Thursday, October 30, 2008


This is a business where a person with no art talent can produce art!

Temple or gravestone rubbing is believed to have originated with the ancient (300 BC) Chinese. It was an efficient method of communicating the "written word" and a forerunner to the printing press.

The Emperors had their laws, slogans and messages carved in stone (that's easy for an Emperor to do) then transformed to parchment by rubbing with colored wax or other permanent dye material. Centuries later, pictures (stone and metal reliefs) were carved expressly for this purpose and today several Asian countries feature large temple rubbings commonly called batiks, which is technically a misnomer.

The name batik more properly refers to designed fabric that is coated with a wax, a design scratched or applied with a heated tool, and dipped in dye. Since the dye only affects parts not protected or by wax, the design remains when the wax is washed out. A marbling effect can be achieved when the dye is allowed (or forced) to seep into cracks in the wax caused by crumpling when cooled.

Although carved stone and metals are the most popular subjects for rubbing, virtually any solid relief surface can yield an interesting rubbing product: medals, leaves, architectural reliefs, cultural, historic, or commemorative plaques.

Most commercial rubbings come from church and courtyard reliefs. Their attraction and value are enhanced by unusual materials, novel rubbing techniques, impressive frames and by novel innovations such as certificates of authenticity.

Perhaps the most interesting source for rubbings is old graveyards - in any country! The markers and design are not only historical, they are often art works of a bygone age.

Temple rubbings and gravestone rubbings are essentially the same. Generally, impressions of oriental designs are called temple rubbings, while gravestone rubbings are usually from markers and tombs. The two terms can be used interchangeably in the business.

A major market for gravestone rubbings is descendants and genealogical projects. Many family records include information from old markers; some have photographs and/or rubbings of those old markers.. Because some of the stone markers are in soft material like limestone, the photographs may eventually be the only legible record.

Gravestone rubbings from the tomb of an ancient relative might be considered quite a prize - and not for just for their sentimental value.

The basic tools needed to begin the art of temple or gravestone rubbings are:

A piece of dry sponge, foam plastic or blackboard eraser and a soft brush to prepare the surface that is to be rubbed.

Fabric or paper to place over the design to reproduce it.

A rubbing marker, such as a commercial lumber crayon, or large flat sided school crayon to rub over the design.

Tape and twine to hold the fabric in place - and perhaps a kneeling pad.

For the rubbing fabric, its is best to use white butcher paper at first. It is expensive and will do for learning and can even be saved and mounted.

To make your rubbings look their best, however, it is best to feature an unusual or interesting fabric. One idea is to use marbleized paper, another is to buy or make your own special effect fabric; still another is wallpaper - fabric or paper with a nice texture.

The fabric and frame should be coordinated and both should complement or contrast with the rubbing itself. A variation is to use a light fabric for the actual rubbing, and contrasting dark color and/or texture for a border within the frame.

Another idea for a marker is to make your own applicator. A pad should be relatively flat, porous and about 4" across (although others sizes might be used for special parts of the job).

One suggestion is to start with a cutout circle of 1/8" plywood, about 3" in diameter. Glue a powder puff to one side and a handle to the other, then cover with a piece of 1/4" thick foam rubber (like wet suit material). Tie the foam material together on the handle side to leave a smooth convex surface on the rubbing side. This "tool" can be dipped in burnt umbra or other wet or dry stain and rubbed in a light circular motion to produce a very smooth, unstreaked reproduction of the relief.

Variations in rubbing pressure, staining material color and consistency, size and shape of the pad, fabric and your rubbing techniques will produce a wide variety of effects. Experiment until you find the ones you want.

Frames can be purchased or custom made. If not covered with glass, the finished rubbing should be sprayed with a protective covering such as Gloss Finish, which is used to spray finished charcoal drawings to prevent smearing (available at any art store).

The higher your asking price, the more important it is to protect and "showcase" your finished rubbing "under glass."

To make your first temple rubbing, select your subject, and a nice dry day. Clean the surface thoroughly with your sponge or brush. Use a little vinegar to for stubborn moss spots (let it dry before attempting to rub). Do not use anything harder or you risk scoring the surface which can damage the subject and lower the quality of your rubbing. Remove as much moss as possible for the best representation.

Next, place the fabric over the design and tape (or tie) it in place. Always use larger sheets fabric so there is plenty of margin to tie or tape without touching any of the surface that is to appear in your finished rubbing.

Peel off the paper from your crayon marker ( or dip your sponge pad) and use the flat side of the marker to gently rub over the raised portions of the design from the center outward all around until you have a light representation of the design.

Reverse directions and work from the outside in, gradually applying more and more pressure until you have just the amount of color, contrast and design that you want.. Study your rubbing from all angles and distances while it is still held firmly in place. Darken desired areas and correct any errors BEFORE removing the tape or ties. Once you move the fabric, you are finished with that impression!

It should be mentioned here that some "experts" deliberately move their rubbing fabrics slightly during their process. They complete the rubbing in the basic color then move the fabric slightly. The next step is to go over the highlights with a contrasting color - for a sort of highlight or 3-D effect.

Especially in a foreign country, always check with the proper authorities before attempting any type of rubbing activity, regardless of whether the object is on private, public or religious property.

It is not only good manners, but it can save embarrassment and possibly hard feelings. There could be religious, political, family or cultural considerations as well as property rights.

