Thursday, October 31, 2013

Interview Series 2: Week 2 - SwitMartini

It looks like this series is going to be a huge success! Already I have more people interested than I originally thought I would!

While this is good, I’m worried about space!  You may find that instead of just on Thursdays, I may also post interviews on Tuesdays instead of the usual “filler” or “flashback” or whatever I post!  If I do this, you can all be certain I’ll post it where it can be seen!

The crafter I bring you today caught my eye originally on the front page of Zibbet, earlier this month, when I saw a Fordite pendant that I couldn’t stop looking at.  When she posted on my thread with interest to be part of this series, I was surprised (pleasantly of course!) and my response in that thread was that I had seen that pendant, and I remembered it, and remembered looking at the shop it came from.  Yes, okay, there were some squeals of delight, and rightly so.

Instead of trying to explain it all myself, I’ll let Pohlian of SwitMartini do all the talking!

Name :
Pohlian Lim
Craft :
handmade jewelry
Favorite materials :
My main favourite/love is minerals or stones. Next in line is Fordite. It is basically dried, hardened and baked layers of automobile paint used by automobile factories back in the good old days to spray automobile. The psychedelic patterns and colours can be so beautiful.
Your Most Popular Seller :
Serge Thoraval. I bought his set of seven rings with part of Edmond Rostand's poem "A Kiss" engraved on them from a quaint shop in Fremantle, Australia. I love his work.

4760636-original[1]Flow Pendant
This was the pendant I saw.  The wirework is so finely detailed, even for such a simple pendant!

DWJ(am!) What got you into your craft?

SwitMartini I collect a lot of minerals and stones. I have loads of jewellery made from stones and minerals. Due to constant wearing, the elastic bands gave way or the fine wire broke. Sending them to be repaired was quite a chore for me. I began to learn how to repair them. That grew into a hobby. It was a great stress-reliever as well. I made jewellery as gifts for my girlfriends instead of buying them gifts. One of them suggested that I should try selling handmade jewellery. I acted on her suggestion and this is what I'm doing today - handmade jewellery.

4752071-original[1] A Slice of Watermelon Necklace
An amazing idea for an amazing find of a stone!

DWJ(am!) How did you learn your craft?

SwitMartini I learnt the basics through craft books. The other great source of teaching materials is YouTube. I actually learnt the basics of wire wrapping stones from one of the video uploaded on YouTube. Then I slowly improvised on the methods to suit me and I developed my own flavour. There were some minerals which I purchased in their natural form (e.g. quartz clusters, quartz pointers, diopside clusters, druzies, etc) that were commonly bought as mineral specimens. I, on the other hand, thought that they would look great as jewellery. So I improvised the basic wire wrapping method to wire wrap minerals too.

DWJ(am!) What about YOU? Who is the artist behind those wonderful items?

SwitMartini I'm a lawyer by profession. I've been in practice since 1994. I practised as a corporate lawyer in my last firm. Law practice is interesting but very stressful. At the beginning of this year, I decided to take a break from my law practice. With lots of time on my hand I'm concentrating on making my jewellery. Prior to this break I made and sold my jewellery on a part-time basis. It was pretty much a hobby. Now I have my full concentration on it.

I participate in local bazaars (once or twice a month). I find that this is a good way to meet new customers. Online shopping has its benefits, convenience being the greatest advantage. However, there is still quite a number of people who prefer to see and try on the jewellery pieces before making their decision. Not many people in Malaysia know much about stones. So being physically available to attending to any questions on my jewellery is a plus point for them. I remember the look of wonder that a lady customer had when she picked up an emerald green coloured pendant with lots of tiny crystal points that sparkled in the light. She was intrigued by it but she had no idea what it was. I told her that she picked up a Kazakhstan Dioptase druzy pendant. That helped her appreciate the pendant more.

4739187-original[1] Cobalt Lapis Pendant
Such a simple stone made extraordinary with wirework and simple accents!


