Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Catching Up and New Treasures

I just realized that my last blog post was last August.  Oh my!  Apparently, blogging is not my strong suit.  Not that I don't like to write... I do!  But my writing has taken a turn in another direction.  I have been encouraged by many a friend, over the years, to write my life story.  So that's exactly what I started doing.  I have seven stories written and I am working on three more.  I get distracted easily so working on more than one seems to work best for me.  Should I ever be published, I will be sure to blog about THAT because I will be too excited not to!

As for my life at A2Sea Creations, it is still going strong.  I just finished a humungous order for the wonderful 'Newfoundland to Nanaimo Gift and Souvenir Shop' on the Nanaimo Harbour.  Ninety items... whew!  Here they are...

And here is a close-up of the new nautical bottles I designed especially for the 'Newfoundland to Nanaimo Gift and Souvenir Shop' - handpainted by yours truly.

I never tire of creating new, nautical treasures.  I wonder what I will make next?  Who knows?  Sometimes I don't even know myself! 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A2Sea Creations Loses a Ship Mate

Well, a few of you may know that my co-partner Cheryl has left A2Sea Creations.  But there are no hard feelings, whatsoever.  In fact, Cheryl and I are still the very best of friends and always will be. But with her gone several months of the year, it is no longer practical. However, I am sure she will keep on collecting shells and such for me.  She is the 'Sherlock Holmes' of finding nautical treasures.

It's difficult to believe that we started A2Sea Creations together six years ago!  The time seems to have flown by and that is probably because we have had so much fun creating things together.  They say that 'laughter is the best medicine' and I believe it!  We have certainly done our share of laughing together.  Cheryl does this 'thing' with moon shells... well... you'd have to see it to understand.

I recall our humble beginnings, creating at my kitchen table.  What a mess that made!  Then we moved to my guest room.  That was fine until I had guests!  Finally, we moved everything out to my workshop.  My husband, David, kindly allowed us take over the space and reduce him to a very small corner... the only spot that isn't messy, I might add.  Bless that dear, patient man.

Cheryl and I did the craft markets for awhile... it was fun, but not lucrative enough for all the work it entailed.  This is a photo of Cheryl pretending to be 'Vanna White' at the Errington Farmer's Market.

We tried a few more markets... one was, what one might consider, a disaster!  We were invited to bring our wares to a local marine swap meet.  Sounded like a great opportunity, right?  Wrong!  We were the only ones there that sold 'girly stuff'!   Everyone else was selling things like greasy boat parts and motors from the tailgates of their trucks!  LOL.  But the upside is, it had motivated us to make a whole bunch of new and different nautical creations and get some experience in setting up a craft table.  I always try to find the positive spin on things.  Plus, I got to hold a parrot that day!

Cheryl and I eventually made a decision not to do any more markets once we started selling our handmade products in local gift shops.  That is, until I talked her into doing one last one... 'Etsy Made in Canada Day'.  Being the team captain of the Vancouver Island Etsy Team, I felt it would be a good thing to get involved in, as this was a 'first'.  I helped promote it and we had our own table as well. Although it wasn't a huge money maker for us, we got to meet several of our VI team members in person, which was lovely.  Out of that came some great friendships and connections.  And again, it motivated Cheryl and I to create some new beach treasures.

It has been a wonderful 'nautical ride' with my friend and co-partner, Cheryl.  Although it wasn't always 'smooth sailing', we learned a lot about what to do, what not to do, what sells, where it sells best and, above all, we had a great time working together.  This is a photo of Cheryl and I displaying our wares at the Newfoundland to Nanaimo Gift and Souvenier shop on the harbour in Nanaimo, BC. The photo below was taken by the local newspaper after we had raised over $10,000 for Japan for the earthquake / tsunami disaster relief in 2011, with the help of the Vancouver Island Etsy Team and other local artisans.  

The Newfoundland to Nanaimo gift shop is our best venue for selling our creations and, if you haven't been, it's well worth visiting. It is a wonderful shop chock full of nautical yumminess and many fabulous items made by local artisans. Say hi to Esther for us and tell her we sent you!

Thank you Cheryl for making A2Sea Creations so fun, for making me laugh, for giving me confidence, for believing in me, and for being so unafraid to try anything.  You've been an awesome 'ship mate', a wonderful travelling buddy and I will always be thankful for you and our friendship.  

