Day 17 – A Little bit of Friday DIY

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This is a really easy idea that could be adapted to a whole lot of subjects . Main requirements – a surface with a removable glass top . A scanner, ( optionally also a camera ) and a printer . That would be the way I’d probably do it these days . But this project was completed in the “olden days ” – so I headed off to the photo copy shop with my bunch of gerberas in hand .

It raised a few eyebrows at the printers but I just breezed on with my plan . Once copied I cut them out – you need to take a little care over this to get a good effect , but nothing too difficult . Remove glass panel , position images , replace glass , admire.

This would work with colourful sweets , travel elements like tickets and stamps ( you could blow them up a bit if you are using a scanner to do it . Although you could use decoupage to make a permanent design , the beauty if this is that you can change it around if you get bored with it , or if you change your colour scheme . These days I would probably paint the base piece , but this lets you make changes that are not permanent . If you wanted to give the impression of a painted background you could cut a piece of paper to the size of the surface , paint it , and stick the images onto it before replacing the glass .

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Childhood Inspirations Revisited.

So, when I was little a favourite thing was to spend a morning reading one of three big books ( published in the 1930s ) – the Red, Blue or Yellow “Grabbelton”  – which means “Lucky Dip” in Dutch. We had acquired these books after my great aunt retired from primary teaching.  I think these books were mostly a resource for teachers – but I was happy to read them too.

The premise was to make all kinds of things from almost nothing – paper, match boxes and  a little wool.

And I had a chance to revisit them the other week. How surprising to see a lot of the ideas are still current in that rather “retro” phase the craft world seems to being going through.

And I was tempted to have a go with something. What caught my eye was a feature on the very familiar “fortune teller” – but they had the alternative use of a picture frame.

Back in Holland I bought a pack of origami paper and set to work. Living in a temporary place I’m trying not to accumulate too much “stuff”. But still, I want to hang up pictures and decorate the place so that it feels “mine”.

So – a little bit of paper , some washi tape and the world famous “Japanese Screw Punch”

If I’d had a larger image I could have just tucked it into the corners as on the right above. In that case the image would be on the diagonal and the frame would be squared.

– and voila – a picture frame for a traveller.

Again, using a smaller image here I have taped the image into the central square. Next I will tuck the folded points behind to create the diamond shaped frame.

When I get some larger paper I’m going to try and scaled up version and also make a couple that would be suitable for slotting a Polaroid photograph straight into.

As well as all this nostalgia I’ve been pressing on with my “Wearable Art” collection – see the current range here.

And also, if you’d like to keep in the know with current offers and ‘behind the scenes” snippets make sure you sign up for my Studio Newsletter – out roughly once a month.

 

February is a Heart Shaped Month… a Mini Tutorial

Heart Card

Heart Card

If a month has a shape then February is a heart – whether you like it or not, that’s just the way it is. I get a little weary of all the seas of red hearts though so I’ve gone for a green version . I often have photos lying around that didn’t quite make the  grade and I hate to feel anything is being wasted so I’m always on the lookout for ways to recycle these spares. I also have a rather magpie like tendancy with other papers so any ways to use them too are always welcome.

Just before Christmas I did a paper workshop with Lucy Roscoe which I wrote about here . One the the things we made was a little 3d Christmas tree card. I’ve had another go, this time with a heart shape.  A very basic explanation is

Requirements

Folded white card blank, or card to make one.

Some oddments of photos or paper.

Large needle – On the workshop we used special needles, but I just used a largish domestic needle this time.

Thread – Again, I didn’t have the waxed thread we used so just improvised with domestic thread, but doubled.

How to –

Fold selected papers in half. Either create a heart shaped template and cut round it or cut one heart freehand. Use the first heart to cut the others to exactly the same shape.

Using the needle make three holes in the centre of the heart , along the fold , with one in the centre and the other two towards each edge.

Carefully lay the hearts on the card where you would like to place them and make three holes in the card too.

Hold all layers of hearts together and with threaded needle attach to card. Start with the central (1)  hole from the inside out, leaving a length of thread to tie later.

Then stitch from the top hole (2) outside to inside. Then go through the bottom hole (3)  inside to outside.  Then go back through the centre  hole outside to inside.

