Maid Mirawyn's Photos Maid Mirawyn's Photos

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Lessons from an art & craft fair

Well, I have been very busy the last three weeks. I decided to do my very first arts & crafts fair–with only three weeks to prepare for it! The first week, I made twenty-five little pamphlet stitch booklets, some plain, some embellished. The second, I made twelve Japanese stab bound books. The third week, I made five hardcover, open spine, french braid-bound books and five hardcover accordian fold books, which I dubbed "brag books."

Obviously I didn't sleep much… But it was a really great experience, even though I didn't sell very many books. I did sell enough to cover my costs–but just barely! Mainly, I learned how it all works, and what types of venues not to choose. (I think handmade books were a bit too "gourmet" for my soccer mom audience. Not that I have anything against soccer moms: I am so glad my own mother was an at-home mom! They're just a very "kid-focused" audience. I might have had better luck closer to Christmas.)

Here are my most important lessons:

First, work in an "assembly line," if possible. If I had tried to switch back and forth between book forms, or complete one whole book before starting another, I would have made maybe half that many books.

Second, give potential customers lots of ideas on how they can use your wares! If you can think of some really unusual uses for your "stuff," display some of them or make a sign suggesting them. For instance, I used an accordian book to create a memory book of my days at the Baptist Student Union at my college. I had all my friends sign it and then added rub-ons saying "have fun," "celebrate," and "friends," accompanied by photos.

Third, clearly mark all your prices. You don't have to have an enormous tag or sign, but just make sure that potiental customers can easily find it and read it. (Print out stickers if your handwriting is really bad!) Many people will just keep on going if they can't find a price!

Finally, remember what you are selling: your incredible work…not the display! If you have really beautiful items, keep it simple. You want to showcase the beauty of your work, not eclipse it. Your props, table coverings, even your signs, should never compete with your work! A simple rule of thumb: if you can't justify its presence, dump it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Can't resist cool books...

I have a bad habit of going into stores for a "quick look" and getting sucked in by the gorgeous books! This time, it was the Crane & Co. store at Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta.

I love Crane's, but I simply can't afford their stuff. I go in for ideas, since I can do most of what I like cheaper—if I ever get around to it. Some of them, especially those by Molly West, were quite elegant and beautiful, with gorgeous, luxuriant fabrics and wonderful papers. The tag says these are made by "master bookbinders," in California, I think. They ranged in price from $60 to $120. (How do I get THAT job? I can't imagine being able to sell one of my books for that price!)

A few of the Molly West books had a bit of a twist on the usual bindings. The guest book, for instance, used a thick cord to bind a single thick signature of heavy, creamy paper using a three hole pamphlet stitch. The cord was twined around the stitches on the outside, creating a nice texture and adding visual interest.

There were also some (less expensive) books by Maude Asbury. They were much more contemporary, with more of a "mass appeal." The materials, though, were very appealing and of a nice quality. They are also listed as "handmade," though the term can mean many things in the mass market! They appeared well-made, though not to the same standard as the Molly West books.

Another line of books (the name escapes me) was made of some really beautifal Nepalese paper. The bindings incorporated lots of natural elements, like strips of bamboo. The string tie books used a really cool button: a slice from stick, shaped, smoothed, and carved. And just as important, the paper was fair trade, so the papermakers didn't get exploited (too much!)

I must note that Crane's "standard" (still rather expensive) wedding guest books were quite disappointing. The endsheets were so thin! There was a lot of "show through" from the binding boards, and the cover material was very obvious around the edges inside the covers. NOT impressive—my old book arts professor would be appalled!

I guess the lesson from this is that you never know what you will find in stores, or what they will sell for. (You also never know what kind of shortcuts people will accept!)


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Some beautiful stamp art by Marina Lenzino

Well, Marina Lenzino of Cherry Pie Art Stamps has graciously given me permission to post a couple of her works. Most of her work uses her rubber stamps. I love the Old World flavor! (She is Italian.)

This one is a larger collage, "Homage to Leonardo's Land." Absolutely beautiful! Most of this uses found imagery, but the da Vinci drawing with text is from her Leonard da Vinci rubber stamp plate. The watches are also hers.

I love the background on "Buddha!" It's a great match for the images, which are all from Marina's line of rubber stamps.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A Defense of Middle Eastern Dance

This is a bit different from my usual fare, but I wrote this for a fellow dancer. She has been told that her hobby is "inappropriate" and has to do a presentation to the owner of the company to convince her it isn't. This popular view of Middle Eastern dance is one of my pet peeves. Tomorrow I will return to my regularly scheduled programming. ;)

A Defense of Middle Eastern Dance

I first began studying Middle Eastern dance at the age of twenty-one, almost eleven years ago. The impact on my life has been considerable. I have improved my grace, control, flexibility, balance, and strength; I have met many wonderful, interesting people; I have learned a new form of expression.

My first performance was at the Festival of Trees, a venue where my troupe and others performed for several years. Later I performed with several other dancers for a one hundred and tenth birthday celebration, held at the Jewish Nursing Home. I danced at the Decatur Arts Festival at least three years; my troupe has also performed at Stockbridge Days and the Atlanta Folks Dance Festival, as well as many other events. We have even danced as part of the DeKalb International Choir Festival, which was held at a church. All of these events are family-friendly, and I have performed at very few venues where families weren't a significant presence.

Like most dancers, I hold a full-time job and have a college degree. All my coworkers know I dance; at least half have seen me perform, and the owners of the company brought their six-year-old daughter to our recent charity fundraiser. However, only two or three clients know I am a dancer, because it's not relevant to the work I do for them as a graphic designer.

I have been an active member of a Southern Baptist church for longer than I have been dancing. Though I don't run around announcing my hobby, I have never made a secret of it–even though my husband is a church employee. I have myself taught art classes through my church, as well as volunteering in the children's department at all three churches I have attended since I began dancing. Twice I have worn one of my costumes for church productions; I even used my knowledge of Middle Eastern dance to choreograph a number for one of them. Our music ministry directory even lists "Middle Eastern Dance" as one of my interests!

As dancers, we are a varied group. Most of us are college-educated, as I am, some with advanced degrees. Many of us bring our families to events. None of us have found that Middle Eastern dance interferes with our professional lives. Would anyone think twice if a women were a Latin dancer? Yet many of these dances can be quite provocative–and are performed with a male partner. Middle Eastern dance, on the other hand, is performed almost exclusively solo or in all-female troupes.

We are moms and grandmothers, wives and daughters. We are not strippers; we are not prostitutes. We are dancers.