Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Other People's Presents



My project last week was exactly that: commissions from others for full-sized aprons, for them to give to their loved ones. I love the polka dotted one the most! On a person (rather than on a dress form) they come to life, and brighten up the kitchen quite a lot.

Wishing you a most lovely Christmas,
Heather
xo

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Now available at a shop near you...

Now that the craft fairs have been accomplished, I've decided the time has come to get some local shops to sell my stuff. And so, you can now buy some of my creations at Mama Said Sew and The Eyes Have It, both near Mountain Ave and College, in Fort Collins! I'll have a photo hopefully next week for the product that is in Mama Said Sew (you'll remember the mini-quilts, though), and the other photos below show the presentation at The Eyes Have It (yes, an eyeglasses shop!).


Mama Said Sew is located at 121 E. Mountain Ave in Fort Collins.


The Eyes Have It is located at 107 N. College Avenue, also in FoCo. Click on Events on their page and you can find my name along with the other artists being featured.


Below, the boxes are mine at the top of the photo. Wouldn't you like one of these fine boxes for cleaning up the clutter on your shelf?


And here you can see my card display and gift bags to the right in the baskets. The owners suggested the idea of Valentines to fill in once Christmas is over. I've got my work cut out for me for January! Good thing I love to make Valentines.



This week in the studio, sewing some commissions for full-length aprons (for Christmas presents), my own Christmas cards, and working with a graphic designer to get my Parsley Art Studio logo spiffed-up. Also, I'm doing some mental projections of what 2011 will bring for me, especially creatively, but also business-wise. I look forward to sharing those ideas with you soon!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Another fair this weekend

Hi all! Just a quick note to let you know that I'll be at another 1-day craft fair this weekend! There will be about 15-16 other vendors, food, and live Christmas music by a local group.

Saturday, December 4th
Immanuel Community Church
1725 W Mulberry
(near City Park Lake, across from Little Caesar's Pizza)
Fort Collins, CO
9:00am - 3:00pm

Hope you see you there!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Year's Res Accomplished

Wow, what an experience! If you look back to my New Year's resolutions, you'll see that something I wanted to do in 2010 was participate in a craft fair. Last Friday and Saturday, I did just that!!


My mom and I worked 8-10 hour days for 5 days straight to finish up with the production of all the product I hoped to sell. We set up the booth (handmade by my handy husband) in the living room and tried out all different ideas. On Thanksgiving day, we rested as much as we could and enjoyed a feast with friends (I supplied the apple pie and pumpkin roll). Then on Friday, we were up at 6 and out the door by 7 to head to the Fort Collins Senior Center. We used photos Mom had taken with her iPhone to set everything up correctly, and posted the last of the pricing signs right at 10:00, as the doors to the public opened.

Here are two photos of how all my product could mostly fit into two Rubbermaid tubs(!), and the clunker truck we borrowed to get all of the "set" to the stage.



Across the aisle from me was another first-timer, Rachel, who makes colorful headbands from lycra. (Visit her shop at www.thesportygirl.com.) She and I cheered each other along the way, and worked to manifest more people on day 2 as well as a younger crowd (Friday provided many 60+ers and we figure both of our audiences are younger than that). Other vendors around my booth sold things like fleece hats with ears, emu oil/soap, knitted coathangers/sweaters/necklaces, and jewelry. While there were other people who sold cards, nobody had anything that looked like mine, which was a relief!

