Blogging, signature files, social media and buying local/handmade

On Tuesday, I facilitated a workshop re. promoting an artisan business (on zero budget!) to four friends at the wonderful Amanda Byrne’s house just outside Gorey. Amanda (a milliner and feltmaker) and I became friends initially through facebook and met when she was one of the participants at Dawn’s first ‘fantastic felt hat’ workshop in April. Since then we have been in regular contact online as Amanda builds up her business Highbury Designs, we had a session earlier in the year discussing ideas for Amanda to promote her hats and felted accessories and I’m glad to say that the business is really expanding and Amanda’s customer base is building rapidly!

A selection of Amanda Byrne’s beautiful hats and felt accessories

There are all sorts of free and inexpensive ways to get your product in front of consumers, blogging, signature files, internet forums,  business cards and social media sites like facebook and Pinterest to name but a few. It’s really important too for people to realise that buying local and buying handmade really DOES make a difference to the maker, please consider this the next time you are looking for a present or gift voucher, you are really helping to keep an artist maker in business. The four friends who participated in the workshop on Tuesday are all experienced visual artists and craftspeople with interesting and beautiful work to share, making the work is the easy part but as we all know it’s vital to then let as many people as possible know what we are doing!!! Check out their new facebook pages and if you like what you see please hit their like buttons and share. In no particular order (the order everyone sat around the table in fact) I give you Sharon, Julie, Paula and Naoimh.

Undercover!

I’ve been undercover all day today, no Internet at all as I’m trying to get as much felting done as possible before I crash out with exhaustion! The sum total of my finished work so far is one VERY long silk and merino scarf plus two nuno felt scarves. Yesterday I facilitated a social media workshop which was full on but good fun, hope the participants thought so too!!! I’ll link through to their relevant Facebook pages tomorrow and you can have a look at their respective art/craft practices. For now I’m heading to eat my lunch/supper (rolled into one!), 4 cheese tortellini accompanied by a warm baby beet and pink grapefruit salad. No email or Facebook action today so apologies to anyone expecting a response, I’ll be back to speed tomorrow evening I hope.

Duckett’s Grove update and more display ideas

It was incredibly cold at Duckett’s Grove this weekend, not surprising since I discovered a 2″ gap with no glass in one of the window frames in the back wall and a smaller gap above the other window too. Don’t even ask how I didn’t see these before, it’s to do with the old window fittings and I had  to climb up high before it became possible to feel the gaps. You can’t actually see them at all from the ground but you sure can feel the results. Following on from this discovery I’ve decided to spend next weekend at Clasheen felting instead of freezing my —– off, I need to get more stock made before the Christmas Fair on 9th so this seems like to best soloution until the council get some new windows fitted or an additional seal of some description.

This evening I splashed out and ordered a pop up banner with stand to match my new tent cards (folded business cards) as well as a Christmas style sign from Vistaprint. I can’t afford to waste the pennies so I’m definitely hoping that they’ll add to my display this festive season, I also want customers to both see my stand and remember my name! Here’re some pics with the relevant links if anyone else is thinking of updating their display materials.

How much felt is enough, stock that is!

How much felt is enough for a display table or booth, enough that is to create a good display, have a selection of different items in different colours yet not have so much out that things look messy and don’t create a good impression???

Katie dyed her hair to match the gorgeous flower she felted yesterday, FUN!

Because of the various different events I’ll be participating in over the next 5 weeks I’m very conscious that I need to have stock to replace sold items too. I’m not however going to do as someone suggested and hold items back for the bigger fairs, the last thing that I want to do is presume people will buy at these and not offer everyone at my regular gigs an equal opportunity to buy my items. After all, they’re the customers who support me throughout the year so if anything they deserve the pick of the crop in my opinion! A sale is a sale is a sale, all money gratefully recieved and the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned!!!

Katie’s finished her week with me as part of her transition year (4th year in the school she attends) work experience. It was interesting having her with me as I usually work totally on my own and a second opinion was definitely a help at times. In addition to being out and about facilitating two sessions with Borris Active Retirement, a birthday party for a 9 year old and Borris Food & Craft Market this morning we managed to naturally print/dye over 24 scarves on Tuesday and have a big pot of cochineal on the go yesterday, a busy and satisfying week I think! Thanks Katie for all your help, it was a pleasure having you at Clasheen.

Cochineal dyed nuno felt

A hectic couple of months teaching, making and being on the road lies in store!

I don’t think it’s going to be possible to write long posts over the next couple of months, please bear with me during this time, short and snappy will be the name of the game! I’m crazy busy at the moment thankfully and don’t want to miss the opportunity of having a successful time selling this festive season, I really need to keep the cash flow moving. In addition to my regular gigs at Borris Food and Craft Market each Friday and Duckett’s Grove at the weekends I’m teaching a lot and taking up my duties for FeltUnited, I LOVE doing this so all is good but it’s just that I then need another 12 hours every day to felt and produce new work!!! From 8th December to 23rd December inclusive I’ll be participating in the Christmas Village at Mount Juliet, On Sunday 9th December it’s the Duckett’s Grove Christmas Fair (link below), on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th December I’ll be at the annual fair in Borris House and then for approx 2 weeks in the run up to Christmas as a member of Creative Carlow I’ll also be participating in their pop up shop, phew!!!!!

Last Friday design student Norma joined me for work experience, she’ll be helping for 10 days totally over the coming weeks and her next session is the weekend after next. Katie joined me yesterday for work experience this week, she’s a 4th year transition student and actually my great friend Sharon Jackson is her art teacher! She’s definitely choosen a week where we’ll be out and about a lot, 2 sessions with Borris Active Retirement, one birthday party for a group of 9 year olds and then the market on Friday, I’ve then got the weekend at Duckett’s Grove to myself.

Thanks to you all for your lovely messages, comments and emails about Dawn’s and my promotion to FeltUnited, we hope to do you all proud and really appreciate the support. I’ve got to fly now, bundles to unwrap and a nuno felt wrap to throw!

Christmas at Duckett’s Grove!

 

Beautiful skies for an exciting morning!!!

The sky was stunning over Clasheen this morning, a good omen I think for the exciting journey great friend Dawn Edwards and I have just embarked on!!! Last night the inspirational Elis Vermeulen and Cynthia Reynolds handed over the reins of FeltUnited to Dawn and me, whew, it’s a BIG responsibility. We hope to continue their amazing work uniting felters around the world, please bear with us while we catch our breath and get our feet on solid ground!

Early morning sky at Clasheen

Check out Elis’s wonderful video and last post on the FeltUnited website, we say thanks again and wish her and Cynthia a very happy and creative retirement!!!

My pine needle scarf and some more natural printing/dyeing

I had a lovely day yesterday learning Leiko Uchi’s pine needle technique. My biggest worry was that I would find laying out the ‘needles’ difficult and time consuming, instead, while they did take a lot of time in preparation the task was neither boring nor frustrating at all!

My finished pine needle scarf!

Seeing all Leiko’s beautiful samples spurred me on and I was thrilled by the end of the day with my beautiful, soft and ultra flexible scarf. It was also fascinating working with materials I don’t often carry in stock, gorgeous gold coloured 50/50 silk/ultrafine merino tops, a rich green 40/60 blend and a dark green plain merino for the body of the scarf. Leiko dyed all these fibres herself and I loved the sympathetic way the colours all blended together. The piece was laid out measuring 2.70m (a tad under 9 feet) and ended up after felting at 1.6m (just over 5 feet), a lot of shrinkage!!! Because I laid a very fine gold line around the edge of one side and two different ends for interest, this scarf may be worn in loads of ways! Check out my new facebook album for more pictures and the details.

It was a little breezy this morning taking pictures but a few people were asking for pictures of the silk I printed and dyed last week. Here are just two pictures, a rolled edge chiffon scarf that will be left as is and a length of ponge silk which I’m going to nuno felt later in the week, both were dyed using a selection of eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and rusty metal.

Rolled edge silk chiffon scarf printed and dyed using eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and rusty metal

Ponge silk printed and dyed using eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and rusty metal