Desert Bus Thank You

Last year I made an epic TARDIS blanket that I donated to Desert Bus to raise money for the Child’s Play charity.

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Recently I received a lovely little bit of post from the Desert Bus team.

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I knew how much I’d raised.  I noted it in this blog post at the end of Desert Bus last year.    But seeing it written in front of me, by the team themselves, gave me a super big thrill of happiness.  I’m so pleased that something I do can make such a big impact on the world, especially on children, and extra especially for such a nerdy use.

The coin is the official Desert Bus Dubloon.

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I have been accepted as a craft-along participant this year, and what I’m making is much much smaller and easier to post.  I’ll show you what I’m making when I’ve finished it.  (Sneaky attempt to bring readers back to blog).

Desert Bus is, as usual, in November but the dates aren’t released yet.

Disillusionment and Diversification

I have depression.  I don’t hide it, I’m not ashamed of it, but I try not to make this blog too much about it.  But it’s hard to talk about this topic without mentioning the depression.  Maybe without the depression it probably wouldn’t even be an issue.  Actually, it almost definitely wouldn’t be.

I struggle a lot with self-worth.  I worry that when I post my art on Twitter people are annoyed by it.  I worry that the reason I don’t have many followers is because I’m just not interesting enough.  I struggle with pessimistic thoughts.  I become convinced that this whole endeavour is completely pointless.  Why do I do it?  Why do I worry so much about the prolonged gaps between blog posts?  Why do I bother trying to sell the things I make?  Is it going to go anywhere?  Will I spend the rest of my life writing blog posts that no one will read and paying fees for Etsy with no profit from it?

I love crafting.  It’s not just a hobby for me.  It keeps my brain distracted enough to ignore the depression.  It’s not 100% foolproof, but without crafting (and now art) I’d have descended into blubbering lunacy many years ago.  But beyond that, I enjoy learning new skills.  I enjoy researching all the methods and tutorials and inspirations that I collect.  I enjoy making a complete mess.  I enjoy finishing a project and that little thrill of “I Made This?!” excitement.  And I enjoy selling the things I make.  If I didn’t sell them, my house would be over run.  But I actively enjoy selling them.

At the moment, 90% of my profits come from attending multiple school fairs a year and selling my products to kids.  School fairs mean going outside, and subjecting myself to a lot of people.  In the summer it means sitting in blazing sunlight for hours at a time.  It means opening myself up to rejection and ridicule.  All things that terrify me.  And in the days running up to each fair I am a mess.  I am anxious and terrified and sick and convinced that I’m not going to be able to do it.  Once I’m there though, when I have the first little kid come up and tell me that my mini aliens are adorable, or get excited to see Pokemon on the badges I make, it’s worth it.  It’s worth it when kids drag their friends over to my stall and say “this is where I got that cute bunny”.  It’s worth it when kids come back year after year to buy another alien for their collection.  It’s worth it when kids come back to the table every ten minutes to have another look.  I don’t make a lot money.  But it’s worth it.

I want that joy to spread online.  I’ve had a few sales online.  Some of them have even been to people who aren’t family or friends.  But again, not a lot.  I want so much to expand Crafted By Colette.  To get more widespread, more well known.  I don’t want to be a millionaire (although I wouldn’t say no), but it would be nice to be able to make a living this way.

And I try.  I have Deviant Art, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Etsy, Patreon… and as they keep popping up I’m sure I’ll set up accounts on other platforms.  I try to post regularly.  I’m getting better at using hashtags.  I try to cross promote – although I always forget to do that.  But I get disillusioned.  Very much so.  Why do I bother?  I have less than 100 followers on each platform.  Lots of those are the same people.  I have one Patron, and that is a friend.  I don’t want to be one of those people who obsesses over their follower count, but I worry that I’m not expanding my viewership, and that I’m going to be festering at these low levels forever.

I wonder what the point is.  Why do I try?  Why do I have so many accounts?  Is there any point?  What’s wrong with just having a Twitter, and my website?  And I guess the answer is that there isn’t anything wrong with that.  It’ll be even harder to build a following, but there’ll be less to deal with.  I’d like one day to have the store on the website – eliminating the need for Etsy.  Especially now with Etsy making really bad decisions for the sellers.  But with no following, no internet trust, there would be even less sales than I get online now.  And so many people only use Instagram, or only use Facebook.  To reach as many people as possible I have to have as many accounts as possible.  How do people cope with this?  I know big companies hire social media teams, but that’s not exactly an option for me.

I’m not entirely sure what the point of this blog post is.  I have these thoughts.  I can either sit and think and over think and worry and then in a moment of depressive panic I can delete all my accounts and disappear from the internet.  Or I can express them to the few followers I have.  So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m worried.  I’m worried about why I bother, about whether things will ever get better.  (In life as well as in craft/internet).

What should I do to promote myself more?  Are there accounts I don’t have that I should do?  Would narrowing it down actually be better?  Am I doing perfectly fine and need to stop worrying?  What are your thoughts?

