Autumn aboard The Craft Fantastic – new Etsy additions & upcoming fairs

As the year rolls into autumn, I thought it was about time to talk about the latest happenings here at HQ.

I’ve been busy working on some new ideas (sometimes this involved sitting in my craft room staring at piles of paper and scraps of material). A while back I got a set for stamping letters into leather, so I’ve been using that to create some mini books. This is my favourite – with ‘OFF WE GO’ stamped on the cover and the inside pages made from an old French road map. It’s one-of-a-kind!

I’ve also got a few blank mini covers, so personalised book necklaces are up for grabs. Had to make myself one to practise, of course!

You can find these minis and more in The Craft Fantastic Etsy shop.

Now, onto upcoming fairs. It is getting towards the end of the year and my next craft fair will be a *whispers* Christmas stall. I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be exhibiting at the wonderful MK Handmade & Vintage Fair, which is held in the middle of Milton Keynes shopping centre. It’s always full of amazing stalls, so if you’re looking for something a bit different then this is the place to do your festive shopping.

As well as my usual stock of notebooks, book necklaces and other papercraft items, I’ll be making up some origami flower sets for Christmas displays and centrepieces, plus there’ll be a selection of origami and paper tree decorations. Here’s a sneak peek!

Hope to see you there! Don’t forget, you can shop for all my products on Etsy or you can email me if you’d like to talk about a custom order.

If you’re in the Northampton area, I also have a stall on December 2nd in Great Brington. It’s a lovely intamate affair with a good selection of quality local makers – and there’ll be cake! More info here.

 

 

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Upcycling & reusing materials = Unique & One of a Kind Binds

When it comes to making notebooks and journals, I’m a huge fan of using upcycled materials for a number of reasons, which I’ll share below.

Take this map-cover book, for example. The cover paper is taken from an old map of Brussels. The map made a couple of A5 notebooks and there’s some left over to make smaller books; and every book is different. Sure, I could get specific maps of places of interest/print maps off and get consistent covers, making bigger batches of each book. But I don’t want that. I love that every single one of my map books is different- one of the reasons I love handmade is that you’re getting something unique!

Even if I’ve got more of a certain material, I still like to work in small batches, making a couple of each different book. I get inspired by the materials on hand, and having just a little of a lot of different materials really gets my creative brain going. The spine of the above book is has been upcycled from an old leather jacket; using it for just the spine allows the material to go further and enables me to use all those thinner, smaller sections of materials. Sure, I could buy new leather in bulk and make bigger batches of notebooks that were all the same; but the way I work means you really are getting something pretty unique!

Also, I like to use as many of the little scraps as I can. The above pocket book was made from an off-cut of soft grey leather; it had small slits all down the sides, but because I made small A7 books from it, it works fine for me! See the thin leather strap? That’s an off-cut from the same leather jacket used for the spine of the key print book. If I’ve got scraps left, I try and think how I can use them. Mostly they make my mini books:

I’ve put together a short video on this subject and you can find it over on The Craft Fantastic YouTube channel, or watch below. I’m still getting used to doing videos and this is less than perfect; but perfection’s overrated, right? Listen out for me getting my words the wrong way round towards the end 😀

To see my selection of hand bound notebooks, bullet journals, travel journals and more head over to my etsy store.

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New notebooks roundup

Recently, I’ve been trying out a few different things. It’s generally quieter over the summer months, so once I’d got all my wedding orders out of the way it was time to play! I think trying new ideas and learning new was of doing things is very important; you’ve got to keep moving and keep doing things to keep your brain working.

These new notebooks have hard covers and a firm but flexible spine – my own take on a hollow back binding. It was definitely a learning process for me but I’ve loved making them. My first attempt was the silver swirls book on the right; it’s less than perfect but is still beautiful:

  

Now I think I’ve got the hang of it. I’ve got more papers which I’ve not used yet, so look out for those! Plus I’m planning a new YouTube video on reusing and recycling, and will also be sharing with you my first attempts at book restoration and rebinding. Stay tuned! x

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Wedding lookbook – autumn/winter

Spring/summer may be billed as the main wedding season, but what about all those autumn and winter brides? They’ll be busy planning away right about now, so I thought I’d share some ideas. Colour schemes, accessories, finishing touches, here are just a few images to inspire along with some stunning handmade products.

