Burn out & finding a better way to do this.

Breathe, do the work. The work is always a good place.

The last few months, I’ve been trying to wrestle my thoughts into some coherent order on so many things; social media, what success means to me, professional ethics, what is really important to me, (why do I have to take everything so seriously?) …do I even want to be doing this anymore?

I suck at chit chat and that’s honestly how social media feels lately (when it doesn’t feel like a sustained advertisement ) so I retreat from it. I rarely have anything lighthearted to say and nothing to sell.

There is burn out and winter depression. Depression doesn’t manifest with me as an inability to get out of bed or attend to my life…it creates a fugue of indecision. I see all the possibilities, all the angles, outcomes and consequences always…but when things go flat, I lose perspective, lose the patterns, can’t find what piece to pick up first.

It has lifted, as it usually does when spring registers as renewed possibility, but the holding space I’m building for me is still pretty fragile. And into this space intrudes the need to communicate on behalf of this business.

Each week my “to do” list has had “write a blog post describing winter thought process and structure for communicating going forward” and each week I get paralyzed by trying to make it perfect and not shudder at how raw it is. To not over analyze how much the people who only want to know about the next show or the next piece are going to hate it, or the people who like bunnies and goats are going to be bored by it, etc etc. So I don’t write it, and I don’t really say anything here, and I haven’t updated our FB page since December…and thinking too much about “you” silences me.

I’m drawn to perfect words but what I need more right now is imperfect words that are actually said. Words that are true but also recognize that they demarcate a position in time, one that will change. Should change.

So… here’s my thing. I mostly don’t know exactly what I’m/Rogue Goat is doing right now. I’m pretty close to figuring out the shape of things, the new path forward.

Between now and then, it’s likely to be a bit messy, wordy and light on pretty things, but it will be real. I’m going to pick up blogging again to tease out and address some of the issues we have been sorting out as artists and a business. Maybe you won’t find it interesting…but at least it will be out of my head. 😜

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Doing it (Together)

I am One of a Kind Show consumed. I’ve read the whole website with the Artisan’s profiles updated. I look at all the Instagram photo’s the artisans have started to post #ooaks14 and #ooakdiaries, even though I couldn’t give a rats ass about Instagram. I read all the posts in the One of a Kind Artisans’ forum. Read all the details about the upcoming launch of the One of a Kind Online Shop. I make lists, then more lists – what we need to make, things I need to arrange (place to stay, electrical hookups, booth sitter etc etc.), new ideas for the booth, things I will buy if we do really well, bills to pay if we do ok, how to make do if we don’t do well.

Madness.

The Spring show has a Wedding themed area this year, and in support of it and Valentine’s day, the Show sent out a request for wedding pictures from artisans who worked on their artform together. I didn’t send one as our wedding pictures weren’t quite….um…conducive to people buying lovely things for their big day. But it got me thinking about working together as Rogue Goat.

marriage

Working together creatively is one of the most valuable things in my life. If you are driven to create, passionate about it, it can almost become the “other woman/man” in a relationship. It’s there, it consumes you, you have your best and worst times with it, you don’t care if it snores.  When your partner is part of that creative affair, the love triangle disappears. You understand the need to create for hours and ignore one and other. You aren’t perturbed that something else is coming first, you support that. You are as mesmerized by that “other” as your partner.Like being in a band, but also playing house, for real.

Sure, some people aren’t threatened by it, but then…you kind of miss them not knowing that feeling, that pure, creative plane, not being able to really relate to it.

josh & I

It works best  though, or at least I think it works for Josh and I, because our skills are distinct. I can’t cut wood, he can’t paint.  I can’t define his process and dictate his creative part, nor can he I. We discuss the end result in loose terms, and leave each other be in constructing as we individually see fit.

We tease each other that we can’t break up or we’d have to get “real” jobs. And it’s true. What we make is an outcome of us being us. Making what we do, makes us more us.

Forever

That up there is a piece of rice that says “Allison & Josh Forever”. It is both barfy and terribly awesome. I am one of the least sentimental people I know, being only romantic in the sense of mourning the decrease in deaths by lightning and having had childhood desires to have sword scars and tuberculosis. Not in the notes and flowers ways. Josh says he would buy me off the internet still. Happy Valentine’s Day! xxoo

A kite string to Spring, packets of hope

When I was a kid, my mum used to get seed catalogues in the mail beginning late January and also kept a very detailed journal in which she would plan the upcoming growing season. Notes on what worked and where the previous harvest, species to try, budgets to maximize what made it into the freezer and pantry. She was an ambitious gardener, as well as raising chickens, turkeys and ducks when this was simply an extension of living simply and frugally, rather then a “lifestyle choice”.

I thought those journals were crazy mum stuff, some weird diary for women not drawn to drama and more concerned with the minutiae of the everyday. But I get it now.

