Life Lately #12: In The Studio

It’s been a while since I shared a Life Lately post and I always enjoy showing you what I have been up to behind the scenes. March and April have both been busy with events (more on this another day) and it has been a time to finish up some freelance contracts and projects. A bit of a transitional time for the business!

I worked on some fun crochet commissions for a magazine and I sold at Norwich Makers Market for the first time. On the product side of things, I’ve been working on updating my product photography (ongoing) and some new designs.

Mini-Bikes

I product tested some wooden keyrings, but I’m not 100% happy with them yet so have been working on ways to make them more robust.Keyring-Prototype

I took on a big pencil commission for Tech Ladies in NYC which is an inspiring collective of 10,000 women! Each of them receive a custom pencil set when they join the collective.Tech ladies pencilsWe worked on packaging together which is almost as fun as designing the product itself!
Tech-Ladies-Custom-Pencil-Order

I restocked some best selling cards and started to brainstorm for more card designs. Any requests?Happy-Birthday-Scrabble-Card

The second run of bike pins sold out which means over 200 of them are out there in the world now!! I sent one to Iceland recently and I love seeing people wearing them. I have restocked a whole new batch in my Etsy and Look Lane shops.

I also sent off 3 new pin designs to my manufacturer, so I hope to have these live in a few weeks. They are for the planner and stationery lovers and will be GLITTERY. I’m beyond excited about these and it’s been so fun working the designs from sketch, to digital images, to proofs. Always a bit scary to hand the final manufacturing over to someone else though!Bike Pins

And I worked on some more custom wall art frames for return customers and realised that each and every one of these has such a great story behind it.Custom Scrabble Frame

My studio plant took a turn for the worst so I found some plant people on Instagram for advice. Debee shares some brilliant videos of her succulent collections (they are AMAZING) and actually showed how to propogate a string of buttons plant just as mine needed help.String-Of-Buttons-Plant

I took some trimmings (scary moment) and hoped I would be able to save it….Succulent-Propogation

….so now I’ve repotted the cuttings with the healthy crown still attached and I hope they will re-root in the fresh soil. My Pilea (shown in the first photo above) seems to be doing OK though with new leaves appearing weekly! Maybe I can be an indoor gardener yet?!Succulent-Propogation-String-Of-Buttons

As usual, Tammy has been stealing my chair at every opportunity and jumping in all the boxes once every delivery has been unpacked.Tammy-Studio-Chair

I’m taking the next couple of months to refocus my work. Naturally, I am the kind of person who thrives on having multiple projects on the go at once. However, I have made the decision to focus my business on products and blog work as the main priority. The Cambridge Craft Parties are currently on hiatus and I am still trying to decide whether to retire them completely to really focus on my shop and working with retailers. After a couple of seasons and some private party bookings, I haven’t been able to make them as profitable as I had hoped and they take a huge amount of effort to plan, execute and promote.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that I want my business to be about quality, not quantity. My priorities are to make money to support myself and to feel 100% happy about everything I am working on. Right now, that is translating to simplifying my income streams so that I have fewer projects that I do really really well. It’s kind of scary as it has meant ending freelance work that was guaranteed monthly income, but it also means I now have time to design more products and start working with stockists.

I hope you guys enjoyed the update today! Tell me what’s new with you?

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National Stationery Week – Bullet Journalling

Guys it’s one of my favourite weeks of the entire year – National Stationery Week! A whole week to celebrate paper, pens, planners and stickers. Today I wanted to talk to you about Bullet Journalling because it’s been a planning revelation for me since I started it in January.

If you are not familiar with this style of planning, I recommend watching Ryder Caroll’s video about the analogue system he invented. Since then, it has become something of a trend with lots of creative people turning their BuJo’s into places to doodle and decorate.

March-Bullet-Journal-Spread As a fickle planner (you’ve probably seen me change my planner set up lots!), I find Bullet Journalling to be the one that has stuck the longest. The reason for this is the flexibility – you design every page yourself, so if one spread doesn’t work for you, just amend it the next week or day! It allows you to create pages for anything that you want to record, track or note. I have doodle pages, lettering practice pages, calendars, sketches, brainstorms and even budgeting and sales trackers.

Easter-Bullet-Journalling-Doodle

I am exploring colour and lettering in my Bullet Journal and it’s been incredible to have just one planner for my personal life and business. It is busy inside, but it’s kept me on track and really suits my goal focused way of working. If things get written down, they get done for me!

You can basically use any notebook for a Bullet Journal, but I love one with dotted pages. Here are some links to the notebooks and pens that I use:

Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook

Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook Limited Edition Copper Version

PaperMate Flair Pens

Artline Stix Brush Pens

I also made a video on my Bullet Journal which you might like to take a look at to see it in more detail.

Once my pink BuJo is full, I shall be using this limited edition Leuchtturm Copper Notebook. It’s just really beautiful!

Copper-Leuchtturm-Notebook-Bullet-Journalling

Finally, I’ve been working hard behind the scenes this month on some new stationery themed pin ideas and I can’t tell you how excited I am!! It’s been really tricky deciding on colours, but I can tell you they will be shiny and pretty special. They take around 3 weeks to produce once I have finalised the designs, so keep an eye out and let me know what you think!

Are you a Bullet Journalling fan? What are you using to keep organised this year? Don’t forget, you can keep up with National Stationery Week online by searching the #NatStatWeek tag!

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National Scrabble Day – Trivia And Treats

It’s no secret I love Scrabble – but did you know my favourite word game is actually Boggle?! But, I still own 3 Scrabble sets – The Super edition, this travel version and the special edition Pink Scrabble for Breast Cancer. I love playing it so much.

Claireabellemakes-Pink-Scrabble

Anywho, as 13 April is National Scrabble Day in the USA, I thought I’d share some fun things I have discovered about Scrabble since I started playing years ago and some moments that stick in my mind from creating with word tiles!

#ScrabbleFacts

  • Scrabble was originally named Lexiko and then Criss-Cross Words! The inventor Alfred Mosher Butts eventually settled on the name Scrabble in 1948.
  • 53% of all homes in Great Britain have a Scrabble set. Or maybe 3 like me….
  • The highest known score for a game is 1049 by Philip Appleby from Lymington in 1989
  • Over 150 million games have been sold in 121 countries around the world and it is produced in 29 different languages. Welsh was only added in 2006.
  • If all the Scrabble tiles ever produced were placed end to end they would reach the equivalent of eight times around the earth.
  • There are over a million missing Scrabble tiles across the world
  • Each hour, at least 30,000 Scrabble games are started
  • You can get the highest score of 1778 points for the word “oxyphenbutazone” which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug

Travel-ScrabbleUpon seeing my designs, people often ask me if I just keep buying Scrabble sets, but that would be pretty expensive and you only get one K in each set! That means a lot of sets for the popular KNIT necklaces 😉

Super-Scrabble-Board-Game

Here are some more things I have discovered since playing and creating with Scrabble:

  • The supplier of my tiles has spent 25 years working on board games with Spear’s, Mattel and Bucher and Harrison and now manufactures and distributes a range of speciality games and puzzles across the world
  • I once sent a handmade Scrabble Inspired brooch pin to someone at Hasbro games in America (the brand that publishes Scrabble there)
  • In June last year before the UK voted, I played a game in which my tiles spelled out BREXIT as I took them out of the bag. Two weeks later the result was announced. I voted to remain.
  • I love it when a pub has board games. Especially Scrabble! On the flip side, I don’t like puzzles.
  • I really want to make a range of swear word Scrabble inspired designs, but I’ve never had the guts!
  • I still love it when customers tag me in their purchases and I know it will never get old. I especially loved this blog from Sam who shared her WTF necklace!
  • I own the following Scrabble themed items; tea towels, fabric, rubber stamps, stickers, notebooks, lunch bags, cookie cutters, magnets and pencils. Most of which were gifts!

Super-Scrabble-GameI mentioned treats didn’t I? I’m having a little sale in my Etsy shop at the moment and there are a handful of Scrabble inspired goodies included such as necklaces with minor imperfections, seconds if you will. There are only a limited amount available so be quick if you’ve had your eye on one of my designs!

Now I’m off to make some treats of my own, I was gifted these Scrabble cookie cutters for Christmas and I think we need some sugar over the Easter weekend. Obviously with a cup of tea and a game of Scrabble!

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Instalife March 2017

HOW THE FLIP IS IT APRIL ALREADY?! March was a fun but transitional month for me, as some projects came to an end and I started working on new things. One thing I loved participating in throughout the month was the March Meet The Maker challenge on Instagram. We posted one photo a day based on the prompts set by Joanne Hawker.

You can see all the original posts in my Instagram here or in this Facebook album where I have collated my 2016 and 2017 Meet The Maker posts!

It was a great challenge to share more of my story for Claireabellemakes and some of the posts were personal as well as a bit of fun. Looking at all the posts on the tag was really fun too – the creative community on Instagram is brilliant.

March-Meet-The-Maker-2017 Meet-The-Maker-2017

Towards the end of the month I realised that this blog passed 1 MILLION VIEWS. Kind of blown away by that and still thinking how to say thank you to you all! I’m thinking of doing a giveaway so stay tuned and give me a shout if you have any ideas.

Thanks to all of you for following along with my Instagram posts, it’s still my favourite platform to get creative with 🙂

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Tourist In Cambridge – A Photowalk With Olympus

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of joining a group of Cambridge bloggers for a photowalk around Cambridge to test out the new Olympus PEN E-PL8 camera. Today I’m sharing my images from the day as part of my Tourist In Cambridge series.

I’ve been thinking about getting a compact system camera for a while now, so I could take a lighter camera out and about to events instead of my DSLR. Having been a Canon fan girl for years, I wasn’t sure how I would like the Olympus PEN range, but we had tech support from David for the whole day to show us the settings.

Cambridge did the best job for us with beautiful sunshine and Spring flowers everywhere.

Cambridge-PuntingOlympus-Pen-EPL8-Review

The E-PL8 is pretty light in comparison to an SLR and looks fancy too with a nice leatherette finish. It has some cool features and filters built in and syncs with the Olympus app to transfer via a wireless connection to your phone. Great for instant sharing. In my opinon, the app and wireless transfer was quite a bit better than the Canon one.Polka-Dot-Vans-Sneakers Trinity-Lane-Cambridge

We took a stroll through the city with fashion bloggers taking outfit photos and me typically waiting for a quiet spot to capture bikes and flowers. The Backs were looking super pretty with all the Spring blooms.Spring-The-Backs-Cambridge

Spring-Tulips-Cambridge

We played around with depth of field and I definitely found the camera accessible in terms of point and shoot on Auto or P mode.  The-Backs-Cambridge

The colour select feature was a favourite but a bit tricky to find in all the many menus. It wasn’t that intuitive to use, but with a little help from David we used the smart control panel and selected some of our favourite colours. Danielle is a pro at  posing for fashion shots!Olympus-Pen-EPL8-Colour-Select-Feature Kings-College-Cambridge

I had a play around with the manual settings on the camera too, to try some long exposure shots. I found the menu less intuitive than Canon, but then that’s probably because I’ve been used to that for some time! Mill-Pond-Cambridge

Magnolia-Blossom-in Cambridge

The camera also has a flip out screen which confused me a little as there was a knack to opening it! Great for flat lays though and I loved the live update feature. Being able to see your exposure changes on the screen before snapping was great. I did miss the view finder, but you can buy one as an add-on.Magnolia-in Cambridge Bike-Spotting-Mint-BicycleBike-Spotting-and-Magnolia

There were definitely pros and cons for me for the Olympus PEN E-PL8. It’s a fun camera to use and is great for instant sharing and minimal editing. The menu for me seemed a little clunky – for example, finding the grid feature was embedded a few levels deep.

Magnolia-Blossom

The colour quality of the photos I took was pretty good and the touch focus feature was super easy to use. It’s a good camera if you don’t have a ton of photography skills already.

Olympus-Pen-EPL8-Camera-Review

I have been considering the Canon M range as I can use my existing DSLR lenses if I grab an adapter (around £90). After using the Olympus PEN range, I definitely want to do some more research about which one would work for me. I’m leaning slightly more toward the Canon range purely because it’s less of an outlay for lens costs.

I hope you enjoyed this little review today and some Spring photos of Cambridge. This photowalk made me really excited for our Cambridge Creatives one on 23 April! There are 60 people currently RSVP’d to come along, so it’s going to be a really fun, colourful day ending in a picnic on Jesus Green. I’m SO excited! More info here.

A big thanks to Olympus UK and Campkins for the day and to Ally for organising. It’s so great to have a group of bloggers in Cambridge to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon with every now and again.

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*Some pages on this site may contain links to outside sites, including paid affiliates. Read more about my disclosure policy here.