Christmas Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties

Where Does The Time Go?

Grim Reaper Beastie, by CrawCrafts BeastiesWow, even with Grim Reaper Beastie keeping an eye on his hourglass, this year seems to have flown in! And although some people (or monsters) are still taking it easy…
Time for a Rest! CrawCrafts Beasties…Others among us are already thinking ahead to -gulp- the so-called festive season.

Yes, fellow Scrooges all over the world, I am fully aware that it’s not yet October, and that the trees haven’t even started shedding their leaves. I know that we still have Al-Hijra, Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving (both Canadian and American), Diwali and Hallowe’en to celebrate before December even begins. But the fact is – and I’m sure many of my fellow crafters will crack a wry smile here – handmade items take time to make, and whether you’re creating a few gifts for friends and family or a whole stall’s worth of goodies, it pays to get cracking on them early. Believe me, the last-minute Holiday Craft Panic is on a par with last-minute shopping, and I have high hopes of avoiding both this year!

So, today I’m going to ask any of you who might be toying with the idea of welcoming a special little monster into your home to get your orders in now, before the madness kicks off! I’ve even managed to persuade Explorer Beastie to pose for a delightful motivational graphic…
Christmas Orders! Place Your Christmas Orders! CrawCrafts BeastiesPlease bear in mind that Bespoke Beastie spots will be limited, and it will be a case of first come, first served. So, if you already have an idea, let’s get started! Drop me a line and I’ll begin sketching up your design ASAP.

And if this is all too much, too soon, don’t worry! You’ll still be able to grab yourself a monster friend from our Etsy store, or at one of the many markets I plan to squeeze in between now and the end of the year.

Alrighty, I’d better get back to my knitting! I’m hoping to have the first of my Famous Monsters Beasties ready to share with you next Tuesday…

In the meantime, have a monster weekend!

Hooray! New Passports! CrawCrafts Beasties

New Horizons for Beastie Passports!

There’s been work afoot behind the scenes here at Beastie Towers, and today I’m excited to be able to tell you about it at last!

As many of you probably already know, all Beasties are issued with a special passport before they leave for their new homes. This passport contains everything an adventurous little monster (and their new family) needs to know about themselves – who they are, their code number and how to keep in touch with the crew back at Beastie Towers.

Here’s how they looked when I first started making them…
Original Beastie Passports, by CrawCrafts BeastiesFull credit for this idea goes to Boyfriend, and for the last couple of years, it’s been amazing for helping me to keep track of all the Beasties I’ve made. It’s also a handy way to show people that their Beastie is unique! I cut a template to help keep the shields on the front cover consistent, and constant practice has meant that I’ve actually got quite speedy at cutting them out, folding them and filling out the features on each one.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still making every single one by hand! And as the Beasties have started to reach out and colonise new social networks, I’ve had to cram ever more information onto these teeny 5x6mm cards. The end result is…
Save me from drawing teeny social network icons! CrawCrafts BeastiesYikes! Look at all that! The last straw came when I was preparing for a market in the middle of last month, and I realised that two of the social networks I use – Twitter and Instagram – had done the unforgivable and changed their logos… to something undrawable!

A BIRD? How am I going to draw THAT?
Image from http://www.cnn.com
Instagram, How Could You?
Image from http://www.idigitaltimes.com

A bird? And white lines on a multicoloured background? How am I supposed to draw those over and over without going cross-eyed?! Something had to give… So I bit the bullet and tackled something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. It’s time to let print technology do the work for me!

Aaaand since my expertise in designing for print is pretty much non-existent, I figured it would be a good idea to get a pro on board. Fortunately, I know one! I reached out to Julie from Juleco… I’d already seen work she’d done for other clients, and I knew she’d do a great job.

