Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ocean Fire Pottery Holiday Extravaganza Weekend

I participated in two amazing craft fairs this past weekend, and I have two more coming up! Thank you to everyone who came out to shop at the brand new Etsy Maine Team Artisan Fair at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, Maine! Thank you also to the HUGE CROWDS shopping Craft Fix at Buoy in Kittery this year -- that fair, now in its 8th year, never fails to astound me with the most talented, kind artists and supportive customers around. I am so grateful to have participated in both of these shows!

Coming right up, Ocean Fire Pottery's Holiday Extravaganza is this weekend, also celebrating its 8th year! I love participating in this event and am honored to have a spot in Amy Clark's pottery studio on Saturday, December 3rd from 10am to 5pm

Amy will host different artists in her studio each day, Friday through Sunday, featuring her own stunning pottery plus jewelry, candles, body scrubs, cards, calendars, driftwood gifts, coasters and other home decor. Other activities include mini-lessons on the pottery wheel (for adults and kids!), raffles, wood-fired kiln opening (check out Amy's incredible backyard pottery kiln), chair massages and refreshments each day. Don't miss this one! 

Artists throughout the weekend include:
Amy Clark of Ocean Fire Pottery - (our fearless host) handcrafted, wheel-thrown gifts
GLOW - A Holistic Wellness Studio - Chair massages all weekend. Treat yourself!
Becky Louison of Hoppy + Hippy 
Cherie Herne & Cheryl Patten of Salty Girl and Long Dog
Sam Goodall
Ellen Braley of El's Cards
Erin Donovan of Vessel and Co 
Ellen Lamoureaux

Here's a sneak peek:

Some of my latest Lofted Designs creations
Ocean Fire Pottery
Salty Girl & Long Dog
Ocean Fire Pottery
Vessel and Co
Vessel and Co
El's Cards
Salty Girl & Long Dog
Ocean Fire Pottery

The event runs in conjunction with the Festival of Lights in York Village, and is a quick walk around the corner from festivities including the Festival of "Fostering" Trees, Festival of Lights Parade (Saturday), 12th Annual Gingerbread House Festival & Santa Claus at the library and Center for Wildlife's Holiday Bazaar (Saturday: I've donated some jewelry to this event and all proceeds go to wildlife care!). 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Read the Etsy Shop Review That Made Me Blush

Each Etsy customer has the opportunity to leave a review after making a purchase. There is a 1-5 star rating system, and an optional text box for additional comments. I recently read through some reviews that came in over the summer and WOW...I have some of the nicest customers EVER.

It's so awesome when people take the extra time to leave a comment, especially when they are so happy with the quality of the products and my customer service.

Yes, it's true...if you tell me your order is a birthday gift and you need it by a specific date, you'd better believe I will do everything in my power to get it to you on time! I will often include a gift note or even gift wrap your item free of charge (if you ask nicely).

This reviewer was kind enough to comment on the craftsmanship and style of my handmade earrings, as well as my packaging and speedy shipping. Awesome!

What?? That order was an engagement ring?! That's pretty much the best compliment a jeweler can know your piece was selected as a symbol of commitment to hopefully be worn until the end of time. Incredibly special.

This repeat customer's review warmed my heart!!! What a wonderful testimonial.

And finally, this shop review made me blush! 

10 stars?! A perfect experience from start to finish? Kinder words were never spoken. Like I said, I am the luckiest and have the BEST CUSTOMERS EVER!

You can read more Lofted Designs Etsy reviews (all 243 of them, and counting) here. And, if you'd like the opportunity to write your own Lofted Designs review on Etsy, purchase one of my items here. Thanks!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

My Year of Quitting

So far, 2016 has been my year of quitting. I didn't do it on purpose. One thing just led to another and before I knew it, I'd pretty much removed myself from society. Here is how it's gone down:

1. I quit volunteering at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Or at least, I tried to. Volunteering my time is super important to me, but sometimes there just isn't any time to give. Greeting patrons there and ushering was a great way to get myself out of the house and, as a bonus, get to see a free show or movie now and then. But Lofted Designs got extremely busy in January (see last post) and I felt guilty about never signing up for any volunteer shifts. So when the time came to confirm my commitment and sign on for another season with The Music Hall, I opted out. I didn't fill out the form. I quit. At least I tried to, but for some reason I continue to get their emails each week asking for help. Who knows...maybe I'll go back sometime.

