Friday, December 31, 2010

Sweetheart Valentine Banner Tutorial

There is a very exciting announcement and preview at the end of this post, so scroll to skip to that if you don't want to read the step by step. I think this Sweetheart Valentine Banner is simple enough for you to duplicate without illustrations on the step by step tutorial that follows. I just ask that you link to this post if you want to share the instructions. Also, if you want to make them for sale, go ahead and give me credit for the idea. If you have never purchased one of my patterns, just know that the instructions here are representative of how I explain things, but my patterns for purchase include pattern pieces and loads of illustrations and extra notes on tools and materials. Here is the how to:
Materials list (makes 112 flags for 16 yards of banner)
2 yards Décor bond interfacing—A heavy weight, fusible interfacing
1/4 yard each Pastel cotton fabrics—I used pink, yellow, green and purple
1&1/8 yard Pink cotton duck fabric
16 yards 1/2” heavy cotton twill tape plus 1/3 yard for every separate banner. If you are making 16 one yard banners, you need 5 & 1/3 more yards of the twill tape for tails. If you are making 2 eight yard banners, you need another 2/3 yard.
3 or 4 sheets of iron-on light T-shirt transfer for ink jet printers
Instructions:
Step 1:
Print backwards words onto the transfer paper. If you want to make your own sheet of words, either make the sheet backwards, and print normally as I have done, or make the sheet forward and tell your printer to print a mirror image. The font I used is Arial Rounded MT Bold. The font size varies between 30 and 36. These need to dry for at least 1/2 hour before you use them. Make the words red.
Step 2:
While the transfer paper is drying, make your paper heart pattern pieces. To make your own heart pattern, mark a 3” square in the corner of a sheet of paper. Fold the paper in half, then in thirds, keeping the 3” square visible. Fold the 3” square in half and cut 1/2 of a heart on the fold through all layers. Take up as much of the 3” square as you can with the heart. When you open this up, you will have 6 identical 3” heart pattern pieces.
Step 3:
Following manufacturers instructions, adhere décor bond interfacing to the pastel fabrics to make them stiff. This makes cutting the heart shapes much easier.
Step 4:
Pin heart pattern onto pastel fabrics and cut out heart shapes. I layer the fabrics and cut through 2 fabrics at a time.
Step 5:
Following manufacturers instructions, iron the words onto the hearts. If you ever wanted an excuse to buy one of those mini irons, here it is.
Step 6:
Cut the light pink duck fabric into rectangular background flags. The size of the flag is 4.12” wide by 4.5” long.
Step 7:
Stitch each heart onto a background flag. Use thread that matches the background fabric or the hearts. Use either a small zig-zag stitch or a blanket stitch.
Step 8:
Stitch flags onto the twill tape. Leave a 6” tail on either end and leave 1.25” between each flag. This will produce banners that have 7 flags per yard. These flags are fun to make and customize for different people and occasions.

Here is the exciting announcement part: As I was making these Sweetheart Valentine Banners, I was wishing I had a pre-printed fabric with the hearts and words. I could do away with the need for a pattern piece. I could do away with the tedium of cutting out and transferring words onto the hearts. Hummm. So, after telling several people including my husband that I was not really interested in designing fabric...I designed my first fabric. I ordered a yard of it last night. As soon as I see it in person and verify that it is just what I wanted, I will make it available for order. This is a preview of what you would see on a fat quarter of fabric. The full yard has 125 hearts with 25 different phrases and the 5 basic colors you see here. It will be $18 per yard at Spoonflower, which is pretty cool since a yard of fabric will make 17+ yards of banner.



Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Camera Christmas Morning

I bought Rory a new camera for Christmas. Here is a still life he made playing with the settings and learning the camera. I am looking forward to Rory doing more of my photography now that he has a camera he is excited about. Many thanks to Amber who was on the Israel trip with me for selling me her camera. It is a Cannon S5IS. We love it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Goodies for the party


Goodies for the party
Originally uploaded by studiocherie
I am writing up the tutorial now for these ribbon tied goodie baskets that store flat. A lot of work went into this photo shoot, but the reward is delicious. Fabric by Debbie Mumm. Baked goods by
Gabrielle.
Each basket uses 8 grommets - the same large eyelets I use for luggage tags. The tutorial will include the formula for plugging in the size and depth you want to make any size square or rectangular fabric basket. If you like to use heavy duty snaps instead of the ribbon ties, just use the snaps in place of the grommets. The baskets are fully lined and they are finished without the use of bias binding. (After making 6 aprons recently, frankly I have had enough bias binding for the year - I am counting 2011 as well.) They are super quick and easy. I love how they dress up a hostess or neighbor gift. My last minute Christmas project. Plenty of time for New Years parties. Of course, these will show up in the shop as a Valentines suggestion as well, along with another fun craft project especially for Valentines. Holidays just make me feel so crafty. It's not like I don't have 50 bags to make as well...These are a fun distraction.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Notes to self


If you read my notes from this morning, you will see, blogging is not among them, yet, here I am. Shower is also not on the list, but I better do that if I am going to deliver veges and do a photoshoot. The light is good today, so I must carpe diem. This often happens that as I sip my morning coffee and sit with pen and paper - not my notebook, that would be too easy - a piece of scrap paper - not even a full sheet of paper... I start thinking about a project and go ahead and draw out ideas. Now I am going to have to add this piece of paper to my sewing journal because I will want to reference it as I build the bag. As you can imagine my journal resembles a scrap book - a disorganized, random scrap book. I wrote the notes clockwise, but when I read them, I read counterclockwise. It must have to do with always searching for a new perspective. As you can see from the lack of writers group posts, we have not met in a while, and I have not written. That is on the master to-do list in my head. I hope you find some relaxation when you pop in here to look in on me. I know my random world touches yours through this blog and I appreciate it when you take a minute to post a comment. When Gretchen comment last week, that really touched me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thorn Tree - Israel


Thorn Tree - Israel
Originally uploaded by studiocherie
We visited this park where our guide said David trimmed down the number of men in his army by how they drank at the stream. Does that sound familiar? Now I am going to have to look it up - later, I mean. It was near Ein Gedi. So as the guide is talking and explaining the significance of this place - I was feeling pretty toured out - this unusual tree caught my eye, and I wandered off a bit to photograph it. Next time, less tour, more time to relax and enjoy. This park would be great in season - see the empty swimming pool in the background? I wandered away from my sewing room for a minute to post this. I am pretty excited about the new bags I am working on. The great thing is I don't have a boss (or a tour guide) cracking the whip (or saying "Let's go folks!")

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The fortune cookie

Rory fairly roared as I read my fortune cookie. After my big trip and all of the loot I brought home... So I thought maybe this fortune was for you? You can still get $20 off a duffle for yourself with coupon code RTS20. It is good on any of my ready to ship duffles - I have 5 of them.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sunrise on (and in) the Dead Sea

The sun rose from behind the mountains of Jordan and shone on the Dead Sea. As I watched from my balcony, I thought - what would Rory do? If my husband had been with me, he would have been on the beach to greet the sunrise with his camera. I pondered that for a moment, and since this luxury hotel room had no hot pot for instant coffee, I slipped on my shoes and headed for the beach. I was surprised by the number of sunrise bathers already floating in the sea. This is the only photo I took. I am not usually such a miserly photographer. I must have needed that coffee... The experience of floating in the dead sea was interesting - we did it the night before. The best way I have of describing it is that you have to let your body become a boat. You can not swim or kick. If you do, your "boat" will capsize. I thought lifeguards on this beach were the silliest idea, until I saw a man who kicked his way into a mess of trouble and had to be saved. That is another story.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yad Vashem - The Name and The Place

Our guide told us that Yad Vashem is translated The Name and the Place. Taken from Isaiah 56:1-8. This holocaust heros and martyrs museum is much more than I expected. I would put this on the must-see list. I especially appreciated the video interviews with survivors. There are places to sit and watch an interview while you are surrounded by pertinent artifacts. One could easily spend 4 hours there. I think we only spent 2, and it felt like I had to rush through the last half. There is no photography allowed inside. This photo shows a hero martyr: I don't remember his name - maybe someone on the trip got a photo of the caption for this monument. The man was a school teacher who chose to stay with his boys and be killed with them rather than abandon them to the Nazis. I spent some time today at the Yad Vashem website reading from the Righteous Among the Nations stories. What a valuable experience.

Thank you Olsun, for the info on this photo: This man - named Janusz Korczak
- was polish Jude, teacher and writer. He has wrote books for children and for teachers and parents. Sorry for my English :-)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ready to Ship Duffles Now on Special


If you have been saving up for one of my fabulous travel bags, now is the time to get the best deal. I have 7 bags made and ready to ship. Go to my duffle section to choose one, and enter the coupon code RTS20 to get $20 off at checkout. This special applies only to my ready to ship duffles pictured here. There is still time to order a custom duffle for Christmas. Those are regular price and we need to talk fabric ASAP, so contact me if you want something other than what you see in this photo. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. We are heading to Seattle to enjoy it with family. More Israel and Egypt photos coming.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Carry-on Backpack


My Carry-on Backpack
Originally uploaded by studiocherie
I made this bag specifically for the Israel/Egypt trip. I wanted to test a large backpack for the person who wants to travel with only one bag. I made it to the maximum carry-on size for Delta Airlines which is 22x14x9 inches. It fit into the overhead bins nicely. I did carry it just about everywhere. Here it is pictured at the Roman ruin of Bet She'an. There are a few changes I will be making as I put it into production and prepare the pattern for release - like adding a belt strap to take some of the weight off the shoulders. I had a blast making it and figured out an awesome way to line every part. It really is a serious piece of luggage. Part of the joy of making it was using Etsuko Furuya's fabrics. Watch for bags like this one in my shop soon and the sewing pattern Spring 2011.

From Western Stairs at Dome of the Rock

Correct me if I am wrong. Maybe there is a better name for this location. (I am sure that invitation opens a can of worms.) This may be one of the most controversial places on the planet. Believed by both Jews and Muslims to be the location of the creation of Adam, and the location of the sacrifice of Abraham, this spot stirs the heart of both faiths. Jews still refer to it as the temple mount, the site of their only temple, destroyed in 70A.D. Currently, it is the site of a golden dome memorializing a mystical visit by the muslim prophet to this place. The heart of Jerusalem for Muslims is the famous golden dome (my back is to it in this photo,) while Jews seek the heart of Jerusalem underground (literally below my feet.) We walked through the tunnel that is under the Western wall of the city (some of you know it as the wailing wall,) and witnessed devout women fervently praying underground, as close as they can get to the Ark of the Covenant, buried in the Holy of Holies beneath the temple mount. I think my word for Jerusalem is Layers. Our trip was all about geography and history (we covered a lot of both.) I would love to go back again and just have the time to be a person instead of a tourist.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Art Galleries Netanya, Israel

