Archive for the ‘art’ Category

The Results of Some Fairly Consistent Marketing……….

Part of the Marbled Deco series

Part of the Marbled Deco series

Since we’ve been back in Vermont I’ve been telling everyone I run into about our work, and we’ve had great response to everything. So much so we realized about 10 days ago nearly all our work either was committed to a show or would be by September, and we needed to get busy making new pieces – which has been an issue for hubby, as he is still recovering from major surgery and can’t stand for very long periods (guess who will be doing all the set-up and clean-up?).

Here’s our schedule – and people laugh when I say I’m always at the ready….

April – June small art show Double Vision at the Jericho Town Hall, Jericho, Vermont. Words and inspiration in art – we’re submitting “Pond.”

March-April Essex Art League at Phoenix Books independent bookstore in Essex, Vermont. “Bloomin’.”

April – June about 15 works of fiber and digital marbling on display at Unsworth Law in Essex Junction, Vermont.

May 27-28 Vermont Open Studios, sharing the home of artist Mary Jo Hill in Underhill, Vermont.

August solo show at Brownell Library in Essex Junction, Vermont of fiber and digital marbling.

Tomorrow we talk to an old friend about a show in the gallery she runs in Jericho, Vermont. We’re ordering cards to mark titles and prices, completing the inventory, researching insurance, getting hanging systems on every piece, getting new quotes on framing, and other loose ends. There are still two places I am waiting to hear back from – the Old Red Mill in Jericho for their gift shop, and Stitched, a quilt store in Shelburne for teaching classes – and more on my list to touch base about show.

Slow and steady definitely pays off – that, and having an area receptive to new and original art work.

 

 

Reflections and Monday Marketing

Free Motion Quilting

Free Motion Quilting – detail

Lots of free motion quilting in my future. Finished another fmq sample for classes, and I have a cheater cloth I want to experiment with. It is good to be so busy! There is a list of projects, and it’s not too detailed. I think I am done with the long-term lists. I want things that are do-able, along with increasing the commissions. Hubby is busy marbling – this quick tray will be silk flowers and leaves for upcoming gift baskets. End of the week will be more fats and new sampler sizes – will be introducing the new sampler in February’s newsletter.

The days are broken up with reading, writing, hand-stitching, machine-stitching, designing, web work, yoga, and taking a couple of new classes from Coursera – on the Middle East (fascinating, will be good for research) and Big History -even more fascinating. I am also contemplating how I can do more writing to get people thinking about this coming election and preparing to vote.

Plus there is marketing, and we both have been busy. The reception to our art since we returned to New England has been amazing. We were at the Essex Art League meeting last Thursday, and folks couldn’t believe the marbling. I still have leads from an earlier meeting to follow up on. That said, we made a list of what will go into the three-month show at an attorney’s office starting in April. We need to know what needs sleeves and hanging rods. The second list is for the digital marbling display in August. There are a number of pieces that need work digitally, as well as planning for framing, so a data base is on my list for this week. There are updates coming for the website, in progress as we speak. The blog needs pages tweaked and updated – that will take a bit longer. I plan to join the Surface Design Association this week, so I can begin to analyze upcoming gallery shows and see where fiber might fit. I have two gift shops to visit, one of which will take our things, given that hubby’s family settled the area. The other, who knows. We are budgeting for better frames for the digital work, as everything needs to be prepared for wire hanging. And I need to go through the smaller marbling pieces to see what can be finished for April.

It’s good to be so productive! Reminder – need to check on industrial felt for some of the larger works in my mind, as we need to plan for hanging as these unusual ones are created. Hopefully pics will be coming of some of our newest completions.

“Storm Coming” – New Fiber Piece

Asian Fantasy

Asian Fantasy

I’m unearthing a lot of unfinished projects and pieces of fabrics that can be turned into small art quilts for Etsy, and I also came across a couple of digital pieces (like the above) that need reworking for an upcoming show. It is just amazing to me how productive I have been at getting new – and old – projects completed since we set up the new studio. Here’s pics of the new studio – taken right after we unpacked and stored, so things are cleaner than they are now after three weeks of solid work. Good north light, and lots of surface area.

Large marbling tray

Large marbling tray

Stored behind the door, along with mats and combs…..

Cutting table and storage

Cutting table and storage

This can be closed up for an air mattress on the floor for company.

