Posts Tagged ‘Textile and Fiber Art List’
I have a list………….
Don’t we all? I start one every year – but this year seems to be somehow different. I have a small composition book (like we used to use in elementary school, back in the day, and I got myself organized very differently. I have a page for yearly goals, then a page for monthly goals. I have separate pages for each of the weeks of the month. Right now the notebook is set up though March.
I can at a glance see what I’ve accomplished, and I have a way of listing items ahead in the month they’re due, and I can backtrack to begin working on them. This helps me see the bigger picture much better…..and I love crossing things off my lists.
I think the thing that is also different is that I am feeling so much better than probably the last five years. The weight is slowly rearranging itself, clothes are fitting, the knee doesn’t hurt, I’m getting stuff accomplished (more than I thought), and I feel calm, centered, and productive. A great way to start the New Year!
Lots of new pictures, revising items, getting ready to do a “retirement sale” of older items that have been around the country one or two times. We’ve lived in places where we could have better photography set-ups, but we are making do. Lots of great suggestions and tips from Rachel Biel of The Fiber and Textile List – she is amazing when it comes to set-up, marketing, and all-round general encouragement.
I am looking for a royalty-free piece of music for our second marbling video, finishing up pieces that have languished for years, taking apart a major piece from 2003 and modernizing it with my new skills, keeping up with blogging (I WILL hit 1000 blog posts this year…….) and constantly looking for new venues and ideas.
Here’s to 2017! What are you doing to start your year out right?
Our first solo show was wonderful. We were guest artist the month of August in the Essex Junction Library, a wonderful space in the community room. The fiber pieces hanging on the brick walls softened the room a great deal. Great reception for folks, hosted by our dear friends the Williamsons. Lots of good discussions, and I tried something new – a “completed” piece that I still am not happy with, and I asked for suggestions for re-doing/changing the piece- great ideas, and I will certainly do an interactive piece again for future shows.
April through June, Jericho Town Hall, “Double Exposure” – artwork and a piece of literature/quote that goes with it.
June through September, Unsworth Law Offices, a selection of fiber and digital work.
Phoenix Books with the Essex Art League, 2016, small works.
Old Red Mill Gallery with the Essex Art League, digital work, as well as ongoing fabric sales
October through April 2017, Maltex Building with Burlington City Arts – large works. These are large pieces, and many of them have not shown anywhere before, so it was exciting to visit them in their 6-month home. Third floor, so go visit!
This is an interview with Rachel Biel, the founding mama and guiding light of The Textile and Fiber Art List. Barbara Harms interviewed Rachel about this amazing journey in creating TAFA. Check out her website, with some glorious work. This interview is from Barbara’s blog.
Defining the woman behind TAFA. An interview with Rachel Biel.
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this interview with Rachel Biel. She is the founder of TAFA [http://www.tafalist.com ], a fiber artist, a business woman and a innovator. Rachel is interesting, informed and candid. Rachel has a lot to say that you’re going to be interested in hearing.
#1-What first interested you in fiber art? How did that lead to a career in that field?
I’ve always enjoyed making things. My parents both kept themselves busy with projects that were utilitarian, but creative. I learned how to embroider when I was around 12, taking classes with a scary old lady down in Brazil who was a master embroiderer. Even though I didn’t much like her, I loved the threads and what could be done with them. In my 20′s, I started making hats and bags from fabric I found at thrift stores, then became interested in quilts. I continue to explore stitching in different ways, but would not consider this my career. For twenty years I worked with handicrafts from the world, selling them through various enterprises in Chicago and then online. My primary interest all along has been in the economic development potential that crafts have in contributing to a more sustainable and beautiful way of living. I would like to see artists, villages, and people in general have the option to choose a handmade and green lifestyle and be able to have their needs met while they do it. I finally focused on textiles for practical reasons: easy to ship and store, not breakable, etc. I buy vintage textiles and re-sell them online, figuring that if they don’t sell, I can always use them in something I make. This path has been a winding, wonderful process of discovery!
# 2- Your resume shows a long history in the field of fiber art. Are there any highlights which stand out in your mind?
I am fascinated by the use of found materials, of the conversation between traditional and contemporary, of building bridges between cultures and people. Textiles are such a tactile and personal expression of who we are and I am constantly inspired by what I see. I also believe in the healing component that comes from doing anything with your hands, whether it is gardening, sewing, turning wood, spinning clay on a wheel. We have removed ourselves from the creative process and become sick as a society. Art can heal us.
