Sunday, September 17, 2006

Yikes! My E-Pattern Files Are HUGE!

Posted on 2006-07-26 by Linda Walsh
Category: Pattern Designing

If you create E-patterns then you know that file size is very IMPORTANT.
Especially if you are going to send your e-patterns as email attachments or if you're going to upload them to a craft pattern website or instant pattern download website. You have to keep your e-pattern files to a minimum. But, how do you do that? The pictures are usually HUGE and the scanned sheets are usually HUGE. Even if you scan them in black & white. So, what do you do? Well, you have to reduce the size of the pictures and scanned images either by adjusting the resolution, pixels or actual physical size of the image. There is no hard and fast formula for this. My results have been based upon trial and error.

Here's what I do for my pictures. First I use a picture program to crop and clean-up all your images. I have all of my pattern pictures saved on my computer as .jpg files of various sizes. I keep a master copy of the original picture in it's original HUGE size and then I use Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Picture It! to reduce the size of my images down to whatever size I may need. Most picture programs will allow you to reduce the size of your image either by resolution, pixels, or physical size. I prefer using pixels for most of my pattern pictures and inches for small pictures to display on the side of my blogs.

I have found through trial and error that 300 to 350 pixels is a good size for most applications. For example, let's say my original doll picture is 1276x1671 pixels and 453kb in size. I would reduce this picture to around 300 to 350 pixels, depending upon the picture I want, to say 284x371 pixels or 17.1kb for my E-Pattern cover picture. Just by doing this I've reduced the size of the picture from 453kb to 17.1kb without really destroying the quality of the picture. For this same picture starting out at 1276x1671 pixels and 453kb if I'm going to send it to another website (say for a craft show booth) I'd probably keep the picture around 300-350 pixels, too. I would reduce this picture to around 300 to 350, depending upon the picture I want, to 284x371 pixels or 17.1kb for displaying on another website and to 137x180 pixels or 8.56kb for a 1 inch size picture. If I'm sending the picture to another website for say, a home page display ad, they usually want a picture around 150 pixels. So, I'd reduce my original image down to 150x150 pixels or so and save it under another name. If I want to show some of my product images on the sidebar of my blog then I'd reduce the pictures to about 1 inch. This equates to about 150 pixels. Might be a little more or a little less, depending on the picture.

Adobe Photoshop allows you to reduce by pixels or by inch. For this application I prefer inch. Each time I want to reduce the size of the picture I start with the original picture, reduce the size, and then save the reduced copy under a different name. I'm always getting off track, aren't I? Back to the E-Patterns. If you're scanning in whole pages (i.e. 8 1/2 x 11 size) then you will need to cut the pixel size of your 8 1/2 x 11 inch picture in 1/2 or even 1/3 or your .pdf file will be way too big. My 8 1/2 x 11 inch scanned in b/w images that I use for my doll patterns pattern piece sheets and diagrams are usually 2529x3300 pixels and 1.0mb in file size(color images would be a lot more).

I always crop and clean-up my scanned b/w image first using a picture program and then reduce my b/w in half down to 1265x1650 pixels or less. This drastically reduces the size of the image down to around 250kb. Since you're going to insert this into whatever program is creating your .pdf file you want to start out with the least amount of file size as possible. Around 1265x1650 pixels would be the least amount you would want to reduce any images that were drawn by a heavy pencil and scanned in. If you go over your pencil drawn pattern piece sheets and diagrams with a black marker then you can reduce these in half again down to 633x825 pixels. I wouldn't go any lower than that or your .pdf E-Patterns will be hard to read. Once you have everything reduced in size then you would want to import them into whatever software you are going to use to create your E-Pattern.

I do everything in Microsoft Publisher so its easier for me to use that. I'm sure there are lots of software programs out there that would produce something similar. Once I have my doll pattern completely in Publisher I compress the file which reduces the resolution of any of the pages to around 200 in resolution. This reduces the file size even further. Here is where the original quality of the scanned image comes into play. If the image is too light to start off then you will have a problem reading the E-Pattern or the image will be blurry. That is why a lot of hand-drawn sheets are traced over with a black marker. I try to keep all of my E-Pattern between 500kb to 900kb. My largest E-Pattern is 22 pages but only 1.08mb in file size due to all of the above mentioned adjustments. My smallest E-Pattern is 8 pages and 437kb in file size.

The key to keeping the size of your E-Patterns down is to reduce the size of your images, diagrams and pattern sheets down to a manageable size. You can do this without destroying the quality of your picture or E-Pattern.

