Welcome to the blog for Ali's Craft Studio by Alison Lloyd. I am a crafter of peelable stained glass designs & handpainted keyrings and I look forward to sharing with you my news direct from Kent (the Garden of England)

Make sure you visit the shop at www.studiocrafts.net to purchase your own handmade decorations to bring fun and colour into every corner of your home

Monday, 29 March 2010

Another Busy Week

Well here we are again - Monday morning and another busy week looms ahead!  

Saturday brought my first craft market of the year in Bromley, Kent and it was great to get back to selling my decorations and chatting to some lovely people on the stall.   Anyone who knows Bromley High Street will be aware that it is like working in a wind tunnel! 

Fortunately, the weather Gods were pretty kind and, apart from one very heavy (albeit brief) rain shower late afternoon, the rain stayed away until closing time.  By the time everything was packed away, the rain had stopped so we could pack up the car in the dry.

It was a good day but tiring - it is amazing how much I ache at the moment!  From lifting heavy display boards and stock to standing and stretching over tables, etc. it is like a gentle, all-day workout!

This coming weekend we are down in Portsmouth for a three-day show at the wonderful Fort Purbrook - if you haven't been, it is a fascinating place with the most amazing views and well worth a visit.  A long journey for us (this show is the furthest one) so it is tiring with a 2-hour drive each way but hopefully the visitors will come and buy and make it worthwhile.  This show is organised by Woodland Crafts - one of my favourite craft fair organisers - and you can be sure there will be lots of wonderful stalls so please come down and see us if you can.  Open from 10.30am to 4.30pm on Saturday 3rd, Sunday 4th and Bank Holiday Monday 5th April.

I have a few orders to make up from the weekend and spent yesterday doing the first stage of these and some of the more popular designs to replace stock which was sold at the market.  Today is colouring day! 

One of the members of the craft forum - Jill from Craftee Cardz - is coming over on Wednesday morning to look through my cardmaking materials stash and hopefully will be able to get herself lots of useful and beautiful new stock at bargain prices!  I would love to think that she will be able to make more of her wonderful cards using some of my unused stock.   (You can read about Jill's work and her lovely cards on her blog here)  I am really looking forward to meeting her as we chat a lot on the forum and it will be great to put a face to a name!

The end of the week will be taken up with packaging the new designs, getting the car loaded up ready for a very early start on Saturday morning (boo!!) and the usual stuff.  So, a busy week this week.   I hope I will be able to reclaim some cupboard space after Jill has been which will then be a task for another week - to clear out anything which is left and sort out my craft room (I have heard a rumour that there is a floor in there somewhere!)

Hope you all have a great week, whatever you are up to - sadly the weather isn't looking too promising but lets hope it cheers up a bit before the holiday weekend.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Coming up this weekend

Well, I am frantically getting everything ready for the market in Bromley on Saturday - my first show since Christmas!!  It is amazing how much you get out of the routine when you haven't had a fair for a while!

I have been making up stock for weeks and have lots of new designs and made more of the best sellers so hopefully I have anticipated what is going to be required for the first few shows.  As you already know, I also redesigned and relaunched my website so it certainly hasn't been quiet!

My stall in Bromley Market - I pray it doesn't rain!!

I am also back on weather watch!  I am sure I am not alone in the crafting community on that one - I am obsessed with whether it is going to rain and how windy it is going to be!  This is so important for outdoor shows (I have lost stock before in Bromley when a gust of wind blew about £35-worth up the High Street!!)  If you can come along to see me, I would love to see you!

After this weekend, my fairs start again in earnest - for full details of where I am, please go to www.studiocrafts.net/events.html   The cats won't be happy - they hate it when we disappear for the day!  Thank God for electronic feeding bowls!

We're not impressed!  Where did everyone go?

Anyway, I guess I had better get back to my packaging, I still have the tablecloths to wash and dry, the trolley to repack....  oh my!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Website Relaunch

At last, I have finished the new, updated Ali's Craft Studio website - it has been a real labour of love but I am really pleased with the result.  I have been waiting for the domain name transfer process to go through the necessary channels and today got the e-mail confirming that the domain name was now fully in my control - Hurrah!! 

I quickly went online and updated all the necessary settings so that www.studiocrafts.net now points to the right place and my new website is now live and kicking!! 

Here is a snapshot of the new look site - please come on over and tell me what you think - hope you like it as much as I do...

My first fair of the year is this coming weekend - I will be at Bromley Market from 9am on Saturday (27th March).   This craft and farmers market takes place right in the High Street.

Hope to see you there - if you can't make this weekend, please check out my events list on the website for more venues and dates coming up.

Ali xx

Sunday, 14 March 2010

A break from my redesign and progress report...

I thought I would just break off for a brief spell from my mammoth website project just to let you know I am still here!  

As you know from my previous post, I am redesigning my entire website using a new hosting company so am redoing all my pages including the shopping carts - that's over 200 products to resample and load photos and enter details for!   I have spent the whole of the last week permanently attached to my laptop keyboard!   I have all the pages set up and have the remainder of my craft fairs and products to enter.  

As always, I have my two willing helpers - the uber-creative cats!  As seen here both in serious thinking mode...

Unfortunately, because life tends to throw you a curve ball every now and again, I am trying to do all of this with a stinking cold!  Both hubby and I have been suffering this week and we feel like we are living in a doctor's waiting room at the moment - I wish I had bought shares in Kleenex and Lemsip!

I am in the process of getting my domain name servers amended to point to the new site and will let you all know when the new version is accessible - hopefully with all the products in place!

Last, but by no means least - Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful Mum!  Sorry we can't be with you today - hope you and Steve had a nice lunch!

Love ya, Mummy!!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Hold on to your hats!

Today is a busy day - infact it is likely to be a busy week!  I have a huge mug of tea (and a stash of teabags within easy reach for constant refills!) as I am starting the mammoth task of remaking my ENTIRE website!!

All is still working with the existing site and nothing will change just yet so you can still order any items as normal.

After much thought and research, I have decided to change my web hosting & design software and move to one which I think will have more features to make buying my particular products easier.

My site is currently designed using Mr Site Pro - which has been a very good package.  Sadly they are going through major technical problems at the moment due to some new features they have tried to introduce which have created a nightmare of many of the functions not working properly.  They will eventually get all the bugs fixed but it did prompt me to have a look around at alternatives to see what other people are offering.  

Don't get me wrong, Mr Site has been great (apart from the gremlins they have at the moment which I am sure will be fixed soon).   Building a site with this software is so easy - its like there are little elves inside your computer doing all the hard work to make the pages look how you would like them! 

I now need to move to something that I can make my shop with all the extra options I would like to offer to buyers.

I am currently doing a trial run at some alternative software and so far I like what I see!   I won't go into the details just yet but I am going to have to remake my entire site!!! 

I will try to add updates here as I can but with over 200 products just to add into shopping carts (not to mention all the other pages which need to be created & built) I may be some time....

Thursday, 4 March 2010

You know when you wish you hadn't pressed the button....

... well I do!

OK so I try to keep on top of my website updates and look for little improvements that can be made without making everything too complicated or 'poncy'.   You want a site that looks good but it has to be easy to navigate and use too!

The web design & hosting software I use to create my site is quite often being upgraded to include new features - some of which I have utilised but most are not really relevant.   But a sense of anticipation and, dare I say it, excitement has been gradually building.  All their customers have been teased with talk of some fantastic new features to assist us lowly website builders/owners.   Oh, how I have waited anxiously for this update....

At last, the day finally arrived yesterday and I settled down to start making some major changes which included having to amend most of the links on my pages - no mean feat!   Armed with a mammoth cup of tea and all the patience I could muster, I did what I needed to do and pressed the save & update button.....

What happened was that any pages visited suddenly had security issue warnings!  AARGH!!! 

So, what started as an exciting morning of upgrades to my website turned into a nightmare of trying to roll back the clock and put things back to how they were (at least until they can get the gremlins out of the system!)

Resulting in

You know those days when you have been manically busy all day but have nothing to show for it at the end?   That was yesterday for me.

I am glad to say that Ali's Craft Studio site is fully restored and apologies to anyone who may have experienced problems yesterday!   The online shop is back to normal and I am about to update it with some new products.   But you can be sure I will be checking carefully before I press the button again!

Why not pop along for a visit and pick up some decorations for Easter or a unique Mother's Day gift?

I think I will wait a while before trying that long awaited update again.... after all, it was only the day the new features were launched - maybe I wasn't as patient as I thought after all!  

Now, I had better go and add all those new products to the shop... Wish me luck - I'm going in......

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Another Award

It is almost getting embarrassing now that my little blog has been awarded four awards in such a short time.  Thank you everyone - there are so many fantastic blogs out there, it is a real honour to receive them and be considered inspirational!

My latest award has come from the wonderful Craftee Cardz - thank you Jill!

I will be passing on some inspirational blog awards myself shortly...