DIY: Love Letter Books for Your Valentine

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Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays, probably because I’m a big mush at heart. I like to think of it as the Thanksgiving for love– a chance to tell the people you love how special they are, and how much they mean to you.

This year I thought I’d turn all those ideas into a keepsake– a Love Letter Book that two people can pass back and forth until it is filled with compliments, thanks, and well wishes. It’s a perfect activity for kids or adults, and needs only a couple of basic supplies (and the free templates included below.)

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Supplies

• A few sheets of colored card stock or scrapbook paper for your covers.
• A printer, and some basic text weight paper for your inside pages
• A pair of scissors
• A ruler
• A pencil (preferably a mechanical one, you’ll see why.)
• The template pages below

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There are a couple of ways to transfer the template onto your card stock. You can print directly on the card stock (if your printer is up to that), cut out the template form and trace it onto the card stock, or (as I have done here) use transfer paper to transfer the lines to the paper you will use for your cover.

First I lined up the transfer paper under my template and over my card stock…

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Then traced the outside lines with my pencil.IMG_5768
You can see that I also made a mark where the dotted line was on my template.

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Using that mark, I used a the end of a mechanical pencil (lead retracted) to put a score line into my card stock. That will make for a better fold.

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If you aren’t familiar with scoring- it’s a basic process that pushes down the fibers of the paper, and encourages the paper to fold on that mark. Since I am folding diagonally across a sheet of card stock, the score line makes a big difference.

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After I have scored both sides of the cover, I use the smooth end of the pencil to burnish (flatten) the fold.

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I then used the Page Template to cut out a total of 12 hearts, folded them in half, and made two stacks of 6. These will be the inside pages of our two halves of my heart book.

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I took one stack and lined it up with the fold on one side of my cover.

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I made a tiny snip in the bottom fold of the cover and pages to secure my string.

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I cut two pieces of string/ribbon, 12″ each, and wrapped one around the cover and pages on each side, following the fold.

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Then I tied the string firmly in a knot at the top of each heart, binding the heart books together, and leaving me enough extra sting to tie the book closed.

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Once you close the pages and tie the book up you have a lovely two-part book to decorate and fill with love.

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You can write all the things you admire about your best friend, your sister, your daughter…

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and if you’re lucky you’ll read something just as special in the other half of the book.

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Because Valentine’s Day isn’t just for romantic love- it’s time to show your appreciation of all the people around you.

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But hey, if your Valentine is more of the romantic variety,  that’s okay too.

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DIY: Make your own PhotoCorners + Printables

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Did you know you can make your own photo corners?

I got tired of using boring photo corners in my albums, and to secure my prints, so I came up with a way to make my own custom corners. I usually use a coordinating paper (sometimes decorated) to complement the photo or print. (For instance, I use the Square Flap Method in kraft paper to secure my prints to their backer board in the store. This keeps them safe, without having to use plastic sleeves on everything.)

There are a couple of different ways I make the corners depending on the print of the paper, and how I will be using them. I’ve included a little printable sheet with instructions (one to save and one to share). Click below to print your own.

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If you’re feeling adventurous, try both methods in a variety of sizes. Sometimes really big corners are a blast, and sometimes tiny ones are the way to go. Once you’re done with that…

Print your own captioned photo corners!

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I had so much fun putting together the box template last week, that I thought I’d make some printable corners for you to customize with your own captions. The template pages can be edited in Adobe Reader(available for free here) and have instructions for assembly. (Using the Square Flap Method.)

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All you’ll need to put them together is a pair of scissors and glue (or double-stick tape).
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Each template includes one illustrated and three patterned corners. Feel free to use as many as you like. (I find two work well for smaller photos, while larger photos stay in better with four.)

Click on the thumbnails below to open and save a template.  Then, simply open them in Adobe Reader (available for free here), click on the type to edit what each corner says, and print as many as you want!

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Well, I’m off to make a bunch of corners for my new set of prints. What are you up to today?

DIY: Seed Sling-Shot + Free Template

DIY: Seed Sling-Shot + Free Template
Now, a typical person might throw away the scrappy evidence of a long week of paper making… but no one said I’m typical. My most recent batch of paper contains wildflower seeds, so I decided the scraps would make lovely confetti (and grow, too!)

Using this video tutorial, I made an origami pop-up box perfect for storing a small stash of confetti or flower seeds.

DIY: Seed Sling-Shot + Free Template
I used paper that already had colored pattern on one side, and as an added “bonus”, I printed a corny poem and a thank you message in the box.  So all the people who get one will know to “pull the flaps, fling, and make it bloomy.” I closed each box with a piece of ribbon.

