For Christmas, my sister got me some diamond paintings. So I now have, at last count, 8 paintings currently waiting to be done, and 3 more on the way.
I might have a small problem. 😀
I’ve also been watching other DPers on YouTube and now I want to try all the things. There are new companies popping up all the time and it all looks like so much fun!
Many of these YouTubers have a lot of ‘unboxing’ videos and I love watching them. However, I’ve begun to notice that not many of them actually show themselves diamond painting. What’s the point of having a million kits to do if you never have time to do any of them because you’re always filming the unboxing of the latest thing?
In early December I came across a YouTuber who was doing a mystery Advent diamond painting. You can buy mystery diamond paintings – the canvas is white, with all the symbols in black. So you don’t know what the painting will be until you start working on it. She had divided her canvas into 24 sections and did a section every day. It was interesting to watch her work as well as see how the image developed as she completed the sections.
I have dreams of having my own DP YouTube channel someday – but I know that I don’t want it to simply be unboxing videos. I mean, I will probably have some of those, since I currently have 2 boxes of kits waiting to be opened. 😀 I get enjoyment out of opening the boxes, but I also enjoy the actual diamond painting.
I started on my huge ‘forgotten’ purchase a couple of days ago. It’s probably going to take me something like 120+ hours to complete, and I have no idea what I’ll do with it when I’m done, but that’s ok. My enjoyment is in the process of making the painting. If I could figure out how to get paid for doing other people’s paintings, that would be a dream job! 😛
In the meantime, I’ll work on the canvases I have and see what happens. I definitely want to complete the large seaside painting, but the two kits I got for Christmas are smaller and I could complete them faster. I’m debating working on two at once, just for variety, but I’m not sure if I have enough storage to have two paintings kitted up at once.
The smallest painting is an adorable elephant and then there is a medium sized 5 panel painting that my sister gave me. The elephant is smaller, but the grid is kind of hard to read, so it may take longer than I hope to finish. The love sign is pretty, but I’m not sure how to frame it. I don’t think it would look good to frame it as one piece, but there isn’t really enough space between each section to put each individual piece on a wooden frame. And given the weird sizes, I don’t think I could find regular frames for each pieces, I’d have to have them made, which will be cost prohibitive.
Maybe I’ll just do the paintings and then give them to other people, so I don’t have to worry about how to frame them. 😀 Or I’ll add them to the growing pile of finished paintings currently sitting in my portfolio. And once those three are done, then I can open the other kits that are still in boxes.
You may have read that I am currently obsessed with diamond painting. 😛
I hadn’t realized how much I missed cross-stitch until I started diamond painting. I gave up cross-stitch years ago, both because I didn’t have much time and because my carpal tunnel and bad eyesight made it too difficult to get any enjoyment out of it. I’m not quite sure why my diamond painting doesn’t bother my carpal tunnel like cross-stitching, but it doesn’t, so I’m calling it a win.
Because I’m me, once I discovered diamond painting, I had to try everything. All. The. Things. I’ve bought paintings from several different companies so I can compare them and find out which one I like the best. I posted about the first small canvas I bought to try here. It was a small “snack-size” painting, so I could do it quickly while waiting for other purchases to show.
I also bought a pretty peacock painting, although I didn’t realize at the time it was from the same company as the rainbow horse. This canvas was bigger and I wanted to see if the somewhat limited color palette would be something I liked or not. It had 36 different colors, which I thought would be challenging, though it wasn’t as many colors as the wolf painting I did for my eldest.
The canvas itself was stiff, with some creases and curling from shipping that I’m still trying to get out. Just putting the drills on helped with some of that.
The drill field was clear and the labels were mostly good, though there were a few symbols that were similar enough it was hard to tell what symbol it was sometimes. Again, something I wanted to see for myself – it was a bit annoying sometimes, but nothing so bad that it kept me from finishing the piece.
The drills themselves were mostly good, with some cupping and some slag. It seemed like I had a lot of trash as I was working, but when I finished, the trash pile wasn’t huge, considering the size of the painting. I also had quite a few drills left after I finished, so I added those to my “extra drills” stash.
