I have been investing so much time into quilting lately, that a fast and simple project was just what I needed today! It was a good reminder too, how refreshing it can be to change the pace sometimes and avoid getting into a creative rut of doing the same things each day. I just got this organic thermal cotton a couple of weeks ago, and decided to try dyeing it with my last batch of muslin to see how it would hold the dye. I was thrilled with the result! It has such a nice weight and drape, and is SO super soft. I never thought of using it as a backing for blankets or quilts until recently, when it came out so pretty after dyeing. I also had some of my own designs that I had been holding onto for a while, not sure what to do with them, when I started getting restless with this thermal and really wanted to make something with it. I liked the grey and aqua flying cats print the best and decided they needed to be paired together, but I just couldn’t shake this feeling…What would you call it?….Oh yes. Sweat. I am sweating all day every day. It’s June in Georgia, and I just couldn’t go for one more thick, hot, full-blown quilt. So what came from this 90+ degree inspiration? These lightweight, single layer, thin cotton blankets. The perfect solution to the summertime nights! They are roughly the size of a crib quilt, measuring 33″ x 55″ and are made with a classy rolled hem out of GOTS certified organic cotton, high thread count sateen. Once things start cooling down again, they can be used as flat sheets on a toddler bed as well, or if you are REALLY using your imagination, they can be used in your next amazing couch fort or to create an instant secret hideout under the table. Easy breezy. I added some new prints, in addition to the grey and aqua flying cats to the Etsy shop today, for fitted sheets and changing pad covers. I would tell you how I got the idea for a flying cat fabric, but that story is for another day. Cheers!
I feel like I am living in the kitchen these days!! The veggies are coming in, and between preserving the excess and cooking meals, it is a big investment of time. I have been hitting the local farmer’s markets of Jenny Jack Sun Farms pretty heavily and my parents have lots to share with us as well. Our own garden is lagging behind a little (ok, a lot!) but it has been producing a ton of bell and cayenne peppers, a few squash, and the corn has started to tassel! We made pickles the other day with all of the cucumbers, bruschetta salad with fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic, fried the heck out of some okra (I had it leftover cold for breakfast this morning and it was like a guilty pleasure!), and finally got the tomatoes canned today. This is just the first wave of tomatoes that have come in, but I wanted to go ahead and get a head start on the canning since I use tomatoes for practically everything from soup to chili to pizza sauce. I have also made two batches of fresh pesto and frozen the excess to use later. I can’t get enough basil this time of year. So yeah, it’s like a different kind of crafting, this summer time harvest thing. Fresh meals, planned around what was recently collected, in such a way that the kids eat it all up too can be a challenge, but an awesome and rewarding one. I am lucky to have friends and family who kindly share recipes and tips on what to do with it all! Here is my Bruschetta Salad recipe for those of you that are interested!
1 pound of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 big bunch of fresh basil (I like a lot of basil in mine, so you might want to cut back if you don’t)
1 large clove garlic, chopped fine
2 T extra virgin olive oil (or less if you want…I like mine a little heavy on the oil)
salt and pepper to taste
Stir all ingredients gently, then before serving, add 2 T of crumbled goat cheese and stir gently to mix. Fresh and delicious, and a great use for all those cherry tomatoes! Enjoy!
We don’t make a big deal out of the holidays here at the Goodwins’. Ok, except Christmas. We have an “Every day is Father’s Day” or “Every day is Mother’s Day” philosophy for the most part. In all honesty, Josh and I are both enjoying a day of focused work, and will probably splurge on dinner at a pizza dive with the kids to get a break from cooking dinner. But in honor of Father’s Day, I thought I would share one of my favorites of Josh’s works. These hand carved crystal grids are truly a labor of love. Each circle is burned one at a time, and I love seeing the full grid come to life as he spends hours folded over the blank grid in his lap. They come in a variety of different sizes, ranging from 6 inches to 18 inches, and can be made from any type of wood, the most popular being oak or pecan. The larger the grid, the more circles, the more complicated the crystal configuration becomes. They feature circles burned into a sacred geometry pattern, where crystals are placed at the intersection of each circle to enhance the unique properties of each type of crystal, and to amplify the effects during meditation. I chose this item to feature today, because “rocks” (as I call them) are something Josh finds a lot of joy in. As he has shared his affinity for them with us, we have all come to love them as well. Coincidentally, (is there really such a thing?) last night we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning introducing our oldest to the magical properties of rocks, minerals, and crystals…A fitting start to a great Father’s Day and the Summer’s Solstice, surrounded by rock collections, researching their effects, and sharing stones from our own personal collections with him to start his own unique collection. I like to change my arrangement of rocks whenever I get in a “funk” and I find that the beauty of them alone is uplifting. The crystal grids are available through Josh’s Etsy shop, and the stones come from our good friend Debby Blake Knox. She sells the stones and does a variety of classes and workshops with them for beginners and seasoned rock collectors alike. Click here to see her Facebook page, Moonstone Wellness, or the crystal grid photo with the stones that she took with her own grid to see her website. Have a wonderful Solstice!
We have been featured in an online (do they call those e-books?) book that is called The Handmade Entrepreneur, written by Dani Marie! I was contacted by this really sweet lady a few months ago, and did an online interview with her. It is pretty cool to see that we have made it into the final copy! This book has only been available on Amazon for two days, and already has some five star reviews for being very easy to navigate, and full of great insider tips on how to make it on any online platform, not just Etsy. It is all about getting your hand made items out into the world in an inviting, engaging way, to build a successful online business. I am totally honored to be featured in the photography chapter of the book! Who knows who might see this book and find us as a result!! Thanks Dani! You can see her blog at www.howtosellcraftsonline.com or check out the book on Amazon by clicking the picture. High FIVE!!
It started as a simple craft done at the kitchen table. The kids had been given this gingerbread man cutout that was laminated so they could bring it home and trace it, play with it, make more gingerbread men…You get the idea. But this made them want to make other shapes that they then traced and colored, like the gingerbread man. There came from this simple day of play, a collection of rhinos. Large and small, bright and bold, with fierce horns, and bowed heads. Some even had two heads…one on each side! (Just to represent the monstrous side of things!!) They were so precious. The kids cut them out, colored them, and turned them into puppets with popsicle sticks. Like many things born in this way, they were all too soon forgotten, having fallen under the table, or stuck behind a chair, and they were no longer interested in playing with them. That is when my inspiration struck!
You see, I had been experimenting with fabric design, and playing around with my own doodles for a couple of weeks, trying to get the hang of the graphic nature of online fabric design. In a moment of brilliance, I saw these sweet, disregarded rhinos for what they were…Complete and total inspiration! My kids might have been finished with them, but I was only getting started. I deconstructed the popsicle stick version, and layed them out on a white surface to photograph, and the rest is history. I now have a collection of ten or so fabric designs, all featuring the rhino stick puppet cut outs. I love them. When I look at them, I am instantly happy, rejuvenated, and transported back to that magical day. I know it was a magical day because I have tried over and over to recreate the experience with no luck whatsoever. They can tell I am onto them now, and like the tap-dancing, singing frog, they just sit there and ribbit at me when I suggest in my most cheerful voice, “Who wants to make some stick puppets with a new animal today!?” I know it will come back around one day, but for now, I am utterly smitten and happy with our little rhino collection.
Each time an item sells with the fabric they helped design, I tell them about it, and give them a little cash for their piggy banks. It has become a source of pride and joy for them to see their drawings made into something lasting and tangible.
Then one day a few months ago, I receive this letter through Etsy:
I am a Zookeeper with the Toronto Zoo and I am organizing a fundraiser through our AAZK committee to help raise money for Rhino Conservation! Last year we were able to raise over $17,000!
We are currently looking for any Rhino related items that companies/ organizations would be willing to donate as auction items for our event! All funds go directly towards the facilities that support Rhino Conservation!
If you would consider donating a Rhino blanket I also have an official letter I could send you along with more information need be!
We REALLY appreciate every little donation and will definitely advertise what companies donated items for our auction in hopes that it would also help you get more business!
I hope to hear from you soon and am happy to answer any questions you may have!
