31 January 2013

finding center

Drawing is not my forte.

But I scribble and swirl with the best of them. I found myself feeling out of sorts today, needing to crawl inside my own head for a bit. I put my headphones on, scrolled to some meditation music and dug my sketchbook out of my bag. I drew a strange looking tree. And then hatched it and doodled around it.

I could feel my mind relaxing and I wrote a single line on the page: there is always time to begin.

It's true, isn't it? No matter where you are, you can always begin and move forward. In those six little words I found my center again.

26 January 2013

thermofax screens are back in the shop & giving back! :)

Hey gang, I know it was a bit of an extended break from Thermofax screens being listed in the shop and I appreciate all your patience while Jackie and I tended to life.

But we are back and so are the screens! :)

(Like the new shop banner?)

The shop is fully stocked again for all your Thermofax screen pleasure. I think that taking a break from running the shop is always a good thing because it allows me to really assess what's working and what isn't.

There are a couple of small changes that I'd like to point out:

1. We still have LOTS of awesome Ready-to-Print screens but the category has shrunk down to the ones that are selling the best. It will be easier to manage and prevent us from standing in the middle of our studios hunting for that print out that we haven't used in a while like crazy women. And of course, we are looking forward to working with you to create custom screens of your own artwork - I always love seeing what you all are doing! :)

2. I have a limited paint color selection at the moment. The most populars like black and white are out of stock. I've gotten word that our beloved Simply Screen may not be made anymore so I'm working on getting more in stock but it will be a bit. In the meantime, there are still plenty of cool colors in the shop for you to fling paint at will!

3. Shipping prices have creeped. I know, I know. Bugs me too. I did my best to minimize it but the USPS is hiking their prices again and I have to follow suit. Know that I gnashed my teeth and said unladly like words when I found out.

4. I'm going to slowly be adding different things beyond Thermofax Screens to the shop over the course of the next year. Right now you'll notice The Written Sketchbook online class, the Secret Keeper Owl pattern and some of my smaller textile art pieces. Everything in the shop is tidied into categories so if these things don't interest you and you are ninja focused on Thermofax screens (which I so don't blame you), just look at the right hand sidebar of the shop's home page and you can click the category you want to only see those listings.

And now to the part that I'm most excited about...did you notice in my new shop banner where it lists what the shop carries it says, "GIVING BACK BY SUPPORTING CHARITY"? Yeah, I figured you did, you are all a smart bunch. :)

I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. Gratitude for a good life, for being an artist but most of all for being part of the art community. When I think about the way you all welcome me into your homes via blog or facebook or online instruction, well. I get all choked up to be honest.

And because I feel so fortunate, I've decided that it's time to pay it forward.

I'm instituting a giveback program in the shop. 15% of all Thermofax screen sales will be donated to charity. The charity will change every two months and I'll list the current recipient in the shop announcement (which appears just below the shop's banner on the shop home page.)

I'm a firm believer that the world changes not by big leaps and bounds but rather by tiny helping hands and one inch at a time. I'm feeling such peace at the idea of helping things move toward that goal.

Want to know who the first charity is? Thought you might. 15% of  Thermofax screen sales from January 25 - March 31, 2013 will be donated to charity:water.

It is entirely unfathomable to me in this day and age that ONE BILLION people still do not have clean water sources. And watch this video because there are heartbreaking elements to this situation that you may not have considered before (I know I hadn't, I was shocked).

They have many more videos on their YouTube channel.

I'm thrilled to play even a very small role in changing this - and with your help as well! So that's what's going on with the shop and the exciting new giving back program and I think that you'll love it as much as I do! :)

If you know of a charity that you think I should consider, please leave me a comment. I can't promise it will make it into rotation but I'd love to know about it! :)

Happy Printing everyone!!!

24 January 2013

building a new website - choosing a web designer

In between everything else going on, I'm continuing on with the rebranding of my business to Smudged Textiles Studio.  As promised, I'm taking you along with me through the process.

I'm still at the designing a new website/blog stage. Last time we talked about websites was here. The debate was about whether or not I actually needed one. (I guess the title of this blog post is a spoiler since I'm talking about choosing a web design).

Today I'd like to talk a little bit about choosing a web designer. Because truly, I think this is the hardest part when it comes to deciding to have a site professionally built. Even though I'll be involved in the entire process, I'm giving up a lot of control by allowing someone else to create it. So the decision cannot be taken lightly.

Let's face it, everyone and their brother claims that they can design sites these days. Which makes it hard to tell if you'll be happy with the job that someone does for you. Add to it a couple of horror stories from people who have had bad experiences and it's pretty difficult to persevere in the search.

I decided that I would look for certain elements when I was shopping around. Here's my list:

1. An extensive portfolio of sites that he/she has already designed. Sites I could visit, not just snapshots showing the front page. I want to visit examples of current work so I can spend time on the sites and see if I like them.

2. Variety. I want a designer with a portfolio of sites that all look different. Why? Because to me it means two things: (1) He/she listens to the wants of the client and (2) I'm getting something unique. I don't care for web designers that use templates because I feel that if I'm paying for it, I'd like it to be custom.

3. A general sense of price. I'm wary of anyone who gives a blanket price without knowing my needs. I'm equally cautious of anyone who doesn't offer any kind of pricing at all. Makes me worry that I could be paying more then someone else.

4. A questionnaire. Web designer is not another term for mind reader. I want to be asked what I want - extensively. And not only that, I want to be asked what I dislike. It not only helps put me at ease regarding the not-entirely-in-control thing but also let's me know that my opinions will be respected. Important stuff.

5. Good communication. I don't want to wait a month in between emails. I'd like a realistic time frame for when things can be done and if I've asked for something that will take longer to build, I want to know. No promises that can't be kept just to give me an answer I want to hear.

6. Being able to do some updates myself. I know, might sound contradictory but I want to be able to add photos of new work on my own. I've no desire to learn to alter the site (which is why I'm hiring a pro) but simple details like a couple new pieces of artwork or changing text is something I'd like to do.

7. Testimonials. I want to talk to people who have worked with him/her and can give me specific examples of what they liked and disliked. If I don't know anyone personally in the portfolio, then I'll email someone in there who's site I like. Might sound forward but a polite email is perfectly okay.

I started by looking at sites of other textile artists and keeping a list of ones that I liked and who designed them. Does it sound like it took a while? Well yeah, it did. This is like shopping for a house or a car or even dating. You don't just randomly pick someone and hope for the best. I decided to take my time and really think about who I wanted to work with.

In the end I was down to two designers. My final choice is Holly Knott.

She ticked every box on the list.

There are many other designers out there and I'm not thumbing my nose at anyone at all. Holly and I are working through my wants for the site right now and I'm really impressed with her professionalism. I'm also impressed with her portfolio. You can tell that she is the designer for all the sites but if you visit the sites, they vary. That means she tailored it.

She also offers something I hadn't thought of - training. What a great idea!

Did it matter to me that Holly is also a textile artist? I'm not sure. I looked at all styles of designers but I did notice that I kept gravitating back toward textile artists who also did professional web design. To be honest, it's really appealing to work with someone who gets what I do.

So there we are. My thoughts on how to choose. It might sound a little general but it took me a while to figure out that those things were my top wants in a designer, I'm hoping that if you've been considering working with a pro that they will help you decide too.

In the next post about this topic I'll go over how to decide what will go on the site.

21 January 2013

reclaimed textiles project - i need your help

I've got new artwork series on the brain lately. Probably because I have a solo show coming up later this year and possibly a couple of other selling opportunities.

I've also longed to do a type of large scale collaboration series for some time but the details of it were hiding from me. It decided to become clear in the middle of the night when I was supposed to be sleeping (isn't that always the way?).

I'm giddy and excited and can't wait to get started on it but there's one thing - I need your help with it. I'm excited to announce the Reclaimed Textiles Project.

My vision is a series of work that is created with discarded or unwanted textiles. This could be anything - clothing, tabelcloths, unfinished quilt projects that you'd rather bury in the yard then finish. Anything that is fabric, any content, anything you simply don't want anymore.

The work that I create from them will be available for sale and I will donate 30% of each sale to The Salvation Army. I love this charity and am warmed at the idea of helping them with their work.

If you want to send some orphaned textiles to me, here are the guidelines for doing so:

1. The textiles can be any fabric content - cotton, poly, rayon, whatever you have.

2. ONLY textiles please! I know textiles is a pretty big category but I'm looking for fabric or yarn. At this time I'm not looking to use baskets or paper.

3. Please send only clean textiles. They don't need to be pristine, in fact, worn out grungy items are welcome but please give them a spin through the washing machine before you mail them to me. Especially if they've been lurking in a part of the house unseen for several years.

