Monday, February 8, 2016

Packaging, Packing, Partying

Mom rang twice yesterday; said she might ring me again before I leave. She had updates on "the group exhibition"; yay, she's beginning to own it, which is great. She's working on her blurb, too; said she had to because I'm so scary.
"Aha Aha" is going to Australia in this most humble fashion. I need to keep looking into available/affordable packaging, what I think my "brand" requires, and how far I'm willing to go without maiming my environmental commitments. I'm going to look around in Japan, the Land of Excess packaging, too, because there must be some companies doing beautiful and environmentally sane packaging, but for the most part, over-the-top naughty.

Worst case scenario, a piece of cake can: 1) be wrapped in individual plastic/paper bag, so it doesn't dry up; 2) be accompanied by its own small eating utensil in a plastic/paper envelope; 3) then sit in a plastic tray or between cardboard divider so they don't bump against each other; 4) these trays/dividers can go into an additional clear plastic bag; 5) which goes in a cardboard/wooden box or a decorative tin; 6) sometimes with bubble wraps in the top and bottom; 7) then there might be beautiful paper decorating the lid, or around the entire box; 8) some with bows, stickers or decorative strings; 9) and finally they go into a plastic shopping bag or the store paper bag with handles. You should see the look I get when I decline final bag! And sometimes the dividers don't work so all the content, (often with rice crackers) sink to the bottom anyway and get broken up. Idiotic.

And here's me handing presents unrapped.

I packed Ben's new suitcase because it has bigger wheels so even when a short person pulls the case, the front/bottom of the case won't drag. We've had this old, black, very simple case forever and I didn't realize how much I "knew" the space inside, so packing it was a cinch, but that one has only one setting for the handle and the wheels are worn. And now that it's packed, weighing in at around 17kg, sitting just inside the front door, I can't help thinking I packed too many changes of clothes and small gifts, so I know I'm going to open it up a couple of more times.

We're going to have light supper with JB and A 12 hours before I'm expected at the airport. Often during summer flights are timed so we don't have to overnight in Auckland, but it means early morning departure, and this time they want me an hour before departure, (it used to be shorter, I swear,) it's 5.40AM for me. That's usually when I'm trying desperately to grab a couple of night's sleep after a bad insomnia night!

That early we can get to the airport in a little over 5 minutes, so I could check in, come home and have breakfast, if not a shower, and head back out, but we'll most probably settle for those unconformable, restless coffee and a bite at the airport. If their cafe is even open.

I don't mind overnight if Ben's travelling also. Our regular hotel has a great restaurant, and interesting African artwork, the original owners were from South Africa, but last time Mom got locked inside the bathroom due to a faulty door knob, which had clearly been tampered by the previous person locked in there, so not sure if we'll ever go back there. The worst part was multiple staff were so nonchalant!

Jade's online party is wrapping up. I knew Jade, from our short encounters at the mixed media workshops in 2014 and our occasional "conversations" since, to be a calm, focused and intelligent person, but I was really impressed how much all of these she was.

Prior to the do, I thought I was well equipped to handle any New Age/Self Help talk. Boy, was I wrong! They spoke in tongue, flinging new -ologies, concepts, book titles and authors I had never heard of; I was never sure if a given acronym was standard text-talk or an inside code. Everybody seemed genuine, but repeatedly confessing to being "true scanners" their mantra, (people whose interest jump from one thing to another, apparently serially or simultaneously,) this one-track mind enjoyed being the outsider and people-watching.

I wrote in my feedback: "I found I like my life where it is now, I didn't have a wish other than for this life to continue; sure, more money would make things easier, but we're not lacking in anything severely. I guess I'm patting myself on the back for getting here since I started this phase with The Artist's Way in 2002. And in retrospect, [the transition] wasn't a big deal, and it didn't take that long. That's what I got out of this week. And I like being one-track-minded."

I wanted to add, "I'm also grateful to and for my soul mate," but since bad relationships were some members' problems, I didn't want to rub it in.

