Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fan-fold pleater details

When I posted earlier about the Tale of Two Uglies, I showed a picture of green fabric in a pleater that I use. A couple people have asked me how I made it, so here are some pictures.
The first picture shows an over-all view with a yardstick for scale.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The second picture shows a closer look at the back side.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Here’s a close-up of the front. The red line is the center from end to end, the lighter blue lines are on either side of the center slot. That helps me start my fabric in the middle of the pleater if I choose, and, if I want to help keep it square, I can put a crease down the center of the fabric and try to keep it in line with the red mark as I pleat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The last picture shows an end view with the slats spread open.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The wood I used was actually dollhouse siding, and hubby donated it because he was never likely to use it for anything. Any wood, including light (1/4”) plywood would work fine. You’d need to sand it well to smooth it. If you used plywood, it could be cut from a 4’ width of material.
The fabric I used for the back was canvas or a heavy denim. Again, it was what I had laying around, and it was old and 36” wide. I then glued and stapled it to the slats. The staples are in the bottom of the face of the board, rather than trying to staple into the skinny edge. The glue I used was probably Elmer’s, and I would change that to a silicone or rubbery adhesive. White glue dries too stiff.
When I use it, I push the fabric down into the slots with a plastic drywall spatula. A credit card or other flat squeegee tool would work.
PS – please help my with my business wish by voting at http://bit.ly/15nmMG8 . Totally anonymous, and it will helps towards a chance for me to go to the Houston shows in the fall. That trip will be so expensive that I doubt I could make enough money to break even.
PPS – if you haven’t, and want to, please sign up for the DippyDyes mailing list.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Learning Photography Again

OK, I admit it, my photographing has gotten lazy. Set the dial on “Auto” and point and click. Then hit the ‘auto correct’ feature in PhotoShop Elements and I’m done. That all has to change! I need better pictures on my website and have to be sure the colors are good, too. To that end, I attended a lecture at my local chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen on photographing for a jury. And I learned that there’s a whole category called “product photography,” and found a YouTube video on the topic. I had also signed up for a Craftsy class on exactly that subject before the meeting, and watched a free lecture there from QuiltCon. So I am all primed and ready for pictures.

OK, enough words, here are three pictures of buttons.** Both are straight out of the camera with no editing or correcting of any kind. The first is typical of most of my pictures, though I usually crop out the camera shadow. That was taken under the studio halogens.

For the second picture, I moved the buttons to my storeroom and staged them on a tee shirt that’s awaiting dye. I installed some hideously bright ‘Daylight’ CFL bulbs in the ceiling fixture this week. Annoying for lots of things, but very good color for photographs. On my monitor, the color is better, but still not right.

The third picture is one that I have tried to improve the color on. The color of the blue button is better, but the other two, and the white background have too much of a yellow cast. Does it still have a way to go? Absolutely. Is it better than the first picture? Yes! Do I still have more of the Craftsy class to work through? You betcha!

**About the buttons: these are the Swirly GirlsMonogram buttons from Dill. They sent me some in white that I’ve dyed. The blue button was ‘immersion’ dyed in 1/4 teaspoon of disperse dye stock in a canning jar in the autoclave. The green one was painted with slightly thickened dye, put into a canning jar as is and processed at the same time as the blue button. The grey-green one was painted with the same dye as the green button. The first difference is that I cleaned the button before painting; the second difference is that it had not been processed yet! That’s how the green color starts out. The next thing I have to try is a heat transfer press onto a button. Watch this space!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Brass Ring & Economics of Quilt Show Vending

Some of you may have seen this already: I have entered DippyDyes into Intuit’s ‘Small Business Growing Strong’ contest. They will grant $5000 each to a total of 15 small businesses to help them grow. You can see my wish and vote here, and please vote as often as you can. Why should you? Not because I’m any more deserving than all the other entrants. Dyeing is my passion and I want to share it with as many people as possible. I’d also like to be able to do this as a living. That means more on-line sales, plain and simple, plus more teaching gigs, and to get those means more exposure. What better place than Houston to find it?
Right now, getting to Houston and back, paying for the booth/s, having reliable transportation, etc, will cost over $3000 before I make a single sale. For an idea of how that compares, I did a summary of the three shows I vended at this spring. After subtracting booth fees, hotels and mileage, my gross profit was about $2800. Subtract the estimated cost of good sold, and the net profit comes to about $640. Remind me why I’m doing this again?? Well, I know why, but it’s certainly not logical with such low profits. Committing to going to Houston on my own looks even less logical – it’s great advertising, but not a real profit-making venue. So, I can try for the brass ring (now I AM dating myself), or never go to vend at Houston, or build up to it as a “few years down the road” goal. Can’t hurt to try! Thanks for your support.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Gender and ignorance (and humor)

Just found this draft – it was going to be a reply to a post on QuiltArt in January 2011, but my mind started wandering down so many avenues I didn’t know where to start. I (and my husband) have often been entertained by different incidents relating to being the ‘wrong’ milieu. It helps to know that I am tall – close to 6 feet, and live in jeans and other unisex clothes. (Is that word still used?) More than once I have been called ‘sir’ by someone who didn’t look closely, or high enough, when I was at a typically male environment. Then there are the times that women gasp when they see me in the ladies room – it embarrasses them, and I figure I can laugh at them freely.

One big part of life for me and hubby has been Bahr’s Mill, a 19th century woodworking historic site. It’s an amazing place – the sort that looks like the operators closed the door 75 years ago and left it untouched. We have worked there and given tours to thousands of people. Lots of times someone will ask hubby a question that he has to refer to me, which confuses the visitors to no end.

Now he has moved into the quilt show world with me, and he alwaysP6260035 gets to chuckle when he demonstrates something to the largely female crowd. It’s less funny when they don’t buy from him. He finds it interesting that the high end products – long arm quilting machines in particular – are sold ‘by men in suits.’ But he’s not yet ready to put on a suit for the shows. I wonder if it would make a difference; I do plan to upscale my wardrobe a bit this year.

When men come into my booth I try to treat them like other customers, but I find that it can be tough. That’s my fault, and I certainly don’t want to insult anybody.

Fast forward to 2013 – I just got home from the Creative Arts Business Summit, and we had a speaker discuss how we present ourselves. She suggested fitted tops that are flow-y, not fitted, and that I can wear comfortably over my jeans. And to wear my scarves – around the neck or the waist. So I’ll give it a try! Keep an eye here to watch the other results of the summit!