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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Go forth and make films!

As Art Quilters, we are told to seek out and study artists who work in other media. I wasn't doing this at all - I was accompanying my 16yo DD, an aspiring filmmaker, to a talk by Kelley Baker sponsored by The Nebraska Film Group. I went with her because I was uncomfortable with the idea of her walking alone around the Creighton campus at 10 pm. I brought my own entertainment (a movie and an e-book on my ipod), Alex Kava's latest hardback, and my sketchbook. They sat unwatched and unread while I scribbled cryptic notes around the doodles in my sketchbook.

Go forth and make films! The edict came from Kelley at the end of a thoroughly entertaining and informative evening. He is an independent filmmaker, with the street cred that comes from working on both "big" movies (Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester) and his successes and failures as an independent, low-budget filmmaker. I think his philosophy can be summed up this way: Do what you love and get it out there without spending a fortune.

If you get the opportunity, spend an evening with this man, then go home and DO WHAT HE SAYS! Kelley's advice about marketing is applicable to any small business or artist. His comments were about filmmaking, the translation to ArtQuiltSpeak is mine. No one will find you sitting at home. Get yourself out there, maintain a website and blog. Find people you can trust to critique your work. Listen to what they say. Put your work out there to be seen. The judge who hated your quilt doesn't hate the person who made it. Plan, plan, plan, but be flexible when a great idea comes along. Don't waste time and money entering the Sundance Film Festival (Quilt National). Send your work to smaller venues where the acceptance rate is much higher. Ask to have your work displayed at non-traditional venues. Be professional. Live up to your commitments. Be memorable.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Happy Birthday, DellaJane Hand Dyes!

Five years ago, Becky Hinckley and I started DellaJane Hand Dyes. The name is a combination of the names we don't use (Della Alice and Rebecca Jane). Our first booth (and first sale!) was at the Cottonwood Quilters show in Elkhorn, Nebraska, in October, 2003.

So much has changed since that first show. At the end of 2004, I bought Becky's interest in the business. I've been working to grow my business since then. Besides cotton fabric, I sell wool roving, wool yarn, silk, baby clothing, a variety of embellishments that includes vintage items (beads, cotton rick rack, yo-yos), an assortment of 50-100 different fibers, and a huge selection of buttons, sequins, game pieces, etc, plus patterns and kits. I'm teaching dyeing workshops and marketing my own designs. My booth at Threads Across Nebraska (held last weekend) shows how DellaJane Hand Dyes has grown.

Sometimes the effort necessary to keep coming up with new "stuff" seems overwhelming. I get tired of making samples and packaging items and planning displays. I hate the bean-counting aspect of being a small business owner. Sometimes, I just want to chuck it all, stay home, and make quilts. But, come the end of October, 2008, I'll be on the road to Houston, Texas, to celebrate five years of business at the biggest quilt show in the world. I wouldn't miss it for anything!