Partly, I love the ground level science of it. Observation, trial, hypothesis. Partly, as I have grown older, where one I felt burdened by the everyday, by routine, by “just” living, now I am at peace with it to the extent I can be. It is the real, profound, quiet and often overlooked act of walking about your yard, or the park or your street and actively noticing tiny, cumulative change.

But mostly it is like a kite string attached to Spring, making it yours tangible. By planning for Spring and even further, for fall’s harvest, an escape route from snow and long dark days is found.

Last winter, up all night with very little Boogie/Taryn, I REALLY wanted spring. One hand holding the baby, one hand researching heirloom beet varieties to plant. Have I mentioned we love beets? Next matching tattoo -beets. To quote Tom Robbins in Jitterbug Perfume-

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip…

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.”

Anyway…beets. Researching beets led to this lovely business, Cubit’s Organic Seeds. I loved the seeds, the dedication, the care, the thoughtful writing, the great recipes…and loved the integration of artisan entrepreneurship & kids presented with beauty. An awesome discovery that brightened a long winter’s night then…and a winter’s day today.

Cubit’s will be at OOAK in the Etsy section with little organic packets of hope. How amazing that this company should be at our first #OOAK in the year that we have our first full growing season in our first home.

My kite, happily blowing away in the upcoming Spring, is beet red.

xxoo

yellow beets (Ok, these beets are yellow)

Babies and business go together like nuclear holocaust and birthday parties….

Or something like that.

This is Taryn, our little goat (he’s a Capricorn).He is a splendid little beast to cohabit with, but is also fabulously time consuming. Definition of hubris- thinking that as the new baby is not the first baby, that it will be easy, and that juggling other kids, full time math-y studies, and business with the mesmerizing gaze of you wee sleep sucker will be done with aplomb and perfect outfits for all.

Ahhh….chagrin. While it is indeed less like swimming underwater during a panic attack then I recall previous babymoons…there is actually no more time in the day. Who knew?

So…my 2012 review blog post remains undone, the website remains un updated, show applications are being sent in at the last minute,   production remains slow, and our outfits while generally decent, are accessorized with baby puke.

So be it. Life is awesome.

The new work is our best..stay tuned for pictures.The website will be updated this week.And I’m going to straighten the artwork in the photo RIGHT NOW.

xxoo.

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New Studio at The Tremont

Ahhhh…sweet, sweet studio bliss. We are fully set up in our beautiful little finishing studio inside The Tremont in Collingwood, ON. The Tremont is a lovingly restored 19th century hotel…bought from the Town by private restorers and developers Rick and Anke Lex, and turned into a jewel of a building, now housing 8 artist studios, the Bay School of Art and The Tremont Cafe (as well as residences on the third floor).

The Tremont is located at 80 Simcoe Street, Collingwood, ON and open to all…just come on up the stairs and one or more of the second floor artists will welcome you.

Fellow Tremont artists include Bonnie Dorgelo, Andrea Rinaldo, Peter Adams, Jenn Wilkins, Kaz Jones, Suzanne Jarvis, K maclean and Bryan Wall.

Wow…we need a camera!!

The inability to properly illustrate the blog posts right now is driving me crazy…need a new camera asap!!

We had an awesome time at Handmade Market in Beamsville…hoping to be back in Wine Country September 21 (my birthday!) and 22 for another market…this time in St Catharine’s.Check out their website at http://www.handmademarket.ca/

We are super excited to be sharing a studio with the wonderful metal oddment artist k maclean at The Tremont! Still working on getting it set up, but loving being surrounded by the other great artists: Sue Miller, Peter Adams, Bonnie Dorgelo, Andrea Rinaldo, Kaz Jones, Joanna Alonzo, and Bryan Wall. Check it out http://www.thetremont.ca/

Also getting ready for Windsor Art in the Park June 2 and 3 in…you guessed it…Windsor! http://www.artintheparkwindsor.com/

We are very grateful to be part of some absolutely amazing events this summer…check out our schedule.

And…Made by Hand @ GivingTree Eco B & B outside Collingwood is a new co joint between Rogue Goat and Andy and Chai at Givingtree…save July 14 and 15 to come out for handmade awesomeness, Dj Danger Bay , Arkham Records vinyl sale. Please email us at roguegoat@hotmail.ca if you are interested in participating.

Time for naked trampolining. That’s illustrative, right? 😉

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Tom Goes to Algonquin

The Owen Sound Artist`s Co op embarked on a new venture last year supporting youth artists, one funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.It expanded the physical space of the Co – op by leasing adjoining space, now called the Legacy Gallery. Predominantly used to showcase youth projects, the gallery is also used by the Co op membership several times a year.

This month`s show commemorates Tom Thomson`s first trip to Algonquin 100 years ago, each member submitting a piece addressing the theme, some within their normal medium, some not.

