Oct 30, 2014

Altered Thrift Store Art -- You Should Try This!

A while back, my husband and I met a couple friends at a local coffee shop for an art project.  Before this meeting, we would each bring our own separate projects and mediums and have a fun time chatting, drinking coffee and creating.  But this time, we were all working on the same type of project: altered art.  For months we had been scouring local thrift shops for paintings that were inexpensive and would lend themselves to be interesting and easy-to-work-with scenes for fun painted additions.

I found this magical paint-by-number at my favorite shop.  When I spotted it, I instantly knew that this horse had to be a unicorn.
Here's the before:

I added a horn, and made his mane and tail fuller and more flowing with some metallic paint, too. He also needed some woodland friends.  So I added a couple tiny gnomes and a fox peeking from behind a tree.
Here's the after: 

 I love this painting so much--it's now hanging in my kitchen.

My husband and our two friends did these paintings.  My husband altered the painting on the left with the octopus and weird eye creature.  Our friend Lisl added the minion building a snow minion--so clever! The water creature on the right, by our friend Craig,  isn't completed yet, but it's so good!  I can't wait to see it when it's done.

This was so fun--you should definitely try it. It's a quick project (since you're not painting an entire picture), and you get to be so creative!

Oct 25, 2014

52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 43

I was brainstorming ideas for felt paintings back in September, thought of this one and bumped it to the top of the list.  I couldn't wait to make a hoop of a little mouse reaching for a juicy blackberry.  And why I pick the hardest friggin fruits to needle felt is beyond me, but I'm pretty proud of how this turned out.  In fact, I sold this felt painting at a show the day after I finished it (fist bump!)

Have a great weekend, friends!

Oct 22, 2014

Craft Show Etiquette for Vendors & Shoppers (Revisited)

I'm bringing back the information in this post, because for me, it's very relevant.  If you're a handmade shop owner too, it might be relevant to you right now as well.  Besides, we all need a few reminders from time to time about simple things we can do to make our craft show visits and venues way more pleasant and fun.  Even after rereading my own advice below, I realized that I needed to remember a few points as well. 

So check out my version of proper craft show etiquette, and please feel free to comment or add to it at the end of the blog post!

-Say hello and introduce yourself to your booth neighbors. You may not like their crafts, and you may even be competing directly with them, but you'll be in their company all day (or for multiple days), and you may need each other's help at some point. (Think bathroom break, breaking bigger bills, borrowing set-up supplies like tape and scissors, emergency display rescue...)
-Be mindful of your space. Booth space is a precious commodity. Please be considerate about your allotted space and don't let your display creep into others' spaces. That is definitely an awkward conversation that can be avoided. However, if you do have to address this issue, being nice (even cheerful) goes an incredibly long way.

-Be friendly. Greet your customers! Ask them how they're doing. Be genuine and smile. Please smile. Also, small talk can be a powerful selling tool.

-Teach them!  Don't assume that they know all about your craft or what everything is at your booth.  Offer them little tidbits of information. This will take practice.  After a show or two, you'll get the hang of the most frequently asked questions from your customers.  (For example, a lot of people assume that my pieces are knitted then felted or are boiled wool pieces. I say politely, "Actually, these are made with needle felting.  Have you heard of that before?"  Usually, that leads into a short explanation or demonstration of what needle felting is.) If they're interested, they'll stay and browse and even ask more questions.  If they're not, they'll move on. No big deal. 

-Keep your space tidy.  Shoppers don't want to see your all your boxes or trash bags.  They just don't.

-Please don't start tearing down your booth before the actual end of the show.  This really bothers me. I'm definitely there to sell my handcrafted goods and share about my craft, and I'm going to do so for as long as possible. When vendors start to pack up before the advertised closing time, shoppers start to feel pressured to leave.  None of us want that!

-Leave your space the way you found it.  Out of respect to the folks who put on your show and to the venue hosting it, don't leave behind any remnants of your set-up, and be sure to clean up any trash.
-Please don't haggle or expressly state that you feel items are overpriced. I can guarantee you that any handmade artist has spent a lot of time and thought trying to come up with the right prices for their work.  There's probably been some trial and error involved, too. This work might even be an artist's only source of income. Not only do we need to cover supplies, but we deserve to get paid for our time and labor.  Our time is just as valuable as yours, so please be respectful.

-Please ask permission to take photos. It's just rude not to.

-Please keep an eye on the children with you.  Most of my stuff is very kid friendly and durable.  But that doesn't mean it's okay for your child to put one of my owls in her mouth. Yuck.

-If you have questions, or even a custom request, please, PLEASE ask! Most vendors are more than happy to accommodate your requests!

-If using cash, try to pay with smaller bills (twenties, tens, fives, ones). If at all possible, please don't try to buy something at 8:30 a.m. with a large bill, unless, of course, you'll be spending most of that bill.  Most vendors would find breaking a larger bill early in the day difficult to do.

There you go.  Simple tips to make your craft show season wonderful and stress-free. (Ha, who am I kidding?)

Oct 21, 2014

Fur, Feathers & Scales - Silkie Chickens

Some of you may know I have my own little flock of chickens in my backyard, but I also work with chickens at my zoo job!  We have two silkie chickens--one hen and one rooster.  Their names are Diana and Red, and they are hilarious!  Red crows all the time, and always lets Diana eat first and steal his food.  If we leave the back door open, they willingly stroll inside looking for someone to toss them a handful of mealworms.

Silkie chickens get their names from their soft, fluffy feathers and  are much smaller than most other chickens.
They have dark skin and even dark grey muscles and bones (so I've read.).  Weird, right?

Chickens are so much fun to watch because they have such goofy movements. I mean, just look at this guy:

Even weirder is that they have more toes than other kinds of chickens. These guys have five per foot!. 

I didn't photograph Diana much, but I did get this gem...

And here's a behind-the-scenes peek at our set-up.  It's pretty entertaining to have chickens pecking around your classroom!

If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out my other Fur, Feathers & Scales posts!

Oct 19, 2014

52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 42

If you follow me on instagram (@begoodnatured), you might have seen this hoop already.  It was my husband's idea to felt a goldfish, and I thought it was genius.  Then six hours later, I never wanted to see another goldfish again. (Not really, but man this fish was not easy!)

I sold this hoop at recent show, but I'm open to custom orders!

Oct 15, 2014

A Guilty Pleasure

I'm guest posting over at Missouri Women Bloggers today about a guilty pleasure--check it out by clicking here!

thrifting at relics in springfield missouri be good natured blog

Oct 11, 2014

52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 41

It's time to give an amphibian some felt painting love.  I couldn't resist this red-eye tree frog--they're so cute and colorful!

Have a great weekend!

Oct 7, 2014

My Latest (and final) Stitch Fix: Why I'm Quitting

Many of you have heard of Stitch Fix, or maybe you even participate.  I recently received my ninth box. Usually, I review my boxes on my blog, and share photos of the pieces that I get. But I stopped at box number five.  I'll explain:

My first fix came in December of last year.  I was a great experience--I kept two pieces. I left my review of the clothes, and felt like my opinion of the pieces were heard and understood.  My second fix was even better.  My stylist that month was right on with my wants and style, and I kept every piece.  And then, with my third, fourth, and fifth boxes, I found more pieces to love and keep.  Of course, with each box, you can leave comments on each garment and the shipment overall, which I did.  I was very specific with what I knew would work for me, what wouldn't work, and what I liked.

Then boxes six, seven, and eight happened.  I was so disappointed with these boxes, I didn't even bother photographing them.  I got pieces of clothing that I never should have gotten, if my stylist that month had bothered to really pay attention to my previous feedback and profile information.  I had to reach out to their customer service and complain. I had to specifically request that they read my previous feedback and look at my Pinterest board that I provided them.  I would have stopped receiving fixes sooner than boxes seven, eight and nine, but my amazing husband got me a gift certificate for my birthday in April.  So, I was trying to find new clothes to love, but because I got nothing in shipments six and seven that worked, I was just wasting the gift certificate.  To their credit, when I shared my concerns and complaints with their customer service, Stitch Fix did credit me one $20 box fee, so technically, box eight was sent to me free of charge.  With box eight, I kept one pair of shorts, but I still had a credit, so I signed up for box nine.

This is what I got in my ninth and final shipment: 

We'll start with the one thing that I kept. This is a Pink Martini Augustina Lace Back Open Cardigan.  Though I have lots of clothes in blue, I love the lace on the back, and I'm really liking long cardigans right now.  This falls to my upper thighs. 

The next four pieces I did not keep.  This one is the Collective Concepts Galen Floral Print Tie Waist Dress. I wanted to keep it, because I really like the pattern and colors, but it just did not work with my bust.

The tank below was also another piece that I wanted to keep, but the fabric had absolutely no stretch, and again my larger bust would just not play nicely.  This top is a Renee C Amy Graphic Print V-Neck Blouse.

The Loveappella Leanne Abstract Print Swing Skirt came in pretty colors, but the cut was terribly unflattering on me.  Also, at $58, it was way too expensive for a not-so-impressive piece.

This last blouse was really the last straw for me.  This is Kut From the Kloth Becca Lace Detail Floral Print Blouse.  Yes, I did ask for colorful florals, and this definitely fits the bill.  I also love the lace detail on the back.  BUT, I have (so many times) told them that I just can't wear button-down tops.  I even simply stated in my style profile to not send me any--they just don't work for my body and never have.  And here's one in my shipment. Bummer.

Here's what I feel like happened.  As their company grew, my styling experience became much less personal.  In the first months that I participated, I feel like I had a good connection with my stylists (which were always different people every month.) But as my shipments started to not mesh with my wants and style, I feel like I was lost in their sea of clients.  I mean, good for them for growing so quickly and providing such a neat service to women all over the country.  But, maybe there are a few lessons to be learned about creating an intimate experience on a person by person basis for a company that's still building itself, especially when that's what they advertise--a personal service.

Regardless of how I felt about my last fixes, I can say that having participated in Stitch Fix has taught me how to shop for clothes--or at least how to shop differently.   I can walk into a shop now and look at pieces in a completely new light.  I will try on pieces that I never thought would work before I tried Stitch Fix. I now know that shift dresses work amazingly for me and that a garment may look unappealing on a hanger but may fit like a dream.  And, thanks to Stitch Fix, I do have some great pieces that I will love for years.  So, take my opinions as you will, and good luck to any of you Stitch Fix-ers out there!

Oct 4, 2014

52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 40

Don't you think luna moths are beautiful?

I'll be listing my available hoops in my shop this week.  This moth will be one of them--if you're interested, let me know before I list it!