Author: Linda Walsh
Bio:Copyright © 2006 Article Written By Linda Walsh of Linda Walsh Originals and Linda's Blog. Linda is a doll maker and doll pattern designer. All Rights Reserved.

Folk Art Painting- Antiquing

Posted on 2006-08-19 by Debbie Hainline
Category: Craft Specific Articles

Many painters avoid the antiquing process for fear of ruining their finished piece, but with a bit of practise this technique will only enhance your finished piece of art work. If you do make a terrible mistake remember that while the piece is still wet you can remove the antiquing completely with a bit of paint thinner, the coats of varnish will protect your artwork below.

Here are simple directions for antiquing that I have found work best .

1.When the piece is completely dry from painting ( at least 24 hours) remove all your tracing lines and carbon smudges with a artist gum eraser and give the piece at least 2 coats of a good varnish.

2. Dry well at least again for 24 hours following the directions on the can of varnish

3.To make the antiquing glaze mix tube oil paint ( I prefer either burnt umber or raw sienna) with a few drops of paint thinner on your palette. This should mix to the consistency of thick sour cream.

4. Brush or rub on with a soft cloth the glazing mix covering the entire piece. Let it stand for 5 to 20 minutes depending one the weather ( heat and humidity effect this). Let the glaze stand on the piece until it gets slippery but not until it gets sticky or gummy.

5. Now with a soft cloth( old t shirts work great for this) begin to rub in a circular motion taking off a much or as little of the glaze as you like softly blending the areas together.

6. Take off more glaze in the areas you wish lighter and highlighted. If you take off too much just add some glaze back on and repeat the process

7. Let the piece dry thoroughly and varnish again I have used this method to antique a piece of artwork or to do an entire piece of furniture

Author: Debbie Hainline
Bio:Debbie owns the business Two Old Crows and a store on ebay by the same name where she sells American Folk Art and Antiques.

Past Articles from Patternmart

As you may have already noticed..... all of the articles from the former blog have been brought over and archived. You will be able to find all of the articles and not miss anything that had been posted.

We hope to see you back real soon.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Finding a Craft Show

So once you make the choice of wanting to do a now have to FIND a show to take part in. This can be done in a few different ways. I was very lucky in that I knew someone that does quite a few shows and so I contacted her and asked a bunch of questions. Things all fell into place quickly after that.

Here are some other ways to find out about Craft Shows in your area:

~Contact nearby malls to see if they will have any upcoming shows..... you might want to start small like this to sort of get your feet wet. Most malls rent booths for a fair price. Some even have booths every weekend.

~Contact Chamber of Commerce to see if any members sponsor craft events.

~Search through local newspapers for upcoming shows...... some of the larger events take ads out in the papers. Clip them and save their information. It may not be enough time to get in on it this year but you have their contact information for next year.

~Ask local craftspeople about any local events they attend....... this is a wealth of information that you can work with. They will be able to give you feedback on shows that are "good" or ones that are worth skipping over.

~In this day and age, don't forget to search the Web for craft events in your area. Many communities have gone online to promote their area and attractions.

~Contact local churches to see if they sponsor any craft shows. A table of your goodies a few times a year thru the local church would be a great way to get folks knowing about your goodies

~If you live in a smaller community, make sure to expand your search to include show and events that will be happening in the neighboring towns. Expand as far away as you are willing to travel to showcase your creations.

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door

Craft Shows

Craft shows! You see them in your community all the time and have gone to a number of them yourself. Now you have made the next step and are thinking of doing a show. Seems simple enough, right?

Well I just did my very first craft show ever and I learned so much along the way. I thought it would be a great topic for some articles to share with you all. I still have so much to learn but I thought by sharing my steps and lessons, it might make that first step a bit easier.

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door

Should You have a Blog for your Craft Business

Posted on 2006-07-27 by Linda Walsh
Category: Craft Business Articles

Should you have a blog for your craft website? In today's business environment the answer is "absolutely."

But, why? Very simply. Blogs generate exposure for your craft business. They can generate sales. They can tell your customers important things that you want them to know about your craft business. But, most importantly, they personalize you to your customer. Through your blog your customers get to know you. Personally, I like to do business with people I know and, I suspect, most people feel the same. Through your blog you become human to your customers. They start to learn about you and, hopefully, start to like you. If they like you then they are more likely to do business with you.

For a craft business blogs can become crucial to sharing your ideas with your customers. Allowing them to share their creations easily with you. Allowing them to comment on your ideas or articles directly on your blog. In essence, you're providing a forum for the exchange of ideas - yours and theirs. You can post FREE patterns for them to follow, direct them to other areas that may be of interest to them, ask for their help, provide detailed instructions, show them your latest creations, explain your thought process on an idea. Or, just plain, let them get to know you and feel comfortable with you. The potential is unlimited.

