Serendipitini showcases artist Teena Stewart's work while encouraging and supporting artists in the handmade industry.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

We've Moved

This will be the last post on this blog but the Serendipitini blog will continue. If you want the latest on handmade creations, tutorials, sales, and guest artists posts then check out which now combines my blog and my website.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


The SPS Team,  of which I am a member, is promoting a special sale. Use this Coupon Code: SPSTEAMSALE 

You can buy cheaper from Nov 3-9 from team mates.

You can find all of the participating SPS Shops here:

Here are some of the participating shops.




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to Photograph Etched Glass

I make table top and hanging wine bottle candles from recycled wine bottles and some of these are hand etched. I never realized when I began working with etching how difficult it is the photograph etched glass. In fact, I researched different photography tip sites and no one had anything good to say about photographing etched glass. All admitted that it is hard. They suggested trying different things.

I already knew that to capture the etching the light had to be coming from an angle. I had snapped a fairly decent photo of an etched bottle by using natural light coming through a window, but the problem with natural light is it depends on the time of day, how bright it is outside and even what direction the sun is coming in from and this differs at different times of year. So I have never been able to duplicate it.

One of the suggestions made on one of the photography tip sites was to set the bottle on top of a light box and lay a cloth or dark paper on top of the light box in which you have cut a hole the circumference of the bottle. Seemed like a good idea.  Here is link to the light box I made and talked about in a previous blog.

When I tried the bottle on top of the light box method with the hole cut in black matboard, it actually did show the design very well. It looked good to the naked eye, however when I went to snap the photo, the light shooting up through the bottle was way too much for the camera lens and it created an overexposure. I tried blocking out some of that light by laying paper over the hole but still had the same problem. (A less bright light in the light box might have done the trick, but alas, I didn't have such a thing.

One other photography tip suggest I read was that I needed to have light coming from both sides . I did this but that alone wasn't enough so I put my light box lower than and behind the etched bottle and this worked pretty well after I made several adjustments. Here's  what I did.

I opened a card table and laid it on its side and draped it with black fabric.  Then I took a small ottoman and put that in from of the card table, draped it and set my bottle on top.  I used two clip on utility lights (which you can get at a home improvement store) and clipped them to two dining room chairs and shot the light down from the top and sides. You can clearl
y see the candle and the etching.  You can see these candles and others on my Serendipitini Etsy store.

I have found that when listing the etched candles in my Etsy store it helps to show them with a close up of the pattern and also with the pillar candle separately since the pillar candle tends to obscure the etching. If you succeed in photographing etched glass be sure to share your photos and photography tips. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spruce Up a Farm Table with Chalk Paint

A few blog posts ago I talked about an  antique farm table my husband and I purchased while at a flea market in Hillsville, Virginia.

The photo at the top shows the table before anything was done to it. It was very weathered and one of the table legs was in poor condition so we found replacement "feet" at a home improvement store and cut off the turned sections of all four legs of the table and replaced them with the wood turnings. Then we filled in the crevice between the table leg and foot section with putty, sanded and were ready to paint the table.

The table sides and legs had some color to them but because we had replaced the feet it needed to be painted.I decided to leave the top of the table in its natural state but wanted to paint the rest of it. I sanded off any excess paint to prepare the surface.

I had some leftover white latex paint and some leftover blue latex paint which I mixed together for a light blue color. You can purchase chalk paint but it is very expensive. So, to save money, I made my own chalk paint. I've included that recipe below this article.
I used a brush to apply. It took two coats. Once done, I sanded the corners to give it a weathered look. You can wax over the paint with colored wax which fills in cracks and crevices and gives an aged appearance. I waited a full day before applying black Briwax over the paint which cost $20 per can. (Purchased at the ReSource Warehouse and Gallery here in Hickory, NC.)

I had never used this wax before so it was a learning experience. It's best to apply to small areas and rub in in a circular motions. Novices should use a lighter color wax than black as it will obscure your color. If I had it to do again I would probably opt for brown wax. After rubbing in I used a soft, cotton cloth to buff off extra wax. It took a lot of elbow grease. If you have a power buffer attachment and a drill that might save some effort.  I also waxed the tabletop for protection.

This wax is similar to the old fashioned shoe wax that comes in a can but a little creamier. I haven't tried this but shoe wax might actually work if you want to test that out.  Here's my recipe for chalk paint. 

I also painted chairs (purchased at Resource Warehouse) and recovered them to go with the table and will share about recovering and antiquing chairs in a future article. Here's the chalk paint recipe.

Chalk Paint

You need

Latex Paint
Non Sanded Grout

You only want to mix small quantities at a time because the paint will dry quickly. Use a small container with lid such as a cool whip bowl or sour cream container.
In empty container mix 3 tsp of grout with enough warm water to get the consistency of milk.
Put 2 cups of paint in container and mix.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Upcycled Craft Linky Party (1)

I'm really excited.  This will be my first ever Linky Party. (Hopefully there will be plenty more.) This is a great way to share what you’ve made and get noticed. It will also help you get links back. Something we all need, right?

Here are the rules:

1.  You are invited to link up no more than one upcycled tutorial of your own making and one upcycled item from your shop, blog or website each week.

