Custom Knitted Teddy Bears Are All The Rage!

Forget toy stores and claw machines! Get a teddy bear with a little more heart built into it! Hand-knitted teddy bears are becoming increasingly popular, with many of these adorable crafts adding cuteness to children’s rooms everywhere!

2014 Resolutions for Crafters

The year is coming to an end and 2014 is quickly approaching.  Even with so much to look forward to and do, many have already begun thinking about their New Year’s resolutions.  Thanks to sites like Pinterest, crafters and do-it-yourselfers can take crafting to a whole new level.

With the help of the Internet and social media crafting inspiration has never been more accessible.  If you’re new to crafting or an experienced pro, you can find something to keep you busy.  While it’s very easy to get carried away by all of the ideas, staying within in your ability range is important.  Starting with something relatively simple when you’re first starting out can give you the confidence you need try a second or a third project and so on.  Attempting something complicated right from the start can lead to frustration and eventually quitting without ever getting the project complete.

Frequent crafters may want to consider selling their projects either online at sites like Etsy or at local craft shows and fairs.  It does take a good deal of time and energy to grow a successful business, and that is something to take into consideration when making the decision, but it can be done.  Utilizing the Internet and social media can help you take your business to the next level.

As this New Year begins resolve to try something new.  Of course we all have things that we excel at and enjoy doing; however, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of always doing the same thing.  If you enjoy sewing perhaps try knitting or crocheting.  If you enjoy creating new things, try going green by using recycled materials.  Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much at once but stretch your boundaries and experience something new.

Don’t start too many projects at once, as any crafter can tell you, you’ll likely end up with a stack of started or halfway finished projects and nothing completed.  Just relax and enjoy the creative process.

There are many videos online to help crafters learn new skills  Check out the video below that teaches newbies how to knit:

Most Expensive Paintings

The greatest paintings of all time used to be held in museums and shared with the general public.  In the past thirty years, more and more paintings have changed hands via auctions and private sales for figures that would astound the original artist.  In fact, the five most expensive sales total nearly a billion dollars (US).

Traditionally, museums consider that the greatest works of art, especially paintings and sculpture by the “old masters” are priceless.  In a few cases, certain paintings have been valued by insurance companies. Most notably, the Mona Lisa was valued at $100 million back in 1962.  In today’s currency that would be approximately $772 million.

Van Gogh paintingThe new era of high dollar art sales began in 1987 with the sale of “Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh.  The price paid was $24.75 million. That figure is more than triple the previous high price paid for a painting. Adjusted for inflation the van Gogh sale represents $82 million. That adjusted figure puts it outside the top 30 sales of all time.

Below is a table of the most expensive paintings sold, showing both the original sale price and the inflation-adjusted price.  All prices are in millions (USD).

The Card Players, Paul Cézanne — $259+ ($269.40)

No. 5, 1948, Jackson Pollock — $140 ($162.70)

Woman III, Willem de Kooning — $137.50 ($159.80)

Le Rêve,  Pablo Picasso — $155 ( $155.90)

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,  Gustav Klimt — $135 ($155.80)

Portrait of Dr. Gachet,  Vincent van Gogh — $82.50 ($149.50)

Three Studies of Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon — $142.40  ($142.40)

Bal du moulin de la Galette, Pierre-Auguste Renoir — $78.10  ($141.50)

Garçon à la pipe, Pablo Picasso — $104.20  ($129.00)

The Scream, Edvard Munch — $119.90  ($122.20)

Flag, Jasper Johns —  $110.00  ($118.30)

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, Pablo Picasso — $106.50  ($114.30)

Portrait of Joseph Roulin, Vincent van Gogh –$58 + exchange of works  ($111 +)

Dora Maar au Chat, Pablo Picasso –$95.20  ($110.10)

Irises, Vincent van Gogh –$53.90  ($109.40)

Jessica Logan is an artist and blogger who is especially interested in the money behind and around the art world.  She has written about famous artists and reviewed new artists as well as writing in depth analysis of the art industry for blogs and websites.  She has also covered purely financial topics like money mutual funds, the stock market, and the real estate industry.