My first impression of Israel was peace, the second impression - respect. The artwork hung outside the galleries which you don't really see in the US unless the watchful artist is present. I wondered, Can they really trust one another to this degree? We happened upon this place on the Sabbath, so there were only us Christians wandering about. There seems to be a genuine respect for family and tradition in Israel - so many businesses closed for an entire day every week. I was starting to feel how intimate this country is. There are so many ways I can describe Israel, yet I feel I don't really know Israel at all. The portrait in the foreground looks like the Israel I met. She is dressed for work. In fact, you can see she has been working hard, yet her hands are behind her back. She is young and fragile. Larger than her borders. Simple and beautiful. Unfinished.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gate - Netanya, Israel


Gate - Netanya, Israel
Originally uploaded by studiocherie
My first impression of Israel was the Ben Gurion airport just outside of Tel Aviv. Quiet. No music. No TV's. No ads bombarding my senses. Even though I had been travelling for about 24 hours to get there (stupid long layover at JFK included) I had a feeling I was going to like this peaceful place. A short drive North to our first destination, Netanya, revealed this tranquil corner. This is the backside of a Mediterranean beach front home. Yes, I would Summer there. White sand, finer than sugar, small town, art galleries, restaraunts. Click on the photo link to go to Flickr where you can see it larger.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Lines and Personalization on Etsy

Etsy's Guide to Custom Work is a thorough treatise on the tricky art of successfully listing and selling custom handiwork in a venue where people look and click to buy without reading much. Anyone who sells on Etsy can get ideas from the article. I can not recommend it highly enough. Here is my personalized gift guide.

'Personalized Gift Guide' by StudioCherie


Great work everyone. Loving these personalized options.


























8 x 10 print with your vows,...


$35.00

personalized just for you - ...


$17.00

Personalized gift tags shape...


$18.00

Custom Initials Pendant


$50.00

The Poppy Collection - Perso...


$22.00

The Simple Name Double Disc ...


$37.99

Rustic sterling silver patte...


$

Custom Initial Brooch .. Ice...


$22.00

Bible Verse Belt Custom Leat...


$119.00

Make it Personal Monogramme...


$10.00

Pumpkin Spice Pillow Monogra...


$65.00

custom family tree -- brown


$30.00

choose your Destination - B...


$35.00

Slice of the Pie - Address L...


$5.95

House Numbers Sign - Rusted ...


$65.00

PERSONALIZED geography lesso...


$28.00

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

Sarahndippity, as I have mentioned before, is a talent to watch and collect. In addition to these initial pendants, she has also started a new line of more affordable stone and filigree pendants in her shop. I predict they will be a big hit. My friend Kim of SentimentalStones has been doing a lot of custom work off Etsy with her stone coasters, creating special designs to commemorate weddings in a stylish way. Kim has discovered this can be her mainstay on Etsy as well.
Megan, another sweet friend from the Eastern Washington Etsy team, found her business really picked up when she added her hand stamped jewelry to the mix at FlowYogaMats. She has a real knack for choosing the words and phrases that people want. I have been kidding around with her about how someone like me needs "um" rather than "om" and "blog, just blog" instead of "breathe, just breathe." Come to think of it, other people might like to choose their own phrases too....Hummm. How to do that personalized thing? (Hint: read the article.)
There are other new lines I want to mention. Maybe I can squeeze in another post before I hit the road and fall off the radar for a while...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cherie rambles a bit on artwork licensing

There were a few more people I met on Etsy who have licensed their artwork and it just never worked out to do a full interview. Etsy did a quit your day job article with Becky of PoshDots, who is still in the throes of licensed products launching. Her shop remains impressive even as busy as she is, she has even expanded by putting her artwork on fabric.
By the way, for artists who might like to try their hand at designing art for fabrics, there is Spoonflower. You upload your artwork and spoonflower prints it on a variety of fabric types. You can even let people order your designs directly from Spoonflower. They have frequent contests, so there is a way to see how your work might be received. A number of Etsy sellers design fabric and have it printed at spoonflower, then sell it in their Etsy shops. Click this search to see items listed under the supply category with Spoonflower as a tag. Fabulous! ScarletFig is now licensed with Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I believe the contests at Spoonflower were instrumental in launching Laurie as a fabric designer, but I could be wrong. Laurie is writing a book...I am writing patterns, going to Israel, etc. I will ask her for an interview when I get home. How is that for journalistic instinct? Write about someone then ask for an interview. I think I am fired. Oh, that's right, I am the boss. Still, I think I am fired.
I want to mention KiriMoth, while we are talking fabrics. She is working with HautTotes and designing exclusive fabrics for Melissa's shop.
Reading the full shop announcement for Suzanne Woolcot's Shop, Gorjuss, is impressive. Obviously, a lot of licensing going on there. I hope you get better, Suzanne.
AudreyJeanneRoberts has quite the portfolio if you want to check out someone who has been successfully licensing for a while.
Okay, so now everyone here (I mean literally here) including me, is wondering what is for dinner. I need to answer this question now, even though I have not illustrated this post with any of the many lovelies that could have spiced it up so well. You will just have to click and explore for yourself. I hope you do. I think all of these gals are inspiring. I appreciate their talents and their dedication.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Artwork Licensing Interviews Part 3


Here is Renee Charisse Jardine with a fabulous answers and a valuable perspective on licensing artwork.

