Monday, December 31, 2007

How I learned to Crochet

So how do I learn a new skill? I did learn fine art skills in college; drawing, painting, sculpture and printmaking. Which is a good base for the crafts I create. Now I learn a lot of new skills the following way so I thought you might find my method interesting, and probably familiar.

First, some background. I have been knitting since my mom showed me how when I was a child. She also showed me how to crochet. And I remember, vividly, starting to crochet a scarf in rainbow acrylic yarn but never finishing it. I think I still own almost everything I ever had and would not be surprised to someday find that unfinished scarf in a box in my parents' house.

But knitting took and I made many simple afghans; knitting a whole ball of Red Heart acrylic yarn then starting a new one in another color, repeat until I created a blanket. It was repetitive and soothing and when you were done you had something practical, I loved it.

I had tried following patterns but if I put the project down for any length of time, I forgot where I was and gave up in frustration.

I love knitting in the winter, very cozy. And in the past year have gotten more ambitious about learning new stitches. I learned to knit hats on 4 needles, I learned basket weave, seed stitch and knit two together yarn over. I still don't follow patterns, and I'm not very sophisticated about yarns. I mostly make scarves, hats and throws.

I bought a complete set of crochet hooks at an estate sale this past May with the intention to revisit crochet. I have seen a lot of sweet crocheted items on Etsy recently and it's really sparked my interest.

My learning method is this:

1) I have someone who knows how to do the thing I want to learn describe it to me so I have an overview to start with, this helps me form the questions I want to answer.

2) I go to the bookstore and read many books and magazines on how to perform the skill. I read them all because they all have slightly different ways of saying something and they all have different pictures. (This also helps me decide if the skill is really something I want to pursue).

3) Now that I have broadband I have been able to watch tutorial videos on YouTube though this is new for me.

4) I buy the book that makes the most sense to my way of learning.

5) I try it myself, but there is always something I don't get.

6) I read more books, including ones written for children if available :)

7) I have someone skilled show me how (thanks BrickMillStudio!)

8) I try again.

By this time I should understand enough to finish some items. This encourages me to hone the skill and learn more variations.

Things I learned this way (more or less, I can't always get access to and/or don't always need every step): photo silk screening at home, polymer clay caning, knitting a hat on 4 needles, wet felting, and now crocheting.

Next, I am in the middle of my learning curve in Gocco, a little more advanced in sewing and at the beginning of resin.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How is your winter so far?

Hi there! We had 3 storms before the official start of winter. The driving was bad, took D almost 4 hours to get home from work one night. Here are a few New England winter pics:

We had a lovely Christmas with friends and family...

...and now I am thinking toward the new year. I hope to expand on the made in lowell brand and increase the number and kinds of products. I have a Gocco I am dying to use and resin I need to learn about. I have dozens more of mom's great illustrations to make into cards and I have just re-learned to crochet.

I'll keep you posted on all my new and continuing projects! What are you looking forward to in the new year?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Virtual Studio Tour

Disclaimer: After the video plays, YouTube brings up other random videos that I did not choose, so click those with caution :) Mine is perfectly safe! Fun for the whole family even.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Open Studios, Holiday Arts Happening Recap

Western Avenue Studios had a special second Holiday Open Studios on December 8th and I had a great time! Faithful readers will recall I had a migraine for the previous one, but this past Saturday found me in top form and ready to go. I will admit I was a bit frazzled as I had a show on Sunday as well.

Sometimes the packaging and such take up enormous swaths of time. I decided to redesign the stickers I put on my jewelry boxes, that had me peeling and re-sticking for quite a while. I also adhered return address labels to all the receipts in my receipt books. I've never had any really good way to package my barrettes so I created a pillow box template and started cutting them out and assembling, then of course those needed a sticker too! I shredded tissue to put in egg boxes then I cut and folded egg info cards. I printed and cut up business cards too! When I have decided on my new logo, I will have business cards professionally printed.

