My Creativity Philosophy

January 27, 2015

My Creativity Philosophy | The Merriweather Council Blog

This is something I have been working on for a while. It is actually THE thing that got me on track to bringing The Merriweather Council Blog about as a space that encourages + supports creative lifestyles and aims to inspire creatives whether they are wanting their creativity to turn a profit or not. Kinda like an aha moment. But less aha and more, thank grapefruits this is out of my head and starting to make sense.

My mission with The Merriweather Council Blog is to empower people to put their creative work into the world and to embrace creativity in their day-to-day-doings.

The first thing I want to clear up is that artists are not the only creative people in the world. Not by a long shot. People often think “I’m not creative” followed by “I don’t draw or paint, I don’t make things…” or some such preconceived association between creativity and art. Artists are creative, certainly. So are chefs. So are writers. So are the “regular people” you follow on instagram who post amazing photos. Art is not narrow, and neither is creativity.

You can be creative in nearly every aspect of life. Creativity and art might go hand in hand but it doesn’t end there. Art is not the only outlet for creativity.

Creativity exists and thrives outside of museums and fine art studios – just as much as it does within them.

My Creativity Philosophy | The Merriweather Council Blog

I have long labored under the idea that art is quite literally everything you’ve ever had an experience with the exception of other humans and weather/ natural disasters. (The sunset? beautiful, but not necessarily art in the sense that it was not created by a human.)

The house you live in, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the laptop you write on, the chair you’re sitting in…. art, craft and design played into each of them. Artists are designers and craftsmen. Craft is a form of art, designers are wise to have strong craft skills, and artists need craft and design skills to create good work. That’s what I think.

I believe that art is made up of bits of craft, design, and creativity. Just as some piece of art are more technically competent – some pieces are more creative and some are more well crafted than others.

My Creativity Philosophy | The Merriweather Council Blog

I know so many people who feel held back in their creative pursuits because they don’t have a degree or formal training in the field. They think they can’t be taken seriously – or worse, shouldn’t be taken seriously – because they don’t have a degree in their field.

It’s not true. You need skills, yes, but you don’t have to earn them in a college setting.

Formal training is great, and you can certainly invest in it if you’d like. Certainly having a degree does help sometimes, and it could be a requirement for certain things. But it’s not the only way to figure out what how to do what you want to do.

A lot of times I don’t extrapolate or lead with my college credentials – because I don’t think they played that huge of a role in the successes I had after college. I learned to embroider in my middle school home economics class, and we never disused entrepreneurship or business in college. I loved my program + my classmates, and I’m glad I went to college, but it’s not the be-all end-all of what I do. .

My Creativity Philosophy | The Merriweather Council Blog

Creativity is very… attractive. In all situations – – food, music, color, decor, design, art, fashion, craft,  I admire people who aren’t afraid to be a bit bolder, think a bit further outside the box, try something new… that’s what I want people to feel empowered to do.

My Creativity Philosophy | The Merriweather Council Blog

This is what I am all about. I love it when creativity changes how we do what we do and the way we experience things. Cut stuff up, put it back together, repeat. Newness! Newness everywhere. Make it so.

My Creativity Philosophy | The Merriweather Council Blog

ALRIGHT I SAID IT. Let the backlash begin. Let me be clear: I get it. I understand the value to culture and society of art and art objects such as those in museums. I value museums for their work, stewardship, peaceful settings, educational outreach and as establishments that support art and creativity.  I just don’t LOVE the idea that art behind glass is more valuable than art happening around us. Also creativity is sometimes messy and museums are generally not. Just a thought.

I like the hands on, everyday creativity of life much more. I like the creativity that goes into pretty storefront displays and getting dressed, or refurbishing a piece of thrifted furniture. I like the paint things, cut things up and put them back together, or make photo collage books. I like to write and play with graphics with different apps on my phone. It’s not going to show up in a museum, but it’s still valid work and it’s creative. There is valuable creative work being created every day by “regular people” and I value that so so much.

My Creativity Philosophy | The Merriweather Council Blog


Creativity is the difference between basic and bold, between it’ll-do and it’s-fabulous!

My Creativity Philosophy | The Merriweather Council Blog


I believe your personal brand of creativity is invaluable.

Completely + utterly needed, should be shared, will be appreciated, and will open you up to new opportunities if you let it out! I have seen it time and time again – mimicking another style will only get you so far. Doing work you don’t LOVE because you think “this fits the norm better” – it never works out. You need to do that thing you are crazy into, that thing you can’t stop thinking about. Write it, paint it, wear it, bake it, make it, build it, try it… please please, I want to see it!! I’m so dead serious about this. Your unique creativity is what will set you apart + bring your ideas to life. And you never know who that will serve.

I think this is a big topic – and one I reserve the right to modify my feelings on – because as I learn more, I can articulate better what I am saying – or what I’m not saying. I hope you’ll chime in.