I got my samples back from the printers last week. So now, without further ado, I’m delighted to share her design with you… Behold!
New Passports Have Landed! CrawCrafts BeastiesBecause I no longer have to draw the crest on the front by hand, I was keen to add in a couple more elements – look, there’s a Beastie on there now! And a couple of nods to their Irish heritage, too.
New Beastie Passport Front Cover - CrawCrafts BeastiesInside, there’s space for me to write what type of Beastie they are and their code number. The new “tribe” line will allow me to share their genetic origins – all my Beasties are made from natural fibre yarns, and I want to make more of a big deal about this! I’ll still be drawing the “photos”, of course, but having a space to stick them into, instead of drawing directly onto the passport, will mean I can use proper drawing paper. Plus I’ll be less afraid of making mistakes!
Inside the New Passports - CrawCrafts BeastiesAs for the back… I’m especially pleased that the social media logos no longer look like they were drawn by a 3 year old, but it’s great that I can include info about my Etsy store for the first time, too. I’m also relieved to have somewhere to put my health and safety disclaimer at last – not the most glamorous thing, perhaps, but certainly important!

Massive thanks to Julie for making this project a walk in the park – it was a real pleasure! And if you’re  a small business owner looking for help with your brand identity, I’d definitely recommend you get in touch with her… Or at least take a peek in her Etsy shop!

So, what’s the verdict? Are we fans of the new-look passports? Let me know in the comments!

Explorer Beastie at the Etsy Offices - CrawCrafts Beasties

Ready for your Closeup?

Explorer Beastie at the Etsy Offices - CrawCrafts BeastiesExplorer Beastie and I have been quite the social butterflies recently – we started with the Irish Blogger Conference at the end of last month, and then last week found us hanging out at the Etsy offices in Dublin city centre! We were there for a one-night Product Photography Course, organised by the Etsy Ireland team. When I heard they were running this, I jumped at the chance to go – my own Etsy shop has a hard time competing with my market setup, so I was hoping to pick up some tips to make it a more fun place to visit!

That, and Etsy’s HQ is an excellent place for an adventurous Beastie to explore…
Explorer Beastie at Etsy - CrawCrafts BeastiesOnce everyone had arrived, and helped themselves to some cake…
Yumyumyum CAKE! CrawCrafts Beasties…We got started! We all had a chance to introduce ourselves, and talk about what we make, and then we tackled the tricky subject of lighting.

We’re always told that it’s best to take photos in natural light, but in Ireland this poses something of a problem. I’m certainly guilty of holding out for a sunny day to take my pictures, and it seems I’m not the only one! Even in the middle of summer, a rainy day here can mean really limited daylight… and correspondingly dark and unimpressive pictures! Some of the others also pointed out that it’s difficult to get consistency in a set of photos, because natural light changes so much from season to season – or sometimes from one minute to the next! Gaaaah! How do you fix this?

Why, you build a lightbox of course! So we did – well, two of the team members took on the task of transforming a simple cardboard box (free from your local supermarket) into a glamourous miniature photoshoot setting!
The Finished Lightbox! CrawCrafts BeastiesHere it is, being used as a backdrop for a couple of beautiful Brookwood Pottery mugs! If you’d like to have a go at making your own, YouTube is just brimming over with “how-to” videos… We watched this one before we started. And most of the things you’ll need are either free, cheap or something you’ll already have at home! We all had fun testing it out, too…
Testing the Lightbox - CrawCrafts Beasties…And here’s Cheerleader Beastie enjoying her moment in the spotlight, as Explorer Beastie watches admiringly from the sidelines!
Cheerleader Beastie's Photoshoot - CrawCrafts BeastiesBut of course, he couldn’t resist the lure of the limelight…
Explorer Beastie Strikes a Pose - CrawCrafts BeastiesThe light in this lightbox still has a bit of a pinkish hue, but this can be fixed by using daylight bulbs instead of standard lightbulbs. Javier from CartabanCards showed us another way to make a lightbox, this time using LED camping flashlight tubes and pieces of a simple slot-together storage unit. I think the lighting in this one works much better for showing off Beasties in their best light!
Explorer Beastie Portrait - CrawCrafts BeastiesDoesn’t Explorer Beastie look handsome? And look at how well this setup worked for this stunning vintage-style doll’s dress from DinahsDolls
Photographing the Dinah's Dolls Dress - CrawCrafts BeastiesDinahsDolls Dress in the Lightbox - CrawCrafts Beasties… And how it makes the colours pop in Maeve Croly‘s embroidery sample!
Embroidery Sample by Maeve Croly - CrawCrafts BeastiesAll in all, we had a great time and learned loads! It was super to make contact with some other local Etsyans as well, and swap tips and stories. I’m especially interested to try out Snapseed, which allows you to edit photos on your phone or tablet!

