Monday, 30 January 2012

Not with a bang...

I love poetry and literature!  Some lines have stuck with me since high school.  Not because I had to learn them but because they "spoke" to something within me.  I suppose that's one of the signs of a good poet...and good poetry.  The title of this Blog entry is part of a line from T. S. Elliot's "The Hollow Men".  The full line is: "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper."

That could describe my first workshop/party, too.  It ended, not with a "bang" but a "whimper".  I was so excited.  I wasn't being greedy, hoping for huge orders, really.  I was hoping that the hostess would get at least a qualifying workshop so that she would get the hostess rewards.  So, as we went into the weekend we had 10 people attending, including the hostess.  Then late Saturday I had a phone cancellation.  Okay, 9 is still a healthy number.  And so Sunday came and with it, the workshop/party.  By 1:10 everyone was there minus two.  By 1:20 the hostess phoned the missing person (who was bringing a friend) and discovered that she was ill.  So that took away two people since the guest wasn't comfortable coming without her friend.  Fair enough.

That brought us down to 7 attending, including the hostess.  Still not the worst number of attendees.  And they were really enthusiastic.  Loved the make-and-takes!  Loved the snacks the hostess served!  There were laughs and giggles...everyone had a good time.

Then came the orders...or lack thereof.  Three people said they had enjoyed themselves and this really wasn't their thing and "good-bye...thanks for everything".  That left three people, plus the hostess.  Those three people did order, thank goodness for the hostess.  In the end, the hostess made an order large enough to bring the workshop/party up to the "rewards" level.  I was disappointed for her but she said it had been a great party and she would throw one again in a while.

Okay, maybe it's because I am still recovering from the mother of all colds and convalescence is bringing my spirits down, but I feel deflated.  I suppose this happens to all Demonstrators and they go on.  Right now I am feeling low, wondering when my next party or card club or anything might happen.  I've been advertising online on Kijiji, on the Buy-and-Sells, on Facebook.  I even put specially printed notes in all the mini-catalogues which read: "Say Yes! If you post a party with me before I ask at the end of this party, I will give you a $10 gift certificate for Stampin Up items to use at your party."  There were no takers and the silence when I asked about a possible workshop was profound.

So my party ended with a "whimper" in my mind.  Yes, I got through it.  Yes, I had compliments on the make-and-takes.  Yes, we had fun.  But it really didn't end with a "bang"...and I wanted one.

My next party is going to have a "bang"!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Making It My Way

Inspiration comes in many ways.  I've made a card, gone to bed, and just as I was drifting off to sleep, thought of a better way to finish it up.  Sometimes I'm lucky and I remember...sometimes, well, you know how it is.  This time I was lucky and remembered my inspiration after I woke up this morning.  And wouldn't you know it, the card is better as a result.

I had finished this card last night using some of the Sale-a-bration Everyday Enchantment designer paper with the Pool Party cardstock but I had stamped the little crown and key on Very Vanilla in Crumb Cake.  Then I cut them out closely and adhered them to the card with skinny bits of Dimensionals.  It looked okay but not inspiring.  Then as I drifted off I thought about stamping them with VersaMark, embossing them in gold, and then cutting them out with that new little Embosslits folder, Fashionable Hearts.  Well, it looks so much better and now I'm happy with the card.

I've seen cards made in shapes, rather than the usual square or rectangle and have admired them.  When I saw a couple posted using the largest of the new framelits Hearts Collection, I was inspired to try my hand at it and give it my own twist.

The only real pop of colour in this card is the Calypso Coral.  Otherwise I've just used Basic Black cardstock, Very Vanilla cardstock, and, of  course, the silver Glimmer paper.  I decided that I didn't like the flat corner where the front and back of the card joined, so I added some flowers made using the Boho Blossoms punch, centred with a Basic Black Glimmer brad.  The smaller hearts were punched out with the Fashionable Hearts embosslits folder.