I’m sure you can come up with something less silly- so I’m giving you a pdf template* you can add your own wording to. Click the image below, and go to town!

The template is 8.5×11 inches, and you can resize if you need to. Make sure to use light-weight paper, and fold the printing into the box while you’re working.

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*After you save the file to your desktop, you should be able to open and edit the file in Adobe Reader. If you don’t have Reader, it’s available for free here.

DIY: Crayons + Free Printable Coloring Book!

DIY Crayons + Free Printable Coloring Book #craft #kids #printable #bug

Making your own crayons is a popular craft and a great activity you can do with your kids. I used a mini cupcake mold to make our crayons, but you could also try using a fun shaped silicon mold as well. Get your kids involved and help them make their own party favors for their friends! Plus we’ve got a free printable coloring book (illustrated by me) for everyone to have fun coloring in.

DIY Crayons + Free Printable Coloring Book #craft #kids #printable #favor

DIY Crayons + Free Printable Coloring Book #craft #kids #printable #favor

DIY Crayon Favors

• Old, broken crayons
• Mini cupcake tray (or other oven-proof mold)

First you want to peel the paper off all the crayons. You can soak them in water to make them easier to peel.

Next, break them up into small pieces and place them into the mold. You’ll want to be careful not to fill them too full. You don’t want to overflow the pan.

DIY Crayons + Free Printable Coloring Book #craft #kids #printable #favor

Preheat oven to its lowest setting. I set mine for 170 degrees. Bake the crayons in oven for approx. 30 minutes, or until they are completely melted. Let cool completely (about 1 hour) and pop the crayons out of the mold. I used an x-acto knife to loosen any crayons that did not come out easily.

Package crayons in hand-stamped muslin drawstring gift bags and a cute custom favor tag from Evermine.com

DIY Crayons + Free Printable Coloring Book #craft #kids #printable #favor

Click here to download the free printable coloring book!

To assemble, print pages 2-3 back to back. Fold all pages in half and saddle stitch (staple) together to form a book.

DIY Crayons + Free Printable Coloring Book #craft #kids #printable #favor

SHOW + TELL: Watercolor Gift Packaging & Free Printable Gift Wrap

Watercolor Gift Packaging & Free Printable Gift Wrap #printable #giftwrap

I had so much fun making my ‘Cat Nap’ Eye Pillows that I decided to whip up some cute gift packaging to give them as gifts. To start, I decided to make my own gift wrap. First I got out my watercolors and painted some doodles in cool colors; blues, greens and purples. Then, I scanned in the artwork and made a repeating pattern in photoshop.

Watercolor Gift Packaging & Free Printable Gift Wrap #printable #giftwrap

I printed the patterns on my Canon i9900 inkjet printer. It can print oversize so I was able to print 13″x19″ size sheets. I also made an 8.5″x11″ version for you all to download and print (see below)! This free printable gift wrap is perfect for wrapping up small packages.

Watercolor Gift Packaging & Free Printable Gift Wrap #printable #giftwrap

I also tie-dyed some tissue (tutorial on this coming soon!) and made some tissue flower gift toppers following Lia Griffith’s tutorial. I tied each box with baker’s twine and added some custom labels and gift tags courtesy of Evermine.com.

Watercolor Gift Packaging & Free Printable Gift Wrap #printable #giftwrap

Custom labels and gift tags courtesy of Evermine.com.

Watercolor Gift Packaging & Free Printable Gift Wrap #printable #giftwrap

Free Printable Watercolor Gift Wrap

Click on the images below to download, print and use how you like.

Free Printable Watercolor Gift WrapFree Printable Watercolor Leaf Gift Wrap

BIZ: How To Prepare For Your First Craft Show

My booth at the Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Holiday Sale, 2013.

Camp Smartypants‘ booth at Crafty Wonderland Holiday Sale, 2013.

 

Applying for your first ever craft show? We’ve got some important tips to help make your experience fun and successful, plus advice from seasoned craft show vendors and a free printable checklist of must-have items you should have with you.

Choose your show:

When I first started my business, Camp Smartypants, I applied to as many craft shows as possible. Some shows I was busy with customers and other shows I sat in an empty room with no one but other vendors. I recommend doing a bit of research about the event before applying for any show. Find out how many years the event has been running and what ways they promote the show. How many shoppers do they expect to attend? Is it indoor or outdoor? If they don’t seem to have much of a promotion plan, I’d say look for a better show. Without proper promotion, potential shoppers won’t know about the event and you’ll be sitting in your booth by yourself, bored all day.

