30 Nov 2013

November Photo Notes

     It's been quiet here for a while but it's in a good cause. We have been quietly working away and preparing for the couple of upcoming events I have mentioned in the previous blog post.
      Every month I pick a week and write about little things that happened to me or I noticed something I would like to share with you. This evening I'm sharing with you my recent photo notes.
Week: November 22nd - 28th
New Cards, November 22nd.
It's the first time we have decided to print cards with photos taken by Gunis. Moo.com just loves printing and their service is excellent. Loved receiving them so quickly.
 Craft Fair Weekend, November 23rd & 24th.

Even it wasn't very warm outside I had some sunny spot in Christmas Craft Fair in Mother of Fair Love School in Kilkenny. After recently participating in Merchandising workshop for design and craft enterprises I was willing to try to improve my display again.
 WHOOP WHOOP!!!!  November 26th.
I enjoyed my experience at first Swoop Pop - Up shop in Dublin this evening. Great irish designers & makers taking part with beautiful handmade goods. My hand is hiding delicious mince pie. :) There will be one more Swoop Pop - Up on the December 3rd. For more details check swoop.ie . Image courtesy swoop.ie .
Clay Day, November 27th
It has been a while since I made a flower cane. Looking at this image its warm brown colors remind me that I have to make Gingerbread Cookie Dough very soon.
 Poster is Here, November 28th.
I love doing many creative things and this poster is my another creative journey. I'm happy how it turned out and now can't wait until Carlow Made Pop - Up Shop is open on December 5th in Carlow (Superquinn) Shopping Centre. 
     Saying goodbye to November and hello to December!

Take care,


7 Nov 2013

Christmas Fun Starts Here

     I thought I will have some fun title for this blog post because I am really getting excited about this upcoming holiday season.
     November has started with meetings, organizing studio space, ordering extra supplies and packaging elements, making new beads and of course many, many other things. Needless to say it's the busiest time of the year. In the next couple of weeks Craft Fair and Pop-Up Shop activities will embrace us and make it extra exciting and busy.

     During the last week of November we will be taking part in two great events. Firstly we are impatiently looking forward to Swoop Christmas Pop-Up Shop in Dublin on November 26th in the luxurious setting of Caffe Parigi located on Sir John Rogerson's Quay in Dublin 2. Swoop is online marketplace for unique and handmade products in Ireland and its first pop-up shop is promising to be well attended with a great buzz.

     We also are looking forward to Christmas Fair in Mother of Fair Love School on James Street in Kilkenny on the November 23rd & 24th. We were taking part at the Art & Craft Fair during Kilkenny Arts Festival there previously and it really is lovely nice size craft fair with comfortable atmosphere. Come along and see for yourself!

Christmas Fair in Mother of Fair Love School in Kilkenny  November 23rd & 24th. 

    Early in the December we will be busy setting up Carlow Made Pop-Up Shop in Carlow town. Carlow Made is a group of artists and crafters joined together to bring selection of locally produced items available in the Pop - Up Shop opening early December in the Carlow town right up until Christmas Eve and we are delighted to take part. It is always great pleasure to showcase locally and meet local community. We will have more details about Carlow Made pop-up shop on our Facebook Page soon.

     And last but not least is lovely Gorey Creative Fair held on tree Saturdays during the month of December - 7th, 14th & 21st in the Gorey Shopping Centre. We always had great time there! Wonderful visitors -  some buying,  some admiring, also pleasure to meet fellow crafters and see new and unique items available. Great Christmas gift ideas and yummy delicious treats.

Gorey Creative Fair at Gorey Shopping Centre in Gorey town. 
    I would like to think that you have marked day in your calendars when you are going to the Christmas Craft Fair?! Local or not but I think it's definitely worth to visit one because it just ads to overall holiday feeling. 

     We are adding final touches to our Faux Knitted Jewellery range and it will be available at all the fairs mentioned above and also in the tree online marketplaces SWOOP, HATCH and ETSY showcasing our work.

    Happy Christmas shopping everyone! I have started mine back in October.

Take care,

31 Oct 2013

Logo Challenge

    This time my monthly challenge post won't be about polymer clay. You know already - it will be about our logo! It truly was a challenging task to complete.
     Logo may seem and easy thing to do but it's not. It doesn't mean it can't be created quickly by professional but since we thought we would like to have our own input it took a lot of time and effort. It must have be over a year ago when we first tried to come up with logo for Valg Studio. So many ideas and attempts starting from round shapes, including birds and flowers but it just didn't feel right. Maybe we didn't have clear vision, maybe we just weren't ready, maybe we felt we are alright for a while without it, but I kept dreaming about a great logo one day we would have.

