Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Gift Ideas to Surprise the Route 66 Fan

route66, route 66, americana, us history, historic, winslow, arizona, travel, destination

Have you heard of The Mother Road? Do you know it as the Main Street of America? Or maybe you've heard it referred to as Will Rogers Highway? However you may refer to it, that means you are familiar with US Route 66.

Some folks have read about it but have never been able to travel along the remaining saved segments like those in Arizona. This post will offer some information about the Arizona segment of The Mother Road and offer some gift ideas for you or a Route 66 fan.

I recall a woman in an online discussion sharing about loading up with family to head across country on US Route 66. The road was one of the original US highways built to connect Chicago to Los Angeles. The road was established in 1926 and decommissioned June 27, 1985. It headed from Illinois through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and ending in California. 

I wasn't very familiar with the history of the road until moving to Arizona and particularly northern Arizona where you can now travel Interstate 40 to spots with historic stops along the still famous historic Route 66. 

As a matter of fact, a scenic stop off of now Interstate 40 is in the little community where we live. Two lengths of the route are annotated on a map. A fence and path lead you on 3/4 miles walk to the historic General Store in Parks, Arizona. the general store has been through a number of owners and is still operational.

Historic Route 66 Arizona General Store Watercolor T-Shirt

We have driven on segments of the route in Arizona that are still drivable. Arizona is one of the several states that designed the road a National Scenic Byway (NSB) giving it the name "Historic" Route 66. We've driven and stopped in a number of the historic locations such Oatman where wild donkeys walk the streets. We've made several trips to Hackberry, Seligman. Williams and Flagstaff are normal locations for shopping and eating since they are nearby. 

One of the well-known stops is Winslow. The Eagles song "Take It Easy" brought fame to the town and there is a designated corner with a building facade and "flatbed Ford". Tourists flow through there to get their photos taken on the corner and drop into the souvenirs shops. 

Up the road is the La Posada Hotel. The hotel website reads that it is "The Last Great Railroad Hotel built in 1929 by the Santa Fe Railway for the Fred Harvey Company." The restaurant and artwork are definitely worth a visit. 
Winslow Arizona Red Splash Photograph Jigsaw Puzzle

You can find Route 66 gift ideas featuring the traditional black and white sign and variations of it. I wanted to design something different. My oval sticker design is comprised of a photograph of the construction of a stone well-house along a walkable segment of the historic route in Parks, AZ as the background. The two emblems in the oval design are from a photograph of the Arizona Historic US Route 66 road sign.

I would love to read about your experiences if you have visited any of the segments of the old route? 

Leave a comment and let me know your experience or thoughts on the post. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

5 Filtered Photographs Conceived From a Challenge

Inspiration comes from a variety of places, things, and even people. I was a member of a once active social site that had a photograph group that inspired us to enter weekly challenges.

The idea of winning a challenge wasn't even tops in my mind. The thought of being challenged to do something new or different in photography or editing was what drew me into participating.

During some of those weekly challenges, I couldn't come up with piece of work to submit or wasn't happy with what I'd come up with so I enjoyed seeing the creativity of others who submitted their entries.Then there were weeks where I was very pleased with the work I had put into the photographs. These Filtered Reality challenges, as the group was known, were a great way to read constructive critiques.

I decided to start using some of the photographs that I had done during those Filtered Reality challenges as designs on Zazzle products where they fit most appropriately. This 20" square polyester throw pillow design with a color splash of goldfish plant flowers and a pink and peach butterfly ornament is one of my recent additions to the store using one of the challenge photographs. You can find other products featuring this color splash design under my Color Splash Butterfly Still Life Photograph.

Color Splash Butterfly Still Life Photograph Throw Pillow

One of my most favorite edits was of a photography I took along a segment of Old Route 66 on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. The town built a special corner after it became famous by the Eagles song "Take It Easy". The black and white photograph has a red color splash of items that were actually red in the original color photograph. You can find a variety of products featuring red color splash to include this trendy metal print below. 

Winslow Arizona Red Splash Photograph Metal Print

There is so much to see year-round where we live. Generally, I find at least one new and interesting item to photograph when I'm out walking the dogs. The next photograph was taken with my iPhone. I immediately could imagine this in sepia tone as you see it here. You can find other products including this mousepad at the Sepia Thistle Seed category in the store. 

Thistle Seed Close Up Photograph Mouse Pad

The photograph below was originally yellow and red Gerbera daisies that I had taken from a larger bouquet. I placed these two in a large black glass beer mug and shot from directly overhead. It may have been a week where the challenge was highlighting red so this was the alteration.  