What inspired you or nudged you toward licensing your artwork? I was selling my hand painted furniture in a local shop. The owner, who was an artist as well made decorative wall hangings and it was very exciting news when she was picked up by Enecso, one of the leaders in collectibles. When I heard the news I asked, what does that mean, “picked up”. That was the first I had ever heard the term licensing but, as soon as it was explained to me my first thought was, “Really…., well I can do that”. It was to my advantage at the time to be naïve about the whole thing.

I think a lot of artists have reservations about licensing their work. They believe that they will get taken advantage of or that licensing will reduce the value of their original works. What do you have to say to those artists? When I first licensed it never crossed my mind. Once I became more involved in the business I learned that there is that slight possibility that you can be exploited in a number of different fashions. My advice is, as it would with any venue that you need to trust, do your homework first. Know who you are handing your portfolio out to, know who you sign a contract with by doing background checks. Before signing a contract go as far as to ask the company if one of their current licensed artists could contact you so you can get feedback on their experience. Any reputable company should be happy to oblige.

Do you have a vision for the success of your licensed artwork that you would be willing to share? I have met many of my expectations and part of it was because I really didn’t know what to expect. Having over a dozen contracts at one point in time was a highlight for me. At this time in my career I am happy to keep going the few contracts that I have. It takes a lot of time and devotion to keep viable in the market and I have cut my workload back in recent years to spend more time with my family.

How long did you spend creating a body of work before you were satisfied that you had a portfolio worthy of licensing?
I already had a portfolio before I knew what licensing was. In the 1990’s a home computer and digital photos were not very common if at all an option. I began my art career painting on furniture and took photos of everything I painted. My portfolio consisted of furnishings, many of them being tabletops. It was the many photos of tabletops that helped me to land my first licensing contract.

Do you create artwork with certain products in mind?
Once I got into the game of Licensing, absolutely, all of the time. Every image had a focal point, different background choices and borders. And, many of my designs included sets of four.

What is your favorite piece that has been created featuring your work?
Calendars by Avalanche featuring butterflies and Ceramics from Santa Barbara Ceramic Design, one line featuring a fruit pattern called “Fontana” and another
featuring a rooster called “Tuxton Rooster”.

How does that piece make you feel?
Proud and lucky.

Do you approach manufacturers yourself, or do you have an agent for that?
For the first two years I worked on my own and I acquired an agent, Kathy Lally and worked with her for 9 years. For the past 3 years I have been on my own.
Having Kathy for an agent was really needed and a great experience.

What role has your Etsy shop played in licensing your artwork? Because we cannot sell our mass produced items on Etsy I have not used them as a venue to show my licensed products. What Etsy can do for a Licensed Artist is show the viability of ones art if their art is in good demand and their store shows success. My Etsy shop has been more related to the next chapter in my art career and that is making one of a kind jewelry. I also sell prints that have been used on products out of my Etsy store.

Any words of caution for fellow artists?
•If it seems to good to be true it probably is.
•Stay calm and focused and realize that 99 rejections and 1 acceptance IS a good ratio.
•Be business smart and keep your artwork in that mental frame. The artist who is strongly personally attached to their art may need to work on letting go of the emotional side to think in a business manner.
•Meet every deadline always.
• Never end a phone conversation or leave a message saying “I will wait for you to call me back or can you please call me”. Always say, “I understand that you are busy so if I don’t hear back from you within a couple of weeks I will call you back.
• The average amount of time a marketing campaign takes to get up and running is 3 years. YES years! If you are wanting to become a licensing artist for real, for the long haul keep at it, work hard, don’t give up and you will find your path.
• Make a business plan to have a booth at the Licensing Show in New York no matter what the cost.
•Licensing is very much like trying to be an actress in Hollywood. The competition is high. You have to keep auditioning. Sometimes you land a commercial and sometimes you get the staring roll. And, sometimes you get cut out of the film.

Any words of inspiration for fellow artists?
If you love what you do it will love you back and with hard work and focus you can find a way to be successful with your art or craft. Know where you do and don't fit in, find you path and follow it. Don't let anyone else tell you differently because there are just as many individual tastes in style as there are artists.

Just in case a manufacturer or licensing agent is reading this article, do you have anything to say to them? Don’t ever underestimate Etsy as a place to find who you are looking for.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Art Licensing: Another Kind of Interview Part 2


I am not a journalist. Journalists take better notes. I will tell you I had a wonderful conversation with Cori Dantini, the brilliant self-taught and just plain talented artist known as CoriD on Etsy. Cori was approached at an art fair by a licensing agent. She currently has a number of products in various stages of launch and unlike me, she is not in a position to go blabbing about them. Suffice it to say that in a couple of years, CoriD will be a household word. Another way to say this is: collect her originals now!

Since I can't find my meager notes, Cori may have to come along and correct some of this. This is from my memory of a phone chat we had around the first of September. The first way Cori licensed was with greeting card companies. She said that what they lacked in percentage offered, they made up for in volume. Cori is glad to have an agent, even though the fees are a factor. Cori would rather free up her time to create art rather than manage a multitude of product relationships. I think it really makes sense to focus on your strengths if you can and leave the rest to experts in their field. Again, what she is giving up in percentage, she can gain back in efficiency. Art fairs are hit and miss. She sells a lot at some and others bomb. There is an art to choosing art fairs. Maybe we need agents to handle that too? There is so much more that we talked about, and I will look forward to sharing more, from better notes, when Cori can share some of the specifics. Meanwhile congratulations, Cori.
Resources
For any artists out there wanting to educate yourselves on licensing, here is a super blog to plug into by Alyson Stanfield. Another resource for you is Tara Reeds site, artlicensinginfo.com. Here is more from Cori. All so charming! I am guessing you can find yourself among Coris thoughtful portraits. I do.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Artwork Licensing: Taking the Long View Part 1

When I find myself running around like a chicken with my head cut off, it helps to stand back and take the long view of my work. Where do I want to be in 5 or 10 years? I am inspired by artists who have taken steps on the long road of licensing. This may be your busiest time of year, so I offer this series of interviews and resources as a chance to gain perspective from some successful artists I have met on Etsy.


