Aaaaargh– Taking Photos Makes me Go ARRRRRRGH

I love, love, love making things, which is why I so rarely update.  I’ve decided that I am going to slash “craft blogger” off of my list of What I Ams.  When I think about blogging, I get anxious.  Every once in a while, I will come back over here for something special, but updates for the sake of updates are now out the window.  Go to The Crafty Crow, Hands Occupied or Miko Design for your reading pleasure.  Those ladies are better at it.

Product photography is one of my big AAARRRGHHS.  But if you want to sell online, you not only need pictures but GOOD ones.  In the case of Etsy, you can sell more items if you are espouse the Etsy Aesthetic.  Creamy backgrounds, perfectly clear pictures over tea-soaked notebook pages scrawled with fading French scripts– throw in an Eiffel tower, long white neck, or hell, put a bird on it.  That’s what gets onto the front page.

My items don’t fit into the greater aesthetic– they’re smooshy and bright, downright gauche compared to the most popular items.  My favorite thing on Etsy is the pizza-shaped sleeping bag, but you don’t see that kind of thing very often.

I’m armed with an iPhone 4S, a handmade lightbox, a few clamp lights and whatever props I can find around.   I just started making little fruit bead earrings, which are small enough that a lightbox and lights at 10am in the morning were not necessary.  If you can find a place inside with good, indirect light (if you have trees around your windows it’s golden) you don’t need them.  But that also involves remembering the good times of day to shoot. 🙂

I used blank, white printer paper, color pencils, thread spools and my hands.  A tripod helps, but you can do it without if the light’s right.  That’s my grand photo studio, right there.  I kneel on the carpet.

Make sure your colors are bright and the paper is free of debris.  I kept a stack of it nearby so I could draw on the paper.  Don’t skimp, make sure it’s a clean piece.    Use the props to highlight the item, but don’t let it overpower the scene, like this:


The spools are a good idea, but there’s more of them than the earrings. Danger!

Whimsy is an important part of product photography.  People want a story, they want it to be special.  Listing products online is where you English majors get to shine– ham it up in the item description.  But even if you aren’t much of an artist (drawing-wise) a few swipes with a color pencil can add effortless whimsy:


At least, I think so.  I sold two pairs just a few hours after listing them!

I used the Preview application on my Mac, lowered the temperature to get the paper more blue-white than yellow, and cropped to accentuate.  Don’t mess with the color saturation or exposure– if you have to, then your light isn’t right.

In summation: get a background, find a good place where the light is natural and get a little silly (but not too silly).


Tripping to San Francisco

So you would think that an Arkansas girl living just an hour away from the Big City of San Francisco would find all manner of excuses to get up to the city.  But nooooo, it’s always “too far away” and “I should have fun in San Jose!” and “leave me alone I’m taking a nap” (that’s from my husband).  We really are a lazy bunch here at Jumbo Jibbles, but we got up the gumption to get on a train and visit Fog City last Saturday.  My only to-do was to visit Britex, and once that was done (too rich for my tastes/wallet) we took a bus to the Mission and wandered for HOURS.

Left to right: Me, photobombing hungry dude, Justin, Big Mouth Burger dude

We really had only one agenda: suss out awesome clothing boutiques, especially for handmade dresses or spectacular men’s clothing.  Justin has been loving the Put This On webcast and blog, and wanted to check out a few places mentioned by that particular fashion authority.  This agenda was not adhered to strictly, and I’m afraid I didn’t find the bespoke clothing I was looking for, but Justin found a ridiculous shop selling $1,000 jeans.  I’m not giving up my search, but I’m looking forward to the day I can find a dress made of something other than freezer paper, doesn’t have birds all over it or exposed zippers.

Image from Craftsman and Wolves

Highlights of the trip: Craftsman and Wolves–  we got to this fancy bakery late in the day, so it had the look of high-end boutiques showcasing a single shirt or tie in a large, industrial space.  Only a few croissant and cake slices were left, but we also found a few glass jars of their hand-made fruit jellies (like fancy gum-drops) and store-made granola.  Craftsman and Wolves, to me, sounded like another rich-mans-blue-jeans store, or a nightclub you had to have specific period-garb for.  I’d like to go again earlier in the day when the shelves are stocked.  The jellies were delicious.

Whisky Study by Telopa at Fabric 8 Gallery in San Francisco

Fabric 8 was a gallery and curiosity shop that I may try to sell at (I hope).  It had neat little t-shirts and hipster novelties, but also a winding gallery that ended in a tidy backyard garden.  Even the bathroom had an installation (koi-filled bathtub, which I WISH I’d taken a picture of).  When we went, they were showcasing a number of artists from classic portraits to surreal and somewhat gross oil paintings.  Their next exhibit opens today, called Tight But Loose.  Check it out if you’re up there!

Image from Gravel and Gold

When I read the name Gravel and Gold, for some reason I knew exactly what the shop would be like– except for the boobie pillows.  Mostly barnwood and stolen rocks in decor, this place had an mix of rustic jewelry, printed pillows and books.  The clothing was mostly silkscreened in SF (not just screenprinted tshirts, but actual fabric made into clothing) and was beautiful.  The “boobie” theme was throughout the store, with shirts, pillows and jewelry emblazoned with breasts.  Not in a crude way, just celebratory boobies.  I was tempted by the necklaces, and wish I could find a picture to put here.  Let me tell you, that was a Google image search I cannot unsee.

There was more, oh so much more!  But now it is Saturday morning and I can smell the fake bacon crisping in the pan.  Get off the computer and enjoy yourself today!


Two Buck Tuesday is Here!

I wrote about this previously, and now it is here!  So, this will really be the first time my art has been shown in public, even if it’s just on a corkboard at an open house night for $2.  That is ok.  Of all people, I have no problem starting small.

I’m going to bring some of my little springy animals and Water Bugs with me in case anyone is interested in seeing them.  I’d love it if someone wanted to buy it on the spot, but my plan has been to send them to buyers with a handwritten (miniature) letter addressed to them.  I am not going to do all that at the event. But I’m getting ahead of myself– I just want to get seen.  I’ll be over the moon if I hand out one card tonight.

Good or bad that I forgot to sign the backs?

Two Buck Tuesday @ Kaleid Gallery, Tuesday, March 20 7-10PM

Fayetteville, AR: Then and Now

Original photo by unknown Fayette-villain, taken in the summer with a much newer house. Other than the color of the siding and rocks, not much has changed.

During the few days I was in town, I gathered enough people to make the shot, and happened onto a friendly photog.

Left to right: Laine Gates (holding Ari Gates-Moore), Tony Presley, Amy Brown (moi), Stephanie Bolin, Sam King and Justin Mitchell.

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith.  What a guy– I assumed the man my friend Stephanie was talking to at the coffee shop was someone she’d known for a while.  Using the rule of association, I plainly asked what he was doing at 3pm and if there was a real camera in that case around his neck.  Fayetteville, an artsy college town, is quite crawling with handsome young men with cameras around their necks, but Tim happened to be a Real Life Photographer.  I didn’t know this until later, and felt quite chagrined.We just needed a seventh person to take the shot, and I was relieved to find someone willing.

Once he started directing the shot, moving the car and making sure everyone was exactly posed, I realized I could never have done it without a professional.  He got the shots, edited them and sent them to me in a day.  However these are used in the “Found Fayetteville show, it was a wonderful experience with old and new friends.

Remember– it never hurts to ask.