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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Knitting

A knitter’s tale

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I’ve been spending some time this week reading the fabulous blogs on the blog tour from people who sew, and spin and recycle and stitch.

It’s made me think about of all the amazing things you can create for yourself instead of buy, and it’s also made me remember my own adventures in crafting, and how it began.

Fast forward a few years from childhood doodles and sewings, makes and bakes and I found myself  as a very very young and very very poor mother and wife. Make do and mend was not a lifestyle choice for us at that time (21 years ago!) it was our only option.

I discovered that a ball of wool cost a few pence, whereas a baby outfit was a few pounds and I didn’t like all the labelling and branding going on with most of the clothes on the High street so I decided to make my own. With a pattern, needles, wool, no experience and determination.

I can’t remember how long it took me to knit that first little cardi, but I do remember that the one thing I could NOT conquer was the buttonholes. I dressed J in the hospital for the first time in the little red number, and poked the buttons through the gaps between the stitches to do it up…

I also spent that time doing the only crochet I have ever done, a granny square papoose (not practical, but Ok as a blanket) and a little rasta-style hat. I crocheted this without a pattern, my mathematical brain was better in those days, but I had no concept before j arrived of the size of a baby’s head and so the only pic I have was staged for the minutes he could bear to wear the very tight headband.

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Since then I have had mad knitting frenzies and periods where I haven’t touched a needle (I’m an all or nothing kind of girl)

One Christmas everyone got a pair of socks knitted on five needles. My sister got a scarf that went round her neck about 12 times. I knitted a bag from recycled sari silk that was stretchier than I anticipated and reached practically down to the floor the first day I took it out.

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I’ve had some successes as well, a peplum-hemmed moss-green cabled jumper that has looked very cute on several little girls I know. And the socks are a great hit with my dad.

I love knitting. The feeling of making your own garment is so rewarding.

It will never make my fortune because I’m just too slow, but sometime craft is about more than earning money.

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Craft community

All aboard the blog tour bus!

Creative Crafting Blog Tour 2013Excited to say that the Creative crafting  Blog Tour bus will be stopping at my blog on 11th August.

It’s the first blog tour from Creative Crafting, promoting blogs from lots of lovely artists and crafters.

It’ll be jam-packed with new things to learn, competitions and giveaways, so come along and see what’s going on!

You can see the dates of each blog stop on the Creative Crafting website and the event runs from 1 – 16 August.

See you there!

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Craft community, Starting up

What I’ve learnt so far..

When I decided to put my drawings out there and offer them for sale I didn’t know what to expect.
Eight months on, I have learnt a few things, but I suspect I have a few mistakes left to make yet!

Here are some of the things I know now that I didn’t back then…

Network, network, network!

Pastelesta's Etsy shop

My Etsy shop

When I set up on Etsy, I really thought that I would sell everything I listed, perhaps not immediately, but I was happily working out profits based on selling individual items daily.

This did not happen!

If you’re selling online on a shop like Etsy or Folksy or similar, you need to actively network and market your products to get yourself noticed. It’s a big old marketplace.

There are loads of groups on Etsy and on Facebook that you can use to get support and promote yourself and other people, as well as networking hashtags on Twitter.

Try Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more, each is slightly different and will give you slightly different results.

  • Facebook – good for building a ‘persona’ for your business. Show your work in progress, be chatty, promote your products. Build an authentic and receptive audience for your brand. Use pictures where you can to catch people’s eye in ther packed newsfeeds
  • Twitter – good for networking and news. It’s very time-based, so be carful when you post and make use of networking hours such as #handmadehour #uketsyhour and location-based ones like #hampshirehour or #yorkshirehour
  • Pinterest – good for getting creative ideas and advertising your products (remember to put the price in the title)

You don’t have to spend a lot on advertising

Building up a presence isn’t going to be instant and throwing money into advertising won’t give instant results. There is a huge amount of information online about social media and marketing so do your research and learn from other people.

Get out there to craft fairs, it will take a while to find where you best fit in as there are all sorts of different types, but they often attract press and publicity, so it’s a good way of getting your eye-catching products see in the press.

