28 Nov 2011

A Stall Face Lift

Over the past few weeks my stall display has gone through a lot of changes. Mostly this came from a decision not to sell haberdashery supplies a the market anymore. When I looked at it I was allocating 1/5 of my space to selling buttons, and they just weren't making me any money. On top of this I ended up in endless conversations with people about buttons, but then they wouldn't buy anything. When I realised that they were becoming a drain on space, my time and energy I decided to to cut them out. Now I only sell my supplies in my Nice Day Supplies shop, which I'm currently trying to get back in order.

Now with all the extra space I was able to put out new stock, a friend got a large magnet board for me in Ikea, which means I can sell magnets separately now and it also helps to show off my ABC sets(which are now selling much better thanks to the improved display).

I also expanded my range of shrink plastic jewellery, I've now started making brooches and necklaces(more on them later in the week) Not only did I broaden my designs I also improved the packaging and display for the earrings. I couldn't believe the difference in sales, just by putting the earrings on a little card.

I wanted to play with the levels on my stall, to create depth and interest, and not just rely on using notice boards. I read this great guide to improving your display and I fell in love with the idea of sing a suitcase. I got the box in Guineys for €20 and then I used some scrap fabric I had to line the inside of it to brighten it up. I covered a small canvas I had with some gingham wrapping paper to tie in with the blue of my table cloth and logo. I inserted a covered shoe box to bring up the level inside the box, then I placed my new cup pincushions on top.

The ring display was a genius idea of my fathers, he is friends with some jewelers in Dublin and he asked them for a ring tray , knowing I needed a neater way to display my rings. Yet again this little tweak brought me a lot more sales than normal. I think people can see them a lot better this way, rather than jumbled up in a pot.

Overall I'm delighted with my new look, I could definitely feel that the public were engaging with the pieces a lot better and easier, and a lot more people were stopping to browse. When I think about that the display I had before, and how in a few small ways it really wasn't working, it just goes to show it's worth reassessing your packaging/display/work, just to see what can be improved.

Ps: Speaking of face lifts, I did a bit of work on the landing page for my facebook page. A while ago I started using Pagemodo which allows you to have info/images that people land on when they first see your facebook page, instead of seeing the clutter of the wall. What I had posted was fine, but I was unhappy with the layout of their template, and it didn't feel in any way crafty or innovative. So I put aside an hour last night and I made a single image in photoshop with integrated text. I'm much happier with how this looks, and it reflects the look of my website too. I used the fun Polaroid app that I mentioned last week for the images.

26 Nov 2011

I Treated Myself to New Boots

I impulse bought these boots the other day. I went down town to buy glue and felt and I came home with a pair of red boots, what happened?? Having said that I've needed new boots for ages, but I kept putting it off in favour of paying my ever multiplying bills. But while I was strolling around in the rain and looked down at my pair of fake converse runners that had multiple holes in them I felt a pressing urge to go sensible shoe shopping.

I got them in Schuh, they were a scary €110, but they are Dc.martins so I know they will last me years. On top of that they are insanely comfortable, warm, and they are red!! I have a red shoe addiction.

25 Nov 2011

Kitsch Cups

I'm working on a new project. I went shopping the other day and picked up all of these treats. I got the cups in a mixture of pound shops and charity shops. I really want to get more short flowery cups, so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled in future. I was delighted with the box of them that I got, and it was only half price too. Keep an eye on the blog next week for the finished product of my newest crafty scheme.

After seeing this post about display tips for markets and shows I decided I wanted to incorporate a suitcase into my display. I looked around for a smallish second hand one but I couldn't find one. Instead I came across this blue flowery one in Guineys for €20, it's perfect, the right size and the right colour. I might line this inside of it with red polka dot material, as at the moment it is black, which is a bit ugly.

By the way I used this free software to make these polaroid pictures from snapshots I made on my canon. It's a pretty cute program, it puts a polaroid camera on your desktop and you can watch the pictures develop.

24 Nov 2011

As Gaeilge Christmas Cards

 I'm in the middle of making up my Christmas cards for this year. Since I started selling As Gaeilge cards earlier in the year, I made sure to make some Nollaig Shona Dhuit cards too. I also had lots of fun making my own cards embellishments in photoshop, like the mittens or the string of lights below.

