Oh it’s been so many months since I’ve even talked about new items or sales. I can certainly say now, that I really do change interests quickly. But before I get carried away talking about that, I’ll write about what’s happened recently. I was away for 2 months in Switzerland, where I did some sightseeing and relaxing. No polymer clay whatsoever. Michael set up the oven as I had it last year, but I packed it away. We went on a long trip to Germany, and had a relaxed time in Zurich going to the movies and doing some shopping. I’ve been back in Melbourne for 2 weeks now, and I have not restarted my clay work. I took a friend around last week, so I had little time for it. But today I will need to get back on it… Oh how I dread it. 😛
My trip photos have been posted on my Flickr account, under the collection called “Life Saga”. Beware, I have taken up a doll-collector’s past time of taking photos with my dolls posing in pictures. If you feel it is weird, you can leave.
I think, sorry to say, that I am getting a bit frustrated with polymer clay. I’m still making for the consignment at Ballyhoo Art, but the “making” part does not excite me as it used to. It’s a bit sad to see this happen, but what can I do. I’m moving on. I also thought I wanted to do a full time diploma course in jewellery, but the full-time commitment isn’t in the cards right now. It would be quite stressful, restrict my ability to travel, and I don’t really want to be living in Melbourne for another 2 years, alone. Also, I will have to start my drive to class 2 hours before it begins, or else I could end up arriving late. Imagine doing that 4 times a week!! Public transport? Don’t count on it… It’ll take me the same time or even longer. Because of these circumstances, I’ve decided not to pursue the diploma (fees are also an issue, since I may not get a government supported place).
Just a minute ago, I signed up for the Intermediate Jewellery short course! Yes, it’s at the same far away place, but I can handle once-a-week classes. It was plenty of fun in the beginners course. These are all the updates for now… I really should start kneading that stiff, cold clay.
End of 2010, I have done neither!! I didn’t like learning German in Switzerland, maybe because of the lousy school I attended for one session. The other expensive school was always intimidating. They boasted to mainly have university graduates and bilinguals as students. They made me take a placement test. Their class “entry points” were few and far between. I would plan to start the class, but never did once the time came. As for jobs, we all know that it’s almost impossible to get employment overseas without having the right visa. I was also under-qualified, as everyone else had Masters degrees. I also don’t enjoy doing something I’m not interested in.
Plans for December 2010 and early 2011:
Become a full time, self-proclaimed artisan
Register my jewellery home business
Continue once-a-week German class at the Goethe Institute, at my own leisure (there’s no rush any more, is there?)
Take a simple silver smithing short course in December at Monash
Take more detailed metal smithing courses at NMIT in February
I’ve been meaning to buy these for ages, and a couple of weeks ago, I finally did it. I had a code for free shipping, so I thought that was a good time to order! I designed these so that I could either use them as jewellery cards (for shipping) or as business cards. I ordered 1 pack of normal sized cards, and 1 pack of mini cards. I love both! I will definitely be ordering more, and perhaps have multiple sets, one for each of my different crafts.
I can’t remember how many images I used for these, but there are at least 25 different card pictures. The backs for both sizes are plain brown with text, as provided by Moo. I didn’t want to spend too much time designing the info section. I can easily get caught up in the whole process if I end up making my own from scratch — designer’s curse.
If you buy jewellery from me now, they will come on one of these lovely cards. I used to hand-stamp my cards. While fun for a while, it was also time consuming and looked amateurish. I never went overboard with colours and fancy card stock, so the outcome always looked awful. But not any more! 😀
Next on my list for MOO in Nov/Dec: stickers and single purpose business cards!
Also, I’m planning to upgrade my packaging boxes from handmade to sturdier pre-made boxes. I’ll be able to do this once I no longer have the 2cm rule. I found a packaging company in Australia that sells wholesale boxes in kraft/natural colour. These will be a lot sturdier and better for gift-giving. I can stamp the top cover for a personalised touch. 😀 Well, more info on this once I actually order them.
I went on a little donut-making spree, and realised that I am unsure about what to do with all of them!
I think these deserve to be stud earrings:
And I like these plain glazed donuts, but not sure if they should be earrings:
The two-tone icing is neat. Perhaps I will make them into studs, too. Hair pins could be an idea as well… I need a new shipment of bobby pins before starting those.
