Tag: crafts

11Aug

A little bit of craft shows…

I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like summer is flying by. Just this past weekend, I noticed it starting to get dark earlier. I mean I had to leave the pool before 9 p.m. THE HORROR.

Summer is always such a busy time of year. It seems every time I turn around there is something else going on and I really have a hard time saying no. This leaves very little time for myself and, as you might have noticed, my blog.

A few weeks back, I was part of a craft show in Meadville. Why Meadville? Eh, it’s kinda close to my hometown and they reached out to me (remember the saying no thing?). Everything about the weekend was hot. Well, most everything. Unfortunately my sales at Pink Days in Bloom were not.

Last year was my first craft show and, let me tell you, it was a lot of work. I spent the entire summer painting, sanding, glueing, etc. I was terrified I wouldn’t have enough merchandise to fill an entire booth. I completely underestimated myself. I filled the booth and then some. Applefest took place in my hometown of Franklin. It is a three-day event that brings in more than 30,000 people each year.

Pink Days in Bloom was a bit different. The venue was smaller, so Dave and I decided to cram everything into two cars. When the alarm went off at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, neither of us were too pumped. We made the nearly two-hour trek up north and arrived at different times. Not knowing where to go, I just started driving through the crowd until someone pointed me in the right direction and told me to unpack immediately. Around the same time Dave called me to tell me he was lost in a field of horses. WHAT.

After 17 angry text messages from me, we managed to pull ourselves together and set up a somewhat respectable booth (considering this was only our second craft show and we didn’t bring half of our supplies). The day, which was full of music, food and entertainment, raised money for the Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Center and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

It was for a good cause and I got to spend the day laughing with my mom, but I left a little defeated. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. But after putting so much effort into something, it’s hard walking away with very little sales. With the limited time I’ve had this summer, I started looking into picking the “perfect” craft show. Because, who knows? Maybe 2017 will be my year.

Here is what I found:

  • Start visiting craft shows now.
    Unfortunately, this is where time comes into play, but the best way to discover if your products will be a good fit is to visit the craft show before you apply. You’ll be able to see for yourself the attendance, type of customer, type of vendors, table setups, etc. And the best part about vendors is we are all in it together. Talk to them. Everyone has a story to tell and usually some tips.
  • Consider the audience of the craft show.
    This has been a big problem of mine. A lot of my products are geared toward a younger audience who have better things to do than browse a craft show on a Saturday. So, ask yourself, does the demographic of the craft show attendees fit well with your product? Are the other vendors selling outdated crafts or would your product fit in nicely with the selection offered?  Also consider the neighborhood in which the craft show is located.
  • Cost. Cost. Cost.
    Many of you might not know this, but craft fairs can be expensive. Some typically have a fee involved and then there is the cost of the booth, supplies, travel, etc. It can be a bit overwhelming. It may help you to think in terms of what you will need to sell to break even.  If a show costs $100 per table, and your product costs $10 each, you will need to sell 10 items to break even.
  • Handmade or vendor?
    I learned this at my recent show. All of my products are handmade, so it was disconcerting to be surrounded with vendors. If you’re not sure of the difference, vendors sell things like body wraps, Shakeology, Origami Owl, etc. And that’s great, but if your products are like mine, you will have the most success at a show that only features handcrafted items.
  • Is it online?
    Clearly I am a big supporter of using social media, blogs, etc. to promote your crafts. Where is the first place you go to research an event you want to attend? If your answer isn’t the Internet, please share your secret way of life. Again, you must consider your audience when thinking about online presence. For my products, I think a craft show with an online presence would be important. (As I type this, my Etsy shop is down for some reason. It will be back up soon! You can check out some of Bows and Branches products on Facebook and Instagram.)

I think that’s a good start. My next craft show is in October and I would love it if you stopped by and bought a lot of stuff. If you don’t plan on buying anything, bring me some snacks or something.

26Jan

A little bit of flowers…

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 8.10.16 AMOne of my favorite things to make are felt flowers. If you’ve never searched how to do this, let me tell you, you can make pretty much any flower. Some of them are so intricate and just plain gorgeousI had made the flower box shown at the top of the page for a craft festival I was in last fall. It actually went to a friend from high school for her little girl’s room. How special is that?

I loved the design, so I left the item up for sale in my Etsy shop. When I received the second order, I decided to share how I made it. This order was a custom order for a blue and green flower. I actually had the wooden shadow box sitting around. Dave had made this last year out of pallets, but a quick search online shows me you can buy them a lot of places. You don’t have to put the flowers in a box. If you start to click some of these links, you’ll see other options, like wreaths, headbands, etc. 

IMG_6403To make flowers, you need felt (how much depends on size/type of flower), a hot glue gun, scissors and patience. Once you realize how simple these flowers can be, I think you’ll be addicted too. For this specific flower, I started with a blue felt. You need to make a base circle for the petals to stick to. I have noticed that a lot of sites get specific with petal counts and that never seems to work for me. Basically, you need to make enough petals to fill the circle.

IMG_6404The second layer of petals is a light green. Pay close attention to the shape of these petals. They aren’t circles, but more of a, well, a petal shape. Once you have enough for the second layer, you glue them on top. You do the same thing with the top layer, or in this instance, the light blue layer.

IMG_6406The center can be whatever you want. I have use balls of felt. I have used buttons. It really depends what kind of look you’re going for. For this specific flower, I took two circles and cut slits in them. If you zoom in a little on the finished product, you can see, they are just kinda smashed together and glued into the center. The slits give it more texture.

IMG_6408I have one gripe about this flower. I had the blue felt leftover from previous projects. It is a softer felt. The other two colors came in a pack I bought at Target. It’s really thick. I would not recommend getting this felt for making flowers because it is difficult to work with. The end product turned out well, but the petals were hard to shape.

