Sunday, July 26, 2015

Interesting Directions.....

Really gotta love it when a topic of discussion on social media gets you thinking in certain directions to design something new.

I have had a Fitbit Flex now since last January and while I love the technology, I really hate the limited options of bands to use with it. A girl just needs to have options when you wear one all day long, no matter where you go. A plain band is okay when you are sweating and working out but it is sorely lacking when it comes to dressing up. It's not like I dress in designer fashion but a girl does like to look her best when out on the town. Flex just has too few options in that department and none of them come in a leather or lace style.

So, I've been thinking (yeah, I know that can be a dangerous thing). Why not come up with a few design ideas and see what people will want to wear. The first hurdle is dealing with the 1 inch long device that has to be recharged every 5 to 7 days. Lace itself is just too light to keep it on the back of the wrist. It would always travel around to the bottom of the wrist and always get in the way. Further examination of just the lace option, you would need to build in a compartment feature that would allow you to remove the piece every few days for the recharging process. This will actually put added stresses on the threads causing them to wear out faster.

Now having eliminated a just lace piece, you may need to think about a combination piece. Leather and lace or cloth and lace, or even netting and lace. These hold great possiblities and then there is adding beadwork to the piece. I have even considered a lace piece that encompasses the Flex band itself. So, short of recreating the band in leather or beadwork, I have decided to develop a cover for the Flex involving a "tape lace" base that will encompass the original band. I am going to try two options: 1) tape lace on top and bottom that allows the band to slide in and out, 2) tape lace on top with pieces of tape lace for either side of the underside of the band which still allows the insertion and removal of the Flex itself.

This will allow me the space to create something using various motifs on top to make each band cover unique. The idea of this came from a lovely image of a lace bracelet done by Ms Corina Meyfeldt. She gave us the clue that her bracelet had a base piece that was a simple tape lace. From there it was a combination of various motifs and beads to create a unique look.

Since I am currently not in the testing process and am waiting for a little calmer weather to continue my shuttles, I will be working out the Flex covering. I will most likely be working on this in the coming weeks while we are on vacation as well. My shop will be closed during vacation time. There are still 5 shuttles remaining from the first batch. They are completely hardened now and ready for immediate shipping. I am actually closing the shop on Etsy for vacation from August 1 to August 8. As soon as the weather changes again, I will be back at creating the next round of shuttles with the new images posted on my Facebook page. While waiting on the weather change, I will also begin to generate some new fractals to use on more shuttles. I have one hundred shuttle blanks prepped and ready for images but will release them 20 at a time because of the time involved in creating the new images. One fractal image can take 3 or more hours for the computer to generate.

Well, this is all for now. Need to go look through my threads and pull out the right beads to create something pretty for a Fitbit Flex cover.

Happy tatting!

Arial - the Tattered Faerie

Friday, July 24, 2015

Printer Woes.....

Well, now I have issues. I decided to spend time today prepping my blade sheets for the next round of shuttles. I managed to get the first sheet printed but while printing the second sheet, I ran into a problem. 

My Problem

Now the issue becomes why did the color cartridge just stop working? At first hubby thought that the cartridge was just empty and I had used too much. But on further inspection of the printer, the screen came up with a message: "Incompatible Tri-Color Cartridge". Never had that issue before. So a call to HP customer service and they were helpful (not). Stating the obvious that we now had a defective cartridge. Good thing he had another cartridge on hand. And now he is back to the store to see what they have to say. I guess they will replace the cartridge as it still has a good date on it.

Well, guess I can now get back to sealing the blades to preserve the images. I can't do it out back as the sun is fully on the deck. Guess that there is always the front porch as it only gets the morning sun. Yes, it is warm outside but at least there is no rain out right now. I really enjoy the sun after all the recent rain we have had.

Hope you all have a good tatting day.

Happy tatting

Arial - the Tattered Faerie

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Ideas....

