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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Halloween in July: Working in clay

When we started this little self-imposed challenge: to create a whole collection in 1 month, we thought it would be a great way to stay on track here at the studio.

Well of course life always gets in the way but we don't want to bore everyone with those details. So we'll stilll continue to share with you our progress in creating a collection, but we'll have to extend it into August!

Now that our ideas are sketched out and color drawings are made we start to clear the work table and break out the blocks of clay and begin designing in clay. We really enjoy making the mini swirly ornaments, so we usually start with those first.

Here are a bunch of pumpkin heads that have just came out of the oven.

We make and create our own templates and stamps to keep some of the designs pieces consistent. A square block eraser is great to use for this. We create our own stamps for the eyes and mouth of the pumpkins.

We also make paper templates. Here is a sample of one of our templates for a haunted house ornament.

This template was used to create the frame for our ornament below:

we are always looking to try new things with every collection. Above, we are trying black clay along with the glow- in-the- dark clay.

We are hoping to finish up with the clay sculpting this weekend so we can get into the painting by the end of the week. Check back to see our progress!
~Lianne & Paul

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Halloween in July: Still sketching....

It's been over a week since our last post and there are 10 days left in July. Well from the looks of it we can tell you right now that it would take a miracle to complete our whole Halloween collection in 10 days!

Back in the day, (before kids!) we probably could pull it off. But we have faith! It still feels like we are ahead of the game and like we mentioned in our last post the ideas and sketches are the most important factor in any collection and sometimes you just can't rush through it.

We took this photo today of our work table, lots of things going on to create the perfect collection. The small sketch book (bottom right) is our idea/doodle book everything goes into this: thoughts, phrases, inspirations. We have tons of those sketches books swirling around the studio here. Then once we feel we have enough ideas to work from (or we just have to move on) we will go through the pages and redraw and fine tune them. Then we will rework them again on trace paper where we will also play with color. The big black portfolio under the sketch book and papers is where we keep all our finalized sketches so we can quickly reference past collections. Of course even with perfect sketches we still need to leave room for happy mistakes as we like to call them.

Have a great rest of the week.
~Lianne & Paul

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Halloween in July: Sketching a collection

We're sketching away, trying not to sweat too much during this New England heat wave that is upon us!

This step is by far is the most important in every great collection we create. We put all our energy (well, what's left when we're not running after two little ones all day) into coming up with new and spooky imagery.

Before we begin each collection we look back to last years collection to see which ones were popular so we can decide if we should re-issue any of them. We also look to see which designs could use a little tweaking and try to determine how many designs we want to focus on for this years collection.

Last year we had approximately 20 designs, which included our new mini designs as well as a few fall designs—which went over very well. If you saw our last post on promotion you know that we didn't get any of the free PR for our Halloween designs that we hope for but we did for Christmas so we need to start and create many more designs for this Christmas season meaning we are only going to create a few Halloween designs for this years collection.

We are going to issue 13 Halloween designs this year. Those would be broken down into 6 Halloween theme, 3 Fall images, 4 mini designs...of course we never know the exact amount until we really start fine tuning the designs but at least it gives us a starting point to make sure we have a nice well rounded collection that has something for everyone.

So how do we began? Over the years we have filled lots of sketchbooks. And with every start of a collection we have pages filled with doodles, ideas, patterns and color schemes. We'll go through and see if any designs have potential for the new collection. We also start by making a list of key words that represent the Holiday. In addition, the studio gets all decked out with our Holiday memorabilia to help us gets focused on Halloween or whatever holiday we are designing for, since we are usually designing off season.

Creating our Halloween collection is always fun because we can get a little twisted and have fun with our ideas but we still find the need to have most of the standard images and colors that represents All Hallows Eve like pumpkins, witches, & ghosts, so actually the real challenge is trying to create original designs while keeping the look and style of Swirly Designs.

Ok, back to the drawing table. We have to go create a spooktacular 2010 collection!
~Lianne & Paul

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Holiday Craft Show Schedule

We can't believe it's time for booking the upcoming Holiday craft shows again!
This is our first confirmed booking:
We will be at the 34th Annual Wellesley Marketplace again this year. We had a great time last year seeing all the variety of crafters showcasing their unique creations. We love seeing old friends at the show and meeting new ones.

This year it happens on Saturday November 20th 2010

Check out their website and mark your calendars and come visit us at the show, we'd love to see you again this Holiday season!
BOOTH #130 Upper Gym

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Halloween in July: Promoting and Marketing

OK, so here we are, July 6th and we are just now beginning the start of our 31 days of creating our Halloween collection - we are a little late!

To start things off, before we even get into the fun part of designing the collection we have to think of the marketing of a collection. Without promotion and marketing how do we reach new customers?

This always is the most challenging and stressful part because we really don't do any craft shows for Halloween. All the shows are for Christmas, since that is our biggest season. Even though Halloween is getting more popular, we only create a fraction of the ornaments for the Halloween season.

So to promote and market a new Halloween collection that actually isn't created until half way through the year is the tricky part. Over the years we have compiled a nice little following of people who had ordered some of our Christmas designs and signing up to be on our mailing list. We have approximately 800+ names on that list and of course we have a Facebook page and a twitter account. We are new to both Facebook and Twitter, so we feel we aren't using them to their full potential...yet!!

We've done a few ads over the years, which have been good. But the cost is high and selecting the right magazines to advertise in are tricky. So for this year we thought we would try another direction. We are pursuing some free advertising outlets and trying to get some free PR in all the halloween magazine they have been producing lately. We created these teaser jpegs and emailed them to the magazines editors along with an intro letter back in February.

The responses we got was......

.....not really what we expected, unfortunately. We got many changed positions and no longer with the company replies. We did get one reply telling us to contact them in June when they are working on the Halloween issue to only be told they are going to pass this time. Bummer!

So because we are already halfway through the year and all the Halloween and Fall issues are at already in production, we will now regroup and plan another approach for next years submissions.

Now knowing what exposure (or lack of ) for this collection, we now know how to determine how big or small this years collection be.
** Even though our Halloween collection didn't get the magazine attention this season, our Christmas designs have and will be featured in a few magazines this coming holiday! Stay tuned for more info on that!**

Our next post will be Research and Sketching and how we select new designs to become part of the new collection.

Stay cool!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy 4th of JULY..... 2011?

Happy 4th of JULY ! We thought we would share with you some of our new 4th of July designs that will be available for..... next 4th of July. We promise!

Since we missed this years deadline, all designs are on hold till next summer. But then we received this great looking 24" red goose feather tree in the mail last week we just had to jump into overdrive and finish these little guys before the fourth.

What do you think? How cool are these little patriotic guys?

Chloe approved! Happy 4th, enjoy the a weekend!
~Lianne & Paul

Creating a collection in 31 days!

Hello all. Summer is officially here and for us that means getting ready to start thinking of the upcoming holidays which will be here before we know it!

We thought we would try something a little different this month on our blog. We are dedicating the month of July to creating our new 2010 Halloween collection here at the studio and we wanted to take you along for the ride to give you a glimpse into what goes into making a Swirly Designs collection.

We'll share the ups and downs and try to give you daily (well mostly likely nightly since we are night owls) updates with goals and tasks that we need to complete in order to keep the collection on schedule while juggling everything else. So hopefully by the end of the month we will have a finished collection. We thought this idea could be interesting to you our readers, because we know we really enjoy reading other crafters/artists blogs that share their trials and tribulations behind the work they create.

So become a follower to our blog and keep checking in on us to see if we stay on track and feel free to share your thoughts and leave us feedback.
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