A New Fabric Design Class “On the Road”

ontheroad600px

I have all of the details ready and registration is open for my first Spoonflower Master Class “On the Road”! I decided that I wanted to try to offer the class in some other venues to help make it more accessible to more people. Not everyone can get to NC quickly and easily, so here it is at another venue that might be a little closer for you. After I taught a class at the WI Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts this spring, I knew it would be a great place to host a workshop like this. You can see all of the details on the master class page.

Also, there are some spaces left in my October class in Atlanta with the SE Fiber Arts Alliance. Be sure to check that one out too!

I’ve got stickers!

loveyarn

And I don’t mean the sticky paper kind. Apple has a new thing for iOS that lets you put super-sized emoticons on your iMessages and they call them “stickers”. And when you are an artist (and a geek) and you are married to a guy who writes software for a living, it means that you get to have sticker packs released the day the feature goes live! I am so excited.

I have been working on these for ages very quietly behind the scenes and I have 3 “Sticker Packs” that are up in the App Store today. We were all tapping our fingers and waiting for the approval emails yesterday.

3upstickerpacks

One set is the much sought-after yarn emoji“I Love Yarn” is a whole pack of knitting and crochet. Smiling yarn balls, an angry tangled skein, stitch markers and more.

“Sew It Up” is all sewing machines, scissors, pins and my friend the seam ripper.

“Black Kitty” is a gift for a friend who just lost his sweet black kitty, but also for my mom and sister, who both have goofy black kitties.

stickermockup

Here’s a little bit about how stickers work and here is a good article about how to install them. I have more design ideas that I am working on, naturally. These are really fun to do.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can get them in the App Store for $.99 each. I added a tab to my menu bar up there at the top of this page that says “Shop” so there is always a link to them and any future sets I do. (It also has links to my Etsy shop and other places to get my designs.)

Who me? aka How to direct people to your social media sites.

I taught a class a few weeks ago about social media for fiber artists. We were at a conference, which is a great place to network with people who have similar interests and passions. One of the things we did at the very end of class was to pass around a sheet of paper for everyone to share their Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media handles. I volunteered to gather up all of that information and email everyone a list of links so they could all follow each other. It would be like a jump start for your new social media account.

It wasn’t until I sat down to put it all together that I saw the flaw in my plan. Nobody knew how to share their handle or contact info for these various sites. For about half of the things that people wrote down, I couldn’t find them no matter how much I searched. I felt terrible. If you are an experienced user on any of these sites, this may seem like something that’s obvious to you, but I realized that nowhere is there an explanation for newbies that says “this is how you tell other people how to find you”.

So here it is; a quick-and-dirty guide to how to share your stuff.

Facebook Page

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.33.40 PMThey just redesigned the Facebook Page a little bit and now this information is super easy to find.

Go to your Facebook Page. Look on the left side under your profile picture and you will see the name of your page (ie Becka Rahn: Fiber Art). Right underneath that in lighter type it says @yourusername (ie @beckarahn.fiberart).

In the screenshot you can see it pops up a little help text box (black) if you hover over that username. By default, I think the username is a string of numbers, but you can change it to be whatever you like by going to Page Info in the About tab (which is further down on that left sidebar).

Note: this is not the same as your personal Facebook login username. If you want someone to get to your personal profile, they can just search for you by name or email. This is the way to get someone directly to your business or artist page.

If someone searches on Facebook for @beckarahn.fiberart they will go directly to my page. Or I can give the address as www.facebook.com/beckarahn.fiberart

Twitter

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.31.28 PM

For Twitter, your handle shows up just under your name. When you are logged in to your account, look just to the right of your profile photo. You will see your name on the top and below it @username (ie @beckarahn). Your account will be found at www.twitter.com/username (ie twitter.com/beckarahn) or someone can search on Twitter for @username and find you.

Instagram

FullSizeRender 3

For Instagram, it’s even easier. The name that shows up there in the top center of the screen is your handle. So you are @username (ie @beckarahn) if someone wants to search or you can be found at www.instagram.com/username

 

 

Pinterest

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 11.20.03 PM

Pinterest makes you look just a little bit harder. If you log in to your Pinterest account, first click the person-shaped icon to look at your profile. It’s at the top right of your screen.

 

Then click the pencil icon in the top left corner of that profile screen, right above your name. Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 11.20.19 PM

Clicking the pencil will pop up an edit box and if you look about halfway down you will see the word Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.36.18 PMUsername. That’s the link to get to you: www.pinterest.com/username

 

Etsy

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.38.35 PMDon’t know your etsy shop’s direct link? Go to your shop and look in the very top of the browser window at the address of the page. It will say https://www.etsy.com/shop/username (ie www.etsy.com/shop/beckarahn).

You can also use username.etsy.com (ie beckarahn.etsy.com) and that will get you there too. Sometime searching for your shop name in the search box isn’t 100% reliable. By using the full address, you can be sure someone will get there.

