A great moment for me at the Calgary Fibre Arts fair: a beautiful knitter in her beautiful Einstein Coat that used my buttons! She purchased the buttons at the Fibre Shindig, then returned to show me the results while she was visiting the Calgary Fibre Arts Fair. Seeing my buttons on projects in the wild always gets me so excited and this lady was so sweet to let me take a photo. #Buttons4Life Einstein coat buttons
Here’s a sneak peek of some of the buttons that came out of the latest kiln firing. This batch was heavy on square beauties since I was completely out of square stock. There are hundreds of unique buttons, but I can’t help but show off some of what I’m packaging up tonight! My favourite glaze combination, this time on swirly squares: For those, like me, that like some fancy added to their knitting, crochet, and sewing projects: My newest glaze which proves again that taking a chance on a new glaze can be a wonderful decision. These are so full of depth and gloss: A lovely group of serene glaze colours that complement the great textures: If you’re in Calgary and you love shiny things, come see these in person Oct 7 or Nov 17! I have many sets of 2-5 that are great for cowls as the chill of autumn reminds us that it’s time to get the needles and hooks going to get our projects ready for the first snowfall. I’m going back to packaging handmade buttons and getting them prepared to find their new homes. Have a great night!
In just under two weeks, we’ll be setting up our wares at The Fibre Shindig in Calgary for their one day sale, and then we gear up for the November 7 Calgary Fibre Arts Fair. Calgary buttons, there shall be! The studio has been a bustle of activity as Jason, Jill, and I turn clay into shiny beauties for our yarny friends. After over a year off for me, the steady activity is welcome. Yesterday morning, Jason fired up a kiln that was stacked to the top with buttons. Last night, the kiln reached temperature, and I popped the plugs to take a peek inside. Doesn’t the kiln look beautiful in the evening light, peep holes glowing red from the molten ware inside? It’s a sight that brings me so much joy. Glazing is my least favourite part of this process since it means painting each little button with several coats of glaze on top and sides, meticulous and monotonous work. The kiln firing means that glazing is finished, and I’m hours away from seeing the results of my labour. We’ll unload the glazed buttons tonight, but I won’t have much time to admire them before it’s time to reload the kiln with whiskey tumblers, Christmas ornaments, bookmarks, and diz. The kiln is working hard for us this month, and I love her for it. Who’d have thunk that this old girl could keep up? While I wait for glazed beauties to emerge for sorting and packaging, I’m working on booth setup and display so that I can bring MORE to the sales. Jason is spending his time between babysitting the kiln, making perfectly balanced whiskey tumblers, and building pegboard spinner displays for our wares. As we were drawing up schematics for the spinners, our 1″ x 1″ gridded whiteboard sheet that we have for gaming came in super handy for planning the perfect setup. Being gaming nerds aligns nicely with our clay love. Time is ticking down! I’ll post some sneak peeks photos when we unload the kiln tomorrow. Stay tuned!
The vast majority of items that I create are sold online, and for that to be a successful venture, my photos have to be eye catching, colour-true, and show every angle for the remote customer. It is incredibly challenging to attempt to capture every angle in 5 photos to give that potential customer enough information so that they’ll be compelled to press the “Add to Cart” button. Each listing has a description however, the photos that display in searches are what will bring a person into the listing, into my shop, and into my “Sold” listing. I started taking product photos (the fancy term for “pictures of my buttons”) while crouching in the garden. When winter hit, and this is Alberta Canada where -20C (-4 F) is the standard, garden photos were difficult because my hands kept freezing. I started procrastinating about photographing my items, my shop started to empty because I wasn’t adding new items and… it was time to research another photography solution. My home is surprisingly lacking in natural light, something I’d never noticed until I had my camera out in an attempt to take these photos inside. As I balanced myself on the only window sill that had the right light, buttons falling everywhere as the precarious setup I was attempting fell over, I decided there had to be another solution. To be honest, I swore quite a bit while crawling about searching for the strewn buttons that had fallen off the box that had been balanced on the back of my couch. THEN I sat back and knew I had to find another way. There was: a light box. These boxes reflect light within, reduce glare, and make for a repeatable set of conditions for taking photos of smaller items. Since researching light boxes, or light tents, I’ve learned about light temperatures, background staging, reflection, and consistency. If someone shows up in the Etsy shop and all of my photos appear slightly different, I’d imagine confidence drops that the photos aren’t really an accurate reflection of the item up for sale. With that in mind, my goal was to 1) make every photo consistent, 2) make every photo true to the item, 3) reduce or eliminate the time I am spending in Photoshop to modify the photos so that they fit goals #1 & #2. With a very limited knowledge of my manual settings on my camera, I set out to learn about using a light box, and how to use my camera to get the best results. My lightbox isn’t anything stellar or spectacular. I used these instructions to build my own DIY lightbox, which recommend a cardboard box, a couple of meters of white cloth, an exacto knife, tape, glue stick, and a large sheet of white bristle board. I’m crafty (I make tiny buttons out of clay!) and it was an easy and inexpensive build. I then added three inexpensive floodlights with 6500K bulbs. The entire setup was so easy to create that I kick myself for not doing it sooner. I set the box up, lights on, used the white bristol board to set the white balance on my camera, and VOILA! Beautiful, true photos of my tiny little buttons that require NO EDITING. No editing means I take photos and upload them without having to spend extra time (aka labour) to edit each photo for colour/brightness. With this, my profit margin moves up a smidge and I don’t have to increase prices. Ode to my lightbox, a saving grace for me.
