“Getting to know you! Getting to know all about you…”

Alrighty. It’s been almost a week since my last blogposting, and that’s far too long for my taste. I have a lot to update you on, and some observations that I have gleaned via my “travels through the blogosphere”.

Remember how I had to set aside that ebook I had been reading, Creating a Blog Audience by Sister Diane? I had reached a point where I didn’t want to progress further until I felt confident to answer some of the questions she was posing. At a certain point in the book, I realized that I didn’t know enough about the blogging communities that I was posting my blog for– art, craft, and business–and I really needed to do some investigating.

Well, I can say with absolute certainty that’s easier said than done. The blogosphere at this point is rapidly increasing, and the more I felt I was visiting “the community”, the more I realized I was simply scratching the surface… I felt (and still feel) that I had reached the outskirts of a major urban hub, and said to myself, “Aha! My community!” when I actually should have waited and read some more signs to realize I had a long way to go… I think that getting to know the community you are writing for as a blogger is a never ending journey… I could visit blog after blog and post comment after comment, but I’ll never reach the end. 2 or 3 years ago, perhaps, there was a finite nature to the whole experience that implied there were edges to the blogosphere community that one could reach, depending on your interest. Not so much today. It’s like saying, “Get to know your internet!” Hah! See ya in 5-10 years when that’s done…

OBIT  KERR

So at this point, I have endless numbers of bookmarks and doubled my blog subscriptions. And I have 30 open browser windows on my Mac’s dock, waiting for me to get back to read them. I keep finding great stuff!!!  The book did exactly what it was supposed to do: make me think about what it was I was putting out there, for whom, and how it fit in.

And that’s led me to realize there probably isn’t much I can add to the fabric of the blogosphere, really. What can I do but what everyone else is doing–“spins” on information that’s already been explored in depth? How many purse tutorials can a person read? Redoing what others are doing is not what I’d like to do…

So. I’ve decided to continue reading Sister Diane’s book, and hopefully I can progress forward on posting information that’s interesting to a specific overlap of my chosen communities. The book has profoundly opened my eyes to the concept that I need to recognize what my niche is. It’s made me realize that my particular “spice” that I add to the recipe of information that I post needs to be uniquely my own. It’s finding and recognizing that niche that I have to think about. And the more I explore the blogosphere, the more I realize those niches are very very hard to come by.

I find a lot of similarities (in my head) between the blogosphere and reality. In the rush of globalization that’s been made possible by mass and social medias, we’ve moved beyond embracing the whole and turned inward a bit. Our instinct is to pull in and find our diverse uniqueness that separates us and makes us distinct. The Handcrafted/DIY movement is part of that, I think. Our individuality as people was lost in the emphasis on our individuality as a culture, and now we’re trying to get it back through our creative expressions. Yes, we need and strive for social connections, but now we seek them not through our identification as part of the whole (by doing/believing the same things) but through our uniqueness that demonstrates our variation on the identifying culture. We want to belong, and yet we celebrate our distinctiveness.

Being part of any blogging community presents a quandary: belonging on the one hand, being different on the other. Being just enough alike, but not a copy.

So I’m going to move forward. I’m realizing I will never see the larger whole of my communities in the blogosphere, never truly grasp how they all fit together, who are the movers and shakers, who are the followers. And I think that means I will never really know if my blog is distinctive from the larger whole that it’s trying to identify with at the same time.

But I guess that’s ultimately like the business, art, and craft worlds, too, isn’t it? Someday, I may find someone doing what I do and doing it much better, or realize someone’s taken what I thought was my own uniqueness and is using it for their own. “Like business, like blog,” I guess.

But I can’t let that stop me, can I?

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E-Books and Pondering

I’ve been reeling from a particular e-book that was recently released, written by “Sister” Diane Gilleland of Craftypod fame (www.craftypod.com). It’s called Creating a Blog Audience. It’s the “sequel” to another e-book that she published called Making a Great Blog, and when you put the two together they pack a mind melting whollop that has really made me sit back and ponder stuff. (Incidently, I don’t know why she calls herself “Sister” Diane, but it works. She’s preachin’ good stuff, lemme tell ya!)

