Friday 29 February 2008

365 / 193 - Setting up Shop

I have been doing some sewing, but mostly I have been going a bit goggle-eyed staring at the computer whilst organising all my photos (so very many unorganised, unlabelled photos!) and listing lots of things... I'm in the process of properly setting up shop on Dawanda, and am also attempting to get my head around Mintd and Pink Doodle. I've added a link to My Dawanda over on the right, and I am totally falling in love with the site! I love the look of the site, especially the shop layouts, they are so clear and fresh-looking. Here's mine:
I am also loving the simplicity of the listing process - photos upload like a dream, you can select any one of them to be your main image, and they allow you to use previously listed items as a template - and it is so friendly! You can leave comments on other peoples items or profiles when you spot something awesome, which is just so nice. The site is in three languages - an English part, a French part and a German part. I have forgotten most of my GCSE French & German but my German-speaking sister is going to be helping me out with German translations (she is a star).

Not the craftiest post ever, but if I never sell anything I'll never have the money to buy supplies to make more stuff so I think it counts :P

Thursday 28 February 2008

365 / 192 - Green Fingers

I am still working on that batch of button butterflies - doing a little bit of stitching during my tea breaks (of which there are many!) - but most of my creative energies yesterday went into my "garden". I use the quote marks because my green space is actually a handful of pots on my balcony and when I use words like "garden" and "gardening" I feel a little silly! I really am loving the green-fingered lark this year though and my plant-buying has strongly influenced my craftiness what with all those spring flower pins I keep making...
Yesterday's task? Planting lots of primroses and primulas my mother brought me from her garden, dead-heading some of the winter-flowering violets and watering my spring bulbs (lots of yummy crocuses out at the moment).

Wednesday 27 February 2008

365 / 191 - I thought up a snappy title, but then I forgot it

Bit sleepy today! Yesterday I got annoyed at how long it was taking me to find the colours I wanted in my giant felt pile, and at how it kept toppling over. So, I divided it into two more manageable piles: one an "all colours" heap with one piece of every type and colour of felt I currently own - rather a lot! - and the other a "spare" stash of extra sheets. The second pile is going to get much larger over the next few months as I'm busy seeking out wholesale suppliers and building up reserves of useful colours which in my mind have names like "squirrel red", "pansy purple" and "bluetit blue".

I then cleared out a shelf in my crafty cupboard to make room for it all:
I have no idea what I'm going to do with all the things which have been cleared out of that cupboard, or what I will do when I buy yet more felt! A bit of destashing may be called for I think...

In other news: my felt fancy pincushions were featured on cuteable the other day, I was interviewed on the handmadewithamour blog, some of my tea and cake brooches were picked as illustrations for a guide to "how to throw and amzing tea party" and I did some more vintage shopping:
- seriously retro shelf lining paper (originally 35p in Woolworths according to the price label) and a duvet cover that is a veritable explosion of yellow flowers (great for adding some sunshine to the dark and dingy spare room). All for the grand total of £4.50. Fabulous.

Tuesday 26 February 2008

365 / 189 & 190 - Buttons and Photography

My mother has left now, so it's straight on the computer to update my blog. How sad is that? Oh well...

On Sunday night (day 189) I finished the buttony brooches I was working on:
Then last night (day 190) I picked more buttons and started work on a few more butterflies and some brown moths:
Today I got a chance to take some product photos of the newly finished button brooches, and have also been chatting to fellow Etsian urbanwoodswalker about how I take my photos so I thought I'd write a post about it :)

As most of my pieces are small, I'm lucky in being able to use windowsills in my house (normally the kitchen windowsill as the light is round that side of the house when I have the time to take pictures) as my "photo lab". Sometimes I use a bit of white paper as a backdrop, sometimes I use a white kitchen tile (the reflections can be troublesome!). When I take pictures of my mobiles I often have to drag my kitchen table over to the windowsill and stand on a chair to get my shots!

