My DIY WordPress website part 2

My DIY WordPress website Part 2

Posted Posted in How to

Having decided on a WordPress.org template for my new self built website, the next thing to do was to upload the WordPress.org software. Then I could start building using my chosen template.

The recommended way to do this is to identify the website hosting company of your choice, buy the hosting package you want and download the software to the host. Then you can build your website online, but under a temporary URL (website address) where only you can see it. If you have an existing website as I did, it is completely unaffected by the new website being built and operates normally.

My big mistake!

I completely misunderstood how the temporary URL worked and wrongly assumed that it would adversely affect my existing website. One option that we read about to avoid this problem was to upload the WordPress.org software onto my computer. It would act as a local host until my new website was ready for upload to my host.

Consequences

So that’s what we did, and all went smoothly.

But when we were uploading my website files to A2 Hosting, the host I had selected, this decision came back to bite us. My website files had lots of references to ‘local host’ (ie my computer) which didn’t work when the website went live online. The files needed to refer to the website URL to work properly. If I had built a temporary website supported by the host, all these references would have been to the temporary URL and we wouldn’t have had this problem.

I couldn’t have sorted this out alone. I had help, but we still spent a weekend Googling and searching for answers on forums. In the end, the best advice was from A2, my hosting service. But it still took a morning to follow all the instructions before everything was sorted out.

Building a website on your own computer is a valid way to do this, but neither I nor my helper had the expertise to do it efficiently. Conclusion? Unless you have the experience, I wouldn’t recommend it.

If I had used WordPress.com to build my new website, I wouldn’t have had to worry about any of this at all as it’s part of the service. So all my pain was self inflicted!

Next time…

The fun bit – building the WordPress website using video guidance.

Other blogs in the series:

My DIY WordPress website Part 1: WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

My DIY WordPress website Part 3: Building a website using video guidance

how to brand furniture

How to brand furniture

Posted Posted in Artwork, Furniture, How to, Wood

Colin Semple Furniture Design got in touch with LaserFlair because Colin was looking for a way to brand his furniture. There aren’t many ways for furniture makers to leave a lasting mark on their pieces, and Colin had an idea of how he wanted to do this.

Colin’s specification

Colin wanted to have his logo engraved on shapes of wood that he could mount strategically on a range of items. And he wanted something that would look beautiful! He knew that solid wood would give the right look, and decided on oak which always engraves well. To make it easy to use them, he required regularly shaped pieces that would be easy to insert into holes for a flush fit. A 50mm diameter disc 6mm thick was settled on as a good size that would keep each piece robust and the logo readable.

Detailed logo

The greatest challenge that this project presented to LaserFlair was getting the engraving right.

Colin’s logo is very detailed and in colour. Laser engraving works best with black and white (no greyscale) where the laser either engraves or doesn’t engrave. So to keep the detail while losing the colour, Colin wanted the C and S of his initials fill in engraved. The rest of his name engraved in outline so it appeared white inside. The tree trunk and canopy required similar treatment.

To achieve this, the logo had to be converted into a vector format made up of lines rather than pixels. This meant that individual elements could be picked out to be engraved in different ways. This stage was far more time consuming than the production phase, but it only needed to be done once.

Once Colin was happy with the prototypes, we made the first batch of discs. He sent me this picture of one that he had cleverly concealed in the side of a drawer.

WordPress website

My DIY WordPress website Pt 1

Posted Posted in How to

When I started LaserFlair, I build my website using Yola’s platform. It was very user friendly for beginners like me with no coding experience.

After a few years, it became clear that the platform was quite limiting in power and flexibility. I’d started a blog, but couldn’t host it on my Yola website. Having decided that my website needed refreshing and that LaserFlair needed a new logo, it seemed like the right time to move to WordPress. But this would mean getting to grips with a new platform, hosting and plenty more that I hadn’t had to worry about before. The creative possibilities looked fun, but the techy side was far from my comfort zone.

This series of blogs describes the ups and downs along the way to creating my new DIY WordPress website.

Step 1: WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

The sheer choice available in WordPress’ website templates was bewildering. There were too many lovely ones to choose from! Some were free, others had a charge.

My techy husband gently suggested that WordPress.com might be the best way forward for a non programmer like me. Website security and hosting would be taken care of and I wouldn’t have to download any software. Everything would be included in a nice, convenient package that might constrict slightly, but would be easy for me to set up and manage.

Choosing WordPress.org would mean I’d have to find my own host, and download and install WordPress to my host myself. On the plus side, I could also use my own domain name, add plug ins and edit the code behind the site to customise it as I wanted. This would require support from a host and from my husband.

Step 2: Finding the right template

What made my mind up was finding a video on YouTube describing how easy it was to create a gorgeous website using the Sydney template.

My favourite features were the huge photo slider in the header that can rotate up to 5 pictures, and a scrolling home page with a beautiful grid gallery for case studies that can be categorised. There were also strips to display services, testimonials and customers. Everything I wanted to highlight  to customers quickly and easily without having more pages than necessary.

It was love at first sight with Sydney. The video would guide me step by step on how to build a website just like that in 1 hour 42 minutes. I could stop and start the video and build my lovely new website along with the instructor. He would show me what was where and how to make everything look just as I wanted it to. How hard could it be?

The Sydney template had the look and functionality that I wanted. My only hesitation was that it was only available through WordPress.org. It might be harder work to set up, but I hoped that once everything was in place, it would be easy to look after and the effect would be well worth the effort.

