100 days of ornaments – Part 2

I’ve done a few different “challenges” in the past year or so. First there was the 30×30 nature challenge in May 2014. Then there was a 6 week fitness challenge from the Cornerstone Studio in January. Last month there was the May_Be2015 creativity challenge, plus SaluteTheSun21. And now the 100 needle felted ornaments (explained in an earlier post).

I like the accountability factor, the prompts and the routine in challenges.

The 30×30 nature challenge got me consciously outdoors. We live in an extremely walkable neighbourhood. I hang my laundry on the line once summer hits. We have been hiking with our homeschool group for years. Once the weather gets nice our group heads to the beach on a regular basis. So I am already outdoors quite a bit. But during that challenge I became more aware of my surroundings and started having a bit of morning quiet time on the deck. It was a nice addition to my day and I enjoyed listening to the birds and watching the trees fill out. I also moved my work and the boys’ out to the deck when it was feasible. We started eating 3 meals a day  on our deck when the weather was nice and the wasps didn’t chase us back inside. Several of these things stayed until the weather cooled down, and now that spring is back we are starting those things again.

The 6 week fitness challenge got me out to different fitness and dance classes 6 days a week for 6 weeks, and I ended up liking it so much that I became a member at the studio. I am there 5 days a week and am still very much enjoying it.

The May_Be2015 creative challenge got me drawing (I now carry my sketchbook and pencil wherever I go) and writing in cursive (something I hadn’t done properly in decades) regularly. It made me think about different forms, ideas, printed photographs, and my creative habits/routine (or lack thereof), among other things.

SaluteTheSun21 got me out to watch the sun rise. Now whenever I’m awake at 5:15am either due to insomnia or because I mean to, I head down to the beach and watch the sun rise. It is an absolutely fantastic way to start the day. A beautiful promise that every day is a totally different and fresh start. My friend who started the challenge decided on day 22 that she did not want to stop, so she is down at her beach each morning for the dawn of every new day.  I’ve seen a lot of sunsets over the years but I’ve got to tell you that the sunrise is a different thing altogether. You should try it sometime. Even if you have to wait until fall when the time of day is a little more reasonable.

The common thread? I start these challenges on a whim, and later find that there are lasting benefits and changes with each one.

The wool ball series of ornaments started late last year. I was working away making snowmen when I just got tired of it. I was eyeballing this ball (the snowman’s body) and I thought, “What could I make with a wool ball?” Then I proceeded to make a few things (mostly animals) for my next holiday show and my Etsy shop. I ended up madly needle felting ornaments during shows and in the evenings as well. I was playing catch-up so I stuck to the first few animals that I had created: frog, elephant, cardinal, narwhal, robin, penguin, owl, and panda.

This year I have started early and have time to explore. Because of this 100 day commitment, my sketchbook is filled with ideas – I need content!

About a month ago I was listening to a podcast where the interviewer asked what  were the interviewee’s “golden hours” – when a you work the best, you are at your most attentive, and most focussed. I’m not sure if everyone knows their golden hours, but I have known for a long time that I am best in the morning. First thing. It also happens to be a time of day when no one else is up, so it’s a perfect time to get a few things done undisturbed.

IMG_7618I hadn’t been using that time productively. But as of 12 days ago, I do. This challenge has forced me into a routine that really works for me. No email, no social media, just my notebook sketches, wool, and tools, until the job is done. And the job is always a fun challenge. With my sketchbook, I have a visual list of creative possibilities from which to choose every day.

Now I’ve decided that I’ll try to make 2 of whatever it is I’ve decided to make that day (if I have the time before the family is up) instead of 1, to see how closely I can match the first as well as build up some stock.

So the 100 ornaments challenge, by day 10, had changed my routine, just like the other challenges. But it did a few other things as well.

I now look forward to getting out of bed, since I have a creative project to get to.

I’m keeping on top of creation of the wool balls that are the core of each ornament (a 2 step process that needs lead time: the balls are roughly needle felted, then wet felted and need a couple of days to dry) since I don’t want to run out.

I’ve had several people tell me that they look forward to seeing what I’ve created each day, which is such a kick.

After 10 days I did a roundup and asked people on social media what they would add and people did not disappoint (see below). So I have what the marketing folks like to call “engagement.”

