A Change is as Good as a Rest

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One of my never ending battles is the fight against becoming Burnt Out. This time last year I was suffering from it, and its back again this year but for other reasons. Things always come in cycles for me, and this is no different.

A lot of people don’t realise that crafty people can suffer from this just as much as anyone else, and it can be difficult to take the time you need to step back, find your groove and reconnect to what it is you want to do in life.

Burnt Out takes on a couple of forms for me. First among it is crafting burn out. I become exhausted by the need to finish things. Deadlines can be hard to stick to time and again, especially if you place significance on them. It can also happen because I’ve been crafting so hard that I forget to take a break, as one of our other bloggers discussed before.

I’m almost always reinvigorated from this type of fatigue by doing something else. Either not crafting at all and focusing on something altogether different, or by choosing to craft something else altogether. Right now, I’m burnt out on cosplay. I don’t want to look at the fabric that is already cut out and partially assembled on my chair. I don’t want to think about finishing the half-done shirt on my dress form.

I’m not the only one. I know several people who have been crafting non-stop for Dragoncon this weeken who are finding it daunting. There can be that moment when you’ve worked so hard, fought with your craft so much, that you just don’t want to see it let alone wear it.

Its important to remember that it is ok to take a break. Fortunately, I have nothing coming up for cosplay that needs doing. Even if I did, I think I’d still be avoiding it and doing what I have been- getting back to one of my loves, embroidery. Its a different kind of craft, but it is exactly what I need right now. The tranquil simplicity of placing threads soothes me, calms me, and makes me feel a little more in touch with my crafty side instead of the frenetic try on/try off of attempting to get items to fit.

Its also good for me to slow down right now, as my wedding is just under 3 weeks away. I’ll be taking a break from the blog for the month of September to get everything sorted and enjoy my time with my new husband, but I will be taking my embroidery with me. It has already helped reinvigorate me.

Have a great September, ya’ll. I’ll see you on the flipside.

~ eliste


Stained Glass Planters

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While not a huge fan of taking care of plants indoors (I tend to forget about them and kill them, my bad) I do love the sight of having them around. Even better is when it’s done in a beautiful or creative way. Such as with the lovely glass planters made by SNLCreations.

Based in Minto, Canada, artisan Susan Napper-LeDuc creats these beautiful planters out of stained glass and soldered metal. They come in quite the range of sizes, but most tend to stay under 6″ meaning they can be placed in almost any home. If plants aren’t your thing, she also has a lovely collection of stained glass decor pieces and really her whole store is worth a look through as it’s just lovely.


DIY Poo-Pourri

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No need to beat around the bush with this one. I’m sure the product campaign for the original is fairly memorable, but it’s not a product that is widely distributed yet that I’ve seen so if you have some essential oils hanging around, this may be something worth trying.


Designed by Rebecca Lindamood of foodie with family, this bathroom toilet spray is designed to replace an air freshener and help keep your bathrooms smelling nice and clean. 🙂 The video above shows the step by step process, but here’s the list of materials you’ll need as well:

The oils could probably be swapped with which ever ones you prefer if citrus is not to your liking. I have a few of my own laying around along with most of the other items so I’m certainly thinking of taking a crack at it.


Con Survival Part 4: Etiquette

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Hello Sunday readers!

Sorry for the delay in the last post of the series but the convention was a resounding success which means I couldn’t sneak a post in! It’s been a fun journey these passed few weeks talking about convention survival but all fun things eventually come to an end. So the last thing, something near and dear to my heart, I’d like to put out there is all about how to act at a convention so that you are not “that person”. So I give you my personal set of convention etiquette techniques!

