Stargazer dragon

I’m still working on the project I hinted at last post, another art-doll dragon, but I decided to make and list a less-ambitious one in the meantime. I have some regrets about my choices on it – not because it’s unattractive, but because it was soooooper-hard to photograph with my limited setup.

I had to make sure the black velvet didn’t just end up as a silhouette. I had to make sure the wings sparkled. I had to make sure the eyes flashed some color (they’re clear AB glass beads).

And most difficult of all: I had to get every bit of cat hair and minky fluff off the darn thing. (I was only mostly successful.)

Sometimes I just let it blow out the exposure for the sake of seeing detail.

Anyway, the work-in-progress one is another gold so at least that part won’t be a problem, and I ordered an adjustable stand so hopefully posing it won’t be a problem either (it’s not a free-standing one). But since it’s a sea dragon I’m super-tempted to visit a beach and get some outdoor pictures with it.

Bumbling through Etsy sales

Confession: I haven’t read enough Etsy how-to’s. Etsy’s own site is great for looking up answers but completely overwhelming for learning, and half the bloggers out there who purport to tell you how to do it are selling more blog ads than Etsy goods. So I just dove in and flailed around.

This week’s lesson for me was: listings never really die. See, I decided that Etsy’s option system was just too much: you can vary on two factors (size and color, for the beanie dragons) but you have to select one before it will show you what’s in stock in the other. So I decided to break them out into individual listings. You pay twenty cents a listing but, I figured, it doesn’t matter because the multi-item listings are serial listings. That is, if you list a dozen items in a single listing, you pay twenty cents. You sell one and it insta-lists another, even if someone buys three at a time, so at the end of the day it costs the same to list twelve items in twelve listings or all in one.

But.

Each listing creates a page. (Duh.) But what I just fully registered was: when that item sells out, you get the “sorry, try these other items” screen… which is full of other people’s items. When the multi-listing for beanie dragons ran out, the only other dragon it showed was the gold, and it was the seventh or so.

This explains why the reviews at the bottom of an item aren’t necessarily for previous purchases of that particular item. I assumed it just showed random reviews from that seller, and that may still be the case. But the past-sales page is a snapshot of the listings as they were sold, without regard to the listing page, so you’re free to reuse that listing number.

And so that’s what I’ve done: the multi-listing page is now the green 6″ dragon page, still in made-to-order status, so folks’ bookmarks will still point to a beanie dragon. And now I need to go do final work on those dragons to get pictures and move it to ships-immediately status, and make a couple more art-doll dragons so I can resurrect those links. Hopefully I can keep ahead of those, so I am always ready to renew the listing. (Yes, I just hoped for slow sales…)

Some more business musings

Much of my rambly business- and creation-process stuff gets relegated to Mastodon, but also much of my sales comes from Mastodon, so… maybe I should ramble about business and creation in other places? Let’s give it a go.

My Mastodon art account currently has 130 or so followers, but has a lot more reach because people like to share pictures of my dragons and whatnot. My Instagram account has 58 followers, of which many are non-nerdy folks I knew in Wichita, and of course you can’t (easily) share pictures on Instagram. I could run up the follower count in the usual way (by camping on hashtags and posting look-at-me comments on other people’s accounts but that feels, as the kids say, “thirsty.”

I had intended to use Masto as my spot to work through the learning curve on both making things and selling things, and I guess the natural result is that there are some non-thirsty references to the Etsy shop built into the things that people are sharing. Having realized that, and not wanting my account to turn into Messages From A Brand, I try to keep the shop references minimal in the share-likely posts.

In any event, Mastodon shows that getting the dragons in front of a (reasonably nerdy) audience gets sales, so I just have to figure out how to get the dragons in front of a larger audience. Buying Etsy ads seems to be a logical next step as soon as I get the shop properly restocked, but I’m not sure yet where to go from there.

There are offline options as well. Putting the dragons in my Friendly Local Game Stores is one possibility, though I’m not really priced for wholesale sales. Selling at conventions is also possible; I’m still getting used to the idea of living in a place that’s close to other places. That’s a lot of work, though, and we gave away our (aging) minivan when I inherited Mom’s little sedan.

I also had sort of envisioned getting more into the digital sales than the physical, so I really should be working on finalizing a pattern and its instructional pictures/video to try that out with… but I’ve been playing catch-up stocking dragons (including the art-doll ones; Gold/Sparkle is about to fly across the Atlantic meaning there are none in the shop right now).

I guess those are my goals for the coming week (or two): restock the beanies, list another art dragon (working on Stargazer, black with glitter-cotton galaxy wings), and finalize the orca pattern demo and a paid pattern.

Whew.

(Oh, and get the promised quarter keeper file posted.)

Measure twice, cut once

Today was a “learning from my mistakes” sort of day.

I have been dialing back on things a little to give my wrist a rest (since I worked all through Memorial Day weekend), but after a trip to Aldi I thought I’d do a little something for myself.

Aldi requires a quarter deposit to free up its shopping carts. There are no cart returns in the parking lot, and no employees running around collecting abandoned carts. It’s a small store and a small lot, and you just take your cart back yourself or, if it’s busy, someone will come up to you as you’re unloading, brandishing a quarter and offering to “buy” your cart from you.

