Found my making mojo

Hey everyone! Apologies for yet another hiatus from me! I’ve been concentrating so much on Nine Dots Creative, I’ve got to admit I’ve kinda neglected Linziloop. At the end of 2016 however, I did get back to making, in the way of beanbags! I made one for little loop for her  3rd birthday (I know, where did the time go?!) and I enjoyed getting back to the sewing machine so much that I decided to make a couple more to sell. I’m taking custom orders too, I’ll see how it goes!

I’m also itching to get back into making some clothes for myself. I’ve got so many ideas at the moment, it would be a shame to not make any of them. The fabric stash is alive and well so I’m sure there’s something suitable amongst it all for me to make something to wear.

Anyway, I just though I’d show you some pics of my beanbags and tell you they’re available on Etsy if you would like one. They’re great for kids up to about 11/12 years of age, reversible, washable cover, and can be custom made in any theme you (or your kids!) like.

I really want to pick the Linziloop reigns back up though… I do enjoy the escape from the computer screen when I’m making, and I’ve got a whole studio to myself at the moment (anybody wanna join me!?) so I’ve certainly got the space!

I’d love to hear in the comments what you’ve been up to so far in 2017, and what your plans are for the year! Any new projects you’re starting?!

Hopefully I’ll be back soon with an update on more making 😀

Product photography – Does it need to be the bane of every craft sellers life?

Summer is great (when we get one!); the smell of freshly cut grass (for the non-allergic anyway), blue skies, hot days, being able to dry your washing out on the line, trips to the beach, outdoor swimming, and that ability the summer sun has to make just about everything look better. Its this ability to make everything look better that means summer is the most perfect time for getting product photography done – nice bright natural light, the perfect compliment to any handmade item. Sadly, most of us cannot simply wait until summer decides to show to take our product photography – we make something, and we need to photograph it in order to get it up for sale straight away, we can’t be waiting months for those perfect lighting conditions.

Bucket on sandy beach

I seem to have a great knack for deciding to start ramping up the making right at the end of summer (probably because I know all that summer fun is about to end and I need something else to occupy me!), just in time for when the weather starts turning and the nights start drawing in. It’s exactly this desire to start making things again which inspired me to make this post – I know I’m going to struggle finding natural light to take any product shots of the new things I make, because by the time I’ve made them it’s probably going to be getting dark at about the time I get back from the office each night, leaving me no time except the weekends to do photography – and then there’s the weather to contend with. Rain tends to spoil the look.

This conundrum of photography vs time/weather got me thinking – there must be a solution. I’ve read all about home made light boxes, and whilst they’re a perfectly viable option for smaller items, if you prefer a real person to model your shots then you may have a hard time squeezing them into a home made light box. I don’t often use a real person, but I would like to start doing so where possible. A studio would be perfect, but this is so far out of the reach of most craft sellers that it’s not even considered. However, I think there is a way this could be a viable option, if makers club together a bit. In fact, I’ve thought of two ways:

I’ve looked into the cost of some basic photography equipment in order to put up a basic, but perfectly suitable studio. Excluding the cost of a DSLR camera (which I already have), you can get a background stand, paper backgrounds (three – black, white and green – or any other colour combo which will be of use really), two studio lights with reflective umbrellas, a tripod, and all the bits and bobs you need to get everything to work together for less than £2000 from companies such as Calumet. This is a lot for one person to pay, but if sellers within a certain radius of each other were to club together to buy this equipment, and then find a location to store it, then the cost could be shared. Kind of like a photography studio time-share, for lack of a better comparison! A timetable could be drawn up so that everyone could book in a slot that suited them, people could even share models (they can be hard to come by!), and they could share tips and give feedback to each other regarding the shots they take. Finding a secure location to store the equipment/take the photos is probably the most bothersome part of this idea, but I’m sure in most cities there is someone with some empty warehouse space who wouldn’t mind it being put to good use for a small fee – some might even offer it for free, especially if they have a use for the equipment also.

Photography Studio Lighting

The second option I am giving serious thought to is forking out to buy this equipment myself (quite how I would fund that purchase at the moment is, erm, a little vague, shall we say!), finding a space to set it up and then charging a small fee for sellers to come use it in order to re-coup my costs. I could maybe be on hand for a sellers first visit to give some training on how to use the equipment, and there would only be one person involved in the ownership of the equipment which I am sure would be far less complicated in terms of things like insurance etc. than the previously mentioned ‘timeshare’ idea. It would certainly be cheaper than hiring a professional photographer and their studio (as the seller would be taking the photos themselves), but I haven’t got as far as to work out what the costs would need to be in order to make this a viable option for me yet.

So, I guess what I would like to know from any sellers of handmade items out there is do either of these options sound like a good idea to you? Would you get involved in the first one or do you like the idea of the second better? What kind of issues could you foresee? What problems would need ironing out? Are you currently doing something similar in a UK city and would like to share your experiences or offer your services?

It’s all very much in the ideas stage at the moment, but I’m beginning to put the feelers out because I think there just might be some people out there who would jump at the chance to improve their product photography at a small cost to them, after all, it’s the first thing people see when they visit your online shop and presentation can really make a difference to sales.

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