Thursday, July 31, 2008

CafeMom and "The Storque"

Etsy has been doing a series of articles on their blog, "The Storque" called "Handmade Kids". As part of that special emphasis, I was contacted about submitting an article on the CafeMom Etsy Moms Street Team because I'm one of the leaders of that team. So, I compared notes with the founder of our group, rockerchic and we thought about who we are and why we are and what we do and then put it all in an article we submitted. Our article became part of the Etsy article and you can read it for yourself, here:

Handmade Kids: An Insider's Review of

If you want to take a closer look at the CafeMom Etsy Moms, check out our CafeMom profile or our CafeMom Etsy Moms blog. You can also check my sidebar for a scrolling list of CafeMom Etsy Mom's blogs. And if you'd like to see what all these talented moms do, just go to and search "Cafemom team".

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Taking Pictures Part 2: Reflections

I've written before about my creative solution to taking pictures of small products, like the buttons and small crafts I sell from my Etsy shop. I know a lot of Etsy sellers use a light tent for this, like this home made one. But anything I do has to fit in my tiny townhouse so setting up a light tent and finding a place to keep the equipment when not in use didn't seem to be a viable option for me.

Instead, I use a couple of foamboards, scored and folded and set up as both backdrop and reflector. When not in use, these are folded flat and stored behind a bookshelf, conveniently out of the way. I made another makeshift reflector out of half of a large can, too, which works very well for small objects.

It's all about the light...where it's coming from...and where you want to put it.

One challenge for me was controlling reflections, since the buttons I make have a shiny surface. A little maneuvering, a slight change of angle and a healthy dose of trial and error can make all the difference.

But pocket mirrors were a particular challenge not only because of the shiny surface of the button, but also because of the image reflected by the mirror. After all, you want to show the mirror, not what the mirror sees. In this photo the reflection of my reflector (a foil-covered piece of foamboard) can clearly be seen:

That's not a photo I'd want to post in my Etsy shop, even after cropping out the edge of my background and the reflector set up on the left side.

Sometimes the best solution is the simplest. Here's what I did to fix that:

By tilting the angle of the folded piece of foamboard that was serving as my background, I made sure that the only thing reflected in my pocket mirror was the white surface of the foamboard.

Since I'm using window light, which can vary according to the time of day or weather, I usually tweak the brightness and contrast of these product shots with graphics software. (I use an old version of Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop Elements to do this, although free programs like Gimp or Picasa are favored by many Etsy crafters.)

Here's the final result:

By the way, the pocket mirror I've used in this example isn't available in my Etsy shop. It's a personal project for some friends of mine. But you can check out the Imaginary Bitches website and a very funny new web series written by Andrew Miller and starring Eden Riegel, Elizabeth Hendrickson and some other familiar faces from TV. It's getting some great attention from the press., including raves from People Magazine and TV Guide. Better yet, go to their YouTube channel and watch all the webisodes for yourself and if you enjoy it as much as I do, subscribe and share it with your friends.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Keeper's Jackpot

Each month the Etsy Bloggers Street Team gives special attention to one member. Take a look at my sidebar and you'll see the graphic for this there...the name will change each month and clicking on it will always take you to that members blog.

This month, if you click on that link you'll get a beautifully illustrated travelog of the Adirondack Mountains. What wonderful pictures and a first hand report of a hike up Blue Mountain, a place I'll probably never see for myself. But I'm very glad this blogger wanted to share it with us.

Tying into the topic of that blog entry is this item from A Keeper's Jackpot's Etsy Shop...a Custom Beaded Hiker's Safety Whistle. This is an item that springs from the maker's personal experience, according to the description. Sounds like it would be an excellent addition to any hiker's gear.

I also took notice of these items in the same shop...lanyards for ID badges. What a wonderful thing to do to make something ordinary a lot more fun. I recall when my daughter was young and we were frequently in and out of the doctor's office, I loved seeing the nurses who had somehow personalized their name badges and wore scrubs made of fun colors and patterns. If you wear name badges, consider jazzing your up with one of these.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Favorite New Creation

I've been prompted (by the Etsy Bloggers Street Team) to write about my "favorite creation" but after giving it some thought I realized that my favorite is always changing. Almost every time I make a new puzzle ball or teddy bear, it becomes my favorite. (I say "almost" because there have been times that I finished one and regretted my choice of fabric or color...but those are ones I don't share!)

Actually, I don't even have to wait until I finish a teddy bear...I make the head first and as soon as I have it sewed and stuffed the bear takes on it's own personality. Then I prop up the head where I can see it while I finish sewing and stuffing the rest of him...or her....

So I shifted my focus to take a wider view of what I create and I offer you this...a slideshow I created for my church's Vacation Bible School. I love running around all week long, shifting back into my old freelance photographer mode, taking pictures of the kids every morning for a week. Then I take one of the songs they've been learning and use it to put together a musical slideshow that tells the story of the whole experience. We show it during the presentation to the parents on Friday night. This time I was in a real time crunch getting it finished...I still wish I'd done a few more quick cuts near the end, but I also realize that parents like the group shots to stay on the screen long enough for them to find their kid in the picture...and besides, I was finishing it up about ten minutes before I was supposed to leave the house to go show it at the church! At any it most recent favorite creation: