TAG Treasury Team

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Shop of the Week: C Schmauder Watercolor & BeadsGalore2

Artists express themselves in many ways.  But what so many people overlook, in an artist, is how they came to create their art.  A life challenge, a song, a city, a belief.  Many times artists start at a young age and then let life get in the way.  But thank goodness Carol stayed on her path and used her journey to keep creating and wanting to explore.  I think for this writing that we will mostly let Carol speak for herself as she gives us an intimate view of her journey.


 “I was born and raised in Spokane, Washington.  I am the oldest of eight children and became my mother's "right hand" as each new child came along.  I grew very close to my Mom as a result of this.  We lived in the family home, in a quiet, semi-rural neighborhood, since I was 5 .   I learned to can food at a fairly early age as I helped Mom with this endeavor.  When I was about 12 it became my duty to make jam for the family.  To this day I make all the jam my children and their families eat.

When I graduated from high school I to college to study commercial art, but quit when I couldn't keep up with a full time job and school.  I married and had a bazillion children. When my youngest child was in the first grade I returned to college and received my degree in graphic design and advertising.  Immediately after graduation I started a job for a graphic design company and worked at that job for a little over a year until my son was assaulted and nearly killed by a blow to his head by a two by four.   That injury required surgery to remove a small portion of his right frontal lobe and to piece together his broken skull.  I was very blessed that he healed rapidly and suffers little as a result of this trauma.

In 1988 I discovered watercolors.  I attended a show featuring the work of Stan Miller and decided I could paint in watercolor because it was a medium I could dry after each painting session and put away out of the reach of small children's fingers.  I had painted in oils as a teenager but it wasn't feasible with my small children.  I started selling my paintings in a small restaurant and was fairly successful.



I had two failed marriages; one to a very abusive man and one to an alcoholic.  In my mid-forties I married a wonderful man who "adopted" my children as his own.  We have been married for over twenty years.  He encourages and supports me in my artistic endeavors.  He is my right-hand man when it comes to setting up for art shows and I don't think I could do it without his help.  I suffer from several chronic health issues that limit my ability to do some things and he fills in and does them for me.”
And her artistic ability does not end there.  Carol also creates beautiful jewelry
with meaning and inspirations that come from her life’s journey.  An artist who is not afraid to be vulnerable and authentic.  And it shows in her work.
When asked if she could tell us what about her passions she told us,  “My passions are music, art, and the creative process.  I enjoy trying new things when I paint and when I create pieces of jewelry.  I also enjoy seeing what other people do to create, so I attend art shows as often as I can.  I have always been extremely thankful that I had very talented parents that introduced me to beautiful art and music and that encouraged me to use and develop my talents.  They also helped me develop an appreciation for the talents of others.”

Carol's Etsy shops: C Schmauder Watercolor and Beads Galore 2
Interview by Alisann of Art by Alisann, 
Story by Carol Schmauder of CSchmauder
Edited by Gail of Digital Expressions & Artful Papers          


Saturday, September 27, 2014

What's in a Picture

What’s in a picture? When selling on ETSY it is the first point of contact with a potential buyer and it must create an INTEREST in seconds. We have all heard, you never get a second chance to make a First Impression – it holds true when you are selling online. You have to GRAB them and take them to your SHOP!

“How do I get good photos?” “ I am not good at picture taking.” “ It takes too much work.” We have heard it all when it comes to taking photos for your Etsy Listings. Let’s go over these questions and concerns and hopefully help you create beautiful and appealing photos of your listings. You want SALES and being featured in treasuries is one of the KEYS to your SUCCESS.

Do your Research! What research? Go to Etsy and look through the treasuries that are on the front page and treasuries on pages 1- 3. Open one up so you can see all 16 listings. Which listing are your eyes drawn to as soon as you open the treasury? Now consider why you were drawn to that photo? Is it the composition, is it the color(s), is it something you have been looking for? What drew you to that listing? Now you have an understanding of how impactful these photos are in getting the buyer’s attention. Try this several times so you can really get a good feel for what you need to do with your listings.