Putting it together

So for example, if I were going to put my social media links on my business card, it would look something like this:

  • www.beckarahn.com
  • beckarahn.etsy.com
  • Facebook: @beckarahn.fiberart
  • Twitter/Instagram: @beckarahn
  • Pinterest: pinterest.com/beckarahn

If I wanted to add clickable links to an email, website post or anything else I’d use:

  • www.beckarahn.com
  • beckarahn.etsy.com
  • www.facebook.com/beckarahn.fiberart
  • www.twitter.com/beckarahn
  • www.instagram.com/beckarahn
  • www.pinterest.com/beckarahn

Know you’ll forget it?

WalletCard

Right-click or option-click this image to download it. Print it, write in your information and tuck this in your wallet. Or take a photo of it and store it in your phone. Then you’ll always have it when you need it. Like when you take a class with me and I pass around a sheet of paper for you to write down your links.

A tale of Two Cons: Weaving and Star Trek

In the last week, I had the awesome experience of attending both a weaving convention and a Star Trek convention. If the zipper bag pictured above gives you any clue, you can see that these are both things that I enjoy.

The weaving convention was the annual Handweavers Guild of America conference, which was held in Milwaukee. I was a “leader” which means I was there to teach 5 classes on everything from social media to fabric design and to participate in their runway show. The Star Trek convention was held a downtown hotel in Minneapolis and had actors from all of the Star Trek series in attendance, doing Q&As and photo ops.

Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) these two “cons” had a lot of things in common.

A conference is a conference.

There were panel discussions, seminars, cocktail parties, VIP areas and volunteers with clipboards and headsets. There was “conference center food”: numerous forms of bread and cheese (pizza, nachos, pretzels) under heat lamps. There were bored-looking spouses on their cell phones holding bags. There was a registration table staffed by volunteers trying to keep track of 6 things at once. The air-conditioning was cranked to ice age levels. I am pretty sure you could get dropped in to any conference anywhere on any topic and know you were at a conference.

There are costumes.

I am sure this doesn’t surprise you about the Star Trek con. Sci-fi gatherings are famous for this. I saw Klingons, Vulcans and a baby Trill. There were exquisite reproductions of Bajorans and swords made from tinfoil-coated cardboard. As a lover of costumes, I was delighted with all of the things made by hand.

We didn't go in costume, but this was Halloween a few years ago.

We didn’t go in costume, but this was Halloween a few years ago. I get it.

Weavers also wear costumes. It is a given that you wear your favorite handmade stuff when you are at a fiber art conference. I made a tank top with my weaving themed fabric specifically to wear to this conference. I saw handwoven shawls and jackets, handmade shoe laces and a pair of amazing sprang leggings. (Sprang is finger-weaving technique.)

You can ask anyone about what they are wearing and they will tell you all about it: how they researched it, how they learned how to do it, why they love it, where they struggled. And if you ask them about it, you will be rewarded with a smile that lights up the room. They do it because they love it.

There are celebrities.

I said hi to the brilliant John DeLancie (aka Q). It was quiet when we were there and it was a tiny room, so I was standing just a few feet away from him when I walked in the room. I know I had a huge smile on my face when he looked up, so I said hi and he said hi back. It was neat to make that little connection. We enjoyed the Q&A sessions we listened to. Marina Sirtis (Troi) was really funny and Gates McFadden (Crusher) so genuine and geeky.IMG_4008 2

I wouldn’t rank myself up in the “celebrity” status, but the very first afternoon I was at the weaving conference I felt like a celebrity. Someone recognized the fabric my shirt was made from (one of my designs) from Instagram photos. A student from a workshop I taught last summer came over and told me how much she had loved that class and how glad she was that I was there. An Etsy customer that I did a big custom order for came and found me in my classroom to show me the loom she made with her tiny weaving loom kit. One student handed me a handwritten thank you note at the end of class to say thanks for teaching her. I felt like a rock star. It was awesome.

I felt some awkward empathy with the Star Trek actors. The conference was small and not very busy and many of them were sitting at tables covered in glossy photos, surfing Twitter on their phones and waiting for people to come over and chat. I have sat at art shows and smiled at streams of people who walk right by. My art might not be your thing, but imagine what it’s like to have your art be yourself (as an actor) and have people just walk by. That must be SO hard. I know that watching someone pick up one of my scarves and smile at the fabric design is the best feeling; I can just see the connection. It felt weird to me to go over and chat with strangers about a show they made 30 years ago, so I hope that my big smile as I walked by conveyed a little how much I appreciate their work.

There is geeky stuff to buy.

IMG_3957It’s a vendor’s dream: an audience that is guaranteed to love what you are selling. There are things to collect. There are things you can’t get anywhere else. There are people selling things because they love what they do and are just as big a geek as you are. There are t-shirts if you want to proclaim your geeky-love to the world and there are things that you know you will be the only one at your workplace that knows what that thing is sitting on your desk because it belongs to a special level of geekiness. There are always silver jewelry charms that are made in the shape of something thematic (drop spindles, Star Fleet communicators) and coffee mugs with the conference logo. There are always large unisex t-shirts that are big and baggy on me. (That’s a personal pet-peeve.)

There are people who love what you love.

When I thought about writing this post, I immediately thought of that quote by Wil Wheaton (coincidentally a Star Trek actor) which I posted above. Cons are where you find those people who love the same stuff that you do and you all are there celebrating the way that you love it. It’s pretty cool to be able to wear a shirt that has weaving shuttles all over it and have someone stop dead in the hallway and say “That’s so awesome!” and not “What the $%# is on your shirt?” It’s fun to be a part of a tribe.

That’s kind of the whole philosophy behind my Etsy shop, honestly. I am a fiber art geek and I make things for other fiber art geeks. That’s what makes it fun. I don’t do it because it is fun sewing dozens of zipper bags (that is super boring, I will be honest). My job is making things that help people celebrate the things that they love. That’s fun.

Have you ever been to a conference focused on a particular theme that is near-and-dear to your heart? I had a great time at both places and it was great to be a geek along with all of the other geeks. It wouldn’t be as much fun if we weren’t all there together.

Shout out to the Handweavers Guild of America conference!

Love of Weaving - Twilight

I wore this fabric today in honor of you! If you saw me walking around today and asked about it, here’s where you can find it. There’s a green version too.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 2.14.09 PM

photo from @donnastitches who saw me on the way to teach this morning.

When art won’t let you go, you write a book.

Sometimes when I finish a piece of art, I’m not finished. The ideas or inspiration or designs are still in my head and they still have something to say. I think this is why many artists do things in a series, like Monet’s variations on haystacks. The piece itself might be done, but the art is still trying to say something.

This doesn’t happen to me often. Usually, I am done and ready to move on. But the art for the recent public art/utility box project that I did is one of those that stuck around and wouldn’t let me go. Before I had even finished up the final technical details of getting those pieces ready to be installed, I decided that I wanted to write a book.

The beautiful thing about making a book from this project was that most of the hard work was done. Because I was already making print ready files for sticky vinyl coverings, I already had high res files that were perfect for printing. And I had a lot of “leftover” photos. When I started the project for Prospect Park, I took about 500 photos so that I had options to work from. I wasn’t sure what I would need and I knew I didn’t want snowy winter pictures, so I shot a lot last fall.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 9.42.17 AMThe story for the book I wrote at about 2 am one morning and it started with pictures of feet. The book has a very simple story; basically it’s about taking a walk with an artist and looking around you for art. Exactly what I did when I took the photos to make the collages. I realized that I had several photos that had my feet in them, because whatever I was photographing was on the ground. I was planning to just crop out my feet if I used those photos, but what better way to illustrate a walk and bring me into the story a little bit?

It’s a “kids book”, because I think there is a lot in it that kids would enjoy. Did you know that I snuck in a few pictures just for me? My dog, Leo, appears on one page. (I’ll give you a hint: it’s just his fur, and he’s wet.) There are lots of things to look for in the photos and I continued the I Spy game with thumbnails of things like colored pencils and faucet handles to look for in the photo collages.

IMG_3667I decided to publish this book myself. The great thing about that is that I got to be the writer and editor and marketer and designer and proofreader. The terrible thing about that is that I got to be the writer and editor and marketer and designer and proofreader. But I really think that was the best fit for this kind of a book. And I love how it turned out. I used a service called Blurb to print the books. It is a print-on-demand company, which means I can get as many or as few printed as I want to. They had a template set up for InDesign, which I use all the time, so the setup was really easy. And thanks to my sister Beth, who is my best second pair of eyes. She always sees the stuff I missed and doesn’t hesitate to tell me when something looks dumb.

Of course, I would like to sell a few, but more importantly for me, I want people to know the story. How many times have you run into art out in the world that was without context? Sculptures in parks, murals, mosaics. There is rarely an artist’s name and there is almost never a story. And don’t you always have things that you wonder? Why are there whales painted on the wall under the bridge? What’s the story? There is something fun about making up your own story, but I am curious. I want to know the artist’s story. I want to know the connections and I want to make my own connections beyond just thinking “I like those whales.”

So this book has several different stories. It’s about the art that’s in the book. But I also included a page about the art that I made first, the art that’s on the boxes. If the world is kind to them, the installers tell me that those wraps can last for several years. And I hope people wonder about them and have questions. I wasn’t allowed to put my website on the boxes (lest it look like advertising) but maybe through the magic of Google, someone will be curious and find the story.

And don’t think I am forgetting about fabric in all of this. I collected lots of photos of circles, thinking I would use those for making some part of the designs. They didn’t make the final cut for the boxes, but I used them for the cover of the book and to design this fabric:

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 10.20.30 AM

I made a dress from it to wear to the walking tour the neighborhood association did for the boxes. You can see a little bit of that here in the article that the local paper wrote about the project and it’s available at Spoonflower.

Members of the Prospect Park Association take a tour of utility boxes in the area that have been wrapped in art by local artists. The project was completed in an effort to stop graffiti and bring beauty to the neighborhood. - photo courtesy MN Daily

Members of the Prospect Park Association take a tour of utility boxes in the area that have been wrapped in art by local artists. The project was completed in an effort to stop graffiti and bring beauty to the neighborhood. – photo courtesy MN Daily

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 4.33.35 PMIf you’d like to get a copy of the book, you can get them at: