Snow Snow Snow
It seems like everyone else got snow this winter except us. We were seeing the ground in most places but Tuesday winter announced, in a very loud voice, "I am still here." Majestic and beautiful. Be sure to watch my video at the end of this post.
I want to talk about the Breaking into Business workshop, sponsored by the Vermont Arts Council, that I took Valentine's Day weekend. Led by Maren Brown and Dee Boyle-Clapp, the first day focused on marketing strategies and the second day on writing a business plan. As you know, I have been trying different ways to get my weavings out in the world, and I thought the comment by Neki Desu to my February 12th post, was very apt. One of the things Maren and Dee told us about were online surveys, like the ones offered by SurveyMonkey, where you can query your clients about almost anything. I had an ahha moment when I realized, I can ask you directly, right here, to help me figure some things out. So my first question is:
What can I offer that would get you to pay me money for it?
I am not saying that I will follow all suggestions, after all, I am always teaching my students to take what I say, or anyone else says, put it in a basket, and throw it in the air, like rice being separated from chaff. If it is relevant it will stick, if not, let it blow away. However, I will definitely listen, and try to "put on" all the suggestions. If something fits, I will try it. That was what my silent auction was--an attempt. When it didn't work, I took it away. I learned something--that is not the way.
I will say that in the two weeks since the workshop, and after having such a positive experience with students in Fibers at UMass-Dartmouth, I am thinking that I should increase the number of workshops I am willing to do each year, traveling to schools to do these short, intense lecture/workshop/critiques, and separate any commercial pressure from my studio weaving. This is what I did in the past, when I taught full-time, and it allowed me to create work that was labor-intensive, personal, and creative. I never allowed the thought, "who will buy this?" to enter into the equation. I am enjoying doing functional weaving for my own use--it is a daily thrill to see my own curtains hanging in the living room; the new tablecloth fabric is woven and just waiting to be cut off the loom--but I don't want to divert my art work into this direction.
Another idea that is changing is my offer of tutorial teaching. When I first moved here, it felt fine to share my looms with students for a short time--and I had absolutely fantastic experiences with all the students that have come here. But now that I want to focus on a body of work for my show in January, I don't feel I can interrupt the work on my loom for others to do work on it. In fact, I have had to turn people away for just that reason. Perhaps I can set aside specific time each year and offer tutoring during that time? What do you think?
We all have bills to pay, daily expenses for food, heat, shelter, gas, medical, taxes, and those constant surprising miscellaneous items which never stop coming just when you think you are going to have a cushion. I already have the loom of my dreams. Honestly, my needs are modest. (But modest in the USA is like funding a village in other parts of the world.) So readers, please send me your suggestions, either comment here or send me an email, and help me find ways to keep my studio practice true to itself, and still pay my bills.
I want to mention a few other things.
I broke down and signed up for Facebook. I have two accounts. One is a business page:
Bhakti Ziek - Weaver
You can sign up there and become a "fan." Just to show me some support.
The other is a personal page:
You can invite me to be your "friend" and I will confirm. We all need all the friends we can get, right?
The other thing is that Kickstarter.com was mentioned in the workshop, and then I heard from Margarita Benitez about her Kickstarter project. For all those who have been interested in jacquard weaving, but feel left out because of the expense of the looms, this project is just for you. Please go to her site and pledge money. She has 64 days left to raise her $10,000 goal. If she raises less than that, she gets nothing; if she raises more, she gets it all. An open source loom is a win for all of us, not just her. Please read more and get the word out to other interested people.
Finally, here is my latest video. I posted one on my Facebook page and nobody commented. Maybe because it had a red background. Try this one--blue.
Randolph Snow - Blue by Bhakti Ziek