2.  Do not link up items or blog posts you previously shared. 
3.  Subscribe to the Serendipitini blog or follow us on FaceBook
4.  Visit at least one shared link and leave a meaningful comment or "favorite" it if it is an Etsy shop item.  You might want to follow them too (not required).
5.  Keep it wholesome and remember the theme for this Linky Party is "upcycled" so what you share must be upcycled. We reserve the right to remove any links or content we feel isn’t appropriate.

What are you waiting for? Get on it!

This idea was inspired  by Love 2 Upcycle.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review, Build a Better Creative Business Course

About eight months ago I completed a course called Build a Better Creative Business. It was being offered by Tim Adams of and Lisa Jacobs of the Energy Shop  I was familiar with both Tim and Lisa and their success in building successful handmade businesses connected with

Since I have been seeking to turn my handmade business into full time employment I felt it would be beneficial to be mentored by those who have been successful at it. It seems that many artists are great with the creative end of things but are not adept at the business end of things. Many never succeed in making their passion profitable.

 It was the first time the course had been offered so those of us who enrolled were basically guinea pigs. The cost was $100 and their marketing strategy assured me that their fee would never be lower. The course is now being offered at 40% off the regular price of $249.

If I could tout the benefits of this course to me personally I would stress the following. The most important for me was finding kindred spirits--people with the same passion and drive to create successful handmade businesses and learning that I am not alone. I often feel like a square peg unless I am with other creative sorts. It was a huge affirmation for me.

Prior to taking the course I struggled with focus...being spread too thin without cohesion in what I make. I already knew this, but there is power in hearing it from someone else. Apparently, I learned via the course, that this is a common problem for artists. We are so passionate about creating that it causes us to lose focus. Being challenged by this shortcoming, after taking the course I knew I needed to focus more and reign myself in. I created a second Etsy store, Serendipitini Pet for just my pet lover gifts.

I also realized I needed to streamline my handmade business. I've always had an issue with focusing on too many things but hearing it from someone else's lips helped kick me in the right direction. After the course I whittled down my Serendipitini Etsy shop to feature mostly recycled glass products...though I am still cheating a little (trying to sell some of the inventory that doesn't fit as well). I can see where I probably need to focus it even more. One thing the course taught me was the more you narrow down what you make and sell, the more cohesive it is, the better you brand yourself, the more people grasp who you are and the more you build loyal customers.

It depends on where you are with your craft business as to how much the different classes in the course will help.  I felt I had a good grasp in some areas but needed help in others. Some of the topics covered include but are not limited to:

  • how to license your designs (though in the course I took the focus was more on fabric pattern licensing) not quite what I was after
  • how to optimize keywords
  • how to find and gain media exposure
  • search engine optimization
  • branding your business
  • managing your business's finances
  • writing effective descriptions
  • improving photography

There are several other subjects covered. One huge plus is the Build a Better Creative Business Facebook page open only to class participants which provides great networking opportunities. I am still friends with some of the folks I met through the class.

Another impressive aspect is the group of select experts who provide advice and these include Tracy Matthews and Robin Kramer of Flourish and Thrive Academy; Corbert Barr of Think Traffic; Andrea Ayers of Launch Grow Joy to name a few.

The courses also includes one on one mentoring sessions but I didn't take advantage of this. I didn't have time. If I were to grade the course I'd give it an A-. Though I can't say that I've seen an avalanche of sales since taking this course, I can say that I know the mentoring and networking has been invaluable. I am on the right track. If you feel you need a boost with getting your handmade business to the next level of success. I recommend this course. It is money well spent.

Friday, October 11, 2013


I work a lot with recycled glass. One of the things I make are etched recycled wine bottle candles. (I also do plain and embellished.) 
Photographing any etched glass is hard because you have to capture the image of the etching as well as the beauty of the glass.

Having tried various methods of photographing etched glass,  including placing the bottle in front a a white back ground and hanging it in a window, I read up on the subject from different photography sites. One of the suggestions included sitting the etched object on top of a light box and adding side lighting. I figured it was worth a try since nothing else had produced good results. If it didn't work, I could always use the light box for tracing patterns, the same principle as holding up a drawing to a window pain and tracing over it only it makes the drawing easier because you can lay it on a horizontal surface.

I also discovered that illuminated light boxes are not cheap. They sell anywhere from $70 on up depending on size. Then you also have to pay for shipping. So, I decided to make my own.

I'm going to save my instructions on  how to photograph etched glass for a future blog post but I will give you a step by step on how to make your own light box.

You will need a portable florescent light...with double florescent bulbs. Size depends on how big you want your light box.

We have one of these with an on and off switch that we use in our garage for worshop lighting. We couldn't find a portable florescent light at the home improvement store we went to but my husband purchased a florescent light fixture and then spliced in a wire plug found in the lamp department.

I then purchased a clear plastic storage bin with a top. You want one with a flat top to make tracing easy.

My florescent light was slightly larger than my storage bin but you can search for a bin that is slightly larger than your lightif you want.

Using a utility knife, cut a hole in one end of your bin to allow the cord (and a portion of the florescent bulbs to protrude.) Test the light to make sure it works. Duct tape hole shut to keep your cord and light from sliding out.

Use this light to trace patterns or as a back light for photography project. It did not work for sitting my etched bottle on...but that's another story for another post. It does make great auxiliary lighting for photos if you need more light.

The cost of our light box was around $45.00