I take a LOT of photos of each piece from all kinds of angles, always use the macro function on my camera (absolutely vital for close-up shots) and never ever ever use a flash. I recently discovered how to use the white balance on my camera and now absolutely swear by it. I use my camera's "white balance preset" function which measures the light and sets the white balance accordingly. I keep resetting it every few minutes as the light can change so rapidly, especially with the British weather! (you can see in the workbox shot above how the light had gone slightly yellow by the time I'd taken that photo and I was lazy and didn't adjust the settings). The white balance allows you to knock out that annoying blueish tinge and can make your colours more accurate - I've posted about this before, here.

Once I've taken all my pictures I upload them all and choose the best ones in terms of light, colours, focus etc and crop them nicely to get rid of the excess white space like this:Sometimes the light turns out to have been fantastic, and I put off the cropping session and instead rush back to take more photos! Other times I have to scrap the lot and retake them another day because the colours have just not worked or they've all come out too grey. I do have the option on my photo editor to "brighten" photos but I use it very sparingly as colours can really quickly become distorted (the background looks more white but all of a sudden a mid blue looks baby pale, etc; I would much rather have accurate colours than a true white background) and often natural light will do the trick perfectly - like today, lovely light! Apart from the cropping, this photo was completely unaltered:

Mothers and Poppies

My mother is visiting, so not much time for computery things today - I did log in to Etsy to reply to some convos though and found one of my poppy brooches on the front page!
My mother was particularly pleased as she was wearing her own poppy pinned to her sweater today :)

UPDATE: My poppy design is now available as a sewing pattern! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Sunday 24 February 2008

365 / 188 - Lions and Penguins and Buttons, Oh My!

Just a short post today as I am busy cleaning the house (sooo dull) ... but here's my workbox from yesterday:
More lions, lots of penguins and making a start on lots of new button brooches - trying to make use of all the lovely buttons I've hoarded over the years! The button butterflies will be made in more colours, and I'm tempted by the idea of button moths too (in lovely browns and creams) ... and the little groups of buttons are the start of a whole series of things using abstract shapes (simple shapes, bold colours, one of a kind), it will be nice to play around with colour a little. Colour is just the best thing (check this article out).

Right, time to get back to the housework...

Saturday 23 February 2008

365 / 186 & 187 - Pincushions, Sweet Treats and Thrifted Lovelies

On Thursday I wasn't fantastically awake, so I sleepily stitched together the last of the flower pincushions - here they are with the two leftover green ones finished last year:
I do love those bright spring colours! Friday's 365 picture is even more of a riot of colour though, look:We went shopping yesterday you see and I bought myself lots of things! (well, technically the boyfriend bought them for me as it was his money... and he carried most of them home.. hehe). First up I remembered to buy the latest copy of Craft, to have a copy of the Etsy ad in the back to show my mum:
If I sell any moustaches because of that ad (which I rather doubt I will) I've already spent the profits from them as the magazine was rather pricey... oh well. In contrast, I then got a serious bargain in one of our local charity shops: a set of 4 adorable vintage childrens books for 50p (US$1). I don't really have any kind of use for them, but I just could not resist all the darling illustrations like this one:
How cute is that? I also bought what I am beginning to feel is the most awesome picture in the world, a giant owl print:Not the best photo in the world, but you get the idea I hope. His bright yellow eyes are particularly fab. The frame needed taking apart and cleaning, but I've done that now and I think it looks rather spiffy. It's going to get hung up in pride of place in the kitchen, replacing the omnibus picture which is one of my favourites so it needs a new home... I was thinking about hanging it under "Keep Calm", what do you think?
In the foreground is our kitchen table, which is where I work, currently covered in dishes as we're spring cleaning the cupboards, then there's the funny little room with the china cabinet I blogged about the other day, our other china & glass cabinet and then on the right is the breakfast bar and my new "office" shelves. The bus picture is the same width as the keep calm poster, and would fit beautifully with the retro vibe eminating from the cabinet...
I was a little worried after all that shopping etc that I wasn't going to get up to much in the crafting department yesterday but late last night I made this lot:
I got a lion pin finished after their manes have been cut out and in my wip-box for a couple of months, and tested out a few brooch designs... I'm very pleased with the liquorice allsorts, and the dolly mixtures will look great with a bit of tweaking, but the iced gem biscuits need to be reworked as they look a little odd to me at the moment. A different layout and a darker background perhaps? The dolly mixtures and liquorice allsorts are my entries for this month's UK Etsy Challenge - I've not taken part for a while but I couldn't resist this month's theme of "sweets from your childhood". I'm illustrating the battle between two warring sweet camps: allsorts vs dolly mixtures? whose side are you on?
(I've always preferred Dolly Mixtures myself...)

Friday 22 February 2008

Distractions and General Laziness

I have been both lazy and distracted by other things today, and not taken any photos. I shall be back tomorrow with crafting 365 pics and some snaps of today's distractions, including some newly-thrifted lovelies (I do like a nice bit of second-hand shopping). Happy Friday to you all!

Thursday 21 February 2008

365 / 185 - Odds and Ends and more Flickr Love

Day 185 was a day for odd chores and finishing little bits and pieces of crafty projects. I re-worked the packaging for my remaining music notecards & envelopes (minus my branding) ready to be stocked in a local shop. I rescued some pincushion pieces from the depths of my "in progress" box and started turning them into actual pincushions (almost a year after the pieces were cut out, tsk tsk). And then whilst tidying a few things I found a stack of old, outdated calling cards that I'd been keeping to re-use them as little cards to send out with orders and instead of putting them away to be used another day I dug out some paper scraps and some glue and got stuck in:
The blue and white polka dot ones turned out particularly well, I think. I love those little dots - they're the insides of envelopes, my very favourite envelope pattern (my second favourite is when they make a pattern out of little envelope shapes).

Then late in the night I wrote rather a rambling blog post! As promised though, some reasons why Flickr is "awesome"...

It connects lonely felt-obsessed little me with so many other like-minded crafters, like the fantastically talented lilfishstudios whose attention to detail is seriously impressive - check out her great packaging idea for her recycled felt bird pins:It helps me stumble upon the work of awesome (there I go again) artists like who has managed to bring a delicious sweet charm to a church refreshments list:
It is an almost endless collection of pretty, pretty things, like the ultimate glossy magazine full of pictures of whatever I'm obsessing about at the moment (currently retro-inspired modern interiors and retro crockery collections). One of my latest Flickr faves comes from H is for Home, a colourful 1950s biscuit tin design: That image is retro (always good), it's colourful (always great), it used to hold biscuits (always yummy) and it's covered in birds (always my favourite). What more could you want? Actually, for the retro-loving bird-obsessive H is for Home has plenty more - check out this blog post!

Above all though Flickr has made me see the sheer fun you can have with photos, and no-one in my contacts seems to have more fun with theirs than Kezzaroo whose "fancy dress Friday" pictures always make me smile. Her Wizard of Oz picture is one of my favourites: You should check out all her pictures though, so much fun! Make sure you don't miss the great manipulation Miss Bunny did of the Kez-as-Dorothy and the Seven Deadly Sins series Kez and Bunny did late last year. Awesome.

365 / 184 - Y is for Yummy; PS I Love Flickr

I went out babysitting last night (non-stop glamour here, I tell you) and enjoyed the pleasures of someone else's sofa, central heating and television whilst finishing my batch of pincushions:
There is a whole box of those cakes sitting in the kitchen waiting for there to be good light tomorrow and it is taking all of my willpower not to snaffle the whole lot... I also made a custom ordered Y brooch:
With no attempt at a link of any kind, I would just like to say that Oh My Gosh Flickr Is Basically The Best Thing In The Whole World. Seriously though I think it might be one of the most awesome things the internet has given us - so many amazing and interesting people to connect with and when you find someone particularly awesome O! All their photos to look through! and links to their blogs! and then their favourites selection with more awesome things in it! and they pop up every day in "photos from your contacts"! and aaaargh my brain may well explode from the awesomeness of it all!

