Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thread Collective Show

Here was my table at the Thread Collective show at Tracy Murray's studio downtown Calgary. There are some bicycle handlebar bags, maps of downtown Calgary, and soap bags. It was pretty cold so that affected the turnout.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Making Hanging Soap Bags for Thread Collective Show

I'm thinking a lot about what to call these. Soap dish is not quite right, nor is Soap-on-a-rope. The Soap Hanger? I'd love some suggestions. The Soap Tote is good and catchy, but they seem to be taking a while to catch on. The soap makers like them, though.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Soap Saver Designs

I decided to revisit some mesh designs I had filed away and get them out there. It has been a rejuvenating experience. I like the process of finding or creating a font that goes well with the mesh. I've been calling them soap saver bags since no one really knows what a soap tote is.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ipad Case Design, Continued

Here's my completed Ipad case. I used three layers of glued-together coroplast for the frame. I thought the coroplast looked ugly so I wrapped the pieces in vinyl. I used coroplast inserts for the cover and twill tape for the edging. Finally I glued the frame to the inside cover. I have a few new ideas for the next one. I might add a velcro closure to this one.The loop in the spine is for my homemade Ipad stylus.

I realized I had covered up the speakers and other ports when I got a Skype call and we couldn't hear anything. So I'm going to try a design where I keep the various ports exposed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ipad case design

Since we got an Ipad at the beginning of summer, it is growing indispensable. I have drawing, cartooning, and svg software on it. I can read articles while lying on my side thanks to the aspect lock, and I listen to bedtime stories from various content suppliers.

I've been looking at Ipad cases that seem to start at $45 and go up from there. I've been waiting for our city's municipal election to score some used coroplast. Thanks to the Wayne Stewart campaign for their generous donation.

The design I'm pursuing has a few layers of coroplast built up to make a snug-fitting frame. Here's my work-in-progress. I'm using Vynabond to built up the layers.

I'm also planning to offer my Ipad cases with a stylus if I can get metal pencil extenders at a reasonable price.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cutout map

I made a Cutout map of downtown Calgary using TouchDraw on the Ipad. Plus a lot more steps as well. The reason for many blocks not getting cut out was that I was experimenting with the pressure on the Cricut Expressions during the cutting session. It seemed to need maximum pressure on this particular piece of vinyl. The challenge was with the high pressure the piece was looking like it was going to shift off of the cutting mat.

Cutout/cutwork maps seem to be a trend, here's one in paper of Madrid. Mine has nowhere near the accuracy of Karen O'Leary's work however; I just wanted to see how it would look. Also the underlying map I was using did not have a lot of detail. The advantage of making an svg file is that I can make many copies. Each one will be unique due to the underlying colors of the vinyl.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hanging chads in billboard vinyl

Sometimes the cuts are incomplete, even with multiple passes. One way to lift the easy ones off is with duct tape. The rest are snipped with scissors.

October snow on sunflower

We had an early dump of snow. It caused the sunflower to topple, so I brought it in and put it in my adhesive-vinyl-decorated vase.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse

I submitted some pictures for this book quite some time ago, and forgot all about it. I don't usually Google myself, but I did this time. When I saw the title near the list of results for my name it made me wonder at the association. I did a search on the book on Amazon and found my name in the index! Now I've got the book on hold to find out which item it was that is featured.

What a nice surprise!

Update: it's the "Eye" wallet, third row, middle. The photo doesn't show the wallet to its best advantage. I sold it at a craft show a while back.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Emerald Green, The Path To It.

A potential client wants an emerald green wallet. I just put a tab for custom work on my blogs. At present it's just for wallets, but I want to put custom notebooks next. I showed the client a picture from Blick art materials to see which sort of emerald green she liked, then I got a hex color definition for emerald green that was close. Then, I converted that hex number to RGB and from that RGB I was able to find close paint fan matches.

That sounded like a very circuitous path I took, but I needed an emerald green that was printed on paper to compare to what I was mixing. I'm using samples of System Three's WR-LPU paint to create the color. I might have gotten in the ballpark. I told the client I'm not going to charge for the paint on a wallet, because I'm not sure how it's going to perform long-term on the wear points of a wallet. I have no doubt it will adhere and not peel off with pre-sanding, but I'm just not sure of it's long-term wearability. Don't get me wrong, though. I suspect it will be fabulous, I just don't have the data yet. For custom colours for things like wallets I'm planning to either give clients some touchup paint as well as paint a few coats.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sandals from Recycled Billboards

These folks make minimalist sandals from recycled vinyl billboards. I don't really dig the style myself, but it shows that people are thinking of this material for shoes. They might be handy to have in one's gym bag. Paper-feet.com.
They must be using Velcro for the closure.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Test Guestbook Done

Here's a prototype of the guestbook I designed earlier. I don't like snaps, they are hard to get right. I think I need a snap-setting tutorial.

