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Crafty Business

or, why I love Etsy.

I got home today to find the first of the two stationery orders I have in at etsy had arrived. Satsuma Press is a letterpress run by Lynn in Portland OR. A lot of the stuff I love on Etsy is from Portland, including Kelly's fabulous baby things and other letterpresses.

From Satsuma Press I got a set of 5 spring green flowering rush design cards for $15. Most UK readers will do the maths and realise that this is quite a bargain compared to buying a pack of notelet cards in a stationers here even after factoring in the airmail cost (financial and environmental). There's a tiny bit of me which loves Etsy for the price, but the main reason I love it is because it allows me to find and support designers whose work is individualistic and lovely.

If you look around a card shop - either a specialist or a large branch of WH Smiths - what you find is prepackaged designs in fixed genres: the dire unfunny funny ones; the square photos of things in Magnum detail; the "we stuck on a bit of gauze with a glue gun so it is 'hand-finished'" ones; the terrifying 'for my darling relation' ones only ever sent by lily-of-the-valley wearing grannies. Admittedly, you can also get Far Side ones but there's only so many times a recipient can laugh at the one about the cows in the field. So Etsy provides a freedom from those narrow confines. Want a card with batik patterns and a bird? It's here. Something bold and typographical, like a frame of a Saul Bass title sequence? Try Green Chair Press. Something with bees? Pearls and Marmalade. Bold and sassily retro? Pepperina press.

And it's not just letterpress stuff, no. There are badges. Kung Fu Cowgirl badges. Crafty birdhouse badges. Retro badges.

The biggest problem is knowing how to pick your way through the choices. To a large extent, I rely on the judgement of design*sponge, as she has an eye for design similar to my own. Except all her sneak peaks into designers' homes makes me think my own place is so scruffy. However, she has got a fab d*s letterpress guide which serves as a useful starting point. Why bother buying lots of little bits from many small presses? If you're going to buy stationery anyway, you might as well spend the money on cards which are outside of the categories defined by card shops, at the same time as cutting out the middle man and ensuring the designer gets all the profit.

/whispers/ ...and, er, it's actually cheaper... /whispers/


Posted @ 7:10 pm on Monday, September 10, 2007
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