I thought that was so awesome. Awesome in so many ways…the conservation of rhinos? CHECK! The pleasure of meaningful donations? CHECK! Getting our family business all the way out to Toronto? CHECK! And my favorite one of all…Talking to my daughter about the significance of this project? Check. I let her read the letter and asked her what she thought. She does have a sense of ownership over these blankets and quilts with her drawings on them, and if I was to give one away, I wanted to know how she felt about that. It meant I wouldn’t get paid for it, which would mean she wouldn’t get any dollars for her piggy bank either. Did she even hesitate for one, single second?! Of course she didn’t. She thought it was amazing and awesome too. We looked into the organization together and did some rhino research, and we became even more aware of the issue than we already were. When I shipped the blanket off to Toronto, I made sure she knew it was on the way, and we celebrated the moment together.
I guess the moral of the story here is this…You never know where an idea will take you. You never know what small thing will one day become a very big and important thing. You never know when a laminated gingerbread man made from blue construction paper and sent home in your child’s school folder will change the way you do business. You just never know, and isn’t that amazing! Now I see rhinos everywhere. Mostly they are sad stories about poaching, or declining populations, but I hear them. I am aware of them, and I donate to the cause as I am able because it feels like the right thing to do…and the kids think so too!
Today’s featured item is a fun and different way to expose your little ones to music. Featuring notes from only the treble clef of the song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the notes are all correctly rendered and positioned to reflect the tune. It is a whole cloth quilt, meaning that the top of the quilt is not pieced, but consists of one entire cut of fabric. The back is straight black, and it has black binding as well. I wanted the quilt to reflect the simplicity of sheet music, so I chose to only use the white and black colors on this one, although I did an Amazing Grace quilt and added colorful binding, which I preferred once I saw it as a finished project. It is 100% GOTS organic cotton, with organic cotton and bamboo batting inside. I really enjoyed making this quilt, and can see it going in so many cool directions…For example, with someone who writes their own music and wanted to give a personalized quilt as a gift…So funky and unique!! To see the Etsy listing, click here.
Let me start by saying WOW!! Thank you to everyone who has signed up to be a part of our site and get blog updates! I feel totally humbled and grateful, (and to be honest, totally impressed with myself for making a website that anyone would sign up for!!) so thank you for helping to make this effort worth it. I wanted to build a site that would engage folks and let them see a little more about our family business, but I am finding that “I” need a place to share things too. I guess that is really the heart of this blogging world…folks wanting a place to share things. Every time I turn around, I feel like we have gone through so many little milestones, and I’m excited to broaden my “sharing circle”! Just this week, we’ve made it through one summer camp and started another, got a learner’s license for my son, took him driving for the first time, volunteered on a local co-op farm, and I’ve been working like crazy getting ready for my QuiltCon 2016 submissions! I am just dying to share it all! It does take a little more time to get to the blog than it does just to throw a FB update out there, but I find that I have never been good at the little blips…I tend to say nothing at all or everything in my head. I am also a bit of a rambler, as you may have riddled out…So just WOW!! Thanks for signing up!! I guess to say thanks, I will share some beautiful pictures I took of a hike I went on after the first day I dropped my daughter off at Horsey Camp. It was a very reflective day for me because it has become so crystal clear that she is growing up fast…There were a lot of things to think about that day and a hike was just what I needed.
Now, if you were starting to think that maybe you are in the wrong place because you wanted to see lots of cool crafting stuff, and this isn’t what you thought it would be, there will be lots of crafting stuff too! I’m just getting warmed up, and part of this family business is making sure we get lots of family play in there too!
Today’s featured item is a beautiful desk caddy, featuring live edges (meaning uncut and following the natural shape of the tree) and cracks throughout the tree rings that give this piece a ton of character. It has the feeling of having been well loved for a long time, and will comfortably hold lots of tools on your desktop. The wood is chestnut, which is not only a very rare tree in this area, but is also part of the heartwood of the tree, showing the initial growth rings which are so beautiful! This very old tree came to us from downtown Columbus, after it fell in a storm and had to be removed. This hardwood is dark and rich in color, more so than most other woods we have ever worked with. Josh originally made one of these at the request of some very good friends of ours as a gift for her husband who is a graphic designer. They are a great use for “end cuts” of wood, that would otherwise be mulched or used for firewood. I love when a new project can be born from something that would otherwise have had minimal value.
