincidence? Irrelevant? Neat bit of trivia?

You tell me.

That last tidbit may or may not be news to some, as Breyer has been involved with Etsy since at least 2008, but I thought it was worth throwing into the pot and stirring it around a few times. You know, because I like to rabble-rouse and shit. ;)

What are your thoughts on all of this? If you are currently a "seller" on Etsy, how does this make you feel? Are you surprised to know that there is an Etsy-Walmart connection? Do you think that Walmart's intentions with third world artisans are noble, or is this strategy little more than a PR move, with the potential to shift the discourse on what it means to be an artisan or entrepreneur?

Sound off below, if you dare!

{image above originally found on Technorati article titled "Walmart is Watching You"}

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Review: Of Love and Other Demons

Of Love and Other DemonsOf Love and Other Demons by Gabriel García Márquez

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I so wanted to love this book. Touted as a captivating, enchanting and even "edgy" work of storytelling hinged with elements of magical realism, "Of Love and Other Demons" seemed like a promising novel that would haunt me psychologically and emotionally.

Instead, I ended up dreading everything about it.

Quick plot review (spoilers contained): Young girl gets bit by a supposed rabid dog. Said girl is subsequently believed to be possessed by a demon. Girl is sent off to a convent to be "healed"? exorcised? Many strange occurrences seem to follow in the wake of the girls arrival at the convent. There is an overarching theme of assigning evil to that which is not clearly or scientifically understood. Some adult priest becomes enraptured by the young girl and their relationship hints at pedophilia. Eventually, everyone dies.

Maybe I missed the deeper meaning of the story because I got so impatient with the long-windedness and near overwhelming number of characters thrown into the mix (which was rather difficult to keep straight). Or maybe I've just become shallow in my old age and need a little more gratuitous action in my novels to hold my attention. In any case, I found myself constantly distracted by the never-ending introduction of the newest Marquis, Bishop, Dominga or person-from-some-Holy-Office. I felt like I needed a character guidebook to accompany the reading of this novel because after a while, I couldn't remember who was who and what their relevance to the story was supposed to be.

The prose in which Marquez writes is admittedly gorgeous, but that wasn't enough to save this piece from the depths of the infernal flames in which I felt like I was burning during the entire read.

"Of Love and Other Demons" is a short book, (less than 150 pages in my edition), yet it took me an entire month to get through it. I just didn't find myself caring much about the characters and never felt swept away by the plot (*was* there one?). It is highly likely that the essence of the story was lost in the English translation from its original Spanish text; I will allow the benefit of the doubt for that. Nonetheless, I found this novel a painful read that left me unmoved.

Halloween Party By A Fanciful Twist

The wickedly creative Vanessa over at A Fanciful Twist is hosting her 4th Annual Halloween Party on October 22. Blog hoppers and crashers, this is THE event of the season. You do not want to miss out.

Vanessa is a Renaissance woman, a crafty Creatrix, and amazing artist all rolled into one. Spending time visiting her blog is truly a magical experience. I kid you not. She also has an Etsy Shop filled with many curious delights that beg of your indulgence.

I am ecstatic to be participating in this year's Halloween blog party...there is so much to do, so much to see, so much to celebrate! Please join in for an unforgettable day of magic and creativity!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Creatrix Of The Moment: Louise, Jewellery Deisgner, Entreprenuer

Today I am so pleased to share with you the story of a very talented jewellery designer whose clever creations are sure to catch your eye.

Meet Louise of Aurora Wire Jewellery!

A resident across the pond, Louise has been an artisan for much of her young life. Her designs include handmade accessories and gifts for all sorts of occasions. Her sleek, silver necklaces are both trendy and classic and most certainly appeal to fashionistas who seek to make a statement with their choice of accessory. Read on to get a peek at the life and times of this stylish, cheerful, up and coming entrepreneur!

How did you get started in jewellery design? What drew you to this particular medium?

"I've been designing and making jewellery as a hobby since about the age of 10, but I started making it seriously when I was 15. I bought some jewellery making wire from a craft shop and grabbed a pair of pliers and started making rings and taught myself through trial and error. I was inspired to do this after buying a wire wrapped ring from Camden market in London and thinking I could have made it myself! However, what I really wanted to do was make proper solid silver jewellery - so I did some research on the internet and found a new medium of making silver jewellery called precious metal clay, or PMC. I watched in awe as I saw tutorials on youtube showing what seemed like modelling clay turn into pure silver as it was fired! I knew straight away that I wanted to do this, so using some of my savings and money from my 16th birthday, I invested in a lump of silver clay and some other bits of equipment to get me going... and that's really the story so far!"

Have you lived in the UK all of your life? Tell us a bit about where you are from.

"Yes, I've lived in the UK all my life. I'm from a seaside town in England called Weston-super-Mare. Although, my ultimate dream is to move to London. I spend a lot of time up there with my cousins who live there, and the buzz is always just so exciting - it's a great place to get inspiration."

