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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

New - follow by email

A quick update - we now have a 'follow by email' button on the left hand side. So if you would prefer to receive updates about new posts via email rather than managing the blogs you follow through blogger, you can sign up here. Let me know if it works, or if you have any problems.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Card making supplies

I've been meaning to do a post about the shops I buy my card making supplies from for quite a while, but it's one of those things I've never got round to. Then I was talking to a friend yesterday who asked me where I buy my coloured card, and she prompted me to get on and finally write this post.

So here are the places where I get my card making supplies. I try to source shops that sell items that are sufficient quality for card making, at reasonable prices. I hope this list is helpful. Feel free to share other shops you use in the comments.

Card blanks & Envelopes
When I first got into card making many years ago a friend said to me "never pay more than 10p for a card blank plus envelope". Craftwork cards have a great back2basics range of plain card blanks, £5 for 50.

Coloured card & Double sided tape
Great quality card starting at 10 sheets for £1. And by far the cheapest double sided tape I have seen - I got 240m in my last order ! You often pay a fortune for a small roll of tape in shops, and with using over 20m a week on average I needed to find somewhere that sold it in larger quantities at a much more affordable price.

Cello bags 
A slightly random find, but Wilkinson sells cello card bags at very reasonable prices. One of the advantages of living in the north :-)

Stickers & Embellishments
My mother-in-law told me about The Range. A similar shop to Wilkinson, but they have a huge craft department. You can get pretty much anything here, but they sell a a good variety of peel offs, stickers and embellishments.

Ink & Fimo
Rather bizarrely, this site is the best I've found for both ink and fimo. They have a huge range of colours of both. 

Ribbon can be very expensive, especially if you pay per metre. This site is excellent value, starting at 99p for 40m. It might not be quite up to dressmaking standards, but it is more than good enough for cards.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Folksy Friday - Teddy bears

Ever since I was little I've loved teddy bears. I have loads in bin bags in my parents' loft that they frequently threaten to get rid of. In fact, some did recently get re-homed via a Sainsbury's collection - my mum tried very hard to convince me that they would much prefer to be loved by a small child than stuck in her loft. Now I'm an adult I just have my collector's items out on display, mostly handmade bears. I've sneaked them in all round the house when my husband wasn't looking...!

So I thought I'd have a look on Folksy for teddy bears. Knitted, sewn, printed, photographed or painted, here are my favourites:

Needle felted teddy bears picnic
Felted Fluffies
Teddy bear
Starcross Crafts

Tyler - small mohair bear
Pud Bears
Mohair Teddy Bear
One of Sam's

Ollie - blue and denim button bear
Gladys and Albert
Teddy bear print
Mind the Gap

Can't bear to be without you card
Hole in my Pocket
Arthur - mohair bear
Beary Tales

Rosie - mohair artist bear
Paw Prints of Staffordshire
Little bear hug aceo
Little Black Heart

Golden bear tote bag
Polar bear brooch
Kayleigh O'Mara

Teddy bear necklace
I Love You
Snowball jointed small bear
Clare bears

Dizzie - artist bear
Fluffy Bearz
Retro flower bear necklace

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

New year new craft #2 - fimo

We just happened to be in a craft shop in Hull, and they just happened to stock fimo, and I just happened to buy some...

I've not used it since I was a kid, when I used to make miniature food for my dolls and teddy bears, so they could have tea parties. But I enjoyed having a little play, practising blending colours and making it into different shapes.

And here are the results of my first attempt:

I'm rather pleased with them. I think the letters have worked well. I was concerned that you wouldn't be able to read it, but I actually think it's pretty good. The fimo hearts just add a bit of depth to the card, rather than using paper all the time. The beads I made were less successful and I definitely need some more practice. These were the best ones, strung into a necklace using seed beads. I've not even bothered to photograph the others !

Both cards and the necklace will be available in the say it shop soon.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Many Rhodes

Did you know it takes over 8m of double sided tape to make one map covered notebook?

They're now available in the say it shop. Click the picture below to buy one.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Free financial advice

So, you love making things. You've maybe already tried selling the things you make. You've realised it's more fun than your day job. But should you give up your salary just yet?