So, today is really, really hot. Can't work on the shuttles outside until after sundown. The dust from the sanding is too much for working inside. Then there is sealing the images so they remain defined rather than run when I apply the adhesive. Because of the smell, I can't work on that inside. While I wait for some cooler temps to come along, I have been thinking about some other ideas that I had. 

I was out doing my regular weekly shopping, there was a stop by Hobby Lobby to look at their clay collection. I was thinking about the charms I wanted to make to go into my tatting. Yeah, I want to make some faeries, butterflies and dragons along with the usual beads and cabochons for use in my tatted pieces. While thinking about all of this, I wondered if this same material would also work for thread winders and flat shuttles. I found some translucent material which I could apply  over my images to seal them to the surfaces and still be seen.

I was wondering if those of you who play with polymer clay thought that making things like shuttles from this material was worth it. I would be moving into flat shuttles for a future round. I have seen all sorts of shapes of flat shuttles. There are tricks for using the "Lady Hoare" shuttles successfully. But what other shapes would you like to see. I will stay away from the "duck" shuttles because there is already someone quite proficiently working on those. :D While I make the shuttles, there would be a pair of matching thread winders along with this. I feel that I may want to go this route just to control the quality of my product.

For now I will continue with the current shuttle selection until I get these perfected and in production. And then I have another idea or two about a unique presentation for these shuttles for storage when not in use. But with so many ideas running through my head, I just don't always know which direction to go. The ideas are plenty but my time is involved in just getting one from the brain to the oven or sewing machine. What do you do when you have just too many ideas and not enough time to get them down before they flit off into the neather regions of the brain.

Oh, should I offer the new shuttles in two sizes or maybe three? See, there was another idea that just popped into the brain. *sigh* I could go on all day with the ideas swimming in my brain but I have things to do tonight in order to get myself back into the tatting stream. Shout out to Barbara Gordon for giving me some ideas on "froggers". There may be some with some hand-made charms coming down the road that will be used on tatted chains. Would I sell them with or without the "frogger" needle? 

Hum, there goes the brain again.

Better go before things get out of hand and tangents come along.

Happy tatting

Arial - the Tattered Faerie

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A tale of two.....

(I have pondered this entry as to whether or not I should be even be talking about this. But once I wrote it, I was able to gain focus and move forward.)

This is a tale of two customers. Which are you?

All in all my first set of shuttles went to very good homes. Most of my customers were happy inspite of this being my first set of shuttles. It really makes me want to work harder at getting the formulation correct the next time round. I will work harder to get the adhesives and the finishes smooth and dry before listing them again. I have learned a few tricks that will make the next ones better.

Through all of this I had one customer who chose to encourage and forgave the imperfections that came with this first batch. Well, most of my customers fit in this category. But there was that other one, who chose a public forum for her complaints instead of going the route of courtesy. She wanted to set the conditions for which I would  "make it right" rather than allowing me to come to my own remedy. Then when I took the conversation private, she chose to continue her attitude of it would be remedied her way or else. Sorry but this is so wrong. I tried to offer a different solution but she decided a refund would be better. I am disappointed that what I offered was not good enough.

Please be the courteous customer and contact the seller privately first. This really allows for a better attitude from the seller. To automatically jump in and publicly comment about the poor condition of a product without providing the seller an attempt to make proper rememdy is just plain rude. To also tell the seller flat out the conditions you will accept is also plain rude. It is up to the seller and not the buyer what remedies that they will provide. There may be reasons behind their reluctance to provide an immediate remedy. You might find that the only thing they will provide with that sort of attitude is a refund because it is far easier than trying to please a picky customer.

The other brave customer in this whole situation was very understanding and caught in the middle of this whole situation. I am really sorry that things were in such poor condition. This poor soul was put in the middle because of her friend. She understood that this was my first set and I really have some things to learn. She is willing to let things go because of this but was put in a very awkward situation. For this customer I will go above and beyond to make it right. Not only did she put up with me but also with the actions of her "friend" in this situation. I would have dealt directly with only the one customer but she was drug into this  because she was the poor soul who ordered both items. For her I will go above and beyond. I have plans for my previous customers who order again. However, because she was put in a difficult situation, I will go above and beyond to make it right.

