Saturday, 27 April 2013

Starting a creative business or project. Why you should photograph everything you make.

Starting a creative business or project.  Why you should photograph everything you make.

Throughout my creative business life spanning of over 30 years I always photographed everything I created.  No one told me to do this, it was just something I did.   When I first started out I did not realise the importance of this.  Now I do.

Over the last few days I have been sorting out all my photographic records of all sold waistcoats, about 850.    This comprises of several huge ring binder files crammed full of photographs in A4 plastic covers.   In addition I have several shoe box size plastic containers full of 6" x 4" photographs and some smaller albums.  At least a thousand photographs needed to be sorted and put into some order.    The reason for this quest was to look for a certain image of a garment I created many years ago.

My first camera was held closed with gaffer tape.  It worked and the images were just enough to create a recollection before selling.   Bearing in mind my first garments were created long before digital photography.   Then came computers and the wonderful facility of  selecting and editing images before printing.    Always print your photographs as you cannot rely on computers to preserve your images for the long term.   Think of your old family sepia albums.  Precious beyond words.

I am in the process of putting all my sold works online.  Its a mammoth task scanning and numbering each photographed garment.

Now for the scary revelation and the reason why you should photograph everything you make.   I am shocked to realise that I am scanning images of work I created 13 - 15 years ago of which I have no recollection creating.  I forgot  about a huge number of sold garments I made.   Crazy because each garment I create is an extreme labour intensive process from start to finish,  from cutting the cloth, planning the design, hand painting then embroidering before making into a garment.   Long hours of  intensive creative thought and energy.   How could I forget.

Keeping memories in your head is not enough.  Four images of work I completely forgot about.  Four of about 50.

All my works will be available online in the next few weeks. Contact me for further information.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, 12 April 2013

Fibonacci Patchwork - Waistcoats

Fibonacci Patchwork - Waistcoats 

I became fascinated by the Fibonacci sequence of numbers back in the mid 1980's.  Subsequently the article below was published in "Patchwork and Quilting" magazine summer 1990.   An easier version to read can be found on my website:   I have also written a bit about it on my website  Apologies as it needs updating.  Please contact me if you would like me to email a copy.

During my time at Cockington Court with the Devon Rural Skills Trust I created a Fibonacci waistcoat using shades of solid red glazed cotton chintz, some heavy upholstery fabrics and some beautiful fabric from Zoffany.   The hand sewn fibonacci design made a beautiful back.

To make this into a garment I added machine sewn crazy patchwork which brought it all together. I remember being quite haphazard with the machine sewing.  Unfortunately this image does not show the fine detail.  I wore it constantly until a lady approached me and wanted to buy it.   I explained it was well worn which did not deter.    During this time I received a number of commissions for a similar garment.  See images below:

The theme for this Fibonacci waistcoat was reds, blues and with some quite strong patterned fabric.  Most of it was hand-sewn with random machine embroidery and appliqué. The thing about machine embroidery on chintz is that you have to get it right first time as unpicking leaves visible machine holes.  The glossy glazed chintz combined with non glazed fabric created an interesting contrast.  

These photographs were taken on a cheap throwaway camera and do not show the detail.   This garment was created about 1991 and at the time was a very expensive commission.

Other fibonacci commissioned waistcoats are shown below:

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

How the internet changed my creative life.....................

How the internet changed my creative life.   The timeline dates back to the late 1980's when visiting a friend at Oxford University and being shown electronic mail.   In seconds a computer written letter was transported instantly to another electronic mail address in Italy.   It was a revelation and I gasped at this new technology, it was magic.

Fast forward to about 1996 when "Tiny Computers" and other computer manufacturers advertised all in one packaged bundles of software with a printer and loads of other bits.   I remember visiting the shop in Exeter and carrying all these boxes back to the car.   The cost was over £1000 which seemed a huge amount to spend.   The thing was I needed a new computer as the basic one I had was mono and unpredictable.  We were going through a major legal situation at the time and  needed a reliable machine.

With the package came a CD disc saying "internet"  and I immediately wanted to try it out.   I plugged it into the phone socket .....beep beep.......and hey presto.....internet was a doddle.   Email was set up with lineone and was touch and go whether a connection would fire...........remember those beeeep beeeep sounds.......

Shortly afterwards my Dad followed the internet trend and somehow managed to upload  the image on the right. I think he must have done it via a CD.   I am wearing of one of my early chintz patchwork waistcoats.  At the time it was a real performance trying to link it to an art website.  Working on my own I persevered and learnt by trial and error.   To think that the whole world could see my work by clicking a few letters on the keyboard, was sort of overwhelming.   The search engine I used was AltaVista  or Lycos, before Google was born.

Realising the potential to market/sell my work I
started by looking at Ebay.  In those days the listings seem to consist of sunglasses and other items based in USA.  Not much down in Devon.

I paid a professional to create my first website. It was rubbish and a waste of money, but at least I had a profile on the internet which unfortunately I could not update.

The next time I looked at Ebay was in 1993.  Technology had moved a long way, digital cameras and scanners where almost common place.   My first sale on Ebay was a book on Crewel Embroidery.   It was a great thrill to see the item go green with a bid.    From there I progressed to selling fabrics from my collection.  In those days I remember selling vintage fabric packs for much more than they would achieve these days.  From there I started selling patchwork paper templates and waistcoats, firstly on Ebay then creating my own websites with shopping carts.  

Pre-internet most my sales were from galleries and exhibitions.   These events were very enjoyable and profitable but extremely time consuming.  Sometimes I think I should do a few shows here and there but then do I really need too.  Not at this moment, No.

Life has been very busy and rewarding using the internet as a selling tool.    Its wonderful to be able to read emails from happy customers and get to know people who buy frequently.

Yes, the internet has changed my creative life.