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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fall is my most favorite time of year.  I was picking up my son from school the other day and saw this beautiful tree all ablaze with the colors of fall.  I just had to shoot a pic.  Thankfully this time of year I carry my camera with me everywhere..did I mention I love fall? Anyway...just had to share it!  Just look at those beautiful colors! 

We have been working hard in the studio...I will have lots of fun stuff to show you soon!  Since it's busy season for us we are doing a ton of craft far we have 3 scheduled for on waiting list for 2 more! and 3 scheduled for December! 
Have a Happy Fall Day!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Fantastic First Show

My first show was this past weekend.  The weather was beautiful, although it was brisk.  I did not know what to expect, since this was my first "show", and I was pleasantly surprised how the day turned out! 
Although it was brisk outside, the sun was shining, and it was a beautiful day in Washington!  The festival was fantastic, especially since it was their very first year.  I loved how they had the whole thing set up.  The food vendors were on one side of a building, and the vendors on the other.  They had activities for the kids, a root beer garden, wine tasting, dancing, and of course a bier garden. 

I got amazing feedback from new customers, and some of my wonderful customers came by to see me.  My favorite part was when a customer would walk by and do a double take because they could smell the candle that I was burning.  I burned an Apple Jack jar candle, and Pumpkin Souffle melts, the combination was great, and since it was Oktoberfest, it was a fitting fragrance.

I was extremely thankful for my helper, I don't know what I would have done without her.  We made a great team.  Sadly she does a lot of the same shows as me, so I will not be able to utilize her as much as I would like to.  Maybe I could clone her!!

I've already got a list for my hubby of things that need to be fixed.  My shelves need a bit more support and a piece of wood on top so there are no slats.  I also have a list for myself of things to remember for next bring hand warmers or gloves. 
But overall a fantastic first show!  I am so lucky to be able to do what I LOVE, and I am looking forward to the next show...especially since it's an indoor event!!

As always have a Fantastic Day!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Great Product Photography

I love taking pictures, it's one of my other most favorite hobbies...yes, I have a lot of favorite hobbies.
I have a wonderful hubby that bought me a fantastic new camera for my birthday this year, which has substantially increased my LOVE for taking pictures and photo editing. 

I thought for today's post I would share some of my tips and tricks for taking fantastic pictures.  I am no professional photographer, so please remember that these tips and tricks are just me playing around with my camera.  The products featured on this blog post are some of my soaps and candles, and Hand Built leather accessories from Huaracha Studios.  (She is amazing)

Step One:  A Light Box.  I purchased 3 sheets of the thick poster board at my local Fred Meyer for 2.99 each, then cut each of them in half.  Using four of the sheets, put together a box (a bottom, two sides, and a back) without a top or a front.  I used duct tape to hold them together, but you could use whatever works.  You could even use Velcro, and make the entire box collapsible if you wanted, mine is not.  And now you have a simple light box.  Tip #1: make sure when you assemble your box that you get the seams nice and tight so that no light can get in between the cracks, recruit a helper if you need to. 

Step Two:  Lighting.  Lighting is crucial.  Natural lighting is the best option for taking pictures.  Going outside will give you the most bang for your buck.  I take all of my pictures outside on a nice/but not too sunny day, early morning/or late afternoon.  If you have some lamps (with natural light bulbs) I'm sure you could get amazing results inside...I just prefer to use natural light.  If you are using lights, make sure you don't have any shadows, and that the light is not in your face bright.  Tip # 2 you don't want it too bright, a really sunny day, or a light that's only 12" away from your product will make your pictures turn out harsh, we are going for a nice diffused soft light. 

Picture above was taken inside with just household lamps to show you what it looks like.  Plus she used the flash.....bad girl....see step 3.
The picture left was taken outside with natural light and no flash. See the difference.

Which brings us to Step Three:  Staging/and taking pictures
#1 rule I use when taking pictures of products:  Don't ever use the flash.  Ever.  I use the macro setting on my camera when taking pictures of products (the little flower) This allows you to focus on what you want, and blur the rest if you would like.  Take your time, and take a ton of pictures from every angle possible.  The beauty of can delete them later. 