2. I dropped out of my book club, which is actually way cooler than a regular book club (it's a deep dive into a specific topic for several months, looking at literature, film, cultural relevance, art, music, etc.), but the pressure of committing to regular get-togethers was too much. I might re-join again soon because they are discussing super interesting topics right now. I'm just feeling non-committal.

3. I stopped consigning my jewelry at Pear Tree Gifts in Dover, NH. I've been consigning jewelry there since the store opened, and long before that when it was Lucy's Art Emporium. It's a fabulous store, filled with many wonderful things, but consignment just isn't a good fit for my business right now. It took me a long time to come to terms with that.

4. Finally, I just recently made the decision to close my Etsy shop. It's temporary, but my work-life balance was (and is) way out of whack. Lofted Designs has never been my full-time job, but has always been a creative outlet and relief from a long list of full time jobs I didn't quite like. For years, I worked in bustling offices filled with energy and noise, and the studio in the loft was my respite. My evening and weekend haven, with space to myself, quiet if I needed it. About two years ago, I found a day job I actually like that allows me to work remotely from home! This removed some of the need for quiet studio time to myself and I "needed" the loft less and less.

Then, in the last few weeks, my day job got a little crazy. I've taken on some new responsibilities (not necessarily by choice) and I find myself traveling quite a bit and working until 7pm or 8pm most days just to keep up with the extra workload. This doesn't leave any time or energy for creativity in the evenings, and I am reserving my weekends for recovery from my weeks (i.e. doing absolutely nothing). I've received a few desperate emails from customers who were hoping to place orders and it pains me to view my shop stats and see all the sales that could have been, but I'd rather miss out on some Lofted Designs studio time and disappoint a few people than end up working 24/7 and risking my sanity.

So that's that. I'm hoping to relaunch the shop this summer with a new look and some exciting additions to my jewelry line. In the meantime, I'm coming to terms with being a quitter. And I think I'm OK with it.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thanks, Buzzfeed!

I didn't see it coming. Everything was nice and quiet, January-style. I was out of town attending work meetings for my day job when I got the Etsy notification: 

"Kudos, one of your listings is getting a lot of views!"

Huh? But it's the middle of January. And it's a Monday afternoon. What is going on here? A quick view of my Etsy stats showed Buzzfeed as the primary referring site. Well, that's interesting. 

It didn't take me long to figure out the source of all those clicks:

Buzzfeed curse jewelry list

I absolutely love the title of the post: 
19 Completely Fucking Exquisite Pieces Of Jewelry For Your Best Friend Who Curses A Lot

And the brilliant subtitle:
Goddamn, these shits are fucking elegant as hell.
My Lofted Designs secret swear ring was featured as #9 on the list of 19, with the caption "Because there are just some things you can't say quite so obviously to your in-laws." So true.
Lofted Designs fuck you secret swear curse ring

People have asked me what I did to be featured in this brilliant post, and I tell them the truth: "Your guess is as good as mine." Honestly, I think I got lucky with one of those right-place-at-the-right-time scenarios. I haven't been doing any paid advertising (not even sponsored Facebook posts or promoted Etsy listings). I semi-regularly post Instagram pics and Facebook and Twitter updates, but I think the real key is having a unique and clever product with an optimized shop and listing, and decent photos. 

And really, if my diverse shop featuring seaglass necklaces, pet tags, button earrings and other random items is lucky enough to be recognized for one single product, I'm pretty fucking glad it's this one. I'm very proud of this ring design and its therapeutic properties that will hopefully help people all around the world deal with shitty bosses, rude customers and the like.

I'd like to send a shout out to Nora Whelan for recognizing greatness when she sees it and for coming up with such an incredibly inspired list.

Now it's back to the jewelry bench to make more of these fuckers. Thanks to everyone who has placed an order! I'm filling them as quickly as possible.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Handmade Running Necklaces for Heinemann's Wallis Sands Half Marathon Team

Team photo by Michael Grover – 7/10 of the Heinemann running team sporting their new necklaces

Huge congratulations are in order for Heinemann Publishing's running team! This amazing group of ten women made it a goal to train together through the winter and complete the Wallis Sands Half Marathon in Rye, NH today. Some of them are seasoned runners and others are new to the sport, with the half marathon begin their first official race. What a fantastic goal!

