31 Mar 2011

New Supplies from the US

My friend Orla just went to San Francisco for a well deserved holiday. The fantastic thing about it was that I gave her €100 before she left to buy as much paper as possible. I am able to buy American paper here but it costs between €20-€30 per 12" x 12" pad, it's also possible to ship it in from the US but the import tax and shipping makes it just as expensive. I knew I would get value for money but what I failed to factor in is that Orla is the best bargain hunter I've ever met!

She bought some beautiful sheets from Graphic 45 which is very pricey here, which is exactly what I asked for. Where she really excelled was getting pads that were $20 reduced to $5, and a few of them! The most impressive paper was a pad of 360 sheets for $20, and it's really beautiful paper. She really paid attention to the paper and patterns that I love, and shopped accordingly. We estimated that she got €260 worth of paper for about €100. I'm delighted with my stash, but now I'm daydreaming of winning money and flying over to buy paper, stamps, embellishments, dies.....sorry I got lost there.

Now that I'm making way more cards these days I've had to speed up my system. Firstly I pick out loads of paper I want to work on and then guillotine them into 5" wide strips(the width of my cards), I get 2 of these per sheet with some leftover. I then cover a large amount of blank cards with this paper using my glue gun, cropping off the leftover piece. When I have a stack of about 50 covered I then use the left over scraps to embellish the cards, going through them in themes of colour so I'm working with the same papers all the time. When I get new stamps I stamp them out on blank paper and keep them in a box, so that at this stage of the card making process I just have to go to the box rather that spend time inking up. This method of production line working has really helped speed me up, and also saves on wastage as all my scraps are used up on the cards.

30 Mar 2011

Lecture in Eco Fashion

No, my aforementioned toothache did not kill me, although it sincerely tried to. I've just been really busy. One of the things I was doing was giving a lecture in the University of Limerick. I agreed to give a lecture on Eco Fashion and my business in Mikael Fernstrom's class, but it was only as the lecture loomed nearer that I actually started to question my sanity. When I said how nervous I was to my mother her reply was 'You'll be fine, you did debating before, and you were on telly sure'...well that public speaking was nigh on 15 years ago, and with tv they can always retake a shot!

I was afraid of the usual things, that I would freeze up, get cotton mouth, run out of things to say in about 10 minutes, lose my ability to read my notes, in general make an arse of myself. But thankfully I didn't, or at least I don't think I did, if any of the attendant students are reading this you can let me know. I prepared a power point presentation of my lecture, going through the background of my business, how I got into eco fashion, and then moved onto the wider topic of recycling within fashion, the effect the garment industry has on the environment, and the use of sweat shops. An hour is a long time to talk but after a small bit of Q&A I actually ran out of time-which I was totally shocked at.

It was a really fun experience, but boy is it a lot of work, I had a huge amount of prep work to do before the class. I assume lecturing only really begins to pay when you are doing it a few years and you have all the lesson plans pinned down.

I was asked back to give a second class to the same group, but this time it was far more practical. I gave them a small customising project to do on scraps of denim. This was a much easier class to give as it was in my comfort zone. I had no real research to do, I just had to prep the materials. The class naturally divided into two, those who knew how to sew and worked away happily on their pieces. And then those who had never picked up a sewing needle. It was nice to walk away after an hour and to know that I taught about 8 grown men how to thread a needle, sew properly in a straight line, and the essential skill in life...how to sew in a button. I was really surprised to see how open they were to learning this, and it was a lot of fun showing them.
I would think of doing guest lecturing again if I was asked, now that I've gotten over the first hurdle. The only thing is that within all the prep and nerves I didn't get any of my own work done that week.

Ps: Thanks to Mikael for inviting me to do the lecture, and also for the use of his photo.

5 Mar 2011

More Mini Reviews

53273130, George Marks /Retrofile
Due to my wisdom teeth's insistence in growing, regardless of the fact that there is clearly no room in my mouth, I currently look like this charming picture above, just less glamorous, and with a swollen jaw.
With the fact of the horrid pain in mind you can understand my lack of will to live, let alone sew and make pretty things. Add on top of that I've developed an abscess cos of my growing wisdom teeth, which means I haven't eaten solid food in two days. I'm really bored of soup, and porridge.

So I watched films. What else is there to do in a crisis like that??

This tells the story of Joan Jett and Cherrie Curry, and their huge rise to fame in their teens with the band The Runaways. I rented this out of curiosity of the background of Joan Jett. I also vaguely remember reading a review saying that this was going to be Dakota Fanning breakthrough role into playing more adult characters. It's a typical document of the perils of rock n roll, and all it entails. It's the stunning performances from the two female leads that saves this film from being just another rock biography.

