Saturday, March 31, 2012

Let's drill!

One of my favourite Saturday activities is heading down to the coast and strolling along the beach. Although most of the easily accessible beaches around here aren't the best for combing for sea creatures and shells from a high tide, they do have a wonderful selection of stones! Fraser and I almost always come home with a little bag of neat coloured beach rock treasures and although they do look lovely in one of my pyrex dishes, when I saw this tutorial over on paper n stitch - I totally want to make them into jewelry:

It may take a few Saturdays worth of beach trips to find lots of well suited for pendants but it sounds like my kind of challenge! Looks like a trip back to Kamloops is required to pick up Fraser's dremel too! Hooray! What do you think? Have you ever tried to drill rocks? What's one of your favourite Saturday activities?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Find: Alison Rose

I think it is time for me to get a new wallet. My current wallet is on its last legs and although I adore its old lady "with a touch of discrete skulls" look, it is almost 6 years old now and might be time for retirement. It's always difficult finding one that is just right with enough pockets for my ridiculous amounts of cards and quirky enough to be proudly toted around with me everywhere I go. I think the amazingly fun screen printed kitty wallets of Etsy shop Alison Rose might fit the bill perfectly. Just check that wallet out:
Great colour, size, pockets, and fun print? Seems like a winner to me! Heck it even has a nice sized zippered pocket on the back for lots of change and a little clear window for you to stick fortune cookie fortunes in! What detail! Not into cats? Don't fret. Alison Rose has lots of other handmade and screen printed goodies to check out in her shop. So go - shop, and let me know what you think of my potential new wallet.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Craft Supply Secrets Revealed!

Scientific progress is all about the public sharing of information. When you do an experiment or discover a new cool species you get out there and publish your findings so others can learn from your conquests and further the world of science! Sounds great right? I often wish the crafting world was just as open, and although I don't support ripping off other people's designs or ideas, I am all for getting inspired by all the wonderful handmade goods people make and am always curious where crafters get their supplies from! My sister for one always seems to be asking me where I score my sweet crafty tools from and I figure if she's interested - some of you may be too so let's share the craft supply secrets!

As I mentioned in my button packaging post a few days ago, I like to get deals! It only makes sense to want to get the best possible price on a product, especially if you plan on selling your goods in attempt to make a profit! Over the years I have tried to find most of my craft materials locally since I often get inspired to make a craft on a whim and like the option of immediately getting whatever it was I was looking for and not having to pay shipping! My two biggest supply sources in town are Michael's and dollar stores.

Michael's is an arts and crafts supply super store and although their prices are often quite inflated, they give out 40% coupons like candy (in fact, you can almost always find one online) making them perfect if you're looking to get one or two things. I exclusively buy cardstock, paints, magnets, polymer clay, yarn, and wood pieces from Michael's and once in a while splurge on paper punches or scissors. I also pick up some acrylic recycled felt squares there that I use to make my pocket mirror cases. I like the low price tag and plethora of colours to chose from making it perfect for mass production.

Although the dollar stores of Kamloops have proven to be far superior to the dollar stores here in Victoria (who'd have thought?), there are a few items I love picking up there. Most of my packaging tools are dollar store purchased including tissue paper, lunch bags, ziplock baggies, and envelopes. Once in a while I score some nice acrylic felt to use for magic wands, mirror cases, and mustaches, but that is often touch and go depending on the quality. There is even a sweet dollar store in Kamloops that sells wooden dowels! Oh my!

I like to stick to local fabric shopping for my sewing needs since I really like to see the colours of the fabrics I chose in person and like to feel the quality before I buy. Fabricland seems to be the only place to get deals on a whole assortment of textiles here in B.C, but once in a while I pick up some accent cottons at quilt shops. Ikea is also an awesome source for fabric (although I don't live close enough to one to take advantage of their textiles very often...)

Once in a blue moon I also find really nice quality supplies at local shops like the amazing hand pressed 100% wool felt squares I get from the fiber arts store here "Knotty by Nature!" The price may be a bit higher, but the quality makes it worth it! That felt is what dreams are made of (well..maybe my dreams anyways...)

As for the rest of my craft supply shopping - I turn to the internet! Not only does it give you the comfort of shopping in your pjs without having to worry about store hours (I often get the urge to do some 5am binge craft shopping), but it offers some great deals on awesome products if you know where to look! It is also quite convenient for you blog readers since although you may not have access to a Michael's (e.g. my sister Leslie), you do have the internet! Hooray! The only downfall is having to wait for your parcel to arrive and the added costs of shipping fees. It does give you an excuse to check the mail though (for non-bill post even!) which in my mind is extra awesome...

One awesome spot to look for supplies is Etsy. Etsy has quite the selection of handmade, vintage, and craft supplies and all you need to do is turn on the "supply" search filter and start roaming for whatever product you may need! I buy the button blanks for my fabric button earrings from etsy as well as the 12mm black safety eyes I use on my plush microbes, and bezel pendants and glass inserts for necklaces. There is also a great selection of wool blend felt squares from shops like Giant Dwarf and Benzie Bazaar. This is a great compromise for felt that is higher quality (it keeps it shape well and doesn't pill) without the super high price tag for 100% wool felt! I've ordered from both shops a few times and love their selection of colours and amazing customer service - just check out that array of felt loveliness from Benzie's shop:

As far as printed products go - I am all about moo! They make amazingly high quality products and let me customize my orders enough that I can get a different image on each card! It also helps that they send me coupon codes in their moosletter and have quirky and fun packaging in their orders! They expanded their print shop site quite a bit from their origins in the UK and now offer an assortment of business cards, post cards, greeting cards, and stickers! Woo Moo!

Since I live in Canada, lots of the sweet craft supply deals I find online aren't so sweet when you factor in the shipping and duty costs. It has taken me years to find a good place to find a button machine (and ample button making parts) and was thrilled when I discovered Six Cent Press. Based in Vancouver, this little print shop makes and sells buttons in all sorts of shapes and sizes! Of course it is a little pricey to start out (their button making kits are $400+) but once I got mine I was hooked! I love being able to make my own pins and love having the option to do custom orders whenever I can. Heck, I liked them so much I bought 1" and 2.25" button presses and haven't looked back since! Yay!

As I mentioned above, I tend to do a lot of supply shopping at dollar stores. They have loads of paper products great for packaging up sales but since the move to the coast, I am finding the shops here less satisfying. After using up my stash of dollar store envelopes I took a trip around town trying to find more for a reasonable price. Ack! No such luck, the only bubble mailers and manila envelopes I could find were pushing the $1 each mark which really chips away at the profits when you sell an item online. Not to worry! The internet to the rescue! I looked at a few parcels I have received in the mail and noticed most of them said "Uline" on them. Time to hit google! Uline turned out to be an amazing resource for all my shipping needs and along with reasonable price tags they ship those babies out the next day! Woo! I may have gone overboard on my last order - but on the plus side, I won't be needing to buy any envelopes for a while...

The next two online supply shops I have just recently discovered and wish I knew about earlier (enter my "why can't we all share our crafty sources publicly" speech). Both shops seem to be stocked full of amazing craft deals and if you're willing to wait for shipping, are totally worth it! Create for Less is a US based company offering over 5000+ discount craft supplies with an easy to use online checkout system. Their prices are way better than Michael's (even with a coupon) so are perfect for getting slightly more costly items. I picked up a few paper punches, magnets, and some wooden pieces (I had looked everywhere for) a few weeks back and they arrived quickly:

My order even came with a hilarious (and so true to life) bumper sticker:

I also really like how they have product reviews on their site and share customer favourites (like Aleene's Tacky Glue and Fiskars 5" spring action scissors - two of my crafting staples!). They even offer free shipping with large orders (which I couldn't take advantage of since I'm from Canada) but do offer international shipping to Canada (obviously...since I ordered from them), Australia, and New Zealand!

