on being an “artist”…

(I wrote this post over a couple of days so apologies for the wandering nature of it)
OK. It sounds good.

(it is-but I’ll get to that later)

I never actually had that thought myself. My thoughts went more like this:
-I want to make stuff I can sell-be self supported
-I want to create beautiful things that others enjoy and that I enjoy making
-I want to be in control of my own destiny (haha)
-I want to inspire others to create as I have been inspired
well, 3 out of four isn’t too bad.

On making things I can sell:
Seems I have done OK on that account. Still, it’s a struggle at times. If you had any idea of all the things I have made and sold over the past 30+ years…..
At times, compromises must be made in order to keep things moving forward.
When I had many employees, there were more compromises. Less time for personal work. An obligation to keep them consistently employed. Then there is always the import factor- ideas and products copied and reproduced in places where the cost of production is a fraction of what it is here. Constantly trying to stay ahead of that game in one way or another.
Now, working solo, it exists less in my life- but not gone altogether.

The past two days in the studio have consisted of lots of dyeing.
-200 yards of ribbon base dyed in various colors.
-the re-creation of a couple of base dye recipes that had become lost in the fray. actually, they were test colors that have now made it into the repertoire and I hadn’t really created the formal recipe card- that’ll teach me! for one color, i had to dye it 3 times to come up with the actual shade-and the first one was actually the best match once everything had dried. but now I have a couple extra shades for possible future use- they really are quite lovely.
-then there was the ironing of all that ribbon-200 yards of it
-not to mention pole wrapping over half of that.
-did i mention the discharging?
-then the overdyeing (always comes out a little different due to the nature of the way the dye is applied
-then comes the acid soak and the steaming-20 min per pole
-and finally the drying-it’s been rainy here and needed to use a fan overnight
-did i say finally? not hardly
-re-winding the ribbon into balls
-packing orders
-now lastly, collecting the $


Did I forget to mention something? Hmmmmm….marketing maybe. Shows, workshops, returning emails, answering questions, online classes, blogging, constant contact email blasts, website (gotta get to that), etsy orders (thankful for those), my ever so important wholesale accounts, tax stuff, ordering, flowermaking, slip in some time for new product design, there’s more…

So you said you wanna be an artist? Me too!

That said if you want to be a self employed artist it also means:
-no weekly,monthly paycheck
-not knowing where your next dollar will come from, but trusting that it will
-never having your “work” far from your fingertips (or your mind)
-not having to punch a time clock but often working to a deadline
-being able to set your own schedule-work night or day (sometimes both!)
-really enjoying what you do (best of all!)

It is good though. I have so many ideas floating through my head, each day the challenge is to decide which one to focus on. Aside from all the daily “stuff” that needs to get done I make sure I spend at least one hour on something new or experimental. Why? Because THAT is what makes it all work for me.
wrapping experiment
playing around with double wrapping and double discharging-

first poursecond pour
-now here’s a little lesson:
these two pieces were base dyed, wrapped, discharged, and overdyed together.
why did they come out so differently? all good up to the discharging. the first piece was discharged slightly more. and I mean slightly. Now on this piece it won’t make much of a difference but always something to consider. The real difference between the two is that the first pour of the overdye color was a combo of turq, yellow, and blue. the turq struck and exhausted quickly and there wasn’t much left for the second pour done immediately afterward. Too much yellow, had to add more turq and repour to correct being careful not to get it too dark (watered the dye down considerably). Just part of what goes into reproducing colorways for the ribbon. Color #10-Pink Clover (you can see the pink where I spread the pleats)

and a little diversion-

music by Latitudes and Longitudes
-check out the piece titled Crystal Cove(i like that one to)
Pocket Square
Available on Etsy

4 thoughts on “on being an “artist”…

  1. Nadine

    I’m discovering that you are more than correct about all the “professional artist” things we have to do, that don’t have anything to do with actual art. In my heart I knew it all along, but here I am anyway, at the computer more than working with the fabric, at the moment anyway. My train is just starting to move faster since my quilt book is scheduled to be published this July, but it’s already been a wild ride!

    I love your work, and wish that more of the larger scarves and other pieces were available on etsy, as I haven’t been able to find a place to buy them via mail! Thanks for sharing this glimpse into the process.


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