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  1. Don’t be the Labyrinth junk lady! Seriously, remember that talk we had a couple of weeks back about bringing everything including the kitchen sink? That person’s bag not only knocks uncounted merchandise off of displays, it also makes it very difficult to move through the ocean of people. It’s not just about your discomfort but those around you. Knocking people off of their feet as you turn around to snap a pic of that amazing cosplay will definitely not make you any friends. Less is more! If you do absolutely have to carry all of your DM supplies, just remember that you need extra space behind you.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings. Following on the heels of the first point, not doing this second one will definitely not endear you to your fellow con-goers.
    • When shopping, you may get distracted by the SHINY THING. Please please please do not stop in the middle of the aisle to stare at the SHINY THING. Be kind to those other folks that are trying to get from one side of the hall to the other for their photo-op/autograph/panel/emergency potty break by moving closer to the booth or slightly off to the side.
    • When cosplaying, you are going to get a lot of attention. Besides being careful not to smack everyone in the face with your amazing wings/cape/tentacles, you may interrupt the flow of traffic every time someone asks for a photo-op. While I agree that it is totally cool and kind to give these folks their chance, you can help everyone involved if you can direct the would-be fan to a less crowded area for a quick pic.
    • When taking pics of awesome cosplay, please also refer to the above. There is a natural flow to traffic in an enclosed space and stopping in the middle of it will definitely ensure an occasional pile-up. When stopping a costumed person for a snap, also see if you can direct them to a less populated area so that others may get to their destinations.
    • When checking your phone for messages, make sure to look up once in a while! It’s inevitable in this day and age that you will be walking and using your phone, possibly to locate your con-group (or possibly in your hunt for a certain pocket monster). That’s fine as long as you are talented enough to do both at the same time. If not, perhaps stepping off to the side until you finish communicating would be best.
  3. Remember that celebrities are people, too. I can totally relate to the feeling of complete awe when meeting someone you’ve admired for a long time. But please remember that they are people with feelings and a life outside of the fandom they represent. They are not necessarily the characters they portray and while you may have paid for the privilege of meeting them, it is a terrible thing to treat them like an object. Also recall that those hundreds of other folks standing in line behind you would like their 5 seconds with said celebrity as well.
  4. Wash thyself. I know that most convention suggestion articles joke about this point but let’s get serious here. Whether you came to this convention to game, meet people (celebrities included), purchase neat things, or just soak up the geekiness, you should not neglect self care. This includes hygiene. Even if you can’t squeak out a quick, awkward “hi” to that celebrity you’ve always wanted to meet, you definitely don’t want to be the number one nose offender that day, either. Even if this is accomplished with baby wipes and Febreeze, it is certainly better than the alternative (I unfortunately know folks that use this technique regularly).
  5. Support your favorite artists/vendors. This point will probably surprise exactly no one that regularly reads posts on Craft Hackers. We all appreciate your business! But please also remember that, especially for those artists that make everything with their own two hands, haggling over prices or looking for deals can be at the very least, mildly insulting. I completely understand if you’ve already gone through most of your con-budget because you had to have that special photo-op! Understand, though, that the crafters spending hours at their trade need to eat and pay their bills as well. The biggest thing many struggle with is remembering to pay themselves. That’s where you come in! Give them the very large compliment of paying for not only their product but the quality of their work. If you cannot immediately afford whatever lovely piece catches your eye, see if they have an on-line shop and then save your pennies for that beautiful gift to yourself. It’s worth it.
  6. Be courteous. Above all, I cannot emphasize this last point enough. You are in an enclosed space with hundreds, perhaps thousands of other humans that enjoy the same things that you do. The atmosphere can be exhilarating and exciting but it can also be overwhelming and chaotic. Being kind perhaps by holding a door, saying please or thank you, and stepping aside to let someone pass helps everyone by keeping that lovely flow going.

To close, a convention isn’t successful simply by bringing people together, it’s successful because people keep coming back to be together for that one purpose. The attendees are truly what make the experience unforgettable so why not make it the best one possible?

I do hope you’ve found these posts helpful. Next week, I promise we will go back to your regularly scheduled craftiness.

~Laura


Row by Row – The Rest

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June 21st started one of my favorite times of year for Quilting with Row by Row.

What is Row by Row?

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All 50 States and Canada, too!

How about this… it’s like a shop hop, but it’s not… no fees, no cards to stamp, and all summer to play! Simply visit any of the participating shops and receive a free pattern for a row in a quilt. Combine your rows in any way to create a unique quilt that represents the fun you had traveling throughout the summer. Travel with friends, discover new quilt shops and have fun collecting rows!

Prizes and collectibles!

Create a quilt using at least 8 different 2016 rows from 8 different 2016 participating RxR shops and be the first to bring it into a participating shop to win a stack of 25 fat quarters (6-1/4 yards of fabric!). Use that shop’s row in your quilt and win a bonus prize! Click here for more details.

