Monday, November 30, 2009

Let the Holiday Shopping Begin!!!

Have you purchased your holiday cards yet? Consider a custom order from Made by SwirlyGirl! I'd be happy to take your JPEG image and create a unique and fun card that your friends and family will be sure to save instead of stick into the recycling bin when the holidays are over! I can create a faux painting or drawing from your photo, add clip art to make it more holiday themed, use word art to create a collage of the ideas that are meaningful to you, or create a photo collage kaleidoscope image from your photographs! Here are some examples of some custom work:

You can order your custom holiday cards with the inside blank to write your own message, or have a message printed--just let me know in a conversation when you place your order! For more ideas and information, visit Made by SwirlyGirl!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Meet and Greet

One thing I'm thankful for, as we count our blessings with Thanksgiving just a couple of days away, is that there are people who follow my blog. They don't all stop by on a daily basis--and that is okay! I know we all have a-zillion-and-one things to do in a day, and sometimes visiting the blogs that we like have to be put way down on the priority list! As you can see from my blog list, I follow many, however it is a rare day that I get to check out more than a few. However, I know that seeing those faces over in the side bar and reading the comments left under a blog post makes me feel that my efforts are being acknowledged and that I'm connected with many around the world that I have something in common with, even if we've never met in person. And I'm so grateful that I live in a time where that kind of connection is possible.

That said, I'd like to introduce you to 3 more of my followers and I hope that you will visit their shops and blogs, spreading the love around and making more connections around this virtual and real world!

Heather Kent is an artist from Long Beach, California who creates hand painted jewelry, dog portraits, and original art which she sells in her Etsy shop, Heather Kent. Her whimsical watercolors are colorful, fun, and uniquely set in little frame charms. You can learn more about her and see her process on her blog, Art by Heather Kent.

Linnea Tobias, from Arcata, California, uses watercolors and acrylics to express her love of patterns, textures and colors that have been influenced by "textile design, the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds, optical illusions, and the changing of the seasons." Linnea's art can be admired (and bought) in her Etsy shop, Linnea Tobias, and her blog (of the same name), can keep you informed as to what she's doing, while you delight in the colorful artwork she's produced in the side bar.

Audree is an interior designer and illustrator from Bankok, Thailand. Her yummy-looking colorful images can be purchased from two different Etsy shops: audreeart and decorartist. Her blog, Decorartist, shows a wide range of her work, which she prints on Mulberry paper, or emails to the purchaser to print on their medium of choice. You can also browse through Audree's Flickr photostream!

A big thank you to ALL of my followers, and if you are not one yet, I hope that you hit the "follow this blog" button and eventually, I will feature you, as well, if you have any links that I can discover to share with my readers!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stand by Me

A friend of mine on Facebook posted this yesterday and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to share it with my blog readers today. I found this rendition of "Stand by Me" very moving and I hope that you do, as well.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday Fun Finds

While you are thinking of the perfect gifts to buy your family and friends for the holidays, browse the shop homes of these whimsical choices!

And don't forget to check out Made by SwirlyGirl, too!

Info for Etsians

I was poking around the Etsy forums tonight--something that I rarely do because I usually don't have time!--and stumbled across one forum topic posted by MorninGlorias (whose shop is filled with lots of pretty beaded things!). The topic was about Etsy tools--she'd just discovered one and was asking about others that people had discovered. 73 pages later...there are a TON of sites and tools that I had never heard of! So, rather than running my usual "Theme of the Day Thursday", I've decided to help spread this valuable information and if any of you that read this find one of your favorite sites or tools missing from the list, PLEASE add it in the comments! And, please visit MorninGlorias blog, too, where she has posted this, and thank her for asking such a great question and collecting all of these fantastic suggestions into one cohesive list!
Forum Wrangler:
Forum Nav Bar:
Forum Permalink:
Admin Spotting:
More codes:
Search for fabric on etsy by color:
Wish list sites:,com_spotlight/task,wishlist/
Statsy Vutrac allows you track each of your items' views across periods of time! Vutrac also saves a history of previous updates:
Statsy Locator searches Etsy search results for an item and tells you on which page and what place it is:
The Biggest Fan tool shows you your top 5 fans:
You can get notified every time you are featured on Etsy's front page:
AND..... the new craftomania toolbar with many of these links added!

Here's a link to the forum:

Thank you so much MorninGloria! And all of you Etsians--happy bookmarking! :-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday Cards Now Available

There is only a short window--less than a month--that these will be available, so place your order soon!