Love... your 'ship mate - Mickers'.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cheryl and I are thrilled to announce that our seaside products will once again be for sale at the The Quilted Duck Gift Cottage and Boutique in Nanaimo, BC.  And it was very affirming to be told that they like all of our items and asked us for some of everything.  Fortunately, Cheryl and I had almost enough inventory to fill the order so I only had to make a few things, create brand new tags for our magnets and mermaid bookmarks, and spruce up my earrings by placing them in new, crystal clear bags.  I am really happy with the result.  Sometimes it's those little special touches that make all the difference!

Be sure to check out the Quilted Duck, say hi to Heather and ask to see our products!  (It's a good thing I don't work there because I would be bringing something home everyday!)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Looking back on 2014


As I ponder 2014, there are so many things that made this year so special and memorable.  Nothing particularly elaborate or impressive.  But special, nonetheless.

What I have learned personally is the true value of friendship and the need people have for one another.  In this day and age, we have more ways of communicating than ever, and yet, many of us... (dare I say most?) are glued to our mobile devices and online social networks.  Thanks to the internet we can connect instantaneously and yet, there are still so many lonely people removed from vital human contact and companionship.  I am a prime example of computer excessiveness.  But over the last few months, I have found myself pulling away more and more from the computer and craving physical connection.  I made a point of inviting friends to our home over the holidays and I must say, I am all the better for it.

At the beginning of the holidays, I was feeling inexplicably down in the dumps.  I could not pinpoint the reason, really.  Perhaps it was a combination of not being able to visit my Oregon family this year, missing my dad who passed away not long ago, and my business partner taking off to her winter home, hence, missing her friendship, laughter and the joy of creating together.  Throw in a couple of funerals into the mix, a little menopause and blam!  Who knows?  Anyhow, for whatever reason, I could not get into the spirit of the season.  A friend commented how she was concerned to hear that I had only just put up my Christmas tree on December 14th, as she knows how early I normally have everything decorated.

Anyhow, I needed to somehow change how I was feeling.  Who needs a 'grumpy gus' at Christmas?  So I threw myself into spending time with friends and doing a few special things for people.  I enjoyed a fabulous Christmas tea with a couple of my gal pals at our favourite cafe in Qualicum Beach... Cafe Brie.  Another time I made some Christmas goodies and little gifts for the staff where I work.  I invited a neighbour over who I knew was going to be alone over the holidays.  Anyhow... you get the idea.  What I soon discovered was, I was feeling better; decorating, baking, and becoming my old self again.

So the moral of the story... when I start to do things for other people, I stop thinking about myself so much.  When I concentrate on finding ways to make others happy, I can't help but become happier myself.   Humans need each other... we need connection, we need purpose, we need to make a difference.  When we reach out, we change.  It's simple, really.

On that note, my hubby and I were invited out for a Christmas Eve get together, as well as a Christmas day brunch with friends.  So we were blessed by others as well. 

As for A2Sea Creations, we are now into our seventh year.  Who knew?   In September, we were heavily involved in the first ever 'Etsy Made In Canada Day' held in cities across Canada.  It was a privilege to take part and to meet so many wonderfully friendly and talented Vancouver Island artisans.

Cheryl and I have learned a lot over the years and have been blessed by our wonderful, loyal customers.  We also value the friendships we have made along the way.  We would like to take a moment to thank Esther of Newfoundland to Nanaimo and Patti at the Parksville Tourist Centre for continuing to carry our seaside creations and appreciating our work.  It's been a pleasure ladies.

Happy New Year to all of our friends, family and customers.  We wish you all only the best life has to offer. 

 Micki of A2Sea Creations - Etsy Made in Canada Day

Cheryl of A2Sea Creations - Etsy Made in Canada Day

Monday, November 24, 2014

Vancouver Island Etsy Shop Feature - Roxanne Rose-Bouchard


• Tell us about who you are and how you got started doing what you do. Did you gain formal training? Where?  If not, how did you develop your art?  
My name is Roxanne Rose-Bouchard. I got my start about 25 years ago, making costumes and stagewear back on the mainland. I went to Kwantlen College in Richmond, BC where I studied the fashion arts and clothing technology for 3 years.  We moved to Vancouver Island in 1992. It is here I developed my own line of clothing. I use natural fibers that I dye and hand print myself. I used to wholesale to small boutiques across Canada and one catalogue company, with the help of an agent in the FX Fashion Centre in Vancouver.

