Thursday, December 20, 2007

I've Been MIA: Here's What I've Been Up To

I've been horrible about updating lately!! The last few weeks have been insane. I'm not sure how it happened, but I was still rushing to wrap and ship Christmas presents even though I started shopping in October.

I finally finished up my custom orders. I had one order for two Dice Bags, one of my standard and the second with copper cinch rings:

I was spotted working on a Dice Bag while at work and got a custom order on the spot for a Crown Royal size bag:

I don't have any in shop at the moment, but if you want a Dice Bag just drop me a Convo through my Etsy shop and I will get back to you with an estimate of how soon one can be ready (usually 3-4 days).

I got to go to the Atomic Holiday Bazaar in Sarasota recently and walked away with all kinds of awesome booty. You can see some it in my flickr Customer Appreciation Set. Also, I finally upgraded to a Pro flickr account! Ooooh, the organization possibilities!

I recently hit 150 Hearts! THANK YOU!

The folks over at Real Simple gave Etsy an awesome shoutout in their December issue:

Need a last minute handmade gift? Check out Etsy's fantastic new feature called Shop Local. It will show you all of the Etsy shops in your neighborhood.

The Fantasy Artists of Etsy (FAE) Street Team's December Newsletter is out! You can sign up to receive our once monthly newsletter here.

You have just 11 more days to check out the FAE Christmas Exhibition. There are many wonderful items here from our members.

We've got another wonderful feature over at our FAE website called the Magic Door. Every single day, it is updated to take you to a different member shop. It's a little happy surprise to go through that door!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

FAE Contest Voting Is Open!

I'm mentioned this a few times recently, but the FAE (Fantasy Artists of Etsy) Street Team is having a Snowflake Fantasy themed contest. It's official: the polls are up and running. Well, sort of. Some entrants are still adding their items, but mine is up. Which means you can go vote for it! In fact, you can vote once a day everyday between now and Sunday, December 9 at midnight. Hint, hint, hint. . . Vote here.

Even if you don't vote for me (sad) definitely check it out! There are so many amazing artists with beautiful entries and all items in the contest are available for sale in the entrant's shop. You're bound to find something you'll love!

Thanks for voting!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

Lately, I've been a Dice Bag making machine! Who knew there would be such a draw for them on Etsy?! It's quite fantastic, really. I've sold five on Etsy already, am working on a custom order for multiple bags for a fellow Etsian, have had two requests for bags for two other Etsians which I'm in the process of making, as well as a custom job for a Crown Royal size bag for someone outside of Etsy that saw me working on one. Whew! It's awesome! I currently have a Dice Bag disclaimer in my shop announcement, too. Due to the high demand of Dice Bags, there is not one currently listed in my shop. However, if you're interested, please drop me a convo through my shop and I'll give you an estimated time of when one can be ready.

I also just listed the final entry to my Snowflake Collection section in my shop: a Snowflake Ornament.

The Snowflake Collection was inspired by the FAE Street Team contest theme Snowflake Fantasy. My entry into the contest is the Snowflake Necklace.

Contest voting will start soon, so I'm counting on all of you!! I'll be sure to post the link to the voting page as soon as it's available. Thanks!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Speaking of Shipping. . .

USPS was nice enough to give us a Holiday Shipping Calendar. Check out the link here or download the PDF here.

Shipping Update

I'm excited to announce that Athena's Armoury will now be shipping to Canada! I can't believe I've neglected my neighbors to the north for so long. Canadian shipping is available for all items in shop and will go out via First Class International. More info on Athena's Armoury going international to follow. . .

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Four Hours Later. . .


Yesterday, I spent four hours cleaning my brand new bench. Confused? Well, while it's brand new to me it is hardly brand new. It was built in 1931 and has probably been in storage for at least thirty years, maybe more. So, that was 30 years worth of dust, dirt, and mold that had to come off. By the time I was done, it was nice and clean and shiny, and I was SO dirty.


These after shots have it still in my garage as I let it dry and air out from the Murphy's Oil scrubbing. You can see there are a bunch of scratches on the front and some stains on the top that wouldn't come off. In the back, the floor boards are a little worn and the finish is coming off of the drawers. BUT! It's clean!!

I definitely think it needs to be refinished, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to tackle that just yet. There's not that much room in the garage for me to do it at the moment and now that I finally have it, I want to use it! But, it would look gorgeous once it's done. . . My other thought is that if I bring it inside and get it all set up, what are the chances that I'll take it back out to refinish it? Oh, and the minor other detail is that I'm never refinished a piece of furniture before. I downloaded some instructions from Lowe's and they have it marked as an "Advanced" project. Hmmmm. . .

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Big 3-0

It was fun seeing "Happy Birthday, AthenasArmoury!" from Etsy on the top of my screen!

So, this past Tuesday I hit the big 3-0. It's funny to think that I'm not in my 20's anymore, but I'm not upset. Age has never been a thing to upset me. As a matter of a fact, I usually have to figure out how old I am because I never remember. Weird, I know. But I digress. It was a fun day with lots of well wishes and balloons and the yummiest dinner ever with my man. But what I wanted to share with you, are the very special items that my loving man and my mother (who was so upset to not be here) gifted me.

When I first started writing this blog, I chronicled my very first metalsmithing class where I was learning to make a ring. Needless to say, I was hooked. I love metal, I love the intricate work it entailed, I love the tools. My teacher recommended this amazing tool kit, which my mother gave me for my birthday. There are so many fun tools in it and I can't wait to play. (Mental Note: Must get some metal.) Hello, my name is Janine and I'm a tool junky.

I've been talking for a while about getting a real jeweler's bench from one of the guys I work with. He's been "forgetting" to bring it in to me for quite some time now. Little did I know that Scott made arrangements to give it to me for my birthday! It was made sometime in the 1930's and it's a little moldy, so it needs to be cleaned but is otherwise in great shape. I'm playing around with the idea of refinishing it, but just don't have the space in the garage to do it right now. I'm afraid if I bring it into my work room and get it all set up, I'm not going to take it out to refinish it later, though.

Oh, and he would be upset if I didn't mention that not only did he get me this amazing bench and tools, but also some Wonder Woman gear. =D

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dice Bag as Evening Purse

I was hanging out in the Etsy forums (I do that a lot at work) and ran across a Promotions thread for a purse. Turns out the woman posting the thread has a formal event coming up (some kind of military dinner) and she was planning on wearing burgundy and silver and wanted a matching bag small enough for her cell, some money, etc. On a whim, I posted my dice bag and she went for it! Woohoo! People tend to think that posting in the forums, particularly the promo section, doesn't work. I tend to agree with that comment, but it sure worked for me this time! As a special little something for her I added this embellishment:

She plans on adding some beads to it that match the jewelry she's making to wear that night too. I asked to see pic's when she's done. I bet it will look fantastic.

On a side note, I caught my new family member drinking water our of one of the fish bowls last night. She didn't seem to be going for the fish, just drinking. We had noticed that the water was getting low very fast lately, but this is the first time we caught her in the act. Looks like I'll have to find another bowl for the fish.

Angel / Devil

Monday, October 29, 2007

100 Hearts! THANK YOU!!

I keep seeing posts in the Etsy Forums about people making it to 100 sales, well I'm thrilled to have gotten 100 Hearts. Hearts in Etsyland is someone's way of saying "I like your shop", or "I want to remember you for later", or "I like what you said in that forum post." I think it's awesome that so many people thought enough about me and my shop to tell me so. THANK YOU!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The FAE Calendar is Available!

One of the Etsy Street Teams I belong to is called Fantasy Artists of Etsy, otherwise known as FAE. This is a fantastic group of artists and, in general, some really nice and supportive people. FAE includes the traditional fantasy fare: fairies, dragons, and unicorns as well as other themes such as medieval and celtic items, invented creatures, LARP/Ren Faire costumes or accessories. Our members sell everything from clothing and accessories to artwork, sculptures, art dolls and stationary. We're a very active group with contests being held, round robins creating fairies, calendars being made, and even discussions to create a book.

Our brand new calendar is a collection of artwork from many of our members (including yours truly in March). It was created by the insanely talented Sarah Pittman over at artca.

It is available for $16.99 (at cost) through CafePress.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Buy Handmade for the Holidays

I just took the pledge to buy handmade this holiday season. Will you?

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

From the Buy Handmade website:
Buying handmade is better for people, better for the environment, and better for giving truly special and well-crafted gifts. The ascendancy of chain store culture and global manufacturing has left us all dressing, furnishing, and decorating alike. The connection between producer and consumer has been lost. Buying handmade helps them reconnect.

We encourage all consumers to be aware of the social and environmental implications of their purchases.

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Pic's & Relisting

In an effort to reach the goals that I set out for myself recently, I just relisted a pair of earrings that had a somewhat shoddy picture in the listing. Plus, I strangely only had one picture! Here's the before shot:

This is back when I only had one Etsy shop (Beach Bum Creations) and was using a lot of shells in my photos. Unfortunately, this sea urchin really didn't display these earrings very well at all. As a matter of a fact, many people told me that they clicked on the imagine just to see if there was anything there and even then they couldn't see very well.

Okay, I got the hint. Find a better way of displaying these earrings. Hopefully, these shots will help display these sweet, dainty earrings a little better.

They are made using rose gold wire. Rose gold is a combination of yellow gold and copper -- I just love the warm hue. There are purple amethyst seed beads on one of the rings and the ear wires are 14k gold filled wire. They are available for sale in Athena's Armoury.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

For a Good Cause: Charity Gems

I just listed in my Beach Bum Creations Etsy shop, my first charity item. It is the Think Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Bracelet. All profits from the purchase of this bracelet will go to benefit Susan G. Koman for the Cure.

There are earrings to match coming as well as other items to benefit other great causes. Check back soon!

I Think I'm Keeping Her. . .

How can this possibly be comfortable?

Well, it's been over a week and I haven't seen or heard anything about a "lost cat." It does seem like the neighbors recognize her, so she's been outside for a while. I considered trying to find her a good home, but I'm thinking that I might just keep her since, after all, she chose me. It's so odd having identified as a dog person my whole life to find myself bonding with this kitty. I've been calling her "Kit" which, of course, is short for kitty. I know it's not very original, but that's what I've been saying since I met her 2 months ago. Scott doesn't like "Kit" because it reminds him of the car from Knight Rider. If that's the case we can call her "KITT" when she's good and "KATT" when she's bad. I don't think I sold him on that idea just yet, but he also hasn't come up with any better ideas.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Good Day

The tour of Twelve Angry Men is in town and one of the huge benefits of working in theatre is that I sometimes get to see things for free. =) Even more fun, Scott didn't have any cues during this one, so even though he was working, he was able to sit out front and watch the show with me. I can't remember the last time we saw a show together -- usually one or the both of us is working it. Afterwards, we went and got some dinner. We actually had a theatre and dinner date. It was so much fun! Oh, and the show was amazing!

After I left him to go and work the second show, I stopped by the fancy schmancy mall and got a free little hand cleanse, exfoliation, and lotiony massage at Aveda with their Caribbean line. Yum. Purchased a couple of hair products, too. Then, I went to the Lush shop next door because I was out of my moisturizer and got some free samples of their new products. Even more yum!!

Then, I came home to a kitty cat greeting me at the door. I had a good day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cat and Coif

Not cat in coif (although I've seen that before), but updates on the cat and the coif.

Okay, the coif first. I keep forgetting to post these pictures. While Scott and I were still in the apartment, his sister and her kids (who live overseas) were in town visiting. They all so sweetly made a fuss about my coif and we managed to get pic's of two out of three of the kids wearing it and holding Scott's Gandalf sword from The Lord of the Rings Collection. Check 'em out. Don't they look awesome?

Okay, now the cat. After much stress of deciding what to do with her, I finally decided to go with my instinct of getting her inside. With no claws, it's just not right for her to be outside: no way of getting food, no way of defending herself, even no way for escape by climbing up a tree. So, I stopped by PetSmart on the way home intending to pick up only the very basics, just in case "Lost Cat" signs get posted over the weekend. I came home and I saw her across the street. I made the "psst, psst, psst" sound that attracts her attention and, I kid you not, she galloped across the street to me. I took out one of the toys (I had to get her her something fun, not just kitty litter) and played with her for a little bit. I opened the door, went in and left the door open and let her decide what she wanted to do. I didn't try to entice her or anything and she came in. I let her check out things for a little bit and when she didn't make any move to head back for the door, I closed it. I gave her some food and she just scarfed it down. Looking at me and meowing, I kind of got the hint that she was still hungry so gave her some more. It was a fairly uneventful night with the exception of when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I guess she thought I was up and it was time to play, because she followed me back to bed and started purring and nudging my hand. She's also a fairly good wake up call. The second my alarm went off this morning, she meowed from down the hall and came running in and started purring and nudging me again. She had another whole bowl of food for breakfast and successfully used the litter box during the night. I think she's still a little confused about where she is, but she seems content.

Monday, October 8, 2007

What do you think?

What is this thing in my face and why aren't you petting me?

Okay, I've got a bit of a conundrum. I posted a little while back about a cat that befriended Scott and I when we moved into our house. I usually see her a few times a week either napping outside the house or even as I'm coming outside she runs over to me meowing to get my attention. We spend a few minutes hanging out and then we go our separate ways. This weekend I saw her two nights in a row near the house. On Friday night, she was by the side of the house trying to stay out of the drizzly weather we were having. Saturday night, she just broke my heart. I got home really late from work, but still spent a few minutes outside petting and talking to her before going in. I sat down inside near our front door to take off my heels (which I never wear, so my feet were frickin' throbbing) and through the glass panel next to the door I see a pair of eyes reflecting in at me. I went outside again for a little bit because I felt so bad; she stayed there looking in and watching me doing stuff around the house for a good 15 minutes.

I'd love to take her in, but the thing is, I have absolutely no idea if she belongs to someone. I can just picture some 7 year old little girl in the neighborhood crying her eyes out because her kitty is gone. Then again, if she does belong to someone, they aren't taking very good care of her. She's outside all the time and has been declawed. She doesn't appear to be starving and her coat is nice and soft and clean. Maybe she was abandoned and her coat looks so good because she's still young? I just wish she could talk so that when I ask her "who belongs to her?" she could answer. The other big problem is money. I can only imagine what vet bills and food and everything would be like and I don't know if I can afford to really take care of her right now. It certainly seems like she's adopted me, now I have to figure out if I should adopt her. . .

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Custom DIY Necklace Kits

I've been playing around with the idea of listing some DIY Necklace Kits at my other Etsy shop: Beach Bum Creations. I finally listed one today for Scott's mom, Jean. A while ago, I showed her the basic bead stringing techniques and, needless to say, being the creative woman that she is, she got hooked. At her request, I put together a kit with Cameo pendants, enough strands of beads to make the necklaces nice and long, seed beads to match, gold findings, as well as some stringing tools (chain nose pliers and wire cutters).

2 Custom DIY Cameo Necklace Kits RESERVED FOR JEAN

Her interest in the kits, has prompted me to revisit the idea of listing these DIY Necklace Kits. They will include a strand of gemstone beads, matching seed beads, sterling silver findings, stringing wire, a instruction pamphlet with color pictures, as well as an opportunity to receive 20% off the purchase of a pendant with the kit. I'll start listing them soon! However, if you're interested before that, just drop me a convo through my Beach Bum Creations Etsy shop.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Who Are You? Who? Who? Who? (I love The Who)

A thread on the Etsy forums yesterday inspired me to really think about my shop's identity. The original thread post offered three questions to contemplate:
1. Who are you?
2. What do you do?
3. Why is that important?

First of all, I just loved reading through the responses and getting to know people, but I also loved just how much it made me think.

"Who are you?"
Most people answered with their name and their shop's name. But I felt like it was important to not only establish what my shop and I are called, but also a little something that explains who I am. My response:
"I am a strong, independent, take no sass woman who loves metal. Also known as Janine, the maillesmith behind Athena's Armoury."

"What do you do?"
I thought this was pretty self explanatory and just listed away:
"I make all manner of chain maille: jewelry, bags, armour, belts, wallet chains, candle holders, dream catchers, bikinis, clothing, just about anything I can dream up and figure out how to do."

"Why is that important?"
It's obvious to me why it would be important for me to create, but what interested me about this question is why it would be important to my customers that I do what I do. I realize that in business, it's important to know your customer base, but it's more than just knowing who would be interested in your product. Being able to identify what your product is by how it makes someone feel, the purpose of your product, all helps you identify your product, identify your customers, and therefore better market your product. I realized all of this before, but I don't know if I ever truly thought about it.
For example, I make chain maille. Obviously, people into scifi, fantasy, SCA, Ren Faires, etc. would be into it. That's a pretty broad spectrum and doesn't help me create a brand identity. But the more I thought about it, the more I tried to think about what I hoped people would feel owning one of my pieces:
"It's important to me because I have a drive not just to create, but also to be immersed in both art and history. To be able to make something beautiful out of something totally unexpected like the weaves once used for armour is extremely satisfying.
But I also hope that my customers get a sense of strength and confidence from what I create, particularly the jewelry, clothing, and armour items. I think that maille is a very bold art form and I'd like to think that my customers feel like a warrior goddess when they wear it."

I hope that my work helps people feel like a Warrior Goddess or a Knight in Shining Armour. How all of this translates into marketing and promotion, I haven't figured out yet, but it is inspiring nonetheless!

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Coif is Complete

In attempting to actually accomplish the goals I set out for myself, I'm finally giving an update on my coif (which I just listed at Etsy, by the way). I first started working on this coif way back in May and blogged about it here in the beginning of June when I had only the beanie portion of it done.

After the beanie was complete, the neck covering of the hood was added to make it into a standard coif (head and neck protection). Unfortunately, it had to be put on the back burner while I waited to receive more rings. I decided not to coil and cut my own rings for this project because I knew there would be so many and I had much rather spend my time actually weaving this time. I actually love the look of the standard coif: it reminds me of the kind of bob-like haircut you may see fashioned on Cleopatra. I plan on getting some enameled or anodized rings in maybe magenta to make it into a wig style for club wear. =)

Last, I added the mantle which adds protection for the throat and upper chest. The mantle, like the beanie portion is more expanding rows of Euro 4-1. It was so much fun to do this project. I loved making fabric out of metal, it felt so cool in my hands. It's also such an amazing dichotomy for metal to feel so fluid.

Historical methods of weaving were used in the creation of this coif, including expanding Euro 4-1. This piece represents countless hours of work with approximately 6000 bright aluminum rings all hand woven by me with seamless closures. Because it was made using bright aluminum (which is 1/3 the weight of steel), it weighs just shy of 2 lbs. Bright aluminum rings, 16 gauge, 1/4" ID: These rings are a good strength for use in combat grade armour and will work for SCA armour. Maille will protect against an edge of a weapon, however padding should be worn underneath for additional protection and a helmet is also commonly worn.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Once upon a time I actually worked for a home party company. I was working a full time job that I was unable to get overtime at with really screwy hours. Needless to say, I needed to make some extra cash, but I also needed to be able to make my own hours. It wound up not being for me, but one of the things I learned in that experience is that setting goals really does help you achieve said goals. =) I've admittedly been slacking a lot lately so far as my Etsy businesses go (both Athena's Armoury as well as Beach Bum Creations). Well, not necessarily slacking because the summer was insane with buying a house, packing, moving, repairing, unpacking. Hell, we're still unpacking, repairing, etc., but I've been starting to feel like I have a little bit less pressure and can devote some more time to Etsy.

My goals are simple to start. As organized a person as I am, taking time to take pictures, editing them, and listing items has not been one of my favorite things to do. If I have the time, I'd rather be playing with pliers and creating something. I think that's the case with most people who create. My goal is to take the time to take pictures and hopefully get better at it, so that there will be less time spent editing. With less editing time, I can then create listings while I'm sitting at my desk and bored at work. This will then free up my evenings/weekends to play with pliers. Hopefully, by writing these goals down and posting them here for all to view, I will follow through with them! Wish me luck!