Thanks to the Etsy Ireland team for organising the course, and especially to Claire from mIrishDublin and Javier for teaching us! Claire also put together an Etsy treasury afterwards featuring some of the goodies from each of our shops… if you’re in need of a treat for someone (or for yourself), you could well find it there!

We’ll be back on Friday to check up on a Beastie abroad… in the meantime, if you have any top photography tips of your own please share them with us in the comments!

Have a great week!

Pirate Beastie Full Length - CrawCrafts Beasties

Postcard From Pirate Beastie

Pirate Beastie, by CrawCrafts Beasties
Diligent BeastieBlog readers will surely remember this cheeky little ruffian! Pirate Beastie has been an important part of the crew here at Beastie Towers for a while, and I was wondering if he’d ever get a chance to set sail and see the wider world. But while I was on my holidays, I got a message on Etsy from Noémie at FocalHeart… Turns out her son is quite the pirate enthusiast, and he couldn’t wait to welcome Pirate Beastie aboard! Piggy banks were frantically raided, and Pirate Beastie was dispatched that very same day… Then last week I received a message in a bottle (an online bottle) to say he’d arrived safely, and it included PHOTOS!

It seems that Pirate Beastie has really landed on his feet – he’d barely arrived before he started gathering up treasure!
Pirate Beastie's Treasure - N Rimmer/CrawCrafts Beasties
A lot of treasure.
More Pirate Treasure - N Rimmer/CrawCrafts Beasties
He also got a new custom-built pirate ship, carefully constructed by his new shipmate!
Pirate Beastie's Ship - N Rimmer/CrawCrafts Beasties
And that’s not all – a couple of days later, he was invited to a pirate party!
Pirate Beastie's Hallowe'en - N Rimmer/CrawCrafts Beasties
Another great opportunity to gather up a few pieces of eight…
Even more treasure - N Rimmer/CrawCrafts Beasties
… Rub shoulders with famous scurvy sea dogs, like Captain Jack Sparrow…
Captain Jack and Captain James  N Rimmer/CrawCrafts Beasties
…And have a swig of grog with some mysterious maidens!
Pirate Beastie and Mysterious Lady Friend - N Rimmer/CrawCrafts Beasties
Yaaaaaarrrrrr!

Thanks so much to Noémie and Thom for giving Pirate Beastie such a good home, and a new name! He now answers to James – Captain James to us landlubbers, I’m sure. And I’ve been super-impressed by Thom’s photography skills… he’s responsible for a lot of the pictures I’ve used in this post, so thank you for letting me use them!

You can read the full story of James the Pirate Beastie’s arrival (including unboxing video!) and big Hallowe’en night out on Noémie’s own blog. And make sure you stick around to check out her awesome handknits and paintings!

Oooookaaaay, time for me to head below decks and get ready for my market tomorrow! Have a super weekend, everybody!

Sleepy Fox and Chilled-out Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties

A Monster Day Out… With Crafting!

A Beastie-in-progress with some Sleepy Foxes

Much as I love crafting, the life of a monster-maker can be a lonely one sometimes… Even with a houseful of Beasties to talk to! So last week, I set out from Beastie Towers with a bagful of WIPs to spend some time in the company of another crafty lady, and her marvellous creations.

I met Guadalupe at my first ever market, where I fell in love with the beautiful handcrafted dolls and Christmas decorations she makes. Her daughter also became my unofficial assistant and PR person that weekend, bringing all her friends over to my stall, and keeping a careful eye on which Beasties had left since her last visit!

So while we enjoyed tea and chat, and did a bit of work (honest!), we left some of our little creatures out in the garden, to see how they got on.
Beastie Playing Peekaboo with Sleepy Foxes - CrawCrafts Beasties
Pretty well, it seems!
Sleepy Fox and Chilled-out Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties
Guadalupe’s Sleepy Foxes make great companions – just looking at these photos makes me feel relaxed! You can meet more of her creations in her Etsy shop (I especially love the sweet Bunny Girl dolls and hairy lions), or find out more about the lady herself on Pod. And for a dose of instant joy, check out her Instagram 🙂

And what about that mysterious Beastie? Who is she? All will be revealed on Tuesday, so don’t forget to stop by!

