Monday, October 29, 2012

Facing Up Trial & Error with Hairbrained Ideas...

Not every idea I have is worthy of becoming something.  Case in point, I have a pile of yarn and plastic star beads sitting on my desk right now.  I've torn up the "project" three times already, thinking I would make a necklace, then a belt and now I'm realizing that nothing is up to par.

There seems to be a temptation among crafters to do it all, use everything, save anything useful.  Especially with the advent of the surge of re & upcycled crafts nowadays.  Everyone it seems wants to be eco-conscious.  And while I completely respect that, there is a limit to just keeping it all.

So a lesson learned and one for you to.  Everything isn't worth keeping, nor is every idea as good as it seems at the time it comes to you.  But the ability to see something new and whole from old parts is worth the effort of trial and error.  No art is failure, just an advancement in perspective.

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October Book Review - Creepy Cute Crochet by Christen Haden

I love to crochet so how could I have not bought this book.  Sporting a picture of a monkey with a fez hat, a little Cthulu, and a mini grim reaper... I was sold!

This book is creatively written starting out with the author's inspiration of how they came to write it as well as tips, tricks, and resources that are always popularly found in how to books.  A benefit of the book is it's small enough to fit in your project bag to tote around while you hook cute monsters, however I am sad that the pictures in the how to basics are so very small, not optimal for the beginning amigurumi enthusiast.

Projects range in things you'd expect to find in this book - like zombies - to things less expected such as the gladiator (I'll admit to missing the creepy reference here since they're just cool!  Yes I'm a fan of the Gladiator movie...)

The pictures of each project are great, though again some of the diagrams are a little small so I wouldn't recommend this for a novice.

I'd give this a 4.5 out of 5, only docking for the fact that some of the diagrams are a little on the tiny side for my tastes.  However this allows the book to remain in pocketbook form so it's not that big a deal if you can read standard crochet abbreviations!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

LAL with Melli's Trinkets

Several months ago I participated in a loom a long (LAL) with owner and jewelry designer of Melli's Trinkets, Melli Burger.  Originally we decided it would just be something fun to do since neither of us seemed to have anyone local to do any kind of "a long" with.  Just last night we started on another one, this time something nice and seasonal - a cowl.

Although I'm not ecstatic about this picture I gathered together some fun colors to try in my design...

As you see below I started with the dark chocolate and burgundy (which in this light looks a bit like raspberry).  I've also given my own spin on the cowl's stitch pattern, doing a six row repeat

So far the pattern stitch definitely looks interesting!  I'm even considering documenting it and offering the pattern in my Ravelry store!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October Featured Artist/Crafter - Krystal of Children of the Underground

Krystal's Bio:
I lend my crafting knowledge to a variety of art techinques that I use when making an item. No two pieces of my work is the same; which works well with my personality. Custom orders are my favorite to work on because it shows a level of trust from the customer and the interation from them helps add to the overall finished item. Since I have a regular job outside of my house I usually only craft during the spring and fall when my workload slows down. My artistic vision can occur during peak moments of epiphanies while I am going about my daily routine. I use these moments to write down items and collect odd items for inventory and current crafts. People describe me a free-spirited artist and I can see why. Past customers of mine usually tell me that the end result of what they requested from me is more than what they expected. All and all I try to keep my hours of crafting time open, stay well connected with my customer throughout the process, and take general pride in my work.

1. How long have you been doing crafting?
I have been doing art all my life. My father's family has a history of artisians. My applicable art didn't really start happening until I was in high school. That was the time of my life where I got more training and techinques honed, as well as great acknowledgement from my fellow peers.

2. What inspires you the most?
The thing that inspires me the most is being out in nature. However, I have also found that by trying to turn my racing brain down I can see inspiration in other things, even commercial/industrial items.

3. What is/are your favorite materials/supplies?
My favorite materials I use are found objects. They really aren't an art tool, but its fun to find something and make it into art. Most of my best work has been built around an ordinary object.

