Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Busy Monday! 7 seats carved!

Well, We sold 7 today ( actually 8)! WOOHOO! soo many in fact that I could not complete them all. Even with Cheryl's help. See, even though we had seats in stock, we sold elongated ones. which meant we still had to go out of them. So I didn't get to carving until almost 9:30. Basically 4:00 am is the cut off. If they are not done and polyed by then, they will not be dry enough to be able to be shipped the next day. So most of the seats are almost done, and they will be easy to finish tomorrow. I'll snap a picture then so we can see what the room looks like when it is overflowing with drying seats!. As for tonight, I'm heading right to bed after posting....

Monday, September 29, 2008

Busy weekend! YEAH!

Its Sunday night and Cheryl and I have been working all weekend. Not only did I carve up 6 seat, I also have 4 for tomorrow already. Yesterday we were faced with the dilemma of having to travel all over for seats since all the locations around us are sold out. Well, we scored the really premium seats at a local store that had plenty of stock and best of all, they were on SALE! These seats are really nice, But they tend to be a bit pricey and since the profit is in the margins of our sales, we usually go the best quality for the most affordable price. But when the premium seats go on sale, they are right in our price range and well worth the stocking up. So later that night, we went back just before midnight and bought as many as we dared with the limited funds we had. ( they will sell, its all a matter of speculating when and how many) Other than that, the stamp I carved up works great! better than I had though it would. Now Cheryl has a bunch she wants me to make for the future. We used them on the boxes we send the seats out in. Now our boxes look professional.
I also finished up painting the bed. No picture since it is non descript. I still might have to apply a second coat of black to cover up some of the white that shows through. However, We may be only three days from completion and assembly. I'll take a picture when it is all set up.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lazy Friday, But not quite!

Today Is our usual day of rest so I didn't carve up any seats. nor did we look for any. Instead, we bought some supplies at Joann Fabrics ( for Cheryl) While I entertained three kids ( actually 4 and one adult) with my wonderful origami skills! It was actually kinda fun. The kids were well behaved and the adult was convinced that origami was the new drug for hyper active kids! (she said they have never been this quiet this long) After Jo' We headed to the book store where Cheryl did more research on soap and other creative ideas. No coffee today, The line at Starbucks was kinda long and I was not really looking forward to the caffeine hit. Then onto home, We whipped up a batch of soap to try out my new mold (seems to work great!) and I finished the headboard and we both painted it. Since space was limited, we had to take it into the garage for painting. Looks like it will be at least a two perhaps three day project. On a brighter side, We sold two more seats tonight! YEAH! So tomorrow will most likely be spent tracking those down and carving them up ( total of 5 at the moment) Praying for more. as always. I also carved up a small stamp. it has our logo on it and Cheryl actually thinks it is really good. I think I could have done better myself. Next time I think I will carve it out of pure wood instead of linoleum.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Too much for one day!

Well this doesn't happen very often but we actually sold too many for me to complete in one day! not a bad problem to face actually. Before I make it sound like we sold this huge amount, the fact is we sold 6. not too shabby for a days worth of carving. and if I had the seats, I could have carved them all up tonight. But alas! all our suppliers are out at the moment ( we cleaned them all out) and we could only score two seats. So I put the two seats that we sold last night and made them first priority. Now I am starting the weekend 4 seats behind and no seats to do them on. Basically, our Friday will most likely be spend driving around trying to find them and any adiditional seats until our stores get replenished. I also build a mold for our soaps and I plan on working on our bed this weekend. It's about time that that project be done! All it needs is a couple of coats of black paint and touch up on the bird posts. We'll see how far I get this weekend.. Hopefully the sales will continue and I will, once again, have to put that on hold.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Easy Panda day.

Well. we sold a Panda today and luckily we already had the blank seat in stock so we could avoid Lowes. It was a relatively easy day,So my wife and I killed time doing pretty much what we
always do. We went to book store, went to Joann Fabrics ( for her shop stuff) and then a walk through our neighborhood. ( at 2 am in the morning! We love the night.) I know
there are morning people. My father is one of them. But I just love the night. there are so many things you experience that are hidden from the rest of the world. In addition to the Deer and Coons we
see from time to time on our walks. we also see Flying squirrels, bats possums and skunks. Not to
mention owls and giant silk moths! Anyway, we sold two more tonight so looks like I'll at least have a couple for tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Busy day!

Well, I carved up a total of 6 seats tonight! YEAH! We sold four late yesterday and two this morning, so I lumped them all together. I took this opportunity to also buy new bits for the dremels, some stain, and some clamps for my dust collector. All minor things that are just thorns in my side but I always seem to forget when I finally get to the store. Or I have no money and have to make choices. Was a good day, and nice to be truly busy on work and not have to find some other project to put my energy into. Oh! thanks to all those that commented on yesterdays post. We have not heard back from ebay, and it seems the guy's second post did NOT effect our rating. ( the first one did, but I'm willing to eat that one) Last night my wife was ready to go nuclear. ( I mean lawyers, slander, banishment from Ebay, nuclear.) She has settled down now thanks to all your support. I hesitate to go all "civil Action" on someone. Too much energy, But she was! And I almost felt bad for him. I wanted to respond to his negative feedback with a "thanks for the Publicity, We sold 11 seats since your rants" But she advised me not to give him the opportunity to re-reply. I don't mean to take Ebay's side or make Ebay sound bad in all this. To be honest, Most of our sales are on ebay and go through smoothly. They are having a bad year also and seem to be doing things that may tick people off but hopefully will make Christmas season better than ever. ( fingers crossed) I do think they are leaning a little hard against the sellers and giving buyers an upper hand. But no one is forcing me to stay there. (Hence, Etsy , website, and maybe in 2009....Amazon!)Best to diversify a little so you're not all balanced on one leg.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bd customer returns! again!

Well, If you read the post from a couple of days ago, You will not that a bad customer has bought something from us and when we tried to correct his problem, he left negative feedback and got nasty. Well he is still at it. He posted another negative feedback. This time for the horse seat that he said "I was sent my horse toilet seat and it looks great. The color of the seat and the color of the lid are the same." He is angry because my wife did not respond to his negative feedback nor did she leave him any...negative or positive. So he vented with a negative on a totally unrelated item. Since Ebay is now becoming insane with it's feedback system, and since this guy blows our 99% positive, We became a little concerned and Cheryl wrote Ebay about the "Abuses" in feedback. namely, it is prohibited that anyone leave negative feedback for an item in relation to a separate transaction. Hopefully Ebay will correct the abuse and we will get our percentage back up there. ( in case you didn't know, you lose a 15% discount if you lose your powerseller. GRRR!) On a brighter note, we sold three seats tonight and an Echeck will clear on an Etsy sale tomorrow. I still have 6 seats where we are awaiting payment. Tonight I finished the Heraldic lion seat and polyed it up. The light in my room is dimmer in thie picture and I added stain to tone down the gold a bit. I like it! Cheryl and I also worked on our soap tonight and made three batches. Fingers are crossed that they will be ready by the holiday season.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Frantic Sunday

Well, It happens from time to time where I let everything pile up to Sunday night. We had a birthday party yesterday and came home exhausted so I didn't carve. Today I had to carve only three seats and they were fairly simple. But I had to repair some others and those always have surprises written all over them. Regardless, They are all carved up and waiting for their second coat of poly before I can go to bed. Tomorrow, We will need to take pictures for etsy so we will have to get up early for the afternoon sunlight. Tonight I had my wife and cat help me paint up. and I am working on a new seat. a Heraldic lion. I don't know if the color is just right yet, so I have not put a coat of poly on it with the other seats. I'll have to add a couple more coats of gold to it to see and I want a darker stain. So I might tint up the stain a bit.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A conversation with a bad customer.

Every have a bad customer? Well, here is one my wife had to deal with ( bless her!) To lay a little ground work, the customer got the seat two days after we shipped it not more than four days after his order.

Customer " Hi I just received the toilet seat and there is a crack in the wood. Could you exchange it for the same moose seat but one without a crack? I am looking at a few others of yours also.

Customer ( a few hours later)"Hi I bought this one and the other moose one. Are all of you toilet seats the same color as the lid? The moose one was a yellow oak lid and then a darker seat. IT us hard to tell from the pics.

My wife" Yes it is possible for you to return the seat for a refund or an exchange, If it was damaged in shipping, let us know.

