Mason Jars flying out of my shop: Mason Jar Chandelier

A photo of a mason Jar chandelier my customer sent me

A strange thing has been happening in my online shop: My largest hand tinted Ball mason jars have been flying out the door. Especially the larger quantities, the set of 6 and set of 10. I  admit I am obsessed … Continue reading 

The Easiest Decorative and Throw Pillow Tutorial ever and Giveaway

Pillow and Rustic sign giveaway

The Easiest Decorative and Throw Pillow Tutorial ever and Give Away! I have always been intimidating by sewing. My mother made most of my clothes when I was a child. I was mesmerized by the whirling machine and how easily … Continue reading 

Masons for the 4th of July

As a painter I love the American Flag. I have drawn and painted the stars and stripes many times. I have always had an

obsession with jars and now painted mason jars are a big part of my business. I have been meaning to a set of American Flag mason jars  for a while, a good long while. I put it off and off. I am busy I balance orders coming in with, promoting my business and making sure I spend enough time with my adorable son. And the then the 4th of July was coming. If ever it was time it was time. They were pretty simple to do: one jar all in navy with white stars and two jars painted white with red stripes. I discovered these wonderful metallic  blue lids that looked marvelous.

I painted some white stars on some blue heritage masons and made another patriotic set.  It was lots of stars and stripes over here. If you fancy them use code Pin50 for 50% off. Till next time Melissa.

I forgot I was smart, sort of

I’m kidda a smart thing.

How I compare to Bones from the TV show that genius forensic Anthropologist.

Bones and me

Bones and me

But first…

I forgot I was smart, not really but almost.

I considered myself average when I grew up on the Caribbean island of Barbados. We had a very good, competitive educational system there. I competed endlessly to be the best student with my classmates. The coolest kids got the highest grades; we didn’t just leave that for the nerds. We all were nerds.

Me in my New York Glory

Me in my New York Glory

I was in the top 10% which was ok. I wanted to be in the top 3 percent as far as I was concerned top 10% was average. I moved to New York with my mother when I was 15. I was a sophomore in Catholic High School. I had covered all of the material being taught before and quickly went to number 1 in my class. To me it wasn’t a true victory, it wasn’t hard.  I was hated by the other kids; they threatened to beat me up. The prospect being of being beaten up was both terrifying and confusing to me. Why would they want to beat me up? When I told my mother she just yelled she was paying a lot of money for that school and she didn’t want to hear it.

I came up with my own solution. I applied and got into an early college program. My mother said no but I went into a fugue state. I screamed and melting down in front of a woman who I had never raised my voice to. I don’t remember exactly how it happened but she let me go to Simon’s Rock of Bard College  as it was then called, in Massachusetts . It is now known as Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

I was among smarty pants like myself competing to be the best. I was happy. I went through a few scary years when I didn’t have a high school diploma or a college degree. I was thrilled after two years to have my associate degree.  I had something to show as a technical high school dropout. I happily grabbed my BA two years later.

For the next 10 years I lived in New York City. I slacked slightly for a few years but it couldn’t be helped. I graduated in the middle of a recession. I landed at a Dot com on Wall Street during the dot com boom. I was never smarter my giant bonus said so.

I was laid off during the dot com bust with a giant severance package. I moved to Florida and suddenly my smarts were a problem. Over and over again I heard, “You have such have a big vocabulary.” What did I say?

Happy in Florida

Happy in Florida

It started to get on my nerves. This “You have such have a big vocabulary.” So I did something stupid, I changed the way that I spoke slightly so I wouldn’t have to hear that. It became second nature to me to speak differently.

Then started binge watching Bones on Netflix. For those of you who don’t know her she is a genius Forensic Anthropologist who helps the FBI solve murders.  She is impossibly smart, obnoxious, confident, unapologetic woman. I had never seen a character like her anywhere; I have never met a woman like her.
I remembered I was smart and I am old enough to not care about what people think about me. The big vocabulary is back.  Thanks for the obnoxious inspiration Bones!

