Archive for the ‘in progress’ Category

Working on Goals – Revisited

  Retirement is amazing – all the time to create art and work on the art business.I’m very busy, one one of the things I let go was the notion of substitute teaching during retirement. Nope, don’t want to lose a day to the classroom and grief when I can be making art.

Spending the money to redo the studio was an excellent investment. It means we’re serious, plus the studio is so inviting – we WANT to be in there all the time. And once I started adding fresh flowers to the studio – well, the feng shui has been very conducive to creating.

I am certainly getting things done, but what I am finding is that I need to move to getting larger chunks of a goal done within a few days, rather than dragging it out over a couple of weeks, with just doing a piece here and there. I need to get it off my list, and I think this will work.

That said, one of my goals for this 100 days is three of the action plans in Alyson Stanfield‘s I’d Rather Be in the Studio! So as I was looking over Action Plan 1, I realized I have done pieces of this before, but not with these particular questions. I’ve looked at my target audience, my ideal customer, I’ve looked at overall goals, but never really defined success itself.

So that’s my task today. Alyson lists 20 areas to ruminate on concerning how you visualize success.

* Production of art: I want to make at least three major pieces (Gaia weavings) a year; spend time each week in the studio revising, finishing, working on at least a dozen smaller pieces. So far for this second half of the year, I think I am on track – I already have three smaller pieces just about completed, and one new major weaving sketched out.

* Quality of artwork: It’s very important to me, now that I have the time, to take some art classes, primarily studio art as opposed to art history (which I still would like to do). I want my work to be excellent and gallery-ready. I may still pursue a couple of show venues, but that’s not as important to me as it was. I want to continue to learn new techniques to include in new artwork. Both hubby and I are really looking to improve our marbling skills.

* Exhibition venues: As I said, not as important to me to enter juried shows. I want to find a couple of galleries to carry my work, beyond the website. I am entering a local show (not juried) for the possible connections, as well as seeing if I can make what is in my mind actually happen in the piece.

* Teaching venues and opportunities: hmmm, possibly, but not at this moment. I’ve done a number of local gigs over the years, but never really went prepared with stuff to sell. Maybe something to consider after I have all the other business pieces in place.

* Travel: oh, yeah, and not necessarily for business (but we always visit galleries). I want to get at least one big trip in each year. We always visit museums and galleries, so outlets for our work, as well as new ideas, are always part of our travel. We even have promo literature to take with us.

* Home, Studio, Environment: The studio makeover was critical, and it will more than pay for itself in productivity. We’re happy with our apartment and locale, although eventually we will move East again.

* Spirituality: I am practicing the principles of the Laws of Attraction and Abundance and I have been extremely pleased with my whole attitude change. I am reading Native Wisdom for White Minds by Anne Wilson Shaef, as I love the saying of our indigenous people around the world. And nothing beats standing and wondering at some amazing site in nature.

 * Health: major goal here, as I want to be around for a long time. I am taking steps to do what I need to, and hopefully with this 100 days I will see some good success.

* Leadership Roles: kinda done with this. That’s why I retired. I’m leading myself to success.

* Published Work: hmmmm. Something to think about, just not sure how I can turn the marbling into a successful book. Seems like the books that have been written about marbling and projects haven’t lasted long. And I’m not sure I want the pressure and deadlines of a book contract. Been there, done that.

* Visits to the website and blog: Numbers for the blog have been steadily increasing since I got back to blogging. The website has stayed pretty static, but I am not doing significant marketing on that yet. I’ve done some small revisions on the website, I still need to add new work, and I need to think through the purpose of the website. I want to see the blog traffic translate into sales.

* Subscribers to the newsletter: I am so lacking in this. I thought I had it under control last summer, but school hit and my time was no longer my own. I have signed up with Mail Chimp and am busy importing the addresses of subscribers so far. I want a schedule of every three weeks, but I need to spend time seriously looking at the content for the newsletter, plus be VERY prepared for this year’s holiday season.

* Social Media  connections: you can read about this progress on tomorrow’s blog. The only thing I haven’t seemed to master dealing with is Twitter.

