Saturday, 28 February 2015

How I Photograph Small Items for my Etsy Shop

photography techniques for Etsy listings product photography

I'm a day late with this blog (you'll forgive me, right?!) so I hope it's going to be helpful!  This is not so much a tutorial, as an explanation of where I'm up to with photographing my items for my Etsy shop, and an invitation for any feedback from those of you who may be more experienced and can offer some more pointers (ok, I admit, it's a bit of a call for help!).

Firstly, here's a behind-the-scenes shot of my set-up (taken with my iPhone):

photographing for Etsy basic photography setup easy

Fairly straightforward.  I have my neutral background (grey tissue paper), next to a big window with natural light (it was cloudy here today, which works better than direct sunlight because it creates very harsh shadows).  Check out my expensive tripod! (Seriously, anyone whose ever bought anatomy textbooks knows I'm not kidding!).  My camera is a Fuji Finepix 2980.  It's basically a point and shoot with a bit of DSLR capability.  I'm happy to say I no longer just set it to auto and trust it to do the rest.  I set it to a setting that tells it it's in natural light.  Then I trust it to do the rest!  That's about as technical as this is going to get, folks!

Once I've taken all my pictures, I get them across to my computer and edit them with Photoshop.  I have an ancient version of Elements, which is mostly adequate for my needs at the moment.  I definitely find it easier to tweak the pictures here than at the actual 'taking the pictures' step.  By adjusting the shadows, brightness and contrast, I'm aiming for a clear pic that shows the true colours of the item as much as possible.

Here's the raw pic.

unedited small item photography

I used the timer function so I could stand still side-on to the camera.  It took a couple of goes to make sure it was in frame, as I couldn't see the screen on the back of the camera!
I've read a tip in other blogs that using a tripod and remote shutter control helps in low light situations.  The equipment eliminates camera shake, so the shutter can stay open for longer, letting more light in and still having a crisp photo.  I'm not quite at the point of dictating the shutter speed myself, but I'm thinking that if you use the timer function on your camera, even a couple of seconds, if it's sitting on a flat surface or on a tripod, this would also eliminate that shaking without having to invest in a shutter remote, as you're not touching the camera when the photo is being taken.  Just a thought!

Next, I soften shadows and adjust the mid-tone contrast (Enhance - Adjust Lighting - Shadows/ Highlights):

adjusting product photography for Etsy

Bringing out the true colours using the brightness and contrast settings (Enhance -Adjust Lighting - Brightness/ Contrast).  Don't be afraid to really play with these settings, but remember you're going for as close to real life as possible!

editing photographs for Etsy listings

Crop it and here's the result:

clutch purse product photography for Etsy

Yup, those are my pudgy fingers.  I don't think I have a future in hand-modelling, but as my partner declined to allow me to paint his nails and shave his knuckles, I had to work with what I had!

Obviously, each picture is a bit different, and you have to tweak the values for shadows, brightness and contrast based on each one.  So long as you can get a fairly consistent look across all your pictures, and your pictures illustrate the item comprehensively, that's a great start!
Of course, I'm going to keep plugging away at photography, learning more so I can have more control in getting consistent results.  It will be interesting to see how this side of things evolves over time, and I'm sure this blog, and my Etsy shop will tell that story as I go along.
If you have questions because you're a beginner like me, or you can offer some helpful hints, please leave them in the comments!

Just an extra note, it's Spoonflower contest time again!  Ok, so Spoonflower have a weekly contest, so that's not really a newsflash, however they have a big one coming up involving designing a fabric to be used as nursery decor and bedding for Carousel Designs.  I've been planning a fabric collection that will fit in beautifully with this theme (hint: check out the platypus sketches on my instagram @liliflorapretty).  As always there will be plenty of reminders when it's time to vote!

Take Care until next week!

Shared on the following link parties:
Shabbilicious Fridays
Inspiration Spotlight
Sunday Showcase
Made By You Monday
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
The Makers

Friday, 20 February 2015

Rolled Rose Stud Earring Tutorial

Today's post is a tutorial just perfect for busting your fabric scrap stash and creating something cute and wearable at the same time.  These rag-roll rose earrings are easy to make and wear, and would make fantastic little gifts, stocking fillers or items for a swap party.  There are even a few suggestions for other things you can make with your roses, because you won't want to stop at just two!

shabby chic rolled rose rag-rolled rose stud earrings

Here's what you'll need:
rag roll roses roll roses shabby chic stud earrings
  • 2 Strips of fabric 40cm x 1.5cm (I've used cotton from my Coy Blooms collection, of course!)
  • Craft glue and bamboo skewer (or hot glue gun if you prefer).
  • E6000 glue or similar
  • 2 surgical steel stud earring posts with a 10mm pad and 2 butterfly backs.
 Start by putting a small amount of glue at one end of the back side of one of the fabric strips.  Fold the fabric over, making sure it's wonky as shown. Wonky is a technical term.