Extra storage

Extra storage

Filled with fabrics and patterns and lots of other goodies….no longer used for clothes!

Bernina 1008 and sewing table

Bernina 1008 and sewing table

Sewing table for the last 15 years, lots of room to the left to support larger quilts….almost impossible to keep clean……

Additional sewing area

Additional sewing area

For the serger and decorative stitches on the Brother machine….

Storage cubbies

Storage cubbies

Happy as a clam, and now to the piece in progress….which is some leftover from another completed piece.

WIP – Storm A’Brewin’

Thread choices –

Thread choices - Storm A'Brewin '

Thread choices – Storm A’Brewin ‘

Didn’t use the blue – too much contrast, and not what I liked – ended up pulling out all the threads…one advantage of not checking the tension – easier to pull out.

Thread work

Thread work

 Finished project, available in Etsy. I needed to simplify the design – got caught up in following the patterns, so I ended up leaving the bottom corner free of stitching, so it looks like everything is approaching from the northwest.

Storm A'Brewin'

Storm A’Brewin’

Serged edges, mounted on wrapped canvas, 12 x 16 inches. Moving right along!!

Monday Marketing – BUSY!!!

Coexist

What a beautiful Monday morning! It’s 10 AM and I’ve already accomplished photography of baskets, cutting fabric for the next project, and done all the Christmas cards. Plus – lots of great stuff accomplished over the last two weeks!

So….finally updated the Facebook business page with our gift baskets for sale – sold two, and I have another ready to go up. It’s been a lot of fun making the baskets and choosing some of the “ugly” fabric in the stash, as that turns out pretty darn cool. The Etsy store is up and running again, as well as Ebay, so check them out.

Etsy Shop

Etsy Shop

Ebay

Ebay

I’m contemplating a new online platform – just need to do the research. One of the biggies was the first newsletter in just over a year. No sales or offers, just a welcome, we’re still here, and it’s good to be making art again. I have plans for the first of the year to get back to a regular newsletter. Redid framing on a small 9 x 12 piece ready to go on Etsy, and another piece that needs new serging and mounting. Have another show set for three months with two other artists, starting in April – law firm, so will probably do some fiber, and we’ll save the digital work for the solo show in August. Had a great time at the Essex Art League holiday party this past week. We’ll be doing a  demo for them, as well as a class or two, and we’re looking at a couple of open studios within our new apartment complex. We are back to seriously looking at video, so who knows where or when….or who?

The big thing for me has been the decision to self-publish my novel, so Monday Marketing will also include my work there – need to set myself some deadlines. I’ve given agents and publishers seven months – time to move on and get this out there!

Let’s see what the rest of today brings for momentum!

Monday Marketing – 2 weeks in a row!

Detail of the back of Gracie Mae's quilt

Detail of the back of Gracie Mae’s quilt

Ya, dis ist goot….been a productive week and today started off fabulously with coffee with another artist in fiber who LOVED out work and will pass on a bunch of connections to galleries within the New England area. Joining Surface Design Association, as they seem to be making inroads in getting fiber shown in NE. Plus a new quilt shop in town, so I have already been by to show a sample of free-motion quilting to see about teaching some classes. And….lots to do this week.

Also, and probably most important, the studio is about ready…well, we’ve already started doing work, even though there are still a lot of loose ends and things to get put away. I am almost through ironing the rest of my fabric stash, which is each of our moves has always been our wrapping. But this time, after so long….I was caressing each piece and apologizing for it being in the dark for so long. NO MORE MOVES! They will carry us out of here! Now for this week I need to start a list of fiber projects, with a couple of deadlines coming up this year. Then I can prioritize and get started.

Thanks to Shutterfly I’m been getting prints of our digital work for great prices, and A.C. Moore (our Ben Franklin’s and alternative to Michaels) for frames. Plus, it occurred to us as we were sorting through artwork that we can reuse some of the frames for work we no longer hang on our walls.

Also this past week, two digital marbling pieces hanging in a local bookstore as part of Essex Art League outreach, framing photos for solo show next August, and attended Williston Craft Fair – small but extremely well-attended, and folks were buying. We’re interested in partnering with someone next year and putting in our fabric bowls filled with marbling fabrics and sewing notions. to that end, Hancock Fabrics had a dynamite sale on sewing notions, so we did an order in preparation for next season. Hubby stocked the Etsy store again, so take a look.