# 3- Do you recall any decision or choice you made or choice you made which changed the of your life or career?
Yes, the decision to become self-employed when I was 28 removed the security net under my feet. I have been without health insurance since [ I’m 50 now ] and often financially stressed. This is something so many of us struggle with and it has definitely affected my life. In the beginning, I thought it was my choice. About eight years ago, I tried to get back into the regular work force and found that there are only entry-level jobs available to me. I was forced to look at my skills and find a way to carve out my own niche. I was able to do that, but it’s a daunting task.
# 4- Do you have any advice for a person who wants to pursue a career as a fiber artist?
You have to be passionate about anything in the arts in order to make a living at it. Competition is fierce. It takes quite a bit of discipline to produce work, document it, market it and then sell it. I enjoyed the process of making more than selling what I create, so I have other skills to support my lifestyle: launching TAFA, providing technical assistance, and re-selling the vintage textiles. Last year I focused on learning how to use WordPress and have since been helping other artists update or launch their websites. So, for a beginner, my suggestion would be to develop a second set of skills that can help earn some money and be ready to have a long wait to succeed as an artist. There are two reasons that I see this: it takes time to build a body of work, to experiment, to find the muse, and it takes time to develop the skills that will define the work. Other advice : don’t copy what’s already out there. Find your own voice. There are millions making the same things or similar things and it is only by being “original ” that you will stand out. We are all “stealing” from the past, nothing is new under the sun, and yet we live in a fascinating time when the old is reinterpreted into something unique.
# 5- In pursuing a career as a fiber artist, you have needed to develop into a strong business woman. Do you have any advice for women who find themselves in similar circumstances and goals?
Learn some basic business skills. Take a workshop, research online…There are tons of resources out there. Make a 5-year business plan, You don’t have to stick to it, but it will help you to get an idea of where you are headed and what you need to do to get there. Learn to use some social media platforms. My favorite is Facebook. Not the personal pages, but the business ones where you can really build a network of people who are interested in what you are doing.
#6- -What five words would you use to describe yourself?
Visionary, persistent, calm, flexible, overwhelmed
# 7- What do you feel is your greatest strength and greatest flaw?
Greatest strength: ability to take risks. Greatest flaw: too stuck in my comfort zone.
# 8- You may be most recognized as the founder and dynamic force behind TAFA. What was the inspiration that led you to found TAFA?
Tafa is the result of years of trying to figure out how to access markets for my stuff, working with small importers who had the same needs and seeing artists struggle to get their work seen. When social media started to take off, I kept bumping into the same people, all trying to do this as well. One example is Susan Sorrell from Creative Chick Studios [ http://www.tafalist.com/members/creative-chick-studios ]. Everywhere I went, there she was, ahead of me. She seemed so savvy and knowledgeable. I figured if we all banded together and drove people to the same place, it would be easier to be found. My mantra has been “Together we can do great things.”
# 9-What did you hope to accomplish in creating TAFA? Do you feel that is has been successful in accomplishing it?
The # 1 goal is “Markets for Members” and that hasn’t really happened yet. I have to say that I am a bit disappointed that more members don’t blow TAFA’s horn, but it takes a while to build an organization and as they start seeing the results, I am confident that they will jump in and be more vocal about what we have. There is a core group that is active and vocal about what we have successfully accomplished, is sharing tips, insights and supporting each other.The collective knowledge is amazing and it’s a consistent source of learning and inspiration for me.
#10-TAFA is culturally diverse representing over 30 different countries . Was it your intention to provide an avenue for economically challenged artisans to sell their work, improving their economic situation? If so, can you tell us anything how TAFA became involved?
We’re actually up to 44 countries now and I have made it a priority from the beginning to have an international focus. One of my goals has been to build a bridge between the ethnic textiles and the contemporary ones. We all face technological challenges and it’s even more difficult for those who don’t have an infrastructure in place to sell their products effectively. For example , PayPal is not active in most African countries and many postal systems are unreliable and a mess. So, many places need intermediaries who can speak up for them or help them access those tools. The world economy has changed dramatically in the last ten years and the United States is no longer a stable economy that can support the arts like it used to. As other emerging economies begin to have more disposable income, they also begin to show an interest in the handmade lifestyle. So, for me. it’s not only about giving the Guatemalan weaver a shared platform with the weaver in Santa Fe, but it’s also about giving the New York quilter a possible audience in Russia or Japan. We’re not there yet, but it’s something to think about and watch.
#11-You have seen this organization grow in a relatively short time to include many members, including nationally recognized fiber artists. Does this growth level meet your expectations?
I feel very proud of what has been done so far, but I long for the day when it will truly become an organization. Several members help out with routine tasks which helps a lot, but we really need to reach the point where we have an actual staff with salaries and jobs.
# 12-What do you foresee in the future for TAFA ? Any long term goals?
My long term goal for TAFA is to get it to onto a stable financial footing, shape it’s organizational structure, and then spin it off to the members. It will be an S-corporation and members will be able to buy shares and own it. I intend to see it reach a point where we can truly provide services, technical, financial assistance, and fulfill our mission of helping our members to sell their products. I believe that this will take another five years to get there, but you never know! It could happen a lot faster! In my mind, I see a huge website with thousands of members, and then a core group that helps define the programming and needs of the larger membership. We don’t know where the world will be in 10 years. When you think about it, ten years ago we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or so many things we take for granted. So, we need to be flexible, be alert and and respond appropriately. I envision local hubs becoming active where members can support each other on a local level, having international conferences with business workshops, having traveling exhibits or a couple of brick and mortar retail store,or having our own online shopping venueand so on. It will be exciting to see how it grows, morphs, and becomes it’s own reality!
“I believe a work of art bears the stamp of individuality and the national bearing of its creator when it springs from inner self and is devoid of any pretensions. Being from India, a country with an extremely rich heritage of Art and Culture, I have always had a deep-rooted attachment to traditional art forms of India and owe some of my stylization to the captivating traditional patterns and the rich array of colors. Adapting to Western Styles and techniques, combining them with my lifelong fascination for ethnic arts around the world, have all been a melting pot for me to create a multicultural ‘canvas’. I got my BFA from the International University, Visva-Bharati at Shantiniketan in India founded by the poet, writer, painter, musician, educationist, philosopher, Nobel Laureate (Literature) Rabindranath Tagore. The education at this unique university, during my formative years as an artist, have had a profound influence on my life, mind and my creative abilities. In my everyday life, my escape, my retreat, is my creative power of Art. My work is indigenous to my inner self, and is a place of solitude, passion and contemplation for me. The final offering is the culmination of a series of wordless conversations between me and my artwork. The subject matter of my work is drawn from my own life experiences, trips, thoughts and surroundings. My art is like a journey for me through the passage of time honored techniques, traditions and influences in an endeavor to produce art for everyone to appreciate. I feel like my journey has just begun and I have a long way to go…” Boisali Biswas
“Botanical Colors is the online site for selling high quality, vibrant natural dyes and supplies. Natural dyes are the ancient textile colorants that were used by cultures all over the world before synthetic and petrochemical dyestuffs were developed in the mid-1800s. The colors are beautiful, rich and glowing and each color can be linked to a fascinating tale of discovery, ritual and use by different peoples throughout history. Every color in the natural dye palette has a story. Botanical Colors strives to offer the finest environmentally sound natural dyes for textiles, paper, wood and other natural materials. We have personally dyed thousands of pounds of fibers with natural dyes and continue to be excited and thrilled by the amazing beauty of these colorants. Every purchase of our natural dyes benefits a small producer or community and helps maintain a traditional way of life. Botanical Colors
“I am french, living in Marrakech since 2004 and I became an important wholesaler of carpets and rugs from Morocco ; I am specialized in the vintage berber rugs called boucherouite ( www.boucherouite.net) and the white carpets and wedding blankets ( BENI OUARAIN, AZILAL, HANDIRA ) ; I export all over the world to the trade and art galleries but also to private people.” Boucherouite Rag Rugs
“I’m an art quilter. My quilts are small to medium in size, perfect for interior decoration. I’m always interested in selling and exhibiting my works. I also have a few collections of bags, ornaments and textile jewelery. Yes, I’m open for commissions too.” Bozena Wojtaszek
Braid and Stitch
“Back in the 70′s, sewing was not really a lucrative venture then, and dress makers in Ghana really never made that much money which led me to focus more on schooling to become a Journalist. After moving to America I discovered that Art and creativity paid a lot here if you had the right market audience, but it actually took me a lot more years to follow my childhood dream. The current works on this website depict a lot of Africa. I love the vibrant colors of African fabrics and how they pop to the eye, most of my quilts tell a story, and a lot of my story’s represent my African heritage which I carry with me every where I go, I feel when a quilt does not tell a story no matter how simple it might be it really does not have value, since quilts of old were sentimental pieces. My quilts sing and dance a lot to the viewer, and have lots of character and dimension as well as a very unique look which are the differences my choices of fabric make. Beading and painting really accentuate my work. At Braid and Stitch we are open to make commissioned art quilts, specifically to fit a buyers description, dimensions and taste, no works are ever made the same in order to promote uniqueness in our work. In the near future there will be a wearable art line which will be in Ethnic vein.” Braid and Stitch
I have so enjoyed doing these posts each week. I get so inspired by color and design from the over 450 artists on the TAFA list…..and I’ve only been through 20 artists! And now, Rachel, our list mom and guiding light, has taken photos from us and set up a TAFA gift store on Zazzle. Gorgeous stuff!! More items going up all the time.
