Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Treasuries and What I've Learned So Far...

I have an idea for future posts but the words just aren't coming to me right now... So I think I'll just recap the treasuries I've been fortunate enough to be featured in this week.

As you can see I have a lot of reciprocating to do. In the past year and a half I've gone from being featured once every three months to several in a week. I feel it is an honor to be included in these lists, especially when you look at the number of items to choose from on Etsy. Many of these lists are by members of Etsy teams that I have joined. I was ready to give up on Etsy and just keep plugging away at craft shows and consignment venues, then I realized that I hadn't given it the chance it deserved. In the last five months, I've begun searching for information that I can use to improve my shop and experience on Etsy. I've joined teams and tried to follow the leadership of successful sellers. The teams I've joined are:

Kansas Etsy Team

Etsy D Listers

Promotional Frenzy Team


Low Key Treasury Team

Photography Help Team

Fun Friends and Promotion Team

Facebook Team


Some I am really active in, some I lurk, and some I really need to get started with. I know I have a lot to learn... selling on the internet takes patience, time and being willing to change things up went they aren't working. It's an ever evolving market place and I believe I'm up for the challenge are you?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

And One Huge Step...

Not known for our timing, remember we wanted to slowly build this to a business, we took a huge step. We bought a pouring table, a couple hundred molds and some clay at an auction. This allowed us to start pouring our own greenware and expand our bottom line. We found that we were getting involved in a business that was having a bit of a slump. Younger people, like ourselves, weren't interested. We found when we went to shows that had ceramic vendors we were continually the youngest there, and the older people were looking to retire.

One of our early 10x15 craft show setups.
This one was in Liberal, Kansas.
We currently have a mold inventory of nearly 3000 different molds. These were mostly accumulated when we found ourselves purchasing small shop inventories to build our own. I also began acquiring new molds, the very first was the piggy bank with the second being the same bank in a smaller size. We have gotten to the point if either of us want a new mold we have to be willing to remove a different one. Sometimes the greatest challenge is trying to convince each other of which mold to discard. It's a constant process of culling the worn out and "why did we purchase that one" molds. Space and time seem to be our biggest commodities.

We now offer greenware and bisque by order. Greenware is a piece that has been molded and air dried to make it semi solid. Bisque is a piece of green ware that has been fired to the heat of an 04 cone. Starting every March the 4-H kids start coming in to place their orders. They then take the greenware home and clean it and bring it back to be fired. The trick is trying to have enough variety that the same pieces are not being completed for the same county fair. For those who aren't placing the items for show in a competition we offer ready to paint bisque. Keep an eye on our Etsy store, we hope to open a section for bisque soon.

A new mold purchased Fall 2010 - Holy Family
It is shown in bisque and ready to paint.

Holy Family - finished in stains.
Look for it in my shop for the holidays.

Small Steps... (It All Started continued)

Well you have an idea of how it all started, but there is more to the story...

While I was working on the piggy bank requests, my aunt started having problems with carpal tunnel syndrome and she needed help getting projects done for her craft shows. With my 3 year-old in tow I would go to her house and help her get caught up. In payment she allowed me to make a few items for gifts and paint ornaments for my Christmas tree.

Then it happened, she took me to the local ceramic studio to pick out greenware. I was absolutely hooked again. I loved getting to create things in the colors I wanted. I was able to stick to a budget, well almost. My husband got involved because I discovered that I am allergic to greenware. I can handle the clay when it is still moist, but once it starts putting off dust I'm done until it is fired. My hands turn bright red and swell, it's not real pretty. I will say him getting involved is the best thing that could have happened in this little venture. He does a magnificent job at cleaning the greenware. He removes almost all if not all traces of pouring seams that are left in the molding process.

When my aunt decided to shut down her shop, she offered to sell us her kiln and remaining supplies (on payments of course) and we made the decision to run with it. It was supposed to remain a hobby, one that we could turn into a business when we were ready to retire, yeah right. Neither my husband or I are known for not pushing the bar when given the chance. I had purchased so much greenware, I didn't have any place to put the finished pieces. We started selling at craft shows and had a lot of success. And that success bred more opportunity...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It All Started with One Bank

If you read the About Me section you know a little bit about our store. This is the story about how it all got started...

One day a mother, my mother, was looking for something do with her teenage daughter. We had hit a spot where there wasn't much to talk about, that didn't start an argument. Yes, I was a difficult teenage girl. I had a boyfriend and life outside my parents home and they didn't always mesh. My mom had started making ceramic items at a local ceramic studio with my aunt. And since I always had a tendency to enjoy artsy things it seemed to be a match. We had a lot of fun completing projects and I wasn't too bad at it, but I had a long way to go.

Fast forward a few years... My mom continued making items, even thought the small studio had shut down and I had grown and went out on my own. Then I helped throw a baby shower for my boss, and I asked my mom to make a piggy bank like the ones she had been making for all my cousins at the time. She didn't have time, but she guided me to my aunt who had begun selling the ceramic items that she made at craft shows. My aunt then decided that it was time for me to get back into the fun. I made a pink piggy bank with magenta and white dots for the shower gift and it was a hit. Months later I had people asking me to make more. So when I say it all started with one bank I'm telling the truth.

Alberta Piggy Bank is available in two sizes
and can be customized to your color preference.