Now that feels much better!
What a difference it is to wake up to a clean work environment. It isn’t as if it was a pigsty, but I will admit that there was plenty of clutter and odds and ends like papers and stuff on the counters and the table and on my desk. I spent a good part of yesterday going through things and sorting and organizing and throwing things out. Even some of my supply closets and drawers, although I still need to do the ‘big sort’ with my craft supplies. I have discovered that I have accumulated quite a variety of little things like beads and wire and stones to use in designing and one day I need to bring it all out in a pile and re-sort it so that everything has a place.
One day . . .
In between things I had lots of customer correspondence and needed to solve some problems on the site. It seems that since the upgrade of software a couple of weeks ago, some of my international customers were being charged Illinois sales tax. How stupid is that? In the past two weeks, I had two customers (one from Australia and one from Germany) who were automatically charged the tax. However, other international orders were fine, even another one to Australia. I have programmed the site so that only the Illinois customers are charged the tax, but it seems as if it randomly charges it on these international customers at will. I do refund it, but it is a pain in the butt and looks unprofessional to have these errors. Last week on went online and spent about a half hour in chat trying to correct the problem and we thought it was done (although I never saw what the coding error was) but it reared its ugly head again and tried to charge a customer from Quebec, Canada the Illinois tax. So I spent over an hour on the phone with technical support and although he seemed knowledgeable and helpful, he was also baffled. He said he was also unable to see the error and wondered if the matter was indeed resolved. Being intermittent it is difficult to tell. He did give me a direct email so if the problem recurs I can contact him directly. That will help.
I also had time to play around with the magnetic sheeting and try some painting. I was very pleased to say that the beautiful photo quality gloss sheeting (my favorite of the three types that I was trying) took to painting very well. It seemed to me that the coating dissolved ever so slightly when it came in contact with the water-based paint. Not to the point of deterioration, but it almost bonded with it. This was good.
I found that painting on it was much like painting on wood or any other surface. You needed to apply the paint evenly and it did require two to three base coats, as is required for painting most wood surfaces. The trick is to allow the paint to dry thoroughly between coats and it gave a nice smooth and even area to paint shading and details on. Once the base was applied, it was easy to finish up things as you would paint any other wood surface, by using techniques such as dry brushing and float shading. I think it came out good.
The design I used this time was by Renee Mullins. I just wanted a simple piece to experiment with. You can see where I mis-printed the smaller pumpkin on the upper left, but this was practice. What was important was that the printed lines and also the painting would bond correctly with the material. Dennis was right in his comment yesterday with saying that the sheets were made to take on color. Unlike vinyl or other glossy surfaces, this surface seems quite receptive to coloring and it will be excellent for what I have planned for it. It is also about twice as thick as the paper that I had originally purchased a couple of weeks ago, and I will feel much better about offering this product to my customers. The things that they make with this material will be quite a bit more durable and lasting.
I did notice that if I went out of the lines or dripped a bit, the mistake was there to stay:
In that way the sheet is much like watercolor paper, except with watercolor paper you can scrape off a mistake carefully using an exacto knife if you need to. There is none of that here, as once it is on it is on to stay. But since what I plan to design will be cut with scissors after painting, it is of little consequence. I also need to watch my details (such as the trailing vines on the pumpkins here) so that they stay within the main part of the design. The sample had several more vines as you can see in the smaller picture and the outer edges, but they would be impossible to include if the piece were to be cut out.
All this information is very helpful to know BEFORE I start to draw and create designs with this material in mind. By painting this small sample, many issues were addressed that I wouldn’t have even thought of had I not given it a try. I now feel that I am ready to move forward with working with this material and it opens up an entire new avenue for my business. Now we will have to see if my customers will like what I have to offer. It will be an exciting year or so getting these patterns out there. Hopefully most of the mistakes are behind me and I learned from them.
Speaking of mistakes, yesterday I did a doozy. While I was tidying up and getting the calendar topper and pieces ready to ship, I had a mishap. I was trying out a box for size that I had planned to use for shipping the items. I wasn’t sure that everything would fit, so I just folded the bottom so that it stayed closed and loaded the pieces in. It sat on the table for a bit while I was cleaning other things around it and it got to the point where I needed to move it. I picked it up quickly as I was walking by and the bottom opened up and everything in it went crashing to the floor.
DOH!!! (That is the second time this week I used that phrase! – Not good!)
Fortunately the topper piece itself was not damaged, but two of the big pieces got broken. One was the central trail of hearts and the other was the center trail of snowflakes. Of course they were the two pieces that took the longest to cut! So my plan to mail them out was aborted and I have to re-cut them today. I was quite disgusted with myself and upon hearing the crash, the cats scattered like rats. I don’t know if it was actually from the crash or from me crying out afterword. I think a little of both.
I am going to look at it this way – I not only get to practice cutting more, but I think I will take some additional pictures for my stack cutting article and cut several. I made two toppers originally – one to go to the magazine and one here for myself – and two sets of the month names, but I didn’t duplicate the characters for the months. I now have the opportunity to do that and get some more pictures besides. I will just pick some good music and take the probably two hours it will take me to re-cut them as a time to relax and enjoy things. Stuff happens. I suppose I will just have to be more careful next time.
So all in all I think it was a great day. As I sit here in my clean place I feel ready for work, even though the sun hasn’t even come up yet. I like these days. And I wonder what adventures today will bring.
Have a great Saturday everyone! I hope you all get some shop time!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"