Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Making Heart Christmas Decoration

This is a fun way to make little Christmas Tree decorations.  I made them as name place settings for my Christmas table and then everyone can take them away and keep to put on their own trees!

1) Start with some Polymer Clay (like FIMO or I used PREMO by Sculpey).  I used an effects type one which was white with glitter for extra sparkle.



2) Take a chunk of the clay and roll this into balls, one ball per decoration.  This also softens the clay ready to use.


3) Roll each ball flat just with a wooden rolling pin (not one used with food) or a plastic rod until its a few mm thick.


4) Using some letter stamps press in the name of the person.


5) Use a charm or button whatever you have to press a design into the surface.  I used a snowflake pattern.  Rubber stamps work well for this too.  The I used a pen just to make a hole at the top ready for the ribbon.



6) Use a cookie cutter (again not one used for food) and cut your shape, making sure the hole is still visible and that your name fits in the middle.  I used a heart cutter and then cut into the snowflake pattern.


7)  There you have your finished design.  Next its time to bake.


8) Pre heat oven according to packet instructions, then lay the decorations flat onto a tray.  Cook according to the packet instructions which is normally on a low electric heat for 15-30 min depending on your cooker.


9)  Thread some bight red ribbon through the top and knot a loop and then you have your finished item.  Lay them on the table or pop them on your tree!

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year from Jessica Jewellery Design!!

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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

How to Get Your Work Featured on the Front Page of Etsy

Please read on for guest blog post written by Beverley Reinemann with some great information and tips!

For both experienced and novice craft entrepreneurs alike, Etsy is a powerful platform for getting your work into the hands of engaged consumers. With ready to launch stores, a passionate and helpful community of sellers, and such wide brand recognition amongst the buying public, Etsy can turn a once-in-awhile crafter into a household name. However, as the site has grown, so too has the competition, and often it can be difficult to stand out. Unless, of course, your work is featured on the front page, instantly exposing your talents to the sites millions of visitors—no marketing tricks and traffic directing involved.

But how to get there? It may not be as unattainable as you think. In fact, you’re already well on your way if you’ve mastered the basics of the platform. Here, too, are a number of additional steps you can take to get yourself to front page fame.

1. Find Your Way Into a Treasury

Example of a Front Page Etsy Treasury

Front page features aren’t pulled from thin air. They come from treasuries, i.e. collections of Etsy items curated by fellow sellers. There are treasuries for just about every kind of theme, from the more obvious kind, like “Holiday Gifts” to more subtle themes like “Bright Gifts” and “Let It Snow!” Think of treasuries like giant Pinterest boards with an agenda. Getting your products featured here will not only expose your work to a wider following within the community of people who follow that treasury, it also puts you front and center with Etsy admins.

So the real question is, how do I get featured in a treasury?

2. Be Findable
When treasury curators are looking for work that fits their theme, they conduct a search much like a customer would for appropriate products. That means you should have a set of keywords ready to go that are relevant to what you’re selling. Use these keywords when describing your product in your initial listing, incorporating them into tags and titles as well. You’ll also want to make sure you’re choosing the most relevant category, and that you account for differences in spelling by alternating between words like “jewelry” and “jewellery.” The last thing you’d want to happen is to lose out on publicity due to spelling!

On a similar note, you may want to renew your listings every so often so you consistently show up at the top of search results, even when you’re operating in a competitive niche.

Implementing these simple techniques will at most bring you to the attention of a treasury owner who can get your featured on the front page, and will at least bring more customers to your shop.

3. Use Great Photos
Of course, once a treasury curator arrives at your destination, it’s important that they’re impressed with your work—and that can only happen if you’ve snapped some great photos. After all, no curator wants to feature a poorly lit, unprofessional looking product, even if it is the coolest item in the world. Remember, curators are a form of customer, and you want to entice them into engaging more deeply with your products.

Jessica Sherriff Bangle, image often chosen to feature in Treasuries

So, what goes into a great photo? Great lighting, of course. Try to find a sunny spot so you can take advantage of natural light and avoid overhead shadows, which can wash out or yellow your product. Go with a very light coloured background so you don’t distract from the product, and run your shots through a photo editing program to polish them all up.

And, I’ll just say this once: For the love of all that is holy, don’t humiliate your boyfriend. Dude is not a prop!

4. Make or Join Your Own Community
Etsy is all about community. Rarely do you find a seller who rises to the top—either of the front page or of sales records—without engaging with fellow sellers.

As you set up your shop, start by posting lots of questions on forums. As you gain expertise, answer other sellers’ questions and offer support to sellers looking for feedback. The more you vocalize in this venue, the more other sellers will look at what you’ve got to sell, the more likely they’ll be to include you in their own marketing efforts.

Which brings us to the second key strategy for participating in a community: teams. Etsy teams are essentially like groups on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn where artists engaged in similar niches can swap ideas and co-market. In fact, some are created specifically for the latter purpose, hosting meetups and Google Hangouts to brainstorm marketing strategies and attending seminars and shows together.

What does this have to do with getting on a treasury and the front page? At a basic level, any exposure is bound to get you noticed by somebody. And chances are, someone on your team will eventually start a treasury (hey, it could be you!), and they’re much more likely to feature someone whose work they know and love than a complete stranger. So, community pays!

