Friday, 27 March 2015

Fixing Paper Bag Handles.

Ok, here's the thing...I don't have room in my house to store a bulk order of paper bags, but I did need some for a craft show last year.  I happened upon some at a Dollar Store and thought they would do just the trick as I could buy only as any as I thought I would need for the show.  Well, as these things normally get what you pay for.  These bags might be fine to hold yarn, or baby slippers, or something like that, but certainly not pottery.  The handles kept ripping out!  I finally decided it was time to go ahead and fix the handles - and if you are in a similar situation, here's what I did:
 These particular bags just had a thin piece of tape holding the handle down (which I couldn't see at the store as there was a paper wrapper holding them in packages of three).
 I cut the tape and peeled it off the handle... glued the handle back in place...
...and then covered the whole thing with a layer of packing tape.  
Times two sides per bag.
Times 35 bags.  What else was I supposed to do with them?
But my lesson is learned, and after I use them up I will be returning to the fabric bags I have been making the whole time the paper bags were in the "to fix" pile.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Button packaging

Now that I have a few "craft" shows under my belt, it's time to ramp up the packaging before the next round of shows starts.  I've been working on different packaging options for a couple of weeks, and thought I would share the process for what I have decided on for button packaging in case anyone wants to make their own.
Please note that these were made with a standard printer, card stock from the office supply store, and the Paint program that came with my computer.  A totally DIY project if you have some time to invest.
I started by googling (that's a verb now, right?) an image for free border clip art.  There are a few you can download for a couple of dollars, but since I wasn't 100% decided at the time, I decided to go for a free one.  Make sure you save it as a .jpg file.
Then I opened it in Paint and used the text application to add "Handmade Buttons" at the top in the same font as my logo and my contact info at the bottom.  You can adjust the location and the size of the font while the text window is open, but AS SOON as you click anywhere else on the screen it will close the text window and if you want to remove it, you have to erase it, or undo.  NOTE: make sure you save the file under a new name every time you add something.  That way, if you need to go back to edit something (like if you don't like the size of something) you can just erase the one item without having to start over from scratch. 
For the shorter button cards, I just used the "Cut" function and removed a piece from the center, moved the bottom to line up with the top, and then cropped the whole new card as a square without the blank bottom portion.  (This will make much more sense if you have Paint open in another window while you read this - you know, if you're trying it out).
To print multiple cards per page, I had to be in the documents section of my computer (not in Paint).  Left click on the file and it will give you the option to print (as a photo) and then I just put 4 per card for the large button cards (the blue buttons at the beginning of this post).  It happened to be just the right size.  For these little guys, I had to open a WORD document, set the page to 3 columns, and then insert them into what would normally have been the text.  You may have to play around with your margins to get them to fit.
This is the basket I found for them at the thrift store for $1.00!  It's like it was made for them.

NOTE:  I used to have "Remembrances" written on the top of my old button cards and at my last craft show someone asked me what they were.  Like a goober, I answered "They're buttons" not knowing what she meant...and then I realized that my business name wasn't up anywhere in the booth (other than on business cards) because there were three of us sharing as part of the Potters' Guild.  So, long story short...I have changed the wording from "Remembrances" to "Handmade Buttons" and hopefully they will get the name from the bottom of the card.
So, what I'm saying is...even though I keep reading that you should "make what you make" and pay someone to do the rest of it, or outsource jobs--- at the beginning stages of growing your business, I think it is perfectly fine to try things out yourself.  You may just surprise yourself.  I did.

Linking up with:
There's still about one week left to get the 15% discount on items in my etsy shop...
head on over to this Frontier Dreams post to find the discount code.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Playing with scale

I have heard recently that in order to keep your creative juices flowing you should pick something that you make on a regular basis, and try it on a different scale.
It sounded like an interesting challenge...

I have made, and sold, many of these tube vases over the last year or two.  I always glaze them in white (they used to always be matte, and now they are sometimes matte, and sometimes shiny).  Although I make several different sizes and variations, depending on the numbeer of tubes involved, the general scale of them is the same.

 So I thought this was the perfect candidate to "play with" so to speak.

For my first attempt at playing with scale I decided to make a larger piece than normal.
That's an average sized mug next to it.

I'll be doing a couple of larger outdoor shows this year, and I figured it would be nice to have a large piece that people can see from farther away that would draw them into my tent to see what it is.
At least that's my plan.  I will either have some bare dogwood branches in it, or pussy willows, or whatever I can find depending on the time of year.
This baby took about a bag and a half of clay, so I decided that maybe I should experiment in the other direction for a little while...

so I went smaller than normal.
 Unglazed, and next to a "smallish" mug.

 Very small (compared to my usual ones), very fiddly to make.

