Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Down to Business

With 2011 just days away I'm excited by what the new year holds in store. I have been busy checking out some useful websites to help me on my way that I thought I'd share.
These are good resources for all aspects of running a small art/craft/design business, marketing ideas and success stories:
Crafting an MBA
Scoutie Girl
Etsy Community

Got a mailing list Mailchimp will help you to organise your contacts and send some lovely looking emails and best of all it's free. (not that I have, with much regularity I think I maybe sent two out, my excuse is that I already write two blogs, but that's about to change!)

Hootsuite is a social media dashboard, take the hassle out of posting updates individually. Written a blog ? Hootsuite will post a link to it on your twitter and facebook leaving you to focus on the important things in life.

So I hope that info is useful on setting you on your handmade path, and now back to some pictures.

The woolies are being professionally photographed by the ultra talented Lindsey Kliewer and here is a sneek peek of one of my favourites. It's part of the grand marketing scheme that I have cooked up for 2011 so stay tuned for more. I was also very lucky to work with professional photographer John Santoni who came to my studio to take some shots. I tidied up in anticipation of the shoot, honest ! As you can see I'm am a mere amateur compared to Sanford who weasled his way into the shoot and modelled like a pro !

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm singing in the rain, just singing in the rain....

With an almost three week layoff due to a persistent cold I hope you haven't been too disappointed about the gap since the last blog. Honestly I picked up a pair of scissors and started cutting and within the same breath put them down again as the effort was too much ! There was nothing for it but to succumb and watch Tivo'd programs and sleep a lot. One of my recent favourite shows is Modern Family, I kept seeing ads and thinking that looks funny, I should watch it and then never did so now I'm catching up on reruns and new stuff....Where is this post going. I was going to keep it all upbeat and now I'm rambling on about telly !
2010 has been a year of progress and positive change. I am thankful for all the talented people that I've met and the opportunities that have come my way. I'm happy to be doing something that I really enjoy and that brings a smile to people's faces. According to something I read online it takes at least 5 years to build an empire which is where I hope to be 3 years from now ! Anyway enough of the serious stuff, here's some photos I took this morning (and then accidentally deleted 20 of them !!!) fortunately there's still 100 but here are some of my faves. You may have heard about the recent rain in Southern California, well the sun wasn't out but it did stop raining today. Enjoy and Happy Christmas.
Red Squirrel finds natural Camoflage

The Red squirrel is surrounded.
Two Rare Red Squirrels

Owl up a tree

Don't mess with me !

Run Squirrel Run
Grey squirrels fear nothing not even miniature donkeys !

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Cosy Dresser

The other day I found myself taking one of those online quizzes, (so easy to get sucked in) one minute you're reading emails and the next you are finding out what kind of dresser you are. I didn't really need to take the quiz as I already knew the answer, cosy dresser. One who dresses for comfort, which is not to say that I'm all about elasticated waists I just appreciate clothes that don't restrict my movement. I recently made a U-turn on Uggs, having vowed that I'd never wear them, I have been wearing my wooly boots for two days solid ! It would probably have been longer had I not got home only to discover I had two right feet in the box, honestly it was very disappointing and I had to wait a week for the next delivery. I haven't worn them outdoors, just in the privacy of my own home but I see how it happens. It's like putting your feet in a warm duvet and then suddenly you're outside and you haven't taken the duvet off. It's been getting a bit chilly here at night nothing on the scale of England and snow but then there's no open fires and central heating (in this apartment at least) so a little chill goes a long way. There is one gas furnace type thing, it takes me back to being a student at Leeds and hovering around a most likely non-gas compliant heater in the most burgled street in Europe. Now Leeds that was COLD !
Why am I rambling on about the weather ? Well, it's making me less productive when it's warm I don't mind getting out of bed, it's easy, not so much in the Winter. Add to that as soon as the husband gets up the dogs swoop in, take his spot and proceed to nap, so now I have nap companions which makes me less guilty about getting up. However I did manage to tackle the Etsy Shop, Etsy is like that essay you got for homework and put off till the last possible moment. I spent the morning outside taking the product shots before settling down to write descriptions and particulars. It had been so long since I uploaded anything that the site's changed. It actually has a copy feature now which made the task far less arduous. I did redo the banner though. On that note, check out my new look shop (it's that store tab at the top) and let me know what you think.
In my next post I will have finished a batch of squirrels so it'll be less rambling and more pics. However I will leave you a pic of my dogs that I did in Photoshop. It started as a Xmas card idea and ended up being well not.... see so easily distracted ! I'm sure I'm not the only one so I ask you, what stories do you have of impulse online shopping or other stuff when all you were supposed to be doing was quickly checking your email ?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to... Sewing Caddy