4. I'm unable to reimburse for shipping - this is a donation on your part for me to make work that could result in a donation to The Salvation Army if sold. 

5. This is an ongoing project with no deadline. No deadline for you for sending something, and no deadline for me to complete the work. I'm like you, I have a lot going at once so if you feel that you will be unhappy with an undetermined wait period for work to be produced, please give your textiles a hug and keep them in your home.

6. I will credit you in the artist statement of the piece as having donated fabric so please make sure I know your name and where you live.

7. Textiles from all over the world are wanted, not just the USA.

8. By sending me something, you are giving me full permission to cut them up, stitch them, print on them. Basically do what I please with them. So if your Aunt Edna gave you something that has great sentimental value to you and you'd be upset to see it altered, please don't send it.

9. Email me at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net if you'd like to send something and I'll provide the shipping address.

I hope you are as excited as I am! Can't wait to get started!!! :)

Edited to add: I've had some emails asking just how much stuff can be sent. While I appreciate the enthusiasm, I don't have the room to store tonnage. So if you could keep the size of the box you are sending to absolutely no larger then a 12" square max, that would be fantastic! Thanks! :)

16 January 2013

stepping back

This week is flying by. And I'm spending each moment thinking about what I need to do next.

But what I really want is to live each moment fully.

I want to honor all the good things, slow down and really feel each one as it passes through. It's sometimes difficult to find the space to take a deep breath. Stitching helps, it's meditation breaks the spell of hurry hurry hurry.

...and the winner is!

The handy dandy all knowing Random Number Generator has given me the number 31.

So that means the winner of Lyric's Bead It Like You Mean It DVD is (drumroll, please!):

Nancy Gilpin

Congrats Nancy and I'll email you for your details! :)

12 January 2013

Lyric's Beading DVD giveaway! :)

Do you put beads on your quilts? I do. I've got a giant collection in my studio to prove it. Adding beads is really meditative, much like hand stitching. It makes you slow down and you can create some really stunning effects!

But where to start? No worries, Lyric Montgomery Kinard has answered pretty much every question you could have about basic beading on quilts in her DVD, Bead It Like You Mean It.

She pretty much covers it all from what tools you need and how to handle different style of beads - seed beads in different sizes, bugle beads, chunky beads, what to use for the middle layer of your quilt, and tons more.

My personal favorite was the part where she discusses what to do with cabachons - which are giant beads that are normally pretty spectacular but have no holes. She shows you how to add them to quilts - it's great!

I love Lyric's teaching style, she's light hearted and really knows her stuff. Check out this promo she made for her DVD:

So great, right? :)

The thing I love best about learning from DVDs is that I can do it whenever and where ever I want. Here's how I enjoyed her DVD:

In my PJs, on the sofa, with the westie snoring nearby. Bliss. :)

Lyric is offering a very generous giveaway here on the blog. Anyone who leaves a comment on this post by January 15th will be in the running to win. (This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Sorry!)

So leave a comment, any comment (although I'd love to know if you are a beading addict) and be sure to include a way for me to contact you. (Anonymous comments can't be counted because I simply can't reach you!)

11 January 2013

living a creative life - transforming my newsletter

I've got a newsletter.

Yep, got one. Haven't sent anything in a while. Just sort of sits there starting at me, making me feel all twitchy because over 500 people have signed up to hear what I have to say.

I've struggled with it. I've even talked about it several times here that I just don't know what to do with it. I don't want to send you junk. And I don't want to mail something once a month simply because I want to tick a box off my marketing list.

I've given it a huge think and have finally realized that I'm making it far too difficult. I have a lot of tips on how to integrate creativity into a busy life, they are things that I live by so that I can fit in everything that I do.

And I'm going to use my newsletter to share them with you.

I've sent out my first newsletter just this morning and the topic is The Written Sketchbook.

I can't tell you how passionately I feel about the role writing plays in creativity. It's gotten me through some really rough patches in my life.

At any rate, I will do my level best to keep the newsletters different from the blog. May not always happen (like this month's for example) but I hope you'll sign up and join me as we navigate through our busy live. The sign up is in the sidebar at the very top.

 Here's to a creative life in 2013! :)

10 January 2013


There's always that odd little tangle of threads that collects no matter how hard I try to keep things tidy.

Picking through it to get to the needle I need is like stepping lightly through a labyrinth, a tiny little map of the stitching I've just completed.

09 January 2013

what color are your studio walls?

