AIM DIY: Watercolor & Wax Paper Jewelry

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

Sometimes I come up with a project that I enjoy so much that it’s hard to stop to write a post. This, my friends, is one of those.

It’s a simple combination of watercolor, melting wax, and punching shapes- but it’s oh so satisfying.

SUPPLIES

  • Thick paper for Watercolor
  • Watercolor paints and brushes
  • Pencil
  • Straight Edge
  • Paraffin Wax
  • Scraping Tool, like a vegetable peeler.
  • Iron, ironing board, towel or other surface to catch wiley bits of wax
  • Parchment Paper
  • Scissors
  • Large Thick Material Punches (optional but recommended) I used circle punches in 2″ diameter, 1.5″ diameter, and 1″ diameter
  • Small hole punch
  • Thin cord or ribbon
  • Jump Rings (optional)

Step One: Paint it

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Gather your paper, pencil, straight edge, paints and brushes.

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Draw several parallel lines with your pencil to create stripes of varying widths.

Begin filling in each stripe with a color in the order of the rainbow. (ROY G BIV –  Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet).

If you fill a small stripe, use a similar color next to it (Orange red and Red for instance.) It’s okay if your paint is a little irregular, or you have small white spaces.

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Now it’s time to paint the back of your pendant. Draw some non-parallel lines on a new piece of paper, and fill them in with some of the same colors you used on the other side. Leave a little white space as well. Set your paintings aside to dry.

Step Two: Wax it

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Now you will need your ironing setup, parchment paper, and wax. You might have a little wax escape during the ironing process, so it’s a good idea to have a scrap towel or cotton fabric to protect your ironing board. Remember to keep an eye on your ironing so you don’t singe anything!

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Sandwich one of your dry watercolor sheets inside a piece of parchment paper. Shred a pile of wax on top. (You can always add more wax, so this is a good time to play!)

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Turn your iron to it’s lowest setting, and gently melt the wax between the sheets of parchment paper. You will see the paper start to look wet. Continue working the liquid wax into the paper until it starts to be consistently translucent. You may want to add more wax.

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Flip your paper over, and add a pile of wax to the other side. This will be the “glue” that holds your two sides together.

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Lay the other piece of paper on top of that pile…

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shred some more wax on that, and iron again following the earlier instructions.

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Continue to add wax until the papers are translucent and consistently wet looking. When you’re happy with the look, put a little bit of weight on the stack, and let it cool for a couple of minutes.

IMG_6356_waxedpaperjewelryWhen it is still warm, but safe to touch, uncover the paper, and use your finger or a tool to smooth any puddles of wax. (Playing in wax is one of my favorite things!) Now let it cool completely (a few minutes.)

Step Three: Punch it

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I am loving these thick material punches from Fiskars. I have long abused normal paper punches, and they have a habit of breaking at the worst possible moment. These punches go through everything like butter.

IMG_6361_waxedpaperjewelryUse a punch (or scissors) to take shapes out of your waxed paper…

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until you have a nice little pile of shapes to work with. To turn solid shapes into pendants, punch small holes on one or two sides. You can run cord through these holes (or attach jump rings.)

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After you have everything cut out, polish the shapes by using your fingers to rub excess wax off the surface and edges.

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Feed thin ribbon, cord, or chain through the holes in your pendants. You can feed your cord through, wrap it several times, or tie a lark’s head knot. Anything goes! Leave enough room to slip the necklace over your head, and you’re set.

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Double sided rainbow pendants!

Now I want to wax all the paper. Someone stop me before I go too far!

AIM TOOLBOX: Tips for Sharpening a Grumpy Paper Punch

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

I ask a lot of my tools, which is why I forgive my paper punches when they hesitate to punch happily through yet another piece of cardstock.

Instead, I grab a piece of aluminum foil, fold it several times, flatten and…

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punch through it again and again until I have a foil mess…

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and a cleaner punch.

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Tip shared.

Do you have any tips we should know about? Email your little tricks to hello@adventures-in-making.com and we might be able to share them with our little community.

AIM DIY: Build a Box and Lid

IMG_1006_buildaboxFrom 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

I love putting my creative instincts to good use in a 3d world, and that means I get a kick out of building boxes. There’s something magical about turning a little chipboard or cardboard and a little tape into a functional container, and it seems like I have plenty of opportunities to do just that.