Which of these resonates with you? Any? All? None?



My Favorite Creative People to Follow on Instagram

January 22, 2015

my favorite creative people to follow on Instagram | the merriweather council blog

I’m sure I am not alone in my love for Instagram. While I do enjoy sharing photos + such, I especially like seeing what the fabulous people I follow are up to. Instagram is one of my favorite hangouts on the internet and it’s because of creative and inspiring people like these.

I wanted to share a list of some of the instagram feeds I just CANNOT stop looking at. Heart eyes for days.

Some of these people I know personally, others I don’t but feel like we could probably be best buds if our geographic situations ever aligned.

I also know it can be hard to find these gems out there because of the 300 million zillion accounts on instagram, so hopefully you’ll find some new favorite people to follows here as well.

@KristinTexeira – A talented lady I went to college with. Her modern and vibrant paintings are some of my favorite things in the world.

@heypaul – Embroidery goodness + inspiration for getting out there and connecting to other crafties abounds.

@subtleacts – LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Printmaking + nature + food… I don’t know what else to say.

@PaigeTaylorEvans – I love all the scrapbooking fabulousity that happens on her feed but I also love all the European charm! Paige currently lives in Germany and shares snaps of the ultra awesome architecture and goings-on from across the pond.

@joyfulstudio + @themoderncurator - I love Julie’s work + snapshots that she shares on both of her accounts. I suggest checking both. Lovely photos from every day + flawless inspiration.

@kristinnohe – I love all of Kristin’s sketchbook IG pics. Seeing a peek into someone’s sketchbook has always been a thrill to me. The main reason I went to the college I did was because of all the random sketchbook pages and wall-as-sketchbook moments I saw about the school on my tour and her feed totally reminds me of that + makes me feel super inspired by her creativity + exploration with materials.

@harperandfinch – LOVE Emma and her fancy stitch work. So many beautiful things and creativity! I know for sure we would meet for coffee if I loved over in her neck of the woods and work on projects while we chatted.

@suiteonestudio – This is a beautiful IG feed filled with some of the prettiest ceramic work I ever did see. I love love love the way Lindsay glazes with a water-color sort of vibe. MORE HEART EYES.

@nicolinaw – Nicole is always up to something creative + fun and I just love seeing what she’s up to. Super bonus instagram moment – we connected when she asked me to participate in a giveaway. The internet is real you guys!

@jenhatzung – of course I have to give my co-percolator a shout out when it comes to instagram – that’s how we met. Jen’s creativity shines through in many ways but my favorite is in her fashionability + sense of style. Outfit inspiration is something I definitely need, and she has a boat load of it sprinkled in with other fun stuff like coffee pics which of course I also love.

@purlbknit - Brandi as we know + love her from her Material Inspiration post – but MORE! More gorgeous photos + material love happening on her IG feed – also, some snaps of NYC life + food.  So basically all of my favorite things.

@madebybettyb – Supremely magnificent IG feed featuring lovely hand embroidered dream catchers + hoops. I just love the unique things she is doing with hoops + her stitched lettering is TDF (to die for, is this an acronym we are using? Should be.)

There are so many more I love just as much, but I’ll save them for another day so you can really enjoy these for now! I feel like many of you already know some of my favorites just from out and about in the internetland. Consider this part 1 though.

Who do you love to follow on Instagram? I’d love to hear so I can check them out and find some more favorites myself.




Basic Etsy SEO

January 20, 2015

Basic Etsy SEO | the merriweather council blog

If you haven’t opened your shop yet, use this link to get your first 20 listings free :)

As promised, here is my very basic overview of SEO for your Etsy shop.

After seeing many confused sellers in the forums around the time I was checking in on that post  regarding the show sales, I decided to put a post together about SEO for your Etsy shop but then I got this fancy pants software to record my screen, and so I thought it would be fun to do it that way – and I think it will be easier for you to follow. Sorry this caused a delay, but it’s for the better.

Even if you think you know the basics, take a look anyway, you never know. This is how I’ve always dealt with SEO and this is in line with Etsy’s guidelines. Keep in mind, search results change for a variety of reasons. And SEO is only part of the equation. Sometimes I see a listing of mine of the first page of search results, sometimes it’s a few pages back. It depends on many things but this will give you the best possible shot at having an optimized shop for Etsy’s search system.  Again, this is the basics.

Side note, does everyone hate the sound of their recorded voice? Yeah, right?

ETSYSEO from Danielle Spurge on Vimeo.

I’m happy to follow up and answer any questions you may have regarding the content of the video. please keep in mind that this is a basic overview ( Read: basic Etsy SEO ) lots to expound upon here, that can be covered in another post.

