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A Bit Of An Update, Some More Musings, Cards And More Cards
I know that I write a lot in each blog post – so if you don’t want to read all my ramblings, then just jump ahead to the photos of my crafted items and click on the thumbnail images for a good look.
In my last post I told you that I’d had two busy, and expensive days – Tuesday – emergency dentist for tooth absuss that hadn’t cleared up; Wednesday – car service and M.O.T., and optitian for eye test and new glasses. Rather busy days for me, with a lot of time on my feet – even though my niece drove me to the dentist and one of my sisters drove me to the optitian. So Thursday was a rest day with my damaged leg up (I really don’t want a repeat infection in the leg, which is a real posibility with an infection still in my tooth if any bugs get carried via the blood to my leg, especially if it gets realy swollen and the circulation gets bad). So Thursday was a colouring in and cutting out day in bed. Thursday was also a day when I got a little bit of money back as a tax rebate – and no, it wasn’t one of the phishing E-mails claiming to be from somebody in the tax office with thousands to give me, it was a genuine cheque arrived via the post. Pity it wasn’t a bigger cheque but, after a couple of days of spending, every little bit helps.
After the colouring and cutting day on Thursday, Friday’s been a construction and photographing day – so I’ve got a few more cards to show you today than in the last post. I hope you like them.
With all the money going out this week my thoughts the last few days have turned to getting a bit more money back from my crafting. But I’m not quite sure yet how I’m going to do this. With my health/disability issues I can’t go out and about to sell regularly at places like a farmer’s market, and I can’t book to do craft fairs as there’s very little chance that I’d be having a good enough day when it’s taking place to stay selling for the day. But on the plus side I do have a few people, mostly family members and a close friend, who buy cards from me at various times throughout the year, and more people at the chapel who buy in the run up to Christmas.
In fact my biggest sales comes in the autumn and early winter when I’m selling Christmas cards. And that time of year is coming closer – so, although I’ve made a few Christmas cards already this year, I really do need to get stuck in and make some batches of Christmas cards – and as they say – There’s no time like the present!
Of course, I’ve got some stuff up for sale on my shop on craftybob.com, so perhaps I should sort out some more hand crafted items to upload to my shop there and then do a bit more advertising of the shop.
I’m just wondering whether the market for hand crafted cards is now reaching saturation point. I do hope not, but there does appear to be a lot of people selling hand crafted cards and, with the recession, less people willing to pay a premium for good quality hand made when they can get cheaper hand finished or completely machine made cards.
One thing I have noticed is more and more customers are checking with me that any card they are interested in will actually go through the UK mail system using an ordinary letter stamp. This does mean that, although I do make some dimensional cards that will be hand delivered, I do have to make a concious effort at times to keep a card very flat. My “making things easier” tip for today is to do with how I make sure I don’t give the wrong information to anybody about a card’s size – so have a look lower down.
I’d be interested in hearing any other crafter’s thoughts on whether it’s harder now to sell larger cards or any hand made card this year than a year or two ago.
(Clicking on the text links below each set of images takes you to the pages where you can see some of what I used to make the cards.)
3 quite different cards first – each one entered into different challenges :-
With summer here I thought I’d print out this beach scene again and make a new card:
Challenges entered into:
- Sweet Stampin’ Challenge – “by the sea/seaside”
- Pollycraft Challenge – #4 – FUN IN THE SUN
- Dream Valley Challenges – Challenge 62 – Summer Days
- ALBC – Summer sun
- Passion For ProMarkers – Week 210 – Theme “clean and simple cards”
- Happy Campers Challenge No. 20 – SUMMER
- Fab ‘n’ Funky Challenges – #181 – Anything that Looks Like Summer
- Jiggy Dragon at the Beach Stamp by Janette Padley and Sand, Sun & Surf Backing Paper Kit by Robyn Cockburn (I printed the digi-stamp out at smaller than the size given onto 300gsm Super Smooth white cardstock. I also printed one of the “sand” backgrounds out onto the same cardstock. I then coloured in the digi-stamp using my ProMarkers. The colours I used were: sand – Daffodil Bloom, Buttercup; dragon – Honeydew, Meadow Green; sky – Cloud Blue; palm tree – Walnut, Grass; other items – Heatwave, Cyan, Summer Sun. I took a small piece of cotton wool and wiped a Blender Pen over it a few times and dabbed this over the sky to give the look of whispy clouds. I also cut out a circle of the same cardstock using my circle scissors, making it aproximately the same diameter as the sun would be if it was all in the picture. This was coloured in using Summer Sun and then I went over it with a yellow Wink of Stella marker to add a little glitter. I cut out the digi and matted it onto white cardstock, trimming to leave a small margin. This matted image was then stuck onto the sand background and trimmed to leave a much larger margin. I used a couple of my Perfect Layers rulers to help get even borders. I took an A4 sheet of white hammered cardstock and scored it using my Hougie Board before folding it in half to make my base card. I then used finger-lift tape to stick my matted layer directly to this. I used 2mm deep, double sided foam tape to attach my added layer of the sun. I finished off by using the same yellow marker to add a greeting “Dydd Hapus” – Welsh for “Happy Day”, and added some little yellow sticky back gems at the end.)
