Sunday, January 31, 2010


A picture tells a thousand words. 

As someone who makes and sells craftwork online, I struggle with taking a good picture of my items.  I have neither a fancy camera nor mad photography skills so I have to work hard to get a picture that I like.  I want a picture that portrays the item accurately, but also one that conveys a "feeling", my feeling of the item.

The sweet Karen posted a comment on my blog tonight, complimenting me on my photos, and her comment made me feel compelled to share my process.   

Here's what I know works for me. 

First I shoot in natural light near a window.  I find that 10:00am to 11:00am offers light that is kind of moody and nice.  Any later than that, and the light no longer throws shadows, something that I like in my photos.

I shoot the item while facing slightly into the sun.  

I shoot in macro mode.

I consciously arrange the scene, often with the main item slightly off-center.

I use Picasa, a free photo service offered by Google, to crop and make minor edits to my pictures.

I take many pictures, often running to the computer to check them out before returning to take more or change things up.  This becomes extra fun when I know I'm losing my light and have many things to photograph.   (take photo, run to computer, mutter profanity, run back, take another photo, run back to computer...)

Here are outtakes from today.
This one was shot in a different room than I normally shoot in.  The room was painted yellow which gave kind of a sickly yellow tint to everything.  It has a window, but it did not get a lot of sun in it.  Using a diffuser, I set up a daylight bulb to add extra light.  It looks like it's in an aquarium sort of, don't you think.

This one was shot in the same room, but without the diffused light.  A little better, but a lot of glare, and still that sickly yellow tint.

This is the shot I kept.  I changed rooms, and changed backgrounds and shot into the sun.  I like this one much more.

So please, fellow photo-takers, share your tips.  I'd love to hear what works for you and what doesn't.  What are your secrets?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Needle Felted Hearts

I just finished an order of hearts for The Walker Art Center Shop in Minneapolis and thought I'd share some of the color here. 

These little niblets are made entirely of wool by needle-felting wool roving. 

In case you don't know what needle-felting is, I'll give you my version.  (because sometimes I live in a craft bubble and assume that everyone knows what needle-felting, roving, mordants, mod-podge, etc. is)

So wool fibers are hair, and these hairs have scales on them.  Their surfaces are sort of jagged, and when forced against each other, they grab hold and mat together.  Whether you're creating felt from roving, using a felting needle to force them together, or fulling a wool sweater, the fibers are essentially doing the same thing, grabbing each other and holding on. 

Picture two pinecones. 

If you were to start wiggling those pinecones into each other, their scales would become entwined. 

That's kind of what the individual wool fibers do.

Needle-felting is just the process of forcing these fibers together using a specially-designed barbed needle.  I sometimes refer to it as at-home plebotomy. (if you've done it, you know what I'm talking about)  Artists use this technique for sculpting, creating "paintings", vessels, and lots of tiny wool hearts.

So if you find yourself in the Minneapolis area, stop by The Walker and a heart.

Happy Tuesday, all.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A First

My Araucana just laid her first egg! In the middle of January! In Minnesota!

Yeah, I know, I get excited easily.

I'm so proud of her.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Backyard Visitors

We had visitors again yesterday.  One quietly crept up within 12 feet or so of my kitchen door, curiously sniffing my birdfeeder (from the talented Joe Papendick) while her friend stayed a bit further behind.  She could tell we were there behind the glass and her ears were twitching this way and that, trying to get a good listen.  I snapped a few pics then the two of them bounded off, white tails in the air, legs bouncing impossibly high behind them. 

We need to discourage them from coming this close to the house, but it's hard to pass up these special moments.

On another note, I've enjoyed having some time off from crafting and my shop and am returning feeling somewhat refreshed and energized.  I have many  new ideas in my head and look forward to sharing them with you soon.  My etsy shop will reopen on Friday, Jan. 29th and I hope to have regular updates in the weeks following.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why My Dog Hates Me

I should be cleaning. 
I could be crafting. 
I would be more productive...
if I weren't having so much fun putting lobster hats on my dog.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Moon Is Painting The Sky

We had a lovely sunrise this morning; a splash of mango and robin's egg blue through the trees. My camera doesn't do it justice, I'm afraid.  The 3 year old stood gazing at the scene and turned to me and very matter of factly told me that the moon is painting the sky.  "It's beautiful" he said.  Quite right, little man.

I hope the moon is painting your sky too.

Happy Tuesday.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A Place Of My Own

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, life is starting to slow down again.  I'm taking advantage of this time to kind of regroup and reorganize myself.  I've started with my workspace, a place that had until now been only a storage place.  After a lot of work, it's now a place where I can actually sit and sew (hide from the kids - tomato/tomatoe) in peace.  It isn't pretty but it suits me just fine.  Oh yes, the walls aren't fully drywalled, and yes, it's in the basement, but it's mine.  All mine.  And it has a door!  Woo hoo!! 

A table to work at!  Now I won't have to clear my sewing off the kitchen table every night before we eat.

The miscellany cache.  Tools, books, and random stuff like antlers, monkeys, and twine.

Getting into the belly of the vintage buttons, wool roving, leather, and shells.  The shelving to the right holds canvases, framing tools, wood, drawing tools, and wire.

Yeah.  My felted wool.  There are 10 56qt boxes, and three garbage bags full of wool.  Fabric and candle-making supplies are beneath the table to the left.

When cleaning and organizing my new space, it became abundantly clear that um, I have a lot of stuff.  Actually more stuff than will fit in my space.  I need to rectify that so I've made a resolution.  Here goes...deep breath...

I have resolved not to buy any craft supplies for one year. 

EEEEK!!!  No wool, no buttons, no nothin'.  I've been wanting to do this for a while and now seems like the right time.  I'm still allowing myself to gather natural materials and buy parts should some critical tool or piece of machinery break down, but that's it.  I'm alternately terrified and excited.  I may need some support if I spy a great wool coat in the thrift store window.  Is there a wool-addiction support group?  No?  There should be.

Hopefully no one has turned me into that Hoarders show yet.  What I hope is that I will work through some of this stash, simplify a bit, and be stretched creatively by the exercise.

Wish me luck!


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