A good week all around. Now for this week:

list of projects for sewing, etc.;

finish organizing studio;

check deadlines for quilts for birthdays (Whip, Gavin);

review fiber art calls from Feedly;

start on quilting commissioned baby quilt; and

update the Facebook page, as well as other online sites.

Good to go this week.

Monday Marketing….Uh Huh

AQ6

Alison’s Quilt

This coming Friday it will be six months since we arrived in Vermont. We certainly didn’t expect that long to be staying with friends and traveling, but our living arrangements are worth the wait, esp. since the studio is LARGE! We can both easily work together in the space. Now it means getting all those ideas and projects down on paper and prioritized.

Interesting that I have put off lists for the six months – thinking about what I wanted to do and couldn’t would have made me even more nuts had I been writing everything down. Now I can list things by due dates and so on….lots of juices are flowing again.

One of the toughest things was missing a lot of marketing opportunities, starting with Open Studios the end of May. Lots of good connections and really no way to follow-through – all the art work and samples were packed, and once we found out we would be 5 months  before move-in, we didn’t want to commit to anything.
However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten anything done for marketing just recently. This week:

  • reconnected with an artist friend from 20 years ago who runs a small gallery and we exhibited with her in the past and hope to do so again;

  • joined Essex Art League in September and have a solo show scheduled for August 2016 in one of the main libraries;

  • reconnected with another friend and mother of students who also has a gallery and wants to chat;

  • hanging work in the Phoenix Books independent bookstore here in Essex Center from November 5 through beginning of January – just in time for the holidays; going to do a couple of our digital pieces;

  • ordered a bunch of “freebies” from Shutterfly (just paid postage) of some of our other photographic/digital work to see the job they do, and now we will see about getting them framed; and

  • actually updated the FACEBOOK page for Marble-T Design – have nearly 500 followers after no activity this summer – go figure…..

There’s a lot I want to get done this coming week:

  • finish organizing studio;

  • get list of projects with deadlines;

  • make list of “playing around” items;

  • complete cards for artwork hanging this week; and

  • newsletter to MTD customers – mentioning holiday shopping

I am retired, and these six months taught me it’s okay to relax, but oh, did I miss my art! I hugged my machine several times since it has been unpacked. * did accomplish handwork over the months – 7 long crocheted scarves plus3 complete sets of scarf/mittens/hat for a charity in the Ukraine. That felt very good – and I’m looking forward to doing more on the long winter nights to come.

Thoroughly Modern Gracie-Mae

My last finished project before packing the studio for the big move to Vermont. I made a modern quilt – it didn’t start out that way. I was going to do a log cabin, but then I decided I just wanted to sew half-square triangles using the paper triangles. After about 150 triangles, I realized there was no way I wanted to sew three times as many more for the whole quilt. So I made the center panel. (Needless to say, I have lots left over for another project….)

DSCN0750

All of the colors were chosen as to whether they would play nice with the blue fleece I’d bought in November for the backing – this color is my great-niece’s favorite – forgetting the fact that I’ve never used fleece for a backing…..

Back2

Then I started playing around with borders to the center design, trying to get it into lap-quilt size. I had plenty of triangles left, so did borders with just a few on each end – I’ve seen something like that in a lot of the modern quilts I’ve looked at. At this point things became pretty freeing – I knew I wanted lots of space for free-motion quilting, and Maria from Quilter’s Market helped me pick out another fabric – she has an amazing eye.

The worst part of the whole quilt was sewing together all those triangles, lumpy intersections, and trying to quilt over them. But I LOVED how it came out. I was having serious rippling problems because of the stretch of the fleece, and Maria suggested using 505 to spray and corral it into place for the rest of the quilting – wonderful, with only a few ripples and they are not really noticeable. I ran out of my Silk Kimono blue I was using, which I loved….and if I hadn’t had several rippit sessions, I might have had enough to finish the quilt. But I had to go to the Big Local Fabric Store and once again I realized HOW MUCH I LOVE Superior Threads – the stuff I bought kept shredding constantly. I used Magnifico in the bobbin and LOVED it.

So here are some shots of the free-motion on the front:

Front1

Front2

Front3

Front4

And finally, the completed lap quilt for my great-niece Gracie-Mae on turning 13. (Seven more lap quilts for the other great-nieces and nephews over the next 10 years as they turn 13…….)

MainFrontGracie

Or if you prefer this orientation….

