Thursday, May 13, 2010

Etsy Seller: McGino, A Hottie's Perspective

I'm new to this whole blog thing, but it sure is fun. I get to overshare with the public and make virtual friendships with people who are far too cool to live in a sodding culture-vacuum like where I live. One very cool seller I've come across is Colleen, who has offered to provide the prize for our next contest. She has two Etsy shops, McGino, her primary shop, and Just Harry, an homage site to all things Harry Potter. While I'm too fascinated with the mysteries of the human psyche to be interested in fantasy fiction, but I do love everything in both of her shops.

Okay, I'll shut up now and just let you read the interview. Without further adieu,

ME: First of all, you have some of the most disturbingly amazing props and backgrounds for your images. It's like you borrowed them from Marylin Manson. What's up with that?

McGino: What a compliment! I have a big case in the Socorro County Arts gallery/gift store to display my jewelry and other wares, so I like to make it stand out with props and decorations. I lean toward the creepy/spooky/scary stuff, so I’m sorry that Halloween comes only once a year.

ME: You are a physics and astronomy professor, and quite frankly... you're hot. Do you have a pair of librarian glasses? Have you ever reenacted a scene from the movie Secretary while wearing those glasses?

McGino: Yes, I teach online and love it. As for being hot, I’m just really good at Photoshop. I could make Betty White look hot. If those cheapie magnifying glasses you get in the pharmacy section of Walmart can be considered librarian glasses, then yes, I do have some. I’m not familiar with the movie “Secretary”, but I do plan to reenact the ‘put the f----ing lotion in the basket’ scene from “Silence of the Lambs” with my robots soon, does that count?

ME: What about you qualifies you for the lofty label of being a "badass," one of the most illustrious titles ever bestowed upon someone here in the WTF world?

McGino: Actually, I think it is my age that qualifies me. Things change as you get older. Well, my age and my physical inactivity; sitting in front of a computer most of the day. I’m really hoping that my new exercise regime of an hour on the stationary bicycle and stair stepper each day will help turn things around. Oh wait, you said ‘badass’, not ‘fatass’….

ME: Not only are you the first person to ever send me a gift in gratitude for an order, but you also sent me one of the coolest vintage necklaces I have ever seen. Where do you find such cool items? Where do you get your ideas?

McGino: Well, I had never had received so many extra goodies in my order from anyone; I’m glad you like it! I was just lucky finding that necklace. You see, I live rurally in a very small town, so there’s not much around here in the way of places to find cool vintage things, and I am far too lazy to drive the hour to go to Albuquerque where the shops are. So I get most of my vintage stuff on ebay, buying bit lots from folks that go to estate sales (which is generally much cheaper than buying vintage stuff on Etsy, sorry to say). Then my sisters who live in ‘real’ cities send me interesting stuff they find at garage sales or thrift stores, and my mom has given me some amazing stuff from her own jewelry collection (much of which I can’t part with). The necklace in question came from an estate sale I went to when I was visiting with my sisters in northern California. There was a whole house filled with jewelry, bins and bins of it, it was paradise! Now that I’ve finally seen an estate sale, I think that is the best way to go. So I might have to drive that hour up to the big city next time I need to stock up on vintage jewelry.

ME: What are some highlights from your Etsy experiences (think about some cool people you've met, some hilarious things you've seen, some really nice compliments you've gotten, something/s awesome you bought, items you regularly buy, etc)

McGino: Let’s see….cool, you...hilarious, you...compliments, from you….awesome supplies, from you…hmm, are we detecting a theme here? But seriously, your bio in WTFsupplies is the funniest thing I’ve seen on Etsy, which prompted me to write you a note praising you for your cleverness. The nicest compliment I received was when a woman who has her own
Etsy store of cool jewelry made from vintage components bought one of my expensive necklaces rather than just making a knockoff of it herself – that’s a huge compliment! A very cool thing happened just last week. After I told one of my wonderful customers that I love the Harry Potter series she suggested I get the books of German writer and cartoonist Walter Moers, so I did. I just finished the first book The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear which I loved, and have three more of his books on the way. I sense another line of jewelry inspired by fantasy literature on the horizon…. I only buy supplies on Etsy, I have a handful of favorite suppliers (including you) that I regularly buy from. I do get tons of inspiration from the amazing artistry I see on Etsy. The only things I’ve bought on Etsy that I kept for myself are two watches from you, the robot and skull/crossbones, and a robot charm from another supply store.

Being featured in the WTF Etsy blog is a highlight! I've had a few other sellers who contacted me to be featured in their blogs with the caveat that I include a giveaway. I agreed, and then never heard from them again. Pfff. I'm impressed that you are actually following through with your offer, and you never even asked for a freebie. Very professional! So since you didn't ask I had to offer a giveaway to your readers :-)

ME: Okay, did you vote on the WTF polls? Who'd you pick for hottest TV badass?

McGino: Yes. House. He is annoying, condescending, sarcastic, self-aggrandizing, humorous and brilliant, all qualities I admire and aspire to.

ME: Your shops are so immensely cool. I have to say that your robot scene is far beyond my creative capacity and artistic verve. What did you have to do to set that scene up? Also, since you have a variety of media on your stores (jewelry, cards, vintage, fine art, Potteresque accessories, etc), what sells the most? What would you imagine would sell more but just hasn't?

