Sunday, June 12, 2016

Little Potted Houses and Pinterest

I recently had a custom request for two of my little potted fairy houses which I had not made for quite some time. It was a joy to see them in the reference pictures the client had sent and I was thrilled to make new versions of her.

Now, I bring this up for a few reasons. . .

One, the amazing power of Pinterest. Bewilder and Pine receives a very healthy amount of traffic from Pinterest day in and day out and, over the last year, the second MOST viewed item of all is one I made well over 18 months ago that sold within a few weeks of being listed.

Yet, it being pinned many times on Pinterest boards drives enough traffic to make it the second highest viewed item in the entire shop!

The Alpine Hornblower Fairy Scene circa 2013

Two, I can't believe the number of things I have made, and completely LOVED making, but in the rush of fulfilling new orders, custom requests and trying to get things stocked in the shop as well as work on brand new items and ideas etc, I can actually forget all about little creations like these potted houses. . .

The Fairy Houses of Padda (red) and Denka (green)

New additions include the crystal "lamppost". 

Fencing and most details are N scale (1:148). The pot is just 1.5" high.

And this brings me to a point that I will likely discuss a lot over the next few months. . . the balance of custom orders versus making what I want.

I spoke last time about how I took most of the month of May off from fulfilling almost all custom requests and how well that worked out. Now, I find myself inundated in June with all of the requests I pushed back to free up May and, in doing so, I find myself right back in the same situation. lol

So, I have set a firm deadline that July, August AND September will be "custom order free" and that I will focus instead on shop-stocking and making just what pleases me the most (and getting A LOT done on the world-building/stories/maps for my writing project too!)

Of course, I would still take on orders like the two houses above because I really wanted to make them right then and there anyway, so it's a bit tricky. . . but that's one of the things I want to free up time for. The requests that truly inspire whenever they may come along!

Of course, there is also Shadow of the Sphinx where many of the requests I receive are already in my repertoire anyway since I can't possible keep all the statues, deities and amulets in stock! ( I have a good half dozen "in progress" as I type just for that shop alone). Still, I have to be careful not to overload myself even with those sort of enjoyable requests.

I've always known that what I like the least are deadlines. . . due dates. . . so, even those I take on must now come with a "I'll let you know when it is ready." sort of looseness. This works for me because I never take money up front or as a down payment since most items I agree to make, should the customer end up not liking it for some reason when complete, will go into the shop and eventually find a loving home.

In the end, I tend to finish those loose deadlines quicker anyway when I don't feel the pressure of a firm due date.  .  . isn't the psychology of being a maker-of-things a little strange?  Or perhaps it's just me?  : )

So, that's the latest for now. . . back to the list of custom pieces for the next few weeks but then. . . well, I'll be sure to share all the new things with you all as they come to fruition!

Book Update: World-building. . . talk about falling into a rabbit hole. . . or several. This weeks "work" involved researching all sorts of bogs and the edible things that may grow in them as well as hand-cars, tidal bores, the history of the salt trade, Chinese magic mirrors and water clocks. . . . too much fun!

Hoping this finds you all well and enjoying magical days in your worlds. . .



  1. Your work is so beautiful!

    I fully understand what you mean about custom orders being balanced with doing things you want to do for yourself or your shop. Back when I was selling my art, I admit that custom orders were not my favourite thing to do for the very reasons you mention. And yes, time frame was another thing I didn't like setting. Personally, I much preferred to paint/create the things I wanted to do and sell them rather than do custom orders...but I seemed to attract a lot of custom orders. Somehow I always felt more pressured doing custom orders but that was just me.

    Your world building sounds SO interesting and lots of fun!

    Have a lovely week. :)

    1. Thank you Serena! I think some people are truly built for the custom work world and some are not. :) I suppose I am just realizing that I may not be. . . at least not on the usual terms. lol

      You have a lovely week too! :)

  2. Chinese magic mirrors and waterclocks!? Wow, wish i had time right now to go look them up... But i do have to get to work. I love the potted houses and that wonderful shadow box. Pinterest is perfect for your work, i am not surprised you get alot of pins, i have a bunch of your pins on my boards and i didn't have that one but others of yours in my shadowbox board. (I did just have to go an add that one too) have fun building worlds!

    1. Hi Andrea! Ohhh I think you'll love water clocks AND magic mirrors! Both just background details for my world but, of course, I get lost in the histories of such objects. :) And thank you for pinning my work too! I am always amazed at how something can "grow it's own legs" on the internet!