So, should you have a blog if you have a craft business? The answer is undoubtedly "YES."

Author: Linda Walsh <Lindasoriginals2 at aol dot com>
Copyright © 2006—All Rights Reserved—Written By Linda Walsh of Linda Walsh Originals and Linda's Blog. Linda is a doll maker and doll pattern designer.

How To Deliver the Best Online Customer Service

Posted on 2006-08-02 by Kelle Arvay
General Online Business Articles

It seems in this day and age of exploding online business start ups on the Internet, a lot of effort goes into creating the perfect online presence. Including website design, SEO optimizing, marketing and promoting. But so often, one of the biggest things that can make or break your business is having great customer service. Sure you can have a fantastic website, great products and mass marketing campaigns going on. But if your customers feel your customer service is awful then your business will surely suffer for it.

You have to look at it this way. If you walked into a store you would surely expect the owner or sales person to be courteous and helpful right? Well, so do your customers online. When I say "customers", I'm also referring to businesses that offer intangible services and have clients also. Without customers and clients where would your business be? They are your greatest asset and you should treat them as such. So now that we've established why customer service is so important, what are the techniques for implementing the greatest customer service possible?

Let me offer you an outline to help the bigger picture come together for you.

1. The Golden Rule Method. We all need to remember the golden rule of "Treat others as you would want to be treated". This definitely applies when it comes to customer service. Give your customers the same treatment and attention that you would expect from a business. A good business that is.

2. The Customer Is Always Right. NEVER argue with a customer or client, even if they are wrong. Instead respond to their question or complaint in a polite and non-threatening manner. Do your best to explain yourself and offer answers to whatever issue they are having. For example if a customer purchases a product from your website and complains that they thought it would be bigger and are not happy with it. The best thing to do is to in this case would be to respond and tell them that you are sorry they are not happy with the item and offer A). They can return the item for a refund or B). Depending on your policies, offer them a website credit. Both examples of course are based on whatever policies you have in place. If you have a policy that says no refunds or exchanges. Instead, offer them an online voucher of so much off their next purchase if that is all you can give. But don't not do something for this customer or you might as well wave good-bye to them for any possibility that they will order from you again. Not only that but you probably won't gain any of their friends or family as customers either. Of course there are customers out there that can be dishonest and take advantage of situations so you have to use your judgment per individual situations. But for the most part it's always wise to err on the side that the customer is always right and offer what you can to rectify the situation in hopes that they will continue to purchase from you and tell others what a great company your company is.

3. Remember it's email. While email is a great communication tool, it doesn't have the ability to convey verbal expression. Unlike communicating on the phone where people can hear the expression in your voice. So always be aware of this when sending your responses to your customers and try to write them in such a way that expresses their importance to you and your concern for whatever issue they have.

4. Be Accessible. There's nothing worse than feeling like the customer service of a business is not very accessible. Always have an area on your website for customer service inquiries. Don't let your customers feel like they can't come ask you a question at anytime. A good idea is to add at the end of your response to your customers something like "If I can answer any more questions or assist you in any way, please don't hesitate to contact me again". This will let them know that they can come ask you anything, anytime. Some customers and clients can tend to not want to "bother" you. But you want them to know they are not bothering you with questions, concerns or comments they may have. Being accessible not only keeps the communication lines open but it builds that so important trust you want your customers and clients to have for you and your company.

5. Don't Make Them Wait. No one likes to wait for a response from a business. I'm sure many of you have sat on hold while calling a company and it feels like forever. Customers get frustrated with this. Unless your company has a huge customer service response team it may be unrealistic for you to respond to customer service inquiries immediately. But you can at least let them know that you received their customer service inquiry by implementing an autoresponder through your email client. This would be a email they would receive right after contacting customer service telling them that you have received their email, letting them know how important they are to you and giving them a time line as to when they can expect a response from you. For example a autoresponse email might say "Thank you for contacting "Your Company Name Here". Your inquiry is very important to us and we wanted to let you know that we will respond to your inquiry promptly within the next 24 hours. Thank you and we look forward to speaking with you shortly." -Signed by Your name and Your Company.