DWJ(am!) What is a typical "working" day for you? How does it usually start and end? How many hours do you spend crafting? How many hours do you spend on other things? What about distractions? I know we all have them! Do you usually accomplish all you wanted to?

SwitMartini My work usually starts between 9 am to 10.30 am. There are times when I need to get some house chores done first and in such instances, my work starts after lunch. I normally rotate the items to be created. One day, I'd be creating a piece for my Zibbet store. The next day I would be concentrating on creating my market items. Then the succeeding day I would do my orders. I review my plan from time to time to meet the different deadlines. My work also includes updating my stock, checking my Zibbet shop, entering the Zibbet community to keep abreast on what's going on, taking photos of my products and doing a write-up on my products. I also keep my fan page on Facebook ( updated regularly. On days when I work-out at the gym, I end my work earlier, at about 4 pm. On other days I normally end my work at about 7.30 pm. There are days when my crafting ideas are flowing or when I am really bent on seeing the finished piece, I can work up to 11 pm.

Not everyday is perfect. There are those non-productive days as well. I think we all have them. I like to plan at the beginning of the month. It is then that I have an overview on what needs to be done and how much time I have to get them done. I set out what must be accomplished for the month. Sometimes I'm overzealous and I fall short of what needs to be accomplished. Other times I get it right.

4739362-original[1] Serenity Pendant
A pendant worthy of a princess!

DWJ(am!) What happens when you Oops? Everyone gets one sometime or another! Do you get frustrated and destroy/start over, or do you go with the flow and see what comes out in the end?

SwitMartini This has definitely happened to me. I have my off-days. The lesson I learnt is when my crafting isn't fine, I should stop! There are many times when I went with the flow and ended up cutting the wires and throwing them away. So there's wastage. I think I have Oops only once or twice and it turned out better than I foresaw.

DWJ(am!) What is your design process like? How many tries does it take to be happy with the final product?

SwitMartini On an average I only take 1 try to be happy with the final product. Having said that,  I have had experiences of 2 to 3 tries before I was satisfied with the final product. My record to date : FIVE TIMES before I was satisfied. I was attempting to create a butterfly pendant, to wire 2 separate stones together as the wings.

4739343-original[1] Primavera Earrings
If they are this soothing to look at, think of what they must be like to wear!

DWJ(am!) What is your greatest roadblock, be it government regulation or that little frustrating thing that just likes to sneak up and stop you in your tracks? Broken needle? Jump ring jumping out of your pliers? Thread knots? Cats? Dogs? The family hedgehog rolled about in your yarn basket?

SwitMartini High cost in materials. I use good quality stones and a lot of luxe beads. Even Fordite is expensive. I believe that there is more value in owning a piece of good stone. Therefore, my jewellery pieces are not cheap. So they are sold at a slower pace.

4755315-original[1] Golden Touch Bracelet
I’ve never seen anyone combine coral and amber before, but you have to admit the combination is stunning!

DWJ(am!) All important pricing... Do you have a formula? Do you wing it? Do you feel your work justifies your prices?

SwitMartini Yes, I have a formula. I feel that not only my work but the quality of the stone or feature piece and the accompanying luxe beads justifies my prices. For the cheaper stones, I market them under my 'Markets' album on my Facebook fan page and at the local art markets.


DWJ(am!) And of course, is there anything else you'd like to say to our "viewers at home"?

SwitMartini I believe that many of my pieces are conversational pieces. They are unique and they make great gifts to your loved ones. I also take custom orders. My Facebook fan page has photos of all my creations and many of them are custom orders.


I wish I could just put up all the lovely things from Pohlian’s shop, but I had to stop.  Being a self-learned wire-work artist myself, I can say it’s not easy to learn, then add your own flair, perfect, and be happy with the items you finally allow out of your hands.  Wire is very fickle – but in the right hands, as you can see from the lovely things on display in this post, it can be stunningly beautiful.
Can a machine do this? The precision perhaps… but not the unique differences that make each and every piece a treasure of its own.
There is love in this work, and it shows!

And there’s much more where this came from!  Find Pohlian’s other lovelies at her Zibbet shop: SwitMartini!

