Friday, October 30, 2009

Internet Artisan Interview - Coffee Pot People

Anitra's blog is a favorite place for me to go. To keep the Coffee Pot People company, she introduced a line of Tea Kettle Characters. Too Funny! She has so many creative ideas, it's hard to keep up with her. You just have to go by and see her creations - they always put a smile on my face (sorry, there are not links to every photo.) Even if you don't have the chance to buy one of these fabulous characters, you can always catch their escapades, on vacation notecards. Perfect for your coffee or tea drinking friends!
What's the name of your business/shop?
I call my business Coffee Pot People, but I actually have two etsy shops, and

CoffeePotPeople is where I sell what I make, and AniWatersprite is where I sell beads, sewing patterns, a few vintage items, and, once in a while, aprons my mama makes. She's an expert seamstress, and I'd like to get her set up with her own shop, but we haven't had time to do that yet.
Do you have a registered domain name and/or a blog?
I have a blog:

What type of handmade products do you sell?
Hoo boy. I'm ADD. The short answer is, "Anything that pops into my head to make!"

The actual list includes Coffee Pot People and Tea Kettle Characters, who are garden and kitchen folk that start with either a coffee or tea pot for a head. The big ones have names and personality profiles/bios that tell about their jobs, hobbies, and idiosyncracies, and the little ones get just names.

Other things I sell are China and Mega Blossoms, which are "flowers" made from glass and china dishes and other shiny bits; greeting cards that feature the Coffee Pot People and Tea Kettle Characters; jewelry--button stack bracelets, cuffs, fabric pins, earrings; and fabric gift and wine bags from recycled fabrics.

As if that weren't enough, I have a long mental list of things I haven't made yet, but NEED to.

Show us a piece you recently finished

(She's in my Etsy shop!)

What are you working on right now? Any sketches?
I get ideas, and then I sit down at the table with my materials and see if they work. Once in a while when I'm away from home something will pop into my head and I'll grab whatever piece of paper is handy and sketch it out, to keep myself from forgetting it. Then I forget about the piece of paper until it resurfaces, sometimes months later, which can leave me scratching my head, wondering what I meant to convey with that little drawing!

Right now, I'm working on cuff bracelets made from recycled belts. I've been using belts with double or triple rows of grommets, and lacing electrical wire through them in a crisscross pattern. Today I'm trying one that uses chain instead, to get a cuff with more shine. The belt inspired that change, as it is white and chrome; it seemed like gold would be nice on it.

With the Coffee Pot People, it's all in the assorted "Junk" on the shelves of my workroom. A piece that would make a great hat, or a coffee pot with exceptional character, a lamp that looks like a gown to me--those are what get my imagination running. I stack up the pieces until I get a person I like, and after that it's pure engineering to figure out how to connect everything. The last step it to paint the face on. When it's all done, I stand the person in the kitchen or on the dining table until s/he tells me who s/he is!

If you have a website or blog, what do you use for advertising? What do your avatars look like?
This is the avatar I use most:

It's Ari, an engineering major who got into designing her own retro fashions to wear swing dancing. They've become so popular, she's thinking about changing majors and careers!

I don't really advertise, per se. I do Twitter new posts, and I hand out a lot of business cards at art/craft shows. Posting on various websites puts my name out, too.

Oh, and recently a website, invited me to be a regular contributor. They have my bio and link back to my blog.

If you have a website or blog, tell us about your favorite widget.
The Linked Within widget that puts, "You might also like:" after each post. I even click on those myself sometimes, because after a while you forget what you've written a year or two back!

Which online selling vendors do you use? What do you like best about each one?

Right now, the only one I'm using is Etsy. The low fees are great, and it's pretty easy to list an item. I also love the fact that everything on the site is either handmade, or supplies. And I know some people get a little exercised over the vintage items that are sold, but I like those, too.

I used to use eBay, and may go back to it, since I have a store there. I'm even a power seller, but their fees seemed to get a little out of hand, and I quit listing there quite a while ago.

Are you involved in social networking? What's your favorite and why? If you're not involved, you must have a good reason!
I do Twitter, where I let my Political Me out, and am intermittent on MySpace.

My favorite is Facebook, because I get to see what my family and friends are up to. It's like eavesdropping on a whole bunch of people who don't mind that you're doing it!

Last night there were new pictures of our great-grandson, from way over in New Zealand. It lets you feel like people aren't quite so far away, you know? Another example: During the 2008 election, I chatted back and forth with an old classmate who lives in Japan, and we watched the returns together that way. It was so cool.

I haven't figured out the Fan Page thing yet, but I'm not really sure I want to, since I'm not sure what it's good for, other than bothering people! (Bad Anitra! Bad!)

All of us can use a helpful business hint once a week. What's yours?
Don't quit, and stay active! With Etsy especially, the more you list, the more sales you'll have. (That's a business hint for me, too, since my shop isn't the hottest store on the planet. Yet.)

Do you have a "modus operandi" for computing the price of a handmade object? Tell us your formula?

I'm a member of an artists' co-op, Trillium Artisans. Their formula is: Cost of materials + (time X $12. per hour). If you're putting your items in a store or show, you add the percentage they're going to take to that. The idea is to make at least $12 an hour. I use that as a guideline, but it isn't carved in stone for me.

One thing that enters into it for me is affordability. I've spent most of my life not being able to afford many things I loved. When I price things, I want to include as many people in the "I can afford that!" Club as possible. It may not be the best business sense, but it puts a happy feeling in my heart.

We'd love to see your little corner of the world, where you create.

This is one end of my workshop, where I create the Coffee Pot People:
And here I am, out in the yard, my preferred place for making the China and Mega Blossoms:

Where do you see your artwork in one year? Any plans in the works?
Hallmark! Made in Oregon stores!

The greeting cards are a bit of a focus, since they let me market an image after the actual item has sold. I've got ideas for flip books, and my daughter is working on an organizer with Coffee Pot People images sprinkled throughout. We'd both like to see a coffee table book of Coffee Pot People.

The other thing I work on is lining up shows. Each new venue scares the bejeebers out of me, for fear I'll mess something up, or not be able to find it, or some other newbie disaster. My goal is to have a whole list of annual shows that are familiar and reliable, and not have to look for new ones ever again!

OK, the storybeader's turn to pick a favorite.

It definitely has to be a Coffee Pot Person.
I found Amos on one of Anitra's photo storage sites.

Isn't he a doll! I've always gone for the strong, silent type (hehe) And so handy. He's a bricklayer by day, firedancer by night. That's his lady friendm Angie. You can see more of Anitra's photos on a new (to me, at least) internet photo storage site called dropshots

and she also have a flickr account:

Got a blog? Love Etsy? Check us out!


LazyTcrochet said...

Fantastic! so inspiring

memoriesforlifescrapbooks said...

Her work is so fun...and so are those photos! Love the flowers :)

Leslie @ Bei Mondi said...

Oh, these are super cute and cool! Love them!

Splendid Little Stars said...

wonderful interview!