So Saturday went really well! People came through and bought my things, though maybe not as rabidly as on the 1st, but they did buy and I am grateful! I saw friends and met new people. I am really enjoying the friendship of the other artists in the building.

I sold out of my newest flower/nest pin within the first hour and a half! This put me in a bit of a spin as I could see myself at the Worcester show lacking my one hot item! I worked all day to replenish my stock and was very successful.

In the evening, D came to help me pack up and load the car. We were able to go home around 8:30. I stayed up later to be really, really ready for Sunday.

The sunrise on Sunday morning in Lowell:

Sunday morning, D drove us to the DCU center in Worcester where we were able to bring the car right into the building to unload! Very cool and convenient. I have never met a nicer bunch of people than the volunteers and staff of stArt on the Street. They were right there and ready to help unload! It was a well organized show.

It was very cold with that big door open and they gave us cups for free coffee at Starbucks so D went off in the car to fill them. As soon as he left I turned around and saw that my purse was not in my stack of stuff! There were two possibilities: it was in the car or it was stolen. Along with my wallet, the purse contained all my show change. I rarely lose anything. I really started to feel awful. My words to D echoed in my head "If it's too much trouble to get the coffee, just go home..." We live 45 minutes from Worcester and we don't have cell phones. Sigh.

Meanwhile, Liz showed up and immediately comforted me as the lack of sleep and stress got to me and I started to cry. D was gone for about a half hour. I was using Liz's cellphone to leave a panicked message on our home voicemail when she said "Hang up! Here he comes!" And there he was! Striding toward us with my hot coffee. Relief part one! I told him the situation and he ran back to the car to check. Ten minutes later he strode in again with my purse held over his head in triumph! Relief part two. I really love that man :)

After that, I recovered and kicked into gear setting up my table opposite Liz's in our ten foot space. Here's Liz and her gorgeous table of sparkly things:

Here's my set up:

My new flower/nest pins:

We met some other Etsians including Paper Menagerie, plus saw Heather of Heather Wang Jewelry and Peter and Eve of La Sal Mountains Studio who are also at Western Ave. Amanda, yet another WAS artist came to visit and shop!

I wore one of my new pins and waited for the holiday shoppers! Well, we had a few, but unfortunately, not in the kinds of numbers that make for a really successful show. So cash-wise, I would not classify the day as a success. But I did enjoy myself and passed out a bunch of cards and talked with a lot of friendly people and demonstrated needle felting.

Mom and Dad came out to visit!

That's always nice and I did sell a bunch of Mom's cards. D came back at 5:30 and we packed up in the fastest time EVER, I only broke two nails and we were headed home.

I thought I would have all this free time since I had been working so hard for these two weeks and now they are over. But it turns out I had put off a lot of things in that time and look, here they are, patiently waiting for me to attend to them :) So I'm back to work!

Friday, December 7, 2007

I am making things!

This is it! The last push to the last two shows of the holiday season. I can't say I am cool and collected, that would be lying :) But I am happy and excited and everyone's support has buoyed me up and is helping me sail through. Thank you!

It's been an amazing year of learning and building this business, but I feel like I have barely started. I have a lot planned for the next year. I am working on a new logo, can't wait to see if I can pull it off :) I also have plans to finish my studio interior design and get it all sleek and pretty like I envision instead of a pile of boxes! I will design new products including blankets, pillows, bags. I will also add screen printed items; t-shirts, cards etc.

I also want to focus on paring back my supplies to the truly necessary, destashing my excess goods in my Destash Shop.

But now I must concentrate on the next two insane days, whee!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Great Open Studios!

Yay! What a success :) Saturday was cold and SO windy, the objects flying through the air above the parking lot of Western Avenue Studios were large, yikes! But the artists braved the elements as did holiday shoppers and my parents.