23 Nov 2011

What I'm Wearing; Pastels(that's a rarity)

Please excuse the grumpy expression, it was early I was on my way to the market on Sunday when I took this photo, and I was running kind of late.

I never used to wear pastels, I either wear really bright colours, or black, nothing in between. But this year I started to get into them a bit when all those lovely greys were in the high street. When I got used to grey, I got to like dusty pink, and before I knew it I was eyeing up dusty earthy tones in the shop!

The trousers are new, this is a bit of a weird picture and doesn't really show how nice they are. They are pleated at the top, and have nice pockets. They are nice turned up, which looks better with slip on pumps and no socks, but it's just too darned cold for that in the market.

Trousers: Pennys €16
Top: free from my friend Orla, it has bell sleaves, is short at the front(hence the need for the lace vest) and long at the back, I love it!
Cardigan: River Island €14, it's lacey in parts, is also asymmetrical, and is really versatile to throw over anything.
Shoes: I can't remember, probably Dunnes, I think they were about a fiver
Jacket: Monsoon on sale for €50, it was €100, I got it in the Kildare outlet centre. It's a bit girly for me, but it's nice with a shift dress for the Jackie O look.
Hat and Scarf: free! I got them in bags of clothes that people have to me to upcycle. I love free things!

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22 Nov 2011

Pop-Up Event

I'll be selling my wares this Sunday at the new event Pop-Up Super Boutique. I was chatting to the organiser, Siobhan,  the other day and it sounds like a fun event. She has organised vintage styling, a chill out zone, and yummy cupcakes, and even some bubbly-sounds like my kinda event!

I'm really looking forward to seeing the other sellers there, and will probably do some of my Christmas shopping while I'm there, and maybe a present for myself too. Here is who I know of so far:
The Body Tree

and lots more(a total of 40 traders I hear!)

I have 10 free passes into the event, if anyone is interested come to my stall on Saturday and I'll give one to you, first come first serve though.

21 Nov 2011

Shopping Around; I Just Saved a Small Fortune

I use these little terracotta pots to make cupcake style pincushions. I started making them a few months ago, but I had no idea how well they would sell so I only bought 15 pots. Little did I know they would sell out really quickly of them in the craft shop, or that they would not be able to order more for moths(if ever again). Lots of people were asking for them at the stall so I made it my mission to hunt down a new supplier of mini pots. I eventually found a website in the UK that would £25 for 50 pots plus £25 shipping, plus tax, which was making them pretty expensive, bear in mind that it's pounds we're talking about, which makes them even more spendy. I was in two minds whether to order them, but I has resolved to make the investment on Monday morning. 

Low and behold I popped into Silkes on Catherine Street and they had a box of them sitting on the counter. You should have seen my giddy little face light up! Not only did they have loads of them, but they were cheaper than online. In the end I got 48 pots for €15, which is an amazing difference to the other crowd a saving of at least €40! I had the satisfaction of supporting local and more money in my wallet. It just goes to show that you should shop around, and not everything is cheaper online. 

Since I got so many I will definitely have a range of them in my supplies shop in the next week or so, keep an eye out for them.

18 Nov 2011

Christmas Badge Designs

I did a blitz on my Christmas badge designs, to get them made an listed in time for (hopeful) international orders on Etsy. In the end I went with 4 different sets, with each set containing 8 badges for €10. I used the designs I made for my Halloween badges and tweaked the colours and changed to spooky phrases to festive ones now the set looks retro and cheery. I got a really nice compliment from a friend who saw the Halloween ones, she said they looked like the packaging from Harry Potter(which I love!).

I then knuckled down to making an ugly jumper set. I did a pen drawing of a sweater, then scanned it in making 8 different coloured versions in photoshop. I did some quick festive doodles to put on the front of each of the jumpers too. If people are not quite courageous enough to brave the novelty sweater fad then maybe these badges would be a good replacement.

I also designed some cheery bright badges using a red candy and spearmint pallete, I love the contrast of the warm red against the cool fresh blue.

Lastly I did up some cheeky funny badges which would be ideal for an office party. Christmas is the season to party after all, and I do know from my single days that it's a time to do bold and naughty things that you would never be brave enough for at any other time of the year!