As always, thank you for reading!
Until next time!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday Flashback: Ignorance. Perception. Reality.

On October 19, 2011, I posted about the ignorance of this disposable-society, the perception of price, and the reality of the products we buy.

I wanted to post this post again, so that everyone who may have missed it the first time around could go back and read it, and be reminded of its message.

Ignorance. Perception. Reality. by Dream Weaving, October 19, 2011

Think once again about everything you own.  How much of it is special to you? How much of it can you tell others about – who made it, what it’s made of, how it was made?

I’m willing to bet there isn’t much.

If you find yourself without a single thing you can do that with – look through the shops I’ve featured, or head over to Zibbet and see if you find something there that takes your fancy.  There are some wonderful artists there who post their hard work in the hopes that someone will find and purchase it, knowing they have just purchased a hand-crafted work of art that they can name the maker, the material, and know a little about how it was made, rather than saying “It was made in <Other Country> by some machine… I have no idea what it’s REALLY made of…”

In fact…
I shall stand on a soapbox for a moment (rather literally).

Up until a few months ago, I was a fan of Bath and Body Works.  I used to purchase their bottles of lotion and bodywash for $8.50 back when I started purchasing (now it’s $12.50, for the same sizes, or they were in December 2012).  I loved their musky scents, since fruit and most flowers just didn’t work for me.
They stopped making nearly all of the musky scents, focusing exclusively on fruit and flowers.

Also, I NEEDED that lotion and body cream I used.  I stepped out of the shower, my skin felt tight and parched.

I got tired of it, and the last straw was when I found out that my favorite scent, which I finally got my bathroom decked out in, was discontinued and only online in limited stock.
Enough was enough.

Some time ago, back in July of 2009, I showed off some soap from a woman named Heidi on Etsy.  I thought back to the sample she sent to me of her shea-butter Cherry Blossom soap, and remembering that my skin felt lovely after, and the little sample of Lavender moisturizing cream (only half gone in 2012) was still just as wonderful as the day I’d gotten it.
I went back and got more in one of my favorite BBW scents.
… and finished off what I had left from Bath and Body Works, never to purchase from them again.

I asked Heidi for suggestions to replace my favorite (Now DISCONTINUED) scent.  She offered suggestions, and I found one of her scents that I fell in love with.
I promptly replaced ALL of my soaps and lotions with her products.
… and found that HER products last twice as long as BBW’s did, and my skin is so much healthier and happier.

The ingredients aren’t listed on BBW’s products – or rather, not on all of them.
The ones that do have the ingredients listed are unpronounceable chemicals, and the list would eat half this blog post.

Heidi’s ingredients… well let’s say if I didn’t know it was SOAP I’d try to eat it.

I also decided to try to hook my family on her work by giving each of the girls a bar of soap and a jar or bottle of her lotion/cream.
My nieces are allergic to shea and cocoa butter, and I asked if Heidi had anything without them – she told me she has products that fit that, and they could be made in any of the scents her shea-butter products were!

… What’s that BBW? If I have allergies, I have 1-2 scents to choose from?  BZZZZZT. Wrong answer.

My bathroom is decked out with bar-soap, body cream, mini rose hand-soaps, and sugar scrub in two scents (summer scent and winter scent), and body spray in my summer scent, and I just got hand-soap for the upcoming holidays in a fall spicy scent and a winter evergreen scent, shaped like snowflakes!

My bath products all match!
And for each “set” (Bar soap, whipped soap, body cream, sugar scrub and hand-soaps) I paid as much as I would for JUST one bottle of bodywash and JUST one tube of body cream from BBW. Mm. Let’s see here. FIVE products that were HAND CRAFTED that last longer than the TWO I could have gotten that were made somewhere with who knows what for the same price?

But Bath and Body Works is a HUGE name brand!!

My skin, my mother’s skin, my sisters’ skin, my nieces’ skin all are healthier after using Heidi’s products, and we have to purchase them less often than we did BBW’s stuff.

