Friday, December 10, 2010

Giveaway Winner Announcement

We asked random.org to choose a number from 1-48.  It chose comment #2 as our winner

Comment #2 was from littledeadmommy.  littledeadmommy said...
I think that earrings made from the swallows would be cool. Maybe the bright green and pink colors.
Congratulations to littledeadmommy, and thank you to everyone who participated in our contest.  Stay tuned to the blog for more contests in the near future!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Giveaway! Choose Your Ink

To celebrate the opening of ajoeynamedrootoo, we are holding a giveaway! Check out our tattoo and vintage inspired wearable art.



http://www.etsy.com/listing/59955192/vintage-inspired-deer-pendant
http://www.etsy.com/listing/61810936/tattoo-sparrow-in-forest-green
http://www.etsy.com/listing/61754714/tattoo-inspired-sparrow-in-sunset
http://www.etsy.com/listing/60436842/wide-eyed-deer-pendant
Each piece is created entirely by hand using professional artist's colored pencils and hard plastic. We then finish the piece with an acrylic sealant. We want to know what customized design you would like to own.





For your mandatory entry, tell us what you want, and we will create it. The winner will be picked randomly using random.org, and we will turn the winner's design into wearable art.  The sky is the limit! You can use one of the designs we have already created and choose the colors, or think of something completely original.

1. Mandatory entry: follow our blog and comment below with your design suggestion.

Additional entries:

2. Fan us on Facebook
3. Heart your favorite thing at ajoeynamedrootoo, then come back here and post the link
4. Follow us on twitter
5. Tweet about this giveaway and mention @ajoeynamedroo for one entry
6. Post about this giveaway on your blog and link back to it here
7. Heart your favorite thing at ajoeynamedroo, then come back here and post the link.
8. Comment on any of the other posts on this blog, then come back here and tell us which one.

The contest is open internationally and will end December 1st.  Thank you for supporting ajoeynamedroo!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Who in the world am I?

In 2007, my family visited the Asheville Humane Society to adopt a dog. Yes, a dog, as in one dog. Within the first minute of entering the dog wing of the shelter, we had locked eyes with a small black puppy named Racer. Racer was a 4 month old puppy with the most soulful, honey brown eyes you have ever seen. Sarah and I did a quick cruise of the remaining dogs in the wing, but our hearts were set on little Racer. Unfortunately (but predictably) my mom had a similar "this dog is the one" moment during that same minute that Racer and I locked eyes. She fell in love with a beautiful dog who the shelter guessed to be a Saluki mix; her name was Sally.

Since that day, we have had a joyful three years with the best dogs anyone could ask for. During the three years we have lived with Parker and Sally, their breed heritage has been a constant topic of discussion. We know it doesn't matter, but it's fun to talk about.

My mom has defiantly held true to the (unfounded) belief that Sally is a Saluki mix. If you've ever seen a Saluki, you know they are lanky, huge, and fast dogs. Sally is none of things.  I will give her the fluffy ears, but many other breeds have this trait also.  Here are some gorgeous artistic renditions of Salukis from etsy sellers.


Now that you've digested that, here's Sally as a young dog (around one year old).  Her floppy ears vaguely resemble a Saluki, but they could also be from some type of Spaniel.  Sarah and I both agreed that she looks a lot like a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  


We finally decided to put an end to the speculation by purchasing a breed test from Canine Heritage.  It's a little (well, a lot) pricy at $79.95.  We decided to go ahead and do it because the price wasn't so bad split amongst four people.  

It's a simple process:  once you purchase the test, you receive a kit in the mail.  You use the swab to brush the inside of your dog's cheek for 30 seconds, then you return the swab to the envelope and mail it in.  After the lab receives your sample, Canine Heritage says your sample will be processed in 4-6 weeks.  

Unfortunately, we didn't have such luck.  It took over 3 months to get Sally's results.  This was after several angry emails; I got a reply to the last email that said the company was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but I would get my results.  I was a little afraid we had been scammed, but many people have used Canine Heritage, and they were featured on Good Morning America.  