Customer" It looks to me like it is just split oak I do not think it was ups. Tell me how to exchange this for the exact same seat?

My Wife" Our address is on the packing slip, just include it in the box saying you wish to exchange it for the same design.

Customer "Ok are you going to give me a refund on my shipping since this was not my mistake? Also, I was sent my horse toilet seat and it looks great. The color of the seat and the color of the lid are the same. If you can fix this seat and give me a good one I will leave two good feedbacks.

Customer( a few hours later )"is there a way to get this seat without the varnish so I can add alittle more color to it?

Customer(Again, a few moments later.Before we could respond)"I called ups and they said since the package has been opened that they do not just return it for free. They said you need to send me a call tag that you order from them. Please let me know what can be done I should not have to pay to get a better product. The seat was split and the seat and lid are not even close to the same color. The other one I got was good though.

My wife(If you are interested in returning an item, please read our return policy located here: http://stores.ebay.com/Great-Lakes-Toilet-Seats/Policies.html As stated in our item listings and in our return policy, return shipping is paid by the buyer. By purchasing an item, the buyer indicates agreement and compliance with these policies. You have indicated that your toilet seat was split. All of our toilet seats are carefully inspected before being packed; we do not ship broken seats. Thus it would seem that your item has suffered shipping damage; if a shipping claim should be filed, please let us know. The lids and seats of our toilet seats are stained the same shade. Seats receive a one-step stain and sealant coat; lids receive stain, then are painted, then receive a sealant coat. A two step process on the lid is necessary so that stain does not discolor the painting. Occasionally lids may appear lighter than seats, but this difference merely serves to highlight the artwork and should not be considered a flaw. Thank you again for your purchase. We look forward to processing your return or exchange upon receipt of your toilet seat.

Customer" Ok I will send it back and you can just refund me my money! I should have known you were lying to me when you said oh ups will take care of it! But that is fine. When I send it back you will refund me my money or I will file a disputes with paypal and give you a negative! The way you handled this is VERY unprofessional! And this product was a piece of sh.. You should not have sent me such a piece of junk. I will be sure to make everyone I know through ebay that they should not buy from you ever!!! I will send it back to you Monday. I expect a refund immediately! I will buy from someone else on ebay. I was planning to buy 2 other seats from you tooo. Oh well your loss!!

Customer"this was one of the seats I was going to buy too bad. By the way that moose toilet seat was split and there was varnish down in the crack that did not happen through ups and delivery. Ahole
Ok Got a little nasty at the end But he did file a paypal dispute before we could even respond. He also left negative feedback claiming much of the same as above. The evolution of the stain slowly getting worse is a testimonial that he simply did not want to pay the $7.50 to ship it back to us. In the end, he WILL pay the $7.50 and we will get the seat back and give him a full refund, just as our policy clearly states. It's unfortunate that he had to go nuclear and end up having to do what he was suppose to in the end. We gave him free shipping to begin with, and the option to return it no questions asked within 14 days of receiving it. Here is a picture of the very seat he is complaining about. We took pictures of it for our Etsy listing on the rock background (so it could add character.) My wife answered his email promptly and I thought very professionally. She warned me of this type of customer right away. The red flags?
-Suggests that they are going to order more seats( they never do)
-Suggest that the want to leave positive feedback (Thus hinting that they could leave negative.)
-And the evolution from a crack problem, to a stain problem to a shipping problem. Note! he ordered a second seat after this one and he was satisfied with the stain. Buyers these days ( especially on Ebay) expect free shipping both ways. Do you offer free shipping both ways? To be fair, If there is damage during shipping, We file the claim and send them a replacement seat or hinge right away! then we wait for UPS to process the claim. But for a return of the entire seat for any exchange or refund. The buyer has to pay to ship it back to us. Does this not seem fair?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lazy day Friday

Well, It's Friday and basically we took the day off ..no carving. I did work on my flikr site a bit, adding some missing pics that my wife pointed out for me . http://www.flickr.com/photos/30210707@N08/sets/72157607208501725/

We have a birthday tomorrow so we probably won't be carving then either. We did score some seats from Holland and we did sell ca couple today. Luckily, We already have them! They are prototypes in our garage. I'll look them over and make sure everything is in order before wrapping them up . If you have not seen the flikr set yet .. it's got 700 + pics there. Some are very old ( some over 5 years old) and I'm almost embarrassed that I carved that poorly back then. Ah well, you get better with experience.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

2 sales! but no seats....

