30 May 2012

Shrink Plastic Sweat Shop

I spent a long sweaty day in my glass house studio yesterday drawing and colouring in loads of shrink plastic. I made 2 of each of my earring designs, 1 each on my rings, and 1 each of the necklaces. This still doesn't even include brooches, bookmarks and cuff links! I got around to colouring about 40 odd of them but I still have another 140 or so to go. It will be another long day in the studio I think. It's a good thing I have the last book of Tad Williams Memory Sorrow and Thorn to keep me company on audio book, I was working last night til 1.30am and I didn't even notice the time because the book is so good!

I switched over from using the frosted plastic to the white for all of my designs, as in the Limerick rain blurred the earrings a little bit. Whereas you can use varnish on the white plastic and totally protect it from the elements.

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29 May 2012

My Studio

I just added a third table to my studio the other day to accommodate my new heat press machine. I've gotten really used to having an 'L' shaped desk and I didn't want to lose the extra space. The third table makes the room feel smaller, but since i have my back turned to it most of the time it's fine. It also means we have gotten our kitchen table back, as that's where the press was living for the past 3 weeks!
I had wanted to cover this wall in pictures that I've collected over the years, but since it's an external wall the heat changes meant that blue-tac only worked for a few days before all the pictures fell down. I don't want to put them in frames and hang them gallery style as the house is rented and my landlord would kill me for giving his wall the chicken pox. Any suggestions for a super sticky alternative to hanging prints?

 My permanent photography area that I have shockingly managed to keep clear!!

Here is my shelving I got in Woodies DIY, it seemed like the only affordable way to store all my junk essential craft supplies. Part of me is disappointed that I don't have beautiful matching storage boxes like you see in designer studios blog posts, but I just bought what I could afford. I'm happy with my effort to make those butt ugly laundry baskets look nicer by lining them with polka dot fabric.

My amazing heat press. I've been having trouble with burning bags and 'cooking' time, but I bought a teflon sheet on ebay which will hopefully solve this problem.

This is what I spend most of my my looking at. If the garden was in any way pretty I would open the blinds, but it's the size of a toilet cubicle and houses two bins and lots of bottle recycling. There are also two neighbours windows that look right into this room.

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23 May 2012

Research for 1920's Costume Party

I'm at that age when all my friends are turning 30(and getting married and having babies!). So this weekend I have another 30th to go to, my friend Ruth is having a 1920s themed fancy dress party. So as usual I got very excited and did loads of research. I think this low waisted style is possibly the most unflattering thing I've ever worn, but in the spirit of costume I will not shy away. Later in the week I'll post about the dress I'm working on. But in the meantime check out all this beautiful pictures(click the images to go to the original sites to see more lovely things!). 
Note: during my ramblings I found this amazing pin board of about 1500 dresses through the ages, if you are into antique clothing and costume at all this is an absolute treasure trove.

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22 May 2012

Illustrated Cards

I had a bit of a revelation last week, after years of making cards for the first time I made entirely printed cards. It seems insane that I never did it before, I saw other people doing it but never made the connection in my brain to do it myself, which is silly considering how much I like drawing. I think it was all the drawings I've been doing for the canvas bags that spurred on the idea.

I did a bunch of pencil sketches, I have a graphic pad but nothing beats drawing on paper with a pencil. I then scanned them in and set about colouring in the drawings. (To do this in Photoshop go to layer options for your drawing layer, in the drop down menu choose multiply. This makes the layer see through so all you can see is the drawing but not the white, make a new layer behind this and colour on this layer, it's like using sheets of ascetate). I chose to put them on a sparing white background and let the drawings speak for themselves. I may experiment with other layouts down the line, but at the moment I like this aesthetic.

I had tonnes of 5x5" blank cards left over from Christmas, and I brought these to the printer but he was unable to use them. Instead he printed on card and I folded them myself afterwards. I was able to use the envelopes from these packs. Down the line I'll have to source envelopes to make it more cost effective than buying card packs just for the envelopes.

I found at the stall some people were really put off by a €4 price tag for a handmade card so that's why these printed cards are great, I'm charging €2.50 each or 5 for €10. I'll also list them in my Etsy shop as they can be reproduced easily so it's worth the effort to take photos and write listings for them. I'll also be making a range of As Gaeilge cards too, as the collaged ones have been incredibly popular.

To see the whole collection so far just head over to this Facebook album.