When it comes to colour schemes, autumn is my favourite! All those different shades of oranges and yellows are beautiful. Opt to incorporate subtle hints of seasonal colour, or go for something a bit bolder like in this bouquet and matching buttonholes. The bright oranges have been mixed with sheet music paper to create stunning effect:

This rustic wedding cake topper from The Button Jar is just the thing for an autumnal colour scheme:

And for the finishing touch to your tables, these copper hearts are perfect and can be used as wedding favours as well as decorative napkin rings:

 

It may be cold in winter but it can be so beautiful. Take some inspiration from frosty whites and cool blues. This large bouquet is made from white paper, with pearly beads dotted around – perfect for a cold winter’s day:

And if you wanted to inject some colour, this pompomblossom silk ribbon bundle would look gorgeous:

What about the weather? What about the weather! While it can rain at any time of the year, it is more likely to be wet in the winter months. So you just need to be prepared; and as it’s your wedding you need to do it in style – these heart shaped umbrellas from Simcha Central’s Etsy shop are so delightful, you’ll want to use them all the time:

As for bridal head wear, this beaded crown from VBMillinery is perfect for winter ice queens:

There are so many beautiful colours perfect for autumn/winter weddings, below are just a few more examples of my favourites. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like more info on origami flowers for your big day – spaces still available for autumn/winter 2017.

 

Want more? Check out these Etsy shops:

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Wanderlust: make an adventure to remember

Summertime is upon us and the world is calling. Whether you’re taking off for far off places or exploring closer to home, why not chronicle your adventure in a handy handmade travel journal? Blank books are fantastic for planning your holiday, making check lists for what to take and where to go, plus you can take as much space as needed to write about your travels. I love looking back over my old holidays and the check list I write helps me remember what I need to take on the next trip 😀

Over at The Craft Fantastic’s Etsy store you’ll find a wide variety of hand bound blank notebooks for all your journaling needs. Here are some map cover books to help inspire your wanderlust:

Ready for an adventure – A5 – £14

Ready for an adventure – A6 – £9

Off we go – A5 – £14

There’s also a range of miniature books– they’re set on chains to wear as a necklace, so you can easily take it with you on your travels. All the pages are blank, too, so it can be used for jotting down a few things while you’re on the go. Small writing required 😀

*First wedding anniversary = paper! These items make great gift ideas. For more inspiration, take a look at this article from The Wedding Secret.*

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Friday folding: Origami Samurai helmet tutorial

The first origami I remember seeing was something my mum folded. She’d been going to Japanese classes in the evenings and brought me back a gold paper samurai helmet one time. I kept it for ages; in fact it’s probably still around somewhere.

It’s something that’s really simple and fun to fold – plus you can use them as page markers! Here’s a set of pictures to help you fold your own.

  • Start with a square of paper, with the main colour/pattern-side face down. It should be set in a ‘diamond’ position, with a corner at the top like this:

  • Fold in half, bringing the top corner to meet the bottom corner, and crease along the fold. You should end up with a triangle:

    

  • One at a time, bring the side points down to meet the bottom corner, creasing each one well after you’ve folded it:

    

  • Next, fold each of the top layers in half, taking the points you’ve just folded down up to meet the top:

  • You should now have a square ‘diamond’ shape, with layers on the top half, that looks like this:

  • Fold, crease and unfold each of these top layers in half; you’re making a guide line for the next fold:

    

  • See the crease you made in the last step? Fold each of the top of the front layers so the edge lines up with the crease and smooth down firmly:

        

  • Now it’s taking shape! Nearly done! Going to the bottom corner, take the front layer only and fold it up to the place shown here:

  • Then fold the bottom of this layer upwards to form the base of the helmet. Crease these new folds well:

    

  • Last step! Take the remaining bottom layer, folding in half (taking the bottom corner up to the top) and pressing the fold firmly – then tuck this layer inside the helmet:

        

  • Ta da!

    

I hope had fun with this origami Samurai helmet. Happy folding 🙂

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Wedding Season 2017

Wedding season 2017 is in full swing! The Craft Fantastic HQ is full of origami bouquets and paper flowers. I’ve been hard at work over the last couple of months finishing orders – and I’m still going! This is my first full year doing weddings and I’m loving it; my brides are really creative and it’s so much fun putting together their perfect flowers for the big day. Here are some sneak peeks!

 

I’m pretty much fully booked for summer 2017 – just taking small commissions – but there are spaces for autumn/winter and of course 2018! You can find The Craft Fantastic at the upcoming wedding fair at the Double Tree Hotel, Stadium MK.

