FP

Raw Beginnings

Crafts, Uncategorized
U

You may be surprised to see me DIYing literally everything about my business. My shop name is hand written on Kraft paper hangers for keychains and jewelry pieces. All artwork on the packaging is drawn by hand. Even my business cards are handcrafted, drawn onto index cards in my own, clear handwriting. I love offering this personal touch — but it seems society often demands an unnecessary ‘bells and whistles’ approach.

I’ve been creating some art since I was a pre-teen. People often asked if I sold my work – the answer was usually no – I had no idea how to start a business, much less, where I would find paying customers. I enjoyed making things for others just for the smiles on their faces — getting paid money was a rare and delightful bonus.

In 2009, I started working to build a business out of my arts and crafts. I quickly learned that the standards some communities hold their sellers to seemed almost unattainable for me as an unemployed newlywed trying to make just a few dollars in spending cash. I suddenly felt a great deal of pressure to have more things…

  • a cricut machine
  • a printer and printable address labels
  • a fancy-ass DSLR camera because according to some communities, only the most finite detail and quality photo will do
  • a paper-slicer thing-a-ma-jig
  • pretty ribbon and wrapping / boxes for packaging
  • VistaPrint business cards
  • paid advertising
  • more recently, I’ve been told repeatedly that my products “won’t sell” unless I have multiples of each item [it’s rare for me to make the exact same thing twice].
U

For years, I’ve beat myself up a lot over lacking or unable to afford all this and more… I felt it could be a reason I wasn’t making sales. It could easily manifest as nameless, faceless voice firmly stating my apparently obvious failures. But I also argued with myself that these aren’t needs. These are extravagances. This is a thing I can do and it’s a large part of what makes me happy.

It’s 2018. For the first time in my life I’m being told new customers will “definitely be ordering again!” and “will be ordering Christmas gifts” from me. It’s truly an honor to be so appreciated. To know that my work has hit it’s mark.

But get this:

  • my product photos are staged, me holding the item, laying it across my personal
    U
    desk or hanging it from whatever pretty jar I have available from my kitchen
  • I take every photo using the 5-megapixel rear camera in my Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime. Maybe it doesn’t pick up all the finer details of a speck of dirt, but is that really necessary for this? I think not.
  • I don’t edit the photos. I check to be certain they’re not blurred and that the color isn’t off by much and that’s it. When photographing products for the purpose of selling, I try not to use a filter.
  • I wrap my products in Kraft paper. I got a huge roll at Walmart for just over $4. My spouse has also used it to make origami boxes for items to be hand-delivered in.
  • My advertising is completely free. I took the time to connect my Google Calendar to IFTTT applets which share each of my products at least once every two weeks.
  • My shop at Spreesy is also free. I still plan to use Etsy again, but for now, am delighting in the work having a customer base has added to my schedule.

What is all this telling me? We long for simplicity. There is a hunger for a real, personal touch when it comes to the products we purchase. People want to know that time was taken and care given to making them the most pleased patron in the county. That’s what I’m here for. That’s why this is my work.

Have you also felt pressured as a crafter / artist? To market your products in a specific, fanciful way? I’d love to hear about your experiences — comment below, or feel free to reach out to me in some other way.

Thank you for reading.

Signature
FP

Paper Victory

Art, Crafts

Last week, my husband connected me with a new customer; over the weekend, we worked together to get the order packed and ready for delivery on Monday. When the customer’s co-worker saw what he’d ordered, they also made a purchase, so this week has been filled with packing and paper and simple arts applied to the packaging.

When I first started selling my crafts, I wasn’t very mindful about it. I treated it like a wham-bam-thank-you-mam project rather than a real business. To me it seemed it should be a very simple process where I make things, people buy them. The end. There are a few steps missing there, though… like:

  • how will an item ship? Especially if customer’s payment doesn’t hit my bank until
    20180927_164626.jpg
    after the item is supposed to be shipped {a hurdle I created being newlywed and new to budgeting for a household}?
  • how will I package the item in an aesthetically pleasing manner?
  • how will I afford packaging and shipping when my business isn’t exactly thriving yet?

All of these questions and more had to be considered… and well, I sped right past them. I was excited to be creative. To use my talents to make others smile and — in some circumstances — perhaps use my creativity to be of active service to them.

20180927_155323.jpg

This year, I’ve worked to step back from the very messy ‘progress’ [can we really even call it that?] I’ve made in the past. I wanted to refresh my business and be more intentional with it in areas I hadn’t been before. One of the first steps was finding a packaging option for my products — these 2 orders are the first I’ve had since deciding on the wrapper.

I chose Kraft paper as my chief tool and I’m delighted with the results. Paper is so simple, basic, delightfully rustic in appearance and probably taken for granted — yet I’ve come to view it as a truly valuable resource. A hemp cord bow tied the envelopes shut, polishing the look.

Do you have any small victories to share this week? I’d love to read about them — comment below!

If you’d like to purchase some jewelry or hairpins for Christmas, now is the time to get your orders in early!!

Thank you for reading!

Signature

Crochet Slouch Hat

Art, Crafts

You likely noticed the awesome slouch hat in the photo in the sidebar. I crocheted this recently as I had the yarn for it. The pattern is free — I found it via Pinterest and Ravelry.

I’m uber excited about this hat; it’s quite literally the first one I’ve made that I can honestly say I enjoyed wearing after the first day. I usually make hats and find that the fit just isn’t right for me, which is frustrating. Not so with this one! I felt I walked away from the project with a new favorite cold-weather hat, and some additional knowledge on how to make one to fit me. I still need to learn actual basics of figuring fit properly, but per my usual I steamrolled over myself to get ahead to the project itself. I want to make the thing, not study on how to make it correctly for five hours — psh, where’s the fun there!? All that said and done, it is a very simple crochet hat, and I highly recommend for any beginner or intermediate crocheter.

Pattern Link: Live Love Craft

Yarn I used: Coffee Beenz {Color – 9000} by Plymouth Yarns

Also, if you’re ever in Hickory, NC, stop by Wildskeins Yarn and check out their awesome selection!

Enjoy!!

Rainbow Eternity Scarf

Art, Crafts

Yes.  You read correctly.  I’m posting a pattern.  I normally wouldn’t do this without tacking a price up as well, but in this case, I just had SO much fun and I adore my new scarf, so I can’t help but share what I came up with.  

Beginners Beware! & Additional Instructions: 

  • I’ve never written a pattern before.  This is going to be VERY un-professionally done, but honestly, what good is crochet without a little comedic relief?
  • I’ll be honest, I’ve never truly understood gauging (for knitting or crocheting)… This is why my Etsy shop relies more heavily on things I can measure out simply.  That being said, don’t worry about gauging for this project.
  • This is art.  It will be a little messy, and is not meant to be perfect, though I hope you love what you and your imagination come up with.
  • You don’t have to use the same size hook as I did.  Just have fun with the piece – use this as an opportunity to practice your slip-stitches.  Don’t worry about getting too creative until you’re ready to tie it all off and wrap your ends (I’ll talk more about this ‘wrapping ends’ bit later).
  • I’m not worried.  Neither should you be.  Which is another reason why this pattern is FREE.

The Pattern: 

I used – an F/5 hook (3.75 MM) and 1 ball of Red Heart’s Mexicana Yarn and for the Wrap piece, I used a little of a ball of Lily Sugar N’ Cream’s Hot Orange

Abbreviations Used: ch (chain), sc (single crochet), ss (slip-stitch)

Brief Note – I would use a rainbow type yarn for your first time doing this as I found it easier to keep up with how far to go based on color rather than counting stitches.  I find that counting stitches sometimes keeps me from learning all I need to know and understand about the piece, so it helps to be able to do it at least once without bringing any real math into the picture.

