I like Christmas as much as the next guy but ...

Don't you get sick of Santas, bells and stars sometimes, or it is just me? I almost feel ashamed of saying it; it feels wrong and politically incorrect, but I do get sick of all this Christmas stuff.

To escalate the problem, here in Brazil we are at the doorstep of summer, thanks for being located in the South Hemisphere and that's why I am creating things that are the "oh... it is getting hot in here" kind. These clutches, for example, scream summer, don't they?

This one has interchangeable hand painted silk strips, so you get 2 clutches for the price of 1!


Lessons I learned from my first craft show

Meet your neighbors
Look to your right and left. Your fellow crafters are likely to be fun, supportive and probably know much more about participating in craft shows than you. They can give you advice on how to set up your space, how to get a customer’s attention, and so on. Observe the way they deal with their customers and ask questions; most of them will enjoy sharing their experience.

Move, move, move
Give the impression something is happening in your booth. Don’t just stay there, waiting for the customers to stop by; the customers will feel intimidated. Rearrange your display, move things around, and keep yourself busy, but not so busy you can’t stop at the moment a potential customer shows interest in your stuff.

Check the craft show history ahead of time
Ideally, you should have access to some history: how many customers, demographics, as well as who the other crafters are and what they sell, estimated revenue per booth, etc. With this information , you can plan much better which products to take and how to set up your booth.

Enlist a friend or share your booth
Like most things in life, it is much more fun sharing with somebody else. This person will help when you have that surge in number of customers, or when you need time for a “bio” break. And let me take this opportunity to tell you about eating: I don’t know about you, but I won’t stop by at a booth where the seller is eating. I just feel I am intruding. I mentioned this to some friends and they all feel the same way. So, you might want to let your friend take over and go eat somewhere else.
Above all, this friend will be another set of eyes and ears to gather information and learn what craft shows are all about.

Don’t get discouraged
It might take some time for things to pick up. My first 4 or 5 hours were really slow. I sold nothing, very few people gave me the time of the day, and my neighbor kept asking if I had lost my craft show virginity yet. But before the end of the day I made a few sales, one of them very substantial, and the second day was even better. If things are slow, refer to “Move, move, move”, above. !

Invite everybody you know
Really, I did and it worked wonderfully. A lot of people you relate to in your daily life don’t know you are an artist or never really cared to know more about your creations. This is a nice opportunity to show them what you’ve got. I invited lots of relations; some of them showed up and a couple even bought my stuff. One of them was my second best customer -- 18% of my craft show income.

Have your “elevator’s pitch” ready
In corporate lingo, an “elevator’s pitch” is those few seconds you are in the elevator with somebody and you can say something to get his attention, so he will want to know more about your stuff.You have a small window of opportunity to get a potential customer interested in your work. Tell him things he might find interesting and would help him to value your product. There are tons of examples: something is handmade, and/or an original design, the piece is one of a kind, the materials are eco-friendly, the african beads are bought through fair trade… You know the drill!

Know your prices
My prices were all over the place so I put a little tag on each product with the price. Big mistake! The customers always asked me how much the products costed and I had to look for the tiny little price tag. Boring!!! specially for the customer!
I am already preparing for the next craft show: I will have 4 or 5 price points and will use colored price tags, so I will know instantly how much each product costs.

Keep your packaging simple
Nice packaging makes your product more attractive; that’s a no brainer. However, you have to be able to pack the product really fast; the customer wants to move on and you want to move on to another customer. So, plan your packaging accordingly.

Get contact info
Priceless! You know how you work yourself out trying to get people to sign up for your newsletter? Just ask them right there at the craft show. Most of them will say yes, and these are people who already admire your product, and might even have bought something from you.
The corolary here is to do some promotion: 10% off any item on your etsy store, free shipping, or whatever you can come up with.

Enjoy yourself
If this is your first or one of your first craft shows, consider it as an investment. You will learn a lot even if you don’t sell a lot. Keep your eyes and your mind open, and have fun!


My act is not together but...

I am having lots of fun.

I said back in September that I would have my act together by October, blogwise speaking, I mean. Wellllll, it hasn't happened that way I planed.

You see, I have decided to participate in this Craft Show that will benefit a NGO my friend Monica started a few years ago, and it just got way over my head. I have been creating and painting and sewing and labeling and pricing like a crazy woman. I have never participated in a craft show before so I am really excited. So excited, I haven't had time to blog but... I have created some new products for the craft show and thought I might give you a sneak peek:

Just look at this cutie! I am forgiving for not blogging, am I not?


