Archive for the ‘holiday’ Category
So after looking at the last table runner, I decided last minute to do a small table-topper for the son of a good friend – the one who is getting the table runner. Since he is in a doctoral program in marine biology, I decided to finally use the small lighthouse batik squares I had gotten maybe 10 years ago. First thing I discovered – Keepsake Quilting, not your finest cutting…..all the “squares were different rectangular sizes, which made squaring them off a bit difficult (especially since I didn’t do that first step – only the second step). And only a few of the nine lighthouses actually were straight……
I kept wondering how I would quilt this, since the focus would be the lighthouses. I chose a border fabric that reminded me of Cape Cod cottages, so them the focal point was the lighthouse and the “sea-side-y” shingles. All I did was quilt in the ditch – anything else would have detracted from the design. Three hours later I was done – from layout to quilting to binding. Part of me was feeling guilty for the lack of fancy quilting, but hey, the piece didn’t need it, and I’m not sure the recipient would have appreciated the extra work. I like it and that’s what matters – it can go on the wall in an office or across a desk or small table. So lesson here – not everything needs to be complex to look good (and…..check the “squares” before starting)…..
I must confess, by Tuesday evening I wasn’t sure I would have the quilt for our good friend completed……We had plans for Wednesday and Thursday, so last-minute was going to be Tuesday evening…..and I still had to finish a rolled hem on a silk scarf………But I made it, hubby photographed it Wednesday morning and finished cutting off miscellaneous threads. It was a HUGE hit last night at the presentation – everyone needed to take a turn snuggling under it! Originally I was going to make another nap quilt, since the first one I made for our friend turned out to be too short to wrap herself in. This ended up queen size…..
A busy week, no question about it! Since we are leaving for a few days away and up in Sedona, I had a long list of things that needed to be finished before we left. I’m happy to say I got it ALL done….as well as start the list for next weekend! Cannot stay idle – too many projects to do!
First up is part of an order we really can’t say too much about, but we sent off a load of marbled ribbons to Manhattan for a magazine shoot coming up. When we can say more, we will….it’s pretty cool…..
And…as part of the ongoing table runner project for my second mom, I finished the last of the 5 table runners and delivered it in time for set-up for Thanksgiving. I am finished with old white polyester, but the runners did work out beautifully. This last one was really hard on the eyes, so I only did three motifs, rather than the five. I extended the size by making the connecting pieces wider, and then I went to town on feathers. Love doing feathers, especially since I never figured I’d ever be able to do them. This was the one delivered in June.
This is the last of the five.
And…I finished the makeover of my Christmas quilt. I learned a great deal. I still have to work at the trapunto, but my goal with this makeover was to get the star blocks to be the prominent feature of the quilt. I did three kinds of stippling, from micro to very large. And I did bobbin work for the first time, using the Razzle Dazzle thread from Superior. I picked up a small Christmas tree stencil, traced it on the back (and learned I need some new markers), and then quilted with the front facing down on the machine. It worked really well and I love the effect. I am planning to add a few beads as tree ornaments when I get a chance. I did a lot of machine quilting on the marbled centers of the stars, on the nonpareil pattern. I can tell I have definitely done a lot of machine quilting this year, because it was far easier to follow the pattern than it has been in the past. I now understand what quilters mean when they say “pedal to the metal,” as I was very speedy with the tiny and medium stippling. I also tried a new pattern in the border and it was moderately successful. Again, fast speed, and from a distance you really can’t tell that a lot of it is uneven. I liked the pattern. Here she be:
I just did the following post for Handmadeology, as I am doing a series on niche marketing. And…in the 24 hours since it was completed, I have sold a basket and done a $100 order on Etsy. I can’t emphasize enough the need to plan ahead for this buying season. I was freaking out because I hadn’t done any planning, so I used the blog post as my think tank. It worked really well. Hopefully you will find some use for this post, and you can read the previous posts in niche marketing.
Marketing 101: Niche Markets Part 7
Can the Holidays Be Far Behind?
