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31 posts categorized "Crafts"

16 December 2014

Inspired by our Maps Collection: Meet illustrator Josie Shenoy

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I first met illustrator Josie Shenoy a few years ago at a ‘Make it, Sell it’ speed mentoring event I ran at the British Library, and she also took part in our Spring Market. She produces beautiful illustrations and has experience of working both for herself and big brands – her work is stocked in the Whitechapel Gallery, Foyles andWellcome Collection.

A year later I invited Josie her to a ‘show and tell’ event at the British Library to see our amazing Maps collections first hand and meet our Maps Curator, Tom Harper. We inspired her to create a new piece of work in response to the British Library archive, which is now one of her bestselling designs.

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Hi Josie. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello! I am a London-based illustrator, and I work in my studio amongst a community of talented designer-makers at Cockpit Arts, Deptford. My work showcases my love of pattern, decoration and drawing, and is often influenced by the natural world, folklore and a love of storytelling. Alongside taking on commissions and freelance illustration work, I design collections for print and textiles. Drawing is at the heart of my creative practice, and I love the idea of crafting images. My work also often features vintage colour-ways, intricate collage and traditional print methods fused with digital processes. My own product range currently features greeting cards, lighting, stationery and prints, and is stocked in the Wellcome Collection, Foyles and Whitechapel Gallery. My freelance clients have so far included the Design Museum, Imperial War Museum, M&S and Somerset House.

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How do you spend a typical day?

Every day is different and that's one reason why I love illustration. If I'm working to a deadline, my day would be spent at the studio at Cockpit. I share a studio with an amazing jeweller called Maud Traon, and the building is so friendly, there are always people to chat with- it really is a blessing, as illustration can be very solitary work. I would come into the studio in the morning and have a tea with Maud, then I go through my emails and make a list for the day.

Our studio has a lovely serene, quiet environment, and we sometimes put 6 Music or Radio 4 on in the background if there's a good programme on. If it's an illustrating day, I'll start with some sketching and make sure I'm away from the computer, as I find it such a distraction! Everything is done by hand, apart from the very last stages of the illustration, such as cleaning up or adjusting the colours on Photoshop.

My illustrations are quite intricate so it might take me a few days or weeks to finish one, starting from extensive research, to product placement and sampling. If I've got a show coming up, there might be lots of packing up to do, and working out display, pricing and packaging options- I've recently got into Pinterest and love using this to look at ideas.

Or if I'm right at the beginning of a project with a client, I might be visiting them, pitching my work or going through potential ideas. Lunch is always spent with people around the building and we take it in turns to have lunch in our studios- it is such a healthy thing to do to step away from our work at this time. Creatively, I work best in the afternoon, and often don't leave the studio until after 8, however I'm getting better at sticking to 'normal' hours!

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What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced in setting up your own business?
I studied illustration at university, and although I couldn't have wished for a better degree, there have been so many extra things I have learnt in the professional world, that you aren't taught in education.

Finding work and getting my work shown to the right people was a challenge to begin with, and still is at times. It can be tricky making sure that work is lined up for the year, as I get so engrossed in my current projects that I don't always think ahead as much as I should. Also making sure my prices were right for wholesaling and retailing, and learning all the jargon and official processes in this line of work, for example going through contracts and agreements.

Making sure that all the correct terms and conditions are in each contract can be really hard, especially because you're so keen to impress the client, and chasing payments is another slightly sensitive issue that comes up from time to time- it's really important to make sure you word emails clearly and find the right tone of voice. And, of course, finance! I've learnt to make compromises when making the freelance leap, and I never really stop working - but this isn't really a problem when you do something that you love for a living.

What advice would you give to other illustrators looking to commercialise their work?

I'm so glad I studied illustration, because it has drummed a philosophy into my work, which is making sure that the image comes first. It's very easy to start thinking about the product or outcome first, or get busy with all the admin extras, and the illustration can get lost along the way even though this is the heart of your business. I think it's best to find your own way and not get too worried about what other illustrators are doing, just making work about a subject that you are passionate about and that you are proud of. I try not to think too much about what my 'target market' might like when it comes to making a new image, as this goes against everything I believe as an illustrator - and I think this is how the most sincere and successful artwork gets made.

