Tag: blog post

Crafting Happy Moments : Free Creativity Event

Bluprint, an NBCUniversal online creative learning platform, provides ways for the entire family to nourish their creativity from home, offering rich learning experiences for all ages. Join us to “Craft More Happy Moments” during our FREE unlimited access creativity event; March 26 at Noon EST – April 9. With Bluprint you can stream thousands of … read more

Bluprint, an NBCUniversal online creative learning platform, provides ways for the entire family to nourish their creativity from home, offering rich learning experiences for all ages.

Join us to “Craft More Happy Moments” during our FREE unlimited access creativity event; March 26 at Noon EST – April 9.

With Bluprint you can stream thousands of creative education classes from knitting, sewing, baking, drawing, family crafts and much more, taught by the world’s leading experts. Bluprint is your one-stop destination for classes, patterns and project ideas for all skill levels.

During this 14 day event, Bluprint will provide free access to their full slate of content; including more than 1300 classes and series and hundreds of step by step project tutorials and patterns making this the perfect time to learn a new craft or hobby.

Emotional End-Benefits You Can Easily Connect With:

  • Creativity is one of the best ways to connect with ourselves and loved ones
  • Creating family moments of togetherness by communing over creativity
  • Keeping the kids busy while you work from home
  • Getting lost in your passion and making something
  • Sourcing inspiration for your next (or first!) craft project

Craft More Happy Moments with Bluprint’s FREE Creativity Care Package 3/26-4/9/20! Watch over 1,300 creative education classes ranging from sewing, cooking, family crafts, and more!

If you love DIY, then you NEED to check out these items on GS Handmade ~ we have everything from pdf patterns, to crafty tutorials, a free tutorial and pdf sewing page, thousands of machine embroidery designs, applique designs, and more.

Embroidery Designs

Decal Designs

DIY: Do It Yourself

Cross Stitch Designs

Digital Products

Free tutorials, designs & patterns Guide

Free No-Sew Design of the month from Brother: Monogrammed Slippers

(Courtesy of Brother) There’s nothing quite like slipping into a pair of monogrammed slippers for comfort and a great feeling from head to toe. If you haven’t thought about making your own slippers now is the time to start. This project features instructions for creating an all-over quilt design using My Design Center to create … read more

(Courtesy of Brother)

There’s nothing quite like slipping into a pair of monogrammed slippers for comfort and a great feeling from head to toe. If you haven’t thought about making your own slippers now is the time to start. This project features instructions for creating an all-over quilt design using My Design Center to create quilted fabric for the slipper pieces. If this feature is not available to you, use one of the alternative options mentioned in the instructions. Download the Brother Free Design of the Month, pick a pattern, gather your supplies, and you’re well on your way to crafting a pair of comfy slippers. Embellish the toes with a personal monogram for yourself or make a pair to give as a gift. Are you ready? Let’s go sew!

(This post is a repost of Brother international and Sewcial Bee, GS Handmade claims not ownership or authorship over this pattern , we are just re-sharing, in hopes of helping you, as a creative to discover new projects and people to follow. Follow Sewcial Bee on Facebook > Click HERE  Follow Brother Sews on Facebook > Click HERE )

Materials and Supplies

  • Brother sewing and embroidery machine. Note that these instructions show how to create quilted fabric using the Brother My Design Center option on the Luminaire XP1 machine, prior to embroidering the design. Please be sure to read the Important Notes section for more information about creating these slippers.
  • Brother Embroidery Thread, Bobbin Thread, and size 11 embroidery needle for embroidering.
  • Basic Sewing notions including sewing thread to match fabric and a removable marker or chalk.
  • Slipper pattern with toe area large enough to accommodate embroidery design. Read the recommendations in the Important Notes section below and refer to your selected pattern for fabric and notions.
  • Brother FREE Design of the Month. See below:

Important Notes Before You Begin

Basic steps for making the slippers:

  • Create oversized pieces of quilted fabric.
  • Outline the area for the main slipper pattern and embroider a monogram in the toe area.
  • Cut out and construct a pair of slippers.