This open studios was longer, from 10-6 and I'm glad I did most of my cleaning on Friday because I didn't manage to get in until 9:45 Saturday morning and had just enough time to run my trash down to the loading dock and turn on the Christmas lights before folks started showing up.

We had a fairly steady stream of really nice people all thrilled to be either discovering WAS for the first time or returning to see what was new. I had some new flowers I have been needle felting from thick and thin single ply wool yarn, they are my latest passion and they went over well! I need to take product shots and list them in my Etsy shop. And I need to make more, they are fun!

I also worked on some of my original design needle felted flowers:

I had quite a few people come in to say they had come specifically to see my work! They had spotted the postcard I put up around town or they had found this blog. I am thrilled that people take the time to come and find me! Thank you!

Mom and dad got in around 11 and I was glad for the company. They like to hang out and observe the scene, talk with the other artists and eat a little lunch. I love having them there and it's fun to let people know that mom is the artist who does the drawings for the cards :)

At one point I did look up in time to see my dad rolling past my studio door on a Segway! Someone was giving demonstrations and at various times I saw people glide by in the hallway, it was vastly amusing. I understand D even took a spin but I somehow missed it.

Here's Maria, a wonderful and very creative metal smith a few studios down from me, taking her ride:

D brought me coffee, gave me a hug, rubbed my shoulders and chatted with mom and dad for a bit. Then he went off on Saturday errands.

I actually had a migraine all day and kept it barely in check with Excedrin. Wow! Lousy timing, but what are you going to do? D fed me when I got home, I took a hot bath and put an ice pack on my neck and went to bed.

I still had a really great time and I am gearing up for next weekend when I will really be put to the test. I have another open studios on Saturday and on Sunday I have the Holiday Arts Happening with Liz of Lush Beads!

A lot of shows are happening this weekend, I'm sorry I can't go support The Intuitive Garden at the SOWA show and we are all missing Bazaar Bizarre. But I'm glad we have shows and that people are enjoying buying handmade for the holidays!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hello there :)

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving, we did! We visited D's sister and her 3 great kids down in rural Rhode Island. The weather was fantastic on Thanksgiving day, warm and sunny. We relaxed and ate great food and enjoyed the company and missed family members not present. I made cranberry sauce and a cheesecake, both sugar-free. (Yes, that's more applesauce back there!)

We also enjoyed the antics of their great animal family members, falling hopelessly in love with the dog and two cats.

I have been busy this week, this is the final push before the first of two December Open Studios and I want to be sure I have lots of items for sale! I got a little lit tree for my studio, but I don't think I'll have time to decorate it this year, ironic, I know :)

Right now I have an egg ornament entered in this month's PCAGOE challenge. Take a moment to view the entries and vote for your favorite!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tip from me to you: All I know about doing craft shows

I am not an expert, and this is not meant to be comprehensive. But I have done a few shows in my day and since every artisan is at a different stage in their business development, it occurred to me I might have a few things to say that could be helpful. Maybe it will give you an overview of what’s involved in doing a craft show, maybe it will bring up questions you hadn’t thought to ask, maybe it will just take the nervous twinge out of your heart every time you contemplate doing shows. Any of these benefits would please me.

Why should I do a show?

Oh, the gambler’s addiction of retail! There’s nothing like taking a chance that you could hit it big and walk out of the venue with a stack of cash and the high that comes from taking a risk that pays off. Oh, and meeting your customers is super fun too. People pick up your things and show their friends “Isn’t this cute!” they say with big smiles on their faces. Someone looks at all your necklaces and says, “I want this one.’ And hands you money! Just like that. You give out a hundred business cards and that quiet woman who didn’t get the necklace she loved? She goes to your Etsy shop and buys it a week later. You meet other people who are doing the exact same thing you are. You network, make friends, share information. You have something to blog about.

