Origami mobile tutorial: cranes garland

As promised, here is a new tutorial.

I’ll show you how to make this kind of pretty origami vertical garland.

Origami is a nice and relaxing activity that I recommend to everyone. There is something peaceful about folding paper with care that is similar to threading beads or knitting: I guess it has to do with the repetition of simple movements.

I make garlands with cranes, the most common folding, but of course there are plenty of other shapes to choose from.

 

Ingredients

You will need: 

  • 5 sheets of origami paper (4 x 4 in.)
  • 28 in. of stringing wire or any resistant thread
  • 16 bicone Swarovski crystals (see below)
  • 17 crimp beads
  • 1 small metal bead (2 mm)
  • 1 larger bead (around 0.5 in.) or a tassle
  • 1 head pin
  • cutting pliers, flat-nose pliers and round-nose pliers

origami garland tutorial

I selected four types of Swarovski bicone crystals, shown above:

  • 5 light brown crystals to go under the cranes as the crimp beads would be too small to hold them in place (4 mm)
  • 5 very small light browns crystals to go on top of the cranes (2 mm)
  • 4 black crystals to go in-between the cranes (4 mm)
  • 2 yellow crystals to go on the very top and the very bottom of the garland (4 mm)

Feel free to change colours and types of beads for your garland!

 

Step 1 : the cranes

For this tutorial, I chose paper in sunny yellow tones. Some are plain and some have patterns; I like mixing the two.

origami garland tutorial

First things first, let’s fold! Here is how to fold a crane. We will need 5 of them.

origami garland tutorial

Two down, three to go. I enjoy listening to music or a podcast while keeping my hands busy.

Voilà! All five cranes are done.

Prick each crane’s back with a needle so you can thread the wire through it later. There is no need to make a hole on their bellies as the folding already leaves a space there.

 

Step 2: the top loop

First, we will make the loop from which to hang the garland. Slide a crimp bead on the wire and make a loop by threading the wire back through the bead, as shown in the picture below. Leave a bit of a wire tail so the bead has a good hold, but don’t make it too long.

Flatten the bead using the flat-nose pliers.

origami garland tutorial

Thread a yellow crystal and slide it through the wire tail to hide it. If the tail is too long, you can cut it. Then thread another crimp bead and flatten it so the crystal holds into place.

Your garland’s top loop is now ready!

Step 3: beading

Now thread the cranes and their accompanying beads, in order: one small brown crystal, one crane, one regular-size brown crystal, and lastly one crimp bead.

I don’t put a crimp bead on top of the crane: it’s not necessary and the result looks better that way.

Measure approximately 2 inches (5 cm) from the yellow crystal to the small brown crystal on top of the crane. Then flatten the crimp bead.

origami garland tutorial

For this manipulation, I find it easier to hang the garland on a nail and work vertically. Gravity helps measuring: push the beads and crane high then let them slowly come down until they are where you want them to be. Pinch the wire just below the crimp bead to hold it in place then flatten it.

origami garland tutorial

When your first crane is up, thread a crimp bead at a 1.5 in. distance of the previous one, and flatten it. Thread a black crystal and another crimp bead, flatten it. Next will be another crane like the first one, then another black crystal, then a crane, etc. Rinse and repeat five times, finish with the last crane. Here is a breakdown:

origami mobile sketch

Step 4: the bottom loop

Same concept as the top one.

Thread and flatten a bead at a 2 in. distance of the previous one. Thread a yellow crystal and another crimp bead. Using your round-nose pliers, make a smaller loop that goes back through the crimp bead and crystal. Cut the excessive wire if necessary so the loop is small, and flatten the bead.

origami mobile

The bottom loop is now ready.

 

Step 5: the weighted end

You now have a large bead, a small metal bead and a head pin left. I like teardrop-shaped beads to end the garlands, but a tassle look very nice too. Just be careful it weights enough so that the stringing wire is straightened when hanging.

Set the beads on the pin.

Cut the excessive part of the pin. I leave about a finger’s width, as shown in the picture.

Using the round-nose pliers, make a loop; don’t close it yet.

Hitch this open loop with the garland’s bottom one then close it using the flat-nose pliers.

Congratulations, the garland is now done! You can hang it anywhere you like. It looks lovely either on a wall or on the side of a mirror, door or window. The cranes can spin freely on the wire so they interact nicely with the wind.