There are a variety of options for creating fabric sections for these slippers:
Technique used for this sample: Use My Design Center to create large sections of stipple quilted fabric. The featured machine in this project is the Brother XP1 Luminaire with the 10 5/8” X 16” hoop, used for making stipple quilted fabric. Complete instructions are shown below for using this method on the Luminaire. Additional Brother models include the My Design Center option so you can follow the same general instructions for creating stipple quilted fabric. The Brother PE-Design 11 software program also includes options for creating stipple quilted fabric using decorative fill patterns.
Note: Depending on the size of your largest hoop, and your slipper pattern pieces, you may need to re-hoop to create larger sections of quilted fabric.
Purchase single faced pre-quilted fabric, pre-quilt your own fabric with free motion techniques, or pre-quilt fabric with straight stitches.
Skip the quilting and simply fuse thin craft fleece to the slipper pieces.

Decide on materials for main slipper piece, insole, bottom sole, and filler for quilting:
The pattern I selected included many options and ideas for materials. Note that the thickness of your filler for quilting can slightly affect the size of the finished slippers.
I chose thin fusible craft fleece, fusing it to the fabric used for my main slipper piece and insole prior to quilting. I also fused a layer to my lining piece.
For the bottom sole I opted for anti-skid gripper fabric.

Gather all your supplies and review these instructions as well as your pattern instructions before cutting pieces:
The monogram design is small, making it the perfect size for a monogram frame on the slippers. Once you have quilted your fabric you can opt to embroider the design using a 4-inch hoop.
Featured pattern is the Sew For All Slipper by Sewcial Bee. See Figure #1 below.

Figure #1
Disclaimer: Pattern author is SEWcialBee Designs. Brother International Corporation and GS Handmade makes no representation or warranties regarding this product.

Steps to Create Monogrammed Slippers

1. Prepare your pattern, deciding on size, and cutting pattern pieces as needed. I started by cutting the pattern and tracing it onto pattern tracing cloth, so I had a full pattern for the main slipper piece and a separate right and left sole. I used my trusty Brother P-touch label maker to identify my new pattern pieces. See Figure #2a and Figure #2b.

Figure #2a
Figure #2b

2. Use your trimmed patterns to determine how much fabric you’ll need for creating a quilted version. Prepare your fabric by quilting sections large enough for your pattern pieces. With the Luminaire’s 10 5/8” X 16” hoop I was able to create two identical quilted fabric sections for cutting the main pieces and a right and left sole. See Figure #3.

Figure #3

3. Steps for creating stipple quilted fabric in My Design Center are shown below:
Select My Design Center from the Home screen. See Figure #4.

Figure #4

Touch the Stamp Key. See Figure #5.

Figure #5

Touch the icon to choose the embroidery frame area. See Figure #6.

Figure #6

Select the 10 5/8” X 16” hoop. See Figure #7.

Figure #7

Touch the key to access the Region Property screen. See Figure #8.

Figure #8

Select the option for stipple fill and choose a thread color. See Figure #9.

Figure #9

Touch the bucket tool and then touch the screen to fill the entire area with stipple stitches. See Figure #10.

Figure #10

Touch Next and leave everything at the default setting. Touch Set and then touch OK to proceed to the Embroidery Edit screen. See Figure #11.

Figure #11

Finish by touching Embroidery. See Figure #12.

Figure #12

4. Hoop fabric for slipper and stitch the stipple pattern in a thread color that closely matches the fabric. Leave fabric undisturbed in the hoop. Transfer monogram frame design to machine. Create a combination design by adding a built-in letter from your font menu to fit the center of the floral frame. Change thread colors to coordinate with your fabric. See modified colors in Figure #13.

Figure #13

5. Place the slipper pattern over the stipple stitching. Using a removable marker trace the outline, along with the center marking for toe of slipper. See Figure #14.

Figure #14

6. Embroider design in the area, taking care to account for seam allowances. In the example shown below I used the StitchVision projection system to position my monogram design. See Figure #15a, Figure #15b, and Figure #15c.

Figure #15a
Figure #15b
Figure #15c

Repeat the steps to quilt fabric and embroider a matching monogram on the second slipper piece.