It is impossible to predict what your temple and/or gravestone rubbing might sell for (somewhere in the $10 to $1,000 range?). The price you realize will depend on the quality of your work, the subjects and their artistic appeal, as well as their frames and the manner in which they are marketed. The highest prices can be realized with glass covered creations in a attractive, contrasting fabric bordered frames and presented in art gallery fashion.

Tip: If your subjects are oriental, you might hire an oriental person to sell market them.

Persons visiting or serving in overseas assignments have a unique opportunity to find interesting and historical rubbing subjects,. But, there are also plenty of "stateside" opportunities as well.

Consider just one specialty: epitaphs. There are some pretty curious examples in some of the old graveyards across the country, including funny sayings, terse explanation of occupant's downfall and not a few with major errors.

In the past, most markers were not carved by professionals or scholars - many were made by people who hardly could read and knew very little about stone carving. Some have words or letters missing or crammed in at the end of lines. Some even have corrections - IN STONE! There are some very interesting (and valuable) collections out there - patiently waiting for an enterprising entrepreneur.


THE KELSEY CO., Box 941, Meriden, CT 06450, 203/235-1695. Printing and related materials and equipment; type, paper, presses, wood and linoleum blocks, etc. Old, reliable company.

DICK BLICK CENTRAL, Box 1267, Galesburg, IL 61407-1267, 800/477-8192. Wholesale art, sign, ceramic, sculpture supplies. Old, reliable company.

EL DO PLASTICS, INC., Box 451, El Dorado, AR 71730, 800/643-1556. Magnetic sign and engraver supplies; has sponge rubber pads (called Davis Daubers). Reliable company.

MEYERS PUBLISHING CO., 2135 Summer St., Stamford, CT 06945, 203/356-1745. Publishes ART BUSINESS NEWS, trade magazine for art and picture frame dealers.

FABRIC FINDERS, 125 Wold Rd., Albany, NY 12205. Wholesale fabrics (first quality and seconds).

JAPS, 126 7th Ave., Hopkins, NM 55343. Picture framing supplies; offers framing guide for $3; free catalog.

PICTURE ART INDUSTRIES, 2566 Stirling Rd., Hollywood, FL 33020, 305/921-6664. Wholesale framed pictures featuring lithograph prints under glass; over 1,000 pieces.

COMMUNICATIONS CHANNELS, INC., 5266 Barfield Rd., Atlanta, GA 30328, 404/256-9800. Publishes ART MATERIAL TRADE NEWS, "The Journal of all art, craft, engineering and drafting supplies".

DOVER PUBLICATIONS, INC., 31 East 2nd St., Mineola, NY 11051. Discount books, clip art, stencils, etc.

QUILL CORPORATION, 100 Schelter Rd., Lincolnshire, IL 60917-4700, 312/634-4800. Office supplies.

SWEDCO, Box 29, Mooresville, NC 28115. 3 line rubber stamps and business cards.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Glass etching is the application of lettering, monograms or designs on glass. this little known business can be started in a garage or shop and work into something really lucrative. Glass etching is accomplished by covering the glass with a pattern, then, with the aid of a special machine, blowing "sand" against the surface.

Wherever the glass is not protected, it becomes "etched" as the sand repeatedly strikes and "pits" the surface. This procedure contrasts with the old metal etching techniques where the surface was covered with wax or resin, a design scratched into it and the material immersed into acid.

Examples of etched glass products are monogrammed glassware, key chains, lettered windows, designed mirrors and numbers or letters applied as identification marks.

Most glass etching today is by the sandblasting method. Two other methods, acid cream and engraving will also be discussed.

In the sandblasting method, a special type of sand is held in a funnel-like holder where a blast of air is forced through it creates a miniature sandstorm.

It works something like a bingo machine. The area to be etched is covered with a stencil made of a material like masking tape in which the design has been cut out.

When the sand if blown against the piece, the masking tape protects areas that are to stay smooth and allows the sand to pit the glass through the stencil openings. When the stencil is removed the etched design remains.

You can buy ready-made etching stencil designs and letter stencils or cut out your own. Gift and hardware stores are prospective wholesale customers for the etched glassware.

A sandblasting machine, some glass, a stencil and a good working area plus some practice is what you need to get started.

The equipment should not be set up inside the house because there is usually a good deal of dust. Unless you are familiar with sandblasting, contact several suppliers to get the best deal equipment and supplies. Then, try your hand at etching some inexpensive items until you learn to produce quality products.

Save some of your better pieces for samples, some of which can be given to retailers if you do wholesale work.

Another form of glass etching is actually engraving -- where the operator imprints the pattern or design on glass with a high speed drill and a fine, hardened steel bit.

The drill can either be used freehand, with the aid of a stencil guide, or to trace over an applied design. The latter technique allows the application of very intricate designs, which can be quite ornate when the engraver has artistic talents.

The glass etching technique is becoming popular in the auto industry, where designs are etched into the glass to beautify and individualize.

One very promising use is engraving the engine or frame number or owner's driver license number on both the front and back windshields as a police identification tool.

Thieves don't like to steal these vehicles because they must replace the glass! This operation alone may become a good business in some areas. One company (Paragrave -- see Business Sources) has developed a rotary drill based on dentist equipment that is specifically designed for this application.

Acid etching is the old fashioned way and is now considered more of an artist's medium -- even though it can be used for virtually any application. It is generally slower and a little more dangerous because of the corrosive chemicals.

Generally, the glass surface is covered with wax or resin and the design traced or scratched on with a stylus. The procedure is a little like carving a linoleum block. Once the design is finished, creamed (to prevent running) acid is applied and left for the prescribed time.

