November 30, 2013

Merry Little Owl Holiday Ornament Tutorial

This may seriously be the cutest thing I've ever made.  I hear Jack Nicholson in my head yelling, "You can't handle the cuteness." And he's right, I can't! I need to make more right now.  Okay, well maybe I can wait until this afternoon when I host my annual ornament making party with the fam. 

With just a few crafty materials you can whip these up.  You can get fancy with handmade hooks or keep it simple with waxed linen or cord.  I have several variations that I'll dish about down below.  If you make some of these you MUST show me! It's required.  By law.  Okay, it's not, but I would love to see what cutie pies you create.  You can share them on my Facebook page with me.

White polymer clay*
Acrylic paint - I use Folk brand craft paint (several colors plus raw umber)
Paint brushes
Plastic mechanical pencil
2" brass headpins
Pewter bead caps in different sizes
Waxed linen
Paper towels
Alphabet stamps (rubber stamps or metal stamps)
Wire cutters
Round and chain nose pliers

Optional - Clay sculpting tool with a fine point for carving details, you can find them in the polymer clay section at craft stores.  The ends kind of look like a dental tool.

*I like Sculpey for these kinds of projects.  It's easy on the hands and has a great matte finish that takes the paint nicely.

  • Work surface - cardstock, glass, tile - don't work directly on a table, polymer clay can eat the finish.
  • Don't use kitchen items with clay, you must have a dedicated polymer clay pan. (Hello Dollar Store.)
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling clay
  • Keep on eye on baking clay and use an oven thermometer to make sure you have the correct temperate.  
Make the Owls
1. Roll a 1" ball of clay in your hands.  Don't worry about measuring, just guesstimate.  Pinch the clay on one side to form a point for the ear, repeat on the other side.
2. Use the end of paint brush to make the eyes.  
3. Create a triangle with a tiny piece of clay. Press it onto the face of the owl, smooth out the edges with your finger.
4. Press the tip of the pencil (with the no lead) to create dots around the eyes.
5. Use the sculpting tool or headpin to create an oval shape for the wings. Trace out little feather shapes in the wing area with the sculpting tool.
6. Stamp words onto the belly with letter stamps.
7. Poke a hole through the length of the owl with the headpin. Bake according the manufacturers suggestions.

The last 3 photos show a few variations.
1. Use the tip of the pencil to create a feathered belly instead of stamping a word. 
2. Make a pointed nose and then press it down.
3. A simply nose option is to form a flat triangle instead of a pointed one. 

1. Paint the owl the main color all over.
2. Antique the owl with brown paint, whip off immediately.
3. Paint the words a different color, whip off excess paint.
3. Touch up the color around the face and body of the owl. 
3. Paint around the eyes with just a little bit of paint, almost a dry brush.
4. Paint the feathers on the wings several different colors.

Wash your brush when switching colors and dry it completely each time.

1. After the owl is dry, add it to a headpin.
2. String on two bead caps, upside down.
3. Trim the wire to 1/4" with wire cutters and form a simple loop.
4. Tie on waxed cord.

Each one will have his own personality! Create them in the colors that match your holiday decor.  I could see some in metallic colors too.

Remember if you make some, I'd love to see what you create!

This post has been added to the Art Bead Scene's Ornament Blog Hop, check out the great line up of creative ornaments here
The Idea Room

November 29, 2013

Last Minute Prepping for Online Holiday Sales

If you own an online shop I'm sure you've been preparing for a while for the holiday rush. Here are a few tips to give your shop a once over to make sure your shop shines and sparkles.

1. Give your shop or website a quick holiday makeover
  • Add a little holiday charm to your banner, logos and graphics on your homepage.
On my website this graphic links directly to my holiday collection.

I love Picmonkey and added some greenery and snowflakes to my banners in minutes.  Here is a before and after snapshot of my Etsy shop banners with a little holiday cheer.   I think less is more when it comes to adding a festive touch.  I kept with the same color scheme and graphics that related to my logos.  Picmonkey makes it super easy to update your logo for the holidays. 

My Etsy shops: Humblebeads & Humblebeads Jewelry

2. Make it easy to shop!
  • Have any sales promotions on the homepage of your website or top of your banner.
  • Include your holiday shipping schedule and deadlines for delivery by Christmas.
  • Create categories like Gifts Under $30, Stocking Stuffers, etc. that will help with those who are quickly browsing your shop. (And isn't that everybody!)
  • Rearrange your shop to merchandise your designs.  Shop owners spend a lot of time creating displays and store windows for a reason! Group complimentary items together encourage more sales, like earrings and bracelets that match a necklace.  
3. Get Creative with Marketing.
Do not bombard your social media and mailing list with only 'buy this, shop now' messages.  Mix up your promotions with creative marketing for best results.

