Monday, April 25, 2016

Looking for new shows

I've shared in the past that some of our most successful holiday shows are the special events hosted by local art centers, galleries, and small museums. 

Display detail, 2014

 Truly.  Doing these small level shows allow us to reach a much larger audience than one or two weekend shows or concentrated Etsy marketing.  And working with people that know and appreciate art = so wonderful.

Wanting to expand the business, I spent time this winter hunting for new shows.  Thank goodness for Google.  I looked for "art center holiday markets" and got good sources.  Some of the Art Fair calendars (so useful for listings of art/craft shows) have also been good resources.

bracelet display, 2015
The tricky part is keeping track of everything.  Every show means at least 5-10 emails, all with different forms and/or information.  Some shows require membership in the center (usually $25-45 for the year).  Some shows use Zapp apps (not my favorite app site!), some handle everything in-house.

I started out using paper folders to keep track of everything, printing out copies of forms.  Too messy.  Especially in my tiny workspace.  Last year, I went to email trails.  I set up an individual folder for each center and/or gallery, and shuffled all the paperwork into these files.  Somewhat easier.  And at least I can find the paper trail when I need to.

This year, with even more possible shows, I'll probably stick to a revised digital filing system.  I'm looking for a good app, one that I can keep notes on as well as business details.

One system that has worked well is our photo "filing" system.  

Necklaces that went to Anton Arts (all sold!)
When we ship everything out to the individual centers, we take pictures along with the gallery/center name.  So handy.  It's easy to check what piece is where.  It's easy to check in, to see what sold.  (Nature designs sold VERY well last year!)  If I have to track a piece down for a customer, I can flip through the pictures.  It's also easy to check that I don't leave an Etsy listing up for something that's out to a gallery.

We're starting our planning for holiday shows extra early this year.  I'm already contacting venues, placing items aside, and scheduling when to work on what.  Most of the summer will be all about felt production, with beadwork in the evenings.  

Organization.  i gots this.

Friday, April 22, 2016

While this was going on...

Surprise!  Fake Spring in Michigan, 2016
...this was going on.
Felted belt, 2016
I decided to combat the fake spring weather with bright bold colors and lots of texture.  These belts/headwraps/headbands are SO much fun to make!  And with the summer festival season on the horizon (somewhere.  Unless that warmer weather will also turn out to be a fake), it's perfect timing for some bolder designs.

Belt, 2016
Last fall, I did up a bunch of "blanks," long pieces of needle felt.  When I got caught up in holiday shows, I shoved the bag up on the shelf.  

So glad that I had these done ahead of time.  All I had to do on a snowy weekend was take them down and start playing with adding the fun bits - appliques, beads, textile scraps, lace, charms.

Mirrored belt, 2016
And mirrors!  I got two big bags of shisha mirrors from my sari supplier.  Perfect accents for these belts!

Love the tye dye liner on this belt!
The hardest part about making these belts is figuring out how long to make them.  Originally, I used ribbon ties on the end, to make them very adjustable.  But customer feedback asked for elastic ties and buttons.  After making these, I'm not sure that's workable, as it seriously limits the sizing.  I may have to resort to rivets and laces.  We'll see.

Subtle colors (kinda), 2016
A friend uses her belt as a hatband, an idea I love.  And one worth developing as a marketing tool.  I've long wanted to bead embroider a felt cowboy hat.  Wouldn't that be cool?  So, maybe felted, beaded hatbands are the next best thing...

Rhea, 2016
Regardless of my fiber and beady plans, Rhea remains unimpressed.  She's snuggling until fake spring is over.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The School Year is Almost Over!

Yes.  That is a note of relief you hear in my title.

In the past year, I've taught eight classes, at three different colleges/universities.  That's a lot of lesson plans.  And essay reading/re-reading.  Not to mention the paper grading.  Almost 300 students times 10-15 papers, a piece.  Well, is it any wonder why I've let my blogging slip?

Lonely daffodil, spring 2015
Not to mention my dissertation.  Which, frankly, I haven't made as much progress on as I'd hoped.  But, I have a research trip scheduled for July.  So.  Then.  Writing, disserting, all the time. 

'Cause I'm only teaching one class each semester this summer.  And, working on a gender project for the Dean's office.  And starting work on a novel.  And making product for two businesses.  And setting up the fall/winter show schedule.

Goodness.  I need a vacation.  Or a chill pill.  Or an extra day in the week. 

No one ever talks about how tiring living a dream life will be...

Monday, April 11, 2016


After one too many frustrating conversations today, here's my new approach to problem-solving: