thinking about 2009

window

I have been thinking for several days about how to approach my review-of-the-year posts. 2009 has been a very strange year. Over here in blogland, things have been mostly fantastic. But, the blog is sort of a Christmas letter version of my life. In my “real” life,  there have been challenges, anxiety, loss of some people I care about- my view of how my own future is likely to play out has changed dramatically this year. I am happy to see 2009 over. I have hopes for a new year- why does a new calendar year hold so much optimism? Anyway, here we focus on my artwork.

I started out 2009 thinking I would make it a year of challenges- every month I would identify something I’d like to accomplish but was difficult for me.

January- make a pattern. When PurlBee asked me in the fall of 2008 if I would make a pattern out of their felt, I said yes- my first challenge!  I worked on it in January and delivered it as part of a fun trip to NYC.

February- teach a class. I taught the tiny world class at the end of February- it was great fun.

March was suppose to be the month to get back to work on the studio room… well, I did get back to work on it for a while… but, got totally off track when I got a contacted by Etsy about doing the Handmade Portrait. After that, all my energy went into cleaning up the house and studio. Luckily I only had about a weeks notice- otherwise I would have made myself crazy! It was a while before I got back to work on the room again.

April was probably the last month I consciously thought about the challenges. I said yes to participating in this print show– yep, that was a challenge (and a distraction). And I got to work writing my first pattern for sale- the tiny world pattern. It felt doable after I saw what a great job PurlBee had done, writing up the directions and photographing the steps for my doll pattern. I used it as inspiration and a guide.

In May, I launched the pattern- it felt HUGE! Apparently I spent June making dolls. Funny thing about that!

July was when I took a class and the first steps into Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. Talk about getting out of my comfort zone- that was 30 hours of stress. But, it turned out I absorbed more then I thought when I went back to it in November to work on another pattern. I also managed to get the studio room to a point where I could start the move-in process.

August- So busy! 1. All my kids were home for a few days! 2. I worked on settling into the new room, then figured that I really needed to get back to work and the mess would settle out in time… still working on that. 3. I taught another Tiny world class. 4. My camera broke. 5. And the Handmade Portrait came out. 6. Peter left for college and we became “empty-nesters”.

September was a trip to South Carolina and working to settle into the studio. October, another Tiny World class and some tattooed ladies. Also, I started working on a new pattern- a kitty. I got the pattern finished in November- and my head swelled up to the size of a pumpkin because I was so proud of myself for managing to get it done using Photoshop and InDesign- with a little help from Kerry! And December was, you know, December. Crazy month of selling and trying to fit in family and friend obligations.

The biggest challenge always seems to be how to make a reasonable living doing what I love. Because this is my job. I don’t mind working really hard but I don’t want to burn out. I am always looking for ways that I can generate income that doesn’t mean making more dolls- like the teaching, the patterns, cards, etc. We’ll see what 2010 brings.

Tomorrow I will be doing a wrap-up of the dolls and tiny worlds of 2009. I always love seeing everything all together. Happy New Years Eve!

and the winner is…

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

3

Timestamp: 2009-08-06 16:09:45 UTC

*** Drumroll please***

Sister Diane!

If people are interested, I can check into how much printing would cost and then get some more of these into my Etsy shop. Would people rather have an academic year calendar or a 2010 year calendar?

garden baby

This baby is the same color palette as this garden lady. I love, love, LOVE these colors together!

Okay, sorry about that. Back to the topic at hand.

Did you know that Firefox can make all the colors in your photos look terrible? I could not figure out what was wrong- my photos looked fine on Iphoto and totally washed out when I put them on my blog or flickr. When I whined loudly enough about it, my sweetie figured out the the problem- check it out.

more reportage…

Last Friday, my Boston Etsy street team- Boston Handmade, had a meet-up with Maria Thomas, the new CEO of Etsy.

Here is my photo of the event-

There are much better photos and a great recap here on the BH blog. It was so great to meet her- we all came away feeling that Etsy is heading in the right direction with a thoughtful and intellegent leader.

And there is more-

You know I love blogging. I’ve been doing it for 5 years now and it feeds something in me. There are lots of reasons to blog and lots of great things that come as a result… but I have to admit- presents in the mail can not be beat! What is better then getting an email saying “I found something I knew you would love” from someone you have never met in real life (see related story here!). This came in the mail for me last week-

Thanks Mary! You were right- I love it all!