In total contrast his next one is a set of items for Christmas:
Challenges entered into:
- Santa Standing Toppers by Tom Curtis (I printed the sheet out onto Glossy Crafty Bob paper and cut out all the toppers. For this project I used two of each sized topper, the smaller two being cut out around the santa figure. I took two sheets of hammered white cardstock and cut both in half. Two were scored using my Hougie Board and then folded in half to make A6 base cards, one of the other halves was cut in half again, and then scored and folded to make two A7 gift cards. All the intact toppers were stuck to the front of a sheet of silver mirror cardstock and trimmed to leave a border before attaching to the relevant card using 2mm deep, double sided, foam tape. I added a greeting panel “Nadolig Llawen” – which is Welsh for “Happy Christmas” – again using foam tape, and I put a slit near the top inside left of the gift tags and threaded in a piece of ribbon from my crafting stash. The smaller, cut out, santas were stuck as embelishments onto suitably sized envelopes. So with three small toppers left over I’ve created two sets of Christmas card, gift tag and a decorated envelope. A great way to make up quick and simple Christmas cards without breaking the bank.)
- One of the Christmas cards
- One of the gift tags
- One of the envelopes
This next one is one where I designed the layout electronically and then printed off and made up the card:
Challenges entered into:
- Stamping Dragon Challenge – “1 colour ONLY” – a card in shades of blue from very soft to a slatey blue.
- Challenges 4 Everybody – Challenge #26 – Anything Goes
- Flowery Blues Elements by Janette Padley and Flowery Blues Card Papers by Janette Padley (I took elements from both these kits into one of my graphics programs and played around with the size and position of the pieces until I had a layout I was happy with for the inside and topper of an easel card. I then printed the design, including the extra layers I’d put on my working surface, out onto 300gsm, Super Smooth, white cardstock. I cut out all the pieces. I created my base card out of 300gsm Hammered white cardstock, scoreing across the card half way along the front and trimming to fit my card front layer. I used a couple of pieces of finger-lift tape to attach the main layer inside and the card front layer, and then used 2mm deep, double sided, foam tape to attach the tags layer to the outside and the paper ribbon element to the inside as a stopper. I finished off by attaching the flowers using glue gel. )
And another two cards:
- Flowery Blues Elements by Janette Padley and Flowery Blues Card Papers by Janette Padley (This card layout is practically identical to the previous card, but without the final blue border added and with white text. It’s printed at slightly larger than the card front of the easel card onto Glossy Crafty Bob paper. After cutting the base layer was matted onto silver mirror card which was trimmed to leave a small border using a Perfect Layer ruler as a guide. The base card is an 8″ square Crafty Bob white card and the matted image is stuck directly to this using fingerlift tape. I used 2mm deep, double sided, foam tape to atach the tag layers and glue gel to attach the flower elements.)
- Square ‘Silver Metallic Frame’ Card Front or insert by Carol Clarke (I printed the sheet out onto 300gsm Super Smooth white cardstock, trimmed it, scored it, and folded it in half to make my base card. For this card I raided my crafting stash and found four paper flower layers which I stuck together using quick grab wet glue and then added some silver glitter glue into the centre before attaching to my card front using glue gel. A quick and easy card or notelet to send somebody a quick message.)
And now for my first batch of Christmas cards for this year. I just pulled out my box of Christmas card stuff that I’d put away at the end of Christmas crafting last year, and pulled out a pack of left over bits from a kit I’d bought last year, together with a few sheets of white hammered cardstock and some greetings panels and glitter glue for embelishments and just made some quick and easy cards. I think that all the toppers are from Hunkydory’s sets from last year. All of these will go through the standard letter post I believe, alhtough I haven’t done a double check yet.
All this first batch are A5 sized cards. Several have added glitter glue put on for a little twinkle, though it doesn’t show up in the photos. I think I’ll have to add something under the silhouetted figures on the second one as they are not grounded at the moment.
- A5 sized card
- DL sized card
- A6 sized card
- A6 sized card
- Little gift tag
- A5 sized card.
MAKING THINGS EASIER!
With customers wanting to know whether a card will go through the UK post system on an ordinary letter stamp I realised a good while ago that it would be important to give them an acurate answer, and to do that I did several things.
- Check the Royal Mail website to find out what size and weight letters are small enough to go through on an ordinary stamp.
- Find a way to acurately measure and weigh letters to make sure that I gave people the right information (nobody wants to send a card with an ordinary letter stamp on and for the recipient to have to pay to receive it because the postage was wrong).
