Crafting and my “real” job

I was feeling perfectly energetic just a few minutes ago, and now it’s all gone. I guess it’s that time of the evening.

Here’s what I did today. It’s a good bit.

Crafting

64 crayon box back Made lots of progress on my current decoupaged box, which I have named the “64 crayon box” because it’s got all the colors you could ever need. πŸ™‚ In my head I call it the cacophony box. I think it makes Erik’s head spin, but I quite like it. I did a base layer of black and white prints, then just threw all kinds of multicolored patterns on top of it. Honestly, I don’t really know how I chose the prints, but I had some kind of visual-instinctive system that I’ll never be able to explain.

It seems that an hour is about my limit for 64 crayon box lid decoupaging; after that I become incredibly tired. I think it’s probably some kind of visual fatigue… it’s just too much careful looking at prints and colors and shapes and trying to make them all fit together. I don’t just layer scraps on top of each other, I actually cut and re-shape as I go, so it’s a good bit of work. But as I say, I’m so happy with how these boxes come out.

I’ll need to think of some better way to photograph them, too — they look way better in person. The Mod Podge is too reflective, and when there’s already so much going on, the photos don’t need that extra visual distraction.

I’m looking at this box again now, and I’m thinking it’s going to be a very specific person who wants to buy it. It really is a crazy mix. I mean, I love it, but even I would choose another of my boxes before this one if I were buying. Well, maybe not — it will depend what I put on the inside. At first I was thinking antique maps but now I’m afraid that will be too somber. We’ll see.

dream catcher brooch Second craft project I worked on today: another brooch, which I’ve dubbed the Dream Catcher. I started it last night and spent another hour or so working on it today. I’m getting better at blanket stitching; this is the neatest job I’ve done to date. It’s not quite finished yet — I’m going to put something else between the pink dotted circle and the circle of red beads around the button, but not sure yet what I’ll do. Probably some kind of embroidery.

I’m happy with the way this brooch is coming out because I had no idea what I was going to do with it when I started. I had an idea to quilt it, but I didn’t feel like doing perfect enough stitches to really get that effect. So the base stitches (which you can hardly see because they’re about the same color as the fabric) ended up just being the basic outline of the shape, sort of like the pencilling if this brooch were a drawing. πŸ™‚ I’m surprised I can stitch so neatly, freehand. And I’m very happy I bought so many beads last month with Jinny, since I ended up using five different kinds on the brooch.

I discovered a happy thing today: my favorite Berkeley fabric store, Stonemountain & Daughter, carries a vintage-inspired pattern collection called Decades of Style. I can’t wait to learn to make garments so I can try out some of these 1940s blouse patterns and 50s dresses! When that glorious time comes, I’ll also need to check out the Vintage Pattern Lending Library, where the patterns go back to 1840… heaven!! Just look at this sweet 1930s blouse! Oh, the clothing I’ll make someday…

Shop

I also spent some time today on the shop, reorganizing some of my descriptions to make them less daunting to read. I know my item descriptions are very long, but I’m the type of person who wants tons of information before making a purchase — it only stands to reason that I’d try to provide that for others. But I also recognize that most people aren’t like me, in that they don’t want to read a novel when they’re just trying to buy something. I found this post today on description-writing and it made me realize there are ways to serve the novel-wanting audience without overwhelming everyone else. This is what I’d like to do from now on:

  1. Segment my descriptions more. Today I went through everything and put a separate heading on FabMo details and care instructions in the descriptions, so that buyers who don’t care about that stuff can ignore it.
  2. Include additional info or pictures via links. Instead of inundating each description with details, I can blog about my items instead, and then include a link to the entry in the item description. The description will stay short and clean, but the details will be available for those who want them.
  3. Figure out a way to do the same thing for this blog. ;b I know these entries are super-long, but that’s because I write them for myself (and anyone else who’s deeply interested) as well as “the public.” If any of you regular readers have any ideas on this, I’d love to hear them. I know I write a lot, and long entries turn a lot of people off.

Legitimacy: Art versus craft

Okay, now for the deep-thoughts section of today’s entry. I’ve always said that crafting is secondary to my writing and drawing projects, but my work time distribution totally belies that statement. I’ve been thinking about this, and it’s occurred to me that I probably started devoting more time to crafting — without even realizing I was doing so — because of the possibility of income (which is not realistic right now with the other projects) and because the Etsy shop and the craft fairs lend legitimacy to my crafty pursuits, whereas I have no such public approval with writing or drawing. I don’t know why I care so much about legitimacy, but I do. One of my fears is that I’ll become one of those people who “wants to be a writer” for decades and never gets anything off the ground, and everyone will look at me pityingly because I’m the only one still suffering under the delusion that I’m an artist. I don’t ever want this to be me, and so I tell people about Satsumabug rather than explain my writing/drawing projects… and I guess that mindset has really sunk in, because now I’m acting that way too, as if the business is my primary work.

I was writing this out in my morning pages, and it started to really bother me. Here I am, once again, compromising myself because of what others might, potentially, at some point think about me. My dreams are worth more than that. So I started thinking what I could do to shift the balance more toward art. Now that I’ve got the shop, I’m not going to give it up, so that means a certain amount of crafting and businessy maintenance on a regular basis. Also, as I know from experience, if I’m not doing any crafting, my fingers get kind of itchy for tactile activity. So crafting will stay in my life, but I should figure out the bare minimum I can do to maintain the shop and my itchy fingers, and then spend the rest of my time on my other projects. I think I’ve decided on 1-2 new listings per week, in addition to forum participation and blogging and all that stuff. (But preparing for craft fairs requires much more than that. I’m still not sure what to do about this. I love the fairs, but inventory-making takes sooooo much time!!) That should allow me plenty of time to write and work on my drawing.

To that end, I spent some time writing today, and after an initial slow start, I remembered why I love it so much and why it’s this — and drawing — that I want to be my “real” job instead of only crafting. I also wrote about this earlier today, so you can check out that entry if you want to see more of my writing!