First off, let me say that I’ve listened to all of the episodes of Sister Diane’s podcasts, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I was raving to a colleague about it one day, only to learn that she actually listened to Sister Diane, too! My friend isn’t into the podcast universe as much as I am, so to learn that she had actually heard of it was a real surprise! I download it off of iTunes (I have a Mac computer) and listen to it while I work in my studio. Makes me feel like I’m multi-tasking with the best of them, and actually getting twice as much done!

When I heard that she was releasing this book, I pounced on it and downloaded it and the other blogging book she wrote. Both come with extra “workbook” sheets that let you complete her exercises that she outlines. And those exercises have been incredibly interesting to me.3878035847_8b44d88b8d_o

I read the first book straight through, and loved it. Just to help explain the impact it’s had on me, I now have a poster on my wall by my computer that lists the “reasons I write on my blog”. It’s quite useful in maintaining my focus! I’m now measuring everything I contemplate writing about against those reasons, and it helps me figure out appropriateness, validity, and usefulness.

But the second book really made me sit back and think about stuff, and I’ve had to actually set it aside for a bit because it’s made me realize I have a lot of self-educating to do. In the second chapter, it poses a question: “What kinds of crafts do your ideal audience members like to do?” And that perplexed me. I realized very very quickly, I had very little idea of the kind of crafter/artist I was writing for. I was just “putting it out there” without any real thought behind who might actually be interested in any of it.

And that led me to realize that I don’t spend nearly enough time actually reading other people’s expressions. If I am going to write anything that is relevant and interesting to anyone, I have to know what else is being said, what they’re interested in, and provide a reason why they should read my blog in the first place.

empowering-orthers-to-achieve-successWhich led me back to my reasons on my poster. And it’s slowly starting to sink in that my reasons for writing the blog are rather “self-oriented”. I started this blog to help promote my wearable art business, and I’m coming to see that simply isn’t enough. Who wants to read a blog full of self-aggrandizing advertising? I certainly don’t.

So from here on out, I’m not only going to update you on what I’m working on, but I’m also shifting the focus away from me and more toward things that are interesting in a more practical sense. Philosophy, tutorials, interesting links… Since I’m not teaching theatre anymore, I might as well use that “bank” of resources and share them with you. Things like costume history, pattern drafting tutorials, online costume resources, material resources, small business advice, theatrical crafting materials, period styles and ornament, clothing accessories, theatrical movements, philosophies, art history… I’m excited about making this blog my classroom.

If I can help my blog audience relish their artistic capabilities through lessons, advice, examples, projects, and juicy discussions, then this blog will serve a purpose beyond simply being a tool for me. It can be a tool for you, too.

And somehow, I feel really empowered by that, you know?

Weekend Shmeekend

So today is Saturday, and I’m spending time at the computer starting to develop a community for my blog, and eventually my Etsy sight when I finally get it started. I’m going back and looking at all the blogs I’ve subscribed to, and following as many links as I can from those websites to others that may be interesting to me…
I am actually subscribing to more blogs… … I can’t keep up with what I’ve already got! There are so many! And they’re all so good! Many of them have craft projects, or record new and upcoming events and craft shows that each blogger is getting ready to attempt. I am discovering that there are actually different “types” of blogs that I am recognizing…
One is the “Professional Crafter” blog. These are the ones that sell items, books, and outline projects. Many of them are either just starting out, or they are very well established in the biz, like The Crafty Chica.
Another category is the “Journaling Crafter” blog. These are bloggers that record their normal everyday ins-and-outs of their families and adventures and their crafting. Many of them share stories of their personal lives, like Angry Chicken.
Still others are “Cataloging Crafters”, where the bulk of their blogs are about sharing things they have discovered that are really eye-catching for them, and could serve to inspire others. So they are full of links to juicy and thought-provoking stuff! Like one of my favorite blogs ever, Dude Craft.
It’s important to realize that none of the blogs that I’ve found out there easily and clearly fit into any of these categories. And incidentally, these also have the three ingredients that Alyson Stanfield of Artbizblog.com says are necessary for a good blog in the first place: being Informative, Inspiring, and Entertaining.
So that’s what I’m doing today, and let me tell you there are way too many really cool things out there to explore. I am going to try to center my efforts on the “business” side of art/crafts, so hopefully I’ll have a lot to share in my next post.
Until then, an update on my current projects: I trashed the grey, 1950s-inspired jacket, and remade it out of black velveteen, which was the right choice. I found some really cool black “fur” for the cuffs, and I’m incorporating a silk scarf into the coat that will create a beautiful soft bow over the center front closure. I think it’s going to be quite striking with the 1950’s-inspired brushwork all over the surface. I’m excited! Almost done! Here’s a preview!
Until then–live life with relish!

