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Friday, October 21, 2011

Lights, Camera, Etsy! Lightboxes and the Right Camera for Etsy Success

When I go back to my first photos on Etsy I can feel nothing but shame. I am sure a 4th grader was helping me way back in 2009. At least that is what the end results of those early photos show.

Fast forward to 2011 and I am all grown up (Etsy photography-wise). My photos show it and I could not be happier.  The pot of gold at the end of the Etsy photo rainbow includes two items that are the "Must Haves" in the world of Etsy. A Lightbox and the RIGHT Camera.

At left is an early photo, with the Fuji JX250 Camera, no lightbox. AUGH!


 This is a link to a great "How To" on building your own inexpensive lightbox. How to make a lightbox

This is my finished lightbox made for less than $20.00. And below is the kind of photos you get with it using my new camera!
 Fuji cameras are budget friendly, and they may be great for outdoors shots of people and animals; but for close-up, jewelry photography....they just don't make the cut. After just a few months of use, they start to blur out on the "Micro" setting. So I took  my $150.00 budget and went looking for the right camera.

What I found was a dream of a camera, the Sony Cybershot DSC-W570. 16.1 Mega pixels, 5X zoom,  with white balance and a little setting called "Gourmet Food" that is the perfect setting for close up, "Oh My Gawd!", jewelry shots like this....

So don't let your budget keep you from thinking you can't have million dollar photos in your Etsy shop. Not only is it not true, but the resulting increase in sales will more than pay for that $109.00 camera and $20.00 magic little lightbox!

~ Dr Brassy

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Coffins, Coffins, Everywhere-I am just dying to get my hands on them!!!

October is thrust upon me in the way that motherhood is thrust upon a first time Mom. It's HERE and I need to spend every second taking care to be sure I don't fall behind. Of course the reason October is my month of total insanity and little sleep is due to the Samhain/Halloween Season. It is the time of witches, vampires, gouls and all the dark gothic wonderment that goes with it.

So with October weighing heavily on my every waking breath. I looked around the dungeon (known as a "Craft Room", "Laboratory", "Artist Loft" and now "Dungeon" as I see fit), and discovered with horror that I had exactly ZERO coffins/caskets on hand.

A mad rush to Joann Crafts turned up  exactly nil coffins. As did the same frantic shopping spree to Beverlies Crafts, Betty's Fabrics and Michaels...So what to do?????????

My savior came in the body of one of my "A Nightmare on Etsy" teammates, Annette. She saved my bacon for sure and I am now waddling in mini-coffin heaven. For those of you even further behind than I am. Coffins can be had at and SOME Michaels stores (I had to drive 2 hours to find one that had mini coffins and I bought them out).

So go forth into the night with your mini mouse sized coffin of delight.... and tell them Dr Brassy sent you!

~Dr Brassy

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's been a "Moving" Experience

Moving is like giving birth. It is. It is like giving birth to a 1900 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, double- garaged... baby. It's a baby that needs tending and care, nurturing and feeding. It is painful, it will make you cry and there is a 110% chance you will get into a huge fight with the person you love that has joined you at the hip for this birth...I mean, Move.
After the pain is gone, the blood has been cleaned up and the linens washed; after the stitches are taken out and the bruises heal, you are left with a nest that is yours to call home. Everything that was horrible washes away and there is just happiness and contentment.
Still- I will never move again for the rest of my life if I have my way. I want to be here forever and I want to plant fruit trees, put roses in the garden and add Dr Brassy elements to make this a home any Steampunk would envy. 

Things I learned along the way.
Never do business with a company that has it's call center overseas.
Never buy appliances from a company that outsources it's deliveries.
Never use people to clean your house or carpet that smoke cigarettes.
Check out a neighborhood at night and on the weekends before committing to buy or rent.
Leave your old house in better condition that when you rented/bought it. 
Go out and  meet the neighbors. Wave when they drive by and say hello when retrieving the paper in your robe in the morning. Be "Neighborly".
Banks are evil.
A Good Realtor is worth their weight in gold.
Always tip for a job well done as people are barely making minimum wage nowadays.
Keep your sanity. You will get through it. 
My Singer looks right at home
Here is a photo of the living room starting to take shape.
I waited 46 years for a fainting couch!
Mr Steamington channeling his inner "Hef"

Friday, July 22, 2011

Just Call Me A Maverick For Our Time

There are people who will remain unnamed in this blog, who claimed to be "Mavericks" sometime back around 2008. I am not talking that kind of Maverick or politics at all for that matter. I am talking Steampunk Nerf  N Strike Mavericks. If any of you have attempted a Maverick Make Over or Maverick Contraption Redo. You know the headaches, perplexity and general FUBAR of the project if you don't do it in exactly the right order and in exactly the right way. Although everyone and their cousin has gotten on the Maverick bandwagon, I still think there are unique and amazing designs to be had in the genre. Here is a photo journal of the Maverick Nerf N Strike from start to finish with a "Do it Yourself" list of Tips and Trix at the end.