Ali J is a talented artist who resides in Perth Australia. Here is my interview with her:
What inspired you or nudged you toward licensing your artwork?

To be honest, I never knew it existed. I was selling my artwork, and creating more everyday. Then companies started to get into touch with me to hire my artwork for their products. I researched it a bit more, and was very happy to proceed with working for them. I've licensed images to t-shirt companies, cd designs, character illustrations, magazines and much more. It has given me many opportunities to create my work in new formats and reach a wider audience then ever before.

I think a lot of artists have reservations about licensing their work. They belive that they will get taken advantage of or that licensing will reduce the value of their original works. What do you have to say to those artists?

To stop looking for negatives, and look at the positives of every opportunity that is presented with an open mind. Whether it be an exhibition, or wholesaling, or consignment, or selling online, or licensing..... there are always negatives. But if you focus on those, you'll never be able to move ahead. Negativity shuts down creativity. Licensing has open up new worlds for me, but I ensure not to limit myself to this field.

Do you have a vision for the success of your licensed artwork that you would be willing to share?

I think the most important thing is not to jump on the trend bandwagon. Moustaches, owls, big eyed girls, dollhouses, lazer cut....... they are trendy now, but won't be in a few years time. Something else will be. The thing with licensing is that you are always working to the future trends that you don't know about. So all you can do is create new work, be honest, and companies will license your work according to what they feel will be big sellers. It can take months and years for images to be printed, or transformed into products, so do realise that licensing is a long term commitment.

How long did you spend creating a body of work before you were satisfied that you had a portfolio worthy of licensing?

I still am not satisfied with my portfolio, it is always being updated on a continual basis. I don't think any artist can be, and if they are, it means they are being safe as a business. Companies like to see recent artwork (created in the past 18 months) that is fresh, future focused, and unique. The most important thing is to have a wide variety in your portfolio as well as a certain style that will differentiate you from the millions of other artists in the world. Not a copied style, and not a forced style.

Do you create artwork with certain products in mind?

No, because at the end of the day each image could be used for such a multitude of purposes, sizes and types, the best thing to do is create an image that is open. Ensure all your artworks have a large reproduction size, as that is what always limits my ability to license my work. I had one company that wanted to reproduce my artwork to well over 12 feet wide, but simply couldn't reproduce one of my paintings (12" x 12") that large.

What is your favorite piece that has been created featuring your work?

I have many, but I'm going to say a CD of "Para Todo O Mal" by Mesa for Sony/BMG. The reason being is that the process of creating the artwork was so amazing, stressful, creative and inspiring all at the same time and I'll never forget it.

How does that piece make you feel?

Fresh. It marks a moment in time when I realised I was a real illustrator, and that I was entering a new phase of my life.

Do you approach manufacturers yourself, or do you have an agent for that?

I don't actively approach any manufacturers, all my licensing deals have been through companies contacting me directly. In the future I'd like to have an agent, but for the moment I enjoy learning as much as I can by doing it myself.

What role has your Etsy shop played in licensing your artwork?

Etsy has introduced many people to my artwork, and has been a great avenue to introduce communication between my brand and other people on a worldwide basis.

Have you been discovered by anyone noteworthy by having an Etsy shop?

Every single person who has visited my shop has been noteworthy. I have been approached by many companies who have found me through Etsy.

Any words of caution for fellow artists?

Licensing your art isn't easy. It is a business transaction and one that requires paperwork, follow up, maintenance and a lot of legwork. Make sure you research as much as you can about the field before diving in. It is a hugely competitive field, and if you want to make a real go of it make sure you know what you are saying & doing. Charging $5 to license your artwork for a book cover will get you laughed out of the industry. That means you should know your rates, what you want to license your images onto, and even better.... communicate with others who have experience in the field. There are many great books out there to help guide you into the field.

Any words of inspiration for fellow artists?

Licensing your art is a challenge, but so rewarding. Waking up everyday to new clients wanting to license my artwork onto books, onto products, onto clothing is exciting. However nothing in your life will eclipse the moment you hold that item in your very hands, or see it sitting in a shop on a shelf, or see a life size cutout of your characters on a stage whilst the band plays music beside it. It will open up your world.

Do you offer licensing for independent crafters on Etsy, your images on their products?

I have in the past, but don't actively promote it. I'd be happy to license my images for other independent crafters to use on their products.

Just in case a manufacturer or licensing agent is reading this article, do you have anything to say to them?

I'd be happy to discuss licensing my artwork to new clients, please feel free to contact me at anytime.
Ali J is AussiePatches on Etsy.


