What’s in your colour palette?

Making colour palettes for projects is really good fun, I used to do this a lot when working on websites.  You could take a photo of your favourite sunset and use it as the inspiration for your design. I spent many a quiet hour doing this.

My question to you is have you ever made one for yourself?

Using the ColourToy app you can make a colour palette from a photo of yourself. Here’s what my palette looked like:

My colour palette


Oddly, the first make-up I bought from the Body Shop was almost identical to these colours. What’s really nice about the app is that it also gives you the hexadecimal code so you can recreate the colours exactly.

ColourToy app

The exact colour range you get will depend on which part of the photo that you focus on. For example if you focus on your face or your clothing. These are colours that come up quite often for me as some of the colours that I wear are also in this colour range.

A tool like this is definitely something you want to have in your digital toolkit.  It will come in handy on countless occasions, especially when you have limited inspiration.

It’s a lot of fun and also quite interesting to try. I’d love to see what you come up with and what colours are in your palette.


Our Etsy Craft-tea Party #EtsyCraftParty

IDEAS Birmingham Etsy team took part in #EtsyCraftParty focusing heavily on the ‘Craft-tea Party’ aspect. With crafting, eating cakes and sharing a virtual cuppa online being our usual thing, meeting up at Boston Tea Party and doing it all for real made for an amazing afternoon followed by much after-party fun.

BTP Corporation Street is a fantastic venue, the staff are so friendly and the cakes……. well the cakes can speak for themselves. I had heard their Earl Grey was amazing but I didn’t quite believe it would quickly go to the top of my favourites. Much respect to Lottie from SimplyCharlotteB & PaperOwlPackages for recommending them both.

When we were choosing the venue for the Craft Party we had no idea that we could craft at BTP until Wendy from HappyWrap mentioned that her friend from Painty uses it regularly. So big shouts to both of them for the lead as it will now be a regular haunt for many of our members. Finally a big shout to Gemma from JurassicPanda for helping us out with organising and promoting the tickets for the event.

Crafting Activities

Aside from the main focus of the tasty refreshments we divided our non-food activities into 4 crafts all of which would go towards making decorations for our Christmas Market in December.

Paper flower makingPaper flowers

Lottie from PaperOwlPackages & SimplyCharlotteB made some fabulous tutorials for paper flower making. There was an abundance of beautiful flowers on the table in so many pastel shades and even some vintage paper too.

Ink pads for stamping

Ink Stamping

Fiona from MadeByFeFiFo brought along the full spectrum of ink colours and her hand carved stamps to use on some precut bunting triangles. The preparations for some team bunting were made. They will  then be added to her fabulous digitally printed pennant flags to make team bunting for the Christmas market.

Fluffy pom pomsPom poms

With guidance from Jenny from Mythillogical we sat and made pom poms in a multitude of shapes and colours. She instructed us in the modern ways of pom pom making with not a single corrugated card donut in sight. Wool destashed by myself and Sally from HenleyChocolates.

Honeycomb pom pomsHoneycomb pom poms

We were sent so many sheets of beautiful Thai tissue papers from our sponsors Pink Pig Sketchbooks in an amazing range of colours that we needed something equally snazzy to use them on. I happened upon a tutorial for honeycomb pom poms and made up some templates and instructions to share with the team.

The pom pom making activities had a very retro feel to them and many of us had a bit of a trip down memory lane making them.  There was also a bit of a familiar look on the table as not a bit of the surface could be seen amidst all those supplies of both crafting and refreshments.

The paper flower making and ink stamping tables were covered in beautiful creations with signs of cake devastation and tea drinking.  It was a very relaxing place and a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon, crafting and sharing advice on making and selling.  It definitely looks like we will be popping back to our new favourite workspace for some team events.

Thanks to everyone that came along and took part. It was lovely to see some familiar faces and some new faces too and even an interloper.  Looking forward to meeting you all again in the near future and also to herding some more members along for our next meet-up.

I didn’t have time to get involved in the  paper flower making or the ink stamping so would love to have a go at another event.  Credit for the photos goes to Lottie from SimplyCharlotteB & PaperOwlPackages.

You can read more about the #EtsyCraftParty on the team blog.

Are there any more crafts that members would like to try out at a future event?  Please let us know in the comments below.

Copyright or Copy wrong?

Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery, especially when it comes to copying your creative work. Forget all the bad examples big business has shown by copying their competitors, making slight changes and calling it innovation! This only dilutes what could be a marketplace with an abundant stream of ideas.

Lazy Mind Copy Idea written on a scrabble tile coaster.

Copyright is something that concerns all artists and designers.  Whilst influence is natural plagiarism is far more calculated. Did you know that the practice of copying work and making slight changes is known as ‘Derivative Works’ and that only the original copyright owner has the right to make them? Continue reading

Etsy UK Captain’s Summit 2016

This month I took part in the 3rd Etsy UK Captain’s Summit in Cambridge with Lottie from SimplyCharlotteB. The Summit was an opportunity to share help and advice on team issues like how the Etsy Made Local Christmas markets went, while catching up with friends and partaking in tea and cake. Lots of tea and cake!

