Thursday, April 28, 2011

T-shirts: tomorrow at noon, and more on Saturday at 8:00AM

This is just a few of the new T-shirts that will be going up tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday. Some long, some short, some large, some small, some hoods, some pockets...Come to my shop, jill2day, and check out these reconstructed T-shirts made from recycled shirts!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Houseful of Creative Construction by Hand!

We are having a much delayed remodeling project done in our home right now... It is fun to hear the sawing and hammering and drilling going on while I am elsewhere in the house sewing and cutting and sculpting my T-shirts! Lots of creative construction happening in our home!

The contractor we are using is also a "reformed" graphic designer. We were talking the other day about how we went into GD when it was still a "hands on" craft. Back when you cut and paste type, used markers to draw layouts, and glued presentations together for mock-ups. Now it is all on the computer. We agreed that much of the tactile joy was sucked out of the process (but also admitted to the glory of the "undo" "redo" abilities of the computer!).

We both find so much more satisfaction in the tangible construction that is now part of our process, and feel so lucky to be in occupations where we use our hands as well as our heads. (The lack of cubicles is also a plus!)

But to be a real craftsman, I might have to get myself this tool apron!

Monday, April 25, 2011

MAY DAY the Tsirts will appear!!

I am sewing away on new Tshirts for this spring and summer. Here are three - one in progress and two finished. I have some done already, ranging from small  through 3X...hopefully something for every one!

I will be photographing these later this week and plan to have them all available in my Etsy shop next Sunday, May 1.... If you are on my facebook fan page, I will be posting the exact time later this week. There should be at least 15 or more available at that time, with more following weekly! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Some thoughts and answers....

Just want to let you in on my plan for the next while... many of you are asking where are the Tshirts and other new things. I am new to doing shows, so still working on how to manage inventory for those and keep Etsy supplied too! Here are some of my thoughts and plans:

What have I been doing lately?

I needed to buy a lot of supply stock now, to work with this summer, so that I will have inventory for fall. I have now been around for a couple of seasonal cycles and am finally getting close to the "make in summer to sell in winter" model! But it takes a while to get to this cycle! When one chooses to use 'found' materials like I do, I also have to get them when I can.

During the summer months it is tough to get sweaters, so I have been off the machine and doing major supply buying the last couple of weeks. Once I have the material inventory, it is really efficient to make up my "bundles" right away rather than put everything away and then drag it out again later to do so. (My family has this thing about wanting to actually use our living room for a living room now and then!!). So I have also been doing that. I now have about 150 bundles ready to start producing sweaters during the summer for fall shows and Etsy.

Where are the Tshirts?

But what about those summer weight Tshirts you all love? Well I do have some bundles ready to go for those also. Now that my sweater bundles are in order, I will be starting some Tshirts next week. I will start stocking them in my Etsy store on May 1rst. I had almost decided not to do Tshirts this year. They are not as fun for me to work on as the sweaters, but I know many of you really love them, so I decided I will offer them again both as shirts and dress length. I can't say that I will be doing them full time though. last year I did that, and it really hurt my sweater inventory when fall came.

My plan is to keep offering and making Tshirts while also building up my sweater inventory, so when September comes, I am prepared with tons of goodies for you. Then, hopefully, during the fall and winter this year, I can start building up the Tshirt stock for next spring. Then I will really have the timing and production on track for both seasons.

List in waves or often, that is the question!

Then there is the timing of listing garments for sale... I go back and forth on this one. The most efficient thing for me is to make a bunch, photo a bunch and then list a bunch... but that makes for waves of new items, rather than new items on a more frequent basis. I could hold the listings and dole them out a couple at a time, but I get so excited to have them for you I just want to list as many as possible! Hope that is okay for you!

At the shows recently, I have realized that I am not the most efficient maker on the block. if I had standardized patterns or jobbed out the sewing, I could be much more proficient. But my items would be far less unique and far less fun to make. There would also be more waste in my process. Right now the materials usually dictate the design and often the size, so that I can use as much of the fabric as possible without providing more fodder for the landfills. Again, not necessarily efficient, but in step with my ideal. So my road to efficiency is the wave approach to making and listing.

FInally, shop affected by shows

My Etsy customers are my 'first born' and I feel an intense loyalty to each and every one. However, shows are a very important part of my sales base. One of the great parts of shows is that while there is travel and displays and numerous other factors involved, there is no photography of the items, description writing, uploading or shipping of the individual items involved. So, I see many people that have separate inventories for show and on-line, or have very little of their show inventory represented in their on-line venues.

I have tried very hard to put up the vast majority of my show merchandise in my Etsy site for at least a short time before taking it to the shows. I hope to continue this, even though it does require a lot of photos and time to list items that would probably sell at the show, and not need this effort. Like I have said, my Etsy customers are very important to me, and I do not take it lightly that they are willing to buy and trust from the internet, so making sure they have the best selection of my inventory is important to me.

Other on-line venues coming up?
It is never a good idea to have all of your eggs in one basket. So beyond Etsy, I have been doing the shows. But so far Etsy has been my only on-line outlet. I do have stores in both Zibbet and Artfire, but as of yet have not put any inventory into them. I will be trying some of these venues out as the year progresses. I may just put scarves and cuffs in those, or may put sweaters in some... I really haven't decide yet. Again, I love Etsy and hope to continue with it as my main on-line venue, but am also open to expansion ideas. I will certainly keep you posted if I do anything.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Madison WI politics, an update

As many of you may have heard, we in Wisconsin are in the heart of political news at the moment. I posted about this in March, but thought I would update a bit. There have been weeks of protests here in Madison, odd phone calls, senators temporarily moving to other states, strange ballot counting and recall petitions (for any and every elected position holder) on every corner.

just another day at the rallies
I have my views and have participated in my way, but generally try to keep those opinions separate from jill2day. But, I thought some of you might like to see some of the more fun photos I have taken. I have posted a few of these on my facebook, but some are also new.

Yesterday Sarah Palin was in town, and this sign on the left just  about summed it up for both sides of the rally!

I took my niece's Flat Stanley to the rally, and he met one of the WI state troopers - who was a real trooper when asked for this photo posing with Flat Stanley. Speaking of the troopers, they and all of the law enforcement officers involved controlling crowds of up to 100,000 people, have been exemplary. They have bee both cordial and professional - a fine line for them considering the politics involved and their unionized status.

Another memorable day was a flashmob singing of the song from Les Mis "Can you hear the people sing". If you want to see/hear it I have posted it on youtube. Click here.

The Capitol is probably my favorite building in the universe, so to witness this event in the three story rotunda was awe inspiring!

There have been a number of artist centered events, and fiber artists have been well represented. Here is a beautiful quilted protest sign!

So it is not hard to guess my politics, but the more important thing to me is that we all look at the issues and take an informed and respectful stand for whatever side you may be on. There is a lot or rhetoric and fear right now, but we are all wanting what is the best. It is guaranteed not to be your way, or my way, so some how we have to find that which is common ground for all of us.

Yesterday at the rally and counter rally, the man next to me was in direct opposition to my political hopes. However, when the National Anthem was sung, we both sung with all our might. After the song was done, we each continued with our partisan chants, but hopefully will also find some way to find bi-partisan ground.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thoughts on Production and Shows

Hello from my mirror!
I had a great time meeting the people in Maryland while doing the Gaithersburg show. It is so different offering my garments at a show than it is on line. On-line I get great feedback from my customers, and occasionally a photo, but often never really see the garments in action! At the shows, it is so fun to watch people try things on, twirl and check it out in the mirror. Sometimes a garment gets tried on several times, but then just the right person comes along and BINGO it is "made for them"! So fun.

I also get a kick out of the varied of reactions; "Oh, I would never wear pink" vs "Oh pink is my favorite color!"; I really like the way you make things longer in the back" vs. "It is beautiful, but I like even hems"; "Wool!-never touch the stuff" vs. "can't have enough wool to keep me warm"! When I first started out on Etsy someone told me that if you leave something up long enough, there is a buyer for everything! Thank goodness we all have our idiosyncrasies and likes - that is what make life interesting and my work fun!

Let the sorting begin
I have also realized that I am one of the few garment makers at these shows that actually make the garments from beginning to end. There are many who buy "blanks" and then paint/stamp/print them (weavers and other reconstructors may be exceptions to this!). Others who have designed the patterns and picked out the fabrics, but have seamstresses who actually sew the garments. And other multi-person means of production. It also accounts why they start the show with many more garments than I usually do!! I respect their process, but I can't imagine not doing the creation myself. (Okay in true disclaimer, my son does cut scarf parts for me now and then). Because each of my items is unique, and from unique materials, it is not possible to hand over the sewing to someone else.

Here is a peek at my the early stages of my process. I purchased a hundred-plus sweaters the other day, and then brought them home for the sorting, sifting and bundling. My living room was quite a mess as it was the staging area for the sifting and winnowing.

The color coordinated bundles each contain a group of sweaters for the constructions of 1-3 sweaters.

Well I better get to work now!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

We've got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day!

It is cold and overcast and not very spring like today, but we still have sunshine yellow! The Finches have made their transition from drab winter neutrals to the brightest yellow and the daffodils are bobbing in the chilly breeze!

Actually this remind me of a yellow and gray sweater that two customers where "fighting" over at the Sugarloaf Craft Fair in Gaithersburg last week!

But, never fear, I picked up some more yellow fabrics yesterday, so there will be more yellow coming from the studio too!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Home to the Pasque flowers!

For me, the first sure sign of spring is the appearance of the Pasque flowers. They come sometime between the big melt and tax day every year - seemingly out of nowhere. One day the blooms just cover the hillside near our house, and are followed later by the leaves. I was sure that I would miss them this year because of my two weeks out east, but here they are waiting for me to get home!

