Sunday, 22 January 2012

Here Comes Peter Cottontail - Handmade Easter Buttons

As I was starting to write this post that old song started going through my head "Here comes Peter Cottontail.  Hopping down the bunny trail.  Hippity hoppity Easter's on it's way."  Okay so I probably didn't get the lyrics just right but you get the idea.  Wasn't Christmas just a few days ago?  Now we're thinking about Easter (skipping right over Valentine's Day).  Wow how the time flies.  Well I am pleased to be on the downside of winter.  I do like spring and although so far (knocking on wood) we've hardly had any snow here this winter, I really don't like the cold and snow.  So working on these bright Easter buttons and other spring buttons is a nice change from the snowmen and Christmas themed projects I was working on just a few short weeks ago.  I guess I'm also feeling a bit rushed because in a couple of weeks I'm heading off to somewhere warm for a few days on vacation.  I can't wait.  I will tell you a little secret though.  I do feel a twinge of guilt not being available to my button shop all the time.  I'll still have Internet access but won't be able to mail anything out.  How crazy is that?  Part of the reason this year as well is that unlike last year the button sales slowed up a bit after the holidays.  That didn't happen last January and when it did this year I began to wonder if this would be the new "normal".  Well I've had another good weekend and have lots of packages ready to go in the mail tomorrow.  That's the way of small business you never know when business will be up or when it will be down.  Someone it the Etsy forums the other day said it was just the ebb and flow of business.  They also said they liked the flow and not the ebb.  I agree!  Happy sales all!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Fresh New Week

Here are my packages from the weekend all ready to get going.  You will notice I've blocked out the addresses so I'm not publishing my customer's addresses.  That wouldn't be a good thing :)  I have the day off from my day job but I have to get dressed and out to mail these off.  Normally I mail them on my way to work but I'll have to make a special trip out today.  That's probably a good thing because I haven't really left the house all weekend.  I've been focusing on my buttons.  As I said in my post yesterday I had taken a bit of a break so it was a bit hard to get back into the swing of things.  I guess it's sort of like my diet - I've had a few more treats than normal over the Christmas holidays so need to get back to more healthy eating. 

It's just a month until I go on my vacation so I had better get into bathing suit shape (or at least as close to it as I can).  So for now I'll get off the computer for a bit and head out to mail my items.  Then back to the buttons and a hopefully productive day.  I do believe it's true that the harder you work the more success you are likely to have.  I slowed down a bit in December and my sales slowed as well.  That isn't entirely surprising when you're selling supplies (buttons in my case) as anyone that was using them to make holiday gifts would have needed them before the holiday.  One thing that is surprising me though is that my jewelry is doing so well.  Jewelry is such a saturated category on Etsy and everywhere so I wasn't expecting much but sales are starting to pick up.  I've opened up a whole new niche form my buttons.  People that sew can buy them at but anyone who just likes the designs and wants some fun and affordable jewelry can buy the finished jewelry.  It's a win win for everyone!  Okay now I really do need to get ready and get those packages mailed!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Back To Work

As I mentioned yesterday here is a picture of the finished pendants once they were taken out of the kiln.  The colours/colors seem much brighter than when they were cooling in the kiln.  As you can see I've been experimenting with a few specialty glazes.  I really like how the purple turned out with the splotches (splotches is the technical term :)  ) of lighter colour/color.  I'm having a lot of fun with these glazes.  I also like how the little pig turned out.  He looks orange in the picture but is really a sort of darkish pink.  Really cute.  I'm just trying to figure out if I make them into jewelry or of I leave them as is and leave it to the true jewelry experts to create with my pieces.  I'm not sure how I want to proceed with these.

I feel like I'm now back in the swing of things as far as creating is concerned.  I've caught up on all but one of my custom button orders.  I had slowed down a bit over the holidays and I think the break did me some good.  I do want to proceed with the ceramic pieces though and see where they take me.  I have to find my own unique niche with these though because there are so many great ceramic artists out there.  I need to find something that is unique but also not too terribly time consuming or it won't be cost effective to produce.  Right now I'm having fun and we'll see where that takes me.  I've also started listing some of my vintage on   I'm having a bit of problem wanting to get rid of my collections but I'm slowing starting to work on that.

