Pin-spiration

Happy Friday Night Friends!

I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about Pinterest and why it is one of my go-to sources of inspiration.

I’ve been an active Pinterest user for several years now – I attempted to find out exactly how long but to no avail. I have 36 boards containing almost 1200 pins. If you’re already a pinner like me, feel free to follow me and check out my boards!

Visit Tara’s profile on Pinterest.

For me, Pinterest has become a more reliable search engine than Google. Mainly because I am a completely visual person and need to see things rather than read text. I also know that many things that are pinned have been tried by others and probably pinned because they were amazing. So I find it unbelievable that there are still people out there who don’t use it. I have also heard from many people who have no idea what its purpose is. I think a good way to describe it is like when you used to read a book or magazine and would dog-ear the pages that you wanted to back to. Or when you were 12 in the 90’s and cut things out of magazines and taped them to your wall. Did anyone else do that? I had an entire wall devoted to teen heart throbs!! It’s a place where you can store your favorite things from the internet in an organized fashion. It’s also very visually appealing. Some of my boards are designated for recipes and I definitely refer back to them all the time when I want to remake something I loved. Others are for ideas for things in the future like home decorating ideas. Then there are my inspiration boards. These are for things that are really cool and from which I can draw inspiration for my own creations. My newest one is inspiration for some Valentine’s and Spring crafts.

For more inspiration, I turned to Wanelo to find some pretty new items to help fuel my creative engine. For inspiration, a framed quote. For the office, a wintry glitter desk lamp, pretty vintage-style floral bird pillow, glitter wall clock, floral binder, botanical clipboard, fun washi tape, vintage wire desk sorter, turquoise desk and leather secretary desktop organizer. For comfort while creating, a pretty yoga tunic. And to look professional but still inspire creativity when representing my crafts, a floral blazer.

Wanelo Collection
New Year New You

 

Can you tell what my favorite colors and themes are? If you like my collection you should totally enter Zazzle’s New Year, New You Challenge!

Zazzle is looking for you to create a fabulously fantastic collection on Wanelo titled “New Year, New You” where you include products that represent your New Year’s resolutions.

If you enter, you have a chance to win one of the following amazing prizes:

ONE GOLD PRIZE : $75 Zazzle Gift Certificate and feature of 9 products from your collection on Zazzle blog

ONE SILVER PRIZE: $50 Zazzle Gift Certificate

ONE BRONZE PRIZE: $25 Zazzle Gift Certificate

How to enter:

1. Follow the Zazzle store on Wanelo

2. Create a collection on Wanelo.com titled “New Year, New You”

3. Tag every product in your collection #zazzlenewyou

4. Add at least 4 Zazzle products, and include at least 9 products total in your collection

5. Fill out this form to submit your collection

For a full description of the challenge please visit Wanelo Collections Challenge .

TWS 2015: Reorganization and Realignment

While others were partying and ringing in the new year, I spent a quiet evening on the couch with my dog, Jackson. We reflected on the past year and realized that Tara White Studio, as a craft business, needed some reorganization and realignment. The first step in addressing these would be to draft a business plan.

This is something I have never actually done before, so I was a bit nervous to get started. After a quick Google search I came across a post from Etsy’s blog (of course, why didn’t I think to check there?). The post, How to Write a Creative Business Plan In Under an Hour, was exactly what I was looking for. In her post, the author included an example business plan for her fantasy business. This was not the text-heavy word document that I had initially envisioned. It was very visual and fun but included all of the pertinent information for a successful business plan.

Since this was my first attempt at this document, I decided to base mine off of her example, but added my own flair. In an effort in keeping it all on one page it may be a bit busy, but since it is a plan for myself, I am happy with it.

Tara White Studio 2015 Business Plan

The most difficult parts for me were coming up with a value proposition, assessing the market need and proposing the solution to that need that my business fulfills. These parts are definitely going to be works in progress and one of my goals for the year is to reevaluate them and make them a bit more specific.

The fun parts were adding up my expenses, revenue and calculating my profit. Since 2014 was not as successful as 2013, I set my revenue goal for 2015 in between the two other values. However I also plan to spend less on expenses. One of my goals for this aspect of the plan is to start utilizing my expense planner again or look into a Quickbooks account.