What kinds of shows are there?
Show venues can range from bazaars in churches and schools to outdoor markets to juried shows in convention centers. Choose your speed. A high-end show may not be the place for you, your price point per item may be too low to recoup a fee in the hundreds of dollars, think about how many items you would have to sell just to break even. On the other hand, if you’ve won awards for your iridescent hand blown glass ornaments, the school gym may not be the place to find your customers.

Where do I find shows in my area?
Check out these internet sites, start here then Google around, and see what you can find:

I wouldn’t probably travel more than an hour for a show, but I live in a densely populated area full of opportunities. I have experience in eastern Massachusetts with stART on the Street in Worcester, and South End Open Market in Boston and I can recommend both as reputable and reasonable places to set up your wares. I do better with the Worcester shows than the Boston ones, but that's just my experience and yours may certainly differ.

How much should it cost?
I am cheap. When I started doing the Flea in 1990, table money was $10 and ten years later it had gone up to $18 which was still a very good deal. I could always make my table money back, and that’s very important to me.

Some people have formulas for figuring out what percentage of sales your table money should cost you, but I am not great at math and I can never predict my sales. As long as the show looks good; is in a good location, has a good reputation from other vendors and seems like it would have my customer base, I would probably spend up to $75. I have not been brave enough to try a higher end venue because I know how it feels to have a bad show and I would be very upset to be out all that money after all that effort. Plus my items are in the $12 - $50 range, if I was selling items for hundreds of dollars I could move up a step. 01/06/2009 UPDATE: I got into two juried holiday shows this past season, both cost about $400, were well known, well advertised and went for multiple days. Even with this lousy economy (or maybe because of it) I did really well and recouped my table fees handily! So now I am no longer afraid of expensive shows, although I would still cry if I did one and it didn't work out :)

One thing that has worked very well for me is to share a space with another vendor and split the cost. Be sure you are compatible! That’s a long day with someone who is unreliable, unprofessional, and/or annoying (find out if they intend to bring their children!). But it can be a very good day with someone you get along with; you can compare notes, get change from each other, and spell each other for bathroom breaks.

OK, I’m gonna try it!
Do I need to collect sales tax?

You very well might. And this is something you should consider anyway if you are seriously running a business. I know the SOWA show would not let me in without a Massachusetts sales and use tax ID. Check with your local department of revenue on how to go legit!

Should I accept credit cards?
Maybe not at first, but if you like shows and plan on doing more, then YES!! I highly recommend accepting credit cards. Not only will you be more likely to make a sale that might have walked away, people tend to spend MORE when the money is plastic. There are plenty of options, but I have been very happy with ProPay. You can get a machine and slips through Mr. Imprinter. Be sure to put your email address on the plate since that’s what will show up on your customer’s statement and if they don’t recognize your email (if it is different from your biz name) they may contest the sale by accident.

UPDATE 5/2011 Now the best way to take credit cards (in my opinion) is by using Square. You can use Square if you have a smart phone or iPad with a data plan, or with an iPod touch or an iPad if there is WIFI.

Should I take checks?
It’s up to you, check your comfort level. I always do and I’ve never been burned, but I fully expect to be someday. Though it will piss me off completely, I consider it the cost of doing business. I always photocopy the checks before I deposit them, and of course get a phone number.

How much change should I bring?

I usually carry about $50 in fives and ones, some coins too. You will either be perpetually out of ones or you will have a wad so large people will think your night job involves a pole. I keep it in my pocket, but you might want to get a cute craft show apron or a locked box you chain to your wrist. No really, I would not be comfortable with a cash box but some folks do it!

OK, got it!
What will I need to bring?

The basics:

Find out the size of the space and use folding tables that are easy to cart around and that fit in the space. I have some old fashioned 3‘x 3’ card tables, but these newer tables seem like a good purchase and you can buy risers to lift them up because higher is better in show display.

