Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fall Y'all Giveaway

Today I'm participating in the Etsymom's Fall Y'all Giveaway!

Here's a picture of the giveaway I've provided for today:

Go here to read all about it. And then go here to see what the whole Fall Y'all Giveaway is all about.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Stitching Blind

I've been asked how it is that I can sew such tiny stitches when making my Puzzle Balls, particularly the Mini-Puzzle Balls. Part of the answer can be found in the photo above. I've been wearing bifocals for a few years now. But in the past few months, as it became obvious that I needed a new pair of glasses, I opted for some additional assistance...clip on magnifying lenses. They make all the difference in the world when working on small projects, whether Puzzle Balls or Teddy Bears!

I finally had my eyes checked and this time got a prescription for trifocals. When I picked up my new glasses yesterday I thought they were great...because I'd needed new glasses for a long time and I'd been walking around without any glasses at all for a couple of hours while they put new lenses in my old frames. After getting home and wearing the new glasses for a while, though, it quickly became apparent that something wasn't right. I went back to the doctor today, had my eyes checked again and discovered that the prescription was wrong in both lenses. It wasn't off by much, but just enough to drive me crazy and give me headaches.

So, new glasses will be made, but I'll have to wait another week to ten days for them. In the meantime, I have to wear the glasses that don't work or none at all. I can see well enough to manage at home with most tasks, as long as I don't mind squinting now and then and adjusting my distance to the TV and computer, but I figured I wouldn't be doing any stitching. Then my husband had a brilliant idea...and drove me to pick out a cheap pair of reading glasses at the nearest store. Those will do just fine until my new trifocals are ready, so I'll finally be able to finish those Teddy Bears and Puzzle Balls that have been calling my name.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Taking Pictures

Soon after setting up my shop on it became apparent that one of the biggest challenges would be taking good pictures of the products I hoped to sell. I've mentioned before in my blog that I've been a photographer for quite a while, but small-product or table-top photography was never my specialty.

The key to any good photograph is the lighting, though, and I've had a lot of practice being aware of what the light is doing before I ever push that shutter button. So I thought I'd show you what I've been doing to get pictures like these:

I've seen where others have posted instructions for making your own light box or tent for small product photography and I've tried doing that, but my set up is simpler. I live in a very small house and I'm operating on a very small budget, so I needed something cheap that I could set up and take down quickly and store in a very small space. Here's what I came up with:

I use the light coming in through the sliding glass doors to my deck (which means I have certain times of the day that work best for this). I bought a couple of pieces of foamboard and scored one down the middle with an exacto knife, then folded it in half. One serves as the surface I place my object on as well as bouncing some light from the top of the frame. Another piece of foamboard, trimmed and scored and standing on end serves as a reflector when place opposite the light source, filling in shadows on the left side of the object. I can easily reposition the reflector as needed depending on the light coming from outside and the size of my subject. When I'm done, I can fold these pieces of foamboard flat and store them easily, even in my small house.

Here's another reflector I use that bounces a little more light. I recycled an old cannister of Instant Breakfast that has a silvered interior, cut the rims off , then cut it in half. When I set that opposite the light source I get more light wrapping around a small object like this:

Here's another view of the same thing:

I cropped this photo to take out the reflector on the left of the frame and used it for this listing in my Etsy shop:
(Edited to add: Since the link to this blog is still being shared from time to time, I'll try to keep this link updated to always show something currently listed in my shop.)

It's all about being aware of the light. It might help to set your camera to use the spot meter, if it has that capability (if you don't know what that means, leave me a comment and I'll explain further). You can also cover your foamboard reflector with aluminum foil if you need more light. If you try these tips, leave me a comment and let me know how it worked for you.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

UMHB Lanyards

It's always interesting to find out how people find me, whether they're stopping by my blog here, or my Vox blog or my Etsy shop. I use Statcounter to keep track of such things for this blog (don't worry, it doesn't reveal any private details about my readers!) and tonight I checked to see where my recent visitors have come from.

I discovered that one visitor came from an AOL Search for "UMHB Lanyards". Apparently, one of the sites that popped up when somebody was searching for UMHB Lanyards was my blog! My last blog entry, "Tagged Again" mentioned the fact that I had worked as a photographer on the campus at the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor in Belton, Texas. It also mentioned that I used to teach crafts at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Encampment, and that I could no doubt make a lanyard in my sleep!

And that's all it took for somebody who was looking for UMHB Lanyards to find me instead!

Gee...I hope they found their lanyards.....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Office Treasures

Items from my shop are currently featured in two different Treasuries on Etsy, both related to offices:

Click here to go to this one.

Click here to see that one.

When I think back on my days as an office worker, I think the "Frustration" one is particularly appropriate to the theme!