rag rolled rose stud earring tutorial step 1

 Next, fold the long end of the fabric up, so the edges run side by side.

rag rolled rose stud earring tutorial step 2

Apply glue in a line from the folded up fabric to the end

rag rolled rose stud earring tutorial step 3

Twist and roll in the end to where the glue was applied to form the centre of your rose.

rag rolled rose stud earring tutorial step 4

Keep applying small dabs of glue to the roll, then twist and coil the fabric around.  Hold it in place where you've glued for a few seconds to make sure it's holding before applying more glue further around the roll.

rag rolled rose stud earring tutorial step 5
Keep glueing, twisting and coiling until you reach the end.  Firmly glue down the end of the fabric, either flat to the side of the coil, or underneath it (this would be the 'back' of the rose).

rag rolled rose stud earring tutorial step 6

Repeat the steps to create a second rose.  Try to maintain the same tension in your twists and coils to get a fairly even result.  They don't have to be perfect, near enough is good enough for these shabby chic style roses.

rag rolled rose stud earring tutorial step 7

If you didn't already denote the 'back' of the roses by glueing the end of the fabric there, compare both sides of the rose to see which one you'd prefer to have showing to the world, and lay them face-down.  Apply a small dab of E6000 glue to the pads of your earring findings and hold them firmly against the centre of the backs of the roses.  You'll want to leave these for a couple of hours to be sure they take hold.

rag rolled rose stud earring tutorial step 8

Here are a couple of variations to show the versatility of these roses.  Below are a couple of earring sets made using velvet ribbon.  Because it's thicker than the cotton, I only used 20cm lengths for the larger roses, and 10cm lengths for the smaller ones.  I also applied a cotton rose and some velvet roses to a hair clip with a scrap of lovely vintage-look lace.

rag rolled rose stud earring tutorial velvet ribbon rose hairclip

And here are the rolled roses as pendants.  I used a large needle for bear and doll making to pierce a big enough hole for the jumprings.  They would also make cute charms on a bracelet or anklet, or even using ear wires to make dangling earrings instead of studs.

rag rolled rose stud earring tutorial necklace pendants

And that's all there is to it!  A simple, addictive craft that can bust your stash, fill a crafternoon and give you a pile of pretty, handy gifts to give to the shabby chic lover in your life, especially if that's you!

Rag Roll rose stud earring tutorial shabby chic cottage chic romantic

Don't forget to comment, Pin and share if you enjoyed this tutorial!

Hi to everyone who came here through the following link parties:
Project Pin-it at Glitter Glue and Paint
Shabbilicious Friday Link Party
Rose Garden Malevik Saturday Show Off
Dear Creatives Inspiration Spotlight link-up Party
ByStephanieLynns' Sunday Showcase
Skip to my Lou: Made by You Mondays
DIY Showoff's That DIY Party
I should be mopping the floors' Inspiration Monday
Grace Langdon Art's Making Monday
Just a Girl and Her Blog Hit me with your Best Shot
Upcycled Treasures The Makers Link Party
Kenary's Think and Make Thursday

Take care, Emma

P.S As much fun as this tutorial is, if you want to skip it and still have the earrings, they're available in my Etsy shop!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Liliflora Pretty's Etsy shop now open!

Liliflora Pretty is now on Etsy!  Products made with Liliflora Pretty fabrics, available on my Spoonflower shop, are now being listed in my Etsy shop!  New listings are being put up everyday, and here are a few that are already on there:

Small Clutch Purse

Big enough for the essentials of an evening out, but small enough to hold in one hand.

small clutch purse Etsy pink roses grey polkdot

Large Clutch Purse

Features a small inner pocket for extra organisation.

shabby chic pink roses grey polkadots

Double-Sided Peter Pan Collar

Roses on one side and sweet pastel pinstripes on the other

shabby chic detacheable collar peter pan velvet ribbon reversible

Bib Necklace

Features pink velvet ribbon tie-ups making the length easily adjustable.

shabby chic fabric bib necklace

Crossbody Pouch Purse

A long strap allows this little purse to be worn across the body, giving security to your valuables and leaving your hands free!

market purse shabby chic long strap purse

Coming up over the next few days will be a few more wearable items, earrings and buttons!  Favourite the Etsy shop to keep up to date with new products.  Next week's post will be a tutorial on making these gorgeous rolled rose stud earrings, which will be listed for sale over the coming days.

shabby chic Rag Rolled Rose Stud Earring Tutorial

Just before I go today, I'd like to say thank you to everyone who voted and favourited my entry to the Spoonflower/ Urban Threads Steampunk Valentines contest.  Unfortunately, I didn't make the cut to be in the top 10, but there's always next time!