I am sitting here on September, nearly panicking because I don’t have my plans done for this coming holiday season. Actually, this is good, because for the last few years I have missed the holiday season completely. Teaching always got in the way, and the next thing I know, it’s a week after Cyber Monday. I am bound and determined not to let that happen this year.
I’m using this post to think through my plan, so you can see exactly where I’m going with ideas, and I sure hope you join in with additional ideas. As you read through these, you’ll probably notice these are basic marketing tasks, not just for a niche market.
* I need to set goals for this holiday shopping season, so I can start the actual planning.
– My newsletter will have specials each month with a holiday theme. The newsletter that went out last week advertised a new pattern for a table runner that would make an easy gift for a holiday hostess.
– The Etsy shop will be stocked to the brim with a variety of items: small quilts, large quilts, patterns, pattern kits, marbled fabrics, ribbons, gift baskets. We are up to almost 40 items at this point, with another 10 to be added in this weekend.
– I will sell at least 10 gift baskets of marbled fabric goodies (I aimed for 5 last year and actually made it). I need to get supplies for these and begin the handcrafted bowls – perfect task for watching television at night.
– I will determine a nonprofit to receive a percentage of sales for this holiday season. This involves looking locally, deciding on a percentage, before/after shipping, and how to advertise this.
– I will create a marketing plan that includes website, blog, Facebook business page, newsletter, personal email contacts, and anything else that comes to mind.
* Thoughts on actual marketing:
– I will determine coupon/discount specials for the newsletter, the FB page, and the Etsy store for each month, starting now.
– I will create long-term coupons to go in all mailings and gift baskets.
– I will sketch out what needs to be accomplished during each month, prior to Thanksgiving Black Friday.
– I will continue to create product for the Etsy store so that I do not run out before the beginning of December.
– I will check for all packaging/mailing supplies and stock up during sales.
– I will investigate the new Promotesy as a way of increasing my visibility during the holiday season by connecting all my social media profiles together. Certainly the price is right, and I want to track how it does for me in bringing more traffic to my store.
* Each month:
– September: clothesline for fabric bowls, create at least 3; marble fabric for gift baskets; complete Etsy inventory for this month; start listing what still needs to be marbled for other goodies; newsletter special.
– October: three new fabric bowls; check on nonprofit and determine accounting for discounts; marbling for new products; new pattern up on Etsy; newsletter special.
– November: plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday; three more fabric bowls; marbling new fabric; new pattern up on Etsy; newsletter specials and reminders about Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales; determine last day to ship in December to be sure items arrive.
– December: last sale newsletters; last fabric bowls; complete last-minute marbling; last shipments.
So that’s thoughts to get us started. I would love to hear what you would like to add to these ideas. I’ll share everything that comes in, and let’s keep each other on track for a good holiday season!
I’ve noticed, as I’m now well into my sixties, that a lot of people have aged and died, even though in my mind they are still as I first knew them. Bob Hope will never be the aged comedian at 100. He’s still the amazing Bob Hope who did USO tours in so many wars. Elizabeth Taylor is still Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. So when I hear that these icons of mine, these larger-than-life people that I grew up with, are dead, I’m always thinking….they seemed so young.
Martin Luther King, Jr. will always be in his forties to me. In August of 1963 I sat in front of a very grainy television screen and watched his speech. I was fifteen, intensely interested in American history, and just becoming aware of the civil rights movement. To see this man at the reflecting pool give this amazing speech had a profound effect on me. I knew he led the way in so many areas.
So I come across this posting on Facebook (the font of so many interesting items….). “The Lives They Lived.” A pretty innocuous title. What sets this article apart is that these are ordinary people who did extraordinary things in their lives. From the essay by Isabel Wilkerson:
While poring over the Web site Legacy.com to prepare this issue, we noticed a trend. A search of the site’s database — which includes obituaries from more than 750 newspapers across the country — turned up hundreds of obits published in 2011 with one phrase in common.
