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Why I am Quitting Facebook

Why I am Quitting Facebook

You might have noticed that I put up a post and sign on my Facebook page recently saying I am quitting Facebook. It is true I am, or by the time you read this will have.

This meant that my Quirky By Design page would also go, as unlike others who have done similar, they have had a dummy profile to cover and keep that page going…and the whole point was to actually quit Facebook entirely…

If you are interested why I made that decision then please visit one of my other websites, Spirit Mind Body, UK where I explain: Why I am Quitting Facebook 

You may also notice that I don’t display any Facebook details now on Quirky, but there is a sharer system with the Facebook option still in place if there is something you do want to share with others on Facebook!  Please go ahead! 

If you would like to be kept up to date with Quirky By Design Photographs, Artisan Products and Web Design Services, then please do subscribe…I promise it won’t be daily! 🙂

Toodles for now!
Loren 

 

What’s Your Website Resolution in 2017?

What’s Your Website Resolution in 2017?

New Year, New Website?

 

Do you need a new website designed or redesign in 2017

It’s a new year – time for a fresh new start. For many, that means it’s finally time to give that tired, old, difficult-to-update website a facelift. But where do you start and do you have the funds?

 Questions to Ask Yourself

  • The first step is to look at your site and see if it’s simply looking out dated. Is it filled with outdated information? Has it been updated at all in the past few years and does your copyright still say 200X?
  • If you had a website built for a particular business venture or passion, do you still keep it running but don’t update it, is it just there as your presence on the WWW?
  • Is it just too costly to update with your old designer?
  • is it worth the expense of yearly hosting and domain fees?
  • The other thing is your domain name – you might have purchased an expensive domain extension because the particular one you were looking for was not available, it might be now! Have you checked?
  • Is your website Secured from Hackers?

 

There are lots of ways to improve your web site situation, costs and maintenance especially at this time

of the year by re-evaluating your, and your websites needs.

Whether just a presence or a fully operational website, the one thing you can be sure is that things change rapidly in the web world, as does the viewing capacity in the real world.

Is your website responsive?

If I have lost you on that question, then it’s likely you don’t know what Responsive means. Simply, it’s a website designed to be viewed on many different devices and browsers with the same ability to see it as it was designed, or near as dammit. Some browsers are really a challenge!

What used to look good may well be out of line, out of view, not working properly. If you don’t have the capability to check it yourself on all the browsers and devices available, it may well be cumbersome for some to view and you don’t realise that this is the cause of lack of visitors.

The simple fact today, viewing experience is not like it used to be, people don’t have the patience to view loads of content, and if you have a website that is just filled with info that really isn’t any different to others in your area of expertise or passion, then it’s highly likely that your website will be overlooked.

This in turn will likely cause it to drop off the radar i.e. Search Engines such as Google, as so many now are competing with modern day websites, that have many additional user experience functions, Social Media, SEO capabilities, security and most helpful the ability to update yourself.

Truth is you can take control of your website needs, whether created by a designer or if you delve into the realms of self build – if you have the time that is!

If your intention this year is to finally have your own website, or clean up of your old website or even a shiny new feel, here’s where Quirky By Design can help you!

 

Demo examples of 1 page websites – Please visit here

Agatha Light Showcase with txt

Not enough pages? Additional pages are available at additional cost.

You can even spread the cost over a year!

If you are interested in having a new website created, and would like some more information before you commit then please do arrange a Call Back (I’ll call you). You can arrange an initial free 30 mins consultation with me via email here, or text/call me on 07906 205022 – leaving a brief message with your name and contact details. I will endeavour to arrange a “Call Back” suitable for you within 24 hours.

*As of March 2017 the “New Year Special Price” has ended.

From Photo Enhancement To Canvas

From Photo Enhancement To Canvas

When A Memory Is So Special

Back last year, when I advertised my photo enhancement service, my Nephew contacted me with a request to have a treasured photo enhanced. He needed alterations made, and ready for a canvas print.