When ready, the acid is wiped off (carefully, to avoid damage to the rest of the design surrounding or applicator). Even though acid etching has disadvantages, it can produce striking results in detail and very interesting effects.

Most custom glass etching is priced on a letter or design basis -- how many and what size letters are to be applied, plus the number of pieces.

Whether the letter is sandblasted, engraved, or acidized, it takes more time and materials to do big letter than a small.

In a shop you would have a few samples of available alphabets and logos, plus catalogs of additional patterns that could be ordered. Custom stencils would of course, be extra whether you made them or special ordered them from companies that support the industry.

It is also possible (smart, too!) to make up items to sell. These can be done in your spare time at first when you have time between custom jobs and wholesale orders.

Shop around for ordinary items like mirrors, drinking glasses and door windows and inscribe interesting designs on them -- like the school or town logo, or something of local interest.

You will soon learn to be on the lookout for both new ideas of what to etch and for bargain glass items that you can decorate. In Texas, a rearview mirror with a small armadillo might sell; in Missouri, try a kicking mule on a glass goblet ( you get the idea)!

Once you have learned the techniques, you might work with a store or two to produce custom etched glassware. This would help provide the volume for practice, yet not require you to do a perfect job on a $100 glass vase.

When you feel you are ready, place ads to etch, monogram or apply designs to fine glassware --both new and pieces already owned. Use your imagination in your ads. Give potential customers something to think about. Have monthly specials: your license number on front and back windshields - $29.95 this month; a small logo on eyeglasses for $5 and up next month.

These specials will illustrate the various types of work you can do and perhaps stimulate potential customers to think of something they would like to have etched. Other areas to mention in specials might be holiday motifs, family coats of arms, company logos, etc.

In addition to being careful about dust and acid (if you use that medium), be especially careful to get the correct wording on the ticket and on the glass. A mistake on either means you have just etched a piece of junk.

On phone orders, repeat the copy back slowly and use phonetics for any possible mistakes.

On written orders have the customer check and initial the desired copy. You will certainly have to "eat" some mistakes -- but glass is not good for you, so try to hold them to a minimum!


JUPITER ENGINEERING CO., Box 1666, Jupiter, FL 33548, 305/746-3984. Sandblasting equipment and supplies.

LEEDS MANUFACTURING CO.,2620-8 Tyler Blvd.,Mentor, OH 44060, 216/951-1412. Sandblasting equipment and supplies.

GRAPHIC INDUSTRIES, Box 3512, Alliance, OH 44601, 216/821-0654. Sandblasting equipment and supplies; also hot stamp dies.

COOPER GRAPHICS, Box 3485, Toledo, OH 43607, 419/531-2609. Sandblasting masks (stencils),letters, monograms, logos, etc.

TIP SANDBLASTING EQUIPMENT CO., Box 646, Canfield, OH 44406, 800/321-9260. Sandblasting equipment and supplies.

EBEL-DOCTROW PUBLICATIONS, INC.,Box 2147, Clifton, NJ 07023, 210/779-1600. Publishes GLASS,, CHINA, TABLEWARE, trade magazine for glass giftware dealers.

TAPEWAY MARKETING CO., Box 4072, Fullerton, CA 92631. Offers business in etched glassware sales (alternate supplier?).

WHITEMORE-DURGIN GLASS CO.,Box 2065, Hanover, MA 02339. Glass working tools and supplies. Free catalog.

PARAGRAVE, 155 West Center, Orem, UT 84058, 800/624-7415. Offers "engraving" business as low as $65 per month. (High speed drill and patterns).

MEISTERGRAPH, 3517 Wendover Ave.,Greensboro, NC 27407, 800/222-2600, ext 166. Portable Etch-Master equipment to monogram fine glassware.

QUILL CORPORATION, 100 Scheleter Rd.,Lincolnshire, IL 60917-4700, 312-634-4800. Office supplies.

NEBS, 500 Main St.,Groten, MA 04171, 800/225-6380. Office supplies.

IVEY PRINTING, Box 761, Meridan, TX 7665. Letterhead: 400 plus 200 envelopes - $18.

SWEDCO, Box 29, Mooresville, NC 28115. Rubber stamps.

ZPS, Box 581, Libertyville, Il 60048-2556. Business cards (raised print - $11.50 per K) and letterhead stationery. Will print your copy ready logo or design, even whole card.

WALTER DRAKE, 4119 Drake Bldg.,Colorado Springs, CO 80940. Short run business cards (250 - $3, stationery, etc. Good quality, but no choice of ink or color.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


You can, if you are ambitious, start a Mail Order Business selling collectables to hobbiest by mail. To begin, you must first find a hobby that appeals to YOU. Next, you must spend several weeks researching that hobby. You must learn what collectors want and how much they are willing to pay for it. You should also know what other dealers are willing to pay for the merchandise which they sell. And you must be willing to pay the same amounts.

Perhaps you already know exactly what you want to sell. If you have been collecting old Valentines, then start a Mail Order business buying and selling old Valentines. Or Stamps. Or Comic Books. The first rule of Mail Order selling is to sell what you yourself would buy.

