May 7, 2013
This post is dedicated to all you individuals slavishly hand writing prices on stickers, and loading cars with grid walls and EZ Up tents, or whatever it is you do to keep the dream alive. I’m here for you.
The great rush is on to get things ready for the Spring fairs, and things are just a little more chaotic than usual.
I have been feverishly printing and ironing shirts, writing out labels, making signs, putting things in bags, taking things out of bags, putting the bags in boxes etc, etc. All of this is normal. What isn’t normal is where and when I am doing these things.
Since Bun has been at home, my schedule has changed dramatically. All things Noctiluna are done at night, or early in the morning, or at soccer matches, at the playground, at the waiting room in my doctor’s office, in the hallway outside my daughter’s ballet class. – - - Everybody sing: Hotel, Motel, Ho-li-day Inn!
I think that by now I must be well known around the Vienna-Fairfax area as “that crazy lady with the sewing kit”!
Hopefully everything will work out, and I’ll actually be able to pull the fairs off with some success.
I will not lie to you though, my hope has been wearing thin. I am tired and there have been more than a few times when I have seriously thought of throwing the towel in. Being a parent of two small children and trying to get a business off the ground are not really compatible activities.
But I keep telling myself that this is something that many small kitchen-table businesses go through, and that is why I’m dedicating this blog to all those other small business owners trying to launch themselves. Next time you see one at a market or a fair, give them a big grin – they deserve it.
Speaking of fairs, here are my first two dates:
Mclean Day – Saturday 18th May
Viva Vienna - Sunday 26th May and Monday 27th May
Stop by for a chat, if you have the time!
April 17, 2013
You might have noticed that I have not been blogging much lately, (I’m not sure whom I’m referring to when I write ‘you’ – in all probability, my regular followers have dropped like flies by now!).
Anyway, my circumstances have changed a bit recently. I now have an almost-three-year old sharing my workspace with me all the time. Let’s refer to him as ‘Bun’. Anyway, Bun is very energetic, and curious, and needs hugs every five minutes, so my work schedule has been topsy turvy. I am typing this right now with him trying to climb up the side of my chair. Once he manages to get onto the chair, he will proceed to scale the ‘mommy mountain’and when he actually reaches the pinnacle, this blog will stop abrubtly – just warning you.
When I first realized that Bun would have to be at home with me for a while, I panicked. “How on earth am I going to get those shirts sewn and finished? What about all those fairs I have to get ready for…….and my teaching schedule!!?” I huffed and puffed to my husband. As usual, he looked calm “We need to find a babysitter”.
It is not easy.
I have started working during Bun’s (almost non-existent) naptimes, in the evenings, and at all sorts of places, it’s tiring. However, as work colleagues go, he is pretty entertaining company, and not a bad source of ideas.
Today, while ambling around the neighborhood playground with him, I discovered some beautiful bits of petrified wood in jagged shapes, perfect for a printmaking experiment. Bun also loves jigsaw puzzles, which has got me thinking about a new project – hmmm.
A few days ago, while digging through his summer clothes (apparently planes are in this summer, dinosaurs are SO over), I discovered a slew of old, plain T-shirts; excellent for doing screenprinting and bleach experiments on. Check out the results below.
I might even do some drawings of him if he stood still long enough.
As a good friend of mine who has three kids, a dog, and a perpetually sunny outlook on life says “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Bun is definitely sweeter than a lemon, right now his clammy little hand is clamped around my forehead as he tries to wheeze onto my shoulders, I guess it’s time for my next meeting. Goodbye!
April 5, 2013
It has been a week for toasting monkeys (see the definition for ‘monkey-toasting’ here).
In between all the chores, administrative work, and carting kids around to various appointments, I did actually manage to get a large chunk of printing done (giving myself a virtual pat on the back as I type this).
I have started work on the kids’ t-shirts for this Spring/Summer, and have been printing waves onto bright, neon shirts in anticipation of lazy days at the beach, I quite like the results so far. Printing is fun, I’m not sure I can say the same about phase two though – ironing the prints, and sewing on labels – pretty dreary. Hopefully I can bribe a few family members into some free labor!
I’m going to start making my coloring books next week. Look out for the photos, when I’m done.
March 20, 2013
I’m back on the proverbial wagon.
“When did you fall off?” I hear you say. “Wow, I didn’t know you had a drink problem.” I hear you think.
No, no, no. I do not have a drink problem (unless it is tea we are talking about here). I mean the productivity wagon.
For approximately four, LONG and dismal weeks, my family has been on a constant and relentless treadmill of illness. During this, let’s call it my ‘Blue-period’, it was very difficult to keep my little business, and my mind, from going gooey. It’s bad enough being a sick mommy with sick kids, but add being your own boss to that, and a creative itch that just won’t go away, and things get a little worse.
I took my own advice and rested (I am, after all, a very understanding boss), but I also managed to do a few little things. I rearranged my work space (see before and after pictures below), and I made a series of pointless drawings, that actually turned out to have a point – I may use them as covers for notebooks that I am making. The drawings made me smile, I don’t think I would have made them if I was having a normal work week.
See, everything happens for a reason.
And I will leave you to ponder that lovely philosophical point. I’m off to make something to show you in my next post.
March 1, 2013
I’ll be honest with you, I was a tiny bit scared yesterday.
