Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This quote has been my companion lately, especially while I was typing that last post:

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.Devour old films,new films,music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water,light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul.If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don't bother with concealing your thievery-celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said:"It's not where you take things from-it's where you take them to."
--Jim Jarmsch

Sunday, April 26, 2009

some thoughts on originality and theft and reverse applique

The popularity of crafting right now creates an interesting set of dilemmas regarding originality and ethics. The internet is flooded with tutorials and hot crafters are featured in magazines and glossy how-to books. Now that I am back at the farmers market I am asked questions about my process. Sometimes explaining how I work gives added value to the handcrafted nature of my pieces. But sometimes someone just wants some free tips so they can make something similar at home. So as I'm chatting away in my booth I start to wonder,am I making conversation with a curious customer,is this just the friendly tradition of knowledge sharing within the craft community or did I just give away a trade secret to someone about to bite my style?
I am actually not as paranoid about someone stealing my patterns as I am about being accused of stealing from others. I freely admit I take ideas from everything I see,but I have my rules. There are certain books I won't buy for fear of either accidentally stealing an idea or seeing something similar to my existing work and then feeling like I stole it even though I didn't. I was looking through a book on recycled fabric projects and recognized a particularly great Gap striped sweater that I myself have made animals from. And then I saw their little stuffed bird and it was so similar to the chicks I make at Easter time I just had to put the book down. Because at that point I realized even if not consciously stealing, I am making the obvious choices with my craft. The choices that someone else also made and put in a book and is getting paid to tell people how easy it is to make it themselves.step.by.step.So why would anyone who had seen this book then buy a chick from me?
I struggled with this after purchasing the gorgeous alabama stitch book by Natalie Chanin. I was so inspired by both her business ethics and designs. I wanted to incorporate reverse applique into my cotton projects. After I made a headband from the book for personal use people kept asking me if I was making them for moth and squirrel and I awkwardly explained that I used someone's pattern so, no I wouldn't sell it. But then I felt stumped and paralyzed, questioning if I could authentically use the process at all.
Luckily I remembered I had messed around with reverse applique years ago on my original scrappy rascal wings.

Suddenly I gave myself permission to take this skill further and bring it into my current products. Reverse applique is a process of stitching two or more layers of fabric together and then cutting away sections of the top layer to reveal the fabric underneath.Most recently I have been using reverse applique on the esther amelia cotton hats.

Friday, April 17, 2009

yarn ball studies

I am teaching a small art class art a cooperative school out in the county. It is all about keeping an illustrated journal to document and explore your world. This week we explored the ways that different drawing tools change the way we draw.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

logo and taxes

It is surprisingly difficult to photograph my new business cards on an overcast windy day.

You can see the shapes in the original carving a bit more clearly. The new fold cards for my pins and hair clips are really tight, but they are all at the studio and I am at home with the computer finding more ways to avoid my taxes.

oh taxes. This is one of the activities I love and hate about running moth and squirrel. Taking care of the business aspects of crafting usually stimulates the nerdy part of my brain. Something satisfies me about filling in the correct boxes and transferring numbers from one form to another. But I get nervous that I am doing it wrong or cheating myself out of some deduction with my honesty and innocence. I am right in the middle of not making any money (so taxes are simple) and doing really well (where I could justify hiring an accountant.)
My stomach tightened a little just writing about taxes. It probably relates to the fact that I put it off until April every year. Why didn't I do them in february when I was just putzing around in the studio, not in the push of a new market season?
I think it is time to get out of my pajamas (a luxury of an at home business day)and put on my business suit to focus on the task at hand.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

end of hibernation

I've been feeling awkward about the transition from cozy solitary winter into social spring. I've been teaching a few classes where I practice being articulate and charming, but eight year olds are pretty forgiving. Mostly I spent the winter working on new designs in my studio listening to books on tape or doing computer work in my comfy pants and threadbare slippers. All of a sudden there are parties and gallery walks and farmers' market. I have one more day to be a grumpy bear and then it is time to get out of the cave and represent.

As part of the transition into fresh spring representation, I worked with Erin Clancy of sixpence papers to re-imagine my logo and all the cards and tags that go with my product. She designed an amazing set of paper products using a block carving and her magic computer skills. It is the perfect moth and squirrel mix of handmade and modern. Or as I've been thinking of my style lately: modern folk.mofo.

This friday April 3 you have another chance to visit me and steeb in our studio during bellingham's monthly art walk.6-10pm ish. 1316 Bay street Enter through the alley and up the stairs.

Then saturday April 4 come down to the opening day of farmers' market. I will have my own booth this year so please pop by to say hello. I'm not sure where I will be placed this year but I am hoping to be inside again.