Category Archives: Business

Two New Events

I just added two more events to my event’s calendar for this spring.

First, I’m excited to be participating in the Printed Solid Grand Opening and Maker Festival.  Printed Solid is my go-to for filament and they have been so very supportive of me, even back when I didn’t even own a 3D Printer of my own.  I am thrilled to help them celebrate their new digs.  And my son is thrilled to meet his favorite YouTube star, Joel Telling!

Sunday May 15th, 2016 – Printed Solid Grand Opening!
10 AM – 4 PM
2850 Ogletown Rd
Newark, DE

Secondly, my husband and I will be representing 3D Printing to the masses at this years’ Occoquan Arts and Crafts Show.  I will have the printer(s) running and will be happy to answer any question.

June 4th and 5th, 2016 – Occoquan Arts and Crafts Show
Occoquan, Virginia
We’ll be near Occoquan Vapor Shop at 304 Mill Street

Event Recap – Occoquan River Communities’ Winterfest

Greetings All! It’s been a busy fall, full of custom design orders and events. My last event for 2015 was the Holiday Arts Market at Tackett’s Mill. It was part of a large Winterfest organized by the Occoquan River Communities.

Lesson: It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask
By the time I heard about the Holiday Arts Market, it was well past their submission date. I went ahead and sent an email to the organizer to see if they still happened to have openings and guess what– they did. Not only that, the booth fee was free. And on top of that, the Holiday Arts Market was in the same building as Santa Claus would be after the parade. I am very thankful they let me into the show so late.

IMG_20151212_114422224_HDR
Santa Arrives

Setup
For this show, they did have electricity, so I brought the printer along. They also allowed people to hang things on the wall, so I put all my wreaths and magnets on the wall behind me, allowing me to squish everything else into a single table. I did not show any of my jewelry this show for two reasons– 1) Lack of space and 2) I sold all out of my Helix Heart Pendants the weekend before.

It was refreshing to be in an indoor venue for a change and I didn’t have to tack all my signs down.

The other artists were amazing. I loved their work and even though they have been doing this for so much longer than I, they were all very supportive of me and my work. They made me feel very welcome.

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My Setup the Night Before

Big Start
The first half hour of the show was crazy busy. Crazy busy. 67% of all my sales occurred in the first 30 minutes of the show. At one point in time, there was a queue of people lined up waiting to pay.

After that, it did slow down immensely. It gave me a chance to visit with the other artists and my children. As a bonus surprise, my two year old nephew and his parents stopped by for a visit.

IMG_20151212_135056884
My Nephew and My Youngest Son At The Booth

Winners
For this show, the biggest winner was the Cork Kitty! All but one lonely white cat sold.

3D Printing - Amry of Cork Kitties
Cork Kitties – SOLD!

The five Firefly wreath that I secretly hoped no one would buy did get purchased. The fireflies butts glow in the dark and the way they were positioned on the wreath, the glowing makes a star. I will have to make another one.

3D Printing - Firefly Wreath
Firefly Wreath – SOLD!

Cardinals continued to have a strong showing. Hummingbirds and Goldfinches made sales and a big congratulations to the Red-Winged Blackbird who got his real first sale!

3D Printing - Redwing Blackbird
First Sale! Red-Winged Blackbird

Virginia is for Wine Lovers bottle stoppers did well as usual as did that Glowing Cthulhu Coaster. Every single show– I sell Glowing Cthulhu Coasters (often to the point of selling out). It still amazes me how well they do.

3D Printing - Virginia is for Wine Lovers Stopper

The Glowing Marine Corps Museum (which I have yet to blog about) did well. The great thing about that product is just two sales covers an entire roll of GlowFill!

3D Printing - Glowing Museum of the Marine Corps
My Glowing Ode to The National Museum of the Marine Corps

My two-color holiday napkin rings (another thing I need to blog about) got their first “Craft Show” sell as well.

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Napkin Rings – SOLD!

Phew. It was a good day, but at the end of it, I was thankful that was my last show in 2015. The next show on my docket right now isn’t until March. I’m hoping to catch up on my blogging in Q1 2016… and launch my 3D Printing YouTube Channel!

St. Paul UMC Fall Fair – Recap

On Saturday, I did a little “mini” show at a nearby church for four hours.  Since the booth fee was only $10, that gave me the luxury to do some experimenting with lower prices– particularly with the Cork Kitties and the Cork Puppies!  My experiment for this show as setting them up at $2.25 (that’s including the sales tax).

I left my more expensive products at home and only set up one 5′ table.  TGAW 3D “Lite”, if you will.

St. Paul UMC Fall Fair -  "Lite" Booth

Now, the foot traffic at this show was pretty minimal– I think most of the people there were other vendors, but I still managed regular sales.  My sample size is small, but I’m feeling like there was more conversion from admiration to actual purchase.  :)  Oh, and I sold my very first Standing Cancer Ribbons.  Yay!

Cancer Ribbon - Pink

Other misc observations:

  • All the sales this time around were cash (At the Occoquan Craft show it was about 60% cash, 40% credit).
  • If I keep up with the magnet boards, I need a better way to brace them– it flew over in the wind!
  • Not all glue is equal.  I’m still filtering out bird magnets whose magnets are loose. : (

Finally, I discovered there is a perk to a slow show.  I got to sneak in some quality time with my boys and it was a fun place to do so.  They had a moon bounce, a pumpkin patch… and the local fire station even brought over a fire truck and an ambulance for the kids to explore.

St. Paul UMC Fall Fair - Dyson on Moon Bounce

St. Paul UMC Fall Fair - Dyson with Pumpkin Patch

St. Paul UMC Fall Fair - Amy and Sagan Decorate Pumpkin

St. Paul UMC Fall Fair - Sagan Drives Firetruck

As for grown up stuff, I got to visit with an old classmate from elementary school.  We had a lot to catch up on.

It wasn’t an especially lucrative show, but I had a most fabulous time.

Two New Fall Events

I have two additional events to add to my Events page. They are both in Prince William County, Virginia:

Saturday October 17th, 2015 – Community Yard Sale
8 AM – 12 PM
St. Paul United Methodist Church
1400 G Street (Off Occoquan Road)
Woodbridge, VA

Saturday November 14th – 4th Annual Fall Fair
10 AM – 4 PM
Post 28 Quantico Buck Keyes American Legion
17934 Liming Lane
Triangle, VA 22172

I mentioned in my follow up to the Occoquan Fall Arts and Craft Show that I felt I may have mispriced some of my items, particularly items geared for children. I’m going to experiment with lower prices at both of these events. Gather up more data for me to learn about pricing and sales.

As I tell my four year old, you gotta practice to get good. : )

Fall Occoquan Arts and Craft Show

Well, it was a whirlwind, but we had a phenomenal time at the Fall Occoquan Arts and Craft Show! Everything clicked into place so we could relax and enjoy the show. We had steady enough sales that we didn’t have to worry about not selling anything…. but the sales paced in a way that we didn’t have to worry about running out of everything on Saturday.

When I step back, it is crazy we accomplished in just eight weeks. Eight weeks ago, I may have had some designs up on Shapeways, but for all practical purposes I was just a girl with a 3D Printer. I had NO inventory. NO tent. NO tables. Nothing! So in eight weeks, we (I say we, because from my husband to my mother to my brother to my sister-in-law to a battery of friends– it was a big group effort) pulled off a little business.

19 new designs, over 400 prints, a business license, tax IDs, a logo and signage, infrastructure for display and credit cards reading.

Whew! No wonder I’m so tired.

3D Printing - Occoquan Craft Show - Vicky and Booth
This All Did Not Exist Eight Weeks Ago!

Surprise Strong Sellers
The most surprising seller was the Glowing Cthulhu Coaster. The Glowing Cthulhu Coaster was actually our first sale, a mere minute after the bells rung to start the show. We ended up selling out of Cthulhu Coasters the very first day. The second morning, we printed more…which was good because in the afternoon we sold another one!

3D Printing - Glowing Cthulhu Coaster (Lit Up)

The other great surprise was my Mamie Davis Gazebo Christmas Ornament. I didn’t blog about it yet. That was my very last design for the show- done in a marathon 16 hour design session and then printing the very last week before the show. After a handful of gazebos, I was thinking of switching back to other products. My husband convinced me to print more gazebos and I’m glad I did. By the end of the show, they were all spoken for!

3D Printing - Mamie Davis Park Gazebo Ornament

I was also pleased to sell a Schrodinger’s Cat and Box! He is definitely a niche product.

Schrodinger Cat - Two in Boxes

Surprise Slow Sellers
On the other hand, the bird magnets and wreaths did not do as well as I had anticipated. Possible variables- I had that in the back of the booth. I also suspect I mucked up the pricing and made them too high (More on that below).

3D Printing - Blue Jay Wreath

Leads!
I left the show with a half dozen custom design requests to follow-up on. In Episode 89 of the WTFFF Podcast, Tom and Tracy Hazzard said for them, if they left a tradeshow with just one lead, the show was worth it. I left with multiple leads plus SALES. So yeah, totally worth it.