I was honored when the team's organizer reached out to me to order running necklaces for the entire team. She thought it would be fantastic to congratulate the team with a meaningful, locally-made gift. I couldn't agree more!

I'm sure the team did a fabulous job this morning. The Wallis Sands Half Marathon follows a gorgeous route along the New Hampshire coastline through Rye and all the way up to Odiorne Point State Park, and what a beautiful morning it was for a run along the beach. Go team Heinemann! I'm rooting for you!! Thanks for supporting the local arts community.

Heinemann is a publisher of professional resources and a provider of educational services for teachers, kindergarten through college. Their offices are located in a reconditioned 1800s mill building near downtown Portsmouth, NH. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Things Making Me Happy - Winter 2015

I'm usually a fairly happy person, but winter can be a struggle (for anyone, not just me). The shorter days with limited sunlight, long stretches of frigid New England temperatures and suburbia's lack of cultural diversions can be a drag. Winter just lasts longer here. So I'm making a point of focusing on the small stuff that makes me extra happy. Physical objects that bring me joy. Here's the first list – hope you like it!

First, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter is the best book I've read in a long while. It came out in 2012, but I'm a little late to the game. This book presents a fascinating and completely realized collection of characters and worlds and is beautifully written, with passages that feel more like poetry than fiction. This book is equal parts love story, travel narrative and mystery and it includes a play, a screenplay, a chapter of a Hollywood memoir and a war memoir. Though the book spans more than fifty years and follows dozens of intricate story lines, it never felt contrived or confusing. On the contrary, it felt very real and almost believable, and I was devastated when it all ended. So much so, that I actually immediately started it over again. I LOVED this book! I would go so far as to say it saved my January.

Next up: beautiful, bright, tactile objects. I recently got a new case for my iPhone and surprised myself by gravitating toward the neon red color option, which is actually more of a neon peachy-salmon. I'm almost always drawn to blues and greens, but this color really spoke to me and I'm glad I stepped outside my comfort zone. It makes me happy every time I see it and is also slightly soft for good grip, but not so rubbery that it can't easily slip in and out of my pocket. The Incipio NGP case was recommended by The Wirecutter and only cost $13 on Amazon!

One of my goals (always) is to drink more water. I don't drink nearly enough – I just never think of it – and a friend recently suggested that if I had a great vessel I loved drinking from, I might be more inclined to remember. After some searching, I decided on a bkr bottle (pronounced "beaker"), a glass bottle enclosed in a silicone sleeve. Its narrow glass mouth is amazing to drink from and the silicone sleeve feels great to hold. I want it with me all the time and therefore I am drinking more water! Color: Deep; purchased from Gus & Ruby Letterpress in Portsmouth, NH. 

This handmade noodle bowl from Ocean Fire Pottery was crafted in my hometown of York, Maine by Amy Clark. I've had this bowl for a couple of years now and it has always made me happy. The fact that it is handmade automatically makes it great, but also it's one of my favorite colors and its size and shape fit perfectly in my hands. As you can see from this photo, even a pre-packaged $1.19 grocery store packet of ramen noodles (yes, I splurge for the "pricey" brand!) can be elevated to new heights when enjoyed from a handmade noodle bowl. Bonus: handmade chopsticks made in Kittery!

I have Al James' "Stuff That Gets Used" article to thank for this one (and my husband who reads A Continuous Lean on a regular basis). He clued us in to Bobo's Mountain Sugar wood-fired Vermont maple syrup, whose tagline "A Taste of Tree" is quite accurate. This maple syrup is the best I've ever tasted, and the fact that it's handmade in small batches by a young couple carrying on an ancient tradition makes me love it even more. Dark and robust is where it's at, and this is coming from a girl who grew up thinking Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth's were the real deal (I've come a long way!). If you're confused about the new maple syrup grades, check out this cool maple grade graphic designed by Rumbletree, created for New Hampshire but also applicable to Vermont (but trust me on the dark and robust thing).  

I bought myself a year-long subscription to the Portland Patch Project for Christmas and I am looking forward to a year of surprises in my mailbox. First of all, surprise snail mail! Secondly, a slew of talented local artists from the Portland, Maine area will be designing these sewn patches throughout the year. So far, I have not been disappointed. Pictured here are the January and February patches, plus a bonus lobster patch and authentic 1980s NKOTB trading card (random, but so fun). There was also a great print in the first shipment (not pictured). The website features artist profiles and I can't wait for the March patch (I'm a HUGE fan of Eric Hou's work). Not sure where to sew my patches just yet, but they're making me very happy.