I think, with my existing sketches (6 pages worth), the suggestions, and a few of the old favourites (snowmen and Santas), I probably have enough to fill my 100 days.

Added June 15:

What I forgot to mention above is that because I am making something different, and because I am making every single day, I am improving and likely getting more efficient as well. Another added bonus to the challenge!

Feel free to follow along on instagram, facebook, or twitter.

Fellow artisan: CandiWare

I knew Candice Ware virtually via Etsy and the Toronto Etsy Street Team long before we met in person at one of their member nights. Candice makes the cutest and most delicious looking (and smelling!) polymer clay food jewellery. Recently it struck me that my son looooooves creating with polymer clay and he would benefit from sitting down with Candice. Candice makes awesome youtube how-to videos but I knew he would need a little extra push and then he would start using the videos on his own. So I set up a skills exchange and Candice came by last week and I taught her how to needle felt and she taught my son how to make a polymer clay cherry pie and I taught her how to needle felt a cupcake, which was new for me. (Instagram images: setup for polymer clay; working at needle felting, and the results here and here.)

(click on images to see larger versions – and I encourage you to do this to see the fantastic amount of detail Candice puts into her pieces!)

apple pie by Candiware waffle by CandiWare icecream by CandiWare


Products: Scented miniature food jewelry

Price Range: $6-$30

How did this all begin? I started making the mini food jewelry for myself. (I love so many different types of food, but most of all I love SWEETS!) It wasn’t long before people started asking me where I got my jewelery and that was when I decided to share my creations with the world.

What inspired you to do this work? Polly Pockets and Asian culture

What were your goals when you started? Have they changed?
I just really wanted to share my work and make people smile. I have to say that its the same as back then.

Were there doubts and resistance when you started up? How did you move past them?
To tell you the truth I think the only person that believed in me was my twin brother. Everyone else in my family thought I was wasting my time. I just didn’t let what anyone said bug me too much since I really enjoyed what I was doing. Now everyone in my family loves my work.

What inspires new products?
Photos of food to tell you the truth I have a lot of cookbooks haha

What makes your work unique and truly your own?
I think it would have to be that I scent my jewelry.

What’s the most challenging part of your work?
Wanting to work on jewelry after a full day of being creative at work.

What are your best hours (when you are most attentive, most focussed, most creative and work the best) in the day? Are you able to use them for this work?
I find the morning I am the more focussed. But with a full time job that is hard. So weekends work best.

What advice do you have for artisans just getting started?
If you want to do it then just do it! As long as you are in it for making people happy with your work and you love what your doing thats all that matters.

What do you wish you knew when you got started?
Just keep making!

Best small business tip you’ve received: social media is your friend don’t feel like you need all of them just work on the ones you enjoy!

Best online business tip you’ve received: post often on your shop and adding the most important tags in your title not just in your tags.

Best artisan tip you’ve received: Its ok to take some time off for some you time. 🙂

Best art show tip you’ve received: Always say hi and smile. Don’t be doing other things when you have a potential buyer at your table.

Find CandiWare online on EtsyFacebookTwitterInstagramPinterestTumblr, and YouTube



(All photos used with permission)

100 days of ornaments

You know that #May_Be2015 creative challenge that my friend Rozanne had me guest post for? Well, she’s at it again. But this time Rozanne and our mutual friend Brooke are doing a writing challenge: #100Scribbles (100 days of scribbles – free writing). They really enjoyed the daily creative prompt (as did I, although I didn’t partake in every one) and wanted to keep up the momentum, but to concentrate on writing. (By the way, check out the #May_Be2015 Instagram feed – it’s filled up nicely!)

Rozanne put the call out there for people to join, but I thought that my attention needed to get back to my work. So I have tweaked the challenge to be: 100 days of needle felted ornaments. I lack a productive routine, and I need one if I am to get things created for fall (and to list on Etsy and my web shop) and not be in pain with repetitive strain injury, so what better way to get into a routine, but to commit to one for 100 days? So first thing in the morning, it’s up and needle felting! (I am actually going to be making other things as well, but the ornaments are fun and

If you have a favourite animal (or other) that you think might work for my Wool Ball ornaments series, please comment. If you’d like to follow along, check out my Instagram feed, or the hashtag #100NFOrnaments.

I love that I’m not the only one who has taken the 100 days theme and run with it. One friend is doing 100 days of wild edibles and another is doing 100 things that make her day!