Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pinecone Craft

Fall brings us cooler temperatures and nature provides many things we can harvest. One thing that is plentiful and has so many uses is the pinecone. They come in various shapes and sizes. Skinny, fat, tall, short! Here are just a few ways you can use pinecones in fall craft activities and decorations. 

Miniature Christmas Trees
These are best made with rounder, smaller pine-cones. You will need the following:
·  small pinecone
·  green paint
·  glue (we used a glue gun) 
·  small beads
·  base (a small pot or condiment container filled with plaster of paris) 
Paint the small pine cone green, let dry. 
Glue the painted pine-cone to selected base. 
Glue on small beads for ornaments. 
Let dry. 

Depending on whether you want a short or tall elf will depend on the type of pinecone you will want to use. 
·  pinecones
·  small wooden ball (for head) 
·  glue
·  felt or foam pieces
·  googly eyes

Create a face with eyes, ears, nose, and mouth on small wooden ball. Glue on top of pine-cone. 

Cut out scarf, mittens feet,and hat (one hat was made by hand the other we found in a store!) Glue on felt pieces. 

If you would like to be able to hang it as an ornament, you can tie on a ribbon or fish line before you start gluing on the pieces. 

During the cold winter months, birds can seem more active as they are searching out sources of food. What would look cuter than an owl inviting guests in?

·  Pinecone
·  cotton balls
·  felt
·  googly eyes
·  glue (optional)
Pull cotton balls apart and stuff into spaces of the pine cones (you can put a small spot of glue on them to ensure they stay.) If you want a fluffy white owl, use lots of cotton balls. If you would like more of the pinecone to show through use less. 

I did this with 5-7 year olds and we used googly eyes, yarn for wings, or cut out pieces of paper for the beak, wings, and ears. 

A little color
If you're not into the arts and crafts type of decorating, how about just adding a little color to a centerpiece or a bowl of seasonal decor?

·  pinecones
·  fingernail polish

This one is easy and great for using up old fingernail polish (and even occupying the minds and hands of little ones.) 

You can just paint the tips (many pinecones have a natural coloring on the tip or a bulge that is on the tip.) Depending on the time of year, you can use various colors to spice up a pot of potpourri or a center piece of natural items.  

Here are just a few ideas of things you can do with pinecones, I am sure you have a million more! If nothing else, it is a great way to spend time crafting with family and creating a little something for others. 

Thank you Kjrsten from Demeter's Charisma for this fun post!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Comparing Backdrops

Thank you Melanie of Violet's Buds for another installment in a series of Improving Photography.

Not all products are created the same, and neither are backdrops for photographing your items. It is important to experiment with various backgrounds to find what works for you.

GipsonWands photographed this series of his hoop art on a variety of backgrounds as an example of what works, and what doesn't. Some of the backgrounds distract from the product, while others make the piece stand out.
Plain white felt gives a seamless look. It doesn't distract from the subject, but does not add any personality either.
Two white boards, which creates a seam that may be distracting, especially if it is uneven.
Distressed wood is an interesting background and unique.
Depending on your subject matter this backdrop may or may not be flattering.
Like the distressed wood, a hardwood floor backdrop may look nice
depending on your subject, as long as it is evenly lit and the product is
balanced above the floor.
White board with striped tablecloth creates a seam, and is distracting
from the subject. If you use a cloth, its better to make a seamless look.
The plaid fabric is too busy, but more importantly it doesn't make sense with the subject.
Additionally, the fabric is wrinkled which makes the photo look amateur.
Yellow chevron fabric is bright and eye-catching, but doesn't necessarily
fit with this particular piece. The main issues with this background is the fabric
is wrinkled, crooked, and not evenly lit.

The standard seamless white background is a good place to start with product photography, but it is not always the best way to catch your customer's attention. Here are a few examples of successful product photos that are unique and flatter the subject.

HangUps in KC

A Single Dream

Remember that no matter the background you decide to go with, certain things like wrinkles, dirt, and stains will generally distract from the subject. Keep experimenting until you find what works with your products. Its a great idea to regularly experiment with changes in your backdrop. It will keep your customers interested, and you may find something that works even better.