Your basic finished Maverick.

Very fancy Maverick!
Tips and Trix: Take the whole gun apart first. Dremmel off any lettering, copywrite marks etc. Sand the plastic to get the shine off with a fine grit sandpaper. Primer the whole gun. Choose your paint colors. You can spray paint, use paint pens or use a soft lint free cloth to dab on the paint on for an aged look. My fav Mavericks have several different metallic colors on one gun. You can use an antiquing gel, metallic dust, or antiquing rubs as well. Ideas to make your Maverick unique are to burn scroll designs into the gun like the last photo, or you can add brass filigree, copper fittings or any other accoutrements.  Use wire to hang the Maverick when painting to let it dry. When you are done, seal the gun with a clear acrylic sealant and let it dry for 2 days.
This will give you a gun that will last for many battles and still look just as perfect as the day you made it. 
~ Dr Brassy

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Cat and the Hat-A Steampunk Story

I received a custom Steampunk styled top hat request in June from a customer I will call "Cass". The request was pretty straight forward. A black and silver Steampunk top hat with netting bustle and silver accoutrements. More specifics unfolded in the making and we narrowed it down to a crushed black velvet hat with high styled rococo silver flourishes in metal with a small spattering of clockwork details, lots of black feathers on the right and left sides with a very long black net train down the back but that also had a second train bustled up in the back.

There is where the cat comes into the picture.
Delilah trying to look angelic and innocent
 There are few things in nature more attracted to each other than a cat and feathers. I, Dr Brassy, should know this from the umpteenth gazillion piles of "felis pukemus" that I have cleaned up over the years that contained lovely rainbow colored feathers. (Our Delilah is an indoor only kitty, so no live birds were injured in the making of the cat barf). 

I was so focused on this hat and all the details that I forgot completely about my Box O'Feathers (I am in the process of moving the lab into a our new digs, among other familial distractions). Well- Delilah found herself in cat feather heaven... which resulted in, you guessed it. Cat barf central in every color of feather I own. Burgundy, blue, green, orange, yellow, purple, pink and white or at least what used to be white....

Thankfully and gratefully I had the good sense to place the all important "Cass" Hat up and out of the way of our diligent Delilah who at post time has yet to figure out the nuances of furniture tetris to reach atop the sewing cabinet. (Give her time and she will figure this out).

So here is the finished project, 1 month in the making and 100's ruined feathers later due to somebodies strange culinary obsession.

Finished Hat Front

Mr Steamington providing non-consensual modeling of hat bustle

What did I learn? Keep all feathers in large gallon size ziplock bags AND a large plastic bin WITH A LID!  ~ Dr Brassy

Monday, July 11, 2011

And the winner is.....Chromospan!!!

Congratulations to Lorena Ambrose!!! This was a very difficult contest as all the names were original and magical. It was very hard to decide which one was the best, from a field of All bests.

I want to thank everyone for entering. 
Leanna Longo (4 entries!), Tracey Craig, Melissa Walker Castro, Firefly Visions, Ellen Wodoslawsky Gonchar and Lillie Nyte all came up with amazing names. 

Lorena, please get in touch with me and let me know which sightmares you would like and where to send it. My email is

Chromospan named by Lorena Ambrose
Thank you all!  ~ Dr Brassy

Sunday, July 10, 2011

3D Steampunk Art at it's Best- I would like to introduce....Pyrosthenes

Pyrosthenes and I go way back, I mean waaaaaay back when big hair was in, digital cameras weren't out yet, and a Yahoo was what you called your cousin who has an affinity for dynamite and beer, but never made it past 8th grade.

Pyrosthenes (pronounced Pie-Rows-Th-EE-KNEES), is a 3D artist on Deviant Art and the man "gets" Steampunk like no one I know. I have engaged his services for 3D artwork on several occasions and have been awe struck by the end results that are worthy of framing on the walls of my laboratory.

We all get to the point where we want an avatar of ourselves to use for business, Facebook, And we want that avatar to look as much like us as possible, albeit 20 years younger and 40 pounds thinner. When I got to that point and was also looking at needing business cards. I hopped on Deviant Art and let my fingers do the walking.

There is world class, museum quality artistic talent on DA and it can be had for way less that it's worth (I always pay more). I mean, $10.00 for your own Avatar? Bargain of the year, I think! So here, without further ado, is my homage to the amazing light and magic of Pyrosthenes....

