Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Folksy Macmillan fundraising shop

The fantastic news is that one of the newest Folksy shops is dedicated to raising money for Macmillan.  Run by Kaz, you can visit the shop here

I've donated these lovely Pink Mookaite and Rhodonite earrings to the cause

Although they still appear in my shop, anyone purchasing them will be donating the full price of £15 to Macmillan fundraising. The only thing that is not donated is the P&P. 

Macmillan do fabulous work and you can read more about them here

Another great way to help charities like Macmillan is to give a regular small monthly donation. Even though times are hard, if you are able, donating £2 a month from your bank account soon becomes a habit, and frankly, what can you buy for £2 these days? A posh coffee can easily set you back more than that! I support the Cancer Research Foundation this way, and you can find out more here

I'm delighted to be able to support these causes, and to be part of the Folksy community that are committed to helping this cause.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Photography tips from a non-professional

Can't believe that I'm going to give advice on photographing jewellery - I am anything but an expert!  However, a couple of people recently got in touch to ask me how I got my photos so clear - this was really flattering, and honestly not something I was expecting.  If you had seen the photos I started out with and the ones now, you'd appreciate what a steep learning curve I've been on.

After 8 months selling online, I've probably redone my photos about six or seven times.  It's an incredible waste of time and effort, so if I can pass on anything I've learned and save someone a bit of time, that'll be good.  Most of the advice I've picked up has come from lovely people in the Folksy and Etsy community (including members of the Lonely Jewelers on Etsy), they are the best source of tips and great at critiques.  Frequently I was in despair with the photos, and ready to close the shops because of them.  Although I don't hate taking photos now, I'd still rather be making jewellery or writing about it.

Professional photographers should look away now (or in fact anyone who knows a lot about it) because I'm sure I break most of the rules.  After all this time and a lot of reading, I still don't really understand what an F-stop is or why depth of field is critical.  I'm sure these things are important, but I've got to that age where you realise you can't learn everything about everything so you have to be selective! 

This is also about photography with limited space and little equipment.  I use a digital camera that is old and bulky by today's standards, and I live in the smallest house you can imagine.  My most expensive piece of new equipment is my floor standing tripod (it cost about £15) and it's now probably something I'd reach to save if the house were on fire.  You can see it in my set up here:

There it is all ready for the camera to sit on top.  It lets me get every possible angle on the jewellery and takes up very little floor space.

You might have noticed by now that the tripod is pointing at a windowsill and a piece of mulberry wrapping paper is blu-tacked to the window.  I told you this was non-technical stuff, didn't I?!  I did buy a light box originally but it never worked for me as well as natural light.  The wrapping paper diffuses the light nicely, I think.

Here I've placed the earrings to be photographed.  They are on a piece of silver craft card.  I've probably tried every background you can think of, and reflective ones definately work best for me.  For some, I use a piece of white glossy photo paper, but for the mookaite colours here, I like the silver card.  It actually comes out more white than a white background.  The physics people could probably tell you why, but I can't!  I love the reflection, and so long as your customer doesn't think they are buying two pairs of earrings, I don't see there's much harm in it.

You can just see our neighbour's house across the road in this shot!

My other tips for getting a good shot are:

  • set the white balance manually on your camera every time you start to shoot a new object
  • experiment with different exposures (+1.3 and above work best for me)
  • if it's too sunny or too gloomy outside, forget pictures for the day!  There are probably other things you can do for your shop that day
  • use macro and a bit of zoom together (I'm sure that's breaking the rules completely...)
  • get up close and personal - you can have one shot with everything in, but the others can celebrate the detail of your work
  • use some free software like Gimp to touch up, but don't overdo it.  If you're photo needs too much adjusting, it's probably better to start again with a different shot.

Here they are.  What do you think?  Comments and tips most welcome.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Folksy Friday - Pretty Paisley

This week, some things you might not know about paisley, courtesy of Wikipedia, together with some lovely designs from Folksy sellers.  Click on the pictures to be taken directly to the seller's shop.

 Paisley Tree by Zebedee

Paisley or Paisley pattern is a droplet-shaped vegetable motif of Indian and Persian origin, similar to half of the Yin yang symbol. The pattern is sometimes called "Persian pickles" by American traditionalists, especially quiltmakers, or "Welsh pears" in Welsh textiles as far back as 1888.  Resembling a twisted teardrop, the kidney-shaped paisley is Persian and Indian in origin, but its western name derives from the town of Paisley, in central Scotland.

 Paisley canvas by Boo Star Designs
It was popular in the European Baltic states between 1700 and 1800 and was thought to be used as a protective charm to ward off evil demons. However, in modern culture, the youth of these countries have used it as a symbol of rebellion.

 Tangarine Hunter Gloves by Tamsyn Amber

Paisley was particularly popular during the Summer of Love, heavily identified with psychedelic style and the interest in Indian spirituality and culture brought about by the pilgrimage of The Beatles there in 1968. John Lennon had a Rolls Royce painted with the design in 1967. Also, Fender Guitars made a Pink Paisley version of their Telecaster guitar, by sticking paisley wallpaper onto the guitar bodies.

 Fabric coasters by My Calico Heart

Friday, 12 March 2010

Etsy picks Lovely Labs

This week I'm going to give in to my love of all things Labrador-related.

As I type, my own pooch is doing his ritual wandering around the room, trying to decide if his tea has given him enough energy to play with a ball on a rope for a while, or if he's really too tired and should get settled on the sofa for the evening!  When he does settle, he won't look quite the same as this beautiful brown boy photographed by sdgphoto, but it will be similar:

Earlier in the day, Lucca had a bit of a swim in the river, something he's lucky enough to do most days.  He's never been in a boat - I think we'll leave that one until he's a little calmer (when will that be??!) I love this print by nativevermont - it beautifully captures the classic Labrador pose when alert and interested, I think:

Being a very sociable fellow, Lucca meets up with numerous doggie friends during the walking day.  Seeing one other Labrador makes him incredibly excited - if he were to encounter this brood from thelab it would be mayhem:

But it is nearly time to get Lucca a little companion.  Not sure yet what type of dog, but he's already been named 'Ted'.  Maybe it will be another brown Lab and they'll look as adorable as these two from art4milkbones

Sleep has won over toys now.  Lucca says goodnight!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Folksy Friday – What a good idea!

This week’s picks are things you never thought you needed until you see them.  And I don’t mean the sort of gadgets you see in the Betterware catalogue!
Let’s start with organising jewellery.  Which of you doesn’t have jewellery everywhere?  How many necklaces are tangled in the bottom of your jewellery boxes?  You need a lovely necklace hanger like this one from maxineveronica13

Now to another concern of mine – how to keep warm on endless winter-y dog walks.  Without getting ‘hat hair.’  All that’s needed is an ear warmer like this from GingerNutKnits:

If you’re not a pink person, other colours are available.
If your other half is Welsh (mine is), you might feel obliged to fill your home and your wardrobe with red.  But what if, like me, you prefer blue?  Simple, just visit helkatdesign and purchase something lovely like this:

And, if you’re frequently out and about, how about this working telescope pendant by Zara Taylor, just in case the sun sets as you walk and you need to navigate by the stars?

There’s a ship’s wheel included too. 

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