Tag Archives: art

Twitter Lists – A Basic How-To Tutorial…


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Twitter has now come out with a new feature called Twitter Lists. It’s function is to create lists of folks (Tweeps) whom you follow on Twitter, by basically filing them into categories. You can create any category you want and even file your Tweeps into more than one category. It’s a great way to help you organize your follows, but also to allow others to follow your entire lists too.

The concept of filing people into categories is actually something that comes very natural to me. You see, my Rolodex at home is not filed strictly alphabetically. I file according to how I know people. Art folks here, home town folks there, parents of my kids’ friends in this spot, work contacts in that spot and distant relatives I barely know – over there. Drives my husband crazy, but I’m just not good at remembering every name I come in contact with, without a frame of reference as to how I know them. So the Twitter List concept works well for me.

For instance, I have several Twitter List categories including: Crochet/Ravelry folks, Austin folks, Crafting Resources, Fellow Artisans and even a category for Brightens My Day. Some of the Tweeps I know fall into more than one category, like Artisans who are also in the Austin area. So I put them in both.

Now, so what’s the advantage to all this “Twitter List stuff?”

Well for one, you can make your lists public so others can follow them. If someone else has a list for Crafting Resources, and I think it’s a good list, I can decide to follow their entire list, making it much less work for me to find all that great info! Which also means the folks in those lists automatically get more follows and coverage than they would have if they weren’t “Twitter Listed.”

Secondly, I can look at the updates from all my follows according to those categories I’ve set. So when I want to laugh, I click on my Humor list and see all the folks I put in that list all in one spot – without all the rest! When I want to see what’s up in Austin, I click on my Austin list and it’s nothing but Austin baby! This makes keeping up with the wide variety of folks and interests I’ve tapped in to via Twitter much easier!

Thirdly, anytime someone hits my Twitter Profile page @AberrantCrochet, They will also see how many lists I’ve been added to and in what categories. I think this gives me more exposure as well. Sure, I tweet about crochet, but I also tweet about other interests. And you’ll get to see where others file me in their Twitter Lists as well.

So how do you go about using these lists then?

If you go to your Twitter account, you’ll likely notice that there is a new box at the top of your screen that says:

“New! Lists. A great way to organize the people you follow and
discover new and interesting accounts. (BETA)

Lists are timelines you build yourself, consisting of friends, family, co-workers, you name it.”

You want to click on an icon that looks kinda like this:.

This is where you will create your initial List name, or category, to “file” your Tweeps into. Here you will also choose to either make the list public (so others can see and even follow it too) or private (no one will see it).

After this step, you will see a page that says: “Find people to add to your list – Search for a username, first or last name, business or brand.” You can either choose to search there, or you can click on your “Following” link and find folks you already follow there.

You will notice, next to each name in your following list, and on each Twitter profile you look at, that there is a new icon for Twitter Lists. When you click that icon, it will bring up a window of all the Twitter List categories you have created, as well as an option at the bottom of that pop-up that allows you to make a new list category.

Mark any Twitter List category that you wish to file your Tweep into. This could be one, or all of your categories. For instance, I have folks who are filed into the Austin as well as Crochet categories for my lists.

You can also add yourself to your lists! Which is great, so when folks follow one of your lists, they’ll follow you to. You took the time to create the list – you ought to benefit from it too! To add yourself to your list, go to your Twitter Profile link, and click on the list icon there. Check mark any categories you want to be included in.

And that’s pretty much it!

Unless you choose to keep them private, your Twitter Lists will show up on your profile page for others to see and check out. As they click on each one, they will be able to see the Twitter news feed for each category and may decide, if they enjoy it, to follow the entire list!

The new Twitter Lists is a useful tool to not only keep track of all the lovely Tweeps out there you want to hear from, but also it’s a great way to further your networking on Twitter!

I hope you found this basic Twitter List tutorial helpful! If you liked this article, please reTweet or link it to help others and if you have anything to add, please feel free to share in the comments below.