On my way to the Boyd Montessori I kept up a stream of thoughts that went a little bit like this -
“Yes, I’m a teacher by profession, but Montessori? That’s a whole new ball game. I wonder what the class will be like? I’ve heard great things about Montessori programs, oh but I still have a few concerns. Oh dear. Blah, blah, blah.”
What concerns? I hear you ask. Well, the class I was scheduled to teach was a group of nineteen first to third graders. Okay, stop right there…
Nineteen first to third graders??? There is a whole lot of difference between a first grader and a third grader; with a smaller group of kids that would be no problem, but nineteen kids? How is that going to work out? I could foresee more than a little mayhem in my future.
Also, I wasn’t sure how long my class was meant to be, I wasn’t sure of what prior knowledge of art the kids had. There wasn’t a lot I was sure of. Now I like to go with the flow on many occasions, I like to space out and just … BE, I am very good friends with Spontaneity and Chance….
…just not when it comes to planning lessons for elementary school kids.
Where elementary school kids are concerned, I like to follow Baden Powell’s famous piece of advice ‘Be prepared’ (probably coined after spending a day out with a group of first to third graders. So it was with some trepidation, that I entered the fated classroom.
As it happens, there was really nothing to worry about.
The class dynamic was interesting, with the kids each working at their own pace, and helping each other out. They explored printmaking with glee, and produced some amazing pieces of work. I could feel myself literally loosening up during the class, and letting go of some of my preconceptions of how a class of this type should work. Not having a tight schedule actually meant that we could work more intuitively, and I ended up teaching them how to fold books as well!
One thing that really stood out about the children was how well they maneuvered around their space. They were were so independent when it came to finding and putting away materials, and cleaning up at the end of class. There is a lesson to be learned there.
The kids learnt a lot, and I learnt a lot as well. That is the best thing about teaching. You never stop learning.
Thank you to The Boyd School!
February 21, 2013
My son left for preschool this morning clutching two model school buses and a stuffed monkey.
We asked him to leave two toys behind and choose just one to take with him in the car, but he would not do this, because he loves them all equally.
Never mind the fact that he could not play properly with any of them because his hands were too full. Never mind the fact that he could not do anything really with his hands so full. He was not prepared to give any of them up.
I know how he feels.
I just can’t help myself, but I want to do so many things. I have been thinking about streamlining my little kitchen table-business, but how? On any given day I will be working on at least four different projects, and I love them all equally. Writing this blog is really a way to keep on top of all my projects.
There are the books I am writing and illustrating, the shirts I screen-print and sell at fairs, the summer camps that I am planning to run, the handmade books I am teaching myself to make, to mention just a few. Right now I am in the midst of negotiations to teach at a middle school for a semester .
I just can’t let go of any of my toys!
According to Emily Wapnick, the inspired founder of Puttylike, I am a multipotentialite. This is a person who has diverse interests, and no ‘one true calling’, someone who loves learning new skills, and thrives on change.
Sounds cool, doesn’t it? Much better than ‘jack of all trades, master of none’.
According to my six year old I’m a ‘monkey-toaster’, and I’m happy with that – for now.
However, if I ever find that my hands are so full that I can’t really play, I know I will have to drop a toy or two.
February 5, 2013
I’m going to run a summer camp this year. Scratch that, I’m going to run TWO summer camps this year.
The responses to this statement have ranged from the anxious “won’t that be a bit messy?’ to the slightly surreal “do you have enough tents?” to the cryptic “what about bears?“
First of all, to all those well meaning, yet confused friends out there: summer camp does not have to involve actual camping (in the wilderness…with tents…and bears). If it did, I would be a terrible instructor! Don’t send your children to a camping-camp with me, they will get lost or eaten, or both.
My summer camp will be an arts and crafts camp involving elementary school age children making wonderful things with their brains and hands.
Secondly, yes, it will get messy. It will probably get very messy (I can sense my husband groaning at this remark right now). Five to six kids making art, in my home every day- yes, there is a definite possibility of mess.
There will be no glitter though (feeling better, husband?).
I have done this before; I have run numerous camps from home for packs of excited kids. They have blocked my toilet, spilled glitter on my floors, and eaten my snacks, and I still want to teach them. That is what I call love.
I love art, I love kids, and I love teaching.
And of course there is one more perk to running a summer camp …I get to enroll my own kid in a cool camp, and get to spend time with her everyday as well. What’s not to love about that?
February 1, 2013
I have just finished spending a most fulfilling couple of hours making books, and I wanted to share the fun with you.
These are really simple instant books made out of one sheet of paper, no gluing, taping or sewing required. In fact for most of them, I didn’t even use scissors to make the basic form, and just tore the paper instead.
I didn’t really stop to think much while making these, and I didn’t buy any new materials, and that’s what I’m really excited about! These books are green!!! I used scraps of paper left over from other projects, and pages that had been ripped out of coloring books.
Now I finally have a purpose for all that leftover gift wrapping, and those old Wholefoods bags!
Right now I’m just experimenting, and having a lot of fun, way too much fun (I got a little carried away when I discovered the bag of googly eyes in my daughter’s craft box – can you tell?). However, my aim is to start making beautiful notebooks and gift books to sell on my fledgling Etsy site.
I’ll continue experimenting with more complex book forms, and for those of you with an interest in hand made books check out the awesome Purgatory Pie Press website.