Thursday, March 31, 2011

Design This – Print to Match Frame

We have a waterfall and pond in our backyard that provides year round enjoyment. Some of that is seasonal like watching the dragonflies. They buzz the pond the most during the summer and fall. I enjoy taking photos of them and had developed a few photographic art prints from some of those photos prior to seeing a wonderful stained glass style frame of dragonflies and water lilies with my husband when we were on a trip last summer. Both of us loved the frame and as we contemplated whether it would fit somewhere in our home, I suggested that I should be able to create a perfect image for the frame from my dragonfly photos. We decided that that sounded like a great plan and brought the frame home with us.

The first step in this project was to look through my original photos for ones that had potential to fit well in the opening of the frame and complement the frame’s colors. After I had selected a handful of shots that I thought might fit these criteria, I worked with each one to see what digital effects I could add that enhanced the images. I then cropped each one to the proper aspect ratio, sized it appropriately and printed it as a proof on plain paper on my laserjet. I placed the resulting images behind the frame opening in turn and my husband and I began the process of selecting our favorite. I then printed the “winner” with my inkjet on heavy photo paper. This winning combination now sits on our piano so that we can enjoy the beauty of our dragonfly visitors all year.

While the frame was a bit skinnier than the standard 4 x 6 image size, the custom image that I prepared for our frame works as a 4 x 6 as well. You too can enjoy this colorful beauty in your home. If you check out my listing for this dragonfly image, you will also see the original photo that I started with. While I like and have some of my original photos displayed in my home, I really enjoy seeing what I can create from them. Sometimes the altered photographic art images are close to the original image and sometimes the resulting image is a world away from the original photo. Many different styles and techniques can be aimed for. If you are interested in a custom image from one of your photos or just looking for a specific image, please contact me to see if I can help you out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

EclecticSkeptic Hits 100

When I open an online shop, getting my sales numbers out of the single digits is cause for a happy dance. I also take notice each time another 10 is reached. Watching milestone sales is kind of like watching your car’s odometer when it rolls over to an even 1000 and subsequent multiples. So it was really awesome earlier this week to see my sales “odometer” at EclecticSkeptic role over to the triple digits.

While my total number of flying pig and geekery items reached 100 some time ago from craft shows and other offline sales, I don’t have one place that I keep track of the total number of sales of things that fit my EclecticSkeptic branding. So it is very nice to have that number tracked for me in my Etsy shop. A big thanks goes out to all of my customers that have been a part of this milestone for EclecticSkeptic. To further show my appreciation, any of my customers that contributed to my first 100 online sales, by making a purchase from my EclecticSkeptic online shop, will receive a 10% refund on any additional orders made between today and the end of April, 2011. Please put “I was part of your milestone.” in your notes to seller and you will receive your refund through PayPal before I ship your package.

Thanks again for everyone’s support and here’s to new milestones for me and you!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is Your Garden Ready for Spring?

Ready or not, the spring equinox is almost here in the northern hemisphere. I’m ready for winter to be over, however I still have a few things that need cutting back pdq now that it is almost here. I have trimmed back the majority of my perennials as I should have by now, however I tend to leave my ornamental grasses till the last minute because I enjoy the look of them even through the winter. It is time now though, if you haven’t done so, to make way for new growth on perennials that die back to the ground each winter.

Spring arrives, according to the calendar, on Sunday, March 20, 2011. Those of you that live in the northern tier of states might think this talk of spring seems a bit premature, however those of us in North Texas have been noticing signs of the coming spring for several weeks now. Spring bulbs have been blooming, fruit and ornamental trees have been flowering and many other trees have begun to leaf out.

Here in North Texas, we do need to be careful not to jump the gun in planting tender vegetables or annual flowers because even though the first day of spring is after our average last freeze date (March 14), our actual latest freeze recorded was on April 13. (However if you wait to plant some tender things such as tomatoes until then, things will heat up so fast that your crop is likely to be less than if you planted now.) So just be prepared with the row covers (A lightweight sheer curtain or sheet is a reasonable substitute.) or individual plant protectors such as purchased or handmade wall o waters to protect your “babies”.

If you have a case of spring fever and need some help channeling your gardening urges to produce the results you want, please contact me to see if my garden coaching services can be of assistance. Happy gardening!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Updating Your Web Presence – Part 2

Two weeks ago I posted part 1 of Updating Your Web Presence. In it I described what I am doing to update my blog layout and promised to describe the project that helped me get past my mental block on my site. Here in part 2, I will describe the website review that I did for my new client that helped “get the juices flowing” on my own upgrades.

First let me say, never underestimate the connections you make networking. I stumbled into this recent job because of one of my local jewelry customers. While she knew of me first through local contacts, she had since signed up for my newsletter, seen my blog and shops, as well as a website that I had updated for a local organization. She had a friend that was in the process of redefining his career and suggested to him that I might be able to help him figure out how best to utilize his current web assets.

Her friend, my new client John E Dosher, has always been involved with music, mostly as a performer but also for several years as owner of a music store. After deciding to close his shop and focus more on recording and performing again (he has a new single), he needed to retool his web presence, but where to begin? That is where I came in. I did an initial consultation with him after reviewing what I could find on the web. I found one site that he had pretty much forgotten in addition to others that needed differing levels of updating and connecting. We brainstormed, based on what his current online contractual agreements and future growth needs were.

This brainstorming session concluded with my client still needing to mull over a couple of options about how to fairly easily update his main web presence with current content since it was paid up for approximately the next year. This would give him time to investigate other hosting sites to see if they would be a better fit for the long term. Other things were discussed including making sure that his different sites link to each other where appropriate and making sure that e-mail information is easy for people to access from all browsers.

Once my client figured out how he wanted to retool his main website, he sent me a link for me to review. I wrote out a page of notes to go over with him and we scheduled a conference call to do so. The new site did a great job of including all of his current career goals. My suggestions included some editorial and design ideas to polish the look, some navigation suggestions so that people wouldn’t get lost while investigating the site and its links as well as some ideas to help the site’s SEO. After the consultation, I wrote up a summary of the items that he had agreed would be helpful changes so that he had something concrete to work from when he had time to implement them.

I definitely credit my thinking about how all of the pieces of my client’s web presence fit together with helping me take a good look at my own web presence and seeing where I could improve visitors’ interactions with it. I have gotten a good start on updating it, however it is still a work in progress. You should give a good look at yours too at least once a year to make sure everything is up to date, easy to navigate and coherent. Contact me if you are interested in an objective consultation.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thanks for the Treasuries - February 2011

Six different Etsians contacted me to let me know that they had featured one or more of my items in a treasury during February. Eight February treasuries included one of my items. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during February. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)

I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below (in alphabetical order) links to the 6 different Etsians that let me know that they featured at least one of my items, as well as an item from their shop or profile that I like.

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the shop links of anything that catches your eye.

A wide assortment of styles of vintage and handcrafted jewelry is available from this shop.

This mother and daughter team makes lovely quilted throws and receiving quilts.

Look no further for gifts for a wine connoisseur who happens to appreciate hand made items.

This shop is stocked with gorgeous book and bible covers.

This shop specializes in precut top quality quilting squares.

Whoopsie Daisies uses rescued vintage & retro fabrics to create one of a kind tooth fairy pillows, scarves and aprons.