Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Better Business Bureau Likes Mandolin Babe's!

     Sometimes the Universe hands you an unexpected gift you hadn't even thought of asking about. In my case,it was a phone call last week from the BBB. I thought it was a phishing scam at first,so after screening the message,I looked the phone # up on a reverse directory.  Sure enough,it was a legit call. I called back,a little hesitant and curious as to what on earth made them call me.
     The BBB rep was kind,professional,and had a surprising bit of news-"did you know people have been contacting us asking about your company?" In truth,I hadn't. In fact,I had shut down some ad deals I had going because orders just weren't increasing & funds were getting tight. So this bit of news came as a pleasant shock. 
      So I joined up,and the rep further informed me "you have no complaints against you! Do you know how rare that is?" For that.I have an excellent rating with the BBB! I just wish I could place the badge on my Etsy store,but alas,they don't allow HTML.  
       Yesterday was a record breaking day temprature wise. In all the years I've had my cats,this was the first time I could see it was having a slight effect on Lightning. This was with having all the curtains drawn & fans running,aimed at the cats. Today,I'm grateful for mostly cloudy skies & much cooler temps. 
       I'm pleased to announce my handcrafted Strap Pals™ have been selling well! I've sold 3 this week. Very pleased about that. Hoping the wave continues. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fiddling,Customizing,& Accessorizing!

      Seeing as I now can grow orchids,my Dad picked one up for me from Lowes in gorgeous white! Watering from the bottom has made all the difference in the world.
       Things are picking up in the store,I completed the bottom panels of my curtains mentioned earlier-now I'm just waiting for the eyelet to arrive so I can add that as a decorative trim & make the valance at the top for it. Pics forthcoming after I get it all done.  Uncluttering continues as I have 12 auctions running of things I don't use/need/want anymore. Took advantage of eBays 10¢ listing fee special & hope it brings me more space. 
       The purple fiddle has been restrung-however,the chunky high set chin rest made it impossible for me to hold it proper to free my left hand. I thought at first the fiddle was perhaps too big,but luckily I have a couple of spare chinrests and one of them has made it possible for me (along with the shoulder rest that came with it) to finally hold it the right way. As this current chin rest is still uncomfy, I have purchased an ergomatic model that lies very flat. Should arrive next week. 
       For whatever reason I've gotten an interest in Cowgirl things and the Civil War era. Tho I make an odd sort of Cowgirl....not into "country western" music but I do love old time tunes,Irish music,blues,and classical. Perhaps I'm more of an antique Cowgirl as opposed to a modern one. So I got myself a Union army belt buckle (repro) and a Irish Battalion patch for my mandolin gig bag. I've basted the patch on & will have it all sewn on before Monday. Weird thing is I just don't care for the more girly looking belt buckles that are "cowgirl style" I like the Union army one as it feels more authentically "western style" to me. Go figure-past life recall,maybe? 
       Biz wise I cut back on advertising that simply wasn't working for me so I can funnel the funds into more productive avenues. Hoping the string shipment arrives today. Considering closing the Prostore as it simply hasn't done me any good at all. That would be more savings for other directions. I was going to have a printed ad run in a magazine for the holiday season but they seem so flaky in adhering to deadlines that I'm afraid any holiday ad will come out in Jan. & that wouldn't be very helpful. 
       The Etsy team I started is doing well-members have joined the group page and exchanging of flyers has begun. Hoping sales increase for everyone on the team. I also started knitting in the NFL pre season & am focusing on neck warmers instead of scarves as I think they work better for musicians-you don't have to worry about a neck warmer working it's way off you as you move your neck,and no scarf ends to get in the way of fingerboards,etc. I need to post my fingerless gloves & arm warmers as well. I'm wondering how cold this winter will be seeing as Summer has been very mild-only 2 hot weeks this year to date (no complaints from me!) In addition there's a legwarmer pattern I purchased last year that buttons up (another way to use up my vintage button collection!) that I want to try-of course I'll be redoing the pattern to fit my legs,but the 1st pair will be as the pattern says to do it so I can see how much tailoring I need to do. 
    And along going green lines after seeing some sort of documentary on bottled water & how much it isn't tested & all the bad stuff in it has been documented,including trace amounts of arsenic,(oh lovely) I picked up one of those Brita Pitchers at my local Costco. I wish California would ban the sale of bottled water the way Colorado has. Scary knowing how much pollution the plastic bottles have caused. Did you know those little plastic bottles are only recycled if the caps are not on the bottle? It's true. 
    Fiddle fixin tip of the day-for slippery tuning pegs that just won't stay put,try using a small amount of shavings from a bar of Lava soap. The purple fiddle has a super slick E tuning peg that was gonna drive me nuts. I had read this tip in a beginners book I have & gave it a try-and it worked!  I used the curved end of a small bobby pin to get the shavings-then I put my finger in the shavings & placed it on the shiny part of the peg-has to do it twice but it does work.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mandolin Babe's Becomes a Black Diamond Dealer

As in Black Diamond Strings! The company has been around since 1892 and meets all my requirements: the strings are made in the USA ,has a wonderful reputation,and there is no minimum wholesale order amount. I have an account with another manufacturer,but their min order was nearly $300,and that's something that's out of range right now. Black diamond also owns "Super-sensitive String" products which makes fiddle accessories & strings as well,so now I have accomplished my goal of finding a string supplier for banjo,mandolin,guitar & fiddle in addition to being able to supply rosin and accessories. I'm hoping to place my 1st order on Monday. I was directed toward sthis company when I received a purple fiddle I had won in an online auction. Inside was a box of fiddle rosin from this company,so I made an inquiry, and Tah dah!
     The pic you see above shows one of my hand knit rosin bags with the rosin I'll be carrying soon in my store. I made the pattern for the bag myself & have made another bag in olive green,and am currently knitting one in white. I use vintage buttons for that decorative finishing touch. I'm hoping to draw fiddlers that want more attractive accessories instead of the mass produced "survivalist" looking items they've been making due with (till now!) 
     The Etsy team I formed is gaining members,which is wonderful. Hoping business for all of us on the team starts growing thru a team effort. 
      I do need ladies to join my "Song & Season Spinnin Farmgirl Chapter" This is an online group,so location is not important. If you're an organic livin,nature lovin,traditional musician who honors the earth and all her wonders & wants to join up,please leave a comment on this post. This is a "Mary Janes Farm" Farmgirl group.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

That ironing board you see has a earth friendly new cover-made by yours truly. I had aquired it many years ago from a man who was selling his wife's sewing tools (she had passed on). The original cover was so old it tore with no effort at all-it's so old the board is actually made of wood! So I added a layer of batting,my "save the planet" fabric,and Tah-dah! 
    I apologize for my absence-the part time job at the college turned full time for a week as it always does-the beginning of Fall semester is the most hectic of the year. But having to earn one's bread doing something you don't like only gives you more incentive to work harder doing what you feel you're meant to do. So this holiday weekend I've been busy at the sewing machine making more fiddle accessories. Today I may actually make those bedroom curtains I've had on my mind since last year in addition to more fiddle bow "bed-rolls" as I like to call them. They look like this: 
   This was born of necessity-I recently won a full size fiddle (in purple!) with the case,bow, & rosin for a mere $10.49. (plus shipping made it $27 something plus investing in new strings) At any rate,the case will not permit me to really loosen the bow hair as one must when you're not playing-if I did so it wouldn't fit in the case. So this idea got put into my head and I made a pattern. I have it up in my eBay store at the moment. 
    And as far as the rosin bags go,I made one using the same southwestern flair flannel:

 I have one in my eBay store & the other in my Etsy shop. Had to add the vintage button for a little extra snazzi-ness. (Plus it helps me move my button collection out the door) 
   I've also come to the realization that one can only play so many instruments & play them well. While I will continue to noodle with uke & my 6 string banjo,I've decided my main focus of musical pursuit will be mandolin & fiddle-for their tone,versatility in music,and thier size & portability. When you're petite,it's a royal pain trying to lug a guitar around. The mandolin and fiddle are a breeze to carry. 
        Other exciting personal news: I got the urge last week,for whatever reason,to look at copies of my Great Grandfathers birth certificate and other documents dating back to 1875. These had been stuffed away in one of those flexible file folders for a few years. My Dad had passed them to me,and at the time,I just couldn't focus on it. Well,at any rate,I discovered that my fiddle playing Great Grandfather was part Scottish. Another relative also has Scottish roots. Clan names of Little and McCown are on these documents. It appears my Moms side of the family settled in Texas coming from North Carolina,Missouri & Alabama. So I'm part Irish,Welsh,and Scottish as far as European influences go. No wonder I loved the UK so much from earliest memory,and King Arthur was among my favorite books to read!