Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Share Your Creative Project Ideas!

I've been looking for a new craft project the last few days and just realized I was spending as much time looking for one as I would actually working on one.
So, I decided to start a discussion topic on my FaceBook page devoted to networking with other crafters and sharing ideas with each other. If you would like to participate, just become a fan of Printastic Designs on Facebook and post your idea, or finished project under the discussion tab. If you'd like to add a photo of your finished project you can post it directly to the main page.

All those who choose to participate will receive a 25% Discount code good for anything in my Etsy Shop!

GET EXCITED and tell your friends to "Like" Printastic Designs and get in on the discussion!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Craft Project #3 - Wrist Warmers

A few weeks ago I was browsing through some random blogs and found a really neat craft idea for wrist warmers and thought "I can do that!" It's a bit cold in my office at work and although I wear layers, my hand are sometimes freezing! I really need my fingers free for typing and filing so gloves are not an option, but wrist warmers are totally doable and these were cute and super easy to make.
For this pair I up-cycled a pair of socks I had bought a few years ago, but after the first washing they shrunk and so didn't fit my feet any longer. I shoved them in the back of a drawer and forgot about them, until I found this idea and remembered I had them.

Here's how I made them...

- First, I cut the toe off of each sock and cut a small slit in the side about 1" down from the toe end for my thumb. The original post did not have this, but I thought it would help keep the wrist warmer in place better. If you add the thumb slit, be sure the heel of the sock is facing up and you cut the slits in the right spots.

- Second, I hand stitched the lace around the new opening. Now, the original post suggested using a tailor's ham(a cushion used for pressing curved areas of garments)to stretch out the opening while sewing, but I have never seen one of these let alone used one so I improvised and used a large plastic Easter egg. (I have kids - so plastic eggs are easy enough to find here!)Again, making sure the heel of the sock is facing up, I started sewing at the bottom so the seam would be more hidden when the warmers were being used.

-Third, I bunched up the extra material in the heel area at the top and sewed a cute button on it for some bling. Now was that easy or what?!?!

Seeing as the first pair only took me about 20 minutes to make, I thought maybe it would be good to have two pair of these. I changed the look a little bit and came up with these.

The only thing I can tell you to watch out for is raveling. Either find socks that don't ravel when cut, or be sure to hem the cut off toe end so you won't have problems later. I added the red edging to reduce raveling on my second pair and so far it's working great! BTW, if you really want to dress up your wrist buttons there is a great Etsy shop Alice Hunt Studio that makes beautiful and unique ceramic buttons . Sadly, I found mine at Walmart (with not much to choose from) before I found her shop.

These were so easy and fun to make and now my hands will stay warm and toasty when the frosty weather gets the better of my office!

Hope you all have a great day!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cast Signs & Plaques – Prices too high? Maybe not.

Have you ever wanted to create a memorial for a loved one, in a private garden, local park or in a church yard, but didn’t feel like you could afford the cost of a heavy cast memorial plaque? Let me just say that cast signage has come a long way in the last decade and you shouldn't write it off as being too expensive. There are a lot of alternative choices in the casting industry now that can give you a rich classic look that will last for many many years. I would like to introduce you to some of the available options: Blank Insert Plaques (BIP), Economical Multipurpose Plaques and Custom Dedication Plaques.

For those on a strict budget who want to memorialize a loved one, or honor a special individual the best type of plaque would be a Blank Insert Plaque. This unique design consists of a solid cast aluminum backer, a double line raised border with a brushed finish and a recessed background area that is painted your choice of an available stock color. A thin piece of aluminum, called metalphoto, is imprinted and set into the recessed area of the backer finishing your plaque. The metalphoto insert can include text and logos, as well as artwork or photographs for an added charge. These plaques can be very budget friendly starting at around $75.00 for a 6"x6" finished wall mounted BIP. Other stock sizes are available as well as a Holly Bronze finish option if you prefer a gold look.

If your budget is even smaller, there is also a smaller version of the BIP called a cast photo plaque that is 4"x6" and consists of a cast backer (with a black background) and a 3"x5" metalphoto insert. This item runs around $40 for a wall mounted plaque.

Now if you want the traditional look of raised letters on your cast plaque, a budget friendly option would be to choose from the economical line of plaques which although limited in letter size and style, can give you that rich ageless look that a custom cast plaque is known for. These plaques are made to last a lifetime and hold up to the outdoor elements very well. The are made from the same material and by the same process as the custom aluminum dedication plaques, but usually cost less because of the limited options. For example, economy plaques have only predetermined sizes to choose from, there are only two font choices, and letter size is more limited. These plaques work best with a limited amounts of text and standard thickness is approx 3/8".

