Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm Blushing

Yay! Another satisfied customer! I have to say, when I create something that I think is pretty darn good (ahem...) I love to show it off to my friends, family, coworkers. I think they have all seen everything from my Etsy shop before it went on line. And I get feed back from them, if changes should be made, or if they like it the way it is, whatever. I can usually tell by the tone of voice if they really think it's great or if they are just "being nice". But still, what do I expect my mother or coworkers to say. (I can usually count on my sister to be brutally honest!) But I have to say, it is freakin' awesome when I hear great feedback from someone outside the circle of friends.

I just received this picture from wonderful buyer on Etsy who purchased my Twilight Headband. It looks so awesome on her that I asked if I could use her picture. I'm so happy she likes it! YAY!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend in Crystal Lake at Mayfair Furniture and Carpet

Please check out the Mayfair web site for all upcoming sales
and to find links to all of your favorite manufacturers.
Mayfair is the areas best resource for one-stop shopping for
all your home furnishing and flooring needs.
Mayfair Furniture and Carpet...Beautiful homes begin here!!!

Tutorial: Jewelry Display Board

The summer is here and it's festival season. It's time to pack up and take my show on the road. Setting up for an outdoor show presents a unique problem that I usually don't have to deal with when doing a home party... WIND! I needed a way to display my earrings, pendants, and hair accessories. Those are the things that I usually have a large quantity of and don't always need a formal display like a bust or mannequin.

I wanted something that could hold a lot of items, look nice enough to use for a home party, able to be pre-loaded for quick set up, secure enough for an outdoor fair without being blown to bits, and able to be reconfigured for anything I might want to display in whatever way I wished to display them.

I made two display boards, each using a 2' x 2' piece of plywood covered in a natural colored fleece remnant from the fabric store (stapled on the back). I put a couple of ring hooks on the back for easy hanging when needed, or I can put them on easels.

I also added "hinges" on the back by using heavy duty self-adhesive velcro strips. Laying the boards face down on the floor side by side, I took the soft half of the velcro strip, cut it in half and added each half to the back top third of each board, near the inside edge. The other half of the velcro strip (the spiky half) was left in one long strip and pressed firmly into place over the soft halves of the strip. I did the same on the bottom third of the boards. This created a hinge to hold the boards together so they would stand on their own, but made it easy enough to separate the boards for transport or to be displayed in a different manner.

I took elastic in the same natural color as the fabric on the boards and cut it to length. Since I had a 2' x 2' board and the strip needed to wrap all the way around, I cut it 44"-46". (Tip: you can make your boards any size, just cut your elastic shorter than the circumference of the board to make sure the fit is snug when stretched.) I then sewed the ends of the elastic together, creating a giant "rubber band". I slipped the bands over the board and positioned them where I wanted. Now I could load my earring cards and hang necklaces! The bands keep everything in place and can be added or removed depending on my needs.

It worked great for a home show where I had each board on a separate table set on easels. At the fair, the boards were velcro-"hinged" together. And at home, I have my boards hanging on the wall in my workroom making it easy to store my unsold pieces and new ones as I make them.


Mary Ryan is an Artist, Jewelry Designer, and Interior Design Consultant. Please visit her on line shops at , , and

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tutorial: Greeting Card Earring Display

Displaying jewelry at a show is always a challenge. There is never one really great solution that works for all situations. And depending on the type of show, time of year, and number of people attending, I always want to give my display a sort of custom look.

My next show was to be a home party, during the holiday season, in a high rise condo in Chicago. Since I was low on funds and crunched for time, the hunt was on for a way to display my jewelry with the biggest bang for the buck. My solution came to me as I passed the dollar discount bin at the craft store. Piles and piles of packages of blank holiday gift cards! Playing on the holiday theme, here's what I came up with...

I used sets of blank greeting cards in two different sizes, matching coasters, and blank scrapbook paper cut-outs. I chose three different styles with similar color schemes. Using a tiny hole punch, I made holes in the cards for the earring wires and displayed the cards like festive little table tents. I used the larger sets of greeting cards for longer earrings and even some necklaces. The two different sizes allowed me to have different levels on my table, making the display more interesting.

Of course, some pieces were to heavy or too long for the cards to hold. I used the matching coasters and scalloped paper cut-outs to display those pieces directly on the table.

The whole display cost me around $10! And because the earrings were already pre-hung on the cards before the party, it was easy to transport and took only minutes to set up. Maximum flash, for minimum cash!


Mary Ryan is an Artist, Jewelry Designer, and Interior Design Consultant. Please visit her on line shops at , , and

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vote for me!!!

My Blue Silk Flower Hair Pins have been included in the voting section of the Etsy blog! Top sellers are awarded a spot in the Etsy gift guides.

If you have the time, and it only takes a second, won't you please click here to vote for me?


Monday, May 18, 2009

Fair Diddley- part 4

More scenes from Fair Diddley.

The Woodstock Opera House was a perfect backdrop for the fair, and would you look at that sky!!!

There was a really nice sized crowd from the time we set up and they even shopped as we tore down our booths for the day. I would have stayed until sundown if they let us. It was a long busy day, but I was having too much fun.

Every type of fine art and craft was represented. That's what I have always loved about this fair. The selection is so diverse. It was well juried and organized. After 41 years, I guess they have it down to a science. And with all this, they still manage to keep it free to attend.

