Cool Project

I just came back from a meeting with 2 really cool women who have a great idea for a project. I can’t tell you much, but it involves fiber and the great outdoors. I’m incredibly excited to be working with these women and I’m hopeful that we can pick up some interest from the other great women I know.

I will be documenting my process – just in case anyone is interested after the fact. I always find it fascinating to see other artists’ process. How they come up with ideas, how they work to make them happen, as well as the finished product.

I’m so excited!

Edited to add:
I was awake at 3:00 this morning thinking about embellishments to add to my project. I had to get out of bed to make a drawing and jot down everything I was thinking!

Erica/Jillian Yarn

My friend Erica makes the best yarn. She has a great color sense and blends colors on the fly. She puts things together that I never would, and they look fabulous. My friend Jillian set out to do what Erica does. She watched Erica spin and watched how she put colors together and figured out a way to explain it to me so I could do it too.

I have a stash of fiber that’s so special to me that I can’t bring myself to spin it. It’s called the Box of Love ™. I knew that to try this technique, I had to spin something I really, really loved – so into the BoL I went. My friend Lynne Vogel doesn’t dye too much anymore, so her braids are almost sacred. They make gorgeous yarn, but they’re so precious that I’ve had a hard time parting with them. I had 3 oz each of Blue Jean Baby and an unnamed green colorway in 75% BFL and 25% tussah silk – dreamy. I knew these were the ones.

Lynne Vogel Ltd – Blue Jean Baby

Lynne Vogel Ltd – unnamed greens

You pick 2 colorways that have at least one color in common. It’s kind of hard to see (because my camera is dying) but there’s an ice blue that is common to both of these. Then the trick is to strip the top down and hold a piece of each colorway while spinning. I spun a pretty thin single, knowing that I would ply it. The picture of the single below is blurry, but you get a good idea of the way the colors blend together almost giving a barber pole effect in a single.

Blurry single still on the bobbin

When you ply the 2 singles together the colors blend and swirl like an Impressionist painting (gorgeous even though I say it myself).

2-ply in the skein after washing

end weight: 5.9 oz
wpi: 12
fiber: 75% blue faced leicester/25% tussah silk

Art in the Park

I’ve done this show since its beginning. My friend Kate Kehoe organizes it and the table fee is basically a fund raiser for the senior center where the show is held. She does one in the fall and one in the spring. Every show I wait and wait to see if I want to spend the table fee to get myself in. Every time I miss the deadline and Kate drops me an e-mail, “Are you interested? You’ve got a table if you want one!” So I send in my table fee. My proceeds from the spring show barely covered the table fee and gas to get over there (it’s about 40 minutes from my house). 

With a sense of impending doom this morning, I got the girls up, we packed the car, and drove over there. We were an hour early – for some reason I thought it started at 10! We drank some bad hot chocolate and ate some bad donuts and muffins to kill a little time before we could set up. I was annoyed and irritated at every little thing and I think it was because we had done all this work and I wasn’t expecting anything from the show. I always say, “even if it’s a bad show, I get to spin for a whole day, uninterrupted and that’s good enough”. But if I’m honest with myself, it’s not enough. The time spent to dye and package all my wares, hauling it all over and setting up a booth in addition to smiling and being pleasant for an entire day is kind of a lot of work. Pleasant isn’t really my nature and I’m quite solitary so making small talk (with other vendors as well as customers) is hard for me. 

Turns out, it was worth it. I took Erica’s advice and made sure to greet everyone and actually talk to them. I looked for something to compliment (great sweaters, cool boots, interesting necklace), asked if they were knitters and/or spinners, told them they couldn’t just look – they had to touch, etc. It was fun – if I can make a sort of game out of it I enjoy it a lot more. Now, while my fellow vendors were my best customers, I did manage to sell a couple of skeins of handspun and that ALWAYS makes me happy. I managed to make back the booth fee, buy a tank of gas, and have $$ left over!

I do like doing this show. It’s in a very supportive neighborhood, my sister always brings me a latte, and the other vendors are amazing. However, this is one of the shows that I have to think about really hard for 2012. Is it really worth my time and effort if I’m aiming to do larger shows? I love supporting Kate and the seniors, but how valuable is it for me?

Fiber Shows

I’ve been doing a couple of small shows for the last couple of years. I didn’t start dyeing because I’d make a lot of money. I started dyeing because I love the colors, so small shows have suited me fine. As long as I made my costs back, I was happy.

 This last August I did what was recommended as a good show. It wasn’t. Something good did come out of it, however. It was a multi-day show and I asked a friend to come and booth sit with me. She’s a graphic artist and works in marketing. As the show was slow, we had a lot of time to chat. She gave me tons to think about regarding future shows, marketing, what my booth looks like, and how I react to customers.

 Here’s the tip of the iceberg of what I need ASAP:

  1. Signage (seriously – I have no signs) 
  2. Table coverings that match (and don’t look like I got them from a flea market) 
  3. A booth layout (a designed plan for a 10×10 space) 
  4. A show plan that includes how many and which shows I want to do 
  5. An inventory plan (including fiber bases and colorways) 

 Future needs include:

  1. A long term business plan 
  2. New camera to take better pictures 

Some of these things will be easy (and even fun) to do. Others will require some soul searching and hard work. I think I’m ready for it. Nothing makes me happier than splashing dye, except maybe when people come to my booth especially to show me what they’ve made from the fiber they bought last time. That’s great fun!

(Is anyone else having trouble with Blogger these days? It’s being very wonky and not letting me format on a consistent basis.)

ATC #02

Lisa and I played for several hours with our inaugural ATCs. (Of course, I also had to check out her studio and while she mostly loves making art at her dining room table, she also has a way cool nook in her well-lit basement.)

This was my second attempt. I choose another ATC that I had put gesso on thickly and swirled with the paint brush.

Layer 2: I used 4 different watercolor crayons to lay on color, mixing some (orange and red in the lower right) and leaving others alone (yellow in the upper left). There’s a green border around the outside of the card.

The beautiful thing about watercolor crayons is – when you add water, they bleed and blend and swirl together in the most amazing way. If you use just a little water, you get great control. More water and they tend to run together in really beautiful ways.

Layer 3: I had some green gems with silver borders. So I put those on the card and began to draw around them with the acrylic paint. The edges were too harsh – the marker tips didn’t lend themselves to blending at all. So I colored over those with a lighter green watercolor pencil. I didn’t wet that part because it softened up the acrylic paint and I was afraid water would wash off the fuzziness.

This one is definitely not finished yet. I’m not sure where it’s going to go, but it’s looking for something to go into one of the corners without the gems. I’ll show it again when it’s finished.

ATC #01

I went to my friend’s house and she was so interested in the artists’ trading cards, that’s all we worked on. Here is my first:

Please excuse the slight fuzziness of the photo. Our digital camera is on its last legs and the screen was all wonky when I went to take the picture. I think I need to add something for scale as well, but there it is.

I’m not exactly sure it’s finished, but it’s finished for now.

1. Layer 1: cover ATC with gesso and create some sort of texture (I think I just put on a lot of the gesso and swirled it with the paint brush)

2. Layer 2: cover the gesso with acrylic paint in marker form. (I used several different colors in random shapes and sizes. I wanted something that would just be background – then I covered that background with a green acrylic.)

3. Layer 3: tear small rectangular pieces from green cardstock, create a tree trunk with brown, create a sun with orange. I used cardstock that had a white core because I wanted the white to show through and I tore the paper so that it did. I poured out a big splotch of white glue and kind of dredged the paper through the glue before adding it to the ATC.

When it was all dry, I took some sand paper to the whole thing. It distressed the tree trunk beautifully and scraped off some of the acrylic as well. I do like the way it turned out, but there may still be something I need to add after I live with it a while.

Daily Creativity

I’ve been thinking a lot about doing something daily to just be creative – to play, really. I have tons of supplies from my scrapbooking days and have been looking at Artist Trading Cards. This is a form of art that’s about the size of a baseball card, but is personally created. The scale is tiny (2.5 x 3.5), so doing one every day is completely within my scope. The problem for me is … getting started. I have the cards, I have tons of materials, I just can’t sit down and DO it.

On Friday, I took my girls out for dinner and just as we were sitting down, a co-worker hailed me from another table. I saw him and immediately started looking for his wife, who’s a collage artist. We’ve been trying to get together for months now for her to give me a tutorial on collage. She said, “Geez, we need to schedule some time. Next weekend is bad and the weekend after that is bad too!”

I said, “Then it’s Thanksgiving!”

She looked at her husband and then at me and said, “What about Sunday?”

He nodded his head and I said, “I’ll be in town for brunch at another friend’s house – Sunday afternoon will work!”

So, I’m busy gathering my supplies and creating an artist box to take with me so she can show me her techniques. I have something like 40 blank cards in my hands right now and I ordered a couple dozen more. You can get them at local craft places, but I’ve also ordered some from Dick Blick. I think it’s reasonable to do one every day and see where it all goes.

I’ve put some Gesso on 10 cards and I’m hoping they’ll be dry before I leave tomorrow. I’ll take those as well as some that haven’t been treated with anything. In my artist box is paper, some Mod Podge, and some other odds and ends that may be useful. I can’t wait to get started!