Wednesday, June 30, 2010

5 Reasons To Buy Handmade

I often wonder what holds people back from purchasing handmade goods. Is it fear of poor quality? Is it because of budget issues? Is it because they think handmade goods are tacky or lacking in style?

But, I don't need to convince you to buy handmade. If you are here, then we are of the same tribe! We understand the upside of purchasing handmade pieces. So, how do we convert the masses who might be a little more apprehensive?

I've put together a few little nudges you can throw out to friends who might not be on the bandwagon with us. These are just little thoughts to keep in your backpocket until the perfect time arises to drop them into conversations with friends.

1. Handmade pieces are generally pretty unique. They are the kind of things that you can't find in major stores. It's the upcycled dress that turns everyone's head. It's the fabulous, one of a kind piece of jewelry that your friends will covet. It's that avant-guard piece of artwork that you could never have made by yourself in a million years. "Handmade" is head turning, conversation starting and totally hip and cool.

2. Buying handmade directly supports someone who is running their own business and trying to make a "go" of it. They may be struggling. They have probably invested a lot much time and money into their passion. They may have a growing family. Your purchase gets them further along on their path of success. And who doesn't love the feeling of success? How great is it to give that to someone?

3. Buying handmade supports artists on so many levels. If you're an artist, you know that each sale brings you so much for than the monetary benefits. Each sale validates you as an artist and let's you know that you're on the right path. I'm reminded of Sally Field's Academy Award acceptance speech. "You like me! You really like me!" It's an unparalleled rush.

4. Handmade items are usually made with better quality control than things you could buy at the big stores. Yes, sometimes it might be a little more money but the quality is generally going to be something that makes this item last for a long time. I grew up with handmade items and have even passed them on to my children! My kids are playing with handmade toys from 30 years ago. Talk about passing the test of time!

5. The handmade pieces of today are not the handmade pieces from your grandma's time. At a local craft fair you're going to see fewer crocheted toilet paper cozies in the shape of pink poodles and a lot more quirky, humorous screenprinted tees. You'll see fun, fabulous and thoughtful toys for your kids. You'll find a huge variety of eco-friendly homegoods that fit perfectly into your new, green lifestyle.

And you're not just going to see passive Grannies sitting around knitting booties! You're going to mix and mingle with some of the most vibrant and creative minds in the arts industry. These folks are out there, in the trenches, making their dreams come true and making amazing items for people just like you. These are the movers and shakers of our generation!

Just a little side note, I'd die to have the crocheted toilet paper cozy in the shape of a pink poodle that I remember from my grandmother's bathroom about 35 years ago. Also, I've seen some incredibly cool and hip grandma's knitting at craft shows. These gals have it goin' on!

There are so many reasons to buy handmade. As believers, we can take it on ourselves to teach others the benefits of supporting artists and buying quality, awesome, handmade pieces for themselves. It brings nothing but good to all.

So, get out there and get talking! The handmade revolution starts with you!

All photos are from the fabulous Handmade Mart in Silver Spring, MD. Find out more info about their shows here.

*Photo credits - All photos copyright Dots, Lines and Polygons via Flickr

Magnets by Sweet Paperie
Bags by Penelope Parker
Monsters by Charm City Craft Mafia member Cotton Monster
Street Scene at Handmade Mart
Debbie & Kim, Handmade Mart organizers
Soap by 8th Street Soap Kitchen

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Life Through Pictures

A bit of a different post today...

I stumbled across a story online from The New York Times about a man named Jamie Livingston. Just a regular guy, like you or I.

He took one polaroid photo every day for 18 years. They are photos that might not be incredibly interesting as single images, but when combined, they create a patchwork of life.... Jamie's self portraits, him hanging out with friends, the engagement ring he bought and the days where it seems he had no inspiration at all.

The images form into a crescendo for me when they begin to show us his journey through illness. Hospitals, incisions... it's enough to turn a fairly light hearted collection of daily images into a very personal diary of sorts.

We see him struggle. We see him laugh. We see him deteriorate. And, ultimately, the images come to an end.

It's a huge body of work. Eighteen years of photos everyday. What a commitment, what a statement.

It makes me wonder what my life would look like in snapshots. How about the lives that I'm creating for my children?

What would your polaroid a day look like? What would your collection say as a whole?

To see more of the Photo A Day Project and learn more about Jamie Livingston, please visit

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Building Your Business Into An Empire

I recently sent a tweet out into the universe that was meant to be a little tongue in cheek comment on how busy I am and how many new business ideas are barraging into my brain from who knows where. But the more I thought about the tweet and received messages about it, the more I realized how much strength that message had.

The tweet was, "Busy today building an empire. It's exhausting work but what's a girl to do?!"

