Hi, welcome to my sporadically updated blog! I do apologize for the auto-generated emails you will receive if you comment here. I can't stop or control them, they are the fault of my web hosts. Please just divert them into your spam folder.
|Posted by ellen on March 7, 2013 at 7:50 PM||comments (0)|
I'm so excited, and i just can't hide it. This is why.
I suppose there are a quite a few sites out there now that will custom print your own fabric designs, wallpaper etc. But some years ago, when Spoonflower.com started up it was a super novel and exciting thing! I had them print out some fabric with my Mean Cat on it, and have always thought it would be a good thing to get serious with. If people would buy my designs through spoonflower without me having to print, sew or ship anything, how awesome would that be? But it was on the back burner for the past four years or so, and I never went on the site until early this week. Imagine my surprise and pleasure to find that I had a 16 dollar credit due to people purchasing the mean kitty fabric from the site? (spoonflower pays designers 10% of the sales). Browsing through the site, I was disappointed with all the crap fabric designs on there. I saw a few good ones but it was a vast sea of mediocrity. Sort of like Etsy, but for fabric design.
Anyways I was on the site because I had a new fabric design I wanted them to produce. It was inspired by a page from "Fruits", a book about Japanese street fashion that my sister gave me for my birthday several years ago. The book was published around the turn of the millenium when the kids were clearly obsessed with space age synthetic vibes but there is also a surprising variety of historical and fantasy influences. I like to leaf through it for random inspiration now and then, The design of this girl's dress fabric captivated me--something about the monochrome but lively effervescence of it, and the clearly bark-cloth or linen texture of the fabric (plus the style of the dress itself) gave it such a great optimistic vintage feel. All that was said about the dress is "second hand". So I decided to replicate the fabric, with only one molecule of guilt that I was ripping something off. It's "inspired by", right?!
The challenge in photoshop was to make a square element filled with circles that would repeat seamlessly across fabric. I found rudimentary instructions on how to make a repeat and they were most helpful! But now I can't remember or find the site, so you'll have to google it yourself if you're interested. Basically you create your design in the centre of your square (not bleeding to the edges) and then bisect the square in half vertically, and shuffle the two sides. Then you bisect the square in half horizontally, and shuffle the top and bottom halves. This gives you a square with all the design elements crammed into the sides and corners; you can fill in the centre with whatever you want, or nothing and voila it will tile!
The hardest part was cropping my image perfectly--photoshop wanted to leave a one pixel white line that I only noticed when I did a test-tile in photoshop. Go to view>snap> and unclick snap if photoshop keeps grabbing your line and moving it while you're trying to crop.
I then realized I could make different colorways just by moving the "hue" slider in the "hue/saturation" box and also saturate and desaturate until I liked it. For the orange version, I saturated more. For the blue and green, I desaturated a bit--I just thought they were prettier that way.
So now I have uploaded all four designs to spoonflower, and ordered fabric. They tile the image for you, so I have my fingers crossed that it works (it will have to be perfect, of course). Once I receive my fabric and judge it to be worthy, I will be offering it for sale on spoonflower.com and also in fat quarters in my etsy shop.
A bit more about the fabric design: The largest dots will be about 2 inches across, similar to the scale they are on the girl's dress. The fabric will be all one color family, not four crazy squares like the picture above! And you can choose from a nice variety of fabrics, everything from Silk charmeuse to quilter's cotton to cotton jersey to cotton/linen blend.
Yes, I will probably make a dress or at least a blouse similar to the original. I must pay tribute!
|Posted by ellen on February 24, 2013 at 12:55 PM||comments (1)|
This is a story of how taking care of a friend's cat led to a screenprinting discovery of historic proportions!
One of the ways in which I live life that I would like to not do quite so much is that I obsessively focus on being productive in my work and making money (still hovering just above basic survival in my expensive city). This means that I limit my involvement in my community and even with my family and friends so that I don't lose focus or momentum. It's a bit work-aholicy but as a self employed craftisan in these "troubled economic times" (oh how I hate that phrase) it has actually made it possible for me to not have to get a job.
However, I often feel that life is passing me by. I dabble in the fringes of people's lives and although I do connect deeply and fondly with my friends and family in brief episodes, I am living kind of in parallel.
So I decided to take care of my friend Angie's cat while she was away for a week. It's just a small thing, but sort of a wild crazy breakout thing for me to do these days...leaving my house and all, taking responsibility for another living creature, having an obligation to carry out. I have a tiny workaholic on my shoulder, but I haven't figured out if it's a devil or an angel (or a man or woman). It said "Hey, you'll be squandering important time and energy doing something so unrelated to work".
