Craft community, Craft fairs

Craftfest!

Craftfest is nearly here!

Put your feet up, heat up some mulled wine and browse this unique online craft fair event, with over a hundred stalls full of  gifts, fashion, cards and art. There are stalls to browse to find gifts for him, her, home, baby and child, pets and much more besides.

Start shopping and get sorted for Christmas early at creative-connections.ning.com/

Here’s a peek at some of the goodies on sale:

For kids:

Gifts for kids at Craftfest

Gifts for kids at Craftfest

L-R – Rocket in Space (Button Owl), Personalised Red Sailboat (Isabella Winstone CreativeDesigns), Reversible Organic Cotton Aprons (The Old Button), Maxi stocking (Alice Cook Designs), White Unicorn (Magic Pumpkins and Faery Dust)

For her:

Gifts for her at Craftfest

Gifts for her at Craftfest

L-R – Needle Case (Vicky Myers Creations), Purse (Strombolitwo), Leaf necklace (The Little Red Hen), Calla Lily Soap (Scentcosmetics)

Cat and dog notecards

Cat and dog notecards

There is so much more! I am really looking forward to taking part with my stall of cards and custom drawings.

Craftfest runs from 16-23 November 2013.

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Printing

Experiments in printing

I’m so glad I got onto Twitter.

There’s so many communities and ideas and so much inspiration to try new things.
I enjoyed #drawingaugust but didn’t teally have time for #paintseptember so resolved to try #printoctober even though I am a complete novice.

I was given some lino, a roller and a cutter many years ago. As is my way I dived straight into the cutting without any preparation and realised that I had cut the part that should be black rather than the part that needed to be white. Short on time, I told myself I was rubbish at printing anyway and put the tools in a drawer.

Time for another go  and so as not to make the same mistake I drew directly onto the lino in white and cut away.

My first attempt was okay, a badger surrounded by a few fern fronds. It was a nervous attempt and I didn’t cut away very much of the lino but was keen to see if I could at least get the basic idea.
I drew on the lino with white chalk, a bad move as the drawing rubbed away as I cut and the resulting cut was not a good drawing.

My first print attempt was worse, I squirted the ink directly onto the roller resulting in a blotchy blobby mess and the grooves of my cut full of ink. I tried a few more times and got a couple of okay prints. I was relieved to have a result anyway!

The second time I tried I was keen to get a better basic drawing and a better print. I drew a bird very carefully and transferred it to lino using carbon paper. Then I coloured in the bits to cut away with a white coloured pencil ( I still don’t trust myself).

Drawing on lino

Drawing on lino

This worked much better.

There was a lot more lino to cut away this time and I managed to cut myself a few times as well as grazing my knuckles on the rough cut lino surface.

Lino cutting

Lino cutting

I read a few tutorials about printing with a roller and didn’t rush the print quite so much. Consequently I got a better result this time.

Bird lino print

Bird lino print

Not perfect, but better, and fun to do.

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Drawing

Get drawing

During October and November The Big Draw will be happening all over the country, aiming to get people drawing.
It was set up by The Campaign for Drawing because:

“Drawing helps us to understand the world, think, feel, shape and communicate ideas. It is fun, accessible and invaluable – in education and everyday life.”

Why would you want to celebrate drawing? Too many people think they can’t draw, but there’s no such thing!

Drawing is more than producing a likeness of something on paper.
Drawing is an action, that can help you relax and de-stress as well as create something from practically nothing.
It can be a much more immediate way of getting ideas across than words – how many people say they are ‘visual’ learners?

Drawing is creating and everybody needs a bit of creativity in their lives.

I was put off drawing for a long time by a bad lecturer who told me I couldn’t do it. And I rediscovered it when I used it as a therapy at a time in my life when I was very low. It’s something a lot of us left behind in school but the act of creating is more important than the end result.

Don’t be scared, or get put off by other people. And don’t just  set up your fruit bowl and coloured pencils like you did in school, experiment!

  • Take your pencil for a walk over the paper and see what shapes appear
  • Use different materials: string, crayons, ink, biro…don’t limit yourself
  • Draw BIG, draw small, draw with your eyes shut, draw to music
  • Tell a story

There are loads of opportunities for all ages to get together and draw during October. Search The Big Draw website for events near you.

If you can’t get to one of these, draw with your friends or your family.

I’ll be drawing, will you?

Send us your pics,  I’d love to see how you get on.

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Starting up, Website

Building a website

Screenshot of my new website

Screenshot of my new website

I am hopefully reaching the home straight on my new website.
It’s taken a while to get here though!

There is a wide variety of choices on offer for a crafter looking for a website to showcase or sell their makes, and you don’t always need to spend a lot of money to get what you want. It can be a bit of a minefield, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt!

Where to build your online presence

So, you want a website, but where do you start? The first question you need to ask yourself is what you want to achieve. Do you want to:

  • Showcase your work
  • Sell your makes
  • Blog
  • All of the above
Facebook is a fantastic place to start, it’s free, you can add photos and talk to your customers.  However not everyone wants to be on Facebook, and you can’t easily sell through your page unless you use a shop through an online marketplace like Etsy.
If you just want a very simple presence with some product photos and an address to promote through your craft fairs and Facebook and Twitter pages, you can use free blog sites like Blogger and WordPress.
Just to make things more complicated, you can use free versions of these sites, or you can install them on a web server and have more control over the design and features that allow you to build a powerful site with shop features. You need to know your stuff though.

Online shops

If you want a shop, you can go for Etsy or Folksy and link from a blog, or you can go for your very own web shop presence.
There are a number of web-based online shop building solutions you can use to make a website.
Weebly is very popular with crafters and artists. It incorporates a blog, a shop that accepts PayPal and various levels of design control. It has free and (low cost) paid versions
Shopify is a powerful online shop building website that allows you to integrate with other online payment engines as well as PayPal. It has various price ranges but is more expensive than Weebly.
Most websites have a free trial period so you can have an experiment and see what works for you. Think about the features you need to make your business work.
Another important point to remember is what the website looks like on a mobile. More and more people are using mobiles to browse, and if your site looks awkward as a mobile site it will put people off.

Content, content, content

Whatever solution you choose, your content is the most important thing to focus on.
The key things to remember about content are:

    • Keep it simple. You have seconds to grab someone’s attention  so best to put your products on your homepage
    • Don’t be wordy, people don’t read the same way online. They scan for info
    • Keep a good colour contrast. Black on white is easy to read. You don’t have to use this but avoid dark text on dark backgrounds or white on a pale background
    • Don’t use images instead of words
    • Test your website on friends and fans. Get them to carry out typical tasks you might expect other visitors to do. How do they get on?
    • To help your website show up in search engines, use the words that people might type in when searching for your products in your product descriptions and text
    • Have links to other websites on your website (even if just Twitter and Facebook) as it will help search engines find your website
    • Have great photos!

There’s probably lots more… Have a look at other websites and see what you think of them. What’s good and what do you find hard?

I’d be really interested to hear your experiences of building a website.  Are there any sites you recommend? Any things to avoid?

I’d also be grateful if anyone could help me out by testing my nearly finished site with their honest advice. If you want to help me, get in touch and I’ll send you a link. I’ll do the same for you if you need it!

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Craft community, Craft fairs

September…and thoughts turn to Christmas

The end of the summer holidays means Christmas is coming.
It might sound early, but in craft terms I’m leaving it until the last minute…

My sons (well two of them) have learnt to get in early and I’ve had their requests in. One wants a jumper, a thick, stripey one that I’ll have to find a pattern for, as well as some good value, yet good quality wool.
The other wants me to paint a scene from his favourite Ian M Banks book…quite a challenge…not just painting a sci-fi landscape, but also seeing where our imaginations collide!
My youngest is 14 and not excited at the prospect of my handmade gifts. There is time to change his mind!

I’ve also got a few craft fairs lined up.
The first is next weekend and I need to see if I can tweak my table set up to display my pictures and cards at different heights as I’ve heard this is more appealing.

I have another four before Christmas, two in November, two in December as well as the Christmas online craft fair,  craftfest which I love because it involves other crafters in promoting each other’s works. It’s a really good way to learn to promote yourself online as well as picking up sales.

My next job, as well as a couple of commissions, is to get some Christmas cards and gifts made.

I’ve been playing with ideas, but have lots more I need to experiment with/get right.

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Maybe I will start a bit earlier next year, but as I only started Pastelesta in November last year, a week before my first ever craft fair I still have a lot to learn.
And whatever I make, Christmas carols are strictly forbidden until December 1st!

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Craft community

Between holidays and a winner

August has been a really busy month so far. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Creative Crafting blog tour this August. So many different crafts and reasons for crafting, take a look and read all about it for yourself if you have a chance.

