Wednesday, May 27, 2015

my high tech photography studio

I've had friends ask me how I manage to take all of my product and blog pictures so I figured today was as good a day as any to reveal my ultra high tech photography studio. Behold:

Pretty fancy eh? Here's an even more in depth labeled picture:

The secret it out. I take pictures on the floor of my living room with my iphone camera. I've tried all sorts of different set ups and equipment since I started selling online in 2008 (wow that was a while ago), but this seemed to work the best for me.  I have a stretched panel of light cotton fabric (that is actually part of a lightbox Fraser made me) as my backdrop and use the lovely light source of our giant front room windows. Throw in a cushion for my bum and you're set! There it is in all its glory. Oh, and yes, I do have quite the jungle of plants hanging out in my living room...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Morse Code Bracelets

I feel like summer is prime bracelet season as our sleeves are slowly disappearing and my cardigans move from full length sleeves to three-quarter length! (I know, I'm wild like that).  Well these tiny morse code seed bead bracelets from Honestly WTF (link) are just perfect:


Aren't they fun? I love how she has them all stacked and all the fun colour options you have! Plus (most importantly) I have all the supplies at home already! Woo! my seed beads aren't quite as fancy (they're not little cylinders, they're little balls) - but sure to do the trick regardless. Plus the whole line-dash-line morse code element is extra cute and sneaky. How many people are actually going to know what your wrists are saying? Looks like the perfect simple ladies craft night project! Anyone in with me?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I'd like more energy please

I already want to take a nap tomorrow.

Does anyone else out there suffer from chronic fatigue? Mine is tied in pretty tight with my series of chronic illnesses - but it can be so frustrating. I have so many crafty ideas I want to work on and zero time/energy to do them (let alone normal daily tasks like preparing food, washing my hair, and working)...  How do you deal? Any tips for me?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Brass Studs

Over my two year crafting/blogging hiatus I came up with some fun projects to keep my idle hands busy.  Now that I'm trying to come back into the crafting and selling world I figure it is about time to share one of my favourite new items I've added to my crafty arsenal - brass stud earrings: 

The sparrows and little crosses are totally my favourites (hence using them as my first image) but I have loads of other designs to chose from too. Here is a little selection of the smaller sized studs (although now that I've been making them and selling them consignment for a year or so I have expanded the line even further):

I ended up dividing the earrings into two groupings (smaller and larger) and made two sizes of packaging to differentiate them.  Here are a few of the larger (thus slightly more costly) studs:

Aren't they fun? As always, I enjoyed coming up with a new packaging idea for these and had to branch away from my standard recycled kraft cardstock (which is brown) and went with some classic white card to make the gold colour pop.  I then stamped on a pale blue/green pattern for a bit of interest and put the url to my etsy shop on the back so people can find me if they're interested in the other goodies I make!  

I will definitely have to take some updated pictures of my entire selection of brass studs once I whip up another batch but (as you may have noticed) I've been super busy lately crafting up a storm! Now the only kink I have left to work out is how in the world I will display these at my craft booth.  I suppose I could just lay them neatly on the table but there is certainly a fly away risk with how light they are and if I tried to lay the whole lot of them out my table surface would be monopolized with just the one item! Oh dear! 

What are your thoughts? Do you have a favourite pair? Any suggestions for future designs? 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Studio Ghibli Pinback Buttons

The illustrated goodness continues with some of my most favourite Studio Ghibli characters in pinback button form! Take a peek at Calcifer, Totoro, and Soot Sprites:

I seem to have done quite a few Totoro and Soot Sprite themed crafts here on the blog including these pendants (link), some felt brooches (link), and pom pom sprites (link) - but this is my first time trying anything with Calicfer and he was so fun to draw! I've also come to the realization that Howl's Moving Castle is by far my favourite Ghibli film after I did a Miyazaki marathon and had some direct comparison of their wonderful creative cuteness! Yay!  During my week long marathon I came up with all the anthropomorphic goodies for my BFF button sets (link), so once I finished up with those it seemed natural to draw out my favourite characters from the movies I was watching.  Hooray! If you want to get your hands on this trio they're already up for sale in my etsy shop (link) and if you're not a button fan I can make them into magnets or mirrors too! Oh my!

So who is your favourite Studio Ghibli character? Do you have a favourite movie? Do you have no idea what I'm talking about and totally don't get this post? Oh dear! I hope not...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Cuppa Aloe?

Here's a nice little project that combines two of my favourite things - succulents and tea! Oh my! Look how cute this is:


That little tea tag is priceless and totally ups the awesome factor on this project. The only problem? I may already have a jungle of plants in my house already and probably don't need anymore...rats...