I do quite like them - alot - but here's the thing...these have A LOT of tubes for thier size.  AND they take a little longer to make than the normal size tube vases (per tube) but they are really small in comparison.  Pricing will be an issue.  

So, what did I learn from this experiment?  Maybe, if I want to play with scale, I should pick something that doesn't have a lot of components.  Maybe just a bowl, or something like that.  I can make a teeny bowl...I'm still trying to make bigger and bigger bowls.   This won't be the last experiment.

What have you been experimenting with lately?

Linking up with:
Keep Calm Craft On over at Frontier Dreams - there is still time to hop on over to this link to get the discount code for 15% off everything (except shipping) in my etsy shop.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Works in Progress - Clay "Baskets"

Sometimes I find it difficult to show pictures of my clay "works in progress" because unless there is something interesting going on with the shape itself, it can just look like the same thing over and over.

I've been working on a new series of pots that aren't ready to share yet, but these companion pieces have enough going on to share as they are drying.

This coil pot is almost ready to fire.  It's the tallest coil pot I have ever made and I think it will make a great vase for branches when it's ready.  I still have to decide on a colour.  I'm thinking it will either be grey, or grey and white, or a blend of blue/green/turquoise with clear glaze over top.  Anyone want to vote on it?  It's not at all what I set out to make, but it's what happened.  Clay is like that.

This one is a shorter version of the first coil pot I ever made.  I still use it several times a week.  Still not what I was aiming for, but getting closer and I kind of like it.

Of the three, this is the closest to what I intended, but still not quite there.  What I realized during this process is that I have too many other little projects going on to give my full attention to these basket-style pots at the moment.  I will put this series on hold for now and come back to them later when I can give them the attention they require.  After some "polishing up" - smoothing out, sponging, sanding, etc I will still fire these just in case they can be glazed in time to add to the Potters' Guild show at the Lawrence House Center for the Arts next month.

What are you working on?

Linking up with:

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Fiber Goodness

Progress has been very slow on the fiber front, but here's what I've been up to.
 The secret knitting: a pair of ankle socks.  It's proving difficult to find secret time to work on these.  Plus I have hit a stand still until I can somehow measure someone's foot without raising suspicions.

 The shawl:  The lace I finished and shared a few weeks's really a pillowcase edging but done in worsted cotton.  The part I'm on now is just a simple crochet back and forth (the only crochet I have learned thus far).  Progress is slow on this one because I have to really watch what I'm doing (#newbie) so I don't dare pull it out in my usual knitting time ---Downton Abbey and such, but it is coming along.  I need it for late April and I think I can do it.  I *know* I can do it.

On the spinning wheel:  Some very minor progress on the spinning.  I purchased an Alpaca, Merino, Bamboo blend from Alpaca Avenue the last time I was in Toronto and progress was slow because I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it.  Now that I have a project picked out, I think I'll get to it more often.

On the bookshelf:  I'm reading Charles Dickens' ThePickwick Papers.  I'm pretty sure it is the only Dickens I haven't read yet.  I usually love his books, but I can't seem to really get into this one.  Granted I'm only on page 40 or so, and I'm only reading 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there, so it's not really getting a fair chance.

In the shop:  If you haven't seen it yet, I'm one of the March sponsors at Frontier Dreams.  
Hop on over to this blog post to find the code for 15% off anything in my etsy shop during the entire month of March.

Linking up with friends at:
Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft on
Fiber Arts Friday over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder

Monday, 2 March 2015

Frontier Dreams

This month I'm excited to be one of the sponsors of Frontier Dreams, a fantastic blog I have been reading and enjoying for a long time.

Pssst:  If you hop over there you can get the discount code for 15% off anything in my etsy shop (except shipping).

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Cookie stamps

Some time back in the fall, I thought it would be nice to come up with a series of cookie stamps in time for the pre-Christmas craft shows I had signed up for.
It's something I had been mulling over for a while, but wasn't sure if it would work out as well in real life as I pictured in my head (you get what I'm talking about, right?)

 I carved up a few of them as a test run and since my own sample worked well, I made a total of 24.

In Novvember, the Christmas and winter themed ones were a big hit.

As for how well they work, this is the one I used as my guinea pig.  It is loosely based on the maker's mark I put on all of my pottery.
Pictured above is the raw cookie dough, stamped...
 And these are baked.  I used a shortbread cookie dough as I was pretty sure they would hold up without losing all of the detail.  They were delicious by the way.  Cookies are my one weekness. (hahaha.  I've been watching Lark Rise to Candleford on the internet)

I made one for a friend with her business logo on it.  I had grande schemes to make a huge batch of cookies with my maker's mark on them to take as a give away at an upcoming show, but as I've never participated in it before, and don't know how many people to expect, I'm not jumping into the deep end straight away.  I do think they would make for a great promotion, though...