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About Doing Craft Shows: Observations, Likes and Advantages…


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Almost my entire background in business is from doing face-to-face sales at shows. In all honesty, I prefer it, as being seen on Etsyand other online markets can be rather difficult to achieve.

Seeing is Believing

I find that with some items, like my crochet designs for instance, that being able to touch what I make, and see in person how I do what I do, makes all the difference in the world. No one can tell from my photos just how soft my garments are. But in person, if I don’t watch it, I’ll have people hanging out in my booth just to “pet” my items. “Err, yes… ma’am…? If you don’t mind, please don’t rub it on your face unless you’re buying….” There is also only so much texture you can bring out in a photo as well.

Demos Add Interest

I’m also a teacher by nature and so I constantly demo my work at every show. I let people watch me work and even show them my tools, how they work, tell them about the custom makers behind my tools, show them the techniques I’m using, ask their opinions even. It’s very experiential, or at least I try to be on a positive scale. People are not just shoppers in my booth. They usually become contacts. When people get to observe you as you work, and you stop focussing on selling to them, and focus more on enjoying yourself, them having a good time and maybe even helping them out (I share my favorite yarn shops and online resources all the time), they are then allowed to relax and simply enjoy themselves. I find that people often buy not just because they like the item, but because they enjoyed the experience and because they are buying a piece of you. And they remember and come back too.

Missed Marketing

It depends somewhat on your product, but I also try not to forget men and children at shows, as they are the most missed sales potential for most shows. It’s true that the majority of shoppers are women, but skipping men and children altogether is a miss! Guess who’s usually tagging along (often bored to death)? If you plan to have at least a couple items geared towards these neglected markets in your booth, you just might make sales you wouldn’t have otherwise caught! And besides, there’s less saturation and competition while most booths neglect this market! For instance, being an artist of fine pottery is great and most of your customers will be adults, but just imagine a couple bits of miniatures for “kids,” even if they are higher priced. You’d be surprised who just might have to snatch it up!

Outdoor Shows

When it comes to equipment for outdoor shows, I highly recommend EzUp. Not only have I found them to be generally much better quality, but they were highly recommended to me by several seasoned artists years ago. I have also seen several lesser grade tents mangled in just a few gusts of wind. It can even be shocking how quickly a poor quality tent can be turned to rubble. This is an area where you really do get what you pay for. I don’t care how lightweight and easy aluminum frames may seem – they just do not hold up very long. And since many outdoor shows are set up near busy roads, between buildings and other structures, wind can really tunnel through such areas in a very focussed manner. May not seem like much on the street, but in a virtual tunnel and a tent full of your wares involved, it can be gustier than people realize and even devastating. Many event planners are not artists themselves and may or may not have ever set up at a show themselves, so these types of details are not always noticed or planned for.

The best affordable EzUp in my opinion is the “Express” model which has a steel frame that uses an entire support system “web” inside the tent canopy. You can see the Express model here. They are much stronger and will – with proper weighting and/or staking – last much longer should windy conditions develop (and they do).

Also, most long-standing outdoor shows will usually require white top or blue top tents. White is generally always safe. Check with shows in your area to be sure.

Even though your tent will come with stakes, good (heavy) weights on all four legs are a must. This, of course is to keep your tent anchored down and from blowing away. Many shows will actually fine artists whose tents disrupt, or cause damage, at a show. Plus you’ll be held responsible for paying for the damage to other artists’ stuff that your tent may have caused. Also, weights are doubly important as a part of your arsenal of tools because some shows do not allow staking.

Know Your Surroundings

I just want to also mention here to watch out for hidden holes, spaces with trees where birds roost and leaky plumbing, etc.. Like I mentioned before – event planners are not often artists themselves. They may put together an event, but may not have actually ever set up at one themselves and they just may not be aware of all the things to look for. I’ve attended a couple events where everything looked like a great spot for a little market, only to find out oops! – that’s the “bird poop” tree or the building next door channels water off the roof right there, etc.. This is especially important when trying out a newly created market event. Usually the long-time shows have figured this stuff out.

