Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Divinity Recipes

Today, in the middle of a blizzard, seems like a good day to make divinity. See my lens about divinity to see why it is NOT.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chocolate Fudge Recipe and More

I don't know where I get the ideas for lenses but sometimes one leads to another. I haven't actually finished the lens that this one came out of.

There are so many sweetened condensed milk fudge recipes out there! I had no idea. I wanted to try them all as I found them and thought I'd have to make fudge 365 days of the year. Out of that came the idea to have a Christmas fudge swap where everybody makes a different batch and we all trade.

I also came up with a way to make chocolate covered fudge.

See it all at Fudge Recipes.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tomato Madness

Here in Iowa canning tomatoes is a late summer/early fall ritual. It looks like this year the tomato season has been cut off short by the record low temperature the other night followed by the close-to-record early snowfall.

Just for fun I put together a lens about canning tomatoes including all the equipment, info, and recipes you need to do it.

Have you ever tried green tomato relish? It's not really tomato-y but it's definitely pickly. And delicious! You'll find a recipe on my lens.

Home Canning Tomatoes

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zazzle and Cafepress: All Hype?

I have a couple of Zazzle stores (heArt-a-Day, Vintage Collage) and I used to have a Cafepress store. I have maybe made $20 in the three years that I've been trying this. I thought that perhaps I had the wrong subject matter. Meanwhile, I have a stash of decent photos of some everyday things which are - to my surprise - viable keywords, so I thought I'd make a new shop using them. Most of the good keywords are already used for shop names, so clearly there are other people doing their keyword homework and hoping to make a buck. But are they really getting any sales?

Because while doing my keyword research, I found something that astounded me. According to my keyword analysis tools the numbers for keywords t-shirt, sweatshirt, greeting card, card, mug, poster and print don't add up. Supply far outweighs demand (what minimal demand there is). So there may be lots of people looking for a picture of a cow jumping over the moon, but they aren't looking for any of those things to put it on. So why would they buy them?

The only way I can see that this would really work is if you already have a fan base for your images and they're looking for something else to put them on.

If you are somebody who is making a nice little income from your Zazzle or Cafepress stores, please let me know. Otherwise I am taking the stance that it's your basic carrot-in-front-of-the-horse marketing scheme that most of us are falling for resulting in no real sales or even traffic.

I really want to believe it will work, though. After all, it is no inventory! print on demand! we'll just send you the profit money! And at least on Zazzle it's completely free.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Copyright Laws Make Me Crazy

Pardon me while I rant.

I'm an artist. I create images. Sometimes I would like to be able to create images from other images. Despite the internet, it is STILL really hard to find free domain images. Even the Library of Congress says it isn't responsible for the images it posts. Then tell me why again that people can be arrested for uploading music?

When I started on Squidoo there was the Flickr module. You could put in a search term and it would show any images from Flickr that matched. That lasted for about three years. Recently Squidoo has decided that unless the person uploading the image to Flickr has designated an image as Creative Commons - Commercial Use Allowed it won't show up on the Flickr module. And even more recently Flickr or Squidoo (don't have time to go find it) decided there will be no loading up of images to the module by search term anymore.

But wait, there are more levels of inconvenience! This means I can't even use my OWN art because I'm not about to designate it commercial use allowed because that means somebody can take it and sell it to somebody for whatever amount. Why would I want to do that?? (And by the way, yes, I have been paid for my work and quite well. On the other hand, derivations are okay - see below.)

I know there's nothing stopping me from just plugging in the HTML and loading them up that way but that takes so much more time. I don't want to waste that time when for years I didn't have to.

That is, if I can even get the images. There are public domain images listed on Flickr that the uploaders refuse to list as commercial use. WTF??? They don't want them to be made into collage sheets. It's. Not. Their. Copyright. They make a big holier-than-thou point of not claiming copyright, so why do they care? Don't upload anything then.

This kind of b/s has been driving me crazy since I first got interested in artsy rubber stamps ten years ago and found out that some rubber stamp companies didn't want you using their rubber stamped images on work for resale, even hand stamped. What, you're going to pay $10-12 for a stamp that you're just going to use a few times to send cards to your friends? Are you kidding me?? Then don't make rubber stamps!! Again...WTF?

And the whole no derivation clause of the copyright law. Look, if somebody seems my work and wants to make something like it, go right ahead. Every piece of art is a derivation of something. It's pretty hard to make a pure piece of art uninfluenced by something we've seen at some point in our lives. It's called being inspired.

Oh..and...if an artist sells a painting and then person who bought it sells it for a profit, does the artist get any of that money? No! They retain copyrights but they don't get any of the money. So why the hell do magazines get to say you can't use images in them to make collages out of for resale? It should be that once a magazine is sold, that is the end of their rights to any monetary gain. It's ridiculous!

I just want to make art. But I've just about had it with trying to make money from it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lensfest #2: Chicken Soup for the Soul

These are lenses about chicken soup, obviously, and feeling good. I have to admit, the Chicken Dance lens made me laugh. out. loud. And the very first chicken soup recipe lens has a secret ingredient that adds a layer of flavor that has been missing from my own chicken soup (and makes it definitely a cold and flu buster).

Here they are:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Desperate Lensmasters

I've taken Squidoo too seriously at times. When it seemed my ability to bookmark my lenses on Tagfoot would be taken away, I had meltdowns. All 3 or 4 or...however many times it's been now. Squidoo is the only income I can count on coming in every month. I never know if anybody is going to buy my art and massage clients cancel when they feel the money crunch.

I've noticed something from time to time among lensmasters. It's called desperation. I feel it too. Desperate to get that single five star rating to pull the lens out of oblivion. Desperate to get more and more ratings, backlinks, traffic, ad commissions, backlinks, traffic, comments...did I mention backlinks and traffic?

It's a virtual squid race. And you know what, it's not very attractive. It's actually repulsive.
I know I am actually driving people away even as I'm shrilly demanding that I get more attention. Why didn't more people rate my lens? Why can't I get that lens in the Top 100? Why is that lens in the 80,000s? When am I going to make that one lens that everybody wants so I can make $1000 a month or more? (Or even, when am I going to bump up another $60 a month?)

It occurs to me that this is the kind of behavior that gets me, and others like me, thrown in with used car salesman and door-to-door vacuum pushers on social bookmarking sites . Nobody OWES me a rating, or even a visit to my lens. Nobody cares that I'm poor. And they don't have to.

From what I understand, really successful people don't push themselves on the populace. They wait for people to come to them, like a lion waiting for the herd to come closer. They also don't try to do everything at once. They take little baby steps and keep quietly practicing their craft, making small adjustments to their course along the way. They don't bite off more than they can chew, expect more than is reasonable. And they don't expect anybody to give them anything.

I think THAT is the way to true success as a lensmaster. In the end the drama only leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth and no increase in money in the bank.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lensfest #1: Worst Ranked Lenses

In case you didn't know, Squidoo has a mysterious internal ranking system. A lens first created enters the system at around 800,000+. The goal is to get to #1, but even getting to the top 100 or top 50 is quite an accomplishment.

The better ranked you are, the more dividends you are paid. (At least that's what I heard recently. In all honesty it's mostly a mystery to me.)

So I thought for Squidoo Club's first "Lensfest" we would celebrate members worst ranked lenses. It is interesting to see what types of lenses don't rank as well. And remember that one lensmaster's"worst" ranked lens might be a good ranking for another member.

Here they are:

My Secret Garden
Mr Prez
Paso Robles Spring Day
Lyrics: Town Called Malice
Spider Web Efficient
Virtual Music Concerts
Does Shopping and Selling Online Hurt the Virtual Economy?
Chocolate Chip Cookies are My Favorite Comfort Food
Vintage Style Tiaras and Crowns

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Squidoo Club

Squidoo has been put down one time too many on Tagfoot. Therefore I've created a Ning group called Squidoo Club specifically for people to promote their lenses (and Hubpages, etc. if they have them) as well as share their ideas and experiences as a Squidoo lensmaster. I hope to make a real community out of it.

I'm cooking up weekly contests of some sort with the prize being an interview of the winner posted here on this blog (and maybe some other things as time and resources allow).

