Monday, March 14, 2011


As you may have noticed, two Sunday's have come and gone without any posts. Unfortunately, I think we both took on too much. I (Poptart) have been super busy trying to find a job and worrying about wedding related things. Bubbie has also been busy trying to find a job and also working on photography related things.

We have decided that it is in our best interest to put Poptart&Bubbie on hold for now, until we can get caught up on all the real-world things we have going on.

So, until we can make a come-back, take care!

Also, if you have any questions about anything Etsy or photography related please feel free to email us at!!

Bye for now!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

DIY product lighting - tutorial

Welcome to our second installment of our how-to blog!! Last Sunday we showed you a step-by-step tutorial on how to make a circle flower. This week, we wanted to address one of the main concerns with newer Etsy folk: lighting your product so your photos are clear and crisp. As this is a very important part to an Etsy shop, we figured it would be the perfect second article!!

Taking the flower that Poptart made last week, we set up a very basic lighting apparatus and took some nice photos. This was a slight challenge for us as we are used to using Bubbie's professional gear to get our shots. It was fun to try this for the first time, ourselves.

Bubbie's first piece of advice, get yourself a tripod!! You can find them at Wal-Mart for around $20-$40. A tripod will help you in many areas of your photography. It will be useful to reduce the blurriness that can occur from camera shake (all cameras shake when you hold them ... unless you have surgeon-steady hands!) A tripod also helps so that you can use the timer, so when the shutter goes off, you're not touching the camera at all and therefore reducing the risk of a bad picture.

Now for the lighting. The best and easiest way to produce perfectly lit photos for relatively cheap is to buy clamp lights. Clamp lights can be purchased at any hardware store (like Home Depot). They are relatively inexpensive, and you can buy light bulbs at the dollar store!! For this tutorial we used 2 clamp lights, but make sure you have 3-4, just in case. We clamped them to a second tripod, but you can clamp them any where you need to (like a bookshelf, a chair etc).

Once our lighting was set up, we placed the flower onto a flat surface. You can use the floor, a table, white paper, fabric .... as long as the background is relatively neutral/solid. You don't want to place the object on a background that is overwhelming or distracting. We chose to use a chair that has a red cushion.

You then want to place your lighting relatively close to the object ... just keep in mind that these clamp lights get VERY hot, so be careful!! Place your camera equally as close to the object as the lights, but make sure not to get them in the shot!

Now a little something on camera settings!

If you're shooting with this lighting system, you will need to change the white balance in your camera. This is the setting that tells your camera what type of light you're using to light your object. In this case, you will change the balance to 'tungsten', which tells your camera you're using light bulbs. You'll notice that if you turn your flash off and take a picture indoors (without changing the white balance) your photos turn out with a yellow tinge. For any shooting, you always want to check your white balance so it will match the type of light you're using.

Some point and shoot cameras do not come with a manual setting, so you're stuck with the camera trying it's very best to get the shot right. If your camera can't do manual, don't fret!! You can still take great photos. Make sure you turn off the auto flash. You might have to add another clamp light or two but shooting with your on-camera flash won't help. You will have to fuss around with different amounts of direct lighting, and you may have to move the lighting closer to you object (remember to use your tripod!!).

If you have a camera that can be put into manual mode then you should do it. Shooting in manual mode will allow you more control over the amount of light you let in, by adjusting the shutter speed (how long the light is allowed in) and aperture (controls how much light is coming in). A rule of thumb with the aperture: the lower the number the better! So basically just play around with these settings until you find one that is right for you. And make sure to write down the numbers so you can refer back if you lose that setting!

In some instances, you might find that the light is hitting your object too harshly. You can remedy this by using something to diffuse the light.

A diffuser can be made out of a bed sheet, tracing paper or anything white and slightly see through. This will even out and soften the light, getting rid of the harsh shadows. It may darken the light, so you will have to play around with various set ups to see what works for you. We suggest starting with 2 or 3 clamp lights and if you're finding that your light is too hard on the object, take one away ... and use a diffuser only if it fixes the shadows and doesn't darken the object too much. Having a lighter photo is better than a darker one, as it's easier to fix in the editing process. Which is what we will cover next week. Bubbie will be processing the photos from today, to show you how to fix the light and dark, among other things =)

We hope this helps you out, even just a little =) Good luck, fellow Etsians!!

Poptart & Bubbie

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Our first tutorial! DIY Circle Flowers

Welcome to Poptart and Bubbie's very first tutorial!! We thought we would start off with something simple and sweet ... something easy to follow along with, and something for US to ease into, as we've never done this before! We are so excited to share this with you =) Poptart provided the "making of" and Bubbie provided the photography!

DIY Circle Flower (that's what Poptart calls them, because it's a simple name =))

Firstly, here is what you will need in order to complete this super cute flower:

-candle and lighter
-beads of any colour (or charms, or buttons .. whatever you desire!)
-as many different fabrics as you want to use - But, make sure they are a synthetic fibre, as a pure cotton will just burn and/or catch on fire. Also, I've found that lighter synthetic fibres singe a LOT faster so you will have to be quick or you might not end up with a good circle. You pretty much just have to play around with various kinds of fabric and see which singes the best.
-paper to trace circles (optional)
-circles to trace (optional)
-hair clip or pin (if you want to make hair accessories) - but you can also use brooch pins or make magnets or embellishments … it’s really up to you =)


Cut your fabric choices into various circle sizes. You can use a stencil or free hand it. I prefer to free hand as the uneven-ness can add more character to the flowers.