Beyond Sales
We had a best case scenario. Even if we missed a sale, we still got our egos stroked with compliments to the designs and then the best part- we got to introduce 3D printing to the masses! Visitor after visitor came in and told us, “This is the first time I’ve laid eyes on a 3D Printer. I’ve read about it, but I’ve never seen one.” They would call others over to mob around the printer. That was very satisfying.

Occoquan Fall Arts and Craft Show

Occoquan Craft Show 2015 - Dyson Plays with Hot End

One lady admired all my birds and said, “I heard about 3D Printing, but I had no idea you could use it to make beautiful art work.” Beautiful art work! That’s the term she used!

And I got to do something I really do revel in– talking about 3D Printing and showing people how it is within their grasp right now. They can start designing and printing right now!

Surprising Another 3D Printer
Okay… so yeah, maybe it is easy to wow the layman with 3D Printing. But what about people who have 3D printers of their own? Sunday, a local man with a 3D Printer stopped by my booth. We talked about nozzles and NinjaFlex and slicing. All of a sudden his wife interrupted, pointing to one of my glowing fireflies and asking how I did the different colors.

3D Printing - Firefly Magnet

“That’s painted, baby.” the man quickly said.

And I got to correct him, “No, it’s different color filaments.”

He looked at the firefly again. “Ooooh, I see. You print the different filaments and glue them together.”

And I got to correct him and explain how I use Simplify3D to do the multiple processes and start the different colors that their designated heights.

Out of all the visitors that past weekend, I think it was only he who could really fully appreciate the technique.

To Learn: Pricing
When learning 3D Printing, you do a lot of experimentation. Ooh your overhangs are messy, let’s try a print with lower temperatures. Still not perfect? Let’s try a print with slower speeds. You tweak and make adjustments.

I do believe it’s going to be the same kind of thing with sales. Right now, I believe I priced the Cork Puppies and Cork Kitties too high. I was pricing it, thinking the end users were adults (using them as décor, place set holders, and entrée labels). It was very clear at the show, I should have been pricing it for KIDS. The end users are KIDS! They love them.

Occoquan Craft Show - Eight Black Cork Kitties

I also believe I priced the birds too high.

On the other side of the spectrum, it is possible I priced the Mamie Davis Gazebo Ornament too low. Why do I say that? My Mom accidently quoted a lady TWICE the price and she still agreed to buy THREE. (I only charged her the real price). So go figure. hehe

It’s just another thing for me to learn and master. It may take me a while to master, but I’ll keep working at it. : )

Next Up
Next up– a little bit of rest, getting my remaining inventory up on Etsy, doing these custom orders… and then prepping for more shows!

Print Diary – Not Held Back By Hardware Issues

Phew. A whole SLEW of updates for you. Been quite busy.

Printer Problems
In high school, when I would meet friends for rollerskating, I would always be tense about falling. It just seemed like the worse thing that can happen. But after that very first fall each skating adventure, I’d relax. It was never nearly as bad as I thought.

So it goes with issues with the MakerGear M2. We had a slew of issues crop up recently. But so far (knock on wood), none of them were as paralyzingly scary as I envisioned printer problems to be. And holy crap, MakerGear Technical Support is top notch.

  1. Heated Bed Issues
    A wire to our heated bed snapped. This part was under warranty and MakerGear promptly sent me a new one. In the meantime, we printed on a cold bed with painter’s tape.

    3D Printing - Bed Wire

    Perk: I learned to appreciate printing on painters tape. I actually ended up loving that I don’t have to wait for the print bed to heat up to begin and wait for it to cool to pull off prints. I can see occasions in the future where my first choice will be to print on a cool bed.

    3D Printing - Birds - New Finch Design

  2. End of Life Extruder Drive
    In troubleshooting a filament drive issue (see below), we noticed the hot end was loose in the extruder drive. I learned from Technical Support that “Generally the v3b extruder system is expected to last about 6 months of ‘normal’ usage. This could be accelerated with more abrasive filaments or just heavy usage.”

    Perk: Validation– I’m a heavy user! I’m a heavy user, everyone! : )

  3. Filament Motor Issues
    My filament motor was clicking and jamming when I did a Retract -100 in Simplify3d (even when the filament drive and hot end were off– the gear itself would stop spinning). Since I’ve done my fair share of technical support with software, I tried to gather up as much information as I could about the issue, even getting the behavior on video. MakerGear send me a new Filament Motor and I’m shipping the old one back to them for some diagnostics.

    Perk – I’ve built confidence and got to know my printer better by taking apart the filament drive.