To give you an idea of what collectors buy and sell by mail, here is a partial list of today's collectables:

Phonograph Records Cigar Labels License Plates
Beer Labels Circus Posters Music Boxes
Salt/Pepper Shakers Greeting Cards Old Pencils
Atlases Military Medals Sheet Music
Doll Clothes Menus Cigar Boxes
Train Photos Old Calendars Maps
Street Car Tokens Buttons Postcards
Fruit Car Tokens Fruit Jar Labels Old Magazines
Gun Catalogs Paper Currency Cartoon Books
Theatre Programs Political Buttons Baseball Cards
Children's Books Stock Certificates Old Toys
Gems, Minerals Belt Buckles Airplane Photos
FBI Posters Newspapers Coins
Arrowheads Old Jewelry Boat Photographs
Advertising Cards Dog Pictures Movie Magazines
Autographs Dolls Hunting Licenses
Valentines Cookbooks Beatle Items
Stamps Indian Relics Railroad Books
Fishing Licenses Comic Books Thimbles
Automobile Manuals Diaries Railroad Passes

Antique Barbed Wire

I would like to suggest that you send for sample copies of two magazines. They are read avidly by hobby dealers and hobby collectors alike.

THE COLLECTORS NEWS, Box 156, Grundy Center, IA 50638

THE ANTIQUE TRADER WEEKLY, Box 1050, Dubuque, IA 52001

Each of these publications contain around 70 or 80 pages of ads from dealers and collectors. Almost every hobby publication, large or small, is listed somewhere within its pages.

Once you have selected your field, start a file. Keep copies of all the ads selling your kind of merchandise. Also keep ads showing the dealer's buying prices. If price lists ar offered in ads, send for them and STUDY them. MAKE YOURSELF AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD.

Try to locate any publications that deal with your field. Often, you can locate small mimeographed publications and newsletters which will give you all kinds of useful information.

Your next step is to look for merchandise in your own community. Here are some suggestions:

Start by attending flea markets and antique shoes. Don't be afraid to make inquiries of dealers. They often have what they consider "junk" stashed away, assuming that it isn't of much value to anyone. I once discovered a fabulous stamp collection that way!

Browse around through Thrift Shops.

Study the garage sale ads in your local newspaper. Visit any that sound promising. (Sometimes, it pays to telephone first. Also, by telling people what kind of merchandise you are looking for, they may be able to direct you to others who have exactly what you need!)

Place "Wanted to Buy" ads in your local Swapper's News, or your local newspaper. Be sure to list your phone number.

It is amazing what you can find in your local community if you work at it. However, if you can't find enough merchandise locally, run ads in the Collector's Magazines listed above. Their rates are very, very low. And you will soon discover that they are widely read!

Once you have accumulated a decent stock of merchandise, you are ready to begin selling it. If there are publications specializing in your field, by all means advertise there. You have a ready-made audience! Also run ads in the big hobby magazines.

Type up a list of what you have and have an Instant Printer make a hundred or so copies for you. Hobbyists don't mind typewritten, mimeographed, or xerox copies . . . it's half the fund of collecting. Then run your ad. Your ad can merely offer your list to interested collectors free (or for a stamp, to weed out coupon clippers). Or you can offer to make a sale straight from the ad. If you do the latter, stick in your price list with the merchandise. It will be read . . . eagerly!

Here are a few sample ads run by hobby dealers for your consideration:

"Railroad Timetables, 1940's
Four different - $4.00 postpaid..

"Old Children's Books and Texts. Stamp for List."

"85,000 Comic Books, Movie Magazines, Funnies, etc. 1900-1957. Catalog $1.00 (Refundable)."

"Original Movie Poster, Pressbooks,
Stills, 1919-1975. Catalog - 50 cents"

"Sleigh Bells! Stamp for list."

"Sheet Music. SASE for list."

Just in case you are not familiar with the phrase, "SASE" means "Self-addressed, stamped envelope". As you progress, you will learn continually. Most hobby dealers will tell you that they learn more from the collectors who buy from them than they could ever learn from any other source.

Below are some other hobby publications that may interest you. It would be a good idea to include postage when requesting copies from the publisher.

Antiques and Collecting Hobbies, 1006 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605

Linn's Stamp News, Box 29, Sidney, OH 45365

Doll Castle News, Box 247, Washington, NJ 07882

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


This business of raising and selling rare or unusual animals, where both expenses and profits are much bigger than normal. Llamas, angora rabbits, mink, pheasant, snakes, bullfrogs, spiders and miniature horses are but a few of the possibilities in this large category.

Which animals you raise will of course be influenced by your own preferences, the facilities you can provide, where you live, and of course the market in your area. You can go into this business from a hobby or just go out and buy a pair of whatever animals you would like to raise.

The primary advantage to "exotic" rather than regular animals is income potential. Raising ordinary rabbits requires far less investment in breeding stock, facilities, care and time than expensive, pedigreed angoras.

However, when its time to market ordinary rabbits, they are worth perhaps two to five dollars each. Pedigreed angoras would be worth many times that, especially if they had a blue ribbon winner in their ancestry.

With a $100 animal, you have an incentive to provide the best care and living conditions and call that $25 per hour veterinarian at the first hint of trouble.

A litter of ordinary rabbits would represent about $50; angoras, say $500. Needless to say, you have an incentive to invest more in care of the more valuable investment.

The first step after deciding upon an animal that would fit your situation is to learn all you can about that animal. Study its habits, feed and shelter requirements and learn something about diseases or genetic problems that might affect your ability to properly care for them.

Although there is a good profit potential expensive animals require more care and closer attention than ordinary farm stock or pets... It would be very good idea to discuss your plans with a veterinarian before going too far. Find out about normal health problems, which ones you can treat, the cost of preventive care (and the cost of veterinary treatment).

If you are not already equipped (facilities and experience), it would be a good idea to begin with "ordinary" animals of the type you plan to raise. Raise these until you are ready to progress to more expensive, exotic breeds.