Friday, May 8, 2015


I usually have quite a few product ideas floating around my head, and for years I've been thinking of making a whole bunch of best friend button sets. Well I took the plunge and after a few weeks of concentrated effort (yes - it is quite the long process) they are here! Check out these perfect pairings:

Hooray! I'm super excited for how they turned out and even made some slightly mathematical card packaging for them! As with most of the projects I went a smidge overboard once I got started and ended up with 16 different sets! Ok...if you look closely two of those sets are remarkably similar but once I made bacon and eggs I felt a bacon and bacon set was in order because what goes better with bacon then more bacon? Apparently food items are my favourite pairs making up 56% of the sets, followed by some semi scientific sets like the pollination pals, symbiotic anemone and clown fish, and (my faves) the base pairs! Here are everyones favourite DNA building blocks in their fully packaged glory:

And hey - if you're like Mindy Kaling and "best friend" is more of a tier than a person you can get both base pair sets and share them with three of your geeky pals! Yay!

All of these darling new sets are already up for sale in my etsy shop (link) and just begging to be bought and loved! What are your thoughts? Which set suits your and your BFF the best? Any favourites? 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Crafty Hens

I'm loving how Pinterest now recommends boards and pins that they think I may like.  I get all sorts of neat new ideas in my feed without having to go searching for them! How lovely! One project Pinterest so nicely brought to my attention was these amazing hand stitched felt French hens by mmmcrafts (link)! Just look at how darling these ladies are:


I love the fun non-traditional colours they used and the adorable stitched details! I'd love to make one of these and hang it up in the kitchen or maybe even the front door! I feel like these are totally something my Grandma would have put up at the farm when I was a kid (making me love them even more) and are even a bit reminiscent of my favourite vintage pyrex pattern - butterprint:

Heck you could even make a hen from turqouise and white felt and make it even more butterprint-y! Lovely! Looks like I'm adding this project to my ever growing "to craft" list! What are your thoughts? Do you ever make weird felt things to hang on your walls? 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Canadian Mammal Pendants

My creative juices have been flowing at all time high speeds these days.  It may be that I didn't do much creating for the last two years or perhaps my amazingly organized craft room but regardless, it feels great to whip up some new things! The newest of my creations is a line of 1" necklaces featuring some awesome canadian mammals! Here's the most canadian of all the creatures - beaver!:

Isn't he darling on top of his little dam? And the animal cuteness doesn't stop there - check out a wide selection of other canadian furry creatures:

Yeah! You can use all your wildlife recognition skills for this picture right? Even with the two species of bears, deer, and squirrel? What fun! Ok. So I mislead you a bit with the mammal thing. Owls and gulls are indeed not mammals - but the majority of them are so I figure that counts. Plus that owl is trying to eat a mammal? Yup - a bit of a stretch but I'm sticking with it.  Boy do I ever love these. Heck - I even think the back of the pendants look cool:

I'm happy to report that these beauties are lead and nickel free with a nice coating of silver to avoid all your sensitive skin woes - and to top the whole thing off there is a generous long chain if you (like myself) dig the long pendant look:

Obviously these are easy enough to make shorter as well - but I feel the long chain sort of goes with the whole nature, free spirited thing. 

So how did I come up with the designs you may wonder? With a ridiculously enormous amount of work of course!  I started with rough images from a magnificent 1927 wildlife book from my Grandpa's farm and after a lot of high res scanning I did many (many) hours of digital drawing.  Once I got the little dudes to a nice spot, I added some colour blocking to the backgrounds and bam! Time to print, coat, cover, paint, and bezel up those images into their final homes inside those necklaces. Whew! It did end up being way more work than I originally thought it would but on the plus side I am mastering my photoshop skills and potentially peeking the interest of the masses to start studying wildlife biology of Canada! Hooray! Go science!

So what are your thoughts? Anyone out there brave enough to correctly identify all those lovely little creatures? Who is your favourite? 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Review: How to be Happy (or at least less sad)

When I was approached to do a review of Lee Crutchley's new book "How to be Happy (or at least less sad)" I was thrilled to jump on the opportunity.  Although it may not be a well known fact about me - I am a long time supporter and believer in self help books and since May is National Mental Health Month there is no better time than the present to get started! As with all my reviews, this is not a paid advertisement but just my honest opinion on what I thought of this book.

As soon as this book arrived in my hot little hands I had a feeling I was going to love it.  As I previously stated I have read my fair share of self help books and unlike the usual touchy/feely and often spiritual themes that I glaze over this one looks super down to earth.  I love the hand written and illustrated style and similar to the last book I reviewed (All the Lovely Things) (link), this baby is a creative journal with loads of exercises to guide you on your journey to happiness. I really like how hands on the approach is and how it actively engages you to take a look at your life and the things that make it happy or sad.  Here are a few samples of some of the workbook pages I found helpful:

The book is engaging and witty in its own way and even though some of the exercises seem abstract they do end up encouraging a shift towards positive thinking.  I also really like the black pages in the book that offer inspirational quotes and images like these:

and my personal fave:

I may even end up ripping that page out and sticking it on my bulletin board as a reminder to slow down when I get overly anxious or stressed (a common occurrence in my life and struggle with chronic illness).