I noticed there were many women in our 50's and 60's; of course it depends on the environment in which we grew up, but we came at the tail end of, "girls get married and have kids; if you must, you can be a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary;" may have fought for women's lib, and may have had to convince skeptical daughters of the same. But then we saw the demise of lifetime employment and the smudges on the glass ceiling, then to be hit by the latest hideous iteration of misogyny. While no doubt feminism and bad economy would have been just as unfathomable for men, gee, no wonder women need to get together and rant as well as learn and help and readjust.

Another observation was technology. These folks knew a lot of different platforms/portals/websites. Still others thought getting up a (static) website or a blog was the answer; I don't agree with website as prerequisite unless it's includes a blog, and I'm not sure what the future of blogs looks like. I helped one person create an FB page, (he already had a profile,) and we discussed the unpredictability of anything online, lifespan or security. Even as worked, he could not see some things on his page on his phone while I looked on my laptop.

I'm happy with my laptop, camera, and no-camera cell phone for now; my blog, Facebook profile, and Flickr, although Flickr may go and/or MegWeaves FB page be resurrect in conjunction with the Pop Up Shop. (A shell is there because I needed screen shots.) I'm happy to stay ignorant of the newest and shiniest and focus on weaving until, oh, half a dozen of you start singing praises of something in unison. But I think I have to recess pros/cons of technology in shorter intervals.

Now I'm going to mention one last thing potentially offensive to everybody. When we came to New Zealand, I couldn't believe how somber Kiwis were in the face of grave exhalation; with the possible exception of All Blacks victories, Kiwis are a subdued lot. Although if you listen carefully, there is much witty joviality happening. We had to learn to clap sitting down at concerts, or worse, rush to the door for what reason we weren't sure. 20 years on, at the Mixed Media workshop, I couldn't believe how Aussies got right into the spirit of American-style Rah Rah cheers. I cornered a Kiwi who's lived in Sydney for some years, and she confirmed Aussies can be the way I used to be.

I guestimate a little short of one-third of the most active participants at Jade's do lived in Australia, one-third in Europe, and over one-third in the USA. And much Kumbaya was had by all.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Censored, Controlled, and Still Inappropriate Blather

As I grow older, I've come to see many sides to many truths, and have become less extreme in my convictions, to my slight dismay. I'm also fine with not having an opinion, or to remain undecided indefinitely. I take it this is part of what it means to grow up, although I can't help feeling a tad less genuine compared to, say, when I was 13 and knew everything.

On the other hand, I've learned a few things. I know these to be my truths because they've been put through persuasion, dissuasion, counterarguments, rebuttals, examination, reexamination and regurgitation and still hold them adamantly. But I'm willing to change my mind if need be.

Belatedly I'm picking up on how/when to modify my delivery, to choose the right time/audience, and even feel less compelled to present my case at times.

Still, I'm long-winded. And repetitive. I think while I speak/type; at times I'm not presenting but thinking and refining in my head, but out very loudly. I misread situations. And I can be relentless.

This in my life may be blamed on my unyielding know-it-all bitchiness, but it's not a good look at work; "damaging the brand" sorta stuff. It's the same old maneuvering of  本音 (honne, inward truth, which is usually true,) vs 建前 (tatemae, outward truth, which can be not true,) when I have virtually no 建前 (tatemae). And how do we reconcile throwing away the shackles of societal expectation, and being nice, and still be our "authentic selves"??

Ahhhhh.... [expletive]!!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Still Hot

It's been so hot, the last coupe of months feel like one long haze. We had interminable hot/dry days, several not-as-hot-but-humid ones, then one slightly-overcast-but-not-so-hot day, and we're back to scorching 29C. It's funny how temperature is relative. I couldn't tell which was worse, 28/29C and dry with itchy skin, or 26C and humid with vertigo and headache.

Usually in Nelson evenings are cooler, so much so we rarely keep our windows open overnight and some nights you do need your trusty electric blankets or extra covers, but this year the bedroom windows were shut once at around 4am this side of.... oh.... late Nov/early Dec. It's noisier but cannot be helped.

Although a few days later than planned, I finished fringing/hemming/washing/pressing/labeling all woven pieces, so I have a clean slate to start weaving when I get back; if/when I want to do another Pop Up, I need to do only the photos and write up, so slightly more prep done than the last time. It's really felt like Lent, weaving in the basement would have been lovely, though even the basement hasn't been as nice as usual. My plan was to then garden because there are gazillion things I sincerely want to do before I go, but if I can't do them, so be it; I am not risking heatstroke like last year.

