Saturday, August 23, 2008

Preparing for the Holidays

How many cranes?
Originally uploaded by origami3d_cranes
Yes, it is "only" August.

But it's time to start building up my holiday season inventory. That means buying supplies in bulk (you should see the 25lb. box of glue sticks I just bought) and lots and lots of folding. This bag alone contains over 600 cranes.

I hope to hit a minor milestone in the process -- having 100 items in my Etsy shop. They say that more variety in a shop helps with sales, but I don't want to repeat last year's mistake, letting my shop become overwhelmed by Christmas ornaments. I haven't added a lot of new art designs or wedding bouquets lately, but I plan for that to change.

Dragons, seahorses, and the Year of the Ox. That's just a tiny hint of what's on my mile-long "to-do" list for the next couple of months.

Only time will tell what will actually be completed...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Evolution of an Idea -- Part 2

These are the mini sunflower vines I mentioned in my last post on this project. I originally intended for them to be exact replicas of the larger sunflowers in the bouquet, complete with green cranes between the center and the petals (as well as on the backs of the flowers), but to do that, the "mini" sunflowers would have ended up much too large. So I made circles out of green scrapbooking paper instead, topped with slightly smaller circles of gold foil., and used my smallest gold cranes, folded out of the 2-inch paper, for the "petals."

Coming up soon: Part 3, which will cover the actual arranging of the different elements of the bouquet.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


A "yakudoshi," in Japanese culture, is basically a bad-luck year in a person's life. There are actually three, but for each gender, there is one year that is supposed to be particularly bad. For women, it's their 33rd year. If you go by the lunar calendar (which apparently considers you a year old on the day of your birth), it starts on your 32nd birthday. That's the traditional version. But since I was raised with the Western style calendar, I thought it was going to be my 33rd -- this year. I'm not particularly a superstitious person, but seeing how a friend of mine went through a real streak of bad luck during her 33rd year -- I guess I wasn't that surprised when I had my own unlucky streak starting from around my birthday.

My mother took me to a Shinto shrine in Nuuanu, where she used to go with my (paternal) grandparents every New Year's, and we picked up this "omamori" or good luck charm for my yakudoshi.

Monday, August 18, 2008

International? Me?

Yes, I've finally "gone global." Though I've been offering international shipping in my Etsy shop for a while, Etsy itself is still a U.S.-based site. So last week, I opened a shop on Dawanda. It was originally created in Germany, and like Etsy, is focused on handmade. It has three different sites, one in German, one in French, and one in English(shown as their "U.K." site) and sellers have the option of which of the sites (either one or two or all three) they want their items to be displayed in. A lot of Etsy sellers who also have Dawanda shops often say that the best one to be on is the German site, but since I don't know German, and have heard less than spectacular reviews of the online "translation" sites that are available, I chose to stay strictly on the English site, at least for now. I would hate to list something in a language I'm not familiar with -- even if the online translation was done for me -- because it would give the customers who use that language a false sense that I would be able to communicate fluently in their language should a problem/question crop up -- and I wouldn't be able to do that.

I must admit it's a little strange seeing the price for my work in Euros. I used an online currency calculator, to figure out my pricing and I guess I'll be watching the exchange rates regularly from now on.

My main focus will still continue to be my Etsy shop, because that's where I'm most comfortable with, but with the weakness of the U.S. dollar lately, it would be foolish not to reach out to the international market as much as possible. Besides, it's really not wise to leave all of one's eggs in a single basket...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I love Picasa!

Once again, thanks to the Etsy forums, I found something useful for my shop. I downloaded Picasa2 -- a photo editing software from Google -- about 2 weeks ago. I had noticed how dark the photos of some of my "expired" Christmas ornament listings were, especially when viewed on a different computer than I normally look at them with, so I decided to try it out.

I've only done a few photos, I'm slowly working my way through the bunch, but here's an example of the difference.

And After:
Now, I just need to get to work on the rest of the photos!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hawaii Bridal Expo -- July 2008

I wish I had more time to prepare for this -- but then again, I say that about every show I do.

I ended up taking two complete displays (my cascading bridal bouquet and my large rose display) to the expo, along with one display that was a work in progress. I've found that working on projects will often draw attention to my booth.

Unfortunately, there wasn't much of a crowd. I don't know if it was the time of year, or all of the news about local companies going bankrupt, etc., but I was told by repeat vendors that the show was unusually slow. And we noticed that a lot of the people were "window-shopping" instead of seriously looking. Makes me think that budgets are tight -- they still want to get married, but things like cranes and d.j.'s and other "non-essential to the actual ceremony" things are pretty low on their list of priorities.

Overall, though, I gave out a lot of business cards and flyers, and received quite a bit of favorable feedback on my designs. Hopefully things will get better economy-wise and people will still remember me when it does.

One good thing about most shows, even when they're slow, is the chance to make contact with other people/businesses. I was lucky enough to have some great booth neighbors, but the ones who definitely stood out was the booth directly across from mine, belonging to Paper Island. Not only was the staff friendly, but their invitations were really eye-catching, especially the ones that they had collaborated with Hawaiian Moon to create. Hawaiian Moon creates beautiful Aloha wear that a lot of people choose to outfit their bridal party with, and Paper Island created invitations that matched specific print designs. Wish I'd remembered to bring my camera with me...

The ultimate show-stopper of the whole expo, though, was a booth in the next row over from mine, belonging to Showtime DJs and Grand Finale Productions. They not only provide music for wedding receptions, but do performances as well. Their dance demonstrations were absolutely amazing, performed by Phillip Duong, Natalie Ho, and Teley Brandon. I'm not an expert on dance styles, but I think they did some Salsa, and others... though the move that took everyone's breath away was when Teley would spin with Phillip balanced on top of his head. Yes, I said on his head! The first time I saw the move my heart literally stopped as I was sure he would go flying off into someone's display, or worse, end up face first on the hard floor. But every time it was performed, it was nothing but perfection.

All in all, I'm glad I did this Expo. It was definitely a good experience for me, business wise, and I definitely have ideas on how to do it better next time. I know that the size of the crowd is part of the gamble I take every time I do a show, so that won't be much of a factor in my decision when it comes to the next one.

Besides, all of my fellow vendors told me that the January expo is much better than the July one, crowd-wise. Hmmmm.....

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Is it real?

Stuffed or not?
Originally uploaded by origami3d_cranes
I was planning to do a long overdue update to my work-in-progress series. Plus I wanted to write about my experience at the Hawaii Bridal Expo last weekend. But this was such an unexpected sight this morning that I had to share it.

I let my dog out into the back yard, when I noticed this "owl." I knew that there were owls in Hawaii but this looked like one I'd seen on Animal Planet recently (in other words, not 'native.') It didn't move. At all. So I started to think it was fake.

Took some photos. Posted them on Flickr, then started an opinion thread on the Etsy forums. Went back outside to try to get a better shot.

It moved.


Yes, it is real, after all.

I'm thinking it's time to make an owl-themed piece for my work. What do you think?