The basics of building a box with a lid (which I call a hatbox) are very basic indeed. I drew up a little sample sheet with the very simplest version. Use cardboard or chipboard, scissors or a craft knife, and your favorite tape.


My challenge today was building a gift box for a set of wine glasses. (Recognize the etching process?)

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I measured the length, depth, and height of the set, and got my favorite materials out.IMG_0916_buildabox

SUPPLIES

  • Chipboard Pieces
  • Gummed Paper Tape – I like working with this kind of tape when I’m using chipboard or cardboard. It starts out un-tacky, and when you wet it with a sponge it is like you poured a whole bunch of glue on it. It can be kind of messy, but you can shift it around until it dries, making it very forgiving.
  • Craft Knife
  • Scissors
  • Ruler

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First I cut the 5 pieces for the bottom of the box, and pieces of tape for each seam.

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Since I knew some of the tape would show on the final box, I made sure to cut an angle on any piece of tape that overlapped another piece- especially on corners.

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To place the tape correctly on the board, I first laid the board out perfectly on my mat. I left a board’s width between each piece to allow for them to fold.

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I used a wet rag moisten each piece where I needed it, then attached the tape pieces to my boards.

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I’ve outlined my tape pieces here. The first pieces I placed were the a’s, then I moved on to b, then c.

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I flipped the whole thing over, and started folding up and taping the sides (applying more water to keep the tape sticky and smoothing out any bubbles.)

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With the bottom portion of the box completed, I measured the outside of the completed box and added about 1/8 of an inch to allow the lid to close easily. I chose 5″ at the height of the lid, and built another box like the first, using those dimensions.

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I’m a big fan of a simple kraft colored box, but since this was a gift, I wanted to add a little pizazz. I printed a design on card stock, and cut it down to fit each side of the box lid. I used spray mount to adhere it to the box.

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Then added a little ribbon, a card…
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and a divider inside to kept the glasses from clanking.

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I’m super happy with the way this box turned out– a perfect fit for gifting and storing the glasses.

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I hope you can build off the simple instruction sheet to create the perfect home for your treasures, and of course some treasures for your home.

AIM TOOLBOX: Water Color Masking Fluid

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

I love playing with watercolors, I’m going to admit that right now. I love the way the colors run together, the little blotches of pigment, and basically everything else about it. I’m not a watercolor expert, which means that whenever the paint does something unexpected I have the giddy feeling that I just discovered something amazing. (What did I tell you? I love the process.)

My philosophy teacher in high school used to amazing things with watercolor, and I would always try to sneak a look at his paintings before and after class. One day I noticed him using something to cover up portions of the paper while he was working– cut to 15 years later and I finally decide to buy myself a little bottle of masking fluid to play around with. (I bought Winsor & Newton Colorless Art Masking Fluid.)

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Still a little overwhelmed to jump in, I watched this introductory video, decided on a test project; and gathered my brushes, paints, and spirit of exploration.

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A note: the first time I used the fluid, I ruined my brush. It was a cheap brush, granted, but after that I sharpened up and coated the next brush in dish soap before dipping it in the masking fluid. I coated the whole thing in the dish soap, then squeezed the excess out. (This video shows you how.) Trust me. It’s better that way.

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I drew a basic outline of the words I wanted to mask out with pencil. After coating the brush in soap, and gently rolling the bottle of masking fluid to mix it up, I dipped my brush in and saturated it.

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Bit by bit, I covered the words with the masking fluid.

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All the lines are covered in the fluid now. I’ll be able to erase the pencil lines once everything is done.

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I let the masking fluid dry COMPLETELY before I began to paint with my watercolor. (The dry masking compound feels like rubber cement. You’ll know it’s dry when it is only slightly shiny, and your finger does not stick to it.) The watercolor will not stick to the mask, so you will be able to see what you’re working with.

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When I had finished my first layer of paint, I let it dry COMPLETELY, then added a little more masking to what would be the little abstract windows in the buildings.

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Then I let those dry COMPLETELY (do you see a theme here?) before I went in and darkened all the fields of color.

