My Etsy Shop Birthday -- Gifts for You

Eight years ago this week, I cut the ribbon on my Etsy shop, and a few weeks later sold my first handmade item-- this little guy.   Flutter
I named him "Flutter," and was over the moon when a complete stranger decided to pay good money to have him shipped to her across the country. She was so kind to give me a glowing review, and I was hooked on this sewing thing. Back then, social media was practically non-existent and getting a sale on Etsy happened mostly from directing folks to your shop from your website, in person, or from organic searches within Etsy, so this felt like a huge accomplishment. 

Before I launched the Etsy shop, I had built a pretty nice following of collectors on Ebay, but then the art market tanked with the economic downturn of 2001, and fine art became a luxury.  Add to that, I had a two-year-old at home who did not mix well with the very time-consuming, detailed paintings I had trained myself to create. So, I fired up the sewing machine and started to use my stash of vintage fabrics to start making some more practical handmade items and keep my creative juices flowing. Enter the Amy Butler handbags stitched from vintage table cloths, stuffed blocks for babies and squishy birds with funky embroidered beaks. My shining moment on Etsy was when I found out one of my chalkboard erasers had made it to the front page (an unpaid feature we makers miss sorely). I took a screen shot of it before it quickly disappeared while I was at work, and it still hangs on my bulletin board in the studio. 

Eight years later, it seems the world is ready to bring art back into their homes and budget, and my little baby is a ten-year old who is able to make a bowl of cereal once in a while and use the restroom on her own, so I can fill my shop with more paintings and drawings.



She even makes some pretty cool artwork herself. Check out this darling Manga-style drawing she did a couple of weeks ago.


To celebrate Eight years on Etsy, I'm "giving away" a grab bag of a variety of my handmade accessories worth over $30, starting Saturday morning. To "win," you need to search my shop for the special 10 cent listing and be the first one to click the "add to cart" button. That's it! It's like a fun scavenger hunt! Follow my Instagram feed for more details, and eat a cupcake for me wherever you are!


New Year, New Focus

IMG_20160118_100958It's a bitterly-cold morning here in Midwesterland, USA. I've turned the Christmas twinkle lights back on, made the third pot of coffee in 24 hours, and thrown on another sweatshirt. The furnace is blasting non-stop, and I'm looking forward to this day off of school cozied up in our little nest. I'm getting a little bit of a head start to my day here, so that I can fit in pancakes and dreamcatchers, coloring, reading and mini donut making later on after Nora wakes up.

I haven't traveled these parts much in the last few months, as you may have noticed. Since I launched my Instagram feed for Jessica Flores Design, I've been mini blogging there and having a great time meeting fellow makers and beauty seekers from all over the world. 

Today I'm popping in to let you know about my plans for my creative business in 2016.  As I mentioned in my latest newsletter, the sewing machine has been packed up and shelved for the time being, and my focus for the next year will be on my painting and illustration. I feel like this type of work is where I can be most expressive and really share a kind of artwork that is unique to the world -- no patterns, no files, no templates--just my imagination and experiences spilled out in pigment across the page. Today I begin a new class on telling your story with Jeanne Oliver, and I'm hoping it will be just the thing to make my work even more personal and one-of-a-kind. 


Last week was a mental mess for me. I screwed up my schedule all over the place and felt frizzled out. I decided I needed a proper planner, but those fancy ones with all of the bells and whistles are so expensive! They even have user videos to go with them! What?! So, while we were shopping over the weekend, I picked up a cheap one at Walmart and blinged it out with one of those cute ribbon clips and a pocket in the back for notes. I just can't make that Google calendar work. This girl needs to jot it all down in ink to make it take root in my memory! 


Every month I'm writing down new goals for my artwork and actually pencilling in time to blog! Some upcoming tasks include finishing up a secret project for a friend (wink wink), completing a couple of illustrated family recipes for clients, re-photographing art for the Etsy shop, getting my work into new galleries, and improving my branding and packaging. I'm also planning on doing fewer art fairs and instead moving into more online business and custom orders.