"Just stop", I answered. "When I make my life a bit bigger, surprising things flow in and ultimately enhance everything, including my work, so shut up about it".
"But it's a slippery slope. First you feed a cat, then you end up walking someone's dog, and before you know it you have babies crawling everywhere and you have to go on welfare!"
Angie is a super-talented designer/maker. Her company is called Floating Gold Iceberg. She has a few books of the trade on a shelf at her place. While I was hanging out with the adorable cat, I paged through a book on how to screenprint. Lo and behold, there was info on a magical blue liquid called "drawing fluid" that you can use to make an image on a silkscreen. In my many years of working with silkscreens, I have never heard of this. You brush it onto your screen wherever you would want the ink to come through. Then you squeegee brick-red screen filler stuff over the entire screen after the blue has dried, let the whole thing dry, rinse it out, and the blue stuff is gone and you have a working silkscreen! It was a fantastic revelation. Especially since my computer/printer connection is on the fritz so I can't print out any images and make screens the photo-emulsion way anymore. And I"ve been trying other more direct ways to make a silkscreen.
I promptly went and bought some blue fluid (after cleaning out the litter box), came home, and looked through my pile-of-images and my sketchbook for a likely image to try it out with. These ferns on this old reader's digest book cover that I found in a free box on my street probably three years ago were inspiring candidates. Here's a picture of the book cover:
First of all I had to draw my version of the ferns in black ink in my sketchbook. I wanted to make them a bit bigger (that is a paperback sized book cover) and I wanted to draw them myself to put my mark on them. So I made a (really big) cup of tea and sat in my sunroom drawing for a couple of hours. I drew all the ferns. First I will make a screen of the pale green fern. Here is the sketch:
I didn't bother coloring in all the leaves as I just needed to be able to transfer it (by tracing it) onto the silk screen, and didn't want to dry out my black pen. I really love the spiralliness and repetition of this fern image. It ended up being about the size of a really big man hand. I went through the usual roller coaster of emotions (frustration, boredom, exhilaration, self-doubt--I am still really uncomfortable with drawing). Then I traced it through the fabric of the silkscreen with a ballpoint pen. As I was painting in the blue fluid with a chinese ink brush--holds a lot but has a very tiny point, so perfect for this application--I could see that it's going to be a really beautiful image. Here's the screen with the blue stuff completed:
Yes, it's a super gungy screen, but that does not matter. As long as the mesh is clear (the image ghosts you see are just dyed old ink) it will be a perfectly serviceable screen. And the whole area that is white in the picture will be filled with red screen blocking stuff anyways.
Some of the stem lines are thick and clumsy, but once I have applied the screen blocking and rinsed out the blue, I will be able to touch up any open areas of the screen and make them perfect. Which will happen tomorrow.
So thanks, Angie and Roo, for opening a technical door for me, and screw you, shoulder-workaholic!
|Posted by ellen on January 14, 2013 at 3:45 PM||comments (0)|
Now that I live in super cozy heat-and-hot-water-included luxury (no more unheated uninsulated west coast shacks for me) I am learning that January has an exciting germinative charm all its own. Although it is the dead of winter, I start to notice tiny signs of spring all around, such as the angle of the sun changing, snowdrops popping up, camellias and winter flowering currant bushes.
All these dark evenings are perfect for dreaming up future exciting plans...and now that I don't have to just huddle under a blanket to be close to comfortably warm, I can do things like play my bass guitar, knowing that a hot bath is two minutes away at any time. It's so nice not to have to wear ski pants and a toque indoors, and I'm even more likely to go outside when I am warm and cozy. I'm so grateful for my deluxe apartment, even though it takes almost three quarters of any given month's income. Victoria is an expensive city to live in.
Since my birthday is also in January the new year is also my personal new year. I don't make resolutions so much as spend time ruminating on areas of my life that require more attention, and enjoying the ones that are working well.
Last night I watched the first twenty minutes of "zeitgeist: addendum", a documentary about the US banking and monetary system and how "money" is created out of thin air. It had the curious effect of shifting the importance of making money. I'm pretty driven to succeed financially, on the tiny scale that I live life, and today I'm thinking more about the beautiful things in life that have absolutely nothing to do with money. Ironically, one of those things, for me, is creating with my hands, which is what I do for a living, so it all comes around in an interesting way.
|Posted by ellen on October 5, 2012 at 12:35 PM||comments (3)|
I had super creative dreams last night (which usually happens during the "pms" portion of my cycle--just sayin').