So today is Saturday, and I’m spending time at the computer starting to develop a community for my blog, and eventually my Etsy sight when I finally get it started. I’m going back and looking at all the blogs I’ve subscribed to, and following as many links as I can from those websites to others that may be interesting to me…

I am actually subscribing to more blogs… … I can’t keep up with what I’ve already got! There are so many! And they’re all so good! Many of them have craft projects, or record new and upcoming events and craft shows that each blogger is getting ready to attempt. I am discovering that there are actually different “types” of blogs that I am recognizing…

One is the “Professional Crafter” blog. These are the ones that sell items, books, and outline projects. Many of them are either just starting out, or they are very well established in the biz, like The Crafty Chica.

Another category is the “Journaling Crafter” blog. These are bloggers that record their normal everyday ins-and-outs of their families and adventures and their crafting. Many of them share stories of their personal lives, like Angry Chicken.

Still others are “Cataloging Crafters”, where the bulk of their blogs are about sharing things they have discovered that are really eye-catching for them, and could serve to inspire others. So they are full of links to juicy and thought-provoking stuff! Like one of my favorite blogs ever, Dude Craft.

It’s important to realize that none of the blogs that I’ve found out there easily and clearly fit into any of these categories. And incidentally, these also have the three ingredients that Alyson Stanfield of Artbizblog.com says are necessary for a good blog in the first place: being Informative, Inspiring, and Entertaining.

So that’s what I’m doing today, and let me tell you there are way too many really cool things out there to explore. I am going to try to center my efforts on the “business” side of art/crafts, so hopefully I’ll have a lot to share in my next post.

Until then, an update on my current projects: I trashed the grey, 1950s-inspired jacket, and remade it out of black velveteen, which was the right choice. I found some really cool black “fur” for the cuffs, and I’m incorporating a silk scarf into the coat that will create a beautiful soft bow over the center front closure. I think it’s going to be quite striking with the 1950’s-inspired brushwork all over the surface. I’m excited! Almost done! Here’s a preview!

50scoatfront 50scoatback

Until next time–live life with relish!

A Tad Bit of Frustration

I’ve been working in my garage/studio, and the heat is starting to get to me.  I’ve found that my sleeping habits have totally changed–I’m up much much later than I used to be, so by the time I wake up, it’s sweltering out.  The heat has been a bit of a problem lately, and the halogen lights aren’t helping the matter.  However, I find that working in the studio is easier than working in the house–at least there’s a breeze with the garage door open!

I still haven’t received anything in the mail back from the state about the registering of my business.  I think it will take a while, that’s for sure.  Who knows how the budget crisis in California is affecting the normal course of business…

I’m feeling wary about posting things on Etsy before I get all the paperwork finished.  I don’t know for sure  if I can go back in and change things around regarding payment options, contact info, how accounts get credited, etc.  I need to investigate that a bit more.

Overall, it’s been a tad bit frustrating… I am in that stage where I have just started to climb the mountain after all the excitement of “Whee! I’m gonna climb a mountain!”  And it’s a daunting slope indeed.  Staying motivated is not the problem.  Staying focused is, since there is so very very much to do.  I have so much research to explore, so much networking to do, and under all of that the basic essential need for a “collection” of some sort (if that’s what it’s called).  It simply has to get done.

