Archive | December 2013

Essential Oils/Fragrance Oils…What’s the Difference?

For this post I want to discuss essential oils and fragrance oils which are important whether you’re making fragrant products (soap, candles, potpourri, etc.,) for sale, or buying them for your own use. First of all, what are they and is there a difference between an essential oil and a fragrance oil?

While many people use the words essential oil and fragrance oil interchangeably there is actually a difference between them. Essential oils are natural essences derived from plants, flowers, and fruits. Many parts are used to extract essential oils – leaves, petals, leaves, rinds, etc., The most common way to extract them is by distillation, in which the plant/fruit parts are crushed and steam-heated and the essential oils are condensed from the steam. The amount of plant material needed to extract the essential oils varies, which is why you will find a great difference in prices of various essential oils. Some of them are quite expensive for a small amount, for example over 60,000 roses are required to make just one ounce of essential oil. Since essential oils are natural essences of plants they are used in aromatherapy for their medicinal properties and mood enhancing qualities.

Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are synthetically produced aromatic oils. Since they are commercially produced they are much less expensive than the natural essential oils. Also, because they are synthetic, fragrance oils do not contain the natural aromatherapy properties of essential oils, although some fragrance oil do contain certain amounts of essential oils in them. But since they are not derived from nature but are manufactured, you will find a great many interesting varieties of fragrances like cinnamon buns, pecan pie, sweet candy corn, and buttercream. Fragrance oils are used to make fun, fantastic bakery scented candles and soap/bath products. Keep in mind though that not all fragrance oils are safe to use on the skin and if you’re a crafter, be sure to check with fragrance oil companies to check which ones are safe to be used in bath products.

So does this mean that since essential oils are natural they are better than the synthetically produced fragrance oils? Well, no actually, and in the cases of some essential oils, make that hell no. Just because something is natural it doesn’t mean that it is good for you. All essential oils are highly concentrated and very strong and they should never be used directly on the skin (called “neat”) without being diluted first, either in carrier oils, bath salts, body scrubs, etc., Some essential oils are actually milder than others but even these can cause a bad allergic reaction if used neat and if it happens to you, you’ll definitely be thinking this is so not neat. Some essential oils shouldn’t be used at all because they can be toxic and some shouldn’t be used by pregnant women.

But all this doesn’t mean that you should be looking at all essential oils with a nasty side-eye and avoiding them like the plague, they are safe when used correctly and make wonderful additions to fragrance and aromatherapy crafts. It’s just always better to err on the side of caution.

Font Styles

In the previous post I talked about font styles and how they relate to your website and graphics style, particularly to crafts businesses. For this post, I compiled some of the different font styles relevant to crafters to give you an idea of how they look.

These are some of the most popular country primitive style fonts:

These are some popular elegant boutique style fonts:

What Does Your Font Say?

In this post I want to talk a little about font style and how it applies to your graphics and overall website. The type of font you choose can complement your graphics and website style very well, it definitely adds an ambiance, especially for crafter’s websites, it complements your creativity and gives it some juice. There are some font styles that are particularly well suited with primitive country style graphics/crafts and others that are suited for feminine boutique style graphics/crafts.

But before you decide on your font style, you have to keep some important things in mind. First of all, while some fonts are really stylish and may suit your graphics and website style very well, they may be a bit…overly stylish. Consider this pic…and NO it doesn’t say what you think it says:

It’s supposed to say “MegaFlicks”. Obviously with that particular font style, certain letters…uh…don’t really go well next to each other. You definitely don’t want to decide on a cool looking font and have a logo made out, only to discover that the letters of your shop name in that particular style are all kinds of wrong. Another problem with an overly stylized font is that, even if you’re not accidentally cursing yourself or your customers out…the font might be too illegible…people might not be able to make any words out, curses or otherwise.

Interestingly, according to studies in which two groups of people were given instructions to do something in two different types of fonts – one plain and one stylized, the ones with the plain font carried out the instructions faster than the ones with the stylized font. But in another study in which two groups of people were given restaurant menus in two font styles – again one plain and one stylized, the people with the stylized menu assumed that the chef was more talented and skilled.

Ok so what does all this mean, particularly for crafts businesses? A stylized font, one that fits your particular style whether it be country, prim, extreme prim, or feminine boutique, is important. Not only does it complement your items and website graphics/colors but it also conveys your skill and artistry to your visitors. As we have seen though, you don’t want to pick a font that is overly stylized making it difficult to read… or even worse…inadvertently saying something downright nasty. I would recommend that you use a more simple font for your main website text and use a stylized font for your logos, buttons, and headings. It’s a good idea not to have more than 2 font styles on your website because it tends to look messy and disorganized.

I just want to mention one more thing…what font style should your “calls to action” be? Your “calls to action” are the points on your website where you point your visitors to do something, whether it be to sign up for your newsletter, click to buy your product, click to visit your blog or social media page, etc., It is generally recommended that your call to action font be simple so as not to slow down your visitors or even run the risk that they can’t make out the stylized font, But in my personal experience and other people that I have known, we have had more positive results with a stylized font for calls to action, as long as it’s clear and legible. You could actually test this out on your website and see what gives you better results.

Drying Fruit Slices

Dried fruit slices and peels are a great way to give your home a country prim look and they provide a fun way for you to get crafty and creative. They are fragrant and can be added to potpourri blends, fixins blends, wreaths, swags, etc,. They also make pretty and fragrant gift package decorations and Christmas tree decorations. When they are placed around candles, especially bakery candles, they give a nice country prim look.

The pic above is of an prim apple fixins blend. It combines dried apple slices with fragrant spices like cinnamon sticks, allspice, and cloves. The look and smell is very seasonal and makes a great addition to country prim home decor.

The easiest way to dry fruit slices is to use a dehydrator. But if you do not have a dehydrator, you can use the standard oven method.

To dry apple slices using the oven method, core your apples and slice them about 1/4 inch thick. In order to prevent them from oxidizing and turning brown during the process, dip the slices into a solution of 2 cups lemon juice and 3 tablespoons salt. Make sure the slices are well soaked for about 15 minutes. After you remove them, pat them dry with paper towels and place them on cookie sheets and dry for about 6 hours at 150 degrees. Keep the oven door slightly ajar to ensure good air circulation. Turn the slices when they start to curl.

For oranges, slice them about 1/4 inch thick and gently squeeze out as much of the moisture as possible without squeezing and misshaping the slices. Then place the slices on a cookie sheet and dry for about 6 hours at 150 degrees. As with the apples, keep the oven door slightly ajar for air circulation.