In short, you should always contact the seller in private when you are dissatisfied with a purchase. Allow the seller to come up with solutions and pick the best one offered. Don't demand a solution as taking your situation directly to a public situation will only alienate the seller and put yourself in a very bad light as a future customer. It is appropriate to take things publically only after going through a private conversation with the seller and not receiving a good and fair solution. Allow the seller the dignity to learn from an issue in private and be grownup about the solutions offered. It is better for good will to happen on the part of both the seller and buyer as this is an encouragement for growth. Whereas, being demanding only produces hard feelings in the seller who then becomes reluctant to produce anything else from a bad first time experience.

I did not name any names because I do not want to stoop to the level of being vendictive. I just want to educate both sides on the proper way to handle a situation. It was a learning experience for me as well but a very hard lesson that I had to go through because I now know that there are those people who are not forgiving and demanding perfection the first time out. I want the specifics private to give some dignity to someone who may not deserve it. Just be aware that people like this are out there. The first makes me not want to cooperate or attempt to work it out, where the second actually deserves better than she got. 

What type of customer or seller are you?

Sorry for no pics right now as I am just trying to work through this situation to clear the air. Hopefully that once this is over I will be able to get back to tatting and producing more shuttles. This whole thing has been very unsettling and almost made me quit altogether. I appreciate everyone who had ordered and overlooked my mess up. I also appreciate those who chose to encourage rather than discourage. Now to clear myself and focus on getting it better with the next batch and expanding to something I have in mind for the future.

Happy tatting

Arial - the Tattered Faerie

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July to my American readers. I have been busy these last few days with my eldest son being in town with his family. He is currently stationed overseas and attempts to visit during the summer here. I am getting some play time with my little granddaughter but not much as she is sick. Travelling is so hard on little ones and they sometimes do not do well. Oh well, we just attempt to accommodate her as much as possible to make her more comfortable.

I want to thank everyone who commented on my last blog post. If you are a customer, please always remember to contact the seller in private before stating your dissatisfaction in public. This not only allows the seller to make it right but also saves some hurt feelings that you are only out to get free product and not allow the seller to make a remedy that they think is fit. My major upset was over the idea that I needed to just replace everyone's order without regard to the work I put into the products. While I understand that the first round did not arrive in "perfect" condition, the remedy should have been my decision rather than that of the customer for all the others as well. I already had something in mind for those customers but this I felt was trying to take that option out of my hands. I really appreciate those customers who had a kind word about the shuttles and were willing to work with me in this matter. Their bonus for putting up with me and having patience will be rewarded after my visit with my son is over. 

I have most of the shuttles prepped for the first round of the upgrade. The next round of images has also been selected and posted on the shop FB page. I will take my time in posting the next round of shuttles for sale so that they both have time enough to harden and are better in general. Yes, the shuttle base is a factory second but I have in mind something to fix the gaps and issues that come with the classification. I just have to find the right material to fix the problem.

Well, I need to get back to the family and prepare for the fireworks tonight. I may even post some of the pictures I will be taking tonight on my regular FB page.

Happy tatting

Arial - The Tattered Faerie

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Should I keep the shop open?

I'm heartbroken right now. Out of the sales I have had, no one really has complained. I did discuss with someone the condition of the shuttles as this was my very first batch and I was still learning how to do them right. Last night on a post about the new designs I had been working on, someone decided that they wanted a replacement for the first batch. Would have been nice had the conversation taken place in private rather than in a public forum. This has totally placed me in a position that makes out I intentionally made a bad product. I did not but weather and materials contributed to a poor finish on the shuttles. What burns me the most is that the complaint was from a person who did not directly order from me. So I was not provided with the courtesy of handling this in a private venue directly with the customer. Now they are almost demanding that I replace the first shuttles with the new ones. 

