Monday, November 26, 2007

More On Photography

Thanks to everyone who chimed in on my "Photo-phobia" issues. I have a feeling that taking good pictures, similar to doing laundry, will be a constant bugaboo for me.

Here is the set up I've been using lately:

Chris made the collapsible staging area for me - it's great. I set it up in the dining room on a card table where we get the most light. I've been using banner paper for a background. Banner paper pros: it is white, inexpensive, readily available and easy to store. Cons: it's translucent and very grainy in cloudy light. And as you can see, we get a lot of cloudy light here in Seattle...

...which led to more research about camera and PhotoShop adjustments. Here are some more useful tutorials I found on Etsy's "Storque":

Bright Light, Big Color: Using EV and White Balance to Make Your Photos True to Life

On the Level: Making your Photos Pop with Histograms and Levels

Knowing how to make these adjustments is very useful, but I've come to the conclusion that I need to reduce those adjustments in the first place with better lighting.

My new plan: use professional photography lights.

My inspiration: Jenn Maruska and her husband, Josh.

Jenn has some of the most distinctive and pretty product photos.

Go and check out her Etsy shop if you've never seen it- it's ok, I'll wait until you're back.

Isn't her shop just lovely? Her husband, Josh, takes the photos and Jenn noted on her blog that Josh posted this excellent description of his set up and techniques at his blog. Here is Josh's set-up:

OK, now please go and check out Josh's post. It's very informative and the story of how he got his lights is excellent.

Wasn't that a good read? He's added some more information since I first read his post and now I have to go back to take some more notes.

Here's the crazy thing: after all my grousing about my photos, it all comes down to sheer laziness on my part because we OWN PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY LIGHTS! I used them at the beginning of my Etsy adventure but got too lazy about setting them up and taking them down all the time (keeping the lights up isn't a practical option with kids in the house). Also, they are very hot and I got really sweaty. But I am now committed to using them and hoping that my results are half as professional as Josh and Jenn's.

Whew, such a long post about photography! Having high quality product photos is so vital to an on-line business, though, that I'm sure I'll revisit the subject in the near future.

Thanks to Josh and Jenn for sharing their behind-the-scenes look!

P.S. Jenn recently got one my Brown Bohemian Handbags and said some very kind things about it on her blog. Thank you, Jenn!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tutorials Galore!

Happy Post-Thanksgiving everyone! Did you have a good one? We had dinner at home and then hosted a Pie and Games party. I'm still trying to decide which pie I liked best, the Key Lime or the Chocolate Chiffon. Chris came up with the brilliant idea of taking our bounty of card tables (does anyone else own 6?) and setting up a clubhouse for all the kids. The kids loved that, but I think they were more intrigued by all their parents screaming at one another while playing Pit. So my Thanksgiving encompassed much of what I'm thankful for - family, friends, a home and good food (especially pie!)

And now that the feast is over, I can concentrate on getting some crafting done. That's something else I'm grateful for: all the tutorials on the net that rev up my imagination. Here's a few I've collected from blogs I regularly read:

This tutorial is authored by my pal, Liz. I have a pair of her earrings similar to these from her Etsy shop and they are gorgeous! I've often tried to sleuth out how she made mine and now I know (but I don't think my jewelry-making skills are nearly on par with hers!)

Isn't this adorable? This tutorial is from Quenna of blissful. I'm sure you've noticed her pretty wallets from her Etsy store and elsewhere. She's got a great eye for fabric and design. Aren't those kimono girls cute?

Make Fabric Labels

Photo from Allyson Hill

Allyson has an amazing Etsy shop. I'm entranced with her new Drop Sacs.

For the "Galore" portion of this post, check out Sew, Mama, Sew. This fun blog is posting tutorials every day for the month of November!

What are some of your favorite tutorials?

Monday, November 19, 2007

"What? What? Wait, that's me!!"

This is what I said to the youngest kidling this morning when I was reading one of my favorite blogs, CraftBoom! Once a week, CraftBoom's Lisa features three Etsy shops and this week one is mine! I've mentioned CraftBoom! before in my post about excellent photography tutorials. It's an excellent resource for marketing a craft-related business and I highly recommend spending some time there.

