Shout Out from Whip Up!

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How to Make Amazing CORK Christmas Tree Ornaments

While you are getting merry this season with your favorite bottles of red and white - start saving your wine corks (you may already have a nice little collection) and turn them into amazingly awesome Christmas tree ornaments. Cork is the bark of the cork oak tree. Most cork is grown in managed forests, primarily in Portugal and Spain, where the cork is carefully harvested in a centuries-old tradition using hand tools and without pesticides or fertilizers ensuring the trees will remain undamaged. So remember to support this amazing industry by buying your wine with cork stoppers!

To make these little beauties you will need:

Corks, Buttons, Glue, Pleather Cording, Eyehooks, Slip Rings and Some Cute Little Christmasy Things to Hang From Your Corks

1. Start with a button that is about the size of your cork or a bit larger and thread it with a strand of pleather from the bottom up
2. Stack on a few more buttons and tie it off. Give your pleather a few more inches for hanging and trim.
3. Using a pair of sharp little scissors dig a little hole in the top of your cork so your bottom button sits flat
4. Glue the button to the cork and let this set
5. Twist an eyehook into the bottom of your cork and add a slip ring
6. Now you are ready to add any cute little Christmasy things you can think of to dangle from your corks

REwrapping this year - Boxes and Bows

Go green instead of spending green this year!

You will need: Scrap paper (a colorful magazine page looks great), cardboard packaging (here I am using a dog food box), scissors, stapler, twine, paper cutter (or ruler), glue

1. To make the bow cut several strips of paper down to 8.5" X .75" and one piece to 4" X .75
2. Loop each strip ends back into the center and staple
3. Staple all your looped pieces together at 90 degree angles and top off with the 4" piece looped and stacked on top
4. Flatten out your cardboard packaging
5. Find the glued side and carefully separate the cardboard to open the packaging
6. Turn the box inside out and reglue it back together (or tape it if you are going to cover the box)
7. Telephone book pages run through a paper shredder make a great replacement for tissue paper
8. You can now decorate your box to your own style- or keep it simple with some twine and your recycled bow!

Black Friday thru Cyber Monday (otherwise known as Thanksgiving weekend SPECIAL in honor of LUCY)

I once had a chicken named Lucy. She appeared in our yard one day and kept trying to get into our house by flying into the windows (unopened windows...ouch, poor Lucy!). My generous hubby would walk around the yard with Lucy at his feet looking under rocks for crickets. This next part gets a little gross. He would toss the cricket on the ground to stun it and then Lucy would gobble it up - hey the girl had to eat! She would jump into our laps when we sat on the patio and nibble on our toes when we ignored her. Our dog Hershey would chase her around the yard and she would fly atop the patio umbrella to get away. When fall came (and the chicken clean up got a little too much- chickens require a lot of clean up, if you know what I mean) we took Lucy to a farmer down the street named Junebug where she lived happily ever after with other chickens and one lucky rooster, laying a gazillion eggs for farmer Junebug.

When Etsy announced a Thanksgiving weekend site-wide super-sale I somehow thought of Lucy ... I mean Lucy wasn't a turkey, but she was the closest friend to a turkey I have ever known ... So I have decided to participate in this sale in honor of Lucy. I will be offering customers a free I AM A GOOD EGG cork small necklace as well as donating 1 CHICKEN (yes, as in cluck, cluck) to World Vision (the gift of a chicken will provide a family with a lasting source of nutrition and income. Fresh eggs raise the levels of protein and other nutrients in a family’s diet, and the sale of extra eggs provides money for other household needs) with their purchase of any 3 items between my 2 shops from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Hoping to donate a little flock, clutch, peep, brood - what the heck do you call a bunch of chickens anyway?!

New Stuff Added to My Shops This Week

This is my new Spread Your Wings butterfly mini recycled magnetic locket set - that was a mouthful! - I am feeling a lot like spreading my wings lately!

I can never have enough bookmarkers because I hate to dog ear my precious books (although I still do sometimes) and this little cork one is very special to me!

Favorite Recent Monthly Purchase

As part of my monthly Etsy tithe (I am committed to putting 10% of my Etsy profits back into Etsy each month) - this is my favorite October purchase. They are the sturdiest and most amazing bibs you can imagine! I was tremendously impressed and the little mama I gave them to was, too! Check out Mandolyn's amazing shop THE pretty BEAN committed to recycled plastic bags. This may also be a good place to donate your bags!

How to Make Sure Trash is NOT What's for Christmas This Year

This holiday season give our beautiful planet the gift of wrapping green - think recycle and reuse.

