Sunday, 29 June 2014

Inspiration :: Hema

Earlier this year I went to Brussels and Bruges for a few days. Even in the grey of February Bruges has some pretty bits ...

If you want to find out more about Bruges have a read of the Rough Guide website.

Anyway, trying to find somewhere reasonably priced and off the tourist trail to have lunch we popped in to a Hema store which had a cafe upstairs. After helping of pea and ham soup (for him) and a ham and mozzarella sandwich (for me) we browsed the shop. I could have bought so much but knew I wouldn't have the luggage space - although we did manage to find space for 24 bottles of Belgian beer ...

So I was quite excited when I heard that Hema were opening their first UK store, and it was relatively near to where I live.

Like Tiger (of which I'm a big fan), Hema has been labelled a 'posh pound shop'. Not that things are a pound, but they are reasonably priced. What both shops have in common is a bit of European style often combining clean designs and bold colours.

So after my trip to Tate Britain, I walked to Victoria station (where Hema is located) via here ...

And here ...

The Hema store isn't large but it does have a number of enticing products. This is what I came away with ...

1 kilo of printed paper, 1 kilo of printed card, some washi style tape, some tags and a package including some ribbons, bows and flowers. There will be an upcoming project using the paper & card so watch this space...

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Elephants :: Felt

So although Embellished Elephant isn't about elephants as I was browsing Pinterest one day I came across a lovely felt elephant. So once a month I'm going to collect together a few images of elephants and share them. 

Here are some felt elephants to start off ...

Felt elephant round up

1. Love the button detail of this one, although it does look like it has wheels! 
2. Nice simple shape and the little cross stitch to attach the ear is very cute. 
3. Another simple silhouette, very effective design. 
4. A nice use of some contrasting fabric for the ear
5. Cheers big ears, a range of different colours with matching or contrasting fabric for the ears. 
6. A cut out ear with fabric stitched in behind. 
7. The simplest silhouette with elephanty colours. 
8. An embellished felt elephant with beads, sequins and a spot of embroidery. 
9. A slightly different shape for this elephant with his trunk proudly on display

For more images of felt elephants visit my Elephants board on Pinterest.

All links above are to Pinterest as a number of the items pictured are no longer available at their original link.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Inspiration :: Tate Britain

Today I took a day off work. I have a habit when I take a day off work of lounging on the sofa and before I know it my day off has vanished. So I was determined to go out and explore today.

It had been a while since I'd been to an exhibition. The conversation in our house normally goes...
me - 'I quite fancy going to see the ?? exhibition'
him - 'me too'
me - 'so when shall we go?'
him - 'next weekend'
And then next weekend comes and other arrangements have been made and we never end up going.

Anyway I knew I was on safe ground with the British Folk Art exhibition at the Tate Britain - there was no way he'd want to go to that so off I trotted today.

There were some really interesting pieces and I thought the hanging was very good - bright coloured walls, objects spread out. But there was almost a bit too much space and a few too many objects. As a couple of (very loud) ladies walking through the exhibition in front of me said there were so many things that they could have included such as painted barge artefacts.

I took time to draw a few sketches as I moved through the exhibition. Although I'm not particularly good at drawing I do like doing a few sketches rather than just take a photo as I feel it helps me to understand how the work has been put together.

This one was a sketch of a segment of a quilt called 'Drunkard's Path'. I thought it was a really striking design in just white and red.

After the Folk Art exhibition I had a quick wonder through the present day to 1930s works and did a few more sketches.

I do try and make the time to revisit my rough sketches into neater ones while the images are still fresh in my mind. This is a notebook I dug out from a trip to Stockholm about 7 years ago.

Anyway back at the Tate Britain it isn't just the works of art that caught my eye - parts of the architecture of the building itself gave me some ideas.

A wall ...

A floor ...

A bannister ...

A window ...

I like geometric shapes, repeating patterns and blocks of colours, so will be using all these along with the sketches I made as inspiration for future designs.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Back office :: Blog design

Having a look at some of the designer/makers who were selling at the Crafty Fox Market I went to back in April (which I blogged about on my other blog) and reading more and more craft blogs, having a consistent design for your web presence gives a really professional look.

I work for a big company which has gone through a couple of re-brandings in the time I've worked there. What that has meant is 'brand training' and 'brand guidelines' issued to make sure everyone uses the brand consistently.

So I've started thinking about the branding and design of Embellished Elephant including:
Font style & size
Logo / banner
Colour palette 
Photo style
Tone of voice

Once I've played around with the design (the fun stuff) I'll then produce myself a mini branding document so that I can be as consistent as possible between my website and social media accounts.

I've had a go at making a couple of banners today. They were fairly quick to make and I used Google Drawing as I don't have Photoshop or anything advanced like that. Just a bit of cropping and the addition of a text box.

For the first one I'm not sure about the quality of the image, the 'join line' down the middle or whether I want an actual embellished elephant as my logo ... (although I did have fun making the elephant this morning - I'll find a home for him somewhere).

The second one I'm much happier with ... and this is the one that will be the banner certainly for a while - I'm trying to decide if I should have a logo - if I do then I'll need to encorporate that into the design somewhere.

You may notice that I've chosen some fonts - 'Over the rainbow' for the blog title. In the course of looking for fonts I discovered Google fonts - never knew it was there - anyway I spent quite a lot of time browsing and deciding what fonts I wanted to use. I've combined this with Josefin Sans for the body text which I think is nice and simple but a bit different.

As for colours, I've gone for a pinky red colour as an accent with grey text and a white background, I wanted to keep the style quite clean.

So I just need to work on my photo style and tone of voice which will come as I start blogging more of Embellished Elephant.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Back office :: Taking better photos

I wanted to take some great looking photos of items I've already made to include in this blog.

Over the past couple of months I've ready a few blog posts about how to take great product photos.

There was a really helpdul post on the Folksy blog about photographing purses that I reviewed before getting my camera out as well as a video from Etsy that gave some more general hints and tips

How did I do?

Well here are a couple of images - one to show the item in context, and one to show the beautiful beaded detail.

I think they look great, so great in fact that I've used the second one to create the banner for this blog!

Hand stitched purse embellished with beads and sequins

Close up of hand stitched purse embellished with beads and sequins

Friday, 20 June 2014

Back office :: Setting up the web stuff

So I thought I'd put together a few blog posts as I'm doing back office work to get everything set up on Embellished Elephant as I've found it really interesting to read hints and tips from other bloggers over the past few months.

Some I'd recommend you taking a look at if you are starting out are:

  • Blog Clarity - a blog about blogging - the 10 minute blog touch up series is especially good
  • While She Naps - a blog about sewing soft toys but also has great sections on blogging and business
  • Sew McCool - another sewing blog but this was the first blog I read that made me realise you could make money from blogging.
  • Amuse Your Bouche - mainly a food blog but there are some blog hints and tips hidden away.
  • Buffer Blog - very in depth posts on things like social media - a lot of their posts I'll be going back to when I've got all my social media sorted out

There are many others but these are the ones I found interesting and helpful.

I've come across all these by being an active reader of blogs and following recommendations on other blogs I've read. I've only really been an active reader of blogs since I 'discovered' bloglovin. 

So this post is all about getting the technology side all set up.

After thinking of the name I did a google search as well as searching all the social media sites I was intending to use to make sure the name wasn't taken by anyone else.

After deciding this was the name I wanted I created this blog, added my first post and wrote my about page.

The next step is to start adding in features to my blog. Google analytics is already added as thanks to reading Sew McCool I see how interesting/important it is to see how your site is growing. I'll be adding other features such as linkwithin, follow me buttons etc in due course - but that's something I can build up over time.

I've also set up a range of different social media options. Some of these I'm already active on such a Pinterest, some which I've kind of used before but not in the context of promoting a business (Facebook), some I have flirted with but didn't last long (twitter) and some I've not tried before (Instagram).

In the meantime I've starting to think about some content for this blog. What I've learned over the past couple of months of working on my previous blog is the importance of planning your content and doing some prep in advance. Some of the features I've included in that blog will transfer over here when I'm fully up and running with Embellished Elephant.