Have a monster weekend, everybody!

Smiley Bean Face! CrawCrafts Beasties

Ooooh, New… Beanies?!

Mame-Chan Plushie Bean, by CrawCrafts Beasties
It’s not just Beastiemaking that’s been keeping my hands busy these last few weeks! Regular hangers-out on the BeastieBlog may already have encountered my little plushie beans… if not, you can catch up here!

Normally, these beans are small enough to sit comfortably in your open hand. But then I got a request on Etsy for something bigger. A whole lot bigger! So I set about supersizing my regular beanie template…

The upscaling process meant I needed to stitch the features a little bolder…
Smiley Bean Face! CrawCrafts Beasties
And my customer asked if I could personalise the bean with the recipient’s name – great idea!
A Bean to Call Your Own, by CrawCrafts Beasties
And who will be getting to cuddle up to this soft, squishy beanie friend?
Giant Bean goes home - CrawCrafts Beasties
Why, this happy little lady of course! Here they are celebrating her 3-month birthday together… hope you had a great day, Clara! Also, thanks to your mum for sending me this lovely photo and allowing me to share it with the world!

As for me, I think I’ll definitely be growing more giant-size beans in the Beastie Towers garden this autumn!

 

A Monster Tour of Dublin

Tae Beastie at the Guinness Storehouse - CrawCrafts Beasties

Wow! It’s been a hectic couple of weeks here at Beastie Towers! Sometimes a project comes along that demands a little extra effort, and that’s why there hasn’t been much activity here on the BeastieBlog lately. I’ll unveil that monster undertaking soon enough, but it seemed a bit much for a Friday… so let’s take a leisurely stroll around Dublin with Tae Beastie instead!

Just over a month ago, I got a request through Etsy for a Beastie with a mug. My tea-loving Barróg Beastie, Tae Beastie, was excited to leave Beastie Towers for pastures new… and when his family-to-be asked for some photos of him in his home town, we were happy to oblige! So here is Tae Beastie’s whistle-stop tour of Dublin, in pictures!

We started off just down the road from Beastie Towers, at the Guinness factory. Guinness is still brewed here on the original site at St James’ Gate, a little west of the city centre, and most days the air in this part of town is filled with the delicious chocolately scent of roasted barley, which gives the beer its dark colour.
Guinness Factory - CrawCrafts Beasties
Tae Beastie at the Guinness Storehouse - CrawCrafts BeastiesTae Beastie in the old part of the Guinness Brewery - CrawCrafts BeastiesAs you can see, there’s quite a contrast between the modern high-tech brewery and the older buildings on the site! However, many of the original buildings are still in use – one houses the Storehouse visitor centre, while others have been converted into offices.

After a wander through the lanes and alleys of the old brewery, we started heading for town! There was plenty to see along the way – this part of the city is packed with old churches. I asked Tae Baestie to pose with two of the most well-known… first of all St Audoen’s Church, which was built in 1190 and is the oldest parish church in Dublin (factoids courtesy of Wikipedia). I’ve also heard rumours that it’s haunted!
St Audoen's Church - CrawCrafts Beasties
Next, we passed Christ Church Cathedral, which in Medieval times was right in the very heart of the city.
Christchurch Cathedral - CrawCrafts Beasties
It’s a fascinating building, with flying buttresses, a crypt and a covered passageway which links the  Cathedral to the Synod Hall on the other side of the street. Christ Church stands at the far end of the Temple Bar area, so our next move was to take a stroll through the cobbled back streets!
Back Streets, Temple Bar - CrawCrafts Beasties
Temple Bar can be a bit of a tourist trap, but there are a few good pubs around here if you know where to look. I still enjoy an occasional visit to The Porter House or the Palace Bar when I’m in the area. However, most people end up here…
The Temple Bar - CrawCrafts Beasties
Our walk through Temple Bar brought us out conveniently just in front of Trinity College, home of the Book of Kells. It’s also where I went to university!
Front Square, Trinity College - CrawCrafts Beasties
This is Front Square, and the archway you can see towards the back of the picture is the main entrance to the College. Outside is one of the busiest roads in the city centre… but once you walk through Front Arch, all the traffic noise just VANISHES. It’s like stepping back in time! Tae Beastie enjoyed posing with the Campanile and this statue of a former Provost, whose expression I just can’t figure out… is he very stern, or does he have a bit of a cheeky glint in his eye?
The Campanile, Trinity College - CrawCrafts BeastiesTae Beastie meets the Provost - CrawCrafts BeastiesAfter that, we made a beeline (or, rather, a Beastieline) for St Stephen’s Green. This park is right in the middle of the south side city centre, and it’s a great place to enjoy the arrival of spring!
St Stephen's Green - CrawCrafts Beasties
Just inside the main entrance at the top of Grafton Street, you’ll find this lovely long avenue of lime trees. I’ll sometimes go out of my way to walk along here, whether it’s to enjoy the shade on a hot summer’s day, or kick through piles of bright yellow heart-shaped leaves in the autumn. Tae Beastie was especially taken with the fresh new foliage… check out those vibrant bright green leaves!
There were also plenty of spring flowers to see…
Spring Flowers at St Stephen's Green - CrawCrafts BeastiesCherry Blossom at St Stephen's Green - CrawCrafts BeastiesWe managed to get our final pictures just as the sun disappeared behind a cloud, and (luckily) before the rain started. Well, that’s spring in Ireland for you! Later that day, Tae Beastie headed off to his new home in Atlanta, Georgia… let’s hope he’s settling in well in the Peach State!