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I’ve been re-photographing most of my items that I think are worth it. I wanted to update my shop because sales were zip! I had used the same props and decor in all my photos, and I was getting tired of how washed-out and lifeless they looked. The real success started with my purple cupcake, where I used a bright pink background and decreased the depth-of-field. This created a blurry background. I suppose the chain in the photo added more interest, especially when blurred out.
I didn’t photograph some of my old stuff, as I no longer have some of the originals. But I’d say they are only 3-4 items. I got a few sales since I updated my photos, which is certainly a good sign. I’ll now show you how ugly my old photos were, compared to the new ones.
I think the photo on the left does not do my product any justice. Makes it look dull and boring. I re-photographed it on a postcard. I must say that my macro lens does help a lot with close-up photos. It’s really good for miniatures. I do have trouble photographing larger items like my homemade lightbox (which I will talk about in a separate blog post). I can’t zoom at all with this macro lens, so it’s cumbersome. For these large items, you’re better off with a normal, multi-purpose lens.
Oh my… Look how ugly that cake is. Compare that to the new photo! I think it looks 100 times better now. I used scrapbooking paper for the background, and the same miniature plate seen in old photos. One other tip, I don’t bother so much with colour and exposure when I take photos, because my camera is quite old and DSLR technology wasn’t as great 5 years ago. I don’t fiddle as much by saving the images as RAW files, and then later do the editing on my computer. With RAW images, I can crop, adjust white balance, contrast, and increase exposure till my heart’s content. When taking photos, it’s more important to get the right angle and make sure the image is in focus. Those are the things you can’t edit with RAW files.
With this update, I tried to adjust the angle and positioning of the items. It’s important to get them into a pleasing position on your background, and make sure your light source is hitting the item at the right spot. I also chose a background that doesn’t clash with the colours of the item. I think the overall look and feel is quite pleasing, compared to the old photo. I do sometimes make the mistake of choosing a background that blends too much with the item. The photos then go unused. I usually re-photograph till I am reasonably happy.
Here are some examples of scrapbooking material that I use as backgrounds. They are cheap and available everywhere!
Other ideas to try would be wrapping paper, postcards, printed photographs, books and magazines. I also used a recipe magazine for some of my close-up photos… and I don’t cook. At least the magazine is not wasted then! I managed to find some pages with nice coloured areas. The best thing about photographing miniatures is that you can put them up to most patterned backgrounds, and still not be able to tell what the backgrounds are. Here are some photos with my cooking magazine:
The blue patterned background is actually from a photo of a meal on a plate. And for the cherry pie, I used a photo of an icing cake with pink flowers. There are a couple of concerns regarding using magazines and books for close-ups. One, make sure you don’t reveal too much of the background to be recognisable, or it could breech copyrights. Two, you can see all the printed coloured dots from being too close. I don’t mind these too much, since most people view thumbnails when finding items, and the dots are not noticeable then. It’s a small price to pay for using your own magazines and books, since they are the cheapest means possible.
I hope my long post has been helpful, in some way! Next time, I will talk a bit about my home made lightbox, although I still have yet to use it. I always just wait for morning, and leave the lightbox for emergencies.
All the items pictured are available from my stores on ArtFire and Etsy.
Sorry posts have been far between. For once, I’ve been busy making miniature food and taking photos! I’ve also been thinking about new products and what might better suit my audience, thanks to Andrew from Plug Market. He had a good point that got me thinking about what products to target at different audience types. A good friend, Juanita from JuanitaTortilla on Etsy, also suggested that I start selling my fruit canes. It could work, but could also backfire because I lack the seasoned experience that I need to make consistent-looking canes. My luck is almost 50-50 right now. I made an orange fruit cane while Juanita was visiting, and I think I rushed it a bit. I made the canes too small and I also forgot to add a light orange layer before adding the ‘skin’ layer. You’d think a miniature fruit cane could not be too small, but it is… I made it 3mm, but I have found that I prefer slices at 5-6mm. So, while it still looks alright, it’s not really up to my standards as I had hoped.
Here, you can see how they look in varied sizes.
Now, on to photos of my products!
These were just listed on Etsy and ArtFire, along with a listing combining the two to make a set.
These are earring charms that are part of my new line of interchangeable earrings. The ear wires come in 3 sizes, and each size comes in the whole set of colours, for even more options when coordinating with outfits. I hope these sound like a good idea… I’ll also be adding more options to allow buyers to ‘stack’ charms together.
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