Dear etsy, HERE’S your sign!

My dearest blog readers,

Please pardon this post and all the annoying superfluous pictures of equipment and piles of wood.  etsy has ‘requested’  that I provide them with PROOF that “I” hand make the signs that I sell in my etsy shop.  I sent them links to the several posts in my blog where I show and tell how I make my signs, but that was not good enough for etsy.  Nope.  I am required to take CURRENT step by step pictures;  and those pictures MUST include a piece of paper with the date on it.

***EDITED TO ADD:  Oh my word!!  I just ‘double checked’ the incredibly ANAL list of etsy’s requirements to prove all this, and I see that I overlooked that I was supposed to also put my etsy username on that dated piece of paper that I had to show in every picture!  (so that they can be SURE that it really was me who took the pictures)  Hopefully posting it here on my blog will satisfactorily fulfil that requirement.  Afterall I DO continually promote my etsy shop here in my blog.  ***

I really couldn’t think of an easier way to ‘show and explain’ to etsy my sign making process from start to finnish other than posting it here in my blog.  I wonder HOW other etsy sellers do it when they are questioned about their hand mades???  Far too many photos and details to be able to just attach pictures to an email!!


4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 122Paint brushes used to paint sign surfaces.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 123MORE paint brushes and paints.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 126Yep!  I buy my much of my paint by the gallon.  And mix some of my own colors in smaller containers.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 127Stacks of wood for sign making.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 134MORE wood for signs.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 135And still MORE wood.  The wood I use is ‘reclaimed’ (stuff that other people were going to throw away!)  So I get as much as I can, whenever it’s available.  When I get into ‘sign production mode’, I can easily use up two big stacks of wood in a weeks time.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 130This is my scroll saw that I cut sign boards to length with.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 131And this is how I position the wood for cutting.  Sorry, I don’t have enough arms and hands to be able to take a picture of me doing the actual cutting AND take a picture at the same time.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 128This is my 4″ belt sander that I use to sand the edges and surfaces of the sign boards before I paint them.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 133After I cut and sand the sign boards I ‘base coat’ them with black paint.  Then I let that paint dry.  (Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the paint drying!)

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 136After the black base coat is dry, I paint the top coat color and let it dry.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 129After the color top coat dries I use this orbital hand sander to ‘distress’ the sign; by sanding off some of the topcoat and allowing areas of the black base coat to show through.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 148Then I go to my file of stencils and select the file that contains the stencil that I need for that particular sign.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 124I probalby have 50 or 60 stencils in my current sign making repertoire.  I keep them in file folderds of 2-4 stencils each; grouping similar themes together for easy identification.  This is the file that contains the “Paris” stencil used to make the specific sign you inquired about.  I also have other PARIS stencils in different fonts.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 138I position the stencil on the painted and dsitressed sign board, applying some blue painters tape to the egdes to hold it in place.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 139Using acrylic paint and a small sponge applicator, the paint is gently and carefully ‘dabbed’ over the cut out parts of the stencil.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 140

I carefully remove the stencil, then remove the blue painters tape that held it in place;  and take the used stencil to the kitchen and put it in a pan of soapy water to soak for a bit before I wash off the paint residue (which never actaully comes ALL the way off, as you can see in the picture of the stencil).  During this time the stenciled on paint dries.  (sorry again, no picture of the paint drying!)

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 142After the stenciled on lettering dries, I use a very fine paint brush to touch up any details that need it.  Let that dry, then I apply a coat of matte varnsih and let it dry.  (no picture of varnish drying either!)  And yes I DO buy my varnish by the gallon too.

4.12.13 signs CURIOSITIES stencils 013(undated stock photo) After I apply the varnish I put the paint brush I used to apply the varnish in a jar of water to soak.  Then I use a hammer to attach a ‘nailless sawtooth hanger’ to the back of the sign.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 144But in reality, I  NEVER make just ‘one sign’ at any given time.   To maximize my productivity I work in a modified assembly line manner.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 127Some days I’ll do nothing but sand a couple of piles of sign boards.

Then the next day I’ll paint them all with the black basecoat, and leave them out to dry.

Then the next day I’ll paint them all with the topcoat color, and leave them out to dry.

Then the next day, I’ll hand sand and distress that same batch.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 147Then after all that is done,  I store those stacks of ‘ready to stencil’ boards in my craft room.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 145Sorry !  I forgot my ‘date card’ on this picture!  Having a lot of boards prepped and ready to stencil really streamlines the whole process for me, and cuts down on the actual amount of time I ultimately spend on each sign.  Predominately set up and clean up time.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 145And by having a multitude of boards ‘prepped and ready to paint’ when I get a request for a custom color of a certain sign; I am able to go ahead and make a whole BATCH of that particular sign, in several colors; and stock up my etsy shop.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 141It doesn’t take any more TIME and effort to clean a stencil that was used to make six signs that it does to clean it after making just one sign; so why not MAKE MORE and WASTE LESS TIME ON CLEAN UP.  Same goes for paint brushes.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 143Finished signs are stacked and stored on a shelf.  (Heaven forbid!!!  I forgot my date card again!)

So, etsy, does THAT clear up any suspicions you may have had that I am  not hand crafting my signs myself??

It sure would be nice if etsy would give sellers ‘some kind of recognition’ for having gone through this tedious process of proving they hand make their items.  Perhaps even a simple notation of some kind that this particular item has been individually vetted by etsy would be nice.

4.26.13 **Edited AGAIN to add:

So, now that etsy has seen waht they need to see, I can explain why all this REALLY ‘gets my goat’!  And it’s not that I minded having to PROVE that my items are hand made by me.  What is so annoying is the sales of ILLEGAL licensed designs is absolutely rampant on etsy, and they DO NOTHING about it.

The ONLY time they will question a seller of such items is IF the holder of the license of that design (Disney, Sports Teams, Barbie, Hello Kitty, spongeBob . . .there are THOUSANDS of them) complains.   Because that is ‘all the law requires.

BUT, if one person, ANY one person, contacts to etsy and says “I don’t think that person hand-made that item.”  A full-blown investigation is launched.  And they require you to show every single step in the process and every single tool and piece of equipment used. (as you can tell from my post!) It’s a LOT of work, let me tell you.

And ALL it would take for them to validate someone selling licensed designs is to have them show their ‘credentials’.  And it HIGHLY unlikely that ANY of those sellers actually DO have permission.  It costs a LOT of money to ‘buy’ that permission.  If they could afford to legally acquire permission to sell a licensed design, they wouldn’t NEED to sell on etsy!

It’s the ‘turning a blind eye’ to illegally sold items on etsy that really annoys me about this whole situation!  It’s perfectly okay to sell ILLEGAL products, but don’t you dare sell a hand-made item that bares any resemblance to something that is manufactured!

Stepping off my soapbox !

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I emailed etsy the link to this blog post at 11:20am. Here’s the response I got from them 36 minutes later:

    “Thank you so much for taking the time to send us these pictures and information. We’re happy that you’re a member of our community and glad to learn more about your handmade process. We’ve updated your account with the information that you provided. Please let us know if you have any questions about selling on Etsy.”

    Things that make you go “hmmmmmmmmmmmmm????

    It takes them 2-3 DAYS to get back to you if you email customer service with a question or problem. 36 minutes to really READ and reply to my enitre blog post???? Makes you wonder if they really even read them at all!


  2. I can understand your frustration, and I don’t want to upset you. But I actually think it’s quite a compliment to your beautiful work that someone had a hard time believing that one person (not a big manufacturing co.) could crank out all the beautiful and professional looking signs that you do. Since I’ve been following your blog for nearly a year, I know you make everything, because you graciously share your ideas with us each week. I get so much inspiration from you, and love your ebook I bought on upcycling things. I’ve often admired how you are able to create SO many things, and still find time to blog about it all. I could tell you were organized. But now that I see your whole process, I’d say you are UBER-organized! You could teach classes on how to be productive!

    Anyway, I said all of that just to say, they wouldn’t be worried about some ugly old signs that nobody is buying. I bet a jealous shop owner turned you in, and Etsy just had to follow through!

    Hang in there! – Dez 🙂

  3. I echo Dez’ s comments above.

    However, I also understand how you would be angry and upset by Etsyappearing to doubt your integrity as a designer/maker. Well, now they know better.

    Keep up the fantastic work and please keep sharing. My day is not complete without a little glimpse into your world.xxxx

  4. sorry, but I find this hilarious….. especially the part about not getting a pic of the paint drying 😉
    I hope they’ve given u all the grief that they’re going to so u can get on with ur amazing work!! keep it up!

  5. Oh WOW!!! What a hassle?? I’m so sorry you had to go through all that! I was considering opening an “etsy” shop for my dessert pedestals I have become obsessed with making because I now have TOO many! Guess I better start having my 5yr old son photograph me making them, huh? Thanks for the heads-up! LOL! And keep up the great work! I love your blog and you always show me something inspiring! 🙂

  6. OMGosh! Your are awesome! Never knew it took so much time to make such signs. Keep up the good work!

  7. I understand your beef with etsy and wow that was a lot of work to photograph all that stuff. But I always find it a compliment when people have to wonder if it is handmade. That tells me that it looks professional. I had a lady question some Raggedy Ann & Andy bears I made once at a show and really doubted me. I showed her my sore fingers but still not sure she believed me. She insisted I needed to sew a tag into the seams with my name. She did buy them anyway (she said she only bought handmade items). I took it as a compliment that they looked professional enough to be manufactured. It has happened to me since with other things. But then, I’ve never had to go to all that work to prove it either. Your signs are awesome by the way.

  8. Your signs are beautiful. I make them also, but create & print designs on the computer–transfer and hand-paint them. So unfortunately, I have to sell them for more than you do. I’m curious about where you get your stencils. Do you make them? Thanks for sharing!

    • If you do a search for stencils in my blog you will find that information.


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