To pin or not to pin…

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I, like many fellow crafters, have a Pinterest account and curate a few boards. I am not an avid pinner like some people. I’ve seen some boards with hundreds of pins, some pinners who have hundreds of boards with hundreds of pins… how do they find the time? I have about three public boards and one private board. The main one is the one I use to showcase items from my Etsy shop. Every time I upload a new listing I pin it to the board.

F&P Board

The other board I have is one of the first boards I started, pinning a few cute craft ideas, some I tried, others I adapted and the rest I just smile at. The third board is one called ‘My Talented Friends’. My idea was for the friends I have (and family members) who are crafty and creative that I would pin their stuff to get their work seen by more people. However as some of my friends work mainly off Facebook and not via sites like Etsy or have their own website I’ve not been able to pin as many things as I had hoped.

Friends

Initially I had pinned a few woodwork creations by an old school friend, but he seems to have now stopped selling on Etsy, which is a shame as his work was lovely and I was sorely tempted to get a lovely new chopping board from him! (Maybe I still can – I’ll just have to ask!) A while back we did a crafty swap with each other. I made him an iPad sleeve out of some thick grey felt and he did me some mdf cut outs to simulate the sizes of different techno-gadgets for me to use to make pouches and holders out of. I have been pretty lame and not actually used any of them – but do plan to at some point (before the technology becomes obsolete!) I also pinned some items from a lovely lady I met at a Christmas craft fair last year.

I also had pinned some of my favourite photographs my Dad had up for sale when he created his own Etsy shop last year. However, sadly he became discouraged after four months had passed with no interest. I was a bit sad that he hadn’t given it more of go, with more networking and marketing – considering his career background is marketing, but who knows, maybe he’ll try again one day. He is a very talented photographer and has done some great shots over the years, and specialises in candid shots, the kind when people don’t know their photograph is being taken. He has some great ones from his travels around the world during his working life: weathered faces of Japanese men, a row of elderly people on a bench taken from the back in black and white and several topless ladies which I won’t go into too much detail about…

But recently an old friend of mine who has been running a children’s clothes making business through Facebook has opened a new website – so I can eagerly pin some of her lovely items to share with people too – for those of you who love gorgeous handmade children’s clothes head on over to Vintage Verity – you won’t be disappointed!

My fourth board is my secret board, the one I use to pin things that inspire me to create new items. Why do I keep it secret? I suppose so that if I did decide to make anything similar to them that people wouldn’t look from one board to the other and go ‘oooh, I see…’ I don’t know really. Is there any benefit to me pinning items from my shop to Pinterest? Does it not lead to people just potentially copying my items rather than buying anything from me? Maybe. I don’t get masses of re-pins or likes of my pins, but I do have one very popular pin that gets re-pinned or liked pretty much everyday and it is one of my most simple items – a set of felt heart decorations. I have no doubt that it is mainly re-pinned in order for people to copy it, and I’m OK with that. It is a simple thing, it’s not highly designed or very individual to me. And the item that has brought more people to my shop from Pinterest? That will be this simple set of Christmas Tree decorations. It is interesting that both of them are simple designs that I suppose are things people might want to make for themselves or get their kids to make.

Hearts Trees

Me Pinterest

As for whether I get any sales out of it, well I don’t know really. I see in my shop stats where people have been referred to my shop from, so I can see if someone has clicked on a link from my blog, or from my Facebook page or via Pinterest. Most of the time people have clicked on items that have since sold out. I don’t have enough hours in the day to curate the kinds of Pinterest boards I have seen out there. Fabulous collections of hundreds of beautiful things, but perhaps I spend more time doing and making and working than thinking and musing over stuff. Plus every time I dip into other boards on Pinterest I seem to lose whole chunks of my day, so I am too scared to do it too often in case I don’t resurface for a week. Plus there is the thing that if I pinned all the things I saw that I liked, would I ever go back to the board to look at them? What would I do with it all?

Pinterest Black Hole

Yep… (Drawn by me – you can copy it if you really want to – or pin it, whatever.)

How about you? Do you use Pinterest? What do you use it for? Are you a crafter who sells – do you think Pinterest has garnered you more sales? Please do comment and let me know!

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Other ways of being creative

So as well as sewing, the odd bit of sketching here and there and cooking the odd bit of interesting food, I also enjoy taking photographs.

Back in 2010 my town was getting involved in the Britain in Bloom scheme – getting local areas to make their gardens look beautiful and in turn the council made the effort with hanging baskets, floral beds and planters around the town. As part of this they decided to hold a photography competition of shots of flowers. My husband and I decided to enter a couple of pictures and after a while I had a letter inviting me to the awards ceremony – not just for the photography competition but also for the local garden prizes. When we got there and looked around at the photographs up on display I was amazed to see that my photograph had been awarded first prize! I won some vouchers for a local garden centre and was really pleased! Sadly this seemed to just be a one off as they have never run the competition again.

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My winning sunflower photograph (by Alex Cleverley.)

My town also hosts an annual Arts Festival and I’d never really known much about it until I met my husband. The first year we were together we had gone into town to have a look around the local Heritage centre that hosts a gallery of the photography clubs best photographs of that year. You could go around and note down the numbers of your three favourite photographs and I guess the most popular one would win a prize. It was in going round that gallery that we found out there was a photography competition as part of the arts festival and the final day for entries was that day. We took down the details and headed home to look through our recent photographs and picked up to three to enter each. I was pretty surprised to get an email the next day to tell me my photograph had been chosen as the winning shot! Twice in the same year!

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My winning entry – Virgin Sunset (by Alex Cleverley.)

I was presented with a glass trophy on the final night of the festival. I think the organiser was expecting me to be a man – with the name Alex – I get that a lot!

Since then I’ve not been as lucky and haven’t won any other photography competitions, but my husband did come third in 2012!

These have been some of my previous entries:

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Close up of a peacock feather and wintery Cow Parsley by me Alex Cleverley.

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Grass seed and Sycamore seeds by me Alex Cleverley.

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Pony on the Ridgeway by me Alex Cleverley

The festival also has a poetry competition and the first time I entered it I ended up with third prize – a gift card for Waterstones Book Shop – that I used to buy some poetry books with. I’ve been writing poetry on and off since my early teens. Of course back then it was pretty much angst ridden rubbish. One year my school bag was stolen and I lost a book full of poetry I had written – with no copies anywhere else. I was pretty upset. With it went my Walkman and most of my school books and my purse. I had to call my Mum to collect me from school as I couldn’t get the bus home without my purse. It was never found and I always wonder to this day whatever happened to it.

I don’t really write so much poetry these days, but I usually try to do some to enter into the poetry competition, although last year the organisers decided not to run the poetry competition, which was a real shame. I hope they reinstate it this year.

My third prize entry was as follows:

Art for Art’s Sake

He sits with charcoaled fingers
The room dimly lit
Face smudged from self-dejection
Hollowed eyes – empty canvas
Sketches patina the stippled floor
A thousand masterpieces in miniature
Discarded, inadequate – so he thinks
His muse lies in another room, inked black
Drawn to death
Her pastel hues foreshortened
Nude lines upon the paper
By such artful time etched hands
Capturing her ample shadows
Her slender tones
Practised, tangled limbs
Seated – reclining – erect – genuflect
Eraser worn to a stub
Rubber fragments strewn
Tell the tale of the conquered artist
The toughest critic – his own
Palette not intense enough
To arrest her beauty
To inhale, exhale, reproduce her bloom
Each crumpled piece a miscarriaged image
Their amalgamation in art – desolate.

by Alex Cleverley

 

Finally photos…

Eventually after some procrastinating playing Mahjongg this morning, I took photos of the items I have been making over the last few weeks! Plus I also made another set of christmas decorations today.

The vast majority of items are Christmas related, getting stocked up for my upcoming craft fairs. So Christmas pics today and other non-Christmas items to come tomorrow!

ImageLittle Set of Angels

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Blue Snowflake Mittens

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Red Star Mittens

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Cookie Hearts

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Cookie Stars

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Christmas Puddings

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Gingerbread Houses

ImageImagePolar Bears

ImageMini Wreaths

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Larger Stuffed Wreaths

So there you go. I will be making more decorations over the next couple of weeks. Let me know which ones are your favourite!

(And I have finally caved and ordered a new battery charger for my camera…)