Thursday, September 30, 2010

Inspiration: No Carve Pumpkins

Check out this great article with tutorials for a bunch of no carve pumpkins at! Now you can have a great looking doorstep without all the mess, and in some cases with less time.

Use these ideas as is, or get inspired to think out of the box and come up with your own no carve solutions!

All photos are from

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday Tutorial: Halloween Plant Markers

I’ve seen a few Etsy sellers use similar techniques for traditional plant markers, and decided to do a quick version for Halloween decorations!


Old silverware
Newsprint of other lightweight paper
Black fine point pen
Colored pencils
Outdoor glossy varnish
Glitter paint (optional)


1. Trace your silverware onto the newsprint. This way you know how big to make your designs.

2. Draw and color Halloween themed images within your traced outlines. Simple images work best—ghosts, pumpkins, bats, etc. If you don’t want to draw your own images, try using clip art or stickers.

3. Rip your images out, crumple them up and flatten them back out again. The torn edges and wrinkles will give an old, weathered look.

4. Use your paintbrush to apply varnish directly to the silverware where your image will go. Press your paper image down on the wet varnish and apply one coat of varnish on top. You might have to hold the image with one finger while you apply the first coat so it doesn’t move around. Let this first coat dry until tacky.

5. Apply glitter paint to selected areas of your images, if desired. Let dry.

6. Apply second and third coats of varnish. Let the second coat dry to tacky before applying the third.

Once the third coat is completely dry, you are ready to decorate your garden, potted plants and anywhere else you can find to stick these things!

Feeling ambitious? Create a silverware graveyard! Make all your images headstones, coffins, zombies & ghosts then arrange them together in one area.

As always, I’d love to see photos if anyone tries this project for themselves! Just post links to the photos below…

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crafter Profile: Jennifer of Isette

This week’s Crafter Profile is with Jennifer, who by day works as a museum coordinator, and by night somehow finds time to create and run three Etsy shops, including Isette! Read on to learn about her process, inspiration, and her advice on when its right to turn your crafting into a business. Plus some awesome pics of her Renegade Austin 2010 booth, and my favorite items available at Isette on Etsy.

Tell us a little about yourself… Where you’re from? Art background? Why you started Isette?

I’m from Minnesota, but I’ve been in the Chicagoland area for the last 10 years. My education is actually in Anthropology and Humanities - I’ve loved studying human nature and material culture for as long as I can remember. “Stuff” is fascinating to me - why people keep make, collect, show and dispose of objects like they do. That’s how I ended up a museum curator!

I’ve always had a creative streak as well, and did an art minor in college. I tended towards the more sculptural and functional arts - basketweaving, pottery, bookbinding and jewelry are all things I’ve explored.

Lets get the important facts out of the way first — where can people purchase your items?

Well, on-line you can purchase at my Etsy site - . I’m also fortunate to have some retail locations - you can check out if there is a shop near you at my website (The website sometimes takes a little bit to’s there, and I’m working on that :) )

You can also find me on Facebook:

and now Twitter! :

Why the name Isette?

Isette is actually a derivative of my grandmother’s name, Izetta. I’ve always thought the name was unique and beautiful!

Where do you find inspiration?

I draw inspiration from the world around me - and I am fortunate that the world around me includes a 100+ year old museum collection that I'm given free reign over and a typography obsessed graphic designer husband!

What does your creative space look like?

I love my office. Right now it looks like a hurrcane hit it as I’ve been frantically prepping for Renegade Chicago, otherwise I’d send a photo. Functionally, my favorite pieces of furniture are a couple sets of Alex drawers from Ikea. Aesthetically, I have a lovely antique headboard framing my desk. It’s one from my mother-in-law - always one of good taste!

Can you explain the laser cut process for those of us who are not familiar with it?

Lasers can cut a variety of materials, from acrylic to wood, even leather! The laser cuts what I tell it to, like a great big cutting printer. The design process is actually what takes the longest - dreaming up the design, drawing it, cleaning it up in the computer and then plotting the path for the laser to cut. Design is a surprisingly long process for me, which is why the laser is really an important tool for me to produce my work. My designs are better for the amount of time I put in them, but the end product for the user is not exponentially more expensive because of it.

Do you have a favorite piece or design you’ve made since starting Isette?

I’m starting to go bigger than I dared to previously and I love it! I’m just starting to get some of these pieces in the Etsy shop, like the Ornamental necklace ( and hopefully have them available on-line in October!

How do you advertise or promote your shop?

I’ve been very fortunate that word of mouth has been amazing. I’ve advertised at craftcult and craftopolis as well and have seen good results.

You have a couple other stores on Etsy, tell us a little about those?

Beadoodles is my first business, pretty much started back when I first learned how to make jewelry! It is also where I cut my teeth on Etsy - I started that shop August of 2005. Beadeux was a natural step - I have gotten a lot of great wholesale contacts and found suppliers I love, so I keep it stocked with items that I regularly use and order a lot of. I like to think of it as one of the smallest supply shops on Etsy - that way I can be assured of the quality!

How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t creating for Isette & Beadoodles, or collecting supplies for Beadeux?

Ha! There’s not much time after that with my full time job! I’m lucky to have a supportive husband and a lot of great friends that will take me out when I need a break.

Favorite childhood craft project?

Man, anything with glue. I really wasn’t much for coloring honestly, but glue, paper, and clay were some of my favorites.

What have you found to be the most fun, and the most difficult parts of running a creative business?

I really do love meeting people. So getting out there for shows, like Renegade, is always a fun experience. Also, just seeing something that is in your head come to life is amazing.

Difficult? Well, realizing that you’ve not been able to make anything new for weeks because you are filling orders, doing paperwork, or just plain busy. So I’ve been working hard to regulate my schedule to have set aside periods for “creating” “accounting” and “having dinner with my husband” ;)

And finally, any advice you’d give others wishing to turn their creative talent into a small business?

Realize the difference between a hobby and a business. It is something you like to do, and would do it even if you weren’t getting paid? It’s a hobby, and enjoy it for what it is even if it brings in a little extra money. If you want to start a business, be more critical of your processes. Is it feasible to be making 100 of these? Is your pricing good for wholesale? What if you are a hit, can you sustain it? So it’s a matter of knowing what your goals are!

Inspiration: Community Projects

As I previously mentioned, last week was a bit hectic with finally opening my new Etsy store, triSERIFtops, and all the organization, photography, updating and writing that went along with it.

I missed my inspiration post on Thursday, so here it is a couple days late... and you'll get caught up with another Crafter Profile this afternoon too!

Community art projects were my inspiration last week. Sunday, September 19th was the stART on the street festival in Worcester, MA. Its always a good time with over 200 crafters, community and kids projects, performances and new this year: a vintage section.

Below are photos from two community projects going on that day. The first was a beautiful community chalk quilt. The second project was recycled totem poles with detergent bottles, bottle caps, old CDs and more. Let these inspire you to start your own community activity, or to use unexpected materials for an outdoor piece of art!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Introducing triSERIFtops

I've been pretty busy the last few weeks, which is why there was no Crafter Profile or Tuesday Tutorial this week. But have no fear, those segments will both be back next week as usual!

What have I been busy doing? Opening triSERIFtops, a new Etsy store exclusively for typography pieces! As a result Designosaurus is now reorganized & dedicated exclusively to sustainable jewelry.

You think thats exciting? How about this month's alphabet posters finally being available? E and F are now ready for purchase at triSERIFtops, along with some Hand Drawn Facebook Statuses new to Etsy.

New items perfect for autumn have also been added to Designosaurus. Just a few pictured below...

So check out both stores, or even better, bookmark them and check back often for new items to come!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inspiration: Betsey Johnson

NYC Fashion Week 2010 ends today, and there has been some really fun and inspiring stuff. Am I thrilled that a major trend looking to hit next spring is BEIGE? No... I'm not. I'll probably stick with my bright colors...

Which is why I'm happy Betsey Johnson had quite the colorful runway (as always) showcasing her Spring 2011 collection, and thats my inspiration this week. All photos are from the official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week website, so for even more inspiration and to see what other designers have coming, take a look there.