I will get back to posting my entries from writers group on Mondays in December.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Pattern Release

Does anyone else feel like Friday comes too early in the week? I did manage to get a slip cover and a baby change pad bag out this week. My bride is being very patient with me on the 6 duffles she ordered, as I have run into fabric back orders and interrupted myself to bring out the Christmas stocking pattern. I probably will not do too much sewing for myself before my trip, so those clothing projects and the pattern reviews will have to wait until Thanksgiving. My mom is here helping me too, so that brings me down from panic to just plain excited. This will be her second trip to Israel and my first time there. I am looking forward to traveling with my mom. Meanwhile, my daughter is having fun cooking with Grandma.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Now is the perfect time to panic

I never wear a watch. I rarely look at a clock. I try to stay in touch with the calendar, but only very loosely. I was looking forward to writers group tonight, but discovered that Cheryl-Anne is in Tuscany this week, and I thought "already?" I better look at the calendar. I looked. My palms began to sweat. Here I am, 16 days to go to my big trip. This is what is on my sewing table: 1) a new bag for my trip, not a duffle but a totally new design for a travel bag. 2) a small bag for my mom, also a new design for the trip - a couple of prototypes done already, but still not finalized. 3) several skirts and tops I want for myself for the trip. going with simplicity patterns for these. already have fabric. 4) Caleb's cowl cloak - design in my head, fabric ready. 5) 4 new baby change pad bags - 1 already sold and 3 for the shop. 6) Finishing up for the release of the stocking pattern. 7) Oh, and some duffles, the black and white houndstooth and a new houndstooth in browns to be ready to ship in the shop. 8) an office chair slip cover that I hope to finish and ship today. Seems like a lot for 2 weeks. I will just take it one day at a time. If anyone who reads this blog was thinking about placing a custom duffle order with me before Christmas, I can still handle those. I will be taking slipcovers out of the line-up until after Christmas. I think it's my only chance at sanity.

Friday, October 15, 2010

my catalog page


my catalog page
Originally uploaded by studiocherie
Here is an easier way to see it. I can hardly wait to run through the JoAnn's exclaiming, "It's here! It's here! The new catalog is here!And I am in it! I am somebody. Things are going to start happening to me now!" -Steve Martin fans will recognize this.

Madonna Stocking


Madonna Stocking
Originally uploaded by studiocherie
I love the artwork on this fabric. This will be my new Christmas stocking. There are more stockings to see in my Flickr stream, if you click on the photo, you will be taken there. I have got to set the pattern aside for a day or two, while I get a slipcover out the door. Pretty soon, I am going to have to take the made to order items out of my shop for a while, so I can get ready for my trip and be gone for 3 weeks. I have a lot of sewing I want to do for myself. Those projects will include pattern reviews which I am looking forward to writing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Page in the Simplicity Catalog

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Simplicity sent me this today. It comes out in the catalog December 17th. I hope they sell a million of them. I don't know why it looks so small here, but here is a link to Adobe where you can see it larger.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Chilling Tale

Caution: if you have a weak stomach or a delicate mind, please don't read the following story. When I read this at writers group, I felt like I had just sucked all of the air out of the room.
Coming in from the garage, the house was eerily quiet. And dark. Must be the change of season. I am just not used to the early sunset. I flick on a light to guide me toward the kitchen. My eyes climb the stairs while I stand in the doorway. A habit I never would have noticed had it not been for the glistening deep red bloody stump of a severed head waiting at the top of the stairs. Looking back on it now, it's as though my brain sat pickling in a jar on the kitchen counter: the only witness to my body as it moved quickly to pack the grotesque head in paper and dispose of it in the garbage can. It was instinct that powered my limbs, not reason. My body acted in reflex. "Protect them," the auto-pilot of all mothers. From its sickening perch, my brain spoke to me: "It will be picked up tomorrow. No one will know. No one has seen."
As in a dream, my brain watched as I washed my hands and began preparing dinner. The knife rocked over vegetables on the cutting board. I blinked hard to erase the vision of cutting off my own fingers. Butter, garlic, carrots, onion and celery seemed a mile away in the bottom of the stock pot. The boys will be home soon. Some hot soup will do us all good. I tried to act normal.
To be continued...
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Christmas Stocking Preview

The burlap bags I made are some of the most popular photos in my Flickr photos, which made me think "What would I make with that same technique that I would use?" Here it is. The stockings are fully lined and have a really nice body to them. There is a ton of great Christmas fabric out there right now. The fabrics shown are all from Sew Easy Too which is a local fabric shop. Online, I found a shop in CT with a lot of choices, I just bought this nutcracker print from them to make Caleb's stocking. I am jamming to get this pattern out ASAP to give people plenty of time to make them. Our mantle is getting a makeover this year. I will have a few finished stockings to sell in my Etsy shop too.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Pattern Released Today


After waiting about 18 months or so - enough time to have 2 babies - not that I had any babies - the sewing pattern to make the zippered version of my compact travel changing pad bag is out! I think it was worth the wait because there is so much better about it as a product now than a year or two ago. There is a long adjustable strap option, so it can go from fanny pack to cross body and everything in between. The way the corners come together is innovative and I am pretty excited to show it off. I have included printable packaging too, so when you give this as a gift (or sell them - cottage licensing agreement also included,) you can include folding instructions and a little blurb that tells all about how to use it. I am just as excited about this pattern as I was when I originally invented the product in December of 2006. Obviously, I am too tied up to make a bunch of these for boutiques, but I think somebody should. I do have a small selection of baby shower gifts here for those of you who do not sew.
Next up is beautiful burlap Christmas stockings. Yes, I did say beautiful and burlap in the same sentence. I am working on them now. I have no natural light today, otherwise I would give you a preview. I was shooting for today on those, but it looks like Monday. Pray for some sunshine for me.

