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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jammin on my planner

Leslie Knope is awesome. Her favorite activities include 'jammin on her planner'. Yup, it's even on her desk in the picture. You know what? I also love jamming on my planner. A lot. Leslie and I could hang together and compare notes for the upcoming days, each adding more notes to each day as we skillfully prepare in unison.

I'll explain. I freaking LOVE lists. Love them. As soon as I have more than two thoughts I need to remember or prepare for I feel agitated and stressed unless I put it down on a list. I probably feel this way because I'm a forgetful person. I didn't used to be so bad, but as adulthood and responsibilities crept into my life, I became scatterbrained. Not constantly, I'm a pretty grounded person, but I can be flakey. Hey, I'm an artist. ;) So because of this, I'm a huge list fan. They really help me organize and compile my thoughts instead of just being a jumble of stress in my head.

Because I love lists, you can imagine all of the goal-, to do-, daily-, weekly-, monthly-, yearly-, extended-planning lists I have. This is a good time to be reminded I'm running a small business solo here. Lists and goals are essential. So a good portion of this tumbles from various lists into my weekly planner. I assign each day a list of goals and things that must get done. I plan as far or close as necessary, and do so constantly. Jamming on my planner. Like Leslie, it's usually out on my desk, being jammed upon.

But lately Leslie would say I've been a bad planner jamming friend. I haven't been looking at it. Aside from a few specific events this week and last, there hasn't been much specifically going on. I had made the mistake of looking at these couple weeks, seeing that, and leaving the planner be in my purse. There has been no jamming. And now I am realizing that while I've been getting things done these weeks, I have felt more stressed and scatterbrained, and less focused than usual. Part of this could be the beginning of a long craft fair season only weeks away, but not having my daily lists written down is throwing me off more than I thought. I need to get my shit together, I need to do some planner jamming with Leslie tonight, probably around 8:30ish. I have a feeling next week will flow a lot smoother after I do.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Paint chip Easter decoration

My mom has been in the hospital and rehab for a few weeks now after surgery and I was thinking she would like some Easter decorations for her room. She's always been the type to haul out a box of decorations for each holiday, so it would make her stay seem a bit more homey and make her happy. I made a banner of Easter eggs using paint chip samples and upholstery thread. I don't seem to have anything around egg shaped, so I traced around the real thing for a template then cut out a bunch from the paint samples. I thread them together with a needle and heavy duty thread, though you can use any string or yarn, and put loops on the ends to hang. I wrote 'Happy Easter!' on it so it was a little more decorative. I wish I had some letter stamps to use, but I still like the look of it.

I saw a similar project for Valentine's but just never got to the store to collect some paint samples so I wasn't able to do it, and cutting many green shamrocks for St. Patrick's didn't sound appealing in the least, Mahoney or not. Easter was next on the bill, and thankfully eggs are an easy shape to cut. I really like the idea though, I think it's super cute, easy, and uses available and cheap supplies. Seems like you could do some nice holiday banners, Halloween could have orange pumpkins and white ghosts, birthdays could have balloon shapes with strings taped to the back to hang down to look like the real thing, it's a very adaptable project. Watch out paint stores, we're coming for you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Warren Mather ceramics at Arnold Arboretum

I found out that there's a Warren Mather exhibit, Tree Rings: Ceramic Panoramas by Warren Mather, that just began at Arnold Arboretum in Boston. I first saw his work at the Fuller Craft Museum, one of my favorite museums in the area. I thought his work was really great so I was excited to see he has another exhibit nearby. The exhibit is up in the Hunnewell Building Lecture Hall until April 29, and there is a free artist lecture on April 12. The event page sums up his work well, "Artist Warren Mather, a member of the faculty at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, makes circular panoramas, presenting a simultaneous view of what is in front at the same time as what is behind. In this exhibit, he creates inverse panoramas of the bark of various trees. These images are formed into a ring and transferred to silk-screens, printed in ceramic pigments on clay, then fired and glazed." Since the spring weather has been beautiful you may as well get out for a walk in the Arboretum and check out this clay artist while you're at it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Learning to crochet

This week there were two knitting workshops for Boston Handmade members hosted by Diane Ivey, a local yarn spinner, dyer, knitter, and member of the group. One of the workshops she hosted at her home and the other we met at JP Knit and Stitch. It's a super cute store and it was my first time in. They're in the middle of an anniversary sale and there's all sorts of great yarns marked down. I also browsed their fabric and there was one with pots on it! I'm a sucker for anything with pots on it, so I feel a sewing project with a bit of this fabric is in my future.

