For some time I have been a little unhappy with my website .... so over the last month or so I have been creating a new one. One really positive thing about this is that the new website has a blog feature, so it will keep all my blog and website work in one place!
My writings here have been somewhat sporadic of late - isn't it funny how we go in phases with things? And I'm not the only one- I have seen a number of blogs lately who have been taking a break, and having time out.
For me, I have been using Tumblr- Although a micro blogging site, it feels like a combination of twitter, FB, and instagram all rolled into one! If you fancy seeing my blog over there to see what I mean, you can find it here:
Sharing off of Tumblr seems to confuse me, so it is more insular than the other social platforms, but I have been enjoying using it.
Do any of you use Tumblr? If so, let me have the link in the comment box and I will come on over for a look :)
Anyhow, its halloween today, and although I don't celebrate, there is something really lovely about feeling like a new season has started! It also brings out lots of opportunites for using pumpkins as art! Such as this guy and his family ....
you have been with The Penguin Network over the last two weeks in the lead up
to our big launch, you may have noticed mention of SBSE. So today I thought I would share with you how
it all began. SBSE grew out of a fabulous group on Facebook called I run asmall business. Irasb has been an enormous help over the last year, not only to
myself but to over 11,000 other small businesses.
It had also become a great tool for meeting fellow small business,
(and growing business) owners, some of which I now happily call my buddies.
some of these great people I have met, we have developed a group called SBSE:
or more formally, Small Business Support & Experiments.
SBSE began as an experiments group that aimed to find out how
to beat the algorithms that Facebook has in place, - also called an
'EdgeRank'. You may have seen this written about often if you follow
small uk businesses on Facebook, if not, you can find a brief summary
algorithm decides, on your behalf, what posts you might want to see, and which
you might not like to see. It chooses which of
your friends stories will be the most interesting to you. It
looks at the feedback the posts and photos get, and decides whether
to show it to you or not. Many of us with small businesses who use
facebook think that if you like a page, you will want to see all the updates,
and not be told by a computer programme which ones to see. So our experimental group
is working out the best way for us all to extend our business reach to help our
customers keep ontop of our news.
began using the hashtag #sbse to help find each other on twitter, and we have a
facebook group that helps us stay in touch, I am pleased to say that this group
of 30 businesses has developed into a place of support for each other, and not
just for business, but for general fun and friendly banter. I imagine it
to be a like a virtual office that we all work in, and they are the people I
stop for coffee breaks with! Essential if you are lone home worker like me!!!
I have found that the support for my
page a tremendous help- - being in touch with businesses that are
familiar with my business is a tool which helps create a sense of happy
security on my posts and pictures, and we have generally found that it has
encouraged other page supporters to comment or like images. Not to
mention that I get to see all the lovely things my friends are
making, services they are offering, and even new places to stay when
we book our holidays!
The Penguin Network organically grew out of this group. After an evening of madness talking about
penguins within the SBSE group and all over Facbook in fact!.... they soon
appeared on our twitter accounts .....<(") ....... the
hash tag #followthepenguin began to surface, and from this, The Penguin Network
has been born!! Supported by all the SBSE team, it is run with 18 admins,
all helping to manage the site and keep it up to date and current. Within SBSE is the talented Jo Ballantine,
who owns at Driven by
design! She has been designing our banners, and we are mid
launch, with a whole load of momentum behind us.
The Penguin Network will hopefully be a little different
to the usual sharing and hiking pages that you can find on Facebook. TPN is growing rapidly into a networking
community that people can use to share work, knowledge ideas and support, and
generally have fun. Equally different is that it is not just for crafts people,
it is for all those running a business, which makes sharing everyone’s skills
and ideas so interesting.
Morning all. If you have been a follower of this blog over the last year, you will recall my happy posts about the group irasb. It has been an enormous help over the last year, and also had become a great tool for meeting fellow small business, (and growing business) owners, some of which I now happily call my buddies.
Along side some of these great people I have met, we have developed a group called SBSE. Or more formally, Small Business Support & Experiments. SBSE began as an experiments group that aimed to find out how to beat the algorithms that Facebook has in place, - also called an 'EdgeRank'. You may have seen this written about often if you follow small uk businesses on Facebook, if not, you can find a brief summary here. The algorithms decide, on your behalf, what posts you might want to see, and which you might not like to see. It chooses which of your friends stories will be the most interesting to you. It looks at the feedback the posts and photos get, and decides whether to show it to you or not. Many of us with small businesses who use facebook think that if you like a page, you will want to see all the updates, and not be told by a computer programme which ones to see. So our experimental group is working out the best way for us all to extend our business reach to help our customers keep ontop of our news.
We began using the hashtag #sbse to help find each other on twitter, and we have a facebook group that helps us stay in touch, I am pleased to say that this group of 50 businesses has developed into a place of support for each other, and not just for business, but for general fun and friendly banter. I imagine it to be a like a virtual office that we all work in, and they are the people I stop for coffee breaks with! Essential if you are lone home worker like me!!!
I have found that the support for my page a tremendous help- - being in touch with businesses that are familiar with my business is a tool which helps create a sense of happy security on my posts and pictures, and we have generally found that it has encouraged other page supporters to comment or like images. Not to mention that I get to see all the lovely things my friends are making, services they are offering, and even new places to stay when we book our holidays!
(Designed by Ana at http://www.jellybeanhomegifts.co.uk/en/) After an evening of madness talking about penguins within the SBSE group.... they soon appeared on our twitter accounts .....<(") ....... the hash tag #followthepenguin began to surface, and from this, a new page has been born!! We even have a penguin banner designed by Jo at Driven by design! Its called The Penguin Network and it is a networking community that people can use to share work, and generally have fun. Well worth a visit of you have the time. It is still in is infancy, but I imagine great things for this little penguin!! Its amazing what comes of late night banter!
I love working with paper, I always have. From my favourite butterflies .... to creating shapes by removing paper. I love paper, and the flexibility it can give you in design. As a card maker and designer it is the bread and butter of my business so to speak. I always like to see new ways to use it, and new techniques on how to manipulate it to create some unique element for card making.
But sometimes you find an artist who just takes your medium to a whole new level, and that's a fair statement for Vincent Tomczyk. He is an artist and a craftsman in the true sense of the word, and works magic with paper Magic I tell you. His work was showcased on the brilliant Colossal blog, I love getting my posts from the blog- I have no idea how he finds such brilliant work so often!!
Here are a few images of Vincent Tomczyk's work, taken from his website - you can find it here.
Made with PAPER, !!!!!! Paper ! I think the armchair is my Favourite. I think my butterflies need a little more work!!
Today's post is about Pinterest and how I use it ...
For those of you who have never used it before, it is like a virtual pin board. Imagine that you put pinboards around your office, and every time you saw something interesting on the internet, you printed it out, and pinned it to the relevant board.
That is what Pinterest is, but online. Your boards are stored on the internet, rather than physically in your workspace.
You can fit many many more boards online than you ever could in your workspace, and it is easy to fill them up from the websites that you visit or from other peoples boards on Pinterest.
Pinterest can be used in two ways ....
Firstly, you can follow other peoples boards ... When you see someone board that interests you, you can follow it so you will see all their new pins when you visit the site. This is a handy tool for when you find fantastic boards, and when you want to keep up to date automatically with others peoples inspiration.
Secondly, and this is how I personally use it, is that you don't follow any boards, and you just re-pin images that you see to your own boards. I prefer this, as I use Pinterest directly for inspiration for my work, and I like to control what I see when I visit Pinterest. I do however search Pinterest when I fancy looking for new ideas and themes, but when I log in I only see my pins. I find that this works well for me.
In terms of my business, and how I use it for networking and promoting my colleagues over at the The Penguin Network and the great support team of businesses that are behind the Network - I re-pin their work onto my boards - I therefore see their creations in my inspiration, and I share their work too. It means when people see my pins, their work is also seen.
If you fancy visiting my Pinterest to see how it all looks, you can visit here:
I think for those who are in a creative industry it is especially helpful, just be warned you may lose hours, as once you start looking ... time flies!!
For those already on Pinterest, there is a link below that you might want to click ... it takes you to a button which people are pressing to vote to allow boards to be merged ... After spending an hour the other night moving images from one board to another, I think its a worth while thing to ask the Pinterest Bods to provide!!
Well, after yesterdays stresses with taking poor photos, I set to it this morning, cup of tea in hand, fuelled with poached eggs on toast ...
I moved the frame, adjusted the camera settings, wedged the daylight lamp under a box to get a jaunty angle, and this is the result. ...
Although it is not perfect, I certainly think that its a huge improvement.
This is how it looks with the close ups ready to go out online ...
The lovely Carly, who is a blogging buddie of mine and who runs the beautifully looking Crafted by Carly, suggested a book, as did fellow #irasb er Marie, who runs Marie Louise Hall Photography so its a fab recommendation especially as shes a photographer!! .. Marie says that its packed with tips on using a lighting tent. Perhaps one for me to look at once I am more happy with my own set up, and my homemade lighting area!
On the whole, its been a great experience in not getting a great snap first time, its really got some great dialogue going with buddies on what works for them, and has made me realise that I MUST take more time on presenting my work. Not dissimilar to what I used to get on my school report!!!
Technology has not been my friend this week - not only does my printer not like dealing with card, but I am still having trouble with my photography. I made another butterfly frame, this time bigger, and in my opinion, better than any frame I had made before. It will be just in time for mothers day, and I was anxious to get the ball rolling early this year, seeing as Mothers Day completely passed me by last year!!
But when I took my snap, this is what happened ...
It was a really flat, grainy image, and just does not sell my work. The most frequent comment I get back in customer feedback is that the photos don't do my work justice -and its frustrating. I am sure its losing me sales and sending customers to other FB businesses who have the photography cracked. I am getting better though, and my new camera is certainly helping, but I still have a ways to go.
I happened to air my frustration on the I run a small business forum ... as I have mentioned before- its a great place of support, and a place to talk about your business which keeps it away from your customers! (And I am sure that Mr.T is pleased that I don't whitter on all day to him about it either!!)