Inspired by Hoodwinked


Inspired by Hoodwinked
Originally uploaded by studiocherie
For those of you who have not seen the movie, I will tell you Hoodwinked is the Red Riding Hood Story told from everyone's perspective - plus some twists. As I watched it with my daughter recently, I suggested Red's costume for Gabrielle this year. She enthusiastically agreed. An hour later, including the trip to the fabric store for a yard of red broadcloth, she was skipping around in this cape. My free tutorial showing how I made it will be posted today at the SewMamaSew Blog. If you sew, you will love that blog.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Half inch of Cuteness

This is a detail photo of a changing pad bag I sent off the other day. Releasing the pattern for how to make the zippered version of the compact travel change pad bag (maybe I need a more compact name for it?) this week. While I am at it, I am including instructions for how to make the long adjustable strap version too. This really is the coolest baby shower gift ever invented. I hope a lot of new moms are blessed with one this year. - But I don't want to make them all. Ha, Ha. That is why the pattern is releasing. As much as I love making these, I have to move on with my travel stuff. I leave November 4th for Israel, and I can't be caught carrying something I did not make myself.

Monday, October 4, 2010

1967 Buick Gran Sport Coupe

I was inspired by some of the gals at writers group who have written stories of their childhood or adolescence. Here is my contribution. A chapter from my own coming of age story:
Rob had curly hair and a prominent nose. He had a big smile too. I also remember his hands how huge and strong they felt when they threw me off the dock at the lake. You know that statue of David? He looked just like that only shorter...and tan. He had a great tan. For some adolescent reason, it was my pleasure to insult Rob. He must have been a glutton for punishment, because he asked me out on a date one Summer evening. Frankly, I was shocked. Out of that dangerous combination of confusion and boredom that comes with being 17, I said "yes."
Rob drove a 1967 Buick Gran Sport Coupe. It was a large, powerful car. Everyone called it the green machine. Inside the green machine, I felt very small. I slid into a kind of private panic. I knew I was in over my head. My banter was weak. The engine rumbled almost drowning the sound of the gravel as we prowled slowly though the drive-in in search of the perfect parking spot. I thought we were pretty far away from the screen, but I didn't say anything. I sat with the seat belt secured across my lap while he went for popcorn and soda. The movie had no discernible dialogue which made me wonder about Rob's IQ. It turns out he had not chosen the drive-in theater for what was playing, but rather for what he wanted to play. He put his arm around me and moved closer. I unbuckled so I could scootch to my right, pretending to be engrossed by Quest for Fire. He did it again. I did it again. Again. Again. Eventually, I was up against the door, his big nose was hard against mine. His teeth, which were so beautiful when he smiled, seemed hungry now just behind his lips. In a panic and unable to speak, I opened the door and fell
out of the car. He got out on his side, and ran over to help me up off of the gravel, asking if I was okay. His brown eyes were kind as they looked into mine. Then he took me home.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Antique Dealer Video Portrait

Every once in a while there is a sweet video portrait posted on Etsy's blog that I turn around and share here. Watching a video like this, I am mindful of the day a filmmaker will show up and make my life look fascinating. This is for my friends who love to treasure hunt. You know who you are. Enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

When I had nothing original to say...

...and it had a refreshing effect. Just because I have not written doesn't mean I would miss a single meeting of the minds at writers group. On one such occasion, I brought some quotes to read which were passed on to me by Etsy's new blog editor, Juliet Gorman. I believe these are words that have the power to inspire and revive you as they have done for me and my friends. When you start to feel a little overwhelmed, read them again. Here you go:
"I understand [hope] above all as a state of mind, not a state of the world… Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but, rather, an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed… Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."
- Vaclav Havel



"There is a sense in which every time you choose to do something new you are going to be reborn. And if you do this well, each time up, every time you do a new story, and even if it's just going down to do the parade, or talk to the mayor, or whatever... each time up, small or large, is a little challenge. And it asks you to look and listen very, very closely, and find the thing that you pick out, that you notice, that bounces out of the situation and hits your heart or your head or makes you angry or makes you sad or makes you suspicious, and everything then becomes very personal. And if you do this well, even if you are working in an organization which doesn't want you to be personal, and wants you sounds like "the others," the secret thing you do is you sound "sort of" like the others, but you put in a little bit of your heart somewhere in there. Just a little. And if it's there, it's like a marker. It's the IOU to your soul. And sometimes they let you sing loudly, and sometimes you have to sing soft. But you keep singing, you never, ever stop."
- Robert Krulwich



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Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Musings Number 8

Hard to believe I am in my 8th week here of sharing from my writers group. We had some fun conversation after this story.
The waif who befriended Caleb seemed harmless enough. He invited her home as I was preparing dinner. She had a hungry look we could not turn away, and we welcomed her to join the family gathered in the kitchen. She gratefully accepted food, but not too much. Surprisingly charming and polite. Not needy as I would have guessed by her looks. Beautiful and well-mannered, but still a stranger. We allowed her into our lives a little at a time. We felt our home offered her a much needed rest. Over the next couple of weeks, this green eyed brunette became our house guest and occasional companion. Before any of us was completely comfortable with the situation, we had to leave her alone for the week end. Free to come and go in our home. Knowing a little of her wild past, I was not totally surprised at the state of our family room when we came home. The evidence of her revelry was quite obvious. Feathers littered the carpet, and in one corner, there was a sparrow's wing. Apparently, our new cat likes the dry food we give her, but she needs some wet food too.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Crafting in Color Random things I love


