Friday, January 28, 2011

The Hanged Man

Forgive me readers, for I have's been 5 days since my last post. The truth is I'm lost in my own head, lost in the forest where I can find no path but the one I came here on. So I've been sitting here on this tree stump- waiting for something to happen, a sign or signal to tell me which way to go, where the path will appear.

study of an outcast

Reading through my old notebooks, I am reminded that as far back as August last year I have been restless and dissatisfied with my work. It has become such a pre-occupation that it now evelopes my entire occupation, and I have lost all inclination to sit at my work bench.

I entertain other ideas- metalwork? Back to wrist cuffs? Concentrate on art? Photography? Just sell antiques?

under your weather

Nothing seems to present a solid answer. So I will just continue to sit and wait.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not all fantasies are healthy.

A song has been in my head for the last 48 hours, it won't go away no matter what else I watch or listen to. I don't know what the universe is trying to tell me. I'm not complaining though- it's an awesome song, there are many more worse things to have to listen to repeatedly and we all know I'm a sucker for dystopian visions of a post-apocalyptic future.

There are billions of remixes on youtube, the above is the original with the best film clip. I'd show you a good re-mix but well...there ain't any. In fact I'm a bit spoilt for choice as to which one is the worst. The word 'butchered' often comes to mind.

Photoshop is my friend

Something I've been meaning to get to for a very long time is a photography tutorial. I've had a few people compliment me on my images and fancifuldevices is always pestering me on how to replicate my look, which she calls 'softly faded, glowing from within'. Bless.

So here we go! (In nice easy to understand terms for newbies- photoshop veterans, be patient!)

First thing's first- the image above. it's dull. There's a tiredness to it and the colours don't look realistic. The quickest way to fix this is to work with the file in something called RAW mode. Now my tutorial is in Photoshop (cs3) but you should be able to do this in PS Elements as well.

Go to File>Open As... and choose your file. Before you hit open, click the drop down menu next to the words 'open as' and selected 'Camera RAW' from the selection. You'll now be looking at a very odd screen, taken up mostly by your photo and a whole bunch of sliders and coloured pointy things.

Practice with the sliders- drag them this way and that, taking note of what does what. To bump up the light on this one, I slid Fill Light over to 37 and upped the Blacks a little as well. You'll also notice there are little pictures above these sliders, click on them and investigate the sliders in there as well. Take note- if something doesn't look like it's doing something, check the little box in the bottom left- if it says 25% or similar, click it and select 100% - that way you can see all those details. I usually work on 50% but you can do whatever you like.

After raw processing. Improved- yes! Finished- no!

If you've made something you're happy with- click 'done' and your image is ready to go! If you'd like to tinker in more painterly ways, hit 'open image' and you'll find yourself in photoshop.

After RAW tinkering, the only other typical things I use to change my images are Colour Balance, layer effects, blur and sharpen. Let's start with colour balance.

When I opened the image in PS I noticed it was a little on the red side, so I went to Image>Adjustments>Colour Balance.

More sliders- hooray! Make sure your little 'preview' box is checked and play with the sliders- you'll notice pretty quickly what they do- they change colour! I've dragged the slider a tiny bit towards Cyan (and away from Red) only about -5 or so. I also slide toward Blue at a level of +6.

Then, being a fussy bunny, I clicked on the Shadows button and slid the blue up to +16. You're going to need different sliding combos depending on what your image looks like- just have fun sliding up and down. This colour balance slider is invaluable for those images where the red has come out too pink or the purple just looks blue. Even if you only learn one thing in this post, it ought to be that! It saves SO much re-shooting and hassle with light.

Sliders do their bit- still not finished? Too right!

Okay- now I'm done with that, I feel like the image could do with a little beefing up. So I go over to my layers palette which is on the right side- if there's no palette there, go to Window>Layers - and one should pop up. Right click on the layer called 'Background' and select 'duplicate layer' from the menu. (if it asks you any questions just click 'okay'.) You should now have this:

See that drop-down where it says 'normal'? Click that and select one of the following:

Multiply - for pale washed out images that need some shadow time
Screen - for a really dark image that needs the lights turning on
Soft Light - for pale and weak images that need some definition.

Mess around with the other layer style if you like, but I find these 3 to be the most relevant. I chose Multiply for my image, but it was a little strong, so I clicked where it says 'Opacity' and dropped it down to 49% - this makes the layer a little (or a lot) transparent and will lessen the effect.

Still a little dark, yeah? Yeah. So I right click on 'Background' layer again and select duplicate layer- now I have Layer 2 above Background. I go up to Normal again and select 'Screen'. That's flooded the second layer with light, and I just drop the opacity till I'm happy.

It might not look to different- but subtle changes can make all the difference!

I know this sounds complicated- I promise you it's not. Once you've spent a few minutes duplicating layers and setting different layer effects, you'll start to grasp what things do.

Now- here comes some fun. I like the overall tone of the image, but I think the left hand side is a teeny bit dark. So I go over to the side of the screen where my tools palette is and select the eraser tool- that's this one:

Now-the eraser is going to rub out section of the layers that are getting in the way. So for example- my Multiply layer is the one that's doing all the darkness vibes around here, so I'm going to make sure my layers palette has Layer 1 selected, then just erase the section you don't want.

When you're doing this, I highly recommend a brush with 0% hardness, which you can select by right clicking anywhere on the picture. You can also change your brush size there as well- make sure your caps lock isn't on or you'll just have a plus sign for a brush! Not fun. I also recommend dropping the opacity to about 40% - you can do that above your image, just under the task command bar. When you've finished toying with things, go up to Layer>flatten image; this puts all the layers into one and unites the image, enabling it to be saved as a jpeg.

Pretty sexy huh? Not done yet!

Now- for more gorgeousness, I'm going to use the blur tool to bring out sections and fade other parts away. The blur tool looks like a teardrop and is two tools down from the eraser. It might look like a triangle, if it does, just click and hold for a second and a little menu will pop out, and you can choose the blur from there.

Now we use the blur like we did the eraser, 'painting' various parts of the image to make them lose focus. There's an art to blurring- it's fantastic for losing background detail and when you blur something, what's in focus around it will look even more in focus. See here on the left- ordinary photo. On the right- hello dolly!

Blurring the background has made Trinny stand out more- I also used the sharpen tool on her eyes (that's the triangle shape confusing you before) - you can see how these two simple brushes can inflict some serious coolness.

After brushing on some blur and sharpen, my image is now at the point where I'm happy.

You might want to tinker with the colour balance again (I did), or put another Screen layer on or some such. One other thing I did was to dip the saturation, which you do by going to Edit>Adjustments> Hue/Saturation - and just slide that slider till you lose or increase the colour in your image. This can be a big help when things turn out a little too wishy-washy or overly strong. There's a brush that does this too- it's below the blur/sharpen and looks like a little oval sponge. Wether it saturates or de-saturates depends on what you have it set to on the top of the screen.

So there you are! That's virtually what I do to every image I make, and as you get used to it you will develop your own preferences and end up being really quick at it. It used to take me 1/2 an hour to do my 5 shots for Etsy, now it takes me 2 minutes! Bookmark this entry on your browser so you can go over it whenever you have some time to kill (it's more fun than facebook). Please let me know if you need any help with anything, I'll gladly amend this post with the answers. The important thing is to have fun and at the end of a little work, you will have a pretty picture.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Always a supplies to see you

Three more kits in the supply shop....

Powdered Roses

Maiden Dust


I've started listing small vintage items there as well, I feel Etsy is a more passive market than eBay, and for small objects the shipping isn't too prohibitive. There will be lots more in the coming week, as well as new jewelry, art, beads, charms... I've been watching too many clutter-busting TV shows; sitting in a full studio is starting to get to me...and every dollar I make is a dollar closer to England.

So don't forget about my 48 hour wonderland detailed in the last post!


I'm having a super-secret surprise sale, just for my blog and facebook readers!

Spend $50 or more before shipping and get a 50% refund on your order! All you have to do is answer one simple question in the notes to seller:

Which country's flag can you find on some of my necklaces?

Easy! The sale lasts 48 hours only! So get crackin'!