Woodland Folk Outfit

  • Pair your jewelry up with outfits on Polyvore.  If you don't have time or skills to create Polyvore sets, browse the sets already created and write a blog post pairing up your jewelry with someone's styled outfits!
  • Put together gift guides on your blog including your jewelry and picks from other artists that compliment your brand.  Here is a Teen Stocking Stuffer Gift Guide I created last year.
  • Use Instagram to share orders your packaging, collections of items or your creative process - share those photos on Facebook too.  
  • Style a few photos with holiday backgrounds, props or models dressed in holiday outfits. Share them on Pinterest, your blog and social media.
  • Give back - share gift tags, holiday packaging ideas and more with your shoppers on your blog or in a newsletter.  
4. Make customers for life, not just holiday sales!
  • Include a thank you and discount code for future purchases in each order this holiday season.
  • Include extra business cards or postcards that tell a little about your jewelry, these will probably be included in the gift that is given.
  • Send a short email thanking your customer for shopping with you and include a link to sign up for your mailing list or ask if you can add them to your mailing list.  
  • Packaging your holiday items in winter themes that are inclusive.  I like snowflake themes, gold or silver, greenery or red stripes and dots.
  • Reward big shoppers! If someone really splurged at your shop, include a small free gift that compliments their order.  I have a collection of tiny charms that I include in larger orders.  
 5. Think beyond the holidays.
  • Take a cue from the big stores and clear out extra inventory at the end of the year with a sample sale.
  • Promote jewelry to wear at New Year's Eve parties.  
  • Keep your shop open during and after Christmas.  Don't miss out on those shopping with their Christmas money and Etsy gift certificates! If you are traveling or take a few days off for the holidays include a note in your shop and in your thank you email. 
6. Stay sane during the hustle and bustle!
  • Schedule your marketing, blog posts and social media for the rest of the month.  Use Hootsuite to schedule posts to Facebook and Twitter. Write blog posts to schedule for the busy season ahead.
  • Have a shipping schedule and get help if you need it.  Find a student, retired friend or young mom to help you a few hours a week during the busy times.
  • Stock up on your most popular gift items.  A few extra hours of work now will save you some late nights when you will want to merry-making!
  • Create a shipping station in that is stocked with gift boxes, bubble envelopes, tissue paper, ribbons, washi tape, business cards, tape, markers - everything you need to ship orders should be in one place.  Order boxes and envelopes in bulk to save on costs.  
  • Take a few minutes at the end of each day to clean up your work area, the holidays can quickly create chaos and that will lead to extra stress!
  • Take time off! Don't work all day, every day. If you need help, bite the bullet and hire someone.  Everyone is looking for extra work around the holidays.  Be realistic about what can be accomplished in a day and stick with a schedule. 

November 27, 2013

5 Beaded Ornament Tutorials and Holiday Sale News

This is it, the start of all the holiday hustle and bustle.  I'm a fan of the merry making, the decorating, the gift-giving and the magic of this time of year.  What I'm not a fan of is that every where I go I feel like my holiday is overrun with commercials and in your face advertising. Hello jingle bells, if you know what I mean!  I do love a good sale, but I want it mixed in with nostalgia or warm fuzzy feelings, not the pressure to perform by giving the perfect gift.  I'm also more likely to buy handmade or support my local businesses.  We live in a very small tourist town and they need all the support they can get this time of year! 

If you haven't read How to Unplug the Christmas Machine, I highly recommend it for finding ways to add more meaning back into your holidays, no matter how you celebrate them.  It's all about honing in on what makes this time of year meaningful and special to you and your family and how to unplug from commercialism, other people's expectations and your own unrealistic expectations to create that mythical 'perfect' holiday. It's a good how-to on bringing more peace and joy into your celebrations this year and I'm all about that!

The start of our holiday is always an ornament making party, sometimes it's just Jess and me and other times it's a full blown fete with the whole gang.  This weekend we will enjoy a big to-do with aunts, my mom,  sisters, daughters, cousins and nieces.  I will be scouring Pinterest today for a project that we can all create.  Last year we felted ornaments.  I'm thinking maybe owls will take over this year, but we will decide tomorrow during our Thanksgiving dinner - because hey, they family that crafts together, stays together! 

Here is a round up of past Humblebeads Ornament Tutorials:

Woodland Ornaments

If you are starting your holiday shopping or gift making this week I am offering 20% off all my shops until Monday. This weekend I'm sharing a few new projects and inspirations so stop by on Saturday before you head off to enjoy your day or subscribe to my blog through BlogLovin or like my Facebook page

Humblebeads Etsy Shop - Here you will find holiday beads and best sellers here.  I will also have a few new beads on Monday. - Shop my entire line, most beads are made-to-order. - See my latest collection of jewelry and one-of-a-kind designs.  We put together a few handy gift-guides on the site.

Humblebeads Jewelry on Etsy - Here you'll find some of my best sellers along with sale items.  I will be adding sale items on Monday for a huge sample sale!

The details: Use discount code MERRY20 at any of the above shops.  If you order from more than one shop, the excess shipping will be refunded. Sale orders will ship out on Monday and Tuesday.

Sale goes through Monday and cannot be used for custom orders or past orders. 

In case you are wondering I have returned here to blog again, it's too complicated keeping things separate.  You'll find beads, crafts, jewelry, trends and a little bit more about my life - because gosh darn it, I actually got away from the bead table this year and starting enjoying more of the world around me.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!