For example, I am looking for some new blue shoes.

I find this listing much more interesting

than this listing

The first listing has a great composition; the overall quality of the photo is much cleaner and draws me in. The second photo is ok, but rather boring and the pale blue hue around the shoes does not set them off or cause me to want to look at them.

How do I get good photos: You can use either your camera phone or a digital camera. For the best photos a tripod is very helpful because you do not have to worry about movement as you take the photo. Use a high resolution so they are crisp and clean photos. Have an area that you can set up as a mini-photo booth. Large dining table, large desk. Somewhere you have room to set up your display. Items you will need: Light Box (easy to make), at least 2 lamps for lighting, white tissue paper, exacto knife, tape, camera, tri-pod, and your listing item,

Building a light Box is easy using a cardboard box. Here is a link on how to build a LIGHTBOX at a cost of under $3.00. The lights can be purchased in the automotive department of Walmart for a few dollars. Make sure they are the clip on mechanic lights so you can place them exactly where you want them. If you have larger items that will not it in your light box you can set up a photo area using a white sheet or white foam core boards as your background and foreground. Use your lights on the item to help it show up well.

Take several photos of each listing. Perhaps changing the composition a bit, add a few props, take the front, back, side of each item. Now you have the photos transfer them to your computer and let’s have some fun editing them. Two sites that are great to use (and free) are picmonkey and fotofuze.

You can edit your photos in picmonkey such as cropping, exposure, clarity, etc. If you have not used fotofuze you are in for a treat. This website interfaces with Etsy and when you sign in using your Etsy shop all of your current listings will pop up. It eliminates all the background “clutter” and leaves a clean white back ground. Fotofuze is wonderful because you can change many details of the photo.

BEFORE fotofuze
AFTER fotofuze

It does take time to create beautiful photos that will attract a buyer.  But isn’t it worth the time to sell and item?  It makes no sense to have something beautiful sitting on a shelf in your studio, but no one can appreciate it because your photos do not have that emotional grab to get the buyers attention.  Etsy has long said that clean lines with a focus on the item is what gets the attention.  Sometimes adding just the smallest of props can also enhance the photo. 

Below is a screen shot of the fotofuze when you highlight the item and eliminate the background.  I suggest using the 2nd Highlighter as you have full control over it with your mouse.  The first Highlighter is an Auto-fill marker.  The item is in YELLOW and if you look to the right of the larger photo you will see a Preview window showing you what the photo will look like when you are done.  You can Erase any errors and the Black and Red window shows you what you “may” want to also highlight.  Once you are done you click on Finish and it will take you back to your Etsy listing on fotofuze.  Once it is uploaded, you can then upload it to your Etsy listing.  You can also create new listings on fotofuze without going to Etsy first. 

Be sure to use all the photo spaces in your listings.  The more photos the higher you will rank in a search.  Give the buyer as much of the item as you can.  I only recommend using Fotofuze on the main photo (no. 1) as this process can be time consuming and your first photo should be your best one. 

Think about who will use the product and what would make them buy that item.   Emotions play a huge part in what the potential buyer buys. They cannot feel the item, so use your photo to make a “feeling” of the product.   Give them your item as the only choice because they cannot resist your photo.  Keep that in mind when you create your beautiful photos. Let the photo show the quality and beauty of the item.

Two additional thoughts:  If you have a piece of artwork (Painting, wall hanging, sculpture, etc.) you may also want to show a photo as that art piece would look in someone’s home.

Also if you have a clothing item, it is recommended by Etsy to show that item as it would be worn.  As some of us do not have models how to do that is up to you.  But either way, make them beautiful.
You work hard to create and find wonderful items to sell in your shop and you only get a few seconds to attract the potential buyers attention so make your photos reach out and pull them in.  When you have beautiful photos to showcase your beautiful creations, your sales should increase. 
Article written by Alisann of Abees Art Studio



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Weekend in September

Although we all live in the same state of Washington, the TAGT Team leaders had never all met in person. Mind you, we've been trying to make it happen for a couple of years! Well, it finally happened on the weekend of September 12th, 13th and 14th.

