Friday, May 14, 2010

Fun With New Art Dolls

I made some new art dolls; a Maid Marian doll, a Hoochie Mama doll, and a Flower Child doll. They are made from shoe stretchers, collage, and a variety of hardware and kitchen items I picked up from yard sales and the local Habitat ReStore.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Repurposing Salvaged TV Antennas


In the attic of my house there were two TV antennas thoughtfully left behind by the previous owners. I was reacquainted with them this week while working on some insulation issues in the attic. I decided it was time they got repurposed.

I mounted the more complete one on top of a 4x4, and used parts from the other one around the base. All around the poles I planted some pole beans. I'll post some pictures once the beans have climbed on it. Hopefully the birds will like it as well as a place to watch for bugs on the pond, too.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Illustration Friday: Ahead

I've done these Library People drawings for years, and I've always sold them on eBay, but I've decided not to auction them anymore. Since everyone is suffering through the Great Recession, I think it is unlikely I'll get decent bids, so I am going to move ahead and just sell them on my website. Sure, my website gets a hit once in awhile at best, but I remain hopeful that things will pick up. This is Library People 126, and she is for sale at the aforementioned website, ottoblotto.com.

I also sell my work now in my Zazzle store, Incomplete Thoughts. Yes, it's reproductions. I have to make a living somehow.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Uses for Old Golf Clubs

I don't golf. I don't even follow the sordid details of Tiger Woods' life apart from what I read in line at the grocery store. So it comes as no real surprise that I have no real need for a set of golf clubs. However, I have managed to collect a slew of them from various places. Habitat for Humanity stores are a great place to go if you have need of such things. I really needed a way to put them to work in the garden, and trellising looked like just the right spot. I used old golf clubs and mason's line in some raised beds next to a chain link fence to make this excellent support for my sugar snap peas to grow on. Their weight makes them very stable with the addition of some rock anchors. I'm going to look for some other ways to make use of the remainder of my club collection. If you have pictures of some other uses for old golf clubs, post the links in the comments.

Repurposing Vintage Postcards

I've won a number of awards on Zazzle, which is nice. Really nice. Yesterday I got two awards; a TBA [Today's Best Award] for the stamp you see here, and a Zazzle Artist Award [my first] for this postcard design I Photoshopped together from an old postcard.

The Zazzle Artist Award gets me a feature on the front page of vintage - postcards. I'm not sure how much attention it will attract. I do like taking old postcards and repurposing them with the magic of Photoshop. That's what I did with the Save the Date postage stamp. I don't think Save the Date cards were even around back when I got married, so surely they weren't around at the time of these designs. There is, of course, a matching card to go with the postage. Check out my Vintage Greetings Store for other repurposed vintage cards, thank you's, and invitations. Great stuff from vintage wallpapers, too.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cafepress vs Zazzle Revisited

It's been a long time since I wrote a review of my Cafepress and Zazzle experiences, as an anonymous blogger pointed out just yesterday. Since I achieved ProSeller status on Zazzle yesterday as well, I thought maybe they were right, so let me share my more recent experiences.

I have done very little work on Cafepress over the last year, having concentrated primarily on Zazzle. The reason for this is pretty simple: Zazzle stores are free. Bottom line: FREE. [Cafepress, are you listening?] Furthermore, I can set my price at anything I please on Zazzle, and that's the price it is everywhere on Zazzle. Not so on Cafepress, which no longer links back to your store that you spent so much time building, and where you control the prices. Unless you spend a lot of time getting people directly to your store, you will end up with all your sales coming from the price controlled Cafepress marketplace. It's pretty good business, but not great since I am still paying for the privilege of having the store, which also has limits on how many sections you can build. No limits with Zazzle.

Zazzle allows you to build as many stores as you like, so you can have small, very focused shops. I find that putting up a big shop full of every design idea that spills from my head is a little like walking into WalMart. When a do a focused shop like Social Butterflies, which only sells butterfly designs, I get fewer visitors, but I have a higher purchase per visitor result. The bottom line being, if they come to look at butterfly designs, then they are more likely to stay and ultimately buy something since that is all the shop carries.

I now have 17 shops on Zazzle, with no shop fees eating into my profits. Because I can gang them all together for volume bonuses and such, that makes Zazzle a good deal. At this time, I make a little more on Zazzle per month than I do on Cafepress, but because I pay no shop fees, a lot more of it ends up in my pocket. Also, since I can decide what my markup can be, I can control how much I make.

The good news overall is that the economy is picking up ever so slowly, so sales are slowly improving on both sites. And I will probably keep doing business with both sites since I do make a profit on both, but my loyalty has definitely shifted somewhat to Zazzle, because free is still a very good thing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Adam and Eve and the Children of Eden

My kids were recently in a production of Children of Eden, a musical of questionable theology set roughly in the book of Genesis. Aside from the names of the characters, there is little that refers accurately to anything Biblical, but if you like theatrical interpretation, you may really enjoy it. Or not.