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11 May 2012

Obsessive Hoarders

I started watching the tv series The Hoarder Next Door recently(you can watch Episode 1 below). This series seems to be a spin off from the documentary about Mr.Wallace  (above) who is the UK's most extreme hoarder. Over a lifetime he has buried himself under vast stacks of papers, rubbish, and day to day clutter. He has to crawl around his house on his belly to get from room to room. The documentary is so sad because he comes across as quite intelligent and erudite, but he is crippled by his hoarding disorder, to be honest I cried when I watched it.

The series on Ch4 is quite fascinating and at least has some modicum of compassion towards the people it's documenting. Sadly now and then it slips into reality tv mode and starts pointing fingers at how disgusting these peoples lives are by showing endless shots of dead mice and rat droppings. Beneath this veil of pop tv lies a window into these peoples lives that is compelling and full of pathos.

I must admit that I'm a bit of a hoarder, obviously nothing like what is shown in the programme, but I can see where they might have started out. I grew up in a house that was as clean as a hospital, my mother is a total neat freak. So I assume my clutterbug tendencies are a rebellion against that. While watching the show last night I could imagine myself becoming that type of person, if something happened to catalyse it. It is generally thought that a traumatic event of emotional upheaval escalates a person into obsessive hoarding, that it can be used as a device to numb emotions just like any other addiction. I hide most of my magpie behavior under the veil of my business, most crafters seem to be the same. I have stupid amounts of materials, but I can't bear to part with them because A) I paid good money for them and B) they will eventually be used (I swear!). Unfortunately I collect books, dvds, clothes, scarves etc. too, and they all take up space.

This morning when I woke up I still had the show in the back of my mind. I looked around me bedroom and looked at the bundles of unsorted clothes and decided not to procrastinate anymore. I used one of my clothes rails that I bought for the market and dug out a bunch of spare hangers. It was obvious by the clothes strewn across my floor that I didn't have ample storage space. After about an hour or so I reclaimed my floor, made a nice storage area, and even found some clothes I had totally forgotten about. To be honest I could have done with sorting out the load of craft materials that I have in there, but hey at least I did a bit!

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10 May 2012

Teaching Facebook Classes in Limerick

As any of you who follow me on Facebook will know my page is very active, I have nearly 1,300 'likes' on the page, made up of a good community of fans. Last year I also set up the Limerick Milk Market page and gathered 2,500 fans, before a member of staff took it over a few months ago. A lot of people have been asking me how to get this kind of following, and I've written a couple of articles online to help people out. But these make more sense to someone who is experienced with Facebook. Recently I've started teaching one-on-one classes in setting up and running a business page. It's kind of been a word of mouth thing, but I figured I would spread the word about it here too. 

Usually people call to my house (and I give them a nice cup of tea/coffee), firstly I gauge what level they are at and what they need from the class. From there I can teach them the basics of setting up their page and running it. Or for the more advanced client I can go through the ins and outs of running a successful page, ways of gathering more fans and keeping them interested.

Over the past couple of years I've set up and run several pages, so I've learned every trick in the book that there is to know. Ideally these classes are geared towards a small business trying to spread their name locally and built up a brand identity. 

I've devised two price plans based on the experiences from previous classes:

Beginner Class: €45
Who is this for: This is for total beginners who either aren't familiar with Facebook at all or have a personal page but don't really know how to set up, or don't know what to do with their existing business page. Depending on the ability of the client I can get into further detail of marketing strategies for business pages. 
Result: A comprehensive knowledge of Facebook, and how to make it work for your business. During the class we will set up a page, or flesh out your existing page. The client will learn how to gather a following and  establish their brand. Also a full set of notes will be provided to help them afterwards while developing their page.
Duration: One class for 2hrs -2hr 30 mins (depending on the needs of the client)

Intermediate Class: €35
Who is this for: This is for someone who know how to use Facebook already, but has hit a brick wall when it comes to their Business Page. A lot of people find that they set up their page, gain about 40-80 likes and interest seems to dry up. This class is to tackle that problem
Result: Build on their knowledge of the tools on Facebook. All the ins and outs of Timeline will be explained, showing how they can be used to flesh out a page. Tactics for gathering a following, and creating relationships with your fans on Facebook. Also a full set of notes will be provided to help them afterwards while developing their page.
Duration: One class for 1hr 30 mins- 2 hrs ( depending on the needs of the client) 

I am available to teach classes Mon-Fri daytime or evening. Please email me at ruthcrean@yahoo.ie to check times and availability. 