Note: If you’re using an alternative method for preparing the slipper fabric, you can mark the center of the monogram design on the fabric, and then use a 4-inch hoop with the positioning grid to position your design.
Tip: It’s easier to embroider the design on an oversized quilted section of fabric before cutting your piece to size. See Figure #16a and Figure #16b.

Figure #16a
Figure #16b

1. When you’re finished embroidering both right and left slipper pieces, construct slipper following pattern instructions. Enjoy your beautiful new creation! See additional finished views of slippers below:

Figure #7b
Figure #7b

Options and ideas:

  • For a great gift set, consider making a color coordinating robe, adding a matching monogram on a robe pocket.
  • Choose other embroidery designs to decorate the toe area of these slippers. Simply measure the area to be sure your design will fit.
  • For additional comfort and support, consider making an insole without filler to use as a thin layer over a pre-purchased support style insole.

 

http://blog.brothersews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Free-Design-of-the-Month_-Monogrammed-Slippers-_Stitching-Sewcial.pdf.zip

 

We Must Dare To Be Great

We Must Dare To Be Great “A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage… For us is the life of action, of strenuous … read more

We Must Dare To Be Great
We Must Dare To Be Great

“A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage… For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.”

I love to learn from great people and get inspired by their stories. Among them, Theodore Roosevelt (TR) is a favorite of mine. His story never ceases to inspire me.

I’d like to share the reasons why I find TR inspiring. After reading them, I think you will agree with me that he is a great model to learn from.

Without further ado, here are five reasons why TR is inspiring.

1. His achievements are extraordinary.

The list of TR’s achievements is almost unbelievable. He is the youngest ever U.S. president, the winner of Nobel Peace Prize, and a recipient of the Medal of Honor. He also authored more than 30 books despite his busy schedule. He even had time to become America’s first brown belt in judo!

Franklin Roosevelt, his cousin who later became U.S. President, said that TR “was the greatest man I ever knew.”

We Must Dare To Be Great
2. He excelled in all five aspects of life.

There are five aspects of life. While many people excel in just one or two, TR excelled in all five. In fact, I have yet to find another person who excels in all five aspects.

Let’s see how TR did in each:

      • Working: The list of achievements above says it all. There is no doubt about it.
      • Learning: He read three books a day while he was in the White House. Many people can’t read three books a month.
      • Physical: As mentioned above, he had a brown belt in judo. He was also a boxer. He thrived in physical activities.
      • Social: He was very good at connecting with people. In fact, he became an example in the popular book How to Win Friends and Influence People.
      • Spiritual: He maintained his integrity throughout his career. He was also a devout Christian: a Bible was found under his pillow upon his death.

    We Must Dare To Be Great

3. He thrived in both “extrovert” and “introvert” activities.

Normally, people thrive in just one kind of activities that matches their personalities, either extrovert or introvert. But TR excelled in both kinds of activities.

He excelled in getting along with people, an “extrovert” activity. But he also excelled in writing, an “introvert” activity. Again, it’s difficult to find someone who excels in both.

We Must Dare To Be Great
4. He was a great learner.

TR was a curious person. He read books in different fields. He also had a photographic memory. He often cited passages from books that he hadn’t seen for years.

I think the main reason for this ability was his focus. While he was reading, he couldn’t even hear his name being called. He was totally immersed in the book.

5. He excelled in energy management.

An important factor behind TR’s achievements is his energy. His energy was so abundant that he was called “steam engines in trousers”. This abundance of energy allowed him to do things with focus and enthusiasm.

This is remarkable because he was physically weak as a child. He got sick often. But one day his dad challenged him to make his body, and he did. He began exercising intensely, and over time became the energetic person he was.