Sports in Art

The release of “Rush,” the latest movie to showcase race car drivers and auto racing, the connection between sports and art is back in the public imagination. Almost from the beginning of moving pictures, film and video and now digital recording have been used to document and broadcast actual sporting events.  However, there are dozens and dozens of films that have been made that put sport as the artistic center of a movie or other filmed program.

Film is far from the only art form that has celebrated sports.  Sculptures, paintings, and assemblages with sport as a subject date back millennia and exist in almost every culture that has both sport and art.  In modern times, photographs, prints and posters have also been created with sporting content.

In 1984 the American Sport Art Museum and Archives was founded at the United States Sports Academy.  It houses a collection of over 1,000 pieces of art that  preserve “the performance and movement of man” including a 2-story mural entitled “a Tribute to the Human Spirit” by Maestro Cristobal Gabarron.  They also give an annual Sports Artist of the Year award to an artist who captures “the spirit of sport.”

In 2012 the American Federation of Arts worked with Sports Illustrated to assemble the Sport in Art collection. This show traveled to museums across the country and featured 102 works of art depicting everything from fishing to football to boxing. The media involved included prints, drawings, and paintings. In 2013 the Daytona Art Institute presented two sports-related exhibits, “Andy Warhol: Athletes” and “The Art of Sport: Highlights from the Collection of the Dayton Art Institute.”

Below are several videos that celebrate sport in art:

contributed by Ben Hutchinson, a popular sports columnist whose profiles of athletes like  Calvin Johnson and Serena Williams have appeared on numerous blogs and news sites.

The Appeal of the Sports Car

Even though the news is full of stories of economic hardship, there remains a pre-occupation with the finer things in life. Even those who might never afford these luxury items spend an inordinate amount of time watching television programs and reading magazines about five-star restaurants, multi-million dollar mansions, fabulous luxury vacations, and the ever-popular sports car.

sportscarWhile there are a variety of definitions available for the term “sports car,” the term is usually referring to a lightweight vehicle that sits low to the ground and has an extremely powerful engine. Most are two-door, two-seaters with rear-wheel drive and provide more precise handling and faster acceleration rates. They are also usually much more aesthetically pleasing than other vehicle types.

It is the mechanical performance and the physical beauty that are the big attractions in a sports car. Fuel economy and passenger space are far down the list of important features for a sports car. Instead superior maneuverability, road handling, and high power are premium. Many popular sports car brands have established reputations as race cars which add to the cachet of owning such a vehicle.

Of course, it is possible to get sports car performance from a more mundane vehicle. “Tricking” or “Pimping” a car with a more powerful engine and improving its performance features is a popular pastime in many parts of the world. And some people will stretch the definition so that they can list a sports car for sale that is really a muscle car, sport compact, or hot hatch. Latching onto the sports car image improves the marketability and price of these lesser cars.

Many of the better sports cars and racing cars used by American racers aren’t available in the US or Canada. This is due to stricter safety regulations than are in place in Europe, the UK, and the Middle East.

Your New Crafting Business

craftsYou’ve started a new crafting business and are wondering what comes next.

Start with a review of what you’ve already done.  If you’ve missed any of these steps, you should go back and make sure you have everything in place before moving forward.

  • Picked a product that is marketable, has a consistent demand, and is distinctive from other similiar products
  • Priced your product to cover all your expenses (including insurance, tools, distribution, utilities, etc.) and provide you a salary for your time, but is still affordable to your customers.
  • Decided where to sell your products (online, at craft fairs, in local stores, setting up your own store front) and where you will create your products.
  • Obtained enough money or financing for your startup costs and to keep you solvent through the first few months.
  • Registered your business and paid for any required business licenses.
  • Set up bookkeeping, bank accounts, and obtained necessary merchant accounts for accepting credit card payments.

Now you’re ready for the next steps.

Market Your Business

Many crafters use websites such as etsy to sell their work. You may also want to build a standalone website, take advantage of social media sites like Pinterest to share photos of your products, and advertise through online directories or even search engine advertising to get the word out. You can also participate in craft shows, distribute your products through local stores, or use traditional forms of advertising such as leaflets, posters on bulletin boards, or sending out postcards.

Maintain Contact with Customers

It is vital in the crafting business that you collect whatever data you can from customers, including permission to send them notifications about your products from time to time.  This way you can send out an email announcement of appearances at craft fairs, send them notices about sales or new products or identify and reward repeat customers with special discounts or prizes.


The true joy of a crafting business is that you’re always creating new things. Whether it’s a new color combination or variation of a product or developing an entirely new item, you’re using your imagination and creative muscles to make something beautiful and useful that you can put in the hands of a grateful customer.

Article written by Steve Johnston who is an active Las Vegas blogger in the casino consultants, crafting, and travel industry.

photo by: ~MVI~ (warped)

Your Hobby Car’s Optimal Performance

carWhen I checked my repair manual for manufacturers recommendations I found that it was just fine to wait for the my oil gauge to register that it was time to add new oil.  However, I always wondered if I should fill it regularly to keep at the maximum level.  Since my college days a Mustang engine burning up on the freeway, and of always having a case of oil in my Volkswagen bus, oil levels are something I pay attention to with diligence.  The engine parts are lubricated and cooled as oil circulates through, and with a lifetime spent driving older cars with high mileage, I have come to realize just how incredibly important this is.

Add to that I live in an unbearable hot city during the summer, Phoenix, Arizona.  And the environmental heat combined with the heat of the engine makes this one car maintenance routing that is necessary to keep an eye on.  If the levels reach one quart under, this can serve to cause engine wear and tear and put you at risk of burning out that engine.  Never should oil be over filled.  This is a case of too much of a good thing, being a bad thing.  The crankcase will become too full and as it spins it will splatter oil into a foam.  It may also result in leakage as the gaskets and the seals will become overwhelmed.

When it becomes time to do an oil change, and you decide that you want to do this yourself, never do it when the engine is hot.  Hot oil creates horrible burns.  It is always recommended that you find a safe place to do that oil change, such as on level and solid ground.  This way your car will be safely jacked up, because you will need to get a bit dirty, and you will need to be under your car to change out the oil.  Make sure that all the tools you will be needing are close at hand, and then you are ready to go.  Changing your own oil and doing your own automotive repair is one way to save a bit of money.  Plus, by working on your own car you will become familiar with all the quirks and the next necessary fix-its that are required.  For more information click here

Life is a Gamble Why Not Play

So, you’ve always enjoyed playing poker and other card games with your family and friends, and in fact may have contributed to your allowance throughout your college years through your weekly card game. And now, you’re sitting behind your television or computer screen, somewhere in your mid thirties and are wondering what happened to your youth, freedom, and plans to change the world. Okay, well, maybe that’s not the exact picture frame surrounding you, though perhaps you relate to the fun and excitement of poker and other card games and have secretly wanted to become a professional poker player. Well, there’s no time like the present, unless of course you’re married with children and an impossible mortgage on your shoulders. And if that’s the case, there’s really no time like the present. Though, there are some fundamental preparations and aspects to consider if you truly intend to become a professional poker player.

moneyOf course the first and most important thing is learning the rules of the game, as well as the in-depth strategic elements. There are a variety of ways to learn and improve your playing. There are numerous books that provide insights into game theory as well as online opportunities for practice. Meanwhile, one of the other essential ingredients to professional career is an adequate bankroll. This means that you must have more than enough money to loose it all in one or more sessions. And in order to create a livable income, you need to play at higher stakes, or at least often enough to generate some cash overflow. The majority of your initial earnings should be used to enhance your bankroll. Check out money blog by clicking here and other online resources for further information.

Some people consider options other than simply working hard, cutting back on expenses and saving a chunk of money. Short term loans, credit cards and other options are part of this consideration. It is always a risk to borrow money to play poker, and many experts will warn against it. However, the decision is yours, and after-all, if you come across some financial assistance that works with your needs, it can be a tremendous resource. Money Mutual is a great place to start with your questions and concerns. Most experts will suggest you have about a year’s income in your bankroll before beginning. This means your reserve bankroll, not your immediate playing buy in amount. You can expect a learning curve and typical ebb and flow to your bankroll as you play. When you see the pros place, and lose, thousands of dollars in one hand, you can be sure that they maintain an abundant bankroll to back that up. Playing poker, for fun or professionally, can be extremely rewarding and lucrative. You’ll meet hundreds of interesting people. Just make sure you’re ready, in all ways, to make that leap.

Following your True Calling in Photography

Following your true calling in photography is not as simple as changing careers. Unlike retraining to become a computer technician, for instance, photography is an art, one that you need to go after with all of your creative spirit. If you think you have it in you to become a photographer, go after it and don’t stop until you’ve reached your goal. To improve your skills as you go, consider taking photography classes at New Mexico universities.

The first thing to do is to get a good camera. Even professional photographers use digital these days. Buy one that’s in your price range. Look around online for recommendations of good, inexpensive cameras if you’re on a tight budget.

Once you’ve got a camera, it’s time to start shooting. As a general rule, shoot as often as you can. The only way to get good at taking pictures is to do it frequently and to critique your own work. Shoot different locations and subjects, and shoot in different conditions. Instructors at New Mexico universities will tell you that taking pictures at night is very different than during the day. Experiment and find the material and time of day that you’re most comfortable with.

One important reason to take pictures on your own is so that you can assemble your own portfolio. If you want to get into a photography program at a college or university, you’ll likely be required to submit a portfolio detailing your work. Consider arranging your best photographs according to theme. For example, you might assemble a series of photos of bridges throughout your city or town. Give the series a name, such as “Crossing Bridges,” and write a short explanation about what you were trying to accomplish.

Whether you get accepted into photography programs at New Mexico Universities, Austin, Texas or elsewhere, you can continue following your true calling by extending your experience in photography. Once you have found your own voice, it can still help to read up on what others have done in the field. Go to your local library and find some books about photography to get tips as you become more and more expert. Even better, visit local galleries when photography exhibits are showing. You might be surprised at how inspired and influenced you can become by looking at the work of some famous photographers. In the end, remember that photography is an art. Pursue it because you love it.

Making Money, Making Scrapbooks and Making Smiles

Arts and crafts have long been a favored hobby for many people. There are various genres, mediums and surrounding themes, though for most people who participate regularly in these and similar activities, they are also considered to be rather therapeutic. There is something to be said for all sorts of creative expression, painting, writing, playing music and various other arts genres provide an emotional release for that is unique to the performer or player. In addition, the art of scrapbooking , collage creating and other similar crafts is just as or more satisfying for the participant. With this in mind, many people who have maintained these hobbies strictly based on personal satisfaction have no begun to expand their interests and some are even creating their own small businesses out of them. And for those that do, these scrap books become not only the creator’s form of self expression and income, they provide they provide the purchaser with a unique form of memory enjoyment and preservation. And you don’t necessarily need a personal loan to begin.

Of course not everyone who has a particular knack for beautiful scrap booking or mural design or other personally themed crafts that can be incorporated into our homes and lives. However, there are some extremely creative and talented people who are, and many of these individuals are not only sharing their work, but are also bringing in second incomes and sometimes even replacing their primary job altogether. And with the economy in its current troubled state, including all projected immediate futures, finding unique forms of income is an essential skill. In addition, most of us dream of making our talents come alive, or of owning our own business or some combination of both an this is just one of the ways to make this happen.

Another possible options for those individuals with a particular talent for scrap booking is to make videos, hold classes and workshops. You can arrange with specific organizations that can either pay you to come in and provide the class or you can hold your own and charge individual participants a specific amount. If you provide the bulk of the secondary materials this will contribute to the workshop as well as the inspiration and creativity on of the participants. In addition these classes can be an excellent social outlet for individuals of all ages, income levels and lifestyles.

With all of the changes that are occurring in all aspects of society some of these simple and traditional activities are remaining strong and even becoming more important to us. If you’re thinking of starting some kind of arts and crafts business, there are different funding sources available. Check out sites like to learn about the financial options.