Archive for the ‘business of craft’ Category

I came across this video a while back on the Quilt Art mailing list and, for some reason, neglected to share it on the blog.

Elizabeth Gilbert approaches the idea of genius from a refreshingly new slant. While I’m not sure that I agree with the idea that Genius is a disembodied gremlin living in my fabric cupboard, I will freely admit that I appreciate the need to release genius from the artist’s self and allow for work without brilliance. My theory is more that the consistent work and striving towards betterment allows for the incredible coincidence of genius to happy. Basically, quantity with deliberate attention allows for quality.

My favourite part is probably right at the very end…… “I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job.”   Brilliant.


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Some time ago I promised to try out the effect of pyrotechnics on textiles. My intention was to grab a few samples of my work and set them ablaze. Since then, I’ve wussed out repeatedly on burning up things I’ve made. I couldn’t even come up with a “hit list” of designated ignition targets. It has become apparent to me, however, that I really ought to just bite the bullet and do this as the information/satisfaction/notoriety would be worth it in the end.

The purpose of setting my quilts/textile art ablaze is to do the following:

  • check to see how close my work is to passing Health Canada’s standards
  • come to some sort of understands of exactly how flammable my house is, given the number of quilts, wall hangings and piles of fabric therein
  • have a blast torching the heck out of things
  • make the neighbours seriously question their choice of neighbourhood
  • scare the dogs
  • thrill the kid
  • get rid of some old duds of projects that I won’t allow to be sold, yet cannot throw out. At least this way they could serve a purpose.

So I’m accumulating a nice collection of stuff. As soon as I get a clear day with minimal wind, I’ll have a go at it. Thus far it is my intention to burn the following (plus some basic pieces of cotton fabric and cotton batting, some with stabiliser, some without, some with fusible, some without, etc.):

burn-bergs.jpg burn-sunrise.jpg

Here’s your chance. If there’s anything burn-wise and quilt/artquilt-related about which you are curious, let me know and, if possible, I’ll char something for you personally. I’ll post the results, too. I can’t say that I’ll mail you the item afterwards, you understand. I’m not sure what Canada Post would say. But I will happily do such things as test the relative ignition properties of cotton versus wool batting or how quickly flame spreads on cotton versus poly-cotton thread, if you like.

It’ll probably be a week or so before I get to this. I’m thinking that this is another one of those things (like dealing with 220 electrical outlets or changing light bulbs on a ladder balanced halfway up the stairs) that I probably should do when another adult is around to put out flames and provide emergency hospital transport. So it’ll be the weekend, at least.

Taking requests……

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing markedly less of the studio hands-on portion of my job and a great deal more of the paperwork, proposals and organisation aspect. This is normally not the part of my job that I prefer, but recently I’ve been taking a rather strange pleasure in it. Most artists and craftspeople are creative first and business-wise second and I’m really no different than the rest in this regard. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred I’d rather dye fabric than do taxes; working through the creative process on a new piece or series usually seems far more appealing than does revising my contact lists, promotional literature and business plan. Lately, though, I find myself drawn more to the database and spreadsheets than the design wall, so I’m going with it.

February is never a good time of year for me personally and I suspect that winter is hard on many artistic types, especially those who get their inspiration from landscape, light and the outdoors. Simply getting the energy to do anything can be a bit of a trick, which is why I’ve been allowing myself to switch gears and do paperwork for a change.

The book-keeping and proposals are necessary parts of the whole picture, of course, but they always seem to be needed right when I’d rather be designing or working on new pieces. Having a bit of breathing room now, before the rush to fill orders for shops in the spring, allows me the opportunity to do the following:

  • finish off any outstanding book-keeping from last year (done)
  • do taxes (done)
  • write up proposals for shows (ongoing)
  • plan submissions to shows (get prospecti and entry forms) for the upcoming year and budget time for them (done)
  • review bio and other promotional material (done)
  • update C.V. (done)
  • review website content and design (ongoing)
  • update contact lists (ongoing)
  • finish up any outstanding correspondence (mostly done)
  • plan workshops (ongoing)

Last year was a busy year and I think I’m only just now feeling able to pick up fabric again with any sense of purpose. There are deadlines approaching and I have pieces that have been started for them, pieces that I can now bring myself to approach with enthusiasm. Or, for some of which I’m not entirely enamoured, with something more than grudging tolerance.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the aspects of one’s job that are less than inspiring can actually serve a necessary function. They allow us to step back from the creative, hands-on portion when weary while still moving forward with our plans and career. Switching gears and allowing the artistic impulse to lie dormant or fallow for a while can often stimulate a burning desire to get back to the drawing board.

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Just got word that my workshop (details below) for Quilt Canada 2008 has been approved! Yay! Another proposal pans out!
If you’re interested in taking it, it’ll be on June 4, 2008 at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland.

For more information, you can check with the folks at the Canadian Quilters’ Association (although they haven’t got the workshop info for 2008 up yet).

I’ll be teaching this class locally at least twice over the summer and fall as well, so if you’d like to be on the list for an earlier class, drop me a line.

I’m contemplating an on-line version at a later date.


A Feel for the Land: Creating Texture in the Canadian Landscape
Workshop proposal – Quilt Canada 2008

by Vicky Taylor-Hood

Class description:

Students will work on a myriad of techniques that can be used to given dimension and texture to textile landscape art. Special attention will be paid to achieving effects that illustrate the Newfoundland environment. These will include (but are not limited to):

  • creating icebergs through layered, fused materials as well as through the use of stitched layers of sheer fabrics
  • depicting realistic rocks by using fused snippets, painted and hand-detailed fabric and painted spun polyester (a.k.a. used dryer sheets)
  • illustrating spume and surf through the use of machine lace and Angelina fibers
  • using painted cheesecloth, tulle, organza, metallic foil and thread to accentuate light and shadows within a landscape
  • creating foliage through painted dryer sheets
  • aspects of house construction

All of these techniques will be demonstrated and students will have the opportunity to create samples. Some students will simply wish to take their ideas, samples and the materials provided home with them to work on their own. Those who feel sufficiently confident to leap from observing a demonstration to creating a finished product on the spot will have the materials available and the opportunity to do so. There is no set finished project for this workshop. It is rather an acquisition of tools with which to embellish the students’ own landscape designs. Students will take home with them the samples they have made and any unused materials that were in their kits.

Level of expertise: This session is geared towards intermediate to advanced quilters. Beginner quilters are welcome, but may find they need to supplement what they learn with more general quilting skills.
Length of class: six hours

Class size: minimum of 8, maximum of 15

Fees: registration for this class will be handled by Quilt Canada. There will be an additional $20 materials fee.

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I’ve just gotten my online sales up and running and things seem to be smoothing out wrinkle-wise. I’ll be adding things over the coming days, as I get the photography done and have a chance to work through inventory.

I can be found at http://www.Vickyth.etsy.com . The shop can also be reached through the links on my homepage http://www.seastrandsstudio.com

I am also now set up to take PayPal, so should you see something posted that you wish to purchase, it should be quite easy. The theory is that you don’t even have to have a PayPal account to purchase. We’ll see how it goes in the coming weeks. Please let me know if you experience any problems.

Stay tuned for more products!

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Anyone in the greater St. John’s area this weekend should really check out the Anna Templeton Centre Christmas Sale at the centre on Duckworth Street. The Anna Templeton Centre runs the most excellent Textile Studies Programme that has helped so many craftspeople learn the vagaries of the textile medium both for art and for craft.

Details are as follows:

  •  many excellent craftspeople and artists selling their product, some of extremely high calibre
  • VISA, MC, AMEX, and debit/Interac accepted
  • tearoom that serves lunch (a soup, salad, half-sandwich, coffee/tea and dessert will cost you $9)
  • no admission fee – that’s right, it’s free! Spend your money inside rather than at the door!
  • some artisans who weren’t at the larger Fine Craft fair will be there (this fair is not juried)
  • Friday 4pm – 8pm
  • Saturday 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • other questions? call the Anna Templeton Centre at 739-7623

I’ll be there with my wide array of products, including some hand-dyed fabrics, two sets of the large foiled birches that proved to be extremely popular at the larger fair and some old stock, with which there is absolutely nothing wrong other than that my abilities and vision have improved since its creation. The old stock will be selling at wholesale prices. Drop by and chat!

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fabrics 3

Dyeing fabric is an addiction. Painting it is bad enough, but requires more work and drying space and is therefore self-limiting, in some respects. But low-water immersion dyeing? Fast, easy, accomplishes large volumes in a batch and seeing the results is incredibly inspiring.

Two evenings’ work, spread out on the ironing board….

Now to chop it up, pick out the pieces that are specifically for my own work and sell the rest…. (prices are $18 CDN per metre, or $5 per Canadian fat quarter if you’re interested, plus shipping. – Canadian fqs are slightly bigger at approximately 20 x 21 because we sell by the metre which is 39″ instead of 36″).

fabrics 1

Might do some more tonight, probably greens and yellows!

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