Yesterday may have been the only day to venture outside, it was overcast and cooler, but I baked a loaf of bread, a cake, a batch of biscotti, made a second batch of pasta sauce, and made two lasagna, (lesagne?) sans pasta, with slices of egg plant, some of which I did to ease Ben's cooking load while I'm away, though he keeps telling me not to worry, him being the better and faster cook, but I kind of wanted to put my stamp as the female/wife of the pair. Can you tell I had saved up all the oven stuff for a cooler day?

At least Kiwis are loving the hot. They call 30C "warm". Some are doing that delirious eye/bending one knee thing when they say, "long, hot summer," so as an immigrant, I shall not complain. Too loudly. In front of them.

Mom finally got started on blurb-writing, and we talked discussed it during our weekly Skype. I feel I've been saying the same thing for months; it seems she finally understands it every time I explain and then forgets; and sometimes I get a headache-y kind of déjà vu because I don't want to repeat if she remembers, but I'm counting on her forgetting again and I repeat the same stuff. But we narrowed down the focus of artist statement to two good points so I think she's good to go, and get help from my sister or her friends in polishing them. It's crucial she gets this done because attractive blurbs in Japanese is something I can't help her with.

Then she wants to distribute invites Monday morning after I arrive Thursday night, allowing me two days to take pics, buy ink and cards, set up the printer not in use since I was last in Japan, and make up the invites. That's assuming Mom's got details of the gallery including a map. I'm pretty confident I can count on her with this, although... I've asked for these some months ago, and she told me she just threw out a mailer from the gallery. Mother, if you're reading this, please get and save the info!

[EDIT: I'm used to needing two days to get home, but this time I get home on the day I depart, late on Wednesday. I have four days to make the invites, so, yeah, doable! Even if I arrived late Thursday, that still would have been three days. Ah, heck.]

Goodness, I'm a good daughter. And if you thought I'm being grumpy about Mom's exhibition, not so; I'm getting totally excited to the point I decided not to worry if I'm bullying her. (Ben, not so much; I hate it when he misses me while I'm still here.)

I've got three days left, and I need to pack, give Ben a haircut/beard trimming, see if we can meet up with JB and A for supper in town, think seriously if I need more Yen in cash and get some if so, and clean the house with Ben tomorrow morning.
I planted these, Ben took this. The package showed redder ones like we had four years ago, but these are taller and more brown and yellow than red. But what better in the scorching heat, right?

EDIT: Mom rang Sunday. She went to the gallery again, got the details and map, and did another check on the venue, which turned out not to be as tiny as she thought and has few fixture which could hold dowels or coat hangers. And she's been working on her blurbs. Well done, Mom!!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Let's See

On our weekly Skype, Mom showed me woven work by Mrs E and Mrs T, four each, and Mom's three definitely going into the exhibition. She also read me their artist blurbs, but Mom hadn't started on hers yet. Slack! I love these women; they are quite different from each other but both lovely, hard-working and dedicated to what's/who's important in their lives. They were constant sources of pleasure and encouragement in Dad's last years and continue to be for Mom since he passed away.
Now that I have visual clues, I can start planning poster/invite/a tiny takeaway catalogue more concretely, and revised what to take with me. You know I can buy everything/anything in Japan, but I don't want to waste time looking for exactly what I want. (The picture looked Pond Green not a nice way so I killed the colors. I think I need to set the cameras' settings back to vanilla and rework white balance and other preferences again.) The paper on top of the photo paper is a set of wonderful warm creamy yellow with wood grain texture. I think they'd look lovely for blurbs on the wall, but if not I'm keeping them.

Seeing their woven work, not just Mom's, made the exhibition really come to life. Both ladies have been wonderful in supporting Mom realize this exhibition.

It's also made me feel excited about the real purpose of the trip, in addition to the people/exhibitions/places I hope to see, the cold, the food. The exhibition has been a box of fragmented ideas for me and my typically overblown/pushy enthusiasm for Mom. But discussing what makes good blurbs, different visual approaches, why/who might come to see the exhibition, since about September, Mom's started to own the exhibition, so now it's time for me to shut up a little.

That's also made me feel better about "interrupting" my life. I may have finally got the hang of living a life of a mostly productive/consistent weaver rather than just being on a roll for a period. I'm also leaving enough carrot/bread crumbs; I'm trying to get all these unfinished projects finished before I go so I can do another round of Pop Up soon after I get back. Keeping the momentum going, you know.

In fact, I stumbled upon Jade's event, Ideas Party, which happens online, so I signed up first and went to read more later. I didn't know anything about Barbara Sher, who turned out to be wonderfully pragmatic and funny, but also that I'm so the wrong kind of person for the party in four or five ways. Never mind, I can lurk.

What I did discover was, just about all the important stuff I envisioned while working on The Artist's Way in 2002 have come true. The superficial stuff I haven't got, like a beautiful home on a (safe part of) cliff with a large studio and a show room, (we were encouraged to visualize in a concrete way,) travelling the world and attending conferences and workshops, and selling lots; but I'm producing, I've managed to get rid of much noise in my head, I'm selling enough, and most of all I'm pleased as a punch about the life I have. Who can ask for more? (Plus, as much as I like travelling and workshops, in a way they are distractions because I need so long to think and work things out and execute.) For this alone, it was worth signing up for this party.

We're back to dry/hot weather again, and it's been uncomfortable hemming the chunky wool stuff. I was complaining to Mom in a Big Time Drama Queen way that in the mornings the house is already 23-24C and I start to suffer at around 25C. Mom consoled me by saying her apartment is south-facing and comfortable at a relatively consistent 24C! It looks like I need to pack exactly what I'm wearing now, plus a big sweater, a pair of long pants, and my sister's soccer-mom-watching-on-the-sideline down coat. I'm getting used to speaking cross purposes with Mom.

* * * * *

On Friday I had lunch with Pat. Neither of us travelled since May but it was the first time we got together. Larry got sick of her dyeing in the kitchen microwave, so she got a dedicated one and when I get back we're going to experiment with my wools and silks. We also discussed pricing; because she travels more, she has a better grasp of the state of handweaving market while I really haven't got a clue.

I also looked for a nice box to put Aha Aha in. I went to four (??) stores but all the boxes that can hold a piece 28.5cm wide and 1cm high were also 4 and 5cm deep. So here's an idea; if anybody here wants a new business idea, how about oddly shaped gift boxes? You probably don't have to manufacture them as I know in Japan there are tons of flat shirt/hankie/towel boxes; all you need is to pretty them up and sell in small lots!

* * * * *

My very old post about shadow weave is suddenly getting hits from somewhere in Facebook, but I can't back track. Do you know where? It's been a little spooky as it's an odd, old post, rather wordy. Just a little strange.

Right. Hemming. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The (Un)ravelling Merino Mohair Fringe Knots

In other words, this smaller piece and the peach on white warp vs the white wedding present and the pale blue alternate, on which the knots stayed knotted as you would expect.

The first thing I did was to have the client of the wedding present contact the bride to warn her of the possibly demise of the knots at the end of fringes. Embarrassing but necessary, I thought.

Then I withdrew the pale blue piece from the gallery, and to my relief there was nothing wrong with the knots. The big difference was, the pale blue piece, (and presumably the wedding present,) had severely (?) twisted fringes, while the small and the peach pieces had looser fringes. (I've been trying to make my fringes less tight/wiry to harmonize more with the body of the cloth.) That little bit of difference, a few more rotations, seems to generate enough friction to hold the knots together.
Just to confirm, I put the pale blue piece through a vinegar bath and rinsed and the knots held shape.
The small piece: fringed, wet-finished, unravelled, vinegar-bathed, unravelled, temporarily reknotted, ends clipped, awaiting permanent solution. I figured the cloth of the piece looked gender-neutral so the fringes could be fatter and shorter.
I thought the width and the length of the fringes were OK, and the knots probably, but because I left the original knots in place, I couldn't be sure.
So I thought I'd work on the peach piece before making the next move.
The peach piece: fringed, wet-finished, unravelled, temporarily and loosely reknotted, awaiting permanent solution. On this piece I wanted to keep the wispy feminine fringes.
I cut off just below the knots, unravelled and refringed. But a two-bout (??) fringe was too wiry and unattractive so I unravelled three two-bout fringes to make two three-bout fringes. (Rubbish bag under the knots. :->) Then I put the piece through a vinegar bath.
Fresh out of the spinning cycle and they are in tact. So I think I can clip the small blue piece's fringes.

And that concludes my fringing rush for now. Thank goodness, I was getting sick of it. Next I have three pieces and one fabric swatch of the old-fashioned wool. Fingers crossed, at this rate I can finish the unfinished jobs before I go. It's been hot and not nice to work with mohair, and I've been neglecting everything else. You should see the floor; no, wait; don't. Because as soon as I finish work stuff, I'm going outside. Pronto.

Two weeks.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Blue Lot

Not a good photo-shoot day, but here goes.
The first piece with shortened floats and elongated design turned out elegant and lacy.
Aha Aha turned out just as I imagined, except floats could have been even longer. Lovely silk drape that just drapes.

These two have identical yarns for the warp and the weft. I had problems pressing some parts too long and they turned white and shiny. The top I remedied by steaming, (thank you, Laura Fry,) the second, which I finished first, by putting it through a weak vinegar bath. I take it both methods reset the compression of the fiber. I have to study more about silk.
Mama's has wefts of many cashmeres. It's thinner but more felted/clothy than cashmere-warp cloth. Different colors fulled at a different rate so the selvedge is "variable".
Because of the changeable light, I got a few weird shots; I did't know I could "do" double exposure on a digital, but strange and interesting.

This navy warp yarns are the same mill end merino as the gray lot. I have little gray left, some indigo, and lots of this navy. They don't break, they are soft, and show off the silks wonderfully. I luuuurve them. Another warp in one of these may be the first job I'll do when I get back.

I have entered my count down mode: I leave in two weeks and two days. That doesn't surprise me, but that it's already the 25th of January baffles me. I have the peach piece to refringe/rinse, four old-fashioned wool pieces to hem, and I think that's that for work in that time. As regards house/garden, well.....

Friday, January 22, 2016

Head Down, Bum Up

Hello!

I love this expression. I wish I do more of this and less pondering/wondering/dithering.

After I got the last three thoughts out of my head, (i.e. the last three posts posted,) which were very important to me, I desperately wanted to weave. Or make a warp. Or thread, at the very least. But when I finished the navy warp, I told myself I had to concentrate on finishing unfinished projects. And I found something interesting.
This is the piece intended for my Mom. I used several 26/2 cashmeres in Fibonacci in the weft. The warp is mill end 72/2 merino in 48EPI in a 6-dent reed. After several days of rest and a vigorous wet-finish, the reed mark never disappeared; so much so I should call this a cram/space design. Which suits this piece well because it has the grille look that goes well with the masculine kimono colors. Be it the size difference, the way the wefts keep the warps in their place, the draft, or something else, it surprised me because...
It never happened in the samples, (all silk wefts though some were sticky,) and didn't happen with Aha Aha, even though the silk was visibly thicker than 26/2 cashmere. Although I doesn't makes sense to compare widths of in-this-context sticky cashmere and slippery silk.

I'm in my fourth week of strange sleep pattern, and I now try not to think about it. I tried napping/not napping, playing music/audio books/reading books on paper, and/or drinking milk/herbal tea before I go to sleep, but nothing works. Sometimes I fall asleep but wake up queasily alert, sometimes I don't fall asleep. After two weeks and four doses, I stopped taking sleeping pills. Just don't expect me to be exceptionally useful in the mornings.

But insomnia isn't all bad for work; I sometimes solve a drafting problem, or come up with what to me are from-the-left-field ideas. I've been thinking about satin for a while, so of course I now have two double weave ideas! One night I got up and lined up Japanese sewing silks, then edited the order. If I'm good, if I finish all the unfinished but woven pieces, I'm going to make a warp, though I'm not sure if it'll consist of only these or be mixed with others.
It's still hot, although we've had moments of reprieve in the last few days, and glaring. I've been yearning to garden, but when I go outside for a few minutes, my arms turn pink and start to itch.

I have had a curious experience a few times, though; I "relived" winter gardening, not remembering or reminiscing, but I was suddenly transported for a moment to the climate/light/sound of my garden in the winter, exactly how it feels when I weed under shrubs. Nice, eh?

