Now with a card reader

sumup_header

So I went ahead and ordered an iZettle card reader that should arrive in the next week or so. This should allow me to take card payments at craft fairs, so it is a timely purchase as the first of those 8 Christmas Fairs in November is only just over 3 weeks away. Busy, busy is my mode at the moment as I make more Christmas decorations.

Remember these dates:

map-of-fairs1

Hope to see you there.

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram Follow Didi Lou Crafts
Facebooktwitterpinterest Share

Halloween and Christmas, oh my

pumpkins-in-progress-bI continue to work on new stock for Christmas and Halloween. Halloween is now only about 6 weeks away and Christmas is 14 weeks away. Didi Lou Crafts will be attending a number of Christmas Fairs in lead up to Christmas, some in the Reading area, but I am also travelling further afield to fairs in Newbury, Sandhurst and Loughton. Keep an eye on the Events page as more are added or confirmed.

stars-in-progress-2bI am adding to the stock available on Etsy each week. Last week the first of the gold stars above was added. There are lots more Christmas decorations to come, such as the gingerbread men below. I have almost a production line going, multiple items in multiple stages all on the go, so surrounding me right now are 3 decoupage trees, 2 decoupage reindeer, 2 decoupage hearts and the blue star all ready for top coats, 2 stockings and 3 diamond baubles with base coats and part of the detailing done and 2 gold bells, a tree and 2 more stars with their base coats completed so ready for details. There are other bits also in progress, but they are not Christmas related so are on hold for now whilst I build up my Christmas stock ready for November. Come and see me at one of the fairs if you can, if not, most items will go onto Etsy first, giving you the opportunity to purchase them before they are displayed to the wider public. Check out the Etsy store here
gall

 

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram Follow Didi Lou Crafts
Facebooktwitterpinterest Share

Sad News

Last Monday morning my husband died suddenly from a heart attack. He had been ill for a long time, but a heart attack was certainly not what we expected. I was his carer and we were living on his medical pension whilst I am building up Didi Lou Crafts. This has left me with no income and a lot of paperwork to sort out before I can get access to the bulk of our savings, which is what I will need to live on until the business picks up. My health had suffered somewhat whilst caring for him, eating the wrong foods and not exercising as much as I needed, so I am now making my health a priority along with the business. I will continue with the business as I want to build it up more, but I may have to supplement that with a part time job for a while, although that is a decision I won’t make until the new year.

sportsandstuffxmas baubles

Please, if you do see this, considering buying a homemade gift or card for someone from the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy shop. I also have a lot of Christmas decorations ready and for sale, so maybe consider those. I need to make this work for me as I adjust to my new circumstances.

red desk tidy_tncampervan moneybox_tndevoncards

 

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram Follow Didi Lou Crafts
Facebooktwitterpinterest Share

Amused by small things

750px ebay

The news today is Didi Lou Cards has been launched on eBay today. For now it is just to sell some of the older card stock that has not been purchased via Etsy. eBay will give a much larger pool of potential buyers, so it does make sense to sell there as well. eBay still seems to be trying to work out how to list all the listing under the seller “didiloucards” so I won’t link it here for now. I still have a lot to learn to ensure the items get found, so I have started with just 3 cards for now to see how it goes.

xmas cards 5xmas stars

It makes good business sense not to have all my eggs in one basket so to speak. I am working on another online sales outlet opportunity, but will keep that under my hat for now until it is finalised. I am also still exploring more craft fairs for the lead up to Christmas.

xmas stockxmas stockings

In the meantime I am sat at my desk working today, on what should be a summery day but in fact it looks dull and grey outside. The Christmas in July event on Etsy has been and gone. Summer is said to be slow on Etsy, so I am using the time to continue listing items that are sitting around in various stages of completion as well as working on new seasonal stock. I am itching to start this year’s Christmas stock, but today I have been painting bronze bats onto pumpkin shaped ceramic tealight holders in preparation for Halloween. I don’t plan to make much Halloween themed stock for Didi Lou Crafts as it isn’t a big holiday celebration here in the UK.

xmas baubles

For now, above are pictures of some of the most recently listed items from the Christmas in July event on Etsy. They can be found on the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy store, but for ease they are divided into 2 sections: Christmas and Christmas Cards