The best piece of advice I can give would be to make the most of all the support that is available when you leave university. Becoming a commercial illustrator and the freelance world itself can be quite scary on your own, but IdeasTap, Cockpit Arts, the Design Trust and the Prince's Trust are all organisations that have helped me hugely along the way. Of course designers can also use the British Library’s Business & IP Centre.

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Lastly, can you tell us about how you have been inspired by the Library’s Maps collection?

Last year, I attended the amazing maps tour at the British Library with Tom Harper and Fran. It was Tom's map tour that inspired me to create my latest illustration, 'River Thames' which has gone on to become my best-selling design. I wanted to create a map which wasn't accurate or practical, but which somehow resonated with people due to the images, words and textures that I included. I really love the narrative nature of illustration and strive to create work that makes the viewer feel like they're going on a journey and seeing something new each time they look at the image.

After visiting the map tour, I became very interested in different artists that have explored the art and science of cartography (such as Grayson Perry and Sohei Nishino), and also old maps from Japan and India. I really love learning how and why they were crafted, and why they differ aesthetically from culture to culture.

 

17 November 2014

How the British Library supports designers

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If you are involved in illustration, graphic, interior or product designillustration, graphic, interior or product design, we can help you.


Be inspired by our collections
The Library’s collection includes a copy of every book and magazine published in the UK, photo books, artist’s books, knitting patterns, newspapers, vinyl covers, fanzines, calligraphy, maps, stamps and more. Whether you’re interested in interior design from the 1950s or examples of gothic type, we have something unique for you.

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Image: British Library music collection

So how can you use the archive?  You need to get a free Reader Pass to see our collections in our Reading Rooms in London and Boston Spa, Yorkshire. These short animations should help get you started.

Product designer Eleanor Stuart was inspired by the Library’s Alice in Wonderland original manuscript to create a new home ware range:

Designer and architect David Ajasa-Adekunle used our Business & IP Centre to develop his award-winning Tetra Shed (below).

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Image: Tetra Shed


See our Pinterest board of designers who have used the British Library to help develop their ideas.


Get help with the business side of things
In our Business & IP Centre you can get advice and support on working for yourself and setting up your own business. This could include business planning, finance, market research (we have some amazing reports on retail trends, for example) and intellectual property.  We run a full programme of events, networking and one-to-one advice sessions. Lastly, if you have already set up in business, you could benefit from our EU-funded Innovating for Growth programme.

A place to sell your products
The Library holds one-off markets and stalls within our buildings – previous examples have included a Christmas Market, Spring Fair and pop-up market for our Gothic Music and Fashion day.  We also stock designers’ work in our Shop (onsite and online).

Watch our Spring Market video:

Read more design-related blog articles here.

 

06 November 2014

Cultures of the dark side: Meet our Gothic stall-holders

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On Sunday 9 November 2014, as part of the Library’s Cultures of the Dark Side: A day of Gothic music and fashion, we’ll be running a pop-up market in the British Library Entrance Hall. Come and meet our stall-holders:

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Annabel de Vetten, Conjurer’s Kitchen
Annabel de Vetten is the creative brains behind Conjurer's Kitchen. Formerly trained as a sculptor, and having made a full-time living as a successful fine art painter, Annabel is taking the cake world by storm, presenting cake and other food art that's well outside the fare you'd find in your local bakery. Drawing inspiration from the things she loves - horror movies, alternative art, and whatever strikes her fancy, Annabel's creations have been featured TV and in the national press.

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Benjamin Phillips is a London-based artist and illustrator. His work can be both charming and amusing whilst at other times more sinister and melancholy. Offering a glimpse into strange and abstract narratives his creative works are heavily laced with humour. His art has been exhibited in galleries and print publications across the world, but has also been applied to book covers, album sleeves and other merchandise. 

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Face Lace

Face Lace is a British brand specialising in ready to wear Makeup designs. It launched in 2012 and was founded by Phyllis Cohen. She is a make-up artist who is famous for her intricate designs and bold fashion. The designs won’t fade or smudge and can be re-used. All of the designs are made in the studio, by hand, in small high quality runs. Face Lace now has retailers in 16 countries. Phyllis has also used the British Library’s collections and her products are being stocked in our Shop. 