The other online shop that has changed my craft supply buying ways is Consumer Crafts. I don't recall how I got linked to this site, but I am totally thrilled that I found it. They have so many products I've been struggling to get my hands on in large quantities and for awesomely low prices! It is really nice to be able to order 200 wooden dowels without having to bug Jim to keep checking Dollarama for them in Kamloops (which, if you know Jim - or even if you dont, he really appreciates). I ordered a whole bunch of items from them including embroidery hoops (for less than a buck a piece), jewelry findings, safety eyes, bar pins, and (as I mentioned) dowels! Yay!

They offer the same "free within the US" shipping deals as create for less too. Unfortunately, it was sort of a pain placing my order with them since you have to call it in if you're from Canada (so only Monday to Friday during business hours) and since I have pretty limited phone reception I had to drive around until I found more than one bar of service. I also got disconnected twice...and ended up giving them the wrong suite number so my parcel got delayed a few days (but my order was perfect so that's a plus!). Yup, sort of annoying, but not their fault by any means (well unless they offered online or email ordering). When I place my next order with them I plan on finding a land line to avoid the whole reception problem and I'll be set! Hooray!

Whew! That was quite the ramble I went on, but hopefully I shared some useful information with you that you can use to get yourself some sweet deals on your crafts! I'd love to hear where you do most of your craft shopping and encourage you to share some links if any of them are online! I'm also curious if anyone out there knows a good online linen or cotton fabric sources since my attempts so far has been pretty hit or miss (well...mostly miss at this point). What do you think? Are you an online buyer?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

T-skirt Tutorial

I am all about the jersey cotton! There's nothing like a soft, breathable material that expands with you (very important for any of us with a gluten intolerance) and feels like you're in pjs! I'm pretty sure the inspiration for almost all of my outfits is "how cute can I look while still being unbelievably comfortable?" and my wide range of jersey pieces fits that bill perfectly. Well, when I saw that fashion blogger Out of Order, put up a tutorial on how to make a skirt out of a t-shirt I jumped all over it! Take a peek:

Isn't it cute? Simple instructions, cute (and comfortable) end product, and no hemming in sight! Perfect! Looks like I will be keeping my eyes peeled for a nice coloured t-shirt big enough to cover my bum and then get sewing! I think this skirt would be extra adorable with a nice tucked in v neck shirt, flats, and (of course) oodles of accessories! Heck - even throw a clutch in there for good measure and you're set! What do you think? Anyone want to make a t-skirt with me?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

DIY packaging

Figuring out packaging for my products is one of my favourite things about selling crafts! It lets me stretch my creativity muscles a bit and leaves me with some fancy semi-professional looking geeky products perfect for retail! I've had a few people ask me about how I make my packaging and even though it isn't the most complicated process I thought I'd share how I do it! So lets go - do it yourself packaging!:

Supplies required:

- small resealable storage bags
- cardstock
- stapler
- ruler
- scissors
- computer (with some sort of design program) and printer
- pen

Most crafty people have the majority of these supplies on hand, and if not you can pick them up at a craft supply store. Since I'm all about the deals, I get my recycled cardstock from Michael's (where it is usually on sale or with a 40% off coupon) and my ziplock baggies from the dollar store. Most dollar stores with craft sections tend to have bags in a few sizes (in fact Micheal's even sells them), but I'm particularly fond of the ones they sell at Dollarama:

Time to whip out the ruler and measure how large you'd like your card topper to be:

I like to cut a scrap piece of paper and place it on the bag to make sure the sizing looks right:

Now it's time to get creating! I like to make a file that is the same size as the cards I want to make (in this case 5.5cm x 8cm). I then use some scanned drawings I've done (ciliated bacillus and speech bubble) to put on the front and write out my etsy shop url on the back. Next I copy and paste the card designs so I can print a bunch out on a piece of paper:

Time to print that baby out!

