Katy Galbraith

My Journey Through Etsy

My shop on Etsy

Back in the autumn I decided to reopen my Etsy Shop, pictured here, in anticipation of selling lots of cards and smaller pieces giving me a good source of income when I finally get to do mosaic full time. Everything that I had read said that you have to 'work at it', mingle and socialise online, and the rewards will come, albeit maybe in a couple of years time.

So off I went into a world of Etsy and social media.

(by the way, where you see text in italics, it means there is a link embedded)

My first stop was the Etsy Forums, a great place to ask questions and to see recommendations.  It very quickly became obvious that the tags, titles and photographs were the essential bits to get ahead in this game.  Tags and titles because, in this market of millions of items that is Etsy, they are the words that get you found.  And once they have found you, photographs are the things that 'sell' your work.

So the tags were fairly straight forwards, what words a buyer would use to find your product.  Straight forwards for the cards and notebooks, but maybe not so obvious for mosaic slates.  Do people really go shopping knowing that that is exactly what they want, or do they say, 'that is it' when they see it; if so, my tags should be 'mother's day' or 'garden decor' or some such…  and then I get in a pickle as to what it is that I am actually selling.  

Having said that, I am much clearer about what the Etsy search mechanism works on, and to a lesser extent, to how Google works.  So I have now started on my main website (this one) to change the tags to much clearer and more precise ones.

But as to the photos, where to start.  My first attempts sat there looking loud and garish! So again I resorted to the forums where there was a lot of advice.  One comment to one of my questions was answered by KAStyles who directed me to her website & blog, where I found useful information about staging of cards, and different backgrounds to use.  So my photographs went from this:

to this:

There is still room for improvement, I know.  But in the process, my wonky tripod (from Lidl) fell, and broke my camera, so I now have a new camera, and am awaiting a smaller (but hopefully sturdier) tripod, and so I will work on a new set of images in due course.

One good thing was that I dug out my traditional ink pen, given to me by a good friend Lisa Zador (who also has an Etsy {Curious Portraits} shop) way back in the 80s and it still works like new.  Now I will have to find a blog that teaches me how to use it without getting ink everywhere!

In trawling about, I found there are a fair few Etsy-based podcasts, so I signed up for a few.  So while making mosaics in my bothy workshop, I listened in.  

And I found the Convo.me podcast which I particularly enjoyed. Ijeoma, who hosts the show, is originally from Nigeria, and she has such a lovely voice.  She reminds me of my cousin's wife, Azeb, who hails from Ethiopia, and who our children called 'Princess Azeb' as not only is she tall and regally beautiful but has such an exotic accent!

The first interview I heard was from Gwen, whose shop is Gwens Homemade Crafts and is the key person in the Skirteam.  Gwen explained how getting your profile raised, your items more visible and your shop 'hearted' all helps in the quest to get up the search results.  So her team has daily missions to support each other showcasing items from our shop.  Most are in the US, but that isn't really an issue for this purpose.  They also have treasury challenges - creating a board of 16 items featuring other team members work - which is then promoted, liked, added to Facebook or Pinterest etc  (more about treasuries later).  This is one of the teams that I am most engaged with.

Already, I am a bit behind on the podcast listening, but it does make a change from the radio & my mix of music.

Teams and Treasuries
Oh I do enjoy making a good treasury!

One of the first teams that I joined was the Edinburgh Etsy Team, which as described is a group of Edinburgh members. They ran a pop-up shop in the run up to Christmas, which I participated in, with mixed financial success, but I have no regrets about being involved.

Some of the teams that I have joined have a scottish theme, others recycling, other treasury making, or like the Skirteam which has a mix of activities.

As I said, I do enjoy making a good treasury, so another team that I am quite active with is the Treasury Challenge Nonteam. So on a theme, you make up a treasury.  And, oh boy, they are often pieces of work in themselves.  Colour themed, very artistic, clever concepts…  Here is a snippet of one made by Eveline of Moonwingcrafts, just to give you an idea, but click here to see the full treasury

Evelyn makes lovely jewellery, and when I saw her shop, I promptly bought a pair of earrings… I'm supposed to be selling not buying!