I have quite the drill stash going right now, even after only completing 5 paintings. I have drills of all shapes and sizes, though they are mostly round and square leftovers from finished pieces. One of the YouTubers I watch said that there are some online social groups where you can donate your leftovers to people who need them – I may look into that, because it seems silly to keep so many when I likely will never use them for anything. If someone else can use them, that seems like a win-win to me. 😀
The wax from this kit seemed a little better (thicker) than the other kit. I only used about half of it doing the painting. So now I’m arguing with myself over whether or not I should keep it, or just throw the rest away. In fact, I am probably going to order some specialty wax on Etsy, so I should just throw it away. I’m gonna go do that right now.
There. Done. 😛
It took me over 30 hours to complete the peacock, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do with it now that it’s done. I don’t have a good way to make sure that the painting stays flat until I figure out what to do with it.
Although I liked both of the kits from ToCare and they were enjoyable, I don’t know that I will be purchasing anymore from them. Because I can’t find any information on the company, I have no idea how they handle licensing the artwork they use, or even if they do.
I like ordering through Amazon because I know the kits will get here quickly and I can get working. There are others companies on Amazon popping up all the time, so I will likely be trying other ones. I’ve found several new-to-me companies while watching YouTube, so I want to try some of them and see. Next I will be working on the large painting I got from Diamond Art Club. I’ve had to move my workspace because the painting is so big, so we’ll see how long it takes me to complete it.
I’ve already got 5 more paintings waiting for me to open, and 2 more still on the way. (Apparently one of the companies I ordered from on Black Friday is located in Australia, something I didn’t know until the currency exchange charges showed up on my bank account!) So, while I wait for them to arrive, I have plenty to keep me busy. I am debating whether I want to continue talking about diamond painting here, or whether I want to branch off into another blog or possibly a YouTube channel for it. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my time off work, the holidays, and spend a big chunk of it diamond painting!
I’m still obsessed with diamond painting. I’ve been searching all the socials trying to find more people to follow who share my newfound obsession. I mentioned in a previous post that I went a little crazy buying kits on Black Friday. I knew it would take those packages a while to get here, so I bought a couple of smaller kits on Amazon just to keep my hands busy. They arrived in just a couple of days, so I broke the smallest one out and got to work.
I want to try out a variety of kits, styles, and companies to see who makes the best product. So far, the kits I’ve purchased on Amazon have been okay, but they are definitely not as high quality as the one Diamond Art Club kit I’ve purchased. To be fair, the kits I’ve ordered on Amazon are much cheaper, so the quality is on par with the cost.
The small canvas I started with was from a company called ToCare. I have no idea what or who this company is, other than they are likely Chinese. Which isn’t surprising, given that most companies, even those in the US, seem to get their supply of diamond drills (the little plastic pieces you place on the canvas) from China. They sell on Amazon, but there’s no info on the company to be found, only their products. Their info also listed a Facebook page, but again, not much beyond a link to their Amazon store and an email address. I tried looking up info on their email address, but they are apparently using an email service (163.com) that is (surprise!) in Chinese, so I’m glad I didn’t have any issues I needed to contact them about. 😛
The kit included this info page, which I am grateful for, because the legend key on the canvas itself was small and hard for my old eyes to read. You can tell that whatever translation service they are using (probably Google) doesn’t do a great job. While I understand the gist, no native English speaker would ask, “Have words for team ToCare?” or say, “We are social.” They misspelled Rainbow as Rainhow, something that spell check should have caught. Also, the Amazon listing says this is a unicorn, not a horse, so I was bit confused when the kit arrived. Although, the picture does match, so my own fault for not realizing there was no horn. 😀
The kit came with the standard items – drill pen, wax, tray, tweezers, and of course, the diamonds and canvas. The kit is $10.98 USD – I get free shipping as a Prime member. I sorted out the diamonds into containers (called kitting up) and got to work. The first day went pretty smooth, although there was a LOT of white. The first day I worked on it was a Sunday, so I made a lot of good progress while my hubby watched football.