If you want to come and just leave a list of your lenses on your blog and never say another thing, that's fine. If you want to list every single one of your lenses, each of which is about a different model of cell phone, go for it. Such things would get you labeled as a spammer on Tagfoot, but not at the Squidoo Club!

If you want to come and be a part of a friendly community, that's much appreciated (but not required).

If you want to join the group and leave a comment on my page to try and entice me to pay for sexual acts with you then I will:
  • pray to Jesus that you grow a brain
  • invoke Hecate and do some sort of magical working on you - binding, banishing, etc. -
  • block you from leaving comments on my page, the last of which is something everyone can do.
So join the group by clicking here, pull up your keyboard and your beverage of choice (because this is thirsty work!), and promote yourself to your heart's content.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Applying for Giant Squid

I had been putting off trying for becoming a Giant Squid (a person with 50 or more Squidoo lenses) for a year at least. I thought I was going to get there with the last "class" at the end of December but I just couldn't make myself push through it. I think I had about 25 lenses to do. I was down to nine by May and wasn't sure I could get there until I found JustBon's Blue Ribbon Squids team to join. Something about hearing that disco classic "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" every time I stopped by the team lens to add my latest to the list kept me going. And I thought I was all done with disco.

But getting the last 50 lenses wasn't enough as it turned out. (Fifty-one, actually. As usual, I can't count. At the last minute I thought I had 50, no 49, no I ended up with 51.) I had to "hand in" a lensography as part of my application. I had one but it was just a list of lenses. so with two weeks to go I decided to draw illustrations for it and make it a bit more interesting visually. And then find a way to tie it all together. It was a bit like designing a niche in the flower building at the local county fair. Anyway, it's all done and I think it turned out pretty well: An Intuitive Lensography. Now let's all cross our fingers and hope that I really get to enter the hallowed halls of Giant Squidom.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Steampunk Fashion

I decided to do a lens to get a better handle on what "Steampunk" was, a term that I kept running across in art, Second Life, and elsewhere. Much to my surprise I found that it is a cultural phenomenon, philosophy and even lifestyle that makes my life make sense. Although I probably won't ever dress in full 'Punk drag, I will look for ways to incorporate elements of it into my wardrobe.

For more see

Steampunk Fashion 101

Friday, May 15, 2009

Decorating Cookies

Decorating cookies isn't just for Christmas anymore.

Image courtesy of Smitten on Flickr.

Take a look at what you can do with luster dust and fondant:

Image courtesy of sewmuchfun on Flickr

Molded and embossed fondant:

Image courtesy of Toni... on Flickr

Painting cookies with food coloring and brushes:

Image courtesy of neviepiecakes on Flickr.

For more info and the supplies to try it yourself see

Decorating Cookies on Squidoo

Friday, May 8, 2009

Doodling as Art

Is a doodle art?

Image courtesy of Rob Court on Flickr.

I think so.

Image courtesy of valentinadesign on Flickr.

Doodle Art on Squidoo

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lavender Lemon Sugar Cookies

I found this photo of beautiful lavender lemon sugar cookies on Flickr,

which in turn led me to the When Harry Met Salad Blog. The entire entry is as lovely and well presented as a magazine article. I am featuring it on my Sugar Cookie Recipes Squidoo lens to celebrate spring.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Drawing a Rose Using Flickr and Photoshop

How do you go from this

to this

using Flickr and Photoshop?

Go to my How to Draw a Rose
Squidoo lens to find out.

White rose photo by kostas.v on Flickr.
Drawing by me.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Image Transfer - A Cool Art Technique

I first fell in love with the look of image transfer while reading about it in Somerset Studio magazine. The technique itself, though - despite reading numerous how-to articles in the magazine - escaped me. In the beginning people were using toxic substances such as acetone to dissolve the toner on copies. Or, to get a colored image they were using Polaroid pictures and expensive equipment. So although I admired the look I didn't use it.

A couple of years ago an artist friend of mine asked me just what an image transfer was. Googling to find the right information was so frustrating that I decided to create a lens as a sort of bibliography. Since then the lens has grown quite a bit and includes many different methods for image transfer as well as my own "faux" image transfer technique that I developed.