We finally got the results, printed out on an official looking sheet.  The certificate includes a picture of Sally which I sent in via the website:

It turns out she's a mix of Siberian Husky and Cocker Spaniel.  It seems so obvious now!  Though we were very pleased with the results, there is no way I would recommend Canine Heritage to anyone.  If you're considering having your mixed breed dog tested, please do!  Just don't use Canine Heritage.  Though Sally's results were spot on, the customer service was horrendous.  There are several other breed tests available, including one from Wisdom Panel (you can even get it at Petsmart).

Finally, here is an homage for Sally, made up of the work from fantastic etsy sellers.  Enjoy! 



Thursday, November 11, 2010

Every Gift Has a Story



I'm in love with etsy's new holiday marketing concept, "every gift has a story."

I know that I absolutely hold the handmade gifts I've received in a special place in my heart. Two of the things that I carry everyday were handmade, my wallet and my purse.

Although I don't always recognize it, I do feel a special connection with the items' creators. They have become a part of my life every day!

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Human Face

One of the improvements that I've been trying to make to the site is taking pictures that display the products well.  It's always difficult to judge your own pictures, but one strategy that I've been finding helpful is to consider which pictures I choose for my own treasuries.

One of the commonalities amongst the photos that I choose, especially for knits and crochets are images that show the product on a real person.  I think that a human face, as well as a little context greatly helps a product photo.

Rachel (my sister in the ajoeynamedroo team) and I took turns taking pictures modeling the products.  Rachel looks so great in all the pictures.  This one is one of my favorites.  It features Tilly the cat!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Human Voice

I've been working hard the last few weeks to improve the way our new etsy shop looks and feels.

First, I read an article about turning the product into a story, instead of just a description.  It has been difficult to do for all of my products, but a few of them already had a story waiting to be written.  Here's my favorite one, it's about my raspberry necklace:



"One day in early summer I was walking home from class. I noticed that the leaves of the vine all around me looked very familiar. I looked closer, and there were tiny green berries waiting to turn red. I watched them for the next two months, and had the privilege of eating the first ripe little jewel on the bush.

The hidden jewel of a tiny raspberry, and the very idea that you can find such a beautiful and yummy fruit growing wild inspired this necklace.

The necklace captures the first raspberry of the season, surrounded by the vine's flowers, which will soon be berries as well.

The small raspberry is strung together in a circular pattern out of tiny seed beads and topped with a silver accent. The raspberry hangs in the center of the necklace, surrounded by two handmade polymer clay blossoms in pale white.

The center piece of the necklace hangs off of a lovely spiraling rope that I made by methodically crocheting seed bead by seed bead. It is an incredibly time-consuming process, but it produces a lovely & delicate (yet sturdy) chain. The chain combines shades of green, cream, and raspberry red."




I love the idea of selling a story as well as a product.  That's what handmade is about.  I'm not sure how many people will read the WHOLE story.  I'm working on cropping it down a little, but hopefully even in skimming it I will come through to the reader.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Podcast Loves




Although crafting does take a lot of concentration, I find it's one of the few things that I can multi-task on.  I think it's because I sink into a timeless zone, where it's best if I don't think too hard.

Anyway, there's nothing that I love more than going on a craft binge while listening to podcasts.  If you're looking to expand your brain and be entertained while you create, try out my top ten favorite podcasts


1. This American Life http://www.thisamericanlife.org/
It tops all the podcast lists, but what can I say... it totally deserves it.  Absolutely THE BEST!

2. Radio Lab http://www.radiolab.org/
It makes me feel like I understand science!  Also challenges the way I look at the world.  I really like the topics and studies they cover

3. Stuff You Missed in History Class http://history.howstuffworks.com/stuff-you-missed-in-history-class-podcast.htm
I love history, as readers might know.  This podcast fills my need for crazy and interesting historical topics.  Also Katie and Sarah are super cute and personable.

4. The Moth http://www.themoth.org/
You never know who will be talking about what, but the stories are ALWAYS entertaining.

