Friday, 28 August 2009

Packed and Shipped

This post has (almost) nothing to do with crafting but I couldn't help myself, I had to share with you the images of our life packed in boxes.

It is the first time when I actually move all my earthly possessions. Before that it was always: pack your backpack with what you need and go. It gives me a funny tingling feeling of something new beginning in my life. (Oh my god, I'm so adult!)

And now the crafting part: I just love the tones of blue created by the wrapping foil!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

19 Craft Locations around London

An important note I forgot to add at first: this map was put together with the help of London Stitch&Bitch group and my Twitter followers. Thank you guys!
View Craft in London in a larger map

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

How-To Tuesdays: Getting the Most Out of Your Twitter Account

Once you follow more than 200 people it becomes difficult to really use Twitter for what it is - minibloging platform. The constant stream of tweets can become overwhelming, making many users discouraged with the tool. Below are my ideas of how to not only manage Twitter information flow but also get most advantage from your account.

1. Take time reading at least some of the tweets on your time line - after all this is what Twitter is all about. I am constantly amazed at what wonderful things I find by following tweets. Obviously it is impossible to read all the tweets, unless you want to do only this all day long. I find it is a good practice to take set aside a given amount of time every day to read a sample of tweets. Treat it like the daily newspaper. This solution has the added benefit of making you more careful about who you want to follow. You can't read all the tweets - so make sure that you only see the ones that count!

2. Read all tweets of a few chosen people.
Among those that I follow, there are several fantastic bloggers. Each and every of their tweets carry great value and I don't want to miss them. I keep a their twitter pages bookmarked and at least once a week read all of thier tweets. It is always worth my time.

3. Take time to check who follows you. Every day I check the list of my new followers. I do not blindly follow back. I open every account, read their bio and follow the webpage link they provide. This not only allows me to weed out the spammers and "instant_money_makers", but I get the chance to discover interesting websites and find great craft shops. I only follow people who have the potential to add value to my stream of tweets.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Elfish Elegance or Few of My Favortie Etsy Items

I was hunting for an etsy treasury for the past week. Tonight, after setting up an alarm clock and staring at the screen intently for an hour or so, I managed to finally get one.

It is really gratifying to be able to showcase your favorite items from other sellers. Especially so, for someone who wasts a lot of time browsing crafty creations...

Nevertheless, the system Etsy has in place is really frustrating and I am not sure when I will be bothered again to hunt another one of treasuries. I think someone should rethink the idea and maybe allow you to book slots for the future or allow more treasuries...I know the problem isn't one that can be solved simply, but I think it is worth putting some effort into.

Anyway, enjoy my treasury here.

My First Brownies Ever

Tonight, I baked my first brownies ever. They are very good and I feel so proud, that I just had to share it with you!

This was the first time I have ever baked anything else than bread so it really feels good. So to all of you out there who, like me, are afraid of baking, I say: go for it!

Now I need to clean my kitchen, also known as the battlefield...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

My Craft Locations in London

I am soon leaving London for good and in the process of packing I was inspired to organize my knowledge of the city. Below is web address to google map with London craft venues I know and like:

To make this map more useful for others I think it would be great to add more addresses to the list. Leave comments with your favorite (or most hated) venues and I will place them on the map.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

How-To Tuesdays: What Should I Tweet About

There has recently been a lot of chatter among the social networking savvies about the quality of tweets. According to data analytics provider, Pear Analytics, 40% of all messages on Twitter constitute pointless bubble. What they mean by pointless bubbles is not even spam (3.75%) but rather messages of the "I feel like ice-cream" kind.

Sure enough, the numbers change if we pay more attention to who we choose to follow. Nevertheless, these stats uncover the sad truth about Twitter - many people don't know what the tool is for and don't know how to use it.

What should I tweet about? - the answer will vary from person to person, depending on their personal style, the reason they joined Twitter in the first place and what their followers might be interested about.
When you are a crafter you should divid your tweets into two categories: self-promotional and community-minded. Use 15% to 20% of self-promotional tweets and 80% to 85% community-minded ones and you will be fine.

1. Because Twitter is ALSO a marketing tool:
Let's not kid ourselves, most of us joined Twitter to promote our craft. Yes, we want to connect with other crafters and read what's new on etsy but mostly, we are there to let people know about our latest projects. And that's ok.

Twitter is a potent marketing tool and, if used properly, will direct traffic to your shop and blog. Tell your followers about new handmade items you posted to your shop. Most of them follow you for this information exactly. Tell them about the great feedback someone left, after purchesing the fabulous bracelet you made. They will share your excitement.

2. Because Twitter is NOT ONLY a marketing tool:

Once you shared links to your shop and blog, realise that Twitter is not only about self-promotion. It is also about the community:

- share knowledge (by posting links to articles, tutorials and blog posts)
- share finds (by posting links to craft artists or objects you find amazing)
- retweet valuable tweets
- share your craft moments (tweet about inspirations or lack of these)

And most of all, be personal about your tweets!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Autumn Doodling

Despite it still being plain summer, I was in an autumn mood the last few days.