I don't know about you, but I require caffeine in the morning.  It's my 'kick-start" to the day...the reason my eyes stay open.  When I saw the Morning Cup stamp set, I was inspired: I knew it had been made for me.  Of course I had to buy the Stampin Around Wheel, Take a Sip too.  Today I finally used the set using Basic Black cardstock, Whisper White cardstock and some of that lovely Twitterpated Designer Paper from the new Occasions Mini-Catalogue.  The only "pops" of colour in the entire card are the hearts, two coloured with the Real Red Stampin Write marker and one cut out of the Real Red cardstock.

I also added some of the Basic Black Scallop Dots Ribbon.  I love the simplicity.  Just looking at the card reminds me that I need another cup of coffee. ;)

Wherever you get your inspiration, go with the flow.  There's nothing more satisfying than enjoying your final creation.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Sale-a-bration Begins!

Wonderful news: today Sale-a-bration begins.  With every $60 spent, a customer "wins" a free "prize" from the Sale-a-bration brochure.  There are some great stamps, unavailable for sale.  Some wonderful paper that I've already enjoyed using.  Some cute new brads as well as some lovely ribbon.  All this is available from January 24th until March 31st.

One item that I thought was absolutely perfect for my house was the Home Sweet Home Decor Elements.  I chose to get mine in Chocolate.  Here is what I did with it...

This is absolutely stunning, with a faux quilt of Designer Series Paper behind the "Home Sweet Home".  As nice as it looks in the picture, I assure you that it looks even better in person.  The Designer Series Paper looks like real fabric, too.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Countdown Begins!

Oh my!  We're only days away now from my first Workshop and the excitement is mounting.  I've checked my supplies to make sure I have enough for everyone.  I've put aside extra in case someone brings a friend at the last minute.  I've made an equipment list so I don't wind up at the Hostess's house lacking something crucial.  I think I'm ready...

The big make-and-take which I'm having everyone do at this, my very first Workshop, is a little Tealight Birdhouse.  Oh, yes, a lot of people have made the birdhouse, several with a tealight.  Each Demonstrator seems to put her own "take" on it and this time I'm putting my own on it.  It's perfect for either placing on a little table or hanging from a Christmas tree (or, as my daughter pointed out, from a large indoor plant year-round).

I think it's adorable!  It's hard to tell, but the main body of the birdhouse is actually Early Expresso textured cardstock, cut with the Mini Milk Carton Bigz L Die.  The roof is made with Soft Suede cardstock, cut with one of my favourite dies, the Top Note.  Love that die!  I've cut the windows with the smallest of the new framelits Hearts Collection dies and lined them with vellum paper (the yellow tint is simply the light from the tealight inside).  The cute little bluebird in front is punched with the ever-popular Bird Builder Punch.  

I'm hoping that I won't have too many people struggling with this project.  Some of the people attending are veteran stampers and will be up to the task and the others...well, there will be lots of hands to help. :)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

A Sweet Gift!

Of course my thoughts constantly stray to my upcoming very first workshop on the 29th.  I'm equal parts nervous and excited.  The excitement is self-explanatory but the nervousness not so much.  I've been a teacher in front of a room of high school students.  I've given knitting classes.  I've spoken before groups on one topic or another.  What makes me nervous about holding my first workshop with all that experience under my belt?  Well, you may laugh...

I'm new to this stamping, card-making, techniques thing.  My head is almost ready to explode with all the new data I've stuffed into it during the past months and I've got bulging files on my computer filled with sample cards (which I've borrowed for ideas...sorry), with various techniques and with all sorts of other how-tos and excellent suggestions.  I'm a fast learner and I've picked up a lot but...the thought that creeps into my mind just before I fall asleep these nights is "what if most of the people attending the workshop know more than I do?" 

I'm not saying that I have to know more than anyone in the world.  I'm just thinking that having a novice demonstrator who is fumbling around with disjointed jargon and is obviously not that knowledgeable might be a turn-off for some people.