  3. I'm going to have to get involved with Pinterest! I'm not on Facebook or Twitter or any of the rest of them! LOL! I did try Facebook for a year, forget about it! LOL! I'm already on Pinterest, but I have not pinned anything! LOL
    Last year, I had a lot of special orders, nothing this year yet. I don't take money up front either. You have to balance everything out Nicolas! As long as you are happy, that is the main thing!
    Your creations are breath taking! I know you are happy!
    The book is sounding great!
    I hope you are doing well! Big Hugs!

    1. Neither am I! I really think one should only get involved with social media if it is "your thing" you know? It's often the advice I give to people who ask if social media helps my sales and I say, honestly, I spend about 5 minutes a month on it. lol :) BUT Pinterest is great because you do not have to be "active". People pin our work all the time and we don't even know it til we see the traffic in Etsy. :)

      I DO use it to collect ideas, inspirations, tutorials, etc and I probably have pinned 5x more things to my private boards than to my public ones! That's the best thing about it for me. :)

      And yes, I am very happy with my place in the creative world right now. Which makes saying no to to some requests a must but also, very hard to do!

      Thank you for dropping by S!
      Big hugs back!

    2. Thanks for being honest about social media!! Sometimes, people think I am crazy! I have to get more involved with Pinterest, when Canada post gets back! Take Care!

    3. I would like your pinterest link too, please! I would like to follow you!

    4. Stacy! My pinterest is at:

      Keep in mind I don't pin often. . . well, not to public boards. . . I have "inspiration" and reference boards I keep private but I do have a few hundred pins that are public!)

      And the thing with pinterest is it is really about getting your own work noticed so, especially if you seek out and follow other "crow people", you will likely notice that they will start to pin your beautiful work all over their boards!

      As for other folks thinking you are crazy? Trust me, I have seen people pour hours and hours into social media with zero results. . . most of them actually. . . it's not the be all end all and if it isn't something you do naturally, then it won't work. I know people who use it beautifully and if I could get the rest of the social media-holics to stop and see that precision promotion and dumping all your life's minutia with no depth or relevancy into the world are not one and the same, maybe more would be successful. lol

      You do the most important thing (in my opinion), you further your work, you paint new work all the time and you give the pieces more than just a passing thought as you do them. . .you'll find the way, in your time, in your fashion. I know that to be true. . .

  4. Nicolas, firstly do you have an actual Pinterest page yourself? Or is this from people pinning to their pages? I have a page and would love to follow you. I think it's fantastic that you are in such demand, persistence pays off, your work is incredible. I am interested in your take on custom orders and feel relief as we seem to work in a similar way. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by this 'psychology of making things' you mention, no - it's not just you. I think there is no right formula. It changes, as you as an artist change and evolve and also I think the more we do it the better we get at channeling. (like most things). Isn't it Aristotle who said that since we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit. :)

    1. Hi Louise! I DO have a pinterest page and will get you the link next time I am on it! The traffic I get comes just from others pinning things from my shops though as I really do just use pinterest to collect inspiring items and tutorials. I think the custom order world is, at it's best, a delicate mix of work and play and I have to be careful not to allow it to be too much "work". So, part of that is making sure I always have time to just creatively play. And yes, it DOES change as we evolve, that's definitely true for me over the years! I think it's very important to reassess where we are along the way often. Especially as we find time falling away more and more over the course of a lifetime too. The question of where to place our time and attention seems to have so much more gravity to it as years go by. . .

  5. Hmmm...I was certain I left a comment on this post in the past. Especially referring to the custom order part. (Maybe in your spam section??) So, alas, I'll leave it again. :)

    Your custom pieces are beautiful and incredibly magical! Gosh, I LOVE those and can see a movie made from such wonderful work.

    I used to do a lot of custom work but like you, have had to reevaluate my workload as a children's illustrator as well as my home life. There for awhile, I thought I was invincible and found myself drowning in work, leaving me tired and moody. (Muwahh?? Oy!) I still do custom work but much less. I've found creating watercolor pieces as my "daily warm-ups" are perfect and something I can place in my Etsy shop to sell. This new "process" is working much better for me.

    Sometimes, it's hard to say "no" not just to others but to ourselves. Learning to be "ok" with that is the best thing we can do as artists. Best of luck with whatever you decide. :)

    1. Alexandra, thank you for your comment and insights! It really IS the saying no, to others AND ourselves, that is the hardest part. And I know that balance and finding a peace with it is the key. Making something just for myself each day helps but I just never imagined a day would come when I would have such a clear sense of what I want to do and do not want to do. Or that I'd find myself without enough time for it all.

      Well, the process continues this month and I am grateful to have others share their experiences as it helps tremendously!
      THANK YOU!