Monday, 26 July 2010

Best of Scottish Crafters - Furniture



There's method in my madness this week - I'm looking for a new coffee table (but preferably not to be delivered until after the visit from my nephew with his two small children). I came across this website (www.scottishfurnituremakers.org.uk) and tried to find one craftsman to feature but couldn't, they're all so special and individual. Wood appeals to most of my senses (well, can't say it actually tastes great) but in particular, my sense of touch; it's just so damn sexy don't you think?

So, did I find a coffee table? Possibly, but I defiitely found my next bed. Clive, have you finished decorating the bedroom yet? This bed is made by Greg Brown Furniture (www.gregbrownfurniture.co.uk).

Enjoy and have a great week.

Sally

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Crafters Blueprint - A development plan for the UK









Did you know:





  • 38% of crafters in the UK earn between £10,000 and £19,999 per year?


  • Craft contributes £2.9 BILLION GVA to the UK economy each year?


  • 88% of all crafters reside in England, 6% in Scotland, 4% in Wales and 2% in Northern Ireland?

  • There is a Development Plan for Craft in the UK?

These are just some of the facts I've discovered by checking out the craft section of the Creative and Cultural Skills organisation (www.ccskills.org.uk).

Check it out, you might just learn something that will help you develop your craft and your business - I did!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Scottish Crafters - The Borders


It's always been a favourite area of mine but since we moved to the east coast of Scotland we can be in the borders within 15 minutes. My theory is that since the railways were removed from the Borders it's more difficult to access and so has become a bit of a hide-away. Perhaps that will change if the current plans to create a rail link go ahead.


Anyway, yesterday we got in the car with no fixed plans - just to enjoy the scenery, find a good pub for lunch, perhaps an antique shop or two and maybe even a craft studio if we were lucky. Well, we got lucky - The Crafters in Melrose is a co-operative housing many talented artists under one roof - take a look:





Sunday, 4 July 2010

Scottish Crafters - Hinnigan


I met Brian Hinnigan at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh. His fabrics caught my eye in a big way. They are, in my opinion, some of the best and it's oh so nice to to see a modern range of designs, yet still made in a weaving town in the Scottish Borders using some traditional techniques . With his wife, Anna, (they are both graduates in textiles and previously worked for high profile companies before setting up Hinnigan) they produce beautiful fabrics and accessories from their studio in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Scottish Crafters - Moo Moo Jewellery





Meet Helen from Moo Moo (http://www.mymoomoo.co.uk/). Helen's work with beads really caught my eye especially since she makes cufflinks which my husband, Clive, still wears. She spent a childhood in Africa which ignited her passion for beads. As well as cufflinks, Helen designs and creates a lovely range including bracelets, earrings and charms as well as taking custom orders.







Since it's been a while since my last blog I better update you with a few of our comings and goings! I won a golf competition! In fact, I've won a couple. The club are threatening to lower my handicap so I'll enjoy the winning run while I can. We've been to a couple of concerts (Mark Knopfler and Paul McCartney) but still have the best to come in October where we have tickets to see Carlos Santana in Newcastle. And we also got along to the Royal Highland Show - couldn't do a blog this morning without sharing this beautiful picture of a special Scottish icon (just for you Jan).
Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Badger cull in Wales






I was researching for my blog and came across this wonderful artist, Dunc Smith, who used to be the head lampworker for Perthshire Paperweights in Crieff before setting up his own workshop in Perth. http://www.dsglasscraft.com/index.php?section=1


His badger reminded me that on last night's Countryfile programme they announced that a decision has been made to go ahead with a £9million pilot cull in an attempt to eradicate bovine TB. It will take several years and will cover an area of 288 square kilometers.


There are, of course, two sides to the argument. I can understand both sides but you know it still makes me so sad.


As a child I can recall a great midnight adventure when my brother took me into "Badger Wood" to see these special nocturnal creatures in their own habitat. Surely we can allow these beautiful creatures a place in "our" world?


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Knitting Tote featured in 'The Knitter' magazine


It's all been so very exciting. I was first contacted in February by the editor of The Knitter to see if I would be interested in being featured. She had been browsing my Etsy website and saw the bag which she thought would be perfect. It came out at the end of April and I've had some interest. It has meant getting a website up and running quickly (thanks Clive!) and it's been a real morale booster.

