Shop update: Summer flowers!

pink-hydrangea-party-cards-form-bottle-branch

Its been a while since I posted about my etsy shop, yet over the past month, I’ve been tweaking, editing, and adding new items. In particular, I’ve listed many new cards featuring summer flowers, because, as you could guess, summertime is the boom time for botanical photography.

In total, I’ve added three new sets of cards featuring poppies, calendula, goldenrod, anemone, cosmos, and of course, lots of hydrangeas, including the set of various hot pink hydrangea cards pictured above.

larkspur-ombre-card-by-bottle-branch

I’ve also added this ombré arrangment of larkspur flowers, which is available as an individual card, and as part of this set, which includes a couple of long time best sellers, cosmos, and a rainbow of garden flowers.

summer-2016-card-set-bottle-branch

In August, when late summer wild flowers came out in full force, I added a couple of wild flower cards.

wildflowers-card-close-up-bottle-branch

And added them to a set with arrangments of green leaves.

green-leaf-cards-by-bottle-branch

In truth, I’ve added too many to report on them all, so I hope you’ll go take a look. Maybe posting about summer flowers in October seems nonsensical but something tells me I’m not the only one who would like to hold on to the warmth, the flowers and the leaves; I’m not the only one who dreams of endless summer.

 

News and Newsletters

pretty tea time cards by bottle branch

Its been busy times for my Bottle Branch business. In addition to taking my shop on the road to a few craft fairs, I’ve been updating photos, adding items to my online shop, labelling card sets, and setting up a digital newsletter.

I added the “Pretty Tea Time” cards pictured above after they sold well at the SoWa Open Market. They’re sort of a spring season compliment to the autumn “pretty tea time” cards I put together a few months ago.

yellow flowers card bottle branch blog

I’ve also listed a new set of summer flower cards. I pushed myself to work outside of my usual color palette by using orange, yellow, and purple and I’m pretty happy with the way they came out. The yellow just might be my favorite.

summer purple and orange flowers card set bottle branch blog

One of my biggest recent ‘accomplishments’ was to print labels for my card packs, so that anyone can pick up a pack, flip it over, and see a preview of all the cards inside. (Helpful!)  Adding those labels has also enabled me to think about wholesale with some of my popular cards. So, if you know any small independent retailers looking for something fresh and botanical, send them my way! (wholesale@bottlebranch.com or via etsy wholesale)

pink poppies exposed by elizabeth pyle bottle branch blog

Finally, I’m starting an email newsletter. I won’t be sending it very often. I’m calling it my quarterly newsletter and lets be honest, I’ll be lucky to get it out that often.

The first edition (ready to go out any day now) will feature a few blog and other social media highlights, esty shop updates, and news about upcoming craft fairs. If there are other items you’d like to hear about, I’d be delighted to know! My favorite Pinterest accounts to follow? Etsy finds? Or just more pretty pictures?  I’m all ears!

If you signed up to receive my blog posts by email (thank you!) you’re already on my newletter list. If you haven’t signed up before, I hope you will consider joining my email newsletter list. You can opt in right here. I know we’re all overwhelmed by emails these days and I respect your time, so I promise to make it short, sweet, and hopefully worth your while.

And thats it for both news and newsletters. Happy July!

Good times at SoWa open market

craft fair display first time around by bottle branchI had a great time last Sunday at the SoWa Open Market in Boston, and so it seems the novelty of craft markets has not worn off.

The best part was the people. I chatted with flower lovers, photographers, print makers, gardeners, and even ran into an old friend or two. I also loved hearing from customers about favorite plants, trees, other craft fairs, and of course which card designs they preferred and more importantly, why.craft fair display close up from bottle branch

On etsy, I offer the option for customers to pick a custom set of five cards and I did the same at this weekend’s market. I put out a tray with all the individual designs. (You can see it in the middle there – if only I had chosen a greater depth of field for that photo!) Customers could rifle through all the cards, selecting favorites and creating their own set. It was really fun to see the combinations they created.

Some designs are perennial favorites, while other are loved by only a very few people. I have a special place in my heart for the customers who like some of my personal favorites which prove to be less popular, like the adorable customer who selected this autumn leaf design, now discontinued.cotinus gradient bottle branch blogSo, I’m hooked. I’m not going to be running off to markets and craft fairs every weekend, but I’ll definintely be back. In fact, I’m already scheduled to be back at SoWa on Sunday, July 31st. And next time, I’ll take some better photos. Hope to see you there!

 

May wrap up

flowers still life bottle branch blog

Happy June, my internet friends!