Origami mobile

origami mobile

There can be many variations on this theme: you can hook several garlands on a stick and make it a wide wall decoration. Or hook them on a circular hoop to make an origami mobile to hang above a crib. The limit is your imagination… so no limit at all.

Happy folding!

 

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Setting up an Esty shop — part 1

Today, I will tell the tale behind the creation of my Etsy shop. It’s actually an entirely boring story, but I’m doing it in hopes of being useful to people who would like to try but are still looking for advice.

I’ll cut the post into several chapter because there is a lot to say it would be hard to ingest in one go. Enjoy!


Why sell online?

This question seems nowadays quite superfluous. Even if you own a real-life shop, providing online access to your products is essential.

My reasons for choosing to sell online only were simple: I had neither the time nor the means for a physical shop. It isn’t my ambition yet to make a living off it. I just had buttloads of jewellery I had made and needed to do something with.

etsy shop

Seriously. 

 

Which platform?

I looked around the selling websites I knew: Amazon, A little market, Etsy, even Leboncoin (French website, the name ‘le bon coin’ roughly translates to ‘the good spot’). Leboncoin is free, but oriented towards second-hand rather than creation. Among the others, Etsy seemed the cheapest in terms of commission and I liked its general look and ergonomics better.

The only downside is that Etsy isn’t very known in France, where I live. People usually have heard about A little market (which has been bought by Etsy a few years back, incidentally) and barely know that independent businesses sell on Amazon. Etsy is mostly an American website. But the internet being the beautiful world wide web that is it, I thought it should not matter that much.

 

Understanding Etsy

My first and main advice is: take the time to read as much advice as you can!

Etsy is quite great for this. A full ‘seller handbook’ is available in several languages, alongside forums and FAQs. It’s tedious and frustrating at first because what the hell is SEO and five pictures that’s a lot and I have no idea how to describe these blue earrings other than they’re blue and they’re earrings, but it’s worth it. You will have a lot of competition, from all around the world. It makes a real difference to master these tricks.

I’m assuming you have already found your brand’s identity and you are done with the general shop setup (banner, about section, item categories, etc.). Now you need to post good listings.

 

The main tricks

If I had to pick among all the advice on how to make great listings and get found, I would go with these three. They are not enough, of course, but I think they are the first and most important to remember.

  • Use all five photos, and make them beautiful

The quality of your pictures is essential. Mess them up and you’ll never stand a chance. I have already made a tutorial about this, so I won’t dwell on it again.

You might feel like taking five pictures of the same item is useless, that two or three are enough. But when I browse Etsy as a client, I hate it when I don’t get many pictures or when there are just three of the same. I can’t touch or try on the item before I buy it; I damn well want to be sure they look nice.

etsy-setup1

Usually, I go with this:

  1. a good-looking picture, from a tilted angle, inviting to see more;
  2. a plain, full-frontal one from above, to show everything;
  3. for earrings, one where they hang from a glass, to show how they dangle; for necklaces and bracelets, I simply go for a different angle;
  4. one showing the jewel worn by me (smile!) so a customer can picture it on them;
  5. one either from yet another angle, or a close-up to show the stones.

etsy-setup2

 

  • Use all the characters available

This goes for the title of the listing and for the tags. It took me a while to be comfortable with.

This is where you meet the dreaded SEO: Search Engine Optimization. Search engines (either Etsy’s, Google’s or any other) all work the same. The result they will lead you to is the one that works with them. Etsy has a lot of helpful articles about this. For the moment, I mostly pay attention to tags, listing titles and links.

etsy shop

I was afraid a long title with keywords thrown in would look foolish, or that my tags wouldn’t be truthful enough. In reality, nobody cares. We never read the full titles anyway, nor the tags. If you’re lucky, your clients will read your item description. I’ve had friends advising me to mention that I was willing to sell separately the items from a set, or that my earring hooks were nickel-free. Sure, thanks, oh and what do to know, it’s already written right under your nose.

Optimisation is not for customers but for sellers. Search engines are the one who will ‘read’ those tags.

Using all the available characters is the smart choice: whatever option is available to help your product get found, you should use it. The more chances you give your product, the better.

           Examples

Here are the words I very often add either in tags or in titles : handmade jewelry (with American spelling, more likely to get a hit), boho chic, bohemian jewelry/necklace/earrings/bracelet (boho is very fashionable these days and I find it fits quite a lot of styles), statement jewelry/necklace/etc., and whenever it fits, ethnic jewelry/necklace/etc. Variations on ethnic and boho are the most frequent search keywords I see in my stats. Fashion trends… Gift for her is a good one when I’m out of ideas, and I also put my shop’s name in a few of my listings.

