Tag Archives: tips

Preparing objects for embedding in resin

I’ve had a few people recently ask me about what can or can’t be embedded in resin, and how they should go about preparing the items ready for use in resin, so I thought I’d share some information that should hopefully help in your experiments!

Paper
For best results, print the image on photo paper and leave 24 hours to thoroughly dry. You can often embed it like this straight away, but for extra caution, seal the image with PVA glue. This will stop the greasy blotch marks appearing that can spoil the work you’re doing.

Shrink Plastic
Shrink first and leave to cool. Spray with a couple of coats of car lacquer to seal the image, leaving half an hour between each coat.

Polymer Clay
Bake in the oven first to set the colour and shape as the heat from the exothermic reaction when the resin is setting might affect the look you’re going for. You shouldn’t need to varnish, simply embed them once cool.

Flowers and leaves
These need to be dried out first as resin hates water! You can bury them in silica gel for a few days (depending on the specimen type) for best results, or with some small blooms you can put them in a dark, dry cupboard or drawer for a few days instead. You could also press the flowers first.

Insects
Spray butterflies and moths with hairspray from about a foot away to seal their dusty wings. For beetles, clean with acetone to remove the natural oils, then once dry dip in uncatalysed resin and leave overnight to drain.

Coins, stones and shells
Clean with detergent and leave to dry. To make the coins shiny again, use acetone with steel wool to remove the oxidation. Once dry, dip in uncatalysed resin and leave overnight to drain.

Successful marketing strategies

A quick business related post to give you food for thought today, this time on effective marketing according to the Fournaise Marketing Group. The study looked at low and high GDP growth countries, but for the purpose of this blog entry I will give you the low GDP growth country information only, which applies to North America, the UK and Australia.

So here’s the top 10, draw from this what you will, hopefully it will give you a few pointers on how to develop your craft business marketing strategies next!

1) Direct Marketing – Newsletters and targeted mail outs. I would probably include samples for craft fair goody bags here as I would argue that you are specifically targetting the craft buying market. These are postal only results, not e-mail- we’ll get to that later.

2) Public Relations – Keep your customers happy for repeat purchases!

3) Newspapers – Perhaps not the most relevant, but if youcan get a product in the newspaper for review in a Saturday/Sunday supplement that would set you off to the big time. On a smaller scale think getting a feature in your local paper about your business.

4) Online E-mails – E-mail newsletters.

5) Online Paid Search Ads – Stuff like Facebook ads and Google Adwords.

6) Online referrals – Think link swaps, blog posts etc.

7) Online Display Ads – Adverts on other sites such as Project Wonderful.

8) TV – Not a hope in hell with this one for crafters really!

9) Online Rich Media – YouTube videos, podcasts…

10) Outdoor – Not that I expect you to be able to pay for billboard adverts, but maybe the odd car sticker may work!

As we’re now in 2009, things have probably moved on a little, I would imagine that online methods are becoming more trusted and clickable as people become less fearful of the Internet and E-commerce is growing and growing. For online shop owners and those with Etsy shops for instance, this is probably very welcome news!

Oh and here’s a picture of me at said successful craft fair as per my last post- my stall came together quite effectively in the end!

Visual Merchandising

I was reading Garden Trade News at work today and the feature on merchandising the gift department caught my eye. Some of this is very relevant to craft stalls and I thought I’d share.

1) Display items in groups of three with clear lines. Apparently this psychologically appeals in a “one must be better than the other” way even if they’re the same product. I also personally believe odd numbers are easier on the eye, so three works well here.

2) Repetitive display of multiple products accounts for the bulk of sales, but with some items it is hard to do this with when relating to the craft fair.  Keep it eye catching with deliberate asymmetrical or symmetrical arrangements, band your colours if possible, and on a more simple level, don’t try and put all of your eggs in one basket- stick to a theme of clothes, or jewellery or glassware, don’t make your table look like a jumble sale stall.

3) Composition is crucial. The magazine advises organising the display to have a focal point at eye level, which then leads the eye further along your stall. So in craft terms, make an interesting centrepiece to grab attention, even if it’s not something you’d actually sell. I’m thinking of making a big resin guitar for example!

4) Cleanliness and uniformity. Keep the table looking organised, even as things sell or people pick up your items. Keep some things under the table to fill in the gaps.

I have started looking at my table layout as I’m not happy with it, I’ve created a layout incorporating shelves to group themed items (seaside, fabric, etc) together (in threes) rather than all necklaces together or all rings together, for example. The differing heights also encourage people to look at everything as they can’t skim across the stall just at their eyeline, which helps keep people at your table for longer. Some people use boxes under their tablecloths and other techniques for this. I have tried to keep a rummage factor by keeping some of my necklace arms, as some people do like looking through (which is why TK Maxx is successful!), bargain hunting as it were.

I still need a centrepiece, and another display cushion on the top shelf and some of the signage has got a bit tatty, but it’s coming together nicely. Still a work in progress! Quite proud of my lighting system on my shelving though!

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!