We did a brainstorm session for Joanna from PoppetMade
Cat: What are you looking for from this half-hour online brainstorm session, Joanna?
Joanna: What I'm interested in:
1. How to make my stall more “professional” – considering all my items are handmade, how can I improve on my image?
2. What do you see working/not working as it is set up now?
3. Height – this is something that I have struggled with as my products are mainly flat! I've introduced the bib hangers to help with this.
I have two layouts:
1. Single trestle table
2. Double trestle table. This is when I share with a friend, but my portion is the same layout as a single. Her items are more bulky than mine (quilts, bags etc) so we can hang things up etc. This is usually a gazebo setup.
Thumbnail test - the 'dress' principle
Cat: To start me off, I performed my 'thumbnail test'. I looked at a thumbnail-sized picture of the display and noted my impressions.
The stock itself is neatly displayed and well made, but the overall effect is that the stall looks a little jumbled, and part of that is because there's no unifying feeling for the stall display colours underneath the stock.
I started by pulling out the main colour impressions of the display - and it was quickly evident that there were too many things going on.
Colour consistency and a point of difference - the 'flavour' principle
I grabbed a couple of the colours that I had identified, and made a collage board of things she could use instead.
Black is almost always the right choice for a good tablecloth colour, but in this case, it was too stark - it didn't look like a stall featuring baby wear.
The hangers and the blonde wood were my favourite elements of the original display, so I used the bib hangers as a starting point for a quick example colour scheme, and then I included her existing neutral wood and brown paper elements to give her stock a backdrop against which to pop. I suggested replacing the generic black baskets with vintage suitcases, painted crates (using her own colour choices), and repurposing old, mis-matched picture frames from op-shops for her price signage.
Visual interest - the 'dynamic layers' principle
Once we had established a potential colourway to get the stall 'dressed for success', I then started to look at the next issue - the lack of dynamic height in the display. I talked about using fruit stalls as inspiration - stacking and tilting the crates to get the maximum use out of their depth, as well as having an easy, modular set-up for different display requirements at different locations. I Googled some image examples to illustrate my point.
Merchandising the stock - the 'fresh' principle
Following on from the fruit stall example above, I suggested that part of the 'jumbled' look could be due to the way that the stock was set out.
When you have all kinds of colours, there are two things you can do to freshen up the look of the stall:
If it suits the product, limit yourself to a specific palette - a range of 3 or 4 specific colours, from which you do not deviate.
Alternatively, if you're like me, and your product requires a lot of shades of colour, sort your stock like a rainbow.
A signature style to get customers' attention - the 'hook' principle
Now that the hard part is done - the stall is dressed to kill, the stock is looking fresh and appealing, the dynamic layers make the best of the available space, the display itself fits the stall's flavour - how do you reel the customers in?
It's both simple and complex, and depends entirely on the individual circumstances. Each maker will have a different style, and therefore, a different hook.
At Copper Catkin, we have several quiet signature items that are part of our display, and make us recognisable long before people get close enough to see individual stock items - we use the 'grass' rug, a variety of natural wooden pegs, our Miss Match stripe, and, of course, our favourite vibrant green.
For PoppetMade, I suggested the use of a signature colourway plus possibly a signature shape -for example, a balloon-shaped chalkboard to match the balloons in the existing logo.
That kind of simple touch is what sets you apart from all the other stalls that look like chain-store window displays as a result of using unaltered chain-store items in their display. This works for the occasional stall, but for the vast majority, it just makes them and their products fade into the general 'market' impression - and that's absolutely not what you want!
What Joanna Did Next
Now, here's the fun part - it's all well and good brainstorming ideas and throwing pictures around, but it's all hot air unless you take those ideas and run with them - and Joanna did just that!
This is the most successful transformation that I have seen yet (images supplied).
I think we can all agree that this is an incredible makeover - and in only a week or so!
Yes, bearded fashion-plate ladies.
So I have been watching a lot of Drag Race and Project Runway for company while I work, and whilst most of my designs have been fairly PG and 'normal', if quirky, every now and then, the full-on whimsical side has to get an airing. So, here are some 'fashion' poses with a beardy twist. I've been drawing this kind of elongated figure since I was a kid - it's fun!
I've given them a sneaky soft-launch in the jewellery, mainly because I just didn't have the time to post about them!
