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Weeping Angel packaging

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About a year or two ago I made this. The image on that post is not of the finished product — since then I’ve cleaned it up, artificially aged it a bit, and added a means to hang it up on a wall somewhere. At one point I found it among my other finished pieces and worked on it more (even though it probably didn’t need it). Now that I’m waiting for my day job to start (oh lordy what a mess that is turning out to be. Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be PMs) I have been working on packaging up the bigger pieces so they’ll be ready to go when they sell.  The Weeping Angel is a size I don’t really have a USPS box for so I had to improvise.

This box is by no means supposed to be a high-quality piece of stellar workmanship you can pass on to your kids. It’s a candy box I covered with blue card stock and a Photoshopped printout of a papercraft TARDIS I found on Cubeecraft. I used a glue stick and Scotch tape to hold it all together. NOT a collector’s item. So why bother? I bothered because it was fun and I didn’t want to send a piece of my art to someone in a goddamn candy box. It just seems wrong to not make some kind of effort.

But you know what? I had fun throwing this together, and the box will be missed when I ship it off.  I originally won it in a Hallowe’en costume contest for dressing up as a box of French fries. It used to be full of tasty chocolates. Now it is not. With its interesting interior fold and magnet closure I figured I’d keep it and do something with it eventually.  Turns out that even though I did something with it I won’t be keeping it after all.

The listing for the Weeping Angel mask can be found here.  The box won’t be in the listing but will ship with the item — in this particular case, the Phone Box has the Angel.

Making a move

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Ha ha guys, very funny.

Oh lordy that joke was a groaner…

If you go over to troublefakers.com today you will find a very simple, very dull blurb about where my band can be found online. I posted back in November about what a huge pain in the ass Google sites is to work with (nothing has changed) and set out to find an alternative. I needed something that would be cheap or almost free with plenty of ready-made design options I could customize. Man, there’s a lot to choose from out there.

Today I nabbed “troublefakers” as a username here on WordPress. My guitarist has the option of helping me edit and update content if he wants, and we can link it to the band’s Facebook page to update there automatically. Now all that’s left is getting my domain in order. It will require a Premium account, which I’m okay with paying. For now I’m happy with the basics and will point troublefakers.com to WordPress when I’m ready.

Why today? Why not back in November when I was bitching and moaning about it, getting great feedback in comments and via email? Well, the times are changing over at Facebook. No doubt by now you’ve read about how page owners are being directed to pay for a place in their fans’ newsfeeds or in an ad sidebar. Big businesses like Target or McDonald’s can budget for that, but we don’t generate enough revenue to allocate an ad budget. Hell, we’re lucky if we walk out of a gig with $20 – which goes right back into a fund to promote and get us to the next show.

This year we returned to gigging to promote our new album and found ourselves playing to sparse rooms despite our best Facebook efforts. The venues post live music show schedules on their websites and local nightlife papers/blogs, and if we want to go the extra mile we whip up an 11″x17″ flyer to post a couple of weeks ahead of time. Up until this year we were able to draw a decent crowd. Now it’s embarrassing. We are not a sucky band — our fans have been nothing but supportive, and we’ve even got a bona fide A&R guy working on shopping a single or two to radio — but given the attendance at our shows this year you’d think we were a nose-picking performance art troupe. My ego has been thoroughly bruised and I’m sick of it.

I could go on about why our draw has suffered this time around, but I won’t. Truth is in this day and age content is what brings people to shows. Content and merchandise. Merchandise is the easy part – tshirts, CDs, buttons, magnets – we have designs ready-to-go once we find a printer. Content is the tricky part. We don’t just get on a stage and perform. We are influenced. We are inspired. We imagine. We experiment. We craft. We nuance.

We rock.

Soon we will consolidate our online content from places like R2R Live, MySpace, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, and Facebook, and allow the internet to access it from one URL: troublefakers.com. I’ll post a little somethingsomething here once it happens, but until then please support your local live music scene. No matter how old you are, there’s a band out there you’re going to want to see more than once this year. I promise.

This is not easy.

I used to blog all the damn time.  I had a LiveJournal blog, and I made a lot of friends over there.  Now all my friends are on Facebook, and pretty soon I’m sure that will get old, too.

Thing is, if you want to blog nowadays you have to blog about SOMEthing.  For instance, this blog is about my crafty stuff.  I started it because I wanted to have some kind of “hey, lookit me I’m doin’ stuff and being interesting!” presence online other than the Etsy store or my Facebook band page.  I wanted to be present online (as you do).  Have I done that?  No.  And you know what? It’s from lack of trying.  I’m not really trying here.

So here I am wanting to set up a bona fide web site for my band and looking for someplace other than Google sites to do it.  My band has a Google account setup with domain registration and such that is pretty nice.  We all have email addresses with troublefakers.com in them.  If I wanted to build a website, Google has these tools that would let me build and host it.  This would be really great if it wasn’t such a headache.  Anybody remember GeoCities?  Well, right now troublefakers.com looks like a friggin’ GeoCities page.  It used to have more stuff on it but I took it down.  Unless you are a web developer and/or have the patience of Job, Google sites is just going to frustrate the shit out of you.

