West Elm Handmade Art event

I went with my friend, Jess, to a We Heart Handmade Art event last night . The event was hosted by Etsy and Remodelista, and was held at the West Elm store near Columbus Circle.

I had been reluctant about making the long trip uptown for the event, especially since the weather was rainy and bleak yesterday, but it paid off! I had a surprisingly excellent time. It was a party atmosphere with free drinks and really amazing sweet treats (like these adorable mini cones filled with mocha mousse!) from FIKA espresso bar. I had quite a few…

The event was packed, but the West Elm store was very large. The handmade vendors were dispersed and integrated throughout the store. It was sometimes hard to tell if you were looking at a West Elm product or one of the handmade art displays. There were jewelers, printers, illustrators, food vendors, and more. We met some talented artists.

My favorite handmade goodies: candy from Kettle Cronfections (I bought some!), Deep End Mugs from Clam Lab, thank you cards from Pawling Print Studio, and the “Everything’s Alright Forever” print from Enormous Champion.

Jess and I went to do some shopping — I’m always up for checking out handmade wares, plus I am in the market for a new rug — but also to do some networking. We are working on a super-secret (i.e. still in beta) project together called Ace Department. Check it out if you are a female entrepreneur looking for a supportive online community. We think it’s going to be grand.

I forced Jess to do the Smilebooth with me:

fashion & craft

I have a double-header day today! Right now I am thrilled to be at the Lucky Fashion and Beauty Blogging Conference. (In the photo above is Brandon Holley, editor of Lucky Magazine, Kerry Diamond from Lancome, Mallory Andrews from Bergdorf Goodman, and David Duplantis from Coach.) I am not technically a 100% fashion blogger, but I would like to bring more focus to this blog and I love fashion and beauty… We’ll see how today goes. If you want to “attend” the conference, too, check out the live stream here.

In the afternoon, I am headed to Etsy for the Etsy Success SYmposium. Swap-bot (i.e. me) is hosting an in-person swap at the end of the day with the attendees. I am excited to meet all of the Etsy sellers! (You can also watch the Success Symposium live on the web here.)

february fatigue

I’m in trouble. I’ve over-scheduled my February and I’m already starting to feel burned out. Today was not a happy day at my office — thank goodness I work alone! Thankfully, I got to steal away some time for crafting. I made the two twin matchboxes above for my February Love Matchbox Swap. I’ve been hosting the same swap for years, but I still enjoy it. The matchboxes are such a quick project, but they are fun to customize and fill with little trinkets. It is fun to create pretty, little things. And to photograph them, too.

I was supposed to head into the city tonight for a social event, but I am “calling in sick” and cooking some healthy, hearty soup. I need a night to myself to relax or I am afraid I am going to get sick. It sounds dramatic, but I have a full weekend of running and a really busy next week, including the Etsy Success Symposium. (Swap-bot is a sponsor!) Fun!

another trip down Martha lane…

I was lucky enough to attend my second Martha Show taping yesterday. (You can read about my first taping here.) I follow TheMarthaShow on Twitter and they often tweet about upcoming shows that have seats available. If you live in the New York area and have a flexible schedule, you can contact them when you see a tweet about available tickets. As a single attendee, like me, I think it is easier for them to squeeze you into less than full audiences.

I attended the afternoon taping (they had taped a live show in the morning, too) and was at the studio for almost four hours. It took a big chunk out of my workday, but it was totally worth it. I love seeing Martha and her team in action. They are all so professional and nice. (They also all dress extremely nice – casual, but completely fashionable and neat.) They really work hard to make sure the audience has a fun time.

The show will air tomorrow, Thursday, February 3rd at 10 am on the Hallmark Chanel. I am sitting in the front row of the upper audience section and I think they caught me on camera a few times… I hope I don’t look too dorky. I think I was wearing too much blush and I really hope I don’t come across as someone desperate to be on tv….

Anyhoo, the show was great. The girls from Crafternoon were there to make vintage-inspired valentines and Grace Young, a Chinese chef, was there demonstrating two kinds of stir fry. The best part: we got to take home a bunch of free gifts! I try not to get my hopes up for free stuff, but it is definitely always welcome. We received the Crafternoon book (yay!), the cookbook, Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge, and a handy, little slicing tool from Grace Young, and a Sony Pocket eReader!! Martha had on Abraham Verghese, the author of her latest “Books I’m Reading” selection, Cutting for Stone — which looks very interesting — and we got an e-copy of his book on the eReader! Very cool! I am charging mine right now and can’t wait to play with it and start reading.

An exciting tidbit: I got to ask Martha a question after the show! They allowed a little time at the end to ask her a few questions and I raised my hand to ask about her lip. She had cut it pretty bad a few weeks ago and posted about it on her blog. She says it is pretty much healed and it does look fantastic — you couldn’t even tell she had been cut. One more exciting tidbit: maybe I shouldn’t share too much, but Martha used the word grandchild during the Q&A session!! Sounds like she may have some good news to share soon!

