Thursday, September 27, 2012

Inspiration Knows No Bounds...

My inspiration knows now bounds, because even when I'm sick & tired  POOF! there it is...

So I'm laid up on the couch for part of this morning, not feeling too stellar, keeping an eye on the rugrat while Disney plays on tv.  And in my moments of I'm pretty too damned tired and icky feeling to sit up...I have this idea pop into my head.  While I usually send an personal email to my customers when I ship something, Storenvy has allowed me to make a more personalized shipping notice that does the same thing.  Any care instructions I send within usually, if they're applicable.   And I always try to remember to send a business card or two for both of my businesses, including a few to hand out to lucky friends.

Image used courtesy of Echoland

Customer service however often entails a real connection and personalization to ordering handmade.  It's not a requirement but it goes a long way towards making the customer happy.  Some people include cute hand or computer made tags.  Others include notes, and my friend Sarah of Echoland wraps hers in the most adorable little parcels.  I've also seen some of the branding packaging of Freckle Fox Boutique which is too cute for words even!

Image used courtesy of Freckle Fox Boutique

Tangent complete.  So my thought...it's a craft my mother started and one that I know with great care & skill can look absolutely fantastic.  Card making.  As I'm a major DIYer I always prefer to make something from scratch rather than buy it pre-made.  I think my customers will appreciate this, but really I'd love direct feedback!  (I do plan on adding cards to the store at some point regardless but this would be a nice jump off point in the mean time.)

So what do you think of handmade cards?  Do you have any you've received that have brought a smile or giggle out?  Have examples you want to share?  Post in the comments below!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia
of
Aradia's Hand

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Anchors Away" House Slippers Custom Order - Part 1

So first off let me just gush...I love my ball winder, any chance to use it is grandiose to me because it's just fun and it brings back some memories of playing with the one my grandmother had when I was little.

I'm taking a short break because I'm just all aflutter over this custom order.  Months ago I came across this fantastic pattern designer, Mamachee of Etsy, and she had the CUTEST house slippers ever.  Well originally I bought the pattern for myself, along with two others.  And while I have yet to make myself a pair (I know for shame!) I am now starting my fourth pair, and the second of nicely embellished ones.

Speaking of my grandmother I'll be pimping these out with vintage metal buttons emblazoned with an eagle holding an anchor.  Which to quote my customer:  "These are really cool and have an old school/military feel to them".  I couldn't have said it better myself!



To cap off the nautical theme I'm using Loops & Threads Impeccable Worsted in Aqua & True Gray, so it'll be like a cool misty seaside morning, with that touch of fog over the water.


Enough popping in though, my hands are itching to whirl my ball winder and fly with hook & yarn to whip these up, I can't wait to see them!

Be sure to check out Part 2 (to be linked soon!) to see the finished product and any updates!  In the mean time, peep my last custom pair made for a dear friend who loves skulls as much as I do!



Happy Crafting,
Aradia
of
Aradia's Hand

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September Featured Artist/Crafter - Kristie of Aquarian Elegance


Kristie's Bio:
A wife of a US Marine and Mother of two boys and another little one on the way due in late February, I love to use my creativity and imagination while exploring local beaches with my family. In my spare time I create one of a kind hand crafted jewelry and beach life home decor.

1. How long have you been doing crafting?
I have been crafting for many years, from a very early age, I have always been interested in arts and crafts.

2. What inspires you the most?
I love being out in nature. The sights, the sounds, the peace and solace that one can find in nature, I find a lot of inspiration within nature. I also gather much inspiration from other artisans.

3. What is/are your favorite materials/supplies?
My favorite materials are: seashells, glass beads, metal charms.

4. Do you have a favorite tool?
I love my hot glue gun!

5. What is your work space like?
My work space is generally my kitchen counter or my dinning room table. I would love to have a real home office but for now, with wee little ones, I work within the sight of my rambunctious critters.

6. When do you find the most time to work?
I have a special time of the day which I call “Mama Time.” It is usually between the hours of 8:00 pm and 12:00 am. I get the bulk of my work done then.

7. How does your work fit into the rest of your life?
I love that I can create and do something that I absolutely enjoy within my home where I can be with my family at all times. My husband is very supportive in the sense that he offers me time to work and helps out at craft shows and festivals when he is able. My boys love to be involved as well.

8. How often a week do you get to work?
I have a goal of creating 2-4 products a day. With children, it doesn’t always work out that way but when my creativity is flowing, it is generally easy to accomplish.

9. Do you sell your work? Directly? Indirectly?
I am currently selling online. I also participate in various craft shows and festivals in Virginia.

10. Do you have a business (on or offline)? Consign?
I have four online shops. I have recently been offered to sell in a few cosign shops in the area and am waiting for the right offer and opportunity to be able to sell in gift shops and or boutiques in my area.

11. Do you have a website? Blog? Facebook profile or fan page? Myspace? Twitter? Pinterest?
Yes! I am on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter as well as Blogger. My websites are listed below.

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 would love to see my work in small town gift shops and floral shops. I am waiting on the opportunity and if an offer arises, I would be delighted! Almost every item that I create is one of a kind. My inventory currently numbers between 400-600 individual pieces. 

13. What is your favorite part?
I absolutely love doing custom orders. I love the challenge and the positive feedback I get from happy customers!

14. How did you get into crafting?
I have always enjoyed working with my hands, it would be safe to say around the time of preschool is when I got into arts and crafts. It is just something that never gets old.

15. Favorite deceased artist? Why?
In an art appreciation course that I took in College, I studied artists such as Monet. I really like the paintings of Monet. I like the way he captured things with feelings, capturing nature allowing the viewer to experience the light, the sounds, the water, the earth within the paintings.

16. Favorite live artist? Why?
I really love artists who tap into nature especially expressing awareness for the planet either through sculpture, crafting with recycled materials.


May your treasure lead you to the beautiful waters of our land.

Need your own seaside inspired treasures?  Long to have the beach in your home even if it's far away?  Brighten up your decor and accessories with a little Aquarian Elegance from Kristie!




Aquarian Elegance on Twitter




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

Branding 101: Consistency is Key



We all know that familiar red dot with the larger red circle around it... Target.  Then the two tailed mermaid of Starbucks which is modeled after Melusine.  The big, bright yellow M, or golden arches, of McDonalds.  How about something more obvious - Walmart, Michaels...the list goes on.  These are all stores or businesses, and also brands.

When I started my foray into re-vamping my business "branding" came up a lot.  And honestly I was at a bit of a loss for what it meant given that the context was never quite clear.  So if you're in that boat let me give you a paddle and help clear things up.

Your branding is the image of your business.  It's the name, the font used, the colors, and any logo used to represent your business.  It's also you, yes your face.  For big brands like the ones mentioned before, being human isn't such a big deal.  For small businesses however, representing yourself & your business as one entity is essential to your success.

The thing about branding is being consistent.  You want your logo, name, image to be so common place, that a stranger sees it and immediately knows who/what it is.  I know this can be tough for the artsy types.  You get pulled into the myriad colors, shades, fonts, and other stylizations to create your image.  The issue is that confuses people.  Sure it may be the same name, but when you used Arial here, then Georgia there, or some block font, or fancy script - it's hard to tell whether it's even the same thing.

As my business coach said to me while we discussed branding, your branding is the clothing of your business.  (Share this tidbit with your followers!)  For me that really hit it home and cleared up all of the vague references I'd been battling with.

So you know what branding is, now what?

Quick Tips for Good Branding:

  • Be consistent.
    • Same font.
      • Super duper tip:  use a font that is free for commercial use.
      • For your website:  stick to 2-3 fonts.  1) Logo font, 2) Heading font, 3) Body text font.
    • Same logo.
      • Use color & black and white.
      • Have several versions and sizes.
      • Save as a .JPG & .PNG.
      • Don't be afraid to ask for help in making a logo.
    • Same colors.
      • Black & white not withstanding, choose 2-3 colors (remember we want to keep it simple) that compliment one another.  For help with this find an artist or someone with an eye for color & check out www.color-hex.com.
  • Be simple & to the point.  (You don't need a fancy stylized graphic.  Your name nicely done in your chosen palette works just fine.)
  • Your profile picture should nearly 100% of the time be YOUR face - not a logo.
    • Why?  People connect with a face, a person, they develop relationships with people not illustrations.  (Is this an absolute, honestly no, but if you want to connect with your audience it's advice well worth following.)
    • Make sure your image is consistent with your branding.  Funny, flirty, serious, ... being out of sync confuses people.

