Crafting-when inspiration doesn’t hit

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Every now and then, in the crafting and art world, you want to create, but can’t. You feel blocked, and no idea you have sounds appealing. What do you do? Here are a few tips to help get you past the cobweb feeling of being ‘craft blocked.’

  • Go for a brief, brisk walk, dance around the room, or basic stretches. Sometimes a little adrenaline can reset your brain and help you think more clearly.

  • Turn on some music, an inspiring movie or audio book.
  • Try a different creative endeavor. Bake a batch of cookies, make a pot of soup, plant some herbs or flowers.

  • Call or text a friend. Sometimes a brief chat can help relax us, allowing us to get new ideas.
  • Look to online sites for inspiration: Pinterest, Instagram and multiple crafting blogs can help you decide what to start next.

Crafting should be fun, and help you feel creative and fulfilled. Hopefully the above suggestions can help you continue on your creative path!


Gearing Up for Show Season, Part 3

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. In previous Wednesday posts, I have brought up how to apply for shows, what to do for Juried events and photos, and what questions to ask an event to determine if its a good fit for you. Once you apply, and receive an acceptance, what next?

Creating stock for the event. Generally, think about the theme of the show, the demographics and buying power of customers likely to attend an event. If there are special guests or celebrities, consider whether items inspired by them should be something you offer. A wide variety of pricing can also help. The rule is enough stock to refill your table 3-5 times.

Make sure your display is tasteful, geared toward the event, and something easily visible to customers. It should never overpower your stock. If using tables, consider table lifts. They are easy to make or buy, and raise the tables enough so that customers don’t have to bend too far to see what you have. Organize your things, and have price tags or price signs out. Many customers don’t want to ask the cost of items- they may simply walk away and assume they can’t afford what you have. A sign across the front of your table or hanging on a display behind you will help with customers that are farther away. If at an art or craft show, having a banner across the top bar of your tent, or framed is a nice touch. Make sure it includes a logo or photos, along with contact information such as websites, email or social media links.

Invest in good business cards, shopping bags in paper or plastic, wrapping tissue, bubble wrap, boxes, or other packing materials for customer purchases. Unless you are selling bags or purses, most customers want their purchases wrapped. Buying handmade implies a higher level of service, so make sure that every part of the purchase is a pleasant one. If you want to make reusing or recycling part of your concept, offer newspaper, saved bags, or them about going green. Make sure you can take credit cards, because it will account for a significant number of your sales.

Before your show, its also a good idea to make sure you utilize social media to its full potential. Advertise the show, share photos of the art available, and make sure to publish directions and a map to your space. When at the show, walk around, talk with other artists and vendors, and network. Many times you can share customers, or direct them to someone who may sell something you don’t make. It is a small community, and it helps everyone when you are nice.

Next week, we can talk about pricing your items for your event!


‘Bad Weather’ Days

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Happy Wednesday! Across many parts of the United States, we are being hit by bad weather towards the end of our winter. Trees had begun blooming, grass growing, and in rolls the storm. Suddenly you are stuck at home, with or without power, wondering what to do with your day off…

As long as I am warm and there is power, I try not to worry too much. Relaxing on my favorite chair with a book or movie and drinking some coffee or cocoa is a great day for me. Some people like to keep busy, though. This may be the perfect time to bring out some crafts or games you’ve been waiting to try.

  • If you like to crochet, this fun PDF pattern of an Octopus Scarf looks great!
  • If you like knitting, maybe some fingerless gloves!
  • If it look like there might be power issues, a candlemaking project might be a good one. Check here for a recipe!
  • Some people love to cook, especially a one pot stew or recipe. I’ve found some great ones on Epicurious, or you might open up one of your cookbooks- I have several from family members.

Whether it’s a project or a lazy day, stay warm and safe this week!

 


Gearing Up For Show Season, Part 2

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. Last week I talked about the first part of deciding what shows to do. You can find that post here. This week, I wanted to go more in depth of the Jury Process.

A juried event is one where you send in photographs, slides, or digital images of your work, display, and sometimes WIP pictures with your application. It is judged by category, level of art, and whether its a good fit for the show. If your goal is to do art shows, this means that all vendors at the event should be at similar levels, with a good variety of art represented, with no Direct Sale or commercial companies there. Some other events will ask to see your work, but mostly to make sure you are a good fit for the show. If you are looking at Conventions or local Festivals, this may not be something you need to worry about.

If you are doing an art show, craft show or festival, the jury process is generally the same. Usually there is an application fee ($10-$50). They will request photos of your display, several of your art, and may ask for ‘work in progress’ pictures. Your display should focus on your art, tastefully laid out.

At an art festival, it should be uncluttered, with plain black tablecloths to the ground (many shows require black cloths, which are easily sourced from Amazon, EBay, or can be cheaply made with thick cloth). Some people use shelving or special jewelry cases. All storage should be put away. Tents should be white, preferably flame retardant (some shows have it as a requirement so its easiest to just have it), with three walls up. Some people add fabric to create a curtain or boutique look- this is up to you.

If you hang photos of your work, or any posters, you either need to crop our your business info or hang banners/photos with no identifying information. Most juries are anonymous, so your entry could be disqualified if they can see business information.

You can do a practice setup in a yard or driveway for photos. Take several different versions, in good light, and make sure to ask other artists and friends to help you decided on a photo, or what improvements to make to it. There are a number of groups on Facebook that can help- Art Reviews on Art Festivals, Jewelry Booth and Displays, or Art Fair Reviews. Try not to take the criticism personally- this about helping your art speak for itself, and improving your display so that you can not only be accepted to a show, you can make it more appealing to customers.

When offering photos of your work, they should be clean, focusing on the pieces, in focus (not blurry), and a standard size if a physical print (4 x 6, 5 x 7). Digital prints may be requested in specific files such as JPEG or PDF. Some shows use a website to process applications such as Zapplication or Call For Entry (CAFE).

Next, more on the application process…

*Photos are of Maggie J Jewelry and Morgan Harris Pottery*

 

 

 

 

 


Gearing Up For Show Season

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Good morning, Wednesday readers! This is Kim, from Fantastical Menagerie. I know its winter still, but show season for crafters will be here before you know it! Whether you have been participating in shows for years, or are thinking about starting out, there are always things to learn. I do a combination of Sci Fi Conventions, Art Shows and Festivals throughout the year. All have different requirements. Most have applications that need to be in at least six months before the show is scheduled. When trying to decide if a show is right for you, its important to do some research.

  • Does your product fit the show? This should be the first thing to consider. If you sell Star Wars handbags, then the Pickle Festival might not be the best fit for your merchandise.
  • How long has the show been running? Is it a first year event or have they been in business for years? Shows that are established have worked out many of the issues with hosting or holding an event, and are, for the most part, running smoothly with set guidelines, a devoted fan base and regular customers.
  • Where is the event being held? Is it downtown on the main streets of your town or city? Is it at an event center with ample parking? A pop up shop in a well curated store, with a reputation for events like these? Or is it somewhere less reliable? I haven’t personally found shows in parking lots, gyms, country parks or farms (all examples) to bring out huge crowds with spending money. There is always an event that exceeds expectations, but event location can play a huge role in your success.
  • What is the purpose of the event? If it is a charity or church event, they might be more concerned with their side of making money instead of how vendors or crafters will fare. A family friendly festival might cater to a crowd that has a lower price point, and not necessarily care about whether things are handmade. If at a convention, the celebrity guests might be expensive and cut down on what people have to spend. Its always a good idea to attend an event the year before to see if your goods will fit, how things are run, and if there is competition for what you sell.
  • Is the show Juried? A juried event is one where you send in photographs, slides, or digital images of your work, display, and sometimes WIP pictures with your application. It is judged by category, level of art, and whether its a good fit for the show. If your goal is to do art shows, this means that all vendors at the event should be at similar levels, with a good variety of art represented, with no Direct Sale or commercial companies there. Some other events will ask to see your work, but mostly to make sure you are a good fit for the show. If you are looking at Conventions or local Festivals, this may not be something you need to worry about.
  • What is the expected attendance of the event? You can ask for previous year’s ticket sales, estimated counts, or presale for the current year’s events. Check their Facebook page to see how many ‘Likes’ they have, or how much effort they put into online marketing.
  • Cost vs. Profit. How much is the booth or table fee? Do you have to donate an item for an auction or charity? Make sure to estimate or research additional costs such as gas, hotel, all meals and snacks, and if you need to pay someone to help you with your booth. If it seems to high for what you are likely to sell, it may be an event to skip.

If you have done your research, you can make an educated decision on whether on event is right for you to participate in. Next Wednesday, I will be focusing more on Juried events, and the best way to get those photos taken. *Festival picture is Orange Beach Arts Festival*


Art for the tummy

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. When I snack, many times I am drawn to unusual flavors, rich, complex taste and something handmade. If I want something sweet, I head straight for Pamplemousse Sucre on Etsy. Based in New York State, Lisa Wolf of Pamplemousse loves to tempt with her confections. From her handmade rich caramels to rock candy geodes, each piece is made by her to very high standards. I usually get sucked in by the cinnamon pear caramels, and her marshamallows. Sinfully rich, and just as delightful to the eye.

Her food art has been featured in multiple magazines, shows and online  I don’t care where it is featured- I just want to eat it!

her rock candy geodes:

Small batch lollipop sampler:

Cherry cocoa nib caramels:

The Vanilla Caramel Marshmallows:

This a sweet treat best opened up when home alone, or you will be sharing with everyone. Order sizes are generous, and she cheerfully gives you little extras and special touches that come with the best of handmade goodies. You can find her here on Etsy


Kitty Ear Hats

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. Apparently winter is still going strong across most of the US. If you need something warm to cover your head, may I recommend something cute yet functional? Ella of Blackie Cat Creations has been knitting proudly since 2003. While she learned the basics as a child, she picked it back up after an ankle injury in 2003. She was on bedrest, bored, and needed something to entertain herself. She also discovered that knitting needles fit really well down a cast to scratch. Based just outside of Chicago, Illinois, Ella sells online and in person at many geek themed events. Ella does Geek themed knitted hats, and kitty ear hats.

You can find her on Facebook and on Etsy here. If you want to catch her in person, her event schedule is on her Facebook Page.

 


Fruit Tart Tutorial, Part 2

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Good Morning and Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, of Fantastical Menagerie. Today I’m bringing you the second half of my Fruit Tart Tutorial. The first part can be found here.

1. Roll out five small balls of Premo brand polymer clay in Pomagranate. Approx 4 mm in diameter.

2. Shape each one into a teardrop shape.

3. Flatten it slightly on your finger.

4. Using your needle ended tool, make small dots on the teardrop shape. They should be in alternating rows, all the way to the back end.

5. Place into the shell, with flat ends in the center.

6. Take the fifth berry, and add the green leaves to the top. Place it on top of the other four.

7. Optional- use green Pearl X on the leaves, and a dusting of the macro pearl on the berries for shine.

8. Put the finished piece into the oven. I would recommend 240 F, for approx 30 minutes. Once it cools, you can add findings to turn it into a pendant, earrings or a pin.

Continue reading »


Fruit Tart Tutorial Part One

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. Last week we talked about keeping clay soft in winter, today I’m going to start you on how to make fruit tarts in clay.

For this project, you need the following:

  • pastry shell mold, preferably silicone. You can find them on Etsy here
  • a small dollhouse plate
  • Sculpey Bake n Bond. This can be found in the polymer clay aisle.
  • Premo clay in ecru, pomegranate, and either green pearl or jungle green. You can get it from any craft or hobby store.
  • tweezers, needle tool, and flat blade or razor.
  • Optional: pearl x powders in Macropearl, green and antique bronze.

1. Condition your clay. Leave the red until last because the color transfers.

2. Take a small piece of the ecru clay, roll it into a ball, and press it into your mold.

3. Carefully remove your clay from the mold. If there is any excess, use your razor to trim it to shape.

4. Add a small amount of Sculpey Bake & Bond to the plate. Put your tart shell in the center over the adhesive.

5. Optional- use a brush and add a little Pearl X Antique bronze on the tart shell to simulate color from baking. Add a bit of Bake & Bond to the center of the tart.

6. Make your leaves for the strawberries. Roll two small balls of green clay into a teardrop shape. Flatten them, and use your needle to run a line down the center of each. Then use the needle to draw veins into the leaves.

7. Roll out five small balls of Premo Pomegranate clay. Approx 4 mm in diameter. These will become your strawberries.

This tutorial will pick up next Wednesday, where I will show you how to form the strawberries, and then put everything together to form the piece.


Clay in winter

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. As a clay artist, winter is always harder in more ways than one. Colder temperatures mean that clay doesn’t always stay conditioned.

Copyright © 2015 by Ginger Davis Allman The Blue Bottle Tree, all rights reserved.

Copyright © 2015 by Ginger Davis Allman The Blue Bottle Tree, all rights reserved.

That same block I was working with the day before can be hard and crumbly all over again. Blech! Some shortcuts that I have found work for me are:

  • If you are using a marble, granite or glass work surface, remove the clay and wrap it in waxed paper when you finish for the evening. Stone surfaces conduct cold very well.
  • Store the clay in a box in the warmest room of your house. For many people, this would be the kitchen area.
  • When you start working, hold the cooler ball of clay in your hands or if you are in a hurry, near your skin for about five minutes. This warms it without cooking it.

I hope some of these suggestions help! Some brands of polymer clay are naturally softer, such as Sculpey III or Sculpey Soufflé. Next week I have a tutorial on creating fruit tarts I will be posting in two parts. I know it’s out of season for berries, but maybe the tarts will help you think warmer thoughts.