Friday, 5 December 2014

The possible demise of my digi-tutorials

Unfortunately, due to new EU rules about VAT (a form of sales tax) on digital downloads that come into force on 1st January 2015, I may have to stop selling my digital downloads

The EU, in all its wisdom, has decided to change in which country VAT is applied to a digital download. Instead of being in the country of sale as it is now, it will be the country of purchase. That means I have to add VAT to every European digital sale I make from the 1st January. As each EU country has a different VAT rate, the rates vary from 15% to 27%. The appropriate amount has to be added to each EU sale. We also have to keep details of every sale for 10 years and keep records to prove that we have or have not sold to an EU country.


As you can probably tell, this is going to be a major chore for a tiny, one woman business.

What's more, whereas in the UK we have the protection of an £81,000 threshold before we have to register for VAT, the new rules mean that anyone selling even 1 penny's worth of digital download is liable to pay VAT in the country of sale. We have to register for VAT on an HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) website (or, alternatively, every one of the 28 EU states) and send in four VAT returns every year. It applies to crafters, artists, musicians, authors, app writers, broadcasters, suppliers of telecommunications and electronic services, big businesses, small businesses. It also applies to anyone in the world who is selling digi-downloads - not just EU sellers. If you sell digi then you're caught.


It's big, it's scary, it's a mess. Anyone on Twitter can follow the scared and angry tweets of loads of tiny businesses who have been caught up in this by using the hashtags #VATMOSS or #VATMESS. I am part of a group on Facebook that has been pushing for changes to these new laws to protect tiny businesses. We are writing to members of Parliament, members of the European Parliament, the media, supporters of small business and anyone else we think may be able to help. Whether it will help is another matter.

I have already seen posts by many crafters who sell tutorials and digital collage sheets saying they will have to close up shop or stop selling to the EU altogether because of this. At the least it means price rises. Budding starts ups wont even get off the ground. It is too complex for many cottage industries and tiny businesses to cope with and I do not think the EU has thought this through at all.



In my case what it comes down to is what Etsy chooses to do about the new legislation. They are supposed to collect the VAT instead of leaving it to the seller. Sadly they have not made an announcement about what they are going to do yet. If Etsy does not step up then I will have to stop selling the downloads. Digital downloads were meant to be a new arm to my business. Instead it has become a nightmare.

So this post is really a plea. If you fancy one of my digital tutorials then I suggest you grab it now. I do not want to put pressure on my customers and followers at all. I always appreciate every sale I make. I just want you to know that if you fancied trying out some of my techniques then it is possible that they won't be there for long. 


You can find the tutorials in my Etsy store.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Beaded snowflakes

In my moments of internet surfing I came across this really nice tutorial for making beaded snowflakes. With the festive season just around the corner - and hopefully lots of snow - I thought I'd make one or two. Great for sticking on greetings cards, adding to packaging or hanging from the Christmas tree.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Tudor inspiration

I was watching the craft channel the other week when I saw a sparkly, pretty thing. It was a jewellery kit by Kleshna. As I have mentioned before, I don't wear much jewellery but this appealed to me. It reminded me of all things Tudor, like something Queen Elizabeth I would have worn. Having purchased a kit and made my first necklace I wanted to try other colour combinations. My first was gold and green then I made pendants in wine and cream and purples.


I made the gold and green one into a proper pendant with a silk cord and tassel.

 

I am sure there will be more of these. They're simple to do and the components are readily available. That's always good when you've learned a new skill and want to recreate it. The real problem is coming up with things to use them for.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Another new tutorial

Yes, another new tutorial on Etsy. This time it is for chunky paper beads. The beads are made from scraps of watercolour paper, are really simple to make and unusual to use in jewellery making or other crafts.



I am really enjoying writing these tutorials. I never saw myself as a teacher but I have so many little ideas for making simple things, particularly out of paper. It is really lovely to know that people want to find out about the projects.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

New samples

These are just the cutest sewing project I have come across. Everyone knows I like a spot of history but it's mainly ancient history. These, however, are reproductions of Victorian pincushions. They are new kits from Gina-B Silkwork and would make stunning Christmas decorations for the tree. Card templates, fabric, beads and pins to name a few of the items you will find in the kits. They make up really quickly too which was a surprise. I had to wrestle my Mum to get them back after I showed her. I should just get her a kit and she could make her own.





