My kids and I will be at Arts in the Park this Saturday (more info here) selling lots of lovely handmade items. They’ll be selling beaded bracelets to benefit red pandas, and I’ll be selling sewn, knit, and dyed items (mainly to benefit their craft supply fund, I suspect!). It should be a fun day for families so if you’re local, stop by and say hello!
The local art supply store that carries my pencil pockets let me know they’d need some more, so I went on a little sewing spree this past week. These are so much fun to make mainly because I treat them like little canvases. For some, I use upcycled fabric or fabric from my stash, like so:
The greenish fabric is from a pair of my husband’s pants that got an unmendable hole. I’ve printed it with a linocut* of one of his bicycles. The denim is also upcycled, with fun accent stripes. The linen is stamped* with a hand-carved stamp, and the rest of the fabrics are from stash. The gears and the fish, by the way, are fabrics my middle child picked out for pajama pants. I always buy extra because he picks the best patterns.
I also bought some utility cotton and dyed it.
I love these so much. All of these are printed with hand-carved stamps*, except for the stripes, which were done with a flat-sided chopstick, spaced by eye. I love that one. And the butterflies, and the scallop shells…I love them all, did I mention?! Having the control over the color of the background fabric is amazing because then I can be sure my ink shows up.
While I was at it, I sewed up some small pockets too, again using a mix of fabrics.
First offer for these goes to the two local stores that currently have some of my pockets, and whatever remains I’ll list on Etsy. I’m also always happy to sew to order, and as a reminder, I still have two upcycled zip pouches available, to benefit the National Park Foundation.
* I use both linocuts–carvings into linoleum–and hand-carved stamps–which use a softer carving material. I’ve seen “linocut” used to refer to stamps and it’s a pet peeve of mine because they’re so different! Linoleum works much better for designs with fine lines, like the bicycle, and it’s a little harder to carve. When I first switched to linoleum from stamps there was a learning curve on what made a good design; it’s not simply transferable. And I use different inks with each. Anyway just my little PSA that these two things have similarities but are not interchangeable.
A rather housekeeping-ish post ahead, so I thought it best to start with a photo of the baby house finches nesting on our front door. We expect they’ll have to fledge any minute now because how on earth are those five birds squeezing themselves into that nest? They might just fledge when they start falling out, I don’t know. Aren’t they gorgeous? Little dinosaurs with beautiful wing feathers. My door, on the other hand, is a sight. Much poop. We’ll deal with it.
So, news! I’ve revived my dormant email list for news and added inspirations. Sign up is on the right. But let me share a few things here as well….
In March I sold some items to benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center. This month I’m selling zip pouches made of upcycled woven plastic birdseed bags. The images on them are fantastic! The full purchase price, minus listing fees, will be donated to the National Park Foundation. I think these pouches would be great for summer explores. Making things to sell in order to donate is one of the ways I’m dealing with my anxiety over every new announcement. It’s a little bit of, Here’s something I can do. It’s not the only thing I’m trying to do, but it’s part.
If you’re local to Annapolis, MD, or planning to visit the area, I have work in two upcoming shows downtown and zip pouches in two local stores. Maryland Federation of Art’s Spring Member Show runs from May 4 to May 26 at the Circle Gallery in Annapolis, and Image and Imagination: Anne Arundel County Juried Exhibition 2017 is at Mitchell Gallery from May 23 to June 11.
I’m getting more confident in what I make and do, and in talking about it. I still struggle (always will, I think) in getting down to it sometimes. So much else competes for my time, and when I get out of the habit of just going in and working, it’s harder to get started. I mean, this is obvious for anything, it’s just that a habit can so easily be knocked out of whack (sick kids, extra things in the schedule, whatever) and not so easily established again. So it’s a constant effort. There is always more going on in my head than is actually productively happening. And I still feel like I’m at three-quarter speed. Better than just after the inauguration, but not fully functioning. (Still struggling with reading books and inertia in general and with sleep, always.) Anyway, some random thoughts at the end of this post on creative effort, I guess. Oh, and it turns out submitting to shows can actually result in being in shows but never submitting guarantees not being in any. Hmm.
I’m back to selling, finally! I’ll have zip pouches and stamped notebooks at HERE’s next pop-up shop. I first learned about this shop in the fall, and I visited a few of the pop-ups before submitting, both to get a feel for what they carry and to see whether they already had items similar to mine. Their shops always have a really great vibe, with a great mix of items that are predominantly made by local artists. It’s a comfortable place to be, full of pretty things. I’m happy to be included this time around and excited to be stepping more into the great, vibrant creative community here in Annapolis, even ever so cautiously. I spent last week stamping, embroidering, sewing, and tagging in preparation. After the pop-up is complete, I will (finally!) open my Etsy shop again, after having it closed since before we moved. Ahem. It’s taken me a bit to get my feet under me, I think!
A while ago now, I was asked if I could print tea towels with the rock crab linocut. I poked around, got suggestions, and decided on Moda toweling, ordering some in white and natural. In the meantime I experimented with printing a linocut on fabric using different paints and inks, but I couldn’t get a result that I was happy with. I decided the best choice was to carve a new rock crab stamp; I have always gotten good results printing my hand-carved stamps on fabric. When the toweling arrived, I experimented some more. Finally, these are the results.
The towels are approximately 16″ wide by 24″ long, and the natural is even softer than the white. They wash up beautifully, and the images are printed with heat-set fabric ink with a crab at each end. I packaged them up with a tag that includes washing instructions and the inspiration behind the image.
I enjoy working with people for custom orders, especially when it’s an idea that hadn’t yet occurred to me, such as printing on tea towels. (I’ve printed on them before; it just hadn’t occurred to me to print them with my own hand-carved stamps and offer them for sale.) It’s really gratifying when somebody loves an image I’ve imagined and created, and envisioning it in another form is excellent. It makes the final result a collaboration, and that’s very cool.
If you’re interested in any custom work, I’d love to hear from you!
The final two watercolor sketches from last week. I only missed one day, Thursday, so I ended up with six total for the week.
I thought it would be fun to show the process, so I took photos along the way while making the strawberry sketch. I did this one Saturday evening, so the lighting isn’t the best. Before I share all those photos, though, I wanted to let you know that hand-stamped blank cards and lino prints and watercolors are now available in the shop. It took a bit of self-talk (and some encouraging talk by other people) to list the prints and watercolors. It feels different from the other products. They serve no purpose other than to hang on the wall; it’s a public declaration of my belief that my artwork is worthy of offering for sale. That’s not easy to do. (Which I only share because I think it’s better for all of us creative types if we admit when we feel a bit wobbly. Everybody does, you know.)
On to the strawberries.
It takes a while to complete one because of the waiting time in between layers of color. If you add wet watercolors next to (or on top of) wet watercolor, it’ll bleed together. Sometimes that’s exactly what you want. Other times, it’s not, so it needs to dry first. You can see I have the paper taped down to a board (it’s a clipboard). I leave it that way until it dries. It helps keep it from curling too much.
In some ways this makes it a perfect type of painting for me to do. I’m always getting interrupted anyway. However, I’ve also gotten very good at telling the interrupter that I’m drawing/painting and I’ll get to them in a few minutes. All of my kids are old enough for me to be able to do this, generally. And they all respect the process, for the most part.
Another quick announcement post to let you know I’ve completed part one of the week’s planned shop update, listing all the pockets I’ve sewn recently. So currently in stock are some sweet whimsical flowers…
(They’re also available in blues and purples.)
…chickens are back…
…and there are several nautical themed pouches, inspired by my Rhode Island summers.
Part 2 of the update will happen within a few days–I have some hand-printed cards and notebooks to add. But I promise the next post will be about what I’m making and doing, not about what I’m selling. (I’m uncomfortable with the salesperson’s hat on, can you tell??)
This is the day I’d planned to have Issue Four of Art Together available, despite spending half of March sick with a bad cold and losing a week in April to the flu. But last week I became sick again, and it turned out to be strep, and that was the last straw. So I requested a week extension from myself, and Myself listened, weighed the facts, and granted it. Mainly it’s just the tech stuff left to do, which does, in fact, require me to be conscious. I had no idea strep was more than just a bad sore throat! I could barely keep my eyes open for a while there, but antibiotics are lovely when you truly need them, aren’t they? Like magic.
Speaking of Issue Four, which focuses on mixed media + collage, if you’re interested in a review copy and/or giveaway, drop me a line at amyhood at amyhoodarts dot com and we’ll discuss.
And finally, if you’re in southern Rhode Island this summer, you can now find my pockets and cards in Thrifty Sister in Peace Dale. This is a great consignment store that also carries work by local artists. (It also happens to be an excellent source of interesting found paper for mixed media and collage.)
So Saturday I attended my first fair as a vendor. It wasn’t a craft fair, not really; it was a school fair with some vendors. People don’t necessarily attend because they’re looking to buy things. (For the kids, it’s a mandatory school day.) As you can see, the weather was beautiful, despite initial forecasts of heavy rain. I completely forgot to have my husband take a picture of me at the table, so this is the picture I have!
I looked at this event as a trial run of attending a fair, from what to bring, using the technology, setting up and breaking down, and what sold. My goal was small: I wanted to at least make back the cost of being there, and I did. I had items priced in a wide range, from $3 to $30, but all my sales, except for two cards, were of zippered pockets.
As for nuts-and-bolts details, if I’m going to make a habit of attending craft fairs, I will want a real sign and a better way to display the cards and notebooks, I think. I got a chance to use the PayPal Here card reader and learned to connect it first thing, because it took a bit–but then it did work. I enjoy talking to people whether they buy anything or not. I like what I do and like to explain what inspires my designs, and it’s a pleasure to talk to someone who’s interested. We were able to set up and break down fairly easily and quickly, but I was glad my husband was there to do most of the work with the tent.
So it was a good learning experience and my modest goals were met. And it’s fun to sell to people in person, to see someone decide that they really want to take home something I’ve made. I sold one of my favorite pouches, the one with a design inspired by Western Salsify embroidered onto Japanese cotton:
As I’ve said before, I choose the linings carefully, because I want the inside to be as pleasing as the outside.
When the customer unzipped the pouch to look inside, she exhaled, “Oooh.” Yes. That is exactly what I’m going for, and I think the ability to witness it in person is a good reason to make a point of selling at a fair every now and then.
A couple of days ago I realized I ought to have merchandise bags of some sort if I’m selling at a fair. There isn’t any place that I know of locally where I can buy 25 or so flat paper bags, and I decided I didn’t want to pay for shipping, which can quickly get steep because of weight. So I figured I’d just make some. Several places we ordered from for Christmas use brown kraft paper as box filler, so I cut it to size and sewed up some bags.
I don’t have many things that need even that large of a bag, though, so I only made six of those. I made twenty paper bags out of map pages, though.
Turns out making these is like eating popcorn. It was hard to stop. The Internet has many tutorials for these; I happened to use this one at Urban Natural History. The paper is from a road atlas that Dawn sent me when she was cleaning things out before her latest move. Its pages are the perfect size!
I’ve no idea how many bags I might need or how many sales I may make. This is a big experiment. My 9yo thinks these bags are fantastic–and I have to agree with him. A big plus is that all these bags used materials I already had in the house. Perfect!