Don't mess with Dr Brassy
Dr Brassy's Airship

Gothic Dr Brassy
Dr Brassy in her Steamsub
Steamy Mermaid

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We Don't Need No Stinking Craft Room!! - How to make the most of what you have

Ideally-In a perfect world, where I am the boss (Bwa ha ha ha ha), and money is no object (BWAH HA HAR HAR!)  Oh, crap, I think a pea just went up my nose! .....I would have my own sacred crafting room. A place of light and magic, where unicorns roam and fairies stop by for cocktails at 5 O'Clock each day.

I don't have my own room, so I carved out a little place to call my own-in the living room. There is an invisible force field around the jewelry making and sewing areas. Everyone in the house knows, if you touch it, you will be banished to Chuck E Cheese, on the day of the biggest kids birthday they have ever seen.

My message is this. Make what you You can put off the "doing" until you have the right house, the right room, the right supplies, the right man....Ok, I am little off track on that last one- but you get where I am going. Seize the living space and use what you have to the best of your abilities, until the better thing comes along (I think this is true with men as well, but I digress...).

This is crafting central at the Steamington home. I have everything I need, neatly laid out and it works like a dream. As you can see, I have the big comfy chair, the carpet for catching jump rings, lots of table and storage space, both artificial and natural light (when I open the windows), a cat and not one, but 2 cat trees! You can't see the A/C unit, but it's right there as well. When we have company over, I fold everything away all nice and tidy in the wood storage box to the far right, and no one is the wiser that a mere hour before the Murder Mystery Dinner, my living room looked like a Tiffany's Jewelry Store exploded by a gang of Steampunk Pirates.

Another challenge was finding a place for a sewing station. My genius of a hunny-bunny (he loves it when I call him that!), took our library and added a pull out drawer so my sewing machine is at the perfect height for me to sew to my little hearts content. See the before (above) and after (to the right):

So carve out your own personal space, make it the best it can be and start bringing your art to life! ~ Dr Brassy

Monday, July 4, 2011

I am not a Doctor, but I play one on Etsy.....

Scalpel-Check!      Gloves-Check!        Mask-Check!    Syringes-Double Check!
What am I doing? A little Lobotomy, living Room Style? Nope!
I am designing jewelry with supplies that make DIY (Do It Yourself) look like an episode of ER.
Today's little snippet involves wrapping ones mind around the use of unconventional tools of the trade.
Anyone who uses LOS (Liver of Sulfur) is aware that masks and good ventilation are your best friend- There are other medical must haves that will take you from the beginning glue-challenged doing your jewelry residency on Etsy, to "Master Jeweler" out doctoring even me, Dr Brassy.

E6000 and other glues come in a big bulky tubes that tend to dribble with pressure when squeezed which eventually leads to a permanently glued cap. It also goes where it wants, when it wants (which means E6000 glue used to be a cat in a previous life). The way to tame this beast is to get out the syringes. I pull the end cap plunger off the syringe, then squeeze the amount of glue I think I will use in one sitting, into the tube. I then get all the bubbles out and replace the plunger. Squeeze the glue from the needle tip for fine and precise applications, or unscrew the needle and apply from the tiny end of the plunger for more glue. Always screw back on the needle tip in the safety cap, when done so the glue doesn't dry out. I have been able to use a syringe for three days this way, without it gumming up. You will need the largest size needle you can get. The ideal size are the ones they use in veterinary hospitals to place microchips under the skin. If you can't get those, go with the largest gauge you can get. I prefer a 6, 10 or 12 gauge.

With this new knowledge, even your biggest gluing challenge will make it through and live to see another day!
~ Dr Brassy

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sewing is Sexy- The July 2011 Hat Project Part 1- Naked Hat

It isn't a successful sewing expedition until somebody bleeds. To say I put a little bit of myself into everything I sew is an understatement. True to form, a CSI agent could find enough DNA in the hat below to make a very nice clone of yours truly.

This is a custom order for a Steamer Gentleman we will cal Cass. The hat ordered is a tall Steamer Hat, made of crushed black velvet with silver embellishments, hat band, feathers and black netting fall down the back that also be bustled up when he wants.

Hat is a triple layer of black polyester crushed velvet, stiff black Pellon (I also use Buckram), lined with a soft black preshrunk cotton sateen. Three layers ensure a hat that will retain it's shape and form, and I like cotton on anything next to the skin where sweating can occur.  More photos to follow as I take naked hat and gussy her up in a very respectable Steampunk manner.

Things I have learned along the way...8 Jewelry Making Truths

Jewelry making should be declared an extreme sport with protective gear, instant replays and cheerleaders. I say this not because I want to scare away that timid man or lass who has been sitting on the side, pondering the wild world of WIITWD (What it is, that we do), but because it is true.

Things I have learned over the years that I would like to share with you, not only because my therapist told me to, but because I don't want anyone to make the same mistakes I have:
1) Never wrap aluminum foil around the bare wires of your jewelers lamp. No matter how wobbly the socket, do not do this unless you want a perm that will never grow out. 
2) Never close yourself off in the bathroom to do LOS (Liver of Sulfur) applications. Or at least that is what the Paramedics and Hot Fireman told me after I regained consciousness.
3) Never use your fingers to spread hot glue. This ended my dream to be a hand model.
4) Dremel Tools are possessed and have a mind of their own. Never use a Dremel without a Wingman, A Bodyguard and  Full Kevlar.
5) You WILL Crazy Glue your fingers to your lips at some juncture. Know this and be ok with it when it happens.
6) Never wear your favorite black gypsy skirt while jewelry making unless you really want to have to explain that the brown streak across your butt is bronze gilders paste and not something that belongs in a cat litter box.
7) Always keep these things close by when jewelry making. a) The phone, b) Acetone (see item #5 above), c) Ice Water, d)  Baby Wipes, e) A good Chardonnay.
8) and finally... always remember our motto, "There's no use crying over spilled glue". 

~ Dr Brassy

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Contest- Name this Necklace and win a Sightmares Pendant!

I can't tell you how many times this was made, taken apart and made again. I think I hit it right this final time. I need a name. Winged_____________? Something magical, fantasy and oh so Brassy in nature. So here is the contest.

 Whomever comes up with the name for the piece will get their own Sightmares Evil Eye Victorian pendant in their choice of color. It doesn't need to be "Winged_____". It can be any name you like.The winner will receive one of these, in bronze brass or gunmetal silver in your choice of eye color. Please post your contest entry as a comment on this blog or via Facebook at . Winner will be announced July 11th.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bring on the Custom Order Requests

How do I love thee custom orders? Let me count the ways... Take an impossible dream, a psychic artisan a tight budget, and what do you get? A custom order request. I admit that I LOVE the challenge and each custom order makes me a better artist. I love the give and take of ideas. But when the finished product is (and I quote) "So much better than anything I could have imagined". I know I have struck alchemy gold! Steampunk mailbox? I can do that! Steam a tape dispenser? Sure! Make a hat that is part contraption and part couture? Bring it on!

I do miss Etsy's Alchemy section but I also understand why it went the way of the trash bin. Too many of the same sellers, bidding rabidly on each and every Alchemy request, even if it was not in their genre. Also the Made in China sellers, low bid everyone by so much, there was enough left over to buy a small house.

So I am depending on customers finding me, messaging me their dream request. Then letting the fun begin. See a few custom requests below:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Steampunk Evil Eyes by Twistedsisterarts

I've been in contact with Jill from Twistedsisterarts for the better part of the last year. We have assisted each other and offered advice and an ear when things were going great and not so well. I have great admiration for her as an Artist and a person...

I don't know anyone else who is doing what she is doing. It's hard to put into words the depth of craftsmanship and unique vision of design that go into each and every piece that Jill crafts.

My favorites are her Steampunk Gothic Evil Eyes. The wire wrapping is meticulous, the eyes are all hand painted and no two are like. They are....breathtaking. This is my current favorite:

See here Etsy Shop here. Ttwistedsisterarts on Etsy

Beads and brass and supplies-Oh my!

Some Artisans hold tight to their suppliers info like they are someone in the witness protection program.  You can ask, beg, plead and offer up your first born (or second born if the first one was a colicky baby) but it won't get you any closer to the Pot of Supplier Gold.

I'll tell you....There's this sweet and sassy lady named Brenda Sue. She runs B'Sue Boutique and she opened an Etsy store a short while ago. Not only is she the nicest, most helpful lady you could ever wish for, but her prices and selection are killer. Many suppliers charge twice to three times what B'Sue does (don't get any ideas Brenda Sue!). Check on sale items, promotions and contests as there is always something wonderful going at B'Sue.

See them here:
Bsue1441 Jewelry Making Supplies
 Bracelet made from Bsue supplies. Gorgeous!

Steampunk Clockworks Locket for the Men

This locket started out empty. I have been holding on to some very large clockworks gears for some time. They were too big to incorporate into a necklace on their own and the edges were very pointy and sharp. I knew they had a destiny, I just had to be patient until it came along. So Poof! I obtained the locket and the wheels literally starting turning. I hope you like it!

Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of Steampunk

This will chronicle my journey in discovery, success, fail and dusting off to do it all over again. I am interested in anything Steampunk, Dieselpunk, Mechanica and any other form or following of Steampunk.

I have an Etsy shop that is completely dedicated to Steampunk Jewelry and accessories. I have a secondary shop that is Victorian inspired pretties and even a third that is my Vintage Shop.

I thank you for stopping by to chat, offering suggestions and feedback. I will do my best to share, welcome and inspire.

~ Dr Brassy