 

If you’re not sure whether paper flowers are for you, this will give you a chance to take a look at the bouquets in real life. You’ll be able to try out the different sizes, view the matching buttonhole options and see what you think of the new range of headdresses. There’ll be pomanders and wands for flower girls, small posies and large bunches, table decorations and garlands.

As always, I’ll have a range of hand bound guest books to choose from, all of which can be personalised. There’ll be a good selection that can be purchased on the day.

Hopefully I’ll see you at the Milton Keynes Wedding Show, Sunday 2nd July!

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Latest makes, upcoming fair

Origami bouquet

Lately, I’ve been working on a few wedding commissions. The Craft Fantastic HQ is full of paper flowers! Buttonholes, bouquets and loose origami flowers galore. Today I’m going to be boxing up a brides bouquet in red, cream and black with black and white comic book paper flowers. It looks so effective and I can’t wait for the bride to see it!

There have been a few new additions to my Etsy shop too. Here’s a selection:

In other news, The Craft Fantastic will have a stall at the Castle Ashby craft fair late May bank holiday – Sunday 28th & Monday 29th. There’s a £7 entry fee to get in, but this includes entry to the beautiful gardens as well as the menagerie (which has meerkats. Meerkats!). There’ll also be a falconry display, a  carousel and lots of other bits and pieces for the whole family – along with an amazing array of designers and makers. I’ll be crossing my fingers and toes for nice weather, but all the stalls are under cover so come along whatever the weather!

Craft Fantastic stall display

 

 

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Origami floral headdresses

Origami flower crown

NEW RANGE ALERT! Just in time for both wedding season and festival season, The Craft Fantastic is pleased to announce the launch of handmade origami floral headdresses, flower crowns, headpieces, head wraps – call them what you will, they’re all gorgeous! Perfect for brides or bridesmaids, festivals or garden parties. Each one is handmade from different paper and attached to a wire base, which is covered in floral tape. They come either with a ribbon tie at the back, or the wire ends can simply be wound together to fasten.

There are a few made up and ready to ship over on etsy (see pictures below) but I can make up custom orders to your specifications. Basically, start with a base unit and decide what flowers, leaves, feathers etc. you want! Here’s a run-down on the prices:

Base unit (with or without ribbon) = £2

Origami flower = £2 (including gem/bead in centre)

Leaf/feather = £0.50

So for example, a headdress with a cluster of 3 flowers and a feather will be £8.50.

Origami flower headdressPaper flower headdressMusic paper flower headdressOrigami flower crownHeaddress back viewPastel paper flower headdress

I have a wide range of different papers in stock, so feel free to get in touch if you’d like something particular. I have an abundance of music paper and book paper, a lot of pastels, and quite a few sheets of various patterned origami paper.

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Craft business marketing: What I’ve learned so far

It can be tough to figure out how to do marketing by and for yourself. When you’ve just set up your craft business, you’re most likely to be focused on designing and making. You know you need to get your products out there, but how do you do it? What’s the best approach? How much time should you spend doing it?

I don’t think I’m any kind of expert. I’m definitely still learning, and lots of things I’ve learned I’ve yet to put into practice – BUT! – I have attended a few webinars and made lots of notes. So, here are a few things I’ve picked up along the way.

  • You may have heard people talking about SMART goals. What’s a SMART goal? Not making stupid goals is a given, right? SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. Basically, think about your goals carefully, plan them well and give yourself a time frame. Make an overall goal and break it down to make it manageable.

 

  • Looks are important! Think about your brand image. Make it consistent across all platforms. Think about the feel of your business and what kind of customers you’re trying to attract. People will connect if they see something that looks ‘them’. One tip I picked up is to create private boards on Pinterest where you can build a picture of your ideal client. You’ll probably need more than one! Here’s a shot of one of mine, for my hand-bound notebooks. I tried to think what kind of person would buy them, what they’d be into, the type of clothes they’d wear and how their house might look.

 

  • One webinar I attended said to spend 40% of your time on marketing. Sounds like a lot, right? But if you set aside just 1 hour a day, you’re on the right track.

 

  • Social media platforms are all different – don’t use them in the same way! Using Twitter/Instagram etc. are easy, free and effective ways of getting yourself out there. But you have to look at how and if they will work for you. Think about what they’re used for and how you yourself would use them. Twitter? Fast moving, good for networking. Instagram? Visual, creative and personal. Pinterest? Use it like a search engine!

I hope this has been useful! I think networking with other like-minded people and people who are in the same position is important, so feel free to get in touch – I’m on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest 🙂

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