• Tell us about your studio. Do you have a room or workshop especially dedicated to your art? Or is it the kitchen table or a corner in your child's playroom?
I have a studio/workshop beside my house where I design and create.  I also have a retail area where customers can come in and browse.


Roxanne's philosophy...  "A messy workshop is a busy workshop!!"

• Tell us about your processes. How do you work? Do you listen to music or need quiet?  Is it sporadic or do you dedicate set hours to work?
I love to listen to music while I work! I used to have dedicated work hours, but now I have a full time job working on a boat, as well as working on my craft. I would like to go back to my art full time as soon as my husband recovers from his illness.

• What are the toughest challenges you find in keeping consistent hours?  What other challenges do you face in your work and what ways have you been able to address them?
I don’t find it difficult to keep consistent hours as I love to work as much as possible. I do find it difficult to find enough computer time, however.  Hours disappear so fast!

• What types of materials do you use and why?
I like to use natural fibers because I (and many others) love the way they feel and the way they perform. I am able to use greener methods of dyeing, painting, and printing.


• Where else do you sell your work?  
I sell my work out of my shop, Etsy and at craft fairs. I also sell my work at Oceanside Village Artist’s Gallery on Resort Drive in Parksville, and at Nancy Durham’s in Saskatchewan.

• Why do you think people should buy handmade?
Handmade items are much more special and unique than mass-produced items.  Quality is usually better. Buying handmade helps to support local people rather than large corporations.

• What goals do you have?
My goals are to be able to make a living doing what I love to do. I want women to feel beautiful in my clothing and love the garments as much as I do.

• What are some of the items you sell in your shop?




  Have you been in the news or featured elsewhere? 
Over the years I have been in the newspaper a number of times. I was just featured in the current issue of Oasis” magazine that is put out by the Parksville Qualicum News. 


You may also find Roxanne in the Vancouver Island Lighthouse Country  business directory.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vancouver Island Etsy Shop Feature - Iona Turner

'Bramble Lane Paperie' on Etsy

• Tell us about who you are and how you got started doing what you do. Did you gain formal training? Where?  If not, how did you develop your art?
I have always had an affinity for art.  I have no formal art training other than high school, and my creativity had been dormant for many years when I started card-making.  My daughter and I took a couple of classes together in 2005 or 2006, and I was hooked.  For the first several years I was just creating cards to give to family and friends, but more and more, I felt that I wanted to branch out and was being encouraged to do so.  I began selling and donating my work in the fall of 2013.


• Tell us about your studio. Do you have a room or workshop especially dedicated to your art? Or is it the kitchen table or a corner in your child's playroom?
Our basement has an in-law suite and I use the kitchen/dining area.  I can easily spend all day down there.  It’s cool in the summer and, in the winter, a woodstove keeps me warm.  I have my music, a sink to clean my inky hands, a kettle, lots of counter and cupboard space, and a 6 foot table.


• Tell us about your processes. How do you work? Do you listen to music or need quiet?  Is it sporadic or do you dedicate set hours to work?
I do not have set hours, as I work at a “day job” which has irregular hours.  But I try to do some every day.  I like to listen to gentle music and CBC. 

• What are the toughest challenges you find in keeping consistent hours?  What other challenges do you face in your work and what ways have you been able to address them (if you have)?
Sometimes the creativity is just not flowing because I’m tired or out of sorts.  For those times I keep a list of “non-thinking” jobs that I can just pull out and do.

• What types of materials do you use and why?
I work with paper, ribbon, and bling.  I like a soft, romantic feel, so I go for papers that are flowery and gentle, or with a country feel such as sunflowers or chickens.   I recently purchased a package of paper with a Mother Goose theme – I hesitated twice because it’s not really my style, but finally decided that, since it was on sale, I would take a chance.  Once I started working with it, I loved it!