A single thread appears and reappears, as a headline or an afterthought, in the final words written by the families of more than 300 people who departed this earth in the past year. In each of these obituaries was a phrase that read something like this: “The first black American to . . .” or “The first African-American .”
How noble these individuals. They struggled, each in their own ways, to do something unheard of, to blaze a trail, no matter how small or insignificant it would seem. And what a loss for us all, these individuals who were the first. The first black bus driver, the first black detective, the first black woman…….They allow us to dream of what we and our children might yet do. I am overwhelmed by the loss of these people, whom I never knew – or even knew anything about them.
I am overwhelmed at those who have gone before and blazed trails. Thank you for every little bit you contributed to create a society where we could dream and achieve. And……
….may we continue to blaze those trails, to honor the work you have done to enable us to dream more and achieve more. May we never forget that.
It’s been an interesting time for reflection this last month, as it’s been an emotional roller coaster of a year. This time last year I was excited because I had decided to retire a year early, in May of 2012. Three semesters left felt do-able. However, I was also still stuck doing lesson plans every Sunday for most of the day. Yet I told myself it was better than the previous year, because I wasn’t spending as much time week nights marking papers, since I had an additional prep period each week.
Then came January 8 and the Tucson shootings. I had almost convinced hubby to go to the Congress on Your Corner, but by the time we were finished with his chiropractic appointment, it was too late to head over. There but for the grace of God…..Like most Tucsonans, we were glued to the television all day, through the NPR reports that Gabrielle Giffords had died to all the aftermath.
By Sunday afternoon I was working on the Art From the Heart website as a way of dealing with this tragedy. To date we’ve had artwork from 14 states, and some amazing artwork it is. President Obama came on Wednesday, and hubby and I sat transfixed in our living room, listening to his speech. On Friday I faced another challenge as a teacher – the Westboro Baptist Church had said it would boycott Christina Taylor-Green’s funeral, and then decided to boycott my high school instead for their ethnic studies program.
Here’s where I realized how much teachers are also first responders. It had been a hellish week, trying to get teenagers to understand what was going on, and how to respond in a nonviolent manner to a group like WBC. You can read about it here, here, here, and here.
Events like this make you really question so much about your life, especially when it appears to you to be a close call. The depression began to sneak up, slowly, and everything at school just became more intense. I began to think about leaving the classroom in May. After all, it had been 40 years. The end of February we attended some meetings with state retirement and made the decision that May 27 would be my last day as a teacher. That made me smile.
March and April are blurs pretty much, just existing and coping with the depression. I was reading on a blog by Dale Anne Potter about how positive she was and how many great things were happening to her. I emailed and got the information about Cocreating Our Reality and practicing the Law of Attraction. On May 1 I was determined to enter my first 100 days of this challenge being positive. You can read about that here. This really was the beginning of the turn-around for me. I finished school grinning from ear to ear during that last month, driving teachers I worked with crazy.
I wrote my Abundance checks with faith that everything would work. And it did. These seven months of retirement have been wonderful. Some health challenges, but hey, who hasn’t? The marbling business has picked up, great things are happening, and I’ve been able to create some new art. Two successful seasons of 100 days and working on the business – doing things – and creating art that I hadn’t been able to do while teaching full time.
But December was a melancholy month for me, which was a change after the past six months. Some things weren’t right. The vision had gone in one eye, I had started a new set of 100-days, but the motivation wasn’t there. The weight issues got me down almost immediately. In retrospect I think it was the consumerism and blatant conspicuous consumption (yes, I know….redundancy….) that weighed on me. This led to some decisions to go a very different route next year with gifts – making donations in family’s names to nonprofits they support. Giving back, rather than giving to.