I’ve also been taking part in #drawingaugust on Twitter (although a little late starting). It’s where you can share a drawing a day on Twitter…much more of a commitment than it sounds…but people are very creative with this kind of task and the range of work has been inspiring and impressive. It’s good to push creative boundaries and try different styles and seeing what others have done can trigger new ideas. It’s pretty scary putting up pictures that you’re experimenting with, but experimenting leads to new creations and it needs to be done. You can’t change and develop otherwise.

I’ve been away at a festival for a few days. A much needed chance to relax and play. I really want to he able to paint a picture that captures the festival spirit…a challenge that might take a while. I’ve had a tiny first go with some watercolor crayons for #drawingaugust…I got a comment describing it as ‘primitive but awesome’ which I’ll take as a good start as festival energy is pretty primitive really.

I’m off on holiday again in a couple of days and hopefully will find some more things to inspire me to paint new things:-)

And a winner…

It’s time to announce the winner of my giveaway from the last blog…drum roll…its ‘The Old Button’! I’ll be in touch shortly!

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Pastels, Step-by-step drawing

Step-by-step drawing and a giveaway

Hello everyone, welcome, how exciting to be part of the Summer Blog Tour. I hope you’ve been enjoying it so far and learnt lots of new things, I have !

I had a long think about what I should post for my new visitors, but decided to stick to what I know, and that’s the drawing. So make yourselves comfy and I’ll take you through the steps of my latest picture…oh and, if you read all the way down to the bottom I may have a little giveaway for you as well…

German Shepherd step-by-step

I’m trying to build up a range of different types of animals to use as cards, and maybe to make into a calendar for Christmas pressies, though will have to get a wriggle on as I would only reach June if I used what I have at the mo – six-month calendar anyone?

Anyway, I’ve had a few requests now for German Shepherd dogs, including a drunken conversation in a pub with a lady who told me she had never seen anyone capture the spirit of a German Shepherd in a drawing. Not that I’m saying I’ve succeeded, but I do like a challenge.

This is how I drew my picture.

I started on a mid-toned grained Canson paper. I haven’t tried pastel mat or any of the more velvety surfaces you can work on, though must have a go. I tend to stick to what I know, and I like a bit of texture, as I still like it to keep a sense of what materials I’m using.

I like to draw the outline with a pastel pencil, dark areas in a dark pencil, light areas in a light pencil.

Outline of German Shepherd dog drawing

Drawing the outline

I put my tones down first, thinking about what colours underpin the main tonal areas. I usually go for contrasting colours which I can build up to achieve the dark or light tones choosing green and red, yellow and purple or orange and blue.  This time, I went for blue and orange.

Adding the first tones to the German Shepherd dog drawing

First tones

Then I added some light tones in pale blue and pale purple, and added the eyes.

More tones and light and shade

More tones and light and shade

Time to start adding the background, and a bit more detail, again I do like to put down the brightest colours I can see in the underlayer of fur, still lots of reds and greens!

Adding the background

Adding the background

I also started to emphasise details in black (sparingly) and white – as you can see from the photo I am working in very poor light at this point – not recommended! When I work late I often wake up to find my images looking far more psychedelic than I previously imagined, though black and white is fairly safe!

Adding black and white

Adding black and white

I started to focus in on the detail on the face and on the fur on the dog’s neck. This takes a lot of layering.

Adding detail

Adding detail

I continued with more layering of colour on the neck fur, emphasising the buckle on the collar and a spot of redrawing on the jawline. (Note the baby wipes in the background – essential kit – I am frequently streaked with randomly placed pastel smudges…)

The last job is always a bit of smoothing with my trusty rubber colour shaper and neatening up of the edges and there you have it…one German Shepherd dog in pastel.

German Shepherd dog

German Shepherd dog

I have to say, this picture is the biggest I have drawn since I started Pastelesta, perhaps it’s something to do with the imposing nature of the breed…

It’s a good sign though, as I enjoy drawing bigger, you can be more free and loose with your strokes. I always drew very big pictures when I was a student!

Hopefully there’ll be cards in the shop soon, and I’ve already got my next request to help fill up the calendar months, a miniature Schnauzer, and a couple of willing models to pick from!

A giveaway from me

Thanks for visiting , as a little thank you, if you leave a comment (below the title of this post if you’re on your phone or to the left of this post if you’re on your PC) I will pick one of you at random on  Tuesday 20th August to win a packet of cats and dogs cards from my drawings and a couple of my ‘retro tattoo cards’:

Cat and dog notecards

Cat and dog notecards

Cake and Luck cards

Cake and Luck cards

Good luck, and hope to see you soon!

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