Tag Archives: online indigo workshop

the heron and the hummingbird

I was prompted to write this post as a reply to a recent comment on a previous post about my online indigo workshop “Let’s Dye with Indigo“. comments here.

The commenter was suggesting that I apply to teach my online indigo class at Craftsy. This is not the first time someone has suggested this to me.  Now I know that “everyone is doing it”, and before I get more emails asking  why I’m not, I thought I’d try to explain my hesitation to do so.

First, it’s not “all about the money”.  But then again, it is about the money too.   About where the money goes. I prefer it to come directly to me for the work I put into my classes.

Craftsy is great for those who don’t want to or can’t set up their own system of teaching online.  They do it for you.  And I hear they do a fine job of it.  They even do your hair and makeup and send a limo for you.  (Somehow, that just doesn’t feel like me being me.) I’ve seen some of the promos and they are pretty slick.  Again, that doesn’t really feel like me either.  I don’t want to turn my indigo dyeing teachings into something that resembles a morning talk program.  I kinda like it the way it is, personal,real, and kinda funky.  Shot here in my own studio on my trusty iphone and edited in imovie.  Not so slick.

Yes, I probably could sell a lot of classes there.  I might even make more money (but like I said before, it’s not all about the money). But then again I might not.  I have spent a considerable amount of time and even travel teaching, learning, practicing, marketing my own  work and “brand” over the past many years and I’m not so quick to turn that over to someone else to take a cut off the top.  I am not so interested in becoming a class in a category on a site offering everything from decorating cupcakes to pizza making and parenting. I guess I’m a little weird that way.

As I look over Craftsy, I see that since their beginning offerings in 2011 they have grown to encompass so many topics- a clearing house of sorts. They make their money by being that clearing house.  Online learning is here to stay.  That much is sure. Coursera is now booming and their offerings are free!

For some of us that have been at this, teaching craft (or whatever you want to call it) online, for longer than that, I believe we paved the way for this sort of thing. The first one I was aware of was Joggles, where I taught a couple of classes in the beginning as a requirement for having my ribbon sold on the site.  It was a fair trade in the beginning.  Later down the road, I wanted to offer more (was told that it was impossible to teach dyeing online!) and I wanted to include video so I went solo and started developing my own methods and means.  Part of my intention was that I knew there were many folks out there like myself who couldn’t afford the trips to take in-person workshops with great teachers.  Whether it was a time or money issue, I thought that teaching dyeing online was a possibility. I also didn’t want to be limited by geography. I wondered. Things were changing. Technology was offering up new possibilities. I just started doing it.  I learned as I went and I learned from and with others.

Susan Sorrell   stands out in my mind as someone who was in on the online teaching very early on. Maybe as early as 2002 from what I could see on her website! I think my own first online classes were somewhere around 2006.  And of course, we include the masterful Jude of Spiritcloth for bringing us classes online that feed our soul, make us wonder, and have helped us in so many ways-stitch by stitch- by just being herself. There are many more I am sure.  We each have created a small niche for ourselves that supports us and our families. We are not rich by conventional terms, but we are independent and we are entrepreneurial. We also want to be ourselves. I  want to own my own materials, my own copyright.  I like being able to add to my class whenever I like-as I learn and grow with the students. Once a Craftsy class is “in the can” it is what it is.

feathered friends by Peg Mathes Yates

feathered friends by Peg Mathes Yates

 

Immature Great Blue Heron looking for dinner ©2010 Peg Mathes Yates

Immature Great Blue Heron looking for dinner ©2010 Peg Mathes Yates

I am reminded of a retelling of a Native American myth that I once read called  “Heron and the Hummingbird” where the two get in a race to see who will own all of the fish in the rivers and lakes. The hummingbird loved to eat small minnows and the heron loved to eat large fish. I think we are the hummingbirds in the story.

I imagine that at some point down the road Craftsy might be bought by some media company larger than itself.  Seems that is how many of these sorts of startups go. Big fish swallowing up smaller fish -the way of the world these days.