How I generate keywords

I have a running list of keywords in Evernote that I can update from any of my devices – it’s just a list of words I think relate to my products. I generate keywords in the following ways:

  • Customers write to me and ask for a particular item in a particular way that is different than I would normally call it. Or, hearing people describe the work who aren’t in-th-know so to say about the technical terms. (Example, I’ve heard people call it an embroidery ring rather than a hoop… etc.)
  • The search bar on Etsy.
  • My shop stats – looking back at keyword referrers for longer periods of time, way back in the last bunch of pages of results rather than the first few.

Some quick tips:

1. Choose various BUT RELEVANT primary categories when listing items. For example, my phrenology hoops, I can do any of the following and they are still relevant:

1st Housewares 2nd Sign 3rd none of these

1st Needlecraft 2nd Embroidery 3rd Wall

1st Art 2nd Fiber Art 3rd Embroidery

1st Geekery 2nd Kitsch 3rd Housewares

You get the idea.

2. Sprinkle your descriptions with the keywords for your title

Etsy doesn’t use descriptions for SEO, but google does. Write natural sounding descriptions just keep your keywords in mind when writing. This tends to be pretty natural as you describe the item, so you probably are already doing it.

3. The first 30-40 characters of the title are the most important

In gallery view on etsy, only the first 30-40 characters of the title show. Put your MOST key phrase -or the one you are optimizing that listing for right in the front! Here is an example of what I mean…

Basic Etsy SEO | the merriweather council blog


4. Add keywords to your shop title

<Your shop – shop settings – shop title >

This is your headline text in google results. You can preview it further down the page in shop settings as well. See below

Basic Etsy SEO | the merriweather council blog


There is more you can do to optimize your Etsy shop. There are lots of resources to help you. Here is some info directly from Etsy. Like I said, SEO is just a part of the overall health of your shop, back links, social proof, custom service and branding are important as well.

Please leave any questions in the comments for me, I will answer them if I can!


Material Obsession with Brandi of PurlBknit

January 15, 2015

I’m so excited to begin this series “Material Obsession” here on The Merriweather Council Blog! I wanted to highlight that feeling of absolute inspiration and thrill that comes from a mere glimpse or touch of a favorite material. Like walking through an art school, or an antique market… that “gotta have it/ gotta make it” feeling.  For the first installment, I asked Brandi of PurlBknit to discuss her love of natural fiber yarns. I met Brandi through an Etsy event a few years ago and I’ve been marveling at her beautiful work ever since. She tells a fabulous love story and I think you’ll really enjoy it. Yarn lovers, this one is for you. And for those of you who are yarn-curious – feel inspired! But be warned: yarn is a bit of crafty gateway drug. 

Thank you, Brandi for sharing your words + photos with us!


Material Obsession with PurlBknit  | The Merriweather Council Blog

My name is Brandi and I have an obsession with yarn.  To be obsessed for me usually means being overly emotional, blushingly corny and almost always results in a few walks of shame. To be true to this story, I must wear my heart on my sleeve.

If I could, I’d ask alpaca to put a ring on it! Oh yeah, it is that serious. 

This love story began with my grandmother. She lives in Florida and had never met her five grandchildren living in New York. I must have been 9 or 10 years old when she called and asked, “what is your favorite color?” Over the next five years, blankets arrived in the mail, each of us patiently awaiting our very own handmade afghan. I received mine at 14. At that moment, I became a knitter forever.

Little did I know that collecting yarn could be quite addictive!

Material Obsession with PurlBknit  | The Merriweather Council Blog

A couple of times a year I have talking-to-myself outbursts that go something like this –

“Brandi, no more yarn. You simply cannot buy anymore yarn.”

“But it’s alpaca and silk. Your favorite.”


“It’s a close-out sale.”


“Use what you have, you live in Brooklyn, there is no more space!”

Material Obsession with PurlBknit  | The Merriweather Council Blog Material Obsession with PurlBknit  | The Merriweather Council Blog  

Eventually, the angel wins. I’ll go on a spring-cleaning rampage in the middle of winter and bam! I have another basket in need of filling. I save every scrap and left over bundle. I donate stuff from my wardrobe before I ever consider getting rid of my yarn stash. Raw materials are just too precious. A writer’s paper and pen is my yarn and needles. 


Material Obsession with PurlBknit  | The Merriweather Council Blog

Material Obsession with PurlBknit  | The Merriweather Council Blog

The extra specials are 100% natural and I rarely buy anything else. There is something about the fuzzy handspun mohair I purchased from a women’s collective in Southern Africa that fills my heart with so much joy and anticipation. The glittering skeins I found in Paris makes me want to shimmy my shoulders and bounce on my feet.

Material Obsession with PurlBknit  | The Merriweather Council Blog

Material Obsession with PurlBknit  | The Merriweather Council Blog

Please yarn lovers, holler if you feel me! Oh peace and inspiration thy name is yarn. It is natural and pure sweet happiness!


Brandi is the bright light + talented crafter behind PurlBknit. You can see how she transforms her materials on Etsy.

She’s also on Twitter, Facebook and {share her amazing, beautiful photos on} Instagram.