Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Public Speaking

I have signed up to do my first speaking engagement. I shall be doing a talk and a workshop for the Leamington and District  branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. I am very excited about this (and a little nervous). I have plenty of time to prepare though. It's 3-4th October 2014.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

School holiday ponderings

It's that time of year again when things become especially difficult for the self-employed, School Holidays!! This year, aside from the usual finding it hard to fit everything in, I shall also be considering the future of the business. My daughter goes up to senior school in September, is this the point that I should be saying goodbye to India Grace Designs and finding a job that pays money?

Like all parents I want to set a good example for my child. I have to lead by example and show that hard work brings rewards. The thing is, it doesn't! No matter how hard I work this business doesn't make money. I guess you can't sell what people don't want to buy. It doesn't matter to her if I have pieces published in magazines, she just cringes and accuses me of showing off if I get them out. She just looks at the financial side of things. To be honest I can't blame her, she misses out on things that I could afford if I went to work for an employer. She has had other benefits though in that I am always there for her (she's at an age where she doesn't always see that as a good thing) I wish that I had been able to make a living from what I love. I am still going to keep trying, after all - paid employment doesn't grow on trees, who knows how long it'll take to find a job? I just want her to be proud of me and I admit I'd like to be able to hold my head up high and say that I have succeeded.

Monday, 15 July 2013

What next?

I am trying to work out what to work on next at the moment. I have several very pressing projects on the go but I'm not sure which to go with. My priority has to be to find something that will bring in some money, I can't keep going on the way that I am. I am currently working on a book idea, a piece that I hope to get into a magazine, some fine art pieces, a new work to be sold in chart form and the knot garden pieces. 
I feel like I have a really good idea for a book that will fit well with the mood of the time but this has to be a long term project, there's no way that it will bring in any money in the near future as I have a lot of work to do and then there is no guarantee that I can find a publisher.
The magazine piece is a more likely way to make a bit of income but again, there is no guarantee of take up, the pay is very low and it takes quite a long time.
I am really keen on the idea of working on fine art pieces right now, of course I can't guarantee that they'll sell and they can't be cheap given the amount of work that goes into them. I would love to do some commissions. I would love to do an exhibition. It will take a lot of work though and if I am not constantly releasing new works will people stop looking?
I have designed a lovely new piece that I want to sew as my next 'chart release' this would be the quickest thing to work on but chart sales are too low, I need to take some risks and try and find something that does stand a chance of selling. I need to sell 10 charts a day to make a living, I don't sell anywhere near that many.
The Knot Garden series was a very big hit at my recent demo sessions. I have completed 2 of 4 and I am about 1/4 of the way through no.3. My hope is that I can interest English Heritage in them, either as charts, kits, cards, prints or all of the above, again - no guarantees.
So, 5 good ideas, all time consuming, requiring a lot of work and no guarantee of making anything from them. I have tried working with a rotation before, saying on X day I will work on this and on Y I shall work on that, but once I start working on a piece I tend to become absorbed by it. I have a couple of model stitchers helping me out with the book idea but can't afford to pay people to do it. I guess I'll just have to go with what feels right and hope like mad that something works.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Can I talk to you?

One of the things that has come out of my demo sessions at SewArty (last one on Sat afternoon) is a suggestion that I should consider some speaking gigs. I love what I do and I love talking about it. It appears that people enjoy finding out about it too. I have a particularly distinctive style that draws from many areas and I am able to talk a little about the history of the styles and show their influences on my work. If you belong to a group which employs speakers and would find it interesting to host a talk/demo about embroidery then please get in contact with me.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Enjoying the company of Artists

I did another session at SewArty this morning. Or rather I enjoyed another session all day. This is a pretty solitary profession. I spend most of my time alone, that's just the nature of self employment so getting a chance to work with other artists has been fabulous (that and it's a lovely light and sunny room to work in) It has been wonderful chatting to people about my work and my inspirations and seeing how other artists work. I spent the afternoon working alongside my old Art teacher which was lovely. She was demonstrating monoprinting which my daughter enjoyed having a go at and had the most wonderful scrapbooks of work. It's a shame that there isn't a way that I could do this more often. Over the last week I have had the chance to talk to people who work with screen printing, needle felting, batik, machine embroidery, encaustic art and many other crafts. It's a shared experience which you rarely get unless you can afford a studio. I love my work and, though it often depresses me that I struggle to make a living from it, I don't want to stop. I will miss this opportunity though.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Demonstrations and classes

I had another lovely demonstration session at SewArty of Kenilworth this morning . It's lovely to get the chance to talk to people about what I do because it is a very solitary occupation. A couple of people were interested in taking my 6 week Comprehensive Hardanger course and, of course, I'm always happy to do it. It needs a few more people before it is cost effective though so if you are interested, please contact me.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Support Independent Retailers - Independent's Day 4th July

Today in the UK it is Independents Day. A day when we try to raise the profile of independent retailers in an attempt to save our High Streets. Imagine a world where everything you buy is controlled by 5 or 6 giant firms. Everything you buy is going to be controlled by what these people want. The pile it high, sell it cheap mentality rules. There is no place in these giants for individuality or creativity. Employee conditions will also deteriorate - why take care of your employees when there is nowhere else to go? I know it's hard, money is tight (believe me, as an independent retailer myself money is very tight) but even a small purchase at an independent retailer helps. When you purchase from an independent you are helping a family put food on the table, when you purchase from a giant you are adding another number to the balance sheet of a fat cat company that (in many cases) can't even be bothered to pay the tax it should.  

I don't know how much longer I can keep my business going. I should have shut down years ago. I guess there just isn't the market for my kind of work. There are a lot of people out there though who do sell the things that you want/need. Help them before it's too late. Before every shopping centre has exactly the same shops and we live in a world without variety and choice.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Come and see me in action

I am doing a few demo sessions at a local craft store over the next 2 weeks. SewArty of Station Road, Kenilworth is hosting exhibitions as part of the Warwickshire Open Studios event. There are 3 artists whose work is on display over the 2 weeks and a series of crafters who are coming in to do demo sessions and classes. I really enjoyed talking to people about embroidery this afternoon and loved seeing the work that is on display. I will be there again on friday morning and the week after on tuesday morning and saturday afternoon. I would love to see people if anyone fancies popping in.