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Moving Again: North Carolina to Tennessee 

After about 8 years of service, my husband is getting out of the army. So after almost 6 years of marriage, we finally had the chance to choose where to live.

Of all the places we could have gone, we spent our entire military life at Fort Bragg. And while North Carolina is a beautiful state, Fayetteville was not a good fit for us.

People dislike it for a lot of reasons (and again I mean no offense to those who do like it) but most importantly for me, I found very few things going on that I wanted to get involved in – specifically opportunities for my business – and very few people who shared what I care about. I really did go there with optimism and try to make the best of it, and while I appreciate the people who supported us and will miss the things I did find joy and inspiration in, I spent a lot of time pretty unhappy.

Meanwhile for my husband, Army life was not really what he expected, and the gym he started didn’t exactly go as planned either. He did have a bit of an easier time making friends but overall didn’t enjoy the area much more than I did.

So when another couple presented an opportunity with a new gym in their home state of Tennessee, Joe was interested and I was skeptical. Our discussions went in circles so we finally visited.

I found basically nothing I was looking for in the area we were looking at, but somehow went home with thoughts of creating my own opportunities, something I never felt like I could do before while being so overwhelmed by my surroundings. For Joe, it made sense, with the gym, a National Guard position, and college classes. For me, it would be an adventure, and there’s at least a part of me that doesn’t mind that once in a while.

We were able to find a house through the aforementioned friends and, a few weeks after making a decision, here we are in Watertown. Moving has been a bit of a nightmare (isn’t it always?) and we are certainly still adjusting. I’m not in love with the annoying rooster next door, the limited internet access, or the half hour drive to my favorite craft store. But I don’t mind solitude, the mini horse down the street, lots of trees, and as always, the beautiful sky.

I do have my studio set up again, and will be checking out local possibilities and of course running my shops. I hope to either find new inspiration or finally get bored enough to catch up on all the ideas already in my head!

Thanks for sharing in my creative journey and I hope you will enjoy whatever I come up with next!

P.S. Subscribers, if your email was messed up I apologize, my finger got over-eager while I was still composing!

Craft Booth Tips & Improvements

It’s been a while since my craft table at the Festivus Games at my husband’s gym. I didn’t feel like writing about it because it was honestly really disappointing.

I’m an extreme night owl and an extreme introvert, so it was really exhausting to wake up early and be  around people all day. I also spent about a lot of time preparing, and for all that, I made less in sales than what I spent on setup materials. 

It was still nice to get some sales and interact with buyers in person, I just didn’t feel that the experience was worth the effort overall. 

So I have a few things to keep in mind for next time, like making sure the event is the right fit for my business, communicating with event coordinators, finding out if local people are interested, and being prepared for weather conditions. 

But mostly I would like to share about my table setup. I am by no means an expert, but I think I made some improvements from my first couple events – including the products themselves! 

I tried to think outside the box with my displays. You can save money and make your booth more interesting by using random items like crates, shelves, racks, easels, etc instead of purchased displays. I used some of each and painted, added nails, etc where necessary.

But with my first table, the multi-colored cards and displays were very distracting. Because my items are already colorful, they look better with a neutral background. And because they’re nature-inspired, a touch of rustic works too. 

I separated my items into categories and placed a few sets on busts in the center. I made sure everything was pretty visible, minus my extra stock, and that the price signs were readable. 

Lastly, I found it helpful to bring a few extra things like a checklist, free magnets, a visual of how my canes are made, and beading for my down time. 

Here are some of the resources that helped me: 

Booth Makeover

Top 5 Craft Show Display Trends

Craft Show Checklist

There’s more on my Craft Business Resources Pinterest Board.

If you’re a crafter, let me know if this was helpful, and your most important or most forgotten craft fair items! If you’re a shopper, what would make a booth most attractive to you? 

Introducing Handmade Supplies

I’m always looking for new product ideas to make and sell. After a few custom requests and some research, I decided to add handmade supplies to my offerings.

A few of my jewelry supply sets (available with or without holes).

I’m starting with pendants, earrings pieces, and a few beads. They are made with some of the same nature-inspired polymer clay designs as my finished jewelry items, mostly canes, but without the findings and at a fraction of the price. 

This way, because I have honed my skills with polymer clay and especially canes, you can combine my pieces with your own beading, wire wrapping, or other skills to create unique pieces to sell in your own shop. 

And if you’re not a professional jewelry maker, these pieces can also be finished simply with bails & chains or ear wires for yourself, gifts, or group DIYs. 

I might try to put together some ideas on how to use these so let me know if you’d be interested!

