Displaying your jewelry designs

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Good morning all. This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. My summer season has started with a great bang, and for those of you who also make jewelry, I’m sure you think about how best to display the unique pieces you craft. Whether it is at home or at a show, it can be tricky to come up with ways that show your pieces to their best advantage, and let others know how unique your things are. I’ve found some excellent craftsmen on Etsy that make some excellent displays, ship, and are happy to customize them.

WhatWeMade is based in Arizona, and has some unique designs. Their necklace bust is gorgeous, wooden, and striking with any silver pieces you have.

DalesWoodandMore has a lovely wall unit that would be great for personal collections, or hanging on grid for a nice table display.

If you want to go more metal, BlackIronIndustrial has some unique shelving and bar selections.

I also love this wonderful travel case from Canoa Naturals

It is versatile and pretty. If looking to make your own display, there are a number of tutorials out there to make it a snap for any crafty person!


 


Hickory ComicCon

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie.¬†This coming weekend, you can find my things at a local show in North Carolina, Hickory ComicCon. It’s June3rd, in Hickory, NC. I and a number of other artists and vendors will be set up at this event at the Hickory Metro and Convention Center from 10-5. You can find the event information here.

They offer a costume contest, comic book grading, and the 501st Legion will be there are well. This show offers an opportunity to stick your toes in and try out a smaller event, and see if you like them. North Carolina offers a number of one day events like this each year, including Shelby ComicCon, Statesville, Greenville, and one in Marion, NC. They offer a relaxed environment, the opportunity to network with other local geeks, and gaming!

I will have my small setup here, but some really cool new designs and pieces.

*Photo taken from Hickory ComicCon’s event page.

 

 


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!


Retro Video Game Shadow Boxes

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My husband and I have started a collection of the games we grew up on (NES and SNES mostly), but this person blows our simple little plastic cases out of the water.

Designed and made by Glitch Artwork, these shadow boxes give a bit of art and style to your gaming collection. They layouts are well thought out and visually appealing; so much so that the gaming cart isn’t the first thing to grab you. Quite a feat when it takes up about 1/4 of the space.

If you’ve got your own collection, or maybe a few favorite games you’d like to keep, I’d recommend giving their shop a look. The frames range from $35-75 and are definitely a way to class up your home, while still showing your gaming love. ūüôā


DIY Shelves: Pro Edition

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Yup, I’m back with a final update in making your own display shelves for shows. For awhile now I’ve been wanting to ditch the foam cores I originally made over a year ago. As time has gone on I’m always in constant fear of them being crushed or broken due to their lightweight material. So, back in March I had the idea to instead make them out of wood. They could remain the same thickness (meaning no new math to figure out, yay!) and shape, but by being made out of wood I would have a more professional display piece that could hold up for years to come with only a small amount of care.

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This is how mine they turned out in the end, and below I will walk you through step by step how I went about constructing my lovely new display shelves. PLEASE NOTE: Unlike working with foam core, working with wood involves at minimum a jigsaw and a sander. If you do not feel comfortable using these tools be sure to have a friend/family member who can help you.

Items you will need:

-1/2″ Thick wood (as much as your designs say)
– A Jigsaw (I used a hand one, but a standing one would also be lovely)
– A sander
– Pencil
– Measuring Tape/Ruler

Optional:

– Wood Stain
– Sealent
– Paint Brush or Rag
– Drop Cloth

Since I had access to a jigsaw, I knew my first challenge would be having the big cuts I needed from my large piece of wood done. Thankfully, most hardware stores that sell such large pieces of wood will cut it for you into any size square or rectangle you like. I got my wood at Home Depot and after the first 2 cuts they charge $1 for each additional cut. I don’t remember how many cuts I needed in the end, but it was more than 10. Getting as many cuts as you can done will only save you time. It’s worth the extra charge as long as it’s done properly. Once you get your wood and get home, it’s time to once again get your pencil and ruler out to mark all your measurements for where you’ll be cutting your wood. As always: measure twice, cut once.

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You can see on mine where I had issues with one. Yeah, the guy cut one board 1/4″ shorter then all the others for my support struts and it messed me up. Maybe have an eraser handy in case this happens to you when you’re measuring. Once everything is marked, bring your wood over to your cutting station and carefully cut out your design/pieces. You don’t want any crooked lines so take your time and do it right.

