Saturday, 21 April 2018

Japanese mirror ball challenge In WOOL!

Have you seen the trend just now? Making a polished mirror ball from aluminium foil. Roll it into a ball and hit it thousands of times to form a smooth dense ball, then sanding and polishing

But I thought this would be a great fun challenge for needle felting, to look at how the reflections and light and shade work to make a shape look super reflective 

And I think it actually turned out quite well :) - dare I say better than some of the tin foil balls :)

But I think its a great project to work on for needle felting to try and see if we can add even more dimensions to a piece with a little extra shading 

In something reflective like eyes in 2d and 3d needle felted works 

I actually learnt a lot about shading and highlights learning to sketch with the pro marker pens

Which you can see in the different levels in black needed to make this black Lab sketch 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

A needle felted PomPom Mushroom

A friend of mine recently mentioned that I haddnt done any pom pom needle felted tutorials for a while
And for some reason I couldnt get the idea of a mushroom out of my head

Being brave I just went with the idea and didnt know until I cut it open if the pattern would work, if I would have nicely spaced out spots or just a mess

Its really easy too

Side 1 of maker

make 3 evenly spaced out semicircles in white
Cover everything in a few layers of red
In the dips beside where the white semicircles are make two circles in white
fill with red

Side 2
Fill with white - dont overfill

Cut open and tie off

Felt up one layer of white into red to make underside of mushroom
felt down remaining white to become a stalk

Trim the cap of the mushroom

How easy is this?

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

How to use photography to boost views on Etsy

In this weeks Etsy tips video 'Love a Loser'

I talk about taking a listing that isnt doing well and showcasing it for a month to see if you can boost things

One of the changes I made to my little needle felted yorkshire terrier was thinking about the images

Obviously this is a custom listing so there is little I can do to actually reshoot the dog (he was sold ages ago)
But it is SO SO important that an image catches the eye. Even if I can get him to the front page for a search term if he dosent catch the eye of shoppers then no-one will click, no-one will pin share love interact with or buy

So I had a go at trying to make him pop just using photoshop 

This was the original photograph, at the time I was super happy with this, his expression is great and its a fairly crisp photo, I like the slightly blurred kennel in the background 
But of course over time I have learnt more and styles change so I see plenty faults in this

First of all the background is not properly white - it has a pink tinge - and the colours are not saturated, it is a bit washed out
I like there are some pops of colour with the kennel roof in green and the dogs pink tongue 

But to stand out things have to pop

So first of all I tried this, I lightened the background to make it properly white and I did actually intensify the colours. Then as red is very eye catching I tried this border
But honestly although the red draws the eye it draws the eye only to the border and the image looks even more washed out - so new plan 

So this time I kept some of the red for the eye catching - but added a paw print border - just to stand out from all the other listings. I also upped the saturation of all the colours and sharpened the image up some more
What do you think? He is not perfect, I am still learning but hopefully this catches the eye a little more without insulting the eye :)

Monday, 22 January 2018

Etsy Shop Tips, Should I open a 2nd Etsy Shop?

It is so tempting when you are a creative person to make 20 different types of things - and then when you start trying to sell online you might want to try and sell them all in the same shop

But does this help or hurt us?

At a craft fair you have an audience walking past us and if you have several different things displayed attractively (not a jumble sale) people might spot one thing and then browse

So it makes sense to have several things for them to pick from.

But this is not the same on the internet.

On the internet people are not walking past your shop, if you are not shown to them in a search there is a high chance they will just never see you at all.
So the goal is to be the top of a search

And in most places on the internet search engines favour you if you are an authority on a subject. If someone is looking for 'baby hats' and your shop has lots of really popular baby hats then it is more likely to push you forwards than a shop that has baby hats and mens shoes and ......

Also if someone starts following you because they fell in love with your baby hats, if all you make is baby hats then every time you post them might love seeing your hats, giving you positive feedback and lots of traffic up to the point where someone they know has a baby and they are looking for a gift - and up pops you, this shop they have been loving for ages.
Compared to the shop where they loved a baby hat - then the next thing that comes up on their feed is mens shoes - something they are very much not interested in so they unfollow you at this point and dont remember you when their friend has a baby.