I used to be pretty good at web dev and design.  I even used FrontPage and GoLive to construct sites.  I didn’t do a lot of fancy stuff, just text and pictures.  It was blogging before Blogger, Tumblr, and LiveJournal.  Then I started a band.  I needed a website and so I threw something together until MySpace came along.  After using that a while I set up Facebook, and now I also have a presence at ReverbNation.  After many years of having web presences ready-made for me, I’ve forgotten how to create a page of my own.  That, or I just simply don’t want to.

I reached out to fans of my band for suggestions and the first one that popped out was WordPress.  I’m using WordPress now, and I can’t even deal with it as a blog for my crafts.  How the heck am I supposed to figure out all the bells and whistles to create a band website?  Even the templates are clunky — there’s shit on most of them I don’t even recognize — how do I take a blog engine and turn it into a website host?  I don’t know.  I give up.

I’m looking at wix.com right now because they’re much cheaper to deal with than HostBaby.  Both Wix and HostBaby will give me what I want with simpler controls.  That’s all I really want — simple controls.  I want to be able to say “I have a domain,” “I need a host,” and “I’d like to use this layout and these colors” and be done.  I want it to be a website with pages to look at and music to listen to and maybe a calendar.  I don’t need a blog for these things.  I just want a site to go with my domain.  Why does it have to be so complicated?  And here I was thinking FrontPage was horrid to work with.  What a pain.

So.  If you’ve skimmed down this far I’ll tl;dr it for you.  I need to make a decent band website with my registered domain, but the choices are either expensive or complicated.  Something tells me sticking with WordPress isn’t going to get me what I need.  Suggestions welcome.

Wayward Clay on Etsy (link)

Wayward Clay on Etsy (link)

I don’t think New Year’s Resolutions should be limited to the change of my wall calendar.  When you need to pick up, reevaluate, and resolve yourself to change, waiting for the traditional time to declare your intentions is like not changing at all.  My Whenever Resolution is this:  Recommit myself to my craft business, starting with my Etsy store.

This means renewing listings for everything I have posted but never sold, and clearing it out to make room for the new items I plan to sell for the holidays.  I’m not a great jewelry designer by any means, and I don’t think I’ll make any more pendants for a while.  So, if you like the necklaces you’ve seen in my store but didn’t want to pay full price for one (even with free shipping), I’m having a sale through October 4, 2013.  Use coupon code WAYCLAY13 at checkout to get 20% any item originally priced at $12 and up.

After that, I will retire everything and start over.  I hate to see a bunch of great stuff go to waste, though, so go check it out.  Buy a necklace or a magnet set.  Share the link with your friends.  At 20% off, many items become a steal.

Inspiration by Deweys

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Creatures sculpted by me

A bakery on the East coast (probably one of the Carolinas) features a similar cake on its Facebook page. I live on the opposite coast, which is why I attempted to recreate the cake myself.

It’s a bit warm to be firing up the oven in Seattle so I ordered a tree stump cake from the local Safeway.  What they created based on my drawing and description didn’t quite hit the mark – instead of using chocolate frosting as the bark they used white buttercream and airbrushed it “brown.” Not quite a fail, but a disappointment. I told them it was awesome, paid for it, then brought it home to fix.

Grocery store bakeries use a LOT of frosting no matter what you ask for, so my fix was easier than expected.  I scooped off the frosted sides into a bowl, added cocoa and some gel coloring with a hand mixer, then piped it all back on.  My pre-made figures were added later.

I did this in the interest of time.  Safeway would have happily re-done the cake for me had I asked, and their cakes are delicious (the prime reason I went there), so the initial product was not technically at fault. It looked EXACTLY like the picture I drew for them. I only wish I’d used a darker brown marker to color it.

Flexing the Creative Muscle

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I don’t do nearly as much online as I do in “meatspace.”  My craft nights got a little complicated as I sorted out my personal life, but I kept going with or without people to join me.

As an IT professional I make a decent living.  As I get older, though, I find that it’s not exactly a career I can grow old in.  I’d like to transition at some point into something I can do without gender or age discrimination, and if it means I do something cliche, then that’s what I do.  I’m totally and completely okay with that.

I have a number of polymer sculptures I haven’t bothered to put up on my Etsy store because I like them way too much to sell.  Once I get over that I’ll post them.  They’ll either sell or they won’t.  After all these years I’m still finding my niche.

In the meantime I’m exploring painting in acrylics, sculpting in fondant (easier said than done, actually), and a few different types of jewelry.  One of these things has to catch on eventually.  Not just as something that will sell, but as something that I truly enjoy making AND will sell.  I’ll make a better effort to keep you posted.

Fondant Mushrooms

Just one element of a woodland creature-themed birthday cake. Fondant is not anything like polymer to sculpt with.

Tiny Bottles

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My obsession with filling tiny bottles continues…