Anyhow, within an hour three of my irasb friends had taken my photo and tweaked it to show me how they could improve it!! (Told you they were a great bunch of people!)
Firstly Jennifer who runs the handmade cake topper business Twinkleballs ...
Jennifer used Picasa to do the editing ... I have not got to grips really with Picasa, but I am sure that once I took some time on it I would find my way around. What I especially like about this is that Jennifer managed to get rid of the black marking where my cardboard back finished!! I am DEFINITELY going to be figuring this out!
Julie used Pic Monkey which is what I use. I like how Julie really got the overall colour brighter, and without too much over glare.I have found, out of the photo software I have seen, Pic Monkey the most straight forward and user friendly for me. I like the text options they have as well, and I intend to use the text I used for the watermarking of the pictures, for all my website banners etc.
Lastly, Caroline, who owns Candy Parade (if you want bespoke bedding that you will find nowhere else, go here!) used Corel Paintshop Pro ...
Caroline really got the definition between the frame and butterflies, I like how they are the main feature!
I had one really thought provoking comment though from Jon, from Round Partner, who told me to play around with the shutter speed! So simple, to go back to the equipment and try different settings .... but I hadn't even thought of it. Sometimes I think I am in such a hurry to get my frames and cards photographed and up online, that I forget to play around with the camera. Considering during my training, I covered a module in photography and developing, you'd think I'd have thought about it. I think it shows me that I do need to pay more attention to what I doing, and how I go about doing it.
Some of the irasb bunch have also been playing around with their photography ... its been a theme over the last two months. Light tents have been popular, and on the whole very successful. Here are some images that demonstrate peoples development with the light tents:
Carolyn of CoolJoolz did a whole selection of photos that shows off her handmade bespoke wedding rings ... the image which had the consensus of being the best was the bottom right ... and this one used a light tent.
Jennifer of Twinkleballs did a really tricky bit of photography- her cake toppers in a clear plastic ball. The glare is hard enough to deal with, but using her tent she managed to get the detail inside the ball.
Fiona at little dragon jewellery did some experiments with the tent and using the lighting from different angles. You can certainly tell the difference.
Lastly, and really interestingly is this photo by Anastasia from Jelly Bean who used a terrapin lamp to light the item... and its fab!! The light tent she used was the tent that I had, but didn't get on with. I am glad to see that it has gone to a good home and is working well for her.
I think it is so important to play around, and see what works for you, from equipment to software, and also to not be afraid of getting rid of what doesn't work. The tent didn't work for me, so onto new experiments and trials. :) If you fancy visiting my FB to give moral support.. feel free!!!! www.facebook.com/evelynmaedesign
This is my starting point:
One daylight lamp (i dropped and smashed the other one), a raised surface infront of the window to get the most light, and a white card backdrop to spread the light. My next plan of action is to replace the broken light, create some tin foil reflective surfaces, and play around with the settings on my camera.
I will report back soon!!!
Lastly, after venturing a few months ago onto twitter...(https://twitter.com/ShelAtEvelynMae) ... More and more of the irasb group are getting on there, and we are all beginning to link up and network If you fancy hearing from the others search for the hashtag #irasb and you'll find us!
Right, time to cook stir fry and put the kettle on, and maybe crack open the stash of smarties!!
As promised, I am back for the end of the month for a blog post, ... My altered approach for 2013 will be to post a little less often, but to bring you more images of what my month looked like!
So for me, January has been a strange old month. Being very much a Christmas person, I have found it pretty hard to get back into the swing of work after having a few weeks off- and its not because I don't love what I do ... but somehow the start of January gets filled up with the habits left over from the Christmas holidays ... and the end of January gets filled up with undoing all those habits!
That said, I have still had some productive moments scattered though the last 27 days! So here they are!
I started work on a set of birthday cards that used the most popular theme from 2012 butterflies. The canvas that I made last year had so many lovely comments, that I decided to continue it over to 2013. You can find them on the website here.
I have also been working on the tabs on the Facebook Page - I had made images to cover the tabs some time ago, but this year I needed to get on and match them to my business cards! Unfortunately the colour seems to vary from lapop to phone, but its supposed to be a light mint/teal colour!
Despite the variations in colour ... I really like it. The brand is really coming together now, with the butterflies, and the matching colours. It has been one of those jobs that you put off because there is always something else to do, but it is always well worth doing when you do! There is something to be said for overhauling and taking another look at your image from an outsiders perspective.
Lastly, I have been putting this together ....
It is a pretty heart card that uses stitching from my vintage 1950s singer sewing machine, and I'm offering it with some handmade chocolate that is shaped like a heart, from http://www.trulychocolates.co.uk/ It is so nice to be making cards that are all representative of the company and the sort of 'feel' that I am trying to create. Its taken some time to get there, but it is really coming together. You can see the package here.
If you haven't visited the facebook page yet, please do ... I post fairly regularly, and link to lots of interesting things and articles, as well as sharing some new designs and inspirations If you write on the wall that you found the FB via the blog, I'll add you to my discount list, as I'm also offering free postage on your next order if you visit via the blog, so well worth a visit!
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you all had a really lovely Christmas and new year,