Old New Again

It’s no secret I have a slight fascination with typography. My collection is constantly being added to and a steady stream of new work from Old New Again is doing nothing to help curb its growth. I first fell in love with the ampersand above: a well-design letterform—YES!—painted and distressed wood—YES!—oh, and proprietors Liz & Rick are from Wisconsin—YAY!

Liz took a moment to share a little bit about the pieces they make, the lifestyle they live and what it’s like to have an etsy business as your livelihood. Enjoy!

Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
I’ve always loved wood and that sort of old primitive look, but wanted something “fresher”… so I came up with our style. Rick lost his job a few years ago, so it all just sorta worked out beautifully! Now it is our only source of income, and we are so blessed!

How did you learn your craft? Tell us about your process—start to finish.
I grew up in an art family. My dad has been a full-time artist since I was a child. My uncle taught college art. My brothers are both artists. So I can’t really say when it started, because I never remember it starting. It was there from the start.

Where do you work? What type of environment stimulates your creativity?
We have a workshop that’s about 7 miles away, in the country. While it’s lovely to work there in the summer, it is very cold in the winter (it’s heated, but it’s a big place so it isn’t the warmest). And in the winter there’s no natural light (in the summer we open the huge overhead door).

I do all of my computer work and shipping in our basement. Some day I would love to have a great big shop with lots of light year-round, where Rick can do his “dirty” work (cutting, sanding, staining and varnishing) and I could have a separate area to do my work.

How has your work evolved?
I try to watch trends and see what I can tweak. My biggest challenge is finding time to do new items. We are so busy that I don’t get as much time as I’d like to do new things.

What inspires you?
Everything! I love color and texture. I am constantly thinking in these terms. When I go to the pet store and see an amazing little hamster with the most beautiful brown and white fur… I think WOW I LOVE THAT BROWN!

What’s your favorite piece or use and why?
I adore our long skinny 6 hook shelves! We have them all over, as our house is pretty small and we have two children (Molly is 17… not a child anymore and Samantha is 9). I am all about functional pieces that look great and help me keep things organized.


Tell us about your start on etsy and any beginner mistakes.
I found etsy from an amazing artist, Jenn (www.noodleandlou.etsy.com). We got to know each other on ebay when we were selling our ACEOs. Beginner mistakes: hmmm…. that’s hard to say, because all the mistakes are just sort of stepping stones. Sounds cliche, but it’s so true.

What advice do you have for new etsians?
My advice would be to focus more and not try to try too many different things at once. My second bit of advice would be to initially spend 90% of your time on getting your pictures right and making sure they fit in well in treasuries.

Where can readers find your work?
We are exclusively on etsy! ♥

Threadbare

My embroidery obsession is waning. I don’t think I’ll ever give it up, but I’m not producing with the intensity I was a few weeks ago. However I have found a few great sources for supplies I thought I’d share with you! First up, I found a craft supply store—Lynn’s—that’s not only locally owned, but it also has a better selection than any chain store in my area. Lynn’s has complete collections from three or four different embroidery floss brands, plus framing supplies, paints, paper, specialty writing utensils and many other odds and ends that are often difficult to find—including the mini easel pictured below, which is a great way to display smaller embroidery hoops!

Before I stumbled across a local venue, I turned to the internet. I ordered bulk hoops from Create for Less so I don’t have to run to the store every time I finish a piece. I purchased three different sizes and I’m excited for the variety they offer!

Back to Business

When I first started my company, I did everything I could to drum up custom business. Business cards, stationery, wedding invites—you name it I was up for it. And my prices were low (seriously, if you were a custom client of mine a year or two ago, you got a GREAT deal!), so low that I think I was losing money once I figured in how much time I was spending on each project—not to mention the ones that never came to fruition! I would kill myself trying to make an impossibly short timeline, include tons of freebies…. It was a completely unsustainable business. A handful of jobs came and went and finally I wised up: it simply wasn’t worth the time and stress.

Over the past year or two, I’ve done a piece here or there, but generally I turned down more work than I took on. However, I recently had the pleasure of designing and printing business cards for a local tutor and to my surprise when I finished the project I felt really good about the whole experience. The finished product is beautiful of course, but I think the best part was that after all was said and done, I didn’t feel burnt out or defeated, but inspired and ready for more! Not to mention, my skills have improved over the last couple years, so the process of creating the cards went much smoother from beginning to end.

Business cards by 622 pressI finally learned to value my own work. I know I am good at what I do and my time and talent are worth charging a fair price for. The stress and inconvenience were all internal, and once I let that go, I was able to enjoy the work again. I’m excited to revive and revamp this aspect of my business, you can check out the details for business cards here and watch for more to come! I hope this post reminds you to let go of the internal pressure you put on yourself and take pleasure in whatever you’re working on.

Rearranging

A few days ago, this blog helped me finally figure out how to rearrange my etsy shop. The writer recommended placing like colors next to each other, but I wondered if shoppers would think I simply worked in red and yellow upon visiting my first page. So for now I’ve got things arranged in vertical stripes of my most common colors—purple, red, yellow and light blue—but of course that leaves a few pieces that don’t quite fit (silver, green, navy) and all the blind emboss or multicolor pieces coming in a jumble at the end.

What do you think? Do you like the arrangement or did it look better shuffled up? How would you like these items to be presented? Comments appreciated!

Gift Guide: Valentine’s

Do you do Valentine’s Day? It’s never been a big deal to me: I’ve never had a rom-com style woe-is-me evening spent solo, nor did I expect to be whisked off for the most romantic evening of my life when I was dating someone. Really all anyone ever wants is to be reminded that they are loved—that making them happy is important to you.

Since we’re just a few weeks away, here are a few sweet nothings to remind those you love that you’re thinking of them. Whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, mom or grandma, show someone they’re loved with an inexpensive handmade treat.

Let’s be honest: You just can’t go wrong with chocolate. These from Cocoa and Honey are organic and fair trade—and a pretty good price for artisanal chocolates! Handmade chocolate shops are popping up all over the country—chances are there’s one just a few minutes’ drive from your home. Chocolates are always best fresh, so shop local!

Not a chocolate fan? What about a festive cookie or 12 instead? Bake Me Pretty offers a variety of cookies and cupcakes, but I like the simplicity of simple raspberry and shortbread Linzer Heart Cookies.

This sweet screenprinted and embroidered pillow from cozyblue is perfect for a couple celebrating their first year together.

How sweet are these Handful of Heart gloves by yastik izi? Such a cute idea and available in a variety of color combinations.

Now I don’t know if I mentioned this already, but chocolate? Chocolate is always good. These salted caramel goodies from Marshmallow Heaven look downright amazing!