Etsy Admin organised the event around the theme of the Great British Bake Off!  I have to say a big thank you for all the effort that went into making it a really great weekend. I was very happy that I didn’t need any of my emergency food. Big big-ups to Francesca, Ajeet, Sarah & Susannah for looking after everyone so well and for the constant supply of tea and cookies.

One of the highlights of every Captain’s Summit is getting to chat about shared experiences with fellow Captain’s & Leaders. You will not find a more humble, honest bunch of people than the lovely friends that I get to meet at the Captain’s Summit. They not only give you tips on things that work well but they also share the things that didn’t go well, in the hope of helping other teams to avoid the same pitfalls. This is the sign of a real community.

Big shout out to the Brighton team, the Glasgow team, the Merseyside team, the Portsmouth & Southsea Consortium & the Nottingham team for keeping it real. Also sending a big wave to the Cambridge Team for being the hosts, the Leeds team who we travelled to and from the hotel with and the other new Captain’s and Leaders that we met.  Not forgetting Rachel from TheDorothyDays, Captain of the Dorset Team who sadly wasn’t able to attend. We drank tea and ate cake on your behalf!

After all this fun there is always plenty of work to be done. Firstly all those notes need translating from excited scribble into an interesting and fun-filled calendar of team events.  Before that though we did some pondering on what being in a team is really about. This was what we came up with.

TeaT – is for tea break

No matter what your beverage,  taking a break for a cuppa, a cake and a chat is really important for your concentration.  If you work alone at home having virtual colleagues to chat to on your break is just as beneficial.  Being part of a team that has an active chat thread  can be a welcome break.


E – is for education

26.5% of active sellers are in teams.  Having a supportive team means you get the help and encouragement you need to adapt to the changes that sellers regularly face.  Team members work together to stay updated on things like postal increases, new VAT rules and changes on Etsy.

ActivitiesA – is for activities

Find events to get involved in locally or online through sharing with your team members in the team forum.  This can be webinars, workshops, twitter hour or selling events.  Get involved with the Etsy community while taking part in Etsy Boot camp and have fellow team members keep you motivated.

Meet-upM – is for meet-ups

Getting out of your studio to meet with fellow crafters or sellers is very important.  Just having the chance to get together with like minded people, to share cake and advice makes all the long hours toiling away seem worth it.

In short – being in a team is a great way to connect with the whole Etsy community. 🙂

Check out the IDEAS Birmingham blog for more information on the UK Captain’s Summit.  There are lots of educational things we can be doing with our teams now to prepare for events later in the year.  Please comment if you have any specific ideas you’d like to take part in.

A Designer's Toolkit Banner

Discovering ‘My Toolkit’

I’ve read a few posts lately about ‘What’s in Your Toolkit?’ I honestly thought I knew what was in mine. As a graphic designer you instantly think your software and your hardware. This week I realised there is much more to it than that. There’s obviously your medium but the one that surprised me was masking tape.

It’s definitely something that I considered to be more at home in my Dad’s toolkit.  I didn’t realise how much I rely on it until I ran out this week.  It got me thinking about all the other essentials that I take for granted – until I either can’t find them or they have run out.

Toolkit - Tea, tape, Etsy pencil & craft knife.

Toolkit – Tea, tape, Etsy pencil & craft knife.

Luckily I have collected a lot of pencils from various places so breaking one won’t result in me turning my studio upside down looking for a sharpener.

The focus on sharing or knowing the contents of your toolkit has really made me realise that this is an area I need to work on. If I put them together in a toolbox (minus my computer and software of course) completing work will involve far less hunting and gathering and result in a more fluid workflow.

I’d love to hear if you have the same issues with hunting for tools, or if you were surprised by how much you rely on basic items to get your work finished……. be it caffeine, tape or music. What’s missing from your toolkit?

Are we putting design before readability?

Your first consideration when designing for print is readability or your content won’t reach it’s market. Why spend all that time preparing your text if people are going to struggle to read it? The design style should not overshadow the content otherwise you might as well scrap the text all together.


I was told last year by a recruitment company that there is a shortfall in people with ‘Design for Print skills’. After the fall the print industry took during the most recent recession I can’t say I’m surprised.  I didn’t think about this any further until today.

Continue reading

Improving Product Photography

This week Etsy Resolution got me thinking about my photos as some of them don’t do the products justice. If you’ve ever had to photograph printed designs you’ll know the problems I’ve been having. The aim is to make the media and the design look as crisp as possible but both can look pixelated when photographed.

The results can look anything but professional.  Any attempts to correct it can make them look bleached which in turn reduces the quality of the digital design.  One tip I have experimented with this weekend comes from Lyndsey James of Photocraft.  She told to me that if you struggle to achieve a perfect white background then why not go for a comfortable grey.  This is ideal for my white stickers on a white backing sheet.

Here are the results of my experiments using some 1 inch circle stickers that I made for Victoria from Destai Designs on Etsy.   By not having to make the background a crisp white colour I can ensure the digital design has the right amount of contrast.  Keeping the brightness down means the white stickers show up against the white backing sheet.

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It looks like I have a lot more listings to work on now.  Do you have trouble photographing any of your listings?