I'm sure everyone at this stage know that this film is about the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, the worlds youngest billionaire. Since I knew nothing about him, and the start up story to the site I found this fascinating. It's hard to tell where reality ends and fiction starts though. It seems like a very neat parable to show a man with no friends who creates the largest tool for social interaction. Although I really enjoyed this film, it suffers from the fact that it was made while he Mark is still very young. It felt like a narrative half told.

This is another film that has a really strong female lead. It shows a young girls fight to keep her family together while looking for her drug dealing father who has skipped out on bail. The above description doesn't do it justice as it is a far more layered and subtle piece than that. Weaving seamlessly from the underground criminal world, into rural hicksville America.
Glengarry Glen ross

Win €300 Worth of Goodies

Wanna win €300 worth of Irish crafts? Who wouldn't? As most of you know I'm involved with the Etsy Ireland team, a group of 250 Irish crafters selling on etsy. To celebrate St.Patricks Day they are giving away an amazing prize to 1 lucky person. All the items in the above treasury is what is included in the prize.
All you have to do is follow the daily links on their facebook page from March 8th, figure out a simple word puzzle and you can then enter the draw. I organised this competition last year, and I must say the prize was amazing, it's well worth the work you've to put in. To get exact details about the draw check out this blog post.

Happy treasure hunting.

Ps: My Guinness earrings are one of the prizes!

3 Mar 2011

Gift Boxes

I bought lots of plain boxes like the one above here with the intention of doing something lovely with them. Paper collage and distressed colours came to mind. I started working on them with no real end goal in sight, I wasn't sure if I was going to sell them, keep them, or sell them with something else inside. I used my Cuttlebug to cut out the heart and circle shapes from lovely paper that I got in Cork Art Supplies. I firstly painted the boxes using a bright and varied palette of red,pink,blue,yellow, and white, painting all the surfaces different colours.
I then matched up the papers to the lids and boxes, gluing and varnishing as I went. I started looking around for nice papers with little interesting details that I could put on the inside, after all everyone loves to see what's inside a box! The next stage involved a leap of faith; distressing my lovely painted boxes with ink, then followed more varnish. It took me a few hours to figure out what was missing, then it occurred to me that some buttons would tie all the colours together and bring back some brightness after the dark inks.Surprise, surprise, that it was buttons came to the rescue!
Then came the really difficult bit, figuring out what to sell them as??? A friend suggested that they could be proposal boxes, something I had never heard of before. Basically it's a posh little box that an engagement ring is put into. Also they could be party or wedding favours, I know I would be thoroughly impressed if I got one of these at an alternative wedding!(I'd do a discount for orders of 10 boxes or more). In the end I had to make a decision about the price, when I looked at how long they had taken to make I decided to charge €10. Which at first seemed expensive for a small box, but it's not feasible to sell them for less considering the effort. I've made the decision not to sell them at the market as I can see people being shocked (and sometimes rude) about the price. I understand that it's a recession but sometimes I feel that all of this talk in the media telling people to challenge prices has less them to being rude. Sometimes I just can't listen to it. So to save my sanity these boxes are on sale exclusively in my etsy shop. I will be also adding oval and square boxes in a little while.

1 Mar 2011

Selling on Etsy

At the start of January I decided I was going to rejuvenate my Etsy shop, I'd had it for years, but I was never able to get sales moving consistantly. I started putting items in it other than my pocket mirrors, things like brooches, buttons rings and earrings. I spent time, and money on a photography studio improving my photos and also took note of things like craftopolis and view counters. I shared more of my items on facebook, which is also linked to my twitter account. On top of that I've started blogging again which I'm sure helped a little too.

The results being that for February I double my etsy sales from an average taken for the previous few months, which is pretty good going since they were over xmas. I also more than doubled the amount of unique visitors for the month.

At the end of all this I'm still unsure if it's worth the effort, as these takings are still only a small portion compared with what I sell at the market. But I suppose in these 'interesting' times we are in at the moment the idea is to take whatever I can get, mush it all together and hopefully at the end it amounts to an income! It's satisfying to be able to make something at home, and within a half an hour I've taken photos and listed it online, ready for the open market. It is very time consuming though. Also on the down side I seem to have dropped the ball when it comes to my supplies shop, I don't seem to have the brain space to run the market and two etsy shops. How do the rest of you feel who are working/selling on etsy?
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