June 26, 2011

Appreciation Crumbs

Sometimes as an artist it is hard to know
whether you are really reaching your audience.

Long days spent isolated in the studio can translate into all kinds of self-doubt:

Will anyone understand what I'm trying to say?

Is what I'm doing worthwhile?

Would anyone ever want to buy this?


That's why I try to leave feedback for people when I come in contact with their work. I know that when I do shows, the people who take the time to sign my book or leave a comment value what I do, even if they can't afford to take it home and/or have no space in their lives for a long-term relationship.

Which I understand because I'm also poor and my walls are full.

But art nourishes my soul
so I am careful to take 
the time to say "thank you."

Just leave a comment when you see something you like, or something that you feel the artist should continue to explore. One of the most helpful comments I ever received was from a woman who told me a particular piece "had legs." I knew I had an idea that meant something and so I worked on pushing that idea as far as it could go. (And the woman has become a very supportive friend and collector.)

It only takes a second to mark a "favorite" on an Etsy shop, or say "well done, and I especially liked that --" on a blog post.

It's the least we can do for our like-minded art loving friends who spend so much time and energy putting beauty into the world.

Just leave a little trail of appreciation crumbs as you make your way around the web -- it's sure to lead someone back to your own world and work, and you may find a kindred spirit (or even an occasional sale?!)

At the very least, you'll be giving an artist
the encouragement they need to keep on creating.

Susan M. Hinckley
Small Works in Wool

June 23, 2011

TAFA Team Etsy Pick of the Week: Oversized Boho Tote

I'm totally obsessed with the bags from Dazzling Lanna!  Using vintage textiles from India and Northern Thailand, two friends based in Thailand and Switzerland, have created the most amazing handbags.  Hmmm...my birthday IS coming up, maybe I should get myself a little something!  They're also having a 10% off sale through the end of June.

Boho Tote by Dazzling Lanna
You can read more about them and see more of their bags by visiting them on the TAFA List, on their blog, on their website, and on their Etsy site

*Etsy Pick of the Week feature by Stacey Sharman from Peppermint Pinwheels.  Every Thursday, we will post one item from a TAFA Team affiliated Etsy store. In choosing a Team member photo, we will be looking for beautiful, Etsy Front Page worthy photos.

June 16, 2011

TAFA Team Etsy Pick of the Week: Red and White Handwoven Tea Towel

Something about summer makes me think of red gingham.  Well, I think about red gingham quite a lot actually.  But seeing this red and white handwoven tea towel  by Thistle and Rose Handweaving out of Centerville, Utah, I think SUMMER TIME!  (Can you tell that I'm very excited that it finally looks and feels like summer out here in N. California?)  Martha Witcher, the creative force behind Thistle and Rose is a self-taught weaver and her Etsy shop is filled with beautiful utilitarian handwoven pieces for the home.

You can read more about her and see more of her work by visiting her on the TAFA List, on her blog, and on her Etsy site

*Etsy Pick of the Week feature by Stacey Sharman from Peppermint Pinwheels.  Every Thursday, we will post one item from a TAFA Team affiliated Etsy store. In choosing a Team member photo, we will be looking for beautiful, Etsy Front Page worthy photos.

June 15, 2011


Spring Into Action-Get Inspired!

Spring has come late to Oregon this year, where I live. It’s been a wetter and colder than usual winter. But the garden is starting to awaken from the long winter. And are we too. People are outside now, walking the dog, in the park with the kids & mowing the grass..

What does this have to do with fiber art you may ask? Inspiration of course! Even if landscapes or flowers aren’t the subject matter of items you make or sell, we need to awaken, just like the little plants need to waken after a long cold winter.

Spring has the power to stir us to more activity, to get us up and moving and doing. Now that has a big impact on our work, from creating more products, to working harder than ever to make your shop or website better & more productive. To try to implement all those great suggestions for new improvements & methods to sell yourself and your work more effectively.

Contrary to the old movie line, “If you build it, they will come", nope just not true. We’ve got to make it happen, make ourselves known, improve our business, market more effectively.. then they’ll come. Hard work, but wonderful, beautiful, renewing, spring gets us up off those couches and ready for action! So enjoy a little of what spring offers us and be inspired to be better than ever!

If you'd like to see more, check out my this post on my blog "A Walk In the Spring Garden" at

June 14, 2011

I'll Give You Fifteen Good Reasons.

