This week has been about getting things moving towards upcoming shows. I spent an afternoon wrapping soap in wool and putting them in little nylon bags ready to felt.
I sent another afternoon getting sheep parts ready to felt. The body parts are roughly needle felted then wet felted. The legs are wet felted.
This is what they look like when they are all put together and their wool is added.
Lastly I have been soaking a fleece. I have no idea what kind of wool it is. it was a bag given to me a couple of years ago. Here it is getting a rain water rinse hanging in my apple tree. That wasn’t on purpose but the thunderstorm came in before I got it back into a bucket for its first rinse.
Spring is on the way and its time to start thinking about birdhouses. I have an Easter show. Not much in the way of felt really sells at this sale, it’s mostly about food. Bird houses are the exception. Here they are ready to put to the decorations on and then be put together for felting.
This one has its decorations started
That is as far as I made it. they have been sitting there for most of the week waiting for me to get back to them. I have hopes for this weekend and when they are done I will show them to you.
the wool I used I died myself. It is sold as washed gray Romney but it is really brown and white. If you card it without dying it, it does end up looking gray.
Here is what it looks like if you dye magenta, purple and chartreuse.
I love the way the “gray” wools dyes. all the mixed shades you end up with. A spinner friend says its called depth of colour, so it’s not flat. I wish I could find other breads of wool that were that varied in colour to dye.
In the spring I made some shrug jackets using a pattern I saw in a book about making simple garments with your weaving. I don’t weave but I can felt a rectangle instead of weaving it. You would think that I would read what to do instead of just going from memory but that would have been too easy. I made some nice looking shrugs.
They look nice enough but they didn’t really fit as well as I would have liked. They were to puffy at the back so not very flattering. I think the problem is the rectangle they are made from was to wide making the shrug to long. I decided to change them. I unpicked them and gave them a wash to get rid of all the thread holes.
I folded the top down about 1/3 to create a kimono sleeve. You end up with something that is more like a shawl that doesn’t fall off as you use you hands and go about your day.
If you would like a larger collar you can wear it the other way up.
You could also just sew a line down the edge or just the other direction to have a larger sleeve opening. I like these much better. I hope other people like them too. I am going to my guild exhibition and sale this weekend and I will have them there. On that note if you are in Ottawa this weekend Drop by the Glebe Community Center to see what we are up to.
This is just a quick post to show you what I have been up to this week. I am selling at The New Art Festival in Ottawa June 2 and 3 . http://www.newartfestival.ca/ I am trying to get everything I want made, made by then. This week I have been working on I pad bags and E-reader bags. I am sewing these as a better way to make sure I end up with the right sized every time. I am a slow sewer. I have my machine set to turtle. I decided this was a good thing to make with the art batts I carded up a while ago. http://wp.me/p1WEqk-AX
The bags turned out nice but boring I thought. I am couching down some yarn I have to make them more interesting. The one the right everything is pinned but not sewn yet.I did two sizes one to put the iPad in short side first and the other to go in long side first. When I asked people what they prefered, it was a pretty even split.
All the bags are lined. Here you can see the yarn and thread I am going to decorate this one with.
Two almost finished ones. They have their decorations but I am not sure about how to close them. I was thinking a ribbon or piece or yarn and a button to wrap it around. I am not a fan of velcro. I never seen to have much luck sewing or gluing it on. Anyone else have a good idea?
If you’ve been selling your work for a year or more, consider reviewing your line to decide if you need to diversify. The buying public notoriously changes tastes and styles. You should prepare yourself to expect changes in the marketplace. You can prepare for these changes by keeping an eye on fashion trends, home decor styles and color forecasts. Most of this information can be found very easily online. You can also do research in craft trade journals or join an industry specific organization such as a felting guild or a surface design group to gather more ideas.
Use the information that you find by thinking of how it applies to your product line. Maybe you need to add a new color to a product that sells well but is looking a little stale with the same old color themes. Perhaps there is a new electronic “gadget” that needs a felt cover that could be added to your already existing products.
Some of the reasons that will determine that you need to diversify are:
a particular style has been exhausted, for example, the lodge look (everywhere but NW Montana)
consumer demand slows for a particular item
you find a new and unexpected niche
customer’s continually ask for this type of product
a competitor adds a new product
you need more income
a new trend or style excites you
you examine your side lines and see that they could offer more profitability with more effort or changes
you have many repeat customers, they will need to see something new to continue to buy your products
Expecting change and diversifying your product line periodically will keep your work fresh and appealing. If you find that your market is becoming too crowded with people making the same sort of items, look for intersections with other markets. Look around for other types of customers who might benefit in an unexpected way from your products. Perhaps you could sell to a certain type of collector if you made a product geared specifically focused towards that theme.
As a buyer for my store, I always look for “new” products and something different from what I’ve seen over the years. The artists who continually work to upgrade and diversify will get my attention much more readily than someone who “has the same old stuff”. I’d love to hear about how you’ve dealt with a changing market and the “fickle” buying public.
Are you thinking of or already selling your fiber art? How do you know what products will sell? In the ever-increasing complexity of the market place, how can you figure out what buyers want? It is challenging to determine what will “fly off the shelves” and what will just sit there. Planning ahead and doing a bit of research will certainly improve your chances.
First think about your skills and if a particular style suits the way you work. Are your pieces more whimsical and comical or is your work more serene? What do you do best and how can those skills be developed into a product that sets you apart from the competition? Once you’ve determined the style of your products, you need to research what the buyer wants. You won’t be able to please everyone as some buyers will like your products and others won’t. However, if you find a niche and begin to understand the mind-set of your customers, you can establish a product line that meets their needs.
To begin your research, visit different craft fairs or online craft sites to see what others are selling and what customers are buying. You can also look for inspiration in fiber related magazines and periodicals. Another source for what types of items sell well is a gallery owner. Visit at a time when they are not busy or make an appointment. The point of this research is not to copy the designs or products that others are making but to see what is available and try to come up with a memorable element that will set your products apart from others. Don’t just look at what is selling well in the fiber arts but examine other media such as metalwork, jewelry or woodworking. Is there something that catches your eye in these other media that you might be able to apply to your fiber art?
Now think about what “benefits” your product will offer. For example, if you make felt hats, are the benefits that the hat is really soft against the skin and keeps your ears warm? Or perhaps you make wild and wacky hats that offer the benefit of being really fun to wear and make the buyer stand out in the crowd. The product needs to be made for the lowest possible cost but be perceived by the buyer as having the highest possible value. Always emphasize how the product will make the buyer feel and what value it will add to their life.
There are many different categories that you can think about when developing a line of products. Consider options such as home décor, garden and outdoor, clothing, accessories, toys or even pet related items. Products can be made for special occasions such as bridal and wedding, babies, graduations, housewarming gifts or holidays such as Christmas, Halloween or Valentine’s Day. One line that is often ignored is gifts for men and being the owner of a gallery, it is something I am always looking to find. Other ideas might be stationary or calendars, religious items or collectibles. Collectibles could cover such diverse topics as sports, music, dolls, miniatures or animals.
There is no right or wrong way to what products you develop, just what is right for you. If you develop a plan and continue to research and study the possibilities, your goals of having that ‘Wow’ factor in your products can be achieved. So start thinking about how to develop or improve on your product line. Next time, I’ll talk about making your product line cohesive and knowing when to diversify what you’re selling. Thanks for stopping by!