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8 May 2012

Website for Limerick Craft and Design

I spent a lot of time last week building the website for the craft co-op shop that I'm organising at the moment; Limerick Craft & Design. Originally I tried to make the site on blogspot, but as I need lots of pages for the different artists Wordpress was more suited as there is a limit to 20 pages on blogspot. I have been hearing for ages about how fantastic Wordpress is, and I'm sure it is when you get to grips with it, but I was quite frustrated at learning a new interface. I also didn't know you had to pay $30 to get any control over the design of the site, which is a tad galling as it's free here. Even after paying the fee I came to the realisation that CSS is way above my head and I had no clue how to alter the most basic things. My friend Lorraine came to the rescue and she will be making small design changes to make the site look prettier over the next week or so.

In the meantime I found my bearings and went about making the bones of the site. I do like that you can make a home page instead of people landing on the blog. It's a very simple website, but at the moment that's all we need. Each artist has their own page, I've only uploaded the info to a few of them, but so far you can read about; Fabulous Felt, Oh Sew Pretty, Magic Forest Toys and Me.

The site will grow in time as people send more info, and when the shop opens obviously we will have more to talk about. We are waiting on confirmation this week on the exact venue, so I'll probably get very busy over the next couple of weeks...hopefully!

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5 May 2012

My News; The Story of the Vintage Suitcase

Do you remember 'My News' from school, this is mine for today.
Imagine the scene; dressed in a multitude of layers to guard against the igloo that is the Milk Market I step out in the beaming sunshine after finishing a long day at work. Instead of being and smart and heading home after the market I do 'a little browsing' in the charity shops. I got a couple of books, but I was good and reminded myself to only buy what I could carry. Then I saw this beautiful vintage suitcase, '€5' you say 'bargain!' I say, 'I'll have that' I say. So I did. It should have ended there, but no there are two more charity shops on the way home. When I purchased more books the lovely lady behind the counter asks if I want a bag, and with glee I answered 'no, it's ok, I just bought a suitcase I'll pop them in there'. As they say rinse and repeat for the next shop. In my head I think I'm only around the corner so I'll be fine, but it's a very long street before I get to that corner.

Under that beaming sun my black coat feels like ski wear in the Sahara, all I can manage is to shuffle ten meters, stop, swap hands, and continue shuffling, stop, swap.... I look like a snail carrying it's shell beside itself, or rather an upwardly mobile slug who hasn't quite figures out the logistics of it all yet. At this stage it's not an option to peel off some layers, because A) I would have to carry them too and B)I'm sweating like a pig at this stage so the less people can see of me the better. After what feels like a Chariots of Fire like effort I make it to my door, I imagined that there should have been some sort of applause, but there wasn't. As soon as the door closes behind me I start to strip until I'm standing in my front-room in my underwear savouring the cold tiles under my tired feet. If I was the kind of person who had cold beers in the fridge* I would have drank it then and there in my bra and knickers, but I don't, so I didn't. 

Really the case will be worth what I feel was a heroic effort. Ideally I would like one of these footrests(I know this is a cat bed, but essentially it's the same thing right?) to be made from it, but it will probably live in my studio doing nothing in particular for a while until I muster motivation.

That was my day, how was yours?

*It's not that I object to beer, it's just that I have one of those miniscule fridges that are in every rented property in Ireland; much to the horror of any Americans I know.  

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4 May 2012

Hotty But Notty: Michael Wincott

Hotty But Notty (Part 18): Michael Wincott

I absolutely think there is nothing notty about Michael Wincott, but I've just never met anyone else who thinks he is hot. He has been on screen for over 30 years, most people don't know his name, but I bet you have seen a tonne of films that he's been in; The Crow, Alien Resurrection, The Count on Monte Cristo, Three Muskateers, Robin Hood, Dead Man, Strange Days, Along came a Spider, to name but a few. I think he has a great face; sallow skin, amazing bone structure. But more so it's the deliciously bold characters that he plays, most of the time he is the rakish villain, who is oddly likable while being a terrifying sadist; an difficult balance to achieve. In a lot of his roles he wear ridiculous costumes and manages to totally pull it off. He is a man who was born to wear billowing sleeves, have foppish hair, and wave his arms about in an evil 'I'm going to destroy everything because it's fun' kind of way.

Add of top of that his voice. Oh lets have a moment to contemplate the gravelly dirty voice that always has a wry one liner on it's lips. Scroll down to watch the video at the bottom to see what I mean; nom, noms. A persons voice can really affect their attractiveness, I know that seems a little shallow, but hey this whole series is. You might remember the 'Hi Kate, it's me from the bar' ad, need I say more?

If you haven't seen any of his work, go treat yourself to a movie night, he is a great actor.

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