If you have a larger budget to work with you may be able to consider a more customizable option. What better way to honor, memorialize and pay tribute to deserving individuals than with a custom cast dedication or memorial plaque. Made to last a lifetime, these beautiful pieces are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes and have several different finish options. Dedication and memorial plaques are priced per square inch and available with only simple text or you can add custom shapes, logos, colors and dimensional busts for an added charge. There is also an option for placing a ghost image in the background.

There are so many options available to customize your plaque that I couldn't begin to list them all here, but rest assured that within those options a beautiful plaque can be found that works for you and your budget.

For more photo examples and information on cast plaques you can visit www.gapalum.com. Grandview Aluminum Products is a family owned casting foundry that has been manufacturing and supplying cast plaques to dealers for over 40 years. I have worked for Grandview Aluminum Products in the art department for over 10 years, and I am also a licensed dealer of their products.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

As if I need MORE Resolutions?!?

I got my Etsy success delivered to my in box today and, as always, it was filled with tips for improving my little business. With so much useful information out there lately, I have found myself immersed in reading and researching ways to market. I, like most people, see the beginning of the year as a fresh start and an opportunity to leave the bad behind and embrace the new- so I couldn't resist clicking on the link to "Creative Ways to Promote in 2011". This little Etsy post led me to another link featuring New Year's Resolutions for your online business. Now I read through these very interesting resolutions and couldn't resist adding my own 2 cents to each for my blog, where I hope to use them for future reference.

22 New Year's Resolutions every Etsy seller could benefit from:
Original unaltered post by Justin Smith on The Bottom Line.

1- Keep a Calendar
I just recently tried this feature out in Yahoo!, but I know Google has one too. You can set up a reminder to frequent your inbox on a regular basis with your "To Do" items for each week, appointments, or anything else you have scheduled. So far I really like it, as long as I can remember to update it. Oh, and actually act on my pre-planned reminders when they are brought to my attention.

2- Build a Mailing List

Mail Chimp, which has a free account, was suggested by the original author and looks promising after a quick glance. I bookmarked this site for future research. (Maybe I should add this to my Yahoo! calendar... um.. later.)

3- Market More
Yeah, so do I spend all my time marketing, or designing? Oh maybe I should spend it all on paperwork... there are not enough hours in the day, but I promise to try.

4- Over Commit Less

Yeah, I do need to work on this. I try to do too much to fast and then I just don't get anything useful accomplished.

5- Keep to a Budget for Fees
This I think I have under control. It gets a bit shaky at times, but I'm dealing.

6- Retake Bad Photos
Very important for Etsy shops!!! I had several bad photos in my shop and right around Christmas I started updating. It is getting better... but there are still several that need work. If you want to give me a critique please feel free I need all the help I can get!

7- Add More Price Points
Having a wide variety of pricing options can help to bring in a variety of buyers. It also helps to aquire repeat business when there is a wider range of buying choices.

8- Carve Out a Better Work Space
I have a decent work area. In fact, it's an entire room devoted to my business. So, I am working on creating a more organized work space.

9- Take a Day Off

Ha! Yeah RIGHT!

10- Cut Out the Crud
I see this one as if you did it wrong or it didn't work last year then either do it right this time or don't do it again at all. Forget about the time consuming jobs that didn't yield worthwhile profit and move on to the next, better idea that hopefully will.

11- Add Income Streams
Expand outside of the Etsy bubble.

12- Learn More, Do More

ok- be like a sponge and soak up as much useful pertinent business information as you can, then put that new found knowledge to work in your own business.

13- Organize Paperwork
Of course. This is one of my major goals. I absolutely loathe paperwork and record keeping. But, tax time is looming and I know I must keep everything up to snuff. Quickbooks simple start is my chosen format you can download a free version here.

17- Beautify Your Copy
Pertaining to Etsy listings, buyers seem to want to know the story behind this handmade thing you want them to buy. If there is a story they can make a connection to this item and, hopefully, your shop which will make them more likely to buy that funky cool alien hat you've been trying to sell for three months and maybe they will heart your shop and become a repeat customer.

Ok, so these are not my original New Years Resolutions, but they do make the cut as great ones to have if your selling online. I will definately be checking into several of these, but for now I need to get some sleep. If you didn't notice I skipped over #14-16 and #18-22 then you probably should get some sleep too.