4. Do you have a favorite tool?
I don't really have a favorite tool, but I feel the most important tool is pen and paper. My ideas come about so randomly I usually have to write them down in a timely manner.

5. What is your work space like?
My work space goes thru stages. It is currently thru a "intermission" stage in which I am going thru my inventory to see what I want to keep, toss, or donate.

6. When do you find the most time to work?
I find the most time to work late in the evening when my son is watching tv or playing the computer. I like to work with plenty of noise, because it makes me concentrate on the task I am working on. Working in quiet would put me to sleep.

7. How does your work fit into the rest of your life?
My working life outside of the home is dominating my time at the moment. The crafting part of my life is in a dormant stage, but with winter coming soon I don't expect that to last long. So I fit in crafting when I can so I don't have to force art.

8. How often a week do you get to work?
I can usually manage a good day and a half a week for crafting work.

9. Do you sell your work? Directly? Indirectly?
People custom order directly from me. Not many people buy work I have done and posted online. My experience tells me that I work better with custom orders.

10. Do you have a business (on or offline)? Consign?
My business is called "Children of the Underground" after my high school art project. It seemed appropriate to keep the name.

11. Do you have a website? Blog? Facebook profile or fan page? Myspace? Twitter? Pinterest?
I have a facebook page for it and an Etsy account. However, I would like to be apart of someone else's page and post work as I get it done on a more personal level. I would hope that in doing so I could blog or pinterest from that connection.

12. Where do you feel your work fits in your market? (Do you concentrate on high volume, low volume; do you make multiples or one of a kind only; Walmart or Bergdorf Gelman?)
I feel my work fits more in the low volume market. I have been known to make multiples of items in the past, but I like to change one element of each item produced.

13. What is your favorite part?
My favorite part about crafting is that I can express myself visually for others to see. I consider myself lucky that I can do that.

14. How did you get into crafting?
I believe I got into art thru life. My family always motivated me to keep doing what I loved. Looking at some of the previous work members of my family did help inspire me to continue.

15. Favorite deceased artist? Why?
Believe it or not I do not have a favorite deceased artist. I have had to do reports on great artists thru history for my two years of Art History and it just felt so forced. My college art teachers used to say that some artists can be hindered by studying too much of other artists, in that you may not be able to develop your own style.

16. Favorite live artist? Why?
I don't have a favorite live artist either. However, I do have a favorite art form. Tattooing is my favorite art form because its an experience from both sides. The person tattooing is putting up their best work for someone that will be carrying it around with them for the rest of their life. The person receiving it is putting their trust in the artist to make a great piece. So in a sense there is an exchange going on; someone gifting a piece of art. To further expand on this, I especially like artistic pictures taken of tattooed people. I have always found that fasinating. Being a woman with tattoos I have been on the modeling end of it as well. It is extremely liberating and I feel like I know more about myself than I originally did.

Location: Warner Robins, Georgia

Text Krystal:   478-217-8713

Thanks for tuning in for our Featured Artist/Crafter of the Month! We'll see you back in November with our next feature!

Monday, October 15, 2012

October Product Review - Storenvy eCommerce Site

Visit my store on Storenvy

Alright, normally I do a physical product for my review but I was inspired to review the ecommerce site I sell through because it's pretty fantastic and yet a lot of people in the craft circuit, even those online, don't know about it.

First of all we all know Etsy.  Now I have no beef with Etsy, although we had a bit of a bad breakup, it is the giant for handmade ecommerce.  And while I was with Etsy for two years from 2009 to just into 2011 how it looked when I came there, versus how it looked when it started, and even how it looks now isn't the same.  While I think the changes they've made (from what I've been able to see though not being a seller there anymore) it's been improvements after a good fashion.  My gripes - the banners & avatars are crazy small (compared to other platforms) and it has a bit of a Facebook feel to it.  You can customize a minimal amount and that's it.

