Sunday, November 2, 2014


Just about everything sold and shipped from Stella Erwin's is glass and almost always arrives intact. Last April, two shipments arrived at their destinations broken.  Two out of hundreds of shipments isn't many, but for the customer that's 100% of what they ordered - an unacceptable standard for Stella Erwin's.   

After gathering feedback from the customers about the packing, talking to my Etsy pals, visiting Youtube, and researching museum packing standards, I made packing process improvements.  With holiday shipping upon us, this feels like a good time to share my learnings and step by step process.  

Packing and Shipping supplies 
         List of items needed
2 boxes - 1 fits inside the other
Colorful duct tape
Cushioning foam
Bubble wrap - new
Bracing materials
Filling materials
Shipping tape for boxes

Step 1 - Fill glass with tissue or some other soft material.  This helps prevent hairline cracks.  I use facial tissue, but it can be tissue paper or some other material.  Don't pack it down.

Step 2 - Wrap piece with cushioning foam and secure with colorful duct tape.  The duct tape makes unwrapping much easier because it is so visible.

Step 3 - Now wrap the piece with NEW bubble wrap and secure with duct tape.

How much?  With this piece I used cushioning foam 2 times around, changed direction and then 2 more times.  The bubble wrap went around enough times, changing directions, that the edge of the glass could not be felt.

Cushioning Wrap
Bubble Wrap

Step 4 - Pack the bundle into the first box, using bracing and filling materials on all 6 sides.  All kinds of things can be used to brace and fill the box including:  egg cartons, styrofoam blocks, peanuts, paper. The idea is for the piece to be held in place with materials that have a little give to them.  I try to recycle materials, because of expense and sustainability.

This one began with egg cartons on the bottom and styrofoam blocks around the sides.  The top was filled with packing paper and taped closed.   No need to go crazy taping this box, as it is going into another box for shipping.

Step 5 - Pack box into larger box.  The bottom of this box is lined with styrofoam blocks (I happen to have a lot of those at the moment.)  The sides are filled with blocks, egg cartons, packing cushions and a wrapped piece of foam.  The top was filled with more cushions.  This whole part could be done with packing peanuts or other materials, as long as there is cushioning on all six sides.   Tape the box closed, slap a couple of Fragile stickers on and it is ready to ship.

Box in a Box

 How to get free packing materials

  • Ask your friends to save things for you - like egg cartons
  • Ask small businesses in your area to save things for you and have a regular scheduled pick up day and time
  • Styrofoam blocks - mine were originally used to ship computer products.  Check around for sources.  Most companies have green initiatives and would love to recycle as long as you make it make it easy for them.  
  • Dumpster dive  :) 

Monday, September 15, 2014


Stirring Up Ghosts

So honored to be featured in this most recent post from:

Link to the article follows and features 4 Etsy shops, with great gift ideas.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Everything 30% off 
Ends Monday Sept 1, 6:00 pm, CST

This covered feeder normally runs $109 and is on sale for $76.30.  Link to listing follows:

Blues, so popular, are incredible values for these few days.  These 2, normally $79 and $69, now $55.30 and $48.30.

All colors, styles are on sale, along with glass wind chimes and tumbled glass.  Even the On Sale Shop Section listings are 30% off!

Check it out -

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Sea glass, beach glass, ocean glass - an amazing find for beach combers all over the world. It's so romantic to imagine glass accidentally falling into an ocean or lake, gently tumbled by water, sand, salt and time, then finally transformed into a beautiful smooth beach treasure.  Once collected it is seen in jewelry, mosaics, vases and scattered in gardens and on table tops......

Tumbled glass in these floral arrangements add subtle color and anchor flowers.  Simply add water and flowers to vase and gently drop in glass pieces around the stems.  

pink tumbled glass

blue and clear tumbled glass 

For more tumbled sea glass, visit the tumbled glass section in Stella Erwins:

Julie Jansen
Stella Erwin's

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Sea glass, beach glass, ocean glass - an amazing find for beach combers all over the world. It's so romantic to imagine glass accidentally falling into an ocean or lake, gently tumbled by water, sand, salt and time, then finally transformed into a beautiful smooth beach treasure.  Once collected it is seen in jewelry, mosaics, vases and scattered in gardens and on table tops......

What do you do, if you want beach glass, don't live near a shore or have the time to spend collecting it? Read on for DIY - Make Your Own Sea Glass from:

Broken glass, by accident, smashed intentionally or (my worst nightmare), shipped vintage pieces arrive shattered, can be frustrating and heart breaking.  But the life of a broken piece of glass does NOT have to end in the landfill.  Let's tumble!!