Very helpful task to describe your  logo vision. 
     Towards the end of the summer I knew that we will need to work on packaging and logo was the missing element. I started to visualise different ideas and I was very confident that the logo will include bird with crown I created almost two years ago in Printmaking Course in Carlow. But every time I touched the pencil my bird changed until it disappeared completely!
     Great ideas and advise I took home from PR & Branding workshop organised by Craft Council of Ireland, Kilkenny and Carlow CEBs for craft and design enterprises at the beginning of October. During the workshop we had to describe our own product in one word and list them. You can see in the picture what was on my mind and I hope we have managed to 'translate' these emotions in our brand new Valg Studio logo.
     Some logos have great hidden meaningful symbols. In our case Valg has itself become a pink-purple symbol, can you see it?!

Here is how it all started with pencil and little template.
     Branding is about continuity and united style  - colours, fonts, design, proportions and  so much more. We still have a lot to do to achieve great concept but it feels like a good start and I would like to thank a lot everyone who helped with opinion and pointed in right direction.
     It would be really great to hear you thoughts about our logo, feel free to comment or add any tips or ideas you may have.
     I also would like to share with you couple links I found useful during the designing process:
10 Tips for Designing Logos.
Branding, Paskaging & Opinion
The Whitney Museum's Logo Video
Thank you for stopping by, take care and talk again soon,

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13 Oct 2013

Photo Notes

    Since Christmas season is getting closer and closer it is almost impossible to manage my To Do List, certainly it's getting harder. I wanted to finish this blog post four days ago but  here I'm on Sunday afternoon. It has been busy time in studio and also emotional time for me too.
Week: October 4th - 10th.

New Earring Findings, October 4th.
I have been looking for a new earring findings for a while and was very happy to receive my parcel from Cinnamon Jewellery today. Cant wait to use them for my monthly challange project later this month.

Time To Myself, October 5th.
I had a lovely relaxing morning  and chated on skype to my sister. My hubby and the girls went to take some lovely pictures at Altamnont Gardens. This is one of my favourite pictures from today.
Picture Says it All, October 6th.
I'm not a neat freak, but except that it's nice to have some things in order around you, it also helps me to organize my mind. Image courtesy livingwellspendingless.com
 Back at the Clay Table, October 7th.
I'm still in love with faux knitting and couldn't wait to mix new colours and start knitting again. New work in progress.
Latest Creations, October 8th.
My new faux yarn has been put in good use and here are the first "fruits" of yesterdays work. Available online.
 Not Good News, October 9th.
You know when something isn't alright and you need to do something about it! I knew I should see doctor at least a couple months ago but I didn't. I will be good now and take more care of myself. Image courtesy pandorasinspiration.

Back on Track, October 9th.
October is Etsy Holiday Boot Camp Month with aim to get ready for Christmas season and I'm happy to take part. A little preparation and planning won't do harm. Setting up some goals today!

     Every month I pick a week and write about little things that happened to me or I noticed something I would like to share with you. Hope you had a great weekend and I will be soon back with new blog posts

Take care,

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4 Oct 2013

Craft PR & Branding Workshop Notes

     October is welcoming us with a lot of rain and I can hear that more and more people are going mushroom foraging. Probably some people even are taking mushroom foraging courses or willing to attend International Mushroom Festival  here in Ireland following week. I continue to enjoy taking part in autumn courses for design and craft enterprises organised by Craft Council of Ireland, Kilkenny and Carlow CEBs.
    On Wednesday I went to PR & Branding workshop for design and craft enterprises taking place in Kilkenny. I have to say that my previous understanding and knowledge about these subjects was very poor. During the first half of the day PR expert Noreen D'Arcy founder of D'Arcy Marketing & PR gave us short and sharp introduction what it's all about and before I'm going to approach any of PR communication channels it is important to decide on my core message and have couple standard press releases ready if I need them. The core message in the press release should reflect the story you want to tell and what are the News you want to share. Is it setting up workshop, new collection, winning award or something else!
Image courtesy bcmpublicrealtions
     Depending on which PR level - local, national, international aiming you need to build your media data base and Noreen gave us great examples how to do that. For example, I would look who wrights or talks about arts & crafts, fashion, jewellery, small businesses or something else related to Valg Studio. Find out the journalist, programme researcher names and contact details.
Other important things to keep in mind are good images, media drops and PR activities planned ideally 10-12 weeks ahead.
     After enjoying lovely meal at Café la Coco with friend and talented crochet designer Ornat O'Brien from Pure Hooked we headed back to afternoon Branding session with Jordan Ralph freelance design consultant and industrial designer. We looked at some great examples and for the first time I realised that it's not only about sticking your logo on packaging and business card. It can also include letterheads, web &  blog, voicemail, studio & retail environment, apps and much more. Valg Studio even don't have a logo so it was great to do some simple tasks and try to come up with some ideas.
     One of the starting points was to describe my product in one word and list them. Next task included sketching rough logo ideas and it was surprising what you can come up with if you force yourself a little bit and just follow your visions. It is good to stick all your logo ideas on the wall and see how you feel about them.
     Branding is about continuity and united style. Therefore another way making sure it all works together is to lay out all your branded products on the table and see does is give the impression you want. I have been very disorganized with my branding: to many styles, colours and materials. I found it very useful that at the end of the workshop we could have one to one time with Jordan and discuss our branding needs.
Zeri Craft Branding on the table, more great examples on Branding, Packaging & Opinion Here
     Now it's time to put all this experience in good use and I hope to introduce you to Valg Studio logo before October is over.

If you would like to have a look at my notes from  September Social Media workshop for Craft and Design enterprises click Here.
Take care,

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30 Sept 2013

My Knitting Challange

     Rainy and grey sky on the last day of September suits very well to share with you my monthly challenge pieces and this rich autumn colour cake photo. Days are getting shorter and we lit our fire place almost every day, wrap up warm and start to think what this winter will be like here in Ireland?! Knitwear will have its season and it will be interesting to see where my faux knitted accessories will find their homes and lovely owners. 
Chocolate cherry cake and asters.

Dark Chocolate Brown Threads & Pin Brooch
     It was my second time to knit with polymer clay "yarn" and I still feel it will take time to master my knitting but I really enjoy the process and rich texture. I had sketched few ideas I wanted to achieve but some designs came as I was working away. I think it is good to leave the space for impulse and exploring. One of unexpected designs were the earrings below. I like to call them Acorn Earrings because their shape remind me the wonderful nuts of the oaks and suddenly earrings have a story. I have been often told that it is important to have the story behind the design and it's true.
     If you would ask me what was the hardest part of this challenge I would say two things. First, you have to be very careful not to squish the thread and now I have a couple of tricks in my head for next time that could improve the look.

     Secondly, I used chocolate brown, indian red and ecru colour polymer clay and it is hard to keep light colours clean after all the editing, flipping over, smoothing and other steps until the curing process but some how I managed. I really enjoyed this challenge and I can say that it's not the last time when I am knitting with clay threads!


Have a lovely fall season, keep yourself warm and talk again in October!

21 Sept 2013

Knitted Polymer Clay

Knitted Kitty with polymer clay "yarn" by marusic.
     As mentioned in the previous blog post I am enjoying and working on new accessories with faux knitted detail. Still don't have a single finished piece but many in the process. It will be another while until they are ready but it doesn't stop me to write a little blog post about this technique.
     Last year I spotted beautiful knitted bangle by Claire Wallis and her simple tutorial. I knew straight away that I definitely want to try this technique. I didn't have clay extruder (see below) then and it took a while to make the clay treads by hand but as I was just making couple small things it wasn't that bad. This year I had extruder available and I could make multiple clay threads easily.
     Before I started to create I wanted to find out what has been knitted before and I could not to not include some of my wonderful finds in this post . Very common and eye - catching is to use faux knitting for decorative items, for example, seasonal decorations, figurines, photo frames, mirrors, coasters and I'm sure there is more. Very pretty looks buttons with faux knitted effect.
Knitted Pear Angela Barenholtz, Polymer Clay Mascs Sari Lin, Christmas Bauble Michelle Shrimpton, Frame Lucy Stuncova.
Russian's Maria Belkomor work and necklace details in the photos Here.

More work from ya-tomka can be found Here.
     I really like the bangles with faux knitted effect. Also earrings and rings have nice feel. Brooches are another great accessory. It is the texture that catches my eye and it looks so cosy and warm. I think it would just look prefect with simple jersey top or dress.
Enjoy your weekend and next week I will be back with my finished pieces and Monthly Challenge post.

13 Sept 2013

Quiet Days Notes

     Recently I was talking to a friend and fellow crafter Maria from Lollipops and Daydreams about days when it feels nothing is happening. Even we both know there are and will be quiet days on our creative journey (and we actually need them too) sometimes it's just hard to face them. My brain still keep racing and it just feels there should be visible results all the time, but it's not possible. Since last Thursday I had a quite good few days when I felt nothing is moving on so here you have some Quiet Days Notes.

Week: September 6th - 12th.
Back To  Clay Table, September 6th.
     I have been sketching almost every day. Lots of different ideas, shapes and techniques to try but intuitively I stopped at knitted polymer clay designs. Probably it just feels right for this time of the year when it is getting colder and we want to keep warm - doesn't matter if it's knitted jumper or pendant. I don't have finished pieces yet to show so I'm sharing one of the items I did last year.

Knitted polymer clay magnet by Valg Studio.
Play-Doh, September 7th.
     Highlight of the day for me was that while working in the studio this afternoon my 4 year old daughter came in and after a while watching what I was doing said that she also wants to play with play-doh. I explained her that mummy has a different clay, but Liva was happy with the solution that she can play with her paly-doh and I play with my "play-doh" at the same table for the first time.

Apples, September 8th. 
    If I would have to choose one word to describe this Sunday it would definitely be Apples! In the morning together with the kids we went to pick apples in Altamont Garden Plants Sales area. You can pick delicious apples and just a small donation to the guide dogs is requested. The rest of day was spent making apple jam and  we had yummy apple crumble pie for desert.

Quiet Monday, September 9th.
     I have been saying to myself for a while that I would like to have a stall at Art & Craft Fair  in Dublin and maybe some other new locations. And one reason for this is that I have made it a little bit more clear in my head where Valg Studio wonderful customers live. While searching in different directions I came across this wonderful Art Tunnel Smithfield project in Dublin. It looks great, would definitely love to visit.

Ear Wires, September 10th.
     It is another day spent mostly behind the computer screen but this time searching for new jewellery making supplies, particularly ear wires. I have been using simple French hooks but now I feel I would like to try something a little bit different. As you can see in the picture below there is a choice or I can attempt to make some of my own.

Image sourced from The Creative Room.
Knitting, September 11th
     I'm back to my clay table and continue to knit with polymer clay. Today I'm mainly trying different ideas how to finish the edges of my work.

Shopping Day, September 12th
     Yesterday while having a cup of coffee with friend we agreed that it's time to treat ourselves to a shopping day and that's exactly what we did. One of my favourite stores are TK Maxx and I can spend many hours browsing, come out with slight headache but happy. I always check what's new in the home & gardening section. Sometimes they have quite lovely display items and it's not secret that 80% of my display props comes from TK Maxx. If you are working with polymer clay it's always good to have a look at their kitchen gadget section - selection of cookie cutters, rollers, texture plates and other useful items can be found. And of course they have many other great shop sections worth a visit.
     That's it for this month Thursday Afternoon Notes blog post. Every month I pick a week from Thursday to Thursday and write about little things that happened to me or I noticed something I would like to share with you and named them Thursday Afternoon Notes blog post series.

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5 Sept 2013

Craft And Social Media

     I had a great time yesterday at the Social Media workshop for Craft and Design Enterprises in Ireland  facilitated by Mary Carty and organised by CCoI, Carlow and Kilkenny CEBs. I found it very informative and thought I would like to highlight few things  that in my opinion can help to improve  and at the same time ease my efforts on social platforms.
Image source from Pink Mustche
 Tell Your Story.
     It is great that creative people don't need to look too far.  They can talk about creative process, their inspirations, attention to details or even about some fun accidents in their practice. Our experience is unique  and it is a fact that creative people has greater chances to tell their story much better than  for example company that sell screws. It can take time to find your voice and the way you would be comfortable doing it. It may not necessarily have to be  a post written by yourself from first to last paragraph. You can make a list of next seasons fashion trends gathered from different designers around the world, share expert reviews about new tools in your craft or maybe you would like to try video blogging. After this workshop I have already thought about couple new things I would like to try, but it is very important to keep in mind who is your audience and which social media platform they use, so we are not looking for them in the wrong place!
Customer Journey.
     It was simple drawing how Mary explained us customer journey experience.  Ideal situation is that at the beginning of this journey customer have heard about you before and all the following steps will be based on how good or bad experience customer will have, how you will be able to support decision customer will make, will it be in craft shop in Kilkenny or on your website online. Interesting note Mary made about  using your own image as a profile image rather than image of your work or company logo. I guess people like to visualise the person behind the screen, especially if they haven't met before.

Social Sharing.
     It may sound a little bit frightening and the video The Stolen Scream was very impressive example Mary showed us how far sometimes things can go without you knowing anything about it. But then discussing the benefits your business can gain from this free social advertising made me rethink couple things about my social sharing habits or actually lack of them.
     The good news are that more workshops for craft and design enterprises are organized by Craft Council of Ireland and County Enterprise Boards. Check their websites for details if you are interested. I will definitely take part in more workshops over next three month time so there could be more blog posts like this again.
     I hope some of my notes from this workshop were useful and feel free to leave a comment if you would like to share your views.

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31 Aug 2013

Playing With Clay

     To be honest I'm quite speechless at the moment and it's not because my Monthly Challenge project would be something extraordinary. Simply I was trying to do so many things today and also wanted to finish this blog post before September arrives. Some people say they work better under pressure and get more things done and it's true, but it can be nerve wrecking too.

     It is second month in a row when I'm challenging myself  with bracelets and I am having great fun. As you can see I have gone big and bold with them! This time I wasn't worrying too much about colours and finish, just wanted to try an idea. My intention was to make wide bracelet with strip of clay twisted around. At first I was planning to attach strip to the bracelet but then decided to make bracelet separate and form strip of clay separate. Next step after sanding  was to twist strip around in desired way and fix it with button detail! It is quite simple project but I will keep exploring and better sketch and write down all the ideas I had during making process before they are gone.
     I'm looking at the  picture on the top and it feels like I have just created new accessory to go with my wool jacket. Great, roll on September!

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29 Aug 2013

Afternoon Notes

     Here comes my monthly Thursday Afternoon Notes blog post. And just to make it a little bit different than usually I will go backwards in week. So what I have been up to today?!
Week: August 23rd - 29th.
Back to Etsy, August 29th.
     For many children and their parents it's back to school or first day at the school here in Ireland. For me it is editing photos and updating our ETSY shop.
New Fuschia Pink and Purple Accessories at our Etsy store now.
Clay day, August 28th.
     After a morning visit to the lovely Altamont Gardens and The Walled Gardens café I was happy to play at the clay table today. Accessories worn by talented Liz Schock in the picture on the right inspired me for my monthly challenge project. I fell in love with the wide cuff BRACELET from the first moment I saw it, but I have to say my bracelet developed into something completely different. I hope to post my finished piece this Saturday!
Paperwork, August 27th.
     Today we are educating ourselves behind the pile of papers and searching for different directions in our heads and online where Valg Studio could go in the future. Exciting!!! Despite the fact that this is time consuming it is GOOD to put the plan together.
Surprise, August 26th.
     What people do when they don't have all the ingredients to cook the meal they have planed?!
Go to shop?
Cook the dish they have all ingredients for?
Any other options?!
I forgot to buy carrots and just said I'll go and check in the garden. Of course I knew that I have about 10 carrots TRYING to grow, but I didn't expect them to be big enough. Probably because in the previous summers I failed to grow them I was happy as child to find out that they have grown so big. I guess the warm summer had its effect.
The Taste of Carlow Weekend, August 24th & 25th.
     Taste of Carlow Craft & Artisan Food fair will always be close to my heart because it is my local fair and also I remember my first experience here last year when Valg Studio started to take part in craft fairs for the first time. I even looked at photo on our Facebook page from that day, I had great time. I want to admit that Taste of Carlow has grown since. I was surprised and glad to see so many wooden chalets taken by old and new artists and craft people. If you are looking for something special and good quality handcrafted items - this is a fair you can go to. I hope it continues to grow and improve with every fair!
     Thanks to James form James Dominic Music for capturing some lovely moments from the fair including this one.

Busy Friday, August 23rd.
     We are busy preparing for the Taste of Carlow craft fair tomorrow as a part of Carlow 800 celebrations. Thinking about different display ideas, packaging stock and also finishing some earring beads by adding last coat of glaze.
That's it for the moment, hope you enjoyed reading!

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21 Aug 2013

Glazing Tip

     Almost every day we learn something new, gain experience, come up with new ideas and connect little pieces of puzzle to achieve something.
     Recently in a cupboard I came across this kitchen tool holder which I haven't used for years and was thinking to bin it or to do what? And then suddenly few moments later I knew exactly what I will do. It will be my NEW GLAZED BEAD HOLDER!

     When polymer clay beads are cured there are few choices how to finish them. I like to give the beads lovely shiny finish by glazing them. Basically I pop beads on the sticks and coat them with tiny layers of glaze. Before I just used empty jar to hold the sticks but sometimes if I would have many beads they could slide and stick together.
     I am so glad I could put this unused kitchen tool holder in a good use by just turning it up - side down. It's bottom part now makes perfect base for holding sticks. This is great, I'm telling you!

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