Hey everyone! Well we sold two more seats tonight: a unicorn and a bear head. I probably have not mentioned this yet, but I hate Lowes. They have been out of seats for over a week now and they constantly change seats with no warning. We can't even offer elongated seats anymore because they do not carry them. The only alternative is Wal-Mart. Believe it or not, Wal-Mart has pretty good solid oak seats. they are a dream to carve in because oak chips instead of "fluffs" ( woodworkers might know what I mean there) Anyway, there is nothing quite like the feel of smoothly sanded , unfinished oak on your hands. It's just like silk. I was only able to score one seat from Wal=mart tonight but we will be going to Holland Mi. Tomorrow and pilfer their stash. One thing about Wal is the need to open and check them out for any defects before you buy them. So tonight I worked on the brown trout seat and took a few pics of the process. I will still need to poly it when the paint drys. It should be ready for shipping by tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Almost a no sale day.

Well I was almost going to say "no sale day" when we sold one tonight. Actually someone paid for one they had ended before. This makes for 3 ended but unpaid seats on the horizon. But along with good news comes bad. A customer from last Monday got their seat today and is complaining about a "crack" in the top of the lid. These cases always give us problems because we inspect each seat and have to make a determination on what is an "actual " crack and what is a "perceived" crack. You see, the lid is not all one piece. it is glued up from several pieces. Sometimes a seam where two pieces are glued up will look like they are a crack. I have to make the call whether the seam is structurally sound or if it is failing. ( if it is failing, it is obvious) Well, as most people know about wood, it is not perfect and comes with a lot of flaws which should add to the beauty. But I'm afraid people are spoiled on the plastic imitation wood or Formica. They person has already order one from us that was sent out today ( the horse) and we are wondering if he will like that one as well. He is starting what we call the "snowball" complaint. first it's a small crack, then it's the stain not matching perfectly, then the hinge is dented and the seat is falling apart, bubbles in the finish, paint not matching picture, drips on the underside, hinge is tarnished. etc etc. It gets sometimes so crazy that we have to wonder what the person saw in it to begin with! Ok sorry to vent on that. Hopefully we will handle this and he will not turn into a problem customer in the future.
Since it was late when the order came through, I worked on the headboard tonight. It currently looks like crap because it has all the mismatched stain and unfinished wood exposed. It is kind of disheartening when I consider that I am not cabinet maker and furniture and exact measurements are not really my cup of tea. I know there are other people that would have probably done this better with better tools and taken more time. But it has been in pieces for several months now and I probably have been putting it off because of the fear of assembly. Well, It's done now and all I have to do is add some finishing touched to the two post tops so they match up with the headboard posts. We'll have to see how it turns out after the glue up. as you can see from one of the pictures. the headboard almost totally fills my shop! and it's quite heavy, which is good in my opinion.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

No sales;( Carved two seats.

Well, no new sales. Still waiting on three people to pay up. So for today I had to carve up the two orders from yesterday and get them set up. as I write this now, I'm waiting for the paint to dry so I can poly them. I took a few pictures to of the process to show a little of what they look like. You can always watch the video of me carving up a toucan seat. the entire process.
Here's the link ..can't seem to get blogger to put the vid in the post .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4-lzaUih8k

Monday, September 15, 2008

2 Sales! But I worked on the bed project.

Sold 2 tonight! They came too late to do today, So I worked on the head board of the bed. The seats were horse and Deer head. Anyway, I worked on the headboard today because we started the day off with no sales! I tired to fix the stain and router out the setting for the carving into the background board. I took a few pics to show what a mess I made. Plus, to any other woodworkers who have this "snobbishly clean" idea of how all wood shops should look like. I like to show people what a wood shop that actually works looks like.

