Category Archives: DIY

Light Box Review

For nearly eight years I used the same product photography setup—propped up foam core next to a window. It was cheap and worked for my purposes, but it had some drawbacks. My old setup relied heavily on the weather, and I often had to delay my shoots on gloomy days. My photos were also heavily affected by the leaves on the trees outside reflecting green or yellow light on my setup during spring, summer, and fall. Editing photos took forever, because I had to manually adjust each one. Due to the changing light conditions I couldn’t automate any part of the editing process.

After years of debating I decided I will be changing my greeting cards from A7 to A2 size, which means updating all my product photos. Talk about daunting! I’m switching to a white background for individual product shots, while keeping my usual burlap texture for styled shots. I spent hours reading way too many reviews, and finally bought this light box.

My light box folds flat for storage and easily pops up when I need it. The inside is lined with LED lights, and there’s a white backdrop built in. The box seals the light in with velcro, and there are openings with flaps on the top and front so you can poke your camera in to get your shot. I don’t like that there’s no on/off switch. You have to plug and unplug it to turn it on and off. Also, the white backdrop has a crease in it from being folded for storage. Lucky for me the crease isn’t a problem for flat lay product photos.

My process for re-shooting my cards was to photograph each one with the same camera settings in the same placement in the light box. Then I created a Photoshop action to automatically edit each photo as much as possible. (Here’s a tutorial from Adobe demonstrating how to create Photoshop actions.)

Here’s a raw unedited photo straight from my light box:

light box review

After I ran my custom Photoshop action I was left with this:

light box review

Then I just had to adjust it slightly to finish up:

light box review

I can’t tell you how much time this new process has saved me! I was able to photograph and edit 85 cards in one day! I don’t even want to think about how long that would’ve taken with my old photography set up. At least a week I’m sure.

If you’ve been on my site you know I haven’t switched over to the new product photos yet. I’ll be gradually making the change in late December/early January when the new card size is available.

One other downside, if you have a toddler you will probably have to share the light box.

light box review

Latest Pottery Haul

I’m still making pottery and loving it! Here are some of my latest pieces. I’ve been trying all sorts of different things—marbling clay, carving patterns, making stamps to add texture, experimenting with glazes, Sgraffito, etc… All these pieces are hand-built with my trusty rolling pin and a few other tools—no wheel throwing for me. I can’t seem to make enough mugs and planters!

I’m starting to get a feel for my personal aesthetic when it comes to ceramics, and it’s really exciting! I definitely want to keep it as a hobby for now, but thank you SO much to those of you who’ve asked about buying my pots. You’re such an encouragement!

hand-built pottery

hand-built pottery

hand-built pottery

hand-built pottery

hand-built pottery

hand-built pottery

hand-built pottery

hand-built pottery

Get a Hobby

I’ve been cranking out cards and paper products for Wit & Whistle for almost 8 years. 8 YEARS. At this point, running Wit & Whistle feels like work. It’s work I absolutely love doing, but it’s still work. Deadlines, payroll, invoicing, marketing, customer service, accounting, shipping… you get the gist. There are a lot of non-creative aspects of running a creative business.

The time I get to spend coming up with new products has been enough to satisfy my creative urges for a long time, but lately I’ve needed a new challenge. Something fresh, fun, and creative that isn’t work related.

Thanks to my Cary Arts Center pottery studio pass, I’ve been regularly playing with clay. The ability to switch between pen and ink and clay is flexing my creativity in new ways, and I’m having a blast with it. When I grab my sketchbook and get back to work after a clay break, I feel refreshed and inspiration seems to strike so effortlessly. Who knew investing time in an unrelated hobby would benefit my business?

I’m not an amazing potter, but I don’t suck as badly as I did in the beginning! I feel like I have good ideas but still lack the technical skills to make what I’m envisioning. Sometimes my pottery turns out exactly like I planned though, like this little pencil cup dude…

wit & whistle pottery hobby

…these plates…

wit & whistle pottery hobby

…and this mug.

wit & whistle pottery hobby

Other times the glaze turns out splotchy and weird for no apparent reason, like these three dud mugs.

wit & whistle pottery hobby

I loved the way my happy cactus spoon rest looked until I glazed it. Now, not so much. It’s a learning process.

wit & whistle pottery hobby

On the other hand my studded, speckled planter turned out just right. I see more planters in my future.

wit & whistle pottery hobby

wit & whistle pottery hobby

Do those of you who do creative work find that you also need a creative outlet on the side? If so, is your hobby completely different than your work or is it similar?

Homemade Suet for Birds

We got some wintery weather over the weekend, and I loved every minute! It wasn’t the 5-8 inches of snow the weather man promised, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

DIY suet for wild birds

DIY suet for wild birds

The temperatures have been in the single digits the last few nights, and when it gets that cold I start worrying about the wild birds. You Do It Suet was kind enough to give me one of their suet molds, and I figured the birds would appreciate a treat today.

The mold came with a book of recipes, and I tweaked one of them to use what I had on hand. I stirred together 5 tablespoons of dried mealworms, 5 tablespoons of Quick Oats, 5 tablespoons of whole wheat flour, and 3 tablespoons of peanut butter.

Yes, I had mealworms on hand. I’m not a total weirdo—my chickens love them. It was incredibly strange to measure worms into a mixing bowl though. You can use sunflower seeds in place of worms if you’re squeamish.

DIY suet for wild birds

I reheated my saved bacon grease, stirred it into the dry ingredients, and poured everything into the mold. Umm… yum? Daniel came into the kitchen smelling bacon and squealed when he saw my bowl full of worm soup.

DIY suet for wild birds

I put the mold in the freezer for a while, and then popped the suet out. I left it in the freezer for about 45 minutes. If I had left it longer the “You Do it Suet” logo would’ve turned out perfectly, but I was itching to feed my feathered friends. (They can’t read anyway!)

DIY suet for wild birds

DIY suet for wild birds

I haven’t put bird food out for at least 6 months, but within 1 minute of hanging the suet outside birds flocked around it and started chowing down!

DIY suet for wild birds

Fern seemed to love watching the birds with me for a few minutes. Then she started screaming and thrashing around, because nap time.

DIY suet for wild birds

Definitely consider the You Do It Suet mold if you want to try making your own suet, or if you need a thoughtful gift for a bird lover. It’s a great product and a nice way to put leftover cooking grease to use (or any leftover worms you may have sitting around your kitchen). You can also use it to make suet for your pet chickens, so you know I’m trying that next. Fat happy chickens, here we come!

Drawing Challenge 2016

What better way to start out the new year than with a fresh drawing challenge? If you’d like to join me, hashtag your drawings #WWdrawingchallenge on Instagram. I can’t wait to see what you make! Work at whatever speed is best for you—I’ll be posting two drawings a week on the blog for the month of January. Just because my shop is closed for maternity leave doesn’t mean I’m not still creating!

wit & whistle drawing challenge

THE CHALLENGE! Draw these things:

1. your favorite childhood toy
2. a monster
3. your favorite letter of the alphabet
4. a map
5. something that makes you laugh
6. where you live
7. a houseplant
8. something geometric