Tada! I use photoshop for my file editing (which I've learned with the help of Fraser and a whole bunch of trial and error) but any photo program would work. In fact, from about 1995 - 2005, I solely used MS Paint for all my image editing needs and it works like a charm (and is on most computers and isn't overly complicated). Heck! You could even just make the boxes in a word processing program and use clip art! Still not your style? You could always cut out images and text to make a collage that you could photocopy to make seamless cards! If all else fails, grab a pen and get drawing. There are loads of options for card design depending on your skill level! Just be creative!

Once you've got your cards printed out, cut them to size so they're ready to staple! I like to add a little extra handmade touch to my packaging by hand writing labels depicting which designs are in the pin pack. Bring out the sharpie pens! Those things are awesome:

Almost done! Time to fill the baggies with the lovely handcrafted goodies you've made, line up your newly designed card, and get stapling:

Hooray! Take a step back and admire your work! You're done!

Yipee! I use the same process for all my packaging where I measure the size of the cards I'd like to make, cut up a test one to make sure the parameters work, and then create files to print out on the computer! For example, for my pocket mirrors I use wider cards to fit the larger ziplock bags I use:

I try to match each handsewn felt pinking sheared case with the colours in the mirror design I'm packaging and then use two staples to attach the card:

As easy as that! Hopefully this tutorial was helpful to any of you curious about creating your own packaging and if you have any questions for me I'd be happy to answer them for you! What do you think? What do you look for in craft packaging?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Let the Nuts continue

So remember how I blogged about making a bracelet from hex nuts and string? (link) - Well! Just in case you attempted that project and bought too many supplies - how about throwing some wooden beads in there and making a necklace while you're at it:

Isn't it stunning? I love how it is made from such simple (sort of) household items and looks so stylish and awesome! It's sort of like a grown up macaroni necklace wouldn't you say? Sally has the instructions on her blog and it is just as simple as it looks. Get some supplies, string them together, and enjoy! Perfect! Now Fraser - we really need to pick up those hex nuts now...go get your shoes on...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stitch Swap Embroidery Hoop

At the beginning of the month I told you how I signed up to participate in Wild Olive's stitch swap and even though I've posted my finished piece on flickr, I thought I'd share it here as well! My partner said she liked geek crafts - so as a perfect match with geeky old me, I made her some love robots (robots are geeky right?):

I went with the traditional kate stitch style and used wool felt to give the robot bodies some colour. I love how the hearts seem to pop off of them and I stitched a little heart at the top to tie it all together. Here's a close up:

Aww - I sure hope she likes it! I've never done embroidery hoops before but I am totally and completely in love. I've done tons of stitching projects in the past and always make things out of them so it is pretty refreshing to just stitch one and leave it as that. I think I need to make a whole bunch of these to sell on etsy and at craft shows - just look at it in its 4" glory:

The only thing I was a little uncertain about was how to make it "ready to hang". I looked at some hoops I've bought in the past from and they simply glued the edges to the hoop to finish it off. After doing so, Wild Olive did a post on how to finish hoops (oops) with much better instructions, but alas - I think this does the job:

I kind of like how you get to see the inner workings of the piece too (maybe I just like that stuff). If you're interested in seeing what some of the other super talented stitchers did you should check out the flickr group Wild Olive has set up. Oh man are there some amazing embroidery hoops on there! I hope mine is good enough! So what do you think? Anyone else join in the swap?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's that time again - Art Card Time!

Guess what? It's spring! No better way to celebrate than with your very own spring themed collectable art card right? I thought so. Amanda from Ulixis Crafts is hosting a great spring art card (ACEO - art cards, editions, and originals) exchange (version 4.0) and (of course) I'm signed up!