Details of what sizes and weights of items count as letters, large letters or small packets can be found on the Royal Mail website, where you can enter the dimensions and weight of the item and the site works out which stamps would be needed. Which is great for checking an item to be posted when you are somewhere with online access, but not always convenient for giving a quick answer to a customer, say when I’m selling at the chapel. But the Royal Mail website helps with this as well, having a downloadable and printable document with tables of sizes and prices. You can find this -> here.
As for measuring a card quickly – I put the card in its envelope and put it through the Helix Postal Charge Template. This is a simple, ruler like device with slots the depth and width of both the letter and the large letter size, and a rule with the maxium length for both types of items. It’s a nice size to carry around and to store, and no more guessing whether something will go through “that slot” at the post office. If somebody asks whether a Christmas card, or other, will go as a standard letter I simply pop it in an envelope and see if it will go through the smallest slot.
For weighing my cards I put them into their envelopes and put them on a flat topped kitchen scales that weighs in grams. I don’t believe the one I’ve got is still made, but this one here -> Duronic KS1007 Compact Slim Design Digital Display 5KG Kitchen Scales
– is similar. The maximum weight for a standard letter is 100g, and the chance of passing that weight with a letter that fits through all the slots is very remote – not unles you’ve used lead to make it.
Now, (to save money and keep the final cost of cards such as Christmas cards down – other than one or two “special” ones, the family and friends who buy Christmas cards from me don’t want to spend a lot on Christmas cards,) I usually keep my Christmas cards “naked” in various drawers of a plastic trolley – depending on price, and have the bottom drawer full of various sized envelopes. This means I save on the cost of cello bags and the time to package and tag them all up. The trolley I’ve got is something like this -> 4 Large Drawer Plastic Storage Unit Silver ( can be used with or without Wheels)
– but again I can’t find the exact same one I’ve got. I use it on wheels because that way it can simply be pushed, say out to the car and simply lifted into the boot of the car if I’m going up the chapel, rather than having to carry each drawer out one by one – I don’t do carrying for any distance very well, and arm pains would stop me before I got everything out if I was having to carry.
But for other occasion cards I do “bag and tag”. For these “bagged and tagged” cards, which would have to be removed from the cello bag to put through the slot of my “letter checker”, I do the checking as a part of my bagging and tagging process and have little colour coded stickers that I put on the cello bags in addition to the price. I have one colour that I’ve labled “L” which goes onto cards that will (without the addition of any notes or money) go through the post on an ordinary letter stamp. Another coloured I’ve labelled “LL” for large letters, and another colour I’ve labelled “P” for packet – used on some very dimensional keepsakes.
I tend to make batches of cards and then, when my stock of “bagged and tagged” items for any particular occasion is runing low, I’ll go into my stock of made cards, put in inserts, put my label on the back, and match the card with an envelope. While the card is in the envelope I’ll do my size and weight check and put the relevant little label onto the cello bag. The card is then simply taken out of the envelope and card and envelope, together with a little note to say whether the insert is left blank or has something written on it, are popped in the cello bag and a price label is also added before the “bagged and tagged” card is popped into my trolley of different occasion cards.
So, if a customer asks “what stamp do I need on that” I can just look at the little label and give them an immediate answer – though I do tell them that it is only for guidance because if they add anything, such as a note, cheque, gift card, etc., it will make the depth and weight different.
(While some of the things I mention in my “Making Things Easier!” pieces are things I’ve worked out for myself, some are adaptations of things I’ve learnt from tips given by others. As others have been kind enough to share their tips I thought I’d do the same. I’m sure that most of my readers will already know much of what I’ve found makes things easier for me but if it helps one person at some point I’ll be happy.)
Have a look – here – at all the items I’ve currently got for sale on my shop “Siop Crafftau MAES MIERI Crafts Shop” on craftybob.com.
CUP Mailer – Here are the links to the mailers sent out by the team at CUP HQ since my last blog post:
- Friday, 9th August – Here! – Free CD – HOT Selling Designs & The Latest New Froms.
Craftsuprint have a “Mailer Archive” where you can go to get links to mailers sent out over the last few months. This can be seen by clicking – here.
You can see my page on Facebook by clicking – here.
You can see the cards I’ve made using design sheets from CUP in my “Crafter Showcase Area” on Craftsuprint.com – here
(Just scroll down past the top boxes to see the cards.)
(Thank you for reading this far. I hope you like what you’ve seen and read – You should find a box below where you can leave a comment if you feel like it, but due to the fact that, like many I’m sure, I’ve had some problems with Spam/advertising posts that are absolutely nothing to do with the content of my blog, I now moderate all comments before they go live. Genuine comments will go live when I’ve checked through the list – usually a couple of times a day.)
(Thank you to every body who’s left comments on my previous blog posts. I really do appreciate them all.)