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And that’s it. For this shadow box, I stapled burlap to the back and glued the flower in the middle. This simple design can go on a wall or be set in your home. Happy flower making!

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19Jan

A little bit of sparkle…

FullSizeRenderToday was a bit sparkly…literally. My niece, Liz, requested a canvas painting that was a bit different from my normal style, and it turned out really pretty. My family loves hunting. They wear camo. Their walls are adorned with deer heads, among other stuffed animals. I am basically “the princess that moved to the city,” but I can respect a different style. 

Liz wanted a black and white striped canvas board with a glittery buck. The concept was easy enough, but I struggled a lot with the white and black stripes. After one failed attempt, I went to Google and searched how to paint straight stripes. The results were upsetting, but also humorous, i.e. draw two dots and connect them, don’t take your eyes off them, don’t look away. Ridiculous.

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I ended up just trying my best. This is always my go to motto with crafts. I put painters tape on the canvas board and I think it turned out pretty straight. The next step was to paint the black stripes. I use acrylic paints because I have them for painting wine glasses. Painting on canvas is kind of awesome. It dries super fast, which allows for multiple coats in one sitting. The black stripes were painted on and now my painting resembled a famous dress from 2015 (well, to some of you). 

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While the paint was drying, I used my Silhouette CAMEO to create a stencil. I use adhesive vinyl that I found on Amazon. I typically use the Silhouette adhesive vinyl, but I was trying to save some money, and honestly this stuff worked really well.

I purchased a design I found in the Silhouette store. If you’re not familiar with the machine, it cuts out any stencil pattern you put into the program. It does a bunch of other stuff too, but I haven’t played around with it enough to know it all. I struggled at first with the adhesive vinyl sticking to everything, but trust me, you slowly get better.

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Once the vinyl was attached to the canvas, it was time to make this thing sparkle. I used Elmer’s glue and just kind of spread it around in the inside of the stencil.

IMG_6598I worked fast so it wouldn’t dry and then I piled on the glitter. This took me back to my childhood. I used to love adding glitter to crafts. I went a little overboard with the glitter because I wanted to give it a thicker look. I wasn’t sure what I was going to uncover when I dumped off the excess glitter, but the end product was gorgeous and exactly what Liz ordered.

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16Jan

A little bit of art therapy…

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I assume when people picture someone painting, they picture someone sitting at an easel, staring out at the sea. Their brush is painting a blueish gray sky. They are cool, calm and collected. They are in the moment. Not a care in the world.

Let me first say that I enjoy painting. I love adding color to things that were previously dull. I love the feeling of finishing a piece of work whether its a wineglass or a sign or a painted picture. I love that after struggling with anxiety most of my life, I have found a way to release that energy. What I don’t love is when I have off days. Today was one of those days.

I know every job, skill, whatever you want to call it, has its ups and downs. I definitely went through that in the corporate world. In the end, it was more downs than ups. But this is a different feeling. Every morning my mind tends to race with ideas of what I will accomplish that day and when the end of the day comes and I have nothing to show but a full trash can, I stress out. I started to do some “research” on this and found out I’m not alone. In fact, it gets worse. In a TODAY Moms survey of 7,000 U.S. mothers, 42 percent said that they sometimes suffer from Pinterest stress – the worry that they’re not crafty or creative enough. Wow. I am not a mother, but seriously is this what we are doing to each other?

I really think that we can suck the fun out of anything these days, so I am reminding myself now why I got into crafting in the first place. Art is supposed to be fun and a way to express yourself. There is a reason why six of the current top 20 bestselling books on Amazon are adult coloring books.  Through the repetitive motions of creating something, you shut off your mind like in meditation. And it doesn’t stop there, the reward of seeing what you created gives you more warm and fuzzies AND you get the satisfaction of knowing that you have the ability to finish something on your own.

Moving forward, I am going to try to not be as hard on myself when it comes to these off days. And I encourage all of you to pick up a coloring book or paintbrush or knitting needles. Give your mind a break.

11Jan

A little bit about me…


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I had planned on launching my blog on the first of the year, but if you know me, you know I am always a little late. Anyway, hello and welcome. I guess I will begin by telling you a little bit about myself. I am currently 34 years old and living in Pittsburgh with my husband, Dave, and our three animals, Ivy the corgi, Pixie the cat and Flash the tortoise. An interesting lineup, I agree.

At the end of 2015, I had quit a job at a business paper in Pittsburgh. I had been there for 10 years and it was just my time to go. I knew there were other things I wanted to do with my life and leaving the company let me explore these options.

I started painting wine glasses a couple years back just for fun and realized I loved it and actually wasn’t too shabby at it. At the end of last year, I decided to take the next step and try to make some money from this hobby. And so, Bows and Branches was started. I went from strictly wine glasses to other home decor, such as pallet signs, wreaths and other various items.  In addition to my craft business, I am currently working for Social Minded Media Group and Southern Wines and Spirits. I am a little bit all over the place and I absolutely love it!

I also figured out something new about myself in 2015, I love to cook. This is something that has helped me remain calm throughout a hectic year and has made Dave very happy. Most of the recipes I make I find on Pinterest or blogs just like this.

Now here we are in 2016, a sparkly new year, and I want to share all these new experiences. I read a lot of online reviews and blogs and I have to laugh sometimes at the amount of perfection I see. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past year, it is that I am never going to be perfect at everything I do and I feel like others can relate to this. I have learned to laugh at myself, whether its burning yet another meal or getting stuck in my first knitting project (like literally stuck!).

This blog will basically be my own attempt at organizing my life, thoughts and experiences into one place. I look forward to sharing with you.

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