Friday, 19 January 2018

How to needle felt a Dog The short muzzle



In the third in my series teaching you how to needle felt a dogs head today we look at the brachycephalic dog
The Boston Terrier, the French Bulldog, any dog with these delightfully smooshy faces (although for all dog lovers it is worth being aware of the health problems that can occur with the dogs if we go to extreme with these features)




 Like all my small dog sculptures the head starts with a ball, If you dont know how to make a ball check out this video for details
 Then you want to create a small thin tube, Squish the ball to a slight oval shape and apply the tube towards the bottom of your oval











felt this nub firmly down to approx the length you want the muzzle to be









Now to make the jowls you need a 1-2 inch piece of fleece









Make sure the length is even each side and felt the middle of this ontop of the nub you made for the muzzle like a crazy moustache








fold the ends under to create the jowls









Pinch these bits between your fingers and carefully felt - adjusting the shape depending on the breed of the dog









At this stage you can add any shading to the muzzle









For the lower jaw pinch an inch or two of fleece between your fingers and carefully felt a U shape.








 Add shading if needed and keep measuring your lower jaw against the upper so you know if you need to adjust the shape. Poke extra into areas that need to be made smaller







Carefully felt the lower jaw into place.

Adding eyes, ears and any shading depending on the breed and you are done







for the full Boston terrier video check it out here 

Click on the image to check out some needle felting kits (affiliate link to amazon)


Thursday, 18 January 2018

Youtube Monetization 2018 Youtube Hates the Small Youtuber?


Yesterday youtube announced a change and it has people freaking out. I thought I would take a little time to address this as on whatever platform you are on online there are always changes and there are always people freaking out.

What is the Change?
To allow a creator to be part of the partnership program, which allows you to be able to put adverts on your videos and hopefully generate a little revenue, they are adding some new requirements you need to meet. 
You already had to have had 10,000 channel views, now (as of the end of Feb) you will also need
1k Subscribers
and
4k HOURS of watch time over the past year

Does YouTube hate the little guy?

NO!
I understand why it can feel like that but these hurdles are actually in place to help us in the long term

Over time on any platform people try and learn how to 'game' the system, to try and get noticed, views, money, by using methods that are really against the spirit of the platform - or even hurt the platform

Youtube has been hurt quite alot in the past year by channels with not so nice content being shown next to advertisers or in the wrong places, this might have been controversial content  or also non age appropriate videos shown in child friendly areas.
And of course the Logan Paul thing - but this is really not what this change is about!

When people try and game the system in a way that makes advertisers unhappy then the advertisers pull out
and there is no money for anyone.

These Changes are a GOOD thing?

Strange to say it but yes I think they are
This weeds out the lazy people, the people who dont want to work to grow their channel, anyone who really wants to grow their own channel with good practises will be able to. It might take a little while, I believe most people who use good practises can have grown to this level within a year 



As you can see from my graph it can seem really difficult to build up in the beginning, but just like most things on the internet each new view/like/subscriber/sale makes the next one that bit easier. Growth tends to be exponential.

So anyone who really works and sticks with it, using good practises has a great chance of growing

And in a fit of great timing my good friend Brian G Johnston has just made a most useful video on strategies to boost your videos - the right way.




Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Needle felting tools, Cutting mat and ruler

When Im cutting felt for my little needle felted bookmarks I discovered rotary cutters

 
Which are total game changers for cutting fabric - but watch your fingers, super super sharp when the safety is off

But if you are getting one of them you really really need a self healing cutting mat
I use the A4 Jakar mat

I love this - I even actually use it for my mouse mat when Im not using it for cutting, and friends have told me it is great for other things like polymer clay with blades
I also use the ruler

- which is great because although it is a plastic ruler it has a metal strip down one end so the blade dosent cut it - because I have accidently used the other side and the blade very very much cuts the plastic

Check out my video above for these items in action, they really do help cutting any kinds of fabric
The images take you to the amazon pages for the items (affiliate link)

Monday, 15 January 2018

How to open a etsy shop in 2018 - should you

The start of the year is always the time people thinking of starting new projects, but is starting a shop on Etsy something you should think about?

Is It Too Late to Start a Etsy Shop?
Yes, year on year the number of shops is growing on Etsy
So competition seems like it is growing

But really sellers are people who understand and love art and crafts and love to gift handmade gifts, so all those new sellers shops on Etsy are also potential buyers

And year on year there are more buyers coming to Etsy - and also with guest checkout there are even more chances for sales!