Your pieces are beautifully crafted with did you come to love working with this material?

"I've always loved silver jewellery over gold or copper, and I particularly love the way it goes with any outfit because it's such a neutral colour. I came to love working with silver after investing in some metal clay and (thankfully!) loving the versatility it - it's almost like working with liquid silver but without any heat!"

What is your work space/studio like? Where do you do most of your creating?

"I don't as of yet have a proper studio, but I have a large desk in my room where each and every piece of my jewellery has been made."

Are you in school? If so, what do you enjoy studying?

"I've recently left school to focus on being a jewellery designer full time! But when I was at school my favourite subjects were photography, textiles and art."

On your blog, I notice you promote reading. What are some of your favorite books or types of books to read?

"I've been so busy lately that I haven't been able to properly get into a book, but my favourite types are probably fantasy books that take you away from reality for a little while. I find them really therapeutic! My other favourite books are really old jewellery books with everything from Victorian jewellery to ancient Egyption jewellery!"

What influences your designs for jewellery pieces? How did you decide to come up with the "Alphabet Necklaces" line?

"The main thing that influences my designs is when I think of a piece of jewellery in my head that I would like, then look for it and can't find what I want anywhere - or I can find it, but the price is way out of my price range! For example, with the Alphabet necklaces, there's quite a few similar ones around but the ones within my price range were made from base metal which really irritates my skin, so I just thought I'll do it myself! So to sum it up, most of my jewellery is inspired by jewellery that I (or one of my friends/family) want, but can't find!"

What are three things (craft/jewellery themed or otherwise) that are inspiring you right now?

"One thing that is inspiring me now is the sudden change in the weather here in England. It's suddenly got really cold and it's getting darker quicker, so a lot of my designs in the coming months will be winter-themed. Another thing that always inspires me is old jewellery books. I'm going to start expanding my jewellery range soon and trying out new things inspired by all the elaborate earrings, brooches, cuffs etc. that the ancient Egyptions wore! Lastly, my friends and family. I'm constantly getting suggestions from them! "

If you could spend an all-expenses paid week vacationing anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

"I would probably go to the opposite end of the world - or just anywhere that I could find that is the biggest contrast to England! I'd love to see somewhere like Australia, or even Africa!"

What has been the most difficult lesson you've learned as an entrepreneur so far?

"The most difficult lesson has been learning that everything takes time. You can't just expect to put your products online and think that people will find them and buy them straight away - you have to find ways of getting people to notice you! And when, like me, you don't have money for expensive ads etc., you have to be inventive and find ways round it - that's how my blog started!"

What is one thing you were surprised to learn about yourself?

"Looking back I would say I was most surprised that I've actually stuck with it! I usually start things and have big ideas but they all slowly fade out, but I've learnt that I really do have a passion for jewellery and I'm thinking about it all day, everyday! "

What advice would you give to an aspiring jewellery designer?

"My advice would be don't give up!! It might feel like everything is taking a lifetime to get going, but when you find the medium that you love everything will start falling into place. And just practise whenever you get the chance. I've never been to a jewellery workshop or course - so it's no excuse! Just get stuck in and learn from your mistakes."

Many heartfelt thanks to Louise for taking the time to participate in this interview! Be sure to visit her blog, Aurora, to keep up to date with her creative endeavors. In addition to her esty shop, Aurora Wire Jewellery, Louise's work is also available for purchase through Rockettt St. George, a UK online store.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Traces of Fall

Fall is both a passionate and mellow affair. Warm colors dance through the daylight; the scent of the earth preparing to sleep is rich and spicy. We are at once invigorated and drawn to our homes, for the time for winter retreat is drawing near. Soon the wheel of the year turns toward the somber season and the traces of fall we cherished will fade away.

This treasury was inspired by a delightful autumnal jewelery line by a designer named Pentunkalunka. Her creations are colorful, quirky and very vivacious! Do stop by her shop Pentunkalunka Jewelery Designs on etsy. Her pieces are sure to bring a smile to your face.

In the spirit of this time of year, dear readers, please share what one thing absolutely says "autumn" to you...

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Creatrix Is...

When I came up with the moniker "Miz Creatrix" I liked it because I thought it sounded unique, and a little sexy too. But beyond the connotation of a woman who dazzles the masses with her prolific ability to create miracles and myriads of fantastic things, there are several other traits I believe embody what a "Creatrix" is.