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Now that you have all your pieces cut, it’s time to sand! Get your sander ready and start with a high grit paper like 80-100 for your first pass, working your way up in numbers to a finer grit and a smoother finish. Make sure you get all of your edges too to prevent and splintering or roughness. Last thing I want is to have a rough section when handling my display stands. This step will take awhile to do and that’s okay, cause if you want, you can stop after this step!

029You’ll have a fully finished display stand at this point (baring any gluing/drilling to add dowels like I do with mine) that you can simply take as is and use all you like. Personally I wanted mine to be a darker color so I opted to stain it ‘Dark Cherry’. Before you start brushing your stain on, you’ll want to prep your area by laying down a drop cloth, an old sheet, or even old towels. You’ll also want to wipe your display pieces down with a clean cloth to remove any fine particles that may be hanging around from sanding. Once that’s done, simply lay your pieces out on your work space and evenly coat your wood with stain.

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This will take at least 2 rounds as you’ll need to flip your display to make sure you get all the sides. You can use a brush or an old rag to put your stain on. As long as it’s evenly applied you can choose whichever applicator works best for you. Knowing this is a several hour project overall, I also recommend getting a stain that is also a sealer to save some small amount of time. You don’t have to of course, but sealing is needed to make sure your stain retains it’s color/look for as long as possible.
034And there you have it! Once everything is dry and finished your new display is ready to use at your next show. It will be sure to impress the guests and other vendors as they all wonder where you got your great display shelves. ūüėČ

~Nicole


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.


Make your own Jewelry Box

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As I’ve said many times, I’m not big on owning jewelry myself, but this is a great tutorial for those out there in need of an extra display for their product or just safe storage for their growing collection …but are strapped on cash.

The materials needed are pretty simple:
1.A sturdy cardboard/plastic box
2. Glitter foam sheet/tape
3.Pretty Washi Tape
4.Hair Curlers (the foam ones) in coordinating colors
5.A mirror to fit inside the box’s lid
6. Faux Pearls
7. A Pair of Scissors, Double-sided Tape and E-6000 glue

Now, I wouldn’t say this is a hard list that you have to stick to. If washi tape is not your thing you could easily replace it with contact paper and achieve the same (or better!) look. The genius idea from this site for me was using the cheap foam hair curlers as your jewelry separators. Such an elegant and simple solution. ūüôā You can find the full tutorial here at A Bubbly Life with step by step and fully illustrated instructions.


DIY Display Riser – Mark 2

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Those that have been coming to the site since April will probably remember my DIY on making your own display risers out of foam core for a cheap, lightweight, and simple display that you can customize to suit your various needs. Well, I’m back with an update! After it was shared around on the artist group AANI one member had their engineering parent help them modify the design so it could be collapsible, making ease of storage/packing another benefit to making these risers.

I had a mighty need to make my own as this was my only gripe with them. So, after speaking with the artist directly to find out how they went about it, I set about making my own this summer.

After taking it out for a test run at 3-4 conventions after I made it, I have to say I’m in love. They lay flat and only the long shelves cannot be placed in bins and be completely protected in my packed car, they are much more sturdy (this could be to better measuring/leveling), and take just a minute to assemble when putting together my display. Now, I’m not here just to show off my new display, but to teach you all how it was done as well! Please note that I have never fully typed out instructions for a DIY before and that I made these back in July so it is possible I forgot a detail or did not explain something that was a basic skill for me. If you find any part of this hard to follow please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will do what I can to help you out. ^_^

You’ll need the following materials:

 

– A Pencil
– A long ruler (I used a metal 18″ one with cork backing)
– A cutting knife (Xacto or other brand) with a new blade
– A Cutting mat (I used an express mail box I had lying around)
– 1/2 inch thick foam core (Double the normal thickness is essential to give it support. Regular foam core IS NOT recommended)
– Hot glue & Gun (Or any glue that can be used with foam core. My E6000 ate thru it so don’t use that one)
– 1/4 inch diameter Wooden Dowels (can also use metal, but I found the cheap balsa ones worked fine)
Optional:
– Drill (or be lazy like me and use the knife and wooden dowel to push a hole in. Just depends on how pro you want it to be)