Back in 2013, I made an active effort to post on social media and this blog. At the time I did not think it was impacting my business, however after looking back at the past two years I’ve realized that this was the biggest difference between 2013 and 2014. This year, I plan to boost my social media presence through increased Instagram posts and more personal stories here. I will also be taking more advantage of some of the useful tools provided through Facebook Page Insights. Here I was able to find a graph summarizing all the people who have liked my page, including gender and age. Interestingly, the percentage of women versus men is comparable to that of my Etsy customers. I hope to use this information to reach out to and provide better products to my potential customers.

Last but not least, were my milestones. I admit these are modest but every small thing means something and can provide inspiration and drive for moving forward. In the past year my notable moments were surpassing 200 likes on the Tara White Studio FB page, 2 sales resulting from custom requests through FB and of course, completing my business plan!

I am very excited for the year to come and all the work I plan to do. I wish you success in your own ventures.

~Tara W.

Oh and I almost forgot, I also reorganized my small and humble work space. Enjoy some pictures below!

Craft Corner
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Upcycled hanging storage boxes
Craft Corner with re-upholstered and distressed bench from my sister

 

 

It’s been almost 6 months since my last post! I thought I’d share the handmade gifts I gave this Christmas (note the mason jar wall hanging and sugar scrub were handmade by my sister who gave them to me).

Mason jars were the star of the show this year. I bought a case of them to make the sewing kits, Frozen-inspired craft jar, Charlie Brown tree, as shown above, along with cookie mixes and a Portlandia-inspired pickling kit in a jar (sadly no pics of that). My sister made several wall hangings with jars and bought special smaller mason jars for the sugar scrubs, which are amazing, I must say. Basically, jars make the best, most creative gifts, so I plan to come up with some more fun ideas! Save those pickle jars people!!
20% off all Portlandia merch on Zazzle!

Spring Air and Craft Fairs

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Before I started on Etsy, I participated in a holiday fair at my work where I sold my handmade clay ornaments. I had a great time and made many sales. Sadly, the organizers got busy, people lost interest and the fair did not happen for the next few years. I then took it upon myself to start it back up again. In 2012, I organized the first official Employee Holiday Craft Fair at my work. I reached out to my coworkers who were also crafters and artists as well as their friends and family. We had a variety of items ranging from jewelry to crocheted octopi! This past year was the second annual Holiday Fair, where we had about 10 different vendors, half employees and half friends and family. Everyone did very well considering there was no cost to us and we held it for only 3 hours.

Before the 2013 holiday fair, I participated in several public craft fairs in my area. These were my first experiences at more professional, open-to-the-public, vendor shows, although many were the first ever. I learned a lot and would like to share what I leaned from each experience.

Destash Bash (first one)

How I found it: Etsy team

What it was all about: selling crafts and “destashing” excess materials and supplies

Duration: 6 hours

Cost: $25 for 10 x 10 space

The good and the bad: For my first public fair, this was pretty successful. I sold a lot of my jewelry but not much of my supplies. I found it helpful to have someone there for part of it so that I could take breaks, use the bathroom, etc. This fair was indoors and possibly not as advertised as it could have been so there were a lot of lulls where there were no shoppers.

My personal seller rating: B+

 

Todd Farm Flea Market (has been around for many, many years)

How I found it: Been going for years!

What it was all about: mostly antiques, some handmade

Duration: ~8 hours (first come first serve for spaces, so have to get there early)

Cost: $35 for 20 x 30 space

The good and the bad: I took a chance trying to sell my small, handmade items at a place known for its furniture and antique decor. I brought my Dad along who was selling some of his antiques and other items, so we split the cost and shared the space. The hardest part was getting there as early as we had to just to barely get a spot. The market is outside, so you’re exposed to all the elements and it was a hot day! In the end, my Dad sold more items than I did and I even put many things out for free near the end to get rid of stuff. I still love Todd Farm, but will probably just go as a shopper from now on!

My personal seller rating: D

 

Essex Shop and Stroll Event (first one)

How I found it: Invited through Etsy

What it was all about: Bringing together Artisans and shop owners in Essex, MA

Duration: 6 hours

Cost: FREE!