I had to work the next couple of days, so I worked in smaller spurts. This canvas was round drills, which was a change, because I’d been working with square drills previously. There was a note at the bottom of the canvas that said, “Please the complete the torn part in time.” I had no idea what this meant until I was searching around on their Amazon page. Apparently, this is another lost in translation thing. Most DP kits come with some kind of cover, either paper or transparent plastic like you see here. This is to protect the adhesive that holds the diamonds while you work, covering the parts that you aren’t working on yet. So the note was meant to advise you to tear off/cut the film cover as you work.
I did have a bit of trouble getting the canvas to lay flat. It is currently still under some heavy books, as I’m hoping the weight will flatten it out, since the diamonds didn’t. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try ironing it. Hoping I don’t have to, since that gets a bit tricky with the diamonds already attached.
The diamond drills themselves were mostly okay, though there was some slag (misshapen pieces). I did have extras left over, which I will add to my stash of extras. Most people keep their leftovers on hand to use in case other kits are missing diamonds or they run out of a color. These are my ‘tic tac’ storage boxes. They work fine, but I upgraded to some different storage that I like much better.
I bought this particular kit because I wanted to try round drills again to see how they compared with the square. The round drills are definitely much more forgiving and easier to move around than the square. However, the square ones cover more of the canvas, which I like better. The round drills leave some of the background exposed and sometimes that means you can see the symbols through the diamonds. I also wanted to try something with bright colors, and this kit certainly fit the bill.
The listing says the canvas is 30cmX40cm, which is 12″X16″. However, keep in mind that this is the size of the entire canvas, not the drill field itself. After measuring, the canvas I received is actually 12 1/4″ X 15 1/2″. The drill field measures 9 1/2″ X 13 1/4″, which is roughly 24.1cmX33.6xm. So it’s a little smaller than usual – with most kits you can subtract about 5cm (~2″) from the size and get a rough estimate of the size of the drill field.
It took me 4 days to complete the canvas, though that is probably only about 8 hours of actual painting time. I’m going to start keeping better track of my painting time, so I can compare them as well as the kits and companies. I’ve created a spreadsheet to track orders, times, and completion dates, so we’ll see how I organized I can keep it. 🙂
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this canvas, as I just bought it to keep busy rather than with a recipient in mind. I have another canvas from this same company which is a peacock. It’s larger than this canvas, and it’s a lot of blue and white, so I’m curious to see how it compares to this kit. I need to get started on it, since I just received notification that two of my Black Friday kits have shipped.
The kits from ToCare are okay, but I’m not sure if I will buy any more from them. The canvas material is stiff and it’s difficult to get the creases out. It’s also somewhat shiny, which made reading the symbol key difficult. The drill quality is ok, but not great. I prefer the paper cover rather than the plastic film, but the adhesive is good. I’m curious to see how the peacock kit compares. I haven’t opened it yet, so maybe I’ll do one of those ‘unboxing’ videos. 😀
I follow a lot of YouTubers and bloggers in the sticker/planner community. Most of them are Amazon Associates (used to be called Affiliates). Basically, you can get special links for items for sale on Amazon and get paid if people use them. You, of course, have to promote and/or talk about the products, but it seems like a good way to make some (mostly) passive income.
I myself use Amazon a lot. We’re Prime members and I live in a rural area, the membership fee is more than covered by the free two-day shipping I receive. (I know, technically the shipping is not free, it’s covered by the membership fees.) I purchased most of my holiday gifts from Amazon, and all of my husband’s birthday gifts were purchased there as well.
I’m currently waiting on a delivery of calligraphy markers that I ordered so I could practice my hand lettering for my planner. In fact, I’ve ordered a lot of my planner/sticker products on Amazon, so it seems like a no-brainer to talk about them here on my blog and be able to have Associate links that would put a few pennies in my pocket. (And it likely would be pennies to start, while I am building up my audience.)
Have you been or are you an Amazon Associate? How is it working for you? Are there things you like about the program, besides than the income? Any things you dislike?
Gosh, that title is a mouthful, isn’t it? As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve spent several weeks trying to wrap my brain around the Gordian Knot that is sales tax law in the US.
Ugh. I’m years late to the internet sales party and now it’s all just a big headache. In a nutshell, here’s what happened to make selling online using Etsy or Amazon a giant pain the *ss these days:
South Dakota vs. Wayfair – this case went to the Supreme Court and they ruled that SD could require online businesses to collect sales tax under certain conditions. (I’m simplifying this a LOT, so feel free to fall down the internet rabbit hole about this court case yourself.) Of course, once South Dakota got the green light to collect sales tax on internet sales, which up to this point had generally been exempt from that, all the states wanted their piece of the sales tax pie.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, a legal person, a CPA, or in any way qualified to give you advice about sales taxes and sales tax law. I am just explaining to you MY understanding of how things will work moving forward, which admittedly, could be wrong.
Wild West Internet
Ok, with that out of the way, let me explain a few things. In the olden days of the internet, because states didn’t realize internet sales/business would be a thing, they didn’t address the issue of taxes on those sales. It was assumed that, for the most part, sales your business made would be to people who also lived in your state. So it was the Wild West of the internet – set up, sell, collect moolah. Of course, the state where you lived had laws you needed to follow about sales tax for sales in your state, but everything else – other states, other countries – were fair game.
Most states’ sales tax laws had to do with sales in THAT state and didn’t address the issue of sales that happened out of state. Sales tax was collected based on the location of the seller – i.e. the state where the online seller lived, not where the buyer lived.
(SIDE NOTE: Most states do address ‘use tax’ – essentially sales tax that people were supposed to pay on items they purchased out of state to use. Those are supposed to be reported on your yearly taxes – but most people didn’t, so the states lost out on that money.)
Also, since states could all make up their own laws about taxes, they vary widely. Some states tax food sales, others don’t. Some states don’t have sales tax at all. Some states tax digital products – like digital images or computer software. Some don’t. Most states that DO charge a sales tax have different tax rates depending on where in the state you make your purchase – cities and counties can add on to the state sales tax rate, so the rate isn’t the same everywhere.
For instance, the state sales tax rate in the state where I live is 6.5%. But it can range from that 6.5% all the way to 10.475% (which it does, in one city). Every single city and county in the state can decide to charge sales tax, and that can change the rate. So keeping up with all the different rates can be a paperwork nightmare.
Enter things like Etsy and Amazon and Ebay -people could sell online and not have to worry about things like pesky sales tax. It was like having a ready-made store – just set up and go. You only really had to worry about the sales tax for your state of residence. Because it was so easy to set up a store and start selling, places like Amazon and Etsy and Ebay became very popular. So, of course, states wanted a share of all the money changing hands.
South Dakota vs. Wayfair
The problem was that most sales tax laws said that sellers/businesses had to have a ‘nexus’ in the state,which used to be met in the following ways:
If the business had a physical location in the state
If there were resident employees working in the state
If the business had property (including intangible property) in the state
If there were employees who regularly solicit business in the state (i.e., salespeople)
Most sales tax laws were made when internet shops didn’t exist. Since there is no ‘physical’ location, sales tax laws didn’t apply. And that was how things mostly went until the SD vs. Wayfair case. Essentially, the Supreme Court decided that the states could require sellers/businesses to collect sales tax if they had ‘nexus’ in the state, but they made some changes to the definition.
Now there are additional types of ‘nexus’ for ‘remote sellers’ – i.e. internet businesses. (Don’t you just love all the new terms we’re learning?) Those include click-through, affiliate, economic, and marketplace. If your online business falls under one of those new umbrellas, you could be liable for collecting sales tax – in every state where you have sales, not just the one you reside in. Also, many of the new sales tax laws specifically state that the sales tax must be collected based on the location of the buyer, NOT the seller, which is not how it used to be done.
Once South Dakota got the green light, states began passing their own sales tax laws to address online sales. (You can find all kinds of information on these over at the Sales Tax Institute.)
Piece of the Pie
States knew that going after all the mom-and-pop internet shops would not be popular, so most states also included a ‘safe harbor’ or ‘small seller exception’ for those mom-and-pop internet shops. Modeling their new sales tax laws after South Dakota, most of the new laws have a clause that if an online business makes under a certain $ amount in sales, or under a certain number of transactions (or sometimes both), the business is exempt from having to collect sales tax.
Because of the complexity of many states’ sales tax rates, asking a small business to correctly collect from and remit sales tax to 50 different states, and potentially thousands of localities, is a huge burden on those small businesses. Indeed, if every online business, no matter its size, was required to do this, a huge percentage would likely close overnight. It’s simply too much work for it to be feasible for small businesses to do this.