Take care,

Saturday, 7 February 2015

10 Steps to bust through Information Overload

I'm going to try a new kind of blog post today.  But first, I'd like to remind everyone that voting for the Steampunk Valentines weekly contest over on Spoonflower is now open.  Head on over and cast your vote! Remember, the top 10 voted for get passed on to Urban Threads to pick a winner who will have their design turned into an embroidery pattern, so when casting your vote, look out for the patterns you think would make great embroidery designs.  Look out for my entry: Love Letters by LilifloraPretty (I'll put a pic at the bottom of the post to remind you!)

And now:

motivation to stop procrastinating

*Long post warning!*

Taking on any new endeavour normally comes with some research.  Thanks to the wonderful connective powers of the internet, there's often a wealth of information on most subjects.  In fact, most of the time there's a deluge of it!  I've found this especially true as I get ready to relaunch my Etsy shop.
Between this amazing e-course from the Etsy Australia blog, blog posts I've pinned (see resources list below), and the wonderful free e-book from Create & Thrive, I can certainly say I feel soaked in the minutiae of how to set up a successful (hopefully!) Etsy shop.

The problem then becomes one of information overload, when you have so many ideas about what to do next, that you can't focus on just one thing to get you going.  I've also heard this called 'Analysis Paralysis,' where you keep thinking, planning and researching and stop short of DOING!  It can make you feel stressed, frazzled and overwhelmed.

So, how to you beat down the wall between planning and doing?  Here's 10 simple steps I've used to get myself going, and I hope they are helpful to you to!  Try them all or just the parts that resonate with you.

First, give yourself a break.

1. Get away from the computer (and your smart phone, tablet etc).  You heard me, just back right off from any device that gives you a way to keep researching.  If you've reached information overload point, new information is only going to add to the feeling, and you'll find you don't retain it properly anyway.  So, walk away from it, if only for 5-15 minutes, to give yourself a break and come back to it fresh.

2. Do something relaxing.  While you're away from the computer, take a moment to clear your mind.  Really savour a nice cup of tea (or your chosen comfort- beverage), take a wander around your garden (or your neighbours' if your gardening skills are as poor as mine), or even do a minute breathing meditation to give yourself a mental break.

3.  Do something productive.  This doesn't necessarily have to be something to do with what you're researching.  For example, I'm getting ready to start my Etsy shop, so I could make a small item or two.  Instead I went outside while the weather was nice and pulled weeds!  Do some tidying up, or a quick declutter of your office space.  Fold some washing or wipe the benches.  Make something, clean something, fix something, just DO something.  It helps to not feel 'stuck' if you're getting something done, even if it's not directly related to your goal.

4.  Do something physical.  Walk around the block (or run if you're really keen), or put on your favourite song and dance around the loungeroom.  Changing your physiology, getting the endorphins flowing, is a great way to give your brain a rest and will help you feel fresher and more focussed when you return to your task.

Now, revisit your research with fresh eyes.

5. Review your notes for the big stuff.  If you're anything like me, you make notes of important points as you research, whether you summarise the things that jump out at you, make dot-points of everything you read, or even copy and paste relevant material into a running Word document, it's time to go back over these notes.
Read through them carefully, noticing when you've repeated, written in capitals,  or underlined what you wrote.  These are obviously the most important messages you took away from your research and represent your priorities.  Use these as the starting point to taking action.

10 steps to busting information overload
6.  Do what's next.  Time to work out your next (or first!) move.  Taking the most important notes you just picked out, use these as a starting point for action.  Do something about each one of them as you come across them in your notes.
For example, I'd read through a bunch of blog posts about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), and using Alt Tags in images on my blog to get picked up by Google and Pinterest searches.  Given that this was repeated, both in my resources and my notes, it was pretty important (and easy!) to learn what this meant and start applying it immediately.  So, I did!
Ditto for creating a Twitter account, something I had put off for so long, but with pretty much everyone in my field using it in some form for communication and promotion, it seemed foolish not to take the plunge.  So I just set it up.  It only took a few minutes (come say hi @LilifloraPretty!).

7.  Plan what's next.  Sometimes these important things can be quick and straightforward (like the two examples just given), while others can take more time and effort (like crafting my About Page or working out reasonable shipping rates in my Etsy shop example).  For these tasks, try breaking them down into smaller steps, some of which may be actionable straight away (in which case, do them as soon as you realise you can), and others that will follow as soon as possible. 
Using the example of writing an About Page, I can write the copy and upload some photos of my process.  However, I want to include a photo of one of my items beautifully wrapped and ready to be shipped to a lovely customer.  The hold-up is that I'm waiting for the tissue paper and ribbon to be delivered.  So I will set aside taking that pic until they arrive and do it as soon as they do.  I don't need to hold off on the whole task, just do what I can and complete it later.

8. Review your notes for the small stuff.  Going back to your notes, you've already picked out the things you thought were most important, but there's probably a bunch of smaller, less important tasks you could complete while you wait to be able to complete the bigger ones.  Tackle these less important things as you did the more important ones, by completing them as you come across them as best you can, breaking larger tasks into smaller ones to be completed when they can be.

9.  Keep reminders around you.  Make sure to keep a list of all the tasks, important and not so important, that you couldn't complete straight away.  Keep this list where you will see it (I put mine on the wall above my computer), and refer back to it regularly to check if there is something you can complete.

10.  Don't get caught up in perfect results from the get-go.  Almost everything we do in life, we get better at through trial and error.  Yes, it's wonderful that there's all this information out there from those who have been there and done that.  Learning from the mistakes and successes of others can short cut our own learning curves.  However, don't expect that just because you researched, planned and followed all the 'right' steps, that whatever you're trying to achieve will just automatically succeed, or be perfect from the outset.  We learn best from experience, and you only get that from going on out and DOING.  You can always tweak, refine and experiment, but only if you start first.

Hopefully you find this useful in motivating you to turn research into action.  Below are a few of the resources I've been using to get started with my Etsy shop, as well as to learn about promotion of your business or blog through Pinterest.  If you're on a similar journey, you might find them useful!  Let me know in the comments below or via Facebook (or Twitter now!) if you liked this post, found it useful or think someone else might.  You could even use the hovering Pin button (another important task that got done immediately!) on the title image!

How I more than doubled my traffic in less than 30 days - Amber Kristine
Eight ways to get noticed on Pinterest - Craft: Business
I opened an Etsy shop, Now what? - Liz Marie Blog
10 ways to increase Pinterest followers - The Tiptoe Fairy

As promised, here is Love Letter, my Steampunk Valentines fabric entry.  Thank you for reading down this far!
Steampunk Valentines Spoonflower Urban Threads weekly contest

Take care until next week!


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Bring on February!

Well, there goes January already!  Man, I thought last year went fast, but if this year is going to go this much faster, I better start on my Christmas fabric collection!  (Pantone Marsala and Sage Green?  Bit of taupe?  Just thinking out loud!)

As expected, it was an incredibly busy month, so busy I didn't have time to document it here as I would have liked!  I was hoping to post here at least once a week on a Saturday, and will try to get into the swing of that this month!

I finished off my last post by saying I was going off to complete a design for the upcoming Spoonflower/ Urban Threads Steampunk Valentines contest, I went with a mechanical bird delivering love letters.  Given that the idea is that this design would be used as the basis for an embroidery pattern, I kept it fairly simple, with strong outlines and basic shading.  Let me know what you think in the comments, or on my Facebook page.  Voting opens in two days and I'll put a reminder in my next post and on Facebook.

Liliflora Pretty Contest Entry for Spoonflower Steampunk Valentines Contest

The first four weeks of the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design has been fantastic.  We've been going back to basics in terms of finding inspiration, documenting ideas and sketching, mark making, mood-board and palette creation, and have now gotten into the actual pattern designing.  It's been fun to go back and play with different ideas and mediums I wouldn't normally use, and to just loosen up with a big fat paintbrush and some ink and produce random shapes, textures and marks that could end up as part of a pattern.  The facebook group is wonderful, with everyone sharing and supporting each other from all over the world.  It's a very exciting thing to be a part of, and I'm hoping that, between everything else I'm doing, that it's all filtering in somehow.  The best part is being able to see pattern everywhere.  Shapes and colours are all around us, no matter our environment, and it's wonderful to think that any of it could spark off an idea for a pattern.  It makes inspiration a permanent state, not some random thing that magically comes to you when it feels like.  It gives me a lot of confidence to continue on the journey, as I know that inspiration (and my resulting enthusiasm) isn't about to dry up any time soon!

ABSPD Module 1 sketching excercise Rose

ABSPD Mood Board Palette Inspiration
As mentioned in the previous post, I splashed out on the priority shipping and got my Coy Blooms fabrics from Spoonflower within a week!  It was great and I've been able to get stuck into sewing up lovely things with it to sell in my Etsy shop.  I'm 'renovating' the shop as we speak, and will have the products in there in the coming days.  In the meantime, the Coy Blooms fabric collection is now available for purchase in my Spoonflower shop, and here is a sneak peak of the items I've made from it so far!

Liliflora Pretty Coy Blooms Clutch Purses large and small

Liliflora Pretty Coy Blooms cuff, bib necklace, earrings
Liliflora Pretty Coy Blooms Market Pouch Purse
Let me know what you think, here in the comments or the Facebook page.

See you Saturday with a new post!