Tales of Alice

Sharing my handmade world
Peony Print, surrounded by real pink peonies

Peonies: Printing My Limited Edition Pink Peony Art Print

My Inspiration

I have to admit to you that I am a little cuckoo about peonies! They’re my favourite flower, and I wait all year in anticipation of their arrival. I’m lucky enough to have two really well established peony plants in my garden, and from May onward I’m pretty much constantly checking on their progress.

Close up of an open pink peony, surrounded by peony buds

A peony in bloom in my garden.

I decided to draw on this love, as the inspiration for a limited edition peony art print. To be honest, I only ever draw what I love, which is why there are so many dog designs in my ranges!

The Creative Process

I began by drawing some simple ink illustrations of peonies in various stages of bloom. From these drawings, I then carved rubber stamps, or block cuts, as they can be called. 

Block carving of a peony, next to original floral sketches

It is these block cuts which I use to create my peony art print.

Flat lay of Wrapped By Alice peony print, showing finished print, with printing tools

Although they are a limited run of just 50, in reality each print is unique in its own right. There’s a couple of reasons for this; firstly, each element has been carved as an individual block cut, rather than being carved as one large piece. Added to this, I don’t choose to use a template when printing, therefore, one-off variations are created between each print. Finally, once I have finished printing, I add in each stem by hand, using watercolours; this adds yet more individuality to each piece.

Peony Print, surrounded by real pink peonies

To find out more about my peony art print, and get your own little piece of peony print perfection, by visiting my listing.

Do It Yourself

If you’d like to have a go at doing your own block print, here are the materials I used to create my Peony art print:

The Speedball Speedy Carve block is made from a really soft rubber, and comes in all different sizes. It’s so easy to work with; just draw or trace your image straight onto the block (remember to reverse your image), then get carving!

The Pfeil cutters are a bit of an investment, as they’re not cheap. However, I have found that they are really worth the price tag! If you just want to have a try first, then you can buy really cheap lino cutters, like this one, but you will find it a lot trickier to carve.

The Versamagic and Versafine ink pads are great, as they come in tiny dew drop sized pads, which cost under £2.00 each! Great for experimenting with colours, and none of the fuss associated with traditional lino printing, where you’d use traditional block printing ink along with a brayer.

gift wrapping tutorial japanese 3

Gift Wrapping Tutorial: Japanese-Style Gift Wrapping

Japanese Gift Wrapping Tutorial

I thought I’d put together a gift wrapping tutorial to give you some inspiration as to what to do with the free stickers I include in all my customers’ orders. Check out my shop for unique wrapping paper and more.

gift wrapping stickers

I thought I’d introduce you to a Japanese-style gift wrapping, which gives you beautiful crisp edges, and lovely lines. There is a great tutorial on YouTube, which shows you how to use this technique:

 

 

However, I know myself that it’s sometimes tricky to keep up with a video, especially when you’re doing something for the first time, so I thought I would break it down for you, step by step, in my own tutorial, featuring (of course) my lovely stickers!

Step 1

Place your gift on your wrapping paper, so it sits diagonally; there should be a little excess paper at each bottom corner of your gift, with a larger amount of spare paper at the top two corners (see pic). It is with the bottom end of the parcel that we will begin.

gift wrapping tutorial japanese 1

Step 2

Fold the bottom corner up, and fold along the edge to make a crisp crease.

gift wrapping tutorial japanese 2

Step 3

Start with the bottom left corner, and fold the corner in, as shown.

gift wrapping tutorial japanese 3

Step 4

Bring the paper on the left upwards, to form a straight edge, at the corner, as pictured.

gift wrapping tutorial japanese 4

Step 5

Now fold along the left edge, to create a crisp fold, and secure the paper with a sticker, as shown.

gift wrapping tutorial japanese 5

Step 6

Repeat the same process with the bottom right corner.

Step 7

Now, turn you parcel round, so the end that was furthest away from you, is now nearest to you. Start with the right corner, and fold the paper in from the middle, as shown.

Step 8

Repeat with the left corner.

Japanese Gift wrapping tutorial step 8

Step 9

Now, fold the flap of paper up, and fold along the edge to create another crisp fold, then secure with another sticker, as shown.

gift wrapping tutorial japanese 9

And You’re Done!

japanese gift wrapping idea

I’ve used my Pedro the Pug wrapping paper and gift tag in this tutorial.