Lessons learned, from this experience as well as tips from more seasoned vendors:
  • That you can use a smart phone to do credit card transactions! It seems super easy, and low cost. Might be time for me to upgrade.
  • A fair with 90 vendors might be just too big for someone like me, who is asking a lot of money for fine-detail work. Figure that the average customer has a budget, and that they do a once-around the whole fair before spending any cash. What are the chances of them making their way back to me? And justifying to themselves that $5.25 for a card is a wise purchase? If they had fewer choices of where to spend their money, they might be able to find me again, and feel that my product is a good choice if their other choices are limited.
  • There are 5 million ways to market a product! What will work and what won't is anybody's guess, but we certainly thought about it a lot, and made adjustments throughout.
  • (Not the biggest epiphany:) Very few people (in this crowd) will pay a lot for a card. Even if they LOVE it. I knew this, though.
  • People of my mom's generation and older don't want to buy aprons. Aprons mean work, scrubbing, stains, cleaning, whatever. They don't see aprons as a fashion piece or spunky uniform as I do. Some people are astounded that I own something like 10 aprons and use almost all of them for various different tasks in my life.
  • I think I should reduce my product to one or two things. Maybe three. Six was too many. Well, maybe.
  • The best sellers (again, with this particular population): mini quilts, advent calendars, and cards. Fabric-lined boxes didn't sell at all, and aprons were the second to last. Gift bags weren't too poorly received, though. People liked the concept of them (reducing gift wrapping waste, yearly re-use, etc), but lots of folks knew they could make their own at home.
  • There were a lot of people who liked my stuff but the economy is rough right now and it sucks that just now is when I'm trying to stick my foot into the mix!
  • To keep trying! Try another fair, another day, a different group of consumers! Adjust my prices, adjust my inventory, stick my neck out. Keep going. This is one of my favorite lessons of the weekend.
  • You definitely need a buddy. I was super lucky to have such an enthusiastic partner as my mom. We could each take turns having lunch or breaks or shopping excursions to other booths. And she had so many great ideas that really enhanced the booth. That along with all the grunt work she did to help me finish all my product, I couldn't have done it without her.


Thank you to everyone who supported my endeavor, by coming to the fair or by purchasing something I made. I am so glad that you found something worthwhile in my work and I look forward to sharing the next adventure with you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Studio This Week


In my studio this week, there has been a lot going on. I feel like I'm working 7 days a week! But at least 3 days of the week are in the studio. While I am having fun, I am definitely tired out. The photos above show from L to R, starting at the top:
  • Bases for more mini quilts
  • Aprons in the works
  • Wooden discs we drilled holes in to make buttons for...
  • Gift bags (never buy gift wrap again!)
  • 4 more advent calendars
  • Folded white cardstock (for when the Christmas cards below get to that stage)
  • Christmas cards in their early stage and a fabric covered box
  • Paul making a "wall" for me to hang stuff from
  • Inserts for the advent calendars
  • Envelopes stuffed into clear plastic protectors
  • The new Parsley Art logo!
  • Christmas cards design #2
As usual, you can click on the image above to see the photos a little bigger.

Here are two photos of my studio right now.




Finally, I bought my domain and website for www.parsleyartstudio.com! (If you go there now you will not see much more than an intro page... it will be another few weeks before I'll have the proper time to give to it.) And my new business cards came this week too. They are very fine!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Better in Person

I sent the little 3-flowers card you saw in my last post to my sister last week, who, upon receipt, exclaimed over the phone, "It's so much better in person! The photo doesn't do it any justice!!" Even if I had a professional photographer, I think I would need an actual photography studio to get anywhere close to actualizing the reality of my work (you know, like you might see in an art book). My work is so incredibly textural that you have to see it and, if you can, feel it to really get it. I wish you could reach through the computer and grab the stuff I make to see it in person for yourself, and touch it. But since you can't, take my sister's word for it!! It is even better in person.



This is a first design I came up with for an advent calendar after the happenstance circle storage system I developed, which you can see in my last post too. Surprisingly, I hadn't thought of an advent calendar, and then Tara suggested it! Thanks Tara! The pockets and background are all made from THE dictionary, and then sewn to a bit of scrap fabric (which I incidentally got at a great garage sale last week). Inside the pockets are little notes, one for each day leading up to the big event.

Now, if you click on the photo for a closer look, you can see that the word 'advent' is at the top, kind of as its title. At the bottom, there's the definition. Did you know that advent doesn't necessarily have to pertain to Christmas? So, while this initial design is obviously Christmas-y, not all of them will be. What do the notes say? Your choice! I'll have some pre-made ones that can be bought (jokes, quotes, etc), and also some blank ones for people to write on to make their calendars more meaningful and personalized.