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Helen Norman
Kitsch from the Krypt focuses on Helen's main interests; kitschy colours and gaudy jewels with images and icons of horror, macabre and cult favourites. When she creates her jewellery and accessories her tongue is firmly in her cheek.

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Jack Penny
Jack Penny is an illustrative artist whose work takes inspiration from the unseen characteristics of people. Jack is drawn to human imperfection - the obscure and secret - the parts we try to hide. He takes these individualities and highlights them in bold, loud colours and abstractions, creating uneasy, often gothic work.

 

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Jazmine Miles-Long

Jazmine Miles-Long is an ethical taxidermist working only with animals that have died from natural causes or as road casualties. Jazmine produces modern, naturalistic taxidermy on commission for artists, museums, conservation studios, collectors and photographers among others. She is also on the committee of The Guild of Taxidermists and is the Editor of their annual journal.

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Phoebe Richardson
Phoebe Richardson is a London-based graphic designer. Her range of Bone China has received press in a number of publications including The Book of Skulls (Lawrence King) and magazines including GQ, Stylist, Time Out, Living Etc and Sunday Times Style. Other work includes music packaging for the Pixies and David Lynch with artistic direction from Vaughan Oliver. Phoebe is currently redesigning the website for luxury fashion retailer Jaeger, whilst continuing to sell anatomical china to people who love bones. She has also used the British Library collections for inspiration.

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Sarah Healey
Sarah Healey's unique skulptural skulls reflect a fascination for the macabre with twists of eccentricity. Using real bird skulls she creates exclusive one off pieces using an eclectic mix of materials and themes. The symbolic contrast between beauty and decay. These captivating sculptures can be worn as brooches, hatpins, hairpieces and pendants.


You can find out more about the day on the British Library website (look out for our Gothic fashion event at 1.45pm.


02 September 2014

5 ways Etsy has changed the small business landscape

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This week I went to the RSA to find out more about Benedict Dellot’s research document about how Etsy and online craft marketplaces are changing the nature of business.

In case you don’t know, Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade goods and vintage items. Its strength is that it gives designers a cheap, quick and respectable store front for their goods, and shares them with a global audience. To give you an idea, in 2013, Etsy sellers sold nearly 1.35 billion dollars of goods and it has 36 million members in total. We’ve been in talks with the Etsy team recently about how we can work together.

So what came out of the report?  Here are the top five findings that grabbed my attention. 

1. Women are leading the way
I knew it would be high, but a whopping 90% of Etsy sellers are female. While the average self-employed person is male, middle-aged and relatively asset-rich, the typical person selling on Etsy is female, young and without significant amounts of capital to their name.

2. Low risk and low start-up costs
Starting an Etsy shop requires little financial outlay. 47% of sellers said they were able to rely on their own savings to get the business off the ground and 40% required no funding whatsoever.

3. Part-time business: the new 5-9ers
The Etsy model is very flexible; you can run your own Etsy shop and work in full-time employment (hence the new 5-9ers), or be a stay-at-home mum. Half of Etsy shop owners spend less than 10 hours a week on their Shop and more than a fifth have a full-time day job in addition to their Etsy venture. 

4. Boosting your household income
For the majority of sellers who work part-time on Etsy, their shops make a modest but meaningful contribution to their earnings. More than half have shops that add upwards of 5% to family income, which equates to £1,150 a year for the typical household.

5. It’s as much about the creative process and camaraderie as the cash
Etsy shop owners derive equal (if not greater) satisfaction from the very act of selling. A number of participants spoke of a feeling of ‘validation’ whenever they sold an item and how their shops gave them a sense of purpose that was absent in their day job.

Obviously to a large extent the shop sellers are competing with each other. However, what surprised me was that 47% said that they recommend the products of other sellers to their buyers, while 37% said they will source materials and supplies from other shops on the site. 37% say that emotional support from other sellers is important to them.

You can find out more about selling with Etsy through their Seller Handbook and Etsy School. You can also apply for opportunities to showcase your work, like their art exhibition for London Art Month. Etsy is offering British Library users an introductory offer of 20 free listings for all new Etsy shops. Enter the code: BRITISHLIBRARYFREEat www.etsy.com/promotion.