17 Nov 2011

Freebie Magnets With All My Orders

For years I've been giving away free little 1" badges with all my online sales; ones I ordered well before I bought my own badge maker. I was parceling up an order yesterday and I noticed that the website address on the badges was out of date, and had been for ages. Rather than put it on the long finger(as so many things seem to be residing at the moment!), I sat down and reworked one of my old designs. I picked 'join the craft revolution' for a few reasons; I could use it for my my craft and supplies shop-it being applicable to both, and also I thought it was a catchy phrase that might make people intrigued enough to go visit my website. I'm choosing to give away magnets this time as it's a handy thing to have, especially if people have a magnet board in their studio. Also someone is not too likely to wear a badge that has someones website address on it, whereas on a magnet it seems more innocuous.

15 Nov 2011

Battlestar Galactica Fangirl

I revealed my super nerd status last week with my Star Trek Halloween costume post, and I'll expand the further reaches of my geekdom today. I'm a recent fan of Battlestar Galactica, I rented all of the new series in Moviedrome a while back(you can get a dvd series box set for a tenner for a week), and blasted through them at an unnatural speed. I would hear the closing credits music, and then guiltily watch 'just one more episode'.

For those of you who don't know the basic plot, there is a planet called Caprica whose population is wiped out by the evil Cylons (of coarse robots who they created, who now want to kill them, the staple plot of all sci-fi). Now a raggle taggle group of survivors roam the galaxy searching for the fabled planet Earth where they hope to find a home. In between all that there are some Cylons who look like people, and nobody knows who they are, some sexy pilots who drink and gamble too much, and a crazy scientist.

Basically it kicks ass, and if you are into sci-fi and you've never seen it, go watch it now. It's so good I wish I'd never watched it, so I could watch it for the first time again(a twisted logic that means I really like something). I'm a huge fan of Star Trek, but even I know that it's up it's own arse a lot and can be really self-righteous. Battlestar isn't, they made a sci-fi programme and decided to leave in the grit.

Speaking of the crazy scientists, I'm really glad that in the remake they replaced him with a far more handsome version!

After watching all of the new series and loving every minute of it I got the original series in HMV for a bargaintastic €20. It's a very different entity altogether, the plot is a lot less complex, but for it's time it was pretty amazing sci-fi. It's like the charming old Granddad version of the new one. It does have the benifit of having the lovely eye candy of a young Dirk Benedict, but I could have done without the silly kid and his robot dog though!

14 Nov 2011

What I'm Wearing; Shorts(that's a first!)

I genuinely cannot ever remember wearing shorts, there is a photo of me around aged 3 sporting a pair, but that's it, up ntil now that is. I've been eyeing up the culottes version I've been seeing over the Summer, but I didn't even feel brave enough to seriously entertain the idea. My recent weight loss (due to the never ending life altering detox) mixed with them being on sale meant that I tried on a pair....and shock horror I loved them so much I bought two pairs!!

Jacket: €3 from the Friday Flea Market at the Limerick Milk Market(yes I was wearing it in last weeks post too, I'm addicted to it ok!) 
Vest: A-Wear €4
Shorts: Pennies on sale for €5
Scarf: Claire's Accessories in one of their mental 5 items for €10 sales last year.
Hat: Hanora.K.Designs €35, it's super cozy felted marino wool, she sells them at the Milk Market every Saturday, I have 2 hats, 2 scarves and a cardigan from her, I love her work!
Shoes: The Shoe Rack on Cruises Street €10 which I then got gripped for €28(worth the extra money as it saves me a trip to A&E-I would have broken my neck after 5 minutes in them, they were so slippy)

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11 Nov 2011

Tis The Season

'Tis the Season! I don't know whether it's because I'm making my Christmas stock, or that it's dark and blustery in the evenings but I'm feeling very festive at the moment.

I'm getting very excited about the Christmas jumpers I'm seeing everywhere at the moment. I'll probably buy mine in The Edge at the Milk Market, but if you are handy with a pair of needles you can knit the one above, you can buy the pattern here for less than a fiver! When we went for Christmas drinks last year in Toms my friends John and Dawn turned up wearing seasonal knits and they looked like the most adorable couple ever.

Nothing says Christmas like board games around the fire with a bursting to full tummy while you chomp down more chocolates. I picked up Blockbusters a while ago in a charity shop for only €2. I also got a vintage Scrabble set complete with all 100 tiles for only €3...oh how I love charity shops. I'm not sure if I can convince my family to partake, but I'll have some friends around for nibbles and some wholesome fun soon I think.