I think I may have overused the word awesome (and the exclamation mark) in that paragraph but I think it got my point across, hehe. I will try to write some slightly more coherant reasons why Flickr is so great (in case you were not swayed merely by the repetition of the word awesome) tomorrow when it is not 1am and waaay past my bedtime. I would have written a blog post earlier but I got distracted looking at pretty things on Flickr ... ah well :)

Tuesday 19 February 2008

365 / 183 - French Fancies and Finishing Things

I am determined at the moment to do two things. Firstly I need to properly restock my designs (many sold out in November and have not been made since! dreadful!) instead of getting distracted by shiny new stuff all the time. Secondly, I need to actually finish the things in my big box of half-finished projects. The shoes embroidery was rescued from this box a couple of weeks ago and now it is the turn of some fake fondant pincushions...
As you can see, three yellow ones (the yellow ones are the yummiest) finished and some pink ones in-progress instead of just in pieces as they have been for many months. Someone bought me a box of the real ones last week and I thought "oh, I must finish those pincushions! then I can use these as props in the photos" (I'm loving props at the moment). Of course the cakes didn't last the week, but at least I've now finished some pincushions. I think it's best to wait until the pink ones are finished and ready to photograph before buying another box of cakes, as I will seriously be unable to resist eating half the box and those things are not cheap!

Oh, and last night I also finished the jammie dodgers from the night before (still no photos yet) and the little batch of foxes which sat without faces for a few days. Lots of sewing, most wonderful. I've also been doing a few sweet-tooth-pleasing sketches for new designs, but must resist trying them out for as long as I can or all these projects will get abandoned again... Want a hint? Well, check out the awesome wedding cake I stumbled upon whilst doing research on Flickr:

Monday 18 February 2008

365 / 182 - Biscuits and a Lovely Treasury

I really should have tidied the house a little on Sunday afternoon but instead I was very lazy and watched many episodes of Top Gear whilst stitching together many many felt biscuits...
I need to take some better photos but the light's gone now so they'll have to wait until tomorrow. Will the edible biscuits last the night, I wonder? To be honest there's quite a high chance that I may have to buy another packet tomorrow morning - they are just too yummy.

Also delicious, this delightful Etsy treasury selected by Heidi who kindly included my cherry blossom pin:

Her selection is based on Sylvia Plath's poem 'Resolve'.

Sunday 17 February 2008

365 / 181 - Envelopes, Biscuits and Crockery

Hello! My house continues to be a huge mess - it feels like we've just moved in, or are just about to move out or something, boxes and piles of things everywhere! I think it may be making my brain slightly addled but I shall attempt coherant thoughts...

Last night's craftiness? Working on a batch of biscuit brooches, and finishing some recycled envelopes I found half-finished in a box in the spare room yesterday afternoon:
They are rather a good (though embarrasing) example of how I start things and leave them unfinished... I cut out those envelopes on day 94, made the cards to go with the brown ones on day 89, and cut out the map sections way back on day 18! Oh dear. The patterned envelopes will be used for sending out my zines (I like to send interesting post when I can).

In exciting (to me at least) tidying news, I have conquered the mess in the odd little room off our kitchen. Mostly it's full of dull-but-practical things like recycling, my gardening kit and odd vases and dishes we don't have room for in the kitchen... but these are luckily hidden from view and in pride of place under the window is this china cabinet:
You can see better photos of my crockery collection here and here, and the awesomeness that is the dish at the top left here. Some of my china is thrifted and some inherited, and the cabinet itself cost about £3 (US$6) - I'm thinking about painting it white, what do you reckon?