Exclusive Fabric Plates™ by Zebra Patterns will be available in many Row by Row quilt shops. Each one is unique! Collect a bunch to create fun projects, sewing studio wall art or even a fun backing for your quilt.

Be watching for pins, t-shirts, caps and even more Row by Row licensed items featuring the Row by Row Home Sweet Home logo.

Each area has it’s own Facebook page. Like the page from the areas you visit to see pics of the rows, shop displays, winning quilts and fabric plate projects. Click here to find your Row by Row area!

This is the last week for sharing my favorite rows!  I can’t believe Row by Row is almost done!  I scoured the rest of the states and picked out some of my favorite rows to share with you.

I love Las Vegas.  I love the feeling, the shows, the Casinos, everything.  The Row by Quiltique gives that classic Las Vegas postcard feel which I love.

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I was hoping there would be a lot of cool Disney, Universal, or Space Program rows.  My favorites have to be Keep Me in Stitches that has 3 locations.  If you visit each one you can create this amazing 3 row mini quilt.  What a cool idea!

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California holds a special place in my heart.  I love visiting the many many different cultures the state has to offer.  The Sewing Arts Center not only captures Hollywood Movie Magic, but also the feeling that there really is no place like home.  A great Row to finish off a great season.

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I have so many rows to keep me busy over the next year!

-Toni


DIY Pokemon Guide – Cross Stitch

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Have you been running around catching Pokemon?  Is there a loved one in your life that has been catching Pokemon?  It is the latest craze and has a lot of people out and about getting exercise while they play.

There are many crafts you can create to show your love of Pokemon or to give as a gift.  For the next few weeks I am going to share different crafts that you can do featuring Pokemon.  Today is Cross Stitch week.

There are a LOT of great resources if you would like to stitch all things Pokemon.  Sprite Stitch has created a great database of free patterns.  They are free, so feel free to use all of the patterns you find, just please do not sell the finished products or patterns without the permission of the person who made the pattern.

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Now I want to make these Epic pokemon patterns myself!

Etsy is of course another great resource.  The patterns are available for sale and are at reasonable prices.

AnnaXStitch has some cool designs.

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Want a simpler project to start out with?  StitchingGarden has you covered.

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However you stitch your love of Pokemon, choose your thread wisely!

-Toni

 

 

 


Isn’t the Customer Always Right?

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Good morning, Thursday readers.

For those of you working to sell your crafty things, or for those of you thinking of selling your crafty things, I’ve been writing this series of support blogs to help out in the emotional journey and some of the different problems I’ve encountered and how I have handled them. This is an interesting one, especially when we’re taught from an early age and through movies that the customer is always right. Is that true? Yes. Except when they’re wrong. Then they’re not right, and you need to know where you draw the line so that you can stand up for yourself as a business, both small and/or handmade.

Customers will complain about all kinds of things ranging from price to size to fit to colour to just about anything that they can think of. One of the most common I hear are comments about price.  This is a hard one as pricing out product as a maker is different from pricing out product that is coming out of a machine.

 

Most of us have to undercut ourselves just a touch to stay competitive, but there’s no reason that you should be taking losses. This is one place where I find people just don’t seem to have a concept of the labour involved in making things. Often, your best defense, in this case, is education. Talk to your customers about how you make things, the time and the skill that it takes, what your experiences have taught you. This will often help them to understand your pricing strategy and if there’s still pushback after that, then they just don’t understand. Don’t feel the need to bargain with people just because they want to. Stand by your products and remember that your labour is worth fighting for.

 

It is things like this that we hear constantly that can throw doubt on our decisions. Similarly, you may at some point, have to deal with refunds and exchanges from people who are dissatisfied in some way with what they bought, regardless of if it is because of workmanship or simply just a change of mind. The best way to combat this, again, is education. Have a refund policy set out so that you have something to stick by. Don’t worry if you don’t want to accept refunds, there are many stores that do this. Just inform your customer of your expectations when they make the purchase, and have it written down on your website.