Needless to say, this will further delay me putting out any new shuttles while I re-think this situation. I had planned some changes to the processing and added a new top coat. This would mean that I will put more work into the next round. However, for me to just give the new ones away would mean that I get nothing in return for the improvements. I would love to have had the chance to handle this in a more adult and professional manner rather than having to now deal with the public humiliation that will come if I don't give into the indirect demand for the new work to just be given away.

I guess what I am saying is that I am sorry that not everyone was satisfied with what they received but there are proper ways to deal with the situation. I believe it would have been better manners for someone to have contacted me either through the shop or my email or Facebook PM before taking it public to place me in a position where I either have to replace everything or just refund and close shop. 

Needless to say the future of the shop is doubt and I have lost a night's sleep over this exchange that took place last night. This just makes me second guess everything now as to what I will be doing in the future.

I hope you have a better day than I did last night.

Happy tatting

Arial - The Tattered Faerie

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why is my mind racing at this hour?

Did you ever try to get settled down for the night but fail miserably because your mind is racing? That is me tonight. I started the evening just trying to figure out what I needed to do to make the shuttles better for the next batch. That was simple enough but then the brain became awake and took over the thought process. I am a Pisces which means I am hard to pin down, mysterious and elusive. Being very sensitive about what I put out before others, I tend to go over all scenarios in my head before letting go. Guess this is why I tend to get so involved in my brain before letting it out into the world.

That first paragraph often happens to me of an evening. For whatever reason my mind seems to take off with things I have been thinking about at night when I should be getting ready for bed. This causes me to be up later than I intend as I am super charged with ideas and concepts of things I want to do. Where this is at during the daylight hours is sometimes beyond me. What started the roll when I was looking at all of my pins on Pinterest. I needed a way to better organize all of my design ideas and inspirations to work them out as I get the time. I had been thinking about setting up an album of the images so I could select something to work on and develop sketches from. I have many items that I really want to work on before I do any more shows. But my brain gets on a roll and thinks way too far ahead for me to process it all. I have been searching for a way to deal with printing my boards to a PDF. However, there is a limitation to all the suggestions: it will only do the first 6 or last 6 pages leaving everything else blank if you have a large board to deal with. Printing to a PDF after loading the whole page does not work, selecting and copying does not work, in short just about everything I try to do does not work to save the board to paper. So I will go on looking at my boards and wonder just how best to save things and use them in my designing process. (I may just have to save them one image at a time.)

I have recently begun to think long term with my shuttles. I am still exploring options for thread winders but I am blessed to have a hubby who indulges me when I am thinking. He is a trained engineer which means I need to keep him from over thinking things once in a while. Something I see as simple can get complicated quickly when he applies engineering to it. I do sometime have to fight really hard to get him to see the simplicity of what I am trying to do. He will then finally get it. Gotta love him for trying sometimes. But I am wondering if some of the images that I have chosen are not appealing to others. I will have to rethink the images that I am putting on the shuttles so that they will be attractive to others besides myself. I believe that I have finally worked out the issue with the finish of the shuttle. I am just hoping that the next round is more durable and dryer than the first batch that went out. Sometimes it is a learning process as to what will work best when trying something new.

The next round of shuttles are well underway when it comes to sanding them in preparation for the images. Images are available but not finalized as I need to re-look at what people were drawn to the list time out. I guess it is hard to predict what will draw people's attention and what they will select. It is just so hard to decide what the market will bring when I put things out there. 

Well, just like last night my mind is racing a mile a minute once again. Sorry there are no pictures today but I hope you have a happy one.

Happy Tatting

Arial - The Tattered Faerie

Friday, June 19, 2015

Working away . . .