It's an interesting thought... are you just plugging along, taking your business day by day? Or are you making a conscious decision everyday to make steps towards a larger picture? I find myself busy with the daily duties of having my own business but then in spurts I find myself making huge strides to further this burgeoning business.

What are some ideas that you've had in the back of your head that might further or expand your business? What BIG ideas have you been putting off because of fear or intimidation that it might be too much for you to handle?

Here's a few suggestions that might get your creativity rolling... a few ideas to expand and grow your empire!

* Could you turn your art into greeting cards, gift wrap, collage sheets, buttons, pocket mirrors?
* Do you have great information to offer business owners that could be transformed into a booklet or e-book?
* Could you turn your love of knitting or crochet into wall art instead of just wearables?
* Could you make smaller versions of your handbags to be used as change purses, wallets?
* How could you expand your product line to cover a larger span of price points? Maybe add some more expensive pieces and more affordable ones as well?
* Does your product line have a cohesive look or would your customers be drawn to a more eclectic collection of work?
* Do you use all social media outlets to reach potential customers?
* How could you better package or present your goods for shops and/or shows?
* What is your customer's experience when receiving an order from you? How could you use that moment to make a more meaningful connection with them?
* Are your product descriptions memorable and creative?
* Why would someone want to buy from you? What makes you different from every other vendor out there?
* What questions might your customers have when reading your online item descriptions and how can you answer those questions to "seal the deal?"
* Where do you want your business to go? How big can you get before you need to hire help? Is that a feasible option for you right now?

The list could go on and on! There are endless ways to expand and grow your small business into an empire. From grounding and firming up your creative vision, solidifying the face of your business, expanding your product lines and flooding the online social outlets in a non-offensive or pushy way... these are all wonderful ways to excite the public about your business, and ultimately, you.

Do you have any great ideas about marketing, production, growth, advertising etc that you'd like to share? I'd love to hear all the ways that you are taking steps toward building your empire!

Photo credit - AntKriz via flickr Creative Commons

Monday, June 14, 2010

Open Up The Door And Then You're Free

May you boldly step into the world today! Go make something happen!

Photo credits -
Door and Handles by Will Michael Photography - $30.00
Open It by Cactus Huggers - $30.00
White Windows 02 by Beautiful Dark Light - $20.00

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Robins Egg Blue Beauties

On a hot and humid night like this, I am really dreaming of cool, casual and pretty fashion. If this heat is going to continue tomorrow, I'll be dreaming of wearing this fabulous dress by Out Of Line. Made of comfortable cotton jersey, it can be tied in the front or the back. Gorgeous! $120.00

Tiffany chiffon and ivory organza blossom hair clip from Percy Handmade $24.00

Spring Rain amazonite teardrop earrings from Linkel Designs $16.00

Hope it's nice and cool where you are tonight! Have a happy week!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Come Clean In A Pool Of Fire - Friday Finds

Sometimes the only way to find yourself on the other side of a difficult situation is to walk right through the middle of it. You'll emerge on the other side, maybe a little burned, slightly scarred but alive and ready to live.

(Above) "Fall On Fire" fine art print by Life's A Menagerie - $30.00

Firestarter Earrings by Black Owl Jewelry - $20.00

Acacia (tree of life) oil painting from Sheri Wiseman - $30.00

"Playing With Fire" photo reproduction by Peace House - $18.00

"And She Rose From The Heat" kaleidoscope print from The Painted Lily - $30.00

This Friday Finds was inspired by a lyric from this amazing SheDaisy song, "Repent. Check it out right here...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sweet Relief For Artists

As someone who works with their hands, I am always looking for ways to keep mine moisturized and nourished. Working with stone just tears up my skin. Digging through stacks and stacks of stone tiles leaves my skin sore and dry. The sealers that I use require that I wash my hands often and it always leaves my skin dry, even after using a good soap and moisturizer. It's an ongoing battle that is often quite painful.

On a recent trip to Lowe's, the home improvement store, I was standing in line and saw a product that caught my eye.

It's packaging is great for standing out in the crowd of "impulse buys" that populate the checkout lines everywhere.

But it's not the brightly colored packaging that proved to be the genius of this product. I was feeling brave and took the chance that it might actually be THE product that would work for my dry and sore skin. And, let me just say... that IT WAS.

I've never tried a healing moisturizer quite like this one. O'Keeffe's boasts that it boosts your skin's ability to heal, rather than just work like other short term moisturizers. And, it works. I've used Working Hands for two full days now and I can see an immense difference in the serious trouble spots on my hands. They have improved by at least 60% and that's only after two days!