So, this is my new website: www.lifecovers.co.uk - let me know what you think.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Best of Scottish Crafters - Angela Davidson


This image says 'Scotland' to me just as much as any of the tartans. Angela is based near Aberdeen and her subjects are usually animals. It was hard for me not to select one of her horses (being my favourite animal) but the detail on this Highland 'Coo is beautiful. Reminds me of our famous poet William McGonagall:


On yonder hill there stood a coo....It must've moved....It's no' therr noo!!


Best of Scottish Crafters - Kelly McCormick

I've been away for a short break visiting family and friends and have returned refreshed and looking forward to the lighter evenings when the clocks go forward next weekend. Clocks are really my husband Clive's passion and he's just installed a new one in the hallway that gives out that very soothing tick-tock throughout the whole house (I can hear it now from my office upstairs). It's a clock we found in a small antique shop in the small village of Falkland and the story goes that it used to hang in a fish shop. I agreed to the purchase on the basis that it was fumigated before being hung. This leads me nicely to today's crafter, Kelly McCormick, an artist based in Perth.


This image really wakes up my senses and reminds me of past adventures but also points me towards finding new ones. So many beaches still to explore but waiting for tide and time ....

Kelly McCormick's work can be found here: http://www.julianjardine.co.uk/kellymccormick.html









http://www.julianjardine.co.uk/kellymccormick.html

Monday, 1 March 2010

Tips for getting a Treasury Spot on Etsy

What is a Treasury? It's simply a group of 12 items from different sellers that you think would look good grouped together. That's my definition anyway.

Why would you want to create a Treasury? The answer is that it gives you the opportunity to promote a group of items (and sellers) and perhaps (this is a big perhaps) it may get selected by Etsy to appear on the front page or be featured. You can also add one of your own items.

I've just managed to get my first Treasury so I feel justified in posting this while I still remember how to do it. Really, there's nothing to it, you just need to find out when the window will open so you can start adding the item numbers for your Treasury. This only happens when the Main Treasury hits 332 lists and Treasury West reaches 221. There are a number of factors which mean the timing for this cannot be predicted exactly but you can get a good idea and in future I will log in and get set up about 20 minutes before I think the window will open.

http://www.etsy.com/treasury.php Link to the Main Treasury
http://www.etsy.com/treasury_west.php Link to Treasury West

So, to estimate when that will be, count back 333 Treasuries from the last page (for the Main Treasury) and then click on that Treasury and find out when it expires. Allow 20 minutes to get set up and then set your alarm. It can be anything from immediately (unlikely) to a couple of days time. This is the point where I failed several times. You think you will remember to log in at a certain time and then the cat wants to be let out or the postman arrives or the bread machine bleeps - whatever the reason, you will run up to your computer and curse because you've missed the deadline and instead of seeing there are 340 Treasuries on the list and counting down, you see there are 865 Treasuries and you won't be able to try again for another 2 days!

Alternatively, I have found a clock that fairly accurately does the work for you. Go to this website: http://craftopolis.com/index.php?com=tc&user and it works it out for you.

So, there you are at your computer and the Treasury List is rapidly counting down to 333. Make sure that a) you are signed-in and b) you scroll down to the bottom of the page. Sadly, when you are at the bottom of the page you cannot see how many Treasuries are still listed but you just have to be patient. When it hits that magic number of 332 a box will open and ask you to enter the name of your Treasury.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/dragonhouseofyuen gave me a tip about adding your title. "The easiest way to fill in the text box is to type your title somewhere, then copy with you mouse and when the box opens - to paste your title in then click 'go' or whatever it is (a huge orange button to the right of the box). You have quite a few decent seconds to do this so don't panic.I used to type it in but now I c&p all the time." That was really good advice, especially when it's your first one.

As soon as you have entered your title you will be taken to a page where you can start adding your items. It's self explanatory and really you can just work your way through it. Etsy have written instructions which may help: http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/how-to-make-a-treasury-the-nuts-and-bolts-688/

What preparation can I do in advance? You can choose your theme, title, sub-title and items. That part is entirely up to you! There is a very useful tool called Poster Sketch which will allow you to enter the items numbers and then you can click and drag them around to see how your Treasury page will look. http://www.etsy.com/poster_sketch.php

You will need 12 items, plus an additional 3 slots are available as a back-up. If any of the items in your Treasury are sold then one of the back-up items will automatically replace the sold item.

