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Product Photography & Styling

Do you want to know more about product styling and photography? A few days ago a reader commented on my most recent Etsy Take Five Tuesday column expressing frustration because she has a hard time taking good product shots for her store, and as a result felt overlooked by bloggers (like me) who are so particular about the images that we share on our sites.

Product Photography

I really appreciated hearing her thoughts and I felt bad because I know how it feels to be in that position as years ago I had no clue how to take photos and while I’m still not a professional, I have grown tremendously in this area in comparison to my humble beginnings and I wanted to let her in on how I made progress. I then thought that her frustration may be what others are feeling out there but who are too shy to say something — especially when their favorite blogs won’t feature their products due to photography that could be a bit more professional looking without breaking the bank. Truth is, I think anyone who has a home-based business, a computer, and a camera (point and shoot, DSLR, doesn’t matter) should pay attention to the photos that they are taking of their products because that is one of the major factors that can make or break their business. And it’s SO easy to quickly make improvements in this area… so why not try it?

In fact, in the class I am currently instructing with Leslie Shewring is covering many blog-related topics and one just so happens to be photography and styling for photos that appear on your blog (or web shop). Leslie does a beautiful job explaining things and students in our class seem to be gaining more and more confidence in their abilities to pretty-up their photos as the weeks go by. And though I cannot spill what we’ve been sharing in class, I can share some links that I’ve found personally helpful.

Some of these focus on food styling but that’s not the point, you can replace food with any object you’d like – the point is to examine the techniques shown. I want everyone to take pride in what they are sharing online, whether in their Flickr account, on Etsy, on their blogs, the point is that when you feel confident about the work you are presenting others will want to share it, too. So if you are frustrated and wonder about photography, styling, how to create a budget home photo studio for your small business then these links are for you:

As far as magazines and books are concerning, I can’t direct you there as much because quite frankly, most feel wayyyy over my head and bore me to death. But I just started reading Digital Photographer magazine and find their tutorials super helpful and perfect for all levels. It’s a British title that I think is available at large booksellers in the states because I first found it at Barnes & Noble, so check it out!

Hope these links help you! If you know of some other great websites, online tutorials, books, magazines… please share them with us because I’m sure lots of readers would be grateful for as much help in this area as possible.

(image: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in DIY on February 19, 2010

DIY Chevron Art

I’m loving this easy and affordable DIY art project from the talented Jess Constable over at Make Under My Life. She told me that she has a crush on chevron patterns currently so she decided to create her own art in gold and white to place over her dining room table. Jess asked if I wouldn’t mind posting this on decor8, and since it’s so lovely, why not? I am suddenly crushing on chevrons after seeing this!


Materials Used: 3 22×28? stretched canvases (each one cost about $22) Bronze gold acrylic paint ($10) Large, soft bristled brush ($10) 1 roll blue painters tape ($4) thumbtacks nails + hammer (to hang) Chevron pattern stencil (free at Sunset Magazine found first over at Kelly + Olive) Jess gives you the full DIY scoop below. Take it away, Jess!

DIY Chevron Art project

First, I printed out the stencil three times to get the right length for your canvases. I carefully trimmed the paper to include just the zig-zag and then taped them together to get the correct width.

DIY Chevron Art project

I recycled some old canvases, I decided I can always recreate the string art look on new canvases, and in the meantime save some $$ by reusing the two I already had.

DIY Chevron Art project

To transfer the chevron pattern from the paper stencil to the canvas, I used a thumb tack to mark each of the points. I did this for both stripes on the stencil and then used blue painters tape to fill in where the white zig-zag was on the stencil. The thumb tack prints helped me know where to start and stop the tape. You can use anything to mark yours, the thumb tacks are completely optional.

DIY Chevron Art project

TIP: I found lining up a whole bunch of tape makes the process quicker.

