Keywording life

When people ask me where I work, I usually just tell them I work for a stock photography company, omit the name, and watch the quizzical look on their face. I quickly explain that our company sells images for use in ads and such (which is the simplest way to put it), and that is generally met with a nod of the head and an “Ah, okay”. Inevitably they ask if I’m a photographer, to which I say no, and then attempt to explain what it is I do as a keyworder.

Folks who use the computer quite a bit are quicker to understand, but for folks who don’t it can be a challenge to explain. I’m going to make the very broad assumption that if you are reading blogs online, you are familiar with “tagging”, or at the very least you are familiar with searching for info online. As a keyworder, I am tasked with making search results relevant on our company sites. Along with complicated computer bits and a sophisticated controlled vocabulary, I ensure that keywords are correctly attached to images, so that when a customer comes to one of our sites and searches for a photo of a woman walking a dog, those are exactly the types of images that come up.

I have a little mantra on a post-it at my desk “Search results like perfect blossom”. Oh, the ultimate pursuit as a keyworder. It might seem stressful to have such an unattainable goal (seriously, after five years, I know it is unattainable, especially in microstock photography), but then I am reminded that everyone sees blossoms differently. My perfect blossom is probably not the same as yours. I find this thought calming.

Sorry about the abstract thoughts on a fairly abstract concept, in a post that was supposed to clarify what I do 40 hours a week. In summary, I keyword images. Since that is such a large part of my world, I thought I could share some of that with you through my own photos. So I am starting a weekly post called a Keyword Story in which I hope to post photos from my own adventures alongside keywords rather than a fully written story. The adventure begins on a trip to Europe we took in the spring…

The fashionably late Ms. Rosemary

Rosemary sproutWell folks, she finally made an appearance. The herb garden is now home to a single sprout of rosemary! Oh, happy day! The rest of the herbs are doing well, although the oregano seems to be struggling a bit. I keep encouraging and praising them and hoping that one day I will be able to snip them off and use them in my homemade spaghetti sauce.

In other plant related news, my hubby is doing some research into LED grow lights. He is interested in getting one so that we can start some plants indoors in the spring for our vegetable garden. Gardening in Calgary is a tricky matter. The general rule of thumb I was taught as a kid, was that you waited until the May long weekend (which is around May 24th) to put your plants out. Even then, there can be a risk of snow, but at least things should be safe from the frost. So that leaves Calgary with a very short growing season. This coming spring/summer will be the first year that we have had a vegetable garden. Hubby built a raised garden bed in the fall and he has done a great deal of research into what type of veggies do best in our local climate. We are hoping that armed with an LED grow light, we can get certain plants started early. I’m thinking that this could also come in handy with the herb garden, to toughen up the sprouts a bit as we enter the short days of winter. I’ll keep you posted on the grow light progress. If anyone has used an LED variety, I’d love to hear about it. Happy growing!

What I did with the extra hour

The time changed here on Sunday. We set the clocks back one hour and like most people I technically spent my extra hour sleeping. I needed the extra bit of sleep after quite a full crafty Saturday. Although the morning was spent with the usual bit of house cleaning and laundry, I had a lovely afternoon at a friend’s Stampin’ Up! Christmas card making party. It was just what the doctor order too! We all work together and last week was full of extra stress, so being able to come together and make some pretty cards was a good release.

Fabel, Alfa, and Eskimo yarn ballsFollowing that relaxing afternoon, my hubby and I drove out to Banff in the evening. His mother and grandmother live there and his mother actually owns a yarn store in the town of Banff called Jen By The Fjord. She recently moved into a new location, so for any locals interested in checking out her shop, she is in Harmony Lane on the second floor. It’s a bit hidden, but worth a visit! Our mission, besides spending some time catching up, was to put a yarn order in. I’m definitely ready to move on from working solely with yarns purchased from Michaels and while I’m still learning about different yarn types I thought it best to turn to a professional. When your mother-in-law happens to be that professional, it’s even better! So after some back and forth and much touching of yarns, I decided on a few types to order: Punta Yarns Meritwist, Sandnesgarn Alfa, and Garnstudio Eskimo. I was even able to bring some balls home to play with (I *heart* my mother-in-law) and picked up some Garnstudio Fabel yarn to make socks (have to start the Christmas present making soon).

With the yarn order placed and some carrot cake in my tummy, hubby and I drove home along an eerily quiet highway in the dark, arriving home at midnight. So yes, we were thankful for the extra hour on Sunday to get plenty of sleep and still do all the rest of the errands that have been piling up the last couple of weeks.

How will my booth grow?

Buttons on scarfletteThe first step to prepping for a craft fair (assuming that you have already submitted an application) seems to be pretty obvious; make stuff! I do this on a regular basis anyway, but I picked a couple of items to focus on, stocked up on materials, and ramped up my crafting.

The second step, for me, has been to read, research, brainstorm, and daydream. I’m realizing that there are a bunch of factors to consider when designing a craft booth/table. Of course, you have to decide the most attractive way to display your handmade items so that people are not only drawn to your space, but can also readily see what your items are and how to use them. In my case, I’ve decided to focus on crochet scarflettes, which I am making in a rainbow of colours. Folded up, it’s hard to tell what they are and when they aren’t being worn they seem like an odd shape. First solution to this display challenge, I will make sure to wear one of my scarflettes at the show (duh). Second solution, I will include a couple of pretty framed photos of the scarflettes being worn by others. Third solution… not sure yet. I’m debating about bringing my dress-form along to put a scarflette on display. I know for sure that one element I want to play up is the colourful rainbow, so I will continue to brainstorm the best way to do this.

Okay, so besides keeping in mind the actual items that will need displaying, I’m also trying determine a general “feel” for my crafty business. Not just for craft shows, but for my online shop too. Have I mentioned that I am FINALLY getting an Etsy shop set-up too? Well, now you know. It’s all very much “in progress”, but I will make sure to share more about it here when it is closer to completion. So, right, back to brainstorming crafty business “themes”. I am starting to keep a notebook in my purse that I can whip out whenever I have an idea or see an intriguing store display. I am also trolling the internet for inspiration. Here are a bunch of links that I’ve found helpful in learning about what to keep in mind for craft shows, including craft booth/table ideas:

Preparing for your arts and crafts shows
Prepping for your next art & craft fair
13 Craft Show Display Do’s
Fair game: how to maximize your craft fair profit
Craft fair tips and lessons learned
How to set up a craft booth that customers can’t resist
Craft show suggestions/table setup
Show me your booths
Arts & crafts fairs & shows

Hope that helps any of you who might also be getting ready for a craft show! For now, my own check-list is growing each day. Not too much getting marked “done”, but plenty of brainstorming happening.

Looking at all the lovely booth pictures on Flickr, I find that I need to remind myself of one very important thing, keep it simple. Let me write that again, just for good measure. Keep it simple. As much as I daydream about a beautiful craft table, the last thing I want to do is become too overwhelmed, trying to develop everything (off and online) for my crafty business while working a non-crafty full-time job. Yes, a craft table needs to be appealing and represent your handmade product as best it can, but I think it is also something that I can grow over time. So for my first craft show I want to keep it simple, especially since I will be sharing the space with a friend. The reading, learning, and inspiration continues though, and I am eager to apply all of that in the near future.

Meow, meow

Catnip sproutI’ve been talking to my herb garden as often as I can remember, but things are have been pretty busy. Have no fear, it has been getting plenty of water and sunshine. I had basically given up on the rosemary and catnip, but was still feeling satisfied with my other three lovely herb companions. And then, “Surprise!” All of sudden there are THREE catnip sprouts! THREE! I’m so tickled! Of all the seeds I planted, the catnip was the one I had the most doubts about, but there they are. I tried to explain to Chloe why I was so excited and why she should be excited too, but I was met with a questioning look. Hopefully she gives the catnip sprouts some encouraging meows during the day.

Trick or treat goodness (part 2)

Halloween spider wreath

This post could be alternately titled “Fun with plastic spiders & a hot glue gun”. There were a couple more decorations that I made up last Halloween that I’d like to share with you. My absolute favourite decoration was by far our wreath. It was super simple to make and also fairly inexpensive. You will need a black wreath (which I picked up on sale at Michaels), a bag of plastic Halloween rings (most dollar stores have them), a small pair of wire cutters, hot glue gun, and some wide Halloween wired ribbon. Here’s all you need to do to make a creepy, fun wreath:

Plastic rings, wire cutters, hot glue gunCutting plastic spider ring

1. Sort your plastic rings (I only used the spiders and mainly used the orange ones)
2. Using small wire cutters, snip off the band of each ring
3. Apply a small amount of hot glue on the back of the spider
4. Squeeze the spider onto the wreath (be careful not to burn yourself on the glue)
5. Repeat until you have covered your wreath in as many spiders as you like
6. Using the wired ribbon make a pretty bow (I’m really not very good at this, so any instructions Gluing plastic spiderPlastic spider ribbonyou can find online about making a bow, will be better than anything I can tell you)
7. Once you’re satisfied with your bow, glue some spiders on it
8. Attach the bow on the bottom of your wreath either by hot gluing it or tying it on with thread (depends on how big or what style of bow you make)

While you have the glue gun warmed up and those plastic rings handy, you can also make up some simple clothespin decorations, which I found inspiration for on Martha’s site:

1. Last year I ran out of time (I started making these about an hour before guests began arriving at our Halloween party), but I would suggest either painting or spray painting the clothespins black before you start and let dry
2. Take some plastic rings and snip the band off of each, as done above with the wreath project
3. Apply a dab of hot glue to the back of each ring
4. Squeeze onto the “front” of the clothespin (again be cautious of getting hot glue on your fingers when you do this)

Now you have some creepy decorations to clip onto the edge of bowls or where ever you can think to clip them. I like they way they dress up the treat table at a party and you can’t beat how simple they are to make.

Clothespins and plastic ringsHalloween clothespin decorationHalloween clothespin decoration

Trick or treat goodness (part 1)

Paper cat cutoutLast October was the first time that we got to celebrate Halloween in our very own home . So of course, I delved into making a variety of decorations, which I was able to re-use this year, with the addition of my spooky crochet spiders.

For decorating inspiration I turned to the one and only Martha, queen of Halloween. I don’t subscribe to her magazine, but the two issues each year that I buy are October and December, and there are generally packed with beautiful and fun ideas, some of which I feel like I can even do myself! Then there is the website, which is packed with even more ideas. So when I needed to start from scratch with Halloween decorations, I turned to good ‘ol Martha.

The first thing I was drawn to was a childhood classic. I knew I wanted to cut out some construction paper silhouettes to tape to our front window, which we always did to decorate at my parent’s house. Martha has lots of handy templates to download for free. I used these flying bat and spitting cat templates, although I increased the size of the bat. Buy some black construction paper, trace the templates, cut out, and voila! Pretty simple, eh?

Glitter, spray paint, and white glueThe next thing I tackled was slightly more complicated, but I was thrilled with the results. I found the inspiration for it on The Long Thread. I used the following materials: cardboard, utility knife, black spray paint, white glue, paint brush, black glitter, string, and a big branch. I used the same template from Martha as above, but used both the original and enlarged versions, so there would be two different sizes. Here’s the basics:

1. Cut the bats out of cardboard (I cut out seven total, a few small and a few large)
2. Spray paint the fronts and backs black, let dry
3. Brush one side with basic white glue and sprinkle with black glitter, let dry
4. Use a ball point pen to punch a hole through each bat in the middle of their heads
5. Cut varying lengths of string and thread each bat with one
6. Hang a branch wherever you will be displaying your bats (I put ours outside)
7. Tie each bat onto the branch
8. Stand back and watch them flutter

Cardboard batsCardboard batsOutdoor Halloween decorations

One giant leap

Well, I did it. I submitted an application to my first craft show and have been accepted. Fees have been paid. Confirmation has been sent. It looks like this is it! The beginning of a big ‘ol adventure! My friend and I are actually going to share a table since neither of us have done this before. There’s so much to do in preparation. I’ve been reading tons online about selling at craft shows and setting up your booth/table. Every spare hour in the evening is spent making items. Lists are being compiled of what I need to prepare, buy, design, etc. I hope to share my experience through the whole process here, so I guess you’re in for a crafty ride! Thanks in advance for reading and learning alongside with me! Oh, and by the way, the show I am participating in is the Market Collective, December 11-12, in Calgary.