guest blogger - Natalie from Olive Manna:

October 8, 2010

Many of you know Natalie from Olive Manna - I always swoon over her shop and photos and product styling. She's got such fabulous taste, be sure to check out her blog and follow her on twitter. Thank you for sharing with us today Natalie!
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Hello friends! I'm so excited to be able to help Danni while she's away hitching herself to her fella. For my contribution I thought it would be neat to do a mini interview with a few crafty people in a range of fields. I asked just one question: What are three of your absolute must-have tools in your workspace?

It is a broad question--and meant to be! Hopefully their answers will prove as useful and informative to you as it has been for me this week!

My MacBook Pro
I can't live without it because when I am out of town for one reason or another, I still have to be able to work. And since the entirety of my business is based online, a laptop is an important tool to have. I can take it anywhere, including to the couch where I love to work at night with a cup of tea when I need a break from my desk.

My Canon Digital Rebel XT — Although, its probably time to upgrade, I use this camera almost daily. And its been quite a champ. Usually, I am taking pictures for tutorials I am working on, or something along those lines. But I've also been known to (perhaps obsessively even) take a few pictures of my pets when they do cute things.

Pixelmator — Its image editing software, that I use every single day. Its a lot like Photoshop, but is exclusively for Macs, and is WAY easier to learn and a lot cheaper too.

image: screenshot

Maya - Maya Made

Notebooks — I have several going at once. I keep one by my bedside, one in my purse, and one at my desk. I love filling them up and moving to the next one. Since I print them myself, I choose a different cover design for each new notebook. It helps me remember what the contents are when I glance at the print. For instance, I'm currently working in a small crow and a large skeleton key and barn swallow.

spring journals
image: provided by Maya

xacto knife — I use them for so many things from cutting stencils to sharpening pencils

pfaff 1523 sewing machine — It's a standard home machine but sews through ANYTHING!

Photoshop — "I really can't remember my life without Photoshop. It was challenging to learn for sure, but now if I'm having a hectic day and need to relax I'll just open up a photo and edit away. Photoshop also makes my blog possible, so it is definitely an invaluable tool for me."

Olfa Rotary Cutter and self-healing mat — I originally purchased these tools when I was sewing a lot, but it turns out that together they are the perfect way to cut clean straight lines through my thick photo paper when I'm making prints for my shop.


image: screenshot

Sakura Archival Micron Pens — These are the best pens ever. I have been using them for years now and have never been disappointed. They are great for art, letter writing, signing the back of photo prints...or almost anything else you can think of. An absolute must have in my studio, purse, car, etc.

Julie - Up Up Creative

my sketchbook — (a strathmore recycled sketch pad, wirebound on the side, not the top) - this is where i do all kinds of things. i work on new illustrations, brainstorm business ideas (i'm all about the mind map, the list, the chart), sketch out block layouts i might want to use in the future

pigment inks — holy beautiful print quality, batman. that's all i have to say. worth every penny. since i print everything in-house, these are a must-have. they're the thing that differentiates my products from any old look-ma-i-printed-this-at-home prints. i can't say i'd recommend them to most folks as the inks and the printers they work with are spendy and it's actually quite amazing what you can accomplish with a regular old at-home inkjet printer if you play around with print qualities and color management and all, but i'd be lost without them.

mozy — total peace of mind. remote backup of all my files, set to back up automatically (i have mine set to back up twice a day - it checks for anything modified since the last backup and only updates those files. i have more than 50 GB of images, illustrations, music, and other documents all backed up and just waiting for me should i ever need them.

Online Backup, Data Backup & Remote Backup Solutions | Mozy
image: screenshot

singer needles

small precision scissors - not even the craft type but i buy them at the nail corridor at the pharmacies. there are excellent for cutting eco-friendly felt smoothly without hurting my hands.

thread - i also use tread in substitute for glue. that might be a tool as well. my secret is to hand stitch all my designs so my clients don't have to deal with bad glue assemblages or pieces falling apart, ever!

Adobe Photoshop - I use it daily to edit/resize photos, make graphics such as ad banners or custom listings, and to design product packaging. It's by far the number one tool for my business.

Cutting Mat + Bone Folder from Martha Stewart Crafts - The Cutting Mat is not only great for measuring + cutting paper on top of, but I love using it in combination with the Bone Folder to score + fold cards precisely. And because they're from Martha's craft line, they are prettier to look at on a daily basis.


Bakers Twine - This one hardly needs explaining - its uses are endless!

Me (Natalie) - Olive Manna
Swingline Paper Trimmer - it's more like a slicer than trimmer. Like a chef needs a good knife, if you do anything with paper you must have a good trimmer for doing 5-10 sheets at a time. This one does 15, 8-10 card stock.

Adobe Lightroom - I've talked about Lightroom before on my blog and I can't say enough. It's so imperative to the way I work. It's like photoshop condensed and remixed with all of the features you would use for changing lighting, contrast, and color in a photo but all in one place. In just a few clicks I can put finishing touches on hundreds of photos at once. All of my product photos go through Lightroom and it takes me about 5-10 minutes to process 30-40 photos and get them online. AWESOME, and worth every penny.

image: working on a photo of my daughter at the library

Akiles Diamond 1 Corner Rounding Machine - It's a mouthful for a name, and a bit pricey, but I seriously can't live without this. I use it most often to make my gift tags but I also use it for rounding corners on books and booklets (it can do an inch or so of paper smoothly).

Other tools I use mentioned before: MacBook, Photoshop, rotary cutter and self-healing mat, bone folder, and I carry a few of my own notebooks with me EVERYWHERE.

Products mentioned

Because a few things were mentioned more than once I thought it would be easier to list them all in one place here:

So what about you? What is a tool that you find really useful in your world?

4 hello's:

  1. this is a brilliant post and extremely helpful to those of us who aspire to open a shop, create an established blog, or design and create in general. thanks so much for these interviews. i will refer to them for years to come!

  2. This was immensely interesting, and I like how this post is something out of the ordinary - rather than asking about inspiration, a question about materials! Refreshing! And honestly, aren't the materials one uses just as vital as the inspiration you derive from?

  3. I'm putting that Swingline paper trimmer on my Christmas list. Fuzzy edges are a pet peeve!

  4. i'm getting my mac book pro on monday *yay* & i LOVE micron pens. very cool.

    one of the things i use a lot for book binding is a medical dissection kit that i bought in college (strictly for art). i can store all of my needles, scissors, small awls in one compact case!


Friends, Thank you so much for reading + supporting my blog, and for taking the time to leave me a comment. Your comment support truly means so much to me. Have a lovely day! xo, danni