Friday, June 25, 2010

The Start Of Bliss Following...

How did you begin creating in your chosen art(s) / crafts(s)? Indie artists share their genesis…

     I started in Jr High... does anyone remember making the braided embroidery floss friendship bracelets? I loved making them.... my friends wanted them, and I couldnt afford to keep buying the floss so they would pay me for them! From there it went on to vintage clothes. The movie "Pretty in Pink" made me never want to buy clothes off of a mannequin again LOL .... fast forward 15 years after college, grad school & a baby... My dad died suddenly and as sort of a way to occupy myself I made bracelets and sold them to give the money to the the Heart Association... I have never stopped in the last 11 years! My self-sustaining hobby I guess you could say :) 
Jenn Kos of:

***I started sewing as a young child because mom and dad could not afford to keep my doll babies in clothes so I learned to make them. I have branched off from there. My next big love was crazy quilting after I saw a beautiful one at the quilt museum in Lowell Massachusetts. I worked with beads on my CQ pieces then somehow got hooked into making some bead weaved jewelry because I took a class with my daughter so she could find something that interested her. My next thing I would like to learn is bobbin lace because I saw a woman in AZ making comtemporary wall hangings and jewelry and said I need to learn this! I love to learn new things. Can you tell?

*** I was at work and someone that worked there brought in a handmade handbag tote.  I looked it over inside and out and said wow I could do that.  I went home cleared out a room and went to work and that week made 50 or so and the following week I quit my job.  That was over 10 years ago and I have sold THOUSANDS since.  I have 3 online stores plus have things in other stores and I do a Saturday market when I have the time. 
I just love working with fabrics as each and every bag I make is different.  So you don't get bored. 
I love what I do!
Designs by Keri 4 U

*** Well, there's more than one answer, since I create in different categories - fine art, quilting, and a marriage of the two: fiber art. I've been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until college that I really focused on developing those skills. (And, I'll admit, working in the world of abstract art isn't everyone's cup of tea!) 

As for quilting, I came about it the old fashioned way - I had my daughter, and wanted to make her a quilt. (I guess you could say quilting found me.) Over a dozen years, and several dozen quilted projects later, here I am. There are so many angles to quilting, from design to completion, I never get bored with it. 

Recently, I've decided to focus on what I call "practical art pieces", which is a combination of both fine art and quilting/sewing, such as OOAK quilted bags, etc.. I've found it an inspirational way to combine my enjoyment of painting and working with needle and thread.

 *** I have been crafting all of my life as I have always watched my mother doing crafts. I became interested in jewelry about 2 years ago when I came across some gemstone beads and thought of different ways to put them together. I love to do so many different types of crafts (machine embroidery, leatherworking, jewelry, scrapbooking, etc.) and am constantly switching what I am doing at the time since I do not have the space to do more that one thing at a time.

*** All i wanted was my own set of goddess prayer beads. Now  I have a roomful of beads :-)

*** My love of crafts came from my mother who is quite a seamstress and is a crochet and knitting teacher. My favorite crafts did not follow her strengths though. 
    I got into jewelry I think because I love making things for other people. One of my younger sisters is my best customer! I do paintings and photography for therapy I think more than anything. I am most at peace behind the lens of a camera.
I love polymer clay because it challenges me. Most crafts have come relatively easy for me. Polymer clay is by far the most difficult medium I've ever personally worked with but it's worth the outcome when you get it right.

*** I got started when i was seven im 14 now. I was inspired by my friend erin. I went to her house and she was making jewelry so i joined in and i thought it was so much fun. I went home and saved my pennies and i bought what i thought was a ton of beads lol, and i started making stuff (well very primitive stuff) my work has greatly improved since then and im now here 
blue green and pink

*** I went through a short-lived jewelry making phase when I was a teenager, but once that phase was over, I moved on to something else.  Fast forward almost forty years.... 

About five years ago, I I kept noticing the beautiful jewelry that one of my co-workers always wore.  I complimented her on her pieces and she told me that she made all her jewelry herself.  I couldn't believe it, the jewelry was so nice.  I was very intrigued.  I told her that I would like to learn how to make my own jewelry.  Fortunately for me, she was very willing to help get me started.  She helped me order all the tools I would need and I also ordered some beads and findings.