After my 6 month detox I've started having a few drinks again, as soon as I felt the cold in the air and the faint smell of Christmas I couldn't resist. I drink Guinness or Beamish, but mostly Beamish as it's far more consistent and has a woodier/nuttier taste to it. My special Christmas treat is to mix port with stout, it's cheaper if you do this at home, but for a rare treat I might get it when I'm out. Mixing in port brings a rounder sweet taste that is like a warm blanket wrapping around you, it's total heaven.

10 Nov 2011

Handmade Felt Christmas Tree Lights

Yesterday I was working on some more felt Christmas decorations. I finished my Christmas trees, and I made some mittens which I'll show you next week. I also tried my hand at making a tree garland. I had seen felt light decorations before but it made far more sense to put them on a ribbon, just like a string of lights.

There are 10 rainbow 'lights' on a string, each piece is hand stitched. I then used white felt and machine stitched black thread on the tops of all of them to make the bit that the bulbs screw into. I've priced them at €25, which ain't bad at €2.50 per light! They also come in this box, which means they will stay safe and dust free in the attic while you are not using them.

I'm not sure how many of these sets I'll make,I've made 5,well not totally finished,but I've got the back broken in them. If there is a demand for them I'll made more. My time is really limited at this point in the year and I don't want to waste it making things that won't sell.

9 Nov 2011

What I'm Wearing: Primary Colours

What I'm wearing...or rather what I was wearing the other day until I got distracted by falling off a bike and forgot to put this on my blog. I figured it was one of the last days I would get away with wearing a short dress before the freezing weather set in. I was right, it's bloody cold now!

Dress: Topshop on sale for about €14(it has pockets, I love it!)
Jacket: Friday Flea Market €3(best find ever, great fit and it matches everything)
Red Tights: Pennys €2
Leather Boots:  Charity shop €10(I bought them for my Halloween costume, but I love them)
Blue Cardigan: Dunnes Stores €3( my camera died as I was taking a second photo without the jacket)
Brooch: Nice Day Designs €10 each or 2 for €15
Earrings: Farapinalia at the Milk Market €4(you can't see them but they are wooden and lovely!)

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8 Nov 2011

Felt Christmas Tree Decorations

After my tumble off a bike on Thursday I decided to go to A&E yesterday, at least now I can say with confidence that it's not broken (rather than blindly hoping). It was a 5 hour wait in the hospital, but at least I can put my mind at rest. I thought it was weird that I was the only person with a book, surely it's the ideal way to pass the time?

Thankfully I can move the lower part of my arm and I have full movement in my fingers. I had thought that I would be able to do no work for about a week or two but I've figured out a way to sew. If I do the stitches with my left hand and move the piece of work with my right that means I don't have to flex my arm.I'm doing exercises to loosen up my shoulder, but at the moment this method of working will have to do.

Last night I made these little Christmas tree decorations, I think they would be super cute hanging from a tree, or a door knob. I have lots more prepped to do,so I'm gonna sit down on the sofa and so some more today.I am still an injured patient after all, so I don't feel bad about watching films during the day!
I'm still deciding on what to charge for them, €5 seems too little to pay me for my time, but I know they won't sell as well if I charge €6. Any advice?

5 Nov 2011

Button Rings Galore

I had an unfortunate incident on a bike, or rather dismounting a bike at speed, which has rendered me a little useless. I seem to have pulled every muscle possible in my left shoulder, and sadly I'm left handed. I really hope it heals quickly as this is my busiest time of year and I need to make lots of stock.

One thing I was able to make with my right hand were these lovely button rings. The ring backs arrived in the post yesterday morning, and I speedily made up a batch of them to sell at the market this weekend. I just need to find lots of other things I can make with my opposite hand.

3 Nov 2011

Step by Step: My Klingon Halloween Costume

Phot by Neville Gawley

As regular readers will know I'm a massive fan of Halloween(see last year and the year before), I think I even prefer it to Christmas. I get so excited about making my costume, I usually plan it months in advance(in my head), then leave it to the last minute to actually make it. Well last minute to me is only having three days of blood sweat and tears to make it, but I love every minute of it. Our friends are all really into it too, and each year we go to Micky Martins pub where everyone makes a massive effort and the standard of costume is really high. Have a look at the facebook album here and you'll see what I mean!