And Finally Pinterest
I had a page/board set up a few years ago when we were looking at building a house, and then it evolved into a place where I could keep a scrapbook of images that triggered mosaic ideas.  And now it has various Etsy boards, all manner of treasury boards, my main mosaics etc, foodie stuff…

But the other day, via the Etsy Forums, I landed on a 'cool guy's' page about how to use Pinterest to generate leads to your own site/works.  Scary stuff, but wow.  Jae from Lazy Arse Stoner's film on Youtube goes through the process of getting more appropriate followers for your boards.  Whilst being a bit spammy, at least I am targeting 'pinners' who would have an interest in my items.  So again, it has set the challenge of what words would be used to find items like mine! 

But linking up with shabby chic, and cottage chic, and bathroom decor etc, means that I spend lots of time trawling this world for yummy things that I would like to have in my own home in due course…

And so to finish

My Etsy shop is up an running, with very limited sales success so far, but I have made cyber friends around the world!

* I have honed my tagging skills

*  I spend more time at my computer than I do making mosaics

*  I have lots of things I would like to buy/or make

*  I need to buy an iPad or tablet so I can do my social media stuff in front of bland TV rather than in the corner of the room

*  Instagram and Twitter…. eeekkk

* off to play tennis now...

Musings from the BAMM Forum

Quick Fire mosaic at BAMM forum
here are some musings - 

As I headed back home on the train to Scotland, I looked out and kept spotting walls that needed tlc.  I couldn't help it, after Laurel True's class, I was so stimulated by her enthusiasm for what she does ("partnering with organisations, schools, community groups and businesses to develop unique participatory projects, designed and implemented through social engagement" - quote from the Global Mosaic Project card) and how I could take what I learnt at the workshop and apply it to my geographical 'turf'.  By the end of the journey, I had located the perfect community project, the perfect wall and now I just need to approach them with the idea!

Laurel structured the class in two halves; the morning to include a presentation and a lecture and the afternoon to be demos and a hands-on mini mural creation.  However, it was soon apparent that that wasn't going to work.  As she taught us to teach, inspire, manage the individuals who would be working on our future projects, we sat enthralled. She talked us through the processes of how to identify the goals of project, planning, how to manage it successfully, how to teach basic mosaic skills, how to ensure that your finished wall has longevity due to good preparation, adhesives and appropriate materials, and how to evaluate the community impact at the end.

For the one hour left at the tail end of the afternoon, we created the mini-mural, giving us a hands-on experience of what she had talked about.  Have we read her drawing correctly? Yes, we fixed the mirror to the right of the line, but no, we put the beads on the wrong side and had to correct; we defined our edges; we looked at those working on the other sections to make sure we had the balance right; when we finished with one colour, we shared our left-overs with another group who needed it… just a snippet of some of the advice we received from Laurel which we put into practice, concepts that we will take away and apply on our own community projects.

And by attending this workshop on the Sunday, participating in a community workshop on the Friday, and by working with others, you learn new techniques (for me it was hitting the back of a tile to break - how simple was that, but I had never done it that way), and new materials that I had not encountered before, new tools and new friends.

In between these two days, we had the Forum, a series of talks by mosaic artists from around the world, talking about their artistic practices, and how they keep their creative mojo. It was great to meet up with old mosaic friends and cyber pals.  I ended up on the raffle table, which actually was a great way to meet new people, whilst helping out.

My head is bouncing with all the stimulation, and all the questions that I ask myself as I head into the Christmas fair season where I have a few commitments - do I want to do mosaic art for exhibition, then after Laurel's workshop on Sunday, 'No', I want to go off to far-flung corners of the world and do mosaic projects that re-energise an area, then back to mirrors…  But I think that was what the theme of the forum was about really, how to balance it all!

A Day in October

A Day in October

A busy day last week.  I was on Jury Service, which finished early, so I got the chance to go to the Big Library, then on to a lovely shop, then on to a friends house for tea, with a pumpkin as a present, then did a talk to the WRI… busy busy girl.

The Top Row

Tarot Illuminated Custom Cabochon, Court Card - at our relatively local court, albeit a 36 mile round trip each day.

Men's Bottle Green T-shirt with Sheriff design - as I live in Scotland, where the court is presided by a Sheriff, a kind but portly man...

Eyeball Earrings - One thing which was totally new to me, and to the majority of the jurors, was the description of how to do an eyeball shot! Scarily, my daughter knew about them, and my son had tried unsuccessfully, and didn't enjoy the experience…

The Second Row

Vodka in a Teacup - the eyeball shot involved absorbing vodka via your eyeball, and apparently you get a big hit.  I am surprised that us jurors didn't all arrive at Court the next day with one bloodshot eye due to trying it out at home.