Marketing offline is an area I definitely need to develop, I’m not that confident about the face-to-face so tend to hide online. However, getting out there and meeting and networking in real life makes your brand ‘real’ to your customers and I know I have to do it!

Take the very best photographs that you can of your products

I still don’t have this cracked, mostly down to lack of time (bad time management from me) and a slightly dodgy camera, but the more professional looking your products are, the more likely it is that someone will be to part with their money online and buy them.

Again, there’s lots of information online:

Keep on making

Marketing is incredibly time consuming, but don’t forget to keep doing what you do best…making and creating. Try to build in time to try out new ideas, you never know when you’re going to hit on something that people love.

If you get creative block, here are some great ideas from Naomi at Artbiz Rx

You will learn a lot along the way

Dream picture by @pastelesta

Dream picture by @pastelesta

I have made quite a few mistakes, but I’ve also learnt a huge amount.

  • My drawing has improved
  • I’ve got more confident
  • I feel more fulfilled
  • I’ve seen a whole new working environment that’s possible
  • I’ve got new skills to bring to my day job

In November last year I did my first craft fair and although I got lots of compliments I didn’t sell a single thing. I’ve booked for the same fair this year, so I can compare how much I’ve achieved so far both with the things I sell and the profits I make.

It’s definitely a journey, enjoy the ride!

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Pastels

Summer days

Have you been enjoying the sunshine? I have, and still managed to get a bit of work in!
Here’s the golden retriever portrait I have been working on today:

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Bit of a mixed couple of weeks really, as I’ve been a bit too busy socialising and enjoying the glorious weather to get a lot of drawing done. That’s the hard thing about trying to build up your work in your spare time.
Also, the craft fair I was getting excited about for next weekend has been cancelled. I’m wondering if it’s just a very difficult time to try to sell things, will have to see what Christmas brings.

On the plus side, I thoroughly enjoyed  taking part in ‘craftfest’ last week with http://www.creative-connections.ning.com, an online craft fair run by crafters. We all spent a lot of time and effort promoting each other’s stalls alongside our own which was very satisfying and made me realise how art works as a collective.

I’m going to keep on drawing, but I think I’ll try to use a bit of time for experimenting with some other media and subjects. Watch this space!

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Craft community, Starting up

Craft community rocks!

On Friday I was surprised to find myself the ‘victim’ of a sneak attack on Etsy. I had no idea what was going on.

I became suspicious when I started to get a number of my items listed in treasuries within a few hours of each other.
Although I’ve been on etsy for a bit over 6 months and do get likes and favourites, they certainly don’t all come at once, and I had no sales.
The comments on the treasury talked about a sneak attack from members of a group at http://www.handmademovement.blogspot.co.uk/
A quick google revealed that sneak attack is when a curator from the group picks several new shops with few or no sales. They give clues about the shops’ products to other members of the group who make a treasury list based on the products from the shops they think have been chosen.
They can win a prize for guessing the correct shop.
Once the winner is announced the members of the group ‘attack’ the victim shop with favourites and sales.

I was bowled over to receive a complete wave of alerts on etsy, and excitingly, the cha-ching of the cash register on my etsy app announced my first sales. Here are some of the cards that I sold:

Purple Doc Martens card Eat cake and good luck cards Love card

The craft community is the most supportive environment I have ever worked in…I guess everybody knows the feeling of creating items with love and waiting for them to be bought…but it truly makes a difference.

I have now joined the group and am looking forward to returning the favour very soon!

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Craft fairs, Starting up

Dog show

What a beautiful bank holiday Monday for a day at the dog show.
Stall ready, the only problem today was the wind which kept blowing the cards away!

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Saw lots of beautiful dogs of all shapes and sizes, so interesting to watch them all and their different personalities.
Had a few enquiries about portrait, gave out dome flyers and sold some cards so a good day.

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It was all in a good cause today with proceeds to Guide dogs for the blind and Blind Veterans UK, organised by the amazing Joshila fresh from her fundraising marathon running across the desert. Read more about her at http://www.joeythelittletrooper.com/

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You can buy my cards online at http://www.etsy.com/shop/pastelesta

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