Saturday, July 24, 2010

Etsy Treasury Challenge Saturday!

I love making treasuries on Etsy. It's a great opportunity to see all the amazing things for sale that I wouldn't normally have a reason to look at. I also love emailing people to let them know that, amongst all the thousands of things to look at, I've selected their specific thing and placed it with 15 other beautiful, unique objects. (I also love getting these emails-it seriously brightens my day). I also love the thrill that maybe, just maybe this will make it to the front page of Etsy.

I participated in my first treasury challenge yesterday, and it was a lot of fun. I'd like to start up something similar on my blog, and there's no time like the present, right? So starting, like RIGHT NOW, I'm going to do 'Treasury Challenge Saturdays'. Every Saturday, I will pick an item to be featured in the treasury challenge. To start things off, we're going to be using one of my items, because I only know like two other people who sell on Etsy and I'm not even sure if anyone is going to play.

Here's how to play:

1.Make a treasury in Treasury East with ANYTHING, as long as featured item is included in the first three rows of the treasury. You can grab the featured item here.
3.Follow my blog (please).
4.Put "Treasury Challenge" somewhere in the title of your treasury.
5.Link back to this post. This helps other people find the challenge and enter.
6.Post a comment here with the link to your treasury.
7.Please refer people! I need all the press I can get!

The winner will be chosen next Saturday, July 31. I will post the winning entry on this blog at that time, so be sure to check back to see if you've won! I will also announce next week's Treasury Challenge. You will win a 5 oz. bag of my seriously delicious candied popcorn, so I will need to be able to contact you via email to get your shipping info.
If you're interested in having an item in your shop featured in a future 'treasury challenge saturday' (and would be willing to give away a product valued around $5), please, please, please let me know! i hope this will be great exposure for your shop and a lot of fun for everyone involved.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

shameless self promotion!

The fabulous folks over at The ABCD Diaries have gracious offered to review and host a giveaway of my swiffer covers! Be sure to check it out and enter to win! They host all kinds of awesome giveayways, so I highly recommend giving them a look-see. :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

a little etsy love

check out this awesome treasury i'm featured in. i've only been featured in two treasuries, but it's such a huge compliment, i think. of all the millions of amazing things on etsy, somebody found something i'm selling and thought highly enough of it to put it in a treasury with 15 other equally amazing things. i still haven't been featured on etsy's front page, but i've kind of given up on that- it feels a lot like a popularity contest. i've also noticed that some things get featured a LOT, like two or three times a week, which doesn't seem right. give somebody else a chance, already! but i understand why that happens- pretty thing show up on the front page and people 'heart' them, and they're more likely to build treasuries out of their 'hearted' items than scour etsy pages for new things, so you end up with a lot of recycling. that's my theory, anyway. i've made two or three treasuries myself, and it is fun to email the people to let them know about it- it makes me feel a bit like a fairy godmother, or like i'm spreading a little bit of joy all around etsyland.

adventures in letterpress-ery

so the L Letterpress finally arrived yesterday. i had been driving my husband crazy talking about it for days on end. i had plans to letterpress EVERYTHING i could get my hands on. new business cards, thank-you notes, wedding invitations, toilet paper... seriously, everything. it was going to open a whole new avenue for me. just think about it. being able to letterpress from home. i'm a graphic designer, and every time i get a paper sample that's been letterpressed, i drool over it. it doesn't matter what it's for. it's just so...pretty. elegant. lush. sigh.

after playing around with it for a few hours, i'd like to share my impressions (pun definitely intended).

first of all, before you buy this thing, look around the interwebs at the reviews of it. i didn't, and i wish i had. i'm still convinced this is a good toy to have, but it definitely has some serious drawbacks, which i'll get to in a minute.

as a birthday present, my mom got me the full letterpress kit, which includes a 'starter kit' and the epic six, which is a die-cutter and letterpress combo (although, i did not get the advertised circle dies, and i'm preparing to fire off an angry email to them!). supposedly, the starter kit has everything you need to get letterpressin' right out of the box. i really wish they had included some of their branded cleaning wipes, though. there isn't one mention of how to clean up when you're done other than to "use L wipes." the ink is tacky and does not wash up with warm water. i went out to pick up some new inks, paper and dies to play around with and saw that every one of their accessories is marked $6.99 (at hobby lobby). $6.99 for a package of 80 wipes, which, as far as i can tell, are overpriced baby wipes. so i went next door to the dollar store and picked up a box of baby wipes for a dollar. they do an alright job, but after some online research, i found that vegetable oil does a much better job, and is a heck of a lot cheaper. so take note! do not buy the overpriced specialty wipes! use plain ole' vegetable oil and a paper towel. done and done.

now, back to the actual letterpressing. the plates are really, really cheap. like, almost unbelieavable. they're plastic that look like they'd snap if you looked at them the wrong way. after TWO RUNS through the press, one of the plates (shown here) cracked in about 6 places. if you had plans on buying this to make 150 wedding invitations, you'd better think again. i don't know how this didn't come up during product development. supposedly, lifestyle is aware of this problem and has been replacing plates that have cracked (or so i've read online). i'm definitely going to be requesting new plates. two impressions (that weren't even any good) is absolutely unacceptable. they also give you this double-sided sticky tape to adhere the plate to the packing mat. it's not the greatest. i've also read that you can just use double-sided scotch tape, which works better than their stuff (which i've found to be hard to release from the packing mat).  i also had a hard time getting the black ink off this plate, even after using vegetable oil.

my first two prints were less than stellar. from what i've read, the brayer they supply is a piece of junk, so i'm going to be investing in a new one. it does take practice to learn how much ink is enough- it's definitely not like stamping. also, it seems to me like the edges of the dies could benefit from a light filing with a nail file or something. it's hard not to get discouraged by this, when the videos on the manufacturer's website make it look sooooo easy. each mistake is an expensive mistake, too, as the paper you use for letterpress is more expensive than regular cardstock. you need a thick, cushy cotton rag to absorb the pressing and create a debossed surface. L Letterpress sells paper packages ($6.99, again!), but they're mostly sheets of 25 or less, so each piece that you print is costing you a fair amount of money. the inks (also $6.99... see a trend here?) actually seem like they're reasonably priced, as you need to use very little ink. i now have three tubes (black, light blue and hot pink) and i figure i'll have them for a long, long time.

after a trip to the store to pick up more plates (ugh) and browsing some blogs and picking up some helpful hints, i tried it again, which much better results. what did i do differently? well not much... i changed to the pink, which, in my opinion, rolled on easier and was easier to get thinner, more even coverage. i also removed the padding sheet in the packing mat- with the packing mat, it's really hard to crank through the machine. without it, it seems to go through a lot easier. it's still not perfect, as you can see in the picture to the right- uneven coverage (which i'm actually ok with, frankly. it gives it a handmade feel...) i got two cards that i'm relatively happy with. but i wasted about 6 sheets of paper to get those two, so...

so where does all this leave me? well, my plans to start letterpressing custom wedding invitations are definitely shelved. but i think i could do some pretty cards (thank you's, congratulations, birthday and christmas, primarily), possibly some business cards for myself, and some canning labels. it's a lot of set-up and clean up to do just a few things, so i'd have to plan out in advance what i wanted to do, which isn't the worst thing in the world. i still love letterpress and am still excited to be able to get that look at home, even if it isn't as perfect as if it were run on a heidelberg or something. i'm also very interested in ordering some custom plates, but definitely not from the manufacturer. i'm going through this place, instead. they have a great blog post on this machine and how to get better results, so definitely read that before deciding to buy one or not.

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