I highly recommend this awesome documentary by the great Ken Burns about the Roosevelts, it will give you an insight into why I think he was fantastic: https://www.netflix.com/title/80013283

Theordore Roosevelt The Man In The Arena quote

Motivation Monday Overcoming Obstacles in Entrepreneurship

There is an old saying: Champions don’t  become champions in the ring- they are merely recognized there. That’s true, if you want to see where someone develops into a champion, look at their daily routine. Former heavyweight champ Joe Frazier stated: You can map out a fight plan or a life plan. But when the … read more

Overcoming Obstacles in Entrepreneurship: A Lesson From Theodore Roosevelt

There is an old saying: Champions don’t  become champions in the ring- they are merely recognized there. That’s true, if you want to see where someone develops into a champion, look at their daily routine. Former heavyweight champ Joe Frazier stated:

You can map out a fight plan or a life plan. But when the action starts, you’re down to your reflexes. That’s where your road work shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, you’re getting found out now under the bright lights.

Boxing is a good analogy for developing bossbabes because it’s all about daily preparation. Even if a person has natural talent, they have to prepare and train to become successful.

One of this country’s greatest leaders was a fan of boxing: President Theodore Roosevelt. In fact, one of his most famous quotes uses  a boxing analogy

Theodore Roosevelt

THE MAN IN THE ARENA
Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”
delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910
download PDF of complete speech

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

*TR (Teddy Roosevelt’s nickname) was known for regular boxing and judo sessions, challenging horseback rides, and long, strenuous hikes. A French ambassador who visited Roosevelt used to tell about the time that he accompanied the president on a walk through the woods. When the two men came to the banks of a stream that was too deep to cross by foot. TR stripped off his clothes and expected the dignitary to do the same so taht they could swim to the other side. Nothing was an obstacle to Roosevelt.

Of all the leaders this nation has ever had, Roosevelt was one of the toughest-both physically and mentally. But he didn’t start that way. America’s cowboy president was born in Manhattan to a prominent wealthy family. As a child he was puny and very sickly. He had debilitating asthma, possessed very poor eyesight, and was painfully thin. His parents weren’t sure he would survive. When he was twelve, young Roosevelt’s father told him, “You have the mind but you have not the body, and without the help of the body, the mind cannot go as far as it should. You must MAKE the body.” and make it , he most certainly did. TR began training every single day physically, building his body as well as his mind, and he did that for the rest of his life.

Roosevelt didn’t become a great leader overnight either. His road to the presidency was one of slow, continual growth. He improved himself and in time, he became a strong leader. Roosevelt’s list of accomplishments is remarkable. Under his leadership, the United States emerged as a world power. He helped the country develop a first-class navy. He was that the Panama Canal was built. He negotiated peace between Russia and China, winning a Nobel Peace Prize in the process.  On January 6, 1919 he died in his sleep. Then vice president Marshall said,

“Death had to take him sleeping, for if Roosevelt had been awake, there would have been a fight”

When they removed him from his bed, they found a book under his pillow. Up to the very last, TR was still striving to learn and improve himself.

*Source: Leadership 101 by John C. Maxwell

Slow and Steady Wins the Race Quote

What are the takeaways we can learn from Roosevelt that may apply to our lives as Entrepreneurs?

1. Be FIERCE : obstacles will come, it’s how you approach those obstacles. Are you going to say , “It’s too hard, we can’t cross this stream, it’s too deep” and turn back? Or will you strip naked and lead the way? Nothing in life is easy. Entrepreneurship isn’t for sissies. You have to get in there, roll up your sleeves and be FIERCE. Are you stronger than the obstacles in your path?

2. Even a great leader like TR started off small. He wasn’t expected to survive from his own parents! If that’s not a kick in the teeth, then I don’t know what is! Of all people in the world, you want those who love you and you share your life with to believe in you and your dreams, it’s hard when you don’t get the support you’d like. But what did TR do? He set out to prove them wrong. He was CONSISTENT, he worked towards his goal of strengthening his body every.single.day. Consistency wins the prize in owning and operating a small business. Many times it can be isolating, people in our family would rather share a celebrity’s status or meme on social media. Your loved ones may shop at a big box store rather than supporting your small shop.. you can’t control other people, you can only change how you react to them. Seek out OTHER support from friends, or like-minded individuals and other small business owners. The community at Gypsy Spoonful is a great source of strentgh, knowledge and inspiration for me everyday. I am so thankful to have people that cheer me on and totally GET what I am trying to do with my life. Everyone starts off small, it’s up to YOU to seek out ways to grow and learn new things to embolden your entrepreneurial spirit.