MainFrontGracie2

I can now understand the freedom of modern quilts. I have a lot more ideas on how to use the marbled fabrics in some new smaller wall hangings, but that will need to wait until I set up my new studio in Vermont – maybe by July!

Top Ten Tuesday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lots of items bookmarked and ready to show you. I so love all the things you can learn online – and all the places you can go!

First up, The Trouble with Bright Girls – being one, as well as teaching many of them, I can relate to this article. We need to be so careful of the messages we send.

“Researchers have uncovered the reason for this difference in how difficulty is interpreted, and it is simply this: more often than not, bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.”

Animals playing around – gotta watch!

The art of Jim Dingilian – filling a bottle with smoke and creating art!

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I’m always looking at business sites and mentoring opportunities for my own marketing. Came across Gary’s site and am thinking about buying the book as gifts for two friends looking to start small businesses. Check out Gary Bizzo – www.garybizzo.com.

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Also in marketing, a new site I found on line for printing – looks like quality work, and they’re in Canada, which is great when I move to Vermont! PrintingPeach at http://printingpeach.com.

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Absolutely LOVE this close-up of the creation of a Dior bag – amazing!

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This next poster is really cool, even if you don’t understand all of it! Science and art together!!

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10 Mathematical Equations that Changed the World – fascinating, again even if you don’t understand all the math.

You know I love math – The Magic of Fibonacci!

Once again, science, art and math – Dance on the Circle.

Till next time, enjoy the web!!

Ramblings for the Month……..

Evening Moon

Evening Moon

Lots of thoughts kind of rambling through the head these days, main one is that my novel IS DONE!!! (Insert happy dance!) I’ve set up a page through webnode.com to talk about various items related to the politics within the novel, as well as things I’ve discovered in writing fiction. I’ll post it when I’m ready to reveal it for comments. In the meantime I have my last round of editing to do, and then it’s query letter to literary agents. I rethought the ending at least five times, and then I said start writing and see what happens – let the characters talk to me, like they have been doing the whole time.

Another activity has been planning and packing for our move back east. I need me my four seasons! Since I’m retired, I don’t have to go out in the bad weather! We will need to revise how we shop for food, as in the winter months we need to be prepared for days inside. This has all led me to thinking about places to travel in the winter. We may just hop Amtrak to come west during a cold January. I’ve started surfing, and I stumbled on this site on Costa Rica– a place on my bucket list! One look at this place and I’m ready to pack now! Give me the ocean, water I can admire, some unique things to do, and a great place to hang and I’m there!! Las Ventanas del Mar – the ocean view looks spectacular!

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The packing for this cross-country move has been interesting. We are downsizing even more from our previous local moves, planning on replacing some furniture when we find a new apartment. I realized my hutch wasn’t important, although I love it – it’s the mementos inside from years of being together. Today we donated tools, stationery, and other odds and ends to Live Theater Workshop, which has provided many years of enjoyable theater experiences. The best one to date has been “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) Revised.” Loads of laughs and great visual gags. All 39 plays in 90 minutes!

All the art stuff – books, supplies, finished pieces – that’s what is really important, and they will be packed about two weeks before the move. I don’t want to look at empty walls and not be near my sewing machine for too long. Which brings me to another thought – Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours. If you are going to be a professional and really great at something, you need to put in 10,000 hours of practice. I am so far from that! But I will say that the past year has definitely improved my free motion quilting and design skills with the amount of time I’ve been spending on my art. My days have settled in to a nice routine, and I no longer worry about keeping track of what I accomplish each year during retirement. Yoga, writing, sewing/quilting, sketching with pen and ink, walks – a very nice schedule!

 

Four Years Later….January 8…..

…and we have learned nothing. We still kill with guns, we don’t deal with mental health issues. Four years ago three of us set up a website to look at the Tucson shootings. Suzan Drury, Anne Lockard (who is gone, but her indomitable spirit is with us every day), and myself to showcase healing art. You can name a hiking trail, a playground, or a new courthouse for one of the victims, but that doesn’t bring them back. What happened will always hurt. I have lost customers for Marble-T Design because of my stand on gun control. I am a firm believer in the Constitution – it is a remarkable document. But I also firmly believe that the National Rifle Association has co-opted rationality concerning guns and background checks. Just because “criminals will find a way to get guns anyway” doesn’t mean we don’t have background checks. And we are so far away from any rational dialogue on this.