* Sales of my book: Nope, but I’m going to change “book” to “patterns.” This is an area for long-term development. Two quilt patterns art in progress, and I need to refine my Polynomial Quilt pattern.

* Sales of my art: Definitely a big goal. I want our art business to help provide for travel in retirement. My immediate two-year goal is $1000 a month from the business.

* Grants received: another hmmm. Something to think about on down the future. I do have experience writing grants, so on down the road I will look at this.

* Articles by me: I did get paid abut 4 years ago for a series of articles on a quilting site. This will go on the long-term list of things to explore, as I do enjoy writing.

* Commissions: just finished my first big one, and I certainly want more. To this end I need to develop and promote my contacts and collectors lists. I need to put on the long-term list to check with the local and state  arts council for both grants and commissions.

* Public or private collections: not quite sure about this – something to think about.

* Licensing: this is a major one, and I have already identified some collections. I need to begin fleshing these out till I have at least 10 developed, and then I’m going looking for an agent.

* Volunteer work: I added this one, as I want to donate time and art to a local organization called Ben’s Bells. Very worthy, and I want to help. Also, I want to continue the work for Art from the Heart (see top right of this page) to help promote peace.

If all of this intrigues you, you can pick up Alyson‘s book. WELL WORTH the investment in yourself and your art.

 

 

 

 

 

Work in Progress – Creating Rhythm

I’ve been practicing a lot of techniques with free motion quilting. With marbled fabrics, it’s almost like your pattern is decided for you – and I love being able to work with that. I discovered a few new things with this piece of green silk. I knew I wanted to see if I could accent the movement that already existed with the marbled pattern, and I wanted to accent the water effect in the piece.

Here’s the piece without anything done to it. I decided to flip the design, so the wave effect would be more prominent. Then it was a case of deciding threads. There are some very light areas in the pattern that I wanted to emphasize, so I figured a lighter thread. I pulled four threads (Superior, of course) and started with the lightest one – and I thought it was jarring – too bright.

I ended up going with a Rainbow multi-colored green thread that I think worked very well. I used that in the very light areas, and then I turned to a dark green silk for the background. The thought here was to heavily quilt the darker background to make the lighter areas come forward even more. So here’s the piece…

I do think the wave motion is more prominent. This was also a departure for me, in that normally I have quilted this pattern a great deal, but this time I didn’t do every single swirl. I think you get more drawn into the pattern that way.

I am contemplating some beads, but that’s just in the thinking stage at this point. I am open to suggestions, so please leave me a comment with what else I could do with the piece. The biggest success in this piece is a definite improvement in the machine quilting – the stitches are far more consistent, so that’s a great goal for me.

Leave me some comments – what would you do with this piece if it were yours……

Monday Marketing – Getting Organized

Wow, it has been an amazing week! So much of what I worked on in June and July is coming to fruition. Etsy is beginning to sell, and I have a marketing plan developed for just Etsy that seems like it is going to be easy to implement. The marbling is going very well; we purchased a metal tray just for doing fat quarters, and all we needed to do was waterproof it – which worked well. We’ll use the new tray the end of the week. Along with this good vibe has been the studio remodeling – what a difference with everything in its place, and room for both of us to work at the same time and share ideas.

We’ve begun to brainstorm other products for the company, as ten years ago we had a lot more than we do now. We have started preparing the guidelines for our gift baskets. WE NEED COUPONS: if you have a business related to fiber and textiles and would like to put together a coupon that could lead to some added publicity, all we are asking is for you to make some coupons that we can include in our gift baskets. You can email us for more information. We did this about 10 years ago, and we had great participation from other businesses, so folks got a goodie basket with lots of other opportunities in it.

Ebay business is picking up, and we’ve had to raise our prices, due to the serious increase in the cost of cotton. Ebay will continue to be an outlet for smaller, cheaper pieces of marbled fabric, mostly remnants. We have a good, steady business here. Etsy looks to be the place to sell larger, more expensive pieces of fabric, which is good.

Facebook is also bringing in lots of comments, but the best thing I’ve done has been the Linked In profile and joining a few fiber and art groups: Art Business, Art Marketing, Manhattan Arts (check this one out), and a few other groups – lots of comments and interest, and all this should add to business down the road.

The biggest concern with all the work over the last two months was would I be able to actually continue making new artwork. I pleased to say the answer is a definite yes. I finished two small studies this past week, both of which will end up on Etsy in the next two weeks, and I started a large piece with my Quilt University class. I have two small pieces to do for two art shows coming up, and I should be able to take care of those within the next two weeks.

One of the classes I took from Laura Bray was on Multiple Sources of Income. She spent a lesson on getting organized and goal setting. A great part of this class was seeing how I could distinguish the actual marketing of the business with making art. As a result, yesterday I spent the day getting everything into a notebook, organized by sections, long-term goals and lists, places for business cards as I develop my contacts list – it feels SO good to have it 1) all in one place; 2) a section for everything I need; and 3) a way to see my progress in all aspects of the business.

I think one thing that will help me (and I don’t know it it will work for others) is that I am going to include within my binder other projects I am working on outside of Marble-T Design, so I can easily keep track of deadlines and goals all around.

So it’s taken me a couple of months to figure out a system that will work, and now I just have to “work it.” I start each day with the notebook and make my list for the day, being sure I handle both marketing tasks and art tasks. What have you found that works for you?

Monday Marketing – Creating a Schedule

It’s Monday again….and it seems like all I did was read, look at emails, and set up buttons and the like. This is the “time-sucker.” So my goal for this blog post is to try and identify what needs to be done each week for marketing and set up a kind of calendar to work with.

This is what I’m dealing with: Ebay, Etsy, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Cafe Press, Zazzle, newsletters, a website, lynda.com, flickr, and a blog. I am trying to avoid doing all of this every day, because nothing else seems to get done. I’m brainstorming as I write, with the hope that by the time this post is done, I will have a plan.

Ebay: hubby handles almost all of this, including postal trips. But…if we are going to increase sales, we need more product, and I would like to help with the actual marbling. So…..marbling weekly. I do need to update the About Me page…..

Etsy: the bulk of the organization is done. But…I need to be adding product on a regular basis, which means I need to keep making things. It would be nice to have one new product up each week, if not more often. One of the goals this week is to add some of the major artwork (even though I don’t expect to sell it on Etsy, it is more exposure) on the site, as the pictures are redone. I want to continue with the circles marketing, which, if I have enough products, could be done every day – 15 minutes for this. Plus, I need to keep working…….

LinkedIn: profile is done, and I have registered for several groups for business. I have found already difficulty in keeping up with reading emails each day from the groups and have already deleted one group. This week I will determine which groups look to be the most advantageous. I also need to complete the setting up of a profile of artwork.

Facebook: I read this several times a day. I have a fan page which needs serious work, as well as Art From The Heart, which is to support healing art after the Tucson shootings in January. I have added FB buttons to my blog and this week to my website. I have read the Terms and looked at all the privacy settings. I also went through the photo stream stuff for FB and fixed photos for both the personal and fan page. I need to really think through what is going to happen with the Fan Page.

Twitter: I am finishing a class from lynda.com on using Facebook and Twitter for business, and I highly recommend the site. For #25 you can choose different trainings all available for a month at your schedule. I picked up all kinds of little tips, most of which have already been implemented. But….and this is a BIG but….the time for tweets and what to tweet. By syncing a lot of the programs, my blog appears on Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, my tweets appear in a couple of places. I don’t think I can go further with this – the tweet button is on the blog and soon to be on the website. This is one area that needs some serious scheduling. Since I use TweetDeck (which is free…), I can schedule and keep track of who’s following and what is getting retweeted. So…I’m going to use Sundays for scheduling business tweets for the week, and I will look through the twitter feed once a day to see if there’s some good stuff to retweet.