Table cover:
I use a solid neutral colored top sheet over both tables to make them look like one. This reaches to the ground which is great because then I can stuff all my things under the table after I’m done setting up and they are hidden. On top of the sheet I have been using accent fabrics I got on super sale at a JoAnn Fabrics. Don’t use anything too patterned that will confuse the eye and take away from your product. You can sew your own cover, which I plan on doing for the holiday shows. (UPDATE: I did that! it's goofy but totally useable. While I was making it, a craft show friend made the great suggestion to leave at least one corner open in the "box" I sewed so I can still get to stuff under the table, so smart!) Professional table covers are also available.

You might want to bring two. But don’t set the second one up if you think you might have a clueless friend stop by who thinks it would be so much fun to hang out all day. The truth is, you might spend the day standing anyway.

I only have experience with the E-Z Up Express II and though there is nothing easy about hauling it around, setting it up or taking it down, it is a good tent for outdoor shows. Get the sidewalls, get the weight bags, and get the extra nuts and bolts package. If yer gonna do it, do it all the way. The walls can really save you if you suddenly find yourself in wind driven rain:

I have yet to have a banner made, but I intend to have one printed up on fabric, or paint my own. UPDATE 5/2011 I had a 4 foot banner printed on vinyl by VistaPrint. Right now I use one a friend printed for me from a file on her large format printer. As a customer at craft shows I always look to see if I know the vendor from somewhere else, I’m sure others would like to know who I am if I am vending, and it helps immensely in branding.

My standard lunch is an egg salad sandwich, carrot sticks and an apple. I also bring nuts for a quick protein pick-me-up if my blood sugar levels get low. Also plenty of water. I like bringing lunch because it’s cheap! And I am picky. And I don't have to leave my booth in search of food.

How should I set up?
Get some ideas and inspiration here. Listen, you don’t have to be an expert your very first show. Just do what you can for now and grow from there.

My set-ups have looked like this lately:

You may want to do a trial run setting your items up at home to see how you can give them height so people don’t have to lean down to see your pretties. If it’s an outdoor show, make sure whatever you display your lovlies on won’t be affected by wind. Wind is evil! I hate wind at a show. Cringe-fest. I have been accumulating my displays over time and adding pieces I find as I go. Everything’s an evolution.

I sell jewelry and small items. I have bought earring stands from Rio Grande and clear plastic risers. I got a 3 tiered cake plate from Goodwill (thanks TIG for the excellent find!) for displaying my flowers like they were cookies. Someone left a perfectly cute handmade wooden display in the lobby of my building for giveaway. I even bought a card spinner from a shop going out of business. So look around and think outside the box. Make displays out of objects meant for other purposes. From what I’ve read, you’ll get a few annoying customers asking “where did you get that fabulous display?” instead of looking at your items. Don’t be insulted, smile and say “I know, aren’t they great?”

Bring a mirror if your items are to be tried on.

The goods:
Bring your merch! I pack it all up the night before a show and pack the car too. That way I just have to grab my lunch and coffee and go in the morning since sometimes it is a very early start. Every time I pack my goods, I do it a little differently, not on purpose, there are just many ways to solve that puzzle and I don’t always remember how I did it last time. I put my goods in small boxes then I put the boxes in fabric grocery totes so everything has a handle.

How many items should I bring?
Bring all you got if you can fit it in your car! Really, it’s so hard to know how much to bring. Just don’t put it all out if it makes your table look crowded, cluttered or confusing.

I can tell you that in my experience if I bring 10 items I may sell one, but if I bring 100, I may sell ten. Unless you are a genius with the hottest item of the century (if so, I would like to meet you) you will never sell ten items if you only bring ten. If you only have ten, perhaps you are not ready for shows yet.

Be sure to price everything, people do not like to ask.

What should I wear?
If it’s outdoors, find out the weather and dress appropriately with the idea that you may be completely wrong. Layers are nice. Comfortable shoes are a must, you could end up standing all day if it's busy. Try to look neat and clean and professional. It does make a difference to your customers. They will take you more seriously if you are not wearing sweatpants.

