Archive for the ‘challenges’ Category

Organizing for Marketing

This image is from my time with adult coloring books last year – trying out colors, experimenting. I love symmetry, but then I also like something a little unusual….which is where I am right now as I approach a new project. I really need to develop  more sources for passive income. I’m taking a free class right now from Convertkit on Product Creation – great ideas, and after two weeks of reading the information (a daily lesson), I decided to start at the beginning and develop a series of products that are useful to others. Hence, Organizing for Marketing.

The title is going through some revisions – still not catchy enough for me. But I already have all this content – in an iBook that isn’t selling  – and yes, I really haven’t done much to market it in the three years it’s been available (or is it four? Funny how time stretches out when you’re not teaching….).

So this is my first brainstorming at trying to make sense of what I want in this ebook product. I am very good at marketing and creating and organizing, so it makes sense to focus right there. When I reviewed the book last night, there is enough information to make it into three or four smaller ebooks and develop a continuous stream of ideas and techniques for people.

The first key is targeting my market. I work in fiber and textiles – pretty much a niche market when looking at the art world, although we are slowly making progress into mainstream. Thus I want to focus this on those of us who do art that is generally out of the mainstream. What can we do to get our work looked at, sold, appreciated?

Here’s my accountability checklist for this coming week, ending Tuesday, May 16, with my initial thoughts:

  • Determine revised structure of the ebook. I need to break up the information in the original book into smaller segments for action, and increase the information included in each of the segments.
  • Determine my ideal customer for this book. Who is my audience…artists without a lot of money to spend on marketing, artists with unique products, artists who have issues getting organized and accomplishing tasks.
  • Write two additional blogs this week – what questions do you want answered in a marketing book for those of us working in a niche market, and how would this be different from all the other marketing books out there? I need to make sure I start getting feedback from folks to help direct my work.
  • Evaluate ebook publishing sources and ease of use. CreateSpace seems mostly for print; research it more fully. Kindle seems easy and quick to do. IBooks seems too limiting, although I do have experience with that platform.
  • Plan for a “bonus” for people who buy this ebook. Already thinking about many of the blog posts I’ve already done in my Top Ten series. I think these could be manipulated into a bonus, once links are checked, and focus determined. Happened to just think about expanding ideas for Top Ten for other Bonus offerings.
  • Keep playing with title ideas. Suggestions certainly welcome! Organize, marketing, niche products…….
  • Determine launch date for the ebook – probably beginning of August.

Feel free to give me ideas and help keep me accountable to this project! You can be in the book with your website and product for helping out.

ORIGINAL BOOK

Ready, set, go – give me feedback!

Threads of Resistance Entry Finished

I spent a lot of time just coming up with an idea I felt would work, and then some of the time spent rehabbing my knee by walking the halls helped it come more into focus. Then once I started, ideas kept coming – what was a month’s project stretched out into two months, with a lot of time writing what would become the messages on the piece. Women’s Work s Never Done – the topic lef me in so many directions, starting with Susan B. Anthony and the Declaration of Sentiments in 1848 as a result of the women’s congress. The complete document can be found in the right-hand pocket of the jeans. Using a Sharpie, I started to painstakingly write in the GRIEVANCES woman had against men at that time…and as I was writing, I realized not a lot had changed. The best part of this piece was traveling back in time to read in full this document and realize how far we still have to march.

Here are the jeans about two-thirds complete with the writing – each letter gone over two-three times to ensure legibility.

I worried about fading and having to re-do the writing – but isn’t that what we women have had to do through the ages? Prove ourselves again and again? Rewrite or own accomplishments so they aren’t forgotten? If the piece fades – any part of it – that’s the story of us as women.

Next came a woman’s required piece of clothing – the apron. I made it reversible – the front is traditional quilt design and somewhat traditional fabrics, and in each of the squares are messages to women – either from my own family or from society. I put a ruffled border on, and written on it is the litany of what women were expected to do: cooking, cleaning, babysitting, housework, laundry, cooking, etc. sex, birthday parties, planning dinners, sex, cooking…..you get the idea.

Click on the next picture – for some reason it isn’t clear….

Then came the apron strings. Not completely happy with how they worked out…but I love the message (original copy is in the left pocket of the jeans: a manifesto by Joyce Stevens from International Women’s Day in 1975.