As it helps to sort things out, I gave a name to all of my products. I chose women’s names, more or less old-school because I find it fun and I have observed that those names come up in my shop search tags statistics quite regularly. It’s a simple and efficient way for the customer to remember the product and come back to it later if they couldn’t favourite it at first.

 

  • Add links to your other items in your listings

This one has honestly made a noticeable difference to me. Search engines favour pages that many links lead to. In all my listings, I add a section ‘You might also like’ and link to two or three other items that have, for example, the same stones or a similar style.

This is a feature you see everywhere now: website analyse your browsing and search tags and bring you personalised advertising. I find it mildly scary, to be honest. This is my non-invasive version of it.

Plus it makes me think about what makes some of my items similar which helps finding new tags.


Get ready for for part II!

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Asymmetrical necklace tutorial – Séraphine

Today, I will show you how to make “Séraphine”, a lovely model of asymmetrical necklace. It takes a bit of calculation, trial and error when ’re improvising it, but once you’ve got the measures down, it’s fairly easy to make.

You will need: 

asymmetrical necklace DIY

  • 4 beads  of your choice (12 mm)
  • 8 small beads (2 mm) [optional]
  • 4 pins (3 eye pins, 1 head pin — or 4 head pins)
  • 7 jump rings (5 mm)
  • Around 70 cm of chain (27.5 in.)
  • 1 clasp
  • 1 extension chain [optional]
  • Flat nose pliers, round nose pliers, and cutting pliers.

asymmetrical necklace DIY

Set 3 of the 4 beads on the pins and make an eye loop at each end using your round-nose pliers. For the 4th bead, choose a head pin and make only one eye loop on top. It will be the ‘hanging’ bead. I chose this pattern: 1 small bead, 1 large, 1 small. But you can change it as you like, of course.

Tip : you don’t ever need to buy eye pins. Simply buy head pins and cut the head off to make the eye loop yourself. It will save you money and time!

asymmetrical necklace DIY

Connect these 4 beaded pins with jump rings, putting the one with a head pin at the bottom, but don’t close the rings yet.

Now, cut 5 strands of chain, following the measures below (in centimeters) — here is the conversion:

16 cm = 6.3 in. / 14 cm = 5.5 in. / 13,5 cm = 5.3 in. / 7 cm = 2.7 in.

asymmetrical necklace DIY

Attach the 3 strands of chain (13,5, 14 and 16 cm) to the rings as shown, starting from the bottom, and close them. To the 4th ring, attach the second 16 cm chain strand and close the ring. At the other end, attach the clasp with another ring.

 

Take the first 3 strands of chain and attach them at the end, all together, to another ring. Add to this the last 7 cm chain strand and close the ring. Add at the end the clasp ring and extension chain.

Voilà !

asymmetrical necklace

asymmetrical necklace

You are now the proud maker of a very elegant and original necklace. In my experience, it is usually quite successful in social situations; I always get compliments.

Have fun!

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How to become professional (in France)

This article is not yet translated into English as it only concerns French citizens. I will translate it eventually, but it will take me some time. Enjoy this nice picture of Zouina, my dad’s lab, in the meantime:

zouina

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Acetone transfer – DIY

Today, a quick tutorial!

If you ever need to draw something on a piece of fabric or any other material you can’t print on, but you don’t feel confident enough to draw it freehand, this article is for you. I’ll show you how to easily ‘print’ a template to help.

To decorate our LARP shop, B. and I made a shop sign. At first, we considered painting on a wood panel, but then transportation would be less convenient than fabric. B. had pieces of leather lying around, which were perfect.

We had designed together the shop’s logo.

Acetone-logo1

The drop of ink is also a bead! Clever, isn’t it? I know, technically, bijoux et tattoos isn’t correct: tattoo is tatouage in French. But it rhymed, so we said ‘screw it’.

Because we hadn’t much time and our leather piece wasn’t very large, we altered the logo to make it more simple and fit a rectangular shape.

acetone-logo2b

Now, drawing it directly would have been risky: freehand lettering is really not easy and if you make a mistake, you have no Ctrl-Z…

B. being a professional engraver, she gave me this great trick: acetone transfer.

Acetone transfer

You will need:

  • a bottle of acetone;
  • a clean rag;
  • your image reversed printed with a laser printer on a sheet of paper;
  • the medium on which you want your image transferred.