The tumbled glass shown above is from vintage glass light shades that were broken during shipment. (Check back for Stella's Shipping Glass Properly article - coming soon.)

It is so easy to make your own beach glass, but you do need a few things.  A rock or glass tumbler is the most important and a bit of an investment.  After researching brands and reading reviews, I settled on a Lortone with dual drums.  I was able to find the right one for my usage for about $120, including shipping, on Amazon.  Am pleased with the performance even after 1000s of hours.
my faithful partner in tumbling
Once you decide to make the tumbler plunge, the fun part begins.  Here's what you will need:

  • Glass
  • Hammer
  • Paper or thick nylon bags - the denser the better. 
  • Sand
  • Water
Bag selection is important and the bag in this photo is my nylon bag of choice.  Actually you will need two of these.

*****Commercial break. I have a lot of bird feeders and this 35lb mix of seed from Tractor Supply is $9.99.  It is a lovely mix of small seeds, sunflower seeds and a little bit of corn. By far the best value I have found. ******

You can also use multiple brown grocery bags, pet food bags, Sephora bags, or anything thick and roomy that you have 2 or 3 of. 

Step 1 - fill your bag about 1/4-1/3 full with glass.  Fold it over once or twice.  Put that bag in another bag and fold it over.  PUT ON YOUR SAFETY GLASSES.

Step 2 - take your hammer and smash the bag multiple times.  Flip the bag over and sling that hammer some more.  (I told you this was fun.)

Step 3 -  Start unfolding the bags and carefully remove the outer bag.  At this point, I pour the glass into a deep plastic container with a lid.  Dispose of the bags, which will have some glass shards inside.  

Your glass pieces are ready for tumbling.

Fill the drum of your tumbler about 1/2 way with sand.  (It's about 300 miles from my house to the beach or about 2 miles to Home Depot where play sand is less that $5 for 50 lbs.)  Put as much glass as you want leaving enough room at the top to close the drum.  I pack mine pretty full.  Fill the remainder of the drum with water, close the drum per tumbler instructions.  Place drum on tumbler, plug it in and let it run for about 2 days.  Once it's done, rinse the glass and voila, you now have repurposed glass, tumbled and ready to use. 

Couple of tips 
  • Put the tumbler somewhere out of the way.  A garage is perfect.  
  • I have tumbled glass anywhere from 36 hours to 3 days and it comes out about the same. 
  • If your glass is painted, expect the sand to remove a lot of the paint.  Most of the glass will retain some color.  If the glass is colored through and through it won't lose much if any color.  
The red and dark pink glass in the photo below have color all the way through.  The light pink glass was painted on both sides and as you can see retained a lot of color.  The blue glass photo above is also glass from painted pieces.  

  • You can reuse the sand/water in the tumbler.  Just add more sand to the half way mark and repeat instructions above.  
What do you do with your hand tumbled sea glass?  I decorate with it, sell it to artists in bulk through Etsy and use the larger pieces to make glass wind chimes. A link to an earlier DIY article about making those chimes follows. (  

The next link will take you to the tumbled glass section of my Etsy shop, if you want to see some more examples.  All glass was tumbled by the method above in the tumbler shown in this article.  

Good luck.  

Julie Jansen
Stella Erwin's

Sunday, August 24, 2014

DIY - Glass Wind Chimes

Working with glass occasionally results in broken pieces.  Rather than throw them away, I tumble the glass and use the larger pieces to make wind chimes.  With patience and simple equipment you too can create glass wind chimes.  

Below are a few things you will need
  • Tumbled glass (DIY blog post coming soon) 
  • Battery operated drill
  • Replacement battery and charger
  • Diamond drill bit (I buy mine from Lowes)
  • Steel brush
  • Safety glasses
  • Shallow pan
  • Water
SAFETY FIRST - wear safety glasses, gloves and I recommend using a battery operated drill.  A diamond drill bit, the size of the hole you want, is my preferred drilling option.  The one shown is 1/4" and was about $16 purchased at Lowes. They vary in price depending on the size of the bit.

drilling in progress
almost completed holes

Begin by placing the glass in a shallow pan (shown above) with enough cool water to cover the pieces.  The water lubricates and cools the glass as you drill, helping to prevent breakage.  Smooth glass can be tricky to get a hole started.  One option is to drill a hole though a cheap plastic container lid, place it over the glass, position the drill bit and start drilling easily while holding the plastic lid in place.  Once the hole is started remove the lid and continue drilling.  

IMPORTANT TIP #1 -  Patience is key.  Let the drill bit do the work and expect it to take 5-10 minutes per hole. Pushing down like with wood, will result in breakage.  