You don't have to think 
very hard at all 
to come up with 15 good reasons 
to buy handmade:

1.  You're helping the economy.  Most craftspeople are small business owners who can really use your support.  And if you buy at a local show, you're keeping the money close to home.

2.  It's good for the environment.  Many hand-produced goods are made using green methods and/or materials.  And there's no impact from fuel burned in shipping long distances.

3.  There's a human connection.  The kind you won't find at Walmart. It's a very different feeling when you pick up something that was made with care by a pair of human hands.  

4.  The item tells a story.  Either in the item itself or in the hands that created it, there's often more than meets the eye.

5.  It's personal.  An item that you've picked specifically for someone, or had created just for them, is a more intimate gift than a gift card can ever be.

6.  It's unique.  No two hand-crafted items can ever be exactly alike.  That's the point of handmade!

7.  It can be inspiring.  Seeing a well-crafted object might inspire you to look at your own scrap bag/wood pile/free time in new and exciting ways.

8.  You're helping someone else.  Buying handmade gives an artist the opportunity to continue doing the work they love, and helps them make a living using their skills.

9.  You spread the word.  Buying and giving handmade is a great way to spread the gospel of hand-crafted.  

10.  There's a potential heirloom. When you commission a piece to commemorate a specific occasion, a handmade item will carry the story you want to tell down through the generations.

11.  It's interesting.  In addition to enjoying your hand-crafted object, there's always plenty to learn about the person who made it, and the materials and techniques that were used in its creation.

12.  It's fun.  Shopping at craft fairs or browsing online is a great way to fill your hours with eye candy.

13.  Your item is well-crafted.  The kinds of people who create beautiful objects are the kinds of people who derive joy from the process.  Your item is likely to be made to last.

14.  It'll give you a good feeling.  For all the reasons listed above and many more, you'll feel good when you buy and give handmade.  It's the right thing to do.

15.  It's easy!  Etsy makes it easy to find thousands of hand-crafted items from the comfort of your own home.  Never before in history has there been such easy access to all-things-handmade . . . 

What are you waiting for?!

June 10, 2011

Curating your interests: Scoop It and Pinterest

One of the reasons we come together as a group, as we do in our TAFA Team, for example, is that there is more potential for being found when you are part of something larger than yourself.  As Etsy sellers, we wear many hats:  we have to make or buy whatever we sell, photograph it, load it up to our shops, and then engage in the time consuming job of getting the word out, marketing in to the world in the hopes that it will sell.

Once it sells, we have to pack it, ship it, leave feedback, and keep records.  Some of it fun, some of it quite tedious.

Of these, the most daunting to many of us it the marketing angle.  Etsy has successfully built in several community stragies, Teams being one of them, but the most popular are the Treasuries, curated images by Etsy members.  Normally, one picks a theme and then fills it up with items that go with that theme.  It might be an activity, a place, a color or a mood.  

This treasury was made by one of our team members awhile ago, using red as the theme:

If the treasury is breathtakingly beautiful, it might make it to the front page on Etsy where there would be more chances of selling the items that are shown on the treasury.

This concept has become so well-liked that there are many websites now based solely on the idea of curating content that has already been published.  I'll give two examples here:  Scoop It and Pinterest, both which are still in beta.  You need to request access in order to set up an account.

Most of us have had a bulletin board where we pin ideas or things we want to keep track of.  This is the idea behind Pinterest.  Create boards of specific interests and pin content to the boards.  See something you like on someone else's board?  You can bring it over to your board and pin it there, too.  Visually dynamic, great images might get re-pinned (and seen with their links) over and over again.  

I did a test using the keyword textile to see what would pop up:

Screen Print of Pinterest

Do you see that stack of textiles, smack in the middle?  That is one of TAFA's members, The Loaded Trunk.  Pinned images and text are also tagged so that keywords can be searched.  Pinterest encourages people to pin things that are not necessarily self-promoting.  Potential uses might be inspiration for future projects, designers use it to keep track of looks they like or potential sources they may use in the future, etc.

The concept here is to let the site crawl the web for relevant information for your topic.  You can create as many as you want, and then enter key words and you can select what you like to add it to your topic.  It ends up looking like news articles.  I tested it with three topics, funding for creative entrepreneurs, folklore in Brazil, and TAFA Art Quilts.  All brought up interesting links.  Here is what the Art Quilt topic looks like:

Scoop It Screen Print

You can also add widgets of your topics on to your blogs and sites:

I did a search using TAFA quilt as the tag.  I thought it was interesting that members who have TAFA on their blogs, popped up as results.  All their posts would pop up and one could pick the best ones to include them in the selection.  And, Scoop It has a gadget that you can install on your search bar so that when you see something online, you can post it immediately to your topic of choice.  I couldn't get the gadget to work on my computer, but I found that if it was saved as a bookmark, it works from there.  I can see all kinds of applications for this.  Basically, it can be a bookmarker for one's interests that can also be shared with the public.  

