Please join us this week for the Favorite Things Blog Hop!
Please take the time to get to know ALL of your hostesses
Please take the time to get to know ALL of your hostesses
Even the best of intentions often times get tossed out the window when REAL LIFE happens. I finished my “fun” art journal in early spring (they are all “fun” but that one was just for fun with no particular theme or message), and started my new one right away. I finished the covers and decided on a color scheme and theme / message and then OOPS! Everything had to be picked up and stashed in a storage box because we finally had the time to paint the sewing room / art studio. All of which I am so grateful to have almost finished, BUT while we were in the midst of all that mess, the art journal was hiding in a cupboard, away from the paint and sawdust.
So this week, after getting everything out in the sewing room cleaned up again, I now have a place to organize and store all of my sewing and art supplies, and I even have room to work on different projects without having to pick everything up when I’m right in the middle of something. We still need to figure out what to do with that yucky old concrete floor, and we want to paint the ceiling and do a bit of trim work around the furnace and AC units, but HOORAY! I can work out there now.
One of the first projects I wanted to do now that I have room to work was to finish painting the rug that I started a week or so ago. It took several coats of paint to cover completely (of course I would start with a rug that had a dark design on it . . . but it is small and old and really UGLY so I decided to experiment on that one before I move on to the bigger rugs – if this one turns out OK!). While I was waiting for the last coat of paint to dry on the rug, before I paint some kind of a wild and crazy design on it, I decided to get back to my art journal project that has been on hold now for a couple of months.
One of the things that God has put on my heart the past several years is the importance of story telling. We all have stories, and we all need to share our stories with others, but sometimes that is quite intimidating. Instead of sharing our stories, we often hide the true message of our lives and unfortunately, lots of important stories are lost forever if we don’t tell them – somewhere, somehow, to someone. For me, the safest place to start telling my story is in the silence. Because I don’t want to hear anyone’s opinion of my story, or have someone tell me that my story is “wrong,” or that it’s not an important story . . . . so I have written bits and pieces of my story in poem and short essays that are completely and totally private. Maybe someday –
For now, I’ve decided to create an art journal in which I can have fun decorating and creating artistic designs on each of the pages, but THIS art journal will be a silent place of safe-keeping for my stories. So this art journal has lots of pockets and envelopes (which are always fun no matter what you put in them!) where I can write out some of the stories and poems in my heart and hide them in the little pockets of my journal. Then, maybe someday, if anyone is interested in my story, they will be able to discover my words. I’m telling my story, sometimes in the silence, and I am really having fun with this little project.
After I designed the covers (I just used plain old cardboard from the backs of scrap book paper packs), I decided to use scrap book card stock for each of the pages so that some of the pages already have images on them. The backs of each of those pages are plain white so I can add all kinds of fun stuff to them, and I included several altered envelopes and pockets in between the pages. One way to create an art journal is to use a blank book that is already bound, but for some reason I really like to start from “nothing” and make my own books. So in case you would like to make your own art journal with just a bit of scrap cardboard, paper, envelopes, paint, glue, ribbons, and buttons, here’s just one approach to telling your story – sometimes in the silence – in the event that you are like me and you’re not quite ready to tell the whole world what is in your heart. This is a great way to express your heart in a creative and fun project.
Please take the time to get to know ALL of your hostesses
If you are building an online business, what is your biggest challenge? Those of us who “make stuff” and have an online shop need to be diligent about producing high-quality photographs – because no matter how wonderful your product might be, if you aren’t displaying it to full advantage, you will miss lots of opportunities for customers to discover you. That has been one of my biggest challenges!
I’ve tried lots of different ways to take photos of my refashioned clothing, and I’ll admit that I even look at other online shops to see who other people display their products – and sometimes I wonder about the photos that I see, because often the pictures are not exactly in-focus, or straight, or they frequently don’t have good lighting. I might be the only one who notices that stuff (but I don’t think so!), and I might worry about it too much, but it is important to me to present my designs as accurately as possible. I want them to look as good in the pictures as they do in “real life.”
A good background is important to display the best features of your products or designs. I’ve noticed that shops with uncluttered backgrounds in their photos have a tidy and professional look, while others prefer to present a more “artsy” or casual feel to their product and shop. Either way, it is important that the background of your photos compliment your featured product and not detract from it. I’ve often used a solid-color curtain behind my displays, or sometimes I have taken photos outside with a tree or simple nature setting in the background.
My other studio had a lovely brick patio just outside the door of the little building where I worked, and the rough-hewn siding made a nice background for my upcycled and refashioned designs. My studio now does not have such a charming facade to use in my photos, but I have been able on occasion set up an area just outside our sun room with a few vintage odds and ends to give it a little bit of an artsy feel.
The biggest challenge of the biggest challenge . . . . the hardest part of getting good photos for my online shops (which in itself is more difficult than actually making the stuff!) is getting good lighting. Since I am not a professional photographer, but I am determined to get good pictures to post online, I have found the best lighting is outside on a partly cloudy day so that you have good natural light, but not harsh direct sunlight.
My professional photographer friends might have better advice than I can give, because all I have to go on is my experience – but natural light looks so much better than when I have to take photos inside my studio. But – it is not always possible to take pictures outside. Sometimes it is raining, or snowing, or even just too windy to take pictures outdoors. Even if you have a perfect day as far as lighting and temperature, if it is windy, it will be a real headache to try to take pictures with stuff flapping around in the breeze!
That’s what happened to me the other day. It was finally warm enough, with just the right amount of sunlight through the clouds – so I went outside thinking I would get all set up to take a few pictures. But just as I got everything set up and ready to go, the wind kicked up and there was just no way I was going to get a good picture. So I went back inside and set up the background that my husband made for me from a clothing rack on wheels. We hung a solid-color ivory curtain across the bar at the top so I could have a simple background and be able to move it wherever I need it. Except outside on a windy day!
I took a few pictures inside with natural light from a nearby window, and that helped. But I need a different color background when I’m taking pictures of things that are the same color as the curtain. For now I just draped a darker color curtain over the ivory one, but I need to make some other adjustments to make this work. It’s a start, and right now, I’m happy to get started getting more listings in my Etsy shop after a rather miserable winter. Maybe by next week I can take a few pictures outside – if the breeze doesn’t spoil my photo shoot again!
What is your biggest challenge to running a successful online shop? I think the next thing I need to tackle is marketing and SEO, but for now if I can just get a few good photos . . . . In the meantime, I hope you can join us for the Favorite Things Blog Hop this week. It’s a great way to connect with other bloggers, so please join the fun!
A few weeks ago, as I was in the process of updating my blog at mamas*little*treasures (which I have had up and running since around 2007), everything suddenly locked up and I could not access my dashboard. There was an error message, but you know that those things are written in “computereze” and us normal people have no clue what it means when it tells me: “Fatal Error.” That sounds pretty serious to me, so I tried to decipher the rest of the message: “Call to undefined function wp_raise_memory_limit() in /home/content/30/5893330/html/mamastreasures/wp-admin/admin.php on line 141.”
I thought that perhaps the system was down for update, or something relatively harmless, so I decided to work on something else for a while and then check back later. But later it still gave me the same error message when I tried to access the dashboard to add a new post. The next day it was the same error message, and since I was busy with a few other projects, I had to put my blog on the back burner, so to speak.
A couple of days later, when I could finally get back to the blog, that same error message was still showing up so I decided to call the hosting company to see if they could help me. Not really, they said, because I had been using the same template for a really long time (even though I had updated it regularly), that it simply was outdated and there was nothing they could do to unlock it. The best thing to do, they said, was to start all over with a new blog. Really? Yes, really.
That’s what I’ve been working on for the past month, in between all of my other responsibilities, and I’m still not happy with the current state of affairs, but at least I can get back to blogging again. So today is the beginning of my new blogging adventure. I’m so grateful to Katherine and all of the other hostesses who have been so patient with me as I’ve been trying to navigate this often-times bumpy road of blogging, but I’m learning lots of new stuff and making some much-needed changes that I’ve been wanting to do for some time now.
In case this kind of thing ever happens to you, just remember that a fresh start is frequently a good thing, and since I didn’t actually “lose” anything from my old blog I can move over the stuff I want to keep and then continue to rebuild here in my new little corner of the blogosphere. I hope you will consider stopping back once in a while to see what I’m up to, because I have lots of plans and projects for this new year and I want to share them with you all. Thanks for participating in the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop and Linky Party . . . . I’ll do my best to get around to visit some of you this week in between my other writing projects, sewing projects, and journaling.
Vintage Mama’s Cottage is going to be a place where you can find creative inspiration that will be a blessing to you as you live out your God-given purpose in your home and family. I hope you will join me on this new journey!