I'm a long-time David Lynch film fan, however I've never seen Twin Peaks in its entirety. I watched the first few episodes about 10 years ago, but couldn't get into it. I finally decided to commit and am immensely enjoying the Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery Blu-ray box set, taking care to spread it out and not binge-watch the entire series all at once. I'm watching an episode or two a week and loving it! I haven't started delving into the extra features yet (of which there are a ton) because I'm terribly afraid of spoilers, but I will backtrack and watch them all before winter is through. The packaging of the box set alone makes me super happy and each episode feels like a new gift to be unwrapped.

Speaking of unwrapping gifts with amazing packaging, my sister sent me this incredible box of chocolates from her holiday trip to London. These are from Fortnum & Mason, a department store established in 1707! The box alone is incredible, printed with gold foil and featuring a scenic flora and fauna print under the lid, not to mention the chocolates inside. Of course, I had to geek out and look up the brains behind the packaging design. My photos don't do it justice. 

Disclosure: I have no material relationship to any brand or person mentioned in this post. These endorsements are based on my own personal opinions only and are not sponsored in any way.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Look Back & A Look Ahead

First thing's first: happy new year and THANK YOU! Thank you for following along in my creative adventures, whether we know one another in person or just online. I'm so lucky to have friends, fans and followers interested in what I do. Lofted Designs started out as a personal hobby eight years ago, and I am constantly amazed by and grateful for the number of people who enjoy my work.

Looking Back
2014 was a year of many milestones for this little jewelry company:
  • Lofted Designs surpassed the 700-sale mark on Etsy!
  • My work had more than 17,000 views on Etsy from all over the world (93 countries)!
  • I shipped more than 135 orders all over the US and the world – not a record-setting year, but certainly nothing to sneeze at. 
  • The fewest craft fairs ever – I only participated in three shows this year and none more than 10 miles from my house. This was a risky move, but I loved the shows I did and didn't miss the rest! It all worked out. 

Each year, I donate a portion of profits to some of my favorite organizations and 2014 was no exception. For the first time, I decided to align specific products with non-profits. 

The ever-popular sterling silver Wanderlust Earrings (both the original and the new hammered style) raised funds for Hostelling International USA, an organization that made a huge impact on me when I was younger. Founded in 1934, HI promotes international understanding of the world and its people through travel. They currently operate a network of over 50 hostels across the US, each offering a unique, inexpensive, safe and clean experience.

A percentage of profits from the sale of my new running necklaces was donated to Girls on the Run, a transformational physical activity-based youth development program for girls in 3rd-8th grade. The organization teaches life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5k running event. The goal is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.

My beagle Sandy is my only child, and so naturally I believe beagles are the best dogs ever. Beagles of New England States (B.O.N.E.S.) was founded in 2003 with a mission to rescue, rehome, spay/neuter, and provide necessary medical care to beagles in need in New England. This is an all-volunteer organization doing amazing work every day! I especially love their Sensational Seniors program which helps find loving homes for beagles in need over the age of 10. With your help, Lofted Designs pet tag sales helped fund a generous donation this year!

The remainder of donations went to the Center for Grieving Children, based in Portland, Maine. This wonderful organization provides free bereavement support and crisis response to children, teens, young adults and their families and has been doing so for 27 years. They encourage the safe expression of grief and loss and foster each individual’s resilience and emotional well-being.

Looking Ahead

As we flip the calendar to 2015, I am energized by the concept of a fresh, new start and a clean slate. I've decided to take Lofted Designs in a slightly different direction this year, but more on that in a future blog post (coming soon). 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

CRAFT FIX - Sunday, November 30th, Kittery, Maine!

Join me and 19 other local artists and craftspeople at Buoy Gallery in Kittery for the amazing annual Craft Fix!

10am - 5pm 
2 Government Street
(gallery space attached to The Black Birch)

**SAME DAY BONUS: Art on the Hill's open studios, Folk (darling little shop around the corner) anniversary celebration and Doo salon (across the street) Wrong Brain craft fair are all at the same time! 

**WEATHER BONUS: the forecast is 50°!