Intention and Expectation: Attending the Americans for the Arts Conference

The Americans for the Arts (AFTA) conference was held in Minneapolis this weekend. It is a national conference for art administrators primarily to get together and talk about funding, sustainability, data, evaluation, and innovation and do it in a room with other people who get it. I love being an artist, but I was really good at being an arts administrator. Art is something I have to do because it is part of who I am and I can’t not do it; being an arts admin was something I was called to do by whatever little voice in your head it is that tells you that you need to do this because you can make a difference.

I left my arts admin job about 5 years ago. It was an organization that I deeply loved, a mission I believed in and a community with a lot of untapped potential. I worked way too many hours and there were some parts of the approximately 1 million cobbled together parts of my job that I was less than wonderful at, but by and large it was a good fit. I did good work and proud of the projects and connections I got to be a part of.

But something changed. There was a transition in leadership. The board of directors decided to shift the values and culture of the organization to follow a different path. It wasn’t just “things change because of new leadership and people hate change” but a bigger organizational shift that included altering the mission statement. I’ve been on enough boards of directors to know that I don’t know the whole story about why and how that came to be, but I do know that suddenly […]

Fabric Review Part 2: Spoonflower’s Petal Cotton vs Sateen

After I posted my initial comparison with Petal Cotton, Basic Cotton and Kona Cotton from Spoonflower, I had several people ask me about Cotton Sateen. Sateen is my favorite of the lightweight cotton fabrics and has been for a long time. Sateen has a different kind of weave structure. Instead of the warp and the weft threads being evenly distributed, a sateen weave lets the warp threads “float” across the surface of the fabric. I’ve always found Spoonflower’s sateen to be the best for printing fine details; designs always print very crisply. (It’s also 56″ inches wide, which means you get a lot more fabric when you order a yard of sateen.)

Holding the Sateen and the Petal cotton swatches in my hand, the Petal feels a little heavier/thicker, but when I weigh them on my postal scale, they show the same weight, so the difference is subtle.

As far as printing, Sateen still is the best for crisp sharp details. Petal is great (and a big step up), but Sateen is just a little sharper yet. On this design you can see it best in the grey-on-grey sections. The edges of the shapes are just a little more precise and sharp. The colors/saturation between the Petal Cotton and Sateen are very very similar. I can see a little difference in contrast. In this design, the greys have a little more contrast on the sateen – the darker shade is darker on the Sateen vs Petal and the yellows are a tiny bit brighter.

Overall, I think the Sateen and Petal are very similar print wise; the biggest difference is the fabric itself. I have used the Sateen to […]

2019-06-07T09:19:22-05:00Everything Else|2 Comments

Fabric Review: First Impressions of Spoonflower’s new Petal Cotton

This week Spoonflower replaced two of its standard fabrics, the Basic Cotton and Kona Cotton, with a brand new Petal Signature Cotton fabric. I am a Pro member of Spoonflower so I got a sample swatch a week or two ago and I wanted to write up some of my first impressions of the new fabric.

First, I want to talk a little about the retired fabrics. I hardly ever use Kona Cotton. It’s really a quilting fabric and I am not a quilter so I don’t have a lot of reasons to use it. I always thought it was a nice quality fabric, but I don’t have a lot more to say about it since I use it so rarely.

I have always felt that the Basic Cotton was exactly that: basic. I consider it to be something like dressmakers muslin; great for testing things but nothing special. It was relatively light weight and I always felt like the print quality was a little lackluster. The colors seemed a bit dull. All in all it was an absolutely fine craft fabric but I never felt like it was something I wanted to make a finished project out of. (Sateen was my go-to favorite cotton for that.) I have ordered a lot of Basic Cotton to test colors and print scale so I have a lot more experience with it than the Kona.

When I ordered my test swatch of Petal Cotton, I chose the same design I had just printed a few weeks before on the Basic Cotton. This Rainy Drizzle design was a design challenge entry of mine from the April Showers theme.

First Impressions

When I first […]

2019-05-15T12:18:56-05:00Everything Else|9 Comments

Five years at the American Craft Council show

This year was my fifth year exhibiting at the American Craft Council Show. If you don’t know about their shows, here’s a little nutshell. The American Craft Council is located in Minneapolis (formerly in NYC) and they are an organization that promotes fine craft. They put on a conference, host lots of talks and small events, and publish two magazines that “champion handmade”. Each year (for the past 30+ years) they put together a large craft show in four different locations: Atlanta, Baltimore, St Paul and San Francisco. Each is a juried show with 200+ artists working in fiber, metal, jewelry, wood, or glass.

I started with their Hip Pop emerging artists program. That’s an image of my 2017 booth in its cardboard glory. (I actually think the cardboard popups are awesome and I think my work really popped against that kraft paper color.) Hip Pop is also a juried program but allows artists to share a booth with other emerging artists. The booth fees are lower (because of the limited space) and some of the display/lighting is included, so it is a way for new artists to try out the show and see if the audience is a good fit for their work before investing in a full both space. Once you have juried in as a Hip Pop artist, you can return to the shared booth for 3 years and then “graduate” to a full sized booth for the next two. I just completed my fifth year, so next year I will need to re-jury into the regular artist pool.

This year’s show just finished on Sunday and I was talking to someone about how it went […]

Making art is pay to play; I wish it wasn’t.

I was reading a post on a friend’s Facebook page a few days ago. Her daughter is a dancer; she was a dancer in her youth. The post (which my friend didn’t write, but was commenting on) was an open letter to some dance-related organization about girls showing up to audition for something and having to pay a fee to audition. There were a lot of comments, mostly that expressed outrage that anyone should be expected to have to pay to participate in an audition. I didn’t comment because I am not part of that community, but I snorted and thought to myself “Welcome to the club!”

As an artist, I have to pay to audition all the time. Nearly everything I apply to has a “jury fee” associated with it. I was talking with friends about this several months ago and we were all surprised. They had never heard of a “jury fee” and I didn’t know that my non-artist friends didn’t know this was a thing. So that seemed like a great reason to write a post about it.

Most of the shows and exhibitions my work would be a good fit for have an application process. You submit an artist statement and maybe another statement about how your work fits the theme of the show. You upload an art resume. Then you choose images to represent your work or the specific pieces you think would belong in the show. The specs for these are always wildly different. You spend a LOT of time recropping and resizing your images so they fit whatever format that the spec says. Then you pay a fee. The last few shows […]

2019-02-14T16:32:53-05:00Everything Else|5 Comments

Done is better than perfect.

At first glance, you might think that the photo at the top of this post represents the metaphorical dumpster-fire that was 2018, but it actually might be one of my favorite things about the year.

As we were heading in to the end of 2018 and holiday season, we realized we didn’t have any plans. I don’t mean “no plans” as in “we only have a few family things and we might have a day to lounge around in our pajamas”; I mean nothing. We had scheduled alternate dates to celebrate Christmas with family, no one was visiting, and we were so busy with wrapping up year end at our various jobs that it didn’t occur to us to even make plans with friends. Two weeks with nowhere we had to be and nothing we had to do. No one to entertain, clean the house for, or cook for except ourselves.

It was glorious.

So we rented some dumpsters.

I know that might not sound like everyone’s ideal way to spend the holidays, but it was amazing. We moved in to our house almost 20 years ago. (I have no idea how that much time has gone by.) We came from a different state and a tiny condo so we had nothing when we got here and we just moved with everything we had. Turns out that the nothing multiplied into a LOT of junk. Things from college days. Hand-me-down furniture that people gave us because we had empty rooms in our house and no chairs. Things that we might get to “someday”, like a weaving loom I never use. More chairs. Old carpet left by the previous owners. And we put it in places and on shelves and […]

2019-01-01T18:12:33-05:00Everything Else|4 Comments
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