Here is what the board looks like with the panel area router ed out.
Here is how the carving will set into the board. I didn't have enough clamps that would reach over the board to cinch down the panel for the glue up. So I had to get creative with the glue up using a couple of old wood clamps from Grandpa's old shop. I also stained up the borders to "hide" the white parts of the pine board. I will eventually paint it black so the stain does not really matter, It's just to make sure that the thick paint won't leave small white pockets of wood. Kind of like a primer.

Oh No! Mismatched stain!

Well I just realized , after finally putting the headboard and foot board together than I have made a"small" mistake. I stained the head board the wrong color! BAAa ..I'm not too worried as I can still stain it again and hopefully reach a color that is close to the foot board. And since they will not be right on top of each other ..as they are in this picture, at the moment, I might have a small variation on stain shade that could be passed off as shadow. Now before any woodworkers out there start bashing me with the "you should know better' speech. Let me just say that this project started several months ago ( when I had money and time) and has been shelved pretty much all summer for lack of the above two reasons. Anyway, I'll be heading back into my shop in a sec to see if the seats are done drying with the first coat and the second is ready.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2 sales! finally done!

It's a good thing I didn't post anything Sunday afternoon, because it could have been depressing. But late on Sunday, We got paid for two more seats making a total of three for tonight. I just carved them up and I'm waiting to finish them. There are still have three seats that were ended by people but they have yet to pay. Three seats over one weekend is still not very good but it is still better than only one! Each one is a blessing. Anyway, the two that were added on were old ones That I have not done in a while. Catfish and pine cone. Cheryl thinks that I somehow manipulated the universe to sell the Catfish since we have only sold it twice and it is ( I believe) a great seat. Yesterday, while putting up the Flikr site, I stumbled upon it in the dusty archives of our computer and mentioned that I always thought that would be a better seller..."cause it's so awesome!" Well, Miracle of miracle! We sold it today! I doubt I had anything to do with it physically or spiritually. but it happens more often that you would guess that we get these coincidences. Anyway, I'll be brushing up on the flickr pics again and hopefully Cheryl can use them for her grand scheme of getting noticed on the World Wide Web! Here's the flickr site : http://www.flickr.com/photos/30210707@N08/sets/72157607208501725/

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Not carving day.

Well, with the help of my wife, I decided that I would not carve today. I still only have one seat to carve and there is no use in getting all dusty and dirty for one seat. We are waiting for payment on an elephant seat. hopefully I will be able to carve two up tomorrow and they will both go out on Monday. For today, however, I will most likely continue to work on my flickr and etsy stores. It's SO easy to get sidetracked on other peoples blogs and forums. If I really get bored. I might work on fitting my headboard together. Here's an idea of what it may look like. This is the footboard I completed several months ago.

Early saterday morning!

OK so I have been working on my flikr pics last night...( still don't have all of the pics up yet.) and I finally got a brief description, title and keywords all on each picture. Within the description I put a link to our website. http://www.twotaileddesign.com/servlet/StoreFront to those who don't know. I still have a lot of seats to put on...( can't believe I carved all of these...) http://www.flickr.com/photos/30210707@N08/sets/72157607208501725/ but hopefully they will get on some search engines and maybe..just maybe, get some more traffic to our website. I have to carve later today...so I will post more then I still only have one seat to carve. maybe two if an echeck clears. Till then... have a good Saturday!

Friday, September 12, 2008

One sale! and my day off!

Sold a bear seat late last night. It was elongated..and even though I don't have a picture of it...I do have the seat already carved up. And being Friday, I took the day off from carving. I still went to the book store and some other craft stores to help out Cheryl, but Basically, I decided to not carve or Poly tonight. The air is WAY too humid for it to dry anyway. So I will work on my Flikr pics and polish up my Etsy site a bit.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One sale! from Etsy!...

Just sold a seat on ETSY! an elephant! it came too late to carve it up tonight but I'm SO happy that the sale came from Etsy. I ultimately want to get more sales off our website and Etsy instead of Ebay. but that's a different post....
Anyway, I finished sanding and staining the Ship cupboard door. I used provincial as the stain to match the previous stain. I think the match is good since I was ultimately guessing. I still have to apply polyurethane over the stain to protect it and give it some shine.
I also had some time to complete the staining of my headboard of our bed.. I took a few pics to show how they will look with some shadow. I still have to poly and set the carving into the actual headboard. Will maybe do this weekend.


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