Creative Display

Almost anything can be turned into a display tool. Shutters and fireplace screens can display jewelry, small bookcases can add height, plant hangers and hooks can hang from your tent, decorative candelabrum with flat style holders can be used to display clusters of smaller items, etc..

I’ve seen some artists use gridwall to anchor in the center of their tent and display clothing and other items on that (which also provides extra anchoring weight.) I bought a used hat tree for my crochet hat designs and it was a life saver. Because before I had that, sometimes my styrofoam heads, in spite of my efforts, would catch a gust of wind and there’d go flying a head across the place with my crochet along with it.

Leeping_Deer_Tapestry_Crochet

My tapestry crochet piece. It’s about 5 feet square. This design was adapted from the work of Catherine Cartwright-Jones and her machine knitting book called “Enchanted Knitting.” This motif was originally designed for a hat and came from a tattoo design found on an ice princess mummy. An anniversary gift to my mother-in-law.

Don’t forget the power of PVC pipe. You can see the roughly 6 foot frame my husband made for me to display a 5 foot square tapestry crochet piece here.

It’s very sturdy and “modular’ as it can be completely dismantled and stored in an old lawn chair bag.

I have also seen (believe it or not) stained glass hung from pvc pipe frame that was wired to a tent frame. This was done indoors, using a tent frame with the canopy removed. (See, even if you’re not doing an outdoor show, a tent frame can still be very useful.)

Networking to Find Shows and Improve Experience

Get to know other seasoned artists and artisans. Most people are good people and most want to be helpful and help others on their path to success at shows. And in all honesty, it makes for a better show experience all the way around, if everyone is helpful to each other and helps the newbies learn the ropes. Seriously! I can’t tell you how many wonderful and seasoned artists have helped me out over the years, giving me insight that can only come from years of experience, saving me some serious headaches and helping me make good decisions too. It doesn’t matter if they are in your exact field or not. There are many things about shows that are all the same. And these folks can tell you where to get the best equipment, the best prices, and even what’s a good compromise and what’s not and to stand up for yourself as an artist. Likewise, if someone steps out to help you, be sure to appreciate them back!

Depending on your market, check with local cities (most have at least an annual event), schools and art/craft clubs. If there is an Etsy Street Team in your area, I highly recommend joining it. Or find a local art or craft group and join it. Many of the better groups are juried, so do keep that in mind. A juried group means you have to pass the muster before you can join. And you may find shows that are juried as well. This is a way to keep the quality and standards high, as well as maintain the integrity of the market – which in the long run spells success for its participants. Even 6 months or a year with a group like one of these will be invaluable for the information, experience, opportunities, and relationships you will gain. Plus it’s always nice to do a show with folks you know who can watch your back and support your work.

Advantages to Help During a Show

I personally feel if you can get help to run your booth, it’s well worth doing and the bigger the show, perhaps the more helpful additional hands are if you can get them. Two people to run a booth is good to start until you get to know your venues. However, when I did a couple shows with our Etsy Austin Street Team, several of us shared a single booth space to help gain exposure for the team as well as each of us. And it was (surprisingly) a very nice experience in that there were several of us available to help sell everyone’s items, watch the crowds and handle the credit card sales, etc..

Getting help with your booth is especially good if your helper(s) can offset any weaknesses you might have in public presentation. If you’re not so great with how to arrange your set up, maybe your helper has more the eye for how to arrange the booth to be a pleasant space people want to stay in and not feel like they’re about to be trapped. Or, if you’re like me – good at the talking, but less good at handling multiple points of sales at the same time, a helper would be great to help handle extra customers or paperwork stuff while you focus on your presentation. The “expert” and the “support” person makes a great basic team.