Now I'm not saying we should all go purchase a neon multi colored, ruffle layered, full circle dress... but we can let the colors, shapes, fabrics, or overall youthful & child-like atmosphere inspire our own work, whatever that may be!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Tutorial: Button Hair Pins

This week's tutorial, Button Hair Pins, is a simple project you can do in under and hour - perfect if you are looking for a quick way to spruce up your accessories wardrobe with a bit of a vintage feel for autumn.

And even better—you probably have all of these materials in your house already!

I am also doing a FREE GIVEAWAY this week! Everyone who comments on this post before 12:00 am, ET on Thursday, September 16th, 2010 will be entered to win a set of 5 of the button hair pins pictured above. Winner will be announced here and on the Designosaurus Facebook fan page on Friday.

Bobby pins or hair clips
Glue gun with glue sticks
Needle & thread


1. Glue buttons together. You'll want 2–3 buttons per clip, glue them together starting with the largest button on the bottom, going to the smallest on top. Use only a dab of glue between each and press together for a few seconds, make sure the holes of the button are aligned so your needle will fit through later.

2. Glue buttons to your hair pins. Use only a dab of glue on the button and press against the top of your hair clip for a few seconds. Make sure the holes of the button are on either side of the hair pin so later you can fit your needle through the holes, and around the hair pin.

3. Sew your buttons to the hair clip. The glue helps keep the buttons in place while you sew them to the hair pin, if the glue pops off a bit while sewing don't worry, the thread will hold them. You might need to push the needle through some glue in the button holes, but if you are using a sharp needle this shouldn't be a problem. Sew 4–6 times to make sure your buttons are secure.

Now your new hair pins are ready to wear!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crafter Profile: Sypria

This week we hear from Tara of Sypria (and Clean Sypria, Garden Of Sypria, and Felt Sypria). I stumbled upon her shops while searching Etsy and loved them so much, I had to include her in my Crafter Profiles!

Tara was recently able to leave her day job to concentrate 100% on her creative business, so hopefully any of you yearning to do the same can learn a bit from her interview below! Want more updates from Tara? Check her out on Twitter @CraftySypria.

Tell us a little about yourself… Where you’re from? Art background?

My name is Tara Fletcher-Gibbs, I live in North Little Rock, Arkansas in a wonderful little neighborhood with my wife Sarah and my two kitties, Leela and Fry. From taking fabric painting classes at Michael’s when I was around 6 years old all the way up to High School and spending 6 out of 7 classes in my senior year in the art department - I would say I’ve always been crafty!

The important stuff — where can people purchase your items?

I currently have four Etsy shops that I sell through frequently -,,, and Also, if you’re in central Arkansas I have my dryer balls and my more eco-friendly jewelry at The Green Corner Store on Main Street in the Quapaw Quarter.

Now on to the exciting stuff, you were recently able to quit your day job and concentrate 100% on creating and running your own business! How has this affected your creative process, your schedule, and your life in general?

It has been a blessing and a curse all at the same time! I think everyone dreams of being their own boss and escaping the rat race and now that I think I’ve accomplished that - I’ve never worked so hard in my life! I wake up thinking about crafts, I have to force myself to put down the tools and make something to eat even though there is SO much to do and then I have to somehow get to sleep at night with my mind tossing and turning ideas in my head! Though I have the freedom to take a break whenever I want and go to important events on the drop of a hat - you never, ever stop working. I’m going on vacation in about a month for a week in Florida and I have every intention of bringing the laptop and continuing on with business!

Why the name Sypria?

I’ve actually had that moniker for about 13 years now. Whenever I would play any kind of video game or computer name that was the name I chose (I found it in a baby name book and it is of Spanish origin, pronounced - Si-PREE-uh) and thus it just came naturally that I would use the name that everyone knew me by for my businesses.

Where do you find inspiration?

A lot of odd places actually. I love roaming around flea markets and just picking up trinkets and old outdated jewelry and trying to find another purpose for it. I like looking back at pictures of myself and friends when I was younger and try to tap into what I wanted to have when there wasn’t this kind of jewelry out there. I was always “different” when I was a kid and I want to give a voice to the youth of today through the jewelry I make so that they can express their unique selves like I tried to.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

That's like asking for your top five favorite movies when you’ve got five in sci-fi, comedy, horror, etc! However, I would probably say polymer clay and vintage jewelry. There are just so many things you can do with clay and though some vintage jewelry is beautiful in its own right - some of it needs a bit of an update!

Out of the items currently for sale in your shop, do you have a favorite?

I would have to say my ‘Flip-Cap’ Collage. My mother is an oncologist and she has everyone on her floor save all the caps that are flipped off medicine which would otherwise end up in a landfill and I’ve made collages and rings and garlands out of them. They’re so colorful it’s hard to think they people just throw away all that plastic!

What does your workspace look like?

As Niecy Nash from Clean House would say, “A hot mess!!” A have a wonderfully supportive wife who has let me take over a whole bedroom. Surrounded by shelves upon shelves of supplies and work areas lining two walls there are always ATLEAST ten projects going at once! I find my mind jumps from project to project a little too quickly for my taste so I’ve had to have separate areas for all of my interests so that I can leave in the middle of it, do some other project for a bit and then come back to it.

How do you advertise or promote your shop?

I am a craft show-aholic. In the months of August, September and October you can find me doing a craft show EVERY weekend. I also am lucky enough to live in a very creative and art loving community that supports local artists and we have events on the first Thursday, second Friday and third Friday of the month almost all year round so you can find me at those events as well. Other than that, it’s really word of mouth, I give out a business card with a coupon on the back to everyone I encounter who I think might be interested in what I make and with every order I also include a discount for repeat customers. I don’t blog. I just recently started the whole twitter thing and haven’t gotten into the swing of it - but I’m trying! I still have yet to figure out how to make a fanpage on Facebook!

I first stumbled upon your shop Sypria, but noticed you have a few more shops on Etsy as well. Can you tell us a little bit about those?

I have CleanSypria which is where I sell all of my Dryer Balls. They’re made from 100% wool and instead of using a conventional dryer sheet which contains chemicals and animal by-products you use these to soften your clothes and pull the moisture out to reduce the drying time - thus saving you money through your electric bill and having to buy those awful dryer sheets all the time!

I then have GardenOfSypria where I sell my more traditional jewelry which is inspired from being out in my garden and out in nature in general.

FeltSypria which has my jewelry made from felt (which is made from 100% post-consumer recycled bottles) as an eco-friendly alternative option for the fashionable at heart!

Can you remember a favorite childhood craft project?

I absolutely LOVED making friendship bracelets. I think I made more bracelets than I have ever had friends! I remember spending time at my Grandmothers up in the Ozark mountains for the summer and just cranking them out. My mother would pack my rainbow of DMC floss and I’d come back just beaming with pride at all the little bracelets I had made.

What have you found to be the most fun, and the most difficult aspects of running a creative business?

The most fun aspect would have to be just making whatever your little heart fancies. It is the most rewarding, therapeutic and empowering thing when you turn a little idea in your head into a simple thing that someone else can treasure for the rest of their lives - and get paid for it! My wife and I bought a house almost a year ago and it’s so thrilling to think that the things that I make are paying for part of this house. It really makes you think harder about how you live your life and why so many of us choose to continue with the rat race. The most difficult? You have to be the voice of EVERYTHING! You’ve got to be the receptionist, human resources, accountant, janitor, buyer, advertising department, auditor, shipping and receiver, president, CEO and all of the above! It can really be discouraging if you let yourself become too behind.

And finally, you are certainly doing things right to get to where you are with your business! Any advice you’d give to others who dream of turning their creative passion into a full time opportunity?

Don’t stop! There are so many factors into why things sell and why things don’t sell. You just have to be on top of things and research, research, research! Take wonderful pictures and be PROUD of what you do. If you’re just trying to make things like what everyone else is making, you’re not contributing to the creative world, you’re just muddling it up and setting yourself up for a disappointing downfall. Be unique and it will all eventually fall into place!

(interview has been edited)