Asters and applique, combine them and you got me. Japanese fabric! In fact I got some in the mail yesterday and can hardly wait to turn it into something. Emery pin cushions, love. Small bowls. I find them irresistable for organizing. Finger puppets, any puppets, as long as they are cute. If you have never entertained kids with puppets, put it on your to-do list, it is awesome. Beadwork and recycling combined, wow! Love all of Christines stuff.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Working with brides


Seems like a lot of the brides I have been working with on Etsy are getting their bridesmaid dresses at J.Crew. This makes it great for sending them a little collage that shows the dress they already picked along side my fabric recommendations for clutches. If you make other wedding related items, like the gorgeous brooch bouquet by LionsgateDesigns shown in my collage, I think you can use the collage feature on Picnik the same way I do. Just right click the photo of the dresses they are wearing, and save it to your computer. Do the same for any fabric swatch photos or other accessories you want to recommend. Upload those photos to Picnik. Click on collage, choose your layout, and drag and drop the photos into the layout. Click "done." Save the collage as a photo and email it or attach to an Etsy convo. I think it is a very impressive way to communicate with your potential customers.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Pattern Released Today

I found that trying to fit this project and the other 2 or three that are coming into my current zippered pouches pattern was cumbersome. So I have released it as a separate pattern. There is enough different going on with this that I needed to write a new set of instructions for it, and so it is a new pattern. My original plan was to have a zip pouches A-Z pattern, and maybe someday Simplicity will roll them all together into one package. For now, to go A-Z with zipper pouches with me will require 3 patterns. If you already have Zip Pouches A to S, I will refund $2.00 from your purchase of Zip Pouch for 3 Ring Binder. When the next pattern comes out (the large shampoo pouch and the wristlet,) I will offer something similar. I will also bundle them as a 3 pattern set for a better price than the 3 of them separately. I think by offering them separately I am also able to reach the people who would only be interested in one of the projects. Hope that makes sense. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

The Group Dynamic

I wrote something that describes the dynamic of our Writers Group. We all had a good laugh when I read it and we recognized ourselves. Cheryl-Anne tends to use food metaphors. After reading the touching obituary she posted the other day, I understand more. Here is my piece:
I feel like a big slice of ham, sandwiched between Julia and Mary-Anne's nourishing breads, Kathleen's juicy tomatoes, and Char's variety of condiments so essential to the flavor of an American life. Cheryl-Anne is here to remind us that salt and pepper are still the best spices. And there is not a cream puff among us. (I brought cream puffs to share with everyone that night.)
I look forward to Monday nights and sharing in the lives of these women. I watch as we all get to know ourselves better as we reveal our stories on paper. I accept that I am the ham. I see now that I always have been...
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Crafting in Color Team


This team has such a variety of talents. It refreshes me to know that women all over the world are expressing themselves in these beautiful ways and (in some cases) supporting their families with their crafting talents.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Selling Personalized Products


Occasionally I come across an item on Etsy with my name on it, literally. It makes me think, "Wow! They made that just for me." Even the first letter of a persons name can have that effect. Personalization is such a powerful selling tool, that it appears as a trend in (correct me if I am wrong) every Etsy merchandising report. If you search Etsys Blog for the word "personalization," you get 4 pages of results. Does this have your attention yet?
Ronda asked a great question on my last blog post. What are the most popular monograms? I think the best resource is to be found here at Parents.com. There is a search by country for current popular names (if you make baby items) or in the US by decade of the most popular baby names. If you are selling on Etsy, I think you will find the majority of your buyers will have been born in the 1980's. For my sample photo that I showed on yesterdays blog post, I chose my monograms based on my own gut feeling for what is popular among my own customers. All five of my guesses are in the top 40 most popular names. (Insert back pat here) Looking at the actual list of most popular 1980's names, I think I would have done a little better to replace the C and the K with a J and an A. If you are making a pile of them to go in a boutique (as I suggested yesterday,) find out from the owner the average age of their shopper and go for the top names from that decade. I think the boutique owner will be pleasantly surprised at the impulse buying you can create at a register with some well-placed personalization.
The beauty of personalization on Etsy, is that you can create an inventory of your most popular item, add the initial or message after it is ordered, and still ship in a timely manner. It will be most helpful to shoppers if you show examples in your shop of what their item will look like with a message or an initial on it. That may take some investment on your part to make the sample items. Consider making them for gift giving yourself this year and photograph your gifts as samples. I hope these thoughts and the related items spark your creativity and help you offer personalization that brings more business to your shop in the coming months.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monogrammed Keyring Coin Pouches

Some marketing ideas for those of you who have the zippered pouch pattern. I will not have time to do all of this myself, but I hope some of you go to town with it. I picture these as an impulse buy at a boutique register. If you have been wanting to offer wholesale to get into a brick and mortar shop you love, something small and simple might be the trick. As customers stand at the register, they see their initial and just have to buy it. The impulse price point will vary depending upon the boutique. I suggest you offer a 10 pack for the shop owner to try out the idea, and include a basket or some other container that coordinates with the shop decor.
These would also make great co-worker gifts. Never forget your parking meter change because it is on your keyring.
These are made from my zip pouches pattern. I omitted the snap pocket to simplify the cutting and sewing. The monograms are made separately and I can add them using fabric glue, after the customer has chosen the initial. A boutique would tell you up front what initials they want.