Angled corners are also a challenge with mitered corners. My test binding didn't line up, so I glued a corner piece on to hide the misalignment. This project might be better bound with twill tape and rounder corners.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Modular wallet design, website progress thereof.

I'm not set up to produce volume at this point, so I figure what's the point in going for mass appeal? I can leave that up to Freitag. Instead, I can offer customers the custom features that they want in their wallets. I'm planning to have a form with all the types of design modules I can offer in a wallet; the potential customer fills out the form and I give them an estimate. When I'm producing the wallet I gather the various cut files needed to create the wallet, sew and ship.

This picture is to help the customer see what the various modules are so they can fill out the form to get a cost estimate. I need to add a sketch for adhesive custom decals, and include photo samples of the tarp colours I have in stock.

I sketched out the components using Sketchbook Pro.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

3D Scanners and Printers in Custom Shoemaking

I'm thinking about future possibilities right now.

Here in North America where all the shoe manufacturing is overseas, and elaborately-sewn shoes are inexpensive, how could someone like me possibly compete? I think one of the ways is individualization. Making something that is just for one person. It fits over that bump on their foot and has a heel that is like those fabulous kitten heels they remember from their graduation shoes.

One shoemaker scans their client's feet to make the mold, called a last. When I first looked into scanning, the price of a scanner was prohibitive. Now however, 3D scanners are now becoming affordable http://www.makerbot.com/ makes a 3D scanner (for the shoe last) and a 3D printer (for the custom heels). Look at these innovative shoe designs from Kobi Levi Footwear Design. I like the heel that looks like bubblegum pulling off the sidewalk. That type of heel could be manufactured on a Makerbot.

There are still places in North America to learn how to make shoes. http://www.shoeschool.com/shoeschool/. And there are a few books: http://www.shoemakingbook.com/ and http://www.marywalesloomis.com/

So maybe this is one way us small-scale, local folks could compete in shoe manufacturing, by supplying the customization and design that you can't find at your local big box store.

Man's single fold wallet in Recycled Vinyl Tarp completed

I completed the first prototype man's wallet. It turned out OK without major blunders, but as with any first attempt, one should not look too closely at it! My client wanted a single fold wallet with cascading card slots. He didn't want a coin compartment because he prefers to keep change in his pocket.

So, I'm thinking of offering wallets made-to-order. The client selects the modules he/she wants such as number and type of card slots, coin purse, window slots and tarp colours, and I make it just for them. Wallets are so personal and people want a system that works just for them. If some styles rise to the surface as popular then I could build inventory for those styles for shows and online inventory. Now my challenge is how to get that made-to-order page working on my website. For now, just email vinally@vinally.ca for a custom project.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Interpreting Criticism

Michael Iva's 100 Ways to Kill a Concept; Why Most Ideas get shot down has been a great inspiration to me. Also Seth Godin's Interpreting Criticism blog post. Even the gatekeepers and successful tastemakers don't always get what your product is about. As Seth points out, they may not understand the niche market that your product is for. In the case of Reader's Digest, the niche market had yet to be created, so the editor of the magazine could not see a chance of Reader's Digest being successful. Good thing they didn't listen to that critic!

Whenever I hear criticism about something like my Soap Tote, I reread these types of articles and remind myself of all the things my enthusiastic buyers have said about the product. And then I get another coffee and keep going. (Yes, it is a niche product, maybe even a "niche-niche" product.) Before, I gave my critics too much power. Now my opinion is just as important as the critics' in the evaluation process.

Update: here's another gem from Seth Godin: I need you to see things my way

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Man's card-slot wallet construction

I have figured out the mysteries of card slots in wallets! The higher-up slots have fabric "hammocks" to prevent the inserted card from going too far down the pocket and getting lost. The part of the slot that is seen is usually made from leather.
I am using a softer vinyl tarp for this project. The more layers of vinyl, the more the sewing machine tends to balk. At certain points it's two layers of nylon and two layers of vinyl to sew through. That also means that trying to encase a card slot module into a vinyl seam binding, fuggedaboutit! Too many layers. So I am using a glued-down strip of vinyl to hide the side seams.