Working with Resin

One of the crafts that I have wanted to master – both for personal curiosity and for the store – is casting with resin.  Over the last couple of years I have dabbled a few times with both the type of resin that needs mixing and then leaving to cure, and UV resin.

I have the pictures, but for some reason I don’t appear to have any notes.

My very first attempt worked really well.  I used two part resin – I have no idea of the different types of resin, I really should look into that.  I know I used two part resin because I remember having to make more items than I’d planned because there was just so much resin!

I went with purple and glittery.  Because purple.  And because glitter.

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In that picture I sorted the letters into things that worked and things that didn’t.  In the letters, you can kinda see that the glitter all kinda went down to the bottom of the mold.  It doesn’t look bad, it’s just an observation.

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Even the letters that didn’t work were just where there was excess resin, and I easily clipped those off.

I don’t remember much at all about the other pictures I have, but here’s what I can work out…

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At first glance I assumed I’d made these at the same time as the buttons and letters, because of the purple and the glitter, but some of the hexagons don’t have as much glitter.  I can tell that this was me trying out putting different things in resin.  I tried and failed to fill the little gaps in the birdcage charm with resin.  I think you can see little bits of white glitter.  And you can see where I ran out of resin with the second piece from the left on the middle row (next to the birdcage).

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I’m not sure what was going on here but there are LOTS of errors.  A great big air bubble, resin not spread full to the edges, resin overflowing.  I don’t know what I used to make those little rainbow stars but it was obviously not something colour fast.  But looking back on my experiments is kinda interesting.

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This piece on the left is one of those 3d style molds where you can’t really see all of it.  Apparently I need to be more careful to make sure the resin goes in all the little nooks – especially the ones that create the pendant loops.  I quite like the square.  I wonder where I put that?

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I remember some of these.  A lot of these were me testing what tape to use behind the open bezels.  As you can tell by the massive mess in the bottom right, I tested badly.  That “bag” of purple on the bottom left is actually a block of cured resin – because I think I got frustrated and didn’t know what to do with the left over resin.

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These were more experiments with what to put in resin, but I don’t seem to have pictures of the cured pieces.

I don’t know which pieces it was, but I have tried UV resin.  I got a UV torch, which I found to be highly ineffective.  It’s possible – probable, in fact – that it was user error, but I couldn’t get the pieces to cure properly.

As usual, when I didn’t immediately master a craft, it got pushed aside.  I got frustrated and upset and put it aside to come back to at a later point.  And by “aside” I mean that it all got thrown in my Cupboard of Incomplete Projects.  I have every intention of getting back around to it at one point.

Recently I’ve found my interest in resin renewing itself.  I bought some more UV resin.  I bought some more open bezels.  I bought a proper UV nail lamp.  And I haven’t done anything with them.

But since Makerly’s June box (which I didn’t get, curses!) was Pressed Flower Resin Jewellery, the resin-curiosity has been slowly boiling in my head.  I didn’t have time in June to do anything about it really, because I was selling my wares at three seperate school fairs.

And then SoCraftastic did a YouTube video.

I have spent the days since I saw that video reading resin blogs, and purchasing more charms and more tape and more resin, and searching Pinterest for inspiration, and watching countless YouTube videos for hints and hacks and tips.

The interest in resin is most definitely reignited!  I will shortly be heading back into it, and I promise to take notes this time.  In theory there’ll be a blog post in the next month or so, but I say that a lot, and I have a folder of many many blogs waiting to be written.

If you’re super eager to see what happens, nag me about it.  Either comment here, or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Tiny Drawings

During her Twitch stream a couple of weeks ago the wonderful SamBeAwesome was doing some teeny tiny paintings.  She was preparing to enter a Mini Masterpiece competition on the art supplies website Dick Blick.

I was ineligble to enter that competition, because I don’t live in the US, but I am extremely susceptible to suggestion and so I started doing some tiny drawings of my own.

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To begin with I had no problem at all.  None of my pieces are massive anyway, and I tend to draw small.

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Not to mention that none of my work is very complicated.  Especially the monsters.

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I could have done something more complex, but I was supposed to be working on another project and didn’t want to spend all night on this. (Spoiler: I did spend all night on it.)

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I tried to get as much detail in them as I could.  Like the shading.

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At this point I was beginning to wonder if this was perhaps small enough.  Maybe I could stop here.  1.25 x 1.25cm is pretty damn small.  But it’s not a round number.  I had to do at least one more.

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I really should have stopped using the white gel pen before this point.  The nib is way too big.

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My eyes were starting to hurt, but I had to see how small I could go.

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This is where I lost all definition.  You can only barely tell what it is.  I’d like to think I could do a better job if I wasn’t doing it late at night when I was already tired.  I may have another go at it.  And I may see if I could go even smaller.  Maybe.

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Go check out Sam’s twitter to see what she did.  My favourite is this rainbow planet.