IMPORTANT TIP #2 - Keep a replacement battery charging.  Once you notice the drill slowing, replace the battery and start again

IMPORTANT TIP #3 - Use the steel brush regularly during drilling to remove the residue from the drill bit.  Every few minutes run the bit under hot water and allow the brush to do it's work.  In the long run, it will be much quicker.  

Once the holes are drilled, it's time to put your wind chime together. Below is what I use:
  • Vintage bed spring
  • 30lb test fishing line
  • Wire cutters
  • Nail clippers
The wind chime shown is suspended from a vintage bed spring by moss green fishing line.  The bedspring was purchased through Etsy seller for about $3 including shipping.  I used heavy metal cutters to remove the bottom part of the coil, my personal preference.

Step 1 - String 3 pieces of fishing line from the top of the bed spring to whatever type of hook you plan to use.  I used a small "S" hook. Check for balance.

Step 2 - String glass with fishing line.  You may want to put multiple pieces of glass on some of your lines.  This chime has 7 lines and 2-3 of them have 2 pieces of glass.  (btw, it was the first one I sold.)

Step 3 - Suspend the bed spring and tie each line to it, at various points while keeping things balanced.  It does not have to be 100% level as the coil creates a bit of an optical illusion when hung.  

Step 4 - Using wire cutters, notch the bedspring at every place a line is strung, including the top 3 pieces and move the line into the notch.  (The notch doesn't have to be very deep.) 

Step 5 - Using nail clippers cut off excess fishing line.  

Or shop at for wind chimes and other garden glass decor.  See additional wind chimes with prices from $29-$41.  Listings follow photos.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stella Erwin's 20% off July sale 

So far behind on everything including keeping this blog current.  Stella Erwin's is almost 1 year old and in honor of her birthday, everything in the store is 20% off, with the coupon code:  JULY20 (use it at checkout.)  There are over 100 feeders in the shop right now and it's a great time to buy for holiday gift giving.

Finally got a green one - $89 plus shipping
So many choices, including some of the most popular styles.  A few are listed below.  
$79 plus shipping (also have this in white)

$98 plus shipping - red and white for July 4

There are so many others at and stay tuned.  Tumbled glass wind chimes are coming this summer

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Etsy Success Hints and Tips from the Pros - PART I

Sustainability has been the theme and several Etsy sellers of vintage shared their success stories, experiences and passion for vintage in Feb/Mar blog entries.  Each also provided tips to running a successful Etsy shop.  Think it's all about photographs? Think again.  Sure photos are important but these sellers had other tidbits to share.
To conclude the sustainability series their advice is gathered up for reading, pondering and putting into action.  In 3 (or 4) parts.  Look for links to their shops and listings to enjoy a great shopping experience. Mother's Day is coming up and these shops are fully stocked with 100's of unique vintage gifts.

Katy (fellow Texan) from - "Research -educate yourself first, but always chase your dream, your passion – On Etsy, your passion will be recognized: it will be appreciated and hopefully turn into sells for you." has accumulated some impressive numbers in 2.5 years on Etsy
368 Sales
1859 Admirers
120 Solid reviews with 5 Star Average

Roxie from    "Be patient and be unique. Have all the information you can have on whatever you sell. Customer service is always #1. Thank everyone for a sale, even after the automated response - use their name and indicate when purchase will ship.(Be sure to read their notes if they put them in the invoice). Thank them after they've left you feedback, telling them how much you appreciate their business and any response to their comments. If someone is less than happy, know that everyone deals with an issue sometimes. Do not take it personally and learn whatever you can from it and go on."
Numbers don't lie and here are some stats from - opened 4 years this month

940 Sales
3576 Admirers
620 Reviews with 5 Star Average

Stay tuned for Part II - coming soon.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Coming soon from - the holy grail of Etsy - advice from the Etsy sellers who have been featured in the "Classy Sustainability" series.  Follow this blog to find secrets to Sustaining your Etsy shop from the experts.  Think it's all about photos? Guess again.  

In the meantime, Mother's Day is just around the corner and has stunning bird feeders available in lots of colors and designs.  