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When I was done working around my masked areas, and everything was dry, I lightly rubbed the masking agent off with the tips of my fingers. (This alone is worth the trouble. I love pulling glue off of things.)

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Once the mask was off, and I did a little erasing, I had crisp white lines to work with.

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The masked areas were pale enough to let me add a little light yellow watercolor. I love the way the white letters stand out.

Tips to remember

• Test out the water color paper you’re going to be using before you start your artwork. Some of the papers I tried stuck to the masking fluid terribly, and I had to tear the paper to get the dried mask off.
• Coat your brush in soap, or you will ruin a brush, and most likely the piece of paper you’re working on. The first brush started to pull the drying mask fluid back off the paper, and it totally ruined one of my projects.
• Let everything dry COMPLETELY before moving from fluid to paint, or paint to fluid. The fluid will cling to wet paper, or your wet paint and make a wet mess.
• Remember to have fun! Let that childish sense of wonder take over for an afternoon… and when you’re done experimenting, send us the outcome! April’s DIY Challenge is Watercolor, after all.

AIM TIP: Finding the Grain in Paper

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

I’m working on a super fun tutorial for tomorrow, and I thought I would take a minute to share a tip about finding the grain in paper.

What is paper grain?

Very simply- Most paper is made up of long fibers that align parallel to each other, which means that the paper will be more flexible in one direction (with the grain) than the other (against the grain.)

Why is grain important?

If you work with paper at all, you will find yourself working or fighting with the grain of paper. Because the paper will naturally want to flex with the grain, it will behave very differently depending on the way it is cut. This is especially true when you are working with thicker paper or cardstock.

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What direction is the grain of this paper?

I always test the grain of a paper before I start planning a project or working with it. Some people will tell you that the grain typically runs parallel to the long side of a piece of paper, but I’ve found several instances where paper is cut the other way.
To find the grain of the paper:
• Take the paper in your hands and gently flex it one direction, then rotate it 90 degrees and flex it again. Depending on the thickness of the paper, you may want to flex it until it’s almost folded.
• It should flex more easily one way. That way is called “with the grain”.
• Sometimes I will make a light pencil mark along the flex, to show me which direction the grain is running.

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What’s the best way to work with grain?

Here are a few activities that you might do with paper, and how the grain should be aligned.
• Book Binding – Book covers and guts should have the grain running parallel to the spine. If the grain goes the wrong way, pages will be difficult to flip, and the cover may warp.
• Folded Cards – You should always fold with the grain, meaning that your fold will be parallel to the fibers of the paper. That way your fold will happen in between the strings of fibers, rather than breaking them.
• Quilling or curling – If you are cutting your own quilling paper, it’s a good idea to cut against the grain, which means you’ll cut the fibers of the paper shorter. The paper will curve more fluidly this way, and you’re less likely to get ugly creases in your curls.
• Resistance projects – conversely, if you want to play with the stiffness of the paper rather than curling it up, you should cut with the grain so you have long strong fibers. (This is the kind of paper I was working with for my paper bird project.)
• Gluing – if you are duplexing, mounting, or otherwise gluing two pieces of paper or paperboard, you want to make sure the grain direction is the same for each piece. When paper is introduced to moisture from glue or even from the air, it will start to curl one direction. You want the grain direction to be the same on both pieces so that they don’t pull on each other.
• Tearing – Paper is always easier to tear along the grain (because you are pulling strings of fibers away from their neighbors instead of tearing them in half.)

What happens if you ignore the grain?

Terrible things! Books that don’t flip! Warped duplexed paper! Rough folds on your cards! Bends and creases where you don’t want them!

Know the grain. Respect the grain. Keep making stuff.

How do you play with paper? Does the grain effect you?

AIM TODAY: Get your space in order.

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

Yesterday I picked up an unlabeled box, fought to pull the lid off, and was greeted by an explosion of confetti.

You might think that’s a funny prank- except that it was me who had the bright idea of putting the confetti in that box in the first place. Dumb. My own prank would have been thwarted by a simple “Confetti” label on the box. Next time- maybe.

If you’re like me, this dreary weather makes staying under the covers all day pretty appealing. I’ve been in kind of a creative rut, and even a self imposed vacation didn’t fix everything. Well, time to try something new…

Order to fight the blues.