My favourite thing about this style of gift wrapping is the beautiful neat corners it creates:

Japanese gift wrap idea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, if you practise a lot you might even get as quick as this guy:

 

twitter network hours

Twitter Tutorial, Number 4: Networking Hours

We’ve now learnt all the essentials of twitter – hashtags, the @ symbol, retweeting, liking, and inserting links and images into our tweets. For our final tutorial I thought I would share my favourite networking hours with you, so that you can put into practice all the things we’ve learnt over the course of the 4 lessons.

My Favourite Networking Hours

All hours are in GMT.

All Week:

#wineoclock #womaninbiz: Mon-Fri, 18:00 – 19:00 – use these two hashtags together, to network with other small business owners; this is a really nice community hour.

Monday

#creativebizhour: 20:00 – 21:00 – for creative businesses to promote and connect with each other and their customers.

#vintagewedhour: 20:00 – 21.:00 – for businesses selling vintage, and wedding items, to promote to brides and grooms-to-be.

#buyonlinehour: 20:30 – 21:30 – for businesses that sell online, to promote their products.

Tuesday

#indiehour: Tue, 19:00 – 20:00 – for small, independent, creative businesses to promote and connect with each other and their customers.

#FBlikehour: 20.00 – 21:00 – this is a good networking hour if you want to promote your facebook page to your twitter followers – you can pick up fresh likes for your FB page by including a link in your tweets, during this hour.

Wednesday

#handmadehour: 19:30 – 20:30 – biggest networking hour of the week for handmade businesses.

#weddinghour: 21.00 – 22:00 – biggest wedding networking hour of the week.

Thursday

#handmadehourUSA: 00:00 – 01.00 – the American version of #handmadehour – this is a great networking opportunity if, like me, you have an Etsy shop and make a lot of sales to customers in the USA…unfortunately I am never awake late enough to join in; but if you’re a night owl, this would be a great one to join in!

#bridehour #bridebible: 20:00 – 21:00 – designed for brides who are looking for items for their wedding days, and for makers and suppliers of wedding items to promote their goods to them. Use both hashtags together.

#twittersisters: 20.:00 – 21:00 – great community hour, for women in business to network with each other.

Friday

#retailhourtime: 20:00 – 21:00 – for businesses to promote their products.

Saturday

#satchatUK: 08:00 – 09:15 – for early risers, to share what they have going on with their businesses.

#makehour: 20:00 – 21:00 – for people who make handmade items.

Sunday

#SBS: 17:00 – 19:30 – send one tweet, including this hashtag, and describing your business to@TheoPaphitis, he will then choose his favourite 6 to promote later in the night!

#crafthour: 19:00 – 20:00 – a close second to #handmadehour.

#hndmadehour: 20:00 – 21:00 – biggest networking hour of the week for handmade businesses.

tweeting

Twitter Tutorial, Number 3: Retweets & More

So far, we’ve tackled hashtags and how to use the @ symbol, so now we’re going to handle the two other key principles of twitter – retweeting and liking! We’ll also have a look at how to add images and links to your tweets.

Retweeting

Retweeting is an important part of the twitter community, especially for small, handmade business owners; as I mentioned in the previous tutorials, twitter is a big community, and one of the ways we support each other is by retweeting!

Retweeting expands the audience of a tweet; if you spot a post from another maker that you think looks interesting, then hit the retweet icon underneath the tweet itself, and bam, that tweet is now visible to all your followers too; one or more of them might in turn retweet it, and before you know it one little tweet has reached a big audience – this wouldn’t be possible without all of us working together to promote each other! Don’t just retweet randomly though; I only retweet those tweets which genuinely fit with my own interests; at the end of the day I don’t want to spam my own followers with loads of random offerings!

Liking

Hitting the like button (the little red heart) at the bottom of people’s tweets is another way to show support and appreciation for your fellow tweeps; if you see something you like, be sure to click the heart. As a maker myself, I can say it genuinely gives you a little boost when somebody likes one of your tweets, especially when that tweet is promoting one of your products.

Inserting Links

If you’re a maker or artist you are going to want to include links to your products in your tweets, so that people can get straight to the item in question in your online shop. How you share your products will depend on what platform you use to sell online.