There are various side benefits to scheduling a workshop/class at my house. It is like having your mother-in-law come to stay. The house gets cleaned up, projects get done. When I decided to do the workshop, I used it as an incentive to move forward on a stalled house project- the bedroom that will be my new studio some day. Yes, a room that actually has heat! Anyway, the room has been in limbo for … I’m too embarassed to tell you how many years. Various life events happened after I got started on it and then everytime I thought about getting back to work, I felt totally overwhelmed. Well, I have made great leaps forward.

It is not done, but it all seems doable at this point. Maybe I will be working in there by next winter. I am not going to go overboard with unrealistic expectations!

Cleaning up meant collecting things to go to the Salvation Army. You see, I have to restain myself from going- my rule is, I have to donate a bag if I want to go shopping. So, on Friday, as I was driving down to the meeting with Maria Thomas, I stopped by to drop off my bag and take a quick look.  ooo, all knits, 3 for $1. I spent $3 and came home with another load of cashmere, angora and wool. Yum!

update on nothing in particular

things I meant to do…

2/13 was my 5 year blog birthday- amazing. I meant to do a blog facelift- didn’t happen. I meant to do a give-away- didn’t happen. Hopefully both WILL happen in the next few weeks.

And I meant to wish everybody a very happy Valentines Day.

I seem to be doing more socializing then usual and going to too many meetings. It is hard for me to get into my work when there is so much other stuff going on. I have a pile of dolls started and have gotten bogged down, trying to get one finished. Hopefully I’ll have something to show very soon.

Today I had a meet-up with Tracey and Melissa. We had lunch and then went on a little photo walk. Fun! This fence always makes me think of Melissa- rust, swirls- and I felt like I had to show it to her. Just one of those crazy blog meet-ups when you know all kinds of odd tidbits about a person. Anyway, we all had fun taking some photos.

starting the new year right

2009 isn’t even one week old yet, but so far it’s a good one! On Sunday I invited Tracey over for a studio visit. She had commented on my blog a few times and I knew she lived near me. We got into an email conversation and I knew we had to get together. We did that wonderful blog friend thing where the conversation starts where so many other conversations would end. So much is a given when talking to another art/craft blogger- like how great the online community is and how clueless so many other people are about why we do it! We can move right on to other important stuff.

First, Tracey brought me this wonderful gift inspired by the interview in Craft magazine-

I’ve hung it up over my desk. Here is her description of the inspiration for the piece and also her report of the visit. I think it is too funny that she photographed all the doll bits that never got finished…

We talked photography (among other things)- she is doing some amazing work with ttvthrough the viewfinder (tutorial if you are interested). It sounded intriguing and, of course, somewhere in this house I knew I had one of those cameras where you look down into the viewfinder. I’m pretty sure I bought it at a yardsale with a red leather camera bag that looked like a child’s doctor kit, in the early ’80s. Yep, there it was on the shelf in the living room. I tried looking through the viewfinder and it was so dirty I couldn’t really see anything.

I took out a few screws and cleaned it up as well as I could.

It is now significantly better and here are some photos I took from off the back porch-

Everything looks so spooky!

not so sure what to do about the grid in the viewfinder.

I think this uncropped one is my favorite-

Lots of fun but probably not going to pull me away from dollmaking.

Yesterday I had fun outing. A local fashion designer, Deborah Parker, invited me over to her studio to go through her scraps and see if there was anything I could use. Yes! I came home with 2 large bags full of wool, silk, linen, and some little pieces of cotton. Delicious! There are some very inspiring pieces in that pile- like, have you ever heard of wool corduroy? I hadn’t but now I have some to play with- it looks like perfect hair fabric to me.

Hurray- what a great way to start the year!

2008 review

Bear with me- I find this kind of analysis very helpful.

I finished 72 dolls this year-

and some cookies.

There were 23 tattooed men in various modes of fashion-

18 girl dolls-

11 babies

15 ladies-

2 gifts that inspired 24 more tiny world pincushions-

And the other stuff- I went to NYC, London, Portland, OR, and Chicago. I met Diane, Melissa, Jan and Susan in person. The paperbag swag project got finished after a long delay caused by 4 out of the 6 participants having babies- a pretty good excuse I’d say. I grew tomatoes! I did 4 shows. I was mentioned on Design Sponge by guest bloggers in January (Thanks Kath!) and then again in December (Thanks Camilla!). That was a little freaky. And, one of my dolls is Mr. April in the Whip Up calendar. All in all, it was another great year for my artwork and for my own crafty blogging universe.