Hooray! If you're unfamiliar with art cards, not to worry - they're basically just a little piece of created art in 2.5 x 3.5" form! Easy enough right? So it's the perfect chance for you to create a little piece of something special to send off to a stranger from somewhere in the world and get your own collectable card in return! What fun! You've got until the 26th to sign up (so get on it and join in!). I totally love participating in these exchanges and can't wait to get started on this one! Here are the last cards I've made for ATC swaps:

Hehe! I really like experimenting with different techniques and media and already have a few ideas cooking for my spring card. So are you up for the challenge?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Find: Pinch Face

This week's find is yet another shop showing us how everything is better when it comes from the UK! Pinch Face is an adorable and charming etsy shop fully stocked with handmade creations using the sweetest cotton prints. Take a peek at a few of my favourite picks:

I love her use of 30's style prints and the unique combinations and personality of each piece. I (of course) am particularly fond of the plush owls but since I already have two owl pillows in my living room (you can see them here in with my handmade doily throw on my striped couch), I'm not about to start buying any more. I really like the fake hearth and K backdrop she uses for her plush images and all the beautiful florals! Pinch Face totally inspires me to do a whole bunch more pattern mixing and that simple shaped animal toys are extra adorable! I totally want to start searching through my fabric scraps to make my own Pinch Face inspired pillow for my niece! Or maybe I need to do myself a little fabric shopping! (woo hoo!) What do you think? What is your favourite handmade piece from the shop?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Family Portraits

When Lindsay came to visit me this past fall (for Rifflandia), we did a fair bit of shopping around town. I was pretty set on finding budget art for the new walls of my apartment and picked up some funny animal portrait postcards from The Milkman's Daughter (sister shop to Smoking Lily). I instantly fell in love with the bizarre human bodied creatures and bought a few black frames from the dollar store. I added in a little scrap card for matting and hung them up in the hall:

Because there is no natural light source in the hallway (it's on the inside of the apartment building) the pictures I've taken aren't quite up to my standards, but it does conceal how cheap and plastic the frames are. Total cost for the project = $11.13, and took me all of 15 minutes to execute. Perfect!

I later happened to stumble across the original source of the postcards and discovered that I am far from the first person to consider these as wall art! Angela of Beat Up Creations is all about taking abandoned and unloved china and jazzing them up with her odd human bodied animal portraits! To my surprise, she has a whole selection of other picture day series postcards that I am dying to get my hands on! Looks like I need to buy another set of postcards and continue the family portrait art fun into another room in my home! Hooray! What do you think? Have you ever turned cards into inexpensive artwork?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cork Stamp Veggies

I seem to be all about the handmade stamps these days and when I came across this cork stamp how to from Martha Stewart I knew I'd have to try it out! No cutting required with this one, just grab some corks, stamp away, and embellish the prints into fruits and veggies! Just check out that orange tag:

I really love how the texture in the cork transfers onto paper and turning the circles into fruits and veggies is just perfect for our start into spring! Just look at all the fun stationary, labels, and tags they've made:

Ooo! Those radishes are certainly my favourite and I totally want to get stamping and card making! How about you? What would you turn your cork stampings into?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Welcome back Soot Sprites!

Last April I made myself a happy little group of soot sprites! They were pretty simple to whip up (just some black yarn pom poms with felt circle eyes sewed on with a french knot and some embroidery floss) and are just darling:

Much like my felt squirrel Earl, I hung my new pals up in our cute little house in Kamloops and enjoyed their company for months! When we moved in the fall the sprite pom poms got lost in the boxes and it wasn't until a few weeks ago that they finally made it back up! Take a peek at my view when you walk in the front door:

They hide very sneakily in the dark corner of the front hall and since it has limited natural light - capturing a good shot of them wasn't very easy either. It may be blurry - but I figured a close up was necessary to see their cuteness:

I figures since soot sprites like dark corners (and not out in plain site like Earl) I'd put the second grouping in the empty space in the hallway:

Hoho! It is a bit brighter for you to see them, but since I don't walk around looking up all the time (does anyone do that?), I often forget they're there:

Welcome back soot sprites! I hope you are enjoying your new digs!