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram Follow Didi Lou Crafts
Facebooktwitterpinterest Share

Summer is here

xmasornaments1It is summer and in fact the longest day was nearly a week ago so it is all downhill from here towards winter again. This year I am disappointed not to have home grown vegetables in pots in the backyard. We gave access for our neighbour to do their building work, but as is often the case the work overran and I didn’t get time to plant out the pots. I am hoping next year I will have the opportunity to get the seeds out in time.

xmascards1Interesting numbers:

Days till UK School Holidays 22 days
Days till Autumn 65 days
Days till UK School Restarts 69 days
Days till BST ends 124 days
Days till Bonfire Night 130 days
Days till Winter 156 days
Days till Christmas 180 days
Days till 2017 187 days
Days till Spring 246 days

xmascards2

Already I am thinking about new Christmas stock for Didi Lou Crafts in time for the craft fairs in November and December. It is 180 days till Christmas now, which isn’t a lot of time. Etsy have a big online event coming up, Christmas in July, so I have already been listing items on the Didi Lou Crafts store in preparation.

Click here to go directly to the Christmas items on the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy store.

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram Follow Didi Lou Crafts
Facebooktwitterpinterest Share

Product Photography is not so easy

Whilst there are many people who love photography and take it rather seriously, when I was younger I was more a “snap” person, taking photos to have memories of places visited and people seen with a cheap camera. To own a camera that took good quality pictures was definitely an investment when I was young and developing photos an expensive process. Nowadays nearly everyone has a much better camera than back then in their mobile phone and so sites like Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and Imgur are very popular for sharing photos.

canon_powershot_a2600_silver

Starting up the Didi Lou Crafts business I suddenly realised I needed to get, at a bare minimum, reasonable at photography in order to display the Didi Lou Crafts products online. I looked for short courses locally and only found photography courses for landscapes or portraits, not for objects. An untapped market methinks, although I am not the person to offer it.

lightbox

I’m finding my photography is slowly improving, although I do still find some objects challenging. I tend to do a batch of photos and then check them on the computer and go back and take any extras necessary. Having a proper tripod has helped greatly to keep the camera still. I now use a light cube with white lights. The late afternoon sun in the front bedroom seems to be the best for product photos. I’ve tried the kitchen too, under the fluoro lights, but that isn’t as good. I still take some “snaps” on my mobile phone of places and people, and when I have a new item to launch at a craft fair I will often just take one or two photos before the fair and then take a full set later, but for products it is much more involved now.

apple preserve jar_tn

What I find particularly hard is photographing glass and china, because the light shines off it. I’ve found closing the curtains is best for painted glass and china, but sandblasted glass is even harder and a coloured background is necessary. I uess you could say I am still working on improving my technique for glass and china.

pink flower mug 4_tn

I do make use of photo editing software to crop and resize photos. I will sometimes also rotate a photo slightly if necessary. Once in a while I find I need to brighten up a photo, but it is not something I have to do regularly. I have started cleaning up the background on one photo for my “primary” image on Etsy and I think it has made a difference for my sales. All I do is manually paint the whole background pure white using Paint.NET. You can see the difference with the boat below, it is exactly the same photo, just the background is changed in the second one.

boat card 1_tnboat card 1a_tn

This card and the mug and jar shown above are all available on the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy Shop here

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram Follow Didi Lou Crafts
Facebooktwitterpinterest Share

Risk Assessment for Craft Fairs (UK)

Risk Assessment

Be honest, you hadn’t even thought about risk assessment, had you? It really isn’t a big job once you know how. You probably need just two documents that you can then reuse for every fair.

What is risk assessment anyways?

It is a document that proves you have thought about the potential hazards and risks associated with an activity (in this case, the craft fair you are attending) and have done what you can to reduce those risks. You may need two documents, one for outside fairs where you provide your own gazebo and the other for indoor fairs. My understanding is that if you are attending a fair where the organisers provide the gazebo, the indoor fair document is valid as responsibility for the gazebo in those cases lies with the organisers.

So what does it look like?