Lisa also owns a lovely on-line shop, U-Handbag, that is full of all sorts of bag-making supplies and fabrics I covet. And she has another excellent blog for that shop, U-Handblog, which I haunt every day. AND she is a bag-maker extraordinaire who shares her expertise with a wide range of tutorials.

She is someone I highly respect and I'm honored she picked my shop to feature.

I kind of feel like Courtney Cox in that Bruce Springsteen video where he pulls her up from the audience to dance on stage. (Hmmm, does that reference date me as much as I think it does? Did you even know that Courtney Cox was in a video with The Boss long before she was Monica? Or that she was the ill-fated second girlfriend of Michael J. Fox on "Family Ties"? Perhaps I should just stop now.)

Speaking of rock stars, I might have one over to my house tomorrow for a recording session with Chris. I'll let you know who if the session actually happens!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hello Old Friends!

Contrary to what my last posts would indicate, there has been more to my life than spinning and skeletons. I've actually gotten some sewing done!

I'm welcoming some old friends back to my Etsy shop this week. First is the Brown Bohemian Handbag:

So soft and cuddly. And also the subject of my very first blog post!

Next is the Blue Bangle Dot Wristlet Wallet:

This is one of my favorite fabrics but I couldn't find any more once I'd used up the 2 yards I purchased back in the days when I thought 2 yards was A LOT of fabric! Oh, the naive days of youth. I recently joined a fabric co-op and there was this fabric, just begging to be purchased. All those happy ovals of color never fail to make me smile.

I also have some brand new bags to add once I've taken some photos. (Which reminds me, I'll be doing a follow-up post about all the great tips and tutorials you told me about!).

PS. Here's a new Etsy related site to look at:

The Mini Blog

Sellers can post their Etsy Minis and buyers can browse by category. Go check it out!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tools of the Trade Revisited

Last night I had the pleasure of participating in another home craft show at my friend Leigh Ellen's house. Just like last time, it was a treat to meet some other artists and to see customers interact with my wares. And I made a good amount of sales!

I had lots of fun chatting with the artist set up next to me - Alizah, who makes lovely hammered jewelry. One thing we discussed was the cost prohibitive-ness of starting a new craft. That made me think of my latest spinning obsession and that I'm pleased as punch to have spent very little on my spinning gear (which leaves more pennies to spend on lovely batts and rovings).

So here is another Tools of the Trade posting, but this time about spinning:

1. File Holder Lazy Kate (free)
This broken file folder holder was destined for Goodwill until I realized I can suspend my drop spindle between the sides to wind yarn into a ball.

2. PVC Niddy Noddy (free)
Using these directions, I made my niddy noddy from PVC pipe I scrounged from the basement. The pipe is from a display rack Chris made for me a long time ago (I spray painted the rack gold for festivity's sake).

3. Drop Spindle (free)
Another perfect gift from my uber-crafty mom.

4. Pestle Nostepinde ($1.50)
My nostepinde (ball winder) is a pestle I got from the fabulous Daiso shop. At least I think it's a pestle because the packaging was in japanese. (As a side note, I love to shop at Daiso and look at the great packaging graphics of angry sponges yelling at dirt and happy containers welcoming left-overs.)

Do you have any "Craft Gear on the Cheap" tips to share?

Monday, November 05, 2007

It's November???

Whew, we survived Skeleton Theatre! We ran the show on Halloween and the following evening. Technical difficulties prevented us from starting on time on Halloween but after that the shows went very well. Here's some pics:

If you are interested in some behind-the-scene pics, you can check out Chris' flickr stream.

I didn't have any time to sew during the mayhem, especially since my sewing studio moonlights as the guest room and our very good friends from LA flew up to partake in the skeleton fest. However, I did sneak in a little spinning here and there amidst the cooking of lots of food, making of t-shirts and figuring out how to velcro a light sabre to a skeleton's hand.

It's a lovely carded batt from Enchanted Knoll.

I have a feeling that I won't be spinning for a while, though, because I just looked at the calendar and it is NOVEMBER! I think my mental calendar stopped at Halloween. Now I'm in scramble mode to get ready for the holidays...and my birthday! My birthday is at the end of the month and I'm planning a little treat so check back later.

I hope you had a great Halloween!