1) First thing you want to do it measure out your cuts. Always double check your measurements!! The things to consider when making your measurements: Your total height of your display, the height for each shelf, how many shelves, the total width of your display, the width of the foam core. What we will be making are shelves to hold you items and support struts to keep them all in place/sturdy. My display measures 23″ long so I made 4 struts (2 for the ends and 2 in the middle), making it about 7″ between struts. My items are light weight with each shelf only holding about 1-1.5lbs. If you are going to have heavy items on your shelves you will need additional struts to keep the foam from bowing/breaking.

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As you can see in my picture, I measured out each shelf height (mine is 3 shelves high. The total height is 15″ so each level is on a 5″ increment with 1/2 inch taken out of the bottom where the shelf will rest ) and made sure to include the area where the shelf will slot into the support struts (pictured above as the shaded in areas). The depth that they go into the display I’m sure has some sort of math formula, but the basics of it is that the heavier it is, the closer to half way through your support strut it should be. I wanted my shelves interchangeable so I just measured an inch deep into my strut. The other thing you will notice I did was flip my design so I wasted very little foam core. Shading in the sections that would be completely cut out for where the shelves would slot into the struts helped me visualize my shapes, but don’t feel as if you have to do it this way. Once you’ve double checked your measurements, you’ll want to use the cutting knife to slowly cut along your lines and cut out the support struts. This may take 2 swipes to get thru the bottom layer of the foam core.

051You’ll notice that these finished ones also have a back notch that I didn’t include when I first cut them out. I found it too confusing visually with the piece rotated, so I measured it onto each of my 4 struts and cut it out of each one afterwards. What is it for? Well, that is for a back support to help stabilize your display. I use mine as a shelf to hold my various tools/supplies during shows, but you could keep a bit of stock to restock your front with if you like and the items are small enough. You want it to be close to the bottom but not too close. Mostly you want it equal distance from the base and your first shelf to provide maximum support (mine is 1.5″ from the base). Too close to either will cause weak points in the struts. Now with the supports done, it’s time to move on to the shelves!

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Do the big cut of your shelf first out of the foam core (total length by total width). When you do this be sure to include the overlap on the edges where your shelf will slot into your struts!! If you don’t have these your piece will not be nearly as stable! For example, my shelves need to be 2.5″ wide to hold my items so I make the overall width 4.5″ since 2″ will not be used to hold product, but will instead go around the struts. Now, I hear you saying ‘But, Nicole, you only made a 1″ notch into the strut. Why do I need to double it?’ Well, dear anon, this is also for support. The extra 1″ I have added will wrap around the strut to provide the need stability. Like an interlocking puzzle piece they will both support each other and provide a sturdier and safer display. For much the same reason, my total length of 23″ included an extra 2″ to accommodate the 1″ on each end that would go around the outside strut.

When measuring where you will place your inside struts, remember that math is your friend and find the spots that are equal distance from the outer ones. Using my own as an example again, my total length is 23″, 2″ of which is going outside the struts for support. Then I lose another 1″ for the width of the foam core struts (these holes are .5″ wide by 1″ long) making my inner length 20″. I have two struts that need to be equal distance apart meaning my struts need to be (20/3=6.666″) 6 and 2/3 inches apart. I divided the space by three because putting in 2 struts would give me 3 inner sections. If you have 3 struts you will have 4 sections, and so on. Make sure you measure the 1/2″ strut width around those dividing points or else you will derp like me.

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While my structure works just fine with these being and inch closer together in the middle….don’t be like me. Measure twice people. In my defense, I had been working on installing upper ball joints in my car before working on these shelves so I was kind of tired. Anyway, the observant person will have no doubt noticed that this shelf seems like it has much less width then the ones above. Congrats! You are correct! This shelf happens to be my back support shelf. It is only 2″ wide as I don’t need to have the back sticking out for me to hit while it’s on the table so I made not as wide that way it will be flush against the back. You don’t have to do this if you want to store more items there, but I think it looks better. At this point I have 2 shelves with notches and one back support shelf….but what about the top?