The good and the bad: This event was spread along the main street in downtown Essex, MA. Each participating shop was paired with two local artisans who were set up along the road out front. Myself and a local sculptor were paired with an antique shop very far from any other vendors. We were near the end of the route, so shoppers who were walking had to go quite a distance to find us. My Dad and Grandmother came down and almost didn’t find me! Since we were so spread out our potential customers came very sporadically throughout this long day. I would love to participate in this event again and hope that it will be planned a bit differently so that we can get more visitors.

My personal seller rating: C

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Tara White Studio, closeup of vendor table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Fest 2013 (first one)

How I found it: Friend

What it was all about: Local vendors from Cape Ann area ~ food, drinks, music, fun for the family

Duration: 7 hours

Cost: FREE!

The good and the bad: This was one of the longer events I did, but it did not feel that way because of all the festivities happening around me. I also did very well, selling many of my items and making more than any other fair. I met a lot of great people too! I guess I don’t have anything bad to report here!  Thanks to The Bridge for having me! If there is another next year, I hope to be part of it and encourage you to come!

My personal seller rating: A

Tara White Studio, Fall Fest Gloucester, MA

Holiday Craft Market (4th annual)

How I found it: Last year’s advertisement

What it was all about: Craft fair at local elementary school

Duration: 6 hours

Cost: $60 for 8 ft space, plus donation item for raffle (all proceeds went to the school)

The good and the bad: This was the most expensive fair that I was part of, but the money went to the school that I went to as a child, so the cost was easily rationalized and I didn’t mind donating a raffle item because I had an overflow of merchandise. While the fair was only 5 hours, with setup and breakdown it was more like 6 or 7 hours for the vendors. The organizers were definitely not noobs though, and had the whole process under control, everything from unloading and parking vehicles, getting vendors to their spaces, having adorable kids bring around lunch orders and surveys. I was impressed. But, the turnout was not as impressive. I didn’t even make back what I had paid, which was very disappointing. I did have a chance to walk around and there were so many amazing vendors there. This was the largest fair I had been part of, so that may have been why I didn’t make as much, too much competition! I would probably not sell there again, but would definitely like to do my Holiday shopping there!

My personal seller rating: B+

2013 Holiday Craft Market
Tara White Studio, 2013 Holiday Craft Market

After the last one, I did a fair at our sister company in Ipswich, MA. This one was free as well, I sold several items and met some more awesome people. There was another vendor who we had at the fair that I organized and I was proud to say that both of us did better at my show! All of these experiences have taught me a lot about what people like, how to display my items, how to network and so much more. If you have any questions about other aspects of selling at craft fairs, I am certainly not a pro, but I’d love to share more of my perspective with you!

 

Tara White Studio, last craft fair of the season : (

 

Jackson says, “Hello and happy Spring!”

Update: Romantic Jacket Makeover

Hola!

Yesterday I posted about a jacket makeover that I began. I finished it this morning and thought I’d update you.

As I mentioned yesterday, I followed a tutorial for adding pockets to a garment without them. The elbow patches were hand-stitched.

I also added the same floral fabric to the lapel for some color. This fabric was from some old curtains, so there were some finished edges which came in handy. I just lined the fabric up to the existing lapels, pinned it and trimmed accordingly. I then used a zig-zag stitch to attach them.

I scrapped the large white doily I had in yesterday’s image and decided instead to go with two square pink ones, lined up vertically on the back. Since these are crocheted and pretty loose, I decided to treat them more as appliques. Using the overcasting foot, I sewed an overcasting stitch carefully around much of the doily, leaving spaces for the belt to loop under.

Of course I never know when enough is enough, so I added some bling to the front in the form of some vintage jewelry. I also added an antique metal eagle to the back to contrast the slightly girly pink doilies!

I most likely won’t be wearing this until the Spring, but I think it will be great to wear antiquing!

~*`Tara`*~

Upcycled vintage doilies, curtains and jewelry as embellishments on a plain jacket.
Upcycled vintage doilies, curtains and jewelry as embellishments on a plain jacket.

 

Valentine’s cupcakes and a romantic jacket

Yesterday, as you all know, was Valentine’s Day. It was also the 15th anniversary of when my husband and I started dating. That’s the reason we celebrate it, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be that into it. We don’t do cards though, usually just dinner and being extra nice to each other!!

Side note: I actually never purchase cards, it is a huge waste of paper, so I always make my own from recycled materials.