I love having amazingly wrapped presents under my Christmas tree, but cannot stand the thought of that same beautiful wrap still sitting in a landfill when my great-great grandchildren are opening their presents! Forty percent of our trash comes from paper products and over 900,000,000 trees are destroyed annually to provide the United States with this paper. When we send paper to a landfill it is typically compacted and sealed into an airtight hole in the ground where it is unable to decompose and becomes perfectly preserved. Decreasing the amount of trash we have this holiday season, even a little bit, can have a dramatic impact. It is always up to you if you want to add to the problem or add to the solution!

The most important thing you can do is to be conscious of what you are buying and its packaging. Purchase products with minimal packaging. When choosing between two similar items, go for the one with less packaging. Choose gifts that replace disposable products. Cloth napkins, .
crocheted dish scrubbers (Curly Girl Crochet) and electric razors all reduce the consumption of throwaway products. Use less wrapping paper. You can reuse old posters, maps and newspapers. Say no to the metallic paper that cannot be recycled- stick to recyclable paper. There are also sites that sell amazing hemp paper with soy based inks that decompose very quickly. A great idea for kids is to buy a large kraft paper roll at the office supply store and have them decorate it - I did this with my daughter a little bit each night between Thanksgiving and Christmas- then set the roll out for Santa to use on Christmas Eve (then toss the paper into the recycle bin instead of the garbage bin on Christmas morning). Give gift bags that can be used again and again. This year put your gift in one of those very inexpensive store brand shopping bags or canvas bags and nixing the tissue paper for recyclable comics give the gift they will use again and again. There is a talented seller on Etsy named ZJayne who makes reusable shopping bags out of t-shirts that would make amazing gift bags! You can make your own bags from your extra material and yarn just like Fisheye's! shown here. Her shop is filled with amazing upcycled handbags and more!

Also think reuse- and you will wrap green and save some green in your wallet at the same time. Why buy shirt boxes when your house is probably full of boxes right now. Cereal boxes are the perfect size to wrap lots of goodies. I like to use the boxes sans wrap, but if you must wrap the box think recyclable paper again. Mark all your gifts PLEASE RECYCLE ME (I print this on the back of my gift tag). You can get creative with this and use a cereal box for slippers, a dog food box for a dog sweater, etc, but the main idea is to reuse what we already have, so we are not wasting our planet's precious raw materials creating more throw away products.

Send out your holiday cards electronically (I can't bring myself to do this because I love to send and receive cards too much!). Use last year's holiday cards for this year's crafts including your gift tags, postcards throughout the year (cut off the backs), press them between 2 sheets of contact paper for holiday placemats or hang them on this year's tree. NestaUSA has some amazing cards this holiday season. I send my old cards to a wonderful St. Jude's program where children at St. Jude's Hospital earn money by creating new holiday cards from old cards. You mail your cards to St. Jude's Card Recycling, 100 St. Jude Street, P.O. Box 60100, Boulder City, NV 89006 - mail them USPS bound printed matter and they will be inexpensive to ship. And since it is the time of year when our mailboxes are stuffed with paper almost daily - get yourself taken off catalog mailing lists that you do not use. Call the Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference Service at 1-212-768-7277.

If we each make it our goal to eliminate that trash bag full of gift wrap this season - just imagine how this effect will snowball. Let's give the gift of an empty space in that landfill where our trash would have been!

Question of the Week

This week's question goes to Vincent Corona-Evans (somethingwhimsical) the maker of those little BOB guys and a wonderful illustrator about his earliest art memories (he takes us deep into his psyche with this one) and this is what he had to say: "My earliest "art memory" is broken up into several glimpses and/or happenings that may or may not have occurred to me between the ages of four to seven. There is a perplexing phenomenon that happens inside my head when I think of such events that far back. I tend to blur and confuse factual moments that have actually happened with stories that were told to me about other people by other people. So although I believe the small list below to be events from my life, I must concede, reluctantly, that these may just be snippets of stories told to me.

#1 Art memory: (This memory is definitely mine.) Playing with pasta letters on a fold-up card table with newspaper on it. I remember thinking how cool the letters looked even though I couldn't read yet. I pretended to write words by putting them in long lines and then asking my mom to tell me what I spelled. This was my first tangible memory of my love of pretending. Pretending was my creative inspiration. I'd pretend I was on a planet, and I would draw it on paper and there it was. I remember having paper beside me almost every time my mind created some new adventure. I look back in old notebooks and I see layouts of houses and landscapes, and musicians with instruments and whole stage diagrams. Cars, boats, planes, spaceships, superhero costumes, you name it. Not a single one of those drawings didn't have a whole days worth of fantasy wrapped around it.