 

Now the reverse of the apron is more a modern design, with fabrics of the same hue but considerably brighter. On that is written positive messages I have given myself as a daughter of Women’s Liberation.

Next step was the background – actually background and backing – same fabric. I initially thought I would only quilt what would actually show before I began my writing on the front, but I realized why not continue on the back with more “hidden” women from history. So I ended up quilting the whole background. Then came the burying threads – which I don’t normally do, but since the back suddenly became important, I went and did it…..there were a lot…….

I spent a lot of time online looking for missing/unknown/hidden women and I found amazing stories – most I didn’t know – even as a history major. I started out writing every other line, from the middle to top and bottom so everything would remain even.

Then I filled in everything and started on the back.

  I am very pleased that it came together as I had envisioned – learned a lot (I usually do…), but very pleased.

Comments? I’m taking names to continue the back of the quilt with other “hidden” women – send  ’em along!

Lessons Learned…Goals Identified

Unexpected colors – from my coloring book experiments

A load of lessons this year – big, small, in-between – physical, emotional, business, art, political. It’s always interesting to me to reflect on what I’ve learned in times of turmoil.

  1. I will stand up against hate.
  2. Knee surgery is a pain, literally, but necessary. Physical therapy is necessary. I am blessed with a great doctor, fabulous physical therapist, and a hospital that helps with financial assistance.
  3. Losing weight over 60 (…over 40…) is tough, but thanks to The Gabriel Method I might just be able to do it this year. No chocolate in over two weeks, n0 hunger pangs, no snacking – all because of visualization.
  4. Vermont pushes too many pills – finally found an integrative health doctor, rather than getting a prescription for anything that ails me without even looking at symptoms.
  5. Survived major surgery with hubby on his aneurysm repair last winter. Great doctor, learned a huge amount – he’s good to go.
  6. Walking still is my best form of exercise. So glad I can do more walking, much more comfortably, with the new knee.
  7. I like myself a lot more. Been years in the making, learning to deal with what I can’t change in the past.
  8. Still madly in love with hubby of 40 years. We always find something new to talk about.
  9. My mother was a full-blown narcissist, and I lived in fear of her most of my life. I have forgiven her and have moved on. She appears every now and then in dreams, and I find I can tell her off when she shows up – something I couldn’t do in real life. I’m moving on.
  10. I need to plan for art business this year. We had a great year last year, and my goal for this year is to sell a lot more art and make some good money.
  11. Newsletter each month for the marbling, more teaching opportunities, retirement sale of older works.
  12. Continue taking online classes for the pure enjoyment/learning something new. Work on color sense.
  13. I wrote a teaching manual – all 35,000 words – essentially in five months. It’s a template for teacher manuals, as it works with standards and ways of integrating new curriculum ideas for teachers. Thinking about a mathematics manual for algebra.
  14. I WILL publish my political novel this year. I am planning a Kickstarter campaign – or something similar. I have to do it in the light of current politics, and I need to get back to book 2.
  15. Made a lot of art last year. I want to make even more art this year, including a couple of large pieces. I’m keeping track of the process of taking my Pele piece apart and modernizing it with my new skills in free motion quilting.
  16. Three years ago I realized I only had 200 more b;og posts to do to hit 1000. Then I seemed to take long breaks from blogging. I’m still trying to hit 1000 – 920 and counting…I should be able to get 80 posts done this year……(PS – 921…)
  17. Politically it’s been a very difficult year for me. As a history/political science major I see trends before they are trends. I’ve been worried the last two years. It is time this year to write, speak out, demonstrate, listen, reach out.
  18. Be kind and listen, regardless of your own opinion. All of us need kindness and understanding.
  19. I will be out in nature more, travel more, worry less about finances.
  20. I will stand up against hate.

Art in 2016 – Part 1 Review

It has been a banner year for art – especially in the making of art. When I stopped to reflect, I realized we created more this year than any other year – some big, many small, and all taught us something! I’m doing several blog posts, since I don’t have pics for a bunch of gifts – awaiting the jpgs in the email….

Yesterday was the presentation of a commission for dear friends of ours. It was supposed to be for their anniversary in September, but just didn’t happen….Once knee surgery was over and I could move around fairly easily, I set to work. The marbled fabric had been done since April, and I had been mulling designs since then. It was time….

