Uncategorized

All posts in the Uncategorized category

Still alive… sorta.

Published February 27, 2013 by kurolace

Hi sweet strange-lings…

I’m afraid I’ve been absent for a while. Unfortunately I’ve been ill and having issues for the last 2 months, involving an ER trip, a fever, many strange symptoms, and multiple doctors appointments. I’ll spare you all the tedious details and say that it has been diagnosed as “anxiety”… Which is a bit frustrating, but I suppose I can see how the doctors came to that conclusion. I’ve been told to work on reducing stress, find some way to be more social, and to try out a paleo diet (a la whole9life.com). The Paleo diet thing seems like it might be stress inducing in itself, seeing as I live with 3 other people who are not really keen on doing it. For those who don’t know, this particular eating style requires the complete avoidance of all grains, legumes, and dairy. This method is supposed to reduce inflammation and help with a wide variety of health concerns. Its a bit expensive though, in my mind, seeing as you are supposed to eat a lot of organic stuff, and grass-fed, free-range meats. For me the key to success will be figuring out how to pre-make stuff, because I hate cooking all the time.

Unfortunately my mom had a heart attack in January, while on a cruise in the Caribbean… It was supposedly minor, and she has been a home for several weeks now. But as you can imagine, I’ve been a little distracted and busy, so I haven’t had much time to make anything. I also recently started a business course at the community college and volunteering at the hospital. But hopefully once I’m used to it all, I can get back to posting on a more regular basis.

Recently I finally downloaded the newest The Birthday Massacre album “Hide and Seek”. I totally love it ๐Ÿ™‚ So here is a one of the best songs from it:

Solar Eclipse Video & Pics

Published May 21, 2012 by kurolace

As you probably know… today there was a annular solar eclipse visible in the western part of the USA… I happen to live right along the line of visibility ๐Ÿ™‚ So my family took some time to watch it happen. We are lucky enough to own an Orion telescope and a solar filter, so we were using that to get a “close up” experience. My family didn’t believe me when I said I was going to take pictures – I guess they thought it wasn’t possible to get a good focus through the camera + telescope…. its true that I didn’t have perfectly crisp pics, but there were a few that turned out fairly decent. You can even see a sunspot or two (very blurryย  – even at max zoom/focus). Take a look…

I also took a video of the eclipse as the moon “exits” the sun…


 

 

Book Review: Crafty Superstar

Published May 5, 2012 by kurolace

Scan of the cover.

Author: Grace Dobush, 2009

Publisher: North Lights Books (Cincinnati)

ISBN-13: 987-1-60061-320-3

This book was an unexpected discovery I made one day while browsing the arts & crafts section at my local used/new book store.ย  I was actually looking for stitching patterns or crochet books, when I saw this book laying out in the book shelf’s “display” section. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about setting up an Etsy shop, or maybe doing some consignment arrangement, in order to sell a few of the many crafts that I’ve made. It was a used copy, and marked down 50% of its “new” price, so I went ahead and bought it.

While I haven’t read straight through it, cover-to-cover, I have browsed it extensively. Its a very useful and practical guide to setting up a small craft business. I particularly found the parts about branding, copyrighting, and pricing to be useful (although, for copyrighting, the book basically says “get a lawyer”, lol). The book is peppered with various “case-study” type examples collected from successful artisans. Additionally, there are multiple appendices filled with lots of useful links and information at the end of the book.

Here’s a brief summary of each chapter:

Chapter 1: Do you DIY?

This chapter discusses the handmade / indie trend’s history and popularity, as well as suggesting that you do some serious thinking regarding your expectations and motivations for getting into selling.

Chapter 2: Biz Basics

This chapter is focused on all of the small and big things that you need to take into consideration when naming, organizing, and running a small business. Topics include pricing, boosting production, organizing a workspace, and keeping track of income/expenses and legal issues like taxes and copyright.

Chapter 3: Selling Out

This chapter includes information about different ways to sell your products. For instance: online sites like Etsy vs craft shows vs consignment shops. It also talks about building a website and customer service, and even bartering your crafts for services and goods!

Chapter 4: Indie Craft Shows

This entire chapter is devoted to the notion of selling at craft shows, which, despite the rise of the digital era, is still probably one of the most popular and most utilized methods of selling crafts. The chapter talks about things like applying for shows, prepping products, creating displays, networking while at the show, and hosting your own show.

Chapter 5: Get Noticed

This chapter is all about marketing your business and building up a customer base. There are some suggestions about getting coverage in magazine and blogs.

Chapter 6: Finding Balance

This final chapter is about balancing your day job, family, and craft job, as well as maintaining your inventory. It has a few recommendations regarding either reducing your crafting business, or increasing it to a full time gig.

There’s also a brief Epilogue, and then the following appendixes:

  • Appendix A: Forms and Templates
  • Appendix B: Craft Communities
  • Appendix C: Awesome Craft Blogs
  • Appendix D: Craft-Friendly Publications
  • Appendix E: Small Business Resources
  • Appendix F: Reading List
  • Appendix G: Online Consignment Shops
  • Appendix H: Samples
  • Appendix I: Major North American Indie Craft Shows

In A Nutshell: I am happy with is book and it was totally worth the $18 original price (I paid $9 – so, double yay!). Sure, you can find similar information and suggestions online, probably for free – but I appreciate having it all together in one place. Its sorta like having check list to work on item-by-item. If you are considering selling your crafts and want to do something more than just a one-time craft show, then I think this book and a worthwhile investment. ๐Ÿ™‚

How To: Put Together a Crafting Kit

Published February 4, 2012 by kurolace

When it comes to craft supplies, there are a few basic, general items which you’ll use over and over – even as your crafting interests evolve and change. In today’s entry, I’ll list a few things that you might consider gathering together if you’re new to the world of crafts, or if you want to make a present for someone just getting started in crafts.

Image

Just some of the items you might like to include...

ย 

Here’s a list of some of the things you might want to include in your kit:

  • Scissors: One of the quintessential of crafting. You should (and probably already do) have more than one pair. Smaller, school-supply type scissors are usually good enough for paper cutting, getting into packages, trimming stay ends, etc… but having a nice pair of big utility scissors is handy too.
  • Measuring Tools: “Measure twice, cut once” holds true for crafts other than just sewing. Make sure you have at least 1 ruler on hand, but it can be nice to have a few extra so that you have multiple options. If you really can only afford one ruler, make it a metal / aluminum one – or one with a metal edge. That way you can use it as a straight edge when cutting with an Xacto blade. Also consider including a measuring tape, which is useful when you need to measure something that isn’t flat.
  • Glues: You should have at least one, good, multipurpose glue. A multipurpose glue is one that can adhere to a variety of materials / surfaces. Other specialty glues can be useful too, of course. Also, a basic glue stick is perfect for paper projects because wont wrinkle lightweight paper as badly as a liquid-glue will. Hot glue guns can be really useful, both for gluing and decorative purposes (using colored hot glue). One other alternative to glue is clear nail polish, which you can use for a varnish if you can’t justify buying an entire bottle of mod podge or spray varnish.
  • Sewing Kit: Having a few rolls of thread and some needles can come in handy whenever you want to use a few stitches to help secure something, or repair something. Sewing needles can also be useful as a tool to clear out a glue tip or to texture clay. You can buy sewing needles and thread separately, or you can just buy yourself a travel sewing kit.
  • Toothpicks: There are so many uses for these… like needles you can use them to help clear out the tip of a glue, but there are tons of other things you can do with them. I like to keep a box on hand because you never know when having that disposable, tiny tip can be really helpful.
  • Container / Box: Of course you’ll want to have something to store your supplies in. Depending on how much you have, you might need a big box or a little one. Or you might want to separate some of the items in to two groups for storage. You can get as fancy or as basic as you want: go the cheap way by using a large shoebox, or go ahead and get yourself a fancy-shmancy plastic art supply tote. Make-up train cases and Tupperware work well too.
  • Additional / Other Items: Razor blades, acrylic paints (the mini type), a compass, different types of tape, permanent markers and pens, colored pencils, cotton balls, Q-tips, or anything else you find useful on a regular basis.

(Keep in mind that if you’re putting together a crafting kit for a child, there are obviously some things that you might want to leave out.. such as Xacto blades and superglue.)

As you collect crafting supplies, you’ll find products that you like and don’t like, products that you use more than others, etc., so you’ll want to go through your crafting kit from time to time to update it. You’re also likely to develop more than one crafting supply box. For instance, I have a small one for clay & clay tools, one for jewelry tools, one for sketching, etc…

Thanks for reading and I hope this article may have given you some ideas for your own crafting life. ๐Ÿ™‚

Jewelry Photography Accessories

Published February 1, 2012 by kurolace

A simple set up using a wooden tray and black background

Browse through Etsy, DeviantArt, or any number of jewelry maker’s blogs, and you’ll see that jewelry photography often makes use of a variety of props in order to enhance the presentation of the jewelry. In the past when I’ve photographed my jewelry, I’ve only had the intent of posting the photographs on deviantArt in order to share my creations. The quality of those photographs were mediocre and often didn’t include any props other than a black flock background. However, recently I’ve taken an interest in listing my jewelry on Etsy.com with the hopes of someday selling a piece or two. In order to do this, I decided that I need to try taking my photography up to the next level. ๐Ÿ™‚

Today’s post is a summary of a few of the things which I’ve decided to use in my photography, and perhaps this post will give ideas to others like me.

Basic Jewelry Photography Equipment:

  • Cameraย  – In the past I used a Nikon Coolpix S203. It’s a true P&S pocket camera and fairly decent. It has a slew of presets and a few creative settings, but it doesn’t exactly have the greatest macro, and it doesn’t have the PSAM controls that I wanted. So I finally gave in and bought a Nikon Coolpix P7100. While it’s still technically a P&S camera, it sure as heck isn’t a pocket camera. Jewelry photography isn’t the only photography that I like to dabble in, so having this “pseudo DSLR” is ideal for me. The P7100 has great image quality – a huge improvement over my other coolpix camera. If you’re into photography and can afford a PSAM camera, I would suggest getting one – it helps when shooting macro. Otherwise you can stick with a P&S pocket cam.
  • Tripods – Yes, multiple tripods. You can probably get by with just one, but I like having both the tall, stand alone type (50″), and the tiny table top type (4″). I also fancy my dad’s gorilla tripod, which can wrap around things like rails to take pictures at fun angles… In case you didn’t know, having a tripod dramatically reduces the shake you experience when you take a picture without a tripod. Less shake = higher quality, sharper images.
  • Backdrop – A bed sheet, some card stock / poster board, or a blank white wall… each will do nicely as a backdrop for photos. I decided to go with the poster board method: I bought 2 sheets of black poster board and 2 sheets of white poster board. One sheet serves as the horizontal surface, and I tape / hang up the second sheet to be the vertical background. This gives the photograph a nice, clean background.

Additional Photography Props:

  • Jewelry Displays / Forms – These are available in sooo many different sizes and models. You can order some fancy ones from stores like

    My recently acquired props.

    Fire Mountain Gems, but you can also find them on the cheap at stores like Michaels. This past Sunday Michaels had one of those coupons for “25% entire purchase,” so I finally was able to buy a few displays. I bought a black flat necklace board, a white necklace form, and a set of 3 black pillars. I already also have a 3-tier bracelet display and 2 earring displays, but I use those more for storage of finished jewelry than as displays.

  • Trays / texture pieces – Trays can be useful in displaying the jewelry. I recently bought a wooden centerpiece dish from target for about $20. I love the way wood looks with a lot of my jewelry. I kinda wish my new wooden tray was a bit darker and a bit smaller, but its pretty nice as is. I also bought a pink ceramic flower dish.
  • Scarves / cloth – One of the quickest ways to add interest to the photograph is by using scarves or pieces of cloth. I like to sometimes spread the scarf out to cover the entire background, but other times I just use it as an accent around the piece of jewelry. Throw blankets and towels can work sometimes too. Today while I was at the craft store I saw variety of really nice looking plush / fur cloth, which Iย  think I’ll add to my “props wish list” ๐Ÿ™‚

One thing about these photography accessories that I’d like to mention is that I prefer finding things to use that I have other uses for as well. For example, the wooden centerpiece. I fully intend to use that as a centerpiece tray when I’m not using it in photography. The same goes for the flower dish (I’ll use it as a ring dish on my dresser), and the scarves. I live in a small, cluttered room already, so I can’t be adding too much more stuff to my collection!

Some of my scarves

A few other props I’ve seen used that I don’t currently have / use are: glass stones (like they put in the bottoms of vases), stones / rocks, nature, and fake flowers. Of course, if you have the space for all that stuff, then you’re lucky. The larger variety of items you have to use, the better chances are that you’ll be able to set up a photograph that matches the feel of that particular piece of jewelry.

I’m hoping that tomorrow I will have some time to go out in the backyard in the morning and make good use of the indirect sunlight. Trying to take photos indoors with flash or with light-bulb light tends to cause a lot of glare with glass beads.

Kurolace is born.

Published January 31, 2012 by kurolace

If you’ve ever named a blog, you know that many of the good names are already taken… Especially if you don’t want to have any numbers or whatever in the name… So after some thought, and many bad ideas, I’ve decided to name this blog “Kurolace.”

I wanted a name that reflected my interested in not only the cute and frilly, but dark and strange… If you can’t already tell, the name is a combination of two simple words: kuro (or kuroi – Japanese for black) and lace … Not terribly creative, but I like it! Some people don’t like Japenglish …. and sometime I agree, but I hope that those few will forgive me. One of my interests is gothic lolita and other things “kawaii,” so a Japenglish word seemed appropriate ๐Ÿ˜›

As to what I intend to put here… well, I figure that I’ll have to wait and see what inspires me. To start with I’ll add some beading photographs… maybe a how-to or a recipe every now and then. Maybe a few “words of pseudo-wisdom,” or a product review. Whatever strikes my fancy. Perhaps that isn’t a good approach for generating traffic, but right now that isn’t really my concern.

I think now I’ll go make a list of ideas!

So for now, my sweetlings and strangelings, farewell!