What else should I bring?
Ah, yes, the check list!
You might want to make a check list so you don’t forget things, so frustrating to forget things, but you might also take advice I’ve read elsewhere to buy doubles of some handy items and pack them in a plastic box you never use except for shows. Then it is all ready to go and you don’t have to panic trying to find your scissors at 6:45 am on a Sunday morning. That’s never fun.

How are people going to take home your cuteables? Do you have bags? Boxes? Do your delicate items need packaging like bubble wrap or shredded tissue? Bring business cards! Put them in with purchased items. I buy small handled bags at a craft shop and put logo stickers on them that I printed at home. You can use return address labels with your business info on them.

Things I always bring:
TAPE! I always need tape. Packaging tape, duct tape and Scotch tape.
Markers, pens
Cardstock (for making signs)
Pencil, eraser (for pricing)
Ruler or tape measure
Xacto knife
Small cutting mat
Jewelry polishing cloth
Jewelry tools (pliers, cutters)
2 Part receipt book
Business cards
Optional: a sign-up sheet for your email list

There are differing opinions on whether or not you should make things during a craft show. I guess the con is that people will think you are busy and not want to interrupt you to ask a question. But I always make things at shows, it gives me something to do, entertains the attendees and shows that I really do make everything myself. I make sure to look up and greet everyone who approaches my table, then I might say something like “I’m needle-felting a new flower if you’d like to see how I do it.” Everyone says yes. Kids like to watch too, and that’s good because it keeps them busy while mom shops at your table for a second and it keeps them from handling all your stuff too. The only drawbacks I’ve experienced are a whole family blocking my table to watch me work, or mom leaving the kid with me and shopping at a nearby vendor’s table. Grrr.

Ok, my first show is next week,
What should I expect when I get there?

Some chaos perhaps. Find out your arrival time, some shows have staggered arrivals. You should be able to pull your car up and frantically unpack then go park. Set up as quickly as you can without breaking things. Smile at your fellow vendors, you are all in this together, you never know who might be there for you when you need to break a twenty or take a quick run to the porta potty. Everyone is a potential friend until proven unbearably annoying. Don’t be too cheerful, however, that will piss off the folks who aren’t morning people.

There might be a morning rush of customers then a lull, then another rush, the day will have a rhythm, but I can’t predict what it will be.

What do I say when someone approaches my table?
Say hello, smile. Maybe mention in one sentence what you are all about “I make all these hats by spinning wool, dying it then knitting it.” Unless they engage you in conversation, leave them alone for a minute to look at your stuff. Look quietly busy, rearrange the pens by your receipt book, make a loop in a head pin. Then glance at them again, if they are handling a specific item say something like “I have that in 3 colors”, or “That’s my best selling item” Then be quiet again. You’ll get the hang of it.

What if someone is rude to me?
Did you read that Etsy thread I linked to earlier? It could easily happen, and it will make your head explode, but try not to react, get out your fake polite and rev it up to full throttle. And don’t talk about a crappy customer after they leave, it’s bad karma and you never know who might overhear you.

What if it’s a bad show?
It could be a bad show, you might not make sales like you hoped. Try to have this attitude that has worked for me in the past: “I am here just to show my amazing work to some folks. They may or may not buy it, I’m just glad to be out where I might make a sale, whereas home alone in my crafting room, it’s most likely that I won’t.” I am guilty of crabbing about a bad show and I regret it. I think desperation and disappointment is palpable. I think it surrounds you like a dingy aura. Pretend to be satisfied. Actually be satisfied that you had the guts to show up at all.

What if it’s a good show?
Hold onto your hat! It’s gonna be overwhelming and nuts. But fun, like a carnival ride, just don’t throw up.

Show Etiquette?
These are my personal opinions, your tolerance may differ:

Please be aware of your space boundaries and do not encroach on your neighbor’s area. If you each paid for ten feet, you each get ten feet. If the guy next to you decides to leave 3 feet of space on either side of his 4 foot table, that doesn’t mean he’s not using it so you can slip over the border. It’s up to him how he uses that space or not, stay out!