Please note:
Offer applies to Sparrow Salvage store only- no reserves, alterations or layaways- please make sure you don't purchase other buyer's reserved listings! Only applies to work listed before January 17th - sale ends Friday January 21st, 4:11pmAEST- check my local time here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Studio visit

I recommend listening to the above when viewing the images below- in that way you'll have an almost complete vision of what it's like to be in my studio today. For the full effect, you could burn some lavender and Bergamot oil, drink sarsaparilla from a golden glass and discover the cat sleeping in your carelessly left open suitcase of laces.

I'm back from 'holiday' - I couldn't bare to be away from things any longer. The shops are open and I'm already working on custom orders.

I have a renewed love for wrist cuffs- more slender, simple than those gone before, and am still fixated on pretty pinks and shabby greens, with plenty of cream and sugar. I've a whole tray of things set aside for my own, but there is plenty going on shop-side as well.

There will be updates in all the shops in the next few days- I have some serious re-photographing to do and some delightful vintage finds.

The snake has shed her skin.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Stellar Quilts

Gotta love a good quilt, and you know I can't go past my secret love- 70s sci-fi. This little video is probably the best thing I've seen in ages and ages. The loneliness of 1970s science fiction which comes from the vast indifference of space meeting with the tenderness of a human mind- all captured here. And perfect music.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fancy that...

Something in me has gone very strange lately... I'm growing more and more fixated on roses.

maidens never die

It seems I like them especially in smelly-stuff form, having spent more money in the last week on rose-scented beauty products that I probably spend on all my bathroom kit in a month. Not usually one for girlish products you see...another odd thing.

Moroccan rose and sandalwood body butter by the delightful sageandmage

I find myself drawn to hearts, butterflies, roses, stars...all in the very sweet, faded English summer colours.
--- sugar flowers ---

Relieved to feel a tiny inspiration to make jewelry, mostly while tripping through my favourites to surprise myself with gorgeous mail. Though I admit the inspiration is really only to be found in making things for myself, but it's so rare that I treat myself thusly, I think that should be seen as something to be thankful for rather than to fret over.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Seduced by the light of butterflies

I was perusing the blog of most darling Corvid Delights the other day and came upon a post detailing the music of two girls who call themselves cocorosie.

It's the sort of thing that makes you want to change your life- just throw all your creativity out the window and take up a whole new way of being.

Maybe that's just the mood I'm in lately. ♥

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pause mode

I've put the shop on a small vacation while I take time out for myself to get my head clear. I've not been feeling the best lately and it's abundantly clear that I need some time away from the shop to pay attention to my own needs. Originally I had a notion to just make note of a shipping delay- but since that wouldn't really give me a break from all the other aspects of the business, it seemed a bit pointless.

=-=-= temple of the soul =-=-=

I'll still be around, thinking about art and looking at other people's art (and showing you) and making a few little things for myself - my wardrobe has suffered greatly since I started Etsy! I never have time, attention or money for me- and that's part of the problem. I've ignored so many of my needs over the last 3 years and it's taken it's toll. I've got to take some time to get re-acquainted with myself.

Monday, January 3, 2011


In a bid to keep up with the holiday crowd, there are some sweet valentine collages in my art shop:

♥♥♥ overflowed ♥♥♥

♥♥♥ what every husband needs ♥♥♥

♥♥♥ love and attention ♥♥♥

I find these little pretties a nice alternative to cards which are just put away after a time; these affordable little artworks can hang up all year around and remind you how lovable you are.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

new chapters, old leaves

Happy new Year! (Better late than never. ) I've been working on pretty paper things....

My desk has been cleared of jewelry bits and is now a joyful chaos of vintage papers... Their textures are wonderful in natural light that pours through my large studio windows- I think I like photographing them just as much as making things with them- maybe more!

+++ ideas +++

I've been paying more attention to my little brown sparrow shop...adding new pieces and re-photographing some others. The jewellery store still gets love, but it's on the back burner of my mind.

+++ Wonder +++

Is this what my brain is up to? Paper and paste once again in the forefront of my mind? Beads and baubles out? Who can say.

+++ On the Moon +++

Summer is gentle here right now, civilised and quiet like England in June. I'm all for cabbage roses, cream and pink linens, tea time and sunshine... my mind is have a spring clean out (I always was behind on these things) - the sun is getting into the corners and showing up the dust.

2011 is a time of change, in many ways.