Monday, February 27, 2012

Michael's Withdrawals Aren't Half As Bad As You Might Expect

Hello faithful readers,

Happy Monday to you all....I hope most of you are just getting home from work, enjoying a nice meal with family or friends and about to settle in for a couple hours of your favorite crafting past time. I hope you make the time to dedicate an hour or so to something you enjoy at least once or twice a week - it will do wonders for your soul - believe me! And the great thing about most crafts is you are producing something. You are contributing positively to the planet and the people around you. Crafts create smiles, warm hearts, spread joy and are a quintessential sharing mechanism. Tonight, I think I am just going to work on my mise en place. Yeah, I watch waaaaay too much Food Network! :0) Mise en place just means putting in place and is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients. I thought I'd apply it to my crafts as well. Gracie, Ruth and I have been working on making more exploding boxes like the one below.
These boxes can get tedious and take 3 or 4 hours each because of all of the paper that needs to be cut and scored and then embellished. Luckily, Gracie's Dad and Ma have been very generously cutting and scoring the cardstock for the base, pocket insert and lid. So, Ruth and I thought we could make these boxes much more efficiently if we prepared some of the paper squares and triangles (for the folds) ahead of time. See - mise en place! :0)

Believe it or not, after an 8 hour Monday at work that seemed three times as long, there is something exceedingly relaxing and comforting about cutting out dozens of 3.5" squares of brightly colored paper. The repetitive motion helps me decompress and unlike watching Jersey Shore, I'm actually producing something useful. Another benefit is I'm using scraps of paper I already have. I've been thinking lately, that for a business that touts itself as sustainable and tries to use as much recycled and repurposed material as possible, we buy way too much stuff! In fact, it would probably be pretty safe to say, in 2011 alone, the 3 of use each made at least bimonthly trips to Michael's and Joanne's. And I'll wager, we each spent between $50 - $100 every time! (Those 40% off coupons will get you every time!) Our craft rooms are starting bulge at the seams! So, while I haven't officially boycotted either of my favorite supply stores, I have definitely cut down. I give myself a budget and just to start off on the right foot, I even told myself I wasn't going to Michael's in January, February or March. And you know what? It hasn't been that painful at all. Once you make up your mind, its actually quite easy.

Well, as always, that nk you for reading and for your support of Paper Dolls. We hope we provide you with ideas and inspiration - maybe even a few laughs along the way. My paper cutter is calling! Until next time, happy crafting and don't forget to share!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Did you miss us?

Wow, its been a long time! I can't believe we haven't blogged since October - I bet you all thought we died at the Great Craft Festival. Well, we didn't die but it was definitely an experience! One we thought we were prepared for but as it turns out, we weren't. 3 days is a loooooooooonnnngggg time.

Overall, it was a great experience and we learned a lot. Especially about displaying our work, communicating with potential customers, etc. The other vendors told us that they loved our work and they felt bad for us because it was the worst year they had ever seen for customer flow and sales. Its also a huge upfront cost for the booth. We were on pins and needles the whole time until we broke even, which wasn't until the last day! So, we made enough money to pay off all of our supplies, display (Thanks again Jeff!), the booth fee, and just enough extra to keep us from bursting in to tears. But, if you consider labor for 3 people for 3 days - there is no way. Not even if we're talking about labor costs in China!

So, we've decided the new strategy is to do smaller craft fairs with smaller booth fees and try to save enough for our business license. In the mean time, there's always Etsy! We've added a bunch of Valentine's stuff so check it out and tell us what you think. We'll keep chugging away at Paper Dolls - its one of our collective dreams and something we love. If patience truly is a virtue, these three girls are the most virtuous trio on the planet! Talk to you soon and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The GREAT Craft Festival!!!!

Hello faithful readers,

So, did anyone other than me read the title of this blog and instantly think of Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin? Its fitting for the season that's for sure! Not to mention a classic.

The Great Craft Festival is being held at Cashman Center, November 4th - 6th and Paper Dolls is going to be there! We are super excited for our first large craft fair but also exceedingly nervous! The booth fee was not a meager amount for our little business and we are all having nightmares of no one showing up, not being able to process credit cards due to a freak internet connection mishap, selling nothing, and any number of other mini craft disasters you can imagine!

We have been working away creating all kinds of crafty art with a conscience - the sweatshop is back in business. Also, we have enlisted the help of family and friends for making us an awesome display fixture, assisting with set-up, and just begging them to attend and pass the word on. We've ordered bags, tissue paper (because that makes everything pretty) and new business cards. I tell you, there has never been a time where I've felt more official or more broke!

So, please plan on coming to the Great Craft Festival in a couple of weeks and tell all of your friends! Here are the details, we hope to see you there:

Great Craft Festival
Cashman Center Exhibit Hall
November 4th (10-6), 5th (10-6) and 6th (10-5)
850 Las Vegas Blvd N
Cost: $8 for adults (but we have a $2 off coupon - see below!!!!)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

4 Rs and a U!

How many times have you been cutting a pattern out of felt and looked at the remaining scraps feeling guilty? They aren't really big enough to make anything out of but you just can't bare to throw them away. Or maybe, you slice through cardstock at a whirlwind pace while making exploding boxes, scrapbook pages, etc. and just swipe the left over bits of polka dot papers and strips of patterned vellum into the recycling bin. And I bet you have all looked at a few inches of remaining yarn, thread, or ribbon and just known there is nothing you can do with such a small scrap!?

Ruth, Gracie and I are constantly trying to think of things we can do with what others view as trash, rubbish, disposable or unusable. It really isn't hard - it just takes a change of mindset. And before you start calling us things like "green police" or "tree huggers" please realize that half of our motivation is financial. Well,, maybe a third! The more you reuse, recycle, upcycle and repurpose, the less you have to buy. And for three girls who aren't the richest crafters in the world - that's huge!

What is upcycling and repurposing anyway?

Most people who grew up with the three Rs are pretty aware of what reusing and recycling is. But what about the 4th R, Repurposing? Repurposing is literally what is sounds like. It basically means revamping something with a new use. Reusing a coffee can to capture used oil, keeping your PF Chang's left-overs container to feed Grover his morning kibble, etc.

Now, what about that pesky U?

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. Similar to repurposing but the important part is that upcycling maintains or improves the quality of the materials . Many of the handmade items sold on Etsy are made with upcycled items. There are coin purses made from sweaters, earrings cut out of vinyl records and an old travel case made into a clock, to name just a few. Another example might be taking the Starbucks coffee sleeves that you would normally throw away and using them as mini album pages such as the Las Vegas mini album Gracie made below.
So, the next time you find yourself walking over to your trash can or recycling bin, take a moment to pause. Ask yourself, is there something I can use this for?

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 11th...

Yesterday was a sad day. A day for remembering. A day I thought about all of the firemen I knew - my favorite customers from when I used to work at Starbucks. Men who risk their lives every day for someone else. Good men. Good Americans. Heroes.

It seems a little silly, or ill placed to mention 9/11 on a craft blog. Or maybe, its completely appropriate. Maybe everyone should talk about that day 10 years ago with whatever forum they have. Whatever way is most appropriate for them to share on.

I didn't make any crafts yesterday. Or, for yesterday. I thought about it afterwards and will do so next year. But, I thought I would share some of the things other crafty women made in honor of this day. (Click on the photos to go to the site and get details on these items.)

Take a look...

And remember...