I am of the impression that pretty much all plays and concerts are about 3 songs too long. Even with the relief of an intermission, they always seem to surpass my attention span by the aforementioned 3 songs, and Children of Eden is no exception.

Children of Eden starts in the first act with the creation story, and somewhere along the way we end up at Stonehenge. [Hello? How did we get from naming animals to a ring of giant stones?] In case you are not up on your Old Testament, Stonehenge does not appear in the Bible.

By midway through the second act, which is the story of Noah and the flood, I was ready to start pitching all the characters off the ark and begging God to please let the musical end. I make a lousy thespian, especially in light of the two theatre degrees I have collecting dust in a bookshelf somewhere. Let me be clear, though; the people who put on the play did an admirable job; it is the musical itself I find tedious.

My most recent trip to the Habitat Restore, however, yielded some very inspirational bits of hardware, so I decided that an Adam and Eve sculpture would be an amusing task. Since I had been a slave to my children's rehearsal schedule for the last few months, I must have a bad case of Genesis on the brain.

I hope you like my doll sculpture. It, like the play, is suggestive of the apple eating contest between Adam and Eve that resulted in their both catching cold from the sudden draftiness one frequently experiences when camping out. Or something like that. You can look it up.

This is Dolls; We're Not Making Construction

I watched a bit of that new show on HGTV called Tough as Nails. You've likely seen the ads where Cindy Stumpo snidely declares, "This is construction; we're not making dolls." Why would I want to spend my time watching someone revel in their ability to be rude and abrasive to everyone they meet? It's an easy show to turn off.

I, on the other hand, am making dolls. My supply of shoe stretchers is holding up, so I took out another heap of them yesterday and got to work on some much needed art therapy. I had been meaning to make a bovine inspired doll for my friend, John, whose stickam site is much more engaging than an evening with Cindy Stumpo. John lives off the grid in a desolate area of Texas, and has longhorn cows that wander in and out of the premises all day. Evidently, they aren't his cows, but he doesn't seem to mind, and has become pretty good friends with one named Benita, who now has her own Facebook page.

This pair of bovine beauties is made from two shoe stretchers. The legs are spindles from a local textile mill, the facial collage is from some women's magazines from the 50's and 60's, and the various other parts are scavenged from the Habitat ReStore here in Greensboro, NC. They include various cabinet hardwares, hooks, nails, brads, leather strips, and wooden spoons.

The people over at Habitat were beginning to get curious over my frequent purchases of piles of apparently unmatched hardware jetsom and flotsam. So I shared this blog address with them. I hope they will be pleased, but there is no telling what people will really think.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Recycled Materials Birdhouses 4

This birdhouse is one I call The Meter House. This house uses side cuts and regular 1X lumber. I used old tin roofing for the roof. There is a large gas meter kind of randomly screwed to the side, because I really liked how it looked.

The opposite side has some ventilation holes covered with screening and a ceramic outlet cover. The perch is ceramic as well, with a silver toned beauty ring and a piece of rusted metal roofing.

The house is asymmetrical in design, but I figure the birds won't mind too much. Maybe they'll have creative offspring.

Recycled Materials Birdhouses 3

This is another of my recycled materials birdhouses. I'm pretty fond of this one. It uses 1X lumber along with side cuts from some old logs.

There are some key ornaments, along with drawer hardware and a door stop that is doing duty as a perch. The side hole has screening in it to protect against anything getting in through the side, but it still offers some ventilation.

The roof is made from a piece of old tin roofing from a dismantled barn. I can't wait to get it up on a tree where I can watch for future tenants.

Recycled Materials Birdhouses 2

I call this birdhouse the Arizona house, as it uses my no longer needed Arizona license plate, among other things.

We found an awesome metal scrapyard the other day. They had all these bins of old brass junk, much of which I have used on this house. It includes three different styles of drawer pulls, along with escutcheon plates, beauty rings, a key, a dog tag, and a plastic outlet cover.

My favorite part is the unusual top ornament. I just hope it doesn't act as a lightning rod.

Recycled Materials Birdhouses

For the last few days I have been doing some birdhouses. We have had an unusually cold winter, and I have been trying hard to keep all the neighborhood birds fed. Since spring is on the way, I figured birdhouses would be a good idea for my little feathered friends.

My husband and I spent the better part of a day collecting some birdhouse inspirations. We got some very cool items at the local Habitat Home Re-Store, a metal salvage yard, and the junk heap where a barn had been not so recently re-roofed.

It was just uncommon fortune that Illustration Friday chose "Propogation" for it's word of the week. I figured I would be contributing to the propogation of baby birds, so I decided to post some pictures.

This particular house uses the side cuts from some logs, some regular 1X lumber, a portion of a license plate, a metal house number, a valve stem, an electrical plate of some sort, and a sculptural head that had taken a bad fall. I still have a little caulking and weatherproofing to do, but I am pleased with my results.