 

29 April 2014

Interview with Hend Krichen - homewares and accessories designer

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I met luxury homewares and home accessories designer Hend Krichen at an event in our Business & IP Centre. She was kind enough to give me this interview about her inspirations and challenges as a small creative business owner. 

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Can you tell us more about your inspirations? 

My main inspiration comes from the Yasmin Revolution of 2011, but I also strongly draw on the ties of Tunisia’s history. I look at Phoenician influences, Roman Empire, Ottoman invasion and the French occupation.

I was born in Tunisia and I left at a very young age and was lucky (depending on how you look at it) to have been raised as an expat and lived almost my entire life away from Tunisia, immersed in different cultures.

My project Tunisia Made was built on a lot of passion to help promote Tunisia and its craft industry. My brand is based on little chunks of Tunisian history and culture - it’s like taking a piece of history to your home as well as supporting ethical craft and design.

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How much of your time do you spend on inspiration versus business?

I spent the first eight months working on inspiration. Once I had established my group of manufacturers and my concepts and designs were in place, I then began to focus on the business side.

I work on the marketing, branding, networking and PR. Sales take up a lot of my time. Designing, development and manufacturing takes up about 30% of my time and the rest is 70%.

What did you get out of the 'Selling creatively online' event at our Business & IP Centre? (Shout-out to our partner Patricia at The Design Trust who provides practical tips on how to sell expensive crafts online here!) 

It was insightful to hear the retailers themselves (notonthehighstreet.com and Etsy) speak about how it all works. Being a designer and a creator, the retail side of business can seem alien at first - how to approach them, how to sell yourself to them, how to negotiate with them. This event helped me focus and make decisions about my business.

What’s been the most rewarding and challenging part of running your own business?

The most rewarding part about this journey is building my brand around me, my interests, my work and my life experiences. When I finally built up the courage to share that with people and the response was positive, it was such a great feeling.

It can be daunting to become an entrepreneur right now. I’ve had to push even when all doors were closed. You just have to keep pushing and take risks, that is the biggest challenge.

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Hend is taking part in Clerkenwell Design Week 20 – 22 May 2014 in the Additions show dedicated to small design pieces and interior accessories from international and emerging talent. The Crypt on the Green, St. James Church, EC1R 0EA. Find out more here.  

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13 February 2014

Craft Central's FASHIONED exhibition for London Fashion Week

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It's always a pleasure visiting Craft Central. The staff are friendly and there's a great buzz of creativity - designers and makers are definitely flourishing at this Clerkenwell spot.

Craft Central's latest exhibition FASHIONED - features fashion, jewellery and accessories made in the UK. Here are my highlights including inspiring British Library collections. 

If you're  thinking about starting a creative business or if you're already established, the Library has loads of resources to both inspire your next designs and help your business grow. Visit our Business & IP Centre for more information and follow me on Twitter @BL_Creative for updates.

Grace Hamilton

Grace's inspirations are derived from looking at the boundaries of beauty and disgust. Creating three dimensional objects, conceptual and wearable jewellery.  

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Grace Hamilton - Kefal necklace 

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Southern water snake, hand-coloured copperplate engraving from George Shaw and Frederick Nodder's The Naturalist's Miscellany, 1796 

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Great boa, hand-coloured copperplate engraving from George Shaw and Frederick Nodder's The Naturalist's Miscellany, 1796

Hetty Rose

Hetty set up the company in 2007 and was selected to exhibit at London Fashion Week in her first season. You can learn how to make your own pair of kicks at her shoemaking workshops

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These were the shoes Hetty had on at the launch. So pretty. 


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Hetty Rose Kimono Collection 4 - Left - Bella, right - Rosa

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British Library Olga Hirsch collection of decorated papers, Japanese blockprint,  J.3409b via ImagesOnline

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British Library Olga Hirsch collection of decorated papers,  Japanese blockprint,  J.3409c via  ImagesOnline


Bridget Harvey

Bridget designs and makes adornments for body and space. Specialising in mixed media and exploring material possibilities, she makes wearable sculptures using mostly hand made multiples. Her work investigates ideas about time and play in design, making and mending.

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Bridget Harvey - The Geometrics Volume 1

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From the British Library's Flickr Commons, Atlas historique et etnographique du Royaume de Serbie ..., 1885

Yelena Loguiiko

Yelena’s collection draws inspiration from history, art, the cultural heritage of European nations and contemporary influences.