Saturday 16 February 2008

365 / 180 - Works in Progress and a New Workspace

Tidying is still the thing. What a mess we are making in the process! I have a new "office" space now though, which is rather nice. It's basically just some shelves under our breakfast bar - which divides our kitchen from our kitchen table (where I work) - but it's still awesome. Please excuse the bad photo, and all the surrounding mess...
Yesterday evening, resting up after much organising, re-organising and moving of furniture, I dug out some works in progress and, er, progressed them. I finished the Orange-Tip butterfly I was working on the day before, stitched a small batch of currently faceless foxes, and started some biscuit brooches because they have been out of stock for far, far too long:
Here's the Orange-Tip close-up...

UPDATE: My felt fox design is now available as a sewing pattern! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns.

Friday 15 February 2008

365 / 179 - Researching Butterflies

I continue to be reorganising things - also cleaning things, moving things, clearing things out and generally making a huge mess of the house and hoping that in the end it will all look nice and be reasonably tidy! I'm still not crafting very much, but I am back on the crafty wagon...

Yesterday's creative task? Planning the detailing needed for my half-finished Orange Tip butterfly and doing a few sketches for future British butterfly patterns. I do love butterflies, but some of them are a bit too fancy for me to render into felt I think! Oh well.

Thursday 14 February 2008

No Craftiness Whatsoever

Yes, you read that right: yesterday I did nothing crafty at all! Nothing! It felt very very strange.
My day was absolutely packed with other things - work, cleaning the house, our free stuff party, my mother-in-law visiting - and there was no time to even sit down for ten minutes and sketch some of the brooch ideas floating round my head. Rubbish!

The free stuff party went well though, and my sewing box was one of the first things to get snapped up. Lots of swapping, and no-one spilled any red wine on our carpet so all in all a good party. I was supposed to be tidying up and cleaning the house today, but instead I have been supremely lazy and sat about in my pajamas until about 3pm eating biscuits! Hah, what a high-flying go-getter I am...

News: Etsy has been treating me very kindly this past 24 hours as my Violets brooch was picked by the Storque for a "leap into Spring" feature and matching front page, and now my little plush birdies are on the front page as well! Many thanks to lovely Etsians jahnut and JJMFinance for the violets screenshot and letting me know about the birdies :)

Wednesday 13 February 2008

365 / 178 - Tea Stuff, Tidying Stuff, Free Stuff

I'm in a bit of a rush today, cos we're having a "free stuff" party this evening and I've got to tidy the house and set everything up ready for our guests... A free stuff party is basically a big swap party, where everyone brings things they no longer want and leaves with exciting new things! The leftovers then get taken to our local charity shops. They're always lots of fun, and it encourages us to have a big spring clean of our junk every time we hold one - and that's got to be good, right?

So, quickly, here are my 365 pics from days 177 and 178 - finishing off all those pink badges, and making some pink and "sponge cake" ones as well:
They'll be in my shop later in the week once I've had a chance to take more photos.

I've not been up to much sewing-wise the past couple of days as I've been trying to tidy up my sewing things and also my half of the spare room which now looks like this:
Bit of a bomb site (terrible light up there, too!) but getting there... (click through to see it larger and with lots of notes if you're interested!).
Major achievements include clearing out some of my University notes:
(the pile of paper on the top is going, the rest is staying for now), deciding to get rid of this sewing box which is nice but acts as a black hole and is totally impractical:
And admitting to myself that I really have no need for nor the space to put this typewriter:
Free stuff party ahoy!

Tuesday 12 February 2008

365 / 177 - Being Disorganised

Today I was too disorganised to remember to take my 365 photo, and now there is no light. Checking my camera, I realised that I wouldn't have been able to take photos anyway as I forgot to put the batteries on to charge yesterday. Oops. A double helping of pictures and crafty musings tomorrow, hopefully!

In the meantime, a small "yay!" as I noticed that 2,500 people have my shop marked as a favourite on Etsy...
... a medium-sized "wow!" because my Flickr photos have been viewed over 40,000 times (though most of those were probably my mum ...
... and a big "hurrah" for the nice mention my teacups got on the Craft blog yesterday (hello to anyone following the link from over there!). My sitemeter has been quite overwhelmed today thanks to that one, lots of visitors :)