It always seems to happen.

One of the most frustrating, time consuming yet fundamental areas of online selling is photos. The time it takes to set up, photograph, edit etc is incredible and the ratio of good shots to bad is appalling. Yet without good photos it is very difficult to get sales, buyers need to see what they are buying.

So I very carefully prepare myself for this essential part of my fledgling business. I set up my photo area, I turn on my daylight lamps, I put my camera on its tripod and then arrange my first shot. Then I turn on the camera….. and what do you know.. the batteries, which I only put in the last time I took photos, have decided they are flat, and the chances are the spare set of batteries are not charged!

Do you know how many times this has happened lately? I’ll tell you… every time! And by the time the batteries are charged there is no daylight to help with the lighting.

So enough of my ranting, I’m off to put batteries on charge so I can take some photos tomorrow. 🙂

Advertisements

I love it when a plan comes together.

Ok, so its not much of a plan.. but it worked!

I have been playing with polymer clay, and in particular, liquid polymer clay. One of the most time consuming parts of making things with polymer clay can be the sanding process, which makes a huge difference to the look of pieces, but does take time. And the best results are achieved by wet sanding, which tends to lead to that lovely pruny fingers look. The difference in the look of bead that has been sanded and buffed can be amazing, especially the shine that can be achieved.

Ultimately, I want most of my pieces to be super shiny, and lately I have fallen in love with the faux glass sort of look. So I went in search of a way to make super shiny beads with minimal sanding. I can hear some people yelling ‘well just varnish then’. Well there is the catch… I dont want to varnish them. I want them to be ONLY polymer clay (unless I’m adding Swarovskis for bling). So how to achieve the super shiny, glassy look without sanding and buffing and without using varnish?

Well I have found my answer! Kato Liquid Clay.

No, I dont work for Kato, I dont get anything from them, I am saying this purely because this is what has worked for me.

I have achieved super shiny, glassy looking beads without having to spend hours sanding and buffing. It isnt a quick fix, it still takes a little time and patience, and a lot of care… burning the clay is a hazard. It’s also slightly dangerous.. in that you are using a heat gun pretty close to your fingers! However, the results are amazing.

These are not the best photos, however.. the first shows a group of beads before curing, the second shows them after covering them in Kato Liquid Clay. ( A few have had other treatments too – like the shaving foam technique)

Pre-baking... mmmm.... pretties

After 'treatment' (note: pale pink have no Kato on them - purely sanding and buffing)

As I said, not the best photo, but I can tell you that the shine that you can see on the dark beadies is on all of the ones with Kato. The flat heart ones are mica shift, and were sanded to death like I usually do. I then put Kato on the darker ones so I could compare buffing to Kato.

Personally, I think there are times when sanding and buffing is the way to go, Mica shift is one time..the sanding makes a huge difference. Also with faux gemstones, like turquoise, because I think a super shine is not going to look ‘authentic’.

There are some other Kato’d beads on my flickr that show the effect better.. you can see them to the left of the blog.

Anyway, I will continue to play and perfect my newest passion. Stay tuned!

Smashing the Block

Some days the blocks on my creativity are debilitating. A lot of the time this really isnt something that I worry about too much, as it tends to make the block even worse. But when I have deadline this is a real issue.

This has happened to me in the last couple of days. I had an article due for HandmadeNews.org. Now it wouldnt seem that hard to come up with 250 odd words about something craft related, but you dont really want to be repeating yourself, and you need to find a way to appeal to your readers. Which is a lot like writing a blog really.

So how do you break the block?

I wish there was an easy answer, but really there isnt. If time isnt a factor then you can probably just ride it out until the block dissipates on its own. But if time is a factor then you have to find a way to smash the block.  For me, one of the things I do when it comes to writing articles is to think about the kind of things that others ask me questions about. If something is in my field of experience it is going to be easier to write about than something that could require a lot of research. Everyone is a huge pool of information about those things of importance to them. You might not think that many would find it interesting to read about, but lots of people love to learn about what makes others tick, or like to tap into other people’s knowledge.

Everyone’s experiences are different, and that can help others see things from a new perspective.

The first article/piece after the block may not be the most amazing thing you ever wrote, but at least you put words on the page. Everyone who writes finds it difficult at times, and we have to learn to accept that sometimes the words are hard to come by. Those times of drought make the plentiful seasons all the more special.

Something else that might help is to find others who might understand. If you are a writer you might like to try out BunnyRabbitSex – dont let the name put you off, this is not a porn site. It is a forum dedicated to writers from all fields and genres. There is lots of helpful information and people willing to help out and provide support.

Ok, so just a little disclosure. I am a moderator on BunnyRabbitSex . I dont get paid, I do it voluntarily. I wouldnt recommend a site that I didnt believe in. I havent been asked to write this blog post, I do it because I want to and I think the forum is worth writing about.

Attempting organisation

I am fairly disorganised, which is something of an issue considering how busy I am! I currently have 6 active online stores, plus numerous blogs, forums and social networking sites that I am active on. Add to that being a guild master and writing for HandmadeNews.org, and my time needs to be more organised.
So today I decided I needed to get my act together, for my own benefit, apart from the flow on benefits for others.
I wrote down all the places that need my attention each week, and then all the days of the week. Then I assigned certain places to the different days, basically attempting to evenly divide it amongst my week. Then when I was happy I printed it out and it sits next to my computer.

Chainmaille Bobble Earrings

One of the benefits of this will be that this particular blog, which tends to be sadly neglected, should have a new post every week. And as my other blog tends to mainly be features of other artisans, I decided that this blog will mainly be about me.
Dont let that stop you from reading! I will try to keep it interesting.
I will keep you up to date on how my new schedule goes, Im sure it will need some tweaking as I go along, but that is fine. It should help me be less stressed and more productive.

The downside of being a polymer clay artist.

Yes, there is a downside. Hot weather plays havoc with clay. If it is too hot the clay can get too sticky or horror of horrors actually begin to cure and go all dry and crumbly. It has been really hot here a couple of times over the last month or so, and as a result I have not achieved as much as I would like to have where clay is concerned.
However, along with some of my clay play buddies on beadingforum.com.au, we did get some fabulous experimentation going. It started from me picking the topic of ‘Faux Techniques’ for the December monthly challenge. One of our members showed us some Faux Lampwork she had done, which was really incredible! But it started a discussion about getting a really glassy effect on the beads, to mimic the look of glass. So several of us played with lots of different products to see what produced which effect.
Well flat beads, cabs etc were fine, but round beads seem to cause lots of issues.. mainly the fault of gravity IMO. I tried using Kato Liquid Clay.. and it actually works quite well, especially if you use the ‘bead on the spit’ technique with a heat gun. Want to see what I did?

This is a round one that I started by doing thin coats in the oven then blasting with the gun to clear the clay.. it has little knobs where the clay pooled.

This one had a couple of coats with Kato in the oven, then I did the bead on the spit with the heatgun without smoothing the Kato out first. As a result it cured in ridge and bumps.. which is pretty cool. Unfortunately I also got a bit close and scorched it. But it has made it look like gold leaf instead of silver!

This is a couple of flat pieces I made at the same time with the Kato. Top one is a pendant, that I burnt a little on one side when I got a bit too close with the heat gun again. The bottom is a domed pendant which has turned out brilliantly, very faux dichro.
So whilst its harder to work with uncured clay in hot weather, it leaves lots of time for thinking and planning and dealing with the huge pile of sanding and buffing that I have to do!