McGino: First, thanks! I really love my robots, I have about 30 or so. Setting up the scenes can be very time consuming. I have a ton of miniature props – food, beverages, sporting goods, electronics, vehicles, furniture, clothing, accessories – and I’m always buying more. Sometimes a miniature item I find will give me an idea for a scene, sometimes a movie scene or song will spark an idea (most of my miniature cat scenes started this way), and sometimes it is the robots themselves that tell me how they want to be depicted. The astronomer scene was a custom order for a fellow physicist who accepted my Alchemy bid.
I sold her on the idea of a robot in a spacecraft looking through a telescope, then got input from her about what else she wanted in the scene (her boyfriend with beer, physics books, low lighting, etc.).
Then it was a matter of finding things I had on hand and creating the scene. The walls are disposable roasting pans and cupcake pans, then I added the actual cupcake liners with little astronomy images on them to add color and cut down the glare from the tin pans. The light sculpture is made from plastic straws with little lights on the bottom and the base is a toilet paper tube wrapped in aluminum foil. The lighted coffee table is a little light covered in a cupcake wrapper and plastic lid from a jar of instant coffee. The most time consuming bit were the books and magazines; I printed out tiny pictures of real books then folded them up to look like tiny books. The whole process of getting the images, printing them and folding them took about six hours! But I’m sure I’ll be able to use them again.
My stores are only 5 months and 1 month old, so I don’t see real specific sales trends yet. But I suppose the thing that I’ve sold most of have been necklaces. Maybe it is just because those are the things I relist the most often? I guess I expected more sales on my “10 bucks and under” items. Again, maybe it is because I don’t relist them often?
As for Alchemy, the only two bids that have been accepted were for custom robot scenes. After scouring the requests daily for the past several months I’m finding that in most cases I’m not interested in bidding on jewelry requests, since it seems that most folks want to pay pennies on the dollar for custom items. I’m sick of seeing the “I want something unique and amazing and don’t want to spend more than $5 including shipping, show me what you got!” crap. What’s worse is that these listings usually have a ton of bids. Come on, Etsy artisans, don’t sell yourself so cheap! Okay, rant over.

ME: Have you ever personally met anyone from Etsy? (if you haven't, just skip this. if you have, tell me a story about it)

McGino: Actually, one of the jewelry artists in my local group, Socorro County Arts, just told me she has an Etsy shop but I haven’t seen it yet. And with that new feature, shop locally, I was surprised to see a half dozen sellers based in my little town. So maybe I’ll meet up with one of them someday!

ME: You are a bastion of success. A published artist, a professor, a photographer, a jewelry maker. Why are you such an over-achiever? What else do you do? What are some ideas you have for new things you'd like to do? Want to tell us about some of your accolades?

McGino: And here I thought I wasn’t doing enough…I used to sing with my sisters when I was a kid. We were on American Bandstand twice and some other old shows. Neither fame nor fortune followed, unfortunately. I used to have a home recording studio. I wrote the scripts for and recorded planetarium shows, did some background music for cable TV and commercials, tried writing pop and kid songs. Neither fame nor fortune came from any of that either. When I was the director of the Dudley Observatory in NY a while back I used to give a lot of public lectures and do a lot of interviews on TV, radio and newspapers to talk about current astronomical events and such, that was fun. A little fame, no fortune. My boyfriend and I built the small house we live in with our own two, uh, four hands from the ground up, and will be starting on the large house soon. Saving a fortune, no fame. As for new things, I’m learning to take care of plants for the first time in my life. I have flowers and even a small vegetable garden. Hopefully I won’t kill them off…I’m learning how to shoot and will start participating in local action pistol competitions (no shooting critters, just targets). I would like to get a kiln and start working with precious metal clay. I wish I could draw. I wish I could think of something clever to make (other than purses that nobody in their right mind would use) with the 100 (and counting) large cat food bags I refuse to throw away.

ME: How much would you be willing to bet, as our next contest comes up, that your crafting space is messier than mine? Also, you are offering the prize for the next contest. Can you give us a preview of what the contest will be?

So, in response to this question, McGino sent me this image of her craft space. Although I am stimulated by the space, it is utterly pristine and in order compared to mine. Too bad she wouldn't bet me on messiest! BUT, McGino isn't entering the contest, she's offering the prize. She just wanted to inspire the WTF readers with her own version of chaos. What we're doing is offering a chance for our readers to send a picture of their craft space. The craziest, most neurotic space will win: so, whether you're messy, anal retentive, obsessive compulsive, a hoarder, an alphabetizer, or if you have several rooms of your house that look like a boutique, we want to see whose spot is the surest embodiment of our WTF!? Etsy tradition.

(See picture below for the prize)

ME: Lastly, tell me three things that all shoppers should know, would never had guessed, or that they would love about McGino:

1. I rescue stray cats, get them fixed, inoculated, get them all medical care they need, and find them a home – mine (this helps to explain the 100 and counting large cat food bags).
2. I work from home so I often have a movie playing in the background. The movies I put on at least once a week are Zoolander, Silence of the Lambs, and Harry Potter movies.
3. I listen to audio books when I sleep, either murder mysterious or fantasy stuff like Rowling or Walter Moers. Now that I think of it, this may partially explain the bizarre dreams I have…

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