6. Follow Up. A nice customer service touch is to follow up with the customer. Say for example you have a customer that has a problem ordering or issue from a client that subscribes to your service. A simple email a day or so later asking them if they've experienced any further difficulty will be very appreciated and allow for an open door that you initiated in case they indeed are having more difficulties. Don't overdue it of course. Just the one follow up is sufficient. Some customers/clients may not respond and that's ok as no response usually means all is well. I hope the previous has been helpful and you all will go out now and perfect your customer service. Remember customer service is one of the most important aspects of your business. It is one of the big reasons that your customers will keep coming back to your company.

Author: Kelle Arvay <patternmart at aol dot com>

© 2006 Kelle Arvay. Kelle Arvay is the owner of Pattern Mart with offers customers access to thousands of craft patterns that they can purchase and download instantly. In addition, she is also the owner of IPM Pro which offers clients the ability to sell their downloadable egoods through their websites, email, blogs, auctions and message boards as instant downloadable products. She also is the co-founder and co-publisher of Creative Times, a downloadable bi-monthly craft magazine. Kelle has been working with customers for over 6 years.

Flyers as a Marketing Tool

Flyers are a fabulous marketing tool and can be so simple to create. You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on them. Just follow a few simple rules and your business flyer will explode!

Write a catchy headline.
Make it memorable or unusual by using a few carefully chosen powerful words. Powerful titles contain one or more of these words: Easy, The Secrets to, Unlock, Finally, Insider, Time Sensitive, How to, Free Bonuses, Now You Can, Discover, Proven. Those would catch your attention, wouldn't they?

Use colorful graphics.
One large image or graphic will have more impact than many smaller ones. A stunning photo or illustration grabs attention and can help sell the idea you are telling folks about.

Use testimonials.
Nothing makes someone believe in something else like an endorsement from a happy customer, especially if it tells the results they've had with your product or service. Be sure to include the first and last name, company name and location of the person providing the endorsement. NEVER make false testimonials.

Offer a discount or special limited-time price.
Design a coupon on the bottom section of your flyer. Be sure to clearly state the deadlines and limitations of the offer. Everyone loves to think they are getting a great deal on something. Use this to get them to take your flyer home.

It can be so simple..... even on a tight budget.
Select bright-colored or unique paper, and print with black ink.

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door

Don't Ride the Roller Coaster!

Sometimes the day just seems crazier then usual. Don't let it get you all ruffled and stressed out. You will do much better with your business if you learn to control the levels of stress happening around you. There will always be "something" that can go wrong.....just prepare yourself a bit better for those "somethings" and you will do much better handling them.

Make relaxation part of your daily routine: Take 15 minutes each day to reflect and have downtime. You can squeeze at least 15 minutes from your day. You waste too much energy on regrets. Recognize your successes, let go of your stress, and decide on the best "next step" for you

Turn frustration/craziness into inspiration: When an obstacle crosses your path, it's much easier to get riled up than it is to calm down. No one can predict the future. Instead of becoming aggravated about things that are out of your control, relax and try to spot something good that can come out of it. You'll be amazed at what you can find GOOD if you just learn to look at something different.

To really relax, you have got to be true to yourself. Pay attention to any physical or emotional symptoms that arise in response to any stress that seems to be happening in your life. When you feel yourself getting anxious, recognize that it's OK to relax, slack off for a short period, or get more rest.

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door

Here's My Card...

You meet someone while out and its a great connection for your business. You reach into your purse and hand them a business card.They glance at it quickly and it gets placed away.


Many people overlook the value of having a professional business card and yet it's often the first item folks receive from you. Your business card is your first opportunity to make a strong, positive first impression on them.

When creating a card for your business, remember to KEEP IT SIMPLE! The typical card is only 3.5"x2" and that really isn't alot of space to work with. Don't over power the card with a logo that is too large.The font you use should be easy to read and make sure to have "white space" to even the look out.

Don't clutter the card with too much information. What really needs to be on your business card?Your name is a good thing to be there(some folks actually forget that!), along with the name of your company (via your logo), and some way for them to contact you......your phone number and/or your e-mail address. Space permitting, you can add your physical address,a cell-phone number and company website address. Don't clutter things up too much--as with the design, simple is always better.

You want to present a business card that gives the person something to "remember" and call upon at the right time.You want them to think of your business and not someone else. Take your card out and look it over with all this in mind...... in need of a new business card?

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door

What is your "brand"???

Have you been branded yet with your business? Do you have "something" that as soon as folks see it that they know right away that its "your business" they are dealing with?

Be consistent and "brand" your business. Use the same colors, logo design,motto or even a special graphic on everything that has to do with your business. Some folks have a hard time remembering a name of a business or website....but images seem to stick in their mind.Use that to your advantage.

