Bright Blue Dresses

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So, obviously, I got some of the dress done I’m planning. This is the center back, and back sides. I’ve still got the front sides, and center front to get done. But it will be the same kind of theme, clocks, and time.

I’ve got an idea for the skirt, but it’ll require collaboration from someone I know, since it will be using a fabric I’m not very good with, but I can say, it probably isn’t what people are expecting me to do.

So, hopefully today will at least be cutting the last two bodice sections, and the sleeves, and then I want to flat-line the entire thing with some muslin.

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Filed under Costuming, Embroidery Machine, Sewing

I had an Idea…

Apparently to the people I hold near and dear, this 4 words can inspire terror.

I had an idea.

You’d think they’d at least admit, my ideas are in the main, very good. I have no idea what they are worried about.

So for my holiday gift this year, my friend Jennifer got me a dressmaker’s dummy. Or rather, she is helping me to get a dummy, something I’ve needed for a while now, and am incredibly grateful to have coming. In theory, it is supposed to be here tomorrow. But given my long standing feud with UPS, we’ll see.

Anyhow. So, my idea was pretty basic. I *wanted* to do a Doctor Who themed bustle dress. But after going over the pattern, and glancing over the fabric I have on hand, I’ve changed my mind. Doesn’t mean it will never happen, just means it won’t happen with the fabric I have here.

So, my idea is, you’ve got it, a Doctor Who/Moulin Rouge inspired dress.

Why? Who knows, there are some great Steampunk inspired Whovian dresses out there, and I think there can never be enough, because each designer will have a different take on such a concept.

But I want to do something else entirely. So using this fabric, my embroidery machine, and this pattern, I hope I can pull it off.

I haven’t done anything yet with embroidering clothing before I make it. I’ve done t-shirts, and I’ve done jeans, which, in the grand scheme are actually fairly easy. And I got this machine with the intention of using it for exactly this kind of thing.

But, I took a year off from sewing in order to get used to the machine, and a needed hiatus from costuming sewing in general. But, now I’m ready to get back to it. The addition of the dressmaker’s dummy (I’m thinking I might call her Zipporah) is going to make things easier since it’ll mean not only not having to fit on my own body, but to be able to take much better photographs of my work.  Selfies and sewing on your own body is very hard.

I’ve got a few designs in mind, and some ideas for the bustle and under skirt, we’ll see where it goes, I’m only going to worry about the main bodice for now. Then we’ll worry about the bottom.

Oh, and since this pattern includes one for the tights, count on some embroidered tights to match.

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Filed under Costuming, Embroidery Machine, Musings, Sewing

Braga aka The Bra Saga

Well, the last few days have been allergy hell. My bi-annual sinus infection showed up. I was actually very productive all week so far, but the bra wasn’t something I worked on.

Last I’d said, I’d done a mock up of the Danglez DB7E which at first had confused me on everything from instructions to constructions. I finally figured it out (after some d’oh moments) and put together two sizes using some old pajama material.

$22 later, and I had most of the materials for a new bra in the bigger size (I decided to go with a 110E) and I cut it, and pinned it, and then promptly got sick.

Sidebar, I want to thank my friend Sarah at my local JoAnn’s. Not only is she a “real life” friend, but she’s also just one of the best employees a JoAnn’s can have. She’s helpful and always cheerful and uncomplaining when I drag her from one side of a store to the other searching for fabric for one of the oddest things an Oswegonian can sew, bras. Her enthusiasm for my projects never fails. She also can lay out the best Power Point on kink that I’ve ever seen this side of a dungeon party. That was one hell of a class Sarah.

But, good news, I now have antibiotics and am hoping that tomorrow I can sew the bra together. No straps, and no wires yet, so this’ll still be a temporary fit. I also ordered another pattern, this one for a t-shirt bra that’ll require foam cups that I am SUPER excited to attempt, I love t-shirt bras.

Anyhow, on to the new pinning.

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First is always fabric. I picked out a 2 way stretch knit that happened to be two sided. The pattern calls for being lined, but I decided that the knit was fairly sturdy, so I’d skip that step. I might be wrong, we’ll see when the wires are in if I was way off. Some pretty little velvet flowers with pearl centers, some pink piping, pink double fold elastic, and some pretty wide pink ribbon “just in case”.

