Friday, August 28, 2015

Why Book Reviews Are Important for Craft Authors

©Ken Shelton via Pixabay // CCO 

It's been a few months since my first book, The Upcycled T-shirt was published and made widely available by the lovely folks at C&T Publishing. I set out this morning to share a little bit of insight in what goes into getting published, the lengthy process, and some of the hurdles I've crossed along the way. That's when I sat down with my cup of hot chocolate/coffee and did a quick Amazon review check of my book- there it was a shiny new... 1 star review.

Gah! 1 star? Go ahead see for yourself. This particular reviewer says,
"thought the projects in this book were a little too crafty and not very fashion forward - seemed More appropriate for teens or kids to do. I was very disappointed in the skill level for these projects – they seemed very basic – not for seasoned sewists" 

Okay, ouch- well that stinks. One thing I promised myself while I was writing this book was that I would never, under any circumstances respond to any review negative or positive. Instead I'm going to shed a little light on why book reviews are so very important for craft authors and why you should take time to write them (even if you don't love the book!) 

I'm excited as ever to be a part of this revolution, where our society is leaning towards craft. I'm not specifically limiting the conversation to needle art, sewing, knitting but keeping in mind broad spectrum ideas of homesteading, technology, design, and so much more. You might have heard of this 'maker movement' and heck if you're here reading this- you're probably already a part of it! I know one thing for sure, doors are opening and we have potential to turn more and more people into makers instead of just consumers. Based on history alone, when you give makers the right tools and inspiration- they have the potential to change the world. Basically- that's the entire premise of the book too! 

Avenues of influence abound from your favorite blogs, pinterest boards, and outlets like Instagram. With some motivation and the help of a friend, the local library, craft studio nearby you could learn a new skill today and still have time for cocktails with the girls. (Or more realistically kick back with the kids and eat popcorn while watching Star Wars for the 23,814th time!) Internet opens up the world of one on one instruction via classrooms like Craftsy and youtube- could it possibly be that books are no longer the way to go? Maybe. Why do people still bother writing books anyway? 

What it boils down to is that there are advantages & disadvantages to every media, and if reading or browsing books works for you or you prefer to watch a video tutorial- it's important that you take time to leave a review. Just like those old days when you would check with Siskle & Ebert before heading to the movies we now prefer to check of Yelp! before deciding where to eat dinner for 'real' reviews by people just like us. Reviews are no longer left for professionals. 

Book reviews are are important for craft authors because:
1. Unfortunately people online are more willing to rant about things they hate than post about something they actually enjoyed. (What's up with that?!) If of the 100 people who read my book 98 of them found it interesting, inspiring, and useful but 3 of them were unimpressed with the craft caliber and left low star reviews- guess what? People who check out book on Amazon are going to think it's garbage because they don't know about the awesome projects you've made or about the teachers in Indiana who developed an entire recycling/sustainabilty curriculum focused on your book. Bottom line is negative reviews will turn away potential buyers and jepordize book and event sales which allow authors to put food on the table. 

2. Visibility is important in a saturated market. Anytime positive reviews are left it boosts the credibility of the author & their rankings within the world wide webbernet - including Amazon & Google. 

3. Word of mouth will always be the best form of social media and powerful influence that ultimately will help authors cultivate their community and make valuable connections. 

Anyone who has purchased my book The Upcycled T-shirt, taken a class online or off, supported TrashN2Tees or simply stopped by the blog: I am forever grateful for the love you've shown me. I know that it takes valuable time to share your honest thoughts, to write and post reviews, and to connect online. If you're given the chance please share your love with a friend or by posting a review of my book or someone elses.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TrashN2Tees designs gone M-I-N-I!

Everything doesn't have to be big and bold to make an impression. I've been slightly obsessing over mini embroidery designs & even hosted a lecture at BERNINA University 2015 explaining why. Machine embroidery can be intimidating and I'm always looking for a way to get new friends to sit down at the machine & have fun! Well, what's more fun than a geeky fox?! I'll be sharing a few fun ideas & tutorials for stitching out mini embroidery & making pretty awesome things. Keep your eyes out for those & be sure to head over to Embroidery Online to order the complete TrashN2Tees Whippersnapper embroidery collection today. If you missed last weeks post, catch up and read why I'm giving my designs away. Who does that?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Love Wildly: A Bohemian Bridal Shower

Picture Heavy Post, consider yourself warned. 

We gathered as friends and family to celebrate my best friend, Cheyenne, on her upcoming wedding. A mid-summer morning bohemian garden party hosted by the bridal party. Even though it's been days since I keep coming back to the photographs reliving the day in all it's beauty. Love Wildly, a fitting reminder for all of us. Francis Chen once said, "Because when you're wildly in love with someone, it changes everything." There were countless hours of work that went into this, as nearly every element was handcrafted and or sourced locally. I couldn't be happier with the end result and so grateful to everyone who helped make it happen- and who came out and celebrate Cheyenne and Brian!

As guests arrived they were welcomed and escorted out to the back yard and sun deck which had been decorated for the party. Each bridesmaid contributed to the decorations, we all brought meaningful elements to create this truly special space. Gifts and cards were placed inside a gorgeous tee pee in the back corner of the yard. You can find some of the DIY moments along the way on my instagram account @TrashN2Tees or following hashtag #MoHMcGuiver 

We had a few games ready to play including the ring game- I shared a tutorial to create these oversized DIY Diamond Ring beautes earlier this week on the blog. We also played What's In Your Cell Phone? game that I ordered and printed off from BlissfulSoiree on Etsy. But while the guests continued to arrive they visited our Wild Flower Bar- where you could create your very own floral arrangement.

The vases were odds & end bottles that we collected and painted, each one had a unique tag that was made of scrap paper, fabric, and feathers which said Love Wildly.

Another one of my favorite elements we DIY'ed for our bride was this large dream catcher. The girls and I had gotten together to weave it & hung scrap fabric and lace on the bottom. Each guest was asked to write a dream for our couple on a length of fabric. 

No party is complete without delicious vegan food. Falafel, hummus, fruit slaw salad, mint green bean salad, complete olive bar and of course there was cake. The cake was ordered without decoration and we added these fresh edible flowers. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

DIY Diamond Rings

As you might already know, I just love planning and hosting creative themed parties- most often you see the results in form of boy birthdays. This past weekend however- we celebrated one of my best friends with a Love Wildly Bridal shower. As much fun as we had planning the party, building and designing the decorations, the games- we got stuck on. I hopped over to Kelly's blog Studio DIY to see if she had posted any fresh & funky fun from her own wedding... and that's when I saw them; DIY Giant Gem Rings. I was inspired to create my own version and today I'll teach you how to make them yourself!

You'll Need: 
1 1/2'' Acrylic Clear Diamonds (Vase filler, confetti I found mine at Hobby Lobby 36 for around $6)
Nail Polish
Black Craft Paint
Thin Paint Brush
Spray Protective Clear Coat
Ring Bases
E6000 Glue
Grinding Wheel or Dremel Tool

1. Using dremel or grinding tool remove 1/4'' to 1/2'' from base of diamond creating a flat surface that will later be used to mount the bling onto the base of the ring.

2. Paint 2 coats of nail polish onto the diamond. I chose to do the top faceted part and set it aside to dry and then come back and paint the bottom half.

3. Outline the diamond using a thin paint brush and craft paint. Allow to dry.

4.  Apply light layer of  E6000 to both the bottom of the diamond and the top of the ring base- let it set for 2 minutes. After the time has passed place the diamond onto the ring base at center. Allow it to dry completely before wearing.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Stitch Your Own Trashn2Tees Designs: Why I'm giving away my work.

Cool Machine Embroidery For Boys
Years ago I would've fought you tooth and nail- if you told me what I was about to do. There is no way, no how I would've 'given away' my designs in any form. Different seasons of my life have brought upon their own challenges but nothing can ever compare to having the flexibility to stay/work from home and raise our family. Through it all I've managed carve out my own path straddling both the design/maker movement and staying true to my sustainability virtues. I'm doing (yet another) something I never dreamed of doing.

Exciting news... Today I'm launching a machine embroidery collection with OESD called Whippersnapper! You'll find some of your favorite TrashN2Tees designs that are now available for you to create in your own home on your personal embroidery machine. Zombies! Geeky Foxes! Lumberjacks! All of those and more. The OESD crew did a fantastic job recreating my top selling designs and helping me bring something a little extra. The 33 designs were created and digitized to be stitched out on upcycled t-shirt scraps or jersey knit fabric continuing our growing movement to change the way we consume and create.

But wait it gets even better. If you've ever thought about starting your own work from home business but weren't sure where to start- this collection is licensed for personal and small scale use. Please be sure to read the agreement! You could dip your toe into the world of machine embroidery with the same machine I use or go big & make a production of it with BERNINA's prosumer E-16.  It's a dream to be able to empower you with the ability to create a business of your own growing on the foundation and examples that I've set forth. I hope that together we're able to not only outfit our youngsters & adults alike but also bring more focus on ways that we can creatively reuse. 


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