5. New Yorker Fiction http://www.newyorker.com/online/podcasts/fiction
Authors pick their favorite short stories, read them, then discuss what they like about them, and why they find them valuable.  The stories are always so well picked, and short stories are where it's at!

6. Wait Wait Don't Tell Me http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=35
Always funny and informative.  Where would we be without zany news stories?

7. Stuff You Should Know http://science.howstuffworks.com/stuff-you-should-know-podcast.htm
More funny than informative.  Chuck and Josh are great together.  Their personalities fuel the show.

8. Studio 360 http://www.studio360.org/
Great interviews with interesting people.  I also love the focus on art and design in many of the shows.

9. All Songs Considered http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=37
The first place I hear most of the music I end up loving.  Start with one of the round-table discussions.  You won't be disappointed.

10. Selected Shorts http://www.symphonyspace.org/shorts
I love short stories!




This should be a good start for the avid crafter in search of knowledge and entertainment.  All of these podcasts are available on itunes.  Also, if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know.  I'm always in search of a good podcast.

Happy listening!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

0 Sales


Our newest etsy store, ajoeynamedrooTOO has been open since July, and we are still sale-less.  I've tried improving pictures, and I've started listing almost everyday, but the wait has been difficult.

I wish that I knew why my jewelry isn't selling.  I like my products, so it seems like someone else out there must like them too.  I think that they are unique, and reasonably priced.  There is A LOT of handmade jewelry out there, which I know makes it hard to compete.

One of my goals for the holiday season is to create products that are uniquely me.  Things that are unmistakably ajoeynamedroo TOO!

How many sales do you have?  What have your strategies been for success?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cranberry Orange Available for Purchase!


The wonderful flavor cranberry orange as selected by Julie in our flavor contest is now up on etsy, and ready to be purchased.  Thanks to everyone who participated, and all of the great suggestions.  So go and check out our newest listing brought about through the suggestions of our readers. http://www.etsy.com/listing/59232737/cranberry-orange-vegan-lip-balm

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Etsy Holiday Success - Week 3 (& more)

Week 3 of Etsy Holiday Success has a few good tips.  I'm not going to post pics of my tiny notebook this week.  I'm just going to tell you the interesting parts this time!


1. Fill in the Blank 
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6648103&utm_source=bronto&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Fill+in+the+Blank&utm_content=etsy_success_100710&utm_campaign=etsy_success_100710


Basically this is a to do list.  My to do list is a 2 parter.  The first part are daily etsy activities


  • take pictures
  • improve pictures (using models)
  • edit descriptions (make them a little more engaging and interesting)
The second part are ideas for the shop that I need to start working on.  This part of the to do list is project oriented
  • create a jewelry tree for craft fair display
  • create gift boxes from greeting cards, and handmade paper to accent


 This article basically argues that success comes from listening to your real wants, and believing in yourself.  My favorite quote from the article was


"Be the you who doesn't go for perfection, but


 goes for authenticity and uniqueness."




3. Get a head start on your holiday stock


This one's pretty obvious, but also difficult.  Right now I'm working on a few recycled pendants using bottle caps and a more moderately priced cowl.  


One of the most difficult things about maintaining an etsy shop is creating while marketing, and this is even more evident during the holidays.  I think success is about planning and perseverance, which can be more difficult than it sounds!






I also came across Timothy Adam's 50 Questions For Etsy Sellers
http://www.squidoo.com/50-questions-for-etsy-sellers


Here are the most valuable things I found in this long questionaire:





Friday, October 8, 2010

Color



If you love color, here are a few great sites for creating palates and color names.  Could be great resources for creating treasuries!

http://chir.ag/projects/name-that-color/

http://www.colourlovers.com/--create palates and patterns, name newly created colors

http://www.centerkey.com/colors/

http://sites.google.com/site/free100web/freenamecolorcharts3

http://assets.doloreslabs.com/jobs/colors/explorer/--I couldn't get the search bar to work on this one, but it's still visually appealing and an interesting concept

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Etsy Holiday Success














I'm participating in etsy success holiday boot camp for our new shop: ajoeynamedrootoo.  This year I'm really going to try to ramp it up for the holiday season.  I'm keeping up with the weekly emails in a tiny notebook dedicated to the purpose.
  I'm going to share my progress with you, so maybe it will both inspire you to rethink the holidays, AND keep me accountable.