More photos of buttons in action! Get a load of these adorable little models. (and check out the buttons on those sweaters! They match perfectly!) These sweaters were knit by Tabitha Rose from Harrodsburg, KY using her own hand dyed yarn. I posted photos of these in November however they are even more beautiful when seen in action. From Tabitha: “The yarn was my Wishfox Dyeworks Arctic Fox Aran, and its 100% superwash bfl, squishy and awesome. 182yd/100g. It took less than one skein for the orange sweater, and I used 2 for the brown/teal, but there are substantial leftovers. The orange is approx 2t, and the brown approx 3-4t. I made the patterns up as I went along, but I’m hoping to get them written up sometime soon. I’m a stay at home mother of one from Central KY. I do all the dyeing and fiber processing myself, in my living room and kitchen, and really put my heart into all of it.” January 1, 2013 was Tabitha’s one year anniversary so please visit her online shop and wish her happy anniversary. To celebrate one year in business, she is offering a special January coupon code “YearOne” for 10% off your order. Enter the coupon code at checkout.
Today is glaze firing day! I load the kiln as I finish items so this morning when the last item went in, it was time to crank up the heat and start the cycle. I loaded four shelves that look much like this one: After the horrific failure of the jewelry stand during the last firing leaving pieces permanently fused and nicked, I’ve gone back to glazing only one side of the buttons so they can lay down for glaze fire. Buttons are just as functional with only the showing side fired so I’m at peace with this decision. I wanted to glaze both sides of pendants for the sheer vanity of it however, until I have a new secure jewelry stand for firing, they will also be glazed one side only. I have some mugs, stands, pendants and bowls in this kiln load as well. I don’t know how I’m going to wait for it to be finished. During the third of nine hours of firing, I was closing the top vent and took this photo for your viewing pleasure. Looks toasty, doesn’t it?: I’m counting down the hours to unpack this baby tomorrow evening! I guess it’s time to go straighten up the neglected house while I wait.
After the buttons, pendants and other pieces have gone through the kiln once, it’s time for glazing. I spend an embarrassingly long time in this stage: THE SORTING. I lay pages with glaze names and I start to sort the 400-500 buttons. They are separated into sets based on their thickness, pattern and, well, my gut. As I group them with their permanent partners, I look at the glaze sheets and try to find where each set fits. Some glazes show off my stamp and texture detail, others mix better with others, some glazes serious, some playful. Some very popular (hello MidRain!) so I weigh the sorting in its favour. A glaze or two might be new so I’m cautious to be sure I’m not assigning too many sets to an untested glaze. Some pieces I have made with a very specific glaze combination in mind and I check my notebook to separate these correctly. Once they’re all sorted, my notes double checked, my list of custom orders verified, I take a photo of the table and I go to bed. Goodnight little buttons. Glazing begins tomorrow!
You know what I love? What brightens my day? What makes me giggle with joy? Photos of my buttons in action is my high: These buttons are part of the “oak series”, created with a stamp inspired by an oak leaf. I am thrilled at how perfectly they match and how delicious they look on this sweater pair created by the talented Tabitha at WishFox DyeWorks. The yarn colours are so rich and beautiful! If you’re in the market for luscious yarn, please go visit her on Etsy. What are you waiting for? Go take some photos of Chasing Fire buttons, bookmarks, pendants or whatever I’ve made that you’re loving and send them to me! Thanks Tabitha – you made my week with these darling sweaters. -Cara