Book Lovers Mini Skirt Library Book Print - court finished early, and I had time to spare before heading to Dunning, so I went to the main county library

Book Sculpture We Need to Talk about Kevinand I chose a book to do with fusing glass.  I have, on loan, a tabletop furnace which is giving me much pleasure in recycling bits of beautiful glass which are no good for mosaics but can be turned into cabochons for flower heads.

Painted Music in Vintage Frame - across from the Library is a lovely gift & art & cake shop where they sell wreaths and floral art, turned wood etc and other pieces such as this card made by the owner!

Third Row

Lorna Doone Crochet Shawl pattern - a good friend, and really creative stained glass artist, Lorna Radbourne provided me with my tea

Tinner's Hares stained glass pack of 5 greeting cards - as I mentioned, Lorna is a stained glass artist, and whilst this IS NOT one of hers, I like this anyway… Lorna isn't selling on Etsy just now, so I couldn't add one of hers…

Apple Earrings - being the teachers' pet, I took Lorna a present…

Dried Baby Pumpkin Autumn Potpourri - I gave Lorna a giant pumpkin that I had bought earlier in the day at the cash-and-carry.  I was almost upside down in the box of pumpkins trying to hoick out the big one at the bottom.

Bottom Row

Baking Dish for Pies Crumble or Lasagne - home cooked fish lasagne, delicious!

Rounded Pot with (Rural) Blue house and Windy Trees - and the final part of the day was giving a talk about Mosaics made of Recycled Material to the Dunning Women's Rural Institute (WRI).  A lovely group of ladies who seemed to enjoy what I was saying, and provided great home-made cakes to eat afterwards.  And for a bit of added interest to my story, I have a broken Julia Smith Ceramic mug in my mosaic stash…

Self Adhesive Photo Album with Hand Illustrated Cover - the demonstration not only involved talking about the history of mosaics, and the laying out of tesserae, but also included a demonstration of cutting and gluing with adhesives… a bit messy in a clean community hall…

Decorative Daisies on a Slate Mosaic - and I had some samples of finished pieces, both big and small for them to see, including a few mosaic slates.

To view the full treasury on my Etsy page, go HERE

Iggy Pop Does Fashion on Radio 6

Iggy Pop does Fashion on Radio 6
I have recently got my shop going on Etsy, renaming it RecycleMeMosaic, so tying it up with my Facebook page. And taking off all the 'buy now' options on this site. 

Part of the way Etsy functions is by liking and being liked - a mental mindset in my general life too!  Rather than just making a cyber wish list, I have found that you can make 'treasuries'. Essentially they are sixteen items grouped together on a theme.

Having added a hanging thistle sculpture to my shop, I thought I would do my first on thistles. (And given that I live in Scotland, etc etc ).  My next one was doves, again with the rational of having my dove cards and notebooks in my Etsy Shop.  

I could keep going on, tapping into the various items that I have listed, but then I went a bit off-beat, and maybe my choices need a bit of explanation.  SoI will use this blog to try and give a bit a rationale where it is needed.

My third treasury is entitled "Iggy Pop Does Fashion on Radio 6" and was based on his playlist on Sunday 5th October 2014. 

I won't repeat the whole playlist, but join up the Etsy listings with the relevant song and artist:

Top Row
Sewing Pattern for Shorts - Short Shorts by The Royal Teens
Hand Felted Christmas Tree Brownie… wearing White Coat - A White Sport Coat by Marti Robbins
Comedy Tragedy Mask Thimble  - Mask by Iggy Pop

Second Row
Foxy Loxy Knitted Hat - Foxy Lady by Jimmy Hendrix
Lampwork Yellow Polka Dot Bead - Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini by Brian Hyland
Polly Ragdoll - Ragdoll by The Four Seasons and Frankie Valli

Third Row
Diamond Statement Ring - This Diamond Ring by Gary Lewis and the Playboys
Orange Flower Power Hotpants - Tight Pants by Iggy Pop and the Stooges
Rupert Bear Envelopes - Teddy Bear by Elvis Presley

Bottom Row
Rolling Pin from Beech - Down Home Girl by the Rolling Stones
Arts & Crafts Style Oak Door - Twentieth Century Fox by The Doors
Rainbow Sgraffito Mug - She's a Rainbow by The Rolling Stones

Hope you enjoy my weird and wonderful world...