Mine are yellow. (In case you didn't notice from the previous post.)

Regina left a comment on the last post asking this:

"I have a question about your photo, not the actual post. I'm getting an addition put onto our house so that I can have a studio instead of just the dining room table and closet space. I wanted to paint the walls yellow (and I see that's what you have). Another artist suggested white so that there isn't any color reflection on photos or on the fabric and the true colors are seen. Do you find any problem with having yellow walls?"

Good question. Thought we'd give it a little talk.

My studio used to be my bedroom. I'm fond of the color yellow, find it peaceful so I painted it that color when I slept in there. I admit, I was too lazy to change it when the space became my studio and now that I'm so deeply entrenched in that room, I shudder to think of the effort and fortitude that will be needed to empty it so the walls can be patched and painted.

Do I like the yellow for a studio wall color?  Yes. And no.

I love color. I'm actually a bit of junkie about it. So I like being surrounded by something so lovely.

At the same time, it does create issues when I take photos. The camera does not appreciate the competition and it often adjusts itself to take it into account.

Last April I decided to have my artwork photos professionally done. Best decision I ever made. There were a lot of factors involved with that - mostly revolving around wanting to work larger - but I admit that the color issues I had with taking photos in my studio contributed. Can I blame it all on the yellow walls? No. There is inadequate lighting and my undying optimism that I don't actually have to hang a piece on the wall to get a good photo to take into account as well. But, yes, the yellow walls didn't help.

I really don't think it effects my color selection when working with fabric. I'm really myopic when I'm working on something. A bomb could go off next to me and I wouldn't notice.

I guess this is the long way of saying that when I finally do muster the courage to do an overhaul of the studio - one that involves emptying the room and patching/painting the walls - I'll most likely go with a neutral color wall. White or off white of some sort. I am more often finding myself wanting barer walls, maybe to offset the riot that goes along with art making.

How about you? What color are your studio walls? Do you think it matters?

08 January 2013

nano second printing...

This week is busy.

It makes me anxious, the separation from my studio. My normal routine revolves around large blocks of concentrated work time toward the end of the week.

But I'm craving the stillness that settles on me when I stand at my print table and push paint into fabric.

So I'll rush in, print and head back out, letting the time that I'm needed elsewhere serve as the drying period for the new work. I'll do nano second printings, quick and to the point but oh so necessary.

01 January 2013

"a month of moments" daily practice

First day of the new year.

A wide open schedule of possibility and a clean slate.

Its been on my mind that I want to do a daily art project. But let's be honest, who am I kidding? While the idea of making something every day appeals to every part of me, there isn't enough time to do it.

I used to lament that I didn't have enough time to do everything that I wanted to. I realized something this past year: I have the same amount of time as everyone else and I just need to get over that I won't get more. In other words, I learned to suck it up and work with what I've got.

It doesn't stop me from wanting some kind of daily practice, though. I really loved my Where I Stand Sunday posts but after five solid years of that weekly photo post, I ran out of material. And that's fine. But there was a great satisfaction that came with the project and I've been missing it. I felt that I was building something, I felt that no matter what else was going on in my life, it would always be there.

So I've been brooding on the topic. I do a lot, how in the world could I fit in more?

Then it became clear. I was watching a news special about social media and a portion of it was dedicated to Twitter.

I've not been able to get into Twitter. Partly because I resented the idea that I needed to keep up with something else but also because I had no clue what to say. Still, its always something I've kept in my peripheral vision.

And now I know why.

The problem with how I viewed Twitter was that I couldn't imagine anyone being interested in what I'm having for lunch or where I went shopping. And I don't really want to make it a regurgitation of the blog.

But what if it was simply a daily reflection? What it if was a brief condensed pause about a feeling or small thought? What if it was a mini journal?

I love the idea. But I admit I panicked slightly because let's face it, the day is jam packed and I'm not sure I can always come up with something. Then I noticed this in my news feed on Facebook:

Its a really cute, simple no-stress project from JustB. blog.

Ok, Universe, I can take a hint.

So here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to take the little prompt from this project each day and write a Twitter post about it. I don't promise that it will be spectacular or life changing but I like the idea that the word is provided and I can do it with it as I please. I also love that it keeps me writing each and every day.

Some might be silly, some might be flash fiction and some might just be downright boring. But I'll be there. Everyday.

If you'd like to follow along with me, here I am on Twitter.

Here's to a new daily practice. :)