Alternately, if someone invades your space, smile and firmly tell them you think the edge of your space goes to this line if they don’t mind.

Unless you are selling music, please don’t play music.

Don’t smoke, ew! Don’t do it anyway, but really, don’t do it at your table.

If you are having a chat with a neighbor vendor, stop talking as soon as a customer approaches either their table OR yours. Just stop talking!!! Greet the customer at your table to fill the awkward sudden silence.

Never talk to a customer at someone else’s table unless it is to inform them that their handbag is on fire (handbag must actually be on fire for this to be appropriate). Don’t compliment their cute shoes, nothing. They are not yours yet. Be patient. Customers are like fish, they swim up to a table and any distraction can cause them to dart away. Don’t scare other people’s fish!

Try not to get caught eating, this is hard! Try it anyway.

I don’t really have to tell you not to read a book do I? No, I didn’t think so.

Don’t pack up early! So tacky.

The chaos returns at the end of the show
Pack up and get out! You will be dizzy and possibly hallucinating if you sat in the sun all day, maybe someone else should drive. Go home and veg, eat something. Sleep the sleep of the dead. Take a day to recover unless you are annoyingly twenty-something. Plan for the next show. You’re hooked aren’t you?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Applesauce Day

I have been making applesauce lately. I buy a tote of Macintosh apples at the farm stand or grocery, it’s best when they are from a nearby orchard. I wash, cut and peel them. Slice them up and add a little water at the bottom of the stock pot. I cook them on medium and then ever lower heat, stirring occasionally, making sure they don’t scorch or boil over. This smells fantastic! I cook them until the apples are so soft I can mash them. You can add cinnamon and eat some warm on a cool fall evening. Refrigerate the rest. Spoon over morning waffles.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We're in!

Yay! Liz and I will be doing the Holiday Arts Happening at the Worcester DCU on December 9th! It will be a big deal and I can't wait.

I have an extended Open Studios on Saturday, December 8th from 10-6, then I will pack my stuff, load the car and get up early to head for Worcester! I guess I'll sleep on Monday :) Shows are very exhausting, but exhilirating. Whee!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Free Tutorial: How to Wire Wrap a Briolette (messy on purpose style)

This is an experiment to see if I can offer PDFs on my blog. I would like to start including some simple tutorials. Sorry that the quality of the pics in this aren't stunning, it was something I quickly threw together for a friend.

Free Tutorial: How to Wire Wrap A Briolette (messy on purpose style)

What other kinds of how-to's would you be interested in seeing? Keep in mind I'm not giving away all the secret recipes :)

November Open Studios Recap

Saturday, November 3rd brought a wild storm with rain and wind, remnants of a tropical storm I believe. That did not stop my intrepid parents from driving 30 miles to visit with me during First Saturdays Open Studios!

I had procrastinated unpacking and setting up my display after SEOM last week, but I was just about finished when they arrived smiling and clad head to toe in LL Bean. We figured the weather might keep folks away and it seems it did, though I did get a few lovely customers and made a little money. I also got to talk with a bunch of visitors and I enjoy that.

It was cozy in the studio with the storm raging outside. We listened to Brazilian music and I made earrings while mom and dad had a picnic lunch. Heroic D battled the elements and dippy coffee store employees to bring me my afternoon coffee. Big gold star! (He also took these pics of us, thanks!!)

One of my favorite parts of Open Studios is seeing the other artists who are fast becoming dear friends. During the week we are not all there every day and I don't go in on the weekends when I'm sure a lot of people who have day jobs are in their studios.