Anyways, I woke up really early Valentine’s morning and decided I wanted to make cupcakes both for my husband and to bring to work. So I searched Pinterest as I always do for recipes and other ideas. I came across a pin for sweetheart cupcakes from http://www.glorioustreats.com.

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These are by far some of the richest, moistest chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever had. The batter is made with eggs like typical cupcakes, oil like brownies and boiling water (seriously) like, I don’t know, hot chocolate?!? I didn’t have the cherry juice for the frosting so I experimented with cooking down raspberry jam and deglazing with red wine. The color was good but the flavors were very subtle. Regardless, these cupcakes won over all of my co-workers and more importantly my husband! Oh I also didn’t have a heart-shaped cookie cutter but was able to improvise with a mini heart-shaped candy mold and some sprinkles.

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In keeping with the Valentine theme, tonight I decided to give a little romantic makeover to an army green jacket that I got for free. It is cute and fits well, but oddly had fake zipper pockets on the front. The zippers were functional, but there were no pockets inside. That was my first step, adding pockets. I followed a tutorial from http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Add-Pockets/step8/Tack-down-the-Pocket-and-Done/, also found on Pinterest. The fabric for the pockets were some old floral curtains that I got through my local freecycle network.

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Another side note, if you are unfamiliar with freecycle, “It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.” Check it out in your area, https://www.freecycle.org/.

I love the vintage feel and shabby chic style of this fabric, so I decided to add some cute heart-shaped elbow patches. I hand stitched these and they look adorable. I have to admit though, ever since I got my sewing machine this Christmas, any time I have to hand stitch I feel sad.

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I’m planning to add a bit more romance to the jacket, such as with more floral fabric on the lapel, although I haven’t committed to that yet (see pins in pic). I recently inherited a trash bag full of vintage fabric and doilies, which I would love to try to incorporate somehow. I pinned one of the dis colored white doilies to the back, but I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. Here’s the look so far:

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I’d love to hear what you think about the jacket. I’ll be spending more time on it tomorrow and I’ll try to post a quick update when I’m finished!

Adding sewing to the repertoire

This Christmas, my husband gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten, a computerized Brother sewing machine! I’ve wanted a sewing machine for years, so I was thrilled when he surprised me with it.

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This model has so much to offer in the way of ease and versatility. It has 59 pre-programmed stitch patterns and10 different feet, so the possibilities for creating are endless! My first project was the sewing caddy that’s in the photo of the sewing machine above. It’s not perfect, but I think it came out pretty good for my first attempt!

I’ve spent quite some time trying to get comfortable with the machine and have gotten used to the foot pedal, sewing straight stitches, adjusting tension and troubleshooting if something goes wrong! The poor machine has errored quite a few times I have to admit!

I also had to reconfigure my craft area to better accommodate my sewing efforts. I broke out my folding craft fair table and made an L-shaped work surface.

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My two main goals for sewing are to create special and functional items to give to my friends and family as gifts and to be able to create clothing that I can wear without people knowing that I made them. I am a huge Project Runway fan so I’ve been rewatching all the past seasons for inspiration and techniques!

Last weekend I attempted a pair of shorts using fabric from some old curtains and blanket edging for the trim. I wanted them to be a little loose, with a drawstring waist. Well they’re loose all right! They are probably about 3 sizes too big and even though I can get them to “fit” by cinching the drawstring, it is not exactly the look I was going for! I am proud of the fact that I was able to do all of the seaming, especially the crotch and have it all line up and remain symmetrical. I think that it was at least good practice, plus I didn’t follow a pattern, I just measured a pair of shorts I already had and went from there. I’d like to try to take in the waist a bit, and put in elastic for a better fit.

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While I did purchase some small amounts of fabric, I have been relying on old clothes for the majority of my materials. Not only does it save money but I am a big proponent of repurposing things that you already have in order to reduce the amount of new things that are manufactured. So I’ve been deconstructing my old clothes. When I was about to cut apart a tank top I realized that it resembled a bag. Of course this was not a novel idea, which I came to find out when I googled it, but I did think of it on my own, I swear! It was very simple to make and I even added a little fabric flower made from the scrap material. It will be the perfect little on the go bag for the summer!

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I am so excited for all the future projects that are in store! I created a new board on Pinterest that I’ve filled with tutorials, patterns and ideas for some really fun things!