Finally (although I'm sure there is much more I could add), I have been given a link to a useful tool that allows you to track the number of new views and favourites your Etsy shop receives. Personally, I prefer this to Google Analytics. http://statsy.org/vutrac.php This site will give you an update every 5 minutes if you wish and can also give you a history.

I do hope you have found this useful but if you have any questions then please drop me a note.


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Best of Scottish Crafters - Sheila Fleet


At first glance Sheila's jewellery instantly tells you it's made in Scotland - Celtic, Ocean, Sea and Landscape - it's all there and in beautifully made small and shiny packages.


I have a good friend in California who purchased a ring from Sheila last year and it is so beautiful (especially on Jan's wonderfully tanned Californian hand!) that I was quite envious and will make sure I visit when next on Orkney.


Meanwhile, enjoy and dream. http://www.sheila-fleet.co.uk

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Featured in my first Etsy Treasury

Just had to shout it out loud. A member of the McEtsy team chose my knitting bag to be included in her treasury and I'm just thrilled.

Here's the link:

http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=113814

Posted by O V Gillies who makes jewellery from the beautiful island of Aran. (http://www.etsy.com/shop/ovgilliesdesigns)

Monday, 15 February 2010

Craft Fair - Lessons Learned


This is what my stand looked like at the beginning of the day .................................. and sadly it's exactly how it looked at the end of the day too! It was a very slow day and I wasn't the only stall holder to sell absolutely nothing, zilch, zippo.

That's the bad news. The good news is that I met some great people, handed out a bundle of cards, made some interesting observations and my products received some nice compliments. If you are thinking about taking a stand and are hesitating about it then don't - just do it. This one in North Berwick was organised well and I can't believe I had any anxieties - it was well run, well advertised, just short of any cash buyers. BUT, it was a small show in February and the list of items to take will be different than if you were attending a larger craft fair. That was Lesson No. 1.

Apart from my stock, this is what I will take to the next similar show:

Table cover - approx 6ft x 2ft min
Advertising banner saying who you are and what you do
Leaflets
Business Cards
Order forms
Notebook and couple of pens
Pricelist
Inventory
Cash box and change
Bags
Gift wrap
Selotape

Coffee mug
Lunch
Lipsalve
Something to do during the quiet moments (knitting)
Tissues
Phone
Headache pills

I didn't feel lighting was necessary. The hall was well lit and unless you were selling something small like jewellery then I don't think it would have helped much. I was also in the middle of the room and getting power to the table would have been difficult.

It was evident from the beginning that it was going to be slow so I made use of my time in talking to the other stand owners and finding out from them what other local shows worked for them and getting details of their best websites. Everyone was happy and willing to share their experiences and I learned much from them.

Lesson No. 2 for next time would be to label items and price individually. I thought one large printed pricelist would work well and to a certain extent it did. However, I thought that it was obvious what my items were and I was surprised at how many folk picked up a coaster and didn't know what it was. Next time I will have cards for each group of items and price them up.

Lesson No. 3 would be to be aware of where the potential customers were coming from. I set up my stand without thinking about this and found that most folk came from the left hand side and my best items should have been positioned on the right hand side of the table which would catch their eye first.

Lesson No. 4 would be to have more general items for sale and not customised orders. Folk were there to make a purchase on the day and generally didn't want to place an order.

That's it! I really had fun and am still very optimistic. Off now to book a stand for the Easter Fair.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Craft Fair - it's tomorrow!

Short blog for today - waay to busy! Got my change yesterday so I'm ready to go. All I need to do today is put together a carry bag for all the bits and pieces (pens, pads, order forms, etc) - I'll publish this list next week.

I ordered some bags yesterday. I was thinking of using supermarket bags but, despite the recycling argument have decided to go with paper bags for the small items and some plain white carry bags for the cushions - I don't want to risk them getting soiled.

So, that's it, wish me luck and I'll post on Monday with the results.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Craft Fair - just 2 days left

I'm not panicking yet - honest! In fact I'm so sure that I'm not going to sell anything and that nobody wants what I'm offering that I'm very relaxed. I went onto an organised chat group last night and the best advice I was given was to visit the toilet before the show starts - great advice!

Yesterday I did finish the ring bearers pillow/cushion but still need to get some white ribbon just to attach the rings. I'm very happy with the result.

As I'm so organised (!) I'll not be doing any crafting today. Instead I'll head out to the bank and get change and probably head to the Peter Potter Gallery in Haddington for a coffee and cake - they have a new chef who makes amazing food.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Craft Fair - 3 days to go


Yesterday I did manage to make some coasters and purchased some ribbon to tie them all together. These are 3.5" square, made with cotton fabric on the top, padded and backed with felt. They are time consuming to make because of the padding so I am experimenting with making them slightly bigger and using a thick interfacing.
I've also been experimenting with embroidering on satin so I can make some personalised ring bearer cushions. With the fabric being so slippery I thought it might prove difficult but I've worked out a technique that works and am happy with the result. I'll finish one today and post a picture tomorrow. I starched the fabric and used a medium tear-away stabiliser but didn't hoop them both together, instead just hooped the stabiliser and used a temporary adhesive to attach the satin to the stabiliser and then fixed it in place with a border of tacking stitches.
Another busy day ahead .....

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Craft Fair - 4 days to go

I did pretty well yesterday and got most things cleared from my list. I did a practise run by setting up my stall. I'm using a large white tablecloth and adding a large square of black felt over the top. I managed to find some useful items that I had around the house that will act to give me some height to the stall but without taking up much room (space in my car is limited). There was a wicker hamper, a large wooden crate and a small wooden stand that I think will work. After all, I don't want to be spending too much on props until I've actually sold something!

I've decided that half of my stand will be used for a display of my cushions - that's what I enjoy most of all. The remaining half will be a combination of golf items, bags and coasters.

This was a really useful exercise as I discovered that I actually have more space than I thought to display my goods (although I don't want it to be too crammed).

One useful hint I picked up was to have items across a range of prices which is why today I'm going to be making some useful (but really cheap) coffee mats/coasters. I'd really have liked to make some from Cath Kidson fabrics but haven't got time today to get into the Edinburgh shop so will make them from my existing stash of fabrics. I want to make them in really bright, spring like colours that will really stand out on the black felt. So far, I've got a selection of 8 different choices but they look lost on the table so I'm aiming to get another 6 choices to add today. Well, that's my day planned out for me. Off for a coffee now!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

My First Craft Fair

This is an exciting week for me. I've booked a stand at a local craft fair and am getting myself prepared for the event at the weekend. My first decision was which one to attend and I've decided to go with local and small. However, North Berwick is a fairly bustling town and it's a church hall along the high street so I'm hoping that there will be quite a lot of passing trade. I've also been telling folk on the newest community website, East Lothian Buzz, and offering a free gift if they tell me they heard about it on the Buzz.

I'm hoping to receive an e-mail soon to tell me what all the arrangements are. Somehow I'm sure I'll have lots of questions but on the other hand, how hard can it really be. Take my merchandise, lots of change, bags and hope for lots of folk to be interested in what I'm offering.

I've found a couple of websites that offer a good list of things that you need to take with you but after my experience I'll be posting my own list - in fact, more of a reminder for me so that I'll know what not to forget next time! Most importantly it seems that I shouldn't forget to take a packed lunch and hot/cold drinks to keep me going throughout the day.

So for today I'll be thinking about how I'm going to set up my stand and that will involve:
  • table covering (I'm thinking of black felt and creating an overhang where I can applique the word 'Lifecovers');
  • lighting (although I don't think I'll do anything special this time - keep it simple silly);
  • display material (I want something that will add height to the table but don't want to really buy any especially for this fair);
  • pricing - not sure whether to create a price list or to individually price items.
  • order form - this is really important as much of my offerings are personalised

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Best of Scottish Crafters - Highland Stoneware




Good morning. I'm really enjoying putting together this list of my favourite crafters. I'm already aware of some of them but it's making me go out actively and search for other talented people. In selecting this pottery I do ask myself at what point does a crafter become a retailer? I suspect it's when, as a retailer, you employ more than one crafter - what do you think?