Update: Tracy Murray gave me some valuable input on how to construct the slots to save some time. I don't have to have the nylon hammocks if I sew the slots down, starting from the back slot and working down to the front. Will try this technique on my next sample. Thanks, Tracy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My New/Old Shop Dog

This is my new "shop dog", Bailey. (Hey, I'm a home-based business.) We adopted him from the Calgary Humane Society a couple of weeks ago. Here he is helping me pick out tarps for a guestbook that I am working on. Here he's saying, "Just try to take away my ball, sucka!"
Bailey is part miniature poodle and golden retriever. He follows me around wherever I go. He's 10 years old, but he still has lots of energy. Today he had fun slurping at the puddles as he trotted along in the rain. Our neighborhood is well-marked. He goes absolutely nuts when he sees squirrels or when the doorbell rings. He makes me laugh. I'm actually working on the doorbell training with my Ipad. I found a website with sound effects so I can ring that bell as many times as I need to. Now he doesn't bark when the Ipad doorbell rings, but it's another thing entirely that real doorbell! Funny thing about Bailey, he's not really a dog-person, but that's OK.
Maybe I should make him a raincoat from recycled vinyl so I could get some free advertising out of him while I'm out walking him.

Man's wallet in Recycled Vinyl Tarp

Well I've been procrastinating on making a man's wallet. Maybe for good reason. Look at all the pieces! That is a lot of sewing. I had some lightweight nylon on hand so I'm going to use that for the card pockets. Wish me luck. On the other hand, maybe a whole new market for men's wallets will open up!
I'm thinking that wallets, being highly personal, should be modular in construction. The client I'm designing this one for keeps his change in his pocket, and so does not require a coin compartment.
I think my website should have something like "For your wallet, pick modules (card slots, coin purse,cash/cheque slots), pick your colours, pick your decal colours, with a flat rate for additional design work. Made to order. Since the website is not yet, there you can request a custom product at vinally@vinally.ca

Tera Incognita booties

These are also from Anthropologie. I don't know if this would work rendered in recycled vinyl tarp but it is nice to imagine it.


I just love these leaftop booties from Anthropologie. I think this concept would also work with recycled vinyl tarp, if I may say so. It would be a separate pair of spats instead of making the whole boot. Another project for the to-do list!

I bet cyclists would like some protection for their shoe tops as they ride, so maybe ones with no cutouts would fit the bill.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Guest book designs

I'm working on designs for a guestbook for a client. The first two are for a standard jacket to cover a coil notebook, the third is for a snap-closure notebook cover.

I'm amazed at how things work when I keep Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity in mind as I design. Funny acronym, though!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

DOS attack on main website -- temporarily down

Vinally.ca's host has had a DOS attack. I'm trying to sort this out but I'm unable to log into my account. As soon as that is sorted out I hope to get my website back online.

Update: It took a couple of days, but the website is now back up and running.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Yae is not actually Yae anymore, and that's OK.

Earlier this year, I had been contacted by someone who said that they liked my products and they'd like to place a wholesale order. "Great," I thought. Then they said they would contact me a few months down the road. "Oh, dear," I thought. Because this usually means its not gonna happen.

I think that the reality might be something more like: of 100 people expressing interest, ten will progress to a more serious discussion, and perhaps one or two of those ten will actually amount to something. At this point I haven't had the numbers to actually have a successful wholesale order. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just the way it is. Stuff happens. It's great that some folks like my products enough to consider doing business, even if it does not result in an actual deal. It's hard to say, "Sorry, I've changed my mind, I'm no longer interested." It's easier to say "I've been so busy lately!" or, "My back just went out." I've learned to stop pursuing folks who say the latter, because I just figured out the secret code. :)

Notwithstanding the above reality, I'm still going to set some creative and inventory goals and keep on plugging away. I used my soap tote in earnest on a month-long RV trip, and I must say, it worked great. I didn't have to get my hands mushed up after the last use of soap, and there was usually a place to hang it in the campground showers. It is a good product.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

IPad Sketchbook Pro

I've been using my break time to learn how to draw on the Ipad with Sketchbook Pro. Drawings here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Made the front page of Etsy

My 15 minutes of Etsy fame on Canada Day. Soap tote is on lower left.

It was always my Etsy dream to one day get on the front page, and here it is and it was so anticlimactic. One thing I noticed is that I got no sales from this. What I do get sales from is an Etsy Finds feature. Based on the views from past Etsy finds features, I need about 80-100 views to make a sale.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Living Pixels lamp by Yanko Designs

These lamps are made from recycled banners. The coloured part of the banner is on the inside and only shows when the lamp is turned on. I'm going to have to give this technique a try sometime.
It looks like the individual pieces are squares with folds at the corners. So a Sure-Cuts A Lot file could be created for the Cricut Expressions from drawing software. The drawing file would be comprised of squares with optional dashed lines for the folds. I'm not sure how the vinyl is attached to the underlying frame though.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ups and Downs

A page from my notebook about some of the highs and lows I've experienced as I try to create and sell my stuff. I hope you find it amusing.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Custom Bicycle Handlebar Bag

I made this bicycle handlebar bag for Sandra Brunner to go with her panniers. It features a detachable shoulder strap and velcro loops to attach to the bicycle handlebars. It has a lapped zipper and a floral racing stripe.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Custom Notebook

Cam from chrome dome designs wanted a custom 5X7" notebook so I made this. I traced his logo in Adobe Illustrator and found the font he used on his website with this nifty font finder Whatthefont. In Whatthefont you submit a picture and identify the letters and it gives you a few font equivalents to the image you submitted.

