Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thanks For The Memories



As most of you know, I have been away from the shop quite a bit lately to celebrate my son's graduation from high school and then to move him to college. His university has a summer early-start program for freshmen, intended to help them ease into the rigors of college life and learning and we dropped him off earlier this week. He seems to be having a wonderful time and I am happy for him. I am not doing quite as well. I've had some embarrassing emotional displays like bursting into tears at the grocery store when I realized I probably didn't need to buy our usual four gallons of milk and thirty-six eggs for the week. You would think that would make me happy! Our younger children are spending the week at their grandparents' house and last night I was able to make a complete supper for my husband and I from a small bag of scallops, two homegrown tomatoes, and one avocado, probably a fourth of what I would normally need for a meal! I've taken to wearing sunglasses everywhere in case of sudden crying fits. As Mireille Guiliano advises, it prevents crows feet and makes you look mysterious, so why not?

I remember once when my son was small and I was sad to have weaned him already, I read an article in a parenting magazine in which the author pointed out you would not want your child to never grow up, really. There are, after all, children with diseases and impairments that prevent them from ever living independently. It's a constant struggle though, to really savor your time with children while still providing the necessary discipline. Everything is so hectic. "The days are long but the years are short", as the saying goes. It seems like we've been through a blur of sleep deprivation and homework, laughter and tears and commuting and now BAM! It's over in the blink of an eye. How I would love to have, just for a little while, my sweet toddler returned to me. My baby boy who would introduce me by saying, "This is my best friend, Mommy."



In order to prevent myself from spending all my time lying around in my bathrobe while sobbing and drinking wine, which is really all I feel like doing right now, I am throwing myself into work. I have enough of it. The housework alone is daunting. All month I've come home long enough to wash all the dirty clothes in the suitcases and then pack them up and leave again. Since the pets have all been here the house smells like a barn. On one of my trips I picked up a big box of my childhood toys so I have an enormous amount of action figures and dolls and things from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s in the restoration process or already listed. I am having a huge auction event on eBay while we speak. Besides the vintage dolls and toys, you can find fashions for babies all the way to adults, electronics, housewares, and more. I am adding more items each day. It's fun to look back and remember how I treasured the Care Bears and My Little Ponies and Barbie dolls. When I look at them I can still picture the long-ago Easter baskets and Christmas stockings that held them, and I can still feel the joy. I guess that's what I need to hold onto: that joy is still there. My sweet baby is always with me and I can hold onto him in my heart while still enjoying all the wonders life has in store for his future.



I have been blessed with a mentee recently as well. A teenage doll collector contacted me about putting a doll on layaway for her and it took me right back to my 11-year-old self. My mother took me to the Hudson Belk department store in downtown Raleigh because Madame Royal of the Royal Doll Company was visiting the store. I purchased a doll on layaway (my mother felt this was an important skill I would need to learn) and Madame Royal signed it. I still have that doll and the catalogue from that year. My teen collector confided she sometimes feels like she's crazy, but I was able to advise her she is absolutely not. My personal doll collection is worth thousands of dollars now and my business is based on selling and restoring dolls. I told her she should view her passion as an investment. Her collection will grow in value as she ages and as the dolls become even more scarce and she is training her eye to use in the future to become a more-skilled investor or even to build a business as I have. That girl came along just at the right moment for me. She helped me realize that even when my children are all grown and gone I can still have an impact on other people's lives. I can still teach them and help them grow. I was trained by the best, after all!


You can bid on these Care Bears and many other retro toys during the Atelier Mandaline Auction Event on eBay.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Stock Up for Summer Sale!



Atelier Mandaline eBay is stocked with everything you and the kids need for summer! From swim wear to hot summer fashions to glow-in-the-dark toys, the more you buy the more you will save with my June/July sale offers. Pack your shopping cart to pack your suitcases for less! Head to http://www.ebay.com/sme/ab_art/offers.html to see all my summer offers in one place.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

DADDY-O!



I'm B-A-A-A-C-K! Atelier Mandaline has reopened! Celebrate with 10% off the eBay store and 20% off Etsy, Facebook, and Atelier Mandaline with code DADDYO. I hope you have a wonderful Father's Day weekend! Link to all the shops from ateliermandaline.com.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Hello, Sunshine!