Want to take the challenge?
Heidis Handmades
The Bubbling Cauldron
She just opened her shops on Zibbet, but I’d also bought her things while she was on Etsy as well. (I prefer buying things on Zibbet – the artists do not have a percentage of their sales taken from them by the listing site.  Etsy not only charges per listing but also takes away 3.5% of each sale from the artists.)
She has all kinds of goodies for men and women and children alike, and she’s not shy about sharing her ingredients right in her listings.

I shall step off my soapbox now to let you go and look around at the things you purchase and ponder about where they came from and who made them, and whether they’re really worth the price you paid.

Thanks everyone for reading!  See you Thursday for my next feature!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Interview Series 2: Week 1 – BeeJanie

And so begins the new series of interviews!

As I said in my previous post last week, the folks I am sharing this time around are all awesome, so make sure you keep your eyes here at least every Thursday – as I said in my previous post, if there are more than I can post for once a week, I will start posting two – and of course I will be keeping my Facebook and Twitter updated with every post!

This week, I bring to you some adorable things that may make you squeal with delight over the cuteness, aww in sweetness, or in general bring smiles!  Please welcome Bethany of BeeJanie of Zibbet!

I am the creator behind BeeJanie, and my name is Bethany!
I design and create felt baby mobiles! I do everything, from designing the mobiles, to stitching them together, by hand! Almost all of my orders are done custom, which my customers love! I think this is because it makes the buyer a huge part of the experience!  They can then look at the mobile and tell their child that it is something that they personally had a hand in, and that is so great to me!
Favorite material (or medium, whatever you want to call it!):
Felt. I just love felt! It is soft, and warm. It is makes for the perfect material to make cute little stuffed animals out of!
Your Most Popular Seller (whether it be online or at shows you attend):
Right now, my most popular item is the Owl Baby mobile! I think this is because of it's clean lines, so it looks modern, but the owls are still very cutsey! The design works perfectly in a little boy or girl's nursery!

5539371-original[1]Owl Baby Mobile - Personalized - Larger Option
I see why this is such a hot seller! Adorable, but I would actually hang this in my own room! 

Mine-ICON What got you into your craft?


BeeJanie I have always loved creating things, and always have had something that I am working on! I found mobiles to be a great outlet, because I just love overly cute things, and that seemed to lend perfectly to nursery decor! And, once I discovered how wonderful felt is, making that into cute animals, and turning those into mobiles just seemed to be the way to go, and I have not looked back!

4735488-original[1] Baby Fish Mobile – Personalized
I would hang this in my room as well, considering how much I love Bettas…

Mine-ICON How did you learn your craft?

BeeJanie It just seemed to be something that has always come naturally to me. My sister is an outstanding artist, an her being a year older than me, I always wanted to keep up with what she was doing! So, she has really inspired me to create things I love!

Mine-ICON What about YOU? Who is the artist behind those wonderful items?

BeeJanie I am just a girl, with two cats and a great husband whom I love and adore more than the world. I just want to share my things with the world. For me, my art is not about making a profit, it is about sharing things with people, and knowing they love what I have to offer! Honestly, the idea that even just one of my mobiles hangs above a baby's crib, is such a success for me!

5258729-original[1] Forest Animals Name Banner (5 Letters)
I’m not even going to justify or pretend.  I. Want. One.

Mine-ICON What is a typical "working" day for you? How does it usually start and end? How many hours do you spend crafting? How many hours do you spend on other things? What about distractions? I know we all have them! Do you usually accomplish all you wanted to?

BeeJanie I am extremely fortunate to be able to work from home! So, my typical day is waking up early, and setting in to crafting straight away! I am lucky to be working on several orders presently, but it can be overwhelming! So, I just try to stay on task as best as possible (while finding time to try and make the house spotless!) and do my best to not become absorbed in the tv show that I usually have playing on my computer while I craft! Project Runway, Face Off, and Parks and Rec are my most recently distractions!