The big picture:  Your branding should speak to your market.  So when in doubt consider who you're trying to reach and what appeals to them most.  And if you've made your branding and you're not selling to who you intended, perhaps it's time to re-think your market!

Praise & Shoutout:  I owe much of my understanding to working with Laura George, a business coach for creatives.  While the information I've provided here is an amalgamation of my own thoughts, what I've learned from her, and research I've done online and through observation if you're needing serious help and can't "do it on your own" I highly suggest hiring her or another business coach.

Happy Crafting,
Aradia
of
Aradia's Hand

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Creative Inspiration...All the time!


I don't know about you, but I find I frequently have this problem.  I'm settling down to bed, about to start working, or heck even driving and this lightning flash of inspiration hits me.  It seems it's never at a good time either.  When I should be doing something else or focusing my attention elsewhere.

For several years though I was out of touch with this flash, my muse I'll call it.  Why she left me, what indiscretion I performed to offend and cause her to leave I don't know.  I have to say it distressed me greatly as I don't believe in forcing inspiration or art.

But as before (when I was in high school and had my muse speak to me almost daily) I am struck often by the quiet whispering of ideas.  While the end result is much more on the physically creative side these days rather than writing creation is still creation.

So what inspires you?  Is there some invisible unseen force that pulls & directs you?  Are you inspired by things you see?

Happy Crafting,
Aradia
of
Aradia's Hand

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Behind the Marketing...


Marketing is like the backbone of your successful company.  Without it, no one will know who you are and your product or service will stay in your possession.  But marketing isn't just about ads, in fact it's not really about ads at all.  Those are just a tool of marketing.  Marketing is about putting yourself out there, promoting yourself and showing the value of what you offer, be it product or service effectively.  And therein lies the hard part.

Many artistics know their craft or artform, but by golly tell them to promote and you're often greeted by the "deer in headlights look".  Some even stutter & stammer over it.  Get nervous and uneasy, "You mean...I have to talk about my work to sell it..."  Uhm, someone's got to the do the talking and why not you?

So however you decide to get the word out - be it via social media, physical or virtual ads, word of mouth remember that these are just tools.  That it all starts with a person, you, and that you have to put yourself out there.  Real, human interaction is key.  Whether you're pitching to your best buddy to try out your new piece, or a big ad company.  You have to present yourself, you want people to believe in your offerings, you have to first.

Happy Crafting,
Aradia
of
Aradia's Hand

September Product Review - Boye Circular Knitting Loom



This month's review is specifically only for the Boy Circular Knitting Looms, I may at a later date review the rectangular looms or other looms by other manufacturers.

I will say that I am a big fan of Boye's products in general and this one did not disappoint.  I originally received these looms as a gift because the original set was missing a loom because some pieces were broken.  (I did contact the manufacturer and get a replacement set, which I wasn't expecting, however it was a different brand that I didn't particularly care for.)  I have personally used the smallest of the looms most to make a sock puppet in a Loom a Long as well as a tubular scarf.

I find the loom very easy to use and while I'm not the biggest fan of the instructions included (I honestly didn't really use them, rather I searched YouTube and got a book on loom knitting) I think otherwise they are a good buy.

The multiple sizes are nice although I haven't seen much use for the larger two looms, perhaps for cowls or satchels, or the body of a large stuffed animal?  The pegs are also removable which is nice, although again I'm not sure why?  One thing in particular that I do like is the shape of the pegs, as opposed to those of the Knifty Knitter.

I would give the looms a 4 out of 5, merely because the instructions are "okay", and the fragility of the pegs.  As with any tool, rough use limits the life of them so you should be careful not to exert too much tension on the pegs and be careful not to drop them on the pegs which can snap.  Even so, I can't wait to get the rest of the looms offered by Boye!


