Friday, February 29, 2008

Miki 2

Content Paradise's Miki 2 is a lot of fun for us 3D types to play with. I've been making a new skin texture from high resolution photos and working on a new character for her. Here's a little peek at her head texture.

I watched the Etsy founder, Rob, on Martha Stewart today. I've never seen the show before and I have to say except for the Etsy presentation, it was pretty boring. How exciting to see other sellers' work featured on TV!

I'm beginning to think that B&B products are going to give jewelry a run for its money as the category having the most sellers. There's been a mushrooming of people selling soap lately.

I'm always happy to see people try new and creative things. But soapmaking isn't something you just jump into and you start selling the next day. You certainly shouldn't be selling your first batch of soap you ever made either. You need to study, learn, experiment and most importantly of all -- test the soap that you make to insure that it's safe for other people to use. There are no shortcuts, unfortunately.

While it's true that making great soap isn't exactly rocket science, you still need to know what the heck you're doing. You need to know, for sure, the difference between essential oils (which can be very costly and must be used judiciously and with care, depending on their application) and fragrance oils. Puhleeze learn the difference if you want to be taken seriously as a soapmaker.

I'll just say it, OK? You can't get essential oils at Michaels or Joanne's craft store. There is no such thing as strawberry or coconut or lilac essential oil. If you're listing these as ingredients in your shop, you're going to look foolish and turn off buyers who do know a lot about handmade soap. Take the time to learn your craft.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rosemary Mint Handmade Soap

It's finally cured and ready to lather up -- I just added Rosemary Mint handmade soap to my etsy shop. It's a real eye-opener!

Yesterday I made a decadent batch of luxury soap that included insane amounts of natural, undeodorized cocoa butter and mango butter, plus almond, jojoba and avocado oils and other fabulous and pricey ingredients. It's scented with chocolate, orange and hazelnuts. I drool every time I sniff it (frequently). I swear it smells good enough to eat.

Today is a milestone of sorts, but one that leaves me with a heavy heart. A year ago my beloved and much-missed mother passed away. Nothing in your life prepares you for this. Even if you have a conflicted or troubled relationship with your mom, cherish her while you still have her. Life is much shorter than we think.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Clementine Lavender Soap

It's finally cured and I can't wait to use some myself! I just added deliciously fragrant Clementine Lavender soap to my shop. It turned out really pretty too, with kind of hippie-ish tie-dye looking purple and orange swirls!

Uh, Jen, if you're reading this, do you recognize the beautiful purple face cloth you knitted for me several years ago? It stars in a lot of my soap porn!

You know, getting your kid through the senior year of high school is not for sissies. Honestly, the more I deal with it the more convinced I am that the last year of high school is a giant PITA. Our county is trying to change the schedule (for the 3rd time in 4 years) back to 7 classes a day. With 2,000+ kids in the school, how much time out of each period will get wasted just dealing with stragglers and late kids, taking roll and other minutiae?

Twice in the last four years, including the present school year, the kids have had 4 long blocks of 90 minutes per class. They have extended periods of time to learn, to ask questions, to do labs and get more information in this block system. Everyone loves it -- kids, parents and especially teachers. Now they want to change it all up again, supposedly because it will save money.

The students at my kids' school had a sit-in demonstration yesterday which the media got a whiff of and it made the TV and newspaper news. It reminded me a bit of the 60's. Fight the Power!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Soaping and 3D Noodling

I'm trying to add more essential oil soaps into my shop, so this morning I made a really lovely warm, woodsy, slightly sweet and minty blend of Eucalyptus and Spearmint. It really smells terrific!

Now that I'm starting back to making 3D characters for Poser again, I really got into it yesterday. I made a head texture from photos so I could start a WIP for Aiko 4, the new Daz anime character. She's great because you can make her more or less realistic, depending on the look you want. Here's what I've got so far.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rosemary Mint

I made Rosemary Mint soap yesterday and tried something fancy -- two layers with white underneath and pale green on top, sketching mint leaves into the surface of the soaps. I often have these great ideas that are much more wonderful in concept than they are in actual execution, LOL. Well I almost but not quite suck at making mint leaves with a toothpick and chopsticks. These soaps will probably benefit from a nice planing with the beveler and a little cosmetic mica to hide the wobblies. It's still pretty though and it smells fantastic.

Daz3D, where I sell my 3D characters as StephanieBT, has released a new version of their base figure, Victoria 4. I'm probably going to make something for her, but it takes a long time to make a skin texture from photos, from scratch. In the mean time, I've been playing with Thorne & Sarsa's beautiful Eliza. I did a fun render of her this morning.

Monday, February 11, 2008

EGCG Scavenger Hunt is On!

Read all about it on Etsy, here! Some lucky person who finds all the letter clues and puts them together to form a word is going to win a fabulous treasure trove of B&B products, including a bar of my Caribbean Dreams handmade soap!

Some of you know that when I'm not making stuff to sell on Etsy, I make 3D characters, including skin textures for them from scratch, from photos. This is one I'm almost done with, for Miki 2 for Poser. Here's a peek at my Mitsouko.

My house smells like an odd but wonderful melange of soaps I made this morning -- Turkish Mocha, Coconut Lemongrass and Clementine Lavender. Mmmmm.