” slow, continual growth.”

3. The mind and body combination is important, It was once said by Henry Ford, “Whether you believe you can or can not, you’re right” . Your mental attitude determines your outcome most of all. TR blazed a trail where no one dared to go before. He traveled all over the world pursuing adventures. Each trip, each adventure prepared him for the next one. He built knowledge upon his experiences. We all fail and fall short, just like the man in the arena~ but do we get up again after we get knocked down? or do we stay down? A product might not sell, a promotion may flop… KEEP LEARNING, learn from your mistakes and build on that. Go forward with the ideas of what went wrong and how to overcome that in your future small shop “adventures”.

If you are looking for a creative community where you can find limitless support from like minded creative folks, and you feel you’ve got a great product to offer the world, Gypsy Spoonful is seeking new shop owners, please go to this page and read what we believe about handmade and how we do things. If you vibe with what we’re doing, please fill out an application. We will be screening and vetting applicants for 2019.  Go HERE

 

 

Top 6 Tips To Stretch Your Shopping Dollar This Holiday Season : Tis the Season To Be Smart

Top 6 Tips To Stretch Your Shopping Dollar This Holiday Season This Thursday’s Thoughts turn to how to help our awesome customers at GypsySpoonful stretch their shopping dollars this Holiday shopping season. Nobody wants to go into debt, we all want to maximize the opportunity to make our gift buying budget a little farther – … read more

Top 6 Tips To Stretch Your Shopping Dollar This Holiday Season

This Thursday’s Thoughts turn to how to help our awesome customers at GypsySpoonful stretch their shopping dollars this Holiday shopping season. Nobody wants to go into debt, we all want to maximize the opportunity to make our gift buying budget a little farther – and who knows, if you save enough, you can treat yourself to some well deserved handmade goodness, or a gift card to use at a later date.

Treat Yo Self

Here’s our top 6 tips for the shopper who means business!

1. Many sites will offer a welcome coupon to new visitors on their site, search the site map for it. It may not be publicized widely. (coming soon to GypsySpoonful, YAY!!)

2. Many sites will offer a discount on your first purchase if you sign up for their mailing list. (coming soon to GypsySpoonful as well, woohoo!!)

3. Ask for gift cards for a site for your birthday, Christmas, Channukah,  or any other gift giving occasions, and save your gift cards for when there is a sale, if you sign up for the welcome coupon or the first discount/welcome as well (we call that piling on in the shopping world!)~ Did you know Gypsy Spoonful has a very cool wishlist feature? You can click and add ANY product on the site to your wishlist, so you can direct your family and friends to the handmade GS products you are admiring.

4. Search the terms “Clearance” , “Close Out” , “Discontinued”, “sale” or “discounted” on the site, or do a search engine (such as google) for sites that are going out of business and you may score big!

Top 6 Tips

5. Find out if the site has a loyalty program or an affiliate program where you can earn points or discounts, or even cash back on purchases people you refer to the site. Some sites offer social cred, if you share their products on your social media channels, you can earn points to redeem for merchandise on the site, or bonus gear not available to the general public. (May be in the near future on Gypsy Spoonful)

6. Become a brand enthusiast/influencer. If you love the products, inquire /search and find out if the site has a brand ambassador program. Sites will often give discounted products in exchange for your peer to peer marketing and promotion (which can be as simple as a selfie wearing their clothing, or holding their product and hashtagging the company)~ if you’re interested in becoming a brand ambassador or enthusiast, please email the head Gypsy HERE

Top 6 Tips

I hope that you find these tips helpful while shopping the awesome handmade marketplace, and independently owned and operated small shops on  GypsySpoonful.com. 

We are the new home of handmade where we are un-apologetically handmade with nothing imported and nothing massproduced. We invite you to shop our marketplace, and be sure to drop us a comment on this blog below if you have additional ideas and tips to help fellow shoppers save money and stretch that holiday shopping budget.