We’re in a Treasury!

Etsy Treasury - The Essence of Kawaii by Terra K Chi

In some ways, Etsy is great. It’s so massive, and I’ve spent many a happy hour looking through pages and pages of handmade goodies that are breathtakingly beautiful, unbelievably cute or laugh-out-loud funny. I love the idea that I can buy just about anything from just about anywhere without ever having to stir from the comfy couch in Beastie Towers… and that I have the power to run a market stall that remains open whether I’m at work, asleep or busily knitting away with some choice murder mysteries playing in the background.

That said, it sometimes seems VERY big. Like “playground on the first day of primary school” big. And that’s why it’s extra rewarding when a complete stranger not only finds your little shop in amongst all the thousands of others, but likes something enough to tell other people about it. So thank you, Terra K Chi, for including Gardener Beastie in your treasury “The Essence of Kawaii” – this is the first time a Beastie has made it into an Etsy treasury, and we’re all thrilled!

Taking Care of Beastie Business!

Winter Beastie by CrawCrafts Beasties

Ah, January! Cold, dark days, nights that begin at 4.30 in the afternoon and the Christmas lights in the streets haven’t been taken down yet, but they aren’t being switched on any more either… Well, that’s what’s happening in Dublin, anyway. So, what better time for me to tackle one of my New Year’s resolutions head-on, and get the Beasties’ Etsy shop going again?

Etsy Shop Window

Ta-daaaaaah! My first three listings went live this morning, and I’ll be adding more over the next few days. If you have a spare second, please pop over and visit the Beasties in their new online home… Etsy’s such a massive place these days, I’m worried they’ll get lost in there! I’d also love to hear any feedback you might have about the shop, or your own experiences of buying or selling online… tell me all about it in the comments!

Happy Friday everybody, hope you all have a monster weekend!

New Beasties in New Places…

Sweetheart Beasties

Meet some more of my new arrivals!

I’ve been making these Sweetheart Beasties with a view to reviving my long-dormant Etsy shop in time for Valentine’s Day! If you have a second, why not drop in and pay them a visit?
Beasties on Etsy

Sharing Beasties in more places meant heading out for another photo shoot – this time I chose Iveagh Gardens, one of my favourite Dublin parks. Even though it’s right in the city centre, it’s a little tricky to find, and with its crumbling statues and high walls, it feels like you’ve stumbled into the Secret Garden…

Red Valentine Beastie Red Rose Beastie met a stony-faced lady…

Sweetheart Beastie … While Pink Sweetheart Beastie battled through the miniature maze to reach the sundial at the centre.

I’ve also been busy this week making my own selection of Valentine’s cards. I have to admit that I’ve never been the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day, so I decided to make the kind of cards I’d like to see. Was this a good idea? I’ll let you decide…

Valentine Cards 2

Have a great weekend!