Once everything arrived, she gave me a few quick lessons, and I was on my way.  For the first couple of months, everytime I made something new, I would bring it to work to show her.  It wasn't long before my skills and craftsmanship matched her's and shortly thereafter surpassed her's.  She would tell me that if she didn't know any better, she would think that I had been making jewelry for years.

Once I started wearing my pieces, other friends admired them and told me that I should start making jewelry to sell.  Needless to say, they were some of my first customers.  A star was born.:)

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

*** I started to crochet when I was a teenager. My teenage daughter was into art and craft, so I decided to teach her how to crochet. She seem to enjoy working on different projects. I enjoy making blankets and other big projects. My daughter loves fashion and jewelry, so she decided to crochet jewelry and hats. We both decided to turn our passion for crochet into a family business".

About us
Founded in June of 2009, Mother and Daughter work hand in hand producing high quality fashion, using just a needle and yarn.
Mother, Cheryl started crocheting in her teenage years. Daughter, Rayann following her foot steps was very interested in arts and crafts at a young age as well. As the two journeyed along with a strong passion for art, there was a strong desire for a "family business". Crafting ideas were being discussed as well as a website, but the company name had not been sought out just yet. In June of 2009 mother and daughter sat down together and established what is now known as Youngs Crochet and Fashion, better known for the acronym YCAF. As the founders of Youngs Crochet and Fashion the two wish to not only satisfy their customers with just crochet items but fashion as well.

***Like many other artists, I love to express myself in various media! Creativity, arts and crafts have been a part of my life for so long that I don't know if I can put my finger on exactly what it was that got me started on this. I think the credit goes to my parents, who were extremely creative, and also encouraged the kids. My Dad made all my clothes until I learned to sew in my preteens and started to do it myself. I learned to hand sew and embroider from my Mom. Music, painting and drawing were an integral part of my childhood, and my main focus throughout my teen years. In college, it was tatting and embroidery. Later on, scrapbooking and paper crafts became more important, as I started taking pictures of the babies. I always liked jewelry, but I only started making it in the last few years. I started making spa products, so that I could have all natural, gentle products for my family and friends. I love every single craft I tried so far!! Who knows what other joys the future will bring!

So there you have it... just a few of the many stories about what draws us into our diverse passions for creating. 

What got YOU started?

Jenn Kos of:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

WHAT INSPIRES US? (to keep on followin' that bliss...)


The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it's dead for you.
- Oscar Wilde

Trying to understand your inspiration is like trying to catch air in your hands. This week’s topic of  “What Inspires You?” has been genuinely interesting.  Inspiration: It’s not always the same, it gets lost in the moment, but sometimes when we catch it by the tail just enough – we keep a glimpse and get to make something beautiful. 
Here are some independent artists sharing their inspirations…

***I am inspired mostly by nature, I think that's partly where my love for the natural stones comes from. 

***Since I started designing jewelry, I seem to gather inspiration everywhere! I see everyday things in a whole new way. I love the shades and hues found in nature, from the bark of the Maple trees, to the soft green and creamy white of the Lillies of the Valley. Anything colorful from lace and fabric to vintage buttons to links on a chain all pack loads of inspiration for me to create. 

***Would you believe that just before i fall asleep -- you know, in that space between awake-and-listening-to-you-hubby-snore phase and unconscious-you-couldn't-care-less -- i see colors in my mind's eye and i "play" with these to form designs. weird i know, but that's how my creative process sometimes starts. Problem with this is i find it hard to fall asleep since i want to get up and start making jewelry! 

    Another source of inspiration are my beads and gemstones. When i get stuck, i take out my whole stash and just look at them. I put one bead here together with another gemstone from one box and then it all happens.

***My mother and I started this business 8 years ago when we could not find serving pieces and plates we liked - and it just grew from there. At one show there was a comment that our pieces looked good enough to eat - like candy, so we adopted the phrase "ceramic confections". Our inspiration has always come from our love of lace, sparkles, beads and all things "girly". Sadly, two years ago I lost my mother and partner to cancer. After some sole searching I decided to try to continue the business by myself. Mom was the one who always made the roses for our pieces and then I had to learn how to make them since she's not here to make them. Now you'll find most of my "ceramic confections" have lots of roses - each one is for her. My Mom will always be my inspiration. I just know she's on my shoulder every day I'm in the studio.

***I would say I get my inspiration from my dog. I think of what he needs or what would fit his personality and then I stat creating.