If I were to be guaranteed weather and a crowd like this, I would do an art fair every week!
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Fair Diddley 2009- part 3

Scenes from Fair Diddley 2009

A perfect day! Mid 60's in the morning with no breeze, not a cloud in the sky!

Lucy, an English Mastiff enjoyed a rest while her mommy shopped in our booth. What a whole lot of really awesome dog! There were soooo many dogs at the fair, and everyone of them well behaved and welcome in my booth. The kisses I got from a little cocoa brown nosed terrier were priceless!

The fair encompassed the whole Square, the park, and the side streets. These pictures were taken later in the day and the place was still packed. Around noon, the side streets were shoulder to shoulder. Oh, and did I mention the BLUE SKY?!

The park in the square was just gorgeous with all the trees and lush green grass thanks to all the rain recently.
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Fair Diddley 2009- part 2

Well, all the prep work was well worth the effort.
This is the first time I feel like I was totally organized for a show.
I had everything priced and set up ahead of time in my living room, all ready for an impromptu home show before the fair.

The night before the show, everything was carefully packed into the car, pieced together like an intricate puzzle.
I can't believe what fit into my little Eclipse! Neither could the policeman at the fair when I packed it all back into my car at the end of the day! Hey buddy, I ain't no amature. You should see what I can fit into a suitcase!

Our fair space was so jammed between two others. The green picket fence is part of the display for the booth next to ours. But the fence provided an interesting back drop and the color matched our table runners so we left our tent sidewalls off. And thanks to Larry and Marianne who owned that booth and helped us get our tent up that morning. They no doubt saved Marcella and I from a long drawn out Lucy and Ethel moment!

These were the table set-ups in the early morning. We rearranged a few things after the pictures were taken. We moved "Headless Jane", the mannequin, to the outer edge of the front table and switched the flower hair combs to the back table. It evened out the tables and gave each a little more interesting first impression. I would have liked to have a "Little Brown Bird" sign hanging in the tent, but I didn't have enough time with what I had to deal with last week.

The fair went as well as could be expected with this crappy economy. I am glad, though, that I was able to accept credit cards at this show. It helped tremendously with sales. Thanks to all my Jewelry on Etsy Teammates for their help and suggestions! I did my best in my little part of the world and pimped Etsy and the JET team! Hope it leads to some more traffic.

As I thanked them for their purchases, I reminded people that their support of independent artists means they are directly helping the small businesses that are so greatly effected by this economy. So many commented back that they hadn't thought of it that way and instead of heading out of the fair, they actually turned back to go purchase some things they had seen earlier at other booths! It felt really good to know that some of the other artists were able to benefit from a simple, humble statement.
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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pretty Girl

I would give anything for the sweet scent of PEZ candy,
And the rich, salty aroma of Fritos corn chips.

A handful in size at day one,
A handful of mischief every day thereafter.

My heart, my soul,
Full of love, so empty now.

Love at first sight,
I closed your eyes.

We ran in the park on Thursday afternoon,
Friday night, I held your lifeless body in my arms.

My friend, my protector, my comfort,
Velvet fur, cold, wet nose.

I heard your jingle on the stairs this morning,
But knew it wasn't you, for I'd clutched your tags in my hand all night.

You had a spot on your forehead,
That forever smelled of sweet, sweet PEZ candy.

I joked about your paws,
That had the rich, salty smell of Fritos corn chips.

Oh, what I would give,
To hear your jingle,
To pet your velvet fur,
To touch your cold, wet nose to mine.

Oh, what I would give,
For the scent of PEZ and Fritos.

Zuzu (April 1, 1995 - May 8, 2009)

Goodnight, pretty girl.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Fair Diddley 2009

Hi! It's me again. I am really excited to announce that I will have a booth at this year's Fair Diddley in Woodstock, Illinois on May 17. Fair Diddley is the largest arts and crafts fair in the area and has been the highlight of the spring fair season for over 30 years.

Attendance grows every year, this year's expected attendance is over 20,000 people! I have been going to Fair Diddley as a shopper since I was a kid, so this is extra special for me this year. I will finally see the fair from the artist's side of the table.

For a preview of many of the items that will be shown at the fair, please visit my original shop on Etsy at Little Brown Bird, or visit my new web site at The Little Brown Bird.

I've been so busy, working hard on making new items especially for the fair...

I have begun making a few handbags. They will make their debut at the fair. This one, above, is a gorgeous pink and gold brocade fabric.

My fun glass pendants, like this one, will also make an appearance.

I have a few new rings to share as well! This one is Cherry Fire Quartz and Sterling Silver.

I have lots of hair pins and combs featuring my beautiful fabric flowers.

My exclusive line of original fine silver offerings will hopefully wow the crowd! This one, above, is called Tropic Wonder, and has the most beautiful colors in the patina. This is a definite must-see! You can get a preview of more fine silver items at my new shop on Etsy, Urban Metal.

I have lots of fun contemporary pieces that are perfect for every day... well as a few with a decided vintage flair.

And I will have some new, funky and fun headbands that I've prepared after receiving some special requests featuring my fabric flowers.
I hope you will be able to join me on May 17th at Fair Diddley. The fair is located on Woodstock's famous square, where the movie Ground Hog's Day with Bill Murray was filmed. My booth is to be located near the corner of Cass Street and Main Street. Can't wait to see you there!!!