May is possibly the busiest month of the year. At least, for me it is, as motherhood demands blossom, and I find myself filling out camp forms, digging out summer clothing and trying to replace what no longer fits, and shuttling around to end-of-school-year presentations, recitals, parties. And all the while, my garden is also calling to me for attention.

ready for the garden bottle branch blog

In my May garden, I dream big, get ambitious, and have been known to go a little crazy at the garden center.

hot pink peonies bottle branch blog

Thankfully, as in motherhood, there are also rewards in the May garden. My tree peonies thrill me every year, and I silently thank whichever previous owner of my house planted them.

arranging flowers bottle branch blog

This year, thing were even busier, as I spruced up my etsy shop, adding a new logo, cover photo, and ‘about’ section. I even asked a talented friend to come over and take photos of me ‘working’ and added some of those. (It still makes me cringe a little to post photos of myself.)

card display bottle branch blog

And now, this week, I’ve been preparing for my first appearance at a local art fair. Taking my work live and in person is something I’ve been dreading, but also, somehow feels inevitable. Why I decided to take that plunge just now, I have no idea. (If you’re local, I would love, love, love to see you there!)

pretty tea time bottle branch blog

Thankfully, there have also been a few moments of calm, and more than a few cups of tea. Happy June!

In the garden and in the shop

garden tulips bottle branch blog

Despite my best intentions, I seem to be blogging once a month these days. What can I say? I’m just like everyone else: spending more time on social media, less time on blogs. Still, it’s been an exciting month since my last post, so here what’s been going on in my garden, and in my shop.

happy tea card set from bottle branch blog

Bottle Branch Shop: 

I’m trying out a new shop site via pattern by etsy. You can see it here, or if you look at the top of this page, you’ll see a direct link under SHOP. Adding that little link/tab felt like an exciting accomplishment in and of itself, and I have to thank my dear friend Kristen for telling me how.

making gift tags bottle branch blog

I’ve also added some new items to my store: notably pretty tea time cards (see previous post) and foral gift tags. The gift tags have been so much fun to create. You know I love a good project and this one was just right for me – photography, a little bit of computer/printer/photoshop wrangling, combined with cutting and stringing the tags up. Not surprisingly, I’ve got more designs in the pipeline.

larkspur seedlings bottle branch blog

In my garden: 

The most exciting garden decision I made this year was to plant my entire vegetable patch as a flower cutting garden. I started seeds indoors (strawflower, cosmos, gomphrena, zinnias) and outdoors (echinops, stock, larkspur, nigella).  Fingers crossed I get lots of flowers to share this summer and fall!

tulips in the garden bottle branch

While I wait for those, I’m happily enjoying the bulbs I planted last October, inluding T. ‘Christmas Sweet’ and T. “Pink Diamond” (above) and T. Montreux, T. rejoyce, Narcissus “sweet love” in the photo at the start of this post.  I’m already planning what to plant for next year.

Honestly, I’m so excited about all my plans for shop and garden, it was hard for me to take the time to finish this post. I hope your world is similarly abuzz with plans, activities and dreams. Onward and upwards! Happy spring!

Pretty Tea Time

happy tea time april 2 bottle branch blog

I’ve written before about my love of intsagram, and year in and year out, this little free app remains a great source of creative inspiration for me. I love seeing the beautiful photos posted by so many talented instagrammers (Just a few of my favorite flower-loving instagram accounts: Janne, Julia, and Jessica.)

But also, the impetus of posting photos regularly keeps me challenged creatively. In particular, making ephemeral arrangements and vignettes has become an favorite creative exercise and I really love to take “pretty tea time” photos in the morning.

happy tea time in March from bottle branch blog

An ideal morning goes something this: walk children to school, go for a long morning walk, accompanied by either my audiobook or a friend. Fill my pockets with interesting tidbits of nature along the way.

When I get home, I make myself a cup of tea, tidy up any remaining breakfast dishes, and  empty out my pockets. As I look through my collected nature treasures, I like to arrange them in pretty patterns, and usually the pattern involves my tea cup, because, as it turns out, its a lot easier to make a pleasing arrangement when it involve a circle in the center, especially a circle filled with that magic and photogenic elixhir, green tea. (Just my unbiased opinion, of course.)

happy tea time january bottle branch blog

Pretty tea photos are a popular theme (or meme) on instagram, and there’s a whole community of tea-drinking nature lovers all over the world. (Look hereOr hereOr here.)

While I think it might be foolish to confuse instagram popularity with artistic merit or relevance, I do puzzle over what makes these sets of images so appealing. Is it that they are variations on a theme? The balance of sameness and variety?

happy tea time in february bottle branch blog

On a whim, I made some cards with a few of these “happy tea time” images, starting with a set of four photos from the winter months. They turned out so much better than I had expected. I was thinking about listing them in my etsy shop, but honestly, I’m just not sure. I might be suffering from lack of confidence or lack of conviction, but I think they are a little bit weird?! Am I crazy? Would simple prints for framing be better? A whimisical addition to kitchen decor? Or a calendar called “Happy Tea for all Seasons?” I have so many ideas!

happy tea card set from bottle branch blog

In the mean time, I’ve decided to give these away. Yes, another giveaway, but here’s the catch, its going to be an instagram giveaway. I feel like that’s only fair since that’s where they were inspired! If you’re interested, please click over to my new bottle branch instagram page (not my regular instagram account) Look for the photo above to enter. Winner will be posted there on April 10.

four happy cups of tea from bottle branch blog

Thanks so much for reading! I would love your thoughts!