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I was tired and forgot to take a shot of the shelf’s full length (hint: it’s 23″) but this is the important area anyway. This shelf is the required item width of 2.5″ for me as it will be going on top of my display and doesn’t need the extra support strut length. The important part is that this is what you will be making holes in, along with the top of the struts. You again want them to be equal distance apart (mine have .75″ gaps on either side) and you can use a drill with a 1/4 inch bit here…..or be lazy like me and carve it out with an Xacto knife. Just make sure the dowel will fit in the hole and it will be fine. Now, you can also drill a hole into the top of the foam core very gently that is at least 1″ deep to add your wooden dowel to (meaning you will need 2 dowels that are 1.5″ long for each strut you have. In my case I needed 8 as 2×4=8).

I can already hear you asking what the lazy the way that I did this is, so here you have it. Since the top of the foam core strut is just open foam, I simply measured where the dowels should go and pushed them down into the foam gently but firmly. If you don’t have a steady hand or want a very professional look to your stand, don’t do this. It will condense the foam and a very slight bulge will be visible on the sides. I was busy and tired all summer and did not care. One day I may make new ones that are pretty. Don’t blame me if you take the lazy way and push the dowel out the side of your strut though. Get help or borrow a drill if you don’t think you can do it this way.

Place some glue on the end of your dowels and slot them in your newly made holes at the top of your struts. Let it dry and ta da! You are feel to assemble your new display shelves!

Unlike the original DIY shelves I posted about, these clearly do not have backs. If you want to add backs you’ll need to figure it out yourself. These are about the extent of my engineering skills, lol. If you have any questions or need help assembling your own, please do not hesitate to contact me in the forums or in the comments where I will be happy to answer your questions or explain steps better.

~Nicole


It’s Getting Frosty…

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Hello there Thursday readers!

It may be starting to get a little frosty outside, which means we can find ways to keep nice and toasty inside… by making things look frosty…..?¬†Yes, that is what I meant to say. I’ve got a quick tutorial on making frosted branches so that you can make some beautiful centerpieces and other decor for your home around the holidays. ¬†The best part it it glitters in candlelight. So everybody wins. ¬†I found a tutorial here¬†at The V Spot Blog, which I will use as a guide, and some of their handy photos, but as always, I will have things to add or a different way it can be done.

The materials are simple. You need some spray on adhesive, epsom salts, some coarse white glitter and some fine iridescent glitter. ¬†I think that if you’re really into glitter, you’d have no problem switching some of that to a silver, for a little more sparkle. ¬†V Spot also recommends using some white spray paint, so that your branches will look snowed upon. I think this is depending on your personal preference. I think that branches look beautiful without, but it looks snowier with it. So really it’s your preference. I’ll post some photos of both. What you do need to make sure you get is epsom salt. This is pretty easy to find in any local pharmacy – it’s used in baths to help relax muscles. The crystals in epsom salts are light, white, and all differently shaped so it makes for really beautiful ice crystals. Please don’t use rock salt for the roads. It’s usually coloured, and looks dirty.

Your first step, is to collect whatever branches you’d like to colour. You can forage around your home, in your local park or along some walking trails. ¬†You can also take a trip to your local craft/dollar/hobby store to buy some fake branches. ¬†Found ones are more realistic and natural whereas the ones from a hobby store may have cranberries, or holly or boughs of pine. ¬†Select whatever suits your fancy as you can use this technique on both natural and synthetic branches. ¬†After you’ve got your foliage, you need to spray them white, or do a dusting of white spray paint if you’d like them to look like they’ve been snowed on. Please do this outside in a well ventilated area with proper coverage in the area you’d like to spray on. Lay down a plastic bag. ¬†A tarp. Newspaper. Something that means you don’t need to scrub spray paint from your driveway.

Your next step, when your paint is dry, or possibly your first step if you want to omit the white paint, is to spray a coat of adhesive all over the branches. Before the adhesive dries, you will need to sprinkle the epsom salts all over the branches. Both V Spot and I recommend that you have something underneath like a cookie sheet, or parchment paper, to catch the crystals that don’t stick so you can reuse them.

