Ahoy there! If you’ve not already signed up to my newsletter (and why not? It’s THRILLING! Check out the handy pop-up and stick your email address in there!) then this is for you to peruse. A little of this, a little of that, just some stationery, fun and creativity. Enjoy!
Like a dress with pockets and a wallet with enough slots for your cards, having a desk tidy with ample spaces for all your different stationery essentials is a much searched for item. But is there such thing as the perfect one? I think this one comes pretty close. Plenty of places for pens and pencils, plus a couple of drawers to hide all those bits you’re not quite sure where to put.
Creativity is great when it’s running free, but how do you motivate yourself when your mojo is running low? Here are a few hints and tips for you to try out:
Brainstorm your ideas – just go with it and write down everything that pops into your head.
Carry a notebook with you, to capture all those on-the-go random thoughts.
Take a break from social media! It can be a great source of inspiration, but try and mix up your input.
Try something new – break out of your comfort zone.
Listen to music – how about something completely different to usual?
It’s been proven that craft can be great for your mental health, and I think everyone could do with a little boost at the moment! Why not take a break and try something simple? Pinterest is a goldmine of ideas for fun crafts to try, often using just a few items you can find around the home. You can find a few over on my ‘Craft Tutorials & DIY‘ board. Go get your make on!
At the end of last year, I was commissioned to create a book of epic proportions. Code name: the Beast.
The request came from a brewery, as they wanted something to house their recipes in. They use a lots of old, re-purposed parts for their equipment and the fact I work with upcycled leather fit perfectly.
The client gave me a brief outline of what they wanted, and we went back and forth getting the details right; I really wanted to make sure I understood just what look/feel they were after. Here are the specs I was given:
A3 size book
Arcane meets modern look
Leather ‘patchwork’/made-from-spare-parts cover
Unlined pages with weathered/tarnished look
Some kind of fastenings, latches or old leather belts, on upper & lower sections of the cover, with the ability to lock
To get the A3 size, I had to order A2 paper to fold down. Luckily, my favourite cupcycled paper comes in that size- made from upcycled takeaway cups, it really ties in with the whole repurposed/reused feel. Further completing this theme, and giving the paper that weathered/tarnished look the client was after, I stained all the pages (and my hands!) with tea. The paper then dried with a lovely ripple to it, adding to the aged feel.
Once folded, the signatures (sets of folded pages) were sewn together using waxed thread, onto linen tapes- these attach to the covers and help make such a big book sturdier.
Heavy duty card was used for the covers, thick enough to take the leather I was using; bookbinding typically uses very thin leather, but as I was using scraps from my rescued leather stash, it was around 3mm thick (believe me, for bookbinding that’s thick!). I’ve boxes of scraps and offcuts and it was lovely to be able to use them. Thankfully I love jigsaws.
The spine was made from a single piece of leather; rescued, like the rest, from a shoe factory, it was slightly worn with a few scuffs. So, perfect for the project. I have a say this took a while to wrestle into place, as it needed to be even at the top, bottom and both front and back, along with the fact that it’s a huge book. But I got it there eventually, fixing the front and back covers into place and creating a nice soft spine that opens and closes easily.
The original idea was to have old leather belts attached, so the book would fasten closed using the buckles. However, as I worked on the idea, I discovered it just wasn’t going to work; the book was so big, the belts and buckles quite cumbersome, and attaching them fully meant they were tricky to unfasten. After going through and disregarding several options with the customer, I found a diagram to make latches from leather, rivets and D rings and we settled on that. They took me a while to get just right, but I absolutely love them and will be using them again!
The old leather belts didn’t go to waste though. I attached the lengths of leather so it gives the appearance that they’re part of the latches. They also help break up the patchwork of the cover.
So, finally I was finished and the Beast was ready to be sent to it’s new master! I was sad to see it go and nervous to see how it would be received. I’d been sending updates throughout, but it’s very different to holding the finished work in your hands and looking over it in real life. I’ve put their response below!
“… I LOVE IT! This is so awesome, you’ve really nailed it!
I’m incredibly happy with how it turned out and am ultra-excited to start filling it up and make part of our lore.”
It’s been a while since I’ve written about Coffee.Cake.Create. Last time, I was talking about how it would start running on the last Thursday of the month- which is what’s been happening for the past year! Now, it’s a craft club with a twist; you can just come along, bring your own project to work on, and chat with fellow crafters. But, if you want to have a go at something new, each session there’s the option to do the Monthly Make – a different project every month. All tools, materials and tutorial will be provided; plus of course there’ll be hot drinks and sweet treats on hand for refreshments!
I’m amazed that this is in its second year; thanks to everyone who’s come along and kept it going. We’re a small group of hardcore regulars, with a few who keep an eye out for a particular craft they’ve always wanted to try. We’ve done leatherette purses, scrap fabric pin cushions and crepe paper flowers to name a few, as well as getting through a fair few festive makes in the Christmas session.