Along with that, the continued violence around us….it seemed like no matter where you turned or what you watched, there was violence all around. I can’t watch the news anymore, as I just get too upset. Movies and television shows are full of gratuitous violence. People are unkind, peace seems so far away, and our politicians – and those who are supposed to lead us – aren’t doing their jobs. I find everything about this country – and the world – to be so topsy-turvy. Nothing is right, we can’t seem to learn from our mistakes, and our country is lost in its original path. Part of me wishes to withdraw completely, and the other part of me wants to make the changes. I look ahead and see no hope…and 10 months of a VERY LONG election season.
So now it’s New Year’s Eve. I need to look ahead, as we are having some great things happen for us. We are making fabric like crazy, heading for an overnight at a king suite in a local hotel so we can do planning for the first quarter of 2012. Tutoring clients are coming in, finances seem to be assured, and we’re both feeling positive. I know there will be decisions ahead, as I think 2012 is going to be a pivotal year. But right now all I can do is all I can do.
Here’s wishing you and yours peace, happiness, and prosperity for this coming year – and whatever else you would like. Life is good, and we need to embrace it!
Slow start to reading on the web this week – lots of sewing of my own, a couple of major projects in the works, and the beginning of marbling about 400 fat quarters….going to be a couple of busy months!
From MAD MAgazine this week comes their take on Person of the Year – The Molester….
And…if you still need a few last minute gifts, MAD presents the Tweety Bird Smoke Alarm……
If you are watching TV on line, you no doubt have seen (countless times…) the commercials for Omni Heat and Columbia Sportswear. Cool Hunting has a brief ad showing the inner workings of this heated clothing. The company is also using the “Ice Man,” Wim Hof. This guy actually can control his body temperature and do things most of us consider nuts. He’s quite the spokesperson.
Now here’s a project for you chess lovers...”When a Bobbin is Just a Pawn.” Really clever! I just think this is so cool!
Like many of us, I came to art quilting via several other craft routes, primarily crewel embroidery in the seventies. I did several Erica Wilson designs, and I loved everything she created. I was saddened to here of her passing, as she was pretty incredible – the NYTimes calling her the Julia Child of embroidery.
From The Best Article Every Day comes 5 Things You Should Stop Doing in 2012. Perfect for this time of year.
I’ve been fairly grinch-like this season, just objecting to all the crass commercialism, but I do think this lights-video is one of the classier ones over the last few years. Amazing the technology – and more so the actual set-up of the lights on the house……
And this last is worth an additional three – a really gorgeous short movie by Sharon Wright called Change for a Dollar……perfect for this holiday season.
Have a wonderful holiday and may you have peace and blessings throughout the new year!
To follow up on last week’s Cyber Monday post, here’s an interesting article from The Future Buzz. Here’s an excerpt:
At my last company, my group had a slew of vendors and we received all sorts of gifts during the holidays – wine, branded shirts, “towers” of goodies, and so on. We gave most of it out around the office and some went to the landfill. The only gift I remember from those years was from a small agency, Swirl, that gave us the opportunity to donate, on their dime, to one of a few charities — it’s 10 years later and I’m still talking about them. No doubt, some of the gifts and incentives companies are giving away this year are really cool (feel free to send that extra iPad my way), but we all know far too much of it goes to waste – literally. And the recipient probably won’t tell his friends about the fruit basket.
Charitable gift cards have meaning for the recipient, change lives for the better, strengthen a company’s image, and won’t fill up landfills. Some of the best alternatives:
- The Glue Network: recipient chooses among humanitarian projects in nine categories. Uniqueness: offers broad choices for the recipient and inherently generates strong branding and PR for the company.
- Kiva: recipient chooses among global micro-lending opportunities. Uniqueness: micro-finance is powerful in addressing global poverty and Kiva is a respected pioneer.
- Donors Choose: recipient can support a specific need for a teacher and classroom. Uniqueness: projects are crowd-sourced, specific and support education which is the cause category of most concern to Americans today.
Every year during the holidays I try to focus on meaningful gifts for those close to us. And every year I am appalled at the commercialism. This year it just seems over the top, almost desperate, and not necessarily the retailers. A lot of people seem desperate.
I’ve made a decision for next year: for all the family members I will be donating the same amount for gifts to a nonprofit of their choice, preferably one they already support. This seems to be in the true sense of the season. I haven’t decided just what I’ll do in terms of company marketing, but I am certain that whatever is decided, a portion will go to a nonprofit of my choice.
This has been an interesting week of introspection. I have some interesting marketing opportunities, but I am hesitant to take them. The positivity I’m feeling is more of a home-bred sense of being at home and sewing/quilting/trying new art projects, along with some earning of additional travel money. Maybe it’s age catching up. Even ten years ago I would have probably been gung-ho to get the business up and making lots of additional money. The energy just isn’t there right now. With hubby not well, we need to make good decisions about our time together, and that means getting on the road as much as possible. We’re marbling now for the fun of it; hubby really enjoys what he has been doing and what opportunities we can have with some traveling – like going to Seattle the end of March.
I guess it means taking a long, serious look at what is really important at this stage of our lives.
Really? Photoshop Friday? How many Fridays has it been? Too many to count, but I have been back doing some work beyond getting pictures sized for blog entries. I thought I would share how I created my holiday cards this year, of which I am extremely proud…..and obviously not at all humble….oh, well….
Here’s the original marbled paper I used to start.
Here it is transformed into holiday colors.
Now for the ornaments, which were added a layer at a time, and the opacity was taken down so they wouldn’t overwhelm the marbled paper background.
THen I just kept adding ornaments until I was happy with the final product.
Well, actually….they’re fabric bowls, but somehow “introducing fabric bowls” doesn’t have the same ring. So this has got all the goodies of a holiday basket, but it comes in a fabric bowl that you can use throughout the year, rather than trying to figure out what to do with another straw basket. Which I must admit I thought was waaayyyy better.
Here she is! This holiday treat starts with a hand-crafted fabric bowl, in a subdued color that makes the bowl perfect for year-round use. Then it’s filled with goodies from the marbling tray: a fat quarter (18 by 22 inches) of 100% hand-marbled cotton; 4 pieces of hand-marbled Offray ribbon, in assorted sizes and width, all 18 inches in length; a 10% off coupon for our Etsy store (fabrics and small art quilts and table runners); coupons from other artists with offers for their websites; a Smapler Package of eight 6 by 9 inch hand-marbled pieces; a selection of hand-marbled silk leaves and flowers, perfect for embellishments; a set of four Digital Marbling (TN) note cards; and…a small mystery gift.
I want the fabric bowls to be in a rather subdued set of colors, as I want them to 1) fit just about any decor, and 2) be useful all year round. A “red” bowl tends to limit use. The actual bowl in this package is a nice mellow green.
The “basket” comes wrapped in plastic and fits in a priority box, surrounded by shipping peanuts. You can have it sent to yourself, o4 let us know the address and we will ship it.
This is a $50 retail value, special available for the holidays for $35.00. Want one? Head to our Etsy store and buy the one there. We’ll add additional ones as they sell, so you can see exactly what you will be getting for colors and fabrics.
These have been really fun to put together, especially choosing fabrics for the bowls. And if you haven’t tried making these fabric bowls, they are incredibly soothing….wrapping fabric while you’re watching television, or in the car, or waiting in the doctor’s office…..There are a couple of good books available if your LQS doesn’t offer a class:
We are affiliates for Amazon, so if you order through our blog, we do receive a commission (keeping the FTC happy….).
Busy week at the marbling ranch….getting ready for a marbling session tomorrow – lots of leaves for our holiday baskets, new fat quarters, and some ribbon coming. In the meantime, here are some goodies available now in our various shops.
On Ebay this week: some great remnants. These are hand-marbled Kaufman cotton remnants, fifteen (15) pieces, in assorted colors and designs. Sizes are 3×6, 1×9, 8×9, 5×8, 4×15, and 6×17 inches. All pretreated, heatset, and preshrunk – ready to go for your project. Perfect for art projects, scrap booking, quilt blocks, doll clothes, book marks, embellishment, accessorizing.