Taking Better Product Photos : Guest Blogger Heidi from Stuff N’ Junk By Heidi

Taking Better Product Photos</font color> Hey there! Heidi here from Stuff N Junk by Heidi! I am a long time seamstress, a handmade business Gypsy Spoonful shop owner, a homeschooling mom. What I am not is a photographer. When I was younger I would love taking photos with my 35 mm camera and then collage-ing … read more

Taking Better Product Photos</font color>

Hey there! Heidi here from Stuff N Junk by Heidi!
I am a long time seamstress, a handmade business Gypsy Spoonful shop owner, a homeschooling mom. What I am not is a photographer. When I was younger I would love taking photos with my 35 mm camera and then collage-ing the photos into memory albums, but with the invention of digital cameras (and camera phones) and thanks to a busy life in general, I stopped taking as many photos. I never really learned all of the ins and outs when it came to lighting and camera functions, so when it came time to open my first online shop, my photos were dark, fuzzy and down right horrible! Over the years I have picked up some tips and tricks when it comes to product photos, so today I wanted to share some of the tools and tricks I use and how my photos have “developed” over the years.
Taking Better Product Photos

one of my first “product photos”

Before I had an online shop, I made diaper bags and baby blankets for family and friends. After many years of encouragement, I opened my first shop and my photos were far from appealing. I knew that I needed them to be “light and bright” but I wasn’t really sure where to begin. I didn’t have the extra funds to purchase high-end photography gear and I didn’t know enough about photography to know what a good value would be. My photos were dark, rough and many times blurry.
After very little research, I began mimicking what I thought looked good in other online shops. I started seeing this trend of photos on wood backgrounds. With no understanding of how it all worked, I purchased some scrapbook paper and started taking product photos. Still dark, still out of focus, I was getting frustrated.
Taking Better Product Photos

A first attempt at indirect light. The background is white cotton fabric.

Taking better product photos

Another “early days” photo, background is scrapbook paper.
There are lots of classes and free videos to coach you through photography and editing, but I got lucky and had a little one-on-one help from someone I met on Facebook. With her help, I ordered some vinyl backdrops and got a light kit, I upgraded my cell phone and my photos started getting better.
Taking Better Product Photos

Lights, Camera, Backdrops!

Taking Better Product Photos

Getting ready to take photos with my phone (Galaxy 8 plus)

When it comes to the actual photos, I found that you don’t need an expensive, high-end camera! Most new cell phones today have cameras that are more than capable of getting a good product photo. A few tips I learned along the way:
  1. Take the case off of your phone when taking photos. Many times the case will cause a shadow around your camera lens, causing the photos to be darker than they should
  2.  Clean the lens before and during your photo shoot. The smallest smudge may not be visible when looking at the phone display, but when you go to edit your photos, they will be blurry.
  3. Take lots of photos! The great thing about digital photos is that you can take a lot of photos of the same thing and simply delete the ones that don’t cut it!
Taking Better Product Photos

Photo taken with my camera (Canon, Rebel T6)

Taking Better Product Photos

Photo taken with my phone

Let’s talk photo backgrounds…

There are a lot of opinions about photo backgrounds. Some people will always recommend a solid white background. Some will tell you to use mockups. Lifestyle photos versus flatlays are also something to think about.
So here’s my two cents:
  1. Your photo background should compliment your business aesthetic. Is your logo blue and green? Don’t use a black backdrop… Do you sell wall/home decor? Photographing your products outside on the grass is probably not going to help your customer imagine that piece in their home. No matter how much you sew, a cutting board is not a good backdrop. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on photo backdrops! Vinyl backdrops are a number one choice as they are specifically designed for taking photos. There are many shops now that offer a variety of sizes and styles to give you plenty of options. I have also used contact paper (dollar tree) and scrapbook paper. The downside to the contact paper is that some are glossy and will give a lot of shine behind your product, with scrapbook paper you are a bit limited with regards to size. If you are looking to use a plain white background, poster board can be a great budget-friendly option!
Taking Better Product Photos

My chevron background is 2’x2′ and matches my branding. Vinyl backdrops can come in so many patterns and sizes! The roll is contact paper I picked up from the dollar store.