Check it out for yourself by clicking on this link: Image Transfer on Squidoo.

Image courtesy of "T" Altered Art on Flickr.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Altered Art Vintage Valentines

A couple of years ago, with the kind encouragement of a friend, I learned how to use Photoshop. There was a steep learning curve but then one day something just clicked and the other pieces of the Photoshop puzzle pretty much fell into place. Getting a Wacom Graphire Bluetooth 6 x 8-Inch Tablet for my computer helped immensely as well. In fact, that alone was life changing! Suddenly I was free to try all sorts of things artistically that I couldn't before.

About the same time people in the mixed media/paper arts world started using a lot of vintage 1920's era images of people in their work. I found Tallulah's online where I could download them for a reasonable price and use them commercially. Then I started playing around with digitally altering some flower photos I'd taken to turn them into backgrounds. Valentine's Day was coming up so I set a task for myself of creating several valentines from the formula I'd invented. That was the key moment in my learning of Photoshop. From there I created a Zazzle shop for them and now with the handy Zazzle module on Squidoo, a lens that is just the beginning of my altered art Valentine adventures.

Altered Art Vintage Valentines on Squidoo

Thursday, January 29, 2009

From Goddess to Groundhog: The Evolution of a Holy Day

In the United States, Groundhog's Day is sort of a silly made up holiday whereby a large rodent that lives in the ground is said to be able to predict how many weeks of winter are left. Groundhog's Day is really the last remnants of an ancient Celtic feast day dedicated to celebrating their main goddess, Brigid, who was a seer of the future. It became Christianized as Candlemas which represents different things to different denominations. These days pagans have revived it as Imbolc, a day to celebrate Brigid and the first stirrings of spring with the noticeable strengthening of the sun in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to see it as a time to celebrate the fruits of the summer and the light that will soon be waning. After all, Brigid is a goddess of hearth and home as well as enlightenment. In all ways, even Groundhog's Day, it is a festival of light.

I have personally encountered Brigid as a presence. For most of my life I've been interested in deities from different traditions but I was never really sure they existed. Then one night I was at work and suddenly I felt a powerful energy right in front of me. The name Brigid popped into my head. For years prior I'd had an interest in things Celtic because of my northern European ancestors, but I really knew very little about Brigid. I immediately Googled her and what I found spoke directly to my life at that moment, and also my life in general. If you haven't experienced something like that I know it can sound delusional. I even questioned my own sanity for a while after. But that was the beginning of a long initiation process that I'm still in the middle of. Now having the presence of Brigid around isn't so overwhelming. But I will never forget being "called" like that.

One of the first Squidoo lenses I made was about Brigid. With it I have tried to collect the most relevant information about Brigid on the Web and put it in one place for reference. Check it out here: Brigid - Celtic Triple Goddess.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Make a Free Online Vision Board Using Squidoo

Vision boards, or dream boards as they're sometimes called, are becoming more and more popular as a way to visually map out your goals and dreams. They are often part of a philosophy called the Law of Attraction made popular by The Secret. I have to say I'm getting a bit tired of the overuse of the Law of Attraction, but since I am an artist I still like the idea of creating vision boards. Apparently even Oprah made one to add energy to President Obama's campaign.

Originally to make one you cut pictures out of magazines and glued them onto poster board to make a collage. Now there are online sites where you can create vision boards. I thought why not make one from a Squidoo lens? You have modules to add pictures and modules to add text, and not only that you might make a little bit of money from them if it's a topic lots of people are interested in.

See what I came up with at my lens here: Create a Free Vision Board With Squidoo

And although I am a bit jaded about the "LOA", I've found a new book that puts it in a more down-to-earth perspective. I made my first Squidoo "SquidLit" lens about it. Check it out here: The Law of Attraction in Action .

(Just a note to any other Squidooers reading this who are thinking about trying the SquidLit template. I'm tempted to say don't. It seems to have a lot of bugs. Don't write too much in the introductory template because I lost most of it in transition to the regular workshop.)