Monday, September 10, 2012

"Ever After" by Aradia's Hand


I'm pleased to announce the commencement of the launch of a new line at Aradia's Hand.  "Ever After" will be my wedding/bridal party line.  There will be no particular focus on the bride as opposed to the groom, but my products are slightly more suited to women.

The line will include bridal jewelry, shawls, veils, small bags, table settings & various decorations.  More items may be added as they are innovated, but those are the plans just for now.

You can look forward to the launch this Friday, September 14th, just in time of the weekend!

~ Hand crafted items for you on your special day! ~

Happy Crafting,
Aradia
of
Aradia's Hand

September Craft/Art Form - Looming


Looming, or loom knitting, is the process of knitting with the use of a loom (a set frame with pegs affixed to one side of it that may or may not be removable).  It can be used to make many things that are made on traditional knitting needles, but is limited to the size and shape of the loom being used.  Gauge is also limited by the size of the pegs which standard per loom manufacturer (all looms are not created equal).  You can find a fair estimation of gauges types for looms at KnittingforCharity.org's page - Loom Knitting - Understanding Gauge.

Looms, or knitting boards, are available in many shapes and sizes including circular and rectangular, large and small.  To use your loom  you can use various cast on and wrap methods and the use of a special hook for working yarn off of the loom.  Most looms come with basic instructions and there are several manufacturers that have released small pattern books with starter patterns, stitch patterns, and techniques for specific kinds of stitches.

Some common loom options are:
  • Boye (circular & rectangular) - available at Walmart
  • Provocraft/Knifty Knitter (circular & rectangular) - available at Walmart
  • Darice (circular) - available at Walmart
  • Loops & Threads Knit Quick - available at Michaels
  • Classic Knit - available at Hobby Lobby
  • Martha Stewart Crafts - Knit & Weave Loom Kit (custom shapes & sizes!) - available at Michaels
  • Flower Loom (circular) - available at Michaels
  • Serenity Loom (S shaped) - available sparsely online, if you are considering getting one watch this video!!!

I have noticed a gain in the popularity of looming over the last few months to year.  I believe this is in part because of the resurgence of handmade, and thereby of DIY, and an appreciation for "easy" ways to craft.

Among many traditional knitters looming is sometimes looked down upon as "cheating".  I can say honestly I felt that way a bit, but I must say I've fallen in love with the ease at which one can loom.

*Note:  The looms featured in this post are not to be confused with Hairpin Lace Looms or Beadweaving Looms.

Some additional loom references (patterns and information)...

Websites:
Videos:
Articles:
PDFs:


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Working From Authenticity...



The old business model I grew up with, what I saw my mother put into practice and use was all about professionalism.  You did things right, this certain way because that was how things were done.  But as I've found from my research and learning over the past couple of months that viewpoint is outmoded and outdated.

The new business model is all about people.  It's all about connection and showing your humanity and I am reminded of this as my 15 month old son, Adarian, sits on my lap watching Mickey Mouse's Clubhouse this morning.

For me authenticity is as natural as breathing, but growing up with that business model in the house of a staunch Capricorn, it's also a little scary.  Will I be judged too harshly for who and what I am?  Will people shy away from me because I'm "too much"?  It's a ridiculous but palpable fear.  To be isolated for being who I am.  But as mentors Laura Roeder & Laura George have impressed upon me - it's not about the "unlikes" or the outliers in your market, it's about the ones you can connect with.

So remember, it's about quality not quantity.  Having tons of like, page views, or even "friends" isn't what makes a difference.  It's about quality interaction with those you do connect with.  Serving those people who want to support and interact with you.

For me I plan to exert my authenticity by speaking my mind more often *gasp*, the chatty Cathy is going to talk even more...?!  Yes and no.  What I mean is that I'm going to speak my mind & hold nothing back, "later" is no longer a good time for me.  My time is now, afterall it's the only time we ever have.

How do you plan on being authentic, leave me a note in the comments below!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia
of

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Major Site Revamps

If you've been following me on Twitter and Facebook you've definitely heard me flutter about concerning my store and all the changes I've been going through.

