Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Good Stuff"

Christmas in August? . . . apparently so. A lot of shops are already selling quite a bit of Halloween and Christmas things. So I had some neat Christmas fabric and thought I might as well use it to make some cute bags. For the past couple of days I’ve been busy working on corsages and sewing a couple of new Christmas tote bags for the shop as well as working on a couple of other things.

The "Night Before Christmas” Bag is one I’ve enjoyed making. It is cute, bright, and not in the traditional reds and greens. I like the blue. Unfortunately, that is the only piece of fabric like that that I have which is big enough for a bag. I’ve got some smaller pieces left . . . so maybe something more petite?

I went shopping on Sunday after church and bought this pretty Halloween fabric with the candy corn on it. The colors were ones that I really liked so now I’ll need to come up with something to make out of it. I also bought this beautiful sparkly Christmas fabric as well. Ah, the possibilities!

Right now I’m just making things for the shop and will put them all on when Megan comes down next month. So for a few days I’ll preview some of the items here on the blog.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"WOW . . . TIME . . . WHO KNEW?

When Megan and I first decided to start Five and Nineteen Blackbirds back in June, I knew that we'd be learning a lot--I just didn't know quite how much. Lists, scheduling, and reading are three big areas that have changed a lot over the past two months but time still seems to be the most frustrating thing that plays into just about everything.

Starting out I figured things like licenses, taxes, etc. would be the hardest thing to figure out and overcome. Imagine my surprise at finding time to still be an issue all these weeks later and a complex one at that.

Since I have only a part-time job, I just figured that for me there would not be a lot of time issues after the business was up and running. Now I realize that there is not enough time that just sits there waiting for me to use it. I must say I've learned a lot from watching Megan. She manages to juggle all the aspects of her life pretty well. And she's always quite calm.

My life changed somewhat. The first thing I still do is, of course, make a list. Megan and I are still both big list makers and we tend to love to cross things off and take great satisfaction in that. I am a different kind of list maker now. I can make lists long or short, simple or complex but the big thing is that if it doesn't push our business forward every single day, why have it on my to do list (no matter how much fun it is to do). I try to decide what is important and then prioritize for each day. Not all that easy. Now every single thing that gets crossed off that daily list furthers our business in some aspect. That was a difficult lesson for me to learn.

While I've loved the to do lists, well, I've never been a real big fan of a schedule. Loving the freedom of having time to waste, I've always gotten my work finished--in my own time. But now I've found that a schedule instead of hampering me allows me to not spread myself too thin and overwork some days, to allow a big enough block of time to get things finished, and best of all to get my right amount of sleep so I'm not cranky. Scheduling seems to be an idea whose time has come.

Reading, reading, reading--now instead of reading mysteries so much of the time, I'm reading books on copyrights, business procedures, taxes, accounting, etc. It is truly amazing what one can learn from a book! At the very least I can learn the right questions to ask. Some times reading can even help me to solve a problem I've been having.

There is much hard work left to be done (like better computer skills for me--oh, my) but I'm pretty sure of one thing, and I think Megan agrees, it is just plain delightful to own our own business.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mass Production on a Small Scale

I've been up making our inventory of thaumatropes, to the tune of 22 of them. It took me about five hours from start to finish, which if you ignore that I did them "assembly-line" fashion... it works out to a little over 13-1/2 minutes each.

(Of course the fact that I ate a bowl of cereal at 4am while watching "Donnie Darko" on Netflix does blow the estimate somewhat.)

It is strange the little habits you can form though when you have to complete the same mundane task (i.e. measuring for brads) 88 times... or cutting string 44 times....

It can be relaxing and at the same time completely brain-numbing much like factory work always is. I have no idea how people in real factories do this sort of repetitive thing for an 8 hour work day without their mind wandering off and them making mistakes. Luckily I'm not assembling bombs, anti-lock brakes, or saw blade switches... so if I messed up without realizing it at least no one else will suffer loss of life or limb.

Alice in Wonderland Thaumatrops set in Greeting Cards

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943

Doing research for a set of paper dolls from the 1930's and saw one of my friends on Facebook had posted this link. They're amazing photographs, if only because we're so used to seeing that time period in black and white. It's startling somehow to realize that women wore red dresses then, too.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blogging from My Blackberry

I'm trying to learn how to post pictures (that I take with my phone) and blog entries (that I write on my phone)...completely... from my phone. It seems a good goal to have and I'm certainly one to embrace the soul-less onward march of technology.

So here is the ceiling over my office since it was the least boring thing to take a picture of within a 20' radius of me. It's industrial-chic!... Or at least industrial.

Sent on the Now Network™ from my Sprint® BlackBerry

Pencil Sketches and Finalized Paper Dolls

I've been going off on tangents lately. I'm working on a Victorian Lady and horse combination paper doll set. I did the horse sketch tonight only to find out that there are limitations to what paper can do... and I'm probably going to have to reconfigure the horse because horses have radically small ankles. I never really thought of it till I tried to make one in paper doll format... but horses have bizarre proportions. How dare they.

Anyway, the sketch is still good - I'll just work some magic in photoshop.

The finals of the other dolls have been mailed off to my mom in preparation for the Etsy shop going live this Friday (yes... really this time). These are just the cover pages obviously. LRRH ended up being four pages total which is a bit excessive and we're not sure how to price that. I need to sit down before Friday and create a one-page version of all the dolls... but then they'll all seem so tiny then.

Before Friday I need to get the thaumatropes packaged up, and hopefully complete this set though that may not happen. I'll admit I'm a bit sleep deprived. I've been watching a slew of movies while I work though - mostly foreign films so that the dialogue doesn't distract me while I'm drawing. So I've ended up just hanging out in my house listening to people speaking Russian and Swedish for hours on end.

It's a bit of a strange life... and a strange feeling when a movie ends that I understood 0% of it.