Red Color Splash Gerber Daisy Photograph Card

The day our neighbors brought home an adorable Alaskan Malamute I was there to check her out. She's a BIG girl now so seeing the puppy photos is a fun reminder of her first days. I decided to isolate the tongue and rope chew toy with bone since they were the most colorful. I then decided to reduce the opacity of those two items so they aren't as brilliant as in the original color photo.  

Alaskan Malamute Puppy Color Splash Photograph Jigsaw Puzzle

Alaskan Malamute Puppy Color Splash Photograph Jigsaw Puzzle

So there you have it. Five of a number of photographs that I had fun altering then decided to add to my Zazzle products. I'd love to read your comments so get right to it. ;-)


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

3 Lessons I Learned From My First Community Craft Fair

I finally did it. I took part in physically selling my Zazzle products at an event.

I participated in our local historic General Store's community fair, yard, and bake sale. The historic store is located along historic Route 66 and I had one particular design of the store that I thought would be good to put out there. My assumption was it would be visited by locals from the community more so than travelers along the Route 66 segment. Either way, I thought this would appeal to some folks.

It has been quite enjoyable selling my photography and digital art in my Zazzle store online since the summer of 2009. I've purchased many products for gifts, donations, and just to write a review. As an introvert, I'd never considered setting up at a public event with my products. This was going to be a a first and a big deal.

When I arrived early that morning, there were tables with yard sale tables and flatbed trailers, several tables with crafts like goat milk soap and me staking out a spot along the road.

I was offering a few other select Zazzle products that I thought would be of interest to our little community along with my headliner watercolor of the General Store. The watercolor was a digitally altered photograph of the historic General Store which you can see in the frames on the table in the photograph below. 
My minimal set-up along Route 66 with yard sale tables and trailers behind me.
I began ordering a variety of Zazzle products featuring that particular design and a few other custom historic Route 66 products such as magnets and key chains right after I signed up to participate in the event. Having a stockpile of products for the event was a way to keep me from backing out. When it was all over that day, I learned at least these three lessons. 

Outdoor Events Can Quickly Be Affected By Weather

My first lesson was with our weather surprises. We set up my table and a camp chair to display the products I brought. I framed and matted several prints and set those up in plate holders like in the photo below. I had also framed a greeting card and postcard with the same image to show how they looked framed. I used the camp chair to display products including magnets, totes and luggage tags.

Historic General Store Framed & matted print
I had several leather bags and purses with straps draped over the back and arms of the chair to show off a variety of lightweight acrylic luggage tags affixed to them like the acrylic tag shown in the photograph below. I also had locally related greeting cards, postcards, stickers, key chains, magnets, bumper stickers and the laptop sleeve (seen below) among the offerings.

Historic Route 66 General Store Neoprene Laptop Sleeve
Initially the wind was calm.  Within a short time, we had sporadic gusts and I had to lay flat all the framed prints down on the table. It sure didn't look as nice with all those flat on the table. I also had to chase a few of the lightweight paper products that blew off the table during unexpected wind gusts. Rain wasn't in the forecast but I wasn't prepared for that either.

Expect the Unexpected

Lesson number two was differentiating what was for sale and what was for displaying those products. The identification tags looked great displayed on the purses and bags draped over the camp chair but several people asked if I was selling the bags. I had to assume that since there were a lot of yard sale items all around me, the bags looked like sale items too. If I had put price stickers on the products that would have been better so people knew exactly what was for sale. I assumed people would want to talk about the items so I could tell them prices at that time. In hindsight, I can see how the bags looked like they might be for sale. 

Aspen Leaves in Fall Colors Acrylic Luggage Tag

Everything Is A Learning Experience

I've always known that designs or photographs I might like aren't necessarily something others might like. So with that in mind it's not so easy to decide what I'd take to another public event.   As an introvert, talking to folks doesn't get any easier if I don't get out and get social more often especially when I'm talking about my Zazzle products. 

As I was tearing down my table, I stopped in to talk with the store owner about the consignment of some of the products I still had out there. I'm still working on gathering some of the specialty local designs and plan to see how the consignment works out. 

I didn't sell a lot of what I'd expected but I learned these three and a few more lessons related to publicly selling my products and small community living. 

What have been your experiences either as a seller or buyer at a craft fair style event? I'd love to read your experiences and learn from them.

Leave me a comment. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Why Finding Forgotten Photographs Can Excite Creativity

Do you remember as a kid trying to put shapes into their designated slots or even watching children in your life do that now? 

How about the pleasure of popping into place that difficult to find a piece of a huge jigsaw puzzle?

That's what it's like for me when I find a photograph long forgotten in an online folder. It's the same when I find a piece of work that was used on older Zazzle products and now can be used on some newly offered products. 