These are available at Made by SwirlyGirl on Etsy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Holiday Gift Ideas

As we are now on our way into the holiday season, as is evidenced by our enthusiastic neighbors who have already set up a yard full of Christmas ornaments and lights, I want to encourage my friends, family, followers, and fans to shop handmade! The reward (besides feeling good about supporting an artist or artisan) is that the item you choose will be more unique, more carefully made, and carry with it the love and positive energy of the person whose hands created it!

To start us off, I have chosen a few random items from Etsy that fit into several price ranges. The search feature on Etsy is very easy and thorough, if you care to take a look and see what you can find yourself!

And don't forget to check out Made by SwirlyGirl on Etsy for other gift ideas, such as card sets, matted photo art, and artful coasters!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Getting to Know Jacqui Miyabayashi of Mee a Bee

I "met" Jacqui through an online group of artists and artisans we both joined to learn more about selling our creations online. What stood out about her to me was that she seems to have created a niche for herself that I've seen very little (if any) competition for and the fact that it appears that she has learned to balance family and business, despite having two young children at home! I see Jacqui's updates on Facebook and Twitter and I am amazed at how much work she seems to consistently get done, and that her "Biggie" and "Little Guy" are so helpful in the process! I'm pleased that she wanted to do this interview and I'm hoping some of her productivity will rub off on me! :-)

I provided Jacqui with a list of questions and she has answered and assembled her answers into the wonderful article you can read below. Thanks, Jacqui, for making this so easy for me! ;-)

"I'm Jacqui Miyabayashi of Mee a Bee, a small children's accessory store located in Osaka, Japan. We've just celebrated our second birthday so we're in our third year of business! I say we, although it is really only me, a stay-at-home mum with two kids. My kids help a lot with fabric shopping, sizing and 'yaye or nay' on designs.

As much as being a mother is very rewarding I was always searching for something to do for myself. I am committed to being a stay at home mum but I also have limited career options here in Japan since I am an expat from New Zealand. I spent several years thinking about starting a home-based business. Shortly before the birth of my second child I discovered Etsy (via and the seed was planted for my online business. I narrowed my options down to sewing, then after some online research and feedback from my blog readers
( I decided to give it a go with bags for kids. It's been an astounding success and very much the fulfilling venture I hoped it would be. I love running my own business.

I work at home where I have a crafting space in my laundry. About 2/3 of the space is taken up with my three sewing machines, plastic bins of fabric and baskets of work-in-progress. I also have a small office where I manage dispatch - that's where my computer, bookshelves and notice boards are. My ready-to-ship stock is kept in a closet down the hall where sticky fingers won't touch them.

My youngest child is just three years old and home with all day. We start the day early by getting big brother off to school. I check emails that have come in over night and make a to-do list. Usually it's carried over from the day before.

I spend the morning doing housework and playing with my son Tyler. If we need supplies from the fabric store we do that. We make any post office or bank trips on our bicycle. After lunch if I am lucky I get a bit of time to work on Mee a Bee while Tyler is taking a nap. We need our "Quiet Time" in the early afternoon. The rest of the day is taken up with meal preparation, taking my older son to karate, calligraphy. Bath time/Bed time.

Three or four days a week I go to the gym at night. That has really helped me emotionally and physically. I have a lot more energy and mental clarity. I get home at about 9 or 10pm which is when I start sewing. I work until around midnight and am in bed by 1am. This is my routine most days. I also teach English once a week so on those mornings I get up early to bake and Tyler goes out with our baby sitter for the duration of the class.

Sunday is my day of rest - from my kids - I have more free time to sew, catch up on emails, spend more time at the gym or go fabric shopping.

I love shopping for new fabrics. The best part about making bags is choosing the fabrics, the linings and the straps. I love to see how the designs unfold. It's amazing how a piece of fabric can be transformed into something ten times cuter if you get the right combination.

I can be found online in the following places: - Etsy Store - Website - Fan Page on Facebook - Twitter - Flickr - blog - Trifle - $AUD


I am hugely inspired by other crafters especially crafters in business. The talent on Etsy alone is just amazing. I also draw energy from people who are supporters of the handmade revolution like Brittni at PapernStitch (, or the folks at (, We Love Indie (, bloggers like Decor8 (, and fabric designers like Joel Dewberry (

I do have a passion for decorating so if I were to re-train I'd love to take a course in Interior Design. I have a degree in Marketing from the University of Waikato by the way.

My business bible is Craft Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco. Every piece of advice has helped me immensely. Although I have a business degree I always tended towards the creative side of marketing and sales rather than the nuts & bolts of how we are going to pay for this operation!