It’s time to clean, organize, dump, and declutter. Here are a few ways I’ve been getting things in order:

• Organizing, filing, and labeling my tools and materials. I am much happier when everything has a home. I am ecstatic if that home makes sense and is easy to access. I try to keep my most-used tools handy, and put less-used tools and materials in labeled boxes that will be easy to find when it’s time to use them.
• Trying out those “I bet I could…” projects and tools. I have a tendency to accumulate ideas and materials, but it’s hard to get to everything. If I have little projects that have been sitting in my head for a while, I try to take an afternoon to try them out for real- even if it doesn’t feel like the best use of my time. If the project is a dud (which happens) I’ll know it and be able to move on to other ideas.
• Dumping materials and tools I’m never going to get to, or don’t really want. I’m trying to be really honest with myself about what I really want to spend my limited time doing. If I have a hole punch I will never use, or paper that I abhor, I’m better off passing it onto someone who would like it. If it’s something I saved from the recycling bin (no judgement) then maybe it’s time for it to go back in there… and maybe that “confetti” was really just the holes punched from a binding project.
• Similar to the “I bet I could” projects, I’ve been working on the small quick projects I put off in favor or more in-depth creative pursuits. Framing and hanging posters at my house, designing signage and displays for the shop, etc.

Do you have any tricks you use to simplify your work and your workspace? We’d love to see!

AIM TOOLBOX: Dremel Micro Review for Glass Etching

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

I have a secret. I’ve been hoarding glass bottles… and jars. Sure, I’ve been drinking out of a set of 6 jars, but what no one knows is I have a whole box of them in my closet.

Shoot. Now you know.

The big plan was to use etching cream to mask and etch them into glass masterpieces– but something always stopped me. It may have been that the first time I pulled out the etching cream, Safety Husband insisted on reading the ingredients and warnings. He then set out a strict list of suggestions for using the DANGEROUS stuff I got from the craft store. I followed the suggestions once, but lived in fear of getting out the cream ever again. I had the PPE for it, but even so, it was a little scary. “Wear gloves. You don’t want it eating through your skin… to your bones.

We live in a world of excess caution, over here.

Safety Husband recommended safety goggles and a respirator- talked down to spectacles and a dust mask.
For Dremel Etching, Safety Husband recommended safety goggles and a respirator- accepted spectacles and a dust mask.

The box of glass lived to taunt me. Sitting in there, instead of going to the recycling bin where it belonged; until I got the bright idea of looking for alternate etching options. There are a lot of great, videos, but the one from Dremel sold me. It was time to replace our old rotary tool, so after some shopping I decided on the…
Dremel Micro, which is cordless.
•I bought two diamond bits, but I’ve only got around to playing with the one that looked most useful, the Dremel Diamond Wheel Point Bit.
** UPDATED 12/14 – I’ve since started using two different diamond bits with more success. 7105 Diamond Ball Pointand 7103 5/64-Inch Diamond Wheel Point

Experiments

I tried several different ways of getting my initial artwork laid out, including drawing the design on with a Sharpie, as well as using masks that we had made with the intention of using the etching cream.

Tara Bliven drew and cut out this beautiful mask for me.
Tara Bliven drew and cut out this beautiful mask for me.

We drew and cut these masks out of contact paper, but you could also use masking tape. They are a great way to start out, because the mask will help you learn to control the tool. Thankfully, this is a cordless dremel tool so you don’t have to worry about the wire tangling whilst you’re trying to follow the guide. If you jog out of the lines, the mask material will shred before you mark the glass, giving you one chance to screw up without consequences.

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The mask is definitely the most time consuming and tedious way to go. I’ve moved on to freehand patterns, and occasionally use paper templates that taped to the other side of the glass. (More on that later.)