In a way, I wish I weren't going away, because I'm in a good work head space, and I started missing Ben about a week ago. But I know I'll love seeing family, and friends this trip; I also have a date with 1/2 of my fav cousin and probably her hubby, I'll enjoy the winter weather, and I'm going to have a ball bossing Mom around trying to make her exhibition as awesome as possible. February is not the best month for exhibitions in Japan, but I found a few good ones. Now if only NZ$ would climb the bastard back up... Sorry, a reference to Sir Ed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Online Shop: a Case Study of Sorts

This is a record of my first round of the Pop Up Shop. Because I honestly did not expect to sell, I was overcome by the feeling of being caught unprepared, but then you don't know what you don't know, and I had to do it once to learn what I want. So here goes:

1) I've planned to open an online shop, off and on, for about a decade, but had not, mainly because I had enough outlets and could not keep up with supplying them and meeting exhibition/commission commitments.

2) Over that decade I constructed a few empty shops, Etsy account, unpublished pages, etc, intended as more or less permanent shops. Throughout, I stayed with the same paradigm. Some components are still important to me, some are not, some I'm not sure hot to create. They include:
  • Visual cohesion of the items, (so, a series,) and also with the "interior" of the store, stationary, packing material, websites, everything;  
  • Overall girly/frilly/feminine look, floral on grays, whites and pale blues; 
  • But also an elegant/exquisite/grown-up feel; 
  • Utmost simplicity of process, for the client and for me; 
  • Prices in NZ$. I wanted to stress the New Zealand-ness of my store. Also, clients could potentially wait until the NZ$ drops to buy; 
  • The vague but supposedly important notion of "branding". 

3) You could say I opened the shop kicking and screaming on New Year's Eve, only because I said I would here sometime in November/December. I wasn't crazy about a lot of what I was doing: the timing, the pieces collectively, my lack of success photographing, and truth be told, lack of motivation. But the hump looked bigger the longer I procrastinated, and I'm glad I got over that.

4) My target customers were always:
  • General public, including friends and family, who want nice handwoven items;
  • General public not related to or in close social proximity to handweavers who want nice handwoven items. They are possibly already interested in textiles/weaving;
  • General public looking for a nice, one of a kind gift/memento/accessory, not necessarily textile/weaving, for themselves or loved ones,
  • Artists and artisan looking for something nice that's made by hand, because I've had good feedback/swap offers from these folks in the past; 
  • Friends and family who want something because I made them; 
  • Friends and acquaintances who are curious to know what I do in my basement;
  • I dream of having folks who want to collect my stuff eventually. Gee, that took guts admitting publicly!

5) Ben shared a link on his Facebook page to my shop, and told me I should do the same on mine, so I had to. This week I have 259 FB friends; I've never checked, but gut feeling tells me a little over 1/3 of my FB friends are real life friends and family; 1/3 non-weaver online friends, and 1/3 weavers/textile people. I might more or less "communicate" personally with 20 or 30 tops, but some once every several blue moons. All but one client was real life friends or long-time online friends; the one client saw an online friend's link/share. I don't have a weaver page.

6) Being new to this, I tried to understand the flow of activities. Today it looks something like this.
You can enlarge by clicking but it doesn't help, and many of you already know. Suffice it to say, the blue parts are what I can control/systematize/standardize/prepare.

7) Beginner's (or first timer's) Luck: all but one client have known me somewhere between almost ten years and all my life, none of whom had the chance to buy my weaving previously. Only one commissioned previously, and in fact, it was my first commission. Thanks, Liz. For most, it was a long time coming; one told me so. Also that NZ$ dropped drastically helped overseas clients see my prices as a "steal/bargain", their words. Plus, as I'm going to Japan in February, some Japanese friends/family saved on postage. I can't replicate these every time; the first item, never again.