We met at Gail's home on the outskirts of Ellensburg, WA, on a beautiful Friday morning. Gail's property is situated a ways from the main road. There is a fabulous natural spring that feeds a beautiful pond in Gail's backyard.
She told us stories of otters that come in the winter and fish through the ice that doesn't quite harden off at one end of the pond. They also have Heron that come to fish. What a delight it is for them to have such an array of wildlife in their own backyard.

Gail's husband, John is a native of Great Britain. We were treated to his delightful humor, as well as his accent!

Come to find out that Gail is not the only creative one in her household. John is also the craftsman of amazing walking sticks. He gathers different species of wood and antlers from the nearby hills, and creates sticks such as these.

They come in a wide variety of sizes and styles. Some even include carvings done in the antlers, which are used to create the handles.
The detail is meticulous. It is clearly obvious that John's dedication to his craft runs deep. The areas that join wood to antler appear to be seamless, and the final finish is buttery soft and smooth. They are indeed works of art. I hope we will see some of these in Gail's shop in the near future!

One of the goals we had for this meeting, was to learn nuno felting, or wet felting as some call it.
We spread our supplies over the island in the kitchen and began crafting flowers. It's magical to watch layers of wool roving, silk hankies, silk fibers and other bits of sparkle and shine, bind themselves together to form fabric. Take a look at what we created! Be forewarned, once you get a taste of nuno felting, there's a chance you'll be hooked! Some of us spent some time ordering supplies for future felting fun!

We also learned the basics of some wire wrapping techniques, needle felted some colorful acorns and finished our crafting with Kathy teaching us how to make spirit dolls to commemorate our meeting. We walked around Gail's property, gathering weeds, twigs, rocks or other interesting bits of nature, then assembled our items into these delightful dolls.
The experience was so much fun! We were treated to great food, wonderful conversation and we learned new things. What could be better than that? Gail and John were wonderful hosts and if you are ever passing through Ellensburg, WA, you will want to stop by and meet them. This was our first meeting, but I doubt it will be our last!

Article submitted by Leanna of Seams Victorian, Bits and Purses, and Teez Loueez

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Shop of the Week: Gaffney Girl Studio

What does an artist do who lives in South Carolina, who married her high school sweetheart 35 years after they graduated from high school, loves to cook, garden, paint, sew, and craft do with her talents? Cindy creates the most amazing pincushions, fancy pins, jewelry and unique art pieces in both her Etsy shops Gaffney Girl Studio and Seven Gypsies Jewelry.

A “Southern Girl by Accident” Cindy lived the earlier part of her life in Indiana. But moving to the south – it feels like home. When asked how she spends her “spare” time Cindy told us “I work from home so my days are spent gardening, weeding, herding wiener dogs, baking, and creating new items for my Etsy stores. I love to go shopping for those special little touches that I add to my pincushions and other items in my store; which means I often frequent antique malls, fabric stores, craft stores, second hand stores, and thrift stores. What's not to love, right? I love the challenge of finding bargains that I can create with. I often say that I'm a hoarder with better organizational skills!”

Cindy began her love for all things beautiful when she worked at a flower shop as a teenager. She went on to own a floral shop and was very successful. We asked her how she knew the floral business was right for her. “During my senior year of high school I got a job in a greenhouse and then transitioned into a position in a flower shop where I got on the job training. It seemed like a natural fit for me as my Mom was always quite the gardener and we always had flowers in the yard and house no matter how challenging it was for her as the head of the family. So it was natural that I would love growing and working with flowers. I am an FTD certified master designer which means I can make anything from a corsage to a parade float. In 1994, I was in the top 4 floral designers in the Midwest as determined by a floral design competition.” With a background and credentials like that Cindy does get our attention. What an amazing resume of experience and knowledge.

