While my blog does not have African watering-hole levels of traffic at the moment, I still feel compelled to share the experiences I've had with certain Etsy sellers who have really impressed me. Given that you're the sort of person who is interested in the things I have to say, you're clearly of markedly rare dash and taste, so I know my perspective won't be wasted. ;)
To properly introduce my first artisan, I first have to share with you my deep and Undying love for Clive Barker. I know, I know... but Kieran, you're saying, some of his movies have been total dogs. Worse than Stephen King screenplays! I know this, Gentle Reader. I know. Even my favorites of his movies (particularly Nightbreed, based on the book Cabal; Hellraiser, based on the book The Hellbound Heart, and Lord of Illusions, based on the short story "The Last Illusion") are deeply flawed. I don't care. He is a writer-creator to me, first and foremost; also parallel to King, Barker's twisted vision does not birth true into our world through a cinematic canal. It's too visceral, too dependent upon one's own sense of spiralling personal horror. But I digress...
Clive Barker's work affects me because the people in these completely surreal situations are eerily real. I have known them. You probably know them. Strip away all supernatural elements and you are still left with real people, living real lives with real reactions... add those elements back in and it is the very hyper-reality of the people living the story that makes the unbelievable suddenly terrifyingly plausible (The Damnation Game is the only book, ever, I have had to put down in sheer blood-freezing horror. It took me a full three days to get the nerve to go back to it).
Now, imagine that instead of being mostly focused on horror fiction, this marvelous ability to make what is inherently unreal seem perfectly real was applied to fantasy art. May I introduce Mark Satchwill Art?
See what I mean? He has a real gift for making his subjects -- mostly historical, mythological and fantasy personalities -- actually have personalities. I also am delighted that, while all of his subjects are pleasing to the eye, he draws men like men, even with man parts (like furry chests), and they are subjects in and of themselves... they are not relegated to being the "set dressing" for the female subjects as so often happens in fantasy art.
Mark has been the artist creating the ACEOs in my free "Featured Artist" giveaway with purchase, and I'm very sad that I've come to the end of them in that regard (I've only got perhaps eight left to give away at this point)... but I will definitely be back, as I've ended up keeping more than my fair share of the ACEOs that were, cough, supposed to go to my giveaway. ;)
As a seller, Mark is courteous, witty and kind. His packages have always arrived perfectly wrapped, quickly shipped and with a handwritten and thoughtful note. I really can't say enough good things about him, which is why I had to use my admiration for Mr. Barker to illustrate just how awesome Mark is. :D
Now we're going to jump from sirens to scrubs. Mad City Sue is a bath and body e-tailer on Etsy I first heard about on the Lush forums. Always up for an excuse to hop in the bath and smell pretty, I ordered one of her super moisturizing scrubs a couple of years ago, and have been hooked ever since (my first one, btw, was "White Wedding".... exactly like white birthday cake. SO. GOOD.).
Since then, she's started doing split scrubs, which are just... fantastic.
I am something of a scrub connoisseur. I can tell you which scrubs are good for year-round, which ones are best only in the summer, and which ones are best in the winter for when you're really, really dry. Sue's scrubs are the most moisturizing of all the scrubs I've ever tried; they have a very creamy consistency and leave a finish on the skin just a titch lighter than Lush's "Buffy". As a result, I only use them on my body in the wintertime when I'm very dry... but on my hands? My poor, dry, cracked, shop-worn hands? Let me tell you, Internets...
Mad City Sue has saved my hands both from perpetual dirt and from being stripped of every hint of moisture they might be still clinging to. I get capital-D Dirty in the shop, and wash my hands roughly five times per hour... so you do the math there. After a full day in the shop, I have little mummy paws. So when I am done for the day, I wash with soap as usual, and then give a scrub with Sue's wondrous magic smelly stuff, and poof! Tripoli and rouge come off, my hands are left soft and smelling wonderful. Check her out if you're in the market for a scrubby hand saver!
Last but not least, do you know Flying Buttons? I'll be surprised if you're part of the Etsy crowd and you don't, since she's a total genius at marketing herself and getting out there. Today, though, I want to talk about her headbands.
So I've mentioned that I'm in the shop a lot, right? Part of my challenge has been a way to keep my hair securely back so my bangs don't fall in my face while I'm soldering (the aroma of freshly roasted barnet is not inspiring to me, sadly). Scarves work, but they get so dirty I go through them every couple of days to wash. Enter Flying Buttons and her sleek, chic, cute and secure headbands.
They are a simple enough design -- metal loop-backed buttons, covered in fabric and secured to a thick smooth elastic band -- but man, do they WORK. They stay put even through Toddlerobics, and I get lots of compliments when I wear them too. All of my transactions with her have been nothing short of charming and pleasant and agreeable, and she has a really wide selection of hairbobs, not just headbands. Her styles range from muted and sophisticated to cute and cheerful. I have my eye on this one next, myself...
Enough for this month -- I hope you check them out! All pictures used with owners' permissions.
(as usual, I feel the need to add I don't get anything for doing these reviews. ;) )