Category: Guest Post

Fabric Applique’ Greeting Cards

Sharing a Personal Story

machine applique interactive play quilts and wall art

I’ve been holding onto some emotions for a while now, since December to be exact.  I decided that the best thing to do, was to share my feelings with the world, as a means to move on.  Along with emotions, I’m also sharing a handful of work that I’ve yet to reveal.  The two are connected, and you’ll see why when you read my story.  This is my moment for the week –letting go of the past!

You can read my story over at Oh My! Handmade Goodness

Also, check out my shop if you would like to see all the new items I listed this week.

Because people, smiles and laughter, more than anything else, is truly what makes a house a home, I hope you enjoyed this weeks “moment”…

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om [one moment] meet upOM is *one moment* and is a meetup designed to notice & relish a moment in everyday life. The meetup idea was created by Linda at her blog, a la mode stuff.  If you’d like to participate in OM, just click the button and you’ll be taken to Linda’s post explaining it all.

Using Photoshop to Improve Your Photos

Today, I bring you expert photographer Molly O’Bryon-Welpott from MollysMuses.  She is going to offer up some advise on how to use Photoshop to improve your personal, business, and blog photos.
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I was honored when Angela asked me to do a guest post on her blog.  Her idea seemed simple enough…

“I thought you could pick a few photos already posted on my blog that could be made better through Photoshop.”

This sounds easy and was something I was excited to do, but, Angela’s images do not need that much work.  I chose a personal photograph and an image from Angela’s work to edit.

One of the pictures was a candid of Monet in the swimming pool.

Here is the picture before:

using photoshop to improve your photos

And here is the picture after using photoshop:

using photoshop to improve your photosSteps I took in Photoshop, to improve this photo:

To begin with, I decided to crop this image. Because all of Monet’s right hand was not showing, I decided to crop it in a slightly abstract way, so it looks intentional with the close up of her other hand and the garden hose.

The next thing I chose to do was to edit the color balance of the image. This image has an overall blue cast to it. This is for 2 reasons, one the background is almost all blue, but also the water is reflecting blue onto Monet’s skin. So we can color correct that with color balance in Photoshop.

I simply dialed out some of the cyan out, which adds red and dialed out some of the blue by adding some yellow, which will give a normal skin tone. If you notice the background of the pool is still blue, as it should be.

Next below her eyes there are small shadows, I just lightly used the “dodge tool.” I like to work with it set large enough to cover the spot with one click so that it does not appear striped or raccoon like, just a little brightener.

Next I am choosing to clean up a little of the areas on the skin, particularly the blade of grass below the neck. Grass in an action shot is not a bad thing, but because we are going for a simple composition here with focus on the baby and the water, it can be a distraction.

In Photoshop I select the Healing Brush set at about 31 and I lightly go over it; and the grass piece is gone. You can use this time to make your brush slightly smaller and clean up any other tiny distractions you would like to get rid of.  Finally, I opened my brighten and contrast option. I slightly brightened the image and added a pop of contrast.

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The next image I chose is a close up from Angela’s multi-media work.  I chose the image of the blue couch because it does not pop as much as the other  images on her blog. It feels slightly flat and doesn’t do her work justice.

Here is the picture before:

using photoshop to improve your photosAnd here is the picture after using photoshop:

using photoshop to improve your photosWith textiles and fibers it’s really important for all of the handwork to show; this image is in need of some contrast.

Steps I took in Photoshop, to improve this photo:

First I simply went adjust image and set this one to auto-level. It is a bit brighter already, Now I will go back into the brightening and contrast option. I went to a 40 on contrast. Keep in mind I am focusing on trying to show the detail in the stitching. I don’t know the exact color and that will vary from monitor to monitor. There is a dark shadow at the bottom. So I will go in and use my dodge tool again. As I mentioned in the first image, I like to make my brush size big enough when using this tool that I don’t need to go back and forth multiple times, because I want it to be even. I don’t want to dodge too much because it will distort the image. And finally we will use out healing tool again for minor clean up, for 2 loose threads.

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It was much harder for me to narrow down the 2 images I like best on the blog. WHY? Because I love quilts and color and there are so many beautifully done images on this blog.

Here are the two I decided on –I know you will enjoy them as well:

The personal image I love the most on Angela’s blog is one I remember her posting in a blogpost titled, She Had me Before Hello.  This is a wonderful photo of Angela and Monet. It has everything working for it. The day is beautiful, the colors are gorgeous and my favorite part if the complete joy and emotion all captured forever in that frame. The background shows me that these people are interesting, I want to know more when I look at the image. Where are they? What are they doing. And at the same time the subject fill the frame so that they are the main focus and nothing is taken away from the moment that they are sharing. Looks like a magical day!

"Quilting 101" quilt-along in 2011The image of Angela’s work that I chose is actually from her newest post, Part 2 of the Quilt-Along.  The lighting in this particular image is perfect. The paper with the pattern on it is perfectly exposed I can even see the details of the graph paper in the background. I think this must be natural light and it looks great. I also love the variety of color (which we would expect from a professional quilter). But also the composition of this image has triangles to my right which leads my eye to look at all of the fabric choices, and yet the pincushion grounds my eye from getting lost in the white space of the paper. Very nice job Angela.

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Wow, Molly, thanks so much.  These tips are very helpful as I continue to play and edit my photos in Photoshop.  I appreciate your expert advise.

Would you like Molly, an expert photographer, to guest post on your blog?  Leave a comment below, with any questions you have for Molly.  It can be in regards to this post or a guest post you would like her to do on your blog.

MollysMuses Molly's Muses Fine ART Photography Prints-Vintage

Molly can be found online through her awesome etsy shop and blog.  You can also follow her on facebook and twitter as well.

Reaching Your Goals, One Day at a Time

A guest post by April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle.
 Honeycomb Lace DAY PLANNER(Picture from Oh Pangaea Books on Etsy)

I always have ideas swimming in my head. I think that’s part of the creative mindset–you always have more ideas than you could ever implement. For the past year and a half, I’ve been my own boss for my own business. The first year I struggled with to-do lists, trying to meet unrealistic goals, and putting my ideas into action.

When I read a recent post by Angela on The Artists’ House, I completely related to her overwhelming feeling of wanting to do EVERYTHING. Some days I’d be so overwhelmed by the amount of ideas I had that I wouldn’t get anything done. At the end of the day, I’d be so frustrated with myself, feeling guilty about my lack of production, and wonder what I was doing wrong. I’m not an unmotivated person. I’m pretty much the opposite. If I need to work 12 hours in a day, I’ll do it without complaining. So, why wasn’t I reaching my business goals?

I knew that I needed to figure out a system to set realistic, measurable goals and break them down into specific tasks. I’ve tried a lot of organizational systems and planners. I’ve read books, magazine articles, and blog posts about being more productive and organizing my life.

Finally, I figured out a system that worked, so when I read Angela’s post, I asked her if I could share my system of setting and achieving goals with her and her readers. I’ve been using this system for about six months, and it has changed the way I structure my time and my ability to actually achieve the goals that I set for myself. But, this system is also super simple, so anybody can do it.

4 Steps to Reaching Your Long-Term Goals

1. Write down 3 to 5 long-term goals. These are goals that could take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple years to reach. I’ve found that if I list more than 5 long-term goals things get really scattered when I’m trying to plan out my weekly goals and daily tasks. Once you’ve reached one of your long-term goals, you can replace it with another one.

You must be able to measure to measure these goals. One of the errors I made early on was making generalized goals such as increasing sales or applying to craft shows. To make these goals measurable, I changed them to making 50 sales in one month and applying to 12 craft shows for the next year. When you make them measurable, you can check them off once you’ve reached them–which is always fun! Check out Angela’s post on S.M.A.R.T. goals for an in depth guide on setting attainable goals. If you’ve never heard of smart goals, it’s a must read.

2. Break down each long-term goal into specific tasks that will help you reach those goals. For the craft shows, I’d include: making a list of all the craft shows in my area, narrowing down that list to 12 shows, compiling a list of requirements for those craft shows, getting pictures developed to include in the applications, filling out each application, and sending in each application. Put this list of goals with the specific tasks on your desk/at your work station.

3. On Sunday nights, review your long-term goals and set realistic weekly goals that will help you reach your long-term goals. This takes me about 10 minutes on Sunday evening, and it prepares me for the week. At this point, I’m pretty aware of how much I can do in one week, and I don’t schedule more than I know I can complete–but I always push myself to be really productive. When I’m setting these goals, I also remember that I have other things that I do on a daily basis such as blog posts, listing new items on Etsy, and cleaning. For one week, I might give myself the task of making a list of all the craft shows in my area and narrowing down those to 12 for the next year.

4. Each evening make a list of no more than six tasks to complete the next day. When your to-do list looks like it’ll take you 48 hours to complete without sleeping, eating, or spending time with your family, you’ll become overwhelmed. Instead, make a realistic to-do list for the next day. I have a planner that has six lines for each day, so I put one task on each line. Some days, I only list 3 tasks, because I know those tasks are going to take a lot of time. Remember, you want to be realistic. I always include my cleaning tasks on this list, because that consumes a good 45 minutes out of my day. If you have personal tasks {such as picking up the dry cleaning or grocery shopping} for the day, include them as well.

Start with your weekly goal list when you’re determining tasks for the day. This will help you to stay focused.

Here’s the major rule about this step: each task must be a task–not a project. For instance, you can’t list design a new jewelry line as one of your daily tasks, but you could list sketching a new ring design as one of your tasks.

Extra Tips to Making This Work For You

Start with the task that requires lots of concentration, because you’re fresh when you start your work day. Whenever I have writing to do, I always start with it, because if I leave it until the afternoon, the words become jumbled–sometimes resembling another language. In the afternoon I do things that require less effort such as listing new items online.

If you finish your tasks early, you can either continue working or stop for the day. Some days, I finish my to-do list by the early afternoon, well before dinner. I love what I do, so I usually want to keep working. At that point, I’ll make my to-do list for the next day and then I’ll work on a project that doesn’t feel like work. I might work in my art journal, make some new jewelry, or start a new mixed media art piece. This is when I can be the most creative, because I’m not thinking about other things that need to get done.

Don’t knock it before you try it. I’ve shared this system with people who run their own businesses, and some have told me that they couldn’t possibly limit their tasks to only 6 per day. They wouldn’t get enough done. That’s what I thought at first, but I actually get more done this way. Why? Because, I have a specific plan for the day, and there’s no time wasted thinking about what I should do next. When I finish something, I move on to the next thing. Also, I get so much more time doing what I love the most: creating. And that’s really what it’s all about. My mind is completely clear when I’m creating, because I’m not worrying about the other crap I have to do–it’s done! This allows me to fully concentrate on my art or jewelry.

You might already have a system that works for you, and if you do, I don’t suggest you change to mine. I just wanted to offer an alternative for people who feel stuck–like I used to feel.

April Bowles-Olin works with creative women to lead more fulfilling lives while they make money doing it. She also attempts to add a little prettiness to the world with her art and jewelry. You can learn more about her at Blacksburg Belle or follow her on twitter @blacksburgbelle.

The Top Guns of Blogging

I’m pleased to announce, a guest post from my husband, the sweet and funny, Joshua Flicker.

top gunWhen my wife was introduced to the “blogoshpere,” it immediately sucked her in.  She became a new person both literally and figuratively.  Now she isn’t just Angela, she has also become The Artists’ House, the name of her blog. She daily gets texts, tweets, liked, and friended by people who, like her, have online alter egos.  They have bodiless avatars sustained by, and living off of, the boundless energy of the Internet.  I’m not sure, but she may be approaching the point where more people have come to know her online persona rather than those flesh and blood people who have met her face to face.

At first I didn’t really understand this new world of hers, but just yesterday it totally clicked for me.  Angela was telling me all about what she had heard/read about from Soul Mamma, Dooce, Scoutie Girl, A la Mode Stuff, Design Mom, Molly’s Muses, etc. etc. etc.  “You sound like one of the pilots in the movie Top Gun.” The words came out of my mouth and I instantly knew that I had unlocked the confusing secret of blogging’s overpowering allure to women of the digital age.

Blogging is to women what Top Gun is to men.

The aforementioned blog names are the equivalent of the handles used by the Navy’s greatest fighter pilots.   To my wife, Scoutie Girl and Dooce are held in the same high esteem that Maverick, Goose, and Iceman are to me.  Seeing how Viper was taken down with a sidewinder and then buzzing the tower in celebration, is as equally stimulating to me as reading a new post on felting techniques and the indie craft movement is to my wife.  This new world is finally making sense.

The only thing I am still confused about is what the equivalent of playing sand volleyball shirtless and in blue jeans is in the world of the woman blogger.

– Josh Flicker

Guest Post On Scoutie Girl Today!

One of my favorite bloggers asked me to do a guest post on her blog today. This really is such an honor, coming from an amazing blogger like her.  It would mean so much to me if you would pop over to her site and pay a little visit, maybe leave a comment.  Her blogs is one of my favorites; it has the right balance of art, life, and reality.  Check it out…

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