Occasionally they sell little official quarter keepers, and I bought one which I hate. The quarter goes all the way in and a little past the slot, and requires prying back out with fingernails. Plus, I always want *two* quarters, because you’ll often run into someone fumbling for a quarter or just staring at the chains in newbie confusion. So I made a little bi-fold quarter keeper.

My first draft (the white one) was a little large. Clearly I’ve been traumatized by my too-small official keeper, but I wanted to make sure the quarter didn’t get stuck. Instead, the quarter falls out too easily and unpredictably when you’re opening it. I also decided trimming the curves was too finicky, so I opted for a more angular design. Lastly, since I got hold of some Gritty fabric, I decided to make an applique window.

Here’s where I started making mistakes. Quick and dirty little thing, right? Good time to try out wax paper on top of the vinyl to see if it keeps things from sticking. It does, but it is kind of a pain to get out of the stitching so it’s fine for fill embroidery, not so much for topstitching.

Then I was in too much of a hurry and forgot to put in the ribbon until it was almost up to that point in the stitching. I didn’t have any black or orange or even white ribbon narrow enough, so I cut a piece of vinyl and stuck it in without taking the hoop off, and of course it didn’t end up straight.

Then I was too lazy to walk across the room and get the good applique scissors (the Mundials ๐Ÿ“ฆ) and so I used Mom’s Ginghers, which are much coarser, so the (reverse) applique window isn’t as neat as it could be.

I also lined the quarter pocket with more of the Gritty fabric which was probably a mistake; it’s going to fray around the edges in the 1/16″ between the topstitching and the edge. I could have gotten around that with some fray-check (and still can, but the stuff is nasty) or by ironing some Heat-n-Bond onto the back of it. The fabric only had the words in one size and they were a little too big for the space, but it still amuses me.

I also realized, come snap insertion time. that the vinyl “ribbon” was almost down to the snap insertion point. Since I only have regular orange snaps instead of longs (and only round, when ๐Ÿงก would have been ideal), the snap came together at an angle and broke off instead of inserting. After trying (and failing) with three of them, I finally gave up and put in a black one.

All of which is to say: the design is fine, but I’m going to make a nicer version before I write up the instructions. It’ll go on the free embroidery design page when I do.

So many dragons

If you’ve seen the sidebar on the site you’ll have already seen the Etsy listing for the gold/floral dragon get replaced by the Etsy listing for the gold/sparkle dragon. This one is similar, but has the next iteration of the “longhorn” dragon head, glass-bead eyes, and a fabric specifically picked to go with the velvet instead of something pulled somewhat randomly from my stash.

I’ve also been restocking the beanie dragons on occasion, as I fine-tune the pattern and streamline the process.

I had said I wasn’t going to do any more of the 3-inch dragons, but then someone wanted one for an art swap and, well, you can fit six heads on a 4×4 hoop. I had complained that turning them was too much of a battle but I broke down and bought another set of turning tubes ๐Ÿ“ฆ and they’re actually not bad, and I can gang six bodies in the 5×7 hoop and three wing sets, which almost makes them worth my time. I might run the other colors that way because they’re just ridiculously tiny.

Today I plan to wrap up and list the next art-doll dragon: a sea dragon. I think this is one I can finally pull off the 8mm cabochon eyes in (the smallest GlassEyesOnline makes).

I’m not sure how I feel about replacing just the hind legs with flippers, but it’s still Mermay right?

The longhorned dragon

The gold/floral dragon from Wednesday is upholstery velvet, but I made the test dragons in minky. Not ideal, since one is woven and the other stretch, but not bad at this scale and the minky is much easier to turn for quick-and-dirty tests of the rough shape.

I’ve been trying to hit the sweet spot between “not a blob,” and “not too hard to sew at this scale.”

I’m fairly happy with this one in minky; we’ll see how it comes out in velvet.

Gold/floral standing dragon

I tried something new yesterday: I made something and put it on Etsy right away. This probably doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment, but “the perfect is the enemy of the good” a lot around here. I need to find a more appropriate fabric for the wing membranes, but I liked the way the floral fabric (which has a metallic gold accent) came out anyway, so I finished the dragon and put her up on Etsy.

Tomorrow I have an errand that will take me to the big JoAnn’s again. I’ll take snippets of all my relevant velvets and find some fabrics that coordinate with a little less contrast (and less literal patterns).

Continuing my attempts to do Stupid Things With Embroidery Machines, I’ve been trying to get some of the fancy dancewear/cosplay fabrics involved, with limited success. I keep poking through them with my scissors.

Gonna keep trying, though.

More dragonrider snap tabs

I sold the last of the Pernese dragons in the Etsy shop this weekend; there are still a couple of non-Pernese ones left. I’ll restock a little when I make the instructional photos for the design, but that’ll probably be it (though the kid has expressed a little interest in piecework, and presumably they’ll be available from other sellers using the design).

In any event, it was to a repeat buyer so since she already had a Renegades of Pern key fob, I needed a second. This one’s the primary dragon of the cover of Dragonquest so he’s a little more detailed (more than the stitching can capture at this size). I’ve put up all four variations on the Dragonrider Snap Tab page.