All in all, it was another great experience at The Martha Show, but I have a question: how many tapings do you think you have to attend before they put your name on the “crazy fanatic/groupie/stalker” list? I sure hope I’m not on my way down that path! I do love Martha, but maybe I should tone down all of the Martha tweeting and Martha blogging… what do you think?

Etsy Craft Night with My Paper Crane

My friend, Lisa, and I made it back to Etsy Labs Craft Night today after a long hiatus. I was really looking forward to this event because it was hosted by Heidi Kenney of My Paper Crane. Heidi is a designer and hand crafter who I have been following online for more than six years. I bought some of her adorable buttons way back in the day when I first discovered the online craft scene, and she was one of the first crafters to respond to my online survey when I was working on my graduate thesis. Anyhoo, she is lovely. (And, she has a new craft book out called Every Day’s a Holiday.)

She showed us how to make her signature valentines (it’s the eyes that make ’em) and Lisa and I played around in Etsy’s new Magnolia Photo booth.

The Etsy Labs have moved into a big, new space. There is plenty of room for crafting, plus the new photo booth, and an awesome card catalog filled with craft supplies. It is pretty much my favorite thing ever. I wish I could have it at my house.

Like always, I highly recommend Etsy Craft Nights. They are always a fun time and they are FREE! You can’t really beat that. If you are ever in New York on a Monday, come over to Brooklyn and get crafting!

product review: Flip Pal Mobile Scanner

This article was originally published on…
CraftCritique_bloggraphic

Years ago, I worked for an art magazine, and scanning fine art images was a big part of my job. Since I had access to a professional grade scanner at work, I never got around to purchasing a scanner for home use. Since nearly all of my photography is digital, I mostly got by without one, but there were always instances when I wished I could scan an old photo or an illustration. It just never seemed worth it to go buy a huge, desktop scanner/printer combo for just a few projects or photos. It was a constant conundrum — I wanted to scan things, but I didn’t want to own a bulky scanner that would just take up room on my desk.

The Flip Pal Mobile Scanner solved my conundrum! The Flip Pal is a mini, battery-powered scanner that you can take anywhere. It is approximately 10 inches wide, 6.5 inches tall, and about an inch thick. It weighs about 1.5 pounds. It comes pre-loaded with batteries and a 2GB SD memory card. All you have to do to start scanning is take it out of its packaging. You don’t need to hook it up to a computer or plug it in; just switch it on, and press the scanning button! Magic!

The Flip Pal also comes with a simple instruction booklet and a handy thumb drive “SD to USB converter” that you can use with the SD card to load the scanned photos onto you computer. The thumb drive also contains special Flip Pal photo software that runs on Windows computers and can help you edit photos and stitch together large photos from multiple scans. However, I use Mac computers, so I was not able to access the software. Instead I used iPhoto and Photoshop to easily edit all my scans.

I got married long, long ago in the age of analog photography, and for years I have been meaning to scan some of my wedding photos. A perfect project to test out my new Flip Pal!

The scanning surface is 4 x 6 inches and can scan at a 300 dpi or 600 dpi resolution. Three hundred dpi is a standard print resolution, and scans made at that size can be printed at their original size. Scans made at 600 dpi resolution can be successfully printed up to twice their original size. Many professional scanners work at much higher scanning resolutions, but for nearly all hobby and craft purposes, 600 dpi is plenty large. Plus, each scan is very fast! I scanned over 80 wedding photos and didn’t even use up half of the battery power!

Each scan is displayed on the scanner’s small screen after it is completed. The digital display helps you make sure you positioned the scanned item correctly and allows you to review all of the scans you have made during a session.

Another great feature of the Flip Pal is that you can remove the cover and “contact scan” larger pieces or things that will not fit under the cover. Once the cover has been easily pulled off, you can flip the Flip Pal over and scan… well, really anything!

The clear back allows you to position the scanning surface correctly. I scanned a few of my large wedding photos and also a few older photos that are affixed to a scrapbook this way.

It was incredibly easy to import the scans onto my computer. You simply put the SD card into the USB converter and plug that into your computer. Then, you can import photos just as you normally would off of a digital camera. If you have an SD slot on your computer, you can use that instead of the USB converter. I imported my scans into iPhoto and did a little bit of cropping and editing. The whole scanning process was completely user friendly and easy.

I am thrilled that I finally got some of my old photos scanned, including the two above of my grandparents. I love my new Flip Pal!

Pros:

  • Small size makes it completely portable and easy to store.
  • User friendly and extremely easy to use.
  • No set up – simply open it up and start scanning!
  • Patented flip-and-scan technology – literally flip it over and scan anything!

Cons:

  • The included Flip Pal software only works on Windows computers.
  • The scanning surface is small – 4 x 6 inches.
  • Maximum scanning resolution is 600 dpi – some project may call for a higher res.

Disclosure

Martha Stewart Crafts Circle Cutter

This article was originally published on…
CraftCritique_bloggraphic

I often need to cut circles for use in my crafts. Previous to owning the Martha Stewart Crafts Circle Cutter, I used my two circle paper punches. For more specific sizes I resorted to tracing cups or other circular objects and then cutting the circles by hand. Needless to say, I was excited to try a more efficient method.