Get up close and personal on a few of the pictures, focus in on the different textures, and colors.  When customers are shopping online...they don't get to feel it, smell it, or touch it.  A great photograph can allow the customer to see the texture so well, they can imagine what it feels like to hold it or use it.  The more pictures you have of different angles and depths...the more options you have to choose from.
Staging...remember odd numbers look best.  I like to keep it simple, but this is where it really gets to be all about your own personal style.  Some people like to add props and bit of color to make a picture pop, or backdrops to add interest to your item.  I like to keep it simple, and let the product shine through.  Just like each handmade product has a little of the person who made it's personality crafted in to it, each picture has the photographers personality built right in.  Do what feels right, and try out different things.  Tip #3 don't delete a picture until you see it on your computer, sometimes they don't look good from the camera, but can be fixed in the photo editing process.
The photo on the Left was a terrible picture...the sun caught the conch on the left cuff and gave one heck of a glare.  Because of my rule of no deleting....this picture came out as one of my favorites post edit.  With a little cropping and touching up you can remove the parts that you don't like!
Step Four:  Editing
One of the other most valuable assets is a great photo editing program.  These days every new camera comes with a program, some are good, some not so much.  Of course Photoshop is the best program out there (or so I've heard), but most of us small hobbyists don't have that kind of dough to fork out (at least I don't), so photoshop pro remains on my wish list along with the ipad, laptop, and new hardrive for my good old desk top.   I received Arcsoft Media Impression with my new Panasonic DMC-FZ35 (btw..a great camera), it has proven to be a fantastic program.  There are a few things that it does not do, and it is sometimes a little on the slow side, but it is a great all around program that is super easy to use. 

When editing I fiddle around with every single photo, yes even the blurry ones, I may be able to use it in some aspect, a close up perhaps.  Now if after playing around for a while I still can't get it to look the way I want, well then I delete it, no sense keeping a crappy picture. I always begin my editing process with cropping the photo to get the shot I am looking for.  Do I want it close up, or farther away, more detailed or less.  Editing by far takes up the most amount of my time.  Then I adjust the brightness and color aspects.  More blue...more red..more light..and so on.  Get it just the way you want it.  Remember to SAVE.   Add a watermark (if desired), and you've got a fantastic photo to showcase your fantastic products!

  It's really a lot of fun to take pictures and edit them...well at least I think it is!  But if you are reading this and that is just way to much work for me, well then there are a ton of highly talented photographers out there that would probably LOVE to take pictures of your products.  Worried about the cost of professional pictures, well,do your homework, and talk to a variety photographers, see if you can work out a barter..goods for goods....or find yourself a new and upcoming hidden talent that wants to get their name out there, most of the time they are super affordable. 
And of course if you have any questions at all you can shoot me an email at, or if you live in the Snohomish/Skagit county area in Washington State and are looking for someone to take product pictures, email me.  I may be able to help you, or give you the name of a few fantastic photographers in your area!

You are eyeballing all this beautiful leather...right...I know it's amazing.  Check out Huaracha Studios online at  her stuff is simply fantastic, plus you can see a bunch of the other photos that I took of her amazing products. 
As always, have a fantastic Day!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Re-Batching Experiment

Re-Batching...oh how I dislike you. 
I've never been much of a re-batcher, I don't really like to do it, it never turns out right, and it just irritates the crap out of me, but sometimes it's inevitable and must be done.

I made these cupcake soaps with one of my mystery fragrance from the Fall S.O.A.P panel, and if you kept up with my testing posts you know that the fragrance morphed into a floral fragrance that doesn't at all go with a cupcake.  My plan was to leave it, but as it sat the floral got more pronounced.  I realized that I didn't even want to give them away, so re-batching was my only option.
I usually re-batch with a boil bag, but I scored this fantastic little crock pot at a garage sale for a dollar...that's right a dollar!! 

I have never used a crock pot for soap, so I thought it would be a great experiment for me.  I grated up all the soap (resulting in a chance to catch up on some of my shows for a few hours, and one very sore elbow)
Then I stuck the lid on the crock pot, and let it go.  One thing I liked about the crock pot vs the bag method, I didn't have to check it near as often.  I was able to work on other things while the soap was cooking in the pot. 

It was definitely easier to do than the bag method.  I decided to use my small wood log mold, very simple and easy to plop the soap into.  Once it was all melted and clumps where gone, I plopped it into the log mold.  I did see some clumps that didn't get melted all the way when I scooped the soap into the mold. 

It's rough, but better than some of the re-batches that I have done in the past.  I had so much going on that I forgot about it and waited way to long to slice it up, it was as hard as a rock when I tried to slice it, but I finally managed to get it sliced up!

So not a terrible experiment, and it turned out OK.  I was happy to notice that it didn't loose any of it's scent during the re-cook.  It does have some chunks that didn't get melted as you can see, so maybe next time it needs to cook a bit longer.  All in all it was a great experiment, and I am super excited about my $1 crock pot!  I also got a bunch of silicone molds at the same garage sale for $5!  Looking forward to more practice with soap cupcakes!!
For today...Have a Happy Soapy Day!