• Where else do you sell your work?  
I sell at Buckshot Books (1254 Fair Road in Errington, BC) and I keep a small selection of cards at Womyn’sPath of Healing in Campbell River - (by appt.)  I also take orders through my facebook page.  I have a line of kitten birthday cards which I donate to the Campbell River SPCA, and in February, I donate Valentine’s cards to the Campbell River Head Injury Society who, in turn, sell them to raise funds and awareness.


• Why do you think people should buy handmade?
It’s important to support local small businesses, not just in the craft and gift world, but also in the food we buy and the coffee shops we frequent.  Shopping locally keeps the money here on the island and supports our island economy.  And giving a card or gift that’s been handmade, is so much more special than something bought at a big-box store.  


• What goals do you have? 
I want to learn new tricks and try new things.  I recently took a 2 day course in using alcohol markers, which is a whole different concept and effect from what people expect when they think of markers. I am looking forward to some experimentation.   I also just bought a compressor and will be playing with air-brush techniques.  I guess I could say that my goal is to keep learning and having fun with it.

What are three items in your shop that you are particularly proud of? 



• Will you be at any art/craft fairs this year?  Any other place you will be (or have been) that you would like us to know about?
I will be at the CampbellRiver Judo Club Christmas Craft Market on November 15 and 16.  I will also be selling my work at the Artisan’s Christmas Market at the Campbell River Art Gallery from November 13 to December 24, 2014.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Vancouver Island Etsy Shop Feature - Sue Pope

'SeamsSimplebySue' on Etsy

Sue Pope - Creator of the 'Yoga Saki'


Tell us about who you are and how you got started doing what you're doing.
I’ve always dabbled in one thing or another but my journey with SeamsSimplebySue all started about 10 years ago.  Riding transit was part of my daily routine and I found myself realizing that people, especially women, were trying to balance briefcases, bags, kids and yoga mats all while trying to keep hold of the overhead handle. This is where I realized the need for the “Yoga Saki”.   My spouse and my nieces helped me come up with the catchy name for the bag and the business.  From that time on, I’ve been affectionately named by some as the “Bag Lady”.  I kind of like it.

Tell us more about your product.  What type of materials do you use & why?
There may be mass-produced commercial yoga bags but, I feel proud to say, none quite like the “Yoga Saki”.  I currently have two sizes available.  Each has a front pocket, an adjustable carrying strap and a pull-type closure that is adorned with an assortment of beads.  Using a combination of new and re-purposed materials allows for personality and uniqueness. Obtaining fabrics from every possible resource allows for less impact on the environment as well – less waste is going into the landfill!


Tell us about your studio. Do you have a room or workshop especially dedicated to your art? Or is it the kitchen table or a corner in your child's playroom?                         
I do work full time and I find that designing and sewing allows the creative side of me to shine.  I work out of a room in our house that is set up with all the tools of the trade – sewing machine, serger, iron, needles, thread and of course….a huge trunk that holds fabrics and materials all colours and designs.  I think that it really is like an artist putting paint to canvas and realizing that something special can come out of putting together different colours and fabrics.  


Tell us about your processes. How do you work? Do you listen to music or need quiet? Is it sporadic or do you dedicate set hours to work?
I really sew when the mood hits – that way there is no real pressure.  I think this helps with the creativity aspect as well, as does listening to music.
Having said that, part of my business includes creating custom orders and, for someone to make a request with certain colours or materials in mind, well, I just love that challenge as well!  Custom orders can make such a wonderful, personal gift!

Are there any new items coming out soon in your shop that we should know about?
I have created three different sizes of cell phone and iphone bags.  Each of them has a dividing pocket and a long shoulder strap.  These versatile bags can be used for other reasons as well; for example, when a person wants to go for a walk without a purse, but still needs to take along their money and keys.   Besides being attractive and multi-functional, designing these little bags creates an opportunity for me to avoid wasting any odds and sods and scraps of material.  These bags will be added to my online Etsy Shop very shortly.


Are there any other places you sell your work? 
I currently have my bags for sale in a variety of yoga studios and galleries across Vancouver Island; among them being the Comox Valley Art Gallery and the Campbell River ArtGalleryMy website allows people to view bags that I have created and sold in the past.


'Yoga Saki' by Sue Pope on Vancouver Island

Website: www.yogasaki.com