Next time…

Once I had chosen WordPress.org, the next thing to do would be to set up WordPress.com on my computer. Then I could build my new website and find a host for it.

 

Earlier blogs in the series:

My DIY WordPress website Part 2: How not to set up a host for an easy life!

My DIY WordPress website Part 3: Building a website using video guidance

restored farm kist

Restored farm kist

Posted Posted in Artwork, Furniture, How to

John from Firhills Farm in Arbroath was on a mission. He wanted to restore the old farm kist (Scots blanket box) that they take to agricultural shows where they show their Charolais cattle, beautiful creatures with gorgeous curly creamy coats. We’ve helped furniture makers create personalised features on new pieces, so when John and his wife got in touch, we were keen to help.

Something special

This kist had been in the family for years and it needed some love after years of hard service on the farm. It was old and battered, and if something wasn’t done soon, the kist was likely to fall apart.

As Christmas loomed, John decided that restoring it would be a great gift idea for his dad. He wanted to make it special and memorable, a talking point that would be much admired by their farming colleagues. It was to be the family’s pride and joy, an emblem of their family business and their prized cattle for years to come.

Restoration process

John had done a lot of the work himself on the structure of the kist. A family friend had drawn the Charolais bull and painted the Union flag onto the lid. As a finishing touch, he asked LaserFlair if we could laser engrave ‘Firhills Charolais’ around the painting.

He detached the lid from the kist and made an appointment to bring it to our workshop. Together, we selected a font that was chunky and bold. Copperplate Gothic Bold was perfect. All the letters are upper case so the text is bold and clear, and it has elegance too.

We created the artwork for the text and centrally justified the two words in rectangles at the top and bottom of the lid. This would align the words nicely in the spaces between the painting and the edges of the kist.

When the artwork was ready, we put the lid on the laser bed. We realised when we measured up the lid as we created the artwork that it wasn’t a perfect rectangle. One end of the kist was wider than the other by 7mm! So we made up the artwork based on the smaller measurements.

John wanted a deep engrave to complement the chunkiness of the kist. The first pass was good, but we engraved another pass to add more depth as the engraving itself didn’t take too long. John, his wife and their small son enjoyed watching the engraving process. With jobs like this, having the customer there to give immediate feedback is very helpful.

Restored to its former glory

John was delighted with the results and knew that his dad would be too. Once he had finished the kist a couple of months later, he sent us a picture.

In March, we heard from John again. They had been to a show with the restored kist for the first time, and he wanted to say how pleased they were with it and how much it had been admired. The kist is used for storing show rosettes and beer amongst other things, and acts as a useful seat occasionally. Now it’s beautiful as well as useful.

how unicorns are made

How unicorns are made

Posted Posted in Artists, Designers, How to, Signage, Wood

InkPaintPaper is an artist and illustrator in Norfolk. She makes hand painted personalised plywood decorations and signs, all to her own design.

She had ideas for new products to add to her plywood signs line. One of her wrapping paper designs has a unicorn motif, the same one that she has on her logo, and she thought it would be a fun shape for bedroom door signs. So she got in touch with LaserFlair to discuss the feasibility of her plan.

Product development

InkPaintPaper and I have worked together for a few years now. She knows that we need vector artwork to cut out shapes and understands that chunky shapes are most robust. Her artwork was perfect first time with a single hairline line surrounding each unicorn. The most vulnerable point was where the unicorn’s tail meets its body, but at 10mm wide, it not a cause for concern, especially as she wanted to use 4mm laser ply. Being formed from laminated layers in birch, plywood is inherently strong and the unicorns would would be robust enough to send through the post.

Prototypes

This was a pretty straight forward product development project. InkPaintPaper knew exactly what she wanted, her artwork was good, the product robust and the material choice clear.

We laser cut some prototype unicorns for InkPaintPaper to decorate and test the market with. She hand painted them and got feedback via social media. It wasn’t long before she came back with an order for a production run of unicorns in the run up to Christmas!

beard comb branding

Beard comb branding

Posted Posted in Corporate, How to, Other, Recycled wood, Wood

Bearded Basturds is a Dunfermline based startup company with a range of beard oils and waxes that don’t contain harsh chemicals or alcohol.

Craig started to get inquiries for beard combs from customers. He wanted something wooden if possible, and wondered if it might be an option to have them laser engraved with his logo. So he got in touch with LaserFlair to see if we could help.

On his search for fabulous and original beard combs, Craig came across The Upcycled Timber Company, a start up based in Glenrothes. They make all sorts of things from recycled wooden whisky barrels, and now they make chunky and manly combs for Bearded Basturds too. Each one is unique with a slightly different shape as they are all handmade.

Making prototypes

Craig brought some sample combs round to our workshop to test engrave them. He decided that he wanted his beard logo on one side and the company name on the other. Getting the size of the text and logo just right for the combs would be important for product aesthetics. In addition, we knew that a good 3D effect would complement the combs’ rugged appearance.

We made the engraving for the text deeper than for the beard logo. A deeper engrave makes finer features like text stand out more. Larger engraved areas don’t need as much depth relatively as finer engraving. So although the engravings were done at different power settings, they look similar in depth which is what Craig wanted.

In the engraved beard logos especially, the light and dark growth rings in the wood are highlighted. Engraving is deeper over the less dense spring/summer growth rings, and shallower over the denser autumn/winter growth rings. You can see this in the picture, and it is clearer in the logo than the text. This is one of my favourite features of laser engraved wood.

It has been wonderful to work with two other local companies to make such an original product with a good story. The engraved beard combs look amazing, and we’re really proud of what we’ve created together.