And now some more artists…..
“The mission of Zeni Design Studios is to create simple designs using luxurious and sometimes unexpected combinations of textiles that my customer will enjoy for many years to come. As a result, all of my designs have the customer in mind throughout the design and fabrication process. Environmental Commitment – In an ongoing desire to respect the environment, when available, organic, up-cycled, environmentally friendly and socially responsible materials are used. ” Zeni Design Studios
“The Yeiser Art Center, founded 1957, is a non-profit visual arts gallery located in the historic Market House in downtown Paducah, Kentucky. Exhibitions and events organized by the Yeiser are designed to serve citizens of and visitors to our region and feature quality works by established and emerging artists. Our permanent collection, exhibited periodically, is at the core of our educational mission to provide a variety of visual arts experiences to students of all ages.” Yeiser Art Center This is a must-visit for our trip east next summer!
“I’ve been tatting over 30 years, and designing and selling tatted jewelry since 2004. Magazine articles featuring my tatted jewelry have appeared in Bead&Button (April 2012) and Belle Armoire Jewelry (Winter 2009). I am the author of the book Tatted Jewelry published 2011 by Annie’s Attic, as well as 2 self-published books: Up and Tat ‘Em (2010) and Boutique Tatting (2008). I teach an online Shuttle Tatting course at http://www.craftsy.com/shuttletatting and hope to help many people learn to tat. ” Yarn Player
“Inese Liepina graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1980. Inese relished her years at SAIC and attempted to learn techniques in as many disciplines as possible. Majors were in fiber/fabrics and ceramic sculpture. Inese has explored glass blowing since 1991 while working as a fashion, textile, and interior designer. In the late 70’s SAIC emphasized originality along with an mentality of “breaking the rules” in art. This influence follows Inese in all her work, and she studied glassblowing technique only to learn how the rules can be broken to fit her ideas. ” Wrapture by Inese
“Like so many others, I was brave and comfortable with my creativity when I was younger, but misplaced that understanding as I became an adult. A diagnosis of cancer re-ignited my passion through a wonderful program called Art as Medicine, offered by the Cross Cancer Institute to patients, health care professionals, and their supporting friends and family. I once was a professional musician, and have re-discovered my love of singing through the vocal music program, but also my love of creating things with my hands. I am very involved now in building a cancer wellness and support facility called Wellspring Edmonton that will supplement our overburdened cancer care system, and where I hope to help others touched by cancer to express their feelings through arts-based programs. ” Wooly Boulevard
Enjoy! More next week……
It’s been a while since I’ve written about some of my daily go-to blogs. I’ve discovered a lot of new ones over the last year, both art-related and not, so here’s an update of blogs you don’t want to miss.
365 Project – aside from the fact that there are amazing photographs each week, the site has you start your own daily photo journal.
Elizabeth Barton writes a blog with tips, inspirations, art work, and wonderful pondering thoughts on your own art. If I could choose a mentor for a few months, it would be Elizabeth.
The Art Biz Blog is essential. Alyson Stanfield gives you spectacular advice for managing and promoting your art business. Start reading her if you aren’t already.
I love Larkin Van Horn. Not only does she create amazing work, but she likes using our fabrics! I had a chance to reconnect with her this past March at StashFest for the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum.
I follow the C&T Publishing blog for two reasons: I like to see what’s new….and they do giveaways, and one time I actually won! If you’re in the business, you need to keep up with trends,
Dale Anne Potter got me started last year on positivity and the Law of Attraction. She is a great artist, and she has been helping others achieve their dreams.
Vicki Welsh does some of the most amazing hand-dyes, with color gradations to dye for (pun intended)!
Generation Q Magazine just made it into print, after a year of online articles and features. Lots of potentially great stuff here!
Insights from SewCalGal is my go-to site this year for machine quilting. My skills have improved tremendously, I did a tutorial for Darlene, and there are great giveaways – fantastic site!!
And last, but certainly not least, the Textile and Fiber Art List, a group of over 300 artists from 30 countries. Amazing eye candy! Take a trip through blogs and Etsy stores for artists in everything “textile and fiber” you can imagine! A wealth of awesome information.
Sometime last week it occurred to me that since I write about my marketing on Mondays, I should probably do the bulk of it on Monday (duh). So I made my list this morning, and I’ve been working through it today. The original plan isn’t going to work totally, because I was working through the list and had to contact some people, and now I’m waiting for them to get back to me. So that means more follow-up in the course of the week.