I've also sold with Artfire.  They changed a lot in the few years I was with them too, and while again some changes have been good, others I really wasn't all for and well we broke up too, lol.  They offer a good deal more customization to their shop fronts, but in order to have the maximum affect you had to be a pro seller (although now it's changed and that is the only option).

Just this last year (December of 2011 to be specific) I came to Storenvy.  I was a little forlorn over my Etsy break up still and was okay but not terribly ecstatic about Artfire.  So I decided to give them a chance at the ecstatic urgings of new friendy & fellow crafty fiend Melli of Melli's Trinkets.  Admittedly I had a little bit of trepidation.  What would this new ecommerce site be like that I'd never heard of?  Would it be more work, would it be worth the effort even?

I can answer in the positive and with a resounding yes that it's great and well worth it!  Originally drafting wasn't precisely available in an obvious fashion on Etsy or Artfire (although now both offer a way to do it, Storenvy's way is much simpler and getting better all the time.)  For me drafting is an extremely important feature as it allows me to hit those high points of inspired copywriting without feeling I have to sync up my listing process into "all at once".  The picture availability is set at the standard 5 which works for the most part, although you have to get a little creative at times with your pictures to narrow it down into just 5 depending on your product.  Also standard is an easy to use app with Facebook and it also allows you to link your account and sign in that way.  Changing your email for sign in and to receive messages is easy which is also a major bonus.

Some other nifty perks, they have built in deals and promotions you can run as well as the ability to mark things as On Sale, Coming Soon, and Pre-Order (there are other options Active, Hidden, and Retire).  Forums of course are attached to the site and they give you on site stats in your dashboard.  You can see an overview of your recent sales, access specific invoices, see visitor to view rations for up to a month back or across 6 days.  Your most viewed products & top sellers, top referring URLs, top search engine terms, visitor & buyer countries.

Another major bonus to your storefront with Storenvy is that you can have as many collections, what they call store sections, as you want.  Whereas Etsy restricted it to 10, which made many people open up additional stores for categorization, this is a welcome difference.  Other tidbits are fairly standard with the ability to reference links to other areas of the web (up to 6), customization of your shipping confirmation email, and bits in your profile.

However, the coup de grace of it all (aside from it being a fee-less system of course) is that you are allowed 100% customization.  Your store can be as simple as you'd like it to be or as hands down fancy pants as you can get it (or your web designer can get it).  This leads the way for you to have a truly unique webstore that bespeaks your style while setting up a good majority of the front for you.

So if you have a shop and maybe you're struggling with your venue, or you're thinking of opening one, pop on over to Storenvy and try it out - you won't be sorry you did!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Love Yarn

I love yarn.  I'm of the mind that you can't really have too much.  Instead of being the crazy cat lady I'd be the crazy yarn lady.  Recently I had a large stash donated to my reasonably small, but diverse stash.  (I've been picking through it to make things, I love scrap projects...)  The stash was so impressive that I had to record it and when I compared it to the last time I took pictures... well... WOW is all I can say.

I'll say I have an inordinate amount of red and blue hues.  But I also now have a much more sizable accumulation of browns and grays.  I'm looking forward to the various ideas that have come to mind as I've been winding.  Much of the yarn has been 2 and 3 weight, with a few that look to be 1.  Lots of lace-y goodness coming my way!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October Craft/Art Form - Crochet

Crochet gets treated like the red-headed step child many a time.  Passed along by knitters as something for those less serious.  But anyone who has looked at or scoffed at the idea of crochet with disdain obviously doesn't know the art or it's range very well...

Crochet may not be as old as knitting, but it certain has it's own claim to fame.  Progenitor of many an intricate lace doily that graced your grandmother's home and that of fine ladies in the Regency era.  It was all the rage in the 70s with "granny squares" and if you're of my generation you likely have curled up in a granny square afghan before.