My son and I

My son and I

My 8 year old son immediately thought Bones and I were similar which I was flattering but I didn’t see it. He has quite the large vocabulary himself. He loves words especially big words. He loves to learn what they mean and use them correctly. When he was 5 he would walk around tell everyone about his hypothesizes. The Big vocabulary has been passed down.

For fun I thought I would compare myself and Bones, head to head.

She is a genius I am a brainiac . I went to college two years early maybe she would have gone when she was 11.

We both think very quickly and are good at problem solving.

She thinks she is better at everything than everyone else. I don’t know about being better at everything but I tend to do many things well.

She is very bad with people, rude, abrasive, and insensitive. I am very good with people. I am very honest and can be very blunt but I try to be sensitive about other’s feelings.

She runs towards trouble I do also. That part of me is instinctual I think. When there is trouble some people freeze some run away and some run towards the trouble, not always a smart thing.  When I worked at a small bookstore in New York

at the gallery

at the gallery

City a guy came in, grabbed some books off the counter and was running out the door. I slammed him in the door and was fighting with him over the books. When I realized what I was doing. I let him go. The owner of the bookstore thought I was crazy I agreed with her.

Bones is a martial Artist and can effectively defend herself. My teenage years living in Brooklyn toughened me.  Hopefully that counts for something. I had a 6’4 neighbor that came to my door and tried to intimidate me with his size. He was upset because my cats were supposedly keeping him up night.  My cats were sleeping snugly next to me at night. Apparently his dogs were barking at night at something and he decided I owned all of the cats in the neighborhood. The fact that my cats weren’t out at night didn’t register with him he wanted someone to blame. He stepped closer to me and I stepped closer to him so we were inches away from each other. I don’t intimidate easily.

I had to think of something to tell him so he would leave me alone. I thought of something and he left me alone after that.

She is very confident, over confident even. I am too.

 

She doesn’t get a lot of jokes especially those referencing popular culture. For some reason I am very gullible when it comes to jokes. It’s embarrassing. I never see them coming. Like her I also don’t get a lot of popular culture references. I don’t watch a lot of TV and I limit my exposure to the media.

 

off to the gallery again

off to the gallery again

Like her I have a difficult family.  Her father is a criminal who abandoned her as a teenager. I was adopted by a wonderful woman.  However my mentally unbalanced birth mother appears periodically causing as much drama as she can.

What I like most about Bones is that even though she is a bit of a pain in the ass she tries to learn from her experiences. That is one of the best thing we can do, learn from this life we are living.
When people tell me I have a big vocabulary I will say yes I do, thank you.

For the love of Jars. Masons and everything else.

For the love of Jars. Masons and everything else.

Love jars. I am not sure where it started. I remember finding rocks on the beach with plants tenaciously growing out of

them. I took them home and nestled them in a precious jar full of water and table salt. Remarkably they lived and grew until my mother thew them out.

It probably started with my mother she always expertly  cleaned out every available container for future use. The kitchen cabinets were filled with butter, yogurt and magical jars. Did you mother’s cabinets look the same.

I followed suit. My favorites were the Classico spaghetti jars. I would collect them with no idea what to do with them.  Sometimes I would fill them with shells from the beach, or marbles. When I moved the  I had 9 empty jars that I got rid of.  I said to myself you can’t keep collecting jars like this, and I threw them out. And now most of my business comes from masons jars, That’s irony. I was just months away from  launching my mason jar obsession in my online shop.

I started tinting masons the soft blue of past jars. A blue that is lost to the past and only I seem to be making for sale. Check my tutorial here.

I was really shocked to find a whole online community semi obsessed with jars and  masons.

My neighbors had seen me painting jars in my back yard. When they moved  they offered me their cache of bottles, all from Europe. These jars and bottles were shapes and sizes I had never seen before, Woo! Be still my heart. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them.