Can we turn ourselves off for 10 minutes?

So, today I got this interesting e-mail; the subject was World of Darkness. The idea is that on Sept. 17th the whole world (yeap, that's right) will turn the lights off for 10 minutes: from 9:50 pm to 10:00 pm local time.

I can't help but think: can I do that? Of course, living in the sticks of Brazil, our electrical power supply is spotty to say the least. When that happens, my wonderful and practical husband turns the generator on and life resumes itself as before.

However, my doubts go further... I don't seem to be able to do "just" one thing at a time anymore. So, when I watch TV, I am also using laptop. Once a week, my husband takes my laptop to class because his is dead. When that happens, I watch TV and do crosswords. When I eat alone, I read a book while chewing I am not sure what.

When was it that we started multitasking full time AND by choice? when was it doing only one thing at a time became so dull? It seems we can't smell the flowers anymore, we have to smell and do something else. So, how am I going to turn the lights off for 10 minutes and do nothing? Oh, I know... when I am eating with my husband we don't do anything else. So, on Sept 17th, honey, dinner is going to be a little later.


Brazil's National Candy

If you have ever been to a Brazilian birthday party, you know brigadeiro (bree-gah-day-ro). There is no Brazilian party without it. It is the most delicious, luscious chocolate little candy. Still, it is so easy to make, Brazilian kids (12 and up) make them themselves even, or specially, if they are alone in the house. Something so good and so easy and quick to make, I don't know... it just seems wrong. Oh, yeah, it is fattening... that's the catch.

Anyway, if you can take a few more calories and bear the guilt, here goes the recipe. You can make it in less than 10 minutes AND enjoy it tonight!

You are going to need:

  1. 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (not to be confused with evaporated milk)
  2. 1 tablespoon of butter
  3. 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder

Traditionally, Brazilians used to make brigadeiro in the pan but nowadays most people make them in the microware. In my opinion, you can't tell the difference.

Take a round and tall microwave-safe bowl and put all ingredients inside

  1. Put in the microwave in high for 3 minutes
  2. Stir
  3. Put in the microwave for 4 more minutes
  4. Stir vigorously until you get a shiny, homogeneous cream

At this point, the thing is done. You can serve in one of several ways:

  • Just wait for the cream to get cold in its own bowl, take a spoon full of the cream and put in your mouth. The rest of the family can do the same. This is the way to serve on movie night with just your immediate family.
  • Put in little, cute individual containers and wait until cold. Serve the individual container with little spoons.

  • Roll them into little balls, Brazilian party style. The way to do this is to wait for the cream to cool down, smear some butter in your hands, take a little of the cream and roll into a little ball. You can put shredded nuts, shredded chocolate, or even unsweetened cocoa (truffle style) around the ball. Then, put the little ball into a paper container like the ones used for muffins, but much smaller (the ball should be the size of a Ferrero Roucher).


I know, I know...

You don't have to say anything, I know I have been a bad, bad blogger... my posts have been (very) few and far between, but what can I say???

Oh, wait a minute, I know!!! I can say:
  1. Ana was home on vacation from college and I was nursing my baby OR
  2. I am preparing a great soon to be posted tutorial on how to make a candle lamp out of a soda bottle and hand painted silk OR
  3. I can say I have been very busy in my studio making myself a purse using a great and FREE pattern from Oh, Fransson!. My thanks to Elizabeth Hartman for the great tutorial. AND
  4. I will try to be better in the future, even though my step-daughter Camille's wedding is coming up in 3 weeks, which means I will be away from home for 2 weeks, and I know it will be October before I can get my act together.


Textile Wonders

I love to look at new ways to use fabric and thread, and no better place than etsy to do that. Aroluna, one of the many talented etsy jewelers, put together this list of items I am proud to be part of. What a beautiful selection! Just take a look and if you can't live without one (or many) of this items, go to the etsy treasury page and you can access it from there.


Fall Sneak Preview

Yes, I know, I have been kind of quiet lately... but I have a good reason: I've been working full time on my fall collection and decided to give you a sneak preview.

After my post on Pantone Fall colors, I was so inspired by the beautiful fall colors!!! Stay tuned for more... I should post the whole collection in my website and my etsy store by next week.


The Stunning Jewelry of Judy Ebert

A few weeks ago, through one of those fortunate encounters the internet allows, I came in contact with Judy Ebert and her stunning gemstone jewelry.

Her pieces will take your breath away just like they took mine; they make a statement, they have glamour, class, and they are oh, so beautiful.