 This particular photograph held a special meaning for both my Niece and Nephew, as my Niece was proposed to, in Thailand, on the back of an Elephant. Awwww. 🙂

Original Sent To me

Original Sent To me

During their Honeymoon whilst on Safari in South Africa, they saw an Elephant. The significance was very special…and so they snapped away.  Alas, the photo chosen was not quite complete enough for a lasting visual display as hoped. A piece of the Elephants ear was missing! It was well cropped I say that. Thankfully,  it was a good clear photo. It would probably have been good enough to put on canvas as is, but they wondered if I could do a bit of photo surgery!

Thankfully, having the skill to photo enhance an image has it’s benefits – you can put a smile on someone’s face!

This lovely photo had the perfect backdrop, which not only enabled me to conduct photo surgery magick, but also variations of the image. If so wanted.

The result:

I was very pleased with the images, but would they? The last two were just playing with what I could achieve with one photo! They had a choice and they chose the photo enhanced version which had been brightened and more colours brought out.

The Final Cut!

The proof is in the pudding or in this case enhanced photo – was the photo enhancements I made going to stand up to being enlarged for Canvas? A large one at that!

Would the colours be the same?  All monitors display differently and all printers print colours differently. If you go to a good printers though, they should get it pretty spot on to what you see on your monitor. But there’s no guarantee.

Thankfully it did and the colours pretty much true. My niece was so excited, the moment it arrived, she whatsapp’d me a photo of the final product – ready to be hung on the wall.

I was happy to see such a treasured memory in full focus, and in pride of place over the mantle piece.

Elephant on Canvas

Photo Enhancement Service is Only £8 per Image

for more details visit the photo enhancement service link in the shop

Felting Mr. Fox

Felting Mr. Fox

If you’re a creative person, you will understand what I mean when you see something handmade and you just fall in love with the technique. Felting and sculpturing an animal out of basically wool, is just amazing.

It just happen to be my best buds “Life Beginning” birthday.  I was at a loss as to what to get her, and it dawned on me that actually something handmade would probably be more meaningful. Knowing how much she liked foxes, I decided I would try needle felting one.  I was of course taking a major risk of creating a gift only a few days before the day – talk about creative tension!  

After watching tutorials over a course of a few weeks, I happen to find one of the hardest pieces in which I had to create. Well, I liked it and that’s a good enough reason to be inspired!

Determined, I set to task creating an armature needle felted Fox. Looking back now, I think the reason I have put it off for so long is I had little faith in my own ability –  I figured I would likely create a mutated creature, rather than something that looked even remotely like an animal.  

I have since discovered, I am actually not that bad at it and I really enjoy this craft, however, to make realistic critters, it’s time intensive and often bladdy painful!  

Needle Felted Fox called Woxy

Woxy explores the jungle aka the garden.

The first attempt did come out as expected, slightly mutated. Colours were way off, and more Wolf looking in character and stance. Nonetheless, it had a personality of it’s own, four legs and resembled a fox – slightly.  I named him Woxy!

With the help of my local craft store “Berkhamsted Arts and Crafts” we managed to find a colour more suitable, although I played with blending to get a better feel of a Foxes pelt. After realising tutorials don’t often show you how to develop expressions, highlights, proportions and details that make up said creature with a bit more working the wool into felt, I was well on my way to gaining a more realistic Fox.

Needle felted Mr Fox

Foxy goes to the woods

Happy to say that I managed to complete my mission before said celebratory day and I think the look on my friends face – said it all. 

Meet Foxy!

I love felting movable (Armature) animals, although this exercise has inspired me more to create magickal Beings such as Faeries and Gnomes and their respective homes in the future. I think I stand a chance of excelling on this front, as I will have a good sprinkling of artistic licence on what they look like, as a little mutated is quite normal!

