Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Crafting Tip: Gluing Ribbon Ends

I like to glue all the exposed ends of ribbon I use in my scrapbooks so they don't fray (well the ones I sell, I'm a bit of a slacker with my own) but I've always had trouble figuring out how to keep the ends from sticking to stuff while they're drying. Tonight I was momentarily brilliant and had the idea to clip them in wooden clothespins and stand them up to dry. It's perfect! And if you clip the ribbon first the clothespin makes for a pretty good handle while you're gluing. If you have one that's too long and would droop to the table, or want to lay your clothespins down instead of standing them up, just loop it back so both ends are sticking out of the same side of the clothespin but aren't touching. Of course if you do it this way you won't be able to create a mini village of ribbon holding clothespin people, but the choice is yours I suppose.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Are We There Yet?

That's what the Bohemian and I like to blurt out whenever something's happening that we don't like and I'd just like to scream it out now! Whew! Whatever I got last weekend (flu maybe? or flu on the heals of poison ivy and topped off with massive allergies from the construction and a neighborhood full of new sod?) was worse than I thought and knocked me out for more than a week. This morning was the first time I woke up feeling like there was obvious improvement. I over did it a smidge this morning planting flowers with the boys outside. I went in feeling sweaty and woosie and a little concerned I'd put myself back at the beginning but I think I'm good and that tomorrow should find me nearly normal. Thank goodness, I have a fantastic special order to begin that I'm very excited about. Not to mention the fact the the house is pretty discusting at this point. I've cultivated some domestic science experiments in my day but I think I've topped my best with the state my toilets are in right now! I wouldn't be surprised if they contained the cure for all major diseases. Big time brownie points to hubby who is ever improving his nursing skills! All week he bought groceries, took care of the kiddos every moment he was home, catered to me, put up with nights of endless hacking coughs and even did the dishes! Woo-hoo, what a sizzlin' man!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

From Bob Ross to Edward Kienholz: My Artistic Evolution

My artistic evolution was a very slow one, truly an evolution. I don't think my parents recognized my inclinations as something that could be encouraged with classes or field trips. They weren't unsupportive, quite the opposite, I was always the one they came to for creative advice of every kind, they were very proud of my fledgling art projects and I knew it. They didn't have that "we just thought you'd do something with your life, we thought you'd be a doctor" mentality, they just never said "hey, lets get this kid to an art museum!"

The first time I did go to an art museum was in Buffalo NY, I was 18 years old and had been taken there by an ex-boyfriend who, I didn't realize at the time, was trying to win me back through my growing love of art. In my ignorance I wasn't distracted by the motives of my company but I was so distracted by my disbelief that these major, historical masterpieces would just be left within the reach of grubby art loving hands, sneezes and general air gunk that I spent the whole time thinking that these must instead be reproductions and that the real deal must be locked safely away in some super secret, waterproof, air proof, sneeze proof, grubby hand proof bunker in the desert. I realized later that I had indeed been in the presence of the real deal and had unfortunately missed out on the experience because of my disbelief.

When I try to think back to when the whole art thing started for me, I guess it was always there. My dad always drew these funny cartoon faces that I often requested. My mom's artistry was expressed in beautifully decorating her home and crafting, sewing in particular. That crazy lady could whip things up out of mid air. I once saw her get ready for a 4th of July party and decide 15 minutes before departure time that she wasn't festive enough, pull out the sewing machine and fabric and (without a pattern) create a stars and stripes vest and don it in time to walk out the door without being late! When I was a kid I could sit forever perfecting my coloring skills. I looked at fellow colorers and tried to imitate what I liked and avoid what I didn't and, like a true budding art nerd, I grew annoyed at the limitations of the crayon. In grade school I got a book on how to draw teddy bears wearing different outfits. My personalized teddy bears were the amazement of my peers and started to be heavily requested. Had I the entrepreneurial sense of Diana I could've been in business for myself, but I didn't so I took special orders on my classmates' teddies, what kind of clothes they wanted on their bears, did they want a hat etc. etc. and then gifted my early works.

I continued to teach myself to draw through books, but they got a little more sophisticated than teddies, thank goodness. I took my first art class as a high school Jr. and was sorely disappointed. Draw a picture of your summer vacation was not the kind of artistic stimulation I was craving. Art club was no better. The only thing I remember doing with them is painting silly Halloween backdrops for the school's Halloween dance. I left high school in possession of fantastic self-taught drawing skills but artistically illiterate.

College was artistic heaven for me ("You mean I can get credit towards an actual degree for taking a film history class?!"). My world went from my self-learn books in my room to an entire history of art from the first cave scribble to the present. I was overwhelmed in the most wonderful way. Then I got to take my History of Modern Art class and I was hopelessly head over heals in love. Roy Lichtenstein, Joseph Cornell, Frida Kalo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Anselm Kiefer, Egon Schiele, Edward Kienholz, Cindy Sherman heart beats faster even as I type their names! I happily lugged my 50lbs of art history books around campus just for the joy of discovering more of this world in the dark of a lecture room lit only by beautiful art slides by the hundreds. As I unearthed and studied my heroes my art finally started becoming what I had envisioned since the beginning, something expressive, something me, something full of emotion; sadness and joy all rolled up in a mess of beautiful paint, mixed media pieces and finally an installation. My artistic evolution felt complete.