She first started making jewelry using standard bead-stringing techniques, and while she still constructs many pieces this way, she now combines it with wire work, silver soldering, bead weaving, gem crochet, and Viking knit. She is also working with PMC silver and gold, and is planning to soon incorporate enameling and lost wax casting in her work.

Judy, who is a Floridian, says that she designs gemstone jewelry in an effort to channel her natural girlish creativity toward some legal activity. Well, we are all glad she picked jewelry design, and I don’t want to know what she would do otherwise.

You can see more of Judy's work at http://jbEbert.etsy.com

Mosaic Monday

During spring and summer, every other magazine has an article about beach wear. I love the look of those women in beach wear, wearing big jewelry. Unfortunately, I don't think I can pull that look off but if I could, I would love to wear these pieces:

If you would like to buy or to have more information about any item, just click on the description of the item. You will be taken to the item's etsy or artfire page.

1. 9DollarEarrings:Sunshine Breaks Through
2. MadMaggieDesigns: GO-GO
3. BellissimaDesigns: Blue Bell Earrings
4. CanadianRockies: Zabel - Blue Turquoise Oxidized Tear Drop Earrings


Not your mother's clutches

So, as promised, I borrowed some inspiration from my friend Cristina and made some new clutches. There is something unique about them though, they are made of hand painted silk, of course. Coming from me, you couldn't expect anything else. Also, it is not just hand painted silk... I got the silk pieces and created some beautiful patchwork.

I love them... they are just the look I like... classy yet edgy!

If you love them as much as I do, run to http://silkartfrombrazil.com and take them home. They are one of a kind and will go fast!


Cristina's Handbags

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting my long time friend (and sister by choice) Cristina.

We have been friends forever but I think for the first time we worked together on handmade stuff, other than knitting or cross stitching while gossiping.

Cristina has been making these beautiful handbags out of decorator fabric and she brought some to finish up here. So, actually she made some handbags while I mostly gave moral support.

I love all her handbags, but I am completely in awe with this clutch. It's so classy and beautiful that I can't help it but paint some silk and shamelessly copy the design. Stay tuned!

Besides having so much fun with her here, I also got two brand new beautiful handbags as a gift. You can't beat that!


Mosaic Monday - Ladies in Red

I kind of feel ashamed to say so but I don't like red that much.... I know all colors are beautiful and each of them bring out the best in one another and blah, blah, blah... but if I have to pick something to wear or buy, it usually won't be red. Even so, I decided to make my Mosaic Monday in red because I got inspired by these pieces. I am sure it says a lot about the pieces!!!

If you would like to buy or to have more information about any item, just click on the description of the item. You will be taken to the item's etsy or artfire page.

Mosaic Monday

1. Cleverindie: No Place Like Home
2. NothingButString: Marigold - Crocheted Choker
3. TuscanRoad: Black and Red Dangle Earrings
4. Janallsop: Influence - Original Mixed Media


Aesthetics of Failure 2

Remember the saga of the ugly scarf? This is the next chapter... After steam setting the dyes, I used my Shiva Paintstiks, which I love. If you have never used them, give them a try, whatever your medium is. They work is paper, fabric, wood... almost any medium!
Anyway, even my Shivas didn't help... this is what it looks right now:

So, I still have work to do. The Shivas will take a couple of days to dry and then I have to iron to finish the Shivas setting process. So, I have two days to come up with something else to do to change the Beast into Beauty!


Rhapsody in Blue Mosaic Monday

I like blue. No, this is an understatement; I LOVE blue! Today, Mosaic Monday celebrates blue, showing off beautiful items made by talented members of etsy secrets.

If you would like to buy or to have more information about any item, just click on the description of the item. You will be taken to the item's etsy or artfire page.

1. Artfaerie: 6 sterling silver bead caps 8mmx4mm
2. Artimentary: Early Blue Morning copyright 2008 by Antonia Lindsey
3. Created by Jen: FREEDOM Word Art
4. Grape Island Glass: Turquoise Blue Fused Glass Bowl


It is sooo Tudors...

Hand Painted Silk and Brass Bracelet
And I love it!

I have been working on this design for the last two months... Yeah, that long! But it was worth it. IMHO, it came out really nice and this particular one reminds me of medieval festivals, court and Ann Boleynn. The design is pretty flexible, though, and changing the silk gives it a whole new, modern look.

Don't be shy!!! Tell me what you think and if you love it, run to SilkArtFromBrazil.com or SilkArtFromBrazil.etsy.com.