The first 3 goals:



My "mission statement"



Most Popular and new products



I went through my shop and selected items with more than 30 views.  Then I brainstormed similar seasonal items, and new ideas.




Friday, September 17, 2010

artfire pro rates

I'm going to be upfront about this post.  I created it with the hopes of winning a new camera!

Artfire has a new lock-in rate for going pro.  Again it has a catch.  This time if 20,000 people opt in to going pro, all of those people pay $5.95 for life.  http://www.artfire.com/groupdeal

So, if you were thinking of trying out artfire, or if you've already tried out artfire, and are considering going pro now is definitely the time.

Although artfire certainly doesn't get as much traffic as etsy, and is not as aesthetically pleasing, I love how responsive artfire administrators are.  Also I find artfire much more inviting than etsy.

I have both an artfire and an etsy, and even though I don't always maintain both, I think it's a great idea to put yourself in as many markets as you reasonably can.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Harvest and Planting For Fall

Although the days are still roasting here in Raleigh, I can still see fall approaching.  The nights are cooling, giving the air that crisp fall feeling in the mornings (even if it's still in the 90's during the day.)

With fall approaching, I was planning on first, getting some long overdue knitting done, hopefully in time for cool weather.  Second, I was considering trying some fall crops.  Although most people think of fall as the time for harvesting, it can also be time to plant.  I'm hoping I still have time to plant some of the yummy leafy greens that grow this time of year.  (If you're a gardener, and have any tips PLEASE let me know.  I am quite the novice :P)

Here's my treasury to celebrate fall as not only the time for harvest, but also for planting!  Please click the photo to see the items up close and personally.  Then comment and click away in the etsy treasury.  I really like this one, and would love to see it have at least a little success!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Results are in!



Its official, our newest flavor will be cranberry orange!  Congratulations to Julie for her winning selection.  She will be receiving 4 lip balms, 3 of her choice, and 1 of the new cranberry orange flavor.

As a way of saying thank you we will also be giving our runners up one lip balm of their choice.  I will be contacting you soon.

Thank you to everyone who participated and made this contest such a success!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

History of Quilts


click the picture to see these products up close and personal!


There is something so comforting and old fashioned about a handmade quilt.  Each quilt is full of history with each of the scraps it contains.  I've recently gotten tired of my store bought quilt, and I've decided to try my hand at my first quilt.  It's an overwhelmingly big project, but I'm excited to make my very own.  A quilt seems like such a personal project, and I'm overjoyed at the thought of getting rid of my sterile Target quilt, and replacing it with something I made, out of things that remind me of home.

The quilt does not quite have the history and origins that I initially assumed.  Quilting seemed to me as old a past time as any in America, and also a working class endeavor to use everything one has.  An old fashioned way of recycling.  Although quilting did become what I just described, its origins greatly differed.

The life of the colonial American woman was difficult and full of household chores, including weaving and spinning their own cloth.  The average colonial woman could not make time in her day for the detailed leisure activity of quilting.  Only upperclass women had the time and extra cloth to stitch the decorative bed coverings.

The advent of the industrial production of cloth during the industrial revolution made ready made cloth readily available, and granted women more time to use cloth creatively.  After this period quilting became closer to the modern interpretation of the craft.  Quilting became a way of being thrifty, and remembering the past, family, and friends.

During western expansion, women moved away from everything they knew to make a new life thousands of miles away.  In correspondences with friends back east many of these women would include quilting patterns and sometimes even scraps of cloth to include in quilts.  Sharing quilting experiences allowed women to continue relationships across wide distances.

The history of quilting is of course much longer and more complex than just these few facts and stories, but these few stories make me want to become a part of the world of quilting.  Stay tuned to see how these encounters with quilting go!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pick Our Newest Lip Balm Flavor

The results are in!  We asked you for suggestions for a brand new lip balm flavor, and you gave us some fabulous ideas!  We have the results of our randomly selected contestants.  The selected comments are numbers 69, 68, 16, 39, 47.


The delicious flavors suggested in these comments are listed in a poll below.  Please vote on your favorite selection early and often!  The poll closes at midnight on Sunday Sept. 12th.

The person who suggested the winning flavor will win three lip balms of his or her choice, PLUS one lip balm in the winning flavor.  Feel free to spread the word on facebook, blogs, or twitter.    

Choose Our Next Lip Balm Flavor!
Cranberry Orange
Cherry Pink Sugar
Coconut Mango
Peach



  
pollcode.com free polls


Thanks for all of the wonderful suggestions!  Even if you were not lucky enough to be randomly selected, your suggestion could still come to fruition.  We'll be sure to look through all of the comments for inspiration :)

As always stay tuned to the blog and etsy shop for our newest products, shop news, and other tidbits!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Contest Results

The artfire promotion is beautiful guild contest has come to a close and here are the results:


 The Elements
Selection Votes 
Loon Moon Gicle 29%
Seaside Shell Bracelet 21%
Earth Tone Carved Jade and Tibetan Silver Necklace 11%
Blustery Day Polymer Clay Necklace 39%11 
28 votes total 
pollcode.com free polls

Congratulations to everyone, all the pieces were beautiful!  Hope we can do another contest soon.  Please comment with theme suggestions :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New Flavor Contest



In the next few weeks we are inviting YOU to give us suggestions for a limited time lip balm flavor.  The contestant with the winning flavor will win three lip balms from our shop, http://www.ajoeynamedroo.etsy.com, PLUS a balm with his or her winning flavor suggestion.  Here are the details and how to enter:

BASIC GUIDELINES
1. The contest will end August 31, 2010 at 11:59 PM.
2. The contest is worldwide.
3. 5 contestants will be chosen using a random number generator.  We will then allow readers to vote on ONE winner. 
4. Please post your email with each comment (to avoid spam, type username(AT)server(DOT)com). 

BASIC LEVEL ENTRY
1. Follow our blog and leave your flavor suggestion in the comments section.

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES (each additional entry should contain a NEW flavor suggestion and a contact email)
1.  Follow us on twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/ajoeynamedroo
2.  Follow us on facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/ajoeynamedroo
3.  Heart our etsy shop:  http://ajoeynamedroo.etsy.com
4.  Heart our sister shop:  http://ajoeynamedrootoo.etsy.com

The lip balm will be a limited edition, so be sure to stay tuned and get it while it's hot  :P

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Elements

The Promotion is Beautiful guild on artfire is having its first event; a contest!  Some of our guild members created pieces that embody one of the elements (water, air, earth, fire).  We want you to vote on your favorite.  So....what do you think?


Water

Loon Moon Giclée by Barb Kowalik















Seaside Shell Bracelet by MeganJaneJewellery















Earth

Earth Tone Carved Jade & Tibetan Silver Necklace by 123gemstones










Air
Blustery Day Polymer Clay Necklace by ajoeynamedroo

















The Elements
Loon Moon Gicle
Seaside Shell Bracelet
Earth Tone Carved Jade and Tibetan Silver Necklace
Blustery Day Polymer Clay Necklace





  
pollcode.com free polls


*poll ends Mon Aug 16th*

Monday, July 26, 2010

Helping Artisans

I recently heard of a site called KIVA on the Stuff You Should Know podcast.  Apparently Stephen Colbert has a team, so you may have heard of it already.  KIVA sets up loans with people in need around the world, and one of the things that I find the coolest, is that it's not a donation.  YOU are actually providing a no interest loan, and you receive the money back.  One great thing about this is you can simply reinvest it with another group, keeping a cycle of money going throughout the world.

I loaned money to a furniture manufacturer in the Philippines named Mercedes Gabiran.  There is only $50 left on her $175 loan request.  She was the only artisan I found on the site, although I'm sure more phase in and out.  I wish I could see some of the completed furniture, but in the background of the posted picture you can see some beautifully carved wooden slabs.