I want to share my thoughts on how you go about working out if you could support yourself by doing what you love full time. I accidentally sort of ended up making things for my 'job', but luckily I have a wonderfully supportive husband who is happy to pay the bills (which takes the pressure off a bit !). Being self-employed is an interesting experience...

Step 1: First of all have a think about what you do, and could, make. Take each item, or each group of similar items, and work out

a) How long it took you to make,

b) How much it cost you to make, plus any fees incurred when selling it, and

c) How much it could it sell for.

So, for example, I make cards.

a) They each take between 5 and 15 minutes to make. So I'll go for an average of 10 minutes.

b) They cost me about 50p in materials, 5p to list in my shop, 10p commission when it sells, and 27p paypal charge. So that's £0.92.

c) I sell them for £2.

Step 2a: Calculate how much profit you make in one hour. Take your answer to b) away from your answer to c), then divide the answer by a). Make sure you do it all in pounds and hours. So if it costs you 57p to make, use £0.57 pounds. And if it takes you 45 minutes, use 0.75 hours. If you struggle with the minutes/hours thing, here's a helpful calculator.

In my example you get:

 2 - 0.92 = 1.08

1.08 pounds / 0.167 hours = 6.47

So I make approximately £6.47 profit for every hour I make cards.

Step 2b: If you make more than one type of item, do the above calculation for each group. Then you need to work out your average profit per hour. To do this, add up all your answers for step 2a and divide by the number of answers you added together. If you only make one type of item, you can skip this step. Lucky you.

For example, I also make jewellery. I'll not print the calculation here, but I worked out that I get £7.26 profit per hour.

So the average is:

6.47 + 7.26 = 13.73

13.73 / 2 = 6.87

An average of £6.87 profit for every hour I make things.

Step 3: Next try to estimate how many hours a week you can realistically spend making things. Don't forget that you will also need to spend time on advertising and admin (like sorting out the website, listing items, taking trips to the post office). And you still want to be human at the end of it, so don't put down like 100 hours. Be sensible.

I probably spend a quarter of my time on admin, a quarter on advertising and the rest on making. Now, I don't work on my shop full time, but lets say I did and that I worked a 40 hour week. So I'd spend half of that, 20 hours, making things.

Step 4: Work out your salary. If you were to make as much as you think you can, and they were all to sell for the price you think they could sell for, how much would you earn in a week? Take your final answer to step 2 and multiply it by your answer to step 4.

For me this would be 6.87 x 20 = 137.30.

So I'd earn £137.30 a week (hypothetically). You probably want to calculate what you earn in a year so that you can compare it to your current salary. To do this multiply your answer by 48 (assuming you take 4 weeks holiday a year).

So in my example this is 137.30 x 48 = 6590.40.

There you go. If I worked 40 hours a week, and my estimations above were accurate, I'd earn around £6590.40 a year.

WARNING: this does assume that I sell everything I make that year. In the first year that's probably unrealistic. The earnings you've calculated represent an upper limit; the maximum amount you could earn once your business is running at full steam. So to get a realistic picture for the first year it's better to reduce the figure, maybe by a quarter if you think you could sell 75% of the things you make.

Step 5: Take a look at your finances, your committed expenses each month, and think long and hard about whether your answer to step 4 would cover it. If not, and you still want to turn your hobby into your way of living, you may need to work longer hours or consider changing the pieces that you make to give you a larger profit margin per hour (i.e. make items that take less time and cost you less money, but sell for a higher price). If the figures look good, go for it... after you've double checked them of course !!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Button necklace is now available

Just a quick update - after some positive feedback about the button necklace, it's now for sale in the say it shop. Click on the photo to head over to the shop. If you want it you'll have to be quick, there's only one !

Monday, 16 January 2012

New Year New Craft #1 - Button Jewellery

I'd even ordered some buttons before I wrote my previous blog post about the crafts I wanted to try in 2012. I was quite excited about extending my beaded jewellery skills and being able to use some of the gorgeous buttons available to create new, fresh designs. And it hasn't taken me very long to have a go.

Inspired by two beautiful necklaces made by my mother in law that she showed me over Christmas, and some of the wonderful creations by other sellers on folksy, I have made my first ever button necklace.

What do you think? Should I add it to my shop?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Folksy Friday - I'm inspired

Following on from last week's post about the new crafts I'd like to try this year and the items I found on Folksy that have inspired me to give them a go, I thought I'd share a few more of my favourite handmade items made by Folksy folk.