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door

Some Do's and Don'ts of Customer Service

DO YOUR RESEARCH! There can never be enough research done if you are thinking of selling your creations online. See if there is really a spot in the market for your business. Find out if surfers are going to buy your products once they find you. What about shipping your products out to folks? Can you do so and still make a profit? Research and find your target buyers and make sure to create a good solid business plan before you even take one step with selling online.

Do NOT make things Difficult! If selling online, then remember to keep your website simple and yet attractive enough to grab folks attention. Keep in mind all the details of your site from the actual layout design and what it will look like to folks; all the way to how easy will it be for folks to place an order thru you and what your customer service policies are. You want no hidden parts from folks.

Letting customers contact you with any questions is a great way of building a relationship with your customers, and will help establish trust too. Look into having a contact us function on your website so that at the very least customers can email you with any questions or problems. If you are going to have this option for them, ALWAYS make sure you answer customer questions as promptly and professionally as possible.At least within a few days if not less.

These are a few simple tips to making your business run as smoothly as possible.... for your customers as well as yourself!

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door

Start Talking!

You made the jump and started a business from your home. You weren't sure but you figured word of mouth would have been spreading quicker somehow, right? Don't wait for others to do all the talking..... get out there and be shouting loud about your business.

Sure, your friends and family members will for the most part be supportive of what you are doing but they may not be the best way to go for spreading the news about what your business can offer. Consider who would make a good customer and then go look for them and ways to meet them. Chamber of Commerce meetings; the local PTA meetings; anyplace that will have folks you can talk to about your business. Drop samples of your product off if possible. Even a well placed phone call can work wonders.

Do some online networking as well through message boards and mailing lists. Don't spam the forums as that is greatly looked down upon. Join them and really participate and contribute to what they have to offer. You can make some fantastic connections online that really can help spread the word quickly.

Carry busines cards with you at all times and really start looking for ways to hand them out. Place them on bulletin boards in shopping centers. Place a business card down on the table when you leave a tip at the next resturant you eat at.

What ways have you been talking about yourself to others?

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door

Your Work Space

What does your work space look like? I have always thought that even though my "space" is small that I still had plenty of room. That was until this year. LOL My business is really starting to expand and I seem to be overflowing my space.

Folks always seem to say to select a room (a whole room if possible) that is away from the high traffic areas of your home.The more peace and quiet you have, the more productive you are supposed to be. I always have music playing when I'm working LOL Its like my brain can't handle quiet.

I have my own computer and all the different equipment that I need upstairs. My family has their own downstairs so at least that is never a hassle. One of the best things I got was a new comfy computer chair. I had no idea just how much time I was going to spend sitting here! LOL Thought it was crazy at first to spend that money on a chair but I sure am loving it now.

How long do you spend sitting in a computer chair working on your business? Next time you are out, make sure to go take a good look at those comfy computer chairs! heehee

Look around your workspace and see if its working the best for your business. Do you need to move things around and make better use of the space you have? Do you need to expand to a larger room or even a new building? You won't be working at your best level unless all around you is working right.

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door

Creative Times Magazine

This magazine is BRILLANT! If you enjoy crafting, then you need to check this magazine out. Its cool, right?

The premier online downloadable magazine that is sure to inspire your creativity.

Brought to you by Pattern Mart and partnership with EweNMePrintables.

Creative Times is full of inspiring articles, interviews, tips, two free patterns and more! Whether you enjoy Primitive crafting, Tole Painting, Needlework, Scrapbook Art, Quilting, Chic decor and more...we got you covered!!

We love it and think you will too! You Can download it and read at your leisure and print the patterns. The best part is you can download Creative Times FREE!!

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door

Pattern Mart has 27 members now and 730 patterns. How beyond exciting is that? I love to get in my computer chair with my morning drink and just sort of flip thru all the wonderful new patterns. Patternmart makes it so easy to add new patterns to my collection! LOL

Make sure you stop over and see what the latest pattern is to arrive!

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door

Simple Tip #2

Always Sign your Creations

Even if you are just starting out making things.....a great tip is to start getting in the habit of signing your work. It is simple enough to do and justs adds a more polished and professional look to your creations. Some folks use a rubber stamp. Some folks stitch their info onto the creation.

I like to take a Sharpie marker (I have a variety of wonderful colors to suit my moods!) and sign on either the belly or back on my dolls. Usually it will say "Cedara 2006 Thru the Attic Door". I think that I will also now add what number doll this would be.

Do you sign your dolls and creations? How do you do it?

Tracy(Cedara)Dunn of Thru The Attic Door