I have the day off tomorrow from my day job so will work some more on some of the resin buttons and perhaps think about the ceramics a bit more to see where I want to take them.  Right now the pieces are very nice but they aren't really "extra special".  I want them to be something special so have to really give them some time and attention!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Handmade Buttons and Jewelry - A Peak in the Kiln

Here is a peak inside my kiln.  I got a great shipment of new glazes yesterday and I'm trying some of them out.  You can see some of the speckles on some of the pieces.  When I took the picture the kiln was still sort of hot (about 450 degrees Fahrenheit) so the colours aren't showing the true finished colours that they will become when the kiln is cooled.  These are an assortment of hearts and flowers and thre is one little pig pendant in the bottom right hand corner.  I normally make buttons for but decided this time around I'd make a few pendants and cabochons which I'll glue to some ring bases.  These will likely go on  I'm also thinking about maybe starting up yet another Etsy shop for my ceramic buttons and pendants but I'm not sure I want to do that.  I can't wait to see how these turn out.  I'm teaching myself how to work with ceramics and have never had a lesson so anything I do is all self taught.  That means that my glazes don't always work.  Working with ceramics also teaches you patience since you can't do anything quickly.  There is so much time waiting for things to dry.  One of the good things about being self taught is that you get to break the rules.  For example normally you are supposed to make the ceramic shapes, let them dry and then fire them in the kiln to the bisque stage.  Then you are supposed to glaze them and fire them again.  I found that by the time I did this I had lost interest in the original shapes I had created.  What I have been doing is making the shapes and letting them dry but then glazing them before firing the first time.  This way I can get away with firing them only once.  That cuts out a whole lot of work and speeds up the process.  I'm sure there is a "rule" against this and those ceramic artists that have formal training will probably cringe.  Oh well.  I'm finding the experimentation fun.  Of course you always have to be careful working with a kiln since you are dealing with extreme head so my experimentation won't go too far but it's interesting to see how these things turn out.  Now if I can just wait for that kiln to cool down.  I've done a bunch of resin buttons today as well and those are now drying.  Those just take a few days to make so are much quicker than the ceramic buttons.  I have so many button and pendant ideas.  I can't wait to see how they turn out!  I'll try to post pictures of these pieces when they are completely cool so you can see how the colours turn out.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year and Back to Work

I'm off work today for the last day of the Christmas/New Years holidays.  Today is a day to start getting back into the swing of things.  I've taken a bit of time off from custom orders and it's been quite fun to work on some things just for fun.  I've changed up one of my Etsy sites and will be focusing on vintage and antique items and antique/vintage inspired creations.  I'm not quite sure which direction this will take but I've been thinking about it for a while.  It's barely started but you can check it out here at  Who knows where that will head in 2012.  That's the exciting thing about a new year.  You get a fresh start and anything seems possible.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year - New Handmade Buttons

Wow it's the start of another year.  I can't believe how fast time flies.  My buttons at have been doing really well and I've expanded to a line of button related jewelry at  For 2012 I want to focus on a new medium - ceramics.  I'm teaching myself as I go along.  I have a small tabletop kiln and I'm learning to work with ceramics.  It's much more time consuming and complicated than you might think.  All the different glazes react differently and it's very difficult to get them to do what you want.  The picture here is my latest collection of buttons fresh out of the kiln this morning.  I'm happy with the bright red glaze I've achieved.  Red is a difficult colour to get right.  For some reason it has to be heated just right in the kiln for the colour to develop properly.  This bunch is a set of both ladybugs or ladybird ceramic buttons and red heart buttons.  I think the hearts may be great for the upcoming Valentines Day celebrations.  I think I'm going to make some similar red heart pendants for  Right now the hearts can be found here  I think ceramic buttons are difficult because for the everyday sewing project they can be a bit pricey.  For me to make them though they really aren't all that profitable given the huge amount of time it takes to make them.  For now I'll play an experiment and see how it goes.  I do love looking into the kiln in the morning after it fires to see what surprises it brings.  Hopefully as I learn more the surprises will be more good surprises instead of the uh oh! what happened surprises that seem to happen fairly often with ceramics.  I'll continue to post pictures here and write about what I learn as I go along.  I hope you enjoy the journey with me.