  1. A Creatrix knows there is no one and only right way to do anything. What works one day, may not work the next. Projects which other Creatrices accomplish with ease may became the bane of another's existence. And most importantly, a Creatrix does not judge another being because of differing philosophies.
  2. A Creatrix is at ease with herself, and because of this, she is at ease and peace with all those around her.
  3. At times, a Creatrix is a bit of a cultural rebel. She is unafraid to go against the grain and defy conventional wisdom. She does not follow trends just because they are trends. If it doesn't work for her, she simply does not do it. She dares to be groovy in her own right.
  4. A Creatrix is a person of strength and wisdom. She does not hesitate to help others and does not expect something in return. She has enough love inside of her that it can't help but to spill onto others.
  5. A Creatrix looks for the connections in all things, people, events. She understands that in spite of surface differences, everything and everyone is interrelated.
  6. A Creatrix is intelligent, courageous, and curious. Whatever her medium, niche or calling, she puts her heart and soul into all she does. She asks questions and realizes that sometimes, the questions are more important than the answers.
What do you think? Is there anything you would add to the list? And more importantly, do you live the life of a Creatrix? If not, what would it take for you to do so?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

National Lace Day

Whether you create with lace or add lace accents to your projects/designs, there's something dreamy and ethereal about the beauty of lace.

Today, take some time to learn more about the history of lace.

"I consider lace to be one of the prettiest imitations ever made of the fantasy of nature; lace always evokes for me those incomparable designs which the branches and leaves of trees embroider across the sky, and I do not think that any invention of the human spirit could have a more graceful or precise origin." ~Coco Chanel, April 29, 1939

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Does Society Lack Respect For "Feminine" Businesses?

I came across this article in Forbes recently.

The author ponders over why women entrepreneurs are underrepresented in businesses that cater to technology and instead, seem to be drawn to the "softer" businesses.

Um, yeah so? I fail to see how this is viewed as problematic.

Apparently these "soft" businesses such as fashion, accessories, cosmetics and the like are less legitimized, in the eyes of society, says the author. To be fair, she points out that women bring a lot to the intellectual table and she references a piece in the Harvard Business Review that indicates women are the key to success in business in general.

The issue I have is not so much that women are less likely to be involved in running "hard core" businesses, but rather, somehow, women who decide to pursue their own business in a "feminine" niche are less respected.

Who decided that? Is it true?

As a female entrepreneur, have you ever felt that you are viewed as "less than" because of your gender or choice of industry?

Sound off below!

"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." – Maya Angelou

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How Do I Love Coffee? Let Me Count The Ways...

September 29 is National Coffee Day! I could not possibly allow this day to pass without sharing a little ode to all things caffeinated.

I can't imagine a world without coffee. In fact, you probably do not want to imagine a world where I exist without coffee. Just sayin'.

I'll take mine with two creams and two sugars, please. =)

I orchestrate my mornings to the tune of coffee. ~Terri Guillemets

Blog Hop Party Weekend!

Join in the fun this weekend and discover some fantastic, creative bloggers!

To participate in Finding New Friends Blog Hop, simply meander over to The Adventures of J-Man and MillerBug's page to get started.

Here in upstate NY, it's going to be a rainy, chilly weekend...what better way to spend it than to curl up with a nice fleecy blanket, steamy cup of coffee and visit some new, interesting blogs?

Friends are relatives you make for yourself. ~Eustache Deschamps

Friday, September 2, 2011

Have Yourself An Indie Little Christmas

I know, I's only September and some may scoff at even the mere suggestion of starting to think about the holiday season. And believe me, besides being a "Creatrix", I am also a "Procrastinatrix Extraordinaire". You know how around the third week of December, there's a last minute stampede frantically busting through every shopping mall and retail outlet store? Ahem. Yes...that's where you'll usually find me...swearing and cursing under my breath and mother effing every other last minute fool who, like me, just *had* to wait until the very end to do their gift shopping.

So yeah, I'm not here to suggest you start your Christmas/holiday shopping now (but if you are a savvy consumer, you'd probably not mind getting the ball rolling, however slowly).

Speaking of consumption, I have to say that I am not a fan at all of the consumerization of Christmas. It totally ruins the spirit of the season when greed and going into debt become more relevant to the holiday then say, peace and goodwill. I've gotten over the notion that I have to spend beyond my means to have a good holiday season...and in recent years, my family and friends have come to appreciate that gifts from me will be meaningful and personal, rather than blingy- over-the-top and ridiculously expensive. Which is a good thing, because the past few years have been lean ones monetarily.

So today, on this early September afternoon, I suggest that during the holiday season, you experiment with merry-making the Indie Way. Instead of giving presents that are manufactured, mass-produced and fuel for corporate profit, why not seek out gifts that express authenticity and help support truly talented artists and individuals who take pride in the process of creating?

"When I shop indie, I'm buying a hadmade, hand-designed gift for someone I love. I may not be able to design it myself, but I can give it to support that organic creative process. When I think about an indie gift, I have to really know my friends and family members so I can get them something that is not only specially crafted for them, but that they will love. There's no point in buying handmade just to do it--I still want to give someone a gift that will bring them joy. When I buy indie, that means that I'm not buying some gadget or a DVD that, while appreciated, is not particularly personal. I'm stepping out of consumerism and into relationship, because of the amount of thought and planning that goes into purchasing an indie gift."

{via Wisebread}

Do you shop indie when looking for gifts? What do you think about Fair Trade Stores and online marketplaces such as