Another fantastic source of jars is my local Recycle center From Trash to Treasure in Fort Lauderdale.. I get so excited see what is there. I always head straight for The “jar” section. On one of my weekly visits to the center I saw the jar of all jars. The most beautiful jar I had ever seen: a Lovely very large jar with handles.  I knew it would make the most beautiful vase ever. It did and it was on it’s way to Australia days after I put it in my shop.

I just made some beach candle set out of the cutest mason jar candles. I can’t wait to make my own candles. I just ordered

those cute little quilted jars.

Next jars in my shop chalk painted masons in a color called freshwater,. American Flag and British Flag masons. Doesn’t this sounds fun. If you want to check out more of my jars take a peek in my shop. Until next time…Melissa

Ceramic Cat Sculpture Green Tarnish Verdigris Patina

From Scary to Handsome: a ceramic cat gets a make over.

The cat before a little scary

The cat before a little scary

This is my first sculpture that I made over. When I saw him at the thrift shop he was scary with a capital S. He was Halloween all the way but he had a nice shape. I knew he would look amazing with a little bronze and a little aged green patina.

Because he is ceramic with a very shiny finish I first painted him with primer that was a little gritty to give the paint something to stick too , then the modern masters acid blocking primer. I love the acid blocker primer because it is chocolate colored so for an hour or two I imagine having a solid milk chocolate

lion Paw with the chocolate colored primer

lion Paw with the chocolate colored primer

cat or lion paw.  I don’t have any pictures of these steps. I do my painting outside it was starting to rain; I brought my cat inside with the intention to take pictures of his chocolate primer phase the next day. I so excited to work on him as soon I was he was dry I painted him with the bronze paint. Oh well, here  is a picture of my lion paw in it’s chocolate phase. You get the idea.

Cat with bronze and copper paint

Cat with bronze and copper paint

Then the bronze paint, then copper paint for accents, then the aging patina. The sprayer  stopped working mid spray so I was worried how he would come out. He spray doesn’t work right away so I had to wait 15 – 20 agonizing minutes to see how he would turn out I think he is awesome and gorgeous. I love him. From scary to classy for sure. What do you think? Check him out in my shop.

Cat with his green Verdigris Patina

Cat with his green Verdigris Patina. What a handsome fellow. Check him out in my shop.

The Lion Paw: The Best Desk Accessory Ever

I spotted this Lion Paw at a garage sale. There he was sitting among tools  and cheap bric a brac. I knew I had to have him.

The Paw and the frame from the garage sale

The Paw and the frame from the garage sale

I was a little worried because the guy running the sale wanted close to retail prices. I nonchalantly grouped the paw with some other items and asked how much. I was pleasantly surprised by his answer. I also scored a beautiful metal frame but my luck didn’t hold out. I left of stack of picture frames behind when we couldn’t agree on a price, he wanted more than they would be new, they were obviously sentimental. I was very lucky he wasn’t too attached to the paw. That Paw was mine now. He was separated for his original furniture, he was stripped of his original finish but he was still gorgeous. I knew exactly  what I would do with him. With all of his hand carved detail  He would look amazing with a Metal Tarnish Verdigris finish. Time to break out the paint.

Last year Modern Masters sent me one of their metal effects paint kits to  review, check out my original review. Their is primer, metallic paint and ageing patina spray. I am still using it and loving it. Give them a look.

But before I did that I wondered about this paw. What kind of foot was he, hound, wolf, lion. I settled on the Lion. What kind of furniture did he come from. He looked like he would be a base of a bed or the table but his top is so flat and it doesn’t look sawed through when he was removed. Hmmmm it’s a mystery what do you think? I’m still wondering. But now on to the paint. One of my favorite parts of this painting process is the primer, it is the color of milk chocolate. Now who wouldn’t want a big milk chocolate paw. Then the bronze paint, then the copper paint. You only need to do one color of metallic paint, not both but what can I say I love how both color’s interact.

