Monday, September 28, 2009

My Chemistry Experiment: My colour plan

Happy Monday! I hope you all enjoyed your weekends! Although slightly less than productive than I hoped to be, mine was good. It just means I have lots to accomplish this week! I have done my initial plan for the collection colours. I have a feeling I will be making a few changes here and there, but over all, I'm fairly happy with my choices. My next step is to make the final art for the screened towels, and to create some towels to actually screen at my printing workshop next weekend.

This is a bit of a short entry, I know. I will be back with more later this week!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A little inspiration and lots of plans

It's Friday!! Who else is happy about that? I haven't done a whole lot of physical work on the tea towels over the past few days, but am planning on using weekend time as prime work time. After the excitement of having my first potential retailer I realized that I need to start hammering out the details of the final towels. When I made the testers I used random colours, jst to see what I like best. I've now narrowed the list down to a solid 10 or 11 colours to pick from in my embroidery spectrum. I also picked the colours for the up and coming printed tea towels. When I go for my screen printing class next week I want to have a few final colours to print on so I can start the first round of final sets. Stay tuned- at the end of the weekend I'll put up a big chart of all the details thus far. I'm also going to take time to come up with a great sciencey, cute print for next weekend. I'm also going to whip up some final printed towels. Next week will be all about packaging. Time to figure out what to put the suckers in to make them look juicy to my future customers.

What have I been up to instead of furiously embroidering, you may ask. Well, I went and picked up a piece of my artwork that was in a local art show that wrapped up a few weeks ago. It's all embroidered so I thought you may like to check it out. It seems every year I have a summer fling with embroidery. I'll embrace, love and laugh with embroidery projects from June through August. As soon as September hits I move on to painting and bid a fond farewell to my stitching. This year I feel like me and embroidery are going to keep up the relationship. We're going to be like Sandy and Danny, or those kids from high school musical. We're not just summer lovin' anymore! This is how we got together this summer.

This week was also the last Thursday to participate in this awesome Toronto event called Gallery Spin. One thursday of every month this summer a bunch of folks on bikes meet up at a local Toronto park (Trinity-Bellwoods for you Torontoites) and a guided tour of various local galleries commences. It was SO much fun!

So, this is me! Here I am with my awesome boyfriend Ronaldo, getting ready for the bike ride.

A line of bikes while all 52 of the cyclists were in a gallery looking at some amazing art.

The brigade riding from gallery to gallery. We went to 5 in total.

This man not only rode his bike, he also serenaded the crowd with some beautiful trumpet music. I really don't know how he did it- I would have driven straight into oncoming traffic if it were me.

Each of the five galleries had a totally different feel, and a totally different style of artist. It's a good thing for me to get my head out of my little turtle shell to see what else is happening in the art world. Good things are happening, my friend. Very good.

Let's see how this newly found inspiration translates into work!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Chemistry Experiment: Forget the Gocco... Hello, silk screen!

That's right- I've decided to move on from my gocco printing idea. While I've been waiting for the fabric ink to arrive from Australia I've had time to think about the expense of using the print gocco over time and decided that it'll be cheaper to use a traditional screen print technique. I've never used this technique before so I also see it as an opportunity to learn a new artsy skill. While I was out in Kensington Market on Sunday on a bike ride I saw a sign in a window for a one day workshop at a little store called Model Citizen. The gentleman that runs the store was so passionate about imparting his silk screening wisdom it was hard to not sign up right away. It took only yesterday to decide that I wanted to know what he knew and called to sign up today. He was intrigued about my tea towels (yes, I'm already spreading the word) and is interested in carrying some sets at his store for the Christmas holidays.

Woo Hoo! My first potential marketplace!

Anyhow, two weeks until that happens. Lots of work to do beforehand. I've just finished the 2 extra special, non-sciencey tester towels. I'm hand delivering them to one half of the tester team. The other half won't be able to see them until the end of the week so I'm only going to post a teaser of them. I'll post a full photo of them on the weekend.

This week I'm working on the screen for the two screened towels to go in the three pack. I've also realized I have to come up with a name for my products!

Any ideas?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Chemistry Experiment: Halt in Phase two and "Panique Au Village"

I'm looking out my window this morning and I feel like Marty McFly- have I gone back to the summer? I'm going to try to make this blog entry short so I can get out and enjoy the pseudo summer day! This week is one of those weeks where balance between day work, social, and night work was off. Instead of working on my blog (sorry!) and business, I ate a lot of birthday cake. A lot. Three, in fact. Anyone who eats three birthday cakes in one week naturally moves a bit slower and therefore gets less done. All were delicious, and worth it. I was also furiously trying to finish my book club book, The girl with the dragon tattoo, for my meeting. I was a little bummed that I didn't spend as much time on my big project, but I'll make up for it next week. I did make a little progress- I signed up for the craft sale that I intend to debut my tea towels. This means that now I can't turn back. No worries- I don't want to anyhow! Also, I've sent out the surveys to my testers, and have already received feedback from one! I'm looking forward to assessing and comparing them once they're all in!

One hang up continues to plague me is the fabric ink for my Print Gocco that I intend to use to screen print two of the three tea towels in each set. I ordered it on etsy at the beginning of September from a lady in Australia and I'm not even sure she has sent it to me yet. Anyhow, I'm now referring to it as "the case of the missing gocco ink" and am hoping to solve the mystery sooner than later. In the mean time, I'm working on some extra special tester towels for some extra special testers. Stay tuned.

