January 29, 2011

TAFA Members on the Map!

All of our TAFA Team members belong to TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List.  We are an international organization of fiber artists and textile businesses.  Half of TAFA members have shops on Etsy, which you can visit by clicking on the tabs above. 

TAFA was launched on January 31st, 2010, so we are about to celebrate our first birthday!  During the last year, we have grown to 230 members, have communities on Etsy, Facebook and Flickr and focus on improving our businesses and finding ways to expand our markets.  Our members are passionate about what they do and we believe that we will become THE destination for people who love textiles and fiber art. 

TAFA members have just been mapped on google, providing a great tool to see where we are physically.  Click on the pins and you will see a link to their member profiles along with an image of their work.  Zoom in to clustered areas so that you can see individual pins.  It's a lot of fun! 

One of the things that struck me was how remote some of our members are located, far from even a small town.  One more illustration of how the web has become a powerful tool to allow people to live where they want to and still remain connected to communities and markets. 

Explore the world through TAFA!

Interested in joining TAFA?  Membership info here.

January 28, 2011

On the Road With TAMMACHAT: Cotton Weaving in Northern Thailand

Bantan weaver at her loom
Junhom Bantan is a Northern Thai weaving group that specializes in eco-friendly, natural dyes and handweaving. They weave with handspun cotton, as well as stronger, unbleached cotton yarns. TAMMACHAT Natural Textiles has been working with this group since 2007, building a fair trade relationship. On Christmas Day, 2011, we began a 2-day visit to the small villages where group members live and work. These cultural traditions are still alive and well, thanks to the efforts of Mai, the woman who acts as the group's manager,and whose mother started the group many years ago. A keen interest in natural fibres and natural dyes in Japan, as well as other countries, continues to provide a market for their eco-textiles.

See our photo essay about Junhom Bantan.

Ellen Agger, TAMMACHAT Natural Textiles

January 26, 2011

New Treasury for our ETSY community- Created by Berniolie

?Are we getting ready for spring

January 23, 2011

Pursuing Perfect: Resources for Crafting a Better Business

 Kilim Pillow  $98

by Jess Wrobel
Also published in her blog, Peck

I don’t want to say that I’m a perfectionist, but the moniker seems to apply.  This isn’t to say that I’m perfect by any means (please don’t tell my husband).  Nor does it apply to such areas of my life as housework or errand running.  I’m not real picky about whether or not my socks match, either.  But if I’m making a birthday cake, I’ll make two so that there’s a backup if one fails.  Dinner menus take into account every single guest’s food preferences and allergies, usually assuring that I make several meals for one sitting.  And, certainly, when it comes to my textiles and fibers, I return endlessly to a piece reassessing, adjusting, and even redoing.  Sound familiar to anyone?

As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, there are so many new hats I’ve taken to wearing since I’ve returned to the world of fiber.  In addition to craftsperson in residence, I’m now a photographer and graphic artist.  And it pains me to say it, but I spent many, many hours the other day studying html code trying to be a stellar web designer, too.  Can I make my web site better?  Can I simplify the buying platform?  Can I improve the user’s shopping experience?  Ha!  I’m not sure where this craziness comes from.  But in the end, let’s admit it, it is all about finding success as an artisan in business.  As I traveled to the far corners of the internet that day, I came across some resources and websites that many of you may find useful, too, so I’ve compiled a list of some of the best and or most promising I came across.  I haven’t used them all, yet, but I am excited to do so.  And I’m pretty sure all of them are free.

For Everyone:
Hands down, the best resource for publicity I’ve come across thus far is Craftgawker.com.  This site is a cornucopia of eye candy for the creatively minded.  Not only will you be inspired by all the stunning shots of handmade goods, but if you submit (and they accept) a photo from your own blog, it is web traffic pay dirt.  Every time I’ve had a pic posted, the site visits to my blog have gone through the roof (if your curious, Jwrobel on CG).  Beyond that, browsing through all the featured photos provides a gold mine of blogs to shop through.  Look, see who suits, and SUBMIT, PITCH AN IDEA, OR OFFER TO WRITE SOMETHING for these blogs.  Free editorial publicity is the best!  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Even so, you may find one or two blogs that you feel are worth advertising on.

And it gets better:  Sister to sites to CG are dwellinggawker.com, foodgawker.com, and weddinggawker.com.  Depending on what you do and make, these may all prove to be additional venues to expose yourself on—properly, of course.;)
Jenna Coray’s Modish Biz Tips, while no longer updated, still offers an archived wealth of business to-do’s and to-don’ts.  Get your coffee and peruse.

If you’re geekier and/or have more patience, check out 2Createawebsite.com:  Website Tutorial Creation for Beginners.  Here, you will find all the tools you need to customize your blog or website to best draw a crowd.  And don’t worry about the geeky bit.  I’m positive that the only reason I can manage some basic html is because I’ve had to rip out and save lace knitting for too many times in my day.  It is all about being able to look at something and identify patterns.  Really, it’s not that scary and once you get the hang of it, it’s rather heady empowering stuff.

Facebook goes without saying.  If you’re not doing it, do it.  If you find it intimidating, get a kid to set you up.  That’s what I did (no pride here).  And from there it is easy.  Maintaining the thing is as easy as gaining weight while eating pie.

Victorian Tear Drop Purse  $55

For Etsy Folk:

This little diddy, the Craftcult Treasury Widget, will help you make a customizable widget of a treaury to use on your website or blog that is fully linkable.  It is more than just a screen shot, it actually clicks back to all the items featured.  I took this quote from Etsy’s app page to explain it best, “That means you can also use the Treasury widget to feature your own items, or any collection of items you’d like to share with your blog readers. You just go make a Treasury list, then go to Craft Cult & make a snapshot widget, then delete the list from the Treasury if you want to – you still have the widget!”

Along those lines, Craftcult.com is at it again with their Pocket Shop Widget.  Etsy minis are fab, but they can also be limiting.  CraftCult’s widget is the only that I’ve found that will let you make a mini storefront that is specific for a particular Section of your shop.  This is huge.  If you’ve been waiting for this, you know why.

I have  to say CraftCult.com has some great and easy to use tools.  One of my favorites allows you to search through the archive of front page treasuries by  shop name.  I encourage you to take a good look through all of their easily navigable site.  Go there.

EtsyCatalog.com allows you to “Create an [editable] PDF catalog with all the listings in your shop, use your PDF catalog at trade shows, craft fairs, in emails and with your newsletter to increase sales at your Etsy shop!”

All in all:
Most importantly, make sure to make time for marketing, publicity, and promoting.  I’ve heard too many times that people just don’t have time for this.  Frankly, that’s ridiculous.  If you don’t have time to market yourself, you don’t have time to be in business.  Go take a nap.  But if you are serious, schedule it in.  Whether it is daily, weekly, or what.  Make it a priority.

There is so much out there to look at, investigate, and the like.  Twitter is on my list of deeds to do…  But there is more, always more.  I’d love to hear what other people are doing, and I will certainly update with any new goodies I come across.

January 22, 2011

There's No App for That.

Ah, the wonders of technology!
They've invented a computer that can answer the questions on Jeopardy faster and more accurately than any of its contestants.  It makes one question whether, eventually, there will be anything machines can't do.

But of course, there will.  Machines will never be able to impart to objects the peculiar beauty bestowed by the human touch.  There's an alchemy of sorts that occurs as an idea travels the distance from mind to fingertips, creating beauty where before there were only raw materials.  The imperfection in a handcrafted work is the thing that differentiates it from every other such object on the planet, and for this reason the hand will never be replaced.

There must be a hunger 
for that imperfection in the world --
witness the meteoric rise of Etsy, a site where millions of people spend untold hours buying, selling, and celebrating the work of human hands every day.

And no wonder.  After all, we could easily have learned the intrinsic value of imperfection merely by looking around us.  Because nature does not bestow its beauties with machine-like precision, but rather with a staggered hand, each bud unfolding at an unmeasured pace, each song unrehearsed. 

It's simple, really. You have the tools.  

Susan M. Hinckley
Small Works in Wool

January 21, 2011

Let's get together and feel all right

Vitrina- A cooperative artist's shop

Sometimes dreams come true. Than they are no dreams anymore and one has to work hard to make them live. The long way to get together and feel all right!
In October, I wrote a post about cooperation and my wish to create a cooperative of artists where I live.
On March 1st I am going to join VITRINA, a cooperative shop that will include eight artists; two ceramic artists, one fashion designer, two jewelers (including me), one soft recycled material artist and one who does great items for children. Another participant will curate and purchase items of artists outside the group.
Sharing expenses and working hours
This shop has been working for the last two years but is going to go through a dramatic change when doubling the number of participants at the beginning of March.
The basic idea of this cooperative is to share expenses such as  rent, advertisement, accounting, packaging as well as working hours at the shop. No incomes are shared.
The group gets together once a week in order to get to an approved agreement we are going to sign, share the shop's space between the artists, redecorate the shop and create display facilities for the changing needs and to get to know each other.
We are all very excited about this experience and believe our dream has come true.
Communicating in order to make a dream come true

Wish us luck!

January 20, 2011


I came across this video on another blog. She says exquisitely why I do what I do. She seems to be a spinner/weaver/knitter, but I think it applies to all the fiber arts or anyone who works with their hands. Enjoy.

January 19, 2011

Cooking Lesson.

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled.  
The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over 
and let the beautiful stuff out." 
  --Ray Bradbury

 The question is, what have you put in your cup today?

What words?

What images?


What sounds?

Perhaps we can tell whether we've got the recipe right 
by what comes out.

(Remember to always use quality ingredients.)

January 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Dear Rachel

Gongratulations Rache Biel

Rachel is the mother, heart, soul and brains behind our TAFA team. Without her none of us was part of this amazing colorful human kaleidoscope that is TAFA.
Thank you Rachel for being full of enthusiasm, for always being there for us and for sharing knowledge you have with anybody who needs it! People like you are the ones who turn the cyber world into a community and we thank you for that!
Happy Birthday!

January 14, 2011

Textiles are my Valentine-ETSY Treasury by Inkyspider

One more beautiful ETSY treasury promoting TAFA members

January 13, 2011

Beautiful Fiber Art- From Around the World by LILOU

Featuring TAFA members on ETSY

January 12, 2011

Photography Tip for Online Sellers

So many of us are using Etsy or similar sites to sell our goods. If you read any advice on marketing your goods, the very first and most critical thing is to take good photos. You can learn a lot by just looking at sites that have appealing ways of photographing and displaying their goods. 

I've learned a lot by reading the blog by Tim Adam called Handmadeology. Tim is devoted to finding and sharing great advice on how to use Etsy effectively to market your goods. Tim posted a fantastic free app called FotoFuze .

Okay, so now there's really no excuse not to have great photos! I'm going to rework a bunch of mine. It looks like it will work mainly for those photographing smaller objects both 2D and 3D. There is a neat way to take 360 degree photos using a lazy susan - very cool.
I recommend his blog and check out his archives for everything Etsy.

Valerie Hearder - African Threads

We Stripe lovers- An ETSY Treasury by Hagar

.ETSY TAFA team new treasury featuring members of the group

January 11, 2011

New Team Member Treasury: Dreamkaravan

Welcome to Dreamkaravan, one of our new TAFA members!  She hails from France and did this beautiful treasury in honor of our TAFA Team.  Go visit the treasury, leave a comment, explore the shops, and make sure to visit her shop as well!

January 8, 2011

TAFA Team Treasury: New Year Fun by cindyrquilts

Visit this treasury by cindyrquilts and leave a comment, click away!
It's a beauty and we're having fun!

January 3, 2011

A Happy New Year TAFA! ETSY Treasury by Hagar Arnon Elbaz-Gilgulim

 Click to visit and leave a comment!

Thank you and a Happy New Year Treasury
from Hagar Arnon Elbaz-Gilgulim