  4. Broken Cooling Blade
    And this one was me. Totally me. I dropped some filament into the running cooling fan and snapped a blade.

    Perk – The Cooling Fan still ran fine sans one blade… and the replacement only cost 7.50.

Now that was a lot of issues in this past week. Well, would you believe it– we still managed to keep up our Craft Show production!

3D Printing - Birds - Post Procesing

New Finch and Cardinal
I revamped my finch design to make the wing detail simpler so he matched the look and feel of the other birds, particularly the Oriole and the Blue Jay.

3D Printing - American Goldfinch

And after five iterations, I finally got a dang cardinal I like. The trick was adding in orange for his beak and feet. Subtle, but made a difference.

3D Printing - Cardinal Final

Fireflies!
I also got a Eastern Common Firefly design I’m happy with. His butt is in GlowFill, so it actually glows.

My Firefly...getting closer to the real thing.  #3DPrinting  Photo in the background is by Mattie Bryant - https://mattiebryant.wordpress.com/

Dyson Spheres
Ryan is creating a table top game he is calling “Dyson Spheres”. He modelled the board and the pieces in OpenSCAD and we printed out a few copies for play testing. The printing part has proven to be a lot easier than the play testing. Play testing is hard when you have a 2 year old and a 4 year old constantly trying to steal your pieces.

3D Printing - Dyson Spheres - Trial Set

Atom Pendants Back on the Table
Previously I had fretted about adding the lovely Creative Commons Science-themed pendant to our Craft Show inventory because the hole was so small. Turns out the hole is perfect for 9mm rings. Thank you Michaels…and thank you Creative Commons.

3D Printing - Atom Necklace - Silver

Cork Puppies? Cork Kitties?
Last Friday night, I was looking at an overflowing bowl of wine corks my Mom had collected. I tried to brainstorm some projects for them– like Cork Snowflakes. Sidebar– it’s hard to experiment with corks when a 2 year old and a 4 year old are constantly trying to steal your corks. : )

I thought about making the corks into cats. Cork Kitties– the alliteration alone makes me want to model it. Turns out someone had already done something similar. Designer EHM made a Cork Puppy on Thingiverse. We did a test print and my Mom was instantly in love.

Tried someone's else design on the MakerGear M2 today.  A Cork Puppy (Designed by EHM http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:219030 #3DPrinting

The design is licensed Creative Commons for Non-Commercial Use. I wrote the designer to see if I could license the design or split profits for the Craft Show. I hadn’t heard back yet, so I may have to go back to my original plan. Cork Kitties. : )

Logo
Been working with my graphics designer sister-in-law for a logo. For the first time in my life, I picked a logo based on “how will it look as a 3D print?”. Our lead contender would make a mighty fine pendant.

Staging
We have four weeks, but we are already mucking around figuring out how we want to display all this stuff. We happened to find an old metal birdhouse on clearance that our magnet birds stick to. It might be destiny.

3D Printing - Staging Area for the Craft Fair

Etsy
And I did manage to post some things to Etsy finally. I won’t be heavily promoting it until October…. after the Craft Show. Nonetheless, my heart does a little pitter-patter when I see how my prints are all starting to come together into a product line.

Etsy Screenshot!

So yeah. I’ve been busy. : )

Print Diary – July 30th – Taking the Plunge!

Going for the Craft Fair
My town has an annual craft fair every September and June. After much discussion with my husband, we decided we are going to try to do the fair’s very first 3D Printed booth this year. If anything, we will be testing the waters for future 3D printing vendors. I applied for an official business license with my town. Yikes! : )

My prints today were some items in preparation for the faire– orioles, coasters, monarch butterflies.

Process Improvement
I did improve my bird printing process. Previously, I was printing all the birds at 0.10 layers. This allowed me to get more layers in of colors so they filled in better, but keeping the overall detail small.

Well I realized the backing of the bird didn’t need to be that short. In Simplify3D, I added an additional process where I printed the bottom of my birds at 0.2mm layers and then decreased down to 0.10 when I got to my color switches.

The result– it’s now quite fast to produce out a full bed of birds!

3D Printing - A Whole Slew of Chickadees

Science-Themed Pendant by Rosie Campbell
I did also try out the Science Themed Pendant by Rosie Campbell. It’s lovely and licensed Creative Commons (with commercial use). I like it, I’m satisfied with the print. I can see myself wearing it.

But…

Man, that hole is awfully small. It could be done— but you might need one of those needle threaders to do it.

3D Printing - Science Themed Necklace by Rosie Campbell

Nonetheless, it’s lovely!