If you have the time to spare it might be an idea to open a 2nd shop and move all your shoes over there

If you dont have the time, it could actually be better for your shop to just remove all the shoes and just be an expert on baby hats, in the long run you might well have lots more sales doing that

Friday, 19 January 2018

How to needle felt a Dog The short muzzle

In the third in my series teaching you how to needle felt a dogs head today we look at the brachycephalic dog
The Boston Terrier, the French Bulldog, any dog with these delightfully smooshy faces (although for all dog lovers it is worth being aware of the health problems that can occur with the dogs if we go to extreme with these features)

 Like all my small dog sculptures the head starts with a ball, If you dont know how to make a ball check out this video for details
 Then you want to create a small thin tube, Squish the ball to a slight oval shape and apply the tube towards the bottom of your oval

felt this nub firmly down to approx the length you want the muzzle to be

Now to make the jowls you need a 1-2 inch piece of fleece

Make sure the length is even each side and felt the middle of this ontop of the nub you made for the muzzle like a crazy moustache

fold the ends under to create the jowls

Pinch these bits between your fingers and carefully felt - adjusting the shape depending on the breed of the dog

At this stage you can add any shading to the muzzle

For the lower jaw pinch an inch or two of fleece between your fingers and carefully felt a U shape.

 Add shading if needed and keep measuring your lower jaw against the upper so you know if you need to adjust the shape. Poke extra into areas that need to be made smaller

Carefully felt the lower jaw into place.

Adding eyes, ears and any shading depending on the breed and you are done

for the full Boston terrier video check it out here 

Click on the image to check out some needle felting kits (affiliate link to amazon)

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Youtube Monetization 2018 Youtube Hates the Small Youtuber?

Yesterday youtube announced a change and it has people freaking out. I thought I would take a little time to address this as on whatever platform you are on online there are always changes and there are always people freaking out.

What is the Change?
To allow a creator to be part of the partnership program, which allows you to be able to put adverts on your videos and hopefully generate a little revenue, they are adding some new requirements you need to meet. 
You already had to have had 10,000 channel views, now (as of the end of Feb) you will also need
1k Subscribers
4k HOURS of watch time over the past year

Does YouTube hate the little guy?

I understand why it can feel like that but these hurdles are actually in place to help us in the long term

Over time on any platform people try and learn how to 'game' the system, to try and get noticed, views, money, by using methods that are really against the spirit of the platform - or even hurt the platform

Youtube has been hurt quite alot in the past year by channels with not so nice content being shown next to advertisers or in the wrong places, this might have been controversial content  or also non age appropriate videos shown in child friendly areas.
And of course the Logan Paul thing - but this is really not what this change is about!

When people try and game the system in a way that makes advertisers unhappy then the advertisers pull out
and there is no money for anyone.

These Changes are a GOOD thing?

Strange to say it but yes I think they are
This weeds out the lazy people, the people who dont want to work to grow their channel, anyone who really wants to grow their own channel with good practises will be able to. It might take a little while, I believe most people who use good practises can have grown to this level within a year 

As you can see from my graph it can seem really difficult to build up in the beginning, but just like most things on the internet each new view/like/subscriber/sale makes the next one that bit easier. Growth tends to be exponential.

So anyone who really works and sticks with it, using good practises has a great chance of growing

And in a fit of great timing my good friend Brian G Johnston has just made a most useful video on strategies to boost your videos - the right way.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Needle felting tools, Cutting mat and ruler

When Im cutting felt for my little needle felted bookmarks I discovered rotary cutters

Which are total game changers for cutting fabric - but watch your fingers, super super sharp when the safety is off

But if you are getting one of them you really really need a self healing cutting mat
I use the A4 Jakar mat

I love this - I even actually use it for my mouse mat when Im not using it for cutting, and friends have told me it is great for other things like polymer clay with blades
I also use the ruler

- which is great because although it is a plastic ruler it has a metal strip down one end so the blade dosent cut it - because I have accidently used the other side and the blade very very much cuts the plastic

Check out my video above for these items in action, they really do help cutting any kinds of fabric
The images take you to the amazon pages for the items (affiliate link)

Monday, 15 January 2018

How to open a etsy shop in 2018 - should you

The start of the year is always the time people thinking of starting new projects, but is starting a shop on Etsy something you should think about?