Acetone transfer

Say this is your image. You’ll need to reverse it with any photo editor (horizontally only, like a mirror would do). This seems obvious, but it’s actually very easily forgotten. We are going to transfer the printer’s ink onto the leather. That means the ink will have to be in direct contact with the leather, therefore the words have to be reversed to appear right afterwards.

Acetone transfer

OK, it’s good now, let’s print it (on paper)!

It won’t work with an inkjet, only toner ink. The higher quality the printer, the better. We chose this method for several elements of decoration, using two different printers. The transfer was much, much easier with a professional printer than a smaller, family one.

Acetone is not good to inhale; be sure you work outside or in a well ventilated place. I wore a mask, too.

Acetone transfer

Once ready, place the sheet on the leather, with the inked side down, so that the ink touches the leather. Lightly soak the rag with acetone and dab it on the sheet. Be careful not to shift the paper and mess up your drawing. Acetone evaporates very quickly, which is normal. The rag shouldn’t be too soaked, otherwise the paper will tear.

If your printer is not the best, you might have to dab then scratch the paper with something rigid (but not sharp) to help the ink come off the paper.

Once you’ve dabbed the whole drawing, you can remove the paper and, voilà! The toner ink has come off and is now ‘printed’ on the leather.

Acetone transfer

All you need to do now is leave it to dry and get rid of the acetone smell, then paint on top of the drawing. On leather, I used POSCA markers. A white marker covers the ink with no difficulty.

We also made smaller tags to decorate the shop. This is one of mine right after the transfer — this is one made with the non-professional printer. The transfer was harder yet the result perfectly sufficient:

acetone transfer

And after redrawing the lines with a black marker:

acetone transfer

This technique works on pretty much all materials: fabric, linocut or rubber, for example. As you can see, it’s easy and efficient.

Have fun!

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Taking jewellery pictures – Tutorial

In order to sell jewellery (or anything, for that matter) on the internet, it’s no secret that you need to take particular care of your pictures. An online shop works like a shop window, but the potential buyer can’t come in to touch or try on the items. Pictures are all they get, which can be frustrating as we all know they are not always trustworthy. Who hasn’t bought something online that looked amazing on the photo and then got sorely disappointed when they received it?

I try to always post pictures that bring out my creations while showing as many aspects of it as possible. I do retouch them, but only to enhance, never to cheat.

I’ve made a step-by-step of how I usually proceed. I hope this can be useful to new sellers that would stumble upon it.

 

Disclaimer

You should know I am lazy as hell. Also, as jewellery is a hobby, I refuse to invest too much in my shop. My way is therefore very much a ‘nevermind-that’ll-do’ way.

 

What kind of pictures should I take?

Fashion products are all about overexposed photos on a white background. Whatever you are trying to sell, the good thing about having an online shop is that you can create your own style.

Bear in mind that photography is a profession and that every customer is surrounded on a daily basis by big brands that know exactly what they are doing because selling is also a profession. Here, we have to focus their display on a personal, handmade, small business identity, but without looking amateur about it.

 

First, the material.

One cool thing about living in this day and age is that it’s not hard to get a decent camera. I use my smartphone. It’s 5 megapixel, which is plenty. Stores and advertising always make you worry that the resolution won’t be enough, and direct you towards overpriced 8 or 13 megapixel, but you won’t see any difference unless you print on a poster. Plus, Etsy recommends pictures 1000 pixel wide only, otherwise they’ll take too long to load (the internet customer has very little patience).

 

Then, the setting.

First and easy rule: you need light. Natural light is best, unless you own a photo studio.

jewellery pictures tutorial

For this tutorial, I’ll take ‘Morgane’ as an example. They are red Czech glass drop beads earrings with Swarovski crystals and silvertone caps. I’ll show a few tricks o get to the above picture’s quality.

 

Lighting

One important trick is to avoid lights that are too aggressively bright. Pointing a lamp directly on your item won’t make a good picture: it will be too contrasted, the shadows too pronounced and the colours will suffer.

Pictures0

This was taken with a desk lamp pointed directly at the earrings. Even after enhancing, it’s quite awful.

Pictures0bis

The yellowish tone is gloomy, the shadows are terribly dark and my beautiful red beads lean towards a weird pinkish wine red. I had a hard time taking the picture because my own shadow kept coming into the shot. This photo gives a general oppressing feeling that makes me want to get out of here, precisely what we wish to avoid.

 

DIY is cool

You can easily build a light box, it’s very simple and cheap: this tutorial is good, or this one if you prefer video.

You can also put white paper in front of the light source (tracing paper or baking paper work best in my experience) to diffuse the light and soften the shadows. Just be very careful: hot lamps lead to burning paper. Please don’t burn your house or yourself.

 

Or try the lazy way

The best option, and the most simple, is natural light. Usually homes have windows or, even better, a garden; use that. This is my set.

jewellery pictures tutorial

The surface on which I display my jewellery is a cardboard box lid put on a stool. I bought the box in a general store for something like 4 €. It’s large enough and has some kind of snake skin imprint that gives it a discreet charm. My white painted wall often shows in the pictures too. I don’t really like it but it’s neutral enough and I can’t afford to change it. Nevermind, that’ll do (I did warn you).

Pictures2

A white display stand is best in my opinion. White reflects the light best, it looks professional and the items come out great on it.

 

Taking the pictures

Etsy, the platform I use, allows you to post 5 pictures per item; you should definitely use them all. Try to vary the shot angles and positions of the item. It all depends on what you are selling, of course. Get creative! Or course, pay attention to framing and ban any blurry picture.

I take at least one frontal picture that shows everything, one to show the beads or stones’ colour, shape or veins up close, and one where I am wearing the jewellery. As I don’t like showing my face on the internet, I crop that picture to leave only the necessary part. The rest is up to my mood or the item itself. For earrings, I always take one picture of them hanging to a simple wine glass so the buyer can see how they fall.

[Update: I made a more detailed article about listings and Etsy shops!]

 

Enhancing

Now, I took a picture of Morgane. It doesn’t do the earrings justice yet. It’s dull, a bit lifeless, and the red beads are much better-looking than that in real life. So I will now retouch it a bit.

Pictures3

Any picture editing software will do for enhancing. I use Photoshop because I had professional use for a license once upon a time (it’s an old version I haven’t updated in years), but you really don’t need to spend that much. Gimp is an excellent freeware, but Paint on Windows or Preview on Mac OS X are enough too. Very little browsing is necessary to learn on any software the basic manipulations I’m about to describe, or their equivalent.

 

Levels (Ctrl or Cmd + L / Image >Adjustments > Levels…)

I won’t go into technical details because we don’t care and I’m no expert.

Levels are easy to understand: the graphic shows the levels of brightness and darkness of your image. The higher the level, the lighter the picture part. Fiddle with the little cursors and the picture gets lighter or darker. By all means, go lighter. Be careful not to ‘flatten’ the picture by removing too much dark tones : contrast is essential to keep.

jewellery pictures tutorial

Now that’s better, but not perfect.

 

Curves (Crtl or Cmd + M / Image > Adjustments > Curves…)

Same concept. You have a line over the light and dark tones that you can wiggle around as you like. Add brightness while keeping darkness to maintain contrast or even add some.

jewellery pictures tutorial

Now, that’s quite good!

 

Last corrections

If I messed up the framing, I’ll crop the picture to correct it (in the toolbox / shortcut: C). Sometimes, putting the item slightly not in the middle gives a great effect. That’s called the rule of thirds. Don’t use it too much though; we are showing a product to sell, not making art photography.

Then, I shrink the picture to 1000 pixels for posting on Etsy (Ctrl or Cmd + alt + I / Image > Image Size…) and voilà! Morgane at its best.

jewellery pictures tutorial

I hope this was useful!

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Jewellery making tutorial : Vivianne

Today, I’m trying to offer a mini-tutorial.

For the basic aspects (how to open and close rings, how to set a clasp…), there are already plenty of excellent tutorials online, so I’m only covering the specifics on this one (mostly the measurements).

Of course, being the uncomplicated person that I am, I had to try and draw it.

Jewellery tutorial

‘Vivianne’ is a jewellery set with matching earrings and necklace. I chose flat, not quite round Czech glass beads. They are a bright, translucent green with a slight turquoise blue shading. This particular colour goes very well with a dark chain.

I wanted something asymmetrical but simple. It took quite a few tests to find a satisfying combination.

 

Here is the final result:

Jewellery set Vivianne

(Click to see more pictures)

 

Material: 

Round-nose pliers

Flat-nose pliers

Cutting pliers

Around 45-50 cm chain (20 inches).

5 eye pins (40 mm)

1 head pin, for the pendant bead

1 lobster clasp

1 extension chain (60 mm)

Beads (20 mm)

11 jump rings (5 mm)

 

Enjoy!

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