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Tips

•Higher Speeds (controlled with a button on this model) work much better for etching glass. I usually use the second to highest speed. The highest works even better, but the sound is skull-splitting, so I only use it when absolutely necessary.
•Using the bit I’ve listed above, you will mainly be making thinnish lines, so plan on going over your artwork a couple of times. It works best to hold the bit as close to parallel with the surface of the piece.
•Make a jig for round items. I took a couple of wood scraps and made a kind of rail for the glasses to lay in. (See in the photos above.) Make sure it’s small enough to move around, as you will want to be able to approach your piece for all angles. After my experiments, I sprayed the whole jig black so I could see my work more easily.
•Wear Protective Gear… or you’ll get in trouble. I found a dust mask and glasses worked for me, but it might be good to start out with even more coverage, so you might want to look for personal protective equipment to suit you and the job you’re about to undertake. Remember that your glass could shatter at any time.
•Start with thick glass pieces, and don’t grind too much in one place. This is not a tool for drilling, so you’re more likely to shatter your pieces than cut cleanly through.
•Start with trash pieces you’re not afraid to throw away. There’s definitely a learning curve.
•Hand-wash any pieces, to make sure you’re not shocking the thinned glass with hot water.
•Work outside. You’ll be generating a ton of dust. While I haven’t had any sharp pieces (yet) it’s nice to let nature get rid of the dust.
•This is a no-distraction project. Don’t plan on watching TV while you work with power tools.

Things to Love

•It’s lightweight. Initially I was planning to use a flex shaft like they use in the video, but the cable is not very flexible, and I decided the lack of cord would be a benefit.
•It compact and easy to transport (although it does not come with a carrying case.)
•The battery lasts longer than I do. I haven’t had to stop what I was doing to recharge.
•I haven’t hurt myself (yet). This is always remarkable.

Things to Hate

•The “Lock” button sticks out just above the power button, and I have hit it accidentally a couple of times while the Dremel is running. It makes a terrible sound to tell me I’m killing it to death.
•It’s still a little clumsy. Even though the end is tapered so you can hold on to it, it’s more like trying to write legibly with a Squiggle Pen than an actual writing implement.
•It is quite tricky to get make a curve. A lot of this has to do with skill, and the kind of bit I’ve been using.
•The sound, especially at higher speeds. It makes a high keening when you’re using it on the glass. The birds have been complaining about this as well. It’s just life in the etching game.

Things to Try

•More bits. I tried scratching the glass with non-diamond bits with little result, but now that I’m hooked on the etchin’, I’m going to try everything. (If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear from you.)
•More freehand designs.
•On flat surfaces, like plates, trays, etc. On mirrors.
•Make a set of matching glasses, with patterned numbers, using paper templates. That’s pretty specific, huh? I guess a DIY is in the works… but until then, have fun!

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AIM BIZ: Feedback makes things better.

You don't have to work in a vacuum. (It's too cramped in there, and too dusty.)
You don’t have to work in a vacuum. (It’s too cramped in there, and too dusty.)

From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

***

In advance of their Fall Conference, Schoolhouse Craft asked me to write a little post with some business advice, and I decided to take the time to write about one of the things I’ve learned from running the store.

One of the best things about my job is that I have daily chances to interact with customers and creative types. I don’t even have to try! They just walk through my door, and react to my work. I didn’t do a great job with this before I opened the shop (although I always encouraged friends to let me critique their work.) It takes a lot of courage to ask the tricky questions about your work and your business.

The benefits of that back-and-forth are so valuable, and will encourage you to push your work in new directions, to perfect your business, and to be a well-rounded maker. Since not everyone has the benefit of sitting in a gift store, so I thought I would share some ideas for bringing a little creative input your way.

The Kind Of Things You Might Ask About

You probably already have a good base of people to ask about these things. It’s worthwhile to keep adding to you collection, but in the meantime be sure to get feedback as often as you can.

Feedback On Your Products As A Whole.

This is the hardest thing to ask for, and the hardest advice to take, but it’s incredibly important for the development of your work and business. Encourage your audience to be candid– and make sure to take a deep breath before reading anything that might be negative.

Your Packaging And Promotional Materials.

Ask people to proofread for you, and offer edits. Make sure to run it by people who have no idea what you’re working on– it should make sense after they see everything.

Shipping And Bagging Procedures.

Send a package to a friend, and see if everything makes it there alright. Ask people what they are looking for when they buy a similar product- do they want a cute bag and tissue? A gift box? A Thank You card?

Your Prices

Ask if they would pay that for a similar product. This is also a good opportunity to ask what things you can add or change to give more perceived value.

Suggestions Of Materials, Tools, And Techniques.

This is a great thing to run by people who work with similar processes, but you might even get good results from out-of-the-box solutions from people who have a completely different knowledge base. Some people can be close-mouthed about their technique- but I think that sharing information is good for everyone involved.

Advertising and Networking Opportunities

Is there a chance to reach your niche audience that you haven’t considered?

Sales Opportunities

You can try all day an never round-up all the craft shows, shops, events, and other great places to sell you goods. Other artists can give you ideas of what has worked for them, and non-artist friends have surely seen great opportunities too.

Other Business Practicalities

like software or person for booking and accounting, an excellent Lawyer (like these business lawyers in houston, just in case), Liabilities you might not have thought of, etc.

Other Ways to Get Feedback

There are ways other than one-on-one question pestering to get your questions answered.

Through Your Employees

If you have them, your employees know your business better than anyone else because they are what makes it run. Ask them regularly if there are any changes that can be made to improve the work you’re doing and the products you’re putting out. There is often one or two employees that do the most work and provide the best feedback to benefit your business. If you’re only a small business then you can’t afford to lose these employees. Luckily, you can talk to UK key person insurance specialists to see how you can cover your business against the loss of a key employee like this. If you ask your employees to help improve the business then they will feel like a bigger part of the team and want to contribute more to its success.

Attend Conventions And Meetups For Creative Businesses.

(Like Schoolhouse Craft.) Be sure to schmooze and look for people who have similar interests- and get contact information for everyone.

Make a Mailing List

Put together an email list of people who are willing, and who you can count on to give you honest feedback. When you have a new design, run it by your list, and see what they have to say. Rather than sending out the emails to everyone on the list manually, use an email software to do it for you. I like to use Mailerlite – see how it compares against the popular Mailchimp by reading this mailerlite vs mailchimp write-up.

Join or Start A Facebook Group for Creative Feedback

You can keep it private, if you don’t want just anyone to see what you’ve got going on.

Offer To Look At The Work Of Other People

Giving advice is a great chance to work on your own experience, and it you help people, they are more likely to help you with feedback down the road.

Befriend People with Different Backgrounds and Experience

People with lots of opinions and ideas. People like your friendly local shop owner. You know the one….

AIM DIY: Watercolored Business Cards

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

Last week I combined a few of my favorite things and letterpress printed A-i-M cards on scraps of cotton paper. I wanted to make them super special (and representative of our creative spirit) so I pulled out my handy-dandy liquid watercolors and went to town.  I tried a few different methods, and wanted to show how they turned out.

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I really like working with Blick Liquid Watercolor. I use it for my paper flowers, and pretty much everything else. I can water it down as much or as little as I want, and it washes out of everything I accidentally spill it on. (Very important. I’m a little messy.) I keep several plastic containers around to mix colors in.

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The paper scraps were Crane Lettra 110# Cover, and I used a rubber based letterpress ink on them.

I think this would also work on other papers, including watercolor paper and uncoated card stock. You could also try adding your print with a stamp (like this tutorial from Akula Kreative) or use a non-watersoluble printing method (like a laser printer, or copier.)

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Dipped and Dry Brushed

My first instinct was to take each card individually and dip it into a few colors. Some of them I then tapped on the table, to distribute drops, and some I used a dry brush to sweep through watercolor puddles.

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Edge Painting

I discovered a really wonderful thing while I was dipping small stacks in the watercolor. The color would soak into the edges, but not into the face of the pieces in the middle of the stack. I started dipping each side of the stack into a different color, and ended up with these lovely ombre edges. There is a little bleed onto the face of the cards, but it’s very subtle.

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A Happy Splatter Accident

Remember what I said earlier about being a messy experimenter? Well, this time it worked out for me! I was partially working on a glass palate, which eventually was covered with lots of little drop of watercolor. I pressed one of the cards against the splatters, and ended up with these lovely color patterns.

IMG_2506IMG_2569I had a great time playing with the liquid watercolor (again) and love how easy it is to introduce color and pattern on a simple card.

The splatter was definitely my favorite. What do you think?

AIM TOOLBOX: Alison’s Essential Drawing Supplies

TOOLBOX: Alison's Essential Supplies #drawing #tools

From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

My favorite supplies have changed a lot over the years. Right now I have a loose-leaf system that works great for me, and along with my travel kit, it’s incredibly portable. (Portable tools mean you’ll get more done, more places!)