Your next step is to repeat the steps above first with the coarse glitter then with the fine glitter. I would do this step over parchment paper as opposed to a cookie sheet as it will be easier to reuse the glitter (it slides easier on paper) and you can just toss the paper when you’re finished, perhaps helping to avoid having glitter everywhere for weeks.

Though it doesn’t say this on the blog, I would probably spray a final coat of adhesive just to seal everything in. ¬†A thing to note with this method though, is you have used salt. Which means if they get wet, they may melt, even though you do have an adhesive on. So try to use these in a dry place or indoors.

You can use this method to achieve so many different looks, it’s amazing:

 

This uses the same technique with a white spray that is a little more careful, and sprinkling that is a little more strategic, but all the same steps can be used with pine and pinecones.

Photo from Pintrest showing a cranberry branch that was decorated without the white paint.

Or what about on natural wood without paint?

Photo from Crafthubs.com

And lastly, Triviasuite has a photo of smaller branches done in the same way, though without the white paint:

This is a really easy and versatile way to make almost any foliage holiday ready, no matter what the size or what type it is.

 

I hope you enjoyed it… Happy crafting!

 

~ Megan


Down to the Bones

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Hey there Thursday readers!

Continuing on with my Halloween themed posts, I have something innovative, but easy to do. ¬†The most difficult part of this DIY is finding the materials, and even that will just take a little bit of asking around. ¬†Your secret ingredient for today’s tutorial? ¬†X-ray prints. For these crafts to turn out as well as they should, you will need to get real x-rays rather than a print out. ¬†There are several ways that you can go about finding them. One can be to ask around your family to see if anyone has ever been sent home with some. You can also ask your family doctor – and if you have a really great rapport with your doctor you could even ask them to print some of yours (though they will most likely ask you to pay for them). ¬†A really great option to try is a veterinary doctor, or even E-bay. ¬†Animal x-rays can work just as well as human ones and can be a lot easier to get ahold of.

Once you get your x-ray sheets, you can do any number of different things with them. Fun In the Making offers some cheap and easy ways to use these x-rays to make some eerie, yet classy decorations that can either be used at Halloween or if you’re of the Gothic persuasion.

These projects are ones that look super cool and are super easy once you’ve done the hard task of finding the x-rays. All you need is some tape and glue and the right illuminator. ¬†The photo above shows a nightlight that has an x-ray of the right ¬†size wrapped around it and taped at the back. ¬†Remember, if your nightlight is an incandescent bulb, that you’ll want to keep the protective plastic around it so that the bulb doesn’t melt through the film. You could also use staples to secure it.

Another idea is to make a screen for votives. Again, this is a very easy project as all you need to do is cut the x-ray the appropriate height and length to create a cylinder. You can use glue, tape or staples to secure the back, or if you would like to keep the xrays for easy storage, you can use black paperclips to hold the top and bottoms together.  Rather than gluing these to an existing votive, these are designed to be slid as a sleeve over existing candles.  Make sure to use votives that are enclosed in a glass jar (like a baby food jar) or a semi-enclosed votive holder like these. Alternatively, you could use flameless pillar or votive candles to get the same effect without having to worry about anything catching fire.

Yet another easy way to re purpose the bigger x-rays is to turn them into a lamp. All you need is an old lampshade that you can take apart and remove the fabric part of the shade. You only have to lay the xray against the wires of the shade and use electrical tape to seal the edges. Super easy, and yet, super effective.

A final idea, if you can get ahold of a larger number of x-rays is to make a creepy halloween garland that you can hang on windows and doors.

There is no tutorial available for this one, but it is something that is very easy to figure out. There’s a number of ways you can do this, but my recommendation would be to use some black yarn or string for the garlands and to cut your xrays into triangles. Again, you can use electrical tape to tape these triangles to the string (and the black tape will look nice against the xray film). ¬†You could also fold the top edges of the xrays over the string and either glue or tape those down as well. ¬†You can hang these anywhere, and they are super impressive.

 

I hope you enjoyed this super easy DIY. The hardest part is finding the x-rays to do these crafts but once you do, you can do so much with them to make some really unique and classy Halloween decor.

Happy crafting!

~Megan