This Friday my oldest will graduate from high school. I'm having some trouble processing it, and since he will be leaving early to go to college we have to have him ready to move into the dorm in just a couple weeks. So on Wednesday, June 7th I am closing all the shops for 10 days to celebrate and spend some last moments with three children still at home. This is only the second time I've taken a vacation with the shops closed in 16 years, and it's hard for me! To make up for the inconvenience I am offering discounts in all the stores through midnight Wednesday. Take an extra 10% off throughout the eBay store. Use the coupon code SUMMERY for 20% off the Atelier Mandaline website shopFacebook shop, and Etsy shop.

The past four years, since my son started high school and especially marching band, have gone by in a blur of effort and obligations and sleepless nights. Really, it's been even longer than that. I feel like I was holding an infant and blinked and he's all grown up! I can't believe it's already over! It seems as if I've been inside a whirlwind and now I've been dropped in some foreign country without any clue of where I am or how I arrived.

I know this is how things are supposed to be. It's the natural course of time. We are happy he's graduating and that he's so motivated to begin college that he's starting early. I'm just going to need a little time to get used to things. I hope you have a wonderful start to your summer and I will be back soon!


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Love Your Laundry



Recently I came up with a brilliant idea, I thought, while washing our endless flood of laundry. Last year I got myself Young Living's wool dryer ball set that comes with a bottle of lavender essential oil. I love the way the lavender oil smells, and I really love the idea of replacing dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener. Several recent studies have shown products scented with synthetic chemical fragrances release carcinogens into our homes. Nearly 98% of air fresheners, whether sprays or plug-in units or whatever, contained known carcinogens. Laundry fragrances were even worse if they went into the dryer because of the products being exposed to heat. Lavender oil is pure and safe, and Young Living oils are the cream of the crop.

Anyway, I really enjoyed my dryer balls for the short time I owned them. All but one have disappeared. I couldn't figure out how this was happening until I caught our puppy sneaking one out of a laundry basket one day. Even though I have repeatedly warned everyone to pick up the dryer balls, each time someone else has "helped" me with the laundry another ball disappeared. So, I decided to make myself some more. But when I sat down to make them I wondered, why not have some fun with them? They don't have to just be balls; they can be cute. Besides that, I only had white ones before and I felt like they left white lint on my darks. I decided to make light and dark colored balls.

I made myself a narwhal and  what was supposed to be a bunny but which came out looking more like an Ewok. I tested them this weekend and they held up well. After four loads or so they're still adorable! I was going to call them "Dryer Dollies" since it's alliterative, but since they are animals rather than people the rest of my family thought "Dryer Pals" was better. 


Before Use


After Use
Before Use

After Use

Dryer Pals are a set of two wool needle-felted dryer balls shaped like animals, one light and one dark, and a 2-ml bottle of lavender essential oil. To use the Dryer Pals you add two or three drops of oil to each one for every four or five loads of laundry. The oil is not necessary but I really enjoy the scent. Wool dryer balls work by breaking the bond between electrons that makes fabric stick together; the fibers rubbing against the fabric separate the molecules. Essential oil adds fragrance to the laundry without leaving the grease spots typical fabric softeners use since the few drops of oil soak into the wool.  After making a whole bunch of my exclusive "invention" I got on Etsy so see what people are charging for regular dryer balls and found out several people are making them shaped like animals. So my "invention" isn't as unique as I thought! Luckily most of the others are not being made here in the USA and most are sheep, which crazy as it seems, didn't occur to me. I mostly made marine animals, I guess because the idea of laundry leads me to think of water.

Right now I have three sets of Dryer Pals listed on Etsy: one seal and manatee set, one narwhal and seal set, and one set of two bunnies. I will have more of these arriving in the Facebook and eBay shops and the Atelier Mandaline website later in the summer. These make a great gift for yourself or anyone who wants to implement a safe and all-natural home cleaning regimen.