This week in Toronto the Toronto International Film Festival has been taking place. As I live in the heart of the city, I like to try to see at least one movie every year. This year, as I was browsing the listings, I found a film called A Town Called Panic, or Panique Au Village. I knew immediately that this was the film for me. The image accompanying the synopsis was a plastic horse, cowboy, and indian reading the newspaper and drinking coffee in a living room. Holy moly! Last night was the screening...

Oh. My. Gosh.

It was absolutely charming, cute and hilarious!! I LOVED it! It ends up that the movie is based on a TV series from Belgium that, if the you tube information is right, has been around since 2002. I am so happy that I know about it now! Please, go have a peek at the greatness here. The producer and writer, who spoke after the screening last night, said that although the TV series has been translated into English, the French voices are more hilarious. If it comes into wide release I highly recommend it.

Now, go outside and enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Chemistry Experiment: Phase two continued and the Queen of 6

So, here we are, mid-September already, and progress on my tea towels continues smoothly! If all goes as it has been I should be ready to start final production in a month- hooray!

You know, I don't think I mentioned the whole "chemistry experiment" aspect of this project. First, I should tell you I have two sisters, both of who chose scientific fields for their profession. That leaves little old me as "the artist". That does not mean that I don't have a little love for atoms, ketones, and the likes of that crowd. I was commissioned to create an alphabet poster earlier this year, and in researching the world of alphabet posters, I realized it is highly over populated. I started thinking of the other important posters that could benefit the future of the human race and the periodic table of elements came to mind. Eureka! So, as this poster remains in progress, I've been coming up with characters to represent the various elements. As I did so, I noticed that there are alot of "foodie" elements. Potassium, Iron, Calcium, etc. Of course, I put two and two together, and you have periodic table of elements: tea towel edition!

On to progress since the last post. As I had said last week, all of phase 2 towels, embroidery style, have been given out to the testers. I've now finished the survey and will be giving out, mailing and emailing my guinea pigs with it. In the mean time, as I felt confident about the dimensions of the towel, I started making the coloured, soon to be screen printed towels. These were always going to be a sort of pahse 2.5, but now they really are. Once I had finished them I lined them up on my stove handle and was shocked at how puny they looked. If they were primary school kids they would get their lunch money stolen, that's how tiny and wimpy they were. This means an automatic final phase change.

Now, the Queen of 6. The most amazing discovery of last week. At my day job, we are talking with the folks at Sesame Street about collaboration work, and was told that this November is Sesame Street's 40th birthday. I took the opportunity to jog down memory lane to my old days on the street in the 80's. I found this wonderfully cute and sort of trippy stop motion animation that made my day, particularly the ending. No wonder I turned out how I did!

Until next time, enjoy the trip!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Chemistry Experiment: Phase two update

Well, the last long weekend of the summer has come and gone in a blaze of sweet, sunny and warm glory. I hope you all had as great a time as I did enjoying it. Hip hip hooray for the Manning family cottage on lake huron! I now feel ready to dig my heals in and get my tea towels into full production. I am one step closer to this now- all of my phase two tester towels are now out to my four lucky testers. From what I've heard so far, everyone likes the linen fabric I'm using, saying it's absorbant and dries quickly. Whoo hoo for that! I spent my thursday afternoon developing the questions I need to feel secure in their validity as a product worth buying. I'll be handing them out to the testers at the end of the week.In the meantime, I've started working on some coloured tea towels that I'll be screening some scientific fun on to, if by chance the fabric ink for my gocco ever arrives in the mail. So far process is going smoothly.

On a side note, I've found the most amazing card game ever. It's called Dutch Blitz, and as it says right on the package, it is a "vonderful goot game". It's like solitaire, uno, and an awesome race all rolled into a frenzy-filled event. My sister, who introduced me to the game, seriously kicked my butt at it, but now that I've run right out and bought it I am bound to improve my skills and become victorious! This is something I definitely love. Here is a photo of my beloved game, as well as the pinned, ready to sew, turquoise and green tea towels.

More tomorrow!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hello, and welcome!

Well, hi there! I'm Claire Manning, an illustrator and embroidery addict based out of Toronto. I am so happy to welcome you to my first blog! I have been meaning to start this for a long time, and am happy to finally have it up and running. I will be posting mostly the progress of me opening an etsy shop to sell my wares. Although I've had success with my illustration work, I have tried creating a side business in the past to sell my crafts with little success. This time, I am trying to do it right, and want to document my process. So far, I have decided on the first item to sell in my store. My first business attempt was had painted and embroidered baby bodysuits and tees. I wanted to make my second try an item that was fairly gender neutral and definitely one size fits all. I also wanted to be able to make the item myself. So, I'm making tea towels. Initially I was thinking a set of three, each with an embroidery on it. I started with a test one for myself. The embroidery took a little longer than I thought and through suggestions I've decided to make 2 of the three towels screen printed and just one hand embroidered. I made sizing changes and small embroidery and fabrication changes, and have now just finished four "phase 2" testers with the hand embroidery, that I'm passing to people through next week. Hopefully they'll have some good feedback and I can finally start production. I'm going to do the screening with my awesome print gocco, and am just waiting for the fabric ink to arrive in the mail to get going on that side of the project. Anyhow, I will continue writing about this frequently and keep you up to date on the developments.

Oh- and I will also keep you in the loop about any awesome illustration work I'm doing, and just about any neat-o stuff that I happen to run across that I fall in love with. This happens all the time so be prepared!

Here are some photos of the phase 1 tea towel (with the salt shaker) and the phase 2 tea towels- if you are curious about my work and are itching to see more right this minute, have a peek at my website-

Have a happy Thursday!!