Friday, December 30, 2011

Midwinter Gaming Convention

This weekend is a 4 day holiday from the office, so my plan is to work on preparing stuff for my booth at Midwinter Gaming Convention next month.

I'm really excited about the 2012 convention, since it has now moved to a much larger venue (The downtown Hyatt...fondly remembered by many from the days of GenCon being in Milwaukee at the MECCA/MEC). This will be my second year of vending at this convention, so I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. MGC was one of my best events of 2011, with a terrific con com and awesome attendees.

This year's convention programming includes a few different steampunk/dieselpunk LARPs, film screenings, various panels, TONS of gaming of various flavours, and more. (FYI: to keep up with new additions and conversation about the con, join the MGC page on Facebook) While I'll be missing a good portion of the daytime events because I'll be busy shilling my wares in the goblin's' room, this doesn't mean you have to (The discounted pre-registration rate for the weekend is still valid through midnight 12/31, BTW). I'm still going to have fun again in my booth, nattering with my fellow geekfolk, and I can go play in the evening.

Oh...I should also mention that MGC is doing a clothing drive for St. Vincent De Paul Society at the con. Toss an extra garment in your suitcase while packing for the convention and support a good cause!

(design by Lucas Schultz)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Great Repurposing of December 26th

I am a clearance rack scrounger, an archaeologist of the scratch-and-dent aisle, always looking for a way to reuse some 80% off castoff into something nifty. Natually...I love after-Christmas decoration sales.

The other day, I happened upon a blog post detailing an awesome tutorial for using shatterproof tree balls to make Victorian hot air balloon decorations.

Clever idea and, considering come Monday, the main component of this project will be on deep discount, it's a really inexpensive one too! I can just imagine one of these dangling in a bell jar (or in one of those 1990s glass candle holders turned upside down. These seem to pop up with some regularity at my local thrifts) as a steampunk decoration on a shelf.

Martha over at Ornamento also posted some ideas for combining glass balls with polymer clay, fibers, and other items to create not-necessarily-Holiday ornaments.

Goodbye snowman! Hello posh frippery!

Skitzo Leezra Studio posted a few years ago about transforming a estate sale find tree skirt into a circle skirt for a child (which looks like it would be easily transferrable for a shorter skirt for an adult)

Jumping completely away from the Christmas look is this white flower lantern tutorial from CraftyNest. What a clever re-use of a fake pointsetta garland!

This started me thinking about what sort of repurposeable bits I look for when hitting the post-Holiday clearance section.

-Ribbon: Admittedly, the Christmas red plastic-backed "velvet" outdoor stuff is of limited use, but better made ribbon is a good find. I usually look for dark jewel tones or ivory, but non-Christmas-y shades of Holiday colors like deep burgundy or olive/forest tones work.

-White Lace: Whether paper, fabric, or tatted-looking, I consider whether I can cut it apart for usable portions and whether it will take a tea/coffee bath for a more antiqued shade.

-Decorations That Can Be Deconstructed: Can beads or glass cabochons be removed to use in other projects? If the starburst was clipped off with wire cutters and repainted, would it look midcentury modern?

-Broken Things: Is there anything usable/salvageable about the item if you look beyond it's original purpose? The porcelain angel may have a cracked head, but could the repaired head/limbs be used in an assemblage piece? The embroidered table runner may be stained, but does the remaining undamaged fabric justify the $5 price tag?

-Metal trays: Repainted or decoupaged with a hanger mounted on the back, these make great magnetic memo boards. Paint the inside surface of a deeper tray with chalkboard paint for a writeable board (the wall of the tray makes a good chalk rest).

-Holiday Paper Products: Sometimes just the 20 high quality envelopes are well worth the 90% off price of Christmas cards in January. Also, I look at wrapping paper and paper napkins as potential papercraft materials (For example, Hobby Lobby had some nifty black on black swirly design paper this year). While bright gold foiled paper might look pretty Holiday-specific, it would look less so if sponged with brown alcohol ink to mottle it (Same for silver foil and grey ink). Tissue paper is also high on my snag-able list for countless reasons.

-Random Tchotchkes: Often I look at the basic shape of things and figure out whether a good coat of paint (or sometimes stripping of paint) could un-Holiday them. If I unscrewed the hooks from the bottom of those cast iron fleur-de-lis stocking hangers and painted them black, I could have bookends! Stars and birds are frequently-used holiday decoration shapes and de-hollyfied, can be used year-round.

My best finds from last year were a few very nice Baroque-looking glass and silverplate cross ornaments that were marked down to 1/10th their original price. I combined these with my holy water and wolfsbane potion charms and "silver bullet" charms on a long silver-finish chain to make vampire and werewolf protection talismans for a local LARP convention.

How have you recycled something "Holiday" into art supplies? Please share!

Junkie handmade projects

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Starting the next generation right

As some of you know, I'm kidless (except for cats and, since I can't use them as tax deductions, I reluctantly admit that they are not "actual children"). I do, however, have a 2 year old niece of awesomeness. As clever and quirky as her parents... she rocks. As auntie, I feel that it's necessary to encourage her on the proud geekgrrl path.

This Christmas, I will be gifting her with various toy tools, including a battery operated cordless screwdriver...aaaaannnnnnndddd a satin and net tutu (made by a fellow Etsian).

Because, really, what more does a preschool girl need but play powertools and something pretty?

Finely aged Wisconsin cheese

I really need to get in gear and prepare for vending at Midwinter Gaming Convention next month. Sooo...of course...I'm not. Instead, I'm goofing around on the web (I'm also actively procrastinating about cleaning my apartment).

In my procrastinatrix wanderings online today, I found this: Vintage Wisconsin Dells, a growing archive of photos and other images from the village of the tourist trap.

Right now, there's about 3100 images in the archive and they're actively soliciting more submissions via the site. I am a HUGE fan of vintage amusement memorabilia...and antique photos...and Midwestern regional history...and kitsch, so I've really enjoyed poking though the archive. Looking forward to seeing more images as this grows!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Are you a Displaced Victorian?

...or would you like to be?

 I just volunteered to be one of the team leaders on the Home For Displaced Victorians Etsy Team. Per the team description:

This team is for etsy members who love all things Victorian. From clothing to literature, this team is really for everyone who appreciates the Victorian Era. Displaced Victorians welcomes sellers and buyers!! So if you feel like you're living in the wrong century...hop on board!! The train to 1890 is boarding now!!

So...Poe fans?...Dickensian carolers?...Steamy sky captains? I know I count your ranks among my readers. Come on along!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How to make moss graffiti

Although this isn't weather-appropriate in my neck of the woods this time of the year (the span between Chicago and Milwaukee in November), it is a nifty project for those in more hospitable climates.

(I'm also pretty sure that my landlord would be a bit befuddled to find this on the brick wall of our complex's communal garage)

How To Make Moss Graffiti by LadyBird @ Instructables

(Image above by Anna Garforth. Check out more of her moss artwork at

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New discount art supply site

I just received an e-mail this morning about a new discount art/craft supply site in the vein of Groupon: Blitsy . They're just getting started, but it might be worth signing up for updates.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hey fellow Etsians!

It appears that I've unexpectedly inherited the captain's post for two Etsy teams. Please take a peek at the below team pages and, if you're so inclined, join up!
For those who create or appreciate adornments of an ancient flair. Whether historically accurate (artifacts) or fictionalized (art-of-fakes), all are welcome.
Open to any artisan residing in the Midwestern US. All media accepted. Supportive, encouraging, non-competiti­ve.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Online art marketing resources

Next month, I'm going to be a part of a panel discussion at WindyCon ( regarding online marketing for artists and crafters. Since I'll be sharing the following resource list with panel attendees, I thought it might be of interest to my blog readers too:
I've broken the list entries into their best-defined categories, but as you're browsing, you'll notice that many of the sites linked will overlap categories. Some of the marketplaces will have social media elements, some galleries will allow sales, etc.

Fees on these sites will vary from a flat dollar rate per month, to a percentage of each sale, to a combination of both. A few are even fee free. All have their pros and cons. A big site may have a lot of traffic, but your work might get lost in a sea of similar items of that genre, whereas your work might shine in a smaller marketplace...but that might not matter if the site has low traffic.
Handmade Artists Shop

Fulfillment Sites
These sites enable you to sell your 2-D art print form or applied to other objects (wearables, household items, etc) produced by the online retailer. In most cases, the artist receives only a portion of the sale price or a flat payment, but does not have to worry about stock overhead or shipping items.
Fine Art America

Social Networks
Most...if not all...are free to use. These can be invaluable for driving traffic to your marketplace and as well as providing networking opportunities.
Artisans/Jewelry Designers
Attack of The Craft
Everything Etsy Directory
Milliande Art Community
My Art Plot

Virtual Galleries
Online portfolios are great for showing your range and a convenient way to showcase your art. Many of the previously mentioned social network spaces and marketplaces also offer gallery spaces, but those below focus primarily on this function.
Digital Consciousness

Whether you're writing in your own blog or contributing to a larger collective blog space, the key to getting noticed is to pique the interest of your readership. Talking up your own work is fine, but ad copy can get tedious after a while. Tutorials, stories, useful tools ( a list of resources...) and other nifty bits keep people reading and SHARING, which in turn gets you and your art more exposure. Some examples of blogging spaces include:

Simply Paid Advertising
While this can be costly, a well-placed ad can send a ton of potential buyers your way. Many of the marketplaces, galleries, social networks, and such above offer ad space, but research and choose carefully. Make sure you're not throwing money into an ultimately fruitless shotgun spray approach. The sites below offer numerous options that can be targeted to the audience you wish to reach and your budget, but there are obviously countless other avenues all over the web that offer paid ad space.
The Handmade Directory   
Unique Indie Shops

Coupons/Discount Sites
Personally, I have mixed feelings about marketing via coupons and discount programs being applied to handmade goods and art. I think that a lot of consumers have been conditioned by large retail outlets to EXPECT everything to be discounted in some way as a part of our mass-produced disposable culture. IMHO, this devalues handcrafted goods to judge them on the same pricing standard of big box retail stock (and yes...technically...the sweatshop-made goods that are found at MegaSavLoMacroMart are oft handcrafted too.). That and discount sites DO exist for the handmade market and some artisans have found benefit using such tools.

Etsy Coupon Code

Other Ideas
-Donate a piece of your work to an online charitable event such as a website-based silent auction fundraiser. Most charities are more than happy to include a link to the donor's online shop/site in the donation description. Not only does this get your work/name in front of people who might not otherwise encounter your work, you're helping a cause you believe in/the donation is tax-deductable.

-Post video or text tutorials on Instuctables (, craft websites (ex:, YouTube (, etc. Obviously, you don't want to explain how to copy your work, but as an artist, you likely have a lot of nifty skills that you can show off and help others in the process. Know how to seamlessly blend Copic marker coloring in illustrations? Be the reference that others link to!

-Utilize Amazon wish list ( and other wish list site links on your gallery/marketplace listings.

-Offer gift certificates via emailed PDF for last minute shoppers (Keep track of numbers on certificates to ensure that they are only redeemed once.)

-Banner swapping with other blogs/online shops

-Get involved in the online presence of local/regional community-based craft groups/art collectives/maker spaces (websites, blogs, etc)
Obviously, the above isn't meant to serve as a comprehensive list and I anticipate that there will be further additions after the convention panel. If you'd like to contribute your own links and ideas to this post, please do!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tattoo Tights!

One of my Facebook friends just shared this nifty tattoo design tights project from Urban Threads and I figured I'd pass it on.

Now I just need to figure out what I want to make. There's a temptation to use Hirschfeld's drawing of Groucho Marx, so I could have my not-so-sekret crush stealing a peek up my skirt. *laughs*

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another round of treasury inclusions!

I wish that I had more time to make Etsy treasuries. I was able to do a whole lot more when I was out of work last winter, but my time gets eaten up quickly these day. I am incredibly grateful to those folks who do find the time to do treasuries and are kind enough to include my work, though.
Here are some of the awesome treasuries that I've been included in over the last few weeks:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Holy Hill Art and Farm Market

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit with Kristine Jacklin at her family’s homestead farm in Hubertus, Wisconsin and I have to say…it’s a REALLY lovely spot. The 160 year old Loosen family farm will be the site of the inaugural year of the Holy Hill Art and Farm Market on the weekends of September 17th-18th and October 15th -16th.
I won’t be vending at the September event, but I’ll be coming up to check out the market. I’m SO excited about vending at the October market! I have all sorts of morbid little treasures, just in time for Halloween.
Kris asked me to share the message below about the market weekends with all of you:
Hi All!
Our super short summer was wonderful, sorry to see it go! But, with the cooler weather and fall season, there are so many beautiful days and nature’s gifts yet to be enjoyed! And with the cooler weather, Fall events are in full swing. Here is one I’d like to share.
It is easy to get to, just 1.2 miles west of Hwy 164, on Hwy 167 in Hubertus, Wisconsin or 2 miles East of the Holy Hill Basilica.
You will love this 160 year old family homestead with all its beautiful vistas in the heart of very scenic hills and valleys. Come for the Art, stay for the delicious hot foods and fresh farm produce. Enjoy live music and a hot cup of special blend coffee while browsing the grounds.
Sat/Sun Sept 17 & 18
Sat/Sun Oct 15 & 16
9 - 4pm
~Glass~Wood~Metal~Garden~Jewelry~Fabric~Live Music
Sample produce, products and refreshments prepared by local farmers and bakers.
The possibilities for creativity and healthy simple living ideas are endless here... Join Us!!
Follow us on Facebook!
Holy Hill Art & Farm Market
4958 Holy Hill Road (Hwy 167) Hubertus Wi 53033 - 2 miles East of Holy Hill Basilica
Unique Marketplace Featuring Artists and Farmers Presenting their Goods in a Natural Setting
I look forward to seeing you or hearing from you this fall!
Be Well!

Monday, September 5, 2011


Unfortunately, I don't know who drew this, but the idea of Jules Verne fanboying Edgar Allan Poe had me in stitches. This needed to be shared. If you know who the artist is, please share and I'll happily credit them.

Edit: As posted below, this came from the webcomic Hark, A Vagrant.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve likely seen mentions of Roach (Raechel Henderson) of Idiorythmic Designs and her work. If you’re involved in fandom (sci-fi/fantasy, steampunk, anime, gaming, etc) in the Midwest, you’ve also probably seen her work both in the dealers’ room and on attendees at various conventions and events.
She’s a dear-dear friend and wonderful seamstress, and right now, she is in dire need of help. She’s currently trying to raise funds in order to save her home and avoid a potentially nasty custody battle. If I could, I’d offer her all the funds she needs to solve her dilemma, but I’m not in any financial position to do so. What I CAN do is spread the word about the following:
#1- Currently, she’s offering a special in her Etsy shop on some lovely waspie corsets like the ones pictured above. They’re currently priced $40-$60 off of her regular price for a limited time. She also has trussles/bustles, corset/trussle combos, luxe dice bags, and other wonders in her shop and custom work is her specialty. There’s still time to order new costuming for Halloween, TeslaCon, and other events.
#2- While it’s unlikely that any single one of us could afford to offer her the full amount needed, I’m hoping that the fandom and art community can band together to help. Even small donations (say the price of a single latte) can add up really quickly. In light of the fact that I have nearly 1300 people following my work on Facebook and my partner has well over 3600 followers on his illustration site, we’re challenging our friends and fans to each send a dollar or two Roach’s way via PayPal (username: Again...we're not asking for huge individual donations, just a rallying of folks each making small gestures of help.
This recession of recent years has been hard on all of us. If someone has offered you a kindness while you were struggling, I ask that you please consider paying this kindness forward and lending a hand to this terrific lady in need.
(Please feel free to share this blog entry with those who may be interested).

This past week's treasuries

Many thanks to all of my fellow Etsians who included my work in their treasuries in the last week!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Today's trip to the Elkhorn Antiques Market

I had nearly forgotten that today was the market out at Elkhorn! It had been a long week with a couple of really sad events for our household, so I was rather distracted. My partner reminded me of the show when he woke up, and we decided that a little roadtrip might be good for both of us.

Our big purchase of the day was a vintage drafting table. My partner is an illustrator, so this will be put to good use (actually, he's at it as I type). That's headless him above with his new treasure. It's adjustable, so it isn't as low as it looks in the shot (we were trying to make it a bit more compact in order to fit in the car).

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with a disembodied bisque baby head yet, but he needed a home.

These antique marbles will likely end up being wire wrapped. I love how worn they are.

Hmmm...I think I'll pass on this paint.

What's a day at the antiques market without a disturbing looking clown? Here's today's lucky gent. I'm not sure what's more creepy...the unsavory leer or the unidentified stains down the front of his costume (has he been...FEEDING?!?). Maybe the fact that he has no hands, but does have a conehead? think it's the fact that his head is sloppily sewn back on with fine gauge wire. Yep. I think that just makes him just a wee bit more macabre and a fine choice for Horrifying Clown Du Jour.

Friday, August 12, 2011


I just upgraded my phone to an HTC Evo 4G after work today. Yay! I now have all of the bells and whistles that come along with a Android phone.

Naturally, as soon as I got home, I dashed to to order my magic cube of filthy lucre love and add the app to my spanking new smartphone. Soon, I will have a way of accepting credit cards at events. How spiffy is THAT?