In one of them a girl was wearing a soft tobacco colored leather piece in her hair, kind of hanging down from her ponytail. Trust me, it looked really cute. It was printed in navy blue with a sailing ship or something, you couldn't really see what the print was but it was busy and not too cutesy. Fortunately my upstairs neighbour's cat was frolicking with his big heavy paws on the floor above my head and it woke me up so I could remember the creation. In a half awake state I made a point of remembering the idea and am now toying with the concept of a suede bandanna. I've never seen one before, have you? I can get very thin, soft tobacco colored pigsuede. But I can't decide if it's a cool idea or a super weird one that just seemed to make sense in my dream state.
The other idea that I dreamt was a miniature hanging planter, made of pottery with cute delicate macrame hanging rope deals just like big ones from the 70's. The size of a teacup. Would that be awesome and revolutionary, or just silly?
|Posted by ellen on September 27, 2012 at 1:25 PM||comments (0)|
As a tiny one-person company, Bonspiel is free to try different approaches to all aspects of the business of creating. Running this endeavor with the goal of not just surviving but thriving is an ongoing, daunting but exciting challenge. I try out different business models and see how they work.
A model that I've stuck to from the start (5 1/2 years ago!) is to make the smaller more profitable items available for wholesale while keeping bigger bags for online selling myself. This makes sense to me because of simple supply and demand--I can't make that many, so need to maximize profit on each one by selling them myself at retail price. Recently I decided to make mid-priced rucksacks and satchels for sale exclusively online (not for wholesale). I thought if I made them as beautiful as I could, with printed areas and leather trim, and photographed them well that I could sell them expeditiously online. They turned out to be so labor and materials intensive that even the markup for sale online makes them barely profitable. And also, they are not selling, at least not at the rate I need them to for the endeavor to be a success. I've sold a few rucksacks in real life, thank god (when people can try them on and really see and feel the quality).
So, with ever-dwindling online sales, and more competition on etsy I have to face the reality that I cannot continue to count on online sales as the backbone of my company's revenue. Sadly, I am going to discontinue making the higher-end bags. I've decided to try out a new model--making only products that are priced for wholesale. This could actually be exciting as I'll be designing new bags within strict parameters (I do love strict parameters--it's a leftover from my art school days with all those assignments, within which was surprising freedom). I have a tendency to choose the more luxurious options when I'm making a bag (and with some bag designs there are dozens of opportunities to make design choices); these often add up to silly labor intensity and materials cost. So I'll be taking myself in hand to economize while still producing cute stuff that is well made.
What this means for you, if you have a shop, is that you will be able to expand your selection of Bonspiel products. I'll be making canvas satchels, for starters, a lot like the leather-flap ones I've been doing...they will wholesale for about 40 dollars. Also recycled leather belts with printed linings, for 18 dollars. I don't think I will be able to keep doing the rucksacks, they are too expensive to make. But I may do a simplified, no-leather version.
Another thing I mean to do is design collections, changing seasonally, like everyone else in the fashion world does.
|Posted by ellen on September 25, 2012 at 2:20 AM||comments (0)|
I finally got it together to have my lovely niece Eva model some bags for me. We did the shoot yesterday at the Government House grounds a couple of blocks from my house. The garry oak meadow is ridiculously pastoral.
As you can tell from her dress, it's still really warm here in Victoria! I'm absolutely thrilled with the way the pictures turned out. Eva was such a creative and relaxed model, doing her own art direction and styling. And all she required in payment was a tea and a peanut butter cookie the size of her head.
The only fly in the ointment was my shitty camera, which is at least 5 years old and just a point 'n shoot. The pictures aren't absolutely sharp...grrr. Well, maybe with Eva's fabulousness helping me sell more bags I'll be able to afford a proper camera soon!