Thought-provoking ideas from my garden...

Poppies in my Garden

I read this yesterday on the CMA site (a closed group for mosaic artists around the world), and with permission from the writer of the piece, artist Dee Ruff of Black Cat Mosaics, I share it with you:


"Thought-provoking ideas from my garden...how do you want to be perceived as an artist?

Thomas Merton: "Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone — we find it with another."

On this unseasonably cool, comfortable, low humidity morning, a few blossoms were calling to me from our gardens and so I took a brief walk about the yard and cut some to bring inside to enjoy. While in the gardens, I started thinking about how we have this one yellow rose (here when we moved in), and how it forms beautiful tight buds. However, the buds stay tight, do not open, and then eventually die or occasionally get eaten by insects. And then I gazed around to notice how many of the other flowers actually do open, sometimes very wide, making them more vulnerable, but also sharing their beauty and the luscious wisdom of nature for all to enjoy. Some of them even go the extra mile... freely spreading seeds around, sharing their beauty so that in a later season others can create loveliness in a similar way. These newcomers won't be the initial blossom, but similar, and continuing to add beauty to our world. 

And then I started to reflect on some things I have quietly observed or noted in the way the art world sometimes functions..not just mosaic art, but art in general. It is kind of fascinating, all of these different backgrounds, egos, techniques and expertise. I have encountered, either personally or in cyberspace forums/groups, professional artists, amateur artists, galleries, and teachers recently, and many seem to fit into the same two patterns...the tight yellow rose bud or the open flowers. The ones who are like the rose are probably driven to behave this way by fear, ego, insecurity, or thinking that the only way to be ultimately successful is to charge money for absolutely everything they share or do. The ones who are like the open flowers (and especially if they are like the seed scattering kind) feel secure enough to openly share in many ways through their art, their experience, their talents and gifts. They know that while income is important and necessary, sharing, giving and love can come back to add much more to their lives than they ever imagined.

I have had a chance over the past year to explore CMA more thoroughly...the videos, the "tutorials," the discussions during Chat, and the pleasure of folks sharing details about techniques, materials, works in progress, etc.  I have occasionally encountered some "tight rose bud types" but more often I am in awe at the open sharing and the kindness.  Solly sharing his "mosainting" technique in wide open detail, the folks jumping in on the "Help!" group, Chris Emmert and K. Knickerbocker taking the time to send me private emails to assist me in using epoxy grout for the first time, and Karen D. for her great advice and encouragement.  And the list goes on and on...

I'm feeling very grateful this morning!"

What a lovely way to describe the way people share (or not) their knowledge.  When I started out, and Facebook was small and without power, there was a great Yahoo Group, the Mosaic Artist Org which is still going, with international artists sharing their expertise willingly. You could post a comment, or question, then from around the world would come answers - which adhesive works best in what situation, where to visit mosaics in Barcelona, what tile for outdoor projects etc.  It has a great search facility, so you can access old posts, and a heap of other files too.  The other site was Flickr, posting up my images, getting positive comments and critiques where required from other artists, and reciprocating.

Through these two sites, I established a network of mosaic artist 'friends' around the world.  This has been added to by my being a more active member of BAMM (British Assoc for Modern Mosaic), so getting info and support where required.

Facebook, in my opinion seems to be much more self-centred, a great place to post your images and get a lot of 'lovely', 'great' type comments, or likes, but in reality, there are a lot of people on Facebook who post their own work without dialogue with others, it is not a two-way street, which I often find frustrating on some of the mosaic pages and groups.  And in addition, due to the timeline nature of its set-up, you could have a great discussion about appropriate fixings for a type of board, but when you want to find it again, it is so far down the timeline that it becomes inaccessible. 

That being said, a lot of my cyber mosaic friends use all of the above, so we have dialogue on different levels!  And within the UK, I am trying to meet a lot of them in the flesh, so to speak!

My comment to the post on the CMA site was:

I am a californian poppy - beautiful to look at but a pain in the a**e to get rid of!  i have a scatter gun approach to it all, flitting like a butterfly all over the place (with different materials), but give me a rubbish tip and I am happy as a bumblebee! (using recycled materials).

my husband just commented that i am actually a Venus Fly Trap!

I love what I do, think I have found my own style and materials, learnt a lot from others, and happy to share my knowledge and to enthuse others in mosaic art.