In other words, learn and make any mistakes with $5 animals, not $50-$100! But be very careful when you change over. It imperative to keep pedigreed and ordinary animals apart to prevent inter-breeding. It is just as important to prevent the spread of diseases borne by ordinary species, which are unusually much more disease resistant.

Before placing your expensive, exotic breeds in quarters formerly occupied by ordinary animals, take special precautions. Clean and treat the areas thoroughly so your prized exotics can get started in clean, disease and pest free living conditions.

Study potential diseases of the animals you select. Learn how to prevent and even treat as many problems as you can. You don't want to pay expensive veterinarian fees for things you can take care of (or prevent) yourself.

Consider the weather in your area -- will you need heaters or cooling for the animals you plan to raise?

How about feed or bedding materials? Check will feed stores on the various types of feed (some have added vitamins and/are medically treated.

Can you raise any of these things yourself or make a deal with a nearby farmer to at least augment feeding costs?

When you have decided upon the animals you plan to raise, and have learned of their care and habits, its is time to start building pens, sheds and feeding areas.

Pay particular attention to safety of your charges (as well as neighbors, if applicable) Birds, for example, not only need wire cages to keep them in; they need strong wire to keep any predators out.

This may include snakes that only 1/4 inch wire mesh about three feet can repel. Also, take special care to arrange your pens or cages so the animals will not be frightened or excited by their surroundings, which could interfere with their development or well-being. In some cases, it will be necessary to fence off a buffer zone, build a solid fence or plant a hedge to make sure your animals feel secure.

The exotic animal business will probably take time to build, but can be especially rewarding for someone who is fond of animals.

Subscribe to a good trade journal and look into joining an association of people interested in the same or similar animals.

Attend shows and fairs and enter your prize animals --not only for the prize money, but for the recognition and prestige it will afford your business. A blue ribbon will change a $20 rabbit into a $200 rabbit instantly! Even the descendants of the the prize rabbit will be worth more; especially if they are registered.

Exotic animals are raised for many different reasons -- as pets, for their fur, wool, or feathers or food, as oddities for special purposes or many combinations thereof.

Some of the businesses are quite unique: a man in California raises tarantulae and "rents" them to jewelry stores. He delivers them at closing time, places a large warning sign in the window and picks them up each weekday morning. It seems break-ins have dropped drastically in stores with "guard-tarantuals"!

Spiders are also raised for their webs (science labs use them); snakes for their venom (used to make snake bite serum). The business of raising laboratory mice is also very lucrative -- thousands are purchased by science centers every year.

For more ideas on exotic animals you might want to raise, check out some books in the library and do some research; check with discount book stores; exotic animal magazines, and spend some time with a good encyclopedia. If you decide to get into the exotic animal business, pick an animal you like and respect -- then treat it as something special. Not only is this right, it a sound business principle.

If you want to get exotic prices for you exotic animals (or products), "showcase" them as something special! Keep them and their area in top condition. Let everyone see that your animals are special (and valuable).


ALLEN PUBLISHING CO.,1338 Allen Park Dr.,Salt Lake City, UT. 81405. Publishes PHEASANT FANCIERS AGRICULTURAL GAZETTE for bird raisers.

KREMMERS PRESS, Box 22, Fair Lawn, NJ 07140. Publishes AMERICAN SMALL STOCK FARMER for breeders of rabbits and other small animals.

JOLLY-G RABBITRY, 13202 Cozzens, Chino, CA 91790. Wholesale rabbits, supplies.

R/C MODLEERS CORP. 144 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.,Sierra Madre, CA 91024. Publishes FRESHWATER MARINE AQUARIUM for the fish raising trade.

STROMBERG'S Pine River 59, MN 56474. Poultry, chicks, swans, peacocks, etc.

AMERICAN PIGEON JOURNAL, 220 E. Main St.,Warranton, MO 63383,, 314/456/2122. Publication for pigeon raisers and dealers.

H.H. BACKER ASSOCIATES, 207 Wabash Ave.,Chicago, IL 60606, 312/663-4040. Publishes GROOM & BOARD and PET AGE, trade magazines for pet groomers and dealers.

DADANT & SONS, INC.,Hamilton, IL 62341. Publishes AMERICAN BEE JOURNAL for bee keepers.

JACK SHERCK & ASSOCIATES, 210 NW 10th St.,Abilene, KS 67410, 800/645-0028. Information on raising racing greyhounds in 14 states, investors and partners.

HARCOURT BRACE JOBANOVICH PUBLICATIONS, 1 E 1st St.,Duluth, MN 55802, 218/723-9303. Publishes monthly PETS/SUPPLIES/MARKETING for livestock and pet suppliers, pet retailers and pet food manufacturers. World's largest textbook company. Publishes many other trade journals.

SHOW RING MAGAZINE, Box 1399, Albany, TX 76430, 915/762-2242. Monthly magazine about animal shows,farm livestock sales and the purebred industry.

LLAMAS, Box 325, Herald, CA 95638. Bimonthly magazine on raising and breeding of llamas. Has classified ad section. Sample $4.

QUILL CORPORATION, 100 Schelter Rd.,Lincolnshire, IL 60917-4700, 312/634-4800.

IVEY PRINTING, Box 761, Meridan, TX 76665. Low priced letterhead and envelopes.

ZPS, Box 581, Libertyville, IL 60048-2556. Raised print business cards and letterhead. Will print your copy ready logo or design, even whole card.

WALTER DRAKE, 4119 Drake Bldg.,Colorado Springs, CO 80940. Short run business cards, stationery. Good quality, but no choice of ink.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Make and sell toy cars, wagons, wooden puzzle and hobby horses. retail them at flea markets, fairs, through national ads, direct from your shop or yard and/or wholesale them to stores or catalog sales companies.

Wooden toys have a special appeal that most other types of toys do not-- nostalgia and parent confidence. Parents remember the wooden toys they had as children lasted a long time and that they were safe. Wooden toys like hobby horses or stick horses are so old, they are "new"!

For the past few years, wooden items have become more and more scarce as they have been replaced by plastic and wood filled plastics that can be molded. Many items are advertised these days as "genuine wood" to inform the buyer they are nor plastic or laminated sawdust, and infer that they are therefore worth more.

The overall result is that an item made of "genuine wood" is now considered more valuable than the substitutes that just a few years ago were considered an "improvement" over wood.

In the wooden toy business, you have the option of making variety of things or specializing in one item or series of items.

You also have the luxury of being able to use what other industries would call scraps -- because not many of your toys will require 8, 6 or even four foot pieces of wood.

This means that you can use materials that others can't -- and that if you can locate a good source, your materials should be half or less of the going rate. As a result, you will be able to offer finished toys of good quality wood at excellent prices and still make a very nice profit.

This type of business will appeal to the wood enthusiast, or anyone who enjoys shop work; the variety of possible toy products is endless -- limited only by the toy maker's imagination and facilities.

If you specialize in larger items such as hobby horses, one well-placed ad for genuine, old-fashioned hardwood horses could keep you busy!

The only "secret" to this business is to have a plan for getting your materials at a good price, a procedure to fabricate and finish the toys efficiently and professionally, and effective means of letting the right prospective customers know where they can be found and how much they cost.

Most wooden toy makers limit their output to models they can build with tools and equipment on hand. They set up a procedure, as close to assembly line as possible to allow high quality items to be produced efficiently: jigs for cutting, clamps for gluing, patterns for drilling, stencils for painting -- with designated areas for operations like sanding or painting that require them to be separated.

Although the finished items are all made by hand, there is no need to completely finish one item before starting on the next -- it is much "smarter" to cut out two dozen horse heads at once; to sand them all while the area is set up for that operation, and to give them all their first coat of paint at the same time.. The items are still hand made, only a lot more efficiently.

The bottom line is that quality is just as high (perhaps even higher as you perfect each step), but the price is lower because you can produce them cheaper.

One inexpensive way to advertise is to rent a display window in a store (even a vacant store -- see the real estate agent about renting just the window until the store is leased).

Set up a nice looking display of your products --several models, a variety of items (or your "pride and joy") in an attractive display - one that is calculated to interest children as a toy, as well as the parents as a good investment.

Tip: "Eye level" for a child is 3 to 4 feet, so place items you want to see at their level!

Put price tags on the items. or a placard (about 8 x 10) in or near the items, along with a couple of lines about their quality and,of course, where they can be purchased.

If you are willing to make alterations, indicate that custom items are available (but leave the price open until you find out what they have in mind).

Plan your production schedule to peak about 30 days before the holidays -- seasonal sales you lose because you ran out of items sell are GONE!

In the beginning, you will probably want to try several different products -- and procedures. You need to learn which things you can make best and which ones will sell best.

Once you have settled on a line of products (if you do), it would be wise to gear your "assembly line" to those products.

Use a piece of tin or masonite for a cutout pattern; holes in it to mark places to drill. Work out a production schedule for steps that take time, such as glue setting and paint drying -- where you take an item from the clamps, sand it lightly, lay it out for the painting phase and immediately place another item (or sets of items) the available glue clamps.

If you glue, setting time is one hour (temperature regulation may speed this step) and you have 5 sets of glue clamps, you can set aside 5 or 10 minutes per hour for this phase to produce 5 items per hour or 40 per day (the last set is left overnight to be changed first thing in the morning).

As you progress in your wooden toy business you will discover more and more "shortcuts"-- that produce the same quality (or even better) at a lower cost. You will also learn of other items that are in demand and will make more decisions on whether to expand or add new products.

Wooden toys can be sold retail through ads, displays, and by using a little extra imagination.

For example, show a child playing with your toy in your ad (to help "plant" the idea that your toys are fun to play with). Plan different ways to "push" your line -- give prizes at community affairs (raffle, children's competitions), try cable TV ads and the local newspaper.

Use a good camera to take black & white photos and have the newspaper make "cuts" of some of your best efforts to put in ads and brochures. When the market warrants, add color brochures with illustrations and little write-ups of your toys.

Perhaps some of them are authentic copies of antiques, or can be associated with interesting stories or history. Don't hesitate to experiment with different wood combinations and patterns.

For example, two plywood with opposing grains for strength and effect; tongue & groove glued larger pieces; checkerboard patterns (like parquet floor pieces) or anything else you can think of.

Wholesaling brings in less revenue per item but eliminates much of the cost of advertising and time needed for dealing with potential buyers of one or two items at a time (you may be able to make much more turning out toys than selling them). Here are three proven methods for wholesaling are:

Store sales, Take samples and price lists to retail stores in your area and ask them to order. A variation is to mail out price lists and brochures to stores that carry similar merchandise. In this case, write a "cover" letter of 1 - 2 pages on good quality letterhead paper. Describe your products briefly (stress their quality) and their availability. Include a price list and an ORDER FORM. For stores in your area, follow up this first contact with a personal visit, phone call or another letter 2 weeks later!