What an amazing idea, and a great way to engage with other artisans around the world!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

ajoeynamedrooTOO

Rachel and I have decided that it is time to create more specialized shops...so...we present...(drumroll)

please go check it out.  It is obviously still majorly a work in progress.  I'm trying to post a new item every day, and we're listing items from the original shop as they retire.

No fears, it's still the same sister team of Rachel and Sarah.  We're simply dividing up managerial tasks a little bit.  While we both contribute to both shops, I manage TOO and Rachel manages ajoeynamedroo.
When the transition is complete, ajoeynamedroo creations will be all bath and body, and ajoeynamedrooTOO will be knits and jewelry.

Hopefully this is a positive step in the development of our online presence.  Please let me know what you think of the new shop!



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Craft in History--Origin Stories

 click here take a closer look at these woven items

The importance of craft to the ancient Greeks can be seen in the myth of Athena and Arachne.  It not only shows the importance of weaving to the ancient Athenians, but also exposes a number of lessons that I think are important to remember about crafting itself.

Arachne was an Athenian of the lower class.  She would have been unimportant and ignored by her neighbors if not for her great skill of weaving.  People came from far and wide to see her works.  Even the nymphs would come to see her works.

Given the beauty of her works and their great renowned, Arachne considered herself the best weaver of all.  She even put her skill above that of Athena, goddess of crafts, and the namesake of the city.  Arachne's refusal to acknowledge Athena's divine part in her skillfulness.

Of course, the arrogance of Arachne made Athena livid.  So, she came down from Mt. Olympus to confront the girl.  Athena disguised herself as an old woman in order to give Arachne one last chance for modesty.  Athena, in her disguise, reminded Arachne that it is important to honor the gods, and recognize their superiority.  Then, she encourages Arachne to ask the gods for forgiveness.

Instead of heeding the old woman's advice, Arachne brags that Athena is simply too fearful of her superior skill to accept her challenge.  This is too much for Athena, who sheds her disguise, showing her true self in all of its shining glory.

Everyone else is mightily impressed, according to Ovid, but Arachne shrugs it off.  The two weavers begin their contest.  Athena, weaves an image of herself defeating Poseidon, to claim Athens.  Arachne, on the other hand, shows the transgressions of the gods in her tapestry.  She weaves images of the many infidelities of the male gods.

The beauty of the tapestry, and its offending content are simply too much for Athena to bear.  In rage she strikes Arachne down, splitting open her head.  Arachne, to preempt Athena hangs herself from the roof beams.

Athena, takes pity on the girl, and decides to save her (kind of).  Athena pours a juice on Arachne's head that makes her hair fall out, her face smooths, she grows more limbs, and shrinks.  Athena curses her and her ancestors to live as spiders, weaving their whole life long.
 
This story immediately shows the importance of skilled craftsmen to the ancient Athenians.  Along with trade, agriculture, and urbanism, one of the defining characteristics of a civilization is division of labor.  Along with other markers, this is evident in the skills of craftsmen.  The story of Arachne shows the glory of Athenian culture, and marks it as highly civilized.

Arachne, in her arrogance, refused to acknowledge ANY of her craft's ancestry.  She seemed to forget that her skill had not originated in her alone, but instead had much more ancient origins.  In the story the origins were easily traced back to Athena, but really crafts have been developed and perfected over the years by many diligent hands.

This story just reminds me of all of the accomplished weavers, knitters, seamstresses, cooks... who came before us with creativity, despite a lack of acknowledgment.  No matter what you do, you owe your craft to those people!

http://classics.mit.edu/Ovid/metam.6.sixth.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilization

Sunday, July 18, 2010

the BIG crafty...so big!

The big crafty was this past weekend, and as always we were a frantic mess.  Despite my blog entries about preparing for a craft fair we were not prepared.  When we got there almost everyone in our area were already finished setting up, although there were a few other "late screw-ups" too :P.  We are very used to being the late people, and we had plenty of time to set up!  This time I thought our table looked a lot better, and less cluttered than before.  See what you think.  We didn't make the mistake of putting out everything this time.  So all in all I think it looked a lot better.

We didn't have samples to give away this time.  Last craft fair I think it brought a lot of people to our table, but I'm not sure how much that translated into sales.  I think we just ended up giving a lot of our merchandise away.  The crowd was incredibly huge at the Big Crafty.  I wasn't prepared for how enormous it was.  They filled all of Pack Place and also blocked off the roads surrounding it.  It's amazing what a crafting presence there is in Asheville, and how interested its citizens are in the arts.

The other thing that Rachel and I have been talking about is that we have too much variety in our products.  In a craft fair that big, I think it's important to be recognizable.  We're still trying to figure out what that realization means for our business.  I'll certainly keep you posted!

All in all I think there were a lot of lessons to be learned at the Big Crafty, and I'm pretty sure we've only realized a few of them.  I think that both Rachel and I had too high of expectations.  We had done our first show, and we thought that we were ready for the big leagues.  I'll just say, I think that is still in our future.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

craft in history--subversive embroidery

Subversive craft is all the rage right now. In order to keep a safe distance from our grandparent's generation new trendy crafters use irony to differentiate themselves. I would argue that to a large degree this is because we craft in a different context and for different reasons. Today's crafters have a diy attitude not out of necessity but instead to claim something we feel has been lost and also to provide an alternative to what the mainstream commercial world has to offer.

 not necessarily "subversive," but these are certainly not your grandmother's embroideries!
Click here to take a closer look

Although it may not look as subversive as the embroidery of today, the embroidery by Mary Queen of Scots in the 16th was far more subversive than any embroidery that I have seen.  Mary Stuart was queen of the Scots while her cousin, the infamous Elizabeth the great was queen of the English.  As in all the stories of royalty there were a number of power grabs going on between the two monarchs.  The "stuff you missed in history class" podcast mentioned that had Mary and Elizabeth not both been women they would have been married to one another in order to consolidate power, and prevent the continuous grabs for power.  The subversive embroidery comes into play when Mary's husband, an Englishman named Lord Darnley mysteriously dies in an explosion.  Mary is suspected of being involved in the assassination, and after marrying one of the murderers (under duress) looks even more guilty to the Scottish people.  The couple is imprisoned in Scotland.  Mary escapes to England, where she hopes her cousin Elizabeth with protect her.  Elizabeth instead imprisons her for her supposed crime.  Elizabeth fears Mary's claims to the English throne.  Elizabeth is the offspring of Henry VII's second marriage which many, especially Catholics claim to be illegitimate.

During her time in prison Mary had little to do but work on her embroidery.  The pieces look to be innocent enough often featuring animals.  However, there is said to be hidden symbolism in the embroideries, representing the life and times of Mary.  The symbolic embroidery that I heard about was was the one named "A Catte," but there are a number of other interesting pieces detailed here.

photo from http://www.marie-stuart.co.uk/embroidery.htm
I love how in this age you could pretty much spell things however you wanted.  I think it gives writing a little personality (darn you Webster).  Mary's embroidered tapestry shoes a cat playing with a mouse.  The ginger colored cat is meant to represent Elizabeth, who still, as in her day is recognized for her ginger colored hair, while poor trapped Mary is meant to be represented by the mouse.  She is implying that Elizabeth is simply playing with her by allowing her to stay alive.

What strikes me about this piece of embroidery is that it was done at the time.  It was not done after the fact to be an historical reference, instead Mary was putting her feelings down on cloth.  Whether Mary was conveying what she really felt or trying to get a message to the outside world, Mary's embroidery certainly made a statement.

After a number of plots to get Mary on the throne were uncovered, Mary was sentenced for treason.  Elizabeth signed an edict for Mary's death, and she was executed in 1587.

Here's where I got my info.  Check them out for more on these royals:

http://departments.kings.edu/womens_history/marystuart.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary,_Queen_of_Scots
http://www.marie-stuart.co.uk/embroidery.htm
http://history.howstuffworks.com/european-history/mary-queen-of-scots.htm