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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Non New Years Resolution - Find some balance

I don't make New Years Resolutions, not proper ones anyway. It seems a crazy idea to choose only one time of the year to make significant changes to my life. IMO if you want to make a change then just do it, don't wait for the first day of a New Year.

However, this week I find that I want to make a change to my life and it happens to be near the beginning of a New Year, so you might call it a New Years Resolution but I won't. New Years Resolutions never work for me, and I want/need this one to. So I am just making a change and I am resolutely ignoring the date.

2008 saw my store expand and sell far faster than I think anyone - least of all me - could have imagined. My husband is studying for a Masters while working a full time job so he is busy for all but about 1 hour a day. This suited me fine, it gave me the freedom to put in the long hours The House of Mouse needed to get started. My business is very well organized but my home life has slid. I'm living off microwave meals and chocolate, the house is a mess and I barely see my friends anymore. I need to find some balance.

How I achieve this balance I am still working out. I already know I need to plan my time better and not allow myself to spend endless hours at my computer. My home needs a lot of redecoration and renovation this year too, we plan on starting a family once my husband has completed his masters.

I think 2009 will be as busy - if not busier - than 2008, but I hope it will be a more balanced one too.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sale now on - 25% off

I'm back from my holidays and it's time to clear out and clean up ready for a brand new year. Time for a bit of shameless self promotion...

Sale now on! 25% off selected mice until the end of January 2009. Hurry before they all scamper away!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays

I am having a lovely holiday with my family here in Devon England, my mums cooking is so wonderful! Food is always better when you don't have to cook it yourself. ;)

Because of the exchange rate between the euro and the pound the prices here are unbelieveably cheep too, so I have been using it as an excuse to buy more supplies. ;)

Will have photos for you soon!

Wishing you all Happy Holidays

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pianist Mouse with his Grand Piano

This little guy is a custom order I just finished today. The Grand Piano was the most challenging thing I have ever made with felt and I enjoyed every minute of creating it. I plan on making another for my store soon. I admit to being very pleased with the finished result! I hope you enjoy this little pianist mouse and his grand piano too.

(click on an image to see it in more detail)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Accountant Mouse

Another custom order completed. My father is an accountant so this one was very fun to do, I must remember to show it to him sometime!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thanks for your advice!

Thanks to everyone who gave their opinion on my new banner. I went with the 2nd choice in the end because it worked better with the Etsy store layout than the 3rd.

I also updated my blog banner with the new photo I took of my mice together. I really love it, I hope you do too.

New banner - need your opinion

I have been trying to design a new banner from my Etsy store But I can't decide which one looks best. Would you tell me your opinion? Feel free to say you hate them all and I should stick to my old one too!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Marilyn Monroe Mouse

Thank you to everyone who voted for the next new mouse to be in my store!

Here is how the voting was decided

1st Place with 38% of the vote: Marilyn Monroe Mouse
2nd Place with 29% of the vote: Willy Wonker Mouse
3rd Place with 23% of the vote: Jack Skellington Mouse
4th Place with 17% of the vote: Dr House Mouse
5th Place with 10% of the vote: Computer Geek Mouse
6th Place with 6% of the vote: The Terminator Mouse
7th Place with 2% of the vote: Yeti Mouse

I will be making all of the top 3 for my store within the next month, but for now I have made the winner. Introducing Marilyn Monroe Mouse, I hope you enjoy her!
(click on the image to go to my store and see more photos)

Man Cold

For the last week I have had a cold. It was annoying but then just part of life, so I get on with my day a little slower than before but the best I can. I get a bit of sympathy from my husband (when prompted) but I still get up at 6am to take him to work every morning.

Now he has the cold, and of course we all know Man Colds are far, FAR worse than anything a woman might get (!) This video just about sums it up for me!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Top 10 Tips for making a Front Page worthy treasury

Learning to make a great treasury is an art. It is also an important education for any seller who wants to get their work featured on the Front Page of Etsy. If you take the time to learn what makes a treasury worthy of the Etsy Front Page, you will quickly learn how to make your listings the kind that will get chosen for that honor.

Take a look at the Etsy Front Page Flickr group. This is full of screencaps of treasuries that have been on the front page. Notice how each one looks amazing, the photos are top quality and the treasury always has a theme, be it a shape, color or something else.

For those of you who don't know what a treasury is or how to catch one check out this article.

As a seller who was been both curator for and featured in Etsy Home Page treasuries, here are my top 10 tips for making a Front Page worthy treasury.

1) Use the Etsy Poster Sketch.
You can build as many treasuries as you like there, although only you can see them. You can always save your sketches to use when you actually manage to grab a treasury. (bookmark it in your browser because the link to it is hard to find on Etsy)

2) Choose a theme.
The theme can be colour, tone, shape, emotion or anything else you like. You can also pick one listing from your favorites to start with; try to find other listings that match it in some way. Think of your entire treasury as a piece of art, each listing should go well with the others.

3) Use the Etsy Tag Fractal.
you can use the Tag Fractal to search for listings that fit your theme, you can search based on their titles and tags here. It is a great tool. (bookmark this one too)

4) Choose listings that look great as thumbnails.
Take a look at my previous post for further explanation on this

5) Vary the types of listings in your treasury.
Unless your theme is a certain type or category of listing, try to avoid having too many of the same kind of listing in your treasury. For example, not more than 2 pairs of earrings, 2 toys, 2 illustrations etc...

6) Vary the prices of the listings in your treasury.

When Admin choose a treasury for the front page they make sure that the price range varies. they don't want everything to sell out before that front page's time is up. If everything is too inexpensive then the items will sell out too fast and cause technical difficulties for the front page. To read more about what Etsy Admin said about this check out this forum thread

7) Fill up all the alternatives.

When you make a treasury you get 16 slots to show off, but only the 12 on the left can be seen. The other 4 are called the alternatives. If your treasury makes it to the front page then when something sells one of your alternatives will take its place. Admin will only ever choose a treasury that is full, including the alternatives. Make sure your alternatives are just as good as the others.

8) Don't feature yourself.
You are allowed to feature yourself in one listing of your own treasury, but if your treasury gets picked for the front page then your listing will get swapped out for an alternative. From an Admin's point of view you will only have 3 alternatives instead of 4 as they won't ever have the curator of a treasury featured on the FP too. It lowers your chances significantly and it is considered by some to be an "unwritten rule" of making treasuries.

9) Choose an interesting title.

Titles are hard to come up with, so while you are filling your Poster Sketch try to think about your theme and what title would go well with it. A good title will get a few more people clicking on it, just to see what is in there. I should say that Etsy Admin has stated that they don't pay any attention to a treasury title, they are interested in how it looks and the price ranges it includes, so it’s not essential.

10) Promote your treasury
When you have caught a treasury and filled it, tell your friends about it. If you belong to an Etsy Street Team then post it in your team thread. If you are on Twitter then post the link there too. If there are threads in the forums sharing the latest treasuries then post there too... you get the idea. The more views, clicks and comments your treasury gets the "hotter" it becomes and the higher up the treasury list it will go. The more people see that you make great treasuries, the more chances you have of making it on the Front Page one day.

Good luck and happy treasury making!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Etsy Sellers Tip #1 Thumbnail Photos

When someone views your store they usually do so in "gallery mode" this is when the images are the same size as the ones featured on the front page. To put your store in gallery mode just click the link for "gallery" under your shop announcement. This is your store "window", the first thing your buyers see when they come to your shop. You should try to make each thumbnail look the best it can, which means taking into account the way your first image is cropped to fit it. To get the best out of your thumbnails try to take the photo you will use for the first image as a "horizontal" rectangle, aka "landscape" so that little of the composition of the photo is lost when viewed as a thumbnail.

These thumbnail photos are also how your listings are viewed in treasuries, having a great thumbnail increases your chances of making it into a treasury and therefore your chance of making it onto the Etsy Home Page. Always make sure that the first photo for your listing is the best one from your collection!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Experimenting with backgrounds

I have been getting tired of my plain old white and grey backgrounds recently. So I decided to try out something new. I made a larger light box and started to play around with the macro setting on my camera.

I plan on using other backgrounds depending on the mouse I am photographing. So maybe a map as background for my traveling mouse and some christmas presents for my christmas mice...

This is Mr and Mrs Applecheeks the Librarian mice, now with new background!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My new toy!

I splashed out on a new toy a couple of weeks ago. A button making machine from buttonboyinc and parts for 1,000 one inch buttons. The machine arrived very quickly and in perfect condition, and I must say it is such fun to play with! I have been making all kinds of new buttons for my store with it. I can also make any custom mouse button you can imagine!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

MBL at the park

Most of Holland is very flat and extremely well organized: The fields run in straight lines and the lines of trees down the side of the road are all the same size and shape. Sometimes I feel like I live in a Sims game! I love living in Holland, but I do miss the rolling hills and countryside of my home town in Devon, England.