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Jewelry Photoshoot

Perhaps more fun than making my jewelry and other crafts is photographing it for my Etsy shop. I love taking photos of things, especially macros, or closeup images of small objects. Since the photos are the only way buyers can see the item, it is very important to have clear, bright images that show all angles of the item. It is equally as important to have a beautiful, well-framed image that can be used in treasuries and other promotional efforts.

For the majority of my photos, I use my Sony Cyber-shot HD 10.2 mega pixel digital camera.

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My husband gave it to me for my birthday almost three years ago and it continues to produce high quality images that meet my needs.

The camera on my iPhone also works very well, that’s what I used to take the picture of my Cyber-shot above!

A few years back I purchased a photography “studio in a bag” that came with photo tents, lights on tripods and various fabric backgrounds. The goal I was hoping to reach with those was the stark white background with no shadows that seemed to make the front page on Etsy all the time. While I am able to achieve that using the white tents and ridiculously bright lights, the set takes up too much space for me to leave it set up and is too cumbersome to set up and break down as needed. For now, I only use the small photo tent as needed and have one light that stays out.

The rest is packed up for when I have a dedicated studio space.

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In all honesty, I only use the set above when I need to shoot at night. The best images, as Etsy suggests, really are those using natural light. Fortunately, my space is right next to our sliding door to the deck and there is light all day there. I have a beautiful, bright white cotton lace table runner on top of my cabinet that provides a beautiful and clean background.

Occasionally I like to include props in my photos. I prefer natural things such as shells, rocks, even birds’ nests!

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Today I shot images of my newest items, necklaces featuring handmade clay fossil shells as well as vintage buttons and other pretty embellishments.

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This necklace features one of my handmade clay “fossil shells”, which was carefully painted and glazed and embellished with tiny pearl beads. Thoughtfully selected vintage buttons, and ceramic, handmade clay and vintage pearl beads hang alongside the dollar from the antiqued bronze chain necklace (18.5″ adjustable with lobster clasp).

On Etsy you are allowed 5 images for each post and I always use all 5! The more the better for sure! I tried to show as much of the necklace as possible. Here I have a closeup of each piece hanging from the necklace as well as the necklace displayed on a rock made of shells!

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I finished making these necklaces this morning and am so happy with how they turned out. The photos definitely do them justice and the closeups really show off the intricate details that went into making the clay fossil shell pieces.

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I hope you enjoyed reading about my photographic process. If you like these necklaces, they can be found in my Etsy shop here:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/124509091/fossil-shell-button-pearl-necklace

https://www.etsy.com/listing/124508858/fossil-shell-button-pearl-necklace?ref=v1_other_2

https://www.etsy.com/listing/124508687/fossil-shell-button-pearl-necklace?ref=v1_other_2

Thanks for stopping by!

-~*`Tara’*~-

Saving the environment and money, one button at a time!

Welcome to the blog for Tara White Studio! I am so excited to share my first post with you on this lovely snowy day!

I’d like to begin by giving you a quick tour of the actual “studio” space that I work in.

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Here it is! Since our place is small, this is actually the corner of our living room, which was previously the dining room, but who needs one of those? The beautiful cabinet on the right was my Nana’s and I recently bought the desk and bookcase to match. They provide necessary storage space, while reducing the cluttered look of such a small space. I just have to be careful about how many “supplies” I keep at once; I tend to be a slight hoarder.

My material of choice lately is polymer clay. It is so fun and easy to work with, leaves very little mess and can be baked in your oven. I always hand-sculpt each piece and never use molds, that way each is completely unique. Then I paint, add textural elements, bedazzle, you name it!

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When possible, I utilize pieces of broken or vintage jewelry for the necklaces I make. I also love to incorporate found objects into my pieces. This jar of buttons, accumulated over time, could translate into many, many new and beautiful works of art. Not only is this method environmentally friendly, but it saves so much money. I love going to flea markets, antique stores, yard sales, even…I’ll admit it…”free” boxes on the sidewalk! All great places to find materials to give new life!

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I just completed photographing several new necklaces featuring handmade clay sand dollar charms as well as buttons from the old jar here. I’ll be listing them shortly, but here’s a sneak peek at one of the final products:

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Now it’s time to get listing! I am excited to get these in the Etsy shop these because it means I can get started on my next project!

Thank you so much for checking out my new blog! Hope to see you again next week!

~*’*Tara*’*~

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