I just hope that the future will still hold a place for hummingbirds to flit free and enjoy the nectar. Some days though, it does feel as if the odds are stacked against it. Once, when I was in Mexico, I saw a hummingbird laying dead near a large window. I went over and picked it up and to my surprise it started to move.  It sat there in my hand for a few minutes gathering itself together and then flew right out of my hand- off and away! It had merely been stunned I guess, running into that large window.

I’d never bet against the hummers out there. We’re colorful, we can take a few knocks, and we keep on zip-zipping around tasting nectar from here and there. Plus, as my friend Peg reminds me, hummingbirds can fly backwards! (thanks for the photos Peg!!)

summer indigo dyeing blues

I know that many of you are finally coming into your spring – with things warming up, plants budding out; gardening and planting might be on your mind.  As you get some of that done and look forward to summer are you considering some indigo dyeing?

indigo flowering 4/30/13

indigo flowering 4/30/13

If so, you might consider taking my online indigo dyeing class “Let’s Dye with Indigo“.  Now is a good time to consider starting your vat as the weather warms up.  I just started a new 40 gallon natural fermentation vat and within one week it was already producing beautiful blues.  My class consists of two parts- the 5 lesson workshop plus the student forum. Both are very informative.  You can easily jump from one to the other through links in the sidebar of each.  Four (4) types of vats are explained and maintained.  You choose which one is right for you.

adding the wetted out indigo into the new vat

adding the wetted out indigo into the new vat

Although this workshop covers 4 different vat types, continuing posts will focus on the fermentation vat. There have been a lot of things fermenting around here over this past year. Many having to do with how we go about our lives- what we add to it and what we take away from it; the marks we make, the marks we leave behind, perhaps leaving no mark at all!  Fermentation has produced many of the best things we can enjoy in life- wine, beer, miso, bread, yogurt, cheese, pickled vegetables and so much more (even compost!).

Fermentation is a cellular process that occurs in an environment lacking oxygen that converts organic matter into simpler compounds and releases energy as a result (along with the byproduct of many delicious and useful things).

Pretty cool huh?  Simplifying organic matter to create energy and other good things.  I’m gonna stick with that.   I’ll also be adding posts about growing and using indigo as well.

So let’s continue to dye indigo by fermentation this year.  Let’s Experiment. Let’s Wonder. Are you in? If so, sign up here:

Let’s Dye with Indigo-online workshop

Why should you sign up now?  For “This Week Only” (sounds like an infomercial!) I am adding in the Shibori Techniques on Silk -Self Study Online Workshop (usually sold separately for $25). The principles in the shibori techniques class can be applied to your indigo dyeing as well. This sale will be available only until this Saturday   – giving me enough time to add you into the class before the Silk Study Tour to Japan departs. So both classes for the price of the indigo class.  A sort of Sayonara Sale!

the daily dyer preview

Additionally, if you have been a part of my series the daily dyer for the past 5 months, you know we are entering the final month which will be broadcast from Japan.  Thank you to all who have participated in that little experiment- I hope you have found some of it useful or at least entertaining.  This last month should prove to be an exciting month.  I have decided to continue there as well and will be offering  two options for the daily dyer in the shop:

option one: continuing. for original subscribers only. this will secure your subscription through the end of the year.  cost is $35

option two: new subscriber. here you will get access to the full year; the upcoming Japan Silk Study Tour posts and whatever lies beyond that.  the past, the present, and the future. cost is $95.

Sign up in the shop here.

ready, set, indiGO!

I am almost ready to launch the new online indigo workshop-lesson one. I will close registration on Sunday night. I am excited and honored to have such a great group gathered from so many places and with so many talents-all indigo-bound. We will surely learn much-and together. We already are.

The blog sites have been open for a couple of weeks now and folks are gathering supplies and asking questions. People are sharing their knowledge. There is still time to board the indigo-bound train, set to leave the station on Monday. A two week gap between lesson one and two will still allow for materials gathering and the set up of a vat. I won’t add anyone in after Sunday as I will need to focus on the class itself as opposed to adding more folks into the class.

jump on board!

bone to pick…

simply skip this post if you are not interested in hearing some critical thoughts on making and selling your work at trunk shows.

say what? did you say bone?


so, here’s the story-

I was recently invited to do a trunk show at the Huntington Library for the re-opening of their famous Japanese Garden which has been under restoration this past year. I was excited! A great match-up between my work and the event which doesn’t present itself very often. I was honored to be asked. I love the Huntington and was looking forward to visiting the newly renovated Japanese gardens anyway.

Of course there was a hitch…they want 50% of all sales. Now you might think that sounds good to you, but if you make a living this sort of thing you realize that you will likely loose money doing this. It’s one thing to sell your items outright at wholesale (50% off retail) to a shop or gallery for that price because they are committing to buying the merchandise (and likely meeting a minimum order), they are doing the display, the sales and everything else in regards to moving your merchandise (which is now theirs!).

But in this trunk show situation, you the maker, are creating a collection of work for the event. You pack it all up, create a beautiful display for it, and stand there all day with it selling, demonstrating, and answering questions- among other things (like packing up everything that didn’t sell at the end of the day, creating an invoice for them of what sold and submitting it so you can wait several weeks to get paid-oh and NOT working in your studio on other things for that day)). So in effect, the museum shop’s only commitment is a couple of fold up tables they set up outside their shop, the ringing up of the sale and some museum bags to put the merchandise into. There is no commitment to the merchandise, no inventory for them to manage, no extra staff to hire on for the event (i guess my time is free?).

After a number of emails back and forth with the staff there it was suggested that I just increase my prices 30% to cover the difference between what I wanted and what they were willing to give. Nice one. I pointed out to them that this would increase a $185 item to $240 and I didn’t think it would be salable at that price in addition to the fact that their customers could actually go online and see that they had been overcharged which would reflect poorly on us both. Their answer? Non- negotiable. Other artists do it. Hmmmm.

No deal. Too bad. Had to turn it down. Very disappointing. I was told that in the past that artists/makers received a better % but a year or so ago they changed it to 50%/50%. I suppose we are just to be thankful for the opportunity to support the museum. I guess I’ll support it the old fashioned way by just visiting every now and again. They do have a free day each month and you can access tickets by going here.

I write this here because I think it is of value to point out the fallacy of their thinking and what always feels to me like artists/makers being taken advantage of because there is always someone else down the list that is willing to settle for this sort of nonsense. Admittedly, it’s usually not full time professional artists/makers but I believe it brings us all down in the end.

But I will still enjoy visiting the renovations at the Japanese Garden when it re-opens in late March.

By the way, the upcoming workshop at the Japanese American National Museum is this Saturday Mar 3 from 1-4 PM. We will be working on silk in color and focusing on itajime.
You can call the museum to sign up at 213-625-0414.

Also, this is a last call for those who want to join in on the online indigo workshop which begins on Monday. Looks like we have over 15 countries and 25 states represented in the class so far. I’m excited about what we all be able to learn from this!

getting ready…

Yesterday the cold wind was howling through the outdoor studio and I worried what the weather might bring this weekend when Richard and I hold our joint workshop. But then I woke this morning to bright blue sun filled skies and no wind. Still, one never knows. We will be prepared for plan B and even plan C should it be needed.


Also, getting ready for the upcoming online indigo workshop. It always is a lot of work setting things up. Even though I have done this several times before there are always fresh challenges. Updated programs, a *new* used computer and new ideas to try out. So I have been working on it. I hope to have the new online workshop site up and running by tomorrow so those of you who are signed up can begin collecting your materials and deciding what type of indigo vat you would like to begin with. As always, an online class runs on YOUR schedule so you can never be late for class!

We will be talking about many things, one of which is sourcing materials. I found this today and really like it! You can read more about her project-Researching Sustainability here.

today,

a moon appeared in the vat…

this was the lime glucose (like fructose but since i had glucose…) vat i made last week. i’m experimenting and preparing for upcoming events.

a reminder:

JANM (Japanese American National Museum) 2 day workshop Jan 21-22

-High Desert Silk Experience 3 day round robin workshop with Katrina Walker and June Colburn

-a new online indigo 5 week workshop beginning in March

-a few more things in the works and will let you know as soon as things firm up.