Well there are lots of risk assessment templates available online. There are even examples to be found online. The government offer some templates and examples, but I found most to be not very useful for craft fairs. If you go looking for examples, it is best to try to find UK ones specific for craft fairs. In creating my own I did a lot of research, looking at schools and youth groups, outdoor activities and retail risk assessment documents as well as ones for crafting and craft fairs.

Didi Lou Crafts Risk Assessment

I did the risk assessment for Didi Lou Crafts to attend crafts fairs back in May last year and am happy to share a mock up of both documents here as another example:

OUTSIDE

Organisation/company: Your Business Name Description of activities: Craft Stall with gazebo at Fair/Market
Completed by: Your Name Date: DD/MM/YY Signature: Your Signature
Last reviewed by: Your Name Date: DD/MM/YY Signature: Your Signature
HAZARD OUTCOME PERSONS AT RISK MEASURES FURTHER ACTION LEVEL OF RISK PERSON RESPONSIBLE
Fire Burns, smoke inhalation Stallholder, general public No smoking allowed within the gazebo.
No flammable materials or electricity will be used in the stall area.
Organisers to provide general fire fighting equipment and marshals in the event of a fire on site.
Put up a no smoking sign in gazebo.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ fire safety procedures.
Low Your Name
Weather: high winds, heavy rain, thunderstorms Displays blowing over and hitting people Stallholder, general public Ensure gazebo is properly tied or weighted down and that any pegs and ropes are clearly visible. In extreme weather, displays should be packed away to prevent damage.
In high wind, double check ropes and weights.
Medium Your Name
Issues with gazebo Leaks Stallholder, general public If leaks develop, repair quickly. Have duct tape available for minor repairs Low Your Name
Issues with displays Tipping, blown or knocked over and hitting people Stallholder, general public Secure all display signs and furnishings well before setting up items for sale. Have extra cable ties, duct tape, etc to deal with minor problems. Medium Your Name
Slips, trips and falls Slips, trips and falls Stallholder, general public Avoid wires and cables that could be tripped over.
Keep areas tidy and store boxes under tables.
Take extra care in muddy situations.
Stallholder to ensure public cannot access rear of display tables.
Low Your Name
Tablecloths Trips, pulling off. Stallholder, general public Tablecloths will be positioned to not trail on ground and secured safely. None required. Low Your Name
Falling objects Bruising Stallholder, general public Ensure tables are stable on the ground before loading them with items. None required. Low Your Name
Breakable items Cuts from broken glass or pots Stallholder, general public Place breakable items away from the edges of the table.
Ensure table coverings are firmly attached to table.
Be prepared for cleaning up should an accident happen. Medium Your Name
Hazardous substances Inhalation Stallholder, general public No foreseen need of hazardous substances at this stage. None required. Low Your Name
Hazardous items Cuts and stabs General public Scissors, needles, etc, used for setting up and working in quiet times should be put away when not in use and kept away from the general public. None required. Low Your Name
Electrical Electric shock Stallholder, general public No foreseen need for electrical equipment at this stage. Lights at Christmas are battery operated. All electrical equipment to be PAT tested before use. Low Your Name
Manual handling Strains Stallholder Use trolley for moving heavy items.
Move items in manageable loads.
None required. Medium Your Name
Working in extreme weather Sunburn
Cold
Mud
Stallholder Stay under the gazebo.
Have sunblock and sunglasses.
Bring sufficient suitable clothing.
Bring sufficient suitable drinks.
None required. Low Your Name
Violence and threatening behaviour Threat Stallholder Keep calm.
Call for help.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures/staff. Low Your Name
Working alone Threat Stallholder Be aware of people around.
Keep money out of sight.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures. Low Your Name
Theft Threat Stallholder Keep a firm lookout on what is happening, especially if large groups are around. Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures. Low Your Name

INSIDE

Organisation/company: Your Business Name Description of activities: Craft Stall in Hall
Completed by: Your Name Date: DD/MM/YY Signature: Your Signature
Last reviewed by: Your Name Date: DD/MM/YY Signature: Your Signature
HAZARD OUTCOME PERSONS AT RISK MEASURES FURTHER ACTION LEVEL OF RISK PERSON RESPONSIBLE
Fire Burns, smoke inhalation Stallholder, general public No flammable materials or electricity will be used in the stall area.
Building owners to provide general fire fighting equipment. Event organisers to provide marshals in the event of a fire on site.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ fire safety procedures.
Stallholder to be aware of closest emergency exits.
Low Your Name
Issues with displays Tipping, knocked over and hitting people Stallholder, general public Secure all display signs and furnishings well before setting up items for sale. Have extra cable ties, duct tape, etc to deal with minor problems. Medium Your Name
Slips, trips and falls Slips, trips and falls Stallholder, general public Avoid wires and cables that could be tripped over.
Keep areas tidy and store boxes under tables.
Stallholder to ensure public cannot access rear of display tables. Low Your Name
Tablecloths Trips, pulling off. Stallholder, general public Tablecloths will be positioned to not trail on ground and secured safely None required. Low Your Name
Falling objects Bruising Stallholder, general public Ensure tables are stable on the ground before loading them with items. None required. Low Your Name
Breakable items Cuts from broken glass or pots Stallholder, general public Place breakable items away from the edges of the table.
Ensure table coverings are firmly attached to table.
Be prepared for cleaning up should an accident happen. Medium Your Name
Hazardous substances Inhalation Stallholder, general public No foreseen need of hazardous substances at this stage. None required. Low Your Name
Hazardous items Cuts and stabs General public Scissors, needles, etc, used for setting up and working in quiet times should be put away when not in use and kept away from the general public. None required. Low Your Name
Electrical Electric shock Stallholder, general public No foreseen need for electrical equipment at this stage. Lights at Christmas are battery operated. All electrical equipment to be PAT tested before use. Low Your Name
Manual handling Strains Stallholder Use trolley for moving heavy items.
Move items in manageable loads.
None required. Medium Your Name
Working in extreme weather Sunburn
Cold
Mud
Stallholder Stay under the gazebo.
Have sunblock and sunglasses.
Bring sufficient suitable clothing.
Bring sufficient suitable drinks.
None required. Low Your Name
Violence and threatening behaviour Threat Stallholder Keep calm.
Call for help.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures/staff. Low Your Name
Working alone Threat Stallholder Be aware of people around.
Keep money out of sight.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures. Low Your Name
Theft Threat Stallholder Keep a firm lookout on what is happening, especially if large groups are around. Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures. Low Your Name

They are actually not so different, the weather issues and gazebo not included on the indoor one and the fire precautions now assigned to slightly different people.

gazebo

Now make your own risk assessment documents

Well you’ve read about them and seen the ones I use for Didi Lou Crafts, so now it is time for you to create your own. Hopefully you can now see they are not as scary as maybe you thought. It really is all about thinking of the possible dangers to you and to the public and doing what you can to reduce those dangers.

As I said above, I am very happy to share this so you can use this content for your own business, in other words you are free to copy and paste any and even all of these details in creating your own risk assessment documents for your small business. However, if you are using the details online, for example on your blog, I would prefer you to acknowledge Didi Lou Crafts as the source with a link to this post.

What do I do once I have a risk assessment document?

Keep the document safe. Check it from time to time to ensure it is still up to date. For example, if you start doing demonstrations at fairs you may need to add more sections. When I got new christmas lights, I added the small bit about them being battery operated. Print a copy of each version and add them to the portfolio you take to each craft fair, so if Trading Standards ever turn up you will have a copy to give them. Be sure to implement everything you have said in the risk assessment every time, so boxes stored away, breakable items displayed away from the front of the table, no smoking sign up in your gazebo, carrying boxes in manageable loads, checking fire exits, etc. You really should be asking the organisers about their fire and safety procedures each time too, something I admit I am lax about.

What if I organise craft fairs?

That is a whole different ball game, which I have not covered here. You are likely to need written fire and safety procedures, appointed fire and safety staff and, in some cases, parking attendants. Contact your local Trading Standards for advice.

Good luck with your craft fairs.

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram Follow Didi Lou Crafts
Facebooktwitterpinterest Share

Crafting Blitz Vacation

devoncraftsI have just returned from a full week at my favourite crafting hotel. My mother is on her bi-annual trip from Australia and we went to Devon together. We worked mostly on items for the store. I have come back with 4 engraved glass items, 4 painted glass items, 5 painted bisque Christmas decorations, 2 other painted bisque items, 2 Christmas cards, 3 other cards, 5 painted porcelain items and 2 silk painted items, which I will list on the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy store over the coming weeks.

bugmugsappteach

We also had fun, making a few craft items for our own personal enjoyment. We also spent time in the spa, which was nice. The photos here are just a sample of what we made for Didi Lou Crafts during the week and were “snaps” done on the camera on the phone. A proper photography session is definitely planned for some time this week. Some of the new items (like the male cards) will be added this week, others (such as the Christmas items) will not appear for a few months.

devoncardsxmasbisque

The good news is Christmas is still 229 days away, but UK Father’s Day is less than 6 weeks away. You can check the Father’s Day items in stock by going directly to the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy store Father’s Day Section here.

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram Follow Didi Lou Crafts
Facebooktwitterpinterest Share

A week away crafting

manorhouse

I went to my favourite crafting hotel, The Manor House and Ashbury Hotels, a few weeks ago for 4 nights. In that time I painted 5 bisqueware items, 3 silk cards and glass engraved 6 new items, all for Didi Lou Crafts to sell. I have already listed 7 of these items on Etsy and have 7 more to list over the coming weeks.

They are 3 star hotels, so don’t expect the greatest decor, but it is the activities that make the place, with their sports, crafts and spa treatments. They offer 7 18 hole golf courses, over 60 sport and fitness activities a week, a large variety of other sports facilities, 17 different crafts where you only pay for the base materials, 2 hydro spas and over 20 health and beauty treatments at an extra cost. Fully catered and not expensive, these hotels are popular with families and groups too.

All the items below are now available at the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy shop

apple preserve jar_tnbutterfly moneybox_tncitrus preserve jar_tncampervan moneybox_tnracing car moneybox_tntoy car moneybox_tnowl trinket pot_tn

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram Follow Didi Lou Crafts
Facebooktwitterpinterest Share

Storage

red desk tidy_tnyellow heart drawers_tn

10 storage solutions for crafts:

  1. At christmas time, Twiglets, Cheeselets, Cheese Footballs and other savoury snacks come in a tall round container with a metal bottom, cardboard sides and plastic lid. Cover the outside with a thin layer of white paper mache. I store jewellery threads and findings in mine. These then sit on top of the radiator, which is never turned on, behind my desk, within easy reach.
  2. Old shoe boxes, particularly the one piece style (rather than box and lid style). I store paints in these. I have one for silk paints, one for glass paints and one for acrylic paints.
  3. Larger amounts of Haribo sweets can be bought from Amazon and come in a large plastic box. I store washi tape in one and use others to store the offcuts of paper from card making.
  4. I have a flat screw and nail storage case, which I use for storing sequins.
  5. I use Really Useful Boxes for storing stock and take these to fairs. I have made covers for each of the 3 sizes which I can set up on my stall as safe stable shelves. I also use Really Useful Boxes to store items as they dry between each stage of work.
  6. I have a set of Really Useful drawers with packing items such as padded bags, tape, cardboard backed envelopes, etc in the garage.
  7. A multiholed pen holder made of papermache stores all the paintbrushes, pencils, glue, jewellery pliers, decoupage and normal scissors. A copy of this could be easily made using the centres of kitchen roll cut at different lengths and put upright into a small box, such as the bottom of a family size cereal pack.
  8. My sewing items are kept in the metal tins that come at Christmas time filled with biscuits.
  9. A Doctor Who rectangular metal pail from a past Easter gift holds plastic clothes pegs. Pegs are really useful for holding things together as glue dries or for hanging small decorations from while they are drying.
  10. I use a concertina file folder to store sticker sheets. I organise them by occassion and colour.

maroonbook pink shelves_tnIf you are looking for storage solutions for jewellery, pens and other items, why not take a look at the range Didi Lou Crafts produces at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DidiLouCrafts

 

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram Follow Didi Lou Crafts
Facebooktwitterpinterest Share