Category Archives: trade shows

Event page update-classes in Houston

I am doing a little blog and website maintenance and am now referring the events page here on the blog to my new website event page which I will keep updated. Just simplifying basically.

The new listings there are the classes I will teach at the upcoming Houston Quilt Festival. Here are the classes I am teaching this time:
Please visit the website link above for details.

I already have received a few emails expressing disappointment that I am not teaching any shibori and indigo classes there this year.  I opted to not offer those to Quilts Inc this year as they have invited several others to teach the same topics in the past couple of years and quite frankly, it diminished signups for my class last year.  Unfortunately, one of those teachers that was directly competing with my class just didn’t show up last year (!) and aside from disappointing a lot of students, lower enrollment in my all day class, there was a lot of confusion about it all. I have to ship in and buy a lot of supplies for that class which is costly and I refer all students to other vendors for supplies.  This year, all the classes I am teaching are related to supplies I will have in my booth in an effort to offset some of the costs.

These are the “behind the scenes” decision making that has to go on to keep this dyers bills paid.  These shows continue to change and one must look out for ways to make it all work in order to continue to teach and vend there.  Many of the smaller one of a kind vendors no longer do. It simply becomes too expensive. We carry on.

That being said, I am excited to teach the three half day classes I submitted. As always, I will give it my all to provide a fun, rewarding, learning experience! Hope to see you there!

Oh, and we will be using some of the cocoons that the silkworms are spinning right now!

almost ready…

Post-show recovery

It’s over and I’m home.  A long 10 days of constant action and responsibilities. Classes, setup, teardown, travel and the lugging of more stuff than I want to remember.  Until next year!

A few highlights included classes that went smoothly, a great booth setup, and seeing so many customers and students from throughout the years. Also had some crazy weather and flooding! Note to self: pack boots next year! (I did pack umbrellas and a raincoat!)

I got to meet Deb McClintock of the blog NATURAL DYEING IN THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY.  I have enjoyed her adventures in natural dyeing for some time now.  She also grows and dyes with indigo, madder and pomegranate (among other things). Thanks for taking the time to stop by Deb! Got to visit with Judith Montano a bit- she is so busy teaching every year at Festival she hardly gets down to the show floor.   I have admired her book Elegant Stitches for many years- have a copy of the original edition from way back and love how her work has transitioned from crazy quilting into the lovely landscapes she does now. Had a little time with Brooke from Hannah Silks- we go way back. So far back that neither one of us can any longer remember how long ago!  Was saddened to hear that her mom Hannah had passed away- she was the Hannah behind the silk.

It was a pleasure to see and meet up with folks who appreciate the techniques and materials behind the textiles.  I really enjoy the vintage dealers most I think (Carola Pfau of Textile Treasures, June Colburn, Carol Saber and others).  Their knowledge of the textiles they sell is priceless. These textiles teach us so much. What do the textiles of today teach us?  I wonder. A customer came to talk to me about what she had seen at the show.  She felt that the prizewinning quilts were lacking something. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it at first.  They were detailed, precise, painstakingly designed, impressive in scale, pleasing to look at…yet, something was missing.  Our conversation turned to the missing element- the fact that so much of the quilting done these days and especially for big quilt prizes is technology and consumer driven. Ever more sophisticated machines, tools and fabrics dominate.  In some of these pieces it causes them to feel sterile, almost as if they weren’t make by hand.  But yet they are. Such precision in cutting, stitching, and profusion of color and design made available by the limitless palette of modern fabrics takes away something I think. Comparing the vintage quilts in the show with their newer cousins one causes one to wonder about all this. I know I am speaking blasphemy when I say this.  One can wonder can’t one?

Today the show boxes arrived and were unpacked and I will send out emails to catch up a bit.  I needed a few days to recover (I forgot to mention the visit to the Urgent Doc in Houston did I?) and regain my balance, literally.  Perhaps some leftover items will appear in the shop by the end of next week…

There’s an upcoming workshop at the JANM to prepare for (sold out) and orders to start on in addition to a few custom orders placed at the show. Time to get busy…

People at the show were already excited about the 2017 Silk Study Tour to Japan and wanted to write me checks  but I am not ready for that just yet.  Hirata San and I are working out the new itinerary already and will have it up by January 30.  This time we will do 12 nights and include Kyoto!  What fun.  To be informed of these details please sign yourself up for my Constant Contact newsletter in the sidebar and make sure to check Silk Study Tour as an area of interest.