Once you have cut all your circles, in all the different sizes, play around with the layout of your flower, just to see if all the sizes fit well together. You can always cut some smaller!!

Now it's time to singe the edges of your circles!!

For this step, PLEASE make sure you're in a well ventilated area. Some synthetic fibres can make you light-headed, and some fabric smell REALLY bad when they are burning! (Go figure, right!?). If I'm working with a really stinky fabric, I do this step on my stove with the range fan on high. Also make sure you have a container of "safety water" near-by, just in case your fabric catches fire (or your kitten gets thristy!!). Some fabrics just want to catch fire and they won't even burn first so PLEASE BE CAREFUL!

Place your circle close to the heat of the flame, NOT close to the flame itself. Use your hand to find a "hot spot" and then place the circle in that area. You might have to play around with the fabric, some are harder to singe then others.

When the edges of your circle start to curl, turn it. Keep turning until the entire circle is curled up. When you're finished with all the pieces, your flower should look like this:

Now for the sewing part!! We are so close to the finished product!!

I'm going to share a confession with you all ... I'm not the best sewer in the world. I'm actually quite sloppy. One day I will perfect the fine art of sewing, but for now, well, I just make it up as I go ;) SO, here's what I did to sew this flower together, beads included.

First I chose a bobby pin to attach to my flower. I sewed the bobby pin right onto the bottom circle using the same colour thread as the fabric. Usually I will sew a small piece of felt onto the back and slip the clip through ... that way it's interchangeable. But I thought I would try something new! It worked pretty well. I ended up having to sew a second stitch with the white thread.. but that's coming up =)

For this step, I placed all my circles together and sewed a few stitches to secure them all, with the white thread.

Now we are ready to sew on the beads!

I start with my needle at the back of (or 'under') the flower. Once I bring it through the top I slide a bead on, pretty basic. Just remember to hide your stitches under the beads. By that I mean, once your bead is at the end of the thread, stick your needle through the flower so it is directly under the bead you're sewing on, pull it through nice and tight ... this will help keep the bead tight but also less thread will show at the ends of the bead. I like to sew two stitches through each bead, and sometimes I get lazy and just sew one stitch through as many as possible!! Always keep your stitches as close to the middle as possible.

At this point I realized that the bobby pin was a little flimsy, so I sewed a few extra stitches to the top of the pin just to secure it.

When the beads are sewn and your clip is secure, your flower should look like this:

(A note: In the first photo there are some other fabric circles that I had planned to use but once I got my flower together I decided it looked better without them)

There are a lot of variations to this flower. If you wanted to just make a quickie one, grab your glue gun and adhere each circle and the beads together with hot glue. And I suppose you could use regular glue as well ... if you don't have a glue gun. I love this flower because it's so versatile! You can make really big ones and add feathers or other embellishments. You can sew them onto articles of clothing. You can make them into pretty packaging embellishments. SO MANY IDEAS!!! So, now, go forth and create your pretty circle flower and share it with us!! We want to see your creations!!

Thanks so much for stopping by and viewing our first ever tutorial!!

Next Sunday: Our pretty circle flower shines in front of the camera, ready for it's close up! Stay tuned ;)

Friday, February 18, 2011

A new adventure

Bubbie and I, Poptart, are super excited to begin this new project!!

New project!?

Yes, a new project!

I love my Etsy shop ... soooo much. So I spend a lot of time on Etsy, promoting and learning new ways to make my shop really stand out. Lately I've seen a lot of lost souls wandering about, not sure of what to do next. These lovely souls have just opened their shops or have been around for a while but are just not sure of what comes next. One day I was talking to Bubbie about how I wish I could help all of these lost, lovely souls and this blog was born!

So, just as an introduction, here is the 'what, why, when, how and who' of our new "hopefully this helps" blog.

What: A blog to help to help crafters, photographers, Etsy sellers and the curious navigate this new world of DIY. You'll find things like crafting tutorials, lighting techniques and everything in between.

Why: Well, because together we have a lot of knowledge ... and we don't feel like keeping it to ourselves anymore!! Our heads hurt! =P We also have a lot to learn, so when we learn, you can learn too!!!

When: Every Sunday. Our goal is to post a new article on Sunday, which could include challenges for you to take part in.

How: Using imagination and our know-how, we will hopefully be able to provide you with helpful tips and hints of a wide variety of topics.

Who: For starters, just Poptart and Bubbie. But we have talked about having guest writers, sometime in the future.

We are so very excited about this project and we hope that it turns into something that is able to help any lost, lovely soul ... whether you're a seasoned pro, just looking for another person's take on things. Or, you're just starting out in a world that seems foreign to you. Our hope is that anyone who stops by will find a useful tidbit, whatever it may be =)

See you Sunday for our first article!! (HINT: it's a DIY craft!)