Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fall Crafts Spotlight: Locally Made Harvest

What's new for autumn from Middle TN artisans? Today, I am going to share with you some pictures and links of my favorite new crafts from local handmade artisans. Get ready for fall with these seasonal finds! Everything here is available online at from our Middle TN Etsy team. Many of these vendors will also be at various local fall craft shows. Keep your eyes open for handmade items at fairs and festivals.

Cherry Cordial Dishcloths from KnitClickGo

Lunch Set from FaverriteCreations

Precious Pumpkin Beanie (PATTERN) by 5Packscrochet
Fall Colors Earrings By Mylana
Finally, we have featured an adorable vintage jumper. While not handmade, it is a lot of work to find quality vintage garments and prepare them for resale. Retro looks are hot for back to school!
Vintage Jumper from VintageMotherhood

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Need Signage? Meet Brad Walker of Dubco Signs

Pizzeria Sign in Middle TN from Dubco Signs
Today, we are going to hear from Brad Walker, owner of Dubco Signs, a local business from Murfreesboro, TN, that can help you with all of your signage needs. Whether you need small wood signs for your craft show, or professional signs for a brick and mortar store, Brad can help you design the perfect sign for your small business. Be sure to look at the photo gallery after the interview for some examples of signs in Middle Tennessee done by Dubco. Brad does all types of signs, for big and small businesses.

1) Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got into designing signs?
My name is Brad Walker and I was born and raised in Murfreesboro, TN. My father began in the sign business in 1967 so I grew up learning about the industry. When I turned 40 years old I decided I wanted to work for myself. The sign business was a natural fit for me but I didn't just jump in blindly. I wanted to reacquaint myself to the industry so I took a job as a sales rep for a local company. It was a disaster. The company was not completing jobs as promised, I was not being paid properly and I felt like the customers were being taken advantage of. But, this may have been the best thing that ever happened to me. I enjoyed the sign business and I knew I could go out on my own and build a successful company. We are still in the beginning stages ( I have only been in business one year ) but I'm happy with what we have accomplished. I view my primary function is to ensure every customer is happy and completely satisfied. I operate as a broker. I do not have any employees, trucks or equipment. I take care of every facet of the sign process for the customer. This includes design, manufacturing, installation and permitting. The one thing I wish is that customers would allow me to give them more advice. In today's market, most customers simply choose the cheapest sign. Because of this, I lose out on a lot of new sign business. But, what the customer does not realize is that those cheap signs will not last long without needing expensive service. So, what happens is they then call me and ask what they can do. I, or anyone else, can make the necessary repairs but they have now spent a lot more money than if they spent just a little bit more up front.
2) What types of signs do you design?
I design all types of signs. Both illuminated and non illuminated. I also provide yard signs, vehicle magnets or lettering and all types of vinyl or digital print. Recent projects include MTSU's football stadium, US Pharmacy, Skin & Allergy Center and Your Pie. Current projects include Greyhound Bus in Clarksville and Manchester, West End Market & Liquor in Dickson, 96 Beer & Tobacco, 96 Liquor & Wine and a few projects with customers who have not announced their openings.
3) Why do you think it is important to support other local businesses?
I strive to support local businesses for many reasons. I enjoy the personal relationships I develop with local business owners and when I find a local business that has great customer service I am a customer for life. Supporting local businesses has been a hot topic for many years and I find it to be a polarizing issue. Some people are very
passionate about this and others don't give it a second thought. I believe the biggest advantage a local business has over a large corporation revolves around customer

service. We can and must provide a more personal service for the customer to be successful and I believe this is the reason we hear the word " passion " so often. I think
if you are in business doing what you are passionate about you will naturally outperform an employee of a large company who is working just to collect a check.

4) What are your plans for the future? (new products, promoting, website, etc.)
I am very focused on controlling and managing the growth of Dubco Signs. I choose to stay focused on long term success and this requires patience. My number one goal is to ensure every customer is completely satisfied and this often requires me to spend more time on a project than my competitors will. More time on one project means I
have less time for new projects but, I believe this will pay off in the long run. This is why I chose to work as a broker. Since I do not have large amounts of money tied up in
buildings and equipment and since I do not have any employees to provide paychecks to I can focus all my efforts on the customer. My goal for the future is to grow large
enough that I can bring in additional people and continue to serve a larger customer base with the best sign service in the industry.

5) How can a potential customer contact you about getting a personalized sign designed?
Although I have a website, I prefer customers to call me at 615-785-5294 or email me at
6) Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or any other website?
Along with my website, Dubco Signs does have a facebook page. I confess I am not taking full advantage of social media and I plan to address this in the near future.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Make Your Own Jewelry Display Wood Wall Plaque

Mixed Media Jewelry Plaque
 Attention handmade jewelry lovers, do you ever get sick of having your creations hidden away in a jewelry box or dusty drawer? Here is a simple idea for a project to make your own wood wall plaque with hooks to display your wearable art. With a few cheap materials, you will have your display ready to hang in no time!


Screw In Hooks, Available at Any Hardware Store
-Wood plaque (I got mine from thrift store, but you can also get plain, unfinished ones from Hobby Lobby or another craft store), Look for a notch or hook on the back for easy hanging.

-Paint, paper, stickers, photos, shells, glitter, other decorative embellishments for your plaque.

-Screw in hooks. I got mine from Hayne's Hardware in Murfreesboro, but you can get 20 online at Amazon for just 2.23!


-Handmade jewelry to display

First, clean and prep your plaque. If it is a used one, make sure to remove any dust and dirt before painting and decorating it. Now, you are ready to decorate your plaque. Paint, decoupage, and embellish to you heart's delight, but make sure to save empty space to screw in the hooks. When the plaque is decorated and paint and glue is dry, you will be ready to screw in the hooks, These should go in without having to use additional tools on most types of wood. Using a ruler, mark out evenly spaced lines to place your hooks. Then, firmly press the screw end into the wood and twist until the hook is secure in the wood. Adjust the orientation of the hook to match the others.

You are now ready to hang your display!

Handmade Jewelry Hanging on Display

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Inkjet Refill Kit Review

Inkjet Refill Kit
After completing a custom order for bath salt favors, my printer was running low on ink (again!). At 20 dollars or more a pop, refill cartridges are very expenisve. I find myself buying ink every 2-3 months. Finally, I broke down and bought a refill kit to try for myself. The claim is that refilling it yourself will save up to 80%. I purchased my kit on ebay; however, the one in the picture and more are available at this website:

Overall Grade = B+

I would buy the kit again in heartbeat because of the excellent value, but it was more messy and difficult than I expected. The kit requires you to look up a diagram of your cartridge model and drill through the hard plastic casing with a high speed drill. This provides a hole to inject the ink through a syringe. Luckily, I had a dremel tool to do this. The drill bit was provided in the kit. The actual filling of the ink was messy and only one syringe was provided for all 4 colors, magenta, yellow, cyan, black. It was necessary to wash the syringe between colors. When I was done, there was minor ink leakage from the cartridge, but that stopped after about 5 minutes.

If you have the technical know how to operate the drill and plenty of paper towels for cleaning, I would highly recommend refilling your ink cartridge over buying a new one. My best tips would be to completely cover the surface of your work area, work near a sink, and have a bottle of 70% rubbing alcohol on hand to clean up any spills. My kit included protective gloves for my hands.

The kit came with 1 oz of ink of each color, enough to refill the cartridge 3-4 times.