I started working with the Chinese symbol for “family,” and after just this first littyle bit, I have even more appreciation for the art quilts of Kathy Nida. This involved tracing the symbol, determining which side would be “up” when ironing onto the front of the fabric, adding WonderUnder, and then making sure it actually worked – especially since I had a limited amount of the fabric choice for the symbol. First success.

Next was creating the pattern for the side panels, loosely based on a table runner by Lonnie Rossi and definitely made my own. Same issues with being sure of right and wrong side, since there would be two panels, and the designs would mirror each other. Much angst – especially on the choice of the background – I had a peach silk that worked with the overall colors, but looked terrible with the small pieces actually on it. The fabrics were extra marbled fat quarters that didn’t make the cut in terms of main color, but they were all complementary.

I put off for the longest time doing the zigzag satin stitch and then discovered that the fabric frayed very easily. A lot of adjustment, sharp pointy scissors, and FrayCheck got me through this section.

The satin stitch….forever…..

I had one panel completed and then started on the second panel. It probably would have been easier doing them both at the same time, but I wanted to be sure the idea could be executed before I was completely committer.

The request was for some apple blossoms quilted into the design – originally to be on the border….but it worked out differently. I Googled images of apple blossoms and determined a free motion pattern, and then began. As long as the petals had ragged edges, the pattern worked.

Starting the apple blossoms

Lots of flowers over both panels – really liked how subtle the patterns are.

Checking to see if the three panels really do work together….

Time to square off and do the binding – the side panels had a LOT of ironing as they were becoming distorted. Note to self – allow more edging next time around…..

Preparing the canvas for mounting the panels. We have started mounting much of our work on canvas frames covered with a complementary fabric. Much sturdier, easier to hang, and people seem to view them more as “art.”

20-inch square canvas covered in poly-linen.

Thinking it’s going to work…….each side panel is three 8 x 8-inch  canvases, mounted together and covered.

The final product – “Family.”

Thoughts of NOLA – for Cousin Barb, Victoria, and Anne

This is my blog post for the “carnival” theme for Art Quilts Around the World.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this piece. I made the fabric the beginning of January, and so it sat until two weeks ago. I had an idea of what I wanted to do – free motion along the design. Here’s the initial fabric.

In the past when I have quilted through the design on the marbled fabric, I always have been really pleased with the results. This time not so much. I evidently have learned a huge amount about focal points and movement within a piece. I did two quilting motifs; the first one was a basic outline to enhance the flow of the marbled pattern.

I liked this, bit I realized it needed more definition. It seemed boring. So I tried increasing the quilting around the nonpareil portion of the pattern.

Once that was completed, I was even more dissatisfied, so I tried a bit of a free motion “feather” along side each part of the pattern. DID. NOT. LIKE. IT.
So it sat for a week while I pondered, talked it over with hubby, and tried to think it through. I guess that’s why it’s called a challenge, which I definitely need to push me further. So I decided I would need to cut it up…………..which I’ve never done before…………………….

It automatically started looking a lot more interesting. I finished the pattern pieces and liked the finished result.

I then had to think about how it was going to go together. I had all these separate pieces and had to think how to best connect them and make it an element of the overall design. At this point it seems kind of like a stained glass window, so I auditioned thin fabric strips for the leading. I figured I could use fusible on the back of the strips. Not a single color worked. Every strip looked like it had just been stuck there and wasn’t an integrated part of the design.

I have always liked the effect of satin stitch, so I tried a bit on a piece of left-over quilting. Dark green Superior Brites gave it just what I needed. Fitting the pieces together was a bit of a challenge, but…..all those years of watching This Old House made me realize I could scribe the pieces to get the circle measurement for the center. I outlined all the sating stitch and border with some Superior Razzle Dazzle, trying out some bobbin work for the first time. It definitely sparkles in the sun.

And – best part – the piece now had a story to it. I have always imagined that Mardi Gras was one long assault on color, looking out a hotel window at all the revelers. I thought of my Cousin Barbara Jean, who as a first responder was taking care of others during Katrina and had to start over herself. Two of my cyber friends, Victoria and Anne, have very fond memories of New Orleans, and I thought of them as I finished this off. From these three folks, I hope I have some idea of the carnival aspect of Mardi Gras. Cousin Barb, this is for you.

Thoughts of NOLA – for Cousin Barb, Victoria, and Anne

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