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, 23 January 2012

Handmade Monday : Year of the Dragon

Happy Chinese New Year everyone.   OK, OK, I realise that the majority of us probably don't celebrate this but any excuse for a party right!?  Well, maybe not but as it is the Year of the Dragon I am wondering if my Chinese Dragon design will become a best seller this year...   They are already very popular but it will be interesting to see if sales go up
It never ceases to amaze me what designs are popular, especially with the kids - this one really seems to grab their attention possibly because the colours are so bright - I have five different colour options at the moment and have to admit my favourites are the green (above) and the red one (below)
There are other dragons for those who are feeling a little less fiery and fierce one of which is the really popular Cute Dragon (again available in different colours)  How sweet and innocent is that face?!
Anyway, enough with dragons and onto Handmade Monday (#50!  Can you believe it - where has the time gone!!)  Well, I haven't been slacking this week but I don't actually have photos yet of the new designs I have been developing (one is another dragon...)

However, I have had a great feedback from the customer who bought the large oval design for her beautiful front door - she has ordered some additional flowers to fill some of the 'gaps' top and bottom but I am sure you will agree the finished result is very effective.

Before - a beautiful front door but not much privacy
After (part 1) - Oval peelable decoration blends in well
I will let you see the finished result once the extra flowers have been added into the corners (assuming I get a new photo) but I think this works really well and adds some privacy without obscuring the view completely.

Hope you have had a good weekend - off into the studio to start creating as much new stock as possible (now I have joined Twitter it seems to be taking over my life!!)  I have my first fair of 2012 at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre (AKA 'The Greenhouse'!!) on Sunday so need to get my head back into 'craft fair' mode!   It is always fun on that first one after a long break - hubby & I just stare at the space for ages trying to remember what goes where!!  Do come along to say hello and see my new designs if you are in the area & have a great week.

Urrggh - Just remembered, we put loads of my display stuff up in the attic over Christmas - time to climb up there and get it all down again & then have to pack everything in the car this week ready for Sunday!   Now, where does everything go????  (If you haven't seen us in person, we are famous - or infamous - amongst crafting friends for our ability to fit a copious amount of stuff into a very small car - thinking of renaming it the 'TARDIS')

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Hey! Who you calling a technophobe?

Well I have finally succumbed to the pressure to drag myself into the 21st Century and have joined the Twitter Revolution.

Already I can see that I am going to have to schedule my time carefully as it is pretty addictive and before you know it an hour has whipped by.   I am still finding my feet and working out what everything does, what all the shortcuts and initials mean and getting the hang of general etiquette for tweeting.

I feel so behind the times and when I see how many followers and tweets other people have made and how well they use this platform.  I am sure I will eventually get the hang of it but I feel like I am walking on eggshells a little not wanting to press the wrong button or offend anyone!

So, just a quick message to say that you can now follow me on Twitter @AlisCraftStudio if you are that way inclined (or click on either the image above or the 'follow' button on the right hand column of this blog).

That is another thing, when you are on Twitter, you need followers (otherwise its another place to feel like 'Billy No Mates') so I had to get my head around adding social media buttons to my blog, website and anywhere else I needed to so that people can easily follow me and tweet about my products to their followers too.   Just when you think you are ahead of the game, someone decides to throw something else into the mix!!

Have to tell you that I am still resisting Facebook - there are only so many hours in the day and there is that little thing called 'creating' to be done otherwise my mega-promoted business won't have anything to actually sell!!

What a lot of stuff I have had to learn already this year (and we are only a few weeks into January) what with my newsletter, twitter and also my newly vamped website which will be getting a few more tweaks during the craft fair-free time I have in February.  I'd love to know what you think of it so far...

I'll be back later with my Handmade Monday post (assuming I can think of something interesting to say - I'm having a bit of a brain-dead day today!)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Ali's Craft Studio

I often get asked where my studio is.   Well, it is at my home and is part of the converted extension space where the garage used to be.   The garage was, to be quite honest, a little less than useless - it was too narrow to fit the car in and ended up being a junk space!   So, a decision was made some years ago (actually before Ali's Craft Studio was born) to knock it down (before it fell down) and create a home office, downstairs toilet/shower room and additional bedroom as well as extend what was a very small kitchen.

At the time I actually worked from home for a publishing company but when I left there and started my own little business, the space was already built and it was perfect!

There have been many times when I wanted to do a post about my little studio - which I love by the way (just as well as I spend the majority of my time in there!) - but just the thought of pointing a camera and actually showing the mess in there seemed more than I would like to subject anyone to...  No really,  I like you all and there are some things you shouldn't have to see!!

Well, roll forward to the quieter period just after Christmas and a major studio revamp was called for!   So, with the help of my long suffering hubby, furniture was rearranged and bag after bag was filled with stuff for recycling and even more bags with broken/unwanted 'stuff' appeared & were left for our brilliant bin men!  

Honestly, it was unbelievable how much there was.  Remember the children's story - the Magic Porridge Pot where the pot just keeps filling and filling until it overflows and everything gets buried because they just can't stop it - the stuff just kept on coming!   I don't know where it all was hiding as the room and bin bags filled up but the space didn't seem to be getting any clearer.

Two days and many hours of sweat and cursing later (there were quite a few occasions when I wanted to give up and just shut the door, I can tell you!) Eureka!!  The revamp was finally complete....

So, from left to right as you step into the room, you have:

1. Reference Books, Paints, Colour Swatches, Printer, etc all in a neat and tidy bookshelf (Plenty of advertising signs ready for use too...)
Spot the artistic Winnie the Pooh?
2. Drying shelves, files more drying shelves...

3. The desk where all the magic happens - complete with one of my two trusty helpers and the TV in the corner which keeps me sane and the electric heater underneath which keeps me toasty in the winter!

So, whilst I haven't really been creating much that is new this week - the new studio layout makes me feel very organised and I am really glad that I didn't leave it until February which was the original plan.  It hasn't all been clearing out stuff though, a full stock check has now also been completed (see, I haven't been doing nothing!) so I am now ready to get the creative wheels spinning again.

I have had another order for a larger design - these really are proving popular...  This particular one was made to match some beautiful stained glass in an existing door and my customer has promised to send me some photos when it is in place so I will keep that for a future post...

Make sure you check out Handmade Monday to see what everyone has been up to this week.

Oh, and don't forget - the Sale is still on over at my website.  Some of the items will be discontinued after it ends so head on over and grab yourself a bargain!!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Happy New Year - Its January: Time for a Sale!

Well, I thought I should write something as we are now in 2012 so here I am ...

Firstly, can I wish you all a very Happy New Year.  Be honest now, have you all taken down your decorations like good boys and girls?   You don't want to start the year with bad luck by leaving them up for too long, do you!!   I hate this part of the festive season as I really love all the lights and sparkly stuff!  So (reluctantly) I boxed everything up yesterday and have the cuts on my hands from the Christmas tree fighting back to prove it... (OK, I admit it - I still haven't actually put them away properly back in the loft for the rest of the year but they are safely stored and ready to be put into hibernation when hubby is able to be home to help).

January is traditionally the time for sales and, not wanting to miss out on this tradition, I have a sale on my website right now!   It only lasts for three weeks and some of the designs may be discontinued to allow room for new ones so head on over to see what is on offer.    There are no 'seconds' or 'shop soiled' items, if the ones ordered aren't in stock, they will be made fresh as usual but I like to use January to go through and have a stock 'Spring Clean'.

I am also really excited to have just published my first proper Newsletter.   You can sign up for free via the website (there is even a QR code provided for you to sign-up via your iPhone or smartphone if you wish - Ooh, check me out - I'm embracing the 21st Century!!) or you can sign up here

It would be great to have you sign up and I will send my first newsletter out to you.  Don't worry, I won't be bombarding the inboxes of my members with messages - after all, you all know how infrequently I blog, add in another thing to write and.... well, you get the picture!!

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I am always looking for new ideas and new directions to take the designs I create and sell - musical instruments seem to be a popular request at the moment so I am looking to develop this side as well as making some larger size everyday designs after the popularity of the Extra Large Decorated Christmas Tree (I have had some wonderful feedback on this design - don't forget to order early if you want one yourself for this year & look out for more extra large Christmas decorations a little nearer the time!!)  Stock development is always a tricky one as it is so easy to stick to the same themes as you never know what will (and won't) sell.  I wish I could make a crystal ball for handmade crafters to be able to see what people are looking to buy - I could retire on the sale of those alone!!

I received a number of orders last year for larger,  modified versions of standard designs which makes me think that it makes sense to develop this side of things.  Some were simply for larger versions of standard designs whilst some requests called for specifically adapted decorations to work in awkward or large spaces such as the customer who ordered this large sailing ship which needed to be made in a specific size and framed to fit a round porthole-style window:

Original Design

Specially Created Larger Circular Version
I really love being able to help a customer solve a decorating dilemma, especially as the solution to the problem has sometimes been eluding them for years!!   I just need to work out how I can display these at fairs - we struggle displaying enough of the smaller ones!

I would love to hear what designs you would like to see in the future in my shop - I make designs that I really like but it is so important to get feedback and ideas which can often take me in other directions.

I feel sure that 2012 is going to be a good year - not without its own challenges, but I am looking forward to getting stuck in!   

At the moment I have three fairs sorted out for the year...   No, I haven't suddenly made the decision not to attend them - I will still be booked in nearly every weekend eventually - it is just taking me a while to get my head into booking (and paying for) stalls mode and out of pass the wine and sweeties mode!!

Now, where's that bottle of Rosé??!!!