Is it hard to grow on etsy

Yes, Im going to be honest, there is an advantage of having had a shop for a while
You have past sales, repeat customers, reviews, experience
But with clever strategies a small shop can and does still get seen and makes sales

Figure out WHY you want to start a shop on Etsy 
If you desperately need a full time wage right NOW then full time with Etsy might not be the way to go - or if you dont have much spare time but want big results then you might end up disappointing yourself

But if you have realistic expectations that you put the work in and continue to try and improve then NOW could be the best time to get started

And Im here to help you
Over the next few weeks I am going to show you real strategies to start a new shop in 2018 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Etsy SEO secret. How to rank in the etsy search

I wanted to share one of my big secret tips that noone seems to talk about but that I am going to be using lots going forwards on my Etsy SEO advice tips

It is a super secret way to rank anything on Etsy, the more competitive the term the more you will have to do this but it is not impossible to rank

It makes use of the fact that search engines take into account the other pages on your website - so the other pages in your shop

Have you noticed something in common with lots of the shops that are on the front of massive searches?
They tend to be super specific shops
So the top shops for wedding stationary tend to be shops that sell mainly lots of wedding stationary

They are not shops that sell wedding stationary and sweeties and knitted hats

There are other reasons as well as to why this is a great thing for them but one big thing is this

When google or Etsy is asked to look for wedding stationary it can see the whole shop
A shop that has sold lots of wedding stationary, that has lots of listings for wedding stationary, thats reviews, shop description and updates have mentions of wedding stationary, that have listings for wedding stationary linking to other listings for wedding stationary, that have sections for wedding stationary
compared to a shop that has LOTS of different things

If you were a search engine and you had to offer a searcher a shop that they would be more likely to purchase out of which one would you pick to show the searcher?

The shop that has lots of similar items give a buyer lots of options, they give the feeling that a shop is an expert in that field

Simply put - if you have lots of similar items they will give your shop authority for that thing and make it more likely that one of your items will be on the front page


Thursday, 11 January 2018

How to Needle Felt for Beginners, A Dog Armature


For my small sculptures I like to use a simple armature.
Two lengths of pipe cleaner, the length to be the front legs, along the body and down the back legs (twice obviously) I fold over the ends so there is no jaggy wire










The back legs are usually slightly longer than the front - but look at the breed
I then twist the centres together to make a H shape










Taking thin strips of core wool (I use the world of wool carded white corridale reviewed here ) I wrap that as evenly up the legs and over the body. On the body I wrap around the body side to side and top to bottom to make a nice fat shape








Then spend a good amount of time felting this smooth - moving in all directions, taking up to an hour to get it nice and smooth.
Then I felt back and forwards in straight lines at the tops of the leg to make creases to make bending the legs easier





Bend the legs over using the crease lines, and again felt all over till its firm. At this stage check front legs are the same length as each other and the back legs are the same length as each other - add a little fleece if needed







About a 1/3rd of the way up the back  leg (depending on the breed) again felt backwards and forwards in the same place to create a line









This line is the hock, bend the bottom of the leg forwards and felt to firm this bend, then curve the top of the leg back







Take around an inch of fibre for each side we want to felt a C shape starting behind the dogs bum then curving down infront of the thigh and ending just above the hock felt this fibre in place squeezing between your fingers as you felt to keep the 'muscle' thin when facing head on but nice and 'meaty' from the side




It should take over 1 hour to get a nice firm smooth dog body shape, keep felting all over the body and add small amounts of fleece if you need to smooth out any areas that need it







And you are done :) 











Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The best needle felting equipment of 2017


Over the past year I have had great fun reviewing some of my stash of needle felting equipment and supplies - so you dont have to
So what did I find the winners in 2017? What would I recommend needle felters (and other crafters) should consider in their craft box (or room :) ) 


The needle felting holder. 

I reviewed it here  
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRsAl...
This amazing tool hold your needle felting needle and I have found over the months it actually reduces felting pain in my wrist - I was really amazed as I didnt think I would like using one at all but I use it all the time and I am going to buy a few more. Mine is from world of wool but you can get them affordably all over


Long term review of holder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUrgs...