Needle Felted Foxes

Woxy and Foxy out on the tiles

I leave you with my latest creation as I get to grips with the sculpting techniques
– A little Arctic Fox –

Needle Felted Arctic Fox

Needle Felted Arctic Fox

 If you would like to custom order a felted animal or felt creature, please do contact me.

Re-Purposing for a Good Cause

Re-Purposing for a Good Cause

Our society is very much throw away, and being a daughter of parents who lived during the war, it was drilled into me not to waste. Therefore, my initial reaction is put them away in case someone comes around to stay! There is only a certain amount of times that you can do this without it taking over your space completely, and there really is something to be said for space that is clutter free, especially when you live in a small apartment.

Torn by my desire to have room to move around, and not wasting, I decided that actually I can make these items useful again. Even for a short time. What’s more I would get much more out of it! Satisfaction!

They are all easy to scale down and being able to sew I decided to re-purpose these items into animal beds and give them to my local dog charity. What better way to utilise items that would normally end up in black bag.

Yes, it takes time to re-purpose anything, and yes there was that part of me that thought bin, put, don’t see no more, don’t worry about, but if I focused on benefiting another, it didn’t feel like a chore or guilt trip. It was now a desire – To give to a good cause. A dog or cat that hasn’t found it’s forever home will have something comfy to sleep on.

Duvet & Pillows Re-Purposed

Duvet & Pillows Sewn Into Bed Inner

Pillows are easy enough to wash, the duvets (poly flock type) needed to be cut into pieces, because you can’t fit a king size duvet in a washing machine without it either struggling under the weight, breaking the springs as it tries to spin or melting the contents of said duvet due to friction against the glass – can you tell this is from experience? Drying is a bit of a pain too, so best done in summer out on the line.

Sewing similar sizes of duvet pieces and stuffing pillows in between to bulk out, I sealed the sides together with a blanket stitch, using heavy thread.

Securing the cushions in place with more stitching. I now had a bed inner. For the covers I used old bath towels of similar size. Put in a zip in at top and quickly sewed all around. The covers could at least be washed a few times.

Zip Sewn In

Zip Sewn In

Bed Inner and Cover

Bed Inner and Cover

Completed Dog Beds

Completed Re-Purposed Dog Beds from old towels and bedding

With a bit of an inspection from Quality Control officer Aggie Panther, who gave me the paws up – this morning I took them to my local animal shelter NAWT in Watford. They were very happy to receive them, I guess they just get blankets donated normally.

I knew it would be dangerous visiting, I have a rescued kitty and a dog would be nice, but my place is just not big enough for a dog as well, so the thought of a couple of pooches being a bit more comfortable is the next best thing. As well as some space! Although a few more to make – when I get the chance.

Whilst there I was invited to look around and see the dogs. Oh dear how could I refuse! Alas, it always makes me feel sad seeing caged animals. There was one little one that I would have dearly given a home. His name is Bryn, a Lurcher Puppy with grey eyes, very unusual. I had to leave pretty quickly before my mind tried to figure out where I could put him!

If you have some old bedding, do consider re-purposing them or just donating to your local animal charity and make a few pooches or kitties comfortable while waiting for their forever home.

PS Here’s Bryn! Awwwww….

Bryn

Bryn – Needs a Home!

Gift Boxes Galore

Gift Boxes Galore

One of the things I loved about Cape Town and surrounding areas, is the vibrancy, and the numerous Artisans, all selling their hand made items. Love it! When I got home I was so inspired that I focused on my wire work.

"Slow Market" Stellenbosch

Slow Market Stellenbosch

Wire work can be quite delicate, and it’s tricky sometimes to find a suitable gift box in which to put them in. My mission over the last week was to find gift boxes that would be suitable for a dual purpose, a good size for fitting different items and postal friendly. That way customers don’t have to hunt for a suitable box size.

Alas, I discovered it to be a bit of a minefield in terms of choice. We all have personal tastes, and to foresee what a customer would choose to buy, the cost, and of course the postage. I decided light, multi coloured for choice with the ability to send it at a lower cost through the post, something our dear Royal Mail maximises on!