As you can see this year I dressed as a Klingon, most people don't know that I'm a big Star Trek fan and I've watched it since I was a kid. After the party last year I started thinking about what could beat my Queenly costumes and a Klingon popped into mind, but to be honest I never thought I could pull it off, due to the facial prosthetics. It was definitely the most challenging costume I've ever made, and there were moments in the wee hours that I questioned my own sanity!

I started out with a plain white a-line skirt, a plain grey t-shirt, some really ugly silver trimming, mounting board, a red knitted scarf, red oil cloth, about 100m of gaffer tape,and latex(thanks to Dee Coughlan and Neville Gawley for getting it at the last minute for me!).

I put my skirt on my mannequin and taped over the whole surface of the skirt, leaving a gap for the zip, which I taped over on the night of the party. If for any reason you have to do this for a costume you should be warned that it makes the skirt tighter as it takes away the flexibility, after a little shimmying I was able to get into it. I took the above photo above before I started sewing, my machine lasted about a minute and then decided it was allergic to gaffer tape, so I ended up stapling the ugly trimming on instead.

I made panels for the skirt by gaffer taping some strips of felt, I wanted them to be stiffer than material but not made out of card(so I could still go to the loo). I then stapled more trimming down the middle of each panel. I thought I would have been able to sew these panels on but my needle wouldn't go through that much tape, so again gaffer came to the rescue. I just taped them length ways at the top on the front and back, surprisingly they all stayed on all night!

Here comes the magic bit, I found this make your own body form tutorial through Pinterest, and thought it would be perfect for making a corset for my costume. My friend Ruth Madida called over and we went mad with the gaffer tape. In the tutorial they are making a body form so it's more about the shape you really are, whereas with this I wanted it tight and supportive, upward taping around the bust seemed to do the job perfectly. 

 As you can see I'm delighted with the result!

My friend Ruth then cut a straight line up the back so I could get out of the top. I then got out my trusty cropadile and put rivets into both sides all the way up the back, this is time consuming but much more secure than re-taping me back into it on the night.

I then made sleeves out of a red wool scarf I got in Oxfam for €2. I cut it into four quarters and then did a double layered over-locking stitch on my machine to stop it from running, sewing two pieces together for each sleeve. I then had to painstakingly hand stitch through gaffer tape to attach them to the bodice.

No warrior Klingon is complete without a Bat'leth, which is a type of a kick ass axe/sword. I drew it out on mounting card and the covered it with gaffer tape. Any nerds looking at this will know that there is meant to be three hand spaces, but hey my card just wasn't big enough!

Now came the really tricky bit, the forehead! I put a plastic bag on my head and used half PVA, half water to make a paste, I then paper mache some tissue onto my head making the ridged Klingon foreheadmade the piece higher than my hairline. I let this dry for a couple of days.To help attach the piece to my head I bought a swimming cap in a sports shop and cut a hole in the top of it. On the night of the party I was ready to see if I could actually pull off this costume off without a hitch! I pulled my hair through the hole in the cap, then used latex to attach the paper mache forehead to the swimming cap, then I put a tonne of latex on top aswell so it had the texture of skin not paper. It took a couple of hours for this to dry. I then got John to cut away more of the swimming cap so very little of it was visible,only just a band around the bottom to hold it on. I then used brown, black, and light skin tone face paints to add definition and to blend in with my own face. Because of all my allergies I was really concerned about putting latex on my face, so that's where the swimming cap came in handy, there was only a tiny bit at the sides touching my skin and I had no reaction to it thankfully!

Then it was just a case of making all the accessories like the shoulder piece, which is card covered in tape, with panels of mounting card under the tape to make the ridges. The neck piece was a bit of a bitch to make, I had to make it so it was somewhat flexible, still look structured, but comfortable to wear. In the end I made it out of red oil cloth with tape on the inside, and there is a small paintbrush taped into the inside of the front to give a little bit of stability. On the morning of the party I made my gauntlets while working at the market, again I used what tape I had left(you can see how I used 100m of tape!!) and some oil cloth and card. I lined them with grey leg warmers so they would be comfortable to wear. As you can see from the picture above I plaited my hair so it would be crimped, after lots of back combing and tonnes of hairspray it looked suitably Klingon like.

My inspiration; The Duras Sisters
I loved doing it, and on the night we had an absolute blast! Next year I might take a little break though and go for something simpler and a bit more comfortable. Dancing in a suit of armour made of gaffer tape is about the sweatiest thing I've ever done!
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