In other news - it's my sister's birthday today! While I am spending my day working, aquasizing, and attempting to soak up the wonderful spring day she is probably chasing after one cute little baby and living in the wintry north. Happy Bday Les! and happy first day of spring!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Faux Cross Stitching

I'm always up for a quick craft project - and even better - a project that lets me make cards! I may be failing as a pen pal as of late (life catches up with me sometimes) but I figure this fun tutorial from Zakka Life may inspire me to get writing! Look at the fun pink stamped cross stitch card Jessica made:

Isn't it neat? And if you aren't into bows, don't fret, you can make whatever design you'd like! All you need is a pencil, an exacto knife, and a stamp pad. Check it out:

Not too shabby! Just draw an X on the top of a pencil eraser and cut around it. Test it out and voila! Get faux cross stitch stamping! Now to decide what patterns to make...what do you think?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hello Products Page!

Over the last four years (wow - that long?) I've created tons of crafts to sell online, at craft shows, and through consignment and wholesale. I seem to always be working on something new but still have quite the selection of tried and true goods under my belt! Since the products I make often differ depending on how I plan to sell them I thought I'd compile them on in one spot. Behold - the birth of my products page:

You can find it under my blog banner between the shop and contact pages and I'll try my best to keep it up to date with all the crafts I make and sell! I think it's a great way to keep myself organized and will be a helpful tool for consignment sellers and craft show opportunities! I figure the next time someone comments on my rose earrings or handmade necklace I'll have an accurate place to direct them to (instead of my etsy shop that doesn't have many of my harder to ship items listed). What fun! I even have a short history (in some cases) of the inspiration behind my products and show packaging options as well. It's sort of like a virtual craft booth! So feel free to peruse my geeky crafts at your leisure, and as always, I'd love to hear what you think! What is your favourite product that I've made? Any tips for the page?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Welcome Back Earl!

If you're a long time reader of the blog, you may remember the trip to deep cove I made a few years ago (no? here's a link). It is a charming little area with the most amazing of stores - where I picked up a new felt friend Earl the squirrel as well as a few felt acorns (Earls loves acorns)! He spent a year happily hanging in the window above my kitchen sink in Kamloops and spend a few months hanging out on a shelf in my craft room since we moved to Victoria. It was a smidge too lonely in there for him so at long last he has joined me in the living room/kitchen! Take a peek:

I really wasn't sure where to hang him in the new pad, but I think the empty space that divides the main living area and the kitchen/dining room seems to work! He gets a good view of all the goings on of the house and gets to enjoy some day light (when it isn't raining here...)! Yay! Welcome back Earl - I missed you:

Any one else follow the ultra cool "hanging weird felt pets" decorating trend I've attempted? Do tell!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Find: Fairy Folk

This week's find is etsy's Fairy Folk - a shop full of amazing needle felted goodies! I have always been a big fan of felt, but after my painstaking attempt at wet felting, I feel increasingly drawn to the world of needle felting! Not only does it mean I wouldn't have to stand at the sink for hours with wrinkled hands, but there are so many options with what to make and I love seeing the neat things people do with it! Check out this amazing bouquet of felt billy ball flowers from their shop:

Am I ever jealous of those flawless felt balls! But they don't stop there, Fairy Folk has felt rocks, acorns, animals, decorations, and DIY kits too! OoOo! And don't forget to check out the felt jewelry:

How neat! They even do party decor with garlands, bouquets, and boutonnieres! Oh my! What do you think? Have you ever done needle felting? Which one of Fairy Folk's items do you like best?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hex Nut Love

This one may be old news as far as internet craft tutorials go, but I still really want to make myself a hex nut bracelet! I love the chevron shape, quirky use of hardware, and (of course) the handmade charm. Honestly WTF has an awesome tutorial making it all the more appealing. Take a peek:

Yep - just lovely! Lindsay managed to successfully make herself one of these a few months back (in could have been over a year ago come to think of it) and it turned out just wonderfully! Looks like I need to do a little nut and string shopping one of these days so I can have a wrist as neat as this one:

What do you think? Up for a little twine braiding with me?