Friday, January 29, 2010

The Business Side of Things

The past week I've been spending tons of time working on my jewelry business instead of playing with my sticks and string.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to play with jewelry either.

I've been trying to get a lot more serious about photographing all the items, alter them and get them entered into Etsy.  I mean, if it's not up there for someone to buy, it won't get sold will it?  Money is still very, very tight here in my household and it's stupid not to be getting everything up and out there for the public to purchase.

I never realized how much time went into the back end of things though.  Yes, it's fun to make jewelry and it's quick, instant gratification.  What's not fun is the time the rest of it takes.  Photography is so important when selling products online.  Since the customer can't touch the item they're looking at purchasing, they need to see tons of pics.  Etsy has five slots for photos of the items to go in and I intend to use all of them.  So I've been taking like 20 shots of each item, moving them over to my Flickr account, altering the exposure, color and sharpness.  Then I have to narrow it back down to five again.  Folks, that is incredibly time consuming!  Written that way, of course, it doesn't really sound that way at all, but it is.   I'm trying my best not to get lazy.  I need to have someone standing behind me with a whip.

Here's an example of how I'm using the Flickr/Picnic account to adjust my pics.   I took about 114 photos one day and got only a handful that I could ultimately use.  But look at the before and after difference on one of the pairs of earrings that I've got up for sale:



See the difference it's made?  Well worth the time, I'd say.

Another issue is that my Mom and I have joined up together in this business (which means way more inventory to photograph).  My store front name will be changing soon and I'm going to have to create a new banner/logo for it.  I don't have a clue what we'll go with yet and my brain hurts just thinking about it.  We're also going to start doing some craft shows together starting in the spring and we've lots to do for that as well.

One good note that happened this week with the new jewelry business is that we've found a temporary supplier of beads that is incredible.  I'm so excited about the prices we've managed to get from this source, but it will only last until the inventory dries up.  Even so, paying this much less for the product means so much more profit, if the stuff sells.

I've also been working on the marketing side of things as well.  I totally suck at this, but I'm working on it.  :)

So, that's what I've been doing.  Spending way too much time in front of my computer screen instead of clicking away with the knitting needles.  I'm hoping to get some free time this weekend though, my fingers are starting to get itchy for the wool!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Potted Kitty

I'm afraid my green thumb doesn't extend to kitty gardening. Are they annuals? Perennials? If they re-seed themselves, will I have a porch full of kittens? How much sunlight do they need?  Do they need to be moved indoors at the first freeze?  Are they herbs, weeds or wildflowers?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pinewood Derby Skateboard Car Followup

Well, the 2010 Pinewood Derby is finally over.  The car did not do as well as the Eldest would have wished on the track (his father set the wheels wrong and they scraped the center of the track), but everyone thought the Skateboard Car was really cool.  That's good enough for his creative department (me) to be happy!

I wanted to show you guys the finished product:


- Painted Hemi Orange
- All artwork was body tattoos!  Had to be very careful placing these on the board.  They wanted to slide all over the place.
- Coated the car in resin to get a high shine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Queen Anne's Lace Crochet Project

I started a new project the other night, but it wasn't knitting, it was crochet.  Ya'll, it's been so long since I've done crochet that I had to look up some of the stitches to make sure I was doing them right!  I've been crocheting off and on since I was eight and my Mom semi-patiently tried to teach me, but it never sticks with me.  Over the years I've either forgotten how to hold the yarn or how to do certain stitches.  I don't know why I can't keep it all in one tidy little place in my brain so that I can reference it as needed. 

It didn't take long to look things up (I love the internetz) to remind my poor brain what it needed to tell my fingers and I was off and running.  I'm working on the Queen Anne's Lace Scarf from here.  If you follow the link, he's taken off the pics, scroll down to get to the free pattern. 

I'm using some of my homespun yarn that has a huge range of greens and black in it.  It's lovely, but it's not photographing well.  For some reason, variegated yarns never do photograph well for me.  I got two shots that I liked:

Here's the first:

And here's the second:

This is a really quick pattern.  I finished half of the scarf in one day.  I'll go until I run out of yarn.  There's approximately 222 yards in this skein.  It should end up just the right size.  Hopefully it will look better once it's blocked.   This is probably going to be put away as a gift to my Sister In Law for next year.  She looks stunning in any form of green (she's a redhead.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Pirate Birthday Party

Ever wondered how to have a successful Pirate Birthday Party for a pre-schooler?   I think I might have just figured it out this weekend.  The party was a super hit with the little guys and some of their older siblings.

When all the little pirates arrived they were told that they weren't really pirates yet, they just thought they were.  They were told that they would have to earn the right to be called a Pirate.  They thought this was really funny and couldn't wait to do it.

First task:  Every pirate must have a pirate chest.  I mean, you can't be a pirate without one can you?  I found some little wood chests for the kids to paint with tempera paints and covered the table with aluminum foil to protect it.

Second Task:  By finishing the chests, the Pirates earned the right to decorate their own pirate hat.  I made the hats out of black foam sheets (12 x 18) and had the kids decorate them.

Here's how I made the hats:

1.  Take one (12 x 18) sheet:

2.  Cut the sheet in two lengthwise:

3.  Stack both sheets, one on top of the other.  Then, trace the outline of a pirate captain hat and cut it out.  Don't get rid of your scraps though!  I'll show you why in a second.

4.  Staple the hat together as shown.  This hat fit every one of the kids and did not need adjusting. 


5.  Decorate!  I just this set of foam stickers that I found on clearance at Hobby Lobby, but you could have pirate stickers or stamp them with paint.

6.  What to do with the scraps?  Make shark fins!

I made a small cut at the bottom and then folded the flaps as shown.  Tape the flaps to the floor and you've got an ocean full of sharks!

Third Task:   The pirates earned their eyepatches and earrings by learning the Pirate jargon.  I googled "how to talk like a pirate" and came up with a fun list.

Fourth Task:  They earned their loot and telescopes by playing games.  I googled a couple of games and this is what I used:  (these are not my games and I don't take credit for them, but they were lots of fun)

First game:  This is to teach the new pirates how to avoid being detected by the enemy:  Throw a balloon in the air.  While it's still in the air they have to laugh like pirates by saying "Yo-Ho-Ho!"  When it lands on the ground they have to be silent.  If not, they had to  Walk the Plank!  Guess who was one of the first ones to walk the plank?

Notice the sharks on the floor?

Second Game: The kids were given orders to follow like this:
If I said:   Port!   They all had to run to the left side of the room.
If I said:  Starboard!  They had to run to the right side of the room.
If I said:  Captains Coming!  They had to stand at attention and salute.
If I said:  Climb the rigging!  They pretended to be climbing a rope.
If I said:  Mess Deck!  They sat down with legs crossed.
If I said:  Submarine!  Everyone had to lay down on the floor and pretend to be a sub.

This one was so much fun!  I don't have pics for you of this one, there was too much movement and they all came out blurry.

The kids were now officially pirates and got to have the cake:

I'm pretty proud of how my cake turned out!  I used a Wilton's pan that I got from Hobby Lobby.  One day I might even take a class or two on how to decorate cakes.  Just imagine how dangerous I'd be then.  Ace of Cakes, here I come!

Here's a better pic of it:

We even had a chest for the forks:

Of course, no Pirate party would be complete without Pirate Swords.  I set out a bucket of swords on the hearth.  These were a huge hit and the adults had to all duck quickly before they were skewered:

The Youngest was incredibly pleased with his party and the kids all had a blast with the games and crafts.  Everyone took home lost of pirate loot and the Youngest went to bed with a huge smile on his face!