What drives Cindy, is very simple “leave it as you found it”. “I am passionate about growing healthy, clean, organic food for my family. I am passionate about being as green as possible which includes recycling, water conservation, and composting. My husband and I want to be kind to the Earth and leave the smallest carbon footprint possible. It's my belief that we should leave this place in better shape than when it was first entrusted to us.” Her work certainly reflects that as she makes many of her artistic creations from upcycled items. A great example is her pincushions which are made with vintage Jello cups. A perfectly clever way to present such beautiful works of art. Almost too pretty to use they are functional as well as beautiful.

Words of advice from Cindy: The best advice that I can share comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." In other words, treat people with kindness, love, and respect and they will return it to you.

Come by and visit her shops. You can spend time just strolling through her colorful and beautiful works of art. And be sure to say hello to Cindy on her Facebook page as well Gaffney Girl Studio

Article written by Alisann of Art by Alisann

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Featured Shop of the Week: Latrouvaille and Meoneil

Did you know that there were Hippie Communes in Canada? Some of you may be too young to know about the Hippie Communes of the 60’s and 70’s. But Mary-Ellen can tell us first-hand about her life’s experience since she lived in one for 3 years with her then boyfriend, now husband of 43 years. Her experience took place in Montreal where she was born. She grew up in a typical home and had 4 brothers, she being the only girl. Her love for the Fiber Arts started in her childhood and include sewing, crochet and knitting.

We asked her where her inspirations come from. “My inspiration comes from the need to be creative, a void which needed filling when I retired. Back in the hippie days I started making dolls and knitted animals for a very prestigious store in Montreal. I re-worked the concept upon retirement when someone who had bought a knitted elephant for her son 30+ years ago now wanted one for her granddaughter.
Then I discovered Etsy and opened my shop, Meoneil. My beginning was painfully slow and I considered quitting, but then I discovered the TAG Team (TAGT). I also opened a vintage shop,Latrouvaille and linked them.” She’s been open on Etsy since 2009 and loves it as a hobby.

These are a few of the delightful puppets that can be found in Mary-Ellen's shop.

“From my vintage, I love so many of my Asian treasures. I will pick the knife since it has a great story...” You can read about this item at Antique Knife.

Two of her 4 children once lived in China and Vietnam where she and her husband spend 2 months each year enjoying and learning about the Asian Culture. Those children now live in Frankfurt and Montreal.
We are always amazed about the life and story of each of our artists. Getting to know who they are, where they come from and what they love. Mary-Ellen is a retired high school teacher (34 years) “I taught a huge variety over my career including human biology and architecture, but also home economics, electricity, and a high school engineering course.”
She is the mother of 4 and the grandmother of 3. Her husband is retired from Air Canada. Mary-Ellen is a breast cancer survivor (14 years) . In her own words, “ I so strongly believe in life long learning and social equality. Travel is life's best education. I am an avid reader, and gardener. I do yoga and love to cook. C'est toup (that's it - in French).”

Article written by Alisann of Abees Art Studio, and Sew Alisann

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Shop of the Week: Bstrung

“Do what you love!” How many times have you heard that phrase? Well, Gabrielle of BStrung certainly lives by those words. A mother of twins, she found her children teaching her about jewelry making. She caught on very quickly and the “addiction” began.

I asked Gabrielle about her childhood and how she came to make her home in Atlanta, “I grew up in Music City, Nashville, TN. I left Nashville to pursue my dream of being an artist to attend Rhode Island School of design. There I got my BFA in illustration. I moved around a bit with my husband from NYC to Ohio and now we have settled in Atlanta.”

Those southern roots are sure strong and it shows in the love of her family. “Raising my twin girls has been my most challenging “job” yet most rewarding too. ”We also asked Gabrielle if she had any pets, and had to chuckled at her response, “ I am the caretaker of a very finicky miniature Schnauzer.” Her sense of humor was apparent and shows a bit of her personality.

By day she is a freelance Graphic Designer, but always leaves time for making new and unique jewelry for her Etsy shop.

Unique handmade lamp work glass jewelry is what you will find and more in her shop. Be sure to stop in and take a look at all of her beautiful art work which includes earrings, bracelets and necklaces. You might find a surprise or two there, too!

Article edited and submitted by Alisann of Abees Art Studio, and Sew Alisann