I have strayed away from instructionals because, well I'm not very good at documenting each step by the time I think about it, it's already made. This was almost the case with Sewing Caddy, the pret-a-porter holdall for your sewing essentials. (You'll notice there's no step one!) It was also almost the death of Brother (sewing machine) it did not like sewing layers of thick fabric together. I got tired of carting my sewing smalls in a ziplock bag and then fretting that I'd forgotten something big, like scissors. Now there's no way I'll forget the important things, because there will be an empty pocket. Anyway enough blabbing here it is.

What you will need: Heavyweight fabric, elastic, thread, padding, ribbon.
Tools: Scissors, sewing machine, iron, pins,

Fabric from Ikea in case you're wondering.

After you have laid out everything that you want to carry in your sewing caddy. Cut out 2 equally sized rectangular pieces of fabric.
Next cut a piece of padding (stuff quilter's use) This will have the effect of swaddling your tools and making the caddy sturdier. Iron everything and pin hems.
Cut out additional pockets, don't be afraid to put the tools inside to gage how big the pockets need to be. Place a long piece of ribbon between your front and back layer. This will be used to tie it together.
Use elastic for some flexibility and additional storage. I used 3 rows of elastic.
Pin your pocket and use an invisible marker or chalk to mark your pockets.
Sew pocket and elastic using a straight stitch.
I added a piece of felt to attach sewing needles and pins and an extra piece of elastic so that I can still put all the miscellaneous items in a ziplock !
Here's a few of my essentials thread, glue and hem picker. ( Does anyone else lose these all the time ?)
Here it is rolled up, in my excitement I forgot to cut off that hanging thread.
All cosy and ready for a trip.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Midnight Madness Report

The now standard display of plushes.
One of the pros of doing a show is the people you encounter and conversations  you have. I met some lovely people at the Midnight Madness show.
This is the lovely Ricky from Sun Stones with one of his pieces a beautifully crafted birdhouse using repurposed materials, it has welded wings for that added touch of whimsy.
 Here's Juan also from Sun Stones who gets extra brownie points for carrying my table to the car. His jawed creatures are reminiscent of the Little Shop of Horrors' Venus Flytraps, very fun !
I had seen this rock garland before each stone has a groove cut through it where the copper wire sits. Love this. Also by Sun Stones.

 Here's Belinda from by Belinda. She has a great set of cards that are based on her hand embroideries and completed with a witty phrase.
 Christy from Kohana has the most heavenly scented organic creams. Frequent trips to Hawaii are part of the process which is very envy enducing.
They look good enough to eat !

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hello Kitty or Cat Cat in this case

Drumroll.....I am proud to say that I have been burning up the sewing machine these last couple of weeks I'm certain it makes a lot more noise than when I first got it. The idea for cat cat came maybe about a month ago but I hadn't got around to making a finished one till now. Readers of this blog will know that I have no cats which doesn't mean I don't like them I just like dogs more. However I'm still trying to come up with a viable pattern for each dog so not having emotional ties to cats speeded up the design process. I opted for a black cat as my first one but expect to see a wide range of colours by the end of the week. I'm hoping that this inspiring time of creativity lasts a while ! We have had a bit of rain these last couple of days which although you would think perfect time to go surfing, (as you get wet anyway) you would be mistaken. All drains lead to the ocean, say no more ! Anyway I must get back to the machine although I'm feeling the urge to paint again....
Before I go though on a recent Ikea marathon trip I spied this, it was attached to what can only be described as an open loo but anyway I digress. How cool would it be to have a portable tree for craft shows and displays. It's a task for the husband and his handy power tools but I hope to have one soon, a bit more rustic looking though. The owls would look so cute.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

So much to sew, sew little time !

I have been sewing like a dervish and my machine is starting to get noisier as it strains to get through another project. You may remember the ring pillow. Here it is again, in case you don't.

Now the flower basket was another adventure altogether. At the time I agreed to it, I thought how hard can it be ? The answer unless you want to use spray paint is a little bit tricky. I don't mind telling you if I never cover another basket again it wouldn't bother me. However, after a few sleepless nights wondering which fabric to use and how to make it work, it finally came together (as the deadline grew closer and I toyed with the spray paint idea (it was getting really late like the night before late but I was given a firm "No" by the intern, thank goodness)  I was quite pleased with the final result which uses a felted wool sweater and wool suiting fabric along with some ribbon and wool felt. Handstitched the whole thing. I just hope the flower girl likes it.

 This is the rabbit I made for the flower girl who likes princesses and such hence the use of pink patterned fabric.

And for the maids some cosmetic bags lined with satin with a special name tag inside.
I have a love/hate relationship with deadlines, I need them in order to force myself to finish things but it's like the feeling you have when you have an exam, you can't wait till it's over. I'm happy to have learnt some new tricks from this wedding inspired episode but I'm glad to be back to my plushies !

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sunny November

It's like Summer's back without the tourists. I fitted in an afternoon surf the other day as it hit 90 degrees and found a parking space, only in November. Add to that no air conditioning and sewing just isn't fun. So  many people out in Newport Beach who must have had the same idea. I did manage to fit in a successful thrift store shopping expedition, lots of exciting textiles and clothing to deconstruct. A direction I've been heading in has been textile design. So far I've only got to see the results on paper so maybe I'll use that brand new silkscreen set sometime soon that has been sitting in the closet for about a year. As my family keep telling me in reference to the prints I've made. "It would make a great suitcase." (You know who you are, ha ha.)

Polyester paisley who knew ? Excerpt from a two piece suit.

Fancy pinstripe from Men's Jacket that came with a waistcoat.
Gorgeous thick wool tweed from a suit jacket.

And now for something else... alert cuteness heading your way.

Farley the new dog.
Farley playing with the small dog.
No I haven't suddenly decided to use fur,  this is Farley who we rescued about 2 months ago. He has been a huge distraction as he is like this huge teddy bear that you just can't help but cuddle. He has had to overcome a lot in his short life, having lived in a yard for two years with little attention and no one to care for his basic needs. The fact that he is such a docile and happy dog is a testament to his optimistic outlook. Who wouldn't be distracted by a huge teddy bear on legs ?

Monday, November 1, 2010

October Ramblings

Well technically I guess it's November but its been a frantic month. So what's the excuse this time ? I hear you ask. The boring answer is the day job but the crafting has not been that neglected. I did a show called Found Art at the Ahsi Salon in Newport Beach and ended up making a huge surf sock from T.shirts. It wasn't precisely measured as I didn't have the board with me so it's snug shall we say. For work I designed a couple of T.shirts that the Graham Street Press printed beautifully. I was excited to see the end product and it proved popular with the kids.

 Where are happens design.
 Sleeve print, which was also made into a big print.
 Some new penguins, these are male and some more mini owls.
 A ring pillow for an upcoming wedding.

And that's it for now, thanks for reading !