After my initial perusal of the book I dove into actually doing the exercises.  At first I felt a little cheesy writing and drawing out my feelings, but the exercises are written in such an honest and laid back way that it became quite easy and strangely powerful. I have been trying for years to shift all my negative thinking into positive alternatives and this book was like a big kick in a good direction! I'm not about to reveal all the activities and drawings I did (especially the more personal sad things), but here are a few samples of quick exercises I did that left me feeling pretty darned great:

Yay! Looking back I wish I had made myself an award for being a master laundress.  I pretty much always spill on myself and through years of perfecting my skills am getting really good at getting stains out! (Ok...that was a bit of a side track). 

All in all I am very pleased with this book. It is a perfect place to start feeling better and being happier by actively engaging yourself through the series of exercises.  It really appeals to the creative side in me and I especially loved the lack of "fluffy feel-y garbage" lots of other self help books seem to drone on about.  The book comes out today (May 5th) and is a great item to pick up for National Anxiety and Depression Awareness week (also this week)! When it comes down to it - who doesn't want to be happier and less stressed out with their life? So what do you think? Do you seek out self help? What do you do to make your life less sad?

Monday, May 4, 2015

New Necklace Packaging

One of the steps I enjoy about creating is coming up with fun packaging for items I sell in shops.  I want it to highlight the item without being too bold or crazy, say that I made it (or where to find me online), and provide space for a price tag.  They are often a bit challenging to come up with something that suits my style I am going for and uses stuff I have at home.  Luckily I have a wonderfully organized craft room now with easy to find supplies so I hit my paper punch bin and stamp box and got making! Here is what I came up with:

I went with the standard recycled cardstock I use for most of my packaging then added rounded corners, a white stamped simple floral type design, and then my etsy address on the back.  I opted for folding and stapling these tags onto the polymer clay and wood bead necklaces since there is no clasp on the cord and added a little punch to hang the necklaces from if need be. Perfect! Simple and interesting without distracting from the wonderfulness of the necklaces themselves.  The only issue? They don't prevent monster tangling of the necklaces when in a bunch...oh well...can't win them all...

Friday, May 1, 2015

to market or not to market?

Why hello there lovely blog readers! Today we are going to take a wee bit of a trip back in my craft show history and I am ever hopeful that you may be able to help me with some future show dilemmas I seem to be running into! 

The first craft show I did was a tiny little show at The Streaming Arts Cafe in Kelowna (not actually pictured here). It felt like a slow day - but in hindsight was actually pretty darned successful. I then joined up for the Bizarre Bazaar at the old court house in Kamloops.  I signed up to do a ton of shows all summer long and quickly learned that 1) the wind is evil and 2) how to deal with SUPER slow days. Here's a glimpse of my original set up:

The next show I signed up for was Fabulous Finds in Kelowna and holy smokes was it ever busy! You could certainly tell there were a lot more customers with disposable income and my low price items were a hit! I made a few higher priced items to try to make the trip and hotel stay worth it and you can see how my inventory had grown with a bigger set up:

After a winter and spring round in Kelowna, I signed up for the Artisan's Square Market in Kamloops for some weekends in the summer.  It ran the same day as the Kamloops Farmer's Market but because it was just around the corner from the market masses I had quite a few slow days - but still an improvement on my original Kamloops sales.  My stock and variety of goods had increased yet again and my booth grew:

The last shows I did were part of the Bastion Square Market in Victoria and this time my booth grew to be two tables and loads of stock. Check it out:

I tried to include a lot of height and interest in my set up as you can see a bit better in this shot:

The sales varied from week to week depending on the weather and amount of tourists around but it was still a great experience.  Of all the shows I've done I definitely DO NOT enjoy battling the elements and the wind can be brutal for blowing over tall displays and light items.  I did come up with a few ways to battle high winds with super heavy tent weights, C-clamps, and other weights for the table - but still have a way to go before I hit a stress free booth.  I also realize that trying to set up and take down a giant display can be super time consuming and tricky to fit in our Mazda.

So - here's my current dilemma I'm waffling over - should I try to do the Kamloops Farmer's Market in their artisan section this year?  The market runs every Saturday from now until the fall and although there is no way I would want to do that many markets it draws a pretty big crowd as far as Kamloops goes. I also really like the idea of establishing myself in the town I will be living in for the foreseeable future and a little extra income would be great since I've been off work for so long with chronic illness.

Another big hurdle I have to come over is how to display my items more efficiently and effectively but still have them portable in a mid sized car.  If you follow me on pinterest you may have seen my crazy obsession with booth pins lately (link) but I'm still in desperate need for help!  I'm really leaning towards a pegboard display set up like these two:
I love the idea of being have lots of my items already set up and ready to go on the board and have a thick enough ledge around that you can just close it up and be on your way (seriously - that sounds amazing right?)! It would also let me display higher without taking up table space (especially if I go for something like the second white pinboard display where it sits on the ground - but what could I do to combat the wind while still having the boards fit into the car? Maybe Fraser can magically make the foldable pinboard display and have a detachable wide base for it to rest on that is wind proof? Oh! The dilemma. What do you think? Have you seen any rad craft booth displays that would be good against the windiness of Kamloops? I'd love to know!