I've been on a kick, crocheting tons of these adorable little Soap Saver/Scrubbies in lots of new colors. I've added a bead to the ends of the drawstring ties to dress them up a little. They're really cute and lather up your soap or shower gel like crazy.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lots to Do

I got a big order last night to make a large number of soaps in 3 different fragrances for a wedding to be held in the Caribbean in a couple of months. I'm pretty excited about it! I'm going to be making big batches of soap this weekend so they will have at least a month to cure. I kind of like the idea of my soapie babies traveling to the Caribbean and being part of a lovely wedding!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Fairy Clip Art

Today I made a package of 7 adorable fairies, royalty-free clip art in PSD format, and added them to my shop, here. There's lots of cute poses and expressions on this little red-headed fairy. The clip art is my own creation, so there's no problems to worry about regarding copyright. These can be used in a multitude of ways -- banners, avatars, web design, ACEO's, greeting and post cards, candy wrappers, you name it!

The Etsy Green and Clean Guild will sponsor a Scavenger Hunt that begins at 12am, EST February 11th and will end at 12 midnight EST, February 16th. All correct entries will then be entered into a drawing and the winner will be selected at random on February 18th.

To join the hunt, visit each of the participating shops and look through the pictures in their shop listings. Find the shops that contain one picture of a "letter" (you will need these to unscramble a word) hiding in one of their shop listings. Search through the participating shops and jot down the "letter" and the name of the shop you have found the letter in. After you have found all of the letters (14 total), then unscramble them to complete a word.

When you think you have solved the puzzle, please convo Domaly with your entry and your name will go into a drawing to win a bunch of bath and body goodies. Winner will be selected at random and announced on February 18th. The lucky winner will be contacted by ‘convo’ on Etsy and the results will be posted in the forums.

And of course I'm participating! :)

I did a little soaping this morning. Instead of the fragrances I thought I'd soap, I ended up making Clementine Lavender. I can't even tell you how good it smells, it's divine. I did a purple and orange swirl in it that looks like tie-dye! Maybe I'll get to the Plumeria tomorrow!

It Had to Be Done

My office was a wreck. Paper, books, supplies, curing rack, stuff just everywhere piled on top of each other. I couldn't find anything. So yesterday I decided to take that first step to getting my work space organized. I started with my desk, the top of which was no longer visible. I promised myself I'd work for 1/2 hour. Ha ha. Three hours later, my office looks soooo much better. I can actually find things.

I still need to put in a couple more hours, but I'm very encouraged that this investment in time pays off so nicely. Not only do things look better, I can find my stuff and I feel calmer and more serene. I truly do believe that outer chaos contributes to inner chaos. It helps to have my Kwan Yin and Jizo statues sitting here next to me too.

Yesterday morning was traumatic. I broke a tooth this past weekend, it just sheared off its back face. So I had to have a temporary crown made, and will go back to get the final one in a couple weeks. I'm a real baby about dental work, I hate it. Especially lying on my back with my mouth open and chin tilted up while my jaws are clamped tight around the molding compound for 3 minutes. OK, it's not waterboarding, but it's close. It's really hard to breathe during those 3 minutes.

I made an avatar for a friend in Poser the other day. I have been playing in Poser a little more lately. I need to get back into it. Here's how the avatar turned out.

Today I want to make something light and spring-y. I'm torn between soaping my Love Spell duplicate, or Grapefruit Jasmine or Plumeria. The Plumeria gives me a headache, but I sold a lot of it last spring, so I feel like I need to make some more. No sense having a big honking bottle of expensive fragrance just sitting there.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Calbrian Violet and Bergamot

New in my shop, a delicate, sweet breeze of Calabrian Violet and Bergamot, handmade cold process soap that smells fantastic and lathers like a dream.

Weird Al Ebay Parody song. OMG. This man is brilliant. He's been making me laugh for at least 25 years.

Well I finally broke down and signed up for a trial of Endicia. I'm getting more and more international orders and need to be able to print postage at less than premium rates. I don't understand why the USPS and PayPal sites won't let you print anything except more expensive international postage, but that's how it is. If I had to charge buyers $11 to ship a lip balm to the UK, I'm sure I wouldn't sell very many. So far I've used Endicia to print, at home, postage to Israel, Canada and the UK. I love not having to stand in line at the post office!

On today's agenda: More soaping. Big surprise, yes? I have some Clementine Lavender to make, and a few new fragrance oils I want to soap, including an excellent dupe of Love Spell, and more Turkish Mocha, Ginger Orange and Plumeria. I'm getting excited about my spring fragrances.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

3D Faery Sadie

I've been taking a little break from Poser, a 3D modeling program for which I've been creating characters for several years. Today I just wanted to play with Poser and have been doing renders of Sadie, a very cute little toon faery. :)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Libby and Me

For my old friends who've not seen a recent photo of me, here I am with our new Welshie, Libby. I'm kind of a wreck here, it's just after we got her after driving 550 miles.

Today I added a new Birds and Bees original Etsy banner to my shop. The digital painting is licensed, done by my fabulously talented friend Dana of Jaguarwoman.