And for all of my fiber friends...
Ta-Da!  I have to test this yet, as it has finer lines than any of the others, but if it cute is that?  I'm thinking, though, that the whole stamp may have to be the ball of yarn so that the lines show up better.  

Drop me a little message if you are interested...I can do custom designs if they are not too fussy.
Oooh, like a monogram for a wedding! Or a birthday party, or a business launch.

Joining some friends at:
From the Farm Hop - The Homesteading Hippy

Monday, 23 February 2015

Button Making

Mostly, I make my own patterns when creating stamps for my pottery buttons, but once in a while, I come across something that is just screaming to be turned into a button or a stamp.

The large button on the left came to me in my Grandmother's button jar.  Just the one.  It is 1 3/4" in diameter and made of plastic.  I didn't really have a use for the single button, but I love the pattern in the middle, and I really thought it would make cute smaller buttons. 
I imprinted it into a piece of clay, bisque fired it...

 ...and now I have a stamp to make new, smaller buttons.

 The pattern isn't nearly as crisp as the original button once they are glazed, but they kind of look worn and like they have a history to share.

With shrinkage (for the stamp and for the buttons themselves), there is a significant size difference.  The center went from 7/8" to 11/16".  

Thursday, 19 February 2015

From the kiln, February

Here are the goodies from the latest kiln load...

 A couple of yarn bowls in red clay.  Yarn bowls that double as candle bowls.
 I really enjoy red clay for some things (like yarn bowls).  I will be doing more work with it in the coming months.  
 A yarn bowl that you can rest your whole project in...well, a little project anyways.

This one did not pass quality control as it has the tiniest crack in it.  You can see it in the back right corner of the picture.  Good news for me as I still didn't have a small yarn bowl - so I'm keeping it.

A handful of other new yarn bowls found their way to our local yarn store which is giving them a test run.  Fingers crossed that they (and their customers) like them!

The batch of soap dishes for my customer in Toronto was finally finished and ready to mail off.  She wants these for the line of hand made soaps she carries...the soaps last so much longer being elevated out of the water.  My personal favourite from this batch is the second from the right on the bottom row.
And the white one in the middle row.  OK, and the grey and white rectangle...

 One little set of buttons went through this last kiln load.  Just. One. Set.

 These two went through the kiln at the college and came out just fine and dandy if I do say so myself.  As much as I preferred the juniper buttons to the cedar ones I actually prefer the cedar serving dish to the juniper one.  I think it may be the brown stem.  Thoughts?

And lastly, a large grass bowl to go with the little prep bowls and the mug and tea bowl.  I'm hoping to have a rather large selection of the grass bowls/mugs, etc for the first round of spring shows in April.

The problem is I have so many "lines" I want to have ready for April that I'm only sending one or two of each through each kiln load.  I've got to squeeze in some time to ramp up productivity.

Shameless plug:  most of these items are already listed over on my etsy shop if you would like to have a peek or two.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Fiber Arts Roundup

I've been so busy making things I haven't had time to share pictures in a little while, so here's a bit of a roundup of some projects I've been working on.

A friend of mine is having a sock monkey themed baby shower for her daughter, so a sock monkey was in order.  I used this tutorial over here since I've never made one before.   Note:  if you are going to try this, get a decently thick pair of socks.  I bought these because they were long and stripey, but they were really quite thin to work with.
She also sent me a picture of some really cute sock monkey slippers that she wanted me to make, but they were crocheted.  I kind of cobbled together a pair of knit slippers using the seamless baby booties pattern as a base and then just added the mouth, eyes and ears.  If I remember correctly, I added extra length to the leg portion of the slippers so I could roll it over like in the picture.

I also finished Diana's hat from Green Gables Knits by Joanna Johnson (of Phoebe's sweater).  I was definitely going to run out of the dark blue so I started adding in stripes of light blue in the decrease section to finish it off.  I love this view of it.
This is how it is meant to be worn...high up on the forehead and all slouchy,
but in all honesty, this is probably how I will wear it...
(very difficult to take a picture of oneself, no?).

When I was blocking it, according to the directions, I noticed a very obvious mistake I made in about the 9th row from the beginning.  I think I will cover it up with one of my big buttons.  I might just knit up another one with a pink (gasp) ball of yarn I bought for another project that won't be happening now.

I also finished up the striped scarf for N, which was supposed to be stashed away for his stocking next year, but it has been so bitter cold that I already gave it to him.  How could I not, when he was tearing the place apart looking for a scarf he could use?

I am much happier with it now that the edging has been added.  It is super thick, and super warm, and he has been wearing it to school and back (but not AT school, since scarves are banned).

Linking up with some friends today:
Yarn along over at small things - although I'm not reading an actual book right now...just blogs.