It’s also a good idea to find out who the show’s past vendors are. Take a look at the event website and browse through their photo galleries (if they have them). Would your products fit in with the other types of vendors? It’s also great to see how people have set-up their booth displays for that particular show as well.

Here I am at my very first craft show in 2009 at the Doug Fir in Portland, Oregon.

Here I am at my very first craft show in 2009 at the Doug Fir in Portland, Oregon.

 

Applying for your first craft show:

Depending on what type of event you are applying too, you’ll need to fill out a detailed application. Make sure you follow their application instructions exactly and provide clear photographs to your work and a link to your website or Etsy shop. Some shows may even ask for a photograph of what your booth will look like so if this is your first craft fair, don’t wait until the last minute to apply as you may have to set up a mock booth to photograph for your application. Also be sure to read the F.A.Q. page on the event’s website. They will often explain further how to submit a good application.

Note: Some shows, like Crafty Wonderland here in Portland or Urban Craft Uprising in Seattle, are fairly competitive to get into, so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t accepted the first time you apply. Instead review your application and look at how you can improve it for the next time you apply and yes, you should definitely apply again!

Our first craft show was in Missoula, MT called the Missoula MADE fair. We were living in Spokane at the time, so it was the closest one to us. It was summer and held in an outdoor park downtown and it was very memorable! The day started out sunny and beautiful, but they’re known for quick sudden thunder storms to roll in. The wind picked up and it started hailing and raining for about the last hour of the show. People were packing up and leaving. We had lots of prints, cards, some tea towels and pillows, but were lucky enough to be towards the center area of the covered canopy they had, so our things didn’t get too wet, but still, it was pretty crazy. – Year Round Co.

How Much Product Should I Make?

As much as you possibly can. Bring everything you have, even if you don’t think you’ll sell all of it. You want your booth to look nice and full. You don’t want a big table with only a few items on it. I’ve always gone by the rule, the more you make, the more you’ll sell.

Designing Your Booth:

I always set up my entire booth at home before the show. That way I know exactly how things will be set up and I can take my time figuring out the best display for my products. Use a tape measure to mark off the exact dimensions of your booth space in your living room and start setting things up. Experiment with different arrangements of your products to find the most appealing setup. It’s good to display product at different levels so that the customer’s eye has multiple places to look when visiting your booth.

Year Round Co. show booth

Year Round Co. (formerly Slide Sideways) at Renegade Holiday Show in San Francisco.

 

Our current display is made up of pallet wood that Scott put together and painted. Our display has to be durable enough to be taken apart multiple times a year while also fitting into our car and, of coarse, look good and able to hold all the product we carry, so a lot of thought went into the design and how it would break down. We seem to constantly be evolving how it looks or how our new products fit into it too. –Year Round Co.

BOOTH ESSENTIALS:

Table. Consider the size of your allotted booth space. Your booth display should fill your entire space. You don’t want a table that’s too big or too small.
Tablecloth. When choosing a tablecloth (I like using a twin size flat sheet), consider the color and look of your products. You want a tablecloth color that will compliment your handmade goods and make them stand out. Usually neutral colors work best (unless your products are the same color). Avoid using patterned fabric for your tablecloth as this can potentially distract the viewer and make your booth look too busy.
Banner. Make some sort of sign or banner with your shop name on it. I made my sign by hand-painting my shop logo onto canvas and sewing it into a banner I can hang in front of my table.
Signage. All your products need to be clearly marked with a price. Consider making small signs or tags to attach to each item.
Display Items. This is where you really have to be creative. Choose display items that are lightweight and easy to set up. You don’t have to break the bank; great places to find baskets, frames, containers, etc. are local thrift and vintage stores. Don’t be afraid to give an old crate or shelf a DIY facelift with a little cleaning or new paint job. You can also look at IKEA or a display fixture store in your area (like Portland Store Fixtures here in Portland, Oregon.) Lastly, when designing your booth, you can’t depend on having a wall behind you. Everything in your display needs to be free-standing.

A Tea Leaf's booth at Crafty Wonderland, 2012

A Tea Leaf‘s booth at Crafty Wonderland 2012

I use wood crates, old tackle boxes and vintage glass collected from thrift stores to display my handmade jewelry and art. Some things I make sure to have with me at every craft show are: a lint roller, paper towels, coffee, and a mirror for customers to use when trying on my jewelry. –A Tea Leaf

The Day of the Show:

I like to arrive to any craft show 1-2 hours before the doors open. I don’t want to feel stressed or rushed about setting up plus I like to give myself time to run to the bathroom, grab a cup of coffee/tea, and get settled into my booth before the doors open.

It’s also a good idea to ask a friend or family member to help you load in and out for your event. Remember that you have to load your entire booth into the show space and you may have to carry things quite a distance. (If you have a hand truck or rolling cart, bring it).