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Pinning went fast now that I get how it goes together, I used the polka dots as the band and center front, stripes for the cups. This was the look I was going for, and I found some hot pink plush for holding the wires.

Now, the piping. It goes all around the band and I need to pick up more, and yes, I realize it might be a mistake, but I added piping to the cups. I do know this’ll show under thin shirts and don’t especially care. Ain’t no shame in my girls.

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And last, I set the flower just to show how cute’ll it’ll look, along with using the pink ribbon as temporary straps.

So, so far so good, tomorrow, I sew!

I figured I’d also share some other sewing I’ve been working on, I have an embroidery machine and want to design my own patches eventually, meanwhile, I use those that are out there. So, yesterday, I made these two “Hit Like a Girl” roller derby patches. I love RD, have many friends in the sport and am always happy to cater to them. Check these out, I’m seriously fucking proud.

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How awesome are these? The next one planned is in lime green and black. That’s the colors of Medusa Place a proud New Hampshire Roller Derby babe.

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This was a “for the heck of it” project. No reason other than I could.

Last thing to share, felties. These honestly, are not my things. I do not cater to kids, and my sales to people with kids are off Etsy. I do not feel people want to come to “Dirty Girl Designs” for kid’s toys, and I’m totally fine with that.

Anyhow, felties (which, yes, I totally have adult ones) are cute little felt embellishments that are mostly done by people like me on their embroidery machine by designers out there who specialize in this sort of thing. I had two requests, one was zebras, which I found at DejahVu Designs, and another which isn’t ready to be shared yet. Here are the zebras, and also that stupid grouchy cat Tard, who I’m seriously just not into.

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People tell me these  make them think “Yipes! Stripes!”
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I know these just look pastel……

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But they actually glow in the dark.

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Then you have Grumpy Cats from Bobbin for Appliques. Yes, I made his satanic eyes red.

And lastly, these are also done on my embroidery machine, I’m using up felt scraps to do up some pillow covers. I don’t have the wherewithal to do an entire quilt from 4×4 squares, but my nerves can handle 40 squares. (20 per pillow)

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Pretty cool eh?

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Filed under Bra Making, Embroidery Machine, Sewing

Bras Bras Bras

Back before my breast reduction, I had to learn to make bras, custom ones run in the hundreds of dollars (and rightly so) and I was a poor single mom at the time, custom bras weren’t going to happen.

But, I had to draft from a old Kwik-Sew pattern.  A 38J didn’t happen, even in a pattern.  So, a lot of experimenting and I could finally at least keep all that boobage in one place. After the surgery however, I stopped making them except as an odd foray into sewing. 

Then I decided I wanted to make some again, patterns have come a long way from the old ones you’d find from the 60’s, and the Kwik-Sew that only fit you if you were under a D cup and a 38 band. Now you can find patterns all the way up to my old J cup! It’s fantastic.

Now I’m a healthy 44D according to the bras from Walmart. Our RTW bra size has zero to do with custom sizing, so after I had one cut out, I had to do a second. 

I of course didn’t save my pictures the first time, but if you’re on my Facebook, I do post pictures of projects all the time, so feel free to look there for more pictures. (someday I have to organize my albums)

But, this is the second try. I cut a new pattern, this time adding my seam allowances, something I forgot last time. The larger size is much larger, but honestly, fits much better too. I don’t think my store bra is “wrong” really, I just think that once again we’ve run into a case of patterns versus ready to wear sizes. The fashion industry wants to make us feel better, so stuff is smaller in RTW. No biggie, I know I’ve got giant tits.

So this is a pattern from Danglez DB7E, which, may I say, it seems none of the big bra bloggers have attempted.  Probably part of that being that this is a bra for big girls.  I also picked up DB4E, although with this size issue, I might not be able to use that one for myself, which is a bit disappointing. But I’m not 100% sure yet about that, as you’ll see if you keep reading.