8) Things I can control, (the blue items):
  • What I make;
  • Photographs. I wanted them bigger, but then the page became so long, I made them smaller. Ben suggested clickable thumbnail but I get confused overseeing multiple pages, so I decided against it this round; 
  • Descriptions/words of seduction;
  • Price. (Along with the usual "what's the right price" conundrum, feeling like I have to justify the price, I had some which included "standard" postage and some not. The first category was to maintain parity with previous gallery/commission prices; the latter wasn't. This is the kind of complexity I want to get rid of, which is easier if I sell a series, hold a sample sale, etc.);
  • How many I list at once. I think fewer is better for my sanity. I was once told I have to have between ten and a dozen in any physical shop at any time, so I tried to do the same here, but it's unnecessary;
  • Look and organization of the "shop", visual cohesion, but they need not stay permanently the same;
  • Standard answers to emails of inquiry/order, including request/confirmation of PayPal email/postal address/posting options, offering different posting methods/prices and ETA, and non-PayPal payments. What else?;
  • Default packaging, both inside/decorative and outside/practical. This includes how "frivolous" I want to get as I'm Japanese and I know how to do "frivolous", but my natural tendencies is austere. If I ask people to pay good money, I need to make the packaging fit the weaving and the mood of the store. Also, as there are standard packaging material available, do I now start weaving sizes to fit into one of, say, two or three sizes?;
  • Record/database, spreadsheet or individual check lists, what items? 

9) Pros/cons/issues (Some are repeats.)
  • Photography, GRRRRR; 
  • How to be found by the general public. My Facebook was a ready-made market but an one-time-only environment. I will need more exposure to make the shop successful consistently.  
  • Price simplification. This can be solved by listing in small, "same kind" lots;
  • Packaging. Besides what feels good to me, Nelson is a small place and has few choices so I need to look online/elsewhere but also need to be as creative; how can I make recycled packaging classy?);
  • Visual cohesion/mood/standardization;
  • Big pro/thumbs up/hats off to Paypal for making invoicing and record keeping so easy. The 4-and-a-bit % fee is nothing; 
  • Heavy baseball bats to banks. Most have bank buying and selling rates to get maximum profit from us, right? So if I convert a NZ$ price to, say, yen, and then convert that amount back to NZ$, the value us substantially lower than my original price. I don't mind much smaller, inexpensive items, but I do for larger pieces, so I must select a reasonable website for clients not using PayPal;
  • I can build a better client database and send things like greeting cards if the spirit moves. 
  • Platform: I casually browsed Etsy and two NZ-based craft sale sites, Facebook, Blogger and had Ben take a tour of Wordpress. One NZ-based, (really-near-Nelson-based) closed quickly. I couldn't be bothered learning Wordpress when shortly afterwards Blogger incorporated many features I liked on Wordpress. Etsy vs felt.co.nz, I was partial to Etsy because of the potential exposure rather than sticking to NZ-ness. But in the end vulnerability to policy changes was the same anywhere, in which case staying on Blogger, with which I'm most familiar, was the easiest.  
  • Whether to keep the shop attached to my blog. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm frank about what I don't like or what's not working. And even though my pieces age well after I've had time to mend/finish and sit on my them, I feel hypocritical to hop to another page and declare everything is in tip top shape. Not spilling everything here goes against the very reason I blog, so that's not an option. This is an issue I've considered for many years, but now that the proximity to the shop is so close, I need a rethink. 
  • (EDIT) Pop-Up Shops should stay open one or two weeks, tops. round"?
  • (EDIT) Pricing. "Includes postage anywhere" didn't feel right but I couldn't think of a remedy that felt right and simple, I went with it for this round. In future, I might have NZ price including postage vs Anywhere else price including postage, OR everything excluding postage. I think the former is simpler.  

If you have experiences/advice/funny stories, do tell.
EDIT: Naughty of me. I forgot to thank Cally and Doni for their invaluable advice. I touched up the site even after it went public, and some of the "issues" sprouted from seeds they shared with me.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Paper Play

What got me out of said funk was Jade Herriman's blog. I met Jade at the mixed media workshops in Australia in 2014. Her posts have come in my feed regularly, but I wanted to read it all from the start. And I did. I don't play with paper/paint lately and I wanted Jade to fix that.

In the past few years I learned the joy of spontaneity through gesture drawing, collating and mixed media. I get a kick out of watching pictures change in front of my eyes, and have come to like not having plans/intentions, "discovering" what I'll be making as I make. The fact I use cheap material allows me to use anything without worry. And I like giving what I make greeting cards and the like.