Crochet, like knitting, at it's core is the simple twisting of fibers with a tool.  The major pull and benefit to crochet over knitting for many is that it look less complicated with the use of 1 tool, rather than two simultaneously.  The reality is that it isn't any easier or harder.  While knitting has only 2 basic stitches, crochet has 5 (ie., slip stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, triple crochet) basic stitches.  There is only one way to decrease or increase a stitch however unlike knit which gives a veritable plethora.  Crochet also has a number of special stitches from elongated versions of all of it's basic stitches to decorative and textured stitches (eg., popcorns, bobbles, puffs, picots...).

As with many fiber arts starting to crochet is as easy as acquiring hook and yarn, and of course a little instruction.  Both allow for a myriad amount of choices to suit your taste, style, and wallet.  Hooks are available in aluminum or steel, depending on the size, but also plastic, acrylic, and wood of various types.  They also come in differing styles, including standard, Tunisian, cabled, and two differing types of double ended hooks (one version is for working Tunisian back and forth the other to combine hooks, they may face the same direction or opposite ones.)  Yarn is available in the form of synthetic man-made fibers (eg., acrylic, nylon, rayon), plant-based fibers (eg., cotton, linen), and animal-based fibers (eg., wool, mohair, angora, cashmere, alpaca, silk) or a blending of any of these.  Due to the potential size of a project crochet has an easy portability to it, except in the case of larger pieces, such as afghans.

Crochet differs largely in some ways from knit in it's basic use.  Crochet is perfect for sculptural and three dimensional objects.  (This is not to say that you can't do such thing in knit at all, just that it is easier to do so with crochet.)  Unlike knitting crochet has a denser feel to it and is worked up one stitch at a time.  The benefit of this is it's great for outerwear and things that need to be heavier or thicker, and if you do have a hook mishap and drop your work you likely only messed up one stitch.  (As opposed to the catastrophic dropping of needles where in an entire row could unravel!)  With the greater amount of density however you use roughly 3x the amount of yarn.  So a similar project would take more yarn in crochet than it would to do in knit.

Crochet comes in a number of styles, including amigurumi (the making of small dolls or toys comprised entirely of single crochet, originally made in knitting), Irish Crochet (a particular style of crocheted lace), Tunisian Crochet (uses a special kind of hook that is either elongated, has a cable to extend it, or is double ended), and Freeform Crochet (this technique involves a number of crochet techniques that build upon one another to form often abstract designs).

When choosing to learn crochet depending on your style of learning there are many options.  YouTube offers videos on everything you would need to get started.  Many sites also offer full color, live picture tutorials so you can "see" stills of how a stitch started, in progress, and finished should look.  There are a plethora of books and magazines about crochet, that all cover the basic stitches.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Having Resources VS Being Resourceful: Which Are You?

True story... I've had a number of people come up to me asking about marketing, design, and just general business "stuff".  Guess that means I'm doing something right huh?

It makes me laugh because I have been in business for over three years now.  But what I realize is that I really wasn't a business until now:  because I changed my attitude.

Now I've told you how much I can't stand that modicum:  it's not a business if you're not making money, it's a hobby.  But I know all too well how true that statement is, even though it burns me up to hear.  The other thing that is important in business is attitude.  I recently heard a quote of Tony Robbins by way of Marie Forleo saying, "It's not about your resources, it's about how resourceful you are."  I have to site that whole idea as the source of my success.

The reason I laugh when people come up to me asking my advice is because I have paid the bare minimum to get good quality information while I've been re-building myself and my brand.  And I'm not saying not to go through programs, because I have wishlist of things I want to do including Marie Forleo's B-School and at least several months of Laura Roeder's Social Media Marketer.  What I want you to take from this is:  don't let money stand in the way of your success, you can capture success simply by making the most of what you have.  I fully believe that investing in yourself is never a waste of time or resources, even though it's scary at first.