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and visited and left comments or not in 2008. Happy, healthy and creative 2009 to all!

finished bags and comment thoughts

I’ve been mulling over some blog/craft related issues. The thoughts are not chosing to leave on their own, so I will put them here. And so as not to bore anybody, first some photos.

I finished the 3 bags- gifts for various young women in my life.

I made patches from the fabric I printed for a swap last summer- almost exactly a year ago now.

So now for some blog thoughts. I was at a party a month or so ago. I was sitting with a small group of people, all of us involved in the on-line world in various ways. Two of the people at the table, one a man and one a woman, started making fun of the type of comments that people make on food blogs (and also craft blogs by association, although I’m pretty sure they have never spent any time in the online crafty world). I was hearing that the comments were somehow not legitimate (?) or stupid because no one is giving criticism. Too much nice. All very kindergarten. No real issues are discussed. hmm… I don’t know…  I’ve been turning this over in my mind ever since.

We, in crafty blog community, are in a unique corner of the internet universe. To prove this point, this sequence actually happened to me recently.

A man commented on one of my Flickr photos. This flashed through my brain- OMG, a MAN on the internet!

Does that say something about the corner that we inhabit? I don’t think many of the art/craft blogs I look at are putting their work out into the world seeking constructive criticism. Who asks for that from strangers? If I want a critique of my work, I ask someone I know well, whose view point I respect, who I believe has some understanding of where I am coming from and who I can watch as they interact with my work. So why do I put my work out there? To connect with other people who are interested in what I’m interested in. Imagine- look! look! embroidery! wool! cool!…. I can assure anyone who questions this- it is not so easy to find people who get excited about this stuff. So, of course all the comments are nice and oh so gushy- we are thrilled to find someone else who gets what we are into!

Okay, that’s the first rant off my chest. I’ll leave more for another day.

trip report 2

We left Ithaca and we drove to Chicago for another event. 675 miles- 12 plus hours in the car… what a day. But, once I was there, I had a chance to meet up with Jan of Be*mused who has just recently landed in town. What fun that was! We planned to meet at the Bean and so I had my husband come with me to take a photo- I knew we’d one.

He asked me how long I would be with Jan and I said- I’m not sure but I have a feeling we have a LOT in common. We went and saw a show at the Chicago Cultural Center of the work of Tony Fitzpatrick. Amazing work- so inspiring. I could see applications for quilting, embroidery, collage, so much. I had never seen his work before… it has stuck in my brain.

Then we went off to have lunch… Wow- did we talk! For almost 3 hours! And, I can honestly say we hardly scratched the surface. I know I will be back to Chicago. Now I can’t wait. Hopefully Jan will find the perfect new house soon. I am looking forward to a studio visit.

Well, nothing else on the trip really lived up to that visit. I kept thinking (and talking) about all we’d discussed for days afterwards. I think my husband might have been getting a bit tired of my enthusiasm?

Anyway- some other photos.

what a week!

Today (5/7) is the last day to vote on the Softies Awards… although if you haven’t already, by the time you read this it will probably be too late.

I am back at work-

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a group (choir? gaggle? giggle? luncheon?) of big ladies in pastels.

I have been reflecting on how the internet and blogging community has become such a good part of my life.  In one week I met Ariana of Staindrop (Sunday) who gave me a fantastic walking tour of Portland. Then Sister Diane of Craftypod (Monday) for talk, coffee and recommendations for great places to visit in Portland.  Tuesday was spent visiting those places.

On Friday, back home, I spent the morning with Abby of While She Naps.  We  discussed all the favorite topics- kids, marketing on line, our blogs, other favorite blogs, the state of Art and art and the world.  Wonderful!  But not only that- we went out for a walk and stopped in a fantastic coffee/tea shop-  Look at this!

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We split one of these-

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Thanks Abby!

Sunday was a party to celebrate a little more then one year since Boston Handmade began.  It is my Etsy marketing and friends group.

Wow!  What a week!  And so many people look at me like I am some kind of nut when I say I blog, sell online, post on Flickr…  they just don’t know what they’re missing.