As far as I can tell, (you knew I was going to itemize,) here are some issues blocking me:
1. I'm a great starter but not a finisher.
2. Although I'm not uncomfortable taking a long time, I feel compelled to finish pieces. But like writing, I never know when things are finished so too often I ruin things.
3. I'm horrible at working little but often. I love the idea of (insert_cute_idea)-a-day projects but they are so hard for me.
4. I love beautiful visual journals and artists' sketchbooks, and have seen many polished examples; you know where that leads.
5. I've always been a planner even before weaving and it works for weaving because I prefer to know where I'm headed. But the longer I stay away from paper play, the longer I spend planning projects, picking color schemes, themes, and goodness, you know where that leads. And by the time I have a reasonable plan, I know I should have just gotten started long ago.
6. I've been playing with paper for a while, and occasionally I feel I should be able to make more finished/polished/interesting things after all this time.
7. Occasionally I feel the benefits of paper play should seep into my weaving, but other than colors, I haven't seen discernible evidence.
8. My paper play does take up a little space so my environment will be better suited when I use up a little more of my yarns, but that's by the by.

Jade's blog couldn't convince me to get off the computer and play with paper just yet but her examples were delicious. As well, the emotional/unplanned benefits of journaling, I get a lot of the same from this blog even though the posting is less spontaneous.
So here we are. Maybe when I'm in Japan next month.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Post Project Anticlimax

Towards the end of Ben's holiday, I was getting so tired I warned him I'd like to sleep in and read one day. My sleep was becoming erratic again and I wasn't eating right because of the heat but also not drinking enough water. I never took that day off, though, because I had the Aha Aha warp which was so fun to weave, and finished three pieces and a fabric swatch by Friday.
Even though everything had been set up, weaving three pieces in the first eight days of the year was a really good omen for this slow weaver. Then for the next three days I tidied the house to get it back into the "Ben's back to school" mode. Came Tuesday I was exhausted so I blobbed but couldn't figure out why I was so tired. Yes, it's been hot; no, I haven't exercised in the heat; and got only two spots in the garden before my skin started to itch in the glaring sun in spite of long sleeves, but three weeks of relaxing downtime with hubby cannot justify this degree of tired.

Then I thought of one possibility: Post Project Anticlimax.

You see, this Aha Aha commission project, (I love the name, it was going to have a totally different tone, but I can't change it now,) was a big deal for me; I was going to make something spectacular. And I've come to understand that when I use words like "spectacular", I mean well-thought-out, difficult, time-consuming, and probably most importantly, unlike anything I made before.

The two pieces on the right are my two candidates; Aha Aha is in the middle; the first, far right, though more understated, is lovely and rather mature-elegant. The far left piece for Mom, I used a number of dark-blue-ish cashmeres in Fibonacci because I didn't have enough of one color to do the job; it has the colors of men's kimono but the jury is still out on the piece.

These Aha Aha pieces, though nice, and would suit the intended giftee from what I researched, look typically "me". Meaning, they are nice in a stable, done-reasonably-well-many-times-before way, but not new to me. I didn't feel the thrill of something hitherto unseen come off of my loom, and I lament not taking this opportunity to broaden my horizons and doing something outrageous.

I did a lot of research, read a lot of words, gazed at photos, and walked around my house imagining walking in this person's spaces of my imagining. I made a whole bunch of drafts none of which suited and saved none. One insomnia night I was playing around with past drafts, (looking for something suitable for Mom,) and suddenly one of those jumped out showing me a visual to go with some of the words I read. I always planned to weave Mom's request on the lovely mill-end 72/2 merino, the same as my grays but in a delicious navy, warp, but knew also the warp would suit the project. All that remained was to sample some silks for weft, tweak the draft a bit, and voila, all systems go.

It was too easy, and not new, which is why I can't shake this idea of missed opportunities. I wrote about something similar last year. I also wrote about trusting my instincts and having confidence in my accumulated knowledge. By golly, I'm a hard one to please. I haven't learned how to reconcile the forward thrust vs riding on tailwind.

Yesterday was hot and muggy and I finally had that total blob out day with a massive headache, and had to miss a pleasant afternoon with friends. Today I'm better, but I'm thinking of weaving another Aha Aha warp, because I still have time after I come home.