*** For me its color and nature and random everyday things. I sketched out a design on a restaurant napkin once inspired by the art on the wall. Came home and did it metal and stone. Its one of my favorite pieces lol.

***My inspiration comes from all over. For example for some of my knitted garments: my rainbow sweater was knitted after seeing 4 rainbows in one day. My baby polo shirt was knitted in green and gold after watching a local GAA football match.
For my poetry most inspiration come from personal experience and things that make me smile.

***Mostly my inspiration comes from the glass itself. Often I will sit down with something particular in mind but the glass has other ideas - and it almost always wins! Layers of colour in stones or pictures of mountains, even how colours are contrasted in nature - such as a plant with purple leaves and orange flowers etc. I find such contrasts fascinating and attempt to copy them into my work. Nature's bold use of colour is so wonderful! Sometimes I like "girly" colours together such as pinks and mauves but mostly I just love the reactions between the different colours and types of glasses - it is never boring wondering what sort of bead babies the "kiln elves" will deliver. 

In my jewelry, I get inspiration from my beads and other people - a link, a clasp, the way a piece of wire is twisted or how other artists have arranged their beads and their colour combinations really inspire me.   It's intriguing how just one tiny aspect of a piece of jewelry can set my mind racing off into "Creativity Land"!  I also love interesting shapes but making them work harmoniously in a piece of jewelry is often a challenge! 

***Inspiration for me comes from many places. Dreams, my gardens, when my friends or family tell me they are looking for that special "something" they cannot find anywhere else.  Since my product line is quite diverse, it can be a bit daunting at times to keep up with my imagination!

My Facebook Business page:

***Poetry!! I read a poem and it inspires colors and weaves to match.

*** I am usually inspired by colour. Sometimes in nature, sometimes my kids art, and sometimes I just look through my beads and wire and decide from there, especially the handmade beads my real life pal Tooaquarius makes.

*** For me,  I am often inspired by my daily activities. A blizzard and the subsequent 3 foot icicles that hung from our eaves inspired a crystal bracelet.  Wallpaper that I see,  an outfit that I want to wear but just don’t have the right piece.  Something as silly as a Hello Kitty cartoon will inspire me to go crazy with pink & black.  Often the charms that I have that are odd or random will FORCE me to make them a bracelet :) But quite often it is my customer who needs that special piece for that special  person that they love that inspires me to  take their ideas or desires and make it real.  I am inspired by others’ inspiration :)

Jenn Kos

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Indie Artists Sharing Their Customer Service Experience

When there are THOUSANDS of you out there making something like what you make… maybe making it cheaper and faster, what is going to bring your customer BACK?  A sale is the goal but a return customer is the ultimate compliment. More often than not, customer service is the magic ingredient that will bring your buyers back… here are the insights and tried and true customer service tips & tricks from those in the independent artist’s field.
Jennifer Kos 

Please visit these artist’s shops to see their beautiful products:

***To me, customer service is key to a good business. In other words, the customer is always right, even when they're not. A personalized relationship with customers is very important and they need to feel comfortable with returning something they didn't like, especially when it comes to jewelry, which is very tactile.

***One of the biggest things to separate similar businesses from each other anymore is customer service. And, these days, it's not only about 'service with a smile', but building those relationships both in person and in 'cyber space'. More than ever now, people need to know you'll stand by your products and your services (i.e.- repairs, etc.) but they are also looking for that 'personal touch', that intimate connection with you that makes them feel special. When they realize the value in your products/services and they benefit from this wonderful customer service/relationship that you've built with them, you're on your way to having a 'customer for life!'

( I have to brag on this next artist – she is 14  and kick BUTT awesome :) 

***Customer service is so important you want your customers to come back and not to be scared away I mean are goal is to make great relationships with are customers and to make sales
Well when I eventually get sales I will include bluebucks or coupons and I’ll also keep in touch with them and give special deals to return customers and most importantly just be kind and courteous to them remember the golden rule it applies to sales too

***I'd have to say communication is one of the biggest areas of my customer service. Not just the actual "ACT" of communicating-but really LISTENING to what my customers/clients are saying and asking for. Trying to bring what a customer is envisioning to life thru merely written words can be sorta tuff sometimes (and even TOUGHER if they're really not sure WHAT they want LOL!), but really concentrating on my customers requests helps to simplify what most customers fear would be a very confusing and difficult process.

*** 1) Listen first, then ask questions 2) Always assume they are right in their mind 3) Perception is reality, regardless of logic 4) Never loose your cool, and always take the upper pathway 5) Never appear or sound as if you are not paying attention or worse minimizing their outreach/inquiry/issue 6) Remember when you have been in their shoes...."

***My customer service tip - Treat them all the same all like real people. No one wants to be seen as a number or as money in the bank. Chat with them, invite them to join your newsletter, anything to make them feel special.
We treat our customers as great new friends and always enclose something extra with their purchase along with wrapping the packages in tissue with ribbon and enclosing a personalized handmade handwritten thank you note. We want our customers to feel like they have been shopping in an elegant boutique, so we package our items accordingly. We frequently get e mails back thanking us for the fast shipment as well as the careful and beautiful packaging.

When there is a problem with checkout or other problem we are willing to spend whatever amount of time it requires to resolve the issue in a courteous, friendly and timely manner. There have been a couple of times when there have been issues with the checkout process that have required some back and forth working step by step through the issues, but in the end everything worked out fine. Afterwards we have received e mails thanking us for being so willing and helpful in working through the problem with them.

We also notify our customers several days before we make a sale public so that they have the first chance to snap up a few bargains. On occasion we also send them an e mail with an exclusive Coupon Code that is not made public and is strictly for customers who have already purchased from us in the past.

Overall, the "Golden Rule" always applies, we treat our customers in the same manner we want to be treated when we are customers!

Ruth and Marilyn
Two Artisan Sisters Studio

***All items purchased are put in separate gift boxes tied with ribbon. I always put a invoice in the package and I e-mail another thank you and the tracking # for their package. I even follow the tracking # myself and e-mail customer where it is in transit.  I also offer a 10% of all future orders paid through PayPal after first purchase.  As we all know, Customer Service is so Important~~


***I always communicate well with my customers so they know that they are important to me.  I email them to say "Thanks!" for their order, process all orders urgently, package them carefully and send a little personal letter in their parcel thanking them again for choosing to purchase their special item off me!  I email my customers to let them know their parcel is safely on its way.   If the customer has requested custom made beads/spacers etc, then I usually send more beads than was originally ordered, keeping them up to date with progress of the bead making process.  I also reward my customers for spending larger amounts of money by popping in little gifts to their parcel - they love it and makes me feel good too!   I answer any question my customers ask of me and freely share my knowledge on colour, design and general "how to or where do I ?." stuff.   It costs nothing to be courteous and I treat my customers the way I like to be treated - nicely and with respect.  

***One disadvantage of selling online is the lack of face-to-face communication with your buyers. There is so much room for miscommunication simply because the non-verbal clues are kept out of the conversation (and there is only so much that an "LOL" or smiley can do) so i try make sure that any communication sent out carries an engaging yet professional tone and that replies to questions or requests are made within the soonest time possible.
a customer wants to be updated about his/her order so sending out a short note via email to advise them about the status of their order is a must for me. delays, if any, are communicated promptly.
I am also flexible when it comes to requests – I will resize an item for a customer, make one just like what is displayed in the colors they would like. Also, if there is anything else i can do to make the transaction go well (nothing illegal though LOL), i will always do my best to go that extra mile for my customer.

So now not only have you had the chance to visit a few new artist’s shops…but you know the ones that are going to make your shopping experience stellar… BUY INDIE - Support those who LOVE what they do.

Jennifer Kos 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Featured ArtFire Shop! AJSWEETSOAP

A !!!! BEAUTIFUL !!!! ArtFire Store.... Please make sure to visit!

This weeks Featured Studio on The Fire Stalkers is ajsweetsoap. Denise creates unique and sinfully delicious soaps! From cookies to cupcakes to chocolate, these soaps are all guilt and calorie free! Just don't eat them!

You can find ajsweetsdoap at:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Time Management Tips for the Artists of ARTFIRE

Time Management Tips
From the Artists of ARTFIRE
Compiled by: Jennifer Kos of MetalPetalz

      As we discussed some of the issues of being an artist 
stuck in the “real world” of our jobs and careers – it 
seemed that following our bliss, successfully, included 
the challenge of time management. 
 I asked fellow “I Followed My Bliss…Now What?”
 guild members and artists for tricks 
and tips in staying focused on the many plates 
spinning above them…

 Here, in their own words, are techniques that keep
 them creative and productive…and sane… well sort of :)

(Each artist’s shop is listed below their name –
 please visit them to see their amazing work.)

 *Time management is an issue I constantly struggle with, 
particularly working from home.The most effective trick 
for me is to set a timer (I do this on my phone) 
when I start a particular task (new creative piece, 
project, gardening, online time, you name it!). 
When the timer goes off, that's it, time over. 

*For me, that's usually because when I work on my jewelry 
or spa stuff, I lose track of time!! I usually do this in the
 evening after work and chores, so the result is usually 
is that I stay up way too late :-). My solution is to
 only take out enough for a project that CAN be completed
 in the time that I have. For example, I might take out just
 gemstones and wire to complete wrapping two pairs of 
earrings, or two pendants, because I know that I only 
have time to do that much. Once I finish making 
those, even though I'm tempted to continue playing :-), 
I know it's bedtime, so I stop.
Handmade Artisan Jewelry and Luxurious Spa Products by

*Actually, it helps that I do a lot of my crafting at work, since I
 have a timetable there, rounds every 2 hours. It helps keep 
me on track.

Some of my projects can take a long time.  Blankets usually
 the longest so I always have one that I'm working on.  
It sits in a cloth bag with one extra scene of yarn (in case
 I use up the one I'm on).  The bag hangs on the door handle 
to the garage.  Whenever I have an appointment I get there
 about 30 minutes early when I can and work on the blanket 
for about 20 minutes then head into the appointment.  I do
 the same thing during the school year when picking up the 
kids.  Some days its the only time I'm able to find to get anything

I take a note on starting time and ending time. i usually work 
nonstop on a piece so it's pretty easy to figure out how long
 have i been crafting. i have a sketch book where i written down 
notes about my designs including time frame. So next time
 i make something similar, i don't have to take a note on time


I have a set time to do everything I need to do with Artfire 
and making jewelry.In the morning, I post on the guilds 
that I am part of. Check out chatterbox,answer emails etc. 
Then I carry on with my day. It isn't until the evening that
I work on my jewelry. If I was to go into my studio during the
day, I would bethinking about what I had to do around the 
house, in the garden, etc. So, with no distractions in the 
evening, I work on my jewelry.
Jewelry By Sherry

These are some other tips and tricks that will help to keep 
focused on task completion (see for more 
healthy strategies for daily living)  :

§  Plan your day. Planning your day can help you accomplish
 more and feel more in control of your life. Write a to-do list, 
putting the most important tasks at the top. Keep a schedule
 of your daily activities to minimize conflicts and last-minute 

§  Prioritize your tasks. Feeding the kids, paying the bills…
 things that HAVE to be done… whether there is a skein of 
yarn or bag of beads is calling you are not, have to be at the 
top of the priority list. Consider your art/craft your REWARD
 for getting all of the necessities done and they will get done
 much quicker J (the save the best for last rule)

§  Say no to nonessential tasks – learning to say no – can be
 so very hard… but is necessary for a truly productive day.

§  Delegate. Take a look at your to-do list and consider what 
you can pass on to someone else.  ( You shouldn’t be the only
 one in your home with chores! )

§  Take the time you need to do a quality job. Doing work
 right the first time may take more time upfront, but errors
 usually result in time spent making corrections, 
which takes more time overall.

§  Break large, time-consuming tasks into smaller tasks. 
Work on them a few minutes at a time until you 
get them all done.

§  Practice the 10-minute rule. Work on a dreaded task for 10 
minutes each day. Once you get started, you may find you can
 finish it.

§  Limit distractions. Block out time on your calendar for
 big projects.During that time, close your door and turn off 
your phone, pager and e-mail.

We all seem to have the tendency to get sucked into our
 creative universe… we use it to hide from the real world, 
find pleasure, follow our hobbies, connect with friends… 
the reasons why we focus on our art/craft are as diverse 
as we are .  Making the most of our time is paramount to
 keeping our love for our art a healthy  (and lucrative!)  
use of our time .

 Please feel free to share this article, blog, guild and
 particularly, the shops of the artists who took their
 time to share their tips…

Thank you fellow ArtFire Artists!
Jenn Kos
Metal Petalz

About Me