On Etsy this week, a really gorgeous piece of hand-marbled crepe.
Hand-marbled silk crepe fabric in a contemporary wave pattern. Size 10 by 28 inches. Edges are serged solely to prevent raveling. There is so much movement to this piece, and the colors are summer-bright. You can use this for a center medallion, for applique flowers – nice and bright for a basket design! Fabric is pretreated and heat-set – ready to go for your project. Also perfect for ATCs and small art works.
Also on Etsy, a unique table runner, made of a batik that is machine quilted, edges serged, and then woven in strips for this look.
And on Cafe Press this week: our best-selling journal. One of our most favorite Digital Marbling (TN) pieces on the front of a journal. With the increase in personal journals, you owe yourself a great design!
Don’t forget our coming Holiday baskets – perfect for the artist or crafter who needs some unusual goodies. More on this next week.
So one of my goals over these ninety days is to look at the pictures I have developed over the last couple of years, analyze the licensing materials, and determine ten collections that I can develop. According to the research I have been doing, I am going to need twelve to fifteen different collections. I have some ideas, but I need to get them organized, set up folders, look at what needs to be enlarged, adapted, and so on. I also want to see what can cross over to Cafe Press and potentially Zazzle, so I get as much mileage from some of the pieces.
Whew. There’s a lot there. One of the things I learned in the lynda.com classes was about Bridge – a program in Adobe Creative Suite that let’s me easily look at all my images and organize them easily – something I really need to do.
Now to get started….and DON’T EVEN THINK OF COPYING THESE IMAGES – ask if you have something in mind.
Botanicals: I have a LOT of photos that could go for calendars, prints, cards. Interesting – as I’m writing this, I realize I really haven’t given much thought to WHAT these could adorn. I have been through numerous stores, looking at design, but I’m not sure I have really thought about extending these pictures into more than two items. Hmmm. Food for thought.
Black and White: prints, cards, kitchen items, gifts, fabric designs.
Indigenous images: I love taking regional designs and seeing how I can interpret them through marbled fabrics that have been digitized. This would make good regional products. Cards, calendars, prints, fabric (if the repeat works), gifts.
Art Deco Revisited: taking images in the public domain and embellishing them with marbled fabrics that have been digitized. Cards, calendars, prints, fabrics, gifts. The designs are from a public source, in this case the Dover book on Art Deco Designs.
Abstracts: digital manipulation of marbled fabrics to create a new design, in this case “Moons.” Prints, cards, calendars, potentially fabric, gifts.
Seasons: digital marbling, as well as nature images that could be used in fabric, cards, calendars, prints. Pictures here could overlap other sections.
Nature: Places around the country and the world, cards, calendars, gifts, prints.
Southwest Designs: since I’m in the southwest, and I know how popular many of these images are. This one is already set in repeats. Lots of fabric possibilities here, as well as simple gifts.
Holidays: (valentines, etc) Got nothin’ here, and I know companies will want to see holidays, so I have a great place to start.
Interesting. That’s potentially ten collections. In my mind there were more, until I actually started listing them. Next steps: take this list of collections and go back into the stores to see how else these prints could be used. Stay tuned for the progress here.
And if you’re looking for resources, I regularly read Tara Reed, who writes an art licensing blog. Also, I have purchased materials from her about licensing (disclosure: if you purchase anything through this site, I do receive a small commission as part of her affiliate program). Also, her “Just Ask” calls are filled with great information from a wide variety of experts in the field. It’s another resource for you. July 2011 Ask Call Replay
The kids are progressing on their holiday wreaths. My advisory class should have most of theirs completed by the end of tomorrow – I will be taking them to Comin’ Home next Wednesday. One of the eighth grade boys in my art class finished his yesterday and came back after school to get it and take it home. He saw me in the hallway this morning and told me his mom just loved being able to put the wreath on the door. A good feeling…..
And the art show panels went together today…hard work but my eighth graders were wonderful!