Confidence in Numbers

Another good reason to have help is strength in numbers or just support when you’re not sure what to do. I personally still struggle with what to do with bad situations with ugly competitors. Truly I just want everyone to be nice and I don’t personally know how to be mean on purpose when you need to. For instance, at a *juried* show I did last year (which was surprising because usually juried shows also mean better manners all around), I ended up with a competing hat maker’s husband standing in front of my booth, wearing her hats. Before I realized what was really going on, he started annoying people and blocking folks from being able to walk into my booth. It took a friend of mine coming over from her booth to say something to him before I could figure out how to politely get the guy away from my traffic. That was one of those situations where I really could have used my own husband or someone to help me with that one. I’m just not geared to be mean, nor able to be very confrontational in my own booth space.

So, if you have a hard time with stuff like that, having help with you who can run interference for you can be invaluable.

So What’s Holding You Back!

These are just some observations from my own experiences over the years. I hope you find them helpful in your own quest to branch out and sell face-to-face at shows. I’ll write a Part II to go with this at some point, as there’s certainly a lot that can go into being prepared for a show. So let me know if you liked this article and would like to see more.

In the mean time, if you have some ideas you think will help others – feel free to post them in the comments below!

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Filed under Business, crochet, Doing the Show Circuit

An Example of Polynesian Art – by an eleven year old…


Happy Belly

Happy Belly

OK, She’ll be 12 in little more than a month, but I just have to brag on my girl! Jessica really enjoys her 6th Grade Social Studies class. And every creative assignment her teacher doles out becomes a masterpiece endeavor for her.

Take this for example: She needed to do a little research, experiment with something that represented Polynesian Art and she’ll be presenting both her report and her representation before class after Memorial Day. Most of the other kids? They’re using construction paper. Not my child! And trust me, it has nothing to do with me! She does all this on her own, without my help and without my real input either. And not without trying. Me? I’m all about learn the lesson well and keep the project quick and simple. No one said make an exact replica of the Mona Lisa. Just get an idea of how it works, that’s all.

But, oh no. Not for Jessica.

We go look on the internet for something her teacher thought she might be interested in doing for the project. Something to do with beating up pieces of bark and making threads or something out of it. “What?” I’m going in my head. But we looked it up. And luckily Jessica thought the same. Whew! I was not looking forward to dealing with her spitfire personality and determination if she wanted to mangle tree bark. And I wouldn’t have the first clue on how to help her either.

Happy Belly - by Jessica

Happy Belly - by Jessica

So then it’s on to see what else there is to see for Polynesian art examples. We come across some of those really cool tattoos. PERFECT! I think. “You should draw that,” I say, knowing it’ll be really easy for her and it won’t mean a trip to Hooby Looby for me. Homework done – yay for me. “No, no, no. Mommy, we already learned about tattoos in a different culture earlier this year. I already did that. It won’t do this time!” What? Argh….

OK, I get her logic. She really likes to do things well and with purpose and so do I , so I get it. Really I do.

Then it’s onto the pages of wood art with the weapons made with shark’s teeth. We just watched a special on this on TV and the kids really enjoyed it as much as we did. I’m thinking she can mock something up with her clay. Uh, NO. Wrong thinking there. If she’s going to do it, she wants to make it with real sharks teeth and we don’t have any. No way.

So then it’s on to other statues and such. We see several little statues holding their bellies. Maybe they just ate dinner and are full, and maybe they have indigestion. I don’t know. But Jessica thinks they are cute. You can see what she based her clay statue on here. I think she did great, don’t you?

Yay! Finally we have a winner! I’m thinking. And we already have clay!
WRONG. The only clay (besides playdough) we have must be fired in a kiln and the last clay project she did for class (a really cute buddha guy I’ll have to find the photos for and post here too!) cracked from not being fired and then later broke at school. Yes, I remember – there were lots of tears. (sigh) “And if I try to use playdough, it really will crumble apart. Mommy, we need to go to Hobby Lobby and buy some clay that will air dry.” Argh….! Noooooooo…!

Jessica's creation she calls - Happy Belly

Jessica's creation she calls - Happy Belly

I had her Daddy do it.

Isn’t this just awesome!
I stand in awe of my daughter.

I’m so glad those pottery classes paid off.

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