My sister is an accountant. She gave me a very good piece of advice which applies to International sellers. Convert funds into your home currency as soon as you make a sale since that is the currency all of your expenses are in (for me Japanese yen). When you have funds in various currencies (for example Etsy sales are in $US) you have no way of knowing if you are actually making any money.

Over the next year I hope to have my business grow more by adding a few more wholesale accounts and expanding to other selling venues like Artfire. My sales have been really pleasing but I would like to increase volume which will allow me to buy fabrics in bulk therefore cutting costs. Then I would like to hire an administrative assistant, a website developer and a professional photographer - as a start!"

I've so enjoyed learning about Jacqui and Mee a Bee and I hope that you all visit her shops and blogs and follow and fan her! And if you know anyone with young children, now you have another place to shop for them!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

This Veteran's Day I am so happy to be able to share this photo of my father at the age of 17, taken at boot camp during World War II. Dad doesn't like to talk about his experiences during the time he served in the U.S. Navy, but we are lucky enough to have photographs that give us a glimpse into his life at that time. Dad has no interest in watching films such as "Saving Private Ryan", or any other that depict the war that he lived through, and asking too many questions about that time can still bring a dark cloud over him and fill him with emotion that cannot be translated into words. It was not a happy time, obviously, and yet he is one of the most patriotic people I've ever known. He is filled with pride for our country and has instilled in my siblings and me a deep respect for those brave people who willingly lay down their lives for their ideals and for the freedom of their families and friends.

To all of our veterans and especially to my father, I want to say:
"Thank you".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Meet and Greet

Ah...Tuesdays! One of my favorite days of the week! I love being able to introduce to you creative and talented people! Most Tuesdays, I feature 3 of my blog followers and share whatever I can glean from their profiles and sites with the rest of my readers. It's my way of saying "thanks for following" and spreading the love a little bit!

Today, I have chosen Beryl, Meltem, and Paige---all of whom happen to make jewelry, but each with their own unique and beautiful style.

Beryl is an RN clinical manager in Arizona and mother of 2. She creates fun jewelry and crafts and prefers working with metal--especially found objects and hardware. Check out her fun and whimsical pieces in her Artfire shop, BerylthePeril, as well as her blog, Beryl Jewelry. She can also be followed on Twitter.

Meltem, from Istanbul, Turkey, has learned the arts of goldsmithing and silversmithing and her work reflects a combination of her cultural heritage and modern art. Her Etsy shop, meltemsem, is filled with beautiful jewelry, as is her Artfire shop, and you can check out her blogs: Melt'm Design Studio, Melt'm Design Studio Gallery, and Takilar Bir Arada. Browse through her Flickr photostream and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Paige is originally from northern Minnesota, but now resides in southern California, where she creates jewelry from metal clay, silver, bronze, copper, sterling silver, copper, found objects, shells, stones, beautiful beads, gem stones, and anything she can get her hands on! You can find her items in her Etsy shop: Hammer Stitch Burn and find out more about her on her blog of the same name.

I'd like to close this post with a thank you to all of my followers! If you are not a follower yet, and would like to be featured in a Tuesday Meet and Greet in the future, please become a follower here or on Facebook's Networked Blogs and you will publicly thanked with an introduction and links to your shops and blogs, as well!

Also, a big THANK YOU to The Handmade Gift Guide for featuring Made by SwirlyGirl yesterday in it's beautiful blog! I appreciate it so much and am very grateful that others enjoy my work! Please check out the blog, fan page, and tweets of The Handmade Gift Guide!

Monday, November 9, 2009

From This to That

I was inspired last night and am excited to share with my readers how I satisfied that creative impulse. Several months back, I posted a blog with photos that my husband took during a film shoot in Pennsylvania. The photos were taken in an old slaughterhouse, which was used as a backdrop for the movie. My husband took photographs of several of the old, broken, decayed wooden framed windows, which allowed filtered sunlight that found its way through the tree limbs and overgrown brush outside. I knew that eventually I'd find something to do with them, but until last night had not tried anything.

I began with several photos--I couldn't narrow it down to one!--and I manipulated the colors of each one:

I then layered all of them onto a new canvas, which I cropped when I was happy with the balance.
From there, I played with several different effect filters, saving the ones that I fancied as I went.

I then pulled up my Adobe Photoshop Elements and opened these photos in the program. Using my medhi kaleidoscope plug-in, I played with several of the images until I found a couple that I loved.

These finished kaleidoscope images will soon be found in my RedBubble gallery, as well as in Etsy, but in a different form: I'll be cropping them to add to my "WhirlyGirl" line.

Isn't amazing that a photograph can be turned from this:

...into that?:

I love this stuff!