Friday, 24 October 2014

Embroidery - again

I signed up for another embroidery course. Two actually - this time courses that are a bit more straight forward. Craftsy were having a sale, you see, and I just HAD to take advantage of it. Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery is the first course. I signed up for the Mastered course a few months back and while it is very good (high quality with great lessons and helpful people) it is a little less about the stitches than I was hoping for. So far Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery is hitting the spot. It is giving me the tools I was looking for - the stitches, from basic to advanced, and the inspiration to keep going with needle and thread. Once I have finished it I will go back to Mastered and finish what I was doing there. 


I have actually been so inspired that I can't stop myself from embroidering. I started practising stitches just for fun on scrap bits of fabric. It turns out that these scraps are called doodle cloths which I think is a great name. It really is just like doodling - shutting your mind off and randomly drawing with thread on fabric.


Stupendous Stitching: Adventures in Surface Design is the second course I signed up for. It is all sewing machine related and encourages you to try out all the decorative stitches you have on your sewing machine. Unfortunately I have a sewing machine that only does straight stitch, zigzag and buttonholes. You can't even change the stitch width or length. And I hate it! It grunts and snorts and rumbles and rattles - even after I have put in a new needle. It has to go. So, come Christmas, I am hoping to get a sparkly new machine, one that does a few decorative stitches. That is when the course comes in to play. Definitely something to look forward to.

And one final piece of embroidery is my stumpwork butterfly. I started it about a year ago and only just got around to finishing it. I'm not totally happy with the stitch work but as it was my first butterfly I'm sure it will get better over time.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Cute little box

I picked some plain boxes up from the craft centre a few weeks ago. They are nice and chunky and open to so much creativity. This is the first of the ones I have decorated. Wrapped in paper, touched up with ink, a couple of decorative buttons and a tiny tassel on a cord.


Sunday, 5 October 2014

I'm on a roll!

My second downloadable tutorial is ready! Hooray! It seems I am on a roll. I had been struggling for months trying to get one done then I get two finished and a third written in one week.

This tutorial is for making paper jewellery components that I call Paper Pebbles. You can turn them into pendants, earrings, rings or brooches. You can even add them to scrapbook pages or cards if you want. I love the feel of them in my fingers. They are rounded and smooth - just like a pebble found on the beach - which is why I call them paper pebbles.


Here is a photo of some of the things I have made with the pebbles. They are very versatile, addictive to make and use watercolour paper, glue and some sanding skills. I hope they will inspire some people to create something a little different.


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tutorials!

I have started selling downloadable tutorials on Etsy! Yes, I have caught my fear by the tail, given it a shake and told it I was going to give this a go. Having been asked a couple of times in recent months to write tutorials for publications. So I thought I had nothing to loose in selling digital downloads of some of my paper jewellery ideas. I really hope people enjoy them. Personally, I have spent a small fortune on digital downloads for a variety of crafts and always enjoy learning new things from them. I would love to think that people are inspired by what I show them - and that I show them in a clear manner that makes it easy for them to learn.

The first digital download is for a Paper Bracelet Cuff. It is simple and uses watercolour paper, glue and some pretty papers to make a lightweight but sturdy and interesting item of jewellery.


My next download, which I hope will be up very soon (but I will keep you up to date here about that), is for paper jewellery components I call Paper Pebbles. After that I have another tutorial in my head. I just have to sit down and write it out. Who knows where this will go but I have enjoyed producing them. I hope people will enjoy playing with them just as much.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Buttons and beads

I've been re-inspired by buttons this week. Back in 2011 I first got into making thread wrapped buttons and use them often in many of my crafts. This week I bought a bunch of perle cotton thread in size 8. They are fabulous for wrapping buttons - fine and silky, they give a lovely finish. I even made some Scottish saltire buttons.



I also bought a lovely little downloadable tutorial for quilted beads from Victoria Gertenbach earlier this year and have been making up a few beads. Although she uses quilting fabric and batting to make her beads I have made most of mine using wool felt. They are so simple to make using offcuts of fabric, you can decorate them in numerous ways and use them in all kinds of craft. You can never have too many beads. But then I'm a beadaholic and I would say that.


Friday, 12 September 2014

A load of tat

I started tatting a couple of years ago but I have to admit I've given up on it a bit. Well, maybe not 'given up'. It just got pushed into the background by the ever growing list of new creative ideas.

However, before tatting disappeared into the abyss of unfinished crafts I did try making some of my own tatting shuttles. If you do a search for tatting shuttles you will find a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. Each tatter has his or her preferred brand or style. My first shuttle was a Pony brand tatting shuttle with a little hook on the end to help you unpick stitches. I used it to start with and it was great. No complaints from me. It did the job. THEN – I needed an extra shuttle to progress.