#2 Inspirational: I remember being made to draw on red construction paper and then being forced to cut the drawing out with crappy scissors. I don't know what this means, but I remember it like it was yesterday and I still feel frustrated by it. (This would make me laugh if in fact this wasn't my own memory.)

#3 Something like that: Seeing the Easter bunny in my back yard. I know, at first, this may seem derived from a WB cartoon and completely none "art" related, but this felt so real to me and has had such an impact on me it just has to be true. Several things stuck out about my encounter that day as well. First, this thing was man size. I mean huge and fat and tall. And not that fast. It hobbled out slow on its hind feet from the tall weeds growing behind our house. Then it stopped and noticed me and just stared. I was frozen with fear. That big round rabbit face just stared at me. Terrifying. I do remember even in my anxiety thinking this is strange. Not to mention, it was fall. I think. October or November. I ran back into the house to tell everyone what had happened and no one really responded at all or even looked down. I still believe I developed a stutter at that moment tugging on their pant legs.

So in wrapping up, these memories came the quickest and climbed the highest among fact and uncertain fact. Leaving me with an interesting self-examination. I still live in a world of make-believe regarding my work. I'm frustrated by tasks with crappy equipment, and to this day I need people to look at me when I talk. Oh yeah, and I don't even know if this is me I'm talking about. :) (love ya Vin!)

Tips for Photographing Jewelry from the Amazing Kella MacPhee

Today I asked my favorite Jersey Girl Photographer Kella MacPhee - check her out and prepare to be blown away - for some quick tips to better jewelry photographs. Kella says - Interesting + FAKE IT LIKE A PRO photos can be achieved in 3 steps! #1 Light. Turn that blinding automatic flash off! The built in flash on a camera is a photographer's worst enemy and will ruin any shot. Your best bet is to invest in a lightbox, they are not too much money and will ensure that you get even light and the proper white balance every time! {} This will eliminate the need to fuss with camera settings before photographing your products each time. If you're saying to yourself, hey I'm a starving artist here, I don't have money for a fancy lightbox, but still want great photos try cheap, however unpredictable sunlight! Not as practical as the lightbox, but beautiful none the less. Some examples would be the soft and diffused light of a window {try setting up a table with your art next to a window} another option is venturing outdoors. Two rules to keep in mind: first you stay out of that midday sun- your photos will have harsh shadows and be blown out! {even your jewelry does not like to look pasty} {early morning and late afternoon are best} and 2. when shooting outside in light other than those great early morning hours and the "magic hour" before sunset, look for even shade, there is nothing worse than mottled light. Using light properly will ensure you have clean, evenly lit, pro looking pics!
#2. Angle. Change your angle. Eye catching photos are created by thinking outside the box. Long gone are the days when photos need to be shot straight on.. so 1992 and so boring! Try setting your camera down and shooting at the same level as the product. Another technique is to shoot up at the product... creating some drama. Shooting straight down and I mean straight down, get your butt up on that chair can also be interesting and modern. Play around and have fun, look at some of your favorite sellers and see what it is about them that is catching your eye.
#3. Composition. Think outside the center. Centered images are boring! Negative space is king! Try placing your product on the left side and leaving the right side empty. Interesting photos are not always achieved by filling up space. Leaving room for your products to breathe can create these artistic + pro images you're after. Check out these beautiful photos by lilfishstudios and tqbdesigns.Another method is layering, now this is where it gets technical, for all you point and shooters out there cover your eyes. Gosh darn it control that depth of field if using a manual camera, think larger apertures like 2.8 or 4 {I know these seem like small #'s, but they really are large and let in more light, creating only a small portion of the image in focus.. yada, yada} by using a shallower depth of field and being in control over what you decide you want in focus, you will instantly have more professional pics. So show a variety of pics on your page, but maybe one can have a the pendant of your necklace in focus while the chain is not. Some of the most interesting photos are only parts of subjects, leaving the viewer intrigued or an interesting composition allowing your eye to move around the image.REMEMBER you are artists appealing to creative buyers .. this is not ebay.. the first thing people see is the photos.. be creative and HAVE FUN!

Don't you just love this...

because the world is so fast and so small... this is a poem from issue 12 of a wonderful little collection called Words Dance from VerveBathPress on Etsy! I just love this!