Well, this is what Mitten Fest looked like this weekend. That line of tents right there was the craft fair I organized. 10 vendors -- pretty small, but with a crowd like this I don't think there is much room to grow. The whole goal with a 10 vendor fair is to make sure everyone has different stuff, and that all that stuff can fit into a pocket or be carried easily. If you have never been to Mitten Fest, mark it on your calendar for next year. It is the weekend after the Super Bowl, just as everyone is so tired of sitting inside Burnhearts invites the neighborhood into the street. I always say this, but it's true -- best day of the year. (Photo by Burnhearts Bar)
After making flags for a few months straight, I had a little down time and I had a little show I needed to make something for. I decided I would shake out the cobwebs that were made through relentlessly sewing flags (let's just say I blew up two heavy duty machines in the process) and I started making color study paintings. The goal of all of them is to create a pattern through shape and color and see what I could pull from them. Here's one!
I made nine paintings. They are up at Freya Salon for the next three months. Yes! They are for sale! And not shown in these images are the gorgeous frames I had made by Norman & Roberta. The opening is tonight from 6-9. Here's the address: 2318 South Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207
Wisconsin flags are now up in my shop! As a collaboration with Patchwork Printshop out of Madison, Wisconsin we have been working on the design, printing and flag making since the idea came to me way back in July.
I met Leslie of Patchwork Printshop through Maker Market - a monthly market I organize in the summer months here in Milwaukee. I was immediately drawn to her style of bright colors with finely articulated layering + her hand-drawn aesthetic. I asked her if she would ever consider re-interpreting the crest of the Wisconsin flag for me.
After going through a few different ideas, we finally decided on a design. It ended up being the perfect partnership of two people who were uniquely on the same page. I am very proud to announce they are made it into my shop just in time for the holiday season.
Lesley finds her inspiration from song lyrics, book passages or random phrases that resonate with her. She will usually let the words stew for awhile and think up images in moments of quiet. She finds inspiration from children's book illustrations, local plants, folk art, vintage textiles and objects and people in her life. For these Wisconsin crests, she fell in love with they Byrd's album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. "My main desires are to create art that is thoughtful, playful, and engaging and to contribute to the local creative community through collaborations," explains Lesley.
Leslie pulled her first screenprint in high school and immediately fell in love with the medium. "I never thought I could be an artists, whatever that means, so I studied Community Art in New York city and Asheville, North Carolina and eventually got my degree in Art Education at UW-Madison. Over the years, I studied printmaking when I could, attending workshops and apprenticing at a letterpress studio. After the birth of my daughter, something shifted inside of me and I felt this urgency to make my own art and found the courage to start putting it out into the world."
Flags are coming. I'll have a few of the top two color ways up in the shop on Monday, December 8th. I'll also have a handful of Wisconsin flags -- so either keep your eyes peeled for them here or sign up for my newsletter (click "Keep in touch" to your left) and I'll just email you when they go live. This is my last round of flags for a bit, so if you want one.. now is the time! Actually, December 8th is the time.
Here's a new quilt I designed for Robert Kaufman's 30th anniversary. If you would like to make it, you can download the free pattern from here!
This quilt was inspired by the barn quilts that are so prevalent here in Wisconsin. I love the stark quality of a lone square up against the red of a barn. I grew up on a farm and the reds of the barns spotting the countryside will always signify home for me. Here are the reds on a square of blue, recalling home.
And here for you is the barn quilt that hangs on the barn where I grew up. Hand painted by my mother.
AND.. can you believe it Robert Kaufman gave me a new dark palette charm pack to give away? Just leave your email in the comments section below and I will pick a winner at random tomorrow morning! Here's the charm pack:
I had the chance to see two dear friends get married wrapped in one of my quilts in a Mayan Sun Ceremony this past weekend. We all adventured to Tulum, wore all white and witnessed this beautiful union barefoot on the beach-- The ocean waves were crashing in the background and the sunset was breathtaking. I was so flattered my quilt was included in this gorgeous ceremony. I can't wait to see the rest of the photos.
Product Photography 101 - super basic.
Yesterday I made a quick update to my online shop. I have been selling watchful eye patches that I hand embroider for about a year in person and I had a handful left over from different shows I thought I would upload and take a crack at selling them online. Not everything I make gets a spot in my shop -- this doesn't mean that I am not proud of it or I don't want to sell it. It's just that I enjoy selling in person so much better. It's easier for me. I can actually speak to someone who is interested, I can show them little details and point out the craftsmanship as we both look at the object together. It feels nice when they buy something, but it also feels good to share my methods and hear their story. It is a very simple thing.
Selling online is a completely different animal and it's my second favorite. I've sold different things online now for years and I have had my successes and my failures for sure. It basically comes down to selling a photograph and describing the piece in a way that makes it sound special and unique and worth it to whatever buyer may come across it. Yesterday morning I had a little impromptu photo shoot and now I am nearly out of eye patches. I have three left if anyone is interested -- But I thought I'd share my favorite fast way to take some high quality images to help sell your work. Because you can make it hard -- or it can be pretty easy.
I always shoot outside if I can, but the weather has to be just right. Yesterday's shop update was actually inspired by the weather. It was perfectly grey and overcast with just a little breeze. Too bright or too dark and too windy do not make for good outside photographs. The greyness of the day helps to reduce the awkward shadows and make the true color of the piece come through.
If the weather is just right, I grab my foam core board I bought at Target for about $2. It is about 2x3' and I use it as my backdrop. I place this board on a bench on my porch. The bench is key -- It is about 40" off the ground, just regular bench height -- but it is high enough so I don't have to work off the ground and low enough so I can lean over the top of the board and take a shot.
Yesterday, I used my iPhone. I took three shots of each style of patch - then I took my phone inside, blew up each photo and picked out the one that seemed to be the clearest and trashed the rest. The best way to take an in-focus photograph is with your legs about shoulder width apart to help you balance. Use one hand to touch the screen to focus and your other hand to snap the photo. Easy, right? It's really easy, but as a show coordinator I also see a ton of blurry photos -- so I guess where your legs and your hands are could be worth noting. After I selected each photo, I uploaded them all into VSCOcam and used their basic editing tools to adjust the exposure, temperature, contrast, straightened it with the rotate button cropped it into a square and finally used the sharpen tool to give it a little kick.
I sent them to myself and used my computer to upload them into Big Cartel -- it's just a little easier to add descriptions on my laptop and then used the photos I took to announce the sale through Instagram. This whole process took about 40 minutes, give or take.
It's not a good method for larger objects or objects with a lot of depth, but if you are looking for a quick way to take a shot of your small & mostly flat object I'd recommend it.
Below you can check out the images I created yesterday -- click on the image to move the gallery forward -- and I left the product listing up in my shop if you'd like to see it in action.
Today I joined my friend Janelle Gramling of Janelle Gramling Designs at Highland Community School to talk to a group of middle schoolers about their up and coming craft fair on November 22nd. We were there to talk about our personal businesses-- How we make things and then how we sell them. We discussed pop-up marketplaces as a viable source of income for people. We told them about the craft scene here in Milwaukee. I told them about events I organize to help these businesses grow and to help this community become stronger. Mostly though we tried to explain that they have power when they buy something. They have the choice of buying something from someone they believe in and want to support or they can buy things with very little thought put into it. You put your money where you want to see growth. And then we told them about our little community of makers that is growing and has been growing since we found it. We told them that we were there to continue to help strengthen this community. And then we told them they could do it too. If what they liked to do was make things, we told them their dream jobs were at their fingertips. We watched their eyes light up. We watched some of them be incredibly bored. It was pretty cool.