You can see, feel, and BUY this piece and/or others like it if you come to the Holiday Craft & Food Market, November 26-27, 2010, at the Fort Collins Senior Center. I hope to see you and your family there!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Work-horse


I seem to remember this happened last fall, and the fall before that too. My life has been far too busy for my liking! Sorry for the more than 3 weeks since my last post. Besides having some long-term company at home, it was also my 10-year college reunion at the start of the month (hooray for Mills College!), and my day job has been considerably more demanding these days too (actually always the case at this time of year).

I have been a work-horse in the art room. The photo above shows what I feel I've been doing for a month: circles and quilt squares. You can see what will become of the circles, and the quilt squares will become aprons, as seen in a past post. When my mom saw that purple square, she said she just wanted to lick it, it reminded her of candy!

In the lower left corner, you can see what I devised as a storage system for circles I have purposefully paired and prepared to become flowers, but there are so many of them that I won't get through them all in one sitting. So I made these little pockets out of scratch paper to keep them from getting separated or mixed up, and I like the look so much I'm wondering if I can put the idea into something sell-able. What do you think?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Work Day and Name Change

I've officially been accepted into the Ft Collins Holiday Craft Fair over Thanksgiving weekend! Hooray! So as you know, I have some work to do, and today I invited three helpers into the art room to help me with some of the grunt work of mass card-making: Mivvy, Haley, and Katie.


We worked for a good 4 hours (with a gourmet snack break half-way through) to do all the finishing on my non-Christmas cards. The photo below is the pile of cards we completed. I'd done all the design, painting, gluing, layout, etc. beforehand. Then today we sewed on buttons, beads, and other embellishments while keeping each other company and laughing at the chickens clucking right outside to screen door. We accomplished so much; that was 16 hours of work that the four of us did in 4. Fantastic!


Now, a story: when I was in Oregon over Memorial Day weekend, I stopped in a great quilt shop in Hood River. I was explaining to the woman there the type of art I did and the reason I was there to buy buttons (for 2 cents a pop from their bulk basket), and she asked if I had a card, so she could visit my website when she got home to her computer. A week or so later, she called me(!) and said she'd had problems finding my Etsy shop, Follow Him.

Whoa.

And so, I would like to announce the transition to my new studio name: Parsley Art. I am still working through the details, but you will see that it is a good fit. "Fresh art with lots of taste," you know, something along those lines. Katie came early to our work session today to do some photography with freshly picked bunches of parsley from my garden. We experimented with all sorts of things to integrate the parsley and some of my art supplies. You'll see more of those photos soon. For now, here are a couple...


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Without Meaning To...

...I recently learned some new techniques! The other day, I was in the scrapbook store by happy accident, and since I had no agenda or no project to buy specific stuff for, I could just look around. Well, I got inspired, as usual. And I saw some stuff I'd never seen before. Handmade paper ribbons, ruffles, and flowers. So I asked the lady there how to do them. Here you can see my own successful attempts! (They're pretty easy to do, just something new and different.)


This menu features the ruffle (under the bow) and a couple of the flowers. I just love how much the ruffle looks like fabric, but it's paper!


Aren't the flowers just so cute? In person, you'd see that they, too, have a fabric-esque feel and look to them.

NEWS FLASH: I applied to the Fort Collins Holiday Craft Fair and although I haven't heard back officially, they did cash my check. Soooo, I'm thinkin' I might be in. Below is my list of things to make before Thanksgiving weekend. I've got my work cut out for me but boy am I thrilled!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Food Art

After a hiatus from the blog for a few weeks, I'm back to share the latest project I've been working on: a party! My vision: in the back yard, fairy lights, white table cloths, candles, friends, and above all, delicious food in seven courses. With lots of help from my sister, bro-in-law, husband, and friends, the loveliest of parties was most certainly accomplished. Here are some photos of the star attractions (my foodie cousin Lindsay will be proud):



Appetizer: Stuffed mushrooms with a balsamic reduction and herbed goat cheese puffs with a peach glaze.


Soup: Roasted red and yellow pepper


Risotto: Browned butter with sage -OR- pesto risotto


Salad: The $23 Heirloom Tomato Salad -OR- Spinach salad with cilantro, walnuts, and brie


Main: Lamb sliders with yogurt cilantro sauce -OR- Pot de Aubergine, served with a lima bean parmesan salad


Cheese: three different types of cheese, served with a warm rosemary-orange-cured olive salad and homemade herb crackers


Guests had a lovely time... hooray!


The lights were wonderful as the sun set.


Dessert was finally served at 11:00pm! (Unfortunately no photos of that though.) There was a tall and glossy ├╝ber-chocolate cake, a blackberry fool (mousse), and a cherry clafouti (hats off to Julia Child).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hot!

Yes, today it is supposed to get up to 92 degrees, but more than that, I feel like this project is H-O-T, hot! To have made all these at once really feels great. I've got 10 to show off and sell so far! Here's photos of them in their penultimate stage:



Here they are finished!


Close-ups of a couple:



Last weekend we went to a most excellent wedding in the mountains, at a beautiful mountain chateau in Estes Park. Katie and Adam put their hearts into the look and feel of the ceremony and dinner reception and we had a wonderful, fun time (there was even a bear sighting during the ceremony)! Below is their card-turned-art piece, made from the dictionary! Check out the detail of the background page--of course I had to use the page with the definition for "marriage."


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Production


Check out this dictionary!! Copyright 1952, rescued by my sister from a classroom purge in California, and sent media mail for just over $8 to me in Colorado. The pages are perfectly suited for tearing out (no gasping allowed... remember, this was saved from the landfill!) and using as collage material. As you can see, I started using them today.



I'm working this week on pumping out some product. The application deadlines for two craft shows I want to participate in in the fall are in July and I need to show that I can fill a booth with my goods. Whoa! Plus, I'm working on making those wall hangings that Angela at Mama Said Sew will sell in her shop. So today I finished the 10th mini quilt and wrapped each of my 10 boards in pattern paper (below). None of them are finished yet, but at least you can see part of the process.


My friend Katie volunteered to be my guinea pig student in teaching an apron-making class. You saw my version of this apron in my last post, and here she is with her completed apron (her honey had her pose with kitchen items...).



I learned a lot from teaching this to her. She was a great student, with patience, enthusiasm, and basic sewing skills. She helped me to remember that things always go slower than you anticipate, and I learned that this apron is a little too complex to teach to someone who has beginning or probably even intermediate sewing experience in just 2 hours (my time limit). She also suggested that I have the project in its various stages already sewn to show as examples along the way, a la Martha or cooking shows. Finally, she suggested I write a take-home guide with instructions to hand out to students for them to refer to later when they want to make the project again. I thought both of those were great suggestions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Moving Along

Below, a few cards that I've recently made and have been looking forward to showing you:




My friend Katie said I need more stuff on my etsy shop! So I made these aprons (below) to put up. She also suggested more of my collage work so I'll get on that soon, too. Good news to share: I approached the owner of a new fabric shop in Fort Collins, called Mama Said Sew, about selling some of my stuff. She loved my mini wall hangings and will put them up in her shop on consignment! I am thrilled. :) Plus, she loved the white apron especially and when I asked whether I could teach a class at her shop, she liked the idea of me teaching her and her staff this apron, kind of like an audition, before creating a class to teach to the community.


The white apron was totally inspired by Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts. She uses a lot of white in her quilting, and makes regular vows to use up scraps in her stash before buying more fabric. (I can't tell you how hard that is!) The red/brown apron below was inspired by fabrics that accidentally fell together while I was going through my own stash recently. If you like these aprons, check out more photos of them at my online shop.