Gift Boxes in 8 different Colours

Gift Boxes in 8 different Colours

Finally, after many hours of research, I found boxes that met my criteria and ordered – or so I thought. Much to my disappointment, all the time spent proved to have been wasted, for when they arrived, the pleasantly coloured “Luxury” assorted coloured boxes were deeper than I planned, and from about 8 colours displayed, three colours were sent; only one of which was from those displayed. To add insult to injury, one was missing off the order. Grump!

Boxes Delivered

Boxes Delivered

They are lovely gift boxes though, and certainly worth the money, but heavy on postage if you only want a gift box. There’s a coupon to reduce the cost of postage if purchased with certain items.

My box days were not over by all accounts as I was not satisfied with so little choice in colours (the Universe must of heard me grumping). While researching something else I came across Hand Made Gift Boxes. Ah ha! What joy!

Needless to say, I haven’t done much else these last few days but play. Designing, tweaking and creating pretty coloured Hand Made gift boxes of my very own that are suitable for my pieces. They are postal friendly too!

Hopefully, I will get some up in the shop during the week, 2 sizes to start off with. I do intend to make other sizes custom to order in the near future. If there is a particular paper you like and want it made into a gift box, drop me a message.

Making Use Of An Imperfect Image

Making Use Of An Imperfect Image

Few days ago, I made some space for a little creative time with one of my photographs. As I was creating the look I wanted, I thought it might be nice to write how it was created, and why. As I recall I didn’t have a clue before I found out how to do it, but just loved the effect – that being a photograph with a texture overlaid.

Digital photographers often experiment with certain methods of shooting or see something when they took the shot, which kind of gets lost upon download. You are often left with lots of images that are pretty much useless, sitting on your hard drive waiting for some attention.

For the most part it’s better to sift through after your initial downloading phase and remove them because you end up with thousands of similar images, some out of focus, some just not the right angle, a lot duplicated. However, there are always those images, which for me evoke a feeling of potential, I don’t necessarily see it in full at the time, but I hang on to them until a time when there might be.

These images are invariably not perfect, they just have some kind of magick waiting to be brought out of them – and I do this with a textured overlay.

You may ask why add textures?

It’s often deemed by some photographers who are very strict in their discipline or profession, that a photograph must be pure and untainted. I say phooey to that! We don’t all have thousands of pounds to buy the perfect camera, lenses or filters, and in my mind, it’s just the same but from source rather than post-production. Even in the old days with film, upon processing techniques would be used to enhance an image. That’s all adding a texture is, enhancing it. It’s likely those puritans do post-production tweaking anyway, but don’t admit it! Adding a texture is about creating a more pleasing look with a photo that didn’t hit the perfect grade, which can be used for what ever you want after.

anemone raw

RAW Image

By the way, the intention here is not a tutorial; there are plenty of resources on the web, especially You Tube for this. This is just an example of how you can make a not so pleasing image, into one that will be.

Okay, so here’s the image I was being creative with on the left.  I was experimenting with reflection. I had been given some lovely Anemones and it seemed such a shame for them to just sit in a vase and not be remembered passed their wilting stage. Between the lighting in my sitting room and a very temperamental DSLR things were not going as I had hoped.  Shooting in Raw however, made it easier for me to hang on to some of the images I took.

RAW is the only way to go if you want the ability to tweak images. JPG is basically the finished product, all compressed down into a neat little package, where RAW is just that, it’s every colour you took even if you couldn’t see it; giving you the ability to pull out aspects of a photo. You just can’t do that with JPG as all those colours are now reduced to the most optimal ones the camera thinks is the best. Which is not always the case. For texture-overlaid images though, JPG’s can be used too.

anemone filtred

Image softened and lightroom filters applied

I had put the Anemones on a mirror to create a reflection, it’s a pretty boring image to be fair, but I just loved the way, the Anemones reflected. Upon viewing the RAW image, which always looks dull until adjusted, I decided that textures where the only way to go.

