Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gotta get Organized!

Today I delivered my three pieces to Gwen Fox Gallery for their November fibre show.  Now, I don't know what to do next.  There are several more shows on the horizon between April and June, but nothing is started for any of them.  I find I'm forgetting what and when they are, so will have to draw up a prioritised list to work from.

A second consideration is that it has been almost a year since I was last in a sale.  It is time to make a decision about my future direction.  I love what I do, but once a piece is finished, my emotional connection ends, and I'm usually willing to have it go to a new home.  The shows and exhibitions are great for exposure and name recognition, but both of those are usually directed at ultimately selling the work for profit, or as a means of promoting a teaching careeer.  Is this where I want to go?  I enjoy teaching, but, if this is to ever be more than a hobby there is a lot of work required.  It takes me at least a month to set up a class.  Then I have to run a test class, and fine-tune the class. Then comes the promotion, which can be time consuming.  So the teaching will always be part of me, but I'm too old to be looking at it as a new careeer.

That leaves sales.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to find an agent who would do all of the hard stuff and "donkey-work" of promotion!!  Leaving me to work in my studio producing wonderful art.  Not going to happen!!  So, I need to give a lot of thought to the sales, and how I can participate in them without loosing the wonderful creativity that I have re-discovered during my "year off".

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Done-sort of

Yes, the FMQ'g is done, the piece has been paintedand the beading is finished.  I had to reduce the amount of beading I had planned by more than half, but it still took 3 1/2--14 hour days to get it all done.  Now I just need to back it and do the facing--which should take most of tomorrow.

But I can't tell you what a horror those 3 1/2 days were. I had a tension headacke most of the time, I wasn't sleeping for worrying about getting the job done, and the house became a dump.  Meals were whatever could be heated quickly from the freezer.

This is for an exhibition for all of November, and then, hopefully, another one next spring, so I can't put up a picture.  The other two pieces are fully finished, sleeve on one, beads and framing on the other.

But I hope I've learned my lesson,and that I never accept a looming deadline.  It is just too hard ont he system, adn on the marriage.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


We all hate deadlines, but continue to expose ourselves to them.  Does this mean we are all procrastinators, and need the externally imposed structure of a deadline to work?  Early in my career, I learned that the best option was to do the job as soon as possible after accepting it.  Now I said that I learned this as a truth--it doesn't say that I do it!  But often I have a piece finished well ahead of the deadline.  I found that to do otherwise would end up with poor workmanship and frustration.  Well, it seems that I forgot this somewhere along the way.

I have committed to three pieces for a show at the end of the month.  One is finished, one is done except for beading and framing ( I have the frame ready and will mount it myself).  The third was planned but hadn't even been started when I made the commitment, a week ago.  My way of working often involves quilting the background before doing whatever surface embellishment I have planned.  So I started fairly heavy FMQ'g on a piece 28" square.  Got it about 1/3 done when I accidently sewed over a pin, on another project, and knocked out the timing on my machine.  Panicked trip to the dealership on Thursday, where I advised him of the deadline, but, foolishly, told him I had a back-up machine that I could use, and Monday would be alright for getting the machine back.

Spent Thusday evening setting up the old Pfaff and trying a bit of practise FMQ'g on it.  OMG!  It is going to be a very long learning curve!  I had forgotten what a chore FMQ'g was on the Pfaff!  Very easy to set up and the needlethreader is wonderful, but it needs an entirely different skill set.  Obviously I have learned the rythym of the Janome quite well and most of the work is beautifully regular and even.  Not so the Pfaff!  So much practise and working on the piece itself.  Have difficulty seeing where the stitching is going because the FM foot obscures my view.  The machine doesn't like my thread and the other spool of black has more of a sheen than the first one and it shows.  So-- much reverse stitching, and with uneven stitching, this is a PITA.  Then today it starts skipping stitches.  Now, I know this is either the timing out of whack or my hands moving too quickly for the machine.  Again much reverse stitching.  Painful, frustrating,  reverse stitching!!  Many bad words were spoken.  Finally, I gave up.  I will work on beading the other piece over the next couple of days, and hope there is enough time to finish the original piece, once the machine comes back.

 But again-- I took on a deadline and every thing that could go wrong, did go wrong.  I am tired, angry and frustrated.  DH has taken to hiding in the computer room, and even offered to run some errands alone today, rather than spend time alone with me in the car.  Smart man!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Peer support and inspiration

We all reach the point when we need the involvement of others who think as we do.  In my area there are only a small number of fibre artists, and those represent a variety of interests.  We DO get together about once a month, but only for a couple of hours.  As we often meet in each others' homes it becomes more of an idea exchange and "show'n'tell" session, as it is in the evening and lighting can be a problem..  Once in awhile we get together during the day and take the time to explore techniques, or enjoy each others company over hand work.  But all of these get toethers are more social and gently supportive sessions.  Sometimes you need more.

Last weekend I attended the annual retreat of the Fibre Art Network ( ).  (FAN) This is a group of professional and semi-professional artists working in fibre.  These retreats are not stitching marathons but rather more business-like.  A friend related them to professional scientific conferences where there are meetings, such as organizational committee meetings, the Annual General meeting, and the presentation of professional papers, as well as time for social interaction.  As well as all the associated meetings, we often have workshops on either technical  matters or professional issues such as time management, and other organizational aspects of fibre work. Most importantly, our professional papers involve reports on our work over the past year.

It is the personal experiences and resulting work that is the most valuable part of the retreat for me.  I saw some stunning art, and being able to hear, directly from the artist,  how the piece came to be and why, was a crititcal part of the process.  I also heard how some of the members work together collaboratively, even to the point of organizing small shows in their home communities.

This conference is what keeps me going.  I come home inspired, refreshed, and full of creative ideas.