2) Mock-ups and props. You always want your product to be the main focus of the photo. If you are using props, be sure they complement your product but they really should be a back seat item, never the focus. If you do mockups, be sure that you are clear in your description of what is included with purchase. If I go to a shop filled with digital mockups and no finished products, I generally don’t make the purchase.
3) Lifestyle photos. These can be great to help sell your online items. Since your customer can’t touch or try on your product while shopping, seeing your product in use helps customers imagine that item in their home. I myself and still working on getting lifestyle photos, so be sure to check back for more on this topic!

Lighting, Lighting, Lighting…

I struggle with lighting. I have always struggled with lighting. I feel like no matter what I do, my lighting is just never “right”. How in the world do we get “indirect light”? Although I am still working on getting that perfect lighting down, I do have tools that help!
1) Lightbox! These can be purchased or you can make one yourself. We’ll be doing a lightbox tutorial soon, so be sure to subscribe to the email list! Although I own a lightbox, I don’t use mine much as my backgrounds and products tend to be too large. Whether you are using indirect light or electric lighting, a lightbox helps filter and soften the lighting when taking your photos.
2) Stand lights. I have the light set listed below and I just can’t live without them! My lights have covers, as shown, which helps filter the light coming through so I’m not getting a bright glare on my product and background.
3) Sunlight. I struggled with good old Mother Nature for quite some time. I tried early morning, different afternoon hours, in the shade, outside, inside, nothing seemed to be working! After doing a little research I finally figured out that I needed to be at my living room window between 10 am and noon (your time and place will vary) to get the best indirect lighting for my photos. Even with that, I still use my stand lights to help with angled lighting.
Taking better product photos

I use a combination of indirect sunlight and two light stands.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to product photography is that you want it to represent your business and give your customer the impression they would get if they were standing in your brick and mortar shop.
Thanks so much for visiting the Gypsy Spoonful Blog : “Gypsy Blogful: A Journey In American Handmade”  and feel free to drop a comment or question!
Outside the Blue Diamond

It Takes A Village: A Homeless Blogger in Chicago’s Wrigleyville. Meet Will from OutsideTheBlueDiamond

We’ve all heard the “it takes a village” mantra… but when we examine some of the things which are happening in current socio-political climate in America… I pose the question, do you really believe in the “it takes a village” concept? or is that one of those phrases that gets lip service, or a do … read more

We’ve all heard the “it takes a village” mantra… but when we examine some of the things which are happening in current socio-political climate in America… I pose the question, do you really believe in the “it takes a village” concept? or is that one of those phrases that gets lip service, or a do as I say and don’t do as I do things? What are you doing to participate in YOUR village? Whether you’re reading this in my hometown of Chicago, or you’re my friend Moumita across the world in Kolkata, India, I truly want to know what you are doing to make your village a better place… comments PLEASE!! Outside The Blue Diamond : It Takes A Village</font color>

One morning, while sitting in my comfortable suburban kitchen painted fun purples and lime green~sipping coffee and eating fruit salad for breakfast; I felt the goosebumps rise up on my arms as I held the newsprint in my hands.  My green eyes followed the words on the page, and a tears began to cloud my vision as I read about 49 year old Will in the lifestyle section. He’s a blogger just like me. He has used a wordpress venue to tell his story, to communicate his inner most thoughts, feelings and ideas to the world. Why is this an emotional thing for me, you may wonder? Lots of people use blogs as online journals or diaries about their lives, that’s nothing new!

Well, Will is a man who lives on the streets of Chicago- more specifically, he “lives” on the streets in the neighborhood surrounding the Chicago Cubs ball park, “Wrigleyville”.   He is homeless and has been for the last 7 1/2 years since the love of his life died of cancer. She passed away and he didn’t have the heart to go back to their apartment, and face his overwhelming grief, so as of that day, he became a resident of the streets.