Cafe Press: I have a site, a free one, so I am limited as to the number of products I can put up. I haven’t looked at this in several months and it needs serious work. To have a store isn’t much money each month, and I could have a lot more products available, but the issue is marketing and driving people to the site. I have some great digital stuff already to go, and I need to start planning around the holidays, reading about marketing through Cafe Press, and so on.

Zazzle: Ditto for Cafe Press……both are not a high priority right now.

Newsletters: oy, it’s been months since a newsletter went out, and I have all these contacts where nothing is happening. I used Constant Contact last year for a few months, until I couldn’t keep up with the demands and school at the same time. I was happy with it, but disappointed that not many people actually read it. I need to go back to a newsletter and offerings at least once every three weeks, and more during the holiday seasons. I need to check out Mail Chimp, which is free, and I have heard people have good luck with it. I’ll try and make this a priority this week.

Website: Most of the changes to the website have been made by my wonderful web lady Suzan. I need to get a couple of buttons set up, and then do something about newsletters and contacts. I also have some pages to add on Digital Marbling (TN), and I need to evaluate “print on demand” for artwork. This is a “need to think about” topic…..

lynda.com: I have until Friday to finish my month of training. I still need to finish Twitter, and I want to get the html newsletter course done. I am not going to continue with Dreamweaver because it isn’t a priority.

Flickr: I have photos up, not all of them with copyrights, and there is a class on lynda.com if I have time. I’m not really sure what I want to do here….

And finally, my blog, Marbled Musings. I went a bunch of months with no new writing, and I’m at maybe three times a week. I need to get back to at least four times a week, and eventually every day. I have plenty to write about…and I need to stay up with my Google reader – as well as comment more on some of the posts. This is probably the biggest area for marketing that I have to schedule.

Weekly:

* Marbling fabric

* Work on Etsy products

* Sewing and other design

Mondays:

* Add Etsy product

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog post Monday Marketing

* Google reader and at least three comments

Tuesdays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog post Top Ten Tuesday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Wednesdays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog Work in progress Wednesday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Thursday:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog – Thursday Thoughts

* Google reader and at least three comments

Fridays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog Photoshop Friday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Saturdays:

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog posting on Specials

* Google reader and at least three comments

Sundays:

* Read Twitter feed

* Schedule Tweets for the week (i.e. Etsy, Ebay…)

* Blog Sunday Stories

* Google reader and at least three comments

Goals for next week:

* FINISH LYNDA.COM

*Update “About Me” page on Ebay

* Update Etsy products, especially note cards

* Evaluate how calendar is working

* See if buttons are added to the website

* Decisions on what will happen with the Facebook Fan page

* Long-term thoughts – what to do with CafePress and Zazzle

* Read and decide about Mail Chimp for a newsletter

* Spend some time thinking about what the website still needs….

Okay, I think I have a handle on this…we’ll see next week as I evaluate how the week goes. And…I’m taking some online classes!

Thoughts??

The Start of a Commission…..

This past April I was asked to do a commission for a friend of a friend, based on three things: 1) she loves our marbled fabrics; 2) she wants a fiber piece for a small area in her bathroom; and 3) she would like it to draw on the colors from the new granite counter tops. So for 6 weeks I’ve been mulling over possible designs, knowing that the final one would be based on what happened with the marbling session.

We marbled yesterday, and I worked with the colors I thought would go with the granite – gray, black, brown, russet, copper. I tried a couple of different patterns, and what follows are the pieces I came up with. Warming – they’re pretty blah in the pictures….

Marbled patterns

Marbled patterns

I chose the stone pattern to begin, for two reasons. One, I like quilting that pattern, and two, I figured this would give me some ideas. Well…..it sure did. I started snapping pictures as I was quilting. I used a Rainbow thread from Superior (of course) in a rust shade to bring out the rusts in the painting on the opposite wall of the bathroom. It was just what it needed.

Quilted marbling pattern

The texture is incredible and no longer flat. The piece also now has a title, “Hiking,” as its future owner hikes the mountains and canyons of Arizona – and especially Sedona – often.