Okay, negative thoughts must be suppressed.  This is not healthy and I have to think positive thoughts to get through the next eight days.

On a positive note, I've put together a little door-prize for the draw which I'll hold towards the end of my workshop.  It's going to be a "sweet" gift in the full sense of the word.

I used that really cute Mini Milk Carton Bigz L die on Real Red cardstock.  Then I used my jumbo roller with the I {Love} Love wheel attached and Very Vanilla craft ink in the cartridge.  It almost looks white against the red.  Then I assembled the Mini Milk Carton using that nice, strong Sticky Strip.  Finished it up with a few hearts in the Silver Glimmer paper, a Whisper White ribbon and a sentiment on top of that, stamped in Real Red classic ink with the {V} is for Valentine from the Occasions Alphabet.  And as if this isn't sweet enough, I filled it up to the brim with jelly beans...the only non-Stampin' Up item.

This was so much fun to put together.  I may make a few to give to family on Valentine's Day. :)

Friday, 20 January 2012

Nibbling Away at the Problems...

I have to take a moment to thank someone who has helped me immeasurably in getting this Blog to work for me: Sherrill Graff, the originator of the Late Night Stampers on the Stampin' Connection.  I don't know how she does it! With everything going on in her own life, she manages to come to the rescue of newbies like me every day and gives us all some pretty awesome advice.

With Sherrill's help and some late-night nibbling away at the problems, I've come a long way.  I can't believe I've got links up on this Blog and have even managed to get some followers.  Wow!  Life is good!

Of course I always have my "Grand Opening" Workshop on January 29th in mind.  I've made a Thank-you card for the Hostess using some of the items from the new Occasions mini-catalogue, some from the Sale-a-Bration event (which will be called SAB from now on)  that's coming up, beginning on January 24th and, of course, some of the old favourites. 

The primary cardstock is Marina Mist while the pretty accent layer is Everyday Enchantment Designer Series Paper from the SAB.  Then I added a splash of bright red with Real Red cardstock (embossed with one of the new Adorning Accents textured impressions folders and cut with one of the new Adorning Accents edgelit dies, both from the new Occasions mini-catalogue).  The pocket "envelope" is made from Soft Suede cardstock cut with one of my favourites, the Top Note Bigz die.  I stamped it with one of the stamps from the Outlined Occasions stamp set, also from the SAB, using black Craft ink.  Then I used some of that wonderful new Vanilla embossing powder on it.  The scent is mouth-watering!  I decided to "bling" it up a bit by colouring in the "Thanks" with the red Dazzling Details.  The little flower is cut from the red Glimmer paper.  Finally I finished it up with two pieces of cardstock cut with the Curly Label Punch, one in Marina Mist and one in Whisper White.  Using my Marina Mist and Real Red Stampin' Write markers as ink, I stamped the Whisper White with a sentiment from the Sprinkled Expressions stamp set, also from SAB.  The touch of frivolous Lucky Limeade ribbon is from the SAB Everyday Enchantment Ribbon and Brad Pack.

I had lots of fun making the card and hope the Hostess loves it, too.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Baby Steps...

I'm beginning to consider this delay in having my first workshop as a gift of time.  In the past few days I've discovered so many new sites, so many new Stampin Up Demonstrators, so much information, that I realize I really was not as prepared for my first workshop as I could have been.  The beauty of this delay is that I can and will be more prepared. 

I am going to take some of the suggestions that I've read on other sites to heart.  I am preparing a list of classes and drop-ins that I will be offering.  I plan to give this list to everyone that is attending the workshop and will also tell them that anyone who brings a friend to one of these classes will only have to pay half the price of the class.  This has worked for other Demonstrators and should help me to get more of a customer base. 

I also plan to get more cards prepared as samples of my "work" as well as a couple of scrapbooking spreads to show how suitable the Stampin Up papers and supplies are for doing scrapbooking.  I know there are a lot of scrapbookers in the area. 

I am also working to get my crafts room organized.  There is still some de-cluttering left to do and some more set-up.  The room is thankfully large enough to hold a table long enough for eight people to work around.  I am becoming more comfortable with My Digital Studio and plan to offer classes in hybrid card making, scrapbooking, and other MDS  functions.  I've already set up a table in the room for working with the Big Shot and on the other side of the room, plan to have my desk so that I can use my laptop and printer for demonstrations as well.  Eventually I hope to have a small flatscreen TV on the wall so that I can demonstrate My Digital Studio more effectively.

The mounted TV will also make it possible to set up a video camera to project more detailed demonstrations of techniques onto the screen for everyone to see them more clearly.

Some of my plans won't be in place before the coming up workshop on January 29th, of course, but it's exciting making the plans and seeing how I can improve my fledgling business.

My next project will be to get some samples uploaded to this Blogsite.  Baby steps...I'm getting there, one baby step at a time.

Have a wonderful day! :)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

2012 - A New Beginning!

Well, this is a first: publishing my own Blog.  I'm still stumbling through it so I trust that anyone coming across my ramblings will have patience.  In time this could become quite a nice place to visit.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I went to a Stampin Up workshop at a friend's house and my life changed radically.  I hadn't thought much about making cards.  I loved scrapbooking, but cards held no appeal.  Until that red-letter day in the summer of 2011 when suddenly cardmaking became fun.  Actually it became more of an addiction...albeit a good addiction, so please, no interventions. ;)

That single workshop led to my becoming a member of a card-making "club" which met once a month to make a couple of cards and to place an order (we set a minimum limit of $25).  Well, that led to my beginning to seriously consider becoming a Stampin Up Independent Demonstrator myself.  If nothing else, I certainly had enough enthusiasm. 

On November 11th, 2011 I joined the ranks of Stampin Up Independent Demonstrators and began setting up my crafts room.  I assessed my products (those that I had ordered during card-club meetings plus those that I had received with my Stampin Up New Demonstrator's package).  I really couldn't see how I could possibly hold a workshop of my own with the supplies on hand and so I put in a nice, big order.  Luckily I had made room in my crafts room as well as adding lots of storage room because the products in those two boxes had to go somewhere.

By this time it was getting uncomfortably close to Christmas and even if I had the time, none of my friends were interested in having a Stampin Up workshop.  About that time I received a copy of the new mini-catalogue from which I could pre-order the new products which would be available to the public as of January 4th, 2012.  Call it an early Christmas present, but you know I had to make a pre-order so that I could be current when I finally had my first workshop.  Luckily there was still room to store the products in the two boxes that arrived the day before Christmas Eve.

Well, over the Christmas holidays a friend booked a workshop with me for January 15th, 2012.  Was I excited?  Just a smidge.  I was determined this would be the grand-opening workshop to blow all other grand-opening workshops out of the water.  I put together a special 3-D birdhouse that could be ornamental or hung in a Christmas tree (for next Christmas--it's never too early, right?)  With one of those battery-operated tea-lights flickering inside and vellum on the little "heart" windows, that birdhouse was way beyond cute and well into fantastic.  The other make-and-take for that first workshop would be a great Valentine's card with a candy-filled sweet treat cup in the centre of a hot-air balloon. 

Well, today is January 15th.  This morning my hostess phoned and in a thready voice apologized profusely, telling me that she had been sick as a dog all night long and ached everywhere.  Of course the workshop had to be cancelled.  That went without saying.  Everyone was disappointed but understanding and now the workshop is scheduled for January 29th. 

The good thing about all this is that I have had a trial run.  I am really well organized and have two awesome make-and-takes for the absolutely best-in-the-world workshop that I will have on January 29th.  Things could be worse. :)

And now I'm actually introducing a Blog of my own.  Wow!  Maybe people will even read it.