DIY Chevron Art project

Once the canvas was complete with the chevron pattern, I taped the sides as well to keep them white. I also used a credit card to smooth down all the lines and make sure no paint would bleed into the stripe pattern. After that, I just needed to paint the canvases with a solid coat of paint. It didn’t take nearly as much paint as I thought it would. I painted all three canvases with one tube of paint, and I still have some left over! The canvases needed about 20 minutes to dry and then I removed the painters tape. You can also let them dry overnight, just in case since your home may be cooler or more humid than mine. I love how the metallic gold paint shines against the solid white stripe. – Jess.

If you have any questions for Jess, please ask her below and thanks Jess for visiting decor8 today with your awesome project!

(images: Jess Constable)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, DIY, guest bloggers on January 05, 2010

DIY Yarn Candelabras

What’s not to love about artist Katie Runnels, also known as the author of the Constant Gatherer blog and creator behind the lovely shop under the same name? Katie attended SCAD in Savannah and lives in South Carolina now where she works from her home-based studio. She’s so dedicated to her craft, very talented, a true craft goddess and source of creative inspiration which is exactly why I asked her to pretty please visit us to share a fun DIY project to dress up all those candelabras out there — crafty style! Katie will demonstrate how to whip up a yarn candelabra in no time. Go grab your favorite skein and your trusty glue gun, it’s time to start a-craftin’. But first, Katie would like to share a quick glimpse of her home studio for inspiration — you can see where all the DIY magic begins!

Katie Runnels

Katie Runnels

Katie Runnels

Katie Runnels

Now it’s project time!

*Safety Note: Be very careful to use candelabras in excellent working condition – no frayed or exposed wiring. Never leave yarn wrapped candelabras unattended and follow the recommendations for safe decorating!

* Materials:
Vintage (With Wiring in Good Condition) or New Electric Candelabra (photo candlebases), Yarn: Wool, Polyester, Acrylic or blends of these are recommended. Hot Glue Gun. Scissors. Millinery or Other Embellishments

Katie Runnels

1. Begin by tying the loose end of your skein of yarn in a knot around the cord and snug against the candelabra base.
2. Keep working the Yarn around in a spiral. Eventually it will begin to wind around the base. Dab glue in small bits where you need help keeping the rows tight.
3. Wrap right up to the first candle-add some glue to both sides-and working quickly draw the yarn up and down again and then directly wind the yarn under again and up on the other side in the very same manner. Repeat until you have cleared the candle and continue wrapping normally until the next candle. 
4. As you near the end of the candelabra you’ll need to add more glue to keep the yarn from slipping. When you reach the end and no more yarn can fit under the base  begin to spiral the yarn around until you’ve covered the entire end of the piece. 
5. When your base is finished begin wrapping the candles. Tie a knot at the base in the back of your candelabra, secure it with a little glue, and wrap your way to the  top.
6. If you haven’t already- Remove the light bulb and as your wrapping nears the top, add a few dabs of glue to the  outside edge (near the top-Not on The Top! Keep yarn & glue away from candle interior and bulb!). Cut yarn loose from the skein and press the end down into the glue.

Katie Runnels

7. Finish by embellishing with vintage millinery leaves & flowers!

Katie Runnels

I hope that you had fun and that you’re able to try this at home. Thank you Katie for joining us today and sharing your crafty project. :)

(images: katie runnels)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, DIY on December 15, 2009


In my last post about wallpaper I included a link to some samples that were framed as art. Did you click on that to see more? Okay good. Now to show you a fabric snip as art. This is by the lovely blogger and illustrator, Ishtar Olivera, who is from Spain and has framed a piece of Heather Ross fabric.

It’s the simple things I like to highlight here sometimes because they can be done in minutes and don’t require complicated instructions because some projects are just too time consuming when you need a quick decorating fix. Try framing some wallpaper, greeting cards, stamps, old photos from flea markets, doilies, scrapbook paper or fabric this weekend. It’s so easy, I guarantee you will like the results. I’ve framed fabric and stamps in the past, it is very, very easy. You can even frame found items like buttons and leaves. Get creative, grab a frame, and see what you can do!

(image: ishtar olivera)

Posted in DIY, Rooms on December 04, 2009


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