About This Time
This week has had those deceptive days when the sun is shining and the sky is blue and it's still cold outside in the mornings. It seems like winter is hanging around just a little longer than usual although the sidewalks have been clear enough to start walking to Starbucks for my journal time. I'm really enjoying that. My youngest son and his fiancé settled on their wedding date and it's three months sooner than I thought it would be so I need to walk faster, de-fluff quicker, and go fabric shopping for a new dress.
About this time last year, I was getting ready for a workshop in Ashland, Oregon and now I'm getting ready for one in Milton, Georgia. I've never been to Georgia before so that's exciting but even more exciting is the fact that I am taking a polymer clay workshop. After discussing it with my friend Caroline, whom I've known since I was sixteen, we concluded that neither of us has ever gone away to a workshop on a topic unrelated to sewing and so that's new too. The great thing about exploring a different medium is new instructors, workshops, books, techniques, and people to meet. I definitely won't be head of class. I'm barely past the conditioning clay stage. And that's good. I'm looking forward to learning. I like that my brain is busy with fresh ideas. Fresh is harder and harder to find the longer you've been a maker.
I'm taking several online workshops with the same instructor and I think I mentioned before that her way of working with polymer is similar to the textile art work I do and the collage work I've explored. You create veneers that are in essence a piece of fabric or paper and then you cut shapes and combine them into designs. SO fascinating. I am very glad that I discovered this way of working from Lynn. I was surprised to read in this blog post that it's a relatively new way of working for her as well.
I mention in today's video that I've been struggling with flow in the studio now that I added the jewelry bench. I used to have a long dresser where I could pile parts while working on a piece. It's gone and nothing has replaced it. The bench already has its own parts so I can't add more and jewelry making was supposed to stay in that space except I found myself turning around to the island a lot, moving what was there to my sewing desks, and then - sigh - carting it across the hall to the guest room... yet, still, again. Tuesday, I added another table and a set of drawers to give me some more counter and storage space. How fun that the table is 4' wide and 4' was exactly the space I already had between the jewelry bench and the island. It fit in quite nicely BUT... counter space wasn't the entire answer. I found myself turning to the island again that night and that's when I realized that light is the problem. I'm blocking the light when I work at either space. Something else to solve.
I did some more button experiments to figure out which steps, in what order, work the best. These have a lighter layer of polymer on the back and I think I prefer the thicker one BUT... I did find a better way to add the shank. They... along with 12 larger round ones... just came out of the washer and dryer still intact with delightful fraying around the edges. The first two sets I made already have new homes. These ones will go into my shop.
This week, I've been learning how to set up the product pages in my shop, what pictures I need to take when I make a piece, and what information would be better collected at the time of creation. My mind is on overload. I'm playing catch-up. The bags in the laundry basket all need one or more photos as does the purple handled one. A small number are complete. I'll know better going forward. I had a lot of meetings this week and didn't get everything finished. Next week, I'll work on pricing and search engine optimization as well as setting up the shipping requirements. The payment structure is already set up so I think everything else is in place and it should be functioning in the next week or two. It always seems to take longer than I think it will. Setting up the shop is both nerve wracking and exciting. Last week, I released my first workshop and it met with a typical 1-2% response. Of course, I'd have loved an over the top response but this was good. I am hoping workshops will be a way of generating ongoing income and that sales of pieces will also be successful because I started a business to earn income. Otherwise it would be a hobby... and that eliminates a lot of expenses... which I'm trying to do anyway. Everything I've done in this first year of setting up the business has been a matter of trial and error. Some things have gone by the wayside and others are currently being tested. One thing I know for sure is that I prefer to have as few balls to juggle as possible. I have decided whenever the platform I am using for a particular function comes up for renewal, I will decide then whether the return is enough to continue with it or not.
For instance, the Filling the Form workshop is currently hosted on Teachable. Their customer service is less than best and the product doesn't IMHO make up for that. Between now and when I need to renew, I'll be evaluating whether to continue to offer the workshop and if so, where and if I want to develop more workshops. They take a LOT of work to put together. I'd prefer there was an interest.
I would really appreciate your input around on-line and on-demand workshops. They were sanity savers during the lockdown. How do you feel about them now? You can email me your thoughts at email@example.com.
Along with so much to learn, there are a lot of expenses involved in starting a business and an online one is no exception. They, like brick and mortar businesses, take about two to five years to establish. I can see tremendous progress over the last year and that's encouraging however, I'm sixty, turning sixty-one in June. My age makes me extra cautious about spending money to make money. It's not guaranteed but my expenses are. The added business ones include the Teachable platform, a domain provider, a web host, an integrated e-commerce system, a design program, and a video editing program. It adds up which is why... ... I'm nervous about the shop. Will there be sales? If there aren't any, or not enough, what will I do next? There are two ideas left to explore, teaching in-person and selling at art shows. After that, I'll have tried everything I have to try and will have to decide on next steps... a traditional job... I hope not! I've worked for myself by myself for so long, it would be a difficult shift.
Getting ready for the trip is keeping me somewhat distracted. I've planned out my wardrobe and now I'm making the pieces. I'll tell you about them in another post. I decided to crochet a cardigan. I haven't done crochet in decades, probably the last time was in my teens. I had to check the abbreviations to see if I actually knew what I thought I knew.
The mix of colours looks fabulous on the model but maybe not on a woman my age. I might look like a granny wearing granny squares! I wanted something neutral that would go with all the outfits I'm taking so I'm using a flecked grey called pepper. The yarn is Remix from Berocco. I've knit with it before and like the way it feels, drapes, and wears. There are over forty full squares and I've finished twenty-four so far. They take about twenty minutes each. I'm curious to price out the finished cardigan. Even at minimum wage, I think it's going to be way up there beyond anything I'd ever think of purchasing ready-to-wear. It's coming out of my entertainment budget, my clothing budget, and my therapy. If you have a thought to share, I'd love to hear from you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk soon -