But this isn’t a rant about gun control, although it very easily could be. Sarah Garrecht Gassen wrote an editorial today in the Arizona Daily Star that talks about how we refer to the victims of the shootings. They are not “lost,” they are “taken.” Here’s an excerpt:

So let’s follow Patricia Maisch’s lead and be more honest with our language in how we talk about guns. She’s the person who got the second clip away from the Tucson shooter before he could reload. She’s fought for gun law reform and watched as politicians have failed to stand up to the gun lobby. She hasn’t been shy in her disgust, and she speaks for a lot of us.

We talked on Tuesday afternoon. “Time flies whether you’re having fun or not. It’s always an emotional time of the year. I just think, how unforgivable it is that this could have happened,” she said.

Maisch doesn’t sugarcoat. She’s working diligently for law reforms. But four years in, something that’s fused into the sorrow and the anger gnaws at her: how we talk about gun violence.

She’s on a mission to change the words. “The horrible takings,” is how she talks about the people who have been killed with a gun.

“These people aren’t ‘lost.’ They’re never going to be found. They’ve been taken.”

If you would like to see artwork focused on healing, you can visit Art from the Heart. Here’s my piece, again controversial. Most of the comments I had was that the shooter was mentally ill, that it wasn’t politics that caused him to kill. And thus was ended what could have been a productive dialogue about the state of mental illness and access to guns. I already know some of you will stop becoming readers and customers. Because of this wonderful Constitution of ours, I support your right to do that.

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You can read about my thoughts constructing the piece here. Ultimately the processing from the shootings has led to me pondering our lack of ability to discuss issues calmly, and now I have based the first in a series of novels on what happens when we can’t  – or won’t – talk to each other.

Word(s) for 2015

Moran_Lilies_Original

Usually this time of the year I have my goals all laid out and ready to go. But not this year. I have really slowed down over the past 12 months – some from health, some from depression, and some from just wanting to enjoy every day. That’s a real change for me. I am enjoying each day tremendously, so when everyone was choosing their word for the year and posted it, I thought, “Nah, not going to do it this year. I’m content with the way life is going right now.”

Last night in bed, I was thinking about “content” and realized I have my word – actually two words – right there. Content with accent on the second syllable, and content, with accent on the first. The more I thought, the more I liked it.

So first, content, with accent on the first syllable. I want content in my life. I want to contribute meaningfully to people and causes this year. I want content in what I read and watch this year. I want content in my actions. I want to create content.

Second, I am content (accent on second syllable). I realized that this past month as I saw just how much my mental and emotional health – and consequently my physical health – was improving. My days are taking on a relaxing rhythm – quilting, reading, writing, yoga, being in the moment with hubby. Appreciating that I can do what I wish in retirement, without having to worry about finances too much. I enjoyed my nap this afternoon, the brief snow in Tucson this morning, and the fact I still have 10 hours ahead of me to write and quilt.

Life is content and full of content.

Back Again….Hopefully Longer….

Holiday2011C

It’s been an interesting year. Two years ago this time, I looked at my blog and was 200 posts away from 1000. I thought no problem, I can do that easily. Well, I am still about 185 posts away from 1000. Life really has gotten in the way, with illness, depression, and a sense of disequilibrium. It has taken a while to determine what paths I will be following.

It is also ironic that while I haven’t written many blog posts, I have written 110,000 words in a novel. This has been ongoing since August of 2013. I am nearing the end of what looks to be volume one of a trilogy. It is my way of processing political events in this country and trying to deal with how this country is changing. It has meant some interesting research (what is the saying about a true friend? One who will clean out your browser history after you die?). I’ve delved into some pretty terrible things on human trafficking, read lots of government reports, and overall tried to get up to speed on policy that I haven’t spent much time caring about in the past. It will be interesting to see if I can find a publisher….in the meantime, I have started a webpage for the book: http://the-secession-wars.webnode.com/. This is very much a work in progress, and I want to include writing tips as I finish up the novel.

I’m doing a lot of quilting. I’ve been slowly moving away from the marbling business, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. We still enjoy marbling, but the business end of it is tedious. I have lots of projects using the fabrics I have, but not the energy to do anything. I have been quilting other projects, and I have four commissions for quilts lined up: for a good friend, for a new baby,
for my yoga instructor, and for my great niece. I made the commitment to myself that when each of my eight great nieces and nephews turn 13, I will gift them a quilt. Gracie is the oldest, and she turns 13 this August. I want to have the quilt finished for when we move back east and stop to see them on the way. I found a great fleece in her favorite color for the backing, so that’s in the queue.