Here she is with one of the new cat satchels...and here is my favorite photo, with the doctor bag--killer shoes plus bored look equals super-vogue.
|Posted by ellen on September 17, 2012 at 12:25 PM||comments (10)|
A new bag for fall, this satchel is proportioned long and lean. If proportions can be refreshing, these ones are. I am making an inaugural run of ten in forest green heavy canvas-- five with new tan leather flaps and five with I don't know what color flaps yet. The straps are the thickest leather I've ever used--as thick as your dad's belt. I like them with no image on the flap, so there will be a couple available nude like that, but I know y'all like the prints too, so there are three with the pufferfish. (The one with the cat has already sold).
|Posted by ellen on August 15, 2012 at 6:05 PM||comments (2)|
Here are the newest offerings of my tiny one-room, one-person factory available for wholesale. If you have a shop that would like to carry it, please contact "us" using the button above and I will send you a price list and other germaine info. Or if you are already part of the Bonspiel Nation, you know the score. Cheers! --ellen
|Posted by ellen on August 2, 2012 at 4:15 PM||comments (1)|
So, I'm starting to design my fall stuff (late, I know, but I've never been able to design out of season). First up is a backpack, the basic shape was "inspired by" (or, in other words, "ripped off from") my vintage swiss army backpack. This is the prototype, which turned out pretty well how I'd hoped it would, ie AWESOME. The fabric is heavy #8 cotton duck in a color they mysteriously called "olive green"--well when it arrived imagine my chagrin when it turned out to be deep forest green (one of my least favorite colors). I decided to use it up in the prototyping, but the little green guy has actually grown on me. One of my favorite ways of dealing with colors I don't like is to put them next to colors that are slightly to one side on the color wheel, like the deep turquoise of the leather trim. And then throw in a smattering of opposite on the color wheel (the pale gutless orange of the diamond print on the pocket). Voila--it becomes interesting and dare I say attractive.
Anyways, I am ordering some sort of khaki desert tan of the same fabric, which will be more neutral and fun to print on. You can expect to see a small run of these unique rucksacks in my Bonspiel Shop here in September.
|Posted by ellen on July 16, 2012 at 9:25 PM||comments (0)|
If you're someone who gets great joy out of using super-cute little handmade things in your daily life (like me!) you would really enjoy one of these purses. People show me ones they got from me that they've been using for five years--that works out to about a hundredth of a cent per day. The ones I listed today in my etsy shop are buttercream leather with owl or butterfly, gold leather with optimistic sentiment, and blue leather with a maple leaf and rampant New Brunswickian deer. Also (not shown here) yawning crocodile.
|Posted by ellen on July 12, 2012 at 4:00 PM||comments (1)|
A couple of weeks ago somebody posted a quote from Albert Einstein on my facebook wall...It struck me as a great elemental way of living life
Regardless of whether he actually said it, (and the wording sounds suspect--overly simplistic), it really resonated, and I'll tell you why, if you care to listen.
I've been struggling with episodes of worry and sadness for a couple of years now as the life of an artist is very financially unpredictable--I can have a great month and be over the moon with joy and relief, knowing I can continue making things and not have to get a job painting houses or, worse, designing stuff for somebody else. And then the next month it will just be...crickets...nobody is buying my stuff. I barely scrape by. Last spring I couldn't afford q-tips for two weeks. It is ridiculous.
I'd heard a guy on the CBC talking about how the human brain is wired to stay motivated if there is a possible payoff, even if that payoff is seldom and sparse. That infuriated me! Have I become a gambler with my business? Am I a victim of my own brain chemistry and addictive habits? Are mean kitties and soft leather my drug of choice? (yes)
And then there's the sequestering of myself away from friends and any activities that might cost any money...fueled by temporary low self esteem...which is so weird because my self esteem is usually solid.
When I get mired in negative thoughts it's pretty hard to be creative, so I usually just crank out little purses that will eventually sell. But I realized what I have to do is pull myself up by the bootstraps and become inspired again. (over and over again). I need to be the leader in my life instead of feeling like the victim of circumstance. If matter and energy are the same then my fixation on the scarcity in my life will keep me in that same constricted space. So, you know what I did? I went shopping!
Yep, I treated myself to a pile of super cute thrift shop tee shirts (including a Superman one, which I will wear to the market I sell at, to keep my thoughts powerful). I realized that while I was browsing the shoes George Michael's "you gotta have faith" was running through my head. That's exactly it, I have to have faith that I can turn things around and live in the exciting bounteous realm that I was in before the global economic crash, in the golden age of Etsy.
Then I checked my email and I had gotten a nice order from one of my shops, so it seems to be working. ANd, my inspiration is back, manifested in this bag!!!
|Posted by ellen on July 11, 2012 at 11:50 AM||comments (5)|
The Doctor bag is a style of bag that has really intense detail and construction--there's always a point in the sewing of them where I find myself wrestling with the bag, puffing and perspiring. But the result is worth it, as I don't know of anybody else that makes a bag as elaborate as this one. It's also super practical, being what I call a "big little bag"--compact but with surprising capacity. When you unzip it, it opens right up like a bucket, and it stands up on its own.
Up until September of 2008 I was finding great success in selling my wares online, and was able to reinvest in lots of beautiful leather to keep making big bags. But the global economic downturn along with changes in my selling venue, and way more competition, have squeezed my income down to a shadow of it's former self. That's why I haven't been making the most beautiful shoulder candy I can make, and focussing more on smaller goods. Unfortunately I think I'm keeping myself small by making small things, so I've decided to invest in my future by cranking out some big bags again! And this time, I'm opting for more sophisticated prints, no more bunnies or birdies. Right now there are two gold leather doctor bags will the Wallpaper print available in my shop here (fifty dollars savings if you buy one here instead of my etsy shop) and coming up are one or two (depending on how much leather I have) in caramel brown leather with the leaves embossed into it (perfect for autumn).
Here's the first doctor bag I made:
It was grey wool with a red tree and black leather trim. Then I went on to make these (among others):
I hope you enjoyed looking at them, and I look forward to showing you future doctor bags!
|Posted by ellen on June 16, 2012 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
If you have a shop and would like to carry my stuff, or already do, and want to keep the Bonspiel flowing to your customers, you can now pick each item you want from pictures of my stock!
Since most of the purses and pouches are one of a kind, and I am constantly adding new colors and prints to the mix, this seems like the best way to show you what's available at any given time. You can contact me through the "contact us" button above for pricing, questions, and my general policies, if you are new to my products.
So, without further ado, here are the pictures!
UPDATE: July 10 Fresh in the house are long wallets. I hope your customers like unicorns! (no, I really do, because people who like unicorns are cool).
To see more product shots and features of these wallets, check out this link in my etsy shop. https://www.etsy.com/listing/103756174/unicorn-wallet-in-blue-leather
|Posted by ellen on May 24, 2012 at 5:10 PM||comments (0)|
I have been busy! These are recycled leather pouches featuring the Rain print, in two sizes, along with some black weathered leather that I stitched in a topographical way, they're quilted and so luxuriously strange. I'll be posting all these bags in my shops.
|Posted by ellen on May 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM||comments (0)|
I got an email last night telling me that my etsy shop had been closed down. It was because I was late paying my etsy fees, a bill that had mounted up to almost 300 dollars. I won't argue that I was late with the fees, but it seemed odd to me that they would just close down my shop without an email warning telling me they were going to. I'm pretty sure most legitimate handmade shops on Etsy wouldn't want the unprofessional-ity of a dead link into their shop, even for five minutes, and all it would take is a warning email for us to make things right.
In the frequently asked questions section of etsy regarding bill paying, there is no mention that they will take this action. In fact one other time, last spring, when I was late with the bill (seems to be a spring tradition) they sent me a nice obviously written by an individual email saying they'd hate to have to shut my shop down, so could I please pay my fees, and I answered saying I could pay a chunk and then the rest in a week, and they said okay they knew how tough it could be managing things sometimes...it actually brought a tear to my eye that Etsy was so human and understanding.
But that was last year.
So anyone looking for my shop last night would have come across the "a stitch has come awry" page, a page which I'm sure has infuriated many an etsy seller run afoul of policy, and even a few that have done nothing wrong (that they can think of).
It gave me a chance to imagine a life without an etsy shop. It was bleak and scary, but also freeing and had a definite "f* you" element. I pay a lot of money to Etsy and have been getting diminishing returns for years now.
In any case, I paid the outstanding fees and my shop is back up. I hope you were not inconvenienced.
|Posted by ellen on May 19, 2012 at 8:05 PM||comments (3)|
I'm in love with my new neighbourhood, the Rockland borough of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I'm just a few tranquil mansioned blocks from the Government House grounds and Craigdarroch Castle. The road behind my house is called Carberry Garden. The speed limit is 30 km/hr (about 20 mph). My house, and many of the neighbouring houses, were built in the late 1800's. Although they look posh from the outside a lot of them have been divided into apartments so there are a lot of students strolling about making the place look even prettier. Here is a bench at Government House, surrounded by golden boxwood. The other picture is of a row of bay tree standards in half barrels, the kind you can put in your soup! People only seem to go to this free, open-to-the-public garden on their wedding day, but it's even nicer than Beacon Hill park, if smaller. As I was exploring it I kept finding myself wandering into the gardeners' areas with their locked bins and sheds. I even rescued a discarded pansy from the compost pile, and it's recuperating nicely in my window box.