The best news I received all week is that Liz and I have been accepted into the stART Holiday Show in Worcester on December 9th! Also vending at that show? Eve and Peter, the glass artists extraordinaire who run La Sal Mountains Studio, and the lovely, cheerful, and immensely talented Heather Wang who are all in Western Avenue Studios up on the 4th floor.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Meeting People I Admire

I have been fortunate to meet a lot of the people I admire. They are musicians and writers and artists. I get a bit starstruck, but if I hold it together I don't make too much of an idiot of myself. Each experience is an indelible moment of overstimulation which colors with golden light each future encounter with that person's work.

On Friday night, Augusten Burroughs came to Lowell with his brother, John Elder Robison and answered questions for an hour as part of the Concord Festival of Authors . They were amazing; funny, entertaining, and touching. Afterwards, I bought John's book and had it signed, along with my treasured copy of Augusten's memoir, Magical Thinking.

Here is a link to John Elder Robison's blog post about the evening.


I had two electrical outlets added to my studio. The space originally came, like all the other studios at Western Avenue, with one outlet and one fluorescent light fixture. By many of us getting our electrical all done at once, we were able to get a group rate, but it was still very expensive! I am hoping I made the right decision. I think so. I hope to run a track lighting fixture across a beam in the ceiling at some point. That will take climbing up a very tall ladder! I am in no hurry to be doing that :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Last South End Open Market of the Season

The show was on Sunday, the previous Saturday was cold and rainy and I had a migraine! I thought "Good, tomorrow should go well, the timing is perfect." And it was. Sunday was sunny, but cold and OH NO! Windy!! A craft show vendor's worst fear. Wind is maddening. But my migraine was gone and it was dry out, so that was good.

We got there in nice time, no traffic on the highways at 7:30 on a Sunday morning. I had borrowed Liz's tent. D and I set it up, lashed it down and got everything out of the car. Soon after, the talented BethBrown showed up with her super nice husband and they put up a lovely display of handknit scarves, hats, wrist warmers and superwash wool socks as well as some handspun and hand-dyed yarns.

She also set up her restored antique sock-knitting machine which was really cool! She obviously has many hours of experience working the thing because as her husband said, it's not like you feed yarn in one end and out comes a sock, it's definitely more of an art than that.

Lots of vendors were dressed in costumes, Zombie was a running theme. Even the terminally adorable MuchachaK went the zombie route with her handmade Zombie Chicken outfit. Here she is hanging out with a dog dressed as a jack-o-lantern.

Here's one of our nice neighbors dressing as a Zom-Bee with his dog already in a bee suit.

I also saw dogs in various other disguises: a ladybug, a frog, a ballerina, a spider, an astronaut and a Red Sox fan (Go Sox! World Series Champions!)

My folks came to see me! I was thrilled to have them visit me at a show, mom used to do the Flea with me back in the day and she hasn't seen me at a show since I started up again. Plus, I've got her cards on prominent display, so I need the artist to represent! Word.

Candace (The Intuitive Garden) came too with her super nice husband, Matt. Who says there aren't any nice guys around? Well, there were, but we snagged 'em. Gotta move fast, people! She took this cute pic of me, thanks! (She put herself in the shot too, look in the mirror on my table!) Hee hee.

It was great to have all these friendly faces visit and also meet new Etsy peeps. I met WonderAmy (Etsy Admin!! And an amazing artist), and Reclaimed To You, a fab Boston collage artist and 1600 who makes cool tees. I also loved the letterpress stylings of Two Trick Pony and Dick and Jane Letterpress and the unique jewelry of Molly Hagan Designs , all of whom have websites but not Etsy shops.

Sales-wise, it wasn't a blockbuster, there just weren't the crowds you need to really do well. But I did make some sales, and the spectators (as Gert and Gladys used to call them at the Flea) were very nice. And well dressed! (SEOM is a great place to look at shoes, I've never seen so many nice shoes!) Here are some folks looking at my goods.

So aside from getting REALLY cold, and chasing my flowers all over the parking lot every time the wind blew, I did have a fun time. Thanks ETSY and SEOM for giving me the chance to try it out!