It’s often expected that guests will buy things off a gift registry at Macy’s or Crate & Barrel. Why not surprise the happy couple with a unique gift that they can use on their anniversary (or every day!), that will remind them of their special day?
I love giving gifts, and it’s getting closer to that time when a lot of my friends will be getting engaged or married. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding in June, and the bride and groom received custom glassware, painted with caricatures that were personalized to look like them.
Bethany Nelson, also known as the Fizzy Artist, was the mastermind behind the works of art. She has been creating custom stemware for about a year, and she has made hundreds of sales across the United States and in several other countries.
Before launching her stemware business, Nelson attended school at Illinois State University, where she studied art education and graphic design. She loves fine art, Nelson says, but cartooning has always been more her thing. She says she never thought she could make a living doing this type of art, however.
"I get so much satisfaction out of my career [because] I love giving good gifts to people," Nelson says. "I think about it, I plan it. It has to be unique, very customized. The month before Christmas, [I'm] making a list and I get such joy out of seeing them get so excited when they open it."
Nelson crafts all of her stemware in her studio apartment in Eden Prairie, where she cranks out 80 to 100 painted glasses a week. She adopted this type of painting after she learned she had fibromyalgia. Working as a waitress at an Eden Prairie restaurant proved too difficult due to persistent pain, so Nelson started painting glassware on the side — which her friends bought to help her out financially. A few months later, her newfound art was her full-time job.
When Nelson started getting referrals and a few sales, she learned about online craft marketplace Etsy. Since joining the website, she has made great strides with her business.
“By the time I found [Etsy], it was already huge the size of Facebook, but [it was] made for people just like me,” Nelson says.
Besides custom-painted glassware for the bride and groom, Nelson also takes a lot of orders for the whole wedding party. It's a cute way to thank your attendants and give them a personalized piece that will remind them of their part in your special day.
Nelson is offering a special Fizzy Artist promotion for fall: Couples who place their order now for a 2011 wedding can take 10 percent off their entire purchase. Glasses will be made after January 1.