Archive for the ‘The Art of Fabric’ 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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??

Sunday Stories

I love reading blogs about the stories behind the art we create. It occurred to me I could document (primarily for myself) the process and story behind some of our pieces in our gallery on the website. There is a page on the site with some very early quilts, including an original design for a math program I participated in.

This is the PRIME quilt – the name of the program was Promoting Reform in Mathematics Education, and it was a total of 6 weeks over three summers at the University of Arizona. We gave this quilt to our professors at the end of the third summer, and it still resides in the math department.

The center is the program itself, with the first few prime numbers. Each triangle attached to it is the name of one of the professors, with a little graphic representing each one; Fred, for example, had the calculator. The four corners are the teacher assistants we had, and each of the blocks is made with marbled fabric and a PRIME number of pieces. Let me tell you, the block with 37 pieces was a doozy to do.

We all signed the back of the quilt and presented it with the message that a puzzle was built into the quilt. Five 9 years later I filled in two of the professors as to what the puzzle was – the prime number of pieces. This was a fun quilt to design.

The quilt that started me on my present journey with marbled fabric is Gaia 1: Interdependence.

Gaia 1: Interdependence

This is kind of a cross between a traditional stone pattern, some basic combing of paint, and some chevron pattern. When the fabric came out of the tray, I liked the interplay of the turquoise with the earthy colors. The turquoise reminded me of the gifts from the earth. I don’t know why I started to cut into strips – maybe just because I wanted to try weaving something. I really don’t remember.

I had five strips and nothing was working. Then I decided to just weave it back and forth and see what would happen. I liked where it was going and cut the strips in half so I would have more to work with. I used a thin batting (which I since use exclusively) and backed it with a fossil fern fabric. Then I started to quilt, just by following the lines of the fabric. I went for three hours without stopping because I was loving how it was working.

I didn’t want bindings. I thought it would detract from the message of interdependence of all the elements on earth. Then I hit on serging the edges. Now this was before I really understood what a serger can do. I still hadn’t figured out rolled edges. But I knew I wanted some type of variegated thread, so I just experimented.

Then came trying to hold it together. I used a LOT of pins and very carefully pulled the weaving off the design wall onto the quilting table upside-down and started to stitch all the strips together. Let me tell you, that took forever….

Well, the problems weren’t over. A basic sleeve wasn’t going to work for hanging, so I spent a few weeks trying to figure that out. I ended up buying a set of napkin rings with an earthy feel to them and looked for a piece of bamboo. The big problem was anchoring the napkin rings to the strips – with a lot of delicate sewing….but the piece has hung for five years in an office in Tucson with not a single problem.

I knew when this was finished I was on to something. The bamboo I am currently working on will be the fourth in the Gaia series of weavings. I do want to do more…the images I saw of rice paddies in southern China would make another interesting weaving…..

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

I have to say, I have been busy. I originally was thinking nothing was going to happen art-wise in July because of so much work on the business. I was wrong…the last week has been incredibly productive. Last Wednesday I wrote about my lava piece just telling me it really wasn’t finished. Here’s last week:

And here it is now, since it told me it was “finished:”

Midnight Lava Flow

Turns out it needed actual lava – those little round pieces are actual chunks of lava I collected over a couple of visits to the Tucson Gem Show each February. I also added more lava flows, and nothing really interferes with the quote on the back. This is going to go up in the newly-developing Etsy store.

My “purse” didn’t make it as a purse…I loved the play of the fabrics together, but I couldn’t get handles to work the way I wanted them to…so now it’s a nice new basket for collecting fabric scraps.

If you were reading on Sunday, you saw the finished “Desert Heat” quilt, now on the wall in our bedroom.

Now I am working on my “bamboo” quilt, started about 5 years ago with a piece of marbled fabric in the chevron pattern. One of the things I like about this quilting is that it is very zen-like, in that you can just follow the lines of the patterns. You can see the original piece of fabric here. You’ll see what I mean about the lines of the pattern.