  • Make your slip knot in your main color.  Don’t worry much about the length behind the slip knot, but leave enough of a tail to tighten things down after finishing up. 
  • Ch until your scarf is the length you want it.  Treat it like you would try on a necklace, as this scarf will be a constant circle / oval.  The idea is for it to be a loose-fitting eternity or infinity scarf.
  • Bring the end of the ch up and ss to your first ch stitch.  Sc into the second ch stitch.  Should you think it necessary, you can also take your hook under one or two strands of the chain and sc around them to pull the piece together more.  I do not recommend doing so each time.
  • Ch another length of yarn.  Repeat until you have as many chains as needed, or you would like to switch colors.
  • Using a yarn needle, weave your ends into the huge mess of an almost knot you’ve created by joining all the chains together.

The Wrap Piece: This is the orange rectangle I used to cover the gross knot.  I used the Lily Sugar ‘N Cream yarn for this part.

  • Ch the length needed to wrap TIGHTLY around your scarf at the knots.  Once you’re happy with the length, ch 1 more stitch – this will be your skipped stitch in the next row.
  • Sc several rows until happy with the width leaving enough of a tail to weave through the length of the swatch twice.
  • Wrap around your scarf knot, using your yarn needle, use a batting stitch to sew the swatch shut.
  • Weave in your ends.  Snip.

Wear your scarf with pride.  Or give it as a gift 🙂  Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Note: I will be adding more photos later on.  In the meantime the only photos I have are of the completed project.  I am working on another, and will do more photos as soon as the color switches.  Thanks!

Thanks for reading!

Utilitarian Art

Art, Crafts, Minimalism

Lately, I’ve been working to minimize our belongings as much as possible.  The toughest part of this is the fact that I’m an crafter, so the ability to have an area that is all art all the time is important.  I need to have some small part of the world that is my place to sit and craft without distractions.

While I was cleaning, I had this awesome idea.  I recently collected a bunch of ribbons so I could use up my cloth pieces.  I ended up making some ribbon boards which turned out really nice looking.

20130221_210343-1

 

Well, I’ve been trying to figure the best way to organize my ribbons.  I need to keep them nice, or have a way to carefully smooth them should they become wrinkled.  I did a search on Pinterest for different ideas and they’re all beautifully done.  However, few are conducive to our current circumstances.  I need something beautifully done, portable / pack-able  and not heavy.

Since learning how to make my own ribbon boards, I’ve made the decision to give up my old ribbon boards (black and white with doodles on them) for something new and a little more exciting.  I was a little sad over this as the black and whites still have plenty of wear left in them, and saw me through a deployment, so I’ve clung to them.  While cleaning, I took the photos off the smallest one and moved them to the new board – then it hit me.  I can still use this one!!

So, I gathered my ribbons together and set to work.  And… TA DA!!photogrid_1361504878704

 

That’s right, ladies and gents.  I just completely re-invented the idea of the ribbon board!! *collective groan*  I know, I know… I’m cheesy.

I’m sincerely excited about creating my own utilitarian artwork!  Not only does it meet all of my storage needs in a method of controlled chaos, but it pleases my artistic desires.  This will allow me to have a very uniquely styled art area without quite so much clutter or bulk.  So happy I was inspired to do this.

I found it easiest to tie the longest ribbons to the intersections of the board (see #2) so the intersection takes up a little extra space of the ribbon.  The tied ribbons will likely wrinkle (I’m sorry, but this isn’t an option for everyone), however, it is not too difficult to smooth them back again.

Lastly, I wanted to share one other cute idea for storing ribbons.  If you have an art caddy made of cloth or canvas, use the handle.20130221_134747

 

I find that this is a great way to travel with ribbons.  So if you teach a class and need ribbons, this is one way to carry them.  While I still had my cardboard spools, I checked and they do fit perfectly into some of the pockets on this particular caddy.

Have you come up with a form of utilitarian artwork in your organization activities?  I’d love to read about them!  Or maybe, you’ve just found a nice way to minimize the things you have, I would love to hear about that as well!  Thank you for reading.

Happy crafting!