For example, if you have an Etsy shop, then the Etsy Seller’s App (if you have a smart phone, and don’t already have this free app, then I highly recommend you get it) allows you to share the link directly; just go to ‘Your Items’, and click on the product you want to tweet about, and there will be a ‘SHARE’ option in the bottom right corner – this will open the link in twitter, as well as automatically adding the primary image of the listing in question – which means you get a link and an image, all while using just 20 characters or so. Most other ecommerce platforms will have a similar option.

Inserting Images

Having an image attached to your tweet is always a good idea. People are much more likely to engage with a tweet if there is a visual element to it. As mentioned earlier, if you include a link in your tweet, then it will normally automatically add the primary image on the page you linked from to the tweet. But for those occasions where you are not including a link in your tweet, or this function doesn’t work, then you can add an image (or images) manually. You can add images by using the picture icon when composing your tweet, or the camera icon allows you to take a picture there and then, to attach to the tweet.

twitter tutorial

Twitter Tutorial, Number 2: The @ Symbol

In my first twitter tutorial we learnt about hashtags, now we’ll move on to the other sometimes mystifying symbol of twitter – the @ symbol; what does it mean, and when and how should you use it?

The @ Symbol Explained

The @ symbol goes before a twitter user’s chosen twitter name, e.g. I chose the twitter name wrappedbyalice, so I appear as @wrappedbyalice.

Twitter users employ the @ symbol in order to communicate directly with each other (N.B. these are not private communications; they are visible in the same way as all other tweets). For example, someone might tweet, ‘So excited – my goodies from @wrappedbyalice arrived today; can’t wait to get wrapping!’ It would then pop up in my twitter notifications that someone had mentioned me in a tweet, I could then view the tweet, and reply. Mentioning others in tweets like this also provides the added bonus that any other twitter user who sees the tweet will be able to click on my username, and be taken directly to my twitter profile, where they could choose to follow me if they liked!

How To Use The @ Symbol

Shout Outs

As we’ve seen above, one of the ways that we can use the @ symbol is to communicate directly with another user, and perhaps give them a shout out. Publicly supporting other crafters is really important, because twitter is a big community; this is particularly true for small business owners, and even more so for women in business; twitter offers a fabulous way to encourage and support other makers, who will in turn support you, and it’s using the @ symbol that makes all this possible!

Comments

It’s also good twitter etiquette to generally interact with other twitter users – comment on their posts; say a friendly thank you, if someone is kind enough to give you a shout out.

When you leave a comment on someone else’s tweet it will automatically add their username to the tweet, likewise if you reply to someone else’s comment on your own tweet.

N.B. do not start your tweet with the person’s username, at least put a fullstop first – e.g. ‘.@wrappedbyalice, your paper arrived today, can’t wait to get wrapping!’ – this is because tweets which begin with a person’s username, i.e. ‘@wrappedbyalice…’ will only be able to be seen by people who follow both the sender and the recipient; no one else will be able to see it!

Promotion

You can also use the @ symbol to target a specific user(s), for example, to let them know that a certain product is back in stock. N.B. don’t ever spam someone’s account; unsolicited, pushy tweets are the worst! But if someone has shown interest in a product, than it’s perfectly fine to get in touch with a friendly, informative tweet.

You can also use the @ symbol to increase the reach of your tweets, as each networking hour will have a twitter account attached to it – an account which set up the hour and promotes and manages it (for more info on networking hours, see my first tutorial). For example, the twitter account in charge of #handmadehour is (not surprisingly!) @handmadehour (and their sister account @HMNation) and they will retweet other people’s tweets during the networking hour; as they have thousands and thousands of followers it’s great to be retweeted by them…but the only way they’re likely to see your tweet, out of the thousands of other tweets being posted in that hour, is if you tag them directly in it! For example, ‘I hand print beautiful designs onto eco-friendly kraft paper #handmadehour @handmadehour’ (I’d also include a link to my website and image of my work, but we’ll talk about these two things in the next lessons).

To get you started here are a couple of great networking hours, and the accounts that run them; there are so, so many more – get researching find which hours work best for you and start tweeting!