He is not all that much older than me, and most nights, he sleeps on the bench outside the 19th district Police headquarters.  The streets are his home, the concrete sidewalks are his hallways, alleys are his creepy dark basement that you tend to avoid unless you *have* to go down there. The metra bus exhaust is his “scentsy” aroma of the day in his home.  He has decided the street is a better alternative than taking up residency in a homeless shelter.  Yep, there are a lot of  social services available to people like Will… but he’d rather not. He’s not mentally ill, he’s not a vagrant, a panhandler, he’s not an alcoholic or an addict~he’s just an “outside guy” so he says. He spends most of his days in front of the parking garage on Addison near Halsted. We live very different lives, yet I am drawn to him and his story.

Wrigleyville is a trendy urban neighborhood filled with restaurants and bars. Typical Chicago taverns dot the streets and public transit is the mode of transportation for most residents of Wrigleyville. As Will became a staple of the décor of the neighborhood~ soon the hipsters, students, and commuters began noticing Will in his familiar places, first they’d politely nod and he’d nod back. They’d smile and he’d smile back. It wasn’t long before they began talking to him and engaging him in conversation. He became a part of the neighborhood… a part of the village.

Just like most folks in the area, he’s a die-hard Cubs fan and says he “bleeds Cubby Blue” . He says he’s not a talker but since he’s been in Wrigleyville people seek him out and strike up a conversation. As residents began to engage him more often in conversation, they discovered for 49,  he’s lived a full life, loved and lost and he had a lot of things to say.

As the sun began to rise on a chilly morning in April, next to his belongings leaning against a chain link fence, a little cardboard sign appeared, “OutsideTheBlueDiamond.Wordpress.com ” it read.

How does a homeless man, living in the streets begin a blog? well, remember that VILLAGE thing I was talking about earlier? a 20 year old exchange student from Italy, working on her thesis at Northwestern University handed him a notebook and pencil a week after chatting with him, “You should write your story down”.  . . she encouraged him.

As he began to write and to become more comfortable in talking to more people his words began to flow…

“I realize the more people engage me in conversation, I talk more freely, my words come out better, and all this has been really therapeutic for me”

-Will Howard

The exchange student, and Will exchanged phone numbers and she then sent him some tutorials on how to set up a WordPress blog. She helped him to get it all set up, added a banner, a picture and helped with some formatting. Another Wrigleyville acquaintance designed a logo for the blog. Someone else designed a business card for Will’s handyman skills – all that he could upload onto the blog site. Will uses the free computer hours at a community center “The Center on Halsted” to type the blog posts~ of which sometimes, he follows a written rough draft from his original notebook. He explained hitting the “publish” button has become part of his inner healing.

Outside the blue diamond logo

It was in reading how the COMMUNITY… the VILLAGE… the individual people of Wrigleyville came together to help Will start his blog and in turn begin his healing process from the loss of his partner of 14 years that really touched me. It is not easy for people who live comfortable lives, in trendy working class neighborhoods to reach out and embrace a homeless man. There are so many stigmas attached to the persona of a street life.

He writes tales of love, life, thoughts about current events and a lot about his observances of common, everyday life from his very uncommon vantage point.  He says his blog is dedicated to his love, Helen.

As a blogger, I totally understand how writing and blogging can be therapeutic. Sharing ourselves and our ideas can be scary, but if you have the courage to be authentic, a little piece of you goes out into the world with each story. As I sit here and type this blog in my air conditioned living room, sipping a cold diet coke, I think about Will out there in the middle of Wrigleyville scribbling in his notebook~that someone bought for him with their own money, because they cared. I think of him walking down the street going to The Center to type it out, and maybe handing out one of his gifted business cards to a passerby. I will think of him tonight when I lay my head down on my soft pillowcase, and he kicks back on an iron bench outside the P.D. in the humidity and heat.

Outside the Blue Diamond

It truly DOES take a village, I believe in community. I believe in helping other people. This is one of the reasons I’ve set up Gypsy Spoonful the way it has been set up, with community at it’s center. Encouraging, supporting and helping each other in business~ but also in life… and although Will and I lead very different lives, I believe we’ve both been blessed and reaped the rewards of what it means to be a part of a wonderful community.

We need some painting done, I might just give him a call… or drive down to the parking garage at Addison and Halsted and hire him in person.

Outside the blue diamond

To read more about Will and to get to know him better through his writings, go to :OutsideTheBlueDiamond.Wordpress.com

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