I love puffins - in any form. I was fortunate to visit the Fair Isle (yes, home of the original intricate knitting pattern and they are very proud of it); a tiny island measuring approximately 3 miles x 1 mile with no trees at all. It's way north off the mainland of Scotland between the Shetland and Orkney islands. I was able to get within a few feet of the puffins and watching them is such fun. Well, I like the way this pottery has created their range of puffin pottery so I wanted to share it with you.


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Best of Scottish Crafters - Tweedmatters


Harris Tweed has been made for centuries and because of the quality of the fabric it still continues to appear on the London, Paris and New York fashion walks. The quality is controlled by the Harris Tweed Authority who state that all fabrics are hand-spun, hand-woven and dyed by the crofters and cottars in the Outer Hebrides.


I think we should be very proud to produce this tweed and this crafter is making the best of using just very small pieces of fabric. In fact, I might just have to get to a craft store and buy some blank cards ....


Sunday, 31 January 2010

Best of Scottish Crafters - BeScene Photography


This photographer combines my favourite place (Scotland) with my favourite animal (the horse). Some of his black and white pictures just take my breath away.

It makes me start to think about how I photograph items for my Etsy listings. Yes, I know there is a useful guide on How to Improve your Photos - you can find it here: http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5169829 - but I think you still have to be creative in what props you use to support your items.
I tried using a wicker tray behind one of my cushions and I liked the texture it created - I'd really appreciate any ideas you may have that can make cushions look exciting!
Might even have a giveaway for the best idea.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

My sewing assistants



Meet Bracken (he's the colour of the Scottish hills in winter when the fern has died back) and Bert (who was named by my husband who has no imagination and picked a name beginning with B).
I just love these two boys who have been sharing our home now for 6 months. Each cat I've ever had the pleasure of opening my home to has become my favourite and these two are no exception.

They greet me each morning with nuzzles and purrs and follow me around the house wherever I go (yes, even into the smallest room if I don't lock the door). But why is it that they just can't wait to get into my sewing room? I guess I can understand it really - there's just so much to play with in there. You see, I've looked at other folks' sewing rooms and I see shelves, cupboards, racks, tables, storage, etc. galore. Mine is a mess I confess but I'm happy with it. Sometimes I do tidy it up at the end of a project but usually I can't wait to start another. It's the one room in the house that the vacuum cleaner only ventures into occasionally and oh my gosh the threads on the floor play havock with the rollers (another reason why I don't let the cats in as they would eat the threads and that could be bad news).

Occasionally they do have supervised access (or they just sneak in) but this usually only lasts around 5 minutes at the most before they get into some sort of trouble whether it be chasing a new paper pattern around the room and tear it to shreds, unravelling a cone of thread or jumping on the foot controller of my sewing machine and creating a new design on my latest quilt. Do I forgive them? Of course, every time. They even get rewarded with a little tidbit for being so cute. Where are they now? Sitting on the computer of course.


Enough about them, and more about today's crafter, Ben Mcfuzzylugs. Now, I know he would not be Bracken and Bert's favourite crafter being that he's a canine but I would really like one of these bookmarks and I just love that he calls them Splat - reminds me of the film Fish called Wanda when the concrete block falls out of the sky onto the toy dog and .... Splat!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Best of Scottish Crafts and Crafters


So, what do I mean by craft and crafter. There are so many mediums that fall under this category including:



  • glass

  • wood

  • basketry

  • paper

  • metal

  • fabric
  • yarn
  • leather

For one person it might mean making items from home and selling them through craft fairs; for another it may be working from a studio and being commissioned to make one-off exclusive pieces of artwork. To me they all have one thing in common and that is that the items have been made by the individual in a creative way and made with passion. I really do believe that most crafters are almost reluctant to sell their pieces.



For this New Year I'm searching the whole of Scotland to find out what I think is the best. I'd like to start with glass as this is one of my favourite mediums. Geoffrey Mann produces the most amazing glass I've ever seen. To be quite honest, I'm not sure I understand the process he goes through to make his art but it just blows me away. Tell me? Is this art or is this craft - you decide.

Contact: http://www.mrmann.co.uk