4735012-original[1] Pumpkins and Apples Fall Time Baby Mobile – Personalized
I could see this used not just in Baby’s room, but in classrooms and other places that could use Fall decoration. LOVE it!

Mine-ICON What happens when you Oops? Everyone gets one sometime or another! Do you get frustrated and destroy/start over, or do you go with the flow and see what comes out in the end?

BeeJanie I have a pretty good system for how I do things, so I don't ever mess things up really. (Hope that doesn't jinx me!! haha!) But, sometimes, I will create things, and decide, in order to match the room decor, I should have changed where I placed the colors! So, with that I usually, just finish the item I am working on, make it into an ornament and put list it on my shop as a ready to ship thing! Here is looking at you little yellow bird ornament! ;)

Mine-ICON What is your design process like? How many tries does it take to be happy with the final product?

BeeJanie Oh this is extensive! I suppose all of my 'oopses' go here! I start with sketching, then I use the inexpensive acrylic felt from Michael's to make samples of the items to make sure I have the seam allowances correct, and the item doesn't look wonky when complete! I usually make them in terrible colors that clash just for fun! :)

5156060-original[1] Custom Elephant Mobile Pieces
Is it bad that I’d hang these in doorways or in my car?

Mine-ICON What is your greatest roadblock, be it government regulation or that little frustrating thing that just likes to sneak up and stop you in your tracks? Broken needle? Jump ring jumping out of your pliers? Thread knots? Cats? Dogs? The family hedgehog rolled about in your yarn basket?

BeeJanie I suppose this roadblock would just be myself! I am a slooowww worker! I want every thing -perfect- from every cut edge to each little hand stitch! I don't do wonky or raw jagged edges! Those give me anxiety! I am a bit of a perfectionist, and if you ever saw my paintings, you would see what I mean! :)

5671499-originalFantasy Dragon Baby Mobile – Personalized
*babbles* I think this constitutes “Shut up and take my money”.  They’re DRAGONS. TINY DRAGONS: Your argument is invalid. 

Mine-ICON All important pricing... Do you have a formula? Do you wing it? Do you feel your work justifies your prices?

BeeJanie After all the custom orders I have done, the formula is becoming more and more set, and this has been fun to develop! Though, my creative process in creating new designs is all over the place! And, I do feel like the amount of work I put in to each piece justifies the price I charge. I actually put in 20-30 hours (minimum) per mobile. So, I feel like I am priced well, because I think my mobiles aren't just for the people who have a lot of money to spend, but really most people could afford! That is something that is important to me. I want to be accessible!

Mine-ICON And of course, is there anything else you'd like to say to our "viewers at home"?

BeeJanie Thank you to everyone who takes the time to view my shop! I really hope you like what you see, because I have put so much time and love into each and everything I have created!


I’m so pleased that I could offer a feature on someone who makes such adorable, cute things that even I, at my age, would put up in my own room.  It just goes to show that just because it’s cute, it’s not just for kids ;)

Thank you, Bethany!  You can visit Bethany, learn more about her, and buy her work on Zibbet, at her shop: BeeJanie!

Thank you everyone for reading, and of course, another huge thank you to Bethany for sharing her story behind her craft!

Until next week!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Interview Series 2: Coming Soon!!

It’s been a while since I’ve done these mini-interviews.  Since Zibbet has been flooded by new people though, I thought I’d put it out there once again for those who didn’t get in on the first round, and also for all those new people.

I have not forgotten what it’s like to strive for exposure, and opening a new shop (or even maintaining an existing one) can be daunting for each and every hand-made crafter/seller there is out there.

Starting on Thursday, October 24, 2013, I will be posting new interviews, showcasing new shops and spreading the joy just in time for the start of the 2013 Holiday Shopping Season, and all through, right up until New Year’s!  If I have lots of responses, I may be posting more than one a week, so stay tuned to here, and also to my Facebook and Twitter for updates. 

Trust me, you won’t want to miss the folks I have on board this time around!


As always, thank you to everyone who participates in the interview series posts, and thank you to each and every reader and supporter of hand-made shops!