Monstrous Felting Retreat

A few weeks ago I experienced the delight that is the Auckland Fun Felter’s Retreat, 2 full days of felting bliss! πŸ™‚

We were 13 like-minded ladies at a retreat centre, tucked away in a quiet and leafy corner of west Auckland, we had the entire centre all to ourselves and were blessed with some lovely weather.

Jenny, our organiser extraordinaire, asked if anyone would be willing to teach / lead a short workshop on Saturday morning. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t had the chance to teach face to face since 2019 so jumped at the chance and then immediately panicked that I had nothing to teach this incredibly creative and experienced group (most of the members have been felting at least as long as I have!).

After several weeks mulling it over and talking to other AFF members I settled on “animal textures in felt”, I thought this would lend itself to a series of pre-prepared samples that we could discuss the potential pitfalls and then each member could incorporate one or two into their own project. This group is so experienced I couldn’t imagine any of them wanting to waste their precious felting time watching me laying out fibre over a resist.

We all arrived on Friday afternoon, settled into our rooms and started playing with our fibres in the main hall. After talking to a few members I realised not everyone would be happy for me to share some samples and tips on how to achieve different effects, they wanted a project to follow…. my heart sank, I hadn’t planned for this, how was I going to come up with a project that included, fur, scales, eyes and locks before tomorrow morning?!!

So it was that Fugly was born….

A little pod critter, with eyes, scales on his back, a lambs tail and an unfortunate ear-hair problem – for the record I would never normally recommend trying to cram so many different techniques onto one item but now he is finished I do find Fugly quite endearing πŸ™‚

To my surprise most of the group also made pods that incorporated most or all of the techniques and we ended up with a ?gaggle, ?fright, ?laughter <insert collective noun of your choice here> of funny little monsters:

A couple of members applied to techniques to small bags with great effect…

This weekend was such a success we agreed to do it all again in just 6 months time! πŸ™‚

Winged Vessels Workshop – Give Away!

On Sunday 29th July I will be teaching a face to face workshop in Normandy near Guildford (UK), we will look at two techniques that can be used to make 3D felted structures with wings or flaps and everyone will have the opportunity to make at least one vessel. These are some examples of what can be made with the techniques we will cover:

 

All materials will be provided as part of the class and there will be a maximum of 10 participants (that means you have a 1 in 10 chance of winning!).

If you would like a chance to win a place on this workshop all you need to do is:

  1. Share the URL / link of this page on social media (Facebook, Instagram etc)
  2. Post a comment with a link to where you shared this post
  3. Submit your payment for the workshop (places are limited to 10, on a first come first served basis) – please email me at teri@teriberry.com to reserve your place and for details on how to pay (I can accept cheques or Paypal).

Entries close at midnight Wednesday 25th July.

The lucky winner will be drawn at random and their course fee reimbursed on Thursday 26th July.

Good luck!

 

Design Trust Workshop

This post is not directly textile related but I hope it will be useful for anyone wanting to market and sell their hand-made work.

Last week I attended a workshop with Patricia van den Akker from the Design Trust. The main focus was on marketing and was a godsend for me, I have read all the articles and often thought, “yes, makes sense, I should do that” but never actually did it! I am a terrible procrastinator and really need someone standing over me to make sure I do the difficult / less fun stuff like writing a business plan (not as boring as it sounds), working out what my brand is and who my customers are.

While I can’t cover the whole workshop in one blog post I hope you will find the following highlights a useful place to start… As Patricia said at the start of her workshop, “this is aΒ workshop, and you will be doing the work!” πŸ™‚

Have you got pen and paper ready? Try to answer each question before you move onto the next. Let’s get started….

What is your business dream?

What does success look like for you? Holidays in the sun every year, time to spend with your children/family, earning a specific salary, winning a design award, having a team of employees etc.

Think about why you chose your craft. Who are your role models? Why do you look up to them, what have they achieved?

What do you want to be known for? What would you like to be said in your eulogy? What is most important to you?

Marketing

This is communicating the value of your product for the purpose of selling. Try not to think of it as advertising, more as a conversation with potential customers and clients.

Marketing has 3 inter-related purposes:

  • increase your profile
  • increase your credibility (trust)
  • brings you clients

Why do you do what you do? Is it just art therapy for you or do you have a wider philosophy you want to share with the world?

Effective marketing requires that you understand your client’s needs when designing your products, what problem are you solvingΒ / need are you satisfying for them? What makes you different from your competition?

Who is your ideal client? There may be several different people and it can help to write a profile for each, think about:

  • their age
  • gender
  • who lives with them
  • do they work?
  • hobbies and interests
  • where do they go on holiday?
  • why do they buy your product?