The O'Keeffe moisturizing/healing product line was the brain child of Tara O'Keeffe over 25 years ago. Her father, a California/Oregon border rancher, was constantly plagued with sore, dry and cracked hands and feet from all the rough work on the farm. Tara's degree in pharmaceuticals prepared her perfectly to create a product that no giant cosmetic company ever could... one that would help her dad and heal millions of working hands.

O'Keeffe's offers other products specifically for cracked feet and for skin exposed to the elements. If they are anywhere as good as this one for hands, I highly recommend them.

Check out O'Keeffe's online here!

Hands photo credit - Horia Varlan via flickr Creative Commons
O'Keeffe's Healing Hands photo - via

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

My Happy Birthday Bucket List...

Another year has passed and I am, once again, celebrating the day I was brought into this world. It's always a time of reflection. I think about what it must have been like for my parents on the day I was born, compare it to the memories that I have of my children's not so distant births. I think about my memories of some of my favorite birthdays and many of the wonderful and exciting things I've done in my life. I remember all the places I've been and things I've done that I never dreamed in a million years would happen to me... I rode an elephant in the circus, Michael Jackson serenaded me, I saw my name in lights on the Las Vegas strip alongside my husband/best friend, I called a chimpanzee named Tarzan my friend, I traveled the world, I performed for thousands and thousands of people and finally settled down, became an artist and had three amazing children to complete the puzzle. And that's just in the first 29 years (ok.. so I'm a few years older than 29. Gimme a break.)

And, inevitably, any birthday sends my thoughts to how quickly the years have passed. I look in the mirror and see the wrinkles slowly starting to form (I'm happy to say that they include wonderful lines from the many laughs I've had in my life!) and the gray hairs peeking through my dark ones. I won't hide them. It's a conversation I just had with my sister today about how it's just who I am and who I'll become. I will embrace it along with all the other signs of getting older as they creep in. I'm passionate about being that woman with FABULOUS gray hair.

It leads me to think how many birthdays will I have left? How many more years do any of us have? It's a frightening, yet empowering thought.

So, maybe it's time to create my bucket list. You know, that cultural phenomenon term that became popular from the movie of the same title a few years back? It's the list of things you want to do before you ... die. There, I said it. Yeah.

I'm not ready to share mine yet. Mostly because it will probably never be finished. It's barely even started. Certainly not put down on paper. But it's forming in my mind... a mental checklist of opportunities I want to make for myself, wild things that I HAVE to do to feel like I've really lived. It's something that maybe we should all ponder on our birthdays, or any day.

Feel like sharing what's on your list? I'll post a few of mine if you share a few of yours? You first! :)

Photo credit - Lady Lbrty via flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

My Workspace

Originally uploaded by Painted Lily
Just thought I'd share a quick shot of my workspace. I think it's important to surround yourself with an organized and inspiring space in which to create. I won't say that mine is always organized but I do like to keep things around that inspire me! Click on the picture to head over to my flickr stream and see notes about all the things you see here.

I'd love to see the places you've created to inspire you! Please share your link in the comments or email me pics that I might post here to!

Tapping Into Your Creative Strength

I'm so inspired to write/read about creativity and ways to tap into your creative flow lately. I think so many artists and creative thinkers hit a wall from time to time, allowing stress or life or just "something" to stop their brain and heart from working together to create new ideas and projects.

That's where I am right now... I have orders backing up, with more coming in everyday. I've been doing a pretty good job keeping on top of orders and cranking them out at an alarming speed for how long my process takes. But yesterday, I just couldn't do it. I couldn't look at another stone coaster, sign and mat another collage print, prime another canvas... heck, I couldn't even bring myself to unload my car from this past Sunday's art exhibit.

While surfing the web I found this article from about ways to get your creative juices flowing and it really hit a chord with me. I realized that I needed to change it up... do something different, recharge myself in some way.

So, I took a vacation just to clear my mind. Ok... so I checked my email, my shop and twitter a few times! But NO work in the studio.

I spent the day with my kids. We played in the sun. My little boy swung in his new baby swing and felt the grass on his tiny toes for the first time. We took a long walk and ate way too many popsicles. We watched a kids' movie, had mac and cheese for dinner and snuggled on the couch until bedtime. It was refreshing!

I must admit that the stress started to creep in again as I checked my email only to find more orders but I just pushed it out of my mind and focused on freeing myself from it.

And, I think it worked! I woke up this morning feeling generally refreshed and ready to work. I even developed two new ideas yesterday while on the walk with my kids. Two new product ideas is HUGE!

Now, to find the time to work on them!

What's your greatest way to recharge or find those few golden moments of creativity a day? How do you keep it from getting "old?" I'll pick my favorite suggestion and send you a package of Painted Lily goodies just to say thank you for the inspiration! :)