Make sure it is tight and then tie. ( This is called pamphlet stitch – and if I have not explained it clearly here is a really clear explanation by Sarah Nielson )

Of course you could adapt this technique to any shape.

loose hearts

loose hearts

Stitch Diagram

Stitch Diagram

Cards
Also my Studio Moving Sale is still on for a few more days. And the next edition of the Studio Newsletter will also be out soon – you can subscribe to that here for news on latest work, creative snippets and subscriber offers.

And Now the Podcast version – 7 Tips on Wholesale for Crafts.

So here we are, after a great workshop with Inner Ear  via  IC:Innovative Craft , in the beautiful Dovecot building ( the old Infirmary Street Baths )and quite a bit of  nail biting and hair pulling later – voila . My podcasting debut !

I’ve picked my recent blog post on getting started with wholesale for crafts as the basis for the podcast. Over the last year I’ve become a big fan of podcasts myself. I load them up on my ipod and listen to them when I am walking around town or on longer trips. ( Some current favourites are the weekly podcasts from Alyson Stanfield  author of  “I’d Rather Be in the Studio”  and the longer podcast interviews with all kinds of different craftspeople from Alison Lee  at Craftcast.)

So , drum roll – the podcast  – 7 Tips to get started with Wholesale for Crafts. I’m sure there is a way to embed it in the post, but for now I’ll use this method.

Other news, my monthly newsletter is now up and running so if you’d like to receive the next copy you can  subscribe here  and  also get 2 freebie postcard downloads .

And my “fanpage” for Starrybluesky on Facebook is here.

7 tips to help you get started with wholesale…

I’ve been asked a few times in the last week or so about my thoughts on how to get into wholesale for craft or design products. Although I am not wholesaling my photographic work , I did a lot of wholesale when I was a textile designer. Rather than repeat my thoughts several times in individual emails I thought I’d make it more accessible with a blog post. They are just a few initial points, but they might trigger some other ideas for you. It would be great if you wanted to add your own thoughts or experiences in the comments.

1. Finding outlets.

To keep your initial expenses low , start off with your home town and 2 or three others fairly nearby. Use the phone book or search online to draw up a list of possible shops. If you can visit them before hand, that’s even better. Its the best way to get a feel for whether your own range would be a good fit. Of course, you don’t want them to already be selling  anything that is too similar as they are unlikely want stock to overlap completely.

Having chosen four or five in each place rate them in order of preference. Then call them up and see if you can make an appointment. I know some people try to just walk in off the street, and sometimes you will just happen into a conversation and you can mention your work. But I always had much more success ( and the shop owners attention) if I’d made an appointment.

 2. Cold Calling to set up your Appointments.

 A little trick about the phone calls. I don’t really enjoy cold calling ( not many people do). So , I always started my calling session with calls to my least favoured options. so that by the time you get round to calling the shops you’d really like to have your work in, you are word perfect. And I don’t know why it helps, but I always stood up to make these type of calls.

 3.Sale or Return.

When you first dip your toe in the water with wholesale often the response you will get is that shops are happy to take your work on sale or return rather than making an order. This can be worth doing, just to get the ball rolling but I’d have a few reservations.

 As they aren’t making a purchase they don’t have a real incentive to display your work well, so make sure you discuss that beforehand. Also set quite specific terms as to how long you will leave goods and exactly which items. It would be reasonable to hope for a slightly lower commission rate as well.

Also consider whether your type of item is appropriate.  Would  you receive unsold goods returned  in good condition ? Robust items like ceramics and metal work might be in pristine condition. Textiles are likely to be in less than perfect condition.

4.Trade Shows.

Again, these are not to be undertaken on a whim. They cost a lot , both in time and effort , so if at all possible go and visit each fair before you take a stand. Most of them will give you complimentary entrance if you say you’d like to exhibit in future. Again, you can get a feel for whether your work will be a good fit. If you’re visiting near the end of the show you might be able to get some idea from exhibitors if they have found it a good show to attend. But try not to take up too much of their time with that, as they are there to sell their own work.

While you are going round doing your research also pay attention to the display styles of other stands. Consider what works and what doesn’t and start to consider how you would like your own stand to look.

5. Making an Impact.

If you can get your work into one prestigious outlet it can often open a lot of other doors.   One of  my first customers was Jenners in Edinburgh ( when it was still the world’s oldest  independant  department  store)  not long after I also added Liberty of London to my customer base. Straight away  I noticed that it became easier to get other orders if  I mentioned they were also stockists. So, if  there is a big fish in your area, it is worth making a real effort to get your work there as it can have a huge impact in other ways.

As a side note, sometimes a big client will appear to be making you jump through hoops to secure a very small order, perhaps custom designing or requiring some other extra service. If they are a venue you would really like to have as a stockist it is good practice to do everything you can to satisfy their requirements. It can often be a bit of a test to see how a working relationship would develop.

Winning a competition or having a feature in a glossy magazine can be another way to stand out.  ( Sometimes offering to do a giveaway can help you get in the door)

 6.Look the part.

You ARE the brand, as they say. So make sure that everything reflects the image you would like.  I feel it rather goes without saying, but dress appropriately, be punctual and have your work in some kind of suitable container and not an old plastic bag. You would not believe how many people I have seen pulling their beautiful designs out of a scruffy old bag. Treat your work like a valuable treasure and others are more likely to as well !

 7.Be prepared.

Not everyone wants to make an order there and then – so have some attractive material to leave with them. These days with the ease of digital photography and good quality home printers there is no excuse for shoddy brochures. If this is not your area of expertise hire someone to do it, or do a skills swap with them.  For business cards it is hard to beat Moo cards. And the mini size can also double as wonderful swing tags, tags for washing instructions or even as the actual supports , for example for earrings.

Think about how the items would be packaged if sold from the shop, how you feel they would best be displayed for sale. Have some idea of how long your production times are, and what your maximum capacity would be. If they wanted a hundred all the same – could you do it ? How long would it take ? And would you want to ?

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Other snippets of information. I’m running a giveaway this week to celebrate Etsy Europe week.

And the second edition of my newsletter is out tomorrow – subscribe here  and get 2 freebie postcard downloads too.

A Mini Packaging Tutorial and Resources….

I have received  a  few compliments on my packaging of late and a couple of  people  asked if I would share what I’ve been doing.  The way I parcel up my photos is something that is always evolving in some way or other , but there are a few basic themes.

My starting point is always “my” colour –  a turquoise shade.  But that means anything I’ve done could  be easily translated to your own colours .. (What do you mean you don’t have your own colours ? )

Sending photos and other paper products through the mail , first consideration is always to make sure they arrive in perfect condition, so  some  sturdy protection is in order , but after that I do like to  try and make sure the parcel looks fun as well.

Thinking of the world and all those landfills I try to be as eco friendly as I can. So my gift wrap of choice is plain brown paper – a roll of recycled if I can find it.

Etsy Packaging

I stacked the bundle of cards and drew round the outline ( 1 & 2). Then folded the paper up over the cards on each side to guage the right size. (3) Finally cutting my initial template (4).

Etsy Packaging 2

I trimmed the two narrow sections straight to overlap in the middle and the two wider ones I cut to create an envelope shape. Once  I have this template I lay out a few layers of brown paper and cut out a number at a time. Ideally I’d cut a template out of cardboard and cut the paper in even thicker layers.

Now the more fun part – to decorate the basic wrapping. I use a little “Moo” sticker to seal the package. I also used Moo to have a batch of mini cards printed with just “Thank You” in shades of blue on one side and my website info on the reverse. This also creates a little band that can hold any note that I include with the order. For variety I also had a go using the same technique with a heavy turqouise paper. And the beauty is you can adapt it to any size you might need.  If  I have to package more than one item then I use a coloured tissue paper for the other item.

Resouces – www.moo.com

This site has to be  the best friend of small business. You can get small runs of normal size business cards ( some people use those as thank you notes ). The mini cards that I’ve used here. And the little stickers.

http://www.paperchase.co.uk/ – Also a good resource in the UK for coloured tissue paper and other decorative elements.

( * You can sign up for my Studio Newsletter from the link on the right or from here – and get other tips and tricks on keeping your creative life rolling, as well as behind the scenes snippets from the studio.