Sunday, August 30, 2015

Leftover Inspiration

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my work space, sorting through the detritus of previous projects, when I came across some short lengths of round chain.

I love that chain design because it’s really versatile--big but not too big--great for necklaces and bracelets.  But these lengths… Hmmm…  Connected with a jump ring, they’d be a good length for the long earrings that are in style lately.  But, of course, if they’re Bear Chick, they need more color.  

 So, into my bead boxes I go to find some small beads--yeah, purple is perfect.  I connect these with simple loops, then make another unit for the top with a focal bead.  Both the chain and beads sparkle and move when I walk.  Mmmm, the sample pair is mine!!

Once I made the first pair, I had to go out and buy more of the chain to make this design in a color wheel of colors, plus black and crystal.

Click on picture to see earrings on Etsy

Then I had to make an extravagantly long single earring.  Just ‘cause I could.

What leftover craft or art supply, food or ?? has inspired you to make something new?

Look for these earrings on my Etsy and Aftcra shops and if there's a special color you'd like, let me know! 

 C’est La Vie! Do What You Love!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Aftcra--Crafted by American Hands

Aftcra.  A somewhat unwieldy name for a website (it’s an anagram of A Craft) but it’s got a lofty mission--to be a marketplace for handmade arts and crafts made in America.  With Etsy succumbing to the siren call of Big Business (they began public trading in April) and letting their original handmade promise be crushed under the wheels of profit, both buyers and sellers are looking for a virgin venue.

Click on the logo to go to

Click on logo above to go to  

As a seller, I was happy to find Aftcra.  It’s always good to diversify and not have all your products in one market basket.  Etsy has gotten so big and full of cheaply made junk from overseas, that there’s a tendency to feel lost in the shuffle.  It’s sad, because Etsy appears to be the marketing gold standard right now for decorative and personal items but it also seems like buyers are overwhelmed by the sheer number of products returned in a given search and the wide variance of quality and price.  This has been a double edged sword for me, because, even though I’m told that as a seller, I am responsible, to a large extent, for driving customers to my shop, just as I am on Aftcra, I have to say that a lot of my sales on Etsy have been to people who actually did find me through Etsy searches, not my Facebook or Twitter feeds.  What I’m hoping is that Aftcra draws more attention to itself because it’s such a small venue at this point, with more opportunity for the sellers who are giving it a chance to be seen in searches.  And part of their appeal and unclutteredness is that they do not allow vintage items or supplies, so it’s strictly finished goods, thereby lessening the volume of search results for buyers.  A win-win for everyone!

Sea Creature Tassel Necklace - click to see Aftcra listing

Sea Creature Necklace-click on picture to go to Aftcra listing

Could Aftcra go the way of Etsy and get too big for it’s britches?  Only time will tell.  I’ve seen other start ups either bite off more than they could chew (Goodsmiths) or get greedy (Artfire).  For now, Aftcra is a privately owned, family owned and woman owned endeavor that has it’s heart in the right place.  The site itself is bright, clean and user friendly and I can tell you that several emails I’ve sent have been answered promptly and helpfully. The minimum price of a listed item is $10, which I think encourages quality products (folks who sell small things like greeting cards package several together to meet the $10 minimum).

I will always have allegiance to Etsy because it’s been my most successful selling venue to date. But I hope that whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you’ll check out Aftcra and bring a little American Handmade business their way.  My shop URL is below. 

Happy Shopping and Selling!

C’est La Vie! Do What You Love!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Bear Chick Reads - The Hanged Man by P.N. Elrod

The Hanged Man combines the best of science fiction, Steampunk and mystery together in one action packed story.  Alex is a young woman serving as a crime scene reader in Her Majesty’s Psychic Service.  A Christmas Eve hanging drops Alex into the middle of a governmental crisis, in which she battles traitors, monsters and her own broken family.  With the aid of a reluctant new member of the service, Lt. Brooks, and other reliable accomplices whose descriptions might give away plot points, Alex leads us on an intense adventure through the heart and underground of London.  I loved Pat Elrod’s Vampire File series (if you haven’t read those, get ye to Amazon!) and I‘m hoping HM Psychic Service has many more fine installments on the way.

Mare’s Scale of Literary Wickedness

Wicked Boring         Yawn-don’t bother   
Wicked Good           Don’t run any red lights getting to the library but worth reading
Wicked Cool            Good enough to spend 50 cents for a library hold so you can be the next to read it
Wicked Awesome    So damn good, if your library doesn’t have it, get it from Amazon

Mode of reading: Hard cover book

C’est La Vie! Do What You Love!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Guitar Pick Jewelry

Last year, when we were in the Boston area, The Husband got himself a guitar pick punch at a local comic book shop.  He goes through guitar picks pretty fast and planned to make them out of old gift cards and expired credit cards.  Now he has quite a collection.

Fast forward a year.  I’ve been borrowing his punch to make cute guitar picks for jewelry.  Sometimes I buy gift cards specifically for their graphics, like these:  

 They were Walmart gift cards available around Easter.

Unlike The Husband, I have to make at least one hole, sometimes 2 depending on the design, so I also have a hole puncher.  It’s supposed to be for metal but so far, it’s been fine for the plastic. 

And I've also used the specialty scissors to cut unusual shapes as a background for charms.

  I love adding the beads, charms and chain to the picks to create little one of a kind treasures.  You can find them in my earrings section on Etsy  HERE

C’est La Vie! Do What You Love!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Month of Thanksgiving

To kickstart the Holiday shopping season at my Etsy shop, I’ll be offering a deep discount on one item a day from October 26 to Thanksgiving Day!  And if you use Coupon Code FALL14 at checkout, you’ll get an additional 20% off on your entire order.  