Also if you’ve purchased and photographed any of my products, use hashtag #noellelewisart or #pasticheaccessories on social media to be entered into giveaways! 

Fairy House Herb Garden & Jewelry Set

I almost didn’t get around to doing any gardening this year, but I decided to at least plant some herbs instead of the usual variety of vegetables.

I’ve also been seeing some adorable fairy garden ideas and thought this would be a great way to add some fun to my little planter.

I made mine with a broken wine glass and, of course, polymer clay. It’s sort of hobbit hole inspired with a flower for a roof.

Fairy house and herb garden

Then all I had to do was plant an herb in each corner, place the fairy house in the center, and add some mini garden stones (more accessories later!). It also looks cool as an LED candle holder.

Mushroom house drawing and redraw
It was nice to do something just for fun! Going with the fairy house theme, I also made a new mushroom house jewelry set for my shop, inspired by this redo of a drawing from my high school sketchbook!

Mushroom house cane and jewelry set
Are you getting into the fairy garden trend? Let me know in the comments!

On Selling Fan Creations

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Some of you may be familiar with items in my shop inspired by movies like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Up, and How to Train Your Dragon. You’ve probably also heard a lot of opinions about copyright infringement.

I’m writing this because I was contacted by Etsy regarding a complaint about one of my items. I can’t share specifics but in the interest of protecting my business, it looks like I will have to stop selling the item, and probably all such items just in case. I know some of you will be disappointed and others will think less of me for doing it in the first place, so I’d like to share my thoughts on this issue (disclaimer: I have no legal expertise).

A lot of people seem to look at fan-made merchandise as a way for unimaginative people to profit from others’ ideas. To me, if you’re taking an idea and turning it into something different, then it’s a way for people with various types of creative skills to work together to benefit everyone – more options for the fans, free advertising for the original creator, and yes, more income for us crafters.

I do respect the right of any artist to decide what happens with their own designs. But at the same time, part of art is sharing ideas, and every idea comes from somewhere. There is a difference between stealing and being inspired. Even nature-themed designs are copying something, just not something we’re going to fight over.

Maybe in the beginning I was trolling for ideas. Now I have a whole shop full of my own stuff – two in fact – but I still know my work has been inspired by things along the way, and I still don’t get to decide what’s actually popular.

I just wish there was a better way to make fan crafts legitimately. I would happily get licensed and pay fees if it were realistic for an independent artist to do so. Maybe someday we will have some better options.

In the meantime, I’m sorry to part with these items and the happy customers who purchase them, but I hope it will be an opportunity for me to focus on my other designs and for them to be noticed on their own.

Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments!

Florals: Sale Items & New Designs 

It’s been a busy month (yikes!) since my last post, mostly spent preparing for a local event, which I will talk about later. I haven’t been able to spend as much time creating new designs, but I do have a few I hadn’t shared yet.

First I wanted to mention that I’m having a sale at Noelle Lewis Art on Etsy and Amazon, for just a few more days. I’m clearing out some of my older floral items, including jewelry sets and mixed media paintings, so I can focus on my landscape cane jewelry and landscape paintings – which may still include some mixed media.


Meanwhile in my other shop, Pastiche Accessories, I have a new collection of florals featuring statement necklaces and matching earrings in a variety of colors and styles. I use the caning technique for these also but shape the slices into flowers, then connect them and finish them with beads.

As I may have mentioned, I’m branching out to include other metal colors – besides silver – such as gold, copper, and bronze. And I’ve started making studs along with the dangle earrings, which can also be purchased as clip-ons. 

I hope I’m not confusing anyone while I figure out my multiple shop situation and get organized! But I have plenty of options and I hope you’ll check out the sale and/or the new collection! 

Festivus Games Craft Booth

  
Some of you may know that my husband runs a CrossFit gym (which I’ve been meaning to blog about). Next month they are hosting the Festivus Games, a competition designed to include people who are not hardcore athletes. I feel like it kind of goes with how they run things at CrossFit Metanoia; they’re all about meeting people where they are to help them reach their goals. 

Joe suggested I set up a craft booth with the other vendors at the games, since I make some Crossfit-inspired jewelry and people might be interested in my other designs too. 

I was hesitant at first, thinking my artsy, nature-inspired designs would seem out of place. But all kinds of people will be there and it couldn’t hurt to try something different than the craft fairs I’ve done before. Plus it would be nice for us to do something together business-wise, since we both work really hard at completely  different things. 

So I have a lot of setting up to do in the next couple weeks, but I will be there with my fitness themed designs and lots of other options too (you can check out my gallery pages or Facebook Page to see some examples). I look forward to meeting more of my husband’s clients and any other locals who would like to check it out!