Hama, Interrupted

It’s been a while since I’ve done any Hama pieces.  Hama, for those who don’t know, are also known as Perler beads.  You build the pattern you like, then iron them to fuse them together.

I have several hundred pictures of ideas from various sources online, and I’d like to say I’ll get around to them all one day, but I probably won’t.  I found a really cute cherry blossom tree recently though, and that inspired me to get my beads out.

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It has that slit down the middle so that you can make two, and slide them together to make a 3D tree.  Like the Christmas tree ones I make and sell.

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The picture only showed one side, but I knew it would be easy enough to work out a second side.  And so I picked out my colours.

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I didn’t quite have the right shades.  It didn’t bother me too much for the trunk, but I did wish I had a lighter pink.

And then I started placing my beads.  Hama is a strange craft.  It’s theraputic and relaxing placing each bead one at a time, but also there’s a constant thrill that comes with the risk of a pet knocking the board over.  This has been done before.  And will probably be done again.

I did the trunk and started on the cherry blossoms.  Lots of blossoms.  And then I began to suspect that while I might have enough of the second pink shade to complete the first side of the tree, I didn’t think I’d have enough for the second side.

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And so I gave up.  For now.  I took it all apart and returned the beads to their boxes.  I haven’t given up for good though.  I’m going to see if I can find a paler pink, and then have another go.

Scrawlr Box

Last week the April Scrawlr Box came through my letter box.  So I decided I should probably write a blog post about the March box.

For those who don’t know, Scrawlr Box is a monthly art subscription box.  And it’s a load of fun.  The boxes are sized to fit right through your letter box, so no fussing with post offices.

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Each month you get practically all the supplies you need for an art project.  As well as a postcard with a print from a featured artist, who used the same sort of supplies as in the box.

This month came with a line art of the print too, for us to colour in.

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From here the lighting gets a little better in my pictures because I actually opened my living room curtains.

In the March box there was some Staedtler Super Soft coloured pencils…

…a jumbo graphite pencil, a Koh-I-Noor woodless white pencil, a Derwent Burnisher, a Derwent Blender, a V Ball pen…

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…an A5 sketchbook with a pretty shiny purple cover…

…and a double hole sharpener.  Scrawlr Box also sends a different sweet every month, and a sticker with their logo on.  Recently the stickers have been designed to reflect the mediums in the box.

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You also get a card with all the details of the items in the box.

A lot of people, me included, like to leave this til last.  That way taking the supplies out of the box is more of a surprise.

The bottom of that second page is the monthly challenge.  The art print, combined with the rainbow of pencils, inspired me and I had an idea right away.  But first we have to swatch.

The Blender and Burnisher confused me a little.  I have a nice full set of Faber-Castell Polychromos, but I don’t really know how to make the best of them.  I want to learn though, and this Scrawlr Box has definitely reignited that desire.

And so on to the Enchantress.  You don’t HAVE to do the challenge of course, but as I said, I was inspired for this one.

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I didn’t intend for her to be snarling like that, but I haven’t done too many mouths yet so I’m not too good at them.  I did use the Burnisher though, and there is definitely a difference.

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I’m not sure the effect is worth the aching wrist though.  On to the hair.  The hair was what I was looking forward to most.  I used the blender a bit too, and it looks good but I’m not sure if I did it right.

When I’d done all the hair I went over it with the Burnisher, and outlined a little more in the black pen.  I really like how it turned out, but I wish I’d managed to not have her snarling.  I’ll have to do some mouths practice.

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And because the coloured pencils were supposed to be as good on black paper as they are on white, I did a little robot too.

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Okay, time to open April’s box.  I’ll try and blog about it before May’s arrives.

 

 

 

 

 

Patreon Launch

So that big thing that I’ve been alluding to?  Patreon!

I discussed recently about the plans that I have for Crafted By Colette.  One of those plans has always been to set up a Patreon one day.  I wanted to wait until I had a little bit of a bigger following.  But with the upcoming changes in their fees, Patreon have pushed my hand a little.

So in recent weeks I’ve been revamping my branding a little, and prepping my Patreon page.

I designed a series of monsters who will represent my tiers:

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Each monster has a different tier, with costs from $1 to $25.  And each one comes with juicy perks.

Amongst the perks on offer are free mini alien plushies…

 

…the chance to help me decide what to make/draw with polls like this…

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…monsters designed especially for you, free badges and art prints.

I’ll also be doing a monthly raffle for a Patron to win a free 6×4″ art print of any of my work they like.

Plus, I’ll be writing a Patron blog post every month.  In the post I’ll list and thank each and everyone of my Patrons, and pick 1 or 2 to highlight.  If they have projects they want me to feature, plug or review I’ll do that too.

There’ll be lots of freebies and fun stuff going on.  I have lots and lots of ideas.  If there’s anything you want to see, please comment and let me know.

Go over and become a Patron.  The first 10 new Patrons – at whatever tier – will get a handwritten personal letter and doodle from me.