I'm finding that with adhesive vinyls using a medium blade depth and a medium pressure in the Cricut Expressions usually does the trick, and it was trial and error to find which particular vinyls worked best. For example a glossy vinyl I tried tended to rip in an "accordian fold" manner on some of the fine letters. So I used a matte vinyl instead.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Got a great haul of adhesive vinyl

Thanks to Roy Alexander for the connection and Bob Cook at Branded Visuals for the end pieces and leftovers of adhesive-backed vinyl. I feel like a kid in a candy store. There's lots of etch vinyl which I can use for frosted glass effects and to tint colors.

I spent a good hour rolling together similar colours, and listening to the Vinyl Cafe, an amusing coincidence.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Etsy Finds Feature - The Umbrella in your Daquiri

The classic version of the soap tote made it to an Etsy finds feature. I noticed a jump in views and I got two sales from it. My user name on Etsy is Sewnagain.

Here's the link to the full post.

Again I noticed that it takes about 100 views to get a an online sale.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Floral Necklace Prototype

Here's the first cut of a prototype floral necklace, cut on a scrap piece of vinyl tarp. I'm trying to see how small or fine of cuts I can make. I like how this first one turned out. I plan to finish them off with a chain that goes around the back of the neck and closes there.

Here's the discussion of how I did it for those who are interested: In Illustrator I started with a basic oval shape, and an inner shape to make a compound path. (Two ovals; Object, Compound path, Make). To make ovals with veins I overlapped ovals and used the divide tool, erasing extraneous parts. Then the parts were recombined piece by piece to make a petal with veins. Then I copied and rotated the ovals 72 degrees each time until I had 5 petals. I used the combine tool to finish the flower. I used blends (specified steps) to generate different sizes and copied enough shapes to fill in the design area of the necklace. Once the shapes were placed right they were combined. The too-tiny-to-cut shapes were deleted using the Direct Selection tool. Finally, I highlighted the whole shooting match and uncompounded the path to make the different cutting layers.

In Sure Cuts a lot I have a layer of inner cuts and an outer cut layer. The inner cuts get cut first so the work does not slide around on the Cricut Expressions cutting board.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Colour Theory Studies

My first core course in my visual design studies was colour theory. My term paper was an analysis of what makes for good wardrobe colours for the individual, based on the person's skin tone. The topic intrigued me so much that I kept up the research for 2.5 more years. My instructor, Bev Rodgers, said, "I fully expect to see your name on the Fortune 500 list someday should you decide to patent this."

In 2004 my children were still very young, and my health was becoming an increasing concern. I decided to get my research to a point where I could revisit the topic at a later time. So all my research went into this binder. I also looked at every other wardrobe colour book published and figured out the shortfalls in the "seasons" hypothesis. I came up with my own theory of what colours work well for the individual.

I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't time again to revisit this topic. The gross $142 I made at my last show of recycled vinyl products isn't getting me much but the ability to treat my family to dinner at Wendy's after a craft show. Ah, well. I'm sure I'll get back on that vinyl horse sometime. Hey! that's it! a vinyl horse!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tapestry Handlebar Bag

Here I used a retired-pattern upholstery sample to make a bicycle handlebar bag. The cylinder end pieces and the loops and such are made out of recycled vinyl. I also lined the bag with white vinyl. It has a removable strap and the hardware was scavenged from an old sports bag.

The end result is nice, but a bit heavier than expected. I think I'll use a nylon lining for the next one.

I gave this one to my friend who said she liked it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Racing Stripe Patterns

Since cool cars have racing stripes, I thought it would also be cool for my bicycle handlebar bags to have them. Then I thought that the racing stripes didn't have to be plain, but they could have pattern to them. Here are a couple of racing stripes in adhesive-backed vinyl that are to be made into handlebar bags. After I put the racing stripe on the tarp I thought they might look good as artwork, too.

I really like how a decal can become the focal point. There's a lot of utilitarian vinyl tarp out there, and using decals is a good way to draw the focus to a specific point in the design, and to make a boring piece of vinyl sing!

Update: thanks to my customers who purchased these bicycle handlebar bags at Market Collective.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bicycle Handlebar Bag with Lace Racing Stripe

I had an idea to create bicycle handle bar bags with racing stripes. Then I thought why can't the racing stripe be decidedly feminine?

Here are photos of the result. It is an unlined bag since it is white inside. There are velcro loops that attach the bag to the bicycle handlebars. I added a shoulder strap so that it can also be used as a shoulder bag. It is ready for field testing.

The original billboard for this bag had a lot of sky in it. It looks great with blue jeans.