The Circle Cutter consists of a rotating measurement circle and a double-sided blade with a large, comfortable handle. I decided to test out my new tool by making cupcake toppers by layering various sizes and colors of paper circles. I gathered my materials (including my Martha Stewart Crafts Glue and Martha Stewart Crafts Cupcake Stickers) and got to work practicing my circle cutting.

The Circle Cutter comes with three blades, so that you can switch them out when they get dull. It is easy to insert the small blades into the handle using the wide plastic covers that are attached to each blade. The two-sided blades are extremely sharp, so you must be careful (obviously, this may not be the best tool for children to use).

You need a large cutting surface to work on. I used a large cutting board, but a craft mat (like this one) would probably work best. Do not cut directly on your kitchen table or desk. The blade easily cuts through even thicker paper and will scratch any surface it comes into contact with.

To begin cutting, place your paper on your work surface. I found it was easiest to cut from large pieces of paper, but if your paper is small, secure it with some tape or other adhesive. Then, place the measurement circle on top of the paper. You must hold down the outer ring of the measurement circle securely. Insert your blade into the hole that corresponds with the size of circle you would like to cut. You can cut circles from 1 inch to 5-1/2 inches, in 1/16 inch increments. I got the best results when the outer ring of the measurement circle was covering a good amount of the paper and also some of the cutting board. The trick is to hold the outer circle very securely, but to not press too hard with the blade. It takes a bit of practice to start cutting circles with perfect edges.

After some practice, I began to get some lovely circles. I just kept cutting lots and lots of circles of varying sizes so that I would have plenty to mix and match to create my cupcake toppers. Some of my first circles didn’t turn out so well and had to be trashed. Sometimes the paper shifted or the blade got caught up and I couldn’t budge it, but with practice it got easier and easier. I found that thicker paper was actually easier to cut because it didn’t get caught up in the rotation of the tool as easily as thinner papers did.

Overall, the Circle Cutter was not quite as easy to use as I was hoping, but it allows for increased versatility when compared to my previous circle cutting methods and it was quite fast once I got the hang of it. I was able to cut more than enough circles for a dozen large cupcake toppers in a short amount of time.

To finish the cupcake toppers, I glued layers of circles together in interesting color combos and then added a decorative element to the center of each. I cut a corresponding circle from patterned paper for the back of each topper, and glued them to the back of each while simultaneously gluing a toothpick in between the layers.

The end results are cute decorations for the mini cupcakes I purchased for my mom’s birthday. Fun! The Circle Cutter saved me a ton of time on this quick project and I know I will use it often in the future.

Pros:

  • Allows you to cut a wide variety of circle sizes — from 1 inch to 5-1/2 inches, in 1/16 inch increments.
  • Includes three double-sided blades.
  • Works on even very thick paper.

Cons:

  • Sharp blades may not be safe for young users.
  • Takes some practice to produce circles with perfect edges.
  • You need a large cutting surface to work on.

The Martha Stewart Crafts Circle Cutter is available online for $17.99 from the EK Success Brands website.

Have you used the Martha Stewart Crafts Circle Cutter? What did you think? Have you used other circle cutting methods or tools? What are your favorites?

Disclosure

the hipster life

I finally got my rear end back to another Etsy Labs Craft Night!! It was so fun — I don’t know why I don’t attend every week! I went with my friends, Jessica & Lisa, and we made fringe scarves with Erica Domesek of the blog and new book, P.S. I Made This.

I haven’t had an excess of time to devote to crafting lately, but I still enjoy following the DIY-ish P.S. I Made This blog for its style and beautiful inspiration collages. Plus, I am totally impressed by Erica’s jump from the web to publishing a book! I had to buy it.

The fringe scarves were super-easy to make from an old t-shirt. Basically you cut off the top of the shirt with the sleeves, then fringe the bottom of the remaining “t-shirt-tube” — simple! They are totally hipster-ish, so I am not sure I have the confidence to rock the fringe scarf on a daily basis, but I had to let Crusher try it on…

I’m going to submit his photo to Hipster Puppies!!

something other than running

Halloween Cupcake Toppers

My life does consist of things other than running — mostly answering email — but also a little bit of crafting. I don’t join a ton of craft swaps lately because of my time constraints, but I couldn’t resist the Halloween Cupcake Toppers Swap. My toppers are two-sided, with this little cutie on one side and mini Frankenstein (‘s monster) on the other. It is fun to fit in a little bit of Halloween creativity… What have you been making for Halloween?

more Maker Faire!

portrait at the Martha Stewart booth

At the Maker Faire on Saturday, the Martha Stewart Living booth had a full Halloween scene set up that you could pose in for photos. Travis was a sport and got in a photo with me. I was excited to find it yesterday on the MSLO Flickr stream!

My article about the World Maker Faire is up on Craft Critique today. Check it out and let me know what you think! You can also see all of the photos from our trip to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in my Flickr set. There are a LOT of photos of the Unisphere… we thought it was pretty cool.