Amethyst bracelet
All About Beads
Peg memo magnets
Cola Creations
Button Necklace
Dragonfly Lane
Red & black chunky necklace
Rainbow hearts card
Recycled envelopes - UK maps
Fabric heart hanging
Juniper Spools
New home card
Shinta Shop

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Lakes Collection

I (mostly) took a break from making over Christmas. However, although I could stop my hands working it's very hard to turn my brain off. So I've started the new year full of ideas and new designs that I can't wait to try out.

One of the things I was thinking about was how lovely it would be to have a new range of jewellery that is a bit more dressy. Pieces that you might want to wear in an evening. Now this is a bit of a challenge for me, as I don't do dressy and I naturally wear and make fun and quirky casual jewellery that's definitely more funky than fashionable. But I've been researching current trends, buying new beads and stitching away... and I'm very pleased to announce that the first piece from my new collection of slightly more trendy, definitely more stylish, beaded jewellery has just been added to the say it shop. Yay :-)

The Lakes Collection: Victoria

Following my theme of naming everything after geographical locations (had you noticed? - I've done cities and Islands so far) I'm currently researching world lakes with suitably stylish names...

I'd love to hear what you think about this new range. Have I met the challenge, or is there still a way to go?

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sneak peak

Back in September I made three map notebooks which all sold within about 2 hours of being available in the say it shop. Ever since then I've been asked why I don't have more map notebooks and couldn't I get some in the shop quickly because they really really want one and were sad to miss out the first time round.

The truth is that however much I agreed with them (and I did) there were problems to overcome. Firstly, I had picked up the gorgeous map paper in a garden centre whilst on holiday in the summer. I wasn't about to drive 300 miles just to buy some paper, so I had to start researching alternatives. There are some lovely map papers out there by some fantastic designers, but sadly those designers want to keep the designs for themselves and wherever I looked I ran into copyright issues. Now I don't want to start selling my products illegally, even if there is a high demand for them, so this was a significant stumbling block.

Secondly, I knew that my notebook covering technique wasn't producing consistently quality notebooks. Sometimes the glue made the pages too wet and they would warp. Or I would get a crease in the cover. And I needed to figure out a better way of covering the spine, as a paper spine doesn't really work too well. I have a lot of notebooks on my desk, all with various flaws. All of them have solved one problem, and revealed another. I'm not really one for going to classes, or finding out from others how things should be done - I like to solve my own problems so that the products I make are truly mine.

I am sorry for the wait, especially for those who have been eagerly awaiting new map notebooks any day since October. But I finally think I'm there. I have in my hands a map covered notebook that is a) legal and b) high enough quality to sell. I wanted to bring you a sneak peak of what will be available in the say it shop very soon (when I have had chance to make more than one, just in case there's a bit of a rush on them again). 

Update 20/01/12 - The map notebooks are now available at

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New Year, New Craft

I'm not one for making new year's resolutions, but I have decided on the new crafts I'd like to have a go at next year. Each one is accompanied by a picture of a handmade item for sale in another shop on folksy - do click on these to head over to the folksy shops of some sellers who have already mastered these crafts.

Felted wool brooch
That Fuzzy Feeling

Inspired by some of the lovely products I've seen on Folksy, I'd like to try needle felting. All I know is it's something to do with jabbing at wool lots of times with needles. Sounds fun ! Maybe I'd best get an instruction book to help me...

Embroidered rose handbound notebook
Kate Bowles

Secondly, I want to give the notebooks another go. I made a few this year, but I want to try out some different techniques and perhaps even a spot of proper book binding.

Button Necklace
Make it Sew

I'm also keen to have a go at button jewellery. Not really a new craft as such, just extending the beaded jewellery with some new materials. In fact, I've already ordered myself some gorgeous buttons, so look out for some new designs coming soon !

Fimo pendant
Pyroangel's Jewellery Box

And finally, I want to get back to my childhood days and buy myself some fimo modelling clay. I've heard that you can make your own beads and embellishments for cards. I don't like depending on things that have been made by others, especially the pretty beads I use in my jewellery, so it would be great to make some myself. And I have a few ideas for cards too.

So, watch this space. I shall let you know how I get on.
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