I’ll finally be finishing up my current project tomorrow–a black velour coat with blue roses on it.  I got the lining today, so it should be a simple matter to finish it all up.

The dress forms are on their way as well, so I’ll be waiting for them to take pictures of the garments.  I want to start them off on as good a note as I can for Etsy. I’m pretty sure I can’t afford models yet (unless I pay them in pizza or something–haha), let alone know any photographers with the kind of “fashion shoot” quality that I feel is necessary.  But I still have to get more of a stock worked up, so there’s no use worrying about that yet.  It’s rather the “cart before the horse”, as it were.  We’ll see how it goes.

My sister, Nicole, who lives in Columbia, Missouri, has asked me to help her make some blanks for some of her own design work.  She’s also interested in doing stuff with the patterns that I’ve made over the years…  Of course, developing patterns for non-theatrical sewers is not something I have much experience with.  Anyone who knows theatrical patterns knows that they’re simply not like the kind you can get commercially like Vogue, Butterick, McCall’s etc. I think it may take a bit of “translating” and technical writing for an average sewer to follow…  I once taught a theatrical pattern making class at our local fashion design school, and believe me it’s a totally different approach to pattern making.  Line-to-line stitching, seam allowance, mockups… they were alien to the young students at this school, so I know how confusing a theatrical patterns can be.  There is a sort of short-hand for theatrical patterns that assumes knowledge on the part of the person assembling the garment… There are no newsprint instructions.  You either know enough about construction and sewing to put it together or you don’t.  Usually, the person drafting the pattern is also in charge of the team that’s constructing the garment, so there’s no need for written instructions.  So I’d have to make them up.  And good instructions for anything can be hard to find… Haha!

But we’ll see.  It’s intriguing to see what may happen!

Nicole is also prompting me to make handbags.  So I went out to purchase some handbag “equipment” to make matching accessories for the coats.  That could be intriguing, too!  I think they’re gonna be my next project.

In my blog search I found some interesting little ditties!  Here are some links to some blogs and websites that I found interesting, and that I plan on exploring a bit more.  Perhaps, in your copious spare time, you can let me know what you think?  : )

Prosperous Artists Academy

Fast Company

Style.com

The Sartorialist

Until next time, live life with relish!

“It’s Etsy as Pie!”

Last night I was up way too late for any rational human being, and I decided to start checking out what Etsy was all about.

I discovered the “teams” section, and found two teams that were specific to San Diego. Teams are groups of sellers that band together to promote their work–these teams were local ones in that their commonality as sellers was the fact they all lived in this area. So I was up until 3:00 in the morning clicking through all the different team members, scoping out their stores, looking at their profiles and searching for blogs… I found a LOT! Over 25 blogs and personal websites of just local Etsy sellers…

I found a trend. Most of the sellers were stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs for short–apparently that’s the “lingo”) or jewelry makers. And not that it’s bad at all–good grief I love making jewelry! But it was all so overwhelming at one point… The jewelry itself was all so very distinct and different, and very little of it actually looked simple to make. I am just stupefied that people can stand out from the crowd with so many actually in the crowd!

And this morning I did a search on Etsy by geographical location… and got over 100… I’m a little floored. That’s even more than were on the “teams”. So I think I will have my hands full exploring and looking…

One awesome thing that happened: I found a young lady who is also in theatre, like myself, who is selling her own wares. She puts together her own massage candles, body butter, and bath bombs in her spare time when she is not being a dresser for the Old Globe Theatre. And her stuff looks awesome! The quality of her photographs is so appealing, and her stuff is totally Vegan–I can’t tell you how cool it is! And she just started a little short of a year ago. So she’s new to this, too. I emailed her through Etsy, and she introduced herself, and we’re gonna do lunch sometime, hopefully! Here’s her Etsy store: Chicken Scratch.

So off I go to work on a my women’s coat project. My mother had suggested that I create something that was short, and I’m tired of seeing stuff made only for women that seem to be very tall and thin. I wanted to make something beautiful for someone with a figure like the average woman: a Sz 14 and larger. So I’m gonna. More pics later!

Still