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Friday, June 4, 2010

Interview with Sandi of Shweet Potato Dolls

Shweet Potato Dolls, one of her swapping groups Age*Before*Beauty or AB4B, and you can buy her patterns at her shop!

Crafting ans sewing kept Sandi sane when she became disabled an she shares crafting with her daughter. She's an experience swapper, we can all learn a lot from her and she's got some great stories for us! Visit her blog

SwapDex: Tell us a bit about you.

Sandi: Hi I am Sandi Ramirez , 50 years young and I live in Carrollton, TX with my 2 beautiful daughters Keelee (22) and Kassy (19) and my loving husband Marty of 20 yrs. I also have a four legged baby Chico who is my hearing ear service dog. I no longer am able to work outside of my home, I’m lucky if I get to walk around outside the house. I taught myself to sew when I became disabled to keep from going crazy. I painted my whole life but hands shake too much to do a lot of painting. I mainly paint my doll’s faces and then sometimes need a little help. Usually it’s okay because I tend to work in the primitive genre’. My youngest daughter and I started working in Melt N Pour soaps when she was 11 yrs old. Now I sew and create patterns for my brand of dolls Shweet Potato Dolls based with permission on graphics by Carm with Shweet Potato Designs. I also create Melt & Pour Soaps with Kassy when she has time away from her Cosmetology School and work.

SD: How long have you been swapping? How did you first learn about swapping, and what made you decide to start? Do you remember your first one?

Sandi: How long have I been swapping? In reality, all my life. When one grows up one of 8 kids you learn to swap things so you can have “new” things. I got big into swapping when I joined two online communities Prim Mart and DJ Doodle Junction. I jumped in feet first with Prim Mart’s Ornie swap for my first formal swap. I think I made 40 ornies(ornaments) that year back in 2003 and they were all sewn by hand. It was hard but fun and since then I swap regularly in the online communities,blogs and eBay groups I am in. I try to only do one swap or challenge at a time as I never know from one day to the next how good I will feel. Swapping is a therphy of sorts. It keeps my mind going when my body wants to stop.

SD: What is your range of swapping? Do you stick to swaps hosted by people you know or are you likely to swap with anyone, anytime?

Sandi: I don’t have a range of swapping. I do tend to swap with folks I know online but swapping is a new way to make friends. When one is homebound their friends all live in a box…the computer box J I like challenges and swaps are a great way to teach myself a new form of artwork. I just hope that my swap partners enjoy my creations as much as I love making them. I am looking forward to finding swap partners outside of the USA this year.

SD: Do you swap with any organized groups like yahoo groups, flickr, groups on swap-bot, other message boards, etc? Why or why not?

Sandi: I mainly swap within communities I am a member of like Country Fried Primitives, Lemon Poppy Seeds, Prim Mart and of course my eBay groups AB4B and PCCF. I swap soaps with an Etsy soap team called SafeTeam. that was fun way to get to use different types of soaps. I do take part in swaps and challenges on blogs I read. I just discovered your blog so this will be a new place for me to play once I get moved into my new place.

SD: What's your favorite swap you've ever been in or hosted?

Sandi: My favorite swap was a fabric swap we did in a private group that now has moved to eBay under a new name “Whimsy Friends & Folks Art Friends.. We sent 3 fabrics, some other embellishments to our partner and we created a doll using the fabric and you could add 1 fabric and 3 other embellishments (paint did not count). We then listed our creations on eBay on the same day. It was fun to see what we created from what went out.

SW: What do you do to make your packages special? I usually include some of our

Sandi: Sassy Soap or candy depending on the time of the year and the swap theme. I like to wrap my dolls in fabric with bows if I can.

SD: Do you have a good story about hosting or participating in a swap?

Sandi: Swap gone bad…. Well let’s just say I won’t take part in anymore swaps dealing with food. Once year a group that shall be un-named decided it would be fun and different to swap recipe cards along with the supplies to make one of the recipes on the card. We only had like 5 folks in the swap so we decided each person would make up 3 recipe cards and 1 of those cards you send the dry mix to make the cookies on the card. Create fun ways to package your mix so it would not leak out. Well lets just say that by the time I got my box the mail man was complaining of ants in the box. Yep not one but 2 had opened and leaked out of the box. I don’t do Ants! The thought counts and I am sure the ones that did not leak would have been great. But no more food swaps.

Good swaps for me are ornies! I live in a small apartment so I keep my dolls and ornies up all year long. We did a one on one ornie swap in AB4B and I received these wonderful snowmen ornies for my little tree.

and in The Painted Daisy Community we held an ornie swap and each one of us donated an extra ornie that we placed up on eBay to raise funds for Breast Cancer. Win win for sure!

SD: What do you think is the most challenging part of hosting a swap? Any advice for someone who is thinking about hosting a swap?

Sandi: To me the challenging part is getting folks to sign up. Once they sign up as long as they all follow through to the end it usually flows easy and smoothly. Now if one person falls down on the swap it can make you look really bad.

My advise is to set the rules so everyone can read then and follow the rules. Stay in touch via email with the swappers reminding them when the deadline is approaching for the swap to be in the mail. Blog about the swap and when you hear folks are receiving their boxes make a big deal about it.

SD: Any exciting plans for the near future? Swaps, projects, new products?

Sandi: Well one of my eBay and Ning groups I am the leader in AB4B or Age*Before*Beauty is holding a swap right now, it is an Altered Art Swap.All swaps are open to everyone.

Once I get move and settled, Shweet Potato Dolls N Patterns will be hosting an Animal Pattern Swap. You will create or purchase an Animal paper pattern and send it plus one yard of fabric to your partner. Your partner will use the pattern and fabric to create the animal and the fun part is you will then send your completed animal back to your partner and you will receive yours back too. Kind of a Double Swap.

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