Here’s the first deal--Was $32, now $16:

 Check my Facebook page ( ) or Etsy shop ( ) every day for the Daily Deep Discount.

Whether you’re shopping for simple, cute earrings, one size fits all bracelets or sparkly necklaces, you’ll find something for every Chick on your list.

And don’t forget, the FALL14 Coupon Code at my vintage/destash shop on Etsy gets you 15% off! 

C’est La Vie! Do What You Love!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

What’s Up? Steampunk and France!

It’s been a while, boys and girls.  My creative mojo has been on hiatus.  I took a French class.  I stressed out at work.  I visited friends and family in the Boston area.  I ate way too much. I read a lot.

Sometimes I feel like I stepped back from my inner life and my physical life.  I retreated.  Don’t know why.  These things sneak up and hide themselves in your head,  so you don’t realize you’re not doing anything--creating, exercising, thinking.  

But lately I’ve been getting creative again, making some jewelry and working on a Steampunk character.  For those of you who don’t know what Steampunk is, it’s basically a Victorian vision of science fiction--think  H.G. Wells and Jules Verne.  More recently, read the Leviathan series by Scott Westfield or Gail Carrigers’ Alexia Tarabotti books (which mix Steampunk with vampires and werewolves).  Steampunk is anything goes--from corsets to tricked out weaponry, top hats to gears as embellishments.  Characters range from scientists and royalty to adventurers and ladies of the evening.  We already have our reservations for the HRH Steampunk Symposium on the Queen Mary in January, so I’m gathering materials and making my costumes and accessories.

Cats are a big part of my character, Felina Reid’s, life, so they will figure in parts of my costume.  Like my hats--yes, those are cat ears!  

And the embellishment also features a cat pin.

Here some great shoes I scored at Goodwill yesterday:

I’ll be making a drawstring bag (and probably my skirt/bustle) out of velveteen fabric I used to use on my tables at craft shows.  The fabulous trim I found on Etsy.

We’re also planning a trip to France next year.  The Mom recently gave me a monetary gift to start a Paris fund.  I wanted to go next year for our 35th anniversary and this money gave that dream a big boost!  The Husband is a military history buff, so naturally wants to see the D-Day beaches in Normandy.  I’m a museum rat and flea market shopper, so that’s what I’m looking forward to in Paris.  You’d think the Louvre would be #1 on my list but it’s actually the Musee D’Orsay, since I love the Impressionists.  We also love to walk, so seeing Paris on foot is going to be exciting.  I remember walking in San Francisco--a walking pace at ground level allows you to see so many tiny, amazing details!  
I love the planning of a trip as much as the actual travel, so lately I’m either elbows deep in beads or French tour books.

I’ll keep you up to date on what I’m making and planning!

C’est La Vie! Do What You Love!

Monday, August 5, 2013

How A Compulsive Reader Rolls

My name is Mare and I’m a compulsive reader.  When there are none of the below outlets for me to peruse, I read posters in the doctors office, signs in the windows of fast food places, those little A-frame advertisements on restaurant tables for seasonal drinks and desserts.  And I’ll read them over and over again until the doctor or the traffic signal or the meal arriving interrupts my obsession.  I’m not looking for a way to cure myself.  Far from it!  I’m embracing all the ways to read!

Books will never go the way of the dinosaur.  There will always be people like me and Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise who will have a soft spot for paper in this increasing age of technological libris. 

Or the people of Milton Keynes, who staged a campaign to empty their library of books, to show the evil town council the need for the Stony Stratford branch library (read story:

Our house is filled with shelves of books and piles of magazines.  I have a standing Saturday morning date at my local library, dropping off what I’ve finished that week and picking up new material.  It thrills me to be the first to put a Newly Acquired book on hold. Sometimes I stop into the bookstore on the ground level and a few times a year they hold book sales, too!  And still, this is not enough for me, the compulsive reader. 

I love the Kindle app on my phone, because even if I’ve found myself in a situation where I don’t have a real book (??!!), I always have something to read (yes, I always have my phone with me…).  I buy books for my Kindle that aren’t in the catalog of my local library.  What my library does have, though, are e-books you can download through Amazon to the Kindle app, which I’ve done several times.  Also, there’s a trend recently for authors to write short stories or novella’s exclusively as e-book content.  They usually run from .99 cents to around $5.99 and serve as welcome little treats between full books.  Read my latest Old School Mare blog post to see how I’m using my actual Kindle device for school:

I have a problem with magazines.  I find them a great temptation and, as stated, have heaping piles of them wherever I sit for more than 10 minutes…  When I bought the Kindle, I was hoping to use that for magazine subscriptions.  What I didn’t realize is that the black and white Kindles don’t support magazines…  Someday I will get a Kindle Fire but for now, my local library has a subscription to Zinio, an online magazine system.  Their selection is limited at this point but I have been able to access issues to read the one or two articles I was interested in without having to pay the $4 or $5 to do so.  Awesome!

The other thing I’ve been doing lately is getting books on CD’s at the library.  I download them to my phone and listen when I’m walking or at other times when I can pay them most of my attention (making jewelry, washing dishes, shaving my legs).  Usually, the books I find on CD’s are things I may not have noticed in my usual sections of the library (mystery and non-fiction/travel), like The Girls of Murder City about the women who the play and movie Chicago are based on and Then Again, Diane Keaton’s autobiography read with good humor and emotion by Keaton herself.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve gone to the Dark Side by embracing alternative reading methods.  My father ran a printing press for most of his working life (it was at a box factory, but a pressman is a pressman…) plus my Day Job is doing payroll for a local shoppers publication that has seen a sharp downturn in recent years.  But I think as the world changes, some things diminish and other things expand in a natural progression.  Writers still write and readers still read and the variety of ways we can partake of words and sentences and paragraphs will always keep the Force strong within us.

Do What You Love!