If not, or perchance you just caught the edge of the conversation here's the skinny...

  • I did a complete re-launch of my business, to include a new logo and name change...

  • I've been collaborating the entire time with Business Coach for Creatives Laura C. George who has been rocking my world and lighting that creative fire to get me out of procrastination mode
  • In working with her I've re-hashed my pricing, adopting "Resonate Pricing" and letting go of some of the hang ups artists can have about placing monetary value on their work
  • I've worked to simplify the layout and design of my store front
  • And finally I've made tons of changes along the same lines of my website to include purchasing the domain...
So it's been a lot and there's even more to come!  I re-pricing and checking back through project sheets (yes I'm the meticulous type who records everything) I found at least a dozen pieces in that need to be listed.  And while I've gotten a major monkey off my back about getting some of these things done, it's paved the way for bigger & better things!

So Happy Crafting till Next we Meet!

Aradia
of
Aradia's Hand

Friday, September 7, 2012

Looming Ahead...

Okay, so I couldn't resist the urge to try out a clever title, whether it worked or not is another matter...

So call me a knitting snob (although I don't believe I'm that far gone as I know some who are much more, shall we say "particular" than I) but I never really thought I'd get into looming.  To be perfectly honest, I felt it was in a way "cheating".  Okay now for those who want to argue that the loom is a tool, just as a crochet hook or a set of knitting needles - yes you are right there.  But then again with the mechanics of knitting being what they are, using a loom is the "easy way out".  I prefer to do things "the old fashioned way" when possible, and while intrigued by the notion I didn't fancy it as any more than an idle curiosity.  Of course I am in love with all fiber arts, so you knew I was going to try it...

*blush* I think I like it.  Not really omgs like it, but definitely enough to keep it up.  Afterall, dropping your loom isn't nearly as traumatizing to your work as dropping a needle can be.  And it seems infinitely less likely you would drop a stitch.

So thus far I've completed a sock puppet which I will not assail your eyes with...it was my first and I fudged it's little nose royally.



And yes, notice the baby hand where my son insisted not once but twice to be in the picture, lil rascal...

Then I managed this concoction, which only took me 3+ months to make because I kept procrastinating it for work projects and idle laziness:


Now tonight I've gone and started another loom project and I find the craft useful for when I want to be productive but thinking is "too hard", such as now after I've finished with some major store revamps.  While there isn't much to see yet (I've only got a few rows finished) I thought to shoot to share anyways :D




I'm calling it (tentatively) "Early Americana"
given the colorway reminds me of all that rustic, folksy Americana art

I should have a few more progress pictures as I move along and you can always find my plethora of work on Ravelry!

Happy Looming!
Aradia
of
Aradia's Hand

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Pattern/Tutorial - Loom Knit Messenger Bag by Melli's Mish Mash

This month's pattern was submitted by Melli's Mish Mash and originally posted here.

Materials:

Loom hook
Plastic looming needle
Yellow long loom (if using knifty knitter brand looms, if not, use the second largest loom in the series)
Yarn
Spool Loom for strap

This bag was made entirely out of looms, except for the loop part to close the bag. That is a simple crochet chain.

You start with the body of the bag. Depending on how wide you want your bag, is the Long Loom you will use. I used the yellow Long Loom, Knifty Knitter series. This is the second smallest loom in the series. I used two skeins of Simply Soft by Caron and doubled knitted them. The colors were Ocean and Blue Mint. You can use a single yarn, or do both. I liked the texture of the two yarns together and how it was bulkier. This is how it will look to begin:




To begin, you will cast on with the double-knit stitch, or the basic scarf stitch. At first the bag will look like a long scarf. You will continue to make the “scarf” until it is the desired length of the bag body. Continue working on the body until you have enough to create a flap that will close the top of the messenger bag. This is my halfway point:




When you reach the desired length, cast off using the crochet hook. Now you will take your knitting needle that is provided with your looming kit. String some of the yarn you used on your bag and begin sewing the sides of the bag to create the bag part. Do not stitch the sides all the way up, leave enough for a flap to fold over.

Once both sides are sewn, this is the time to add the bead or button for your closure. I used a 20mm wooden bead, and using the needle, sewed it onto the body of the bag. For the loop closure, I crocheted a simple chain, and attached it to the bag where it would loop over the bead.

For the strap I used the Spool Loom (Knifty Knitter brand). I also double knitted these and followed the directions as per a simple Icord. Leave enough yarn on both sides of the strap to attach it to the bag. You can tie it on with the extra yarn at the ends of the straps that you left.

And there you have it! A simple messenger bag, made completely from looms! Good luck, and please share your completed projects!

Here are more finished pictures:


Monday, September 3, 2012

Stepping On Toes...


Statue of the Charites; Maymont Park, Richmond, Va 6/3/10

I was reading a wonderfully insightful post by the fantastically creative yet succinct Laura C. George today.  It reminded me of some thoughts I've been having as of late as I focus on the store's re-launch, re-branding and just general overhaul as well as the personal interactions I have with others in the creative sector.

Now love my creatives as I do, I'm just as hot-headed and opinionated as the next person.  Perhaps a little too much at times.  And while I can admit this it doesn't necessarily go a long way in halting my reactivity from occurring *soft chuckle*.

What gets me into trouble?  I like to help, and sometimes it comes off as a "little pushy" (now I'm sure someone out there may call that an understatement but, eh).  From my point of view I'd love to see every other artist and crafter out there be wildly successful.  On the other hand, being a very sensitive type it pains me to see someone struggling so needlessly in their creative business over things that I see as "so simple" (eg.  photography, poor descriptions, or inexperience in marketing oneself).  Just as much as not though I get the feeling that my solicitous-ness is taken more along the lines as biting criticism of "how they do things" rather than an attempt to help.

Deal with this yourself?  My advice, follow Laura's advice and take a step back, and repeat my personal mantra:  "It's not about you, it's not about me.  I release all anger and frustration."

And remember, an ounce of kindness is worth a pound of criticism sometimes.  Everything in its place and time!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September Update!

Happy Kalends of September everyone!  The business re-vamp launch so far has gone a little shakily with hiccups here and there, but overall is going well.  I did some major re-branding which still has a few things within it to work out, namely a new profile picture because I want to keep my image up to date.  I have some additional plans to meet with my photographer for some in progress shoots to illustrate my handiwork with photos that I just cannot take myself.

I've renamed the business officially, something that better resonates with my message and offers a bit more clarity as well.  This includes changing my tag line as well.



Although several edits are planned after this, most of them are merely "fine tuning" (eg. a slight change in the color palette).

I've continued to add some of my "hidden stock" to the store fronts on Storenvy & my new official site, even making a few new products.  The new watermark is in effect and I've been making use of it as I do some re-shoots of products for better display and to fit my new branding.

With the new branding there are several updates to my web presences:


Have summed up my working relationship with Laura Roeder and her crew I started some work with Laura C. George who has been a wonderful catalyst for many of the changes that have been undertaken through August.

What I've got planned for this month...

  • I'm doing a mass overhaul on my pricing system.  It's going to be a more intuitively based pricing, with some considerations in mind for the "bottom line" that I believe will suit me better.  Instead of the onesies & twosies I've been able to re-price this will be EVERYthing.  Some things will go up, others down, and I'm sure some things will stay around the same - so if you want to get something on the current pricing get it now!
  • After pricing will be an updating of some copy, I have to admit being less than pleased with some of it but that will soon be all in the past : ).
  • My website will be undergoing some additional changes to simplify the buying process, which will be coupled with some changes in my shipping policies (there will be no shipping outside of the US on my official site, although it will still be available on Storenvy.)
  • A continuation of some general and behind-the-scenes revamps in my business processes.
And for our special blog followers our Mabon/Autumn Equinox coupon - this is valid 9/11 through 9/18, allowing an order to be placed, received, and shipped to arrive by the sabbat!  Use "M4B0N" at checkout at StorEnvy, or Our Official Site* for 30% off anything in the store - Limit one use per buyer!

*Coupon will be applied to the most expensive item after order is complete and refund will be sent with the Paypal email you have used.

Happy Crafting,
Aradia
of
Aradia's Hand

A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.
Oscar Wilde