The signature piece - $123 plus shipping
The color is champagne and I have 2 of these - $54 plus shipping
Something blue - from the bottom = $77 plus shipping

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A commercial break in the Classy Sustainability series, with a look at some spring bird feeders from  Perfect gifts for Mother's Day, Easter or beautiful garden wedding decor.  All begin with a vintage glass light shade, which usually requires some clean up.  Once hardware is installed - Voila - a new bird feeder from repurposed, art deco, ceiling glass is born.  The glass is heavy and sustainable in all kinds of weather.  Most of my pieces date from 1920s -1940.  
Exquisite raised and cut glass patterns on this one.  Mint condition
$71 plus shipping
It's rare to find this hobnail bubble all over design
$79 plus shipping

Blues are my best sellers and the next is one of 2 almost identical feeders.  The tint is slightly different in each, but both are in mint condition.  There are several other blue designs to choose from.
$64 plus shipping
Am rather into spring colors, but again the detail is exquisite
$54 plus shipping
There are 72 available right now with more listed each week at  Be sure to browse the covered feeder section if you don't like squirrels in your bird feeders.

Friday, March 7, 2014

There are lots of paths to Etsy and on-line selling. Michele started with a brick and mortar shop and expanded from there.  Classy Sustainability continues with Michele and the avenues she uses to sell and promote vintage including: and the brick and mortar version which can be seen virtually at  Check out the great selection of flannel shirts.  The listing link and Michele's interview follows.
Choose your flannel shirt-$10 each plus shipping
Q.  I'm curious about your beginnings with a brick and mortar store, how that grew into an antique mall and further evolved into 2 Etsy shops.  What can you tell me about that? 
A.  I did computer support for ten years before my kids were born and was a SAHM until both kids went to school full time. Then with my amazing and patient husband, took the leap into becoming a small business owner.  The brick & mortar shop morphed from a antiques consignment shop into an antique mall where we rent space to dealers. This freed up a ton of my team's time and really helped us refocus on things we loved to do, and things that made money. After we worked through the changes in the B&M business, we were able to turn attention to getting the things on Etsy too. 
We started out selling vintage clothes on Reincarnations Resale as an extension of our brick & mortar shop. Vintage clothing is tricky, you have to have a bunch of things match up:
- the right person
- with the right style
- who loves the item you have in stock
- who loves the color of the item you have in stock
- who is also the right size
When those things happen, it's magic! The problem is getting all those things to match up for people coming in the brick & mortar shop. We decided to get our treasures in front of the whole world using Etsy instead of waiting for the whole world to come to us!

Red skirt and top $35 plus shipping 
Q.  How do your shops tie in to your brick and mortar store? 
A.  The Etsy shops are a great appetizer /sneak peek to our antique mall and a good sampling of the things we have in the "real world" shop. You can take a look at our shop and our antique dealers booths on the facebook page:

Q.  How would you describe your Etsy success so far? 
I don't think we will ever be an etsy power-broker. We love coming to the shop in the morning to find 2-3 new orders. Of course, we would love to come in to even more orders!!! I would say we have had modest to good success. Through this amazingly cold and snowy winter, we have been extra grateful for our etsy customers.

(Blogger's note: has over 400 items for sale, has sold 420 vintage items, has 710 Admirers and 137 rave reviews.)  

Q.  How do you decide what to sell? 
A.  There is a team of four of us working in the b&m shop and the etsy shops. One full-timer, three part-timers. I am the one who usually photographs and adds items to the -Resale shop. 
As we have time throughout the day, the whole team adds items to the -Roost shop. We just focus on things we can safely ship, and try to add 4-5 things each day. We do a lot of tag-teaming, where one person will do the photographs, another will do the listings. I do most of the shipping.  Besides me, we have: 
         Robin - a dear friend who has been working at the b&m shop since our very first day. She has a daughter in her freshman year of college. Robin keeps me and the shop organized and beautiful.
        Kathy - we met through a mutual friend, and she has been helping me with the shop since our very first day. Kathy is an amazing mom with a special needs daughter. She keeps the shop welcoming and clean. 
       Samantha - the newest member of our team is a college student, and my niece. She is one of our techie nerds. Sam keeps our facebook page updated, as well as our online presence on many different sites.
Refrigerator Pyrex - $65 plus shipping
Q.  How do you connect selling vintage with sustainability or going green?
A.  I am very proud of the work we do in the b&m shop as well as online. Almost every item in my shop is on it's 3rd, 4th or 5th owner. We try to recycle or repurpose everything. From our shipping materials to our furniture, housewares and clothing. There is such history in everything around us. It's always fun when someone comes in with an item for us to buy and the story about it. Often, we write the story on a card and make sure the items history goes to the new owner. New stuff doesn't have stories. We are really geeky and excited about these things. I'm not sure it comes across online - it sure does at the shop.

1970's Daycroft Tulip Table and 4 chairs - $800
(Blogger's note: has only been open since Oct 2013 and already has almost 200 items for sale, has sold 45 vintage treasures, has 151 admirers and 10 solid reviews.)