I would love to be a gardener there...and live in one of their beautifully kept up stables/outbuildings. I'll put up more pictures of the spectacular garry oak meadow soon.
|Posted by ellen on May 18, 2012 at 1:20 PM||comments (2)|
I have a designing issue that crops up a lot, namely that I over-engineer and make things more difficult to assemble than they could be. It's absurd, because one of the things I love best about good design is its effortlessness. To paraphrase Dolly Parton, "it takes a lot of designing to make it look this simple."
The deer canvas-and-leather bowling bag style tote is a perfect example. I wanted the bag to have a silhouette like a charming slice of bread, roundy at the top, tucky inny below and roundy-squareish at the bottom. I decided on an interior center divider to pull the sides of the bag in and give it that special shape I was after. But what hell I went through with bias tape, sewing through six layers of heavy canvas, meeting points that are impossible to sew up to as there is just too much going on. I had to do lots of hand finishing. In addition, I opted for a curved leather gusset that goes up the sides of the bag and has to fit perfectly when sewn in....and leather does stretch so that was really tricky too. But when it was all done it did look exactly like I wanted it to.
However....since I can't really charge 450 dollars for one canvas and leather bag, and I was really attached to the appearance of the bag, and also there is a fair bit of demand for the bag, I figured I could simplify the design and construction and keep it just as cute....and make it a viable product (I also have shops interested in carrying it wholesale, but even with the streamlining I don't think I will be able to wholesale it).
I made the prototype of the streamlined model yesterday, and it looks almost identical from the outside, but it was somewhat easier and faster to make and I think with a few more tweaks I will be able to churn these puppies out at the rate of three, maybe even four a day, putting them more in line with what I have been charging all along. Here are the bag with interior divider and the new simpler bag:
|Posted by ellen on May 15, 2012 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
After a few years of working with recycled leather, I accumulated a beautiful rainbow of colors of small bits. So I made a bunch of little patchwork clutches. They were really fun to do, and I won't be making more until I have another big bin full of scrap to work with (so another couple of years). Get 'em while they're hot!
|Posted by ellen on May 11, 2012 at 1:05 PM||comments (2)|
This bag, which I made in March, created a mini-fury when Etsy posted it on their facebook page. I called it 'optimism in a bag' and it seemed to strike a chord with many people. I could have sold a dozen of them that day, but alas, I only made the one. It was a magical moment when ice pink leather, camel colored wool, and an uplifting thought came together. I just wanted to put this picture of it up so if you're still thinking about it, don't lose hope, I do want to make more...it just requires the exact right weight and stiffness of leather, which is hard to find.
If it's more the "happier times ahead" that you like, not necessarily on the bag, rest assured that I am going to make more, smaller, products with the phrase on or in them.
Funnily enough (dark, sorrowful laugh) I came up with the phrase and made the screen to print it in around 2009, in the depths of the recession. Then I was too disheartened to print it on anything for three years! However, I do think it's now time to create a happier future, and a lot of you agree.
|Posted by ellen on May 11, 2012 at 12:35 PM||comments (0)|
Every so often I pull my head out of the sand and notice that when I google "handmade recycled leather bag" or similar term, none of my bags ever ever show up in google image search. But I didn't really think about what I could do about it, just sort of blamed etsy and figured it was something about the way they upload images*. Then last night, like a bolt out of the blue, as so often happens with realizations, I remembered that back when I built the first Bonspiel web site I spent a lot of time tagging my images. There's a thing called "alt text" that shows up if the image won't load, and it's a great way to get your images searchable. Also, I process such huge amounts of pictures of my products that long ago I stopped naming them "blue purse inside" or whatever, and just left them numbered as they came out of my camera...and it's the name of the picture that google picks up when it's searching images.
Seriously, when I remembered those two things, a choir of angels started singing, and cash registers started ringing. I've been wallowing about in the diminishing world of etsy and etsy shoppers, feeling (and for all intents and purposes, being) invisible to the greater shopping world. I know that when I am looking for something I go for google images first. So: happy hours of optimization lay ahead, and soon I will be discovered by the rest of the world. Takeover is imminent!
So, here's a link that i found helpful for optimizing pictures.
*Actually, it is Etsy's fault. They rename your images "fullxfull_03219849337824.jpg" or whatever, so they can't be searched at all. Just one more reason why it's important to have your own website if you're serious about being found.