I've hardly picked up a paintbrush since graduating college and moving out of my campus studio. After graduation I actually used my degree as a graphic designer and worked for a card company. I guess that filled my creative needs and then, well, life just takes over. Marriage, kids, moves, new jobs...I started to really scrapbook after my first boy was born. I started out saying to myself, "There's no way I'm getting addicted to this corny craft, I'm an artist just making a baby book" but I was gone before I knew what had happened. But that is a completely different revolution! I debate painting again but don't know if I ever will, I don't know that I really need that any more. Time will tell. Right now I'm pretty content playing around with paper!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

House Project: Make Your Own Mailbox Post

Yes we made this ourselves from scratch and yes I do feel like a rock star! This is the first project we've completed in Mission Cutesie Up Bland House and I think it looks great. It's pretty pathetic that we've lived in this house for a month now without a mailbox and I thought our delivery gal just might go postal on us, but I didn't want to put out something that was chintzy looking and plastic. I wanted fairly simple but cuter than just a mailbox on a stick and something to go with my vision of turning our cookie cutter into something a little more Italian cottage. Unfortunately everything I saw that I liked was online and expensive so we decided to do it ourselves.

What did we use to make our lovely mailbox? We got all our stuff at Lowes.

  • The post is actually a banister that you would use on an indoor staircase. We painted it with several coats of black Rostoleum Professional High Performance Enamel spray paint. It took us one can for the whole project. Don't forget the bottom of the banister, it won't be seen but it'll help protect it.
  • We bought a standard metal mailbox and a piece of wood from the same aisle that is precut to fit under your mailbox and attach to a post, or in our case, brackets. We painted the board with the same paint.

The decorative bracket is actually a plant hanger we found in the garden department. We looked at shelf brackets that would've worked just fine, they just weren't the style we were after.

The decorative bracket isn't actually supporting the mailbox, we have 2 simple 5" brackets placed on either side of the decorative bracket that we painted black.

  • Also on the mailbox aisle we found a no dig stake that you drive into the ground and then set your post down in and attach with screws. It takes some serious muscle to get into the ground, I know this because I watched my husband do this part! We had to add shims around our post because the banister is smaller than the holder on the stake. We managed to get it all pretty straight in all directions and, once the shims were all hammered in, it felt pretty solid. Hopefully it'll stay that way! To the right you see the top of the stake, the rest is in the ground, and the shims that support the banister (you can buy shims at Lowes too!) Ooops! I still need to spray the base and shims black!
UPDATE: 2.10.10 If you take on this project pick a banister post that is treated for outdoor use. The guy at Lowe's told us the paint would take care of weather proofing but here we are, with a post that's splitting down the center *tear*

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mission Statement

NOTE: My shop The Beehive is now Papercut Kitchen! Please visit my shop Papercut Kitchen by clicking here. The name has changed but the mission is the same...

I've been slowly going through the long list of critique notes I have on how to improve my modest little online store. I've also been reading a business book called The Boss of You. I am now able to mark another pretty big thing off my list, a mission statement for my business! I actually enjoyed writing it and hope that I came up with something fun and a little funny but also clear. So here it is (it's also in my etsy profile and a shorter version is in my etsy shop announcement. It will soon appear somewhere on this blog too).

I, the beehive, am on a mission to get all the photos, souvenirs and memorabilia of the world out of those chintzy, mass-produced albums and dust covered, mildew prone shoe boxes and into beautifully handcrafted, archivally sound splendor.

I want to make life easier for all those sleep-deprived super moms, busy punksters, doting grandmas and overworked people of the world who want their memories to last for generations but just can’t find the time to conquer such a task. How will I accomplish this colossal goal you ask? With custom, pre-made scrapbooks, full of great papers and embellishments, that await only your photos to be complete. With my unique Memory Catchers that let you jot down notes and collect souvenirs in a way you’ll be proud to show off, without the time and effort of taking on scrapbooking from scratch. Busy people of the world have no fear, I have done your scrapbooking for you!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I've Been Scheduled

When I keep a schedule I can keep my sanity. I haven't had one in awhile and it was starting to show. I can now breathe a little! I was working myself up into a stressed out ball of panicked nerves so I finally sat down and wrote out a new schedule. Without that silly thing to look at I either panic at all that needs done and the feeling that it all needs done RIGHT NOW! or I pace circles in the living room carpet trying to remember what I was just on my way to do.

When I very first decided a schedule was in order I tried the schedule-every-cotton-pickin'-minute-of-your-day method. That sort of worked, because I'm a perfectionist control freak, but bored me to tears and put me in a tizzy anytime something unscheduled had to happen. Then I settled on the more relaxed schedule where I have a short list of things to accomplish in the morning (in any order that catches my fancy that day), one for afternoon, and one for evening. These are all things I want to do every day. My afternoon list includes a weekly chore (ex. Monday is clean all floors day) Then after each set of things has been accomplished I consider it my free time That means, barring too many unexpected head injuries or diapering incidents, I can have 3 free times! This is when I will pester people with email, rant incessantly on my blog, make know, all the really fun stuff that I would sit around doing all day if it weren't for a schedule.