Of course, states aren’t dumb. They want the most money for the least amount of effort. So they aimed for the big guys. If they could require the big businesses to collect sales tax, it would net them more money. Enter ‘Marketplace Facilitator’ clauses.
Requiring big online sales giants like Amazon and Etsy to collect sales tax could net the states a ton of money. Those big businesses have the resources to collect and remit sales tax – so the states get more money, and most of the work falls on the shoulders of these big platforms – now referred to as ‘Marketplace Facilitators.’ There are lots of ins-and-outs of these provisions – including things like whether or not Amazon (or other Marketplace Facilitator) has a warehouse in your state, that can determine whether a business has to collect sales tax.
Etsy now collects and remits sales tax on sales in 34 states (as of Oct 1, 2019). There are currently 5 states that do not charge sales tax – Alaska, Oregon, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Montana. And many states have new laws in the works. Alaska, for example, does not charge a state sales tax, but cities are free to charge sales tax if they wish, and some may.
What does it mean?
All these changes mean that if you want to sell on Etsy or Amazon or anything that could be deemed a ‘Marketplace Facilitator,’ you’ll need to know about sales tax and what the requirements are – in every state, not just the one you live in. And even if Etsy or some other Marketplace Facilitator collects and remits sales tax to a state for you, you may still be required to file sales tax with that state.
Let’s look at some examples. (Again, these are based on MY understanding of these convoluted laws, so I could be wrong – do your homework!)
Example 1: Let’s say you live in Delaware and open a store on Etsy. Your state doesn’t charge sales tax, so you’re golden, right? Only if all your sales are to other people in Delaware. If you sell something to someone in Nebraska, Etsy will collect sales tax on the sale and remit that tax to Nebraska. Cool, so you’re still golden, right? Nope. Nebraska’s sales tax law requires you to register with their state, even though Etsy collects and remits the sales tax for you.
Example 2: You live in Kansas and open an Etsy store selling digital downloads. Kansas exempts digital products from sales tax, so you don’t need to worry about sales tax, right? Again, only if your sales are all to other people who live in Kansas. If you sell a digital download to someone who lives in say, Arkansas, what happens? Etsy will collect and remit the sales tax to Arkansas. Do you need to do anything else? Nope – Arkansas does not require remote sellers (that’s you) to register if a Marketplace Facilitator (that’s Etsy) is collecting and remitting the sales tax.
Example 3: You live in Maine and you open an Etsy store. You’ve already registered with Maine for sales tax purposes. You know that Maine requires Etsy to collect and remit sales tax for sale in Maine. So you don’t need to do anything, right? Maybe? You need to be familiar with the sales tax laws of the state you reside in – there are many different laws and items that are exempt in one place may not be in another. What do you do if your product is exempt from sales tax, but Etsy collects it anyway? What if you make a sale through Etsy to someone in New Mexico? Etsy will collect and remit the sales tax, but New Mexico still requires the remote seller register and file sales tax – though you can take a deduction for sales tax collected by a Marketplace Facilitator.
Starting to understand the headache?
Marketplace Facilitator vs. Website
I’m now wondering if it would be easier to just open my own little online business. Yes, there are pros and cons, but given all the new headaches with sales taxes, with many more changes likely coming down the pike, it seems like a lot of unnecessary (and unwanted) work.
Because states know it’s a huge headache, some states have banded together and created the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA). Basically, you register with SSUTA and are registered with all member states at once, which is currently 23 states (as of this writing).
Given how poorly some government agencies are at securing my information, I don’t know if I’m comfortable handing over my SSN or Business Tax ID to 23 states to lose. Or perhaps more, if I opened an Etsy shop and had to register with all the states that require it, which at last count was 9 that definitely require registration, 5 that require you contact them to determine whether you are required to register, and 17 that may (likely will) require registration – depending on whether they pass new sales tax laws and when they go into effect.