In addition to bringing my entire booth display and all my products, I always bring the following items to any craft fair. It’s better to ‘be prepared’ than be freaking out about forgetting something or something going wrong. This checklist will help you have a stress-free, successful show! You can download it here and use it for your first show!

Free Printable Craft Show Checklist by Adventures In Making http://www.adventures-in-making.com

CRAFT SHOW CHECKLIST: (Free Printable)

A chair. If it can fit behind your booth, you’re going to want it.

Water bottle and food. You most likely will not be able to leave your booth during the event. Depending on how long the event lasts bring plenty of snacks or lunch so you don’t get hungry/cranky.

Emergency tool kit: Pens, pencils, tape, hammer, pliers, box cutter, scissors, safety pins, tacks, twine, zip ties, extra price tags/stickers, band-aids, tampons, Ibuprofen, hand wipes, napkins.

Change, cash box and calculator. make sure you have plenty of change (mainly $1 and $5). I usually get $100 in change for a show and that’s been plenty for me. I keep all my change in a metal cash box behind my booth. You could also wear an apron or fanny pack to keep all your change in.

Square App. an essential tool for any craft show. The Square App allows you to take credit cards on your smartphone or tablet. You can order the Square Reader for free here. Before the show starts, set up your free account and do a test transaction (I usually charge $1) to make sure it’s ready and working. Make sure your device is fully charged and don’t use up your battery power on facebook or instagram during the event. Also- ask the event coordinator if they have wifi access for vendors.

A notebook and pen to track sales. It’s good practice to write down every sale. That way you can review what items sold the best and how much money you made at the end of the day.

Business cards. Business cards a SUPER important to have at a craft show. I order mine from Got Print. You can also look for local printers in your area. Make sure your business card includes your name, your shop name, your email and website/etsy shop. This way customers who aren’t looking to buy something the day of the show can find you again.

Mailing list sign up sheet. So you can stay in touch with your customers.

Tools of your craft. Especially good for last minute repairs. If show traffic is slowing down, I’ll usually get out my supplies for making my products and get to work. Customers love seeing you in action! It could spark conversation and questions about you and your work. Just make sure it’s something you can put down easily so you can continue to interact with customers and make sales.

Packaging materials. You’ll need to bag or box up your product when someone makes a purchase. Make sure you have enough bags, tissue, etc. to properly package sold goods for customers.

Wear comfortable shoes and layers. Keep in mind that you’ll most likely be on your feet most of the time so comfortable shoes are important. Also, you never know what the temperature of the room will be (or what the weather will be if you’re event is outdoors) so it’s best to have a few layers of clothing you can take on/off.

We keep a small box that holds all the nuts/bolts/screws we need, plus a screw driver, extra hooks, and tape. We always keep pens, lots of business cards, and sometimes even our wholesale info on hand too, you never know if a potential store owner will be stopping by. Snacks and water are never forgotten either! – Year Round Co.

A FEW FINAL TIPS:

Show Etiquette. Tearing down your booth and/or loading out before the show ends is extremely bad show etiquette and disrupts the flow of any show. Even if you sold out of all your products, don’t tear down your booth (unless you have special permission from the event coordinator). If you tear down early, a lot of shows will put you on their ‘naughty’ list and won’t invite you back to do the show again. Also, be sure to leave your space as you found it and throw away any garbage.

Exposure and feedback. Don’t be too upset if you don’t sell out or make a ton of money at your first show. Many of the shows I first attended I didn’t make much more than the cost of the booth fee. Exposure of you and your work and customer feedback are the best things you can gain at your first show. This is your chance to test out your products, interact with customers and receive instant feedback on your work. As a rule, if I at least make my booth fee back, I consider it a success.

Outdoor shows. If you are planning to attend an outdoor show, I recommend using a pop-up canopy. They are quite an investment to buy, so ask the show coordinator of there’s someone you can borrow or share a canopy with. Also remember to prepare you booth for inclimate weather. You don’t want anything to fall or collapse due to a gust of wind and you don’t want your product to be ruined by rain or fade in the sunshine. Also- sunscreen and bug repellent are important.

Network! A craft show is the perfect opportunity for you to meet other like-minded people! Talk to the other vendors. Tell them it’s your first show and don’t be afraid to ask them questions. I’ve made many new friends this way and it’s great to offer each other advice and support.

Opportunities. Local shop owners might be attending the event on the look out for new handmade products for their shop! I’ve received many consignment opportunities with stores that first saw my work at a craft show.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: The Ultimate Craft Show Preparation Link List by Handmadeology