And in Freer news… I have added the Silk Shibori Ribbon Poinsettia Brooch PDF which includes links to the two videos on how to make this holiday piece.  I have also added a PDF to the simple shibori fringed flower.  This is easily made with small scraps you may have around. Please enjoy.

Here are a few shots from the show- big thanks to Donna and Virginia for helping me get through it all- you both were integral to the whole.  Also thanks to Katrina Walker and the whole Silk Experience team of teachers and Quilts Ed staff for doing a great job at Quilt Festival. It was very much appreciated.

fine gardening

  
-the top of four layers of silk shibori flowers in this last box shipping out to the show today. 

almost too pretty to close. 

busy …

looking from the inside out

just a view of what doing a show can look like from the inside

Mt Rainier from the room (over the freeway) at the extended stay in Fife

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we were instructed first thing at the desk not to leave personal items in the car. apparently, break-ins are rampant here.
inside the room though all was good.

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a small kitchen so we don’t have to go out much. I await Katrina’s arrival. We are sharing expenses and so forth.

later, we have hauled most of our stuff into the room and are settling in for the week of teaching and vending.
the room is filled with sewing machines, dye, kits, electronics, fancy irons and more.

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this is while we are still organized.

it’s less glamorous than it sounds but we are READY- almost. booth set up starts in one hour.
またあした、!

I like numbers

I always have. Numbers help me figure things out.

numbers, my pretties, numbers

(new in the shop) 

They help me make better decisions when I might be tempted to do something out of sheer emotion or desire (there is a time and place for that as well). Numbers are handy when measuring dye and silk or clay and glaze materials. Numbers help me be more efficient. Some of these things can be downright destructive if I weren’t paying attention to the numbers. The whole world is based on numbers. Business, governments, science, music and even art and nature can be looked at through a number filtered lens.

Daily, we have occasion to confront some pretty disturbing numbers. There are so many of those these days that I could drive myself crazy with them.  Most recently in the news JPMorgan  “mishandled” some numbers. Here, Candida Abraham says the numbers don’t lie when it comes to servicing the needs of the mentally ill in our society. The numbers Abraham speaks of have some pretty dire consequences if we don’t pay attention to them.

The numbers in my own small world are really tiny compared to such things. But, like most of us, I have to pay attention to them or the bills won’t get paid next month.  So in addition to being visually and technically creative I need to engage the other side of my brain and pay attention to the NUMBERS!  This post is just a little reminder to myself that one day, a year or so ago, I wasn’t paying close enough attention and allowed myself to agree to something I shouldn’t have.  At least not if I had been paying attention to the numbers.  I am actually pretty good at the numbers thing which is why I’m still around, independently creating daily for over 35 years.  But not that day.  I share it here so others may learn from my mistakes if you have any notion of making an honest living -of making.

This situation involves a teaching gig. I was honored to be asked and should have left it at that. Said thank you and made an excuse or some such thing. There had been something about it- like a little voice that said no,don’t-but I went against the instinct and signed the contract. Silly me.

I won’t go into all the details but as I later looked over all the n u m b e r s  I was less than happy. Not only did I feel that I had been misled in regards to scheduling and my ability to take a booth on the vendor floor I felt that the n u m b e r s  took financial advantage of my teaching in great favor of the organization who’s stated purpose is to inspire creativity and encourage excellence in the fiber arts. Hmmm.

So here are the numbers. See for yourself how it feels to you.

Class #1 (3 hour class)

35 person max. capacity for a fee of $75 per person-that’s a total of $2625 for a sold out class

My pay for the 3 hour class-$210 flat rate. (that’s $6 per student)

Now if my class doesn’t sell out, I still get paid the same.  Not very smart on their part if you ask me (they didn’t).

Class #2 (6 hour class)

24 person max. capacity for a class fee of $150 per person-that’s a total of $3600 for a sold out class

My pay for the 6 hour class-$425 if the class has a minimum of 12 people. If not, then I get paid $35 per student. (otherwise for a full class I am being paid $17.71 per student on a $150 class fee paid by the student) I think I’d be happier to take $385 for a class of 11 rather than $425 for a class of 24! Again, not a very smart move on their part.

Numbers people, numbers.

Now mind you, this is all in addition to fees that all students pay to even attend the convention itself- which runs about $200 each not including any hotel or travel.

This whole scenario created a situation for me that made me ask why would I even promote my own event? When their scheduling of my classes ended up being during prime vendor market time, I had to decline taking and paying for a booth where I might have been able to make up some of that. Feeling that I was “chosen” since I was a local to the event and they would not pay any travel expenses as with many of the other teachers,  didn’t help matters.

And as if that weren’t enough- the contract states that I am not allowed to teach the class (in this case shibori and ribbonwork-the only two things I do teach) for 7 MONTHS (6 months prior and  one month post) within the CONTINENTAL NORTH AMERICA.  SERIOUSLY?? Get a grip.

I really doubt that folks who take classes have any idea about these things.  I think they’d be surprised.

So, to sum it up- choose your events WISELY unless you are NOT in this to make a living. Not everyone is. But if you are, make sure that each event makes financial sense and pay attention to the numbers and the details. Each event should stand on it’s own merit and produce a profit.  And certainly not prevent you from making a living in your own field.

If you are a 501C3-then it’s a different story. For an organization that took in over $1,000,000 in 2010 (according to Guidestar) they give a whopping $4000 out in annual educational grants according to their website. They do a bit more when you include grants for students to attend the biannual conference($11,000-ish altogether). Many folks work as unpaid volunteers but with one exec salary at almost $100,000, additional employee compensation at $117,000 and travel expenses for the organization at over $62,000 (2010) among other things, the $4000 seems rather paltry when it’s stated purpose is to inspire creativity and encourage excellence in the fiber arts. This sort of thing starts making me, the lowly teacher/vendor feel a little like a stepchild-no nostalgia for that one. After looking at their tax returns available online, I realized I am not interested in  partnering with these sorts of organizations. Although they offer some benefits, often 501C3’s are organized around benefiting few rather than many.

I once attended a local Arts Council  roundtable where one of the discussion table talks encouraged artists to form  non profit corporations so that wealthy patrons, uncles and relatives could give them money and get tax write offs!  I kid you not. Tax-free trust-fund-ism. And in times where tax dollars are in short supply-all endorsed by the Arts Council.
No talk about how to run a successful and profitable business. Very disappointing.

Fortunately,the Long Beach Quilt Festival is just around the corner (July 26 at 5:00pm until July 29 at 4:00pm) where I will have a booth with all kinds of silk shibori and indigo. I won’t be teaching since it falls in the no-no zone but I will be demonstrating for free so come on by!

Here are the relevant NUMBERS-

Long Beach Quilt Festival 2012

July 27-29, 2012
Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center
Long Beach, California

Hours:
July 26: 5-9 p.m. (Preview Night)
July 27 & 28: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
July 29: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Ticket prices:
$10 daily adult
$8 seniors & students
Children 10 and under free.
$10 Preview Night (includes one free additional day)
$25 Full Show Pass (includes Preview Night)

dinner break…

a break right now between wrapping poles and discharging on my way to overdyeing and steaming. had to come in to check the inventory for colorways and make some decisions on what was going to get dyed what color in the overdye stage and what was going to be discharged (or not). this decision is based on me eyeing the ribbon and scarves on hand and making a list based on what i feel my “eye” is missing, what i think will sell at the show…blah blah blah. it’s a crap shoot basically but i do like to see a nice well rounded selection. basically, there is a person for every color i dye and part of the best part is seeing who chooses what color and helping them decide if they do in fact want help (many do!). often colors i personally love are the last to sell but that’s been true of the things i make and sell for a very long time. i try to think outside myself and also think about what moods and feelings the different colors and their combinations evoke as well as how they appear visually-which is of course how we take in this information in the first place. sorry, rambling a bit.
interestingly, there has been a conversation going on here that went in an interesting direction and reminded me that i DO in fact make to sell but with other intentions as well.

on another front (there are many), the following piece of silk (an 18 x 90″ scarf) will be going to one of the video subscribers as a gift. to qualify, subscribers who leave a comment on the video page will have their name thrown into a hat (once for each week they leave a comment) and at the end of the month i will pull one name out to receive this piece. it is just a sample of something that was done on the video- a shared quickie technique using the colorhue dyes. it’s not pleated but could be.
this piece feels pretty strong-stormy almost.

also, as promised- a few quick clips of last year’s Silk Study Tour. sorry, don’t have time to do a formal edit on the clips-just too much to do. but you get the idea. on this day we were with the Tama Silk Life 21 group at the Metropolitan Research Institute. we spend the full day there and everyone gets to try their hand at everything from reeling, spinning and making silk caps and mawata. both classes exampling what we learned here are sold out at the Houston show. i will be assisting in one of them.

some traveling money will be required so i restocked the shop with some indigo boro packs (selected indigo fabrics for a new stash of them last night) and as soon as i get some more ribbon scrap bags organized i will be putting them in the shop as well. be ready, they always disappear quickly! might also offer a scarf or two-as soon as i get the beads sewn on…
back to work, it’s gonna be a long night.