The Amazing Work of Rhiannon Connelly

Just a couple of weeks ago, I discovered the work of Edinburgh-based photographer Rhiannon Connelly, and right then I decided she would be the first featured artist in my blog.

When I look at her photography, the image I have is as if I were looking at the window on a rainy day, so nostalgic, so romantic.

Rome in the Rain

The first time I saw her work, it looked mainly like digital work to me but I was in for a surprise. Rhiannon uses a vintage Polaroid SX70 camera to create what she calls “Polaroid Paintings”. The process allows the manipulation of the emulsion for a short period to create a unique, unrepeatable dreamlike image. When using SX70 film, the digital treatment is only color tuning at the scanning process.

I was impressed when I asked how she got started in this kind of art, for her answer was so unpretentious, a sure sign of a true artist. She said, “I got started after seeing an exhibition of this technique and hunting around online until I found some explanation. I then contacted an artist who was using the technique and they put me on the right track as to camera and film required.” It was that simple!

Red Mini

Besides her "12 city" project, photographing 12 European cities, she has been involved with a new form of art: basing a collage on a Polaroid photograph. The result is fabulous, especially for a mixed-media lover like me. See for yourself!

Waiting For You To Find Me

I am sure you are in love with Rhiannon's work like I am, so run to StarryBlueSky on etsy to see more of her work. You can get in touch with her e-mailing info@rhiannonconnelly.com


Mosaic Monday

Etsy has millions of beautiful items, and jewelry is arguably the most popular category. So today I am featuring beautiful jewelry made by talented members of etsy secrets.

If you would like to buy or to have more information about any item, just click on the description of the item. You will be taken to the item's etsy or artfire page.

1. Jewels by Jules: Kyanite and Thai Silver Coiled Bracelet - Blue Tranquility
2. Studio 618: SALE - Simple Leaf Earrings
3. Rose of Sharon Jewelry: True Garnet - Handmade Silver and Red Garnet Chandelier Earrings
4. LindaB142: Clarity Purple Blue Waves Earrings


Top 10 Fall Colors

Fall is already here! Well, maybe not, but Pantone has already published their report on what colors will be the hit of the fall.

I went around etsy and had lots of fun picking items to exemplify the (beautiful!) fall colors. Take a look at Pantone's top 10 fall colors, as well as their comments about each color:

1) American Beauty, a wonderfully balanced, true red, perfect for all skin tones

2) Purple Heart brings a sense of refinement and sensuality

3) Honey Yellow carries the color of the year through to fall and winter with its golden tones

4) Iron coordinates well with all the palette. Neither gray nor brown, serves as the "new black"

Zilknits: Short Sleeved Cardigan

5) Creme Brulee', a grayed-down beige, speaks to the need of timeless neutrals.

6) Nomad bridges the gap between beige and gray and, with the other two neutrals, can stand alone or anchor the other colors in the palette.

7) Burnt Sienna is a deepened, earthy shade of orange that reminds us of autumn sunset

8) Rapture Rose enlivens the more traditionally subdued fall hues

9) Warm Olive, a rich yellow green, adds a touch of elegance to fall

10) Majolica Blue, a deep teal blue, brings more vibrancy than the usual navy


Mosaic Monday - Gotta be green!

Just look at these beautiful objects of the talented members of etsy secrets.

If you would like to buy or to have more information about any item, just click on the description of the item. You will be taken to the item's etsy page.

1. MadeBySwirlyGirl: Granite and Marble Kaleidoscope Blank Cards
2. SouthPawStudios: Gold filled Light sage green crystal drop earrings
3. MeagansDesigns: Bright Green Knit Coffee Mug Cozy
4. EdamamePress: Blue and Green Hydrangea Layers


How To Make a Silk Covered Box

In my line of work, I always end up with a stash of little silk pieces too small to do anything, but too beautiful to be thrown away. So, I keep looking out for ways to use them.

You know all those silk scarves that you don't like that much anymore? You can use them to cover boxes and renew your scarves stock (don't forget to go to http://SilkArtFromBrazil.com for that -- couldn't resist a little merchandising!)

The box I am using in the step by step is the kind you can buy at any arts and crafts store. They are cheap and the results can be stunning. So, go ahead, get your pieces of fabric (or even paper), your box, and a few other things I am sure you have at home and let's make some art!

Material and tools

  • Sturdy box (wood, MDF, papier mache are all good choices) with lid. The lid shouldn’t be too tight.
  • Silk stash of coordinated colors (you can also use other fabric or paper)
  • Coordinated paper for the underside of the lid. Should be sturdy, like scrapbooking paper.
  • White acrylic paint (any brand is fine, even wall paint)
  • Brush
  • White glue (like Elmer’s)
  • Water
  • Liquid Alcohol
  • Bone folder, if you have it.

Best Practices:

  • You can do this without a bone folder but if you still don’t have one, you should think about splurging and get one. It is a very useful tool every time you have to fold paper. The folds are always neat, without those wrinkles that folding sturdier paper creates. If you can really splurge, get the Teflon Bone Folder. Besides being non-stick, it doesn’t make that “shining” mark on the paper.

  • Whenever you apply liquid glue, using a brush always makes the task easier and the final result neater. When you are gluing paper, you should use a thicker brush and dab the glue on the paper, instead of using brush strokes. This will help prevent those “bubbles” on the paper. Always use the minimum amount of glue you need to have the job done.
  • Also when gluing paper, use your bone folder to prevent any wrinkles and make sure the paper adheres to all the corners of the box.
  • Whenever you are painting a wooden piece, sand it first. Then put a base coat of white paint and allow it to dry thoroughly. Sand the piece and apply a second coat of white paint. Then, apply the final paint, allow it to dry, and apply another coat. When you are satisfied with the coverage of the piece, apply varnish, allow it to dry, sand it lightly, and apply a second coat of varnish. It will look great!

Recipe for the glue

2 parts of white glue, 1 part water, ½ part liquid alcohol

Step by Step

1)If you are using a wooden box, you should sand all the imperfections. MDF and papier marche boxes don’t need to be sanded. Clean after sanding to get rid of all the dust.

2) Paint the box white. This is necessary because you don’t want the color of the box interfering with the color of the silk.

3) Mix your glue according to the recipe above (make sure you don’t mix too much because this glue can’t be saved for later use.)

4) Now, the fun begins!!! Cut your silk in irregular pieces, not too small. I like the rustic feel frayed edges bring, so I tore mine.

5) Put the first piece of silk over the box, and pass glue over it using the brush. You can use the brush to make sure the silk is completely flat, or you can live some wrinkles to give it some texture. Whatever you like!

6) Keep doing the same with the other pieces of silk, creating an irregular mosaic. You will put the pieces of silk over the edges of the ones you put before, so no uncovered space will be left at the end.

7) Leave pieces of silk hanging on the sides of the lid, so you can cover the sides and make the "hospital corners" with them.

8) Now, as always, the devil is in the details. Pass glue on the silk hanging on the sides, so they adhere to the sides of the lid. You should fold the silk that is left on the corner to one side of the lid.

9) Pass glue under and over the little triangle and hold them with a clothes pin.

10) Repeat with the other 3 corners. To make sure your finishing is neat, fold the triangles to the same side of the lid. In other words, 2 sides of the lid will have one triangle on each corner, and 2 sides of the lid will have no triangle.

11) Fold the remaining silk under the lid and glue it. Clothes pins will help here as well.

12) Now, we are going to work on the underside of the lid, covering it with the coordinated paper. First, you should measure the insides of the underside: sides and bottom.

13) You are going to cut:

A) 1 piece for the bottom, with the exact measures you took

B) 2 pieces for the bottom, increasing 0.5 inch on the width. So, my sides measured 3/4” by 6”. I cut 2 sides 1 ¼” x 6”

C) 2 pieces increasing 1 inch on the length and ½” on the width. So, my pieces measured 1 ¼” x 7”

14) Now, start with the pieces you cut on “13C”. Fold ½” on each end, right sides together. Using a bone folder (if you don’t have one, use a ruler or even your nails), mark the folds. Open the folds.

15) Fold ½” lengthwise, right sides together and mark the fold. Cut the little corner that measures ½” x ½”. You should finish with something like this:

16) Dab white glue all over the wrong side of the piece of paper and glue to one of lid’s underside sides, like this:

17) Do the same with the other piece “13C”, gluing it to the opposite side of box.

18) Take one of the pieces you cut on “13B” and fold ½”, right sides together, marking the fold. Dab white glue on the wrong side and glue it to one of the sides not yet covered with paper. Do the same to the other side. You will end up with all sides of the lid’s underside covered.

19) Glue the lid’s underside bottom and the underside should be finished.

20) If you want, you can cover the lower part of the box with silk as well, or do what I did; paint with acrylic paint in a coordinated color. If you choose to paint it, you can varnish afterward for a better finishing. Take a look at the "Best Practices" above about how to do a great job when painting wooden (or MDF) pieces.

21) And you end up with a beautiful box like this one: