business


A few months ago, I decided to stop uploading duplicate blog content to this account (to appease the almighty Google gods). Although WordPress.com was my initial launching pad into blogging, I transferred my attention to TaraFlyArt.com once the WordPress platform was up and running… and I didn’t have enough spare creative energy to write original posts for both sites.

However, I feel badly for abandoning the remaining subscribers of this blog… and while I encourage anyone who is interested in my work to pop over to my “Other” blog and re-subscribe (for semi-timely updates)… I have, in fact, come up with a solution for this albatross blog as well.

Taking a cue from one of my favorite bloggers, Kathleen Basi, who writes a weekly summary of her recent posts called “Sunday Snippets”…. I’ve decided to write monthly summaries for my content on TaraFlyArt.com. 🙂

So here is a recap for October….

Regency Cat Art Prints and Greeting Cards

5 Tips From a Procrastinating Cat Artist

October 11th, 2011 – I shared some awesome news regarding a wholesale order for my Regency Cat greeting cards and prints. MuttsandFrutts of Ontario, Canada is an upscale pet boutique located in the popular tourist area of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The owner, Lisa, contacted me about ordering a large quantity of my cards (which I print and fold individually at home)… and my work load went into overdrive.
Through the stress, excitement, and the unexpected, I learned some lessons about Being Prepared… including:

  1. Purchase More Supplies Than You’ll Need
  2. Always Have Inventory On-Hand
  3. Have Every Size, Shape, Color, and Available Option Listed

Serious lessons for a gal who always waits until she’s down to 3 sheets of paper and 1/8 of a yellow ink cartridge before re-ordering supplies.
I wouldn’t have lasted long as a Girl Scout. 😛

TaraFly with AfriCat Painting for charity

Picture of me standing under my AfriCat painting, top center.

AfriCat – An Art Auction for Charity

October 17th, 2011 – I stopped by the local art supply store, Howards’ Arts and Frames on Dual Highway, on October 1st, after seeing their announcement for the 6th annual “Art for the Animals” charity fundraiser.

Each year, they’ve asked area artists to donate artwork (which Howards’ will frame) for a silent auction to benefit animal charity organizations. The last couple of years they’ve supported the local Humane Society. This year, they chose to assist Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

I missed the deadline to enter last year, and didn’t want to miss out on this year’s opportunity to showcase my work locally (and help animals too!)…. but I was almost too late!
The original deadline for entries was Oct. 1st – the same day that I inquired, and I had nothing to offer (as they were accepting only 5″x7″ portraits on canvas panels). However, they generously extended the deadline a couple of days, and I rushed home to work on a fresh new painting… specifically for the auction.

My resulting piece was titled “AfriCat”, inspired by National Geographic photos of African tribal women wearing hundreds of brightly beaded necklaces.

[Update: The final night of bidding ended with AfriCat being sold for $40.00, and announced as 1st runner-up for People’s Choice in her category]

Art for the Animals, hosted by Howards' Arts and Frames

AfriCat Painting Video

October 24th, 2011 – With the charity auction ending on the 26th, I gave everyone a brief update on AfriCat’s bidding status (she was holding steady at $26.00 on Monday night, and sold for $40 on Wednesday).

I also edited 3 hours worth of video that I’d taped of myself in the studio, painting AfriCat… condensed it down to approximately 20 minutes, split between 2 videos which I’ve uploaded to YouTube.

AfriCat Painting Video: Part One

AfriCat Painting Video: Part Two

And there you have it! All three of my blog posts for October, in an easily digestible format.
Let me know if you found this summary helpful, okay?

But once again, if you want to catch my blog posts when they’re still alive and kicking, I encourage you to visit my “real” blog on TaraFlyArt.com….
Thank you for lending me your eyes! 😉

A parody of my ACEO Gypsy Cat listing on Etsy

I apologize in advance for a post that will probably come across as complaining at best, bitter at worst…. but I do have a message for you to hear, if you shop online. Or sell online for that matter. 😉

There seems to be a great deal of “Photoshopping” going on with product photography.

It has probably been happening since the dawn of the internet, or the birth of Photoshop, whichever came first ~ hehehe …. but lately I’ve been noticing it quite a bit on Etsy, and it’s bugging the crap out of me.

I do want to defend Photoshop, which has an unfair bad rap.
It’s a very useful tool when used correctly (to edit out stray marks & unwanted objects, brighten under-exposed photos, correct ugly color tints from incandescent light, and more)….

Artists can also create stunning photomanipulations (“photo collages”) using various images blended together, and you can even digitally paint with Photoshop… although a program like Corel Painter has better tools for creating the look of realistic oil or watercolor paintings.

I love Photoshop and use it daily. I cringe whenever I hear people speak of something as “being photoshopped” in a negative connotation.

But I’ll be honest… Photoshop can cover a multitude of sins, and actually allow online sellers to create deceptive photo listings for products that do not exist and/or need to be seriously enhanced to attract customers.

Whenever I find an Etsy listing that is obviously a photomanipulated product, I have to question the quality of the item:
Why isn’t the seller comfortable taking a real photo of it?
Are the colors of the print inferior to the digital scan?
Are there flaws? Cracks?

I’m not a professional product photographer, and my earliest Etsy listings look like cat poop to me now.
I seriously wonder why my first customers ever purchased from me, except that they must have seen some potential, and were willing to give me a chance.
Thank you guys!!

But I spend a lot of time staging and taking photos of my artwork, framed on the wall and lying flat, so that customers can see the real prints and judge their quality.

Shopping online is hard enough, without a tangible product to examine… we don’t need to muddy the waters, confuse, and deceive our customers with smoke and mirrors.

Take for example: a listing for an 8″x10″ photo print. The accompanying image looks like this:

Parody listing, Photoshopping a digital file on the wall

(Using Anne Elliot Cat, I created this parody of an actual item listing I saw on Etsy… an enormous 8″x10″ photo hanging on the wall)

I will confess to having occasionally used an image I’ve taken of an 8″x10″ print for a 5″x7″ listing, and vise versa, if there was no obvious point of reference in the photo to compare sizes…
But I wouldn’t dream of listing an ACEO mini print using a poster sized image on the wall. 😉

Another item that gets Photoshopped frequently is the infamous “art pendant”. Whether they are selling Scrabble tile pendants or “vintage” lockets, I’ll come across 130 copies of one generic photograph of a blank pendant with artwork digitally pasted onto it.

The trouble with this lazy habit is that the quality of the real printed image may not meet customers’ expectations; depending on the printer, paper, and type of resin/glue used, the print might not retain the beautiful, vivid colors and small details of the original digital file.

The only companies that might be able to get away with this are professional print-on-demand labs, and websites like Zazzle.com who have a solid reputation and stellar customer service.

Otherwise, can you really trust a shop full of digital clones??

Using Photoshop to paste photos onto blank pendants.

And while you may be thinking that customer feedback would highlight the poor quality items being sold, thus separating the wheat from the chaff… remember that feedback can be deceptive, too. It’s always best to read the comments.

For instance, in the case of one faux-photo-happy pendant seller… with thousands of sales, and 100% positive feedback… there were some obvious incidents of poor quality and misrepresented photos, that actually inspired me to write this blog post.

Last night, I stumbled upon a beautiful pendant while browsing a friend’s recent Etsy favorites, and was tempted to buy one.
When I visited the seller’s shop, however, I noticed that ALL the product listings were created using Photoshop… which made me curious:
What do these pendants really look like?
With thousands of sales, people must be pleased with them. Right??

But did you realize that 100% feedback doesn’t mean every customer is happy…
that, in fact, a negative review on Etsy will be cancelled out by a couple hundred positives, restoring a seller’s ‘perfect’ score?

I didn’t think it was possible to claim something was 100% if it wasn’t entirely true. 99.99% maybe. 😉

In addition to a few negatives ( 2>10 ), and neutral ratings in the double digits, many of their positive reviews weren’t entirely positive….
For whatever reason, these customers chose to give a good rating, but the accompanying written feedback tells a different story:

“….not as bright and vibrantly colored as what you see on website…”

“… I just expected something different from the picture…”

“…They are a bit darker than shown in the pictures…”

“…I thought they would be metallic and basically prettier, but they’re not.”

Sharing my opinion that feedback scores should accurately reflect the buyers’ experience doesn’t always make me popular in Etsy forums.
Sellers are happy to get ‘second chances’ to reclaim their 100% status, especially if they felt a negative was undeserved.

I get it. Really. Sometimes satisfaction is truly beyond a seller’s control.
A customer could potentially leave a negative because they waited until Dec. 22nd to order a custom gift, and were upset because it didn’t arrive in the mail the following day.

I’ve worked with the public enough to know that pleasing people is an art form all to itself, and very few of us have completely mastered it.
Mistakes happen, too.

In my first year on Etsy, I started selling journals with my artwork on the cover.
My friend and fellow Etsian, Lily, from TwoStrayCats, purchased one… and unfortunately I didn’t ensure its rigidity in the mailer.

The postal worker folded it in half, and shoved it into her mailbox.

Ouch. When she contacted me, I was horrified and embarrassed…. I offered a replacement and a refund, but she benevolently refused both, saying that after a bit of ironing, it was almost flat.
And the crease gave it character.
Bless her heart.

It would’ve been reasonable to chew me out, demand her money back, and perhaps even leave negative feedback.
Instead she wrote:
“The dashing Mr Darcy is now officially residing in Alberta ~ Canada
and I must say that I am very happy to have made his acquaintance…

(while ironing out his wrinkles)”

I added that last bit. heehee 😉

However, the close encounter has stuck with me, and with each package that I carefully support with thick cardboard, conducting my various “Bend Tests”… I’m continually learning from my previous mistakes.

Apparently after a year’s worth of disappointed customers’ comments, this paper collage jewelry seller still uses Photoshop rather than taking accurate photographs of his/her real pendants. And obviously hasn’t learned a thing.

But I have. And hopefully you have as well.

When you’re shopping online, take a few extra minutes to read the entire listing – pay attention to size, color, and materials – and look carefully at the photos. All the photos. Are any of them unnecessarily duplicated?

Read the feedback comments, even the positive ones. Especially the positive ones.
Some of them may be negatives in disguise.

(And yes, you can typically tell which negatives are undeserved, too, if you read the whole story.
Or if they don’t bother to explain a poor rating at all.)

And lastly give props to those sellers who value integrity, and don’t use Photoshop as an excuse for laziness, or worse… blatant deception.

Artisans who spend hours ~ (hundreds of hours) ~ brushing up on their photography skills, or hiring a professional to shoot their products, to give you a faithful representation of their work.

So that “what you see is what you get”.
Even on the internet. 🙂

Regency Cat Bookmarks, original artwork by TaraFly

My Regency Cat portraits are now available as bookmarks, trimmed in ribbon and lace, for sale in both my Etsy shop and locally in Funkstown, Maryland ~ at The Guten Tag, a family owned gift-shop in Historic Town Center.

I mentioned The Guten Tag back in April, when I began selling my framed prints of Mr. Darcy Cat and Redcoat Soldier Cat there.

I’ve been thinking of ways to expand my selection of goods, and Michelle from TrueBookAddict on Blogspot suggested bookmarks as the purrfect compliment to cat characters inspired by classic novels! 😉

These are created with reproduction prints of my artwork – the same quality prints I sell in my shop, using K3 UltraChrome pigment ink and Ultra Premium Presentation paper.
I’ve taken decorative cardstock found in scrapbooking stores and adhered it to the backside of each art print, using Modge Podge decoupage glue.

I applied a couple thick coats of acrylic varnish, let it dry, and punched a hole in the top for threading a bit of lace or ribbon.

Creating bookmarks featuring my Regency Cat artwork, Mr Darcy Cat bookmark

When I stopped by The Guten Tag to visit Jessica Synder, the shoppe’s owner, to deliver my bookmarks and chat a bit… we discussed upcoming holiday merchandising ideas.
She loves to deck the store floor to ceiling with ornaments, so I’ve decided to begin a special portrait series based on Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Ballet, which will be featured on Christmas ornaments! 😉

I thought it would be fitting for Clara Cat and the feline Nutcracker Prince to battle an evil Mouse King! Bwahaha

They will most likely begin as original paintings, which I’ll reproduce onto the ornaments, allowing people to collect the full set. They will be available during the holidays both in my Etsy shop and locally at The Guten Tag.

I brought my camera along during this visit, and Jess graciously allowed me to wander the shop and take photographs of all the treasures!

iron metal dressform with crochet snowflakes and tags

I drooled over the wire dressforms, stone urns, statuary, garden obelisks, and bird-cages. I also loved the creative ways in which she showcases her items, arranging random finds into beautiful and elegantly coordinated collections.

Golden goblet, obelisk, light, mirror reflection, photograph by TaraFly.

My Flickr slideshow of photographs will give you a taste of what you might find inside The Guten Tag gift-shoppe; it’s definitely worth checking out in person!

And of course, remember to ask “How much for that Darcy in the window?”…. 😉

This is a video of a recent afternoon I spent in the studio with my three young children… a juggling act between trying to paint my “Persuasion” book-shaped box, and entertaining them with sketches and prints to color.
Although the video was originally 1.5 hours long, edited down to just under six minutes (by yours truly)… you can easily guess how much actual work was accomplished. 😛

Here is the “official” blog post, where I shared my thoughts on the video, and its purpose.

Why not just post the blog here on WordPress.com?
Well, I’m glad you asked!
(Even though you didn’t… I was attempting to read your mind)

In case you’ve never visited my official website before – and you should! Just to say you’ve been there – I have another blog up and running, where I’ve been sharing the same posts.

*gasp* For shame! Breaking the Cardinal Rule of Google…. didn’t I realize it’s a mortal sin to duplicate my content?
Well…. yes and no.

I seriously doubt Google is banishing me to the depths of Shayol Ghul, although it may choose to favor this particular blog, and ignore the other.
As I get far more traffic here… little of it being relevant to my work. LOL
(Entirely my fault for rambling so often about non-work-related things! Mea culpa!)

If you’ve “discovered” me while searching for a vinegar solution to pour over your head, I’m still honored to make your acquaintance.
Really! 🙂

But trying to manage two blogs, which are virtually the same, is tedious and silly. And I don’t plan to increase the number of hours I sit at the computer, trying to compose “original content” for both blogs.

I have too many things requiring my attention in the 24 hours that God has deigned to give us…
And three things always looking to distract me…
[See above video]

So despite the insane amounts of traffic I will undoubtedly lose by abandoning this blog on WordPress…. I would like to encourage everyone who truly wants to follow my work (and my ramblings) – to hop over to my Official blog on TaraFlyArt.com and sign yourselves up.

I’m not quitting the blogosphere…
just relocating my energy to The Website where my presence is needed most. 😉
And I’d love for you to join me!

TaraFly's dressed stuffed animals

I’ve recently begun contemplating the idea of making videos to showcase my artwork, creative process, and give little glimpses into my studio and life…. simply because I find it fascinating to watch the videos highlighting other artists at work.

Of course, being the star of a video adds an additional pressure to entertain people along with getting work done. 😛

Once upon a time, YouTube would have been a fertile paradise for me to explore the world of amateur filmmaking.

I was eight years old when my father purchased a video camcorder for my birthday, because I was always begging him to let me use his expensive film equipment.
He had everything a young director could wish for…. fuzzy microphones on stands, a large stop-motion film camera, recording and sound editing machines…. *sigh*
But he pacified me with a hand-held, portable camcorder that shot in black-and-white and recorded onto inserted tapes.

TaraFly's childhood stuffed animals and toys

First Day of Rehearsals - Everyone bring your scripts?

When my friends and relatives visited, I would persuade them to dress up and act out my original scripts.

Lacking human actors, I would direct my stuffed animals in fully staged Broadway musicals…

I costumed them in dolls’ clothes, created sets from cardboard and furniture, played the cassette soundtrack, and did all the voice-overs myself.

These videos were embarrassingly cheesy, and fortunately they were recorded onto very old Beta tapes that no longer exist. *wink*

Just imagine… if YouTube existed in 1988… those horrid videos would be haunting me to this day.
Of course, I might have become a famous Hollywood director at thirteen.

Even as a teenager bitten by the acting bug, I was “impatient for display”, as Ms. Austen would observe.
Woe to anyone surfing YouTube, if I had only known, or they might have happened upon my melodramatic attempts at Wilde or Beckett.

But I didn’t have the forethought to post videos of myself all over the internet in the mid-’90s… or I might be starring in a daytime soap opera by now… or making oodles of money selling artwork, like Jasmine Becket-Griffith – who, at eighteen, was savvy enough to jump onto the eBay bandwagon before it left the station.

No, rather I began my web-adventures playing FurryMUCK (don’t ask) and developing a website devoted to haunted toilets.
And YouTube? What in the heck was that?

I vaguely recall my impression upon hearing the site mentioned for the first time:
It stuck me as a forbidden, voyeuristic place where people uploaded naughty things, hoping for their 5 minutes of fame before the moderators shut their videos down.

Even the name itself sounds… wrong… dirty somehow. 😉

Oddly, I no longer have the desire to stand in front of the camera for very long, much less record myself actually reciting anything… and who would listen, I dare ask?

Yet every morning, without fail, I am bombarded with marketing e-mails touting YouTube as the godsend for artists to expose their work to the masses…
And anyone stubbornly ignoring the potential impact videos have to reach wider audiences?
Well, they might as well shoot their careers straight through the heart and end their misery.

So Thursday night I stuck my toes in the water, and created a short video clip of my Regency cat portraits – using a free program called Windows Live Movie Maker, that I didn’t even realize we owned, until I needed to edit some video of the kids’ trip to the park.

We’ve also been the proud owners of a camcorder for over two years… and we have a webcam… *and* there’s a video camera installed on both our cellphones.
Do I have any legitimate excuse for not shooting more videos? Hmmmm?

Apparently I’m behind the curve… reacting to trends rather than forging new territory.
I always seem to embrace an idea 10 years after it becomes unpopular… like those Spandex leggings and oversized sweaters I wore throughout high-school, à la Flashdance.

Except I graduated in 1998, not 1988. 😉

Strangely though, I’m okay with that. I might not be business-smart and savvy, quick to spot an opportunity, and ready to throw myself into every spotlight.

I’ll embrace my shy, quirky adult nature.

And I’ll embrace that nineteen year old computer nerd who coded a website in tribute to “The Ghost of the Pot Roast”.

And I’ll embrace the fifteen year old girl who wore too much make-up, tried to cut her own hair, and moussed her chopped bangs until they stood straight up in spikes.

I’ll embrace that eight-year-old child who videotaped a stuffed cat singing “Surrey with the Fringe On Top” in Gordon McRae’s voice.

Because, honestly, if that isn’t entertainment… I don’t know what is. 😉

Lizzy Bennet Regency Cat Portrait by Tara Fly Art

How much are you willing to pay for an artist’s talent and skill?
$750.00? $2,500.00? $3,500,000.00?

How do artists come up with these figures anyway?

For those of us who have 9-5 jobs (or 8-6 jobs, or even 7am-7pm jobs..), earning a regular paycheck, we can easily quote our worth in terms of hourly wages or yearly salary.

We can identify ourselves as being “middle class”, “working class”, “poor”, etc…

We begin our careers as inexperienced teenagers and young adults, probably making minimum wages, perhaps slightly better…
Given some time, training, a college degree, and focus, we’ve managed to become valuable assets to our employers, and have been rewarded with raises and promotions.

One wouldn’t expect an employee with 10, 15, or 20 years of service to be offered a comparable job with a starting salary of $8.00 p/h. One might rightly even consider it an insult!

Artists, too, need to be fairly compensated for their labor, and if that 20×30 canvas took 60 hours to paint… and they’re asking $10.00 per hour, so be it.

People mistakenly believe that a more experienced artist will work “faster”… which is true and also false.

A more experienced artist will push him/herself to tackle more complicated projects, which invariably take longer to complete.
Sure, he could sketch that horse in half the time it takes a newbie to figure out the correct leg proportions…
Or he might take twice as long as the novice, ultimately producing a drawing alive with detail and depth.
A horse practically prancing straight off the page.

Details of Lizzy Bennet acrylic painting cat portrait by Tara Fly

The beginner might sell you her drawing for five bucks, or you might be able to persuade her even to give it away.
I don’t believe that I kept ANY of my paintings from high school, when my work began to attract attention.
If someone wanted it, I gave it to them.
I have a few pieces floating around from grade school though. 😉

The professional artist, on the other hand, realizes that his paintings need to earn him a paycheck. Which, in addition to labor, he needs to factor in the cost of his materials, plus his utilities, rent, food, and other needs… the overhead of being self-employed.

regency cat portrait acrylic painting on plaque with lace trim.

What? Artists should live on the streets and starve?
Is that how little their talents are worth?

They’d be better off salting your french fries or stocking jars of tomato soup, because those jobs are necessary and respectable…?

I’ll remember that when I overhear the maintenance person in Aisle 5 grumbling that his job isn’t “worth it”, as he mops up the shattered jar of spaghetti sauce that some testy child threw from his mother’s cart.
As she merrily strolls away, whistling distractedly… not even bothering to apologize.

I’ll say to him,
“Hey, buddy, look on the bright side! At least you’re not an artist! Cause they don’t even deserve to get paid; they must work for free. Enjoy pushing that mop for $8.50 per hour. Cheers!”

The fact is, running a business (even a tiny one) always costs more than one realizes…
And Creating, in all its forms, is a full-time job for many people.

They have mortgages and bills just like everyone else. Plus, they have merchant credit card and Paypal fees, vendor booth fees, machine maintenance and repairs, taxes and licenses, membership dues, website hosting, advertising…

My mind is drawing a blank, as I’m typing this at 1:40AM after being awake for 20 hours. 😉
But you get the idea.

Only the very successful artists are selling $3,500.00 paintings every week, or every month. The rest of us are squeaking by on much less, and whatever we earn in sales must cover everything.

Although I shouldn’t draw myself into that illustration, really. I’m self-admittedly not doing this full-time anymore.
But I made a commitment to myself, and to my family, that my artistic income would help cushion the responsibility my husband has undertaken in his role as breadwinner.

Unfortunately, the 21st century economy isn’t friendly to “one income households”, especially not families with young children.
Although we aren’t homeless or hungry, living on charity or government welfare (not yet, thankfully)… it certainly isn’t a life of ice-cream socials and sock hops.

His income provides us with our basic needs, 99% of the time; some months are a stretch.

regency cat portrait painting on wood plaque by Tara Fly Art.

When I list prices on my artwork, it isn’t simply rolling dice or doing Rock-Paper-Scissors.
There is a standard pricing formula whereby all the money is accounted for.

My fingers hesitate to type this cliché, but purchasing my art really does put food on our table, keep the electricity running for another six hours, and allow us an extra night of sleep undisturbed by worrisome thoughts.

And I’m not just speaking for myself.
If you don’t buy artwork from me, at least do consider making your next purchase from someone who is supporting themselves solely with their craft. Help the independent business owners and local artisans to help you in return.

Don’t balk at their prices. I’ll bet if you asked, they could justify every penny… and sadly they probably undervalue their worth as well.

Don’t cave and go to Walmart for the cheap crap, which will inevitably fall apart within six months and wind up residing for eternity in a landfill. I blame them for our throwaway culture.

Trust the experience of people who have perfected their skills, who create fine quality pieces and can guarantee their craftsmanship because they stake their livelihoods on it.
This is what they do in order to eat.

Acrylic painting portrait of Lizzy Bennet Cat by TaraFly on wood plaque

In case you were wondering, these images show my latest original Regency cat portrait of Lizzy Bennet – “Dressed for Netherfield”. I painted her with acrylics onto a basswood plaque, measuring 7″ x 9″, and applied 3 coats of matte varnish to seal her.
The fabric and lace trim was hand stitched by me, and I fastened each faux pearl onto the lace with thread, before hot-gluing the entire piece of trim to the plaque.

I spent over eight hours creating this lovely piece, and she is available now for purchase on Etsy, for $95.00. 🙂

The last few weeks, I’ve been feverish brainstorming ideas for new product lines… and I keep coming back to my little stuffed Regency cat dolls.

Little boy playing with stuffed cat doll

Jake abducting the half-finished cat doll...

Ever since experimenting with this large cat doll back in September, which was sewn completely by hand and pattern-free, I’ve been wanting to expand on that idea: an entire collection of smaller kitty dolls in gowns, and gents in tuxedos.

With that future goal in mind, I went hog-wild during a fabric clearance sale at JoAnn Fabrics, scooping up $1-per-yard dress and suit fabrics, fuzzy black and white cloth for cat bodies, and raided the discount bins at A.C.Moore for lace trimmings.

I even bragged to the sales clerk that “I sew stuffed cats dressed in 19th century costumes.” …before a single paw or tail had been cut from cloth. *blush*

My initial attempt at assembling the small creature prototype, however, took an entire two days!

small stuffed Regency cat doll sewn by TaraFly

My first tiny cat doll, sans face, sans hair, sans everything...

Joe had been patiently waiting for me to test out my new sewing machine – (his Christmas gift to me!) – on some drapery fabric for our sliding glass door.
However, he eventually realized it might get finished more quickly if he assigned himself to the task.

It was quite a sight to see! We sat together at the kitchen table, sewing our respective projects, and that handy man of mine completed the living room drapes in under 2 hours, sans pattern.

Tara Fly's husband Joe sewing curtain drapes

Just imagine the shocked female responses on Facebook when I shared this!

In that same length of time, I hand-stitched the face of one little kitty.

Embroidered face for stuffed cat doll

My cat's embroidered face...

Realizing that my methods need to be re-examined and streamlined… as I can’t begin to put an affordable price-tag on two days worth of sewing! … the cat dolls are temporarily simmering on the back-burner while I let my subconscious brain cells sort out the details.

Another idea in the works involves brushing up on my greeting card selection….

I came across this licensing article on ArtsyShark.com that stated: 90% of sellable cards have writing inside;
blank cards like mine account for a mere 10% of overall card sales.

And the sad part is, I once worked as a greeting card merchandiser, so this shouldn’t be news to me. 😦

Mr Bennet Cat Portrait Greeting Card, artwork by Tara Fly.

Mr Bennet Cat (blank) Greeting Cards available on Etsy.

Yet, my mind has been working strangely now that I’m trying to sell my OWN work. And I’m beginning to see “retail” and “wholesale” through an entirely new lens…

Everything has become so personal.

Also, often I’ll find myself studying the quality of the craftsmanship on items, and comparing its perceived value with the quoted price on the shelf. If the discrepancy is large enough, my hackles rise and I begin to question which poor link in the chain was cheated out of his living wage.

I can barely recall working as a manager for a big box store, and apathetically ordering mass-produced-in-China inventory.

Anyway, my deceptively simple plan to revamp my greeting card selection with sentimental phrases …was to scour Jane Austen’s novels, beginning with “Pride and Prejudice”… and perhaps even branch out into her later contemporaries – the Brontes, Eliot, and Dickens.

I was looking for any quotes which might be appropriate for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, well wishing, and congratulations.
Easy peasy, right? Eh..hehehe Not really.

I’ve managed to scrape together a few quotes after an evening spent reading P&P. Unfortunately, my snarky sarcasm was hungrily devouring quotes that might possibly offend someone unless the card was clearly marked as Humor.

Gossiping Regency Cats Greeting Card, artwork by Tara Fly.

Want to share juicy gossip? This is the card for you...

I actually considered a new line of cards for Confirmed Old Spinsters, Divorcées, and Anti-Romantic types… because a quote like this is just too precious to waste:

“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.”
(Of course, one could always put a positive spin on the inside, by complimenting the couple’s “once in a lifetime” romance…)

This particular passage sent me into howling fits of laughter, although I’m doubtful anyone else would appreciate the irony of such an inscription:

“Mr Collins to be sure was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still, he would be her husband.”

Just give her the ring, for Pete’s sake! The man himself is circumstantial.

I do think Mr. Darcy’s “good opinion once lost” quote is absolutely perfect for parody, especially in the aging birthday category…
“A good head of hair once lost, is lost forever.” [alternately: set of teeth, a good memory]

Nevertheless, you might well imagine how tedious it can be to track down quotes… so I’m willing to trade with anyone who volunteers a romantic or witty bit from one of Austen’s novels.

If I use your suggested quote in an upcoming card, I’ll send you the .jpg file of the finished card design, which you may use to print the card as many times as you like for personal use.
Just don’t go selling my artwork, obviously… hence the rule about “personal use”. 😉

Once I get the new line of cards going, I’m going to phase out my blank cards on Etsy. The new and improved greeting cards will also be available at the Guten Tag in Funkstown for my local customers.

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