I admit, I also get a bit bored with the 'standard', mainstream options for sewing projects, so I am making these available as colour-cut-and sew dolls! I've just finished drawing the backs, too. Parental guidance recommended. They will be available in colour-cut-and-sews within the next month or so - keep an eye out for them!
I've made a commitment to myself to spend some more time with family and friends, so this fortnight, I went and spent some time drawing with my niece. I had two design ideas locked and loaded, as it were, so I printed out some inspiration photos to bring with me. I gave Miss R first choice - she chose the bumble bees and clover, so I had the Kererū. Here are some of our inspiration photos.
We worked on blocking in the major elements of a composition, looking at relative scale, and how you interpret what your eye sees and use it as inspiration for a design, rather than copying (or tracing!!) exactly what you see.
People seem to assume that I draw my images by tracing, or drawing over a photo in a different layer of an image editing programme, but I draw on paper by eye. If I superimpose my sketches over one of the inspiration photographs, this becomes very apparent!
I worked on paper and combined several inspiration pictures into a single design, starting with a pencil sketch, which I then inked.
As usual, I scanned and coloured the images using MS Paint, but this was a much more complex composition - usually, it takes me around half a day to take a design from initial scan to completion, but these took almost four times as long.
This is a much more involved repeat than I usually use, so it took a lot of fiddling to get it where I wanted it to be. I used placeholder colours to help differentiate between the different zones while I constructed the design. Once I had a final version, I worked on the 'real' colours.
And after I finalised the colour scheme for the main design, I added in background colours and patterns.
Clover and bumble bees - Miss R's version
Meanwhile, my niece had created and inked her two-page repeat. I took the drawing home, scanned it, joined it up, and this is what we had:
To demonstrate for her how the next step can work, I coloured it, created a more complex repeat using the elements of her design, and uploaded it to Spoonflower so that she could see how it would look.
Next time, we will swap inspiration packs - or even do something different again - but at least now Miss R understands how to design a repeating pattern, so she can take much more control over the process in future. I look forward to seeing what else she comes up with!
In the meantime, look out for the new Kererū design as jewellery and fabric, and even colourables, soon!
It's been some time since my last Copper Catkin Consulting post - apologies! Life has been very busy recently - wonderfully so, but it all takes up time! I have been making some changes in my own life, and in my displays (as always), so I thought I would share one of my techniques with you.
As with my water lilies, this design was inspired by some amazing travel photos taken by my stepfather. I like to challenge myself to use new palettes, and these photos used beautiful shades of orange and green that I usually don't incorporate into my artwork.
Some time ago, I ordered some ring bezels on a whim because they looked like they were going to be an amazing metallic lime green... but when they arrived, they were more of a blue-green. I put them away to wait for the perfect project - and here it is!
10 years of market displays
I'm going to take you on a tour of my market stalls and display units over the last decade. I started making jewellery in 2007. There were a lot of changes in my life - I graduated with my honours degree in 2005, then moved into full-time retail while I looked for a job that would justify my degree. In 2007, I moved from the shop floor to the office, and out of a job that gave me both the technical and creative balance that I needed. My first office job made me deeply unhappy, and then I started making earrings. A year later, I moved to a better office environment. This positive move led to my rediscovering my creative side. I started wanted to paint and draw again, and my jewellery-making ramped up.
A long and winding road
Sometimes, it helps to look back at where you came from to help understand where you're going next. Copper Catkin is only just over a year old, but I have been making things my whole life.
This post is a bit of a summary of how I got here - my 'market cred', if you will.
What does Kōwhai mean?
"Kōwhai (Māori pronunciation: [kɔːɸai] or [kɔːfai]) are small woody legume trees within the genus Sophora that are native to New Zealand. There are eight species, with Sophora microphylla and S. tetraptera being the most recognised as large trees. Their natural habitat is beside streams and on the edges of forest, in lowland or mountain open areas. Kōwhai trees grow throughout the country and are a common feature in New Zealand gardens. Outside of New Zealand, kōwhai tend to be restricted to mild temperate maritime climates.
The blooms of the kōwhai are widely regarded as being New Zealand's national flower, although they have no official status as such.
The word kōwhai is also used in the Māori language for the colour yellow, because of the colour of the flowers."
Chocolate Lemon Slice
So in our family, Chocolate Lemon Slice is an absolute treasure. It's not exactly hard to make, but it's time-consuming - and it gets eaten so fast! So it's a special occasion treat.