The set of balls and essential oil

Light Narwhal

Manatee and Seal





Dark Narwhal

Beluga Whale

Bunnies Set

Seal and Narwhal set

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Customs For All



The past week and long weekend were all about custom pieces for me. I had a welcome and much-appreciated order for several pairs of my custom-color eyes. I hand-paint Margon moving "sleep" doll eyes in colors either not produced by the company or out of stock in a particular size. I could order lots of eyes in different colors and sizes from foreign wholesalers but I prefer the Margon eyes for several reasons. Margon patented the cased individual moving eyes in the 1930s. Before that, doll eyes were plastic or glass and moving eyes were wired together and attached to a metal clip or bar which was then attached to the inside of the doll's head. The eyes moved via a lead weight wired to them. Margon's invention allowed for a much smaller area inside the head to be devoted to moving eye attachment. Since Margon patented the moving eye, they are the brand used in most vintage dolls and I like to use them because I am usually replacing old eyes with new ones virtually identical to the originals. I also like to use Margon eyes because they are distributed by a US-based wholesaler and I prefer to support local companies. It's easier to talk to their representatives as well, since there isn't a huge time difference. I have a global enough business now that I am frequently up dealing with clients very late at night or extremely early in the morning. I love my international clients, but I appreciate sleep as well, more and more as the years go by!


I customize eyelids with "eyeshadow".


Dolls like Jacqueline Portraits had eyeshadow.

So, although I've seen wholesalers selling eyes in various colors and sizes I don't have, for the present I think I am going to stick with the Margon eyes. The very fact that I send these all over the world rather frequently leads me to believe they are a higher-quality eye than some of the cheaper wholesale eyes. Something I haven't seen anywhere are "eyeshadow" eyes, which is one of my custom styles. If you are restoring a Madame Alexander Portrait doll with the Jacqueline face, for example, you will realize the original eyes had painted "eyeshadow" on the eyelids. It wouldn't be a big deal to replace those eyes with plain ones except that the entire eyelid is painted blue to match. It really just doesn't look right to put plain eyes in one of those dolls, so I started producing my "eyeshadow" eyes with painted lids.



My "Spring Green" eye color in progress

Spring Green

Violet

Kelly Green

After a lot of requests from customers, I began making my custom color eyes by painting the irises. So far purple or violet is my most popular color, and after that green is a big hit. I have done several shades of green, from teal to spring green to Kelly Green. I also have dark aqua blue eyes ready to ship. The custom eyes can take up to a week to dry, so delivery time is typically about a week and a half to two weeks from the time of the order. Certain colors dry faster than others, for whatever reason, as do different brands of paint.



My custom bag mailers

Custom boxes

A bunch of Memorial Day orders shipped in my custom packages!

Once I'd finished the custom eyes I spent a lot of the weekend designing, printing, and cutting logo stickers to apply to my mailers to make custom packages. I am so excited about the way these look! I was thrilled to find pink bag mailers for clothes, but the boxes are cute, too. Next I hope to make a logo stamp for branding the boxes, which should be cheaper than using sticker paper. It makes me feel much more like a "real" business to have logo-branded packaging. I hope it will help people remember by store, too, since I sell on so many different platforms. 

This week I have been working on figuring out how to make "squishies". This is kind of a custom project; all these people were getting to my Etsy shop searching for "squishies." It's been my first and second most-searched term for months but I had no idea what squishies were. I figured, if so many people are trying to find them I'd better figure out how to make them! I spent most of Tuesday morning watching tutorials. This is quite frustrating, since almost all of them get finished and show a cute project, but then the artist says, "Well, after filming this fell apart." Honestly, why would you go to the trouble of making a tutorial if your method doesn't actually work? It just wastes everyone's time! I combined several techniques that appeared to work to make this cute squishy narwhal. Although adorable, now that it's drying it is developing several cracks, so it will be back to the drawing board for the squishies. If I come up with a workable technique I will post a tutorial that's actually helpful, and maybe even produce some kits!

You can find all the custom eyes shown ready to ship on eBay or order your own from Etsy or my website. Link to all my shops and now even place orders and request custom products at ateliermandaline.com.


Making a squishy narwhal