I had a few questions about some knitting projects but I asked Diane to help me learn some crocheting so she showed me a few stitches to get me started. It's a very different feel from knitting and I'm still getting used to it. It seems like the same issue as when I began to knit, that I just can't seem to find a comfortable and efficient way to hold and move my hands, but it'll come with some practice. Crocheting is sort of strange though, in some ways I feel like it's easier than knitting and in some way harder. We'll see how I feel about it as I progress, but right know I think I like knitting better. As always, I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A recent blog post from Boston Handmade got me thinking about all the ways technology has changed how artists do things. Not how the actual work is made, but rather how we attempt to market what we made. The websites, the email newsletters, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Linked In, etc.

Ask any artist and they will tell you in a voice trembling with stress, there are many, many hats to wear in their career. You work for yourself, yes! You're living the dream, congrats! But being awesome at your artistic skill isn't enough, you need to hold every position that a 'normal' business has as part of that dream. You are the creator, business manager, marketing director, researcher, web designer, booth designer, maintenance, photographer, sales rep, and intern, and again, you need to be awesome at all of those. Have fun with that.

A chunk of most of those positions lands me in front of the computer more often than I care to. I routinely wish to myself that I was a potter about 30 years ago before I had to spend so much time adjusting pics on photoshop, trying to decipher html code, and other crap that kept me away from my throwing wheel. I suppose potters 30 years ago wished they had easier access to the public to market their work. The grass (glaze?) is always greener I suppose.

All of these various websites blossomed about right when my business began, so I'm familiar with the majority. I wonder how much all of this time really affects things. I can't be sure who's buying from my etsy page because of something they saw on my Facebook or blog, but I do know they are looking. Looking is great, it's the first step to a customer making a purchase. Similar to when I have a terrible show and I tell myself 'well at least people came and saw your work', sometimes you need to see the bigger picture of promotion and not focus on the immediacy of a sale. It took me a while before I learned that lesson.

This isn't to say I can't point to specific positives of social networking and marketing. A piece of mine was published in a magazine that was found on Pinterest, so that was a nice surprise that otherwise wouldn't have presented itself. There's also been the random opportunities for events and shops. Someone seeing my work and inviting me into something is a pretty regular occurrence, and sometimes they are aren't a good fit for me, but I can generally pass that info along to a friend who would be a good fit. Social networking at its finest.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Moo minicard sale!

Moo is having a sale on their super cute minicards until March 21. I've been using them as hang tags for my work and I've seen people use them in other creative ways, making good use of the different pics you can upload for your products.

I had been wanting to grab some for my yarn bowls so the timing is perfect for me since I've got a big fiber show coming up in April. Anyway, use code MINI20 to get 20% off your minicard purchase.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

South Shore Art Center- White, Black, and Shades of Gray

I found out today that some pottery of mine was selected for a show at the South Shore Art Center in Cohasset, Massachusetts. I'll have a sawdust fired piece with a fresh leaf print in the exhibit White, Black, and Shades of Gray that runs from March 30 through May 6.  The opening is on Friday, March 30 from 6-8pm, I'd love if some of you could come! I'm really excited to see the other work picked and what mediums there are. There are 52 artists from around the country that are included in the exhibit. I wanted to do more gallery events this year, so this, the Japan show, and the Boston Handmade show put me off to a good start.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Create: The Art & Craft of Boston Handmade

March 15 is the opening reception night for Create: The Art & Craft of Boston Handmade, an exhibit at ArcWorks Community Art Center in Peabody. The show is myself and seven other members of Boston Handmade. The show is intended to celebrate National Craft Month by showing a variety of work make by artists in the Boston area. I've got some new work to debut at the show that I'm really excited about. It's been getting great reactions around the studio too, so I think you'll love it when I post up some pics. The show is up March 15 until May 6, I hope you can make it!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Focus Your Art Career Workshop Series

This year there's a great series of monthly workshops about the business side of being creative, titled Focus Your Art Career as the 2012 Jamaica Plain Arts Council Continuing Education Series. The workshops are hosted by the Jamaica Plain Arts Council, Alternate Currents, and Boston Handmade. Each month's workshop has a different focus, like Creating Your Audience or Photo-documenting Your Work, and most workshops have two dates to choose from. The workshops are taught by Anna Koon, Scott Cipolla, and Jessica Burko. I know Jessica personally and she has LOTS of good information to share, I promise. The workshops are pretty cheap, only $30 each. You can get 15% off if you sign up for three or more of them, which is awesome because you'll probably totally want to.