Scoop It allows you to connect with others on the site.  You can sign in using facebook on both Scoop It and Pinterest, thus transferring the connections you have there over to your new hub.

There are many other sites like this, that use the curating model to build and share content in new ways.  They all have great potential.  For me, the issue is TIME.  Who has time to run around and really use any of these tools, along with all the other social media sites that already demand so much?  And, even remembering all of them and what they do can seem daunting at times.

Like anything else, I think that it helps to explore these sites, see how they operate and if you like it, spend some time on it.  Then, make a part of your day or week dedicated to keeping up on the ones that you think will really benefit your business.  I, for example, have chosen not to make Twitter a priority in my life.  I prefer facebook.  So, I am there with automatic posts that are synched to it, but do not invest in building it.  We each have to choose which tools work best for us.  But, within each of these hubs, look for the community you already have to make that time worthwhile for you.

If you are active in two or three places and do your networking there, your community will help make you more visible.  That is why we stick together.  That is why we have a TAFA Team.

Have you tried in curating sites?  What is your experience?  Share some of your thoughts on this so that we can all learn and benefit from your insights.

June 8, 2011

TAFA Team Etsy Pick of the Week: Dupioni Silk Mini Quilt

This week's Etsy pick is from Victoria Gertenbach of Silly BooDilly out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Her work is heavily influenced by the area in which she lives (check out her beautiful photo blog called Worn and Weathered) and antique work quilts of Japan (Boro).  In some of her most recent work (already sold!), she uses fabric to mimic the weathered look of the paint of an old barn.  Genius!

Dupioni Silk Quilt by Silly BooDilly

You can read more about her and see more of her work by visiting her on the TAFA List, on her blog, and on her Etsy site

*Etsy Pick of the Week feature by Stacey Sharman from Peppermint Pinwheels.  Every Thursday, we will post one item from a TAFA Team affiliated Etsy store. In choosing a Team member photo, we will be looking for beautiful, Etsy Front Page worthy photos.

June 7, 2011

Fabric Painting: Something Different To Try

Fun with fabric paints- posted by AsianArtAndQuilts

I’m sure there are a lot of art quilters on TAFA who use fabric painting as part of their process in making an art quilt. I love silk painting for many of mine.

I’m sure we’ve all tried many brands of paint and have our favorites, I generally use Pebeo Setacolor, I like the thickness of it and there is always their Thickener if I want more concise control.
One inconvenience is the how most fabric paints bleed onto the surrounding area of dry fabric. I know gutta resists are designed to contain that bleeding paint problem. But when I want to paint, well, I want to do just that, paint & now! I’m far too lazy and impatient to have to carefully apply lines of gutta.
Now a lot of you wonderful artists, who do such a beautiful job using the gutta resists, don’t be offended by my rash statement. Please feel free to school me on the fine points of this method.

But I just read about a product, that I can’t wait to try. It’s called Daler-Rowney FW Acrylic Water-Resistant Artists Ink. It is applied like fabric paint, but it doesn’t bleed into the surrounding dry fabric. Yet if applied to wet fabric it will blend, allowing shading and so forth. It can also be used to create those beautiful watercolor effects if diluted.

There are plenty of colors to choose from, 38 in all. They are intermixable. I’m assuming the colors right out of the bottle will be very vibrant.

Yet, when you want to create subtler colors and varying tones, you can acheive those by diluting the paint to the degree you want. They can be diluted as much as needed, to create lighter colors & a consistency more like a watercolor. You can do washes with them, as you would with watercolor, and add additional layers of color.

You heat set with your iron. They claim to have a high degree of colorfastness, and are more like the nature of a dye, with little effect on the hand of the fabric.

I’ve ordered some and can’t wait til they arrive. I’m itching to “play” with them, and see if they’re as good as they sound. I’ll let you know how they work out. If anyone out there has had any experience with these, please share your thoughts, tips, impressions with us. I’m really curious to find out what other artists think of this product.
You can read the entire article on my blog http://asianartandquilts.com/