Finally when I got around to completing this, I took the image into Lightroom 2.7 (yes all very old programs) and played with the raw image to get a softer look.

The image was then exported into Photoshop CS3 where I applied a textured layer that I thought was suitable (you can get these free and paid just do a Google search). I used one from Florabella and with my paint tool, removed as much of the overlay as needed to get the main part of the image to come through, tweaking colours, saturation, brightness etc until I was happy with the image. Sometimes I exported that image back again to Lightroom where I tweak it very slightly again, I didn’t with this one.

Upon Reflection

The final image which I called “Upon Reflection”

An image can take as many layers as you want, for example, different layers of colour or texture, tweaking and removing as you go along depending on what you wish to create. Personally, the most I tend to use is one or two layers mostly duplicate, as it becomes quite involved, can make your image look muddy, and you can spend hours if not days on one particular image.

As you can see the final image has been enhanced, it has an arty feel, drawn even, which is what can be achieved using this method, it’s kept it’s essence, and is now more pleasing to the eye. This image can be used for cards and wall art etc.

There are some fabulous textured overlaid images out there, with complex setting up of the subject/objects and enormous amount of tweaking; my motto though is “keep it simple”.

Hopefully dear visitor, you will be inspired to try out this technique on your own photos. Do leave a comment if there is anything you would like to know, and maybe I can point you in the right direction.

A Welcome Distraction from Web Design

A Welcome Distraction from Web Design

What comes to mind as I write, that Rome was not built in a day, and that most times we under estimate a time frame when create something. The reason I believe, is that between the start and our final target, a dynamic fluidity comes to life as it takes on its structure. In turn requiring additional attention, adaptive methods, removal of some ideas that just don’t work, and so delays are inevitable. Plain and simple!

Of course saying this creating a website can be a clear-cut process, if you know how you want your web design to look and feel like; have all the content fully prepared and to hand – then someone else completes the task. Even then, what we thought was clear-cut in our minds, upon seeing the end result can make us go, actually…

I feel it’s a little harder when you create your own website because the process is tied up with emotion and you can become frustrated by the littlest distractions.

I am glad to say, that even though my site is not complete and probably never will be in that sense, as I will continue to add and remove over the years; that the welcome distraction I speak of, was my dear little Aggie (Agatha), my new Siamese kitten.

Agatha Enjoying The Sun

Agatha Enjoying The Sun

I’ve always had animals around me from the day I was born. Prior to me moving to my new home, I had to find a temporary home for my cats Snowy and Sushi. Faithful companions who got caught up in life’s little challenges. Okay, it was a huge challenge at the time, as it was hard to find a home for us all to move to, as potential landlords refused to allow pets. I was divested, and hoped my new home would allow me this, which it did.  Unfortunately, the lovely couple that looked after the boys for a few months were quite attached to them and it was mutual; by the time I could finally take them it seemed cruel to, so they stayed with their foster parents.

Feeling bereft, I decided not to have any more, EVER! I would concentrate on where I wanted to be – setting up a pet sitting business to fill the gap. Year and a half down the line and the agonizing lack of feline companionship was all too much! I found myself replying to an advert asking for a new home for Aggie. Horrified that I had allowed my emotions to run away with me I rang my dear friend, Kelly of Van Hound fearing I had made a huge mistake. Her response, “Oh for goodness sake, you’re nearly a hundred!” Cheers for that, quite a few decades left before I reach that target! My sister when I informed her of a new member of the family, sighed over the phone, “Oh, I thought you were the sensible one…” Alas, not.

The universe was not going to make my spur of the moment decision any easier either though, as little Aggie came to me quite poorly, nothing I gave her would stay in her for long enough.

Aggie has been the major distraction, but a good one. In these four weeks that I have had her, she has made me laugh, cry and most of all remember that the end goal is not what life is for; it’s the journey along the way, poop and all!