Since we'll soon be seeing Jerusalem Artichoke and giant sunflowers blooming in our area I've been looking at my older photographs. Some of the sunflower photographs I've used on products in earlier days and some are just out of older folders of the flowers. 

Zazzle has a number of new products and there are products the I've never added my work. I decided to share a few of the different sunflower photographs on the different products. 

Jerusalem artichokes are also identified by a variety of names including sunroot. This species of sunflower is native to a variety of locations throughout the United States. According to several sources, the plant tuber is widely cultivated as a root vegetable. The photographs of the tuber root look like a ginger root.

This mouse pad below is a photograph of Jerusalem artichoke sunflowers. The original photograph was digitally altered and I added texture to it. You'll find an entire category of products in a sunflower category that features this image.  

I separated several Jerusalem artichoke sunflowers from the background where they were shot and edited them to place three together. This arrangement is seen on the Zazzle HEART apron below. You can find this flower arrangement on a variety of products in the sunflower category.

Triple Sunflower Photograph Zazzle HEART Apron

Giant sunflowers take some time to grow and are usually still trying to bloom as our growing season ends. I've photographed these sunflowers in different stages of growth. The photograph on the acrylic wall clock below shows off the hair-like features of the bud touched by morning dew and nested in leaves. The number template can be removed on this clock. You'll find several products featuring this dew sprinkled sunflower bud in the same sunflower category as the Jerusalem artichoke sunflowers

Wet Sunflower Bud Close Up Photograph Square Wall Clock

These flowers are a great way to get photographs of bees. I remember seeing bees dead on the seedhead. I wasn't sure if they froze during the evening or if bees can overdose on pollen. The pillow below is one of my photographs with a bee enjoying time on the giant sunflower. You'll also find a variety of products featuring this photograph in the store category of sunflowers.

Bee On Sunflower Close Up Photograph Throw Pillow

by Exit178

Some of my most recent additions to the store sunflower category include this image of giant sunflowers clustered together. The indoor floor mat below is a way to bring nature right into your kitchen, laundry or other interior room. 

Clustered Sunflowers Close-Up Photograph Floor Mat

Clustered Sunflowers Close-Up Photograph Floor Mat

by Exit178

Are you a sunflower fan? If you would like to see one of these photographs on a product that isn't currently available, please let me know. I'm happy to add it for you to view. 

I'd love to know your thoughts on the products I've chosen to share in the post featuring several species of sunflowers and in different stages of growth.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Easy Way To Share A Warm Welcome Right At Your Door

Does your main residence entryway share a welcoming message?

Do you have a seasonal ornament hanging from the door?

Do you have an interesting doormat at your main entry?

Well, I can't help you with the seasonal ornament hanging from your door but I can offer you some ideas for a welcoming message at an entryway for your home or business.

You might even consider some of my doormat designs as gifts for a new home, renovation or Christmas.

You know I love adding my photography and digital artwork to Zazzle products with the option for customers to personalize the product with text or their own photo. I recently started adding my work to doormats.

These mats feature 1/8" smooth fleece with a white edge binding. They have a sturdy latex backing that offers a non-slip grip. You have the option of 24" x 36" and 18" x 24" sizes to best match your entryway. These mats are approved for indoor and covered outdoor use. As a matter of fact, I'm awaiting the arrival of an order for one of these mats.

The doormats are printed with high-quality sublimation printing which allows for full rich color that won't fade. Sublimation printing uses heat sensitive inks that turn into gas which combines with the printed surface. This type printing doesn't fade or crack.

I am currently adding more designs to grow the collection including scenery photographs. The doormat below features a snowy rural barn scene that is also found on a variety of other products. The photograph was also featured in my 10+ Years of Local Travel Still Offers Interesting Finds
Snowy Rural Barn Scene Photograph Doormat

I've also added a few of my specialty photographs to the doormat like the two designs below for coffee lovers and pet lovers. 

Serpentine Purple Leash & Heart Chain Doormat

The pet design may be quite appealing at the entry of an animal related or animal-friendly business. You can even add the business name to the design in the template field or change typeface style, size, and color in the customize option. If you have any questions on how to do that don't hesitate to contact me because I'm happy to help.

Colorful Espresso Cup and Saucer Photograph Doormat

I'm a coffee lover so this design was a must in my store. It can look great at a cafe, coffee related business, or at the home of a coffee lover like me. As with the pet related doormat, you can add a business name in the template field on the product page or use the customize element which offers other options in typeface style, size, and color.

What's at your main entryway?

Would you consider purchasing a custom designed doormat for yourself or as a gift?

Let me know your thoughts on the custom doormat idea.