The Cutting Wheel 
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwyQw...
For quickly cutting fabric this guy is amazing - along with a cutting mat and a ruler you can cut perfect lines - or go freehand for easy curves. I use this for cutting felt for bookmarks or clothing and wings for felties - but I can see it would also be amazing for dressmaking or anything that needs lots of fabric cut





The Sulkie Iron Transfer pen
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-J7V...
This one really is a game changer if you want to do 2d felted paintings
Take any image you want (If you want to sell the paintings make sure the image isnt copyright - for example the Sally was a gift for a friend, I couldnt make it commercially as I dont have the rights to use the image) Then using tracing paper (or baking paper :) ) you trace the image and then with a hot iron you iron it onto the fabric you want to felt on and you have a a perfect image to felt with

Here is the image transferred onto felt - and then felted  














Amazon Glass eyes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_pd6...
These are such a surprise - 100 pairs of eyes in a handy wee box posted out usually the next day, I seriously cannot knock these. Occasionally the metal pin at the back isnt attached and I dont really use the smallest size in the box but to be honest at this price that is not problem at all, they stick on firmly with the paverpol and really bring life to my little felted dogs



And the glass eyes online eyes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuKGi...


World of Wool Pre felt 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTUDu...

These come in an amazing range of colours that match with their carded batt colours so fantastic for needle felting projects where you need something thin like wings or clothes - being pre-felt they are softer than finished felt so you can still felt them into shapes




Paverpol
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_YvH...

This fabric stiffener is something I saw as an art supply many years ago and I had tried to use to make some of the lovely flowing sculptures I had seen
And I just got in a total mess
Then I tried it with my felted pieces
It is AMAZING for attaching the above eyes into wee dogs, a wee drop of glue onto the end of the stem of the eye and then pushed into a ready made hole in the head this sets rock solid into the head without and external signs
And I loved this when felting my dragon talons. Felt the talon then dip it in the paverpol, scrape off excess and leave it for an hour - then it is set enough you can touch it without getting in a mess, you can sculpt it to the precise shape you want and then leave to set fully - then I was able to paint and glaze


Colour cards

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v64QM...
It is hard to tell what colour something is from a computer screen and I have spent SO much buying colours to find out they are just not quite right, most companies sell colour cards that have tiny samples of each colour of fibre so you get and idea of what you are getting before you get it. This saves me so so much time and money, I would say, whatever company you are thinking of using get a hold of their colour cards right away, invaluable.

The works kit
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_edcY...

My Honourable mention
The works shop is a discount book and craft type shop in the UK, they tend to sell disappointing kits so I did not hold out much hope when I purchased this kit

and I was so surprised
Firstly the foam packing IS a felting cushion :) it is not something I have seen before but I was since informed that was what this was for and it does do the job pretty well (although I dont like the noise)
There is a good selection of actual nice quality fibres - I had assumed they would be merino but they are actually a nice fibre
There is enough for the two projects they give you (an apple and pair) and the felting needles are actually good and work well with the fibres they give you
The book is good with lots of information and inspiration for other projects

If you can find it and want to get started felting then you could do worse than this kit (I cannot find it for sale at this time - hence why it is just a mention)


Where I can on this post there are links to where you can buy these items at good prices, some of these are affiliate links which do not cost you extra but just help me out a little bit 

Monday, 8 January 2018

Goal Setting for Selling on Etsy in 2018



 
I always loved the new year, its a time when everything is fresh and new, you havent made any mistakes yet
But
So many people make loads of new year goals that really just end up stressing and demotivating them.
When you are selling online it is so easy to set sales goals - but the problem is what happens when you dont meet them? You cant make people just buy from you
This can really stress you

It is much more motivating to set goals that you can actually influence for yourself

Set yourself a work flow
Times set aside every day to answer emails (- and not all through the day)
Times every week to list, edit, photograph improve listings - it is much better to do little often than a big chunk all at the one time 
Try and think of new item lines - sizes, colours etc
New places to showcase your work

But most importantly - just look at doing little and often, dont try and do it all at once and then do nothing for months. Search engines favour newness 

Do a little something, learn a little something, improve a little something every single week

So make your goals 
3 new/updated listings every week
Emails answered 5 days a week
One new venue approached every month
Improve/learn one new thing every month

And these things do not have to be expensive, for small objects a light tent is really affordable for almost anyone and can improve your photographs no end (affiliate link) 


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