This quilt is one of my new creations of 2015. It features hand dyed organic cotton muslin and wonky, perfectly imperfect circles. What I love about this quilt is that I had never used circles before…Never actually sewn circles, to tell the truth. When I imagined this quilt and drew it out in my notebook, I never thought I would have so much fun with the circles. First, I cut out my large squares and large circles. I cut them all into quarters, and layered the quarter circle on top of the quarter square, and then traced the circle shape onto the square and cut it out. I actually wanted the circles to be wonky and improvisational looking, and was surprised at how uniformly it all turned out, even though I didn’t use a template or anything to trace out my circles! Raspberry Pie, make your big debut!
I was recently asked to do an interview for an e-book, based of some product photography (see picture below). The online interview was kind of fun, so I am posting it here first! Aren’t you lucky! *insert winkie face* To visit her website and see the post visit here.
Q: What methods, if any, do you use to promote your shop? (FB, twitter..ect)
A: I use FB ( www.facebook.com/goodwinscustomcrafts ) and instagram mostly. I don’t use twitter, I’ve just never “gotten” it. We also have a website of our own, where we post galleries of all our past work, and a very loosely put together blog.
Q: Have the recent Etsy changes affected your sales at all?
A: Recent Etsy changes have affected my sales and views. I feel like the rearrangement of the home page and the somewhat obscured position of the “Categories” tab has made it a little harder for people to directly browse items. It seems to hinge much more on social connectivity throughout Etsy now than it did before.
Q: When it comes to photos, have you seen any sort of trend on what kinds of photos best sell your product?
A: Photos? Clear, bright, bold, and no nonsense seems to work best for me. I do like to take a picture of the item “wrapped” so that folks know what to expect when it arrives in the mail.
Q: If someone wanted to start selling their crafts today, what advice would you give them?
A: Selling crafts online today? Be ready to invest, invest, invest! The more time you put in, the more you will get out. And be ready to be flexible with your expectations.
Q: Do you have a website outside of Etsy? If so, do you find it useful?
A: Yes…I am not sure how much traffic goes through the site, but we do have one. www.goodwinscustomcrafts.com I am still very much in the “back and forth” phase of whether or not to sell items from the website, but I do see it going that way in the future as our business grows. Between my husband and I, we actually have FOUR etsy shops, so the website is a place where we can showcase all of our items under one umbrella.
Q: Do you ever hire professional services such as photographers or advertisements?
A: We have never hired professional photographers or advertisers. I have done trades before…items for photos of those items, and that was awesome! I have a Nikon D200 my Dad gave me, so I use that for most of my picture taking myself. An iphone takes a pretty decent picture as well in a pinch!
Q: What first inspired you to make and sell crafts?
A: What first inspired me??? Restless hands and too much free time. Plus, it just sounded like a really fun and challenging thing to try.
Q: As a marketer, I am particularly impressed with your FolksLinen shop because it is fairly new and already has 19 sales. What do you attribute this success to?
A: Folks Linen has surprised me a little too….I think the affordable napkins, at such a friendly price point have helped with some of these first sales. I did sell these items in my other shop www.goodwinscustomcrafts.etsy.com for a long time, but just recently made it into it’s own, independent shop. I think that was a good move for several reasons.
Q: Do you have a “regular job” outside of Etsy?
A: Sometimes I daydream about a “regular” job with a “regular” paycheck, where I get to gossip with co-workers about nothing in particular, then I realize that is 100% crazy, and I get back to work. Most of the time that happens when I need to get up, stretch my legs, and go for a nice walk outside.
Q: Do you sell your products locally?
A: I do sell my products locally on special occasions. I do not frequent weekly markets with my goods because I prefer to sell from home and keep life simple when possible, so I regard these opportunities very carefully, and almost interview the event before I decide if it is a good fit for me personally. I am selling at an event this weekend, actually. It is called Dinner on the Farm and it is a farm-to-table dinner hosted for over 200 people on this rural farm not far from where I live. I am most excited about the food and watching the kids run and play on the farm! We also do a yearly show in December with a good friend of ours who is a potter. We do the show at her country home, very informal, lots of tea, cookies, and conversations. That is my kind of show.
Q: Do you participate in any forums or FB groups (No need to list the names) If so, do you find them helpful?
A: I do participate in only a couple Etsy groups / forums. I also receive the Etys newsletters, and subscribe to their emails. I check them regularly, hoping to see my goods featured on some category headline, which has happened a few times over the years! But it is also just a really good way of keeping in touch with what is hot on Etsy. I don’t follow trends, but I do like to be aware of them.