Today is one of those days where you just wish that the rain would finally end. Seems like we have been having daily rain for weeks now. I am more than ready for the sunshine to return. There are just some things that I can not do very well inside effectively. I can work on my shuttles but the dust would not be so bad if I could actually do it outside. Plus when I get to the final coat, I really need to be outside for the smell factor. Then there is the thread dying that I would love to be doing right now. I find that the color often sets better if I can dry my threads in the sun for a while. Let's face it, I need the sunshine myself.....

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that we are getting rain where other places are receiving nothing. However, I know a few people who would be more than happy to share some of their bounty with those places gladly. But it is what it is and nothing we can change about it. I just am missing the sun right now.

After the success I have had with both my shuttles and tatting, I am thinking about what I need to reinvest in for the coming weeks. Besides the wider color selection of threads, I really need to expand my seedbead collection. I have a few but with the number of items that sold with beads vs those that didn't have beads, seems I will need more. Also the smaller threads are in while the larger threads are good for the bracelets that sold. 

I am already working on the next set of shuttles by getting them all sanded and ready for the images to come. I have many images that I feel will work well that I have created over the years. It just took me a little while to get the two things I love together. I will be selecting images to cover about 100 more shuttles but plan on releasing them about 20 at a time. I am still unsure if I will release duplicates of the current images. I have enough new images to not ever repeat or even can generate new images to keep that from happening any time soon. Below is a full rendering from one of the shuttles that has already been sold. This will give you an idea of the difference between what can be fit on the blades of the shuttle and the image that is actually created.

The one who has this shuttle will be able to see where it came from.
I will most likely continue to develop my display capabilities for when I take my tatted pieces on the road. I must say that my copper pieces were quite the hit with the gentlemen in the crowd last week. Seems that they liked the way I had used the copper pipe and fittings to create something that their wives might use. I am looking at using "makeup" cases to transport both my demonstration materials and any items that I might have for sale.  Most of my shuttles were under glass but the ones that I didn't have that way were handled more than I was comfortable with. I will have to figure out a better way to use them in how I display things in the future. I was always on the look out for those who wanted to handle any of the shuttles I had set out as a part of the overall display. I may just have to get a couple more of the glass frames that I used to display the other shuttles that I have collected. 

There are so many new ideas running through my brain right now because I am sitting here writing this entry. But when I get done, they will all go away once I have quit and published. I am still on the look out for something to use as a proper thread winder that I can apply my images to. I am looking for a source for the 60's style flowers that one could have found everywhere just a few short years ago. Now I am lucky if I can find something even close. The  picture below shows how I modified them to turn into some very nice thread winders. However, getting the slit for keeping the thread from unwinding might just present a small problem.

This is what I created from 60's style wood flowers.
So this entry is actually becoming my working ideas for things running through my mind today. I did just receive a package from Handy Hands. I ordered various colors to expand the thread selection I have available to me. There are a few I wish that I had before my trip last week as I know that whatever I had made from them would have found new homes.

My new Lizbeth threads, size 40
I have the idea that I will be ordering more threads as I thought I had ordered a particular color but I guess I didn't. Isn't that the way it goes?

Happy tatting

Arial - the Tattered Faerie

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Processing More Shuttles

I have not really posted much anywhere the process I have been using to create my image shuttles. Well, I have decided that I will post here with all of its flaws so that others may know how difficult the process is to get it right. It is definitely a learning process from start to finish.