Step by Step from raw woof to aged metal

Step by Step from raw wood to aged metal

Then the ageing spray. I always freak out during this step because the spray takes a while  work and oxidize to create the patina. I made myself walk away and let the spray do it’s job. I was a little worried if it would still work, the paint has been stored in my hot un-climate controlled storage. But after 5 minutes they was my beautiful patina. Just what I though gorgeous! I love the randomness of the finish and that you can’t predict you exact results.  Check his handsome perfection out in my shop.

What I learned from my year in business: Don’t give up, Ever!

I decided to start at the top and work my way up.

Sometimes things don’t work that way. Let me explain: I decided to make beautiful

furniture that I spent a lot of time on and wanted good money for.  I didn’t get the prices I wanted for my pieces. But try try try again. This is what I have learned from my year in being in business for myself. Don’t be afraid to take risks, learn from your mistakes and on’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up, ever!

I love my Etsy business at my online shop Caribbean Style Decor, my obsession with all things blue, white and shiny; that business is wonderful but erratic $200 one day no money the next day.  I am starting to save for a house I need a steadier source of revenue. I went back to the drawing board and looked the items that brought me the most money, my furniture. I stopped working on my furniture because I didn’t get the prices I wanted for the time and energy I put into refinishing and re-painting.  It is important to pay attention to what the market will bear. I looked over my techniques, I am a perfectionist, my techniques take a lot of time and are

exacting, one table took over 40 hours. I call that one “The Table”.

I sold my furniture in two places a local retailer and on Craig’s List.  I rethought everything and came up with a plan to make My Craig’s list prices profitable. I knew this retailer wasn’t the place to get the best prices for my pieces but they were easy to get into and to work with. I sold all the pieces I had consigned to them and working with that store helped me to figure out where my prices needed to be to sell.

I made up a new set of rules for myself. There were a lot of things I could do to save time and

still achieve the look I wanted. I would spend no more than 8 hours on any one piece. These adjustments would get my prices into the Craig’s list zone.

That’s fantastic news because I LOVE doing the furniture. I love taking furniture ugly ducklings and turning them into gorgeous one of kind pieces.

I have two chairs at home waiting to be worked on. Stay tuned. I’m back at it. …Melissa

The five dollar flat rate Box that Blew my mind

Actually it is Boxes.  But let’s start at the beginning. I received a very nice email from Salah Boukadoum a Dallas based entrepreneur asking me how I ship my items for my Etsy Shop. He is a very interesting person, google him.  I have very strong 50 shipopinions about shipping specifically about international shipping. I have customers overseas that want I my masons jars and vases but they don’t feel like paying $30 shipping for a $30 item. But I‘m getting distracted back to the email.  I replied to  the email with my opinions. He said something about his company 50ship.com selling boxes that were around $5 to ship. All I heard was $5 shipping. That’s what I am talking about.

But this is America the land of the catch. What is the catch? Do I have to buy 500 boxes for $1000? What is the real deal. I went to their website and this is where my mind gets blown. Salah had sold me on the concept:  boxes I can ship my goodies in for about $5. So I had assumed they sold boxes with pre-paid shipping. No…, they sold boxes that fit into the US postal service’s flat rate envelopes 25 for $20.50. That is completely awesome and this is coming at the perfect time. I have been  thinking seriously about my branding and looking for an economical way to make the packaging of my items uniform. Check out the magic box.

My mind has been blown because they sell boxes. That’s it, boxes. I was all excited about the concept $5 shipping and all I have to do is buy boxes. The product  is the idea plus the box, the box that fits into the envelope. Genius!

This would make a perfect movie scene, picture Tom Hanks before he hid it super big sitting in a board room table. He is young, earnest and vaguely wide eyed and is sitting with a box in front of him. Enter smug fat cat executive. “So tell me,” he says. “Why should I give you money for your new company?”  Earnest Tom says, “Boxes, our products are boxes.” “Boxes!” exclaims the fat cat incredulous. Hilarity ensues.

Check out 50ship.com they sell boxes they can save you a lot of money.

My masons will shipping in style…Melissa