After almost two weeks of city and highway life, it was glorious to be back in our rural home. While I really love visiting urban life, I did miss my birds and earth!

Once a year Mother nature allows us into the woods behind our house. The rest of the year it is too full of brambles and other ankle eaters and pant rippers, that we let her have her privacy. So today I went to check out this year's changes and occupants.

We see many birds at our feeders, but it is also fun to see where they spend the rest of their time. The woods and surrounding territory is governed by our resident red tail hawk. This is the only time of year the nest is visible in the tops of the trees. The feather in the second picture is probably a leftover from a recent dinner at the hawk home. The right photo is the condominium project in the woods. I can't even imagine how many woodpeckers are living in this one tree!

Along with the Pasque flowers, I found these little blue beauties (sorry I have no idea the real name of them) They are so tiny that from a distance they are just a blue blur amongst the neutral dry leaves and underbrush. They are beautiful, and I don't remember them here last year.

Then there is the evidence of those who didn't make it through the winter. We have many deer around us here, but it looks like one of last year's fawns didn't make it, and some little bunny lost some fur, if not his life, recently.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Children at the National Gallery

I went to the National Gallery with my 23 month old grand son the other day. I love having a theme to guide my looking when I go to museums; sometimes painting technique, sometimes composition, sometimes faces, etc. If you have been following this blog, you have heard this before. So, seeing as I had a child with me, we decided to look at children. Here are some of the conclusions we drew:

Siblings. I sincerely hope the group on the left was a retrospect, painted after all of the children were already adults!  I decided that the group on the right were their generations version of the Kardashian sisters.
Family Portraits. Obviously these painters had experience with kids, and how tough it is to get them to sit still for the family portrait! (except of course for the obedient oldest who is holding the pose while her siblings keep mom and dad busy)
Madonna and Child. No discussion of kids in art would be complete without a look at the most famous mother and child in history. On the left we see an infant who obviously had a Nautilus available in the womb. However the sculpture on the right was done by someone who knows about wonderful baby bellies!
Home Life. If I had to choose to have the childhood of the Dutch peasant on the left or the English future king on the right, the choice would be easy... I would go for the windblown hair, big smile and rosy cheeks. 

Me and My Grandkids. Finally, we found one we could relate to. Here is a painting of me working on a painting of my two grandsons.
It was a fun day. Thanks for the tour, Liam.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

and now.... food for the heart.

grandma pile!
Yesterday I updated you on the feeding of my soul and tummy. Today I ask your indulgence as I relate the food for my heart... grand kids! One's own children are wonderful, and raising them is a constant awe-some experience, but then (if you are lucky) comes grand parenting. It is a whole different realm of wonderfulness. My grand guys are Finn and Liam, sons of my son. And at times, when I am with them, I am transported back to when their father was their age.
corn at the fish market
But, they are not their father, and their world is so different than his was at the ages of 2 and 4. They are comfortable with  computers, when Pong was just emerging for their father. I talk with them over Skype with the video feed, Brian's Grandma wrote letters. They eat foods that I didn't even know existed until I was an adult, and so on and so forth. But the basics never change.

"Pay hockey, peeeese?"
The pure and instant laughter that rolls from their bellies is the same. The courage they get when one parental (or grand parental) finger is gripped in their tiny hand as we walk down the street is still welcome. The wonder in their eyes when the merry-go-round horse takes its first lurch forward sparkles again. And the sweet aroma of youth and sweetness is something shampoo will never replace. Blankies are still loved, stories still need to be read, and spaghetti still paints faces.

However, now it is my son and his wife's turn to get up during the night, find the band-aids, teach "please" and "thank you" and make sure veggies come before dessert.  It is my turn to "spoil" now and then. I have license  to flit in and out of these young lives leaving a trail of hugs and kisses, pennies for the piggy bank, and indulgent gifts and treats. Such is the wonderfulness of grand-motherhood.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Food for body and soul!

blossoms at the Smithsonian castle
Today I spent the majority of the day amongst the cherry blossoms, magnolia blooms and tourists in downtown Washington DC. For lunch, we visited the Fish market on the Potomac.
such a pretty pattern!
I must give a disclaimer at this point. I love fish. I love to watch them. I love to swim with them. And, while it may seem ironic or hypocritical, I love to eat them. So I found myself straddling two ideas of heaven today; One resplendent in the smell of hyacinths and the beauty of the aforementioned cherry and magnolia flowers, and the other, an abundance of sea life not normally available to one who is far more accustomed to cows and other terrestrial food surrounding them.

the deadliest catch - east coast style
While one seems to be food for the soul and one food for the body, they both nourished me with beauty. The colors of one soft and creamy and pastel, and the other patterned and striped and far more varied.

no mistaking where I am!
It was a lovely day.