All this being said, customer service is one of the most important things that can absolutely make or break your business, but customer service doesn’t mean doing everything you can to ensure that the customer is happy with every aspect of what you’re selling. It means to treat your customers fairly and with respect, including when trying to resolve issues. Customer service is about helping them to find what they need and provide them happily with the service to get it. It doesn’t mean that they have the right to disrespect you or treat you unfairly. It doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to take advantage of you, and I find there’s a lot of people who forget that and make disrespectful demands of makers (and other businesses) because of it.

So what happens when a customer has a demand or is trying to negotiate a term that you feel is unfair? Just remember that you’re allowed to say no, and be fair to yourself. You have the authority. You’re the owner, aren’t you? It’s your responsibility to make sure that your customers are happy, but it is also your responsibility to make sure your employees (you) are treated fairly and with respect. I don’t know if you’ve noticed a theme, but respect and fairness is hard to argue with, from either side of the counter.

You’ve hacked your craft and now you’ve got the courage to hawk it. Stand up for it, and the work that you do.

 

~Megan


Cosplay: When they’re wearing your outfit

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I was on a podcast and got asked a question which was actually a fairly good one. While it isn’t very crafty related, I thought it would be something to address because it has been one of the reasons that I’ve stuck around in this hobby,

Cosplay- the only time when someone else showing up in the same outfit as you is awesome. Running into someone else who is wearing the same costume as me is one of my favourite things. As much as I love running into Captain America when I’m Peggy Carter or Maku when I’m Korra, I love running into people in the same outfit even more. Why is it awesome?

 

To start with, it likely means you have an instant friend. You know something they like (cause they’re advertising it by wearing it), and you probably like it already yourself. That awkward “I don’t know what to talk about” moment? Not an issue. Even if you don’t become best buddies, you can talk about the source material, the character, and why you chose to wear that costume. You might find a new perspective on something you already love.

Secondly, you can now swap horror stories. Trust me, you both have them. Making costumes is never as straight forward as it sounds, and you can bond over how georgette is the worst fabric to have to sew and you wish you’d never found that interview where it mentioned it was the fabric used in the on-screen version.

Maybe there are things about your costume that you want to improve. Maybe you will notice something they’ve done on their costume that you really like and wish you’d done and since they are right there, you can ask them. Most cosplayers are quite happy to talk about their process and how they went about things. This is the best time to ask these questions.

Lastly, what gets more attention than just being in costume? Being around someone else in a similar costume. Groups always attract a crowd if you and friends put together a cast group that is one of the best way to ensure photographers get your photo. But if you want to get noticed for lots of photos, hanging out with a fellow in the same costume is just as good. What’s better than one Wonder Woman? Three!

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I find that these friendship tips still work even if they’re not doing the exact same version of a costume as you are. So even when I’m not wearing my blue suit, I adore running into other Peggys, no matter what outfit they’re wearing. Its all about finding like-minded souls, and wearing a costume is the most obvious way to shout out you enjoy a fandom. Rather than fretting about your own costume or going into comparisons, enjoy the camaraderie and friendship that you can gain when you both choose the same costume.

~ eliste


Turn Everyday Fashion into Wings

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Made by Spanish artist Alassie, these wings are custom screen printed on high quality silk and are absolutely gorgeous. All her designs are based off of real butterfly and moth wings that she then alters without sacrificing the image to fit various normal clothes such as cloaks, shawls, and scarves. If wings aren’t your thing she also works with other animal designs such as this beautiful peacock scarf.

All of her pieces would look great as a costume accent piece or even just as a fashion statement with your everyday wear and can be purchased over here at her etsy store. If you want to know more about her business though you’ll need a good translation software to read her site, or just be fluent in Spanish. Sadly I have neither of these skills, but I can certainly continue to admire her work from afar. 🙂

 


Incredibly Life Like Animal Sculptures

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If the title hadn’t given it away, I’m willing to bet the majority of people would think this is a real animal. But it’s not.

That is a hand made sculpture by Japanese artist Goro Furuta, and it’s of an extinct dinosaur called Diplocaulus. Crazy right? This guy specalizes in making incredibly realistic looking piece of real (and fictional/extinct) animals.

I can only imagine how long it takes him to create these pieces as they are just so incredibly detailed! If you want to see more, go check out his facebook page and gasp and admire all his fantastic creations. He also posts little fun pieces and design sketches but unless you can read Japanese I’m afraid you won’t get more then that out of it. Worth it though. 🙂