Tag Archives: crafts

Crafteroo magazine- get it now (cos it’s awesome)

Issue 1's cover!

As some of you will know already, a few of us over on the Crafteroo forum have got together to work on a new project- Crafteroo Magazine! We’re very excited about this, because not only should it drive more traffic our way, but also it should help us raise revenues for hosting, advertising and even craft challenges to make the forum even better!

The first issue is officially on sale TODAY! It only costs £1.50, has 17 craft projects and some great business ideas as well as being an interesting read- so hopefully you will find it terrific value for money. I dare you to not like it- we have spent months putting it together and everyone has workedso well to bring their different skills and knowledge to the project, all for free which is very generous.

Here are the contents… (click to enlarge)

If you’re sold on the idea, then the instructions on how to get your copy are HERE.

Please come and support us!


UK Etsy Challenge

Every month, a craft challenge is run on Flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/uketsychallenge/ with a theme for each month. The idea is simple, you make something (anything!) as long as it fits that month’s theme, upload it to the Flickr group and then a poll is run on Etsy to decide the winner.

My entry for Childhood Memories earlier in the year

My entry for "Childhood Memories" earlier in the year

Rather appallingly, no one enterred last month, so hopefully there will be a surge of entries this month to make up for it, it would be a great shame to lose the group as it has been running for a couple of years now. The only condition for entry is that it’s for UK crafters with an Etsy shop.

This month’s theme is “London” and I have an idea to make a cuff bracelet already! Come and join us!

199 post giveaway!

I’ve had 199 posts in under a year and to celebrate I’m having a giveaway! Rather than wait until I’ve had 200 posts, I need your help in solving a problem that’s been going around my head this afternoon…

For your chance to win, I need a comment on this post with a suggestion for a name for my craft workshops. These workshops will run in evenings and weekends and teach a variety of crafts and skills by a variety of skilled tutors, from my farmhouse home in rural(ish) Leicestershire. I was thinking Rothley Contemporary Crafts, but ideally I’d like a mix of contemporary and traditional, so that won’t work. I also want a name that says what I do, so calling it “The Craft Atelier” isn’t hugely obvious to Joe Public. So I need your suggestions, from the simple and obvious, to wacky and original! The winner will be judged by myself based on the best name suggested, and who knows, I might just use it!

The prize will be tailored to the winner, based on their favourite colours, hobbies, etc, but you are guaranteed a piece of jewellery, some sweeties and some craft materials (if you craft) inside a lovely PennyDog tote bag! *cue OOOOH from the audience*

The competition is open for a week, so you have until midnight Thursday 4th June (GMT) to get commenting, and a winner will be announced shortly after- good luck!

Lilliecup Green

I’ve been wanting to blog about this place for a little while now, but my cameraphone is completely useless at communicating with any other device, so I had to go back and take some pictures with an actual camera last weekend.

Lilliecup Green aims to stock 90% handmade (Gina- the lady who runs it- also makes her own soft furnishings, which may come in useful when we move!) and is based at Breedon Priory, Breedon-on-the-Hill, Leicestershire in a couple of conservatories next to the Garden Centre.

I seem to be having some success there already and my goods have only been on display for a few weeks, which is great news. She also stocks buttons and accessories from Incy Wincy Stitches, though we’ve yet to bump into each other there accidentally 🙂

It’s quite a small shop that sells everything from balloons to curtains, money boxes to soaps, and a new room is in development (and nearly finished!) which will showcase creative painting techniques for the home, with a secondary building located across the car park which holds painted furniture.

There are interesting collectable stalls on the site every weekend, as well as a knitting shop (which also stocks my knitting needles), old fashioned sweet shop and other little independent retailers dotted around. Please go for a visit, it’s a nice afternoon out, but please note thatr most shops are closed Monday and Tuesday.

Make 50: Week 13 – Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve and Rothley Contemporary Crafts!

Something came to my head whilst walking the dog this morning so I knocked up a quick prototype. I was basically thinking about bracelets with heart on with photos in for a “Wear your heart on your sleeve” range and promotion, and I was thinking about a cufflink range for men with a similar idea. Then I thought I could combine the two by making a shirt cuff for a bracelet and having the heart as a cufflink fastener, so I duly learned to sew buttonholes!

This is the prototype, though I plan to go charity shopping for old “real” shirt fabric, and make these to order with keepsakes/photos/stuff inside the resin piece, as well as some off-the-shelf ones. I used a heart piece I had lying around so I am aware the colours don’t go, but what do you think of the concept- will it work?

The outside fabric is cotton, reinforced with interfacing and backed with felt. The cufflink is entirely detachable (so you can swap and change and design your own style within the range once it gets going).

Also, big news- I’m moving house! We are soon to pay the deposit on a part 13th Century farmhouse with pig sty and “cheese roome”, with some milking sheds too, so I am planning on holding crafting workshops now that I have a designated studio and shop/showroom space as you enter the front door! The plan is for the house entrance to be via the courtyard at the rear and the shop to be through the front entrance. It’s all very exciting! If you would like to teach workshops here (based opposite the old green in the large village of Rothley not too far from Leicester) on evenings and weekends every once in a while- or even a one off- in a contemporary craft for either adults or kids, please contact me with your project ideas, how long it will take and hourly wage. Once this gets underway I am happy to deal with the marketing and promotion of your workshop, and discuss material costs and extra facilities necessary.

The sort of thing that I’m looking for is candle making, soap making, kids jewellery, silversmithing, felt jewellery, textile art, embroidery, plush toy making, eco crafts, simple homewares, bag making, tailoring and basically anything else you think I have missed off- I have resin casting covered though thanks 😉

Now for a name, I’m toying with “Rothley Contemporary Crafts” but not sure if this is too boring, so accepting ideas for this too!

How to write a press release

There are various articles on the net about writing press releases, but I thought I’d share a guide on how I’ve done it (with success) specifically with a crafts business in mind. There’s more than one way to skin a cat though, so feel free to adapt this or disagree with me on any of the following points! To begin with, make sure you have a story. I aim to write a press release every two months (and fail miserably!) on something genuinely interesting, such as a product no one else offers, some charity work or a success story. Don’t write one for each new style of earrings you make, or aim to have one a week as editors will get bored of you very quickly and will disregard all of your stories as soon as they see your name, no matter how interesting they are.

1) Header
Put your company logo at the top of the page. Sounds silly, but this is your corporate identity and it will look more professional! Below this, date when the release is valid from, I tend to just put “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” here as there’s no time like the present! You should also include your contact details at the top. Keep it brief, it’s not like writing a letter, I format mine like this:

Contact: Kerry Wilkinson

Telephone: 07*********

E-mail: kerry@penny-dog.co.uk


2)  Title

You need something catchy here to catch the editor’s eye. Magazine and newspaper (and even some blogs) editors and sub-editors don’t always have the time to read a full press release, so the snappier and more intriguing it is, the more likely it is to be read. Make sure it is relevant though and definitely no more than 15 words.


3) Sub-header

Describe your title a little more here, think about how you want to pitch the product or idea you are trying to sell. For example, my latest title and sub-header was this:


Introducing a new line of customisable resin knitting needles for gifts


4) Writing the main text

First simple point- write in the third person. Make sure your opening paragraph sums up your story so that the reader can get a quick idea what is going on. If you think about newspaper articles and how they are written, this will give you good grounding, for example they summarise the story in the first paragraph in case there is a big news story that takes up more page space and stories have to be cut. They simply take off a paragraph at a time from the bottom of the less important story to free up room. Also with newspapers in mind, they tend to report factual information (or at least pretend to depending on the paper you read!) in statement form. Do this too. You can enhance the sentences a little with some select adjectives, but, seriously, limit them.