Since I have a tendency to do things a little differently, I thought I’d share a little about my process and supplies; then let you decide if you think I’m crazy- or a crazy genius.

I’ve included links to many of the supplies, in case you’d like to try them yourself*.

Paper and Stuff

TOOLBOX: Alison's Essential Supplies #drawing #tools

I like to work on 8.5 x 11 inch loose-leaf pages because I can carry them around easily. From time-to-time I’ll cut pages down so I can have an even more portable set- but I keep the same selection of papers.

A. Papers

I use Smooth White Cardstock  for early sketches and drawing. Cardstock handles a lot of erasing a redrawing.
When I can’t erase any more, I’ll do additional edits on  cheap tracing paper.

I use higher quality Canson Marker Paper for final drawings, and for inking. I tried a bunch of different papers, and this was the best with my Uni-ball pens. It doesn’t bleed too much, and dries quickly enough that I’m less likely to drag my left hand through wet ink.

Graph Paper and Miscellaneous Guide Sheets  I’ve found it’s handy to keep guide sheets that I can use with tracing paper. I usually have sheets of graph paper, script slant guides, and other handy shapes I use a lot.

B. Clipboard

I love this low profile aluminum clipboard. It’s lightweight and means I can draw anywhere.

C. Project Filing

I keep each project I’m working on in a clear page protector. When I’m done, I can discard the pieces of my process I no longer need, and retire the whole protector to a binder or other file for safekeeping.

Tool Kit

TOOLBOX: Alison's Essential Supplies #drawing #tools

I do as much work at the store as I do in my studio, so I’ve come up with a very extensive travel kit to carry. (I like to be prepared for everything.)

A. Pencils

I love using Woodless Graphite Pencils  for shading, thick lines, and because they are awesome. I use BIC Mechanical Pencils  a lot in my early sketching phases. Blackwing Pencils are my newest obsession. The erasers are especially useful, and replaceable! I prefer the harder “Pearl Pencils”.

B. Pencil Sharpener

This small metal pencil sharpener is essential if you want to use anything other than a mechanical pencil.

C. Erasers

I use a Mars Plastic Eraser for heavy duty changes and a narrow eraser for getting into tight spots

D. White Pencil

I often us a white Prismacolor Pencil to correct mistakes that can’t be erased, I also like to be able to draw on surfaces that aren’t white. (See the pictures of my work table.)

E. Ruler

This 6″ Ruler was one of the best things I added to my kit. You can’t eye-ball every line.

F. Compass

For years I used a cheap school compass, and when I upgraded to this guy, suddenly my life got so much better. Perfect for making curves, and circles.

G. Inking Pens

Uni-ball Pens are my preferred pen for inking on marker paper.

H. Scissors

A tiny pair of scissors like this comes in handy often.

I. Permanent Marker

I love the twin tipped Sharpie Markers. Sometimes I want to go nuts and make a permanent drawing impact (ie. leave my tag somewhere.) I don’t usually do that, but a permanent marker is great to have on hand.

J. X-acto Knife

I think everyone should have a quality X-acto Knife. I use this one from Martha Stewart Crafts because the lid stays on well, which is important in a tool that travels around with me. I also like to keep a few extra blades on hand; this box set does just that, and has a place to store the old blades.

K. Glue

It’s important to keep glue around for when you want to add something to your drawings. A glue stick works well, and leaves less mess in your bag. I also carry around a small roll of scotch tape.

L. Miscellaneous Tools

You probably need a Bone folder. I also try to keep something that will poke, but isn’t sharp, like this embossing tool, or a small wooden skewer. Think of other miscellaneous tools you might need – a needle and thread?

M. Pencil Bag

A gorgeous pencil bag will inspire your work. Check out this lovely one from Slide Sideways (now Year End Co.)


Well, now you’ve seen what I’ve been working with lately. It’s not your usual collection of art supplies, but life is all about trying unusual things!

*Support Adventures-in-Making by shopping from our Amazon store. We’ve selected a few things that we love, and think you will too. If you purchase through us, you pay no more for those items, but we get a small portion of the sales to further the adventures. Check out the whole store at http://astore.amazon.com/adveinmaki-20