Catalog sales. List your products with an existing catalog sales firm (printing your own is expensive and should be tried only when you are experienced). the procedure is similar to mail sales to stores (above), but you also need to include your charges for packaging and shipping of a single item because the mail catalog store can either buy your products outright or have you drop-ship them as orders come in.

Fair sales. arrange for a booth at trade shows, large flea markets and community fairs. Take a good selection of your merchandise, business cards, brochures, and order forms and set up an attractive display.. Although the objective will vary with the type of activity. the general idea is to retail, make contacts, gain recognition, and to take wholesale orders.
Be especially watchful for ways to profitably use every scrap of material and reduce the amount you spend for supplies.

Make little toys from pieces left over from big ones, even if it means modifying a pattern or designing a special toy so it can be fabricated mostly from materials that would otherwise be wasted. Using these materials efficiently is the purest form of profit!

The, calculate your best prices on paint, sandpaper, wood and even tools and supplies. It may be that buying glue in 5 gallon cans will save you a good deal -- unless there is a spoilage problem. In this department, the most expensive thing you can do is to keep buying from the same source without constantly checking -- and figuring how to get more for your money.

One source for fresh ideas would be subscribing to a couple of good trade magazines.

One of the more obvious potential problem area to watch out for is overstocking items that don't sell.

The cause of this problem is invariably personal taste -- although poor sales techniques and/or shoddy work can also be contributors. Just remember that before you invest too heavily in any one product, do as the professionals do -- test market it (see how it sells).

Just because you like something is NOT a good reason to make up 10,000 of them (remember the Edsel? -- but if your customers like them -- that's different! If your problem is shoddy work, the CHEAPEST thing to do is get rid of the problem -- wholesale them to an outlet (burn them if necessary), but don't allow them to spoil your reputation and confidence.

Finally, if they aren't selling, alter your method of advertising. If that helps, work on that aspect until you find the winning combination!


HARBOR FREIGHT SALVAGE, Box 6010, Carmarillo, CA 93011, 800/388-3000. Discount tools and shop equipment. Call for free catalog.

NORTH AMERICAN MACHINERY, Box 20409, Tallahassee, FL 32316, 800/874-8160. Sells a router that copies relief designs onto chairs, plaques, etc.

HARCOURT, BRACE JOVANOVICH, 545 5th Ave.,New York, NY 10017. Publishes TOYS, HOBBIES & CRAFTS Directory - &8. (Large, professional trade publisher).

GOODFELLOW, Box 4250, Berkeley, CA 94704. Magazine that specializes in wholesale toys and crafts -- good place to advertise.

POPULAR WOODWORKER, 1300 Galaxy Way, Concord, CA 94520, 415/671-9852. Publication for all types of wood workers: carving, cabinet making, crafts for advanced hobbyists, etc. Sample $2.

CREEKSIDE CREATIONS, 3505 Bean Creek Road, Scotts Valley, CA 95066. Marionette kits and patterns -- also buys.

ASSOCIATION OF FAIRS & EXPOS INTERNATIONAL, MPO 985, Springfield, MO 65811. Monthly list of fairs, etc.

JOHN MUIR PUBLICATIONS, Box 613, Santa Fe, NM 87504. Prints lists of flea markets that sell for about $10.

EDGEL PUBLISHING CO., 545 5th Ave.,New York, NY 10017, 212/503-2900. Publishes TOYS, HOBBIES & CRAFTS, magazine for hobby and crafts dealers.

I.C.I. Box 158, Intercession, FL 33848. Cypress slabs for craft work; clocks tables and marketing kits.

CRAFTS REPORT, 1529 E 19th St.,Brooklyn, NY 11230. Information on major professional craft shows.

DOVER PUBLICATIONS, INC., 31 East 2nd St.,Mineola, NY 11051. Discount books, clip art, stencils, etc.

QUILL CORPORATION, 100 Schelter Rd.,Lincolnshire, IL 60917-4700, 312/634-4800. Office supplies.

NEBS, 500 Main St.,Groton, MA 04171, 800/225-6380. Office supplies.

IVEY PRINTING, Box 761, Meridan, TX 7665. Letterhead: 400 sheets plus 200 envelopes - $18.

SWEDCO, Box 29, Mooresville, NC 28115. 3 line rubber stamps - $3; business cards - $13 per thousand.

ZPS, Box 581, Libertyville, IL 60048-2556. Business cards (raised print - $11.50 per K) and letterhead stationery. Will print your copy ready logo or design, even whole card.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


You can enjoy the freshness of a flower garden throughout the year by cutting and drying your favorite flowers. The two easiest and least expensive methods are sand-drying and air-drying.

Sand-drying can be used to dry a wide variety of flowers, such as roses, tulips, dahlias, marigolds and snapdragons. Flowers which last only one day, like day lilies, do not dry well. Do not dry asters, azaleas, chrysanthemums, geraniums, petunias, phlox, pinks, poppies or violets. But feel free to do your own experimentation.

To prepare for sand-drying, cut the flowers at the peak of their show as any imperfections will be exaggerated by drying. Pick the flowers after the dew has fully evaporated. Make sure the stems are dry.

Prepare the flowers by reinforcing the stems and blossoms with florist's wire or with white glue. For daisy-type flowers and flowering shrubs, push a 6" piece of wire through the stem and right through the flower head; bend the end of the wire into a hook over the flower head and then pull it down, thus securing the head to the stem.

For flowers such as roses and tulips which are dried face-up, cut off most of the stem except an inch or so and insert the wire as above.