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Yelena Loguiiko SS13 collection

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Gazette du Bon Ton, George Barbier, 1921 via ImagesOnline 

For those of you interested in fashion, I'm hosting Puttin on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age as part of our Spring Festival celebration of fashion, film and design. Click here for more info. 

30 September 2013

Webinar series for creative businesses with The Design Trust

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I've come across a lot of creative businesses run by small teams or one individual. It's a common challenge for these businesses to create new work and take care of the business side.

Elizabeth Carrick, designer of womenswear label Blonde + Ginger, said her biggest challenge is "Needing to do everything yourself and trying to be good enough at it all! I love the designing and the creative side of the business but I need to develop my skills in other areas, such as marketing. You are never going to be great at every role you need to do but you can’t afford to not try your very best."

This afternoon I ran into Eleanor Lewis-Bale of letterpress label Marby & Elm. She's been so busy doing business admin like invoicing and packaging that she hasn't had time to explore and be creative. She finally made it to the Library to look at our typography collection for inspiration.

To help creatives get organised, learn business essentials and stay sane(!) we've partnered up with The Design Trust to deliver a FREE webinar series. These are perfect for pre-start and start-up creative businesses including freelancers, sole traders, practitioners in design, crafts, fashion, photography, video and film.

Webinar 1: Create your business plan for your first year
Thu 17 Oct, 11.00 - 12.00
You can write a business plan to get finance or funding, but also to plan ahead and prioritise your workload.  Think of a business plan as a roadmap for your journey. In the end you will have the tools to create a business plan that you will be proud of and will be using regularly.

Webinar 2: Your first 10 steps in marketing
Thu 31 Oct, 11.00 - 12.00
We'll look at how to do practical market research and why niche marketing is essential for small businesses. You'll get loads of practical tips and marketing actions that you can use to help get your business started on the right track

Webinar 3: How to cost and price your work 
Thu 7 Nov, 11.00 - 12.00
Pricing your products or services isn’t easy. You might not know how to do the maths, or you find it hard to put a value on your creative ideas. This is a step-by-step session on how pricing and costing works. Learn about different models, international pricing, discounting, premiums and more. 

*Webinar 4: First steps to creating your brand and choosing a business name 
Tue 19 Nov, 11.00 - 12.00 
Choosing a business name is a big part of the creative and business process. But naming your business (or even just a new collection!) can be tricky.
We'll cover how to create your own brand based on your values and ideal clients.  We'll share case studies and practical tips. *Part of Global Entrepreneur Week  

We'll end the series with an event at our Business & IP Centre on Selling creatively online (save the date 7 February, booking link coming soon). 


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18 September 2013

London Design Festival - Craft Central's Imprint exhibition

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As part of London Design Festival, our friendly partners over at Craft Central launched Imprint, a cross-disciplinary exhibition of print design. I popped over last night to have a look. Here are my highlights:

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Don't let the rain keep you from visiting! The exhibition is open until 21 September from 10.30 - 18.30 (Craft Central 33-35 St John's Square, London EC1M 4DS. Tube: Farringdon or Barbican)

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DesignK's Tea for One Table - "Handmade in England and inspired by traditions like afternoon tea, these cheery designs melt our hearts." I agree!  

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Katie Brown - Silk scarves designed and finished in Northern Ireland, printed in Macclesfield. On my Christmas wishlist. 

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Stylist Marlies Winkelmeier and designer Alice Fleger of Dandelion Tree admiring Thornback & Peel designs. 

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Thornback & Peel's shop is just down the road from the British Library. We'd love for founders Juliet and Della to visit the Library and check out our print collection

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Eleanor is behind the Hampstead-based letterpress design studio Marby & Elm. I immediately thought of the Library's Evanion Collection of Victorian ephemera when I saw her designs. The type she uses has a very similar style and feel to Victorian posters and handbills produced for plays, exhibitions and circuses. When I told Eleanor I worked at the Library she squealed with delight and plans to come in and check out our typography collection. 

There is so much for designers to be inspired by at the Library. Check out our FREE show & tell of our gorgeous Exotic Prints and Drawing Collection. I could see a lot of the birds and flowers in the collection designed for a scarf, table or wallpaper and hopefully then sold at Craft Central!