Monday, April 10, 2006

Dyeing is my saviour!

Dyeing is always good. It lifts my spirits and as I press the fabric the next morning I am always inspired by each piece as it 'talks' to me. This batch of dyeing wasn't as colourful as usual but even so I was pleased with it. It was more a batch for applique work as I can see how each piece can be used to produce varied colours for flowers, leaves, fish etc. So I now feel I can go into the workroom and draw/paint and produce some ideas. I think my biggest problem is one of size. I have such a small space to work in...8 x 7 feet...and this doesn't lend itself to doing large pieces of work, and I've allowed this to discourage me. But I have decided that I will make the most of what I've got and do small to medium pieces and not fret if I can't produce mammoth epic pieces. And I am going to try and get some stuff finished because this will make me feel more inclined to get going on something new. It was warming to the soul to have such support from so many of you re my angst over not being able to get going on anything. I will get round to answering emails and comments I promise as I did appreciate your words. Thank you!
Gabrielle's blog had an interesting piece in it about the joys or not of marketing one's work. Something that most of us have to think about at some time or other. For me, marketing my work is one of the hardest aspects of being creative. Mainly because I have such a horror of being pushy and not quite liking to tout my wares with gay abandon. I do very well selling my fabrics to my students and in this I am so lucky as I have a built in set of clients. But I would like to sell my hand-dyes further afield but don't quite know how to go about it. Liz from Dreaming Spirals gave me some good ideas here a while back and they were very useful. Thank you Liz. But there doesn't seem to be a regular formula for getting sales. Also I have a fairly wide lazy streak when it comes to some aspects such as keeping my website current and up to date! Bad bad girl! My packs of fabric and notions for crazy patchwork and experimental embroidery have always sold well as have my hand-dyed silk ribbons but I want to slowly move out of this sphere and concentrate on the hand-dyed fabrics, perhaps adding silk into my repetoire. It would be interesting to see what other people's ideas on this subject are. As Gabrielle about a discussion? What is it that makes things sell? Is it price? Is it the type of fabric? Is it being on the same continent? Is it knowing the seller? Is it the fact that the seller is well known? What is it? Answers please..I need them! Like yesterday! :-)
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  1. Hmmm, what makes me buy hand-made fabric? Knowing the seller helps; beautiful presentation helps (small pieces in packs seem to do well for the applique fiends) but sometimes I'll buy just because someone has an interesting way of displaying stuff (dang, who's blog was I on where there was gorgeous presentation at the Chicago show? I'll have to get back to you on that). And if they have a lovely tag that says something about themselves, original art, more contact info - I'm more inclined to buy. (Makes it feel like more of a connection, I think.)

    I'm also inclined to buy pieces with more work in them (more than I would do myself) - even though that means higher prices, I'd definitely buy a small, more "layered" piece than just a straight hand dye, no matter how beautiful the colours.

    I'm a sucker for sparkly, too - show me foiling/lumiere paints/random streaks of pearlescent like lightening - yeah baby, I'll hand over the money!

    Different fabrics? I am ssooooooooooooo over seeing the same cottons... (think all those boooooooring but useful gradation packs)but if someone offered me a pack of 1/8s of same toned cheesecloth/silk/overdyed thrifted/ whatever including the same cottons? Yep, I'd buy that.

    But here's where we come to a CRUCIAL point - what's your market? Who are your buyers? See, I'd LOVE those co-ordinated packs, but I can see that it would scare the poop out of a "traditional" quilter(or newbie who has been in the clutches of the dreaded Quilt Police "Thou Shalt Only Use Cotton" catechism!)

    And why are you making what you make? If you love the pure process of dyeing, and really don't want to be involved in doing more to the cloth than that, then that's what you need to really focus on. do people want repeatability or is the uniqueness of each piece your selling point? Are you keeping an eye on what commercial colours are hot in the shops or is that less important to you?

    Oh - you know what else makes me buy? SAMPLES made up. Yep, seeing how someone else has used the wares in a variety of ways - yep. I've even succumbed to buying commercially printed fabric once or twice (you shoosh! Not that often! Truly!) because I have loveloveloved the way it's worked up into a quilt. Or even a postcard.

    Hmmmm. Definitely food for thought in your questions, Val!

  2. Dang, one more thing - WEBSITE UPDATES UPDATES UPDATES! Nothing turns me off more than a dead website. Yes, it's a LOT of work. But wither you have just a "placemarker" website that says "contact me for what's available" OR you devote time to keeping it freshfreshfresh.

    *sigh* again, I think that comes back to this whole setting your goals/identifying your market/identifying what YOU want to spend time on (prioritising, that's the word I was after!). If it's the dyeing part that really floats your boat and the web stuff makes your feet drag, then focus your energy on another form of marketing. Guild nights? Magazine ads? I dunno.

  3. oh goodness if you find out do share ;)) as for me when I buy I'm always after stuff that is hand done rather than commercially printed. One off isn't important to me but the individual piece usually sells itself through it's own unique features. Colour combinations are important to me and as I'm getting older I also getting more picky. I always go back to combinations in nature for my work palette. Natural fabrics have always attracted me and the only reason I'd get manmade fibres would be to do a particular effect such as "burning back". Price is much of a muchness... if I really like a material I can't not have it. Being on the internet is my best resource for buying so place doesn't matter to me. I'd rather buy from sellers offering unique products which often means I'm attracted to little known sellers. Once i was told when trying to work out a commercial market for my painting - Paint what YOU like as there will be others out there who like it even more. took me years to believe it but finally I do trust in it,and it's true that small market aint so small after all :))

    hope the ramble helps
    all the best

  4. Start a second blog. Much faster to add and delete the current offerings and just a click away.
    Large bright fotos help.

    I had brilliant success selling 20 and 30 piece sets last summer. They are still asking for them even tho I dismantled the second blogsite and don't offer the sets anymore. I got too busy to dye them anymore. They were priced decently and I haven't a single set left.

  5. Caitlin what marvellous comments. You have made a lot of good points there that I will bear in mind for future reference.

    And the idea of a separate blog Mel is one that hadn't occurred to me but is of course a most sensible idea. Thank you!