Include any useful background information about your company, when you set up, who runs it, your mission statement, even a quote from yourself (or other business member) if you dare! The following may or may not be useful to include depending on what your story is about:

  • location
  • manager
  • price range
  • measurements/length
  • date
  • product ranges
  • colours
  • charity number
  • age
  • turnover
  • money raised
  • stockists
  • time taken
  • materials used

And there are many more things such as the above which may be useful to include. Don’t write more than a page though, I hate this phrase but less truly is more here.


5) Images

Feel free to illustrate your press release with a choice photo or two. I like to put these below the sub header but there’s no hard and fast rule except that you should make sure the image is of a good quality suitable for printing and that the image is clearly illustrated. A picture paints a thousand words as they say, good or bad. And you definitely want to make a good impression!


6) Closer

I’m sure there’s a better word than “Closer” but that’s what I call it. Once you have finished your main text, you need to start a new paragraph, put three #s in to signify the end of the story (some people write “ENDS” instead) and then put your contact details in- yes, again. You can elaborate further on your contact details previously mentioned, for example this is what mine looks like:


If you would like further information on PennyDog, its policies and products, please contact Kerry Wilkinson to arrange an interview on 07********* (after 6pm). Alternatively, please e-mail kerry@penny-dog.co.uk, all enquiries will be dealt with within 24 hours.


7) Done!

Make sure you edit your work. There’s nothing worse than noticing something embarrassing after it has already gone out. Research who you want to send this to (though I imagine you’d have done this before sitting down to write anyway), either by e-mail or post. You can also upload your press releases to online depositories. I use PRlog.com, but there are loads more and you can use more than one.

Make 50: Week 11 and Time for Tea!

Technically, this is week 12, but I missed last week, and I’m still on track for 50 things, so… never mind! Apologies for the photo quality today, still bonkers busy round here!

This is my item, which was made for the main item in the Time for Tea Swap with Jen (http://purplejenknits.blogspot.com), it has green tea leaves embedded inside, with tea bag, tea cup and teaspoon charms. I’ve just read on her blog that she likes it, hurray!

I also made her some purple knitting needles as her “crafty” item, along with some buttons I bought from my favourite button-dealer, Gill from Hollingdale Designs (http://hollingdaledesigns.folksy.com).

And in return I got…

A knitted tea caddy, which will come in useful for work and a teacosy, but actually fits my head as a rather cool hat! I got some great fabric and buttons and beads to use too, I think the fabric was a batik that Jen may have even done herself! I also got a selection of Earl Grey tea and some long-eaten Jelly Belly beans. I think Jen must have read about my previosu swap since these beans are my favourites and they came with my favourite brand of buttons too!

Thank you Jen!

Some more reviews…

I thought I’d share some more feedback for my book to “big up ma bad self”. If you want a copy, you know the drill by now- http://www.penny-dog.co.uk and click on books. You know you want to. By the way, the sequel is in the idea stage with a working title of “Further Adventures in Resin Jewellery”.

Anyway, let’s get down to business!

” Thank you! This book will be a perfect gift. :)”
– Ieva

” Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Well worth the wait of a preorder! If you are into crafting and want to pick up working with resin this book is a great choice!”
– Heather

”Great book, thanks! I’m excited to try some of the things.”
– Lisa

”Fantastic book. Thanks so much!”
– Fiona

Selling in a recession…

OK I’m no expert, and I may be teaching some of you to suck eggs, but the recession we are in is a worrying time as small and large businesses are closing down everyday and people are spending less money. As a crafter and businesswoman, this does seem a little alarming, but I am fighting through it, and with relative ease.

This month I have made a 100% profit on December’s sales, and a 500% increase since I started selling in August 2008. How? Well I believe people are still spending a little disposable income and buying impulsively. My main sellers have been preorders of my book, granted, but a lot of my sales towards the end of the month were unexpected Etsy sales. The key to tapping into the impulse market is to have items at £15 or less. These are still not deemed too expensive to be a little treat. This is my biggest point, but here’s some others.