5. Take Out an Ad
Etsy’s reach expands far beyond the site itself to countless crafts blogs and websites like Craftcult and Craftopolis. Posting an ad on one of these sites just might catch the eye of an Etsy admin or a treasury curator, and at the least will draw more eyes to your store. It’s worth setting a budget and giving it a try.

6. Understand the Trends
Of course, you’ll always want to maintain your own unique voice and style; that, after all, is what distinguishes you from your competitors. But sometimes, matching your work with what’s popular can present you with a fun creative challenge, and it doesn’t necessarily have to change that much of you do. If red, for example, is becoming an increasingly popular colour choice and it doesn’t interfere with your aesthetic, well, why not produce a piece of red jewelry that a treasury is more likely to feature on its walls?

The best way to get a grasp of what’s popular is to take advantage of Etsy Trends and Merchandising Reports, which detail what’s currently trending as well as what tends to be a bestseller during different seasons. That’s great to know, as posting a Christmas-themed pendant may catch the eye of a treasury curator in December, but not so much in May. (That’s an obvious example, but you get the point).

The Takeaway
Getting featured on the front page of Etsy is a pretty big deal, one that’s by no means out of your reach. By taking a few key steps that also happen to be great for customer sales anyway, you just might be up on that front page before you know it. Good luck!

Beverley is a blogger and freelance writer currently working at an online marketing company in London.  You can find her on twitter here.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Enlancer - Susan Fabric Fantastic Q & A

I have long admired the work created by Susan Clark and her lovely designed fabric.  We first met way back at college on our foundation course, we took different paths to University but have kept in touch.   There has been great success with her designs and there are lots of items available take a look at her website - www.enlacer.co.uk -
I thought it would a good blog to interview Susan 10 questions, read on to find out about her inspirations, work etc...

1.    How did you get involved in art and design?
I have always loved art and design, in my school leavers book, my art teacher wrote best of luck, see you when your have come out of your Picasso phase! Think it was a compliment?!! I knew I wanted to take art into further education and after opting to take textiles at foundation course I decided that was what I would follow through to University

2.    What made you choose textiles to specialise in?
My love of texture and fabric I knew I wanted to study design and be hands on practical. At university  I took printed and woven textiles, I initially wanted to specialise in Printed, but took woven textiles instead and I now do both, design fabric, and have an old Harris loom in my living room!

3.    Where do you get your inspiration from?

All around me I love photography working from nature, from landscape, to abstract textures, visiting galleries and checking out latest trends and trade fairs, always find it inspiring to talk to other artist designers and hear what other people are up to! I also keep a pen and paper by my bed, I once had a vivid dream about a cricket design, (I don’t even like cricket), I woke up and sketched it out, the  next day I set up my laptop and designed it from my midnight doodlings. You never know when inspiration might strike! (See pic of cricket image right)....

4.    What made you decide to set up in business?

My love of designing and wanting to produce my designs into products, I love interior design as well, and thought my images would work really well as soft furnishings, so I looked into what products to develop, these now include lampshades, cushions, cards, and jewellery printed with my designs………..(see pic of bangles)

 
5.    What one top tip would you give to a start up business?
Research your niche and your market place, find an outlet for your work, don’t start too big, its fine to test your ideas, try online or craft fairs- and see how it goes! Don’t be afraid of a bit of self advertising either, be it creating twitter or facebook or designing your own website and I always have a few business cards in my purse, just in case. Also listen to other people’s advice, try joining a local networking group and ask questions, the more fingers in pies the better.

6.    Where do you sell your products? 

I sell through word of mouth, through local art markets in particular monthly Winchester Arts and Craft market and through my website www.enlacer.co.uk I have recently started up a blogsite enlacerdesign.blogspot and use social media sites https://twitter.com/enlacer https://www.facebook.com/pages/Enlacer/142994412393346



7.    What is your favourite Design or Product from your own collection?
I would say my most popular design is Tulip tree and bird on the wire, and I love my lampshades, I think they are unique and often have comments on how hard it is to find nice lampshades that are a bit different to the norm. Which is lovely, I like to think that’s what I provide!
I think my favourite design is Robin in field and my favourite lampshade design is 4seasons fabric with a gold reflective inner liner. I like it all, including my bangles printed with some of my popular images, they always make me smile.




8.    Name 3 designer makers you admire and why?
Jessica Jewellery Design  – of course! Especially for her wonderful acrylic bangles www.jessicajewellerydesign.co.uk
http://www.margaretsturton.co.uk/  A fantastic animator and illustrator
Oral Kiely I just love her designs
etre_creative interior design company based in Winchester, run by the very creative and inspiring Emily Tyers

9.    What do you hope future?

To continue to be inspired and that my designs become more  available to a wider audience! To carry on enjoying what I do, I love seeing a new design printed for the first time, it’s always so exciting!  To add to my products I would really like to have a range to bags with my images, for the future I would say I’d like to expand my range and brand.

10.    Name one of your favourite websites or online tools?
I often look at http://www.printpattern.blogspot.co.uk/ for interesting trends and designs
I'm always online scouring to find new creative things & Etsy for discovering new talent and fun creative things!

A big thanks to Susan for answering these questions, please do take a look at her site and follow whichever or all social media that you like!

www.enlacer.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Enlacer/142994412393346
https://twitter.com/enlacer
enlacerdesign.blogspot
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