 
Tatting shuttles are pretty cheap but I bought mine online, had no local supplier and only had one proper shuttle. I wanted one as soon as I found out about two shuttle tatting. So I had a think, did an online search, saw some pictures and tried making a few of my own. They are made from paper and decorated using paper painted in acrylics. Some of the papers were made using the Gelli Plate (Yay, Gelli Plate to the rescue again!). I added some acrylic around the edges then coated them with a couple of coats of polyurethane varnish. 



I can't say I have a preference over the styles. They all did their job. I tweaked a few of the designs I'd seen online to keep the thread more secure but other than that they work fine. Not to mention they are pretty and unusual – and pretty unusual. Now I just have to get back into tatting. I've certainly got plenty of shuttles to play with these days.


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Westie

I was recently asked to draw a gorgeous little west highland white terrier in graphite. It was quite a challenge as I have mainly drawn short haired dogs before. This was just what I needed to stretch my growing pencil skills.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Simple silk bracelet tutorial

I am not a big jewellery wearer. I find I feel restricted and almost claustrophobic wearing jewellery of any kind. However, I have recently been making very simple silk bracelets that I love. They are made from my fine silk cords and really simple to make. Here's how.



What you will need:
Silk cord (Mine is 1mm thick)
Crimps (I used 2mm)
Jump rings (small)
Clasp (I used a lobster clasp)
Sewing thread
Scissors
Measuring tape or ruler
Crimper pliers
Two pairs ordinary pliers (for opening jump rings)

Method:
1. Measure your wrist to find out how long you want the bracelet to be. My wrist is 6.5 inches (16cm) around at the narrowest point but I want the bracelet to be a bit looser so I will make the bracelet roughly 7.5 inches (19cm) in length.

2. Take a length of sewing thread and fold it in half. Put the end of the silk cord in the loop of the thread pulling it through about half an inch (1cm). In a moment this will form the bracelet's first looped end.


3. Pull the two ends of the sewing thread through a crimp and pull the crimp down so that it goes over the silk cord to form a small loop (as in the photo above). Use your crimper piers to squeeze the crimp closed and catch both sides of the silk cord securely. Remove the sewing thread and trim the knot off of short end of the silk cord to neaten it.



4. Measure the silk cord from the end of the loop you just made to the measurement you decided on in step 1. In my case this was 7.5 inches. Using the length of thread, lay it under the silk cord at the 7.5 inch point and double it over, trapping the silk cord in the loop as in step 2.


5. Put a crimp over the two ends of thread (just like you did in step 3) and pull the crimp over the loop of silk cord. Check your measurement again - just to make sure your bracelet is the right length - then use your crimper pliers to squeeze the crimp closed, just like before.


6. Now you have a length of silk cord with two loops. Take a jump ring, open it and slip it onto one loop. Repeat with the other loop but add the clasp to the second jump ring too.



7. Fasten it on and wear a simple and original piece of jewellery that is ideal for the summer - or autumn, winter or spring. Make lots more and layer them up.

You can also add little charms to the jump rings, add a short length of chain to a shorter piece of silk cord or make an extra long one and wrap it your wrist around twice for variation.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Celebrate!

I had my best day's painting in almost two years yesterday. Five sketches in one afternoon. Hooray! I am hoping this is me getting back to regular painting but I guess only time will tell.


Needless to say they are now up on Etsy.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Silk cords - part 2

A quick update on the silk cords I have on Etsy. I now have more handmade silk cords in my store. I love making them. I just can't stop. There are three new colour combinations and seven self coloured ones in apple green, aqua, cream, pink, purple, teal and wine. Once my new order of black silk arrives I will be adding good old classic black cords too.










I have a little blog tutorial coming up soon on how to make simple silk bracelets using these cords too.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Silk cord

I have recently been adding silk cords to my Etsy store. I got into cord making having watched Gina B-Silkworks' Making Braids and Cords DVD. Cords are simple to make and so useful. You can make everything from jewellery, decorate packaging with it, even make dog leads using the same techniques. Anyway, I thought silk cords were a great accessory to go with paper beads – fine, soft, silky, thin enough to go through a 2mm hole and a little classier than an acrylic, mass produced cord or tiger tail. So far the cords I have listed come in colours that complement one another. All have names that sound delicious too – Blackcurrant Jelly (purples), Gooseberry Pie (greens) and Banana Split (yellows) to name but three. Mmmm, yummy!




To make a simple necklace using some of this cord (like the Eiffel Tower necklace in the photo below) just use a length of silk cord and a paper bead. Make sure the cord is long enough to go over your head with plenty of room to allow for tying a couple of knots. Fold the cord in half and tie a knot to join the two loose ends, thread a paper bead on the other end and tie another knot above the bead. Hey presto! A simple necklace.