Want to keep up with what’s going on? Join the Facebook group for updates. Here’s what’s coming up over the next few months:
Coffee.Cake.Create. Craft Club takes place on the last Thursday of the month at The Emporium at Nene Court, 19:00-21:00. It’s £5 for the basic craft club, plus an extra £5 (sometimes less!) if you’re doing the Monthly Make. Book & pay in advance on 07747 029400, call into the shop or pay via PayPal to secure your spot.
Intrigued about life aboard The Craft Fantastic? Fancy a peek inside the captain’s quarters? Here’s a behind the scenes look at craft HQ!
Where do I work?
I live in Northampton and work from home, in a studio/workshop/creative space that I set up in my teeny box bedroom. Like all good craft rooms, it’s full to bursting with supplies, materials, tools and projects on the go, which cover most available space – including the desk.
Despite the lack of space, I love working in this room. It looks out onto the back garden, so I can always see the birds flitting around in the hawthorns.
What kind of setup do I have?
Very little of my desk is actually used for making. I like to have everything to hand for whatever it is I’m working on, so there’ll always be tools, templates and materials lying about.
As what I do is very hands on, though, I find myself picking things up and moving them around while I’m working, sometimes holding things between my knees to get the right angle!
Tools live on my desk, with rolls and rolls of paper above. Everything else is generally packed in my handy IKEA shelf unit, or shoehorned onto an old set of shelves. There’s a lot of furniture in there for such a small room.
How do I work?
One of the most time-consuming things is turning ideas into a finished, polished product. As I use a lot of upcycled materials, I usually go through what I have and that’s often the first point of inspiration for me; certain papers and leathers will be crying out to be used together.
I have a brainstorming session, sketching and writing out ideas in a big blank book. Then I go over them, making a list of the materials I’d need and figuring out how to make them; really getting an idea of how feasible they are! I usually make my own templates, so I need to check and double check all the measurements and figure out what order I need to do things in; this is generally what takes the longest.
After I’ve gathered the materials and sorted the process and templates, it’s time to get to work. Here are some finished products from the past few months. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading!
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 🙂
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll notice my handle is @Guiwenneth – in fact, I’ve used it quite a bit for various things. So where did it come from and what does it have to do with The Craft Fantastic?
The name Guiwenneth comes from a book – of course it does! It’s taken from the ‘Mythago Wood’ series by Robert Holdstock. It’s all fantasy and forests and mythology and I’m not saying anything else; you’ll just have to read the books! Anyway, when I was thinking about my business, coming up with a brand, doodling logos, I named the mermaid I designed Guiwenneth. You should be able to see her, bobbing about at the top of my site. I guess you could say she’s my co-captain, as she was designed alongside my main logo of the little ship:
The Craft Fantastic – and intentional pun on the word craft. I loved the thought of my business being a new enterprise, setting off on an adventure into uncharted waters, so the name seemed to fit well. I’ve since designed a simpler anchor logo that works much better for my Etsy store, but I can’t ever get rid of the original boat – or indeed Guiwenneth, which is a good job as she’s tattooed on my ankle!
Ahoy there! December 3rd is small business Saturday and I’m running a little pre-Christmas promo: 10% off at thecraftfantastic.etsy.com. Find festive home decor, gift wrap, stocking fillers and more!
I’ve been busy with fairs for the past couple of weekends, but now I’m done for the year. My best fair was a small Christmas coffee morning in Great Brington; a lovely collection of quality makers and lots of customers!
Currently, I’m working on keeping my Etsy shop stocked in the run up to Christmas. My newest makes are up there, these beautiful cherry blossom A6 notebooks:
As well as these, I’m trying out some of my slogan notebooks. I’ve sold my prototype ‘GOOD IDEAS’ notebook, but plan to make more of the same, plus some personalised versions:
Etsy store aside, I’ve started planning for 2017! I’ll have a full plan in the New Year; look out for my post with dates of fairs, promotions and events.
Hope you all had a good festive season! Yes? No? Get up to anything crafty? New Year resolutions? FAB.
It’s all go here at The Craft Fantastic HQ – I’m now officially a full-time crafter! WHOOP! I’m VERY excited, as you can imagine.
First things first: this isn’t a decision I made lightly, and I’m aware that I’ll need to work hard to get this business off the ground. With that in mind, I’ve taken a few steps to make sure I stay on target.
GOAL LISTS. The idea is to have one list for each month – so far I’ve written Jan and Feb and I’ll keep adding as I go along – I’m still figuring out how much time things will take.
THINGS TO DO EVERY DAY. This is a list of activities I’m going to do every. single. day. It’s a good mix of work, work work and downtime; things like exercise, read, craft, write, catch up on emails and social media, housework etc.
Ok – so only two steps! I’m just getting started though, learning as I go- lots more hints and tips on starting out to come 🙂