I'm working on an etsy specific schedule like this where I have things that need done daily and others that would be better as weekly or monthly things. It's amazing how much time I have when I follow the schedule! Yesterday I was determined to stick to my schedule and I did it! Not only the necessary stuff but I had tons of time to do whatever the heck I wanted, which yesterday was:

1. relisting a few items to my shop
2.proof reading all my etsy listings
3.making some minor changes to my shop announcements, policies, and appearance
4. unifying the copy in my listings a bit
5. adding metric measurements to my listings
6. getting a little more done on my craft room
7. emptying a few more boxes

It may not seem like a lot but the etsy stuff was tedious and necessary (though I rather enjoyed it). I actually was a little embarrassed that I had so many spelling errors! I think I need to start reading more or something. I used to have great spelling but now it seems to be on the decline. I blame the internet.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I had an awesome surprise awaiting me when I checked in with my shop last night, I've made my first sale since reopening! Yippee! It gave me just the boost I need to keep on with my self critiquing and improvements. It's also the first set of my glass chip magnets that I've sold! Back when I made all my cute promos I decided to make some glass chip magnets to sell in my etsy shop. I really like them, maybe someday I'll set aside some time to make things to keep for myself.

NOTE: My shop The Beehive is now Papercut Kitchen! Please visit my shop Papercut Kitchen by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Benefits Of Insomnia

Last night I had a terrible time sleeping. As soon as my head hit the pillow my eyes flew back open and my brain was buzzing with ideas of how to arrange my new craft room and how to improve my shop, my listings, my photos...I couldn't let it go and since I couldn't sleep I jumped up at 2 am and learned how to use the white balance on my camera. I think it will turn out to be the single most useful thing I learn towards improving my product pics. Now for show and tell!

The camera I use is a Canon digital Rebel XT but to my knowledge many digital cameras have white balance capabilities so dig out that dusty users manual and hop to it.

This pic was taken on all automatic settings with the flash off. I often do this when the glair of the flash is too much but I get orangy/yellow. To try and fix this problem I then dump it into photoshop and adjust the brightness/Contrast levels. You can see in the image bellow that really does little good! These were taken at night so they are at a slight disadvantage, I try to photograph in sunlight to minimize this yellowing problem but there are still similar color and shadow issues that can be seen in the first and last pic in this post.

This one bellow was taken on all auto settings with auto flash on. Isn't so bad right? Well that's what I thought before discovering white balance! The album in this pic looks pretty good but look at the backdrop, it's supposed to be white but instead it's still a little yellow in front with a blue/grey shadow behind it.

I thought the pic bellow was going to get it, I had white balanced according to the manual but the backdrop was STILL yellow! Then I had a slap-your-forehead moment, the fabric I had been using all this time isn't true white it's off-white. Not to mention the fact that it's linen-like, making it slightly see-through and prone to wrinkles and folds, bad choice!

When I switched the off-white fabric for the white printer paper I had used to set the white balance I was in heaven! Behold the whiteness in the photo below! Gorgeous!

I thought the photo I had currently listed in my shop was good (see below) but the properly white balanced one above with the true white background shows my current photo is really suffering from some color issues. The pic below was taken by a sunlit window and notice the blue in the foreground from sunlight coming in the window and the yellow behind created by the inside lighting. This will be changed!

Keep in mind I was just sitting at the kitchen table and lazily pointing the camera but can you see the amazing results?! Now I just need to put my tripod to good use to clear up the focus, reflect some gentle light into my shadows to beat those bad boys into submission and go out and buy a new backdrop. I think I'll buy one of those gigantoid uncut matte boards at Hobby Lobby. I might get two, one for the backdrop and one to make light reflectors. We'll see how part two of this project goes, I'll keep you posted.

And let me just say a huge thanks to my sister-in-law, Sarah, and her awesome hubby for gifting me this beautiful camera! I never could've bought it for myself and I use it daily, not only for pics of my beautiful boys, but now for my modest little business. You guys rock my socks off!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Beehive Is OPEN!

NOTE: My shop The Beehive is now Papercut Kitchen! Please visit my shop Papercut Kitchen by clicking here.

I have reopened my etsy shop! I'm so excited. It almost looks more pathetic than it did empty, I only have 2 items listed. Tomorrow I'll list more when it's more of a prime time to do so. But I'm moving in the right direction. My work room is moving along too, I can actually walk through it now. I'm ready to make a second go at my shop. I feel like I missed out on so much time. I opened last October and then within a few months my husband moved 4 hours away for a new job and that separation lasted 6 very long months, not terribly conducive to me being a full time mom and starting a new business! Make sure to check it out, especially in about a week when it's full again. You can keep up with my new additions in my etsy mini to the right. Happy shopping!