Also, given that most states have included ‘small seller exceptions’ in their new sales tax laws, if I ran my own website, I would only have to worry about sales in my state of residence, at least until I reached their small seller thresholds. In most instances, those range from $100K-$500K in gross sales or revenue and/or 100-200 transactions per year. (The laws vary widely, so again, do your homework!) Actually, I wouldn’t even have to worry about my own state, because my digital download sales would be exempt. So if I did all my sales through my own website, I likely wouldn’t have to worry about sales tax at all. And if I did, by some miracle, begin making enough sales to have to register, most states don’t require you to register until you reach the threshold.
Of course, the attraction of Etsy and Amazon is the built-in traffic. I get that. But does it balance out against the headache of all the extra paperwork for what I’m looking to do? I mean, I’m not planning to have a business that makes over $100K a year. I just want a small online shop where I can be creative and make some money at the same time. Is that worth the headache of filling out a ton of paperwork for the convenience of Etsy? I could just open an Etsy store and then wait to see where my buyers were located, and then register. But should I? What happens if Etsy collects and remits the sales tax for me and I haven’t yet registered? Will that cause issues?
Etsy also charges fees, so that could balance out what I would need to spend on my own website for sales. Etsy is charging 5% fees on transactions – including shipping. PayPal’s fees are lower than that, but on micro-transactions like mine, the per transaction fees would rack up quickly (2.9% + $0.30 per trans).
Ultimately, I need to sit down and think about all of this and whether I want the headache that comes along with Etsy and the new sales tax requirements, whether I want to try and run my own ecommerce website, or whether I want to just use Patreon or something like it for what I’m trying to do. I’m not sure yet.
I know this was a long post, but I hope you found some of it useful. If you’re thinking of opening an online business – even if it’s on Etsy or Amazon, research, research, research and know what the requirements are for your business. Ultimately, YOU are responsible for your business, whether someone else is collecting the taxes or not.
I’m actually pretty pleased with the way this mandala turned out. The Monday mandalas give me a way to try different things without worrying about whether it’s sellable (that’s not a word, but you get what I mean). I like the play of all the circles and arcs in this one.
I’m currently in the process of trying to figure out what platforms I want to use to try and sell some of my designs. I’m actually thinking of trying to put them together in a book to sell on Amazon. Which seems kind of crazy, but what have I got to lose?
I’m looking at a few other platforms as well, including Etsy and some print-on-demand sites.
I’m not sure whether to call this a win or a fail, so I guess I’ll call it a tie. I posted before about my frustrations trying to take a picture of one of my mandalas that I had colored.
Creating the mandalas, both the ones for this blog and the ones I’m designing for my (someday) online store, has been a huge creative outlet for me. When I started doing them for this blog, it was more to have something creative to do and share. It also let me learn how to use my iPad, Apple Pencil, and Procreate app better.
In just a short few weeks, I have experimented with all kinds of elements and designs and have felt comfortable enough to move on to experimenting with new brushes and effects and such in Procreate. It has made a huge difference to how I create the coloring mandalas – I am much happier with what I am creating now.
Since the ultimate goal is to create mandalas that people can color, I wanted to try some of my designs and see how they worked. The coloring part went great. The getting photos part – not so much.
After several weeks of teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling, I saw someone on social media talking about DIY light boxes that would help you take better photos. I don’t have a good place in my home to take a photo, so I thought, well, I’ll just make my own light box.
So I watched a few videos about how to do that and then decided that by the time I gathered all the materials and put in the time to make one, I could probably just order one. Amazon, here I come!
I found an inexpensive light box for around $25, which was less than I would have spent on materials and time to make it myself. It came with a little tripod to hold my phone, the box, and 4 different colored backdrops. It’s made to refold and travel, but I’ve just left it set up. It has 2 LED light strips that I run off a portable battery charger and it has a hole in the top that I use to take the photos from above.
There are a ton of them online and some are even cheaper, though the quality will probably differ as well. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done and I was able to set it up quickly and take the photos I wanted all in about 15 minutes.
So, I’m calling this a win because I did manage to get the photos I wanted of the colored mandalas. However, I feel like I kinda cheated because I ordered the light box in order to do it.
Sitting here writing about it, though, I’ve decided I’m being too hard on myself. Professional photographers use lights all the time and no one considers it cheating, right? So – win!
Stay tuned for posts with the actual photos of the colored mandalas. 😀