Part of the issue is being able to measure, these are Dutch patterns, so obviously they use the metric system. Here in the states, we’re discouraged from fitting in with the rest of the world, and are taught metric only from about 5th grade on, by which time it confuses us so badly we can’t quickly convert a thing.

As I said, in RTW, I wear a 44D, easily done, so I go to the chart and this tells me that in European bra sizes, I am a 100E in Japan and Europe. Which, I knew I was an E cup, I’ve had my fair share of imported bras.

So the 100E made me happy because yes, it is a big size, but it meant for many of the patterns I was finding, there were a few that’d be worth getting, Kwik Sew bras are a bit of a joke for sizing and it seems American women aren’t deemed worthy of decent bra patterns, even though several of us out here hunt down vintage patterns and modern bra patterns constantly. We’re obviously in the minority. /eyeroll

But, obviously, I was wrong. A measure taken finally last night told me my under bust was 116, and my full bust 130. That throws everything into confusion and tells me that I’m a 110E

And of course me being me, I misread from the start and cut my first as a 95E. So, the one today was cut as a 110E, and it doesn’t seem *too* large, but I’ve got to get some fabric and cut another at 100E, and cut another at 110E just to see which fits better.

Confused yet?

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Ever Reach That Point

Where you set the tools in your hand down and say “f- this”. Yep, you guessed it. I reached this point tonight.

I draw a few of my rings. Not many, because frankly, I don’t enjoy it. I’m not an artist in the pens and paint sense, so when something won’t work, I get frustrated quick.

I can do basic stuff. I keep it simple, and don’t get involved. Tonight, I smeared the fourth ring in a row and threw it. Far. I then made the decision that between the lack of glasses, and how short my temper was becoming over the issue, I wouldn’t draw any rings for now. I’d far rather work with the computer to make them and I’m far better at it.  So I will wait until I have the ink for the printer in a couple weeks, and I will wait until I have printable shrink plastic. It’s simply not worth shattering my nerves.

I may eventually pick up the stencils, or some other stuff, and I will always hand color pieces, but I just feel tonight as a snapping point and if this isn’t enjoyable, I’m going to be miserable at this. And that idea bothers me.

I’m at the same point with glitters and rhinestones, but I feel both of those are issues I can overcome with proper tools and am taking the steps to get those items I need so that I can add some sparkle to the rings and other pieces.

So, when I have my supplies, I’ll be ready, I can spend hours happily creating layouts for rings, and I’m getting ready to do holiday ones. I’ve got some great vintage Halloween and Christmas ones, and I have every intention of covering Chanukah and who knows what other holidays I’ll come up with.

No, in other parts, I’ve sat and thought this over carefully. I feel that as much as I enjoy other hobbies, I’d far rather concentrate on the rings. I feel I can very realistically have an entire Etsy shop with my rings, and the other items I make in shrink plastic, but with a heavy concentration on the rings. I enjoy making them, I find it easy, and I have fun with it. I like the rolled ones, and I enjoy the flat ones mounted onto adjustable bases. When I expand into cufflinks and tie tacks, I have a feeling I’ll really enjoy those too. And I’ll never stop doing the buttons, I can only see that line expanding once I have proper materials.

But I’m pleased to not be sewing, or doing some craft that really isn’t me. I’ll be able to create with resin as well, and still pour metal, and I feel alright with it, because it keeps my shop cohesive, they’re all interrelated in a way.
Now, for the good news. I couldn’t get a dot com, but I was able to get a dot net. And I as able to find someone to sell me the name that wasn’t GoDaddy. I refuse to use a company who has a founder who prides himself on killing. Don’t get me wrong, I love things like deer hunting, but what possible use does an elephant have as food?

I went with Name Cheap and I have to say, I had an issue with my redirect (so I thought) and the very kind Dmitry was back to me instantly. And apologized for taking so long!! So it’s official, I am http://www.dirtygirldesigns.net and that goes right to my Etsy store. I feel it’s the first step in the right direction, now to get those sales!!

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I Have to Admit…

I’m a little depressed. Oh, not entirely, the good news is, my stats are up. As in, WAY up. I can’t stress enough how far up, so I’ll just share a screen shot.