This is our submission (sold!) (Please excuse the terrible photo)Image

Detail

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We also did this necklace , Tom`s Red Canoe

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Opening is Saturday, April 14 at 3…TODAY!!

Rural Internet Blues

Winter peeled back its blankets from the ground and it felt like a coat of lead paint got stripped from our souls…its all shining through now.Except for our continuing struggle with the internet. Dial up sucks.

We want to show you all our splendid wares, like  a cat bringing home a bird, but our camera is pooched and the spinning wheel of upload death wins, wins, wins. Patience is not my virtue.Things I think about while the photo uploads:

  • The dog is pregnant again. BIGGGG pregnant. Teenage son ” How the hell did you guys forget to get the dog fixed?” Good point.
  • Women are tricksy.
  • A proper English upbringing has many merits including emotional distance, good vocabularies, a tendency to travel or emigrate resulting in living distances away from family, and marginal familial contact, often related to the former.
  • That I should write my father a letter.
  • How irritating people on Facebook are.
  • How irritating some very particular people on Facebook are.
  • Beets
  • What the hell the dog is doing now.
  • Trying to decipher what Josh is saying in his sleep.
  • Trying to stop the creeping feeling that something is watching me through the windows.
  • Accepting that now I  and the family are about to be slaughtered and that I should finish this one post and then go wake Josh and  gently tell him it was all worth it but now Trailerman is coming to get us.
  • That I will likely trip over my dog in the dark, stand on the pregnant one while getting into bed and then have to kick the small ugly one off my side.
  • That life is pretty awesome.

Here’s a few shots of our new Rogue Goat hip bags…

Sniffle, sniffle, please come soon Spring!

We are the house of sick. We rotate sick. We are a chorus of sniffles and whines. It is an angry, self pitying chorus at times, but surprisingly, we have all mostly been pretty positive. Pretty positive indeed considering that February has sucked in some fairly major ways.

We had to cancel on our first show ever because we were sick. We have a lot of erotic sock monkeys if you want to come over later.

The downside of being self employed and sick is there is no one to do your stuff for you, so sometimes it falls apart a bit.

The upside is that there is never really anything bad about being snuggled up together (and together may mean two, or sometimes with some kids, and usually all three dogs), drinking vats of tea, indulging all cravings and watching movies. No matter how sick.

In between snuggles we made our forays to the studio, Josh to the saw, me to the sewing machine.

I love our new bags…we now have a felted line, the tie bags, and the patchwork vintage wool tweeds.

 

Have I ever mentioned that my husband is AWESOME!!?!!! I so love that I can vaguely mention an idea to him, and he makes it happen.

We use old windows and doors for display all the time…and keep refining our displays. I had the idea that I wanted to make a display case for Southampton Art Gallery out of old doors, with industrial hardware. Actually, I wanted a bed headboard and a stool first, but business first.

Josh’s mum found some solid old doors down the road, and the rest Josh cobbled together from bits and pieces we had lying around. Not one purposefully bought component in the whole thing ( we did have all the screws and hardware on hand. Two old doors, some scrap pine, a very cool old barn board, a junky handmade rack from the garage and a crappy piece of chipboard from an old wall unit…plus some twigs.

I so loved the patina on the old doors, but as it was for the gallery , where a lot of competing aesthetics have to get along, plus likely to be a slight disapproval of the flaking, likely lead based paint, we decided to white wash in my favourite white.

I love, love, love it.

A final word, on this final day of a bitch of a February…

” I like being bored. It means you get to go around hating everything.” Raiden, Age 7 ( home on a snow day today after almost two weeks off school being sick, and a very cogent explanation of why he has been so goodnatured about it.)

Ta.xxoo.

First we shall ignore you for weeks…and then overwhelm you with words.

We didn’t forget about you.:)

We’ve been fulfilling one of the most important things about living productively and creatively…doing nothing at all for a space of time to recharge. Well, not exactly “nothing”.Talking to the chickens.Imagining sitting in very tall trees in the back yard. Re reading sordid mystery novels. Staring at the wall. Making soup. Getting a pug. Pondering the ludicrousness of pre teens and the dangerous passion of grade school love interests.

And thinking…both forward and backward (and about the abuse of the … in colloquial writing.)

We have  learned so much since May when we started. We learned from each other , from the business, from some amazing artisans who took the time to help us, great people at co-ops and shows…and some good strong lessons from some shittier experiences that gave us a good road map of what we will try not to repeat. That’s important too.

So…a look at some of the things we are working and some observations and lessons we learned.

These are the new leather cuffs we will be using for 2012..so soft and supple. While I enjoyed the astounding mess I made hand dyeing the cuffs we used in 2011, they never, no matter how much I worked them in, felt as good on my wrist as they looked, and the precut straps we used were just a bit too narrow for my perfect cuff. These are being made for us by the awesome Luis, which frees up my time to concentrate on the textile line which I am LOVING. Lesson – Love your suppliers! We worked with