The flower fields in Holland
The rolling hills of Devon

Fortunately there is one large park near where I live that feels more like home. Haarlemmermeerse Bos is a park around a huge lake, where the trees are allowed to grow more naturally and they have put in a few good hills to walk up and down. It is very pretty and I love to take my Mad Black Labrador Shadow for a nice long walk there on a Saturday morning. She loves to swim in the lake and play with the other dogs we meet there.

As far as Shadow is concerned there is nothing better than chasing tennis balls into the lake!
Remember to stand well back for this!
The tennis ball sank eventually so we got out the purple frizzbe instead...Comedy shot: Shadow with big purple lips!! Mwah!
Once we wore her out a bit she was calm enough for a nice photo :)Off home now, time for a nap.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Punk Rock Skater Mouse

This little guy was a custom order I made today. I just fell in love with his blond spiky hair and his little skateboard! I hope you love him as much as I do :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Exhibition in a weird place

You may not know this, but as well as making felt mice I also paint. I have been painting professionaly for about 5 years but have never managed to sell many of my works. I had several exhibitions in Amsterdam, in the Jordaan - the art center of the city - and never made a sale there. I gave up on exhibiting in Amsterdam as each one cost me money in rent for the wall space and came with nothing but disappointment.

I bought a car recently, and the salesman Googled me after asking what I did for a living. He found my art and loved it. A few days later his manager rang me up and suggested I show my work in their car showroom! What a strange place to show I thought, but they want no commission or rent for the space, and as an artist you have to take what the universe thows at you, whatever it may be!

Yesterday I set up 10 of my paintings and have to say I happy with how it looks. They gave me a very prominant spot in their showroom, right at the front, and they have done several press releases to the local newspapers! Maybe this time I will sell something, but if I don't it won't have cost me.

To see my paintings in more detail please visit www.annagreaves.com

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My MBL - Mad Black Labrador

I took my Labrador Shadow with me to the PO today, for a little walk. But while I was in the PO she slipped out of her collar and ran around the whole shopping mall trying to make friends with everyone!! Some people just don't like to be bounced by an overexcited black dog. I was so embarrassed!! It took me ages to catch her.

Now she is sleeping peacefully on my feet and looking like an angel, it is impossible to stay mad at her.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nona the Cellist Mouse

One of the first little mice I made - back when I was just making them as christmas presents for my family last year - was a little cellist mouse. I made her for my mother Nona, who is a cello teacher and concert cellist. The little instrument is very fiddly to sew together, so I have not made that many so far. I just made another for my store so I thought I would share her here as well.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happee Fangsgivings!

I have always wanted to be in the USA for Thanksgiving, just to see what it is like. From the TV shows it looks a lot like christmas in Europe: A big turkey, all the trimmings, family and friends for company. A good excuse to eat 3 helpings of everything and then collapse on the sofa and fall asleep: It's my kind of holiday!

One of the blog sites I go to a lot is icanhascheezburger.com a super cute site for anyone who likes animals and captions with silly spellings, it's always good for a giggle! So when I saw this picture I just had to add it to my blog to wish all my readers in the USA a very Happee Fangsgivings!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I have decided to start using the material I would normally take to the recycling bins as shipping boxes for my little mice. Not only does this mean I am doing something for the environment it also reduces the large amount of cardboard and other packing stuffs I have in the house. Now I have tailor made boxes for my mice that are the right size and strengh whist still keeping the overall weight for shipping one mouse just under 100g. (Over 100g and I have to pay more to ship my parcels.)

I designed this stamp to go on my newly recycled packages, I ordered it from terbearco and it should be arriving in the next few weeks. If you want to do the same as me and use my stamp design you are more than welcome to! I encourage anyone to take it, reuse it and recycle. Every little bit helps us change for the better.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mouse in a cat suit

Here is the final mouse from my custom order, and I saved the best till last (IMO). I love this little guy so much it was so hard to pack him up and send him away! If you like him too, please tell me! I am thinking of making him a regular in my store...

Mouse in a cat suit

Monday, November 24, 2008

Custom Hannibal Mice

I have a customer who is crazy about the Hannibal Lector movies! She originally bought a Hannibal Mouse like the first photo and then later she asked me to make lots of other mice for her! I wanted to show them to you too. I am so pleased with how they came out.

Hannibal Lector Mouse
Hannibal in white hat with brain and knife

Clarice from Silence of the Lambs

Clarice in blue jacket with gun

Hannibal and Clarice from the Fridge Scene

Hannibal with a frying pan and a bottle of Chianti - Brain Scene

Paul Krendler - Brain scene

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