Friday, July 31, 2009

What's new at Donna's Crafty Creations? Handmade jewelry from the Dominican Republic

Wow! What an opportunity a chance meeting with an old friend has created.

Several months ago, I ran into an old friend at a local fast food restaurant. We chatted about what each of us had been doing and the subject of Donna's Crafty Creations came up. As I described the handcrafted merchandise I sell, I could see the wheels turning in my friend's mind. When he spoke, he said something like this:

There's this lady at my church who works with women in the Dominican Republic (DR). She taught them how to make beads from paper, magazine photos, boxes, etc, and now sells the jewelry they make from the beads. All the proceeds go back to the women in the DR, giving them a little extra money they can use to buy more food, medicine, or whatever else they need. She's been talking about trying to sell the jewelry at Trade Days, what do you think? Do you think she could?

We talked some more, I gave him my card, and he said he'd pass my info along to her. Fast forward to July 2009. I met with Lois the evening of July 30. We talked about the possibility of adding the paper bead jewelry to my product line. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to help, so, starting with August Trade Days, there will be one more product opportunity for my customers - jewelry made in the Dominican Republic from paper. She also has bracelets made from soda cans and clothespin springs. All quite nice. Look for them in my booth in August.

July Trade Days

Can you spell "hot"? "Friday, July 17" is one way to spell it. The heat and humidity were brutal. (I've been in worse heat and humidity one time, the last weekend in June, 2009.) It was hot!

In spite of the heat, though, there were a lot of shoppers out on Friday, far more than usual. Not a lot of buyers in the "old" section, just shoppers. I had my ice chest full of ice and cold drinks, a one gallon cooler full of ice, cold water, and inexpensive wash cloths, and what my sister calls my "fan club" - my collection of battery-powered and A/C powered fans - to keep the air moving in my booth. This time of year I'm very thankful to have one of the few south-facing booths at Trade Days. The sun only hits the roof directly late in the afternoon, unlike the west facing booths that get sun on their roofs in the morning, the east facing booths that get hit with afternoon sun, and the few north facing booths that have sun on their roofs all day. I'll take any break I can get when it comes to summer heat.

Saturday didn't feel as hot, although my clock/thermometer said it reached the same high temperature. Sunday afternoon, around 3:30, a storm blew through. A lot of vendors packed up, in preparation for leaving. I did pack up my tabletop flower arrangements, since they're not meant to withstand high winds, but I made sure they were still available for prospective customers to view. For a little while after the rain moved through, it was cooler, but then the humidity crept back in and raised the heat index back to almost where it had been before the rains hit.

I sold a few flower arrangements, a few pieces of jewelry, and made a few pairs of custom earrings. The customer who had special ordered a red and white potholder was delighted to pick it up. All in all, a "normal" weekend for me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pirate Ship Cake from Wilton's 2010 Yearbook Preview Demo

Well, when the 2010 Yearbook came out, and I found out we were supposed to create the cover cake for our July demo, I asked my Course 1 students what they thought of the cake. They thought it was too intimidating, so I decided to do something else - not a cake - for the demo.

Our store manager has been getting a lot of questions about fondant, though, and I've been wanting to do a fondant demo, so cupcakes just didn't seem like the right way to go. I'd decide to do the pirate ship, then I'd think, "Intimidating". Then I'd decide to do cupcakes. Back and forth I'd go. Finally, the morning of the demo dawned and I had to make a decision. By then, I'd looked again at the cover photo and decided it didn't look that bad at all. So, I baked a 9x13 cake (I'm too cheap to buy a special pan if I'm probably not going to use it much), cut a diamond-shaped chunk out of the middle, and cut cylinders for pirate bodies out of the leftovers.

I colored some fondant light blue for the ocean (a fondant-covered cake board), colored some gum paste light blue for the waves - the color match between the two media was pretty good - cut out sails from white gum paste and waves from the blue gum paste. My car was full of "cake stuff" when I pulled out of the driveway to go to Michaels.

Several people stopped to watch me work on the cake. One young lady really got into the fantasy of the pirate ship, wanting to know where one pirate's arms and hands were (I hadn't made them yet), how the pirates would get belowdecks, why one pirate looked like he was drawing back one arm to slug somebody, .... She was delightful to interact with.

I hope you enjoy the photos.