 

Now. This is for the last two weeks or so. This is GREAT. Yes, some is from the forums on Etsy, but my outside stats have picked up very nicely. Now, compare this to a year’s worth of stats and you’ll see why I’m pleased.

Yes. That’s why I’m pleased. My numbers are very plainly WAY up.  Nearly 9,000 in a year, and 2,000 in two weeks? Yes. Because if I keep going, that means I’ll have nearly 5,000 a month at this rate.

But, no sales. I realize, it’s back to school time, and I also realize that summer is when some go on vacations, and yeah yeah yeah, I get it. But I’ve only had TWO sales the entire time these stats are going up. That’s so damn depressing!!

And I see all the time people are being approached with wholesale offers, but why not me? I mean the chances it’d be a real offer are nil, but my ego would feel so much better.

I’m currently at 28 sales. I just can’t seem to get over that 30 mark!! I’m marketing (I suck at math but believe it or not, I actually contemplated going into marketing seriously, I love statistics and demographics with a passion) like mad, and it’s obviously working, but where are the sales? I feel I have a cute and unique item, that is clearly attracting attention, but it’s as if it’s a novelty that no one wants to buy.

I want my Etsy to work. I don’t even want much out of it. I figured, if it makes me $300 a month, I’ll be happy. That’d pay my rent and leave some money over for fun stuff like more supplies. Then I’d have money free to fix my dump of a trailer. I’m simple, I just want to be warm, and fed, and comfortable. And really, $300 is only about a ring a day.

I raised my  prices like I was told to, and it got me more attention, but no sales. Now part of me thinks raising my prices was a huge mistake.

I changed all my pictures to more uniform backgrounds, causing me to be in debt morally to a good friend for years probably. And it’s gotten me no sales. Now I wonder if I should have just shut up and had her take all the pictures on white backgrounds and let the rings fade into the damn backgrounds.

I’ve been putting myself out there to other bloggers, and big bloggers, offering them rings to review and so far, I’ve been featured on the Etsy Handmade Craft Carnival #4 but of course, that was the day we had the outage, so it got me no more than a couple of page views. Others have turned me down, and I’ve had juried panels just reject me in hours.

I really don’t think I’m doing anything wrong, I think I’m doing everything right in fact. Sure, there’s other things I could probably be doing, but I’m clearly getting my name out there. That’s how you get the sales, is if people see you. So I’m pleased my views are up. This will help me on Etsy, and it’ll help me on Google.

I’m trying to be positive, I have someone around besides my son (who is currently in Japan) who believes in my work, encourages me to go further and has done far more to help my rotten self esteem than anyone has in years. Much as I love my son, his admiration for my stuff is more an amused tolerance.  But having this person around has helped, and he knows it. (frankly, as smug as he’s been lately, I shouldn’t even write that!)

It’s just discouraging I guess. But I’m trying to keep my chin up and keep in mind that positive attracts positive and that people are marking holiday gifts and that once the kids go back to school I’ll get a seasonal rush.

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How you doing?

I’ve always felt with my Etsy that I was just doing it to get some spare cash here and there. And really, I still do. Anything I sell on Etsy is spare cash for me. But, having said that, my last 6 months have been about getting off my ass and making my Etsy actual work as a viable income.

And no, it isn’t a viable income just yet. But with all the hard work I’ve put in for the last two months, I’m starting to see results. I’ve gotten critiques, I’ve had questions for people, I’ve had friends help me set certain things up for me like Google Analytics, and just in general revamped the shop.My goals for the next two weeks are pretty simple.

  • A banner. Bunny from Faerie Garden Fancies is working on one for me, and I’m hoping to have it up this weekend or early next week.
  • Ring inventory.  I’m waiting on an Etsy payment to clear, or to sell some more stuff so that I can buy supplies. And right now, that’s ink and more printable shrink plastic. I’m hoping to be able to get more than 6 sheets, but 6 sheets gives me nearly 100 rings of the all shrink type, so I won’t fuss much if I can’t get more than that right now. I’ve been told to up my inventory and to keep adding to it as often as possible. Since the rings seem to be my strong point, my goal is to get at least 200 into the shop before the end of August. Poor Bunny, her camera will never be able to charge.
  • More pimping. At least daily submitting to some handmade site, or some kind of ad. I’m really looking for fellow bloggers who would like to carry my add in exchange for me hosting theirs.
  • Sales. This is connected to the pimping, but I really need a sale a week or I really can’t see how I’ll get business. I need to be visible! So, pushing my stuff on people, getting FB people to share my links, and just keep going until I get over that hump into the 30 sales area. I seem to be stuck at 28.

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Filed under Business, Musings, Rings, Shrink Plastic, Supply Purchases

Advertising

I’m not getting the traffic I feel I need at the Etsy shop. And then to see stuff featured on the front page that isn’t even as good as some of mine? Depressing. I mean, we can be as lofty as we like and claim we sell on Etsy for the art, but unless you make more at a “real job” or have hit the lotto, we’re in it for the money. Noble desires for art aside, we need the money to continue that art. Shrink plastic and resin for me aren’t cheap. At times I debate the wisdom of even having an Etsy store, but honestly, I think I’d go insane if I didn’t. I don’t drive, so I can’t easily do local shows, and I can’t seem to find a regular partner who is willing to even do the local shows who is willing to drive. It’s very frustrating. I live on a seriously restricted budget (less than $800 USD per month) and when something sells, that pays for me to create.

I feel my prices are fair. If anything, too low. I had some people really chew me out recently over the buttons. The general opinion was, that I was selling too cheap at around $1 a button. I’d put a lot of work into them (I do agree with that) and they were unique and much better than the average shrink plastic button. So I raised my prices to $2 a button. I felt this was fair, I’d seen hand drawn buttons on Etsy, sold as a single button that weren’t even as good as mine selling for $3 each. If I get into shank buttons, my prices will adjust for those.

So, my next step in my opinion (besides a project idea that I’m hoping to bring out soon along with resin bangles and rings) has to do with ads. Not just putting mine out there, but advertisers here. So, I’ve been searching for blogs with decent traffic, and other places, to put ads. I’ve got a few ideas on where to put some. Some are free, some I’ll be paying for, which I feel is worth it, if it drives traffic up.

As for ads on here, this is the deal. Since my blog is so new, and since I don’t have great traffic, I’m simply looking for exchange. I’ll post your banner, if you post mine. On the left, or the right, and it’d be visible at all times. Interested?

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The Ups and Downs to Shrink Plastic

When things work out with me and shrink plastic, they work out VERY well. When they go wrong? They go VERY wrong.

So because this blog is about learning as much as my place to vent and yak my little fingers out, I’m going to go with the bad first.

Now, last year, I came up with a jointed doll that I dubbed the “Bondage Babes”. They’re for the kinsters who shop at Dirty Girl Designs  and I’ve never said otherwise. Sometimes those in the lifestyle like a more fun way to declare their interests and the Bondage Babes are still cute enough to be taken as just a casual necklace.

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As you can see, they are super simple, they just have a protective glaze on them and have basic features. They aren’t meant to be real detailed.

So, I decided that given the abilities of the inkjet shrink, I would computerize the BBs. Easy right? Well, yes and no. I figured it’d be hit or miss and it is still a work in progress, but my friend Bunnykissd who is a graphics genius (I very honestly try to avoid working with this sort of thing, let other, far more agile brains do this) took the babes and put a few bodies onto a page that I could print out and then cut out the bodies. Giving me several bodies to a page instead of stamping them out by hand. (my next step is to somehow get my Cricut cutter to do what I want for once and cut the Babes out) so yay for an easier life! And this morning she sent me a sheet with several bodies on it.

I was thrilled! I printed them out onto some regular paper and here’s where I made my first mistake. I knew what the torso (including the head) measured. And I didn’t measure my print. I was so eager I said “yay! Looks great! and used my last piece of inkjet shrink to print out the sheet of bodies.

Reader, I should have measured before printing. (yes, I’m reading Jane Eyre, bite me) Turned out that they are an inch too short. And with shrink plastic, this can make such a difference. There is no room for error. None.

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Now, on the left, is a ruined Babe (ain’t they all?) and on the right is the new Babe. Now, you can see, this difference is massive. Oh, I’m not crying in the corner, I am a little upset, with myself, not with the Babe or the graphic, I should have measured first before printing onto the precious shrink. I also don’t feel this is a massive issue, just annoying. I can’t work with this size, not at pre-shrunk size, that’s fine, but at shrunk size, this is tiny for things like jump rings. I’ll probably just print on the other side some rings that I can sell as “oops” because of the dolls printed on the back. I’ll figure something out. This does show how crucial size is in shrink plastic. So the Babes will be delayed until Bunny and I can figure this out.

Now, onto the good.

So I’ve been doing buttons with my inkjet shrink, I’m now officially out and will be trying another brand. I still feel Shrink Dinks brand is way too expensive and am trying a couple sheets of the Grafix brand, that I can buy in packs of 50. Yes, I’m semi converted to the inkjet instead of the hit or miss of printing on regular shrink. I’ll still be using regular shrink, but whatever that coating is, it makes it worth the $2 a sheet.

Now, my deep love in crafting is metal and resin. I love both. But there is an instant gratification to shrink plastic that I can’t deny. It also impresses people, when it shouldn’t really, that you are far more creative than you really are.

Buttons are easy. I can’t stress this enough. I find images I want, get them into the shape that works, and punch them out with a 2” punch. I then punch holes and then shrink. I add UTEE and then sand and drill. Done. Not complicated. In fact I feel pretty guilty for charging $2 each for buttons but I’ve had several people tell me that if anything, I’m not charging enough. I’ve looked at other buttons made of shrink plastic and sometimes I tend to agree. Don’t get me wrong, hand made art and drawing it yourself generally beat computer images hands down, but that’s if they are good. And what I’ve seen being charged $3 each for? Ain’t good.

I’m unsure if I’ll sell many buttons one at a time, I plan on keeping them in groups of 6 for the $12. I feel most people want at least 6, and yes, $12 is a bit much for buttons, but I also feel you aren’t likely to go to JoAnn Fabrics (there, just two buttons can run you $15 if you follow that link)  and find Elizabeth Tudor portrait buttons.

Yeah. You heard me. Elizabeth Tudor. (yes, she became Elizabeth I of England later)

A friend and fellow SCAdian (again with SCAdian friends wanting buttons!) had admired what I’d done so far when I mentioned that I’d intended on doing some of Elizabeth I of England. She began to squeal. The “meat colored dress” portrait was our favorite. Even better, she wanted the buttons for a mundane (non SCA) sweater. So I ran up a sheet of 12 fairly quickly.

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You can see why lots of people love this Flemish School painting of the young Elizabeth Tudor.  The composed young ginger here is clearly secure, yet at the same time, vulnerable. Not yet the rigid, scarred and scary queen she later became. Her salmon colored dress is pretty, and you can see she has her mother’s graceful neck (if still intact, unlike her mother’s)

This is a case of when it works, it works great. I’m nearly out of ink in my printer, but you know what’s nice with shrink plastic? Inkjet or regular, colors get stronger and darker when you bake. So while there is some variation in these buttons, it doesn’t subtract from them in any way.

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I really can’t wait to do these “portrait” buttons with shanks. Without anything to detract from the design (the holes) the full glory of portraits like these will be amazing. I also intend on experimenting with crystals around the edges to get a more lush appearance. Think of the old miniatures with pearls or gems around the edges and you’ll have an idea. But at the same time, the buttons with holes are still good, after all, for a kid’s sweater, they’ll be on firmly. Shank buttons aren’t always the firmest of things.

So there’s without a doubt good and bad runs with projects, I mean, mistakes I make with resin and metal casting are epic at times. Metal I can luckily re-melt, resin mistakes are pretty harsh, there’s no fixing those. Shrink plastic however, because its so cheap (well, the non inkjet variety anyhow) mistakes are more lessons in swearing. I’m annoyed, but I can move on fairly easily.

 

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To Brand or Not to Brand

So I have a bit of a conundrum. Nothing major, not even that exciting really, but to me, important.

So I do all sorts of things with shrink plastic. Buttons, rings, and even dollhouse chairs. Some of  my stuff is drawn or hand colored, but a lot of stuff is done with a printer. But don’t underestimate how much work goes into something. It’s actually pretty consuming work. For example, this is how buttons are done:

  1. Find a vector image. I either use Vector Stock or CDs from the Dover Clip Art Collection. Vector just means I can size to the 3.12” I need to be able to punch it out with my 2” punch and not have it distort.
  2. If it isn’t a vector image (say a photo or other custom work) I have to resize it so it’ll not distort badly when it shrinks. (insert some pretty impressive cursing here, and I’m not kidding, my cursing is really impressive)
  3. For buttons like the Russian buttons, I have to use the one images and cover an entire sheet while resizing and not having the image distort.
  4. Sit and punch 12–20 buttons out by hand (swear more as my eyes glaze over and my hand cramps)
  5. Punch button holes, 2 per button (I’m looking into getting a fancy punch to do this step) (really swear as I rip my template for the holes or images don’t line up)
  6. Bake (at this time of year in high heats) the buttons and make sure I don’t over melt them and let them cool (swear some more as I pull hot buttons off the oven rack)
  7. Sprinkle UTEE powder on the now baked buttons. This gives them dimension and a hard coating, I’ve gotten smart with this and keep my UTEE in a salt shaker and sprinkle it on evenly
  8. Make sure the UTEE doesn’t burn, It melts fairly fast and burns even quicker which can discolor a button (scream and throw things when I inevitably burn something because I was distracted by shiny objects)
  9. Let the buttons cool again (in a rush, stuff in freezer)
  10. Gently sand any excess UTEE off the sides of the buttons (shudder helplessly when the stupid emery board hits your nail and feels like squeaking chalk on a chalkboard)
  11. Drill out button holes, since the UTEE has covered these (sob hysterically when you put the micro drill thru a finger)
  12. Wash the buttons in warm water (this helps to soothe the stab wound as well)
  13. Mount on a card or package for sale (be sure to drop buttons at least 6X while trying to mount them to the mother f*c*ing da**ed card)
  14. List on Etsy (a tedious process, taking as long as 10 minutes per listing) (curse when connection drops and you have to start all over)
  15. Mail to new owner, this means taking the bus into town, or walking 6 miles (yep, I do that) or caging a ride with someone (listen to customers whine because you didn’t mail out their special buttons they needed THIS Saturday but ordered on Tuesday, oh and then demanded and received free shipping)
  16. Collapse with relief that something sold (very important step)

So what’s the big deal with branding then? Well, back in the 80’s when my father was welding for a place that built phone booths, he’d someplace put in his initials “HJJ”. It was only in a way he knew, and he apparently recognized a few of his booths far away from where we live here in Upstate NY.  So wanting to leave my mark is clearly genetic. Of course, good luck finding a phone booth these days.

Now, white shrink is awesome. It has clarity, and the inkjet stuff shows even the smallest of detail. Adding the UTEE makes it pop even more. So I don’t want a brand on the front of a piece. But, I feel that putting my mark on the back isn’t a big deal. Or a pendant, or a white ring. With clear and translucent, I try to find another way to mark my item. I’m seriously considering stickers as well. For my rings I sometimes try to put “DGD” (Dirty Girl Designs) or my initials “JMJ” someplace on the piece, with the computer or by hand. It’s normally tiny and not easy to find.

With anything white, it’s different. I do an all over repeating text of my Etsy address. “dirtygirldesigns.etsy.com”. Such as on the back of this button.

SANY3204

I am not trying to “copyright” “trademark” or “registered” my item. Not at all. First, I’m hardly the only person to do shrink plastic buttons or rings. Nor am I even close to half as talented as some of the other creators out there. Hell, I use images and I print. I still feel however, I do a lot of work and I want people to know where it came from. The name on the button is not visible, nor on the back of a white ring will you see the repeating design.

So, as an Etsy artist, do you mark your item? And on the flip side, as a customer, would you find my branding offensive? Or does it detract from your desire for the item?

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