For many-petaled flowers, use glue instead of wire. Diluting the white glue with a drip of water and using a toothpick, dab a thin coat of glue at the base of each petal, working the glue into the base of each flower to attach each petal to the base. Dry completely.

To dry the flowers, slowly cover them with white sand in deep, open boxes. Cup-shaped or rose-shaped flowers should be dried face-up. Make the sand deep enough to hold the flowers in an upright position, position the flower carefully and slowly pour the sand around the base of the flower, then around the sides and under and over the petals. Pour the sand evenly and slowly in order to preserve the natural shape of the blossom.

Daisy-type flowers should be dried face down. Make an even base of sand in the box and make a little dip in the sand the same shape as the flower. Hold the flower steady and carefully build up the sand around the blossom until it is fully covered.

Snapdragons, lilac, elongated flowers and flowering branches should be positioned horizontally in the sand, flowering branches face up. Carefully pour the sand around and between the flowers and into individual blooms. A soft artists' brush will help you in lifting the blossoms slightly as you pour the sand so that they won't be flattened by its weight.

When all the flowers are completely covered with sand put the drying box in your drying area and leave undisturbed for one to three weeks. Rapid drying in a very warm, dry and brightly-lit place will produce bright blossoms; slower drying in a more humid spot will produce more muted colors.

Removing the sand should be done very carefully, tipping the container slightly, allowing the sand to flow slowly from one corner of the box. As each flower is released from the sand, lift it gently out.

If you wish to store your dried flowers for later use, seal them in airtight containers such as tins or plastic boxes sealed with masking tape, or in sealed cardboard boxes enclosed in airtight plastic bags.

Air-drying can be very successful with herbs, everlastings and ornamental grasses. Choose perfect plants with long stems, removing the lower leaves. Put the flowers in small bunches, fastening them together with an elastic band; then open each bunch into a fan shape. Hang the flowers head down from nails in a dry, dark place for one to three weeks until they are completely dry. The colors will usually be muted. Display your flowers in the house or store them as above.

You may want to experiment with waxing fresh flowers. This too is simple; just melt some paraffin wax and plunge each individual flower into the wax. Remove and shake the excess wax off each flower. Put it into the refrigerator to set and harden.

Having dried, preserved flowers in your home year-round can really brighten it up. You may want to give dried flower arrangements as Christmas gifts. It is a wonderful, satisfying hobby to preserve your own flowers. You can also make lovely cards by pressing your flowers and covering them with clear mac-tac on a piece of construction paper. It's easy to do and looks lovely.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


You can treasure the memory of your child's first steps forever by bronzing his first set of baby shoes. And you can do it yourself relatively inexpensively and easily.

Your first step will be to clean the shoes thoroughly. With a damp rag, clean the shoes of all dirt and polish. It is best to complete the cleaning by rubbing the shoes with a rag saturated in denatured alcohol. All wax and polish must be removed. Now allow the shoes to dry.

Next you will want to arrange the shoes as you want them to be bronzed. Tie the laces and arrange them properly. Adjust the tongue so that it touches the sides of the shoe. You may want to hold the laces and tongue in place with a little rubber cement. Now drive a tiny hole through the sole of each shoe and loop a string or wire around it. You are now ready to begin bronzing.

To prepare your liquid bronze use bronze, copper or gold powder and mix the powder with a fast drying spar varnish, stirring well and adding the powder until you have a liquid about like paint. Stir to prevent particles from settling on the bottom. You will probably want to mix a fresh batch of the liquid bronze for each job.

To apply the bronze, use a good camel hair brush and paint shoes, inside and out, with several coats. If there are dull spots when the liquid dries, it means the liquid has soaked right into the material and more coats are needed until the finish is even and glossy. Hang up each shoe by the loop of string to dry between coats and clean the brush each time.

When the final coat is dry, you can create an "antique" effect by mixing a little burnt umber or black color in oil with the bronzing liquid and painting it into the creases of the shoe with a small brush.

If you would like the shoes to be heavy and rigid, fill them with plaster of paris to about 1/2" from the top and let them dry for several days before starting to paint.

You will find bronze powder at any good paint or hardware store or even a printing supply house.

You will be amazed at the very professional job you have done using this method. Perhaps you will do such a good job and enjoy it so much you may want to begin a service doing it for others. It is really a lovely way to make your treasured memories last forever.


This business can be started and operated within the comforts of home surroundings. You can start on a sturdy table or solid work bench in a small storage area, such as your garage, shed or basement; even a small room can be devoted toward this purpose.

If you are handy with tools you could be on your way to a nice sideline business that could grow with time. Many wood moldings can be bought at reasonable cost from lumber yards and can be used as the basic product for manufacturing frames. Everyone has photos and prized possessions which need framing. Many people don't like the plastic frames found in stores today, thus creating a ready market for beautiful, natural wood frames.

Quite often you can find old, beautiful, rugged picture frames at rummage or garage sales. They can be repaired and cut down to today's standards. Good frames can add substantially to the value of art, paintings, posters, certificates, etc. The list is endless. No matter where you live you can start a picture framing business. To some, it can be an exciting and fascinating trade.

With just a little experience and proper tools you can also learn to cut your own glass for the frames.

You local library may be a great source of information on the subject. Also, in the various mailorder magazines you will find firms that offer free information on custom picture framing.

Check out your local variety stores and others that handle picture frames and get ideas from what they have to offer. There are many variations and you may be able to dream up different and better designs.

The frames may be sold locally or through the mail, and maybe even get you out of the everyday "rat race"!