My secret is that I have collected an amazing group of mentors that I refer to who all offer high quality, worth their weight in gold advice.  They do blogs, vlogs, question and answer, and regularly share awesome content.

If you want to check out these amazing peeps and start your own full on makeover check out their websites!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I am an Idea Fountain...

June 3, 2010 Maymont Park, Richmond, Virginia

Quite often I find myself to be an idea fountain.  My brain will just get going and like a jackrabbit being chased I dip, dive, and scramble all over the place.  Though in my case it's not being chased, but chasing.  The flights of whimsy that catch my mind's eye scattering my thoughts and at times interrupting my productivity and even sleep.

It's funny how it seems to come about, mostly when speaking on random things from mundane to fascinating with whomever.  There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason nor even the slightest inkling of any particular trigger.  Leave it to be people, interaction, and just the world around inspire me.

What inspires you? (Leave a comment below!)

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

I’ll Have a Serving of Authenticity Please…

Hecate, Greek goddess of the crossroads;
drawing by Stéphane Mallarméin Les Dieux Antiques, nouvelle mythologie illustrée in Paris, 1880

So authenticity is a buzzword in the circles I run, focusing on entrepreneurship and establishing oneself as a solopreneur.  But maybe you don’t run in the same circles I do or the word seems a little mystifying to you.  Here’s my take…

Being authentic sets you free, it allows you to form a real connection with other people - in business your audience.  Once upon a time all companies were faceless entities with their directors, owner, CEOs etc making publicity statements here and there and that was the lot of it.  With a small business (meaning 1-10 employees) that way doesn’t fly.

There is a penchant among newbie biz owners to try and adopt the ways of big corporations, much to my chagrin.  What ends up happening is they often model well but not to their benefit.  Afterall, we’re neighbors, you have a house, a family, friends…and you’re a faceless entity?  Doesn’t instill trust does it?

Being authentic can be scary.  We fear rejection and ridicule, worry how we will be perceived and judged.  As sensitive creatures we don’t take well to that.  But you don’t move past something or grow from it by avoiding it.  It still will be ever present looming in the background.

Me - I’m like a bowl of spilled spaghetti.  I keep odd hours, stay up late and bicker with ADD & insomnia.  I work from home, run two businesses, do several things on the side, chase after a small human and silly mutt.  I try to keep tabs with people and sometimes I go “radio silent”.  I’m a caring & compassionate person who genuinely wants to help even if I get burned for it.  I have many names I work under and not one is a façade, it’s just another facet.  I write, draw, craft, create, doing healing work.  You can call me Laney, Salem, Aradia, Naware, Brynna, or Gaea.  I have a thousand and one aspirations and I’m living my dream tenuously.  Who are you? (Please share in the comments below!)

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Monday, October 1, 2012

October Update!

Butter late than never...yes that was intentional.  Looking back, rather than forward since this post comes to you late October has been pretty hectic, more so than I thought it would be!  Murphy & Parkinson's Laws seem to have ganged up on me and made everything that could go wrong with my schedule do so...monkey wrench to the nth power for your math nerds :P

With the revamp for the biz having wrapped up I went bananas in September with inspiration putting up 15 posts, 3x my scheduled normal.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself. Although so far I'm back down to closer to my quota a thus far.

I've been brewing a newsletter in my noggin, but I have chosen to put off it's initial release.  Ever the perfectionist it's hard to shake those tendencies.

In the changes that continued to occur during September I simplified my website & store set ups so that my shop tab goes directly to my Storenvy shop rather than having two essentially.  Since I like Storenvy and it's infinitely customizable it just made more sense to simplify the process for my lovely audience.

My pricing overhaul completed I'm focusing on a pragmatically intuitive system that I like quite well.  I didn't quite get through the copy like I wished to but it's an ongoing process and a creative one that doesn't like to be rushed.

Finally a special little offer for my blog followers and readers!  My sabbat sale will run from 10/21 to 10/28 for 30% store wide, use code "S4MH41N" at checkout!