#handmadehour Wed, 19.30-20.30, & Sun, 20.00-21.00. Run by @handmadehour & @HMNation

#crafthour Sun, 19.00-20.00. Run by @Craft_Hour & @crafthourRT.

woman tweeting from her laptop

Twitter Tutorial, Number 1: Hashtags

I’ve been running my on business for a few years now, and have some form of presence on nearly all of the social media platforms. However, Twitter is by far and away my favourite – not to mention, most successful – of all my accounts. This is a little ironic, as when I was starting out Twitter both scared and mystified me; I didn’t understand all the terms, or how to use the platform – when to tweet, what to tweet, how to use hashtags, etc, etc.

As a massive twitter convert, I thought I would write a series of tutorials, containing the sort of information and tips, that I would have found useful when I was starting out on Twitter, in the hopes it might help other creative startups!

Hashtags

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought I’d start with the obvious, and for some people the most confusing, aspect of twitter – using hashtags!

Put plainly, a hashtag is something which you include in your tweets, to increase the likelihood that it will be seen by other twitter users. This basically works in one of three ways; I’m going to list them in what I see as their order of importance, for small, creative businesses, like ours, starting with the most important.

Networking Hours

image courtesy of: tkographix.com

There are certain hours set aside each week, where people tweet about a certain subject, using a specific hashtag – I’ll suggest a couple of my favourites at the end of the post – but here’s just one example: #HandmadeHour runs every Wednesday 19.30-20.30 (GMT), and every Sunday 20.00-21.00 (GMT) – during this time lots of people with handmade businesses, as well as people who love to buy handmade, are all tweeting, using the hashtag, #handmadehour, as well as searching for other tweets including that hashtag – it’s a huge community, and there will be lots of people liking, retweeting, and commenting on your work (more of all those terms later!) this means that more and more people are seeing your tweets, and your work, and it does create sales!

Here’s a couple of examples of the sorts of things I might tweet during #handmadehour:

‘I handprint beautiful designs onto eco-friendly kraft paper #handmadehour.’

I will also tweet about specific products, e.g. approaching Valentine’s Day, I might tweet something like ‘My turtle dove gift wrap is perfect for adding that finishing touch to a #Valentines gift! #handmadehour.’

I would also add a link to my shop or specific product in question (most of the time this will bring up the first image on the page your linking to, e.g. if I put a link in to my turtle dove gift wrap, it would also show the first listing image for this product. This image doesn’t use up any extra characters of your 140-character limit). I might also tag other twitter users in some posts too… But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; let’s just get the basics of hashtags this time round!

Searching Using Hashtags

People with a particular interest or need might search for certain hashtags, e.g. in the run up to Valentine’s Day people might be looking for gift ideas or cards, so may search for hashtags such as, #valentines, #valentinesgiftideas, or #valentinescards (side note – do not put any punctuation in your hashtags, as it will separate the words, e.g. if you tweeted #valentine’scards, twitter would post it as #valentine ‘scards.) So, for example, if someone searched #Valentines, then my previous tweet, where I used the hashtag, #Valentines, would be amongst the search results.

Now, it may be amongst thousands upon thousands of other tweets using #Valentines, however, if you use more niche terms, then your chance of reaching your target customer is far higher! For example, I have a range of dog designs, so if I include the breed of the dog in a tweet about the product, lovers of that particular breed may well find it, as they like to keep up-to-date with, for example, all things #Frenchie, or all things #Pug!

Trending Hashtags:

Image courtesy of: seoclerks.com

Using the search function in Twitter, you can see what the top trending hashtags are at any time; if you think you’ve got something to shout about which relates to one of them, then you could include it in a tweet; e.g. when the marriage equality laws were coming, there was quite often a related hashtag trending; as a supporter of equal marriage, I took the opportunity to promote my range of wedding favours, which cater to both white and pink weddings. Don’t just add a trending hashtag to your tweet for the sake of it though – this is bad twitter etiquette!

My Favourite Networking Hours

#wineoclock #womaninbiz: Mon-Fri, 18.00-19.00 – #wineoclock #womaninbiz – use these two hashtags together, to network with other small business owners; this is a really nice community hour.

#handmadehour Wed, 19.30-20.30, Sun, 20.00-21.00 – biggest networking hours of the week for handmade businesses.

#crafthour Sun, 19.00-20.00 – a close second to #handmadehour.

Get tweeting!

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