As I was quilting yesterday, it occurred to me to take pictures of the process, and then that led me to think about putting together a tutorial on quilting marbled fabric. There is an interesting story behind the quilting. Years ago I pretty much just put marbled fabrics with blacks, as I wasn’t sure at all about my color sense. I did slowly branch out, but it was Quilt artist Ellen Kohen who took a piece of fabric and quilted it. I knew there was more I could do with the fabric, but I wasn’t sure how to approach it. Once I saw what Ellen had done, I was hooked, but it took confidence to start the free motion needed to accent these patterns. Starting this Sunday, I’m going to introduce “Sunday Stories,” and I’ll take a look at the story behind each of the pieces in my gallery on the website.

For today, here’s a close-up look at one of the bamboo strips (which I am aiming to finish by mid-August, as I want to enter it into an art quilt show with my “Ocean’s Bounty.”) You can easily see all the “lines” in the pattern and how I have followed the lines with a variety of different colored threads. The problem you might run into (as I have) is when to stop with the lines – you can get easily sucked in to quilting everything.

Chevron pattern

Serged edge

You can see the serged edge in this piece – which is how I usually finish these weaving pieces. I’ve learned over the years not to serge until I am finished with the machine quilting.

Walking foot

This is with my walking foot, but I’m not totally happy with the control with this foot. Because there are slight curves to these lines, I use my regular foot and am quite happy with it. I think this is probably a personal preference. I tried the free motion foot on this, but I didn’t have the control and even stitches I wanted for this design.

I have four and a half “strands” of bamboo finished at this point. I can quilt for a couple of hours, listening to some John Denver and just kinda zone…as I mentioned earlier this week, I am amazed at just how much I get done when I think a project will take forever. Now what probably will take forever will be the leaves. I’ve tried marbling some silk leaves – not happy with them. I am thinking some thread leaves, but they may not seem “sturdy” enough for this hardy plant. I do know thread leaves would be a great use of all my lousy threads I have hanging around. I haven’t broken any threads with some 6 hours of quilting – have I told you how much I love my Superior Threads?

If you would be interested in a tutorial on quilting marbled fabric, please leave me a comment and let me know. If you’ve got pictures of some marbled fabric that you have quilted, I would LOVE to see it.

Thoughts for a Thursday – Marble-T Design

Marbled Fabric

While on vacation, hubby and I had plenty of time to talk about our marbling business and how we wanted to proceed. Readers of this blog know we went through some very difficult times as we had problems with marbling: nothing worked – water, paints, fabric finishes – nothing. Prior to this time we had an active business, with a mailing list of about 300 people, and a list of products that sold each month fairly well. Once the art problems hit, at the same time I changed jobs, and time became a real premium.

Fast forward to now, and I am spending lots of time reading and researching how to build our business. About two weeks ago, on the road in Tennessee, I had one of those “2 by 4 on the head” moments, when I realized that everything the internet marketers tell us we have to do to build an online business we had been doing years ago. So I have been spending time updating, revising, incorporating social media (which wasn’t around when we went online in 1998…). I have learned a HUGE amount, I have loads more to do, and most importantly, I am having fun, as well as meeting lots of new and interesting people. I am glad that I am on summer vacation right now, and I don’t need to take classes or teach any remediation, because building this business is taking a lot of time.

So what does an art business need? We have a website that has gone through several versions since 1998 when the learning curve was EXTREMELY steep.  It has again been updated by our amazing web designer Suzan at Saltwater Systems to reflect new fiber work, some of our digital work, and some new products to be released within the next two weeks. It is now easier to sign on to follow our work through our newsletter.

We did a lot of work off the website way before blogs, but blogging makes it a lot easier to update and refine offerings. Plus, I like being able to write about and reflect on new work, especially as our digital marbling (TN) increases. Now on our blog, Marbled Musings, you can follow updates to the blog, as well as sign up for our newsletter.

Social media has mushroomed. I’ve been on Facebook for about two years, and I have loved getting back in touch with former colleagues and students, as well as meeting and reconnecting with other artists. I am learning about Fan Pages and am just beginning to experiment with one. If you are interested, sign on to follow Marble-T Design on Facebook. Pretty soon we will have a button you can just click.

Now Twitter….this is really interesting. My students make fun of me for being on Twitter, but I tell them I am way ahead of them in this piece of technology, especially when it comes to business.  I am not always logging on with information about what I am doing, but I do enjoy the resources that are posted. Following the NY Times arts columns has led to some great artists. If you’re in to Twitter, you can follow me @ArtsyLindaMoran. (And there wil soon be a button….)

Have I made any art lately? No, and that is by far the downside to building a business and doing the necessary marketing. I worked on a few pieces before I left for vacation, and there is time next week built in for working on art. My goal is to have the business running smoothly within the next four weeks, and then I will carve out the art time throughout the school year – a tough task as any artist knows who has to share creativity time with the job that pays the bills.

I am very interested in what all of you do. Comment about how you’re building your business, what you have found that works, and anything in particular you know HAS to be done. Love to read your comments.

AND….giveaway this weekend with Blog Post 400 – I promise you it’ll be a good one!

PS – a popular post about Martha Stewart and her “marbling” – this ran a year ago as we were just coming out of our hard times marbling, and I was incensed at how she tried to put her spin on this ancient art!

I’m ON VACATION!


Spring break started today at 1:40 for our school district. Needless to say the kids weren’t particularly interested in the finer points of function notation. I did have to spend some time yesterday reminding them to spell the word “function” correctly – there are two “n’s” in the word…use your imagination!

Going to spend the day in Scottsdale tomorrow, seeing the Chihuly glass exhibit at the Botanical Gardens, as well as working with my digital partner Suzan. We have a show to get ready for, and entries to work on. Our get-togethers are always a great time – lots of inspiration – too bad we are not closer. Thank heavens for the internet!

I finished uploading a few pieces we have worked on so we can access them tomorrow with Wi-Fi. And I need some hints on a few Photoshop tricks so I can begin to organize some of my gallery work.

The piece that starts this entry is something I am trying out. I bought a clip-art book from Dover of art deco images, since Dover is public domain and no worry about copyright. I wanted to have some designs that I could work with putting marbled fabrics into, without having to do the design completely myself. Once I figured out how to paste a pattern into the design, I went to town with ideas. This is really stretching my skills to another level, which is one of the things I want to work on.


The original of this image is left – pretty bland compared to the new changes in the top design. One of the things that I really like about this new image is that it works both from a distance and up close. From a distance you see these wonderful swirling suns, and upon closer inspection you can see the various marbled patterns. Very intriguing close up, and somewhat soothing from a distance.

Over the years we have been able to create a couple of quilted pieces that do the same thing. It’s what we strive for to make the pieces really interesting. It took as quite a while to be ale to actually sell our piece we called The Wave (you can see it at our website The Art of Fabric), but when we were offered enough money, we realized we were ready to sell it! This was one of our first framed pieces, and from a distance it looked like a crashing wave. From up close you were engulfed in the breaking wave along the shore. It remains a great piece.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
A Chance to Win Free Fabric!

Subscribe to our Newsletter - a chance to win free fabric!

* indicates required
Email Format
NANOWRIMO!

Marble-T Design Etsy Store
The Textile and Fiber Art List
Art From the Heart
Follow ArtsyLindaMoran on Twitter
FTC Regulations – Affiliates
Disclaimer: Please be aware according to FTC regulations I need to let you know I am an affiliate of some of the companies listed here and will receive compensation if you order from them.
Interesting in Licensing?

Archives
Post Categories
ANALYTICS
Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.