And that’s fine. The list-making and working with specific time segments really is making me more productive. I think what it’s going to mean is taking a 30-minute block of time each day and just devote it to loose ends for marketing.
I finally figured out how to work with Tophatter, and the first auction will be this Saturday at noon. The Artweb application is almost complete and up on line…rather late, since we were accepted about 3 months ago, but we had the trip in the way, and it wasn’t until I made it a priority on my list that I actually was able to do it. I updated my TAFA page, and I need to plan some time each week to become more involved in that art community.
If you haven’t looked into the Textile and Fiber Art List, you are missing a real treat – over 400 textile and fiber artists from around the world, with amazing hand-made items. The website is new (the group has been in existence for a while, but the site got a cosmetic make-over last year), extremely visual, and downright yummy in fiber.
The big news marketing-wise is a giveaway this Friday on the SewCalGal site, with my first tutorial on quilting marbled fabric. This should increase traffic to the Facebook business page, the blog, and the Etsy store, and I am hoping for some good suggestions that people have on using marbled fabrics.
Some of you may be interested in this marketing post by Joanne Mattera about uses for your time.
From the blog: “On top of a full workload in the studio and often an outside job, some artists seem to feel—or are peer-pressured into thinking—that it’s their responsibility to ‘educate the public.’ I’m talking about providing talks or demonstrations in conjunction with an exhibition or open studio, or even creating events specifically for education.” Interesting and provocative.
Two weeks ago I did a marketing post about just getting in to the studio and making art….I’m pleased to say I have had an extremely productive two weeks! How about y’all?
It’s Monday, week four into retirement, and I’ve been getting lots of loose ends accomplished on the home front. But the biggest is starting to attack what I want to do in marketing the business. It’s probably a good thing I have been thinking on this, as I need to answer a very big question first – just what do I want to accomplish for Marble-T Design, as well as my personal art goals? I can’t really start marketing successfully and fruitfully until I make some of these decisions.
I have started a list of some potential galleries and shows I would like to enter, but I find myself asking “is that really the route I want to go?” I probably should have looked seriously at this a long time ago, but, hey, school got in the way. And since Marble-T Design is 17 years old and in a new phase, I should probably also consider what we’ve done in the past and what was successful.
We’ve actually been on line with our website since 1997. We were some of the earliest in e-commerce, without even realizing it. I went through a bunch of computer programs to get the original site up, starting with Pagemill. Eventually I realized I needed to turn the design over to a professional, and Saltwater Systems has handled that beautifully over the last seven years. And we had a much wider line of products available – close to 12 sampler packages. we did a lot more marbling in our large tray, as well as a lot more custom work.
So that’s part of the “thinking” I need to do. More large trays? More shows? More product? Classes and workshops again? Just where are we taking this business? I need to be honest in my thinking about the future. Marbling in the large tray is very tiring as we have gotten older, and with the price of cotton and carrageenan going up, prices will have to go up.
Whew…..that’s a lot of questions to answer. Once again, starting to write is helping me focus on the bigger picture. So I need to start….
What do I really want to do with my art and my business? I want to make art, no question about it. I would like to sell my art, whether it be on line or actually in some galleries. I think I am realizing I don’t want to do a lot of shows. I do have enough on my resume to show the work has been accepted, but I will probably only look at two or three a year. As for the actual business, I want to be able to bring in a certain amount of money each month to help with traveling during retirement. I’m starting with the idea of $500 additional a month, and moving from there.
That means looking seriously at outlets. Ebay has been steady, but I would like it to do more. So we need to marble more pieces and packages. I have sold a few pieces of fabric on Etsy, but this needs to be seriously marketed. We’ve been selling on Ebay for probably 7 years and we have a good steady family of customers, but I want it to generate more sales.
I haven’t really looked seriously at marketing my work on Etsy, and I think with the TAFA List, I can make a good start. So I think at this point a goal for this week is to list potential products for Etsy and read everything I can about Etsy and The Textile and Fiber Arts List.
The other big thing is we are a sponsor for The Sketchbook Challenge for July, and probably for a few months after that. This will drive more traffic to our website, The Art of Fabric. This means getting the site updated and ready for additional traffic in July. So also this week is spending time learning Dreamweaver to take care of a lot of small changes that will update the site.
Finish Dreamweaver class for making changes to my website
Make the changes to the website
Etsy products, increased Ebay ideas
Reading about Etsy selling and developing strategies
Reading through everything on The Textile and Fiber Arts List and developing concrete plans
I’m interested in the thoughts of those of you selling on line – favorite sites? Suggestions? Pitfalls?