Friday, 30 July 2010

Folksy Friday - Eco Chic (& all that rubbish!)

Just what would you do with an old bicycle tyre, a juice carton, bottle tops, train tickets, sweet wrappers, old CD's, children's story books or broken crockery?
Most of us would probably just throw them away...
... but not these ingenious people who have provided me with excellent examples for this week's Folksy Friday blog selection.  Each and every item is made from something that you and I would not think twice about chucking out - and yet each has been cleverly and lovingly turned into something new and lovely.  Ultimate recycling!

(Click on the item name to be taken to the seller's Folksy shop - where you can learn more about how all these fascinating things are made.)

Eco Daisies

Aren't they ALL just totally brilliant!  So, that should make us all think again about what we throw away...!!

Sorry, but there won't be a Folksy Friday from me next week - I am off for a few celebratory days in beautiful sunny Barcelona - but I will be thinking up some exciting new selections to search out when I am back... so please be patient, and see you in a couple of weeks!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Candle Fragrance - Making Sense of the Scents


When I first started making candles, and I wanted to add fragrance to make them more appealing, I just bought an initial stock of simple, popular scents - including everyone's favourite: lavender.  Then I progressed to pre-mixed fragrances - I think I dipped into "sun dried linen" and "lemon chiffon pie" !!

But there are so many candles on the market today, I wanted to do something either a little different, or create my own USP (unique selling point).  For example, sun dried linen is a very lovely fragrance, and very popular too - both with makers and buyers - but it is (a) pre-mixed, (b) artificial, and (c) everywhere!  Now, I'm not knocking it, it really does smell like the real thing (you know, getting into bed at night as a child when Mum has just changed the sheets...) - but I wanted to "do my own thing".

So I perused the different scents available, and decided that I would go for real pure essential oils (you can't extract essence of lemon chiffon pie, but rose oil is totally natural) in natures own fragrances, a mix of flowers, fruits, herbs and plants - and create my own blends.


Sadly, as I found out, you can't just take two scents that you happen to like, bung them together in equal measures, and happen to produce a pleasing aroma...  there really is a bit more of a science to it than that.

I have developed my own way of second guessing which fragrances will complement each other, before I even begin to melt some wax and try them out.  It is by no means fool-proof, and I have stumbled across some really quite quirky combinations through pure chance (I was making two sets of wax chunks for my frosted chunk candle range this week - one was chamomile, the other was coconut - and the smell wafting out of my kitchen was absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS...!!), but in general it is a good "rule of thumb" guide.

Whenever I buy a new scent, I categorise it by the attributes of its smell; I ask myself, is it:

warm  or  cool
sweet  or  sharp
light  or  heavy
cosy  or  fresh

Fragrances that tend to have two common notes, tend to be the best ones that mix - they have a similar enough base to complement each other, but enough differences to show their own characters.  This is by no means definitive - but think about some of the scents that are currently in my stock cupboard...

Banana - warm, sweet, heavy, cosy     &     Bergamot - cool, sharp, light, fresh
Every attribute is different - so would you dream of putting them together? - no way!!
Grapefruit - warm, sweet, light, fresh     &     Rose - warm, sweet, heavy, cosy
They share two notes, not a natural choice perhaps - but does it work? - yes it does!!


So, now we have blended our candles - when and where should we burn them?

Different fragrances can have different effects on ambience, feelings, mood and perception.  Think of the supermarkets who duct the air from their bakery section to waft over you as you enter the store... a delicious smell that just can't help making you feel hungry - and what happens if you go food shopping when you're hungry - you buy more!

So, if you want to create romance try warm, heavy or cosy scents; if you want to clear the air and stay alert try cool, fresh or sharp fragrances; if you want to relax and chill out then try a mix of cosy, cool, light and sweet smells... Is it making sense now??

Of course I could go on and on - how to choose candles to change the "feeling" of a room, to combat it's negative elements (make it feel lighter and airier, when it is in fact dark and stuffy) - but hey, I think you have had enough by now, and have got the picture.

And for those of you who pick a candle just because you like the smell...? (Surely there's no science in that!) Well, you will find that certain personality traits are drawn to certain types of smell - and of course, it depends what kind of mood you are in to begin with...

(...sorry! I promise to stop now!)

Friday, 23 July 2010

Folksy Friday : Rule Britannia and get yourself some Brit Chic...

Last week I featured "shabby chic" items in my Folksy Friday - well, this week I have gone for "Brit Chic".  What is this?  It is the trend for all things that are unashamedly British and "Union-Jack-ified".

Once again, I was astounded by the sheer number of items I could find on Folksy to fit my theme - and I think you will agree that this is a very diverse, and beautiful, range.

Just click on the item name under each picture to find out more details and learn about the seller on Folksy, and see all their other gorgeous items...

So, that is this week's selection - and I have another great "chic" lined up for next week... so please don't forget to stop on by...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Time hangs in the balance...

Am I the only one who seems to have a time balance problem...?  I don't mean the usual juggling to fit all priorities (home, work, craft etc) into the limited number of hours in a day, and still get a few hours sleep.  No, my problem is putting the time I DO get to the right use...

I am fortunate enough to have plenty of time available to me to pursue my crafting - that is, I choose NOT to overdo the housework (job list tip: if it has been on your list 3 days running and still not done, then it probably doesn't need doing anyway!) - but I'm pretty pants at dedicating that time to the right cause.

In my professional life (when I had one) I would spend 95% of my working hours at the computer; hence my brain is etched with the following equation :   business = computer  .  Which in some ways is correct in this online, social media marketing, web-tastic day and age - want to set up your own business? - then you need to be a bit of a techie...

But when it comes to setting up a "craft business" I guess I need to focus on BOTH words in that phrase - that is, NOT spend too long at my desk each day, and give the CRAFT part it's fair share of my time.  Now, that's not to say I don't make new items every week, or that I can go for days on end with out satisfying my creative hunger - but my brain can't seem to compute the idea that :  craft = fun = what I want to do = business  quite as readily as the the already ingrained equation learned over 20 years in stuffy offices.

Note to self :  ENJOY your work, go CREATE, have FUN with your business...

The problem stems from reading too many online articles about setting up on your own.  They drill it into you that you must have an "online presence" that "networking is the key" and that "social media is the new marketing forum" - but what they forget to remind you is...  if you don't make anything, you won't have anything to sell!!

Thankfully things have not got that bad yet...

(with thanks to ClipArt Online for the free pics...)