When I saw that one of the October Spoonflower teatowel challenges was about family recipes, I was thrilled! While we were at the family bach in 2014, I considered making a teatowel using a drawing of the lemons on the tree and mum's handwritten recipe, but I never got further than a quick ideas board. This challenge was a great chance to revisit the design and make it work, as Tim Gunn would say!
Some time ago, while we were in Geneva, my mother chaired a Cookbook Committee for the American Women's Club of Geneva. Although it was purportedly for American women, in practice, many expats from all over the world were involved - and my Kiwi mum was in charge! For those who know her, this will not come as any kind of a surprise. She's the source of my organisational skills.
Chocolate Lemon Slice - the recipe
1/2 cup (120g) butter
1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups (180g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Cream butter and sugar; add egg, then beat again and add flour and baking powder. Press into a greased 10x14” (25x35cm) pan. Bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 15 to 20 minutes. When cool, cover with filling.
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup (60g) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Filling – method:
Combine butter, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon rind and juice. Heat until smooth and pourable. Cover base and leave until set. When set, cover with icing.
2 cups (240g) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
Icing – method:
Mix powdered sugar, cocoa, and vanilla in a bowl. Bring butter and water to a boil and add to powdered sugar mixture. Beat until smooth.
Drizzle over filling and smooth out as much as possible – don’t worry if it’s a little uneven. Cut into squares to serve. Makes about 30 pieces.
The squares keep well in an airtight container – if they last that long!
I took the original drawing that I did at the bach three years ago, redrew it on a larger scale (with finer lines), drew some extra lemons, and created a background.
Then, I typed up the recipe (another reason to have it on the blog, lol), coloured in my lemons, and tadaaa! Ready to go :)
Family Recipe teatowel - the brief
"Family traditions are especially present during the holidays as everyone gathers in merriment and celebration around the dinner table. For this week’s challenge, share a family recipe that is a yearly staple. Whether it’s Grandma’s famous casserole or the wiggly fruit jelly salad that mysteriously makes an appearance, we want to see what recipe completes your holiday traditions! Entries will be submitted at the Linen Cotton Canvas fat quarter size (27″ x 18”) but previewed during voting as a Spoonflower Special Edition Tea Towel (16″ x 24″). Submissions close October 3, 2017 at 3 p.m. eastern daylight time. Voting begins October 5, 2017. See official rules."
From the Spoonflower blog
I hope that you will vote for my entry when voting begins!
Here it is on Spoonflower now:
I print my fabrics through Spoonflower, an amazing and unique service that allows designers to upload their digital designs and print short runs in a range of fabrics, gift wrap, and even wallpaper. Through their sister companies, Roostery and Sprout, designers can make their designs available as ready-to-sew patterns and homewares.
Spoonflower fosters a great community of creatives, and one of the ways that they do that is through their weekly design challenges. I have set myself the target of entering as many challenges this month as I can.
"Ring in the new year with a favorite Spoonflower design tradition: Tea Towel Calendars. Celebrate 2018 (the year of the dog!) with a tea towel calendar design for the new year ahead. Need a little design kick-start? Find a 2018 calendar template here!* Entries will be submitted at the Linen Cotton Canvas fat quarter size (27″ wide x 18” high, landscape orientation) but previewed during voting as a Spoonflower Special Edition Tea Towel (16″ wide x 24″ high, portrait orientation). Submissions close September 26, 2017 at 3 p.m. eastern daylight time. Voting begins September 28, 2017. See official rules."
From the Spoonflower blog
I've been following the posts of the Island Bay Marine Education Centre for some time now, and I just love all the photographs that they share. One of their star creatures is the magnificent Fabio the octopus.
I mean, seriously. Just LOOK at him. He's amazing. You can visit Fabio and all his friends every Sunday from 10am to 3pm until 17 December 2017. The Centre will re-open on Sunday 21st January 2018.
I had so much fun choosing and sketching portraits of Fabio. This is the final drawing - I love the movement that the tentacles give him - almost like a dramatic, Dracula-cape flourish.
I combined Fabio with some elements from my Rockpool design range to create my colourable teatowel entry to the competition. The drawing's the thing - I don't mind at all where I place. It's more a case of getting it done.
Looking forward to seeing the other entries!