Is It Too Late to Start a Etsy Shop?
Yes, year on year the number of shops is growing on Etsy
So competition seems like it is growing

But really sellers are people who understand and love art and crafts and love to gift handmade gifts, so all those new sellers shops on Etsy are also potential buyers

And year on year there are more buyers coming to Etsy - and also with guest checkout there are even more chances for sales!

Is it hard to grow on etsy

Yes, Im going to be honest, there is an advantage of having had a shop for a while
You have past sales, repeat customers, reviews, experience
But with clever strategies a small shop can and does still get seen and makes sales

Figure out WHY you want to start a shop on Etsy 
If you desperately need a full time wage right NOW then full time with Etsy might not be the way to go - or if you dont have much spare time but want big results then you might end up disappointing yourself

But if you have realistic expectations that you put the work in and continue to try and improve then NOW could be the best time to get started

And Im here to help you
Over the next few weeks I am going to show you real strategies to start a new shop in 2018 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Etsy SEO secret. How to rank in the etsy search

I wanted to share one of my big secret tips that noone seems to talk about but that I am going to be using lots going forwards on my Etsy SEO advice tips

It is a super secret way to rank anything on Etsy, the more competitive the term the more you will have to do this but it is not impossible to rank

It makes use of the fact that search engines take into account the other pages on your website - so the other pages in your shop

Have you noticed something in common with lots of the shops that are on the front of massive searches?
They tend to be super specific shops
So the top shops for wedding stationary tend to be shops that sell mainly lots of wedding stationary

They are not shops that sell wedding stationary and sweeties and knitted hats

There are other reasons as well as to why this is a great thing for them but one big thing is this

When google or Etsy is asked to look for wedding stationary it can see the whole shop
A shop that has sold lots of wedding stationary, that has lots of listings for wedding stationary, thats reviews, shop description and updates have mentions of wedding stationary, that have listings for wedding stationary linking to other listings for wedding stationary, that have sections for wedding stationary
compared to a shop that has LOTS of different things

If you were a search engine and you had to offer a searcher a shop that they would be more likely to purchase out of which one would you pick to show the searcher?

The shop that has lots of similar items give a buyer lots of options, they give the feeling that a shop is an expert in that field

Simply put - if you have lots of similar items they will give your shop authority for that thing and make it more likely that one of your items will be on the front page

Thursday, 11 January 2018

How to Needle Felt for Beginners, A Dog Armature

For my small sculptures I like to use a simple armature.
Two lengths of pipe cleaner, the length to be the front legs, along the body and down the back legs (twice obviously) I fold over the ends so there is no jaggy wire

The back legs are usually slightly longer than the front - but look at the breed
I then twist the centres together to make a H shape

Taking thin strips of core wool (I use the world of wool carded white corridale reviewed here ) I wrap that as evenly up the legs and over the body. On the body I wrap around the body side to side and top to bottom to make a nice fat shape

Then spend a good amount of time felting this smooth - moving in all directions, taking up to an hour to get it nice and smooth.
Then I felt back and forwards in straight lines at the tops of the leg to make creases to make bending the legs easier

Bend the legs over using the crease lines, and again felt all over till its firm. At this stage check front legs are the same length as each other and the back legs are the same length as each other - add a little fleece if needed

About a 1/3rd of the way up the back  leg (depending on the breed) again felt backwards and forwards in the same place to create a line

This line is the hock, bend the bottom of the leg forwards and felt to firm this bend, then curve the top of the leg back

Take around an inch of fibre for each side we want to felt a C shape starting behind the dogs bum then curving down infront of the thigh and ending just above the hock felt this fibre in place squeezing between your fingers as you felt to keep the 'muscle' thin when facing head on but nice and 'meaty' from the side

It should take over 1 hour to get a nice firm smooth dog body shape, keep felting all over the body and add small amounts of fleece if you need to smooth out any areas that need it

And you are done :) 


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