Saturday, August 29, 2009

JunK Mail Gems Featured in Womeninc Magazine

I was pretty excited to find some copies of the latest Womeninc magazine in my mailbox today, with a several page article featuring Junk Mail Gems! Check out the story on my press page, where you can download a pdf. Many thanks to Myrna CG Mibus, the talented freelance writer who wrote the article, and photographer Jessica Sauck for the many great photos used! It was very cool to see my magnets covering the entire table of contents page too! :-)

Womeninc is published in Fairmont, MN and has a circulation of 15,000 copies monthly. It is subscriber based and people can subscribe online at or

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Virtual Open House: Junk Mail Gems' New Studio!

After a lot of cleaning, re-organizing, carrying, and Ikea furniture building, Junk Mail Gems has now completely moved into the new studio space! (formerly known as our master bedroom!) Here I am (above) with my preggo belly at my desk. This 130 square foot space is used for 3 different businesses, but for this blog I will focus on how I stayed within a limited budget and did a lot of re-using and recycling to create a functional space.

(If you are interested in more about how I juggle 3 businesses and watch a toddler all day, check out my GF Design blog post on how I have been able to tailor this space to fit both my work and motherhood!)

Here's the view as you enter:

While always keeping the "green factor" and limited budget in mind, I had a couple of other main goals in re-designing my new space:
1) Functionality of the space as it pertains to the type of design work that I do, and
2) Child safety. (see my GF Design blog for more on how I did this!)

As far as functionality goes for my work, things are laid out wonderfully now. I have a space for my computer work (below, right half) which includes everything I need within arm's reach for doing my design work, as well as website maintenance and order fulfillment for Paintertainment and Junk Mail Gems.

I then have an area for non-computer work (ie. creating Junk Mail Gems products!) on the left side of the room where my drawing board sits. Both work areas are by windows which provide great natural light and cut down on electricity usage. I use compact fluorescent bulbs in my desk lamps, which take a bit longer to reach full brightness but otherwise work great.

I purchased an Ikea Expedit bookcase for my main storage area with attached desk. I did a lot of searching on Craigslist to find a used one over many months, but in the end had to buy a new one...

You can see some of my little storage jars that I've blogged about in the past up on top.

These Lekman boxes work great to store my stash of bottle caps, corks, and security envelopes.

You've seen me post about using soup cans in a previous post...they work great for pens and pencils, and even look cool! The spider plants were maybe $1 at a garage sale, and the cactus $0.99 in Ikea's as-is section:

These spring clips can also double as handy photo or note holders:

Got this nice drawer unit at a garage sale for $5. It's on wheels which makes it easy for me to move around, which means I can turn the drawers the other way to keep little fingers out when I'm not accessing it.

I saw this idea in a Parent magazine...using a spice rack to store small craft items. I got this one at a garage sale last week for $2. I spray painted the jar lids silver and the rack white, and it works great for my loose beads and other small items!

Another great used find was this Sapien bookshelf that I got at a thrift store for $9.99. They run in the hundreds new!

Here is a view of the back of my desk and the wall on the other side:

The zig-zag bookshelf also came from Ikea, as did the wall shelf that I installed lower down, just above all my drawer units, which really increasing my working surface area as sortof an extension of my desk. I think it also helped unify my row of drawers underneath and maximize space.

The lamp on the far right of the shelf looks like a giant push pin in a block of cork...$4 at a thrift store. The fun part is pushing the pin into the cork to turn it on and off! Both white boards came from thrift stores for about $2 each, including some magnets. Side by side they make a great wall for me to write and hang notes, within arm's reach of my computer desk. Soup cans with magnets glued to them stick nicely to the white boards as white board marker holders. I also glue magnets to my eraser to keep it always within reach.

Why bother with the expense and mess of hanging wallpaper when you can just paint? Stripes are something that anybody can do regardless of artistic talent. I painted one wall with stripes to match the rug that lies in the entrance of the space. What I do is take a string with a piece of tape on the top and a washer tied to the bottom, then tape it up by the ceiling where I want the side of a stripe to go. The string, combined with gravity and the weight of the washer gives me an instant vertical line to guide me as I tape off each stripe and paint.

It was a challenge to make my new studio look cohesive with so many mismatched pieces that I've collected over the years at garage sales and thrift stores. But, together with a few new furniture items I think it looks much better than it was! (wish I had a before shot!) The old furniture that I was using that no longer fit my work patterns have been sold on CraigsList, and passed on to be recycled by someone else!

So, there is a little peek into the place where Junk Mail Gems happens! It's no fancy corporate suite with a view, but it fits my lifestyle and work style and enables me to cram 3 businesses into one room with great productivity! Got any green office organization tips of your own? Please do share! :-)

Friday, August 21, 2009

DIY Recycled Bottle into Outdoor Oil Lamp

Greetings Junk Mail Gems fans! Wow, it's been forever since I've last posted! I've been really busy these past two weeks. Last week was my annual "busiest week of the year" as I was tending to my Paintertainment business, face painting at a local county fair. This week was spent trying to catch up on my mountains of backed up freelance design work and Junk Mail Gems wholesale orders. In the midst of this chaos, I've moved into my new office and have been getting things in order. (photos to come in a later post!) Needless to say, I've been "burning the midnight oil" for the last two weeks! And speaking of burning oil... (how do you like that transition?!)

...I want to thank my super awesome brother Ben for finding this cool idea and passing it on to me. Erik Anderson takes you step by step through his tutorial (with fantastic photos) to create this unique oil lamp using an old bottle. Such a cool idea! Summer may be winding down, but it's not too late to light up a torch in your backyard and have a party, so check it out!

As I get more caught up on my orders and projects and get my new office together enough for some nice photos, I'll be posting pics of the new digs and sharing some more fun DIY recycled office organization ideas! Stay tuned!
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What's going on in the world of Junk Mail Gems, along with other cool, hand-made "green" products, DIY projects, and more!