This year, I get to spend September, the most magnificent month, in Poland. This makes me think of the colors and smells of my country and the beauty of "Golden Polish Autumn".

So, out of this melancholy came thoughts of Autumn Collection by Crafty Maria Design. I doodled and doodled and I came up with several ideas for hats and gloves. The results will soon be published here and in my etsy shop.

I am also considering changing this blog's design and playing with wire jewelry. These feel like good challenges for long autumn evenings...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

How-To Tuesdays: Twitter 101 - How to Get your First 100 Followers

To keep myself in check and post regularly, as well as write quality content for you guys, I have decided to start a new posting series: How-To Tuesdays. Once a week I will write how-to posts about craft techniques, craft projects, online marketing, blog writing, selling craft and whatever else will come to my head.

Today first of the series: Twitter 101 - How to Get your First 100 Followers

Twitter is an extremely useful online marketing tool for craft sellers. 140 character messages - the essence of Twitter - are perfect to notify your followers about new items in your shops, articles you wrote and interesting things you found on the web. But for the tool to be useful you have to ensure that a considerable number of people read what you are writing. Here is how to go about getting your first followers in 5 steps:

1. When you create your account do not neglect adding photo, bio and link to your shop, blog or webiste. As with any other online activity, empty profiles work like repelants to online community.

2. Once you have created your account, go ahead and follow big brands and authorities in your field. If you plan to use Twitter to promote your etsy shop start by following Etsy or Artfire . If you are more interested in human rights, follow Human Rights Watch etc.

3. After finding the big names, check who follows them. If someone is interest in etsy, there is a good chance they will be interested in your crafty tweets too. Follow them. Do not be afraid to follow too many people. You don't have to read each and every tweet. If someone turns out to be spamming or boring you, you can always unfollow them. Following people is the best way to get followers!

4. Use Twitter Directories such as WeFollow or TwitR. Add yourself to categories that describe your interest (for instance craft, handmade and etsy or humanrights, travel and development). In each directory you can only use three tags so choose them carefully. Thanks to directories, other Twitter users will be able to find your account. But remember to also use the directories to find people you might like to follow.

5. And last but not least create valuable content. To make sure that people will follow you and stay loyal to your tweets, make sure that what you're writing is of value and interest to others.

And always remember, Twitter might be a very easy way to promote your shop but it doesn't mean that you don't have to put any effort. It takes a certain amount of work to create and cultivate good relationship with your follower base. Don't believe in easy solutions ("I'll show you how to get a 100 followers a day!") and stay personal.

Next Tuesday: What Should I Tweet About?

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Space Invaders Earrings

Inspired by my success with the bracelet I sat down yesterday to make earrings to fit. They came out nice and perky. Unfortunately the endings in small objects are even more difficult to make. I did my very best but I will have to continue practicing until I get the trick.

One way or another I still love the technique.

I hope you are having great Sunday!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Space Invaders Bracelet

I have recently bought beading loom - it was really cheap and I couldn't stop myself - and during the past few days I had a crack at it.

The choice of pattern for my first project was quite obvious. As an old geek, friend of geeks and a geek fiancé I was obliged by geek law to start 0with space invaders (if I had more colors, it would have to be old school Mario Bros).

So, with the pattern in mind and the instructions from The Encyclopedia of Beading Techniques in my hand, I was off to a great start. The beginning was very easy and the pattern showed immediately. And I was doing a very good job all the way until I managed to tangle the beading thread and had to cut and reattach it. Which in turn caused some nasty knots on the side of the bracelet - well, I guess this means that I will wear it, rather then sell it in my etsy shop.

Beading on a loom turned out to be a great technique. Very simple and effective. It is easy to introduce the pattern and control it while beading.

And it would be an amazing way of creating jewelery, if not the problem of ending the project. I find it incredibly difficult to find fasteners that would fit beading bracelet. Any gold, silver or metal in general is too heavy for minute beads and beaded endings seem unreliable.

This time I stick to simply knotting the threads, once the bracelet is on my wrist. I think it looks very well and fits the style of this bracelet but I am not sure if it is "professional" enough. So I am still on a quest for better solution. Anyone has some ideas?

Monday, 3 August 2009

Discoveries of Frugal Life - part 1.

The other day I went to my local supermarket to buy, among others, a toothpaste. Following the frugal tips and tricks I made a point of looking above and below my usual line of sight. And the difference in prices stunned me.

Regular brand-name toothpaste - £2.53
No-brand toothpaste from the bottom shelf - £0.17
Difference - £2.36

To be honest, I have to say I was really scared to pick up the £0.17 variety. After all there has to be some kind of reason why the price difference is so huge. But after checking the ingredients I had to conclude that both pastes seemed very similar. I decided to take the risk!

- my teeth are as clean as before
- my breath is as minty
- my wallet is heavier by £2.36
- my conscious consumer self feels proud

When I run out of soap, I will definitely try the no-brand one!