This is so totally different from what I had originally been thinking. I know that this will act as the center medallion of the piece, so I went looking for coordinating fabrics – in my newly organized studio, so selecting was a breeze.

Lots more ideas, as the white area is probably going to become a small bubbly stream, and I pretty much know what’s happening with the borders, but that’s for another post.

Ideas???

Friday 5 – Brain Fried….

There is so much going around in my head today, between school starting again in two weeks, projects unfinished, next steps for the business, planning a new algebra class….My kids have learned about brain farts – when your brain just isn’t engaged with your mouth. We all know about brain freezes. Now I’m coping with fried brain…..How do you know?

1. You can’t even think about making a list of things to do. There’s too much going on in your mind.

2. You  still have three lists left from the past month, each one with additions to them as you think about more stuff. It’s like it never ends.

3. You started thinking about lists of holiday gifts – and it’s only a day away from August…4 and a half months away…….

4. You can’t move in your studio with the projects you have going, and yet you want to head to the quilt/craft store for mor ideas…and perhaps anther project…..

5. The dust bunnies have become a legion of warriors, creeping up your list of things to do…almost making it into the priority column.

I’m thinking about the post last Thursday on niche marketing and the very last item…make a new plan. That is what I have to do – sit down with some quiet time and think about what has to happen next. How will I be most productive with the next week?

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

Marbled Fabric

I think one of the biggest challenges we face as artists and business people is making sure our art doesn’t suffer, that we continue to create. My summers away from school usually lead to one big new piece being finished, and this year it will probably be my bamboo piece. But right now I am finishing up some small pieces to go in my soon-to-come Etsy shop.

This is my lava piece, which is not from marbled fabric, but was part of a group challenge a couple of years ago.

Lava Fields

Originally I didn’t do any background quilting beyond the whitish streaks, but the more I looked at it over the years, the more it felt like it wanted additional quilting. So I free-motioned the whole background, so it would look like rougher solid lava. Then I thought it was done….but now I want to add more lava, and as I was looking through my beads and stones, I realized I have some actual lava pieces I bought at the gem show. I will add that around the piece to represent more of the rougher hardened lava.

This piece originally came about because of a quote I had read concerning the volcanoes of Hawaii: “Seeing lava that has traveled from the center of the earth to the ground at your feet is something that speaks to the soul.It is the most basic of things. The creation of earth unfolding before your eyes. Each person has their (sic) own reason for wanting to see this awesome power of nature. For some, it is the scientific aspect that fascinates and confirms. For others, it is simply creation unfolding before their very eyes.” This from Gloria Hopkins in her article “Photographing Hawaii’s Lava Fields.”

If you have stood on the rim of a volcano, walked a hardened lava field like some of the beaches on Maui, or watched the lava creep across the road on the Big Island, then you know what a spectacular sight you are witnessing.

On another matter, check our yesterday’s blog for details on our Give-Away of marbled goodies. You need to use the Subscribe button to the right here to add your email address  for our monthly newsletter. You have till July 13 to do this before we use the random generator to choose a winner! And – there is a big coupon coming in this first newsletter, so sign up now.

Glacier 1


I have decided to document this new piece that I am working on. I have had the fabric for almost two years. It came about as a result of an online group of partners, Sarah and Karen. We were looking at mythology, and I had some ideas for a piece that would be very wintery, in looking at the seasons. This piece came out very icy, and I knew it would make a great glacier or iceberg. But that was as far as it went. It has been in my mind as a piece for the Cordova Fish Follies show, and I was trying for it this year – never made the deadline.

In the meantime I was collecting possible stones for the piece. At the gem show I found some aquamarine that I thought would work well to accent the berg. Then two rows later was some amazing craquelated quartz, and I bought two strands, all for this piece.

Today I finally found the piece – hidden in a drawer of “never sell” pieces. And the background is a piece I bought three years ago for something totally different. So here goes – the iceberg fabric.

The backing fabric –

And the threads – there are four potentials, two variegated and two that are some shiny shades of grays. It will be interesting for me to decide which thread goes where – usually I have one thread for the whole piece.

Suggestions are greatly appreciated!

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