So, don't give up on me just yet, faithful reader. I'll be back soon with more pretty things to tickle your fancy and an inside look at my kitchen remodel! (I've met a lot of British friends on Instagram, hence all of the bits and bobs about popping and fancies.)

Calling All IG'ers!

Hi friends! Today I launched my brand new Instagram feed featuring my artwork exclusively! I hope you'll jump on over to my feed @jessica_flores_design to follow. It's my favorite place for mini-blogging, running fun "instasales" and pointing you to other talented makers, and as a thank you, I've got a special offer posted in my profile.  Go check it out! 



My "Birthday Bag" in the Spotlight

I got an early birthday present this afternoon! Dan handed me a package from the day's mail delivery, and inside was a complimentary artist's copy of this:


You know what that means: another appearance of my work inside!

How appropriate that it was my very own "birthday bag" arriving on shelves in September! 


It's really been a wonderful afternoon, complete with perfect late-summer temperatures, a view of Nora's riding lesson from the garden swing, the taste of ever-bearing strawberries from Dad's patch and a fist full of flowers! September is sweet!


Don't forget to comment on my last post for your chance to win tickets to the Madison Road Artisan Market in South Bend on October 3rd! I finished these fun coffee cup cozies yesterday. You'll find them there!



Win Madison Road Artisan Market Tickets Here!!

I'm counting down to the next Madison Road Artisan Market! Only . . . . what?!! Less than three weeks left to stitch and paint and tag and bag! Oh my! 

Last night as I was lying on the couch thinking about today, I began to fantasize about what would happen if I just snuggled up in a blanket with a book and a cup of coffee for the entire day. The dream continued this morning at 6:45 when the alarm went off. Luckily, I snapped myself back into reality and pulled myself out of the covers. Later today I found myself attempting to watch a webinar, frying potstickers, talking to my mom on the phone, and scribbling away at my to-do list simultaneously. That list, by the way, is holding all my crap together right now-- at least in my mind. I've got today, this week, this month, and long-range goals all mapped out and sorted by categories. I think I need an assistant, or maybe at least a massage. 

I've got a hunch you could use a day of pampering too! How about a trip to that Madison Road show?! I'm giving away two free tickets to the event (which this year requires an entrance fee of $6 each for adults 18 and over). Enter October 3rd into your Google calendar, text a favorite girlfriend, consult your Pinterest boards, and take that coffee can with your "I found it in the dryer drum" money to the bank! It's time for some shopping with your besties! All you need to do to enter is leave me a comment below on how you manage stress.  I'll draw a winner next Monday, September 21st.  Good luck!


Look for Me at Art Beat - August 29, 2015, in South Bend

Twelve years ago I was a new gallery owner, a prolific painter, and one of the charter artists at a brand-new show in downtown South Bend called Art Beat. I set up shop on a sidewalk in front of an abandoned building and sold a few framed watercolor paintings in the dark. Sure, it was dirty and dim, and my neighbors may have been selling art they created with a squirt gun, but there was an excitement in the air and an indescribable feeling of "studio to street" contact between artists of all skill levels and genres that the area had never experienced. 

I"m back this year and excited to be part of the anything-goes bohemian art-o-rama. Walk through the various scenes and you'll find Hoosier Salon award winners, crafters, performers, beginners, insiders, outsiders . . . and me! 


Here's a freshly-framed ink and wash contour drawing of this summer's moss rose I'll be offering in my booth in scene B (right next to a bunch of my artsy friends). Click here to get to the Art Beat Website for all of the details.  


Rained Out and Breaking In

If you're hangin' out in the Midwest this summer, you're getting wet. I'm talkin' about buckets and buckets of rain. It hasn't been good for the art fair season. It rained through half of my first show and kept me from attending my second. That's why I was thrilled to see that there was absolutely 0% chance of precipitation for this weekend's show. Maybe we had found a window!

Some of my dear friends had agreed to let me use their family mini van, Mom was signed up as co-pilot, and the event promoter was doing a bang-up job of getting word out.

When I got to the venue, I was tickled to find that one of my virtual friends, Honey, from Honey Shea Studios was setting up right next to me. We got to meet for the first time as booth buddies!  

I always panic during setup, because my inventory is constantly changing, and I never know how it's all going to come together. Essentially, I'm trying to assemble a charming, homey boutique in a box within 2 hours. I'm sure my nerves and indecisiveness were driving my mom nuts, but, in the end, she helped me keep my cool and put together a decent display. . . and when I was finished, Honey informed me that the time zone had changed, so I actually had half an hour to spare!  


The crowd was pretty good at the start, the artist amenities were great, there was music, there were flowers, . . . wait, I think that's a song. . . anyway, it was a slow, but enjoyable show until about 3:00, and then the rain started coming down. Thankfully, there was no wind, but the organizers decided to call it quits anyway with a few hours left to go. I was hoping for a dinner crowd, a rally, but I went home with close to net zero after travel expenses. It's nobody's fault. It's the nature of the game.


Most sellers don't divulge this kind of info to their followers, but I'm spilling it, because I realized something just today: it's that I don't need to travel for hours to make a break into the big city market or the big-bill show (thank goodness, because I'm just not ready for a mini van). My largest, most loyal following is right here at home with my friends and theirs. Listen, your friends and family can only make so many "pity purchases" from you, so if they keep coming back, it's because they like your work, they really like your work! "Grow where you're planted," as they say!

Take heart, makers. When your next big show is a bust, break for the gummy bear factory on the way home and be grateful for the journey! See selfie of Mom and I doing just that on my Instagram feed here.

Ticket Giveaway to Vintage/Handmade Show

I've been hearing a buzz amongst artists and shoppers about a series of outstanding handmade & vintage markets near the Illinois, Indiana state line. Each Fetching Market features a "carefully-curated community of vendors" in a unique setting for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.


I'm thrilled to be on the list of artists for their next event in Munster, IN, on July 11, and I want you to be there too! I'm giving away two tickets ($20 value) to the market, which will take place at the historic Kaske House and benefit the Munster Historical Society.  The show runs from 10 am - 6 pm.  

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. I'll draw a winner on Friday, June 26 before noon, Eastern Standard Time.  


I'm working on lots of chalkboard erasers and monogram necklaces for the show, but I'm also on a roll with designs for art prints, like this fun summer recipe 


and this popular camera painting, which I was able to scan recently and have made into gorgeous fine art reproductions.  


Come shop with me in Munster and at this weekend's Folk Art Gathering on the beautiful grounds of the Briar Patch Gardens in Plymouth, IN! 


Garden Tour and a New Summer Wreath


There is so much excitement this time of year in my back yard!

Dad and I planted some dahlias this weekend. I'll have Hootenannies, Peaches & Dreams, and some little pompommy things I forget the names of. They are going to be glorious! I'm dreaming of how to dress up the tops of the rebar posts. Maybe glass bottles or wooden finials painted pretty colors.


Remember that perfume called "Muguet?" I bought a bottle of it from G.L. Perry when I was a teenager and enjoyed wearing lacy antique blouses and reading Bronte novels. My entire yard smells of it right now thanks to the lily of the valley. I can almost smell the peonies already too. They are so close to popping! If you're coming to Madison Road on May 30th, be sure to stop by the children's tent and buy a jar of blooming ones from Nora!

The veggies and annuals have been planted too. I went with deep burgundy, rust, black and red this year in the pots.


...and tucked moss rose into every nook and cranny, including our crumbling back stoop steps.


I've been hanging on to this pretty oatmeal container, and finally planted it with rosemary. I've got a recipe for rosemary strawberry shortcake calling its name.


My old mailbox is back too!


The Petosky stone turtle is keeping watch over the landscaping,


but the tree frog likes a loftier view (from the clothesline).


Finally . . . I've got an ancient grapevine wreath on the garage door that needed some TLC, so I tied it up at the "corners" with twine and added this sweet canvas banner that I made with fabric markers. Since taking the picture, I've waterproofed it with melted beeswax, and the rain just beads away! The verse is from the song "Big Rock Candy Mountain."


I probably won't have any of these available for the Madison Road Market, but they will be perfect for the Briar Patch show in June. Where could you see one in your yard? Any ideas for other verses to write on them? I'd love to hear what you think!