Cash in on Valentine’s day. If you’re a jeweller, play up your imitation (or real!) diamonds. My “get your girl a big rock” initiative (image below) is really working.

Also remember that advertising is still essential in a recession. There are still adverts on TV for non-essential air fresheners for example. Most crafted goods are non-essentials, but with the right marketing, they can still sell, and well. My biggest earner has been through Facebook ads. It has increased my hits by 70% to my own site this month. Different things will work for different people.  Advertising also taps into a future market when things pick up again.

Offer custom order items. I have had a huge amount of interest in this department recently (to the point where I’ve run out of resin and desperately waiting for another delivery) as I create keepsake necklaces. For example, I’ve made one from horsehair (see below). By posting these on Flickr I have generated further interest and revenue.

The “make do and mend” ethic is huge right now, especially in the media, and this has given crafts a huge amount of publicity which can only be a good thing. People do want to make things themselves, so offer kits for sale in your shop for those who don’t want the finished article, and want to join in on the movement. Writing articles for magazines is also a nice little earner that falls in with this. The contact details are usually in the inside cover, just e-mail a picture to the editor and if they like it, they will commission you to write a how to!

If you are, like me, in the UK, get those international sales going. The pound is so weak right now that at the time of writing $1.35= £1, rather than $2 as it was early last year. That means you are getting a lot more money through currency conversion if you are selling on venues such as Etsy- result!

And last, but most importantly, think positive. If you think you can make your business succeed when times are tight, you will. And then things get a hell of a lot easier after then!

Interview with… Meridian Ariel


Apryl is a lovely lady with a taste for everything rustic and primitive Americana. She can lend herself to many different crafts, jewellery, illustration and embroidery, but these themes are prevalent throughout.


Who are you and where do you come from?
I’m Apryl Lowe, an anthropology/Art student dropout from California turned illustrator, turned blogging crafter, and geek, with a few stops in between. I was born in New York State and grew up in Northern California. For the past decade I have lived in Derbyshire with my husband and our incredibly industrious and inventive five year old Jedi Knight in training, and two cats.

What do you do in your spare time other than craft?
I love to cook and bake, experimenting with various recipe combinations. I have apparently developed a following for my brownies and cupcakes at my son’s school. Good to know that there is something to fall back on if this crafting lark doesn’t pan out. I’m also  movie and sci-fi/horror novel geek, and have the coke bottle glasses to prove it. And I drink copious amounts of coffee, my vice of choice next to dark chocolate.

Please tell us a little bit about what you make.
I play about with  a lot of different craft mediums, semi-precious beaded jewellery, illustrations on vintage story book pages, I knit simple objects(patterns are beyond my meagre brain comprehension) , and this past few months I have been teaching myself embroidery and sewing.

What do you enjoy making most?
Right now I’m really enjoying playing about with fabrics and paper, and learning to sew simple objects.

What part do you dislike the most?
Can I say the self promotion aspect of crafting? I’m terrible at selling myself and my creations, I can only hope that they speak for themselves.

What are your main inspirations for making a piece?
I draw inspiration from everything around me, the books I read, the movies I watch, my dreams, and my daydreams when doing the housework, Domestic Goddess I am not. I find that I am inspired by my crafty friends and the work of fellow crafters in the blogging and crafting community, sometimes all it takes is to see someone use a colour or bead or piece of fabric and my thoughts spiral in new directions.

Do you plan out your designs or do you get stuck in straight away when inspiration strikes?
I try to plan out my crafts but when inspiration strikes sometimes you just need to go with the flow and make what feels right with what is inspiring. I always carry a notebook with me wherever I go, so that when inspiration strikes I can scribble down my thoughts and little doodles.

What are you currently making?
At the moment I have been playing with mixed media art, combining fabric and vintage book paper with ink, paint, and card. I have also found a passion in sewing small lavender and rice filled warm bags, and a slight obsession with owls. Hopefully some of these works with filter through to my etsy shop.

Where to buy…