The past few weeks I've been working on developing a new product to sell in my Etsy shop and at local craft markets. I've had so much fun illustrating these guys. My end goal is to to try printing these onto magnets and wine glass charms. Although my drawings are almost done, I still have lots of 'product development' (i.e. trying to make these things and see how they turn out) and 'quality assurance' (i.e. making sure the product I make is durable, pretty, and functional) before I offer them for sale. In the mean time, here are some pics of what I've been working on.
Originally this was going to be a series of 6, but now I have 8 that I like and space for one more. Any ideas for number 9? What animal would you like to see as a dapper gentleman?
I made these simple wooden gift boxes to parcel up some of the gifts I've been making. They started out as inexpensive wooden craft boxes from Dollar Tree. With a minimal amount of time and funds invested, they were really easily transformed into something that's impressive. AND its kind of like a second gift - because a pretty wooden box can be used to collect life's little knick knacks all year long.
To start, I sanded all the boxes with 220 grit sandpaper and gave them all a stain inside and out. I always use water-based stains from a Canadian company called SamaN. If you don't have a rainbow of stain colours readily available like I do, mix up a substitute with 1 part acrylic craft paint + 1 part white glue + 2 parts water. Cheap and easy. When the stain is dry, sand the box again.
1. Stamped Box
A bargain bin stamp that cost me a whole dollar + something called chalk ink
I just stamped all over the box... I had to press really hard on the stamp to get a good transfer because the wood surface wasn't 100% smooth. It looked great until...
...until it dried and I got a coat of polyurethane on top. Then I couldn't see the leaves very well anymore. So I took a light grey coloured pencil and traced over the faded ink lines.
The faded ink turned out to be a happy accident because I think it actually looks better with the ink and pencil crayon together. (#1 Rule of crafting, when you make a mistake, tell people you meant to do it that way.)
2. Iron on Applique Box
I scored some iron-on snowflake appliques from my local sewing store's bargain bin (I admit, I've had these for a few months. I grabbed these and more when I saw them in late August because I have a bit of a thing for snowflakes.)
I basically just followed the package directions to apply this to the top of the box. I used some kitchen parchment to protect my iron.
A bajillion (or three) coats of polyurethane later, and she's a beut'!
3. Scrapbook Paper Box
This one was really simple: A bit of scrapbook or collage paper.
I cut a square slightly smaller than the top, rounded off the corners and stuck it on the top with polyurethane. (White glue would work fine too.) Then I coated it with polyurethane a few times.
... and Stuff 'em!
The funnest part is letting these little boxes fulfill their destinies. A gorgeous handmade gift inside makes for a complete and extra-special package.
What are your favourite ways to present a present? Do you have any other ideas for making inexpensive wooden boxes look like pretty and pricey?
If you follow Artisan 82 on Facebook, you know I have been participating in both December events for Peterborough, Ontario's 30 Craft Market. This market provides high-quality and unique handmade goods all priced under $30. While I was selling at this show, it was impossible to resist picking up a few things myself. These are my favourite finds, all from sellers who you can access online.
I grabbed these little coin purses for my girls from The Little Bird Designs by Aimee Leptick. Not only does Amiee have exceptional taste in fabric, she sells at I-can't-believe-I-only-paid-that-much-for-something-handmade prices. Her workmanship is impeccable. Look - those tiny coin purses are fully lined! She sells online here.
I'm also the proud new owner of this handmade weighted hula hoop (adult fitness hoop) from Basia of Super Hoops. My ribs are aching today from what I can only assume is horrible hooping technique - but I'm still practicing. It's so silly and fun to hoop, and the turquoise leopard print hoop wrapping just seals the deal for me. Check out Hula Hooping with Basia! if you're interested in learning more about hula hooping.
I had the great good fortune to have my table located beside Heathyr Francis of Pin Studios whose nature-inspired raku ceramics are only surpassed by her sense of humour. Heathyr and partner Colin made this awesome toad house. I'm still drooling over the palette of the raku glaze. UhhHHHhhrghhuuuhh... so pretty... I'm glad there's currently a foot of snow on the ground outside, because I can't bear to put this beauty in the garden just yet.
Two of the best things about selling at these local craft markets are meeting the other crazy craftspeople and checking out their wares. 30 Craft Market was a wonderful place to do both. What are your favourite craft market finds?
I'm not sure that this is a common problem, but I have someone with very expensive tastes on my gift list. It can be difficult to buy gifts for my youngest sister because she tends to like items that are often out of my price range. One way that I can get her something I know she'll love, while keeping it affordable for myself, is to find something in style and on trend, and do my best to duplicate it by hand.
When looking for inspiration to DIY a knockoff of an expensive gift, I start by looking online at items from her favourite stores, her Pinterest pages, her Etsy favourites, etc. So... I knew by her online activity that my sister likes these bracelets. I was also sure I could make a great looking knockoff for a fraction of those prices. Whew!
First I purchased some supplies. I knew by looking at the specs of the expensive version that the finished bracelet was about 80 cm (34 inches long). Using my awesome math skills, I knew I'd need about 80 cm (34 inches) worth of beads and 1.6 m of leather. It's pretty easy to shop when you're buying beads on the strand - the length of the bead strand is right there on the label.
I chose some round off-white beads with a faint champagne swirl through them. They're not identical to the beads in the inspiration bracelets, but I think they're close enough in colour and style that I can make a great looking knock off.
The leather cord that I liked only came on this three-colour pack, so I'll have to make two more bracelets at some point. It's hard to tell from the photograph, but there's a very tasteful metallic finish on the cording. Most importantly, there's about 2 m of each colour, which is enough to make one bracelet.
So, I'm into this project for 4 packs of beads at about $8 each, the leather cord, some coordinating thread and a sweet little button from my stash and I'm at about $35 (CND). That's about 20% of the cost of my cheapest inspiration bracelet! Yowza!
There's a metric tonne of tutorials on the internet, so I'm not going to duplicate one here. Google 'beaded wrap bracelet tutorial'. Do it. I dare ya. Okay don't. I checked out a bunch of tutorials and this is my favourite. Lots of pic, very clear. Check it out.
I did a couple things slightly different from the tutorial. Firstly, I tied two knots at the beginning so the size can be adjusted slightly. I think this is a good feature for a gift, since my sister's wrist isn't here for me to make it fit her perfectly. Make sure your button fits through both holes.
The second time I varied from my tutorial was that I double stitched my beads on. As I was working, I noticed my beads were sliding around a fair bit. So when I finished beading the whole length, I went back and stitched the whole thing in reverse. That is, I worked right to left the first time down, then left to right back up through the strung beads. This secured everything really nicely.
Ta da! Here's my finished bracelet. I think it looks pretty swanky. If you like this, I'd love you to share it, pin it, or try it yourself!