Spring flowers and white line prints

spring bulbs cards celebrate bottle branch

I don’t want to jinx it , but its been a mild winter here in Boston and I’m feeling like spring is in the air. So I’m celebrating with new photo cards of spring flowers in my etsy shop. I’m offering a set of five cards depicting tulips, jonquils and hyacinths in whimsical arrangements, with plans to add individual cards sometime soon.

spring bulbs bottle branch blog

I wish I could say the flowers were from my garden, but as of right now, my bulbs are just slowly poking their way up through the ground. Still, its much earlier than last year.

white line prints in process bottle branch blog

Also, as I hinted in my last post, I’ve finally added some of those white line woodcuts I keep chattering about. So far, only two designs are listed, both originals and fancy reproductions. I’m all ears if there are any requests to see others listed. I have many designs, but somehow, my motivation to list them is low.

In truth, I’m much more excited about the upcoming gardening season, so this is where I’ll be: sitting in my kitchen, drinking tea, planning and dreaming about my garden.

seeds and garden dreaming bottle branch blog

 

Goal setting, making assignments and Big Magic

notebook for big dreams bottle branch blog

I’m not exactly a goal setting type person, but I do like to assign myself tasks. I dream big, make plans, write lists in my trusty decomposition notebook. I never get around to doing it all – there are so, so many projects I’ve planned, needlework patterns I’ve imagined, and essays I’ve started that have fallen by the wayside.

Still, each week, I assign myself a few tasks related to my creative life and especially my blog and/or creative business. I may tell myself to write up a recently completed project, list something new for sale in my store, pick up some supplies, finish up a project, spend a half a day trying out a new and exciting idea, research alternative blogging platforms, or figure out twitter/periscope/snapchat. This act of assigning does not necessarily mean I get them all done but usually I chip away and keep things moving.

Other times, my progress grinds to a halt. I run into technical problems, or the task is tedious and I find myself avoiding it, or life just gets busy. I ran into all of these roadblocks in my latest task. My assignment was simple: list a few of my white line wood cut prints for sale in my etsy shop, and then write post about them from my blog. Easy.

white line wood cuts on bottle branch blog

But then I had to think about pricing and it turns out, pricing hand-painted work is not easy. Etsy sternly admonishes sellers not to undervalue their work. Not only is it not good for business, it undercuts other sellers and the market as a whole. I get it. If I am selling my work at a loss just to unload it, then I am hurting artists who want to earn a living.

It takes a couple of hours to paint and print one white line wood cut print, and then there’s the cost of designing and carving the block, plus materials. That makes this work expensive.

So, being a practical dreamer, I looked around on etsy to see what other artists were doing and decided to offer digital reproductions of my white line prints, in addition to a the more expensive originals. Thus a new assignment was born: discover the best way to create digital reproductions.

bunch of white line prints for bottle branch

With a new printer and moderate experience manipulating digital images, I felt ready to tackle this assignment, though the learning curve was steep. I poured over my printer manual, researched paper types, learned a few new photoshop tricks, and printed many, many prints of my prints. (It turns out scanning and then printing does NOT give an exact copy. Not even close.)

There were many times when I complained, gritted my teeth, groaned, or just plain avoided my desk. And all the while, I listened to Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, a reflection on living a creative life. (I am a big fan of audible.com)

listening to big magic bottle branch blog

Not surprisingly, I loved Big Magic – I’ve written before about flashes of creative inspiration and the joy of unfettered creativity, what Gilbert calls big magic, and I have lived through many cycles of frustration and faltering confidence (another topic she addresses.) But most importantly, Gilbert describes following your curiosity as a way to find your way to a creative life, which I read as taking on life as a series of self-assigned tasks and creative challenges. Suddenly my crazy tangents, pssion for gardening, and self-assigned tasks seem like they’re not so kooky after all. In fact, these humble adventures just might be the makings of a satisfying life.

So Big Magic was an uplifting accompaniment to my latest creative endeavour and thankfully, in the end, I came up with some pretty prints also. More about those in my next post.

Everyone’s a winner!

valentine's giveaway

Wow! What an adventure! Thank you to everyone who shared and tagged and thus entered my Valentine’s giveaway over the weekend. I really appreciate your efforts and enthusiasm and it was quite interesting keeping track of entires, and even enticed me to use both twitter and facebook a little more than usual.

The official, randomly selected winner is Monica, of Prince Snow Farm. Congratulations! Message me your address and I’ll ship them out ASAP.

But, I always feel a little sad, having to pick one winner. I have a quiet little blog and I feel like I know you all, so I’ve decided that today, everyone’s a winner! Here’s how:

First of all, if you entered and didn’t win, I’ll happily send you a card from the Valentine’s set. Your choice of which one. Just message me at bottlebranch@gmail.com by February 1st.

Secondly, I’m offering 20% all items in my etsy shop until February 14th. You’ll need to enter this coupon code, BBvalentine, at check out.

Thank you all for all your support and interest. I sincerely appreciate it!