I’ve also taken up sketching again, through a couple of Craftsy classes. I did some sketching on the road this summer, but I want to make this a regular habit. Pen and ink has always been my medium (and charcoal, too), which is probably why I took to zentangles so quickly.

I have joined a weekly writing group to make my writing more of a regular practice. We meet for two hours and just write – a brief statement of intentions from each person in the group, and then it is total silence for writing. It’s been great, and I think it will get me back to blogging on a regular basis.

So this is a quick catch-up, more so for myself, as I look back on what has happened over the last years.

Till next time…..

Monday Marketing…….Not Really…..

Stones 2

Stones 2

It is Monday, and I sure haven’t been doing much marketing these last few months. Part of it has been illness, part has been writing, part has been making art, and part has been not really caring. I have realized that when I get in the mood for serious marketing, no art gets done. I find that unacceptable these days. There are more art pieces than I will ever have time for. Marketing needs to fit in as it can.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. During our trip we did a lot of talking to artists, sold some fabric, and made some really nice connections. We came home ready to start a new series, Preservation. Both of us are excited about this, and now we need to do some serious planning. But I am still left with a conundrum over marketing. In between being sick and getting physically exhausted (which according to the doctors will continue until maybe the end of September), I finished a seven-piece commission, nearly the rest of my seasons grouping (pattern is next on the list), free-motion quilted a lap quilt for a friend, cleaned the studio (which really was pointless….), and tried to be ambitious. I did write close to 15,000 words on my novel, but I am feeling the need to have art-making take over for a while.

I did partially complete a gallery marketing class, and now I am awaiting to see if I made the first cut to a year’s mentorship with a gallery in Scottsdale. It would require a lot more art-making, and I think we would be good candidates for selection. But what I think and what happens usually are two different things. I am still being positive, and men tally I am feeling good. I still have my lists, and they have every kind of loose end I can think of, including doing some apartment applications for next spring when we move, and organizing all our photos. But each day I look at any “must-do’s” and “want to do’s” and work from there.

And….there’s the marketing book which I haven’t marketed, plus a number of other things I haven’t done. So I need to get off my case, make art, and let other stuff happen when it does.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it………….

 

 

 

Relaxed, Renewed, Rejuvenated…….

DSCN0348Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe – just one of many stops on our 3-week jaunt into Northern California. This was an amazing few weeks, and probably only the second vacation we’ve done where we could truly say we were relaxed. Too many years and our opinion of California was based on LA and San Diego. Little did we realize just how wonderful northern California is.

Lots of small towns, no big box stores, local restaurants, vibrant main streets. Nothing like depressed (in so many ways) Tucson.  Once we got north of Edwards Air Force Base and Mojave, we got into some magical country. I haven’t downloaded camera photos yet, but I wanted to get impressions.

Majestic, from Yosemite to the sea.  From the Redwoods to the shore in front of Monterey Aquarium. We would sit at night on our porches (when we were lucky to find hotels that had nice outside spots) and talk about how gorgeous everything was, and how could we translate what we had seen into fiber. The best example of how in sync we are is that we are both standing in front of the jellyfish exhibit of orange jellies, both of us thinking about recreating these creatures in fiber….hubby with how he would marble the colors, and me with how I could stabilize some marbled chiffon so I could do stitching and still have it supple enough to move with the air.

This has led us to developing a new series for future work: Preservation. This can encompass loads of ideas – the environment, the written word, languages we are losing – so many possibilities, all attempted with marbled fabrics.

We enjoyed five glorious days in a cabin overlooking Monterey Bay (at 1600 feet elevation) that we found on Airbnb – our first time using it, and we were thrilled with all aspects of it. Great conversation with the guys at the cabin, great meals…and lots of mosqitoes, which I discovered after the fact (bought the cortizone on Thursday). We sat, read, and looked at the views. Supermoon Saturday had the full moon sneaking behind some redwoods, and the bay was perfectly clear all night, with the lights of the fishing boats visible from our deck. So nice to be wearing jeans and a sweat shirt for a change and enjoying chilly, moist air, which made the trip back to Tucson so difficult.

Met a long-time friend in Bakersfield for an overnight. I love how years can go by, and you pick right up where you left off. We had a ball trying to figure out a stubborn sewing machine so we could machine quilt on it, and then drowned our frustrations in some amazing dinner at Moo Creamery in Bakersfield. Ya haveta go if you’re in the area.

logoMade new friends, talked art in a lot of galleries, bought new spices and teas…and took lots of pictures. I have decided I need to upgrade my camera, as it is sllloooowwwwww doing what I want it to do.

Coming back to the desert only reaffirms our decision to move east. Near water and surrounded by green, friendly people, vibrant communities, and a state very friendly to artists (unlike Tucson, but that’s another whole blog post.) We both have our lists of things to do, we’re marbling next week to stock our Etsy store and try for some new fabrics, I’m writing up a storm, as I have set myself a deadline of July 31 to have the rough draft of my novel done. Life is good!

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Quality Materials and Pricing Your Materials Cost

Evening Moon

Evening Moon

This being sick for so long has really put a dent in my creativity, completion of projects, and overall well-being. I am trying to catch up on an online gallery class  by a gallery owner in Scottsdale, AZ, Jason Horejs. The assignment I am reading now talks about pricing out your cost of materials, as well as looking at the quality of materials. There are too many ideas floating around in my head to try and leave a plain comment, so I wanted to “think it all out” in a post.

We’ve priced out cost for our marbling a lot of times. Carrageenan keeps increasing, cotton fabric is increasing, and we’ve changed paints because of pigment issues. Probably doesn’t hurt to do the costing again. A half pound of carrageenan in over $30. We can get 8 marbling sessions out of that. So $3.75 per session for carrageenan. We spend $6.00 for each bottle of paint. In one session we use the equivalent of 1 full bottle. So there’s another $6.00. Cotton fabric – we buy prepared-for-dyeing fabric from Dharma (which isn’t wholesale at all but is the best we’ve found to be able to use – offshore fabrics won’t take the paint well). Cotton runs about $7.95 yard, and we attempt to do about four half-yards each session, is not more. That’s $16.00 for fabric. Alum (pretty cheap) and distilled water (also pretty cheap) are the rest of the supplies. Probably $3.00 per session. That’s $28.75 for the marbling session, not counting prep time and clean-up time.

originally we used to sell our fat quarters for $6.50, more for the half-yards. The prices of supplies have gone up, so fat quarters are now $8.00. There are 4 fat quarters to a yard of fabric. If all we do are 4 fats, each would cost out to  $7.19.  Eight fats cost to $3.59. Better, but not accounting for labor. That’s one reason why we try to do 12 fats and a lot of remnant pieces, which sell well on eBay, where people want something for virtually nothing. Twelve fats is $2.40 a piece, considerably better. We’ve found  that there is an upper limit on what people will pay for a relatively small piece of fabric (18 x 24 inches). I’m not sure we can raise our prices much more, yet we are having success selling on Etsy and charging about a dollar more per piece. We make our money on the larger art pieces.

Concerning wholesale, Dharma, where we get our fabric, does not wholesale at all. We can get a bolt of fabric from Kona Bay, but we need to dye the fabric first before it will take the marbling. More labor, a little more expense, but certainly a cheaper source of fabric, but we’re not finding much of a market yet for those fat quarters. Our carrageenan we get from a fellow marbler whose prices are about $10.00 cheaper, and  he also mixes the paints we need to a specific formula, so there is no variation in pigments. The acrylics we used to use (that we cheap) no longer work, due to pigment issues, water issues, and offshore fabrics. For the amount of labor involved in marbling, we learned early on not to use cheap fabric. The fibers rot, and it fades. We’ve not found that problem with well-produced fabrics.

As for the art pieces, Arizona is not a big market for fiber art, especially if it is not western. We have sold pieces, though. We tend to price based on earlier appraisals of our work and what we see for other fiber artists with comparable work. We need more current appraisals of our latest works, and then adjust prices accordingly.

There was a lot of discussion about framing. Most of our fiber pieces can hang directly on the wall, yet is seems that folks want them somehow framed, so we have taken to wrapping a canvas frame in black fabric and then sewing the piece to the fabric on the canvas. That way the piece hangs away from the wall, and it seems to look better. One of my goals is to do more pieces like this and see if we can develop a market for them.

So probably more than you wanted to know, but it is useful to revisit a cost analysis every few years. I’d welcome comments on what you’ve discovered in pricing your materials cost.

 

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