Sunday, July 31, 2011

Crafts Collective: Why?

Looking back on my blog, I realize that I haven't written about my vision for a craft-based collective in a long time. I've been writing a lot about what I'm doing, but not very much on why.

For many people, the whole idea sounds strange, "You want to live with a bunch of people and make craftwork for a living?"

Well, it all comes down to happiness. I believe that people are happier when they are connected to each other and the world around them. The culture we live in stresses individuality and personal strength over vulnerability and connectedness. Most people in America lament the lack of fulfillment from their day jobs and yearn for deeper connections with each other. I know I did.

I found that my day job felt unfulfilling because there was little creativity and almost no tangible result. How many jobs does that describe? I found that many of the people around me did craftwork as a hobby in order to "get their fix" of creative work.

I've lived in communities with greater and lesser intentionality for many years, but they've never gone deep enough for me. None of them had an agreement of commitment. None of them expected the participants to do the hard work of resolving conflict in order to strengthen and deepen their commitment to each other and the community as a whole.

And that's what I want: a deeply committed community based around connection to each other and the world around us. We work together, build our homes together, and keep items of beauty and meaning in those homes.

Eventually, I want to be able to look around my environment and tell you who built the house, who made the furniture, who made the dishes, and who wove the rug. And by "eventually" I mean "in about 10 years."

This is why I started a weaving business, why I hired my friends as much as possible last year, and why I'm trying to grow this business as fast as I can.

The Kickstarter project I wrote about yesterday ( is geared toward rolling out lines of weaving as fast as possible so we can market to more lucrative venues and, by next Spring, do some large juried shows.

It's all part of a bigger vision to create a more fulfilling way of life for ourselves and to teach that way to others.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kickstarter Project, Just One Week Left

A little while back I wrote about the Kickstarter project I started to get the yarn I'll need to keep our new collective busy and roll out a bunch of new cloth and garments.

Due to the absolute strangeness of the last couple of months, I'm really behind on publicizing that project. I've put my marketing engine into high gear, but I'm almost at the end of places I can ask for support.

Right now we're just above 40% of our goal, with about $3,000 left to raise. We need to raise about $400 a day for the next week in order to make it. That's 150 people pledging $20 each to receive a cell phone pouch, 60 people pledging $50 to receive a scarf, or 10 people pledging $300 to receive a ruana cloak.

In this chart you can see when I stopped putting out the word about this project in order to handle my life and my business. You can also see that in order to meet my goal, I need to reach as many people every day as I have in the last few days. The problem is that I don't know where else to put out the word. I've notified my mailing list, every group list that I think it's appropriate to tell, all of my Facebook friends, and even put up a notice on Weavolution.

If you can think of somewhere else to put the word out, please leave a comment and let me know. I'll try just about anything (legal and ethical) at this point.

If you know of anyone that you think might back a project like this, please send them the following link. It contains a beautiful video of my work along with details of the Kickstarter program and the various rewards people can get for supporting our project.

Thanks so much for your help!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Booth Has A Roof

For the last few days, while I've been tying 1200 knots to get the red beam ready to weave, Wispr has been sewing up a storm. He has taken my bare booth frame and turned it into a beautiful shady space.

The beauty is in the details:
- it is tightly fit, giving a very professional look
- the ties are made from scrap, so match perfectly
- the front of the roof joists fit into perfectly tailored sleeves
- even the back corners are crisp and square

The next steps are to figure out the booth fixtures and design the side and back panels around them. Then we'll need matching skirts and paint on the bare wood and we'll be ready to show!

By the time it was done, the studio was too dark to photograph it. This was great, since it gave me a chance to time myself striking it and setting it up again, twice.

Tear down: 2 minutes.
Set up: 3 minutes for the frame, 4 minutes for the roof

Of course, this will increase when we add the rest of the fixtures, but it looks like I'll easily be able to set up and tear down the booth, including hanging the garments, in less then 30 minutes. That's exactly what I wanted.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Project Management

This Summer has been crazy and now it's down to the wire to put on a good show in August. I have a great sense of how much time it takes to do things so when it's time to whip out the Project Management tools, I know enough to do it.

Well, yesterday I sat down to think about all of the parts of the things that need to be done. When I really thought about the dependencies I realized that I needed to gantt this one. I got the chart done and found that there isn't really any wiggle room in the schedule. If I'm going to have a finished booth and lots of cloth to show in it without absolutely killing myself, I need to do things very carefully.

In this chart, orange items are mine to do, green ones are Wispr's.

You'll notice that I'm working super hard on both the booth and the cloth with few items to do as the deadline approaches? That's because I know how things work. Something will come up that takes all of my time at some point in this process. I'm just leaving the space so that this can happen and it doesn't make my whole world crumble. See, experience is worth something after all...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Building A Booth

I'll write another whole post to tell why I've disappeared for so long again. I stop writing when life gets extra tough. Who wants to hear about that stuff, right?

In the last two days, I've squeezed in the time to work on the booth that I'll need for shows later this Summer and beyond. I decided that, rather than using some kind of booth that a) costs me lots of money or b) takes lots of time and effort to set up, I'd do some research and find a DIY booth design that fits all of my criteria.

1. It has to look good. Customers decide whether to come into the booth based on how it looks from the outside. They also decide whether to trust a vendor, partly, based on how professional they look.

2. It has to pack down small. I want to use a single van to carry the booth, the merchandise, a demo loom, an assistant, and the camping setup.

3. It has to set up fast, be stable once it's up, and tear down even faster.

I was looking for booth plans online, prepared to pay for a good design if I needed to. And then, a few weeks ago I was in Eugene to look at potential sales venues for next year. I stumbled into the Eugene Saturday Market and saw a booth design that I loved before I even got in the door. I asked the vendor about it and was told that someone else built it for them. Then, the vendor next door piped up and said, "It's the standard booth for this show. They have the plans on the website."

Well, sure enough! As I looked around the market I noticed that many of the booths were of that same design, and it looks great! I went to the website, printed out the design and went to the hardware store with their parts list in hand.

Here's the link to this booth design: BOOTH PLANS

Here is the process that ensued...

...and it was too dark to photograph by the time I finished...

The next thing to do is design and build the clothing racks, checkstand, and canvas cover. It looks like it'll be ready just in time for my first solo show in August.