Blank Shuttles after prepping for applying the image

I started with blank shuttles and I am giving away my source in doing this: 
    1) I start with Tapestry/Tatting/Thread Shuttle "Boye" that I purchase in bulk from Lacis Online catalog. 
   2) I will remove the point and sand the surface to prepare for applying the image. This is done to both sides of the shuttle, not just one.
   3) I then select the slices of images from my various Fractal images that I have created over the years. (I have more images than what you have seen in my shop so far, so don't worry, I can go on for quite some time and not repeat an image.)
   4) After image processing to produce the correct size for applying to the shuttle and how I want the image to end up looking, I cut it to fit each blade of the shuttle.
   5) (This is where it changes from the first time I did this.) I will take and seal the image on both sides of the paper before applying to the shuttle as the Mode Podge will influence the image by absorption of water from the glue. (This must be done in order to preserve the clarity of the image detail as these images are very detailed).
   6) The images are then attached to the shuttle and allowed to dry overnight. I attempt to coat it a couple of times to make sure everything is covered and smoothed down. This also includes the edges to make sure it is attached and will not easily peel off.
   7) These are allowed to dry thoroughly before applying the final sealing coat to keep the shuttle from appearing and feeling sticky. My mistake on the first batch was not making sure it had been allowed to dry for a couple of days before moving on to the other side and then waiting to list them in Etsy once they were ready. 

The learning process here was to make sure that I could handle them well before sending them out into the world. For that I am sorry as some have received shuttles that now have marks in the sealing layer that make them rough. I am hoping that by extending the time they are in the drying process and slowing down to send them out will produce better results in the long run. I do appreciate the ones who have been so kind as to let me know how they arrived and that they were still willing to keep what I have sent in spite of the flaw. 

Images added and ready for trimming out to the first side.

I am still on the lookout for something to use as thread winders that I can make to match the shuttles that I produce. I would love to find the 2 inch wood shape of a "60's" style flower but since I have wanted to use it, that shape has been very hard to find. I may have to settle for some other shape to use for the base of the thread winder. I could use the 2 1/2 inch popcicle sticks that I can purchase in bulk at Walmart until I can find something better. That will be an ongoing project that I hope to add in the near future. Tell me what you think of that idea. The drawback to using it is that the space available for the image is very narrow and will not give very much of a sample of the image that is used. 

These were still drying from the top coat of Mode Podge

I don't know how many saw but I will also provide a 5" by 7" image of the full fractal just for the cost of printing at the time of the order if requested by shop conversation. Remember, what you see on the shuttle is only a small part of the full image that I generate.

Well, it is time for me to end this entry and start planning the next batch of shuttles. (There are 100 blanks waiting for images.) I do hope the ones who have already purchased the first batch have wonderful tatting adventures with them.

Happy tatting,

Arial - the Tattered Faerie

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Busy and Exciting Times

Well, I have been so busy that I really have neglected this poor blog. I really hope to get back into regular updates very soon. 

I have not been able to post much in the way of tatting recently because most of what I have done lately has been testing for a couple of very special tatters. I will post when I can for one of the testers but the other has requested no photos published. (So I will honor her wishes in this regard.)

What I can announce here is that my Etsy Shop is now open for business. I opened it for those who liked my Facebook Page Arial's Creations first and then opened up for the rest of the world to see. This is the final place that I need to link to in order to make sure I receive exposure for the shop. 

Below are the blade samples for the first 20 blades. I have almost sold out of the first set of 20 shuttles. I have not decided if I would do more than a couple of runs of each image before moving on to other images that I have lurking on my computers. The basic program used to create the images is called "Apophysis" which creates Fractal Flames from mathematics. It is the combination of various equations and color weights which produce the beautiful images. 

First set of 10 blades

Second set of 10 blades

The images are on both sides of the shuttle. The first set of blades are a bit rough as far as the application goes. I am still working out the process of applying the image and then sealing it. I am wondering if the weather has played a part in the fact that the surface still seems stickier than I wanted it to be. But I hope to have things worked out for the next set that will be even better yet.

The other busy thing about this year is that I was asked to demonstrate tatting at the Missouri State Fairgrounds. The first occasion was for "Trail's End" to commemorate where the cattle drive from the west met the rail heads which lead to the markets of points East of the Mississippi. The second occasion will be coming up this week, "Big Red Power" celebrating the International Harvester company and their contributions to the farm country.

So time to close this entry and plan just what I am going to be taking with me. I have lots of things to show off and if you are at the fairgrounds, stop by the Fine Arts building and visit me.

Happy Tatting

Arial - The Tattered Faerie