Brand Identity

Have you ever looked at a piece of work and though, “that was made by so-n-so”? Or described something as being “very Warhol”, you have unwittingly absorbed brand identities. If you want your work to be recognisable it helps to think about what make your work look or feel different to other crafts(wo)men in your field. Take a look at the photos in your online shop or create a gallery of your work and try to come up with 5 words to describe your collection. It helps to ask friends an family for their input on this, if you are selling face to face you could even ask your customers which words they would pick.

You might end up with a description like, “Bright, flowery and floaty scarves” or, “calming and expansive textile landscapes”, this is your brand identity.

Try to be consistent with the brand image you present, use the same image and text on website banners, business cards, stationery. Is your website banner / business card image and text consistent the 5 words you came up with from looking at your gallery?

Make a Plan!

What business (and personal) goals do your want to achieve this year? Try to be specific, if it is a salary – how much and by when? What sales would you need to make to take that salary? If it is a holiday, where? how long for? when? If it is to make sales, how many and by when?

Then break your goal down into monthly targets, what needs to happen each month to achieve your goal by the date you set?

Review your targets/goals at least once a month and look for alternative courses of action if you are not on target.

If you have an Etsy shop, read the Etsy Handbook, Patricia recommended 2 hours of reading and 2 hours of action per week, personally I am finding I need to take action as I read each suggestion, and I am spending 2 min reading then 2 hours updating my listings!

Patricia also offered a reality check about how much time we should expect to spend on making vs marketing. As a new designer-maker you should expect your time to be spent:

40% on marketing

40% on making

10% research and professional development

10% admin

Design Trust

There is a ton of really useful information on the Design Trust web site (start in the “free resources” section), I can thoroughly recommend it, but be prepared to stop and answer each question posed, taking notes as you go, before moving onto the next paragraph, you will get much more out of the site if you really engage with it and stop to think about what each question means for you and your business.

These are just my highlights from the workshop, if you get the chance to work with Patricia, take it, she manages to make marketing fun and the face to face interaction makes it less easy to gloss over the harder the questions and only focus on what you are already good at!

Do you have any tips on marketing or selling your work?

 

I feel very conscious that this post is all words and no pictures so here is the finished “Michael” wall hanging, finally framed and ready for sale this week πŸ™‚

Bags Galore!

Over the past year I have been working on a series of bag tutorials for the Felting and FIber Studio online bag class that will begin on May 24th.Β I am so excited this long-awaited class is almost here!Β ?

The first week will cover the techniques to make a spectacles/phone/pencil case that uses only felt for the closure (no buttons or magnetic snaps), to date most of my pouches have been cats with bling, so this weekend I have been making a giraffe to illustrate that you can choose any animal you wish, it could be beloved pet, a friend’s pet (they make very personal gifts), a wild animal, or even an imaginary monster, the choice is yours! πŸ™‚

In each case below, the tongue of the animal forms the tab that closes the flap over the pouch opening.

 

 

The second week will be about making a bag with adjustable straps and internal pockets, adding a magnetic closure and how to shape the bag so it has a flat base that will sit on the ground without falling over.

 

Finally in week 3 we will look at how make a backback with large internal compartments and multiple pockets, choosing the hardware and making adjustable straps from either canvas webbing or wool. Consideration will be given on how to make large bags durable enough to carry a heavy weight without being heavy themselves.

The red backpack is my bag, it gets daily abuse from me and this is what it looks like after 6 months, they are pretty sturdy bags!

The pale green/yellow slit you can see on the back of the green backpack is a large pocket, I will add a zip when I get a spare hour πŸ™‚

The great benefit of online classes is that you can work at your own pace and at times that fit in around you and your other commitments. Although the class nominally runs for 3 weeks, the forum will be open and I will be there to offer supportΒ  and answer questions for an additional 2 weeks in case you are unable to make a bag one week or would like to make more than 3 bags and share photos of your wonderful creations with the rest of the class. πŸ™‚

The PDF tutorials from each week will be yours to keep after the class has finished.

For more information and to register your interest in the bag class please follow this link and complete the contact form at the bottom of the page. I will be in touch by email just before registration opens at the beginning of May.

Hats with Zsofia Marx

Last weekend was spent with the beautiful ladies of IFA region 2 in the New Forest and the delightful and generous Zsofia, Zsofia makes the most gorgeous and stylish hats, do check out her facebook page if you aren’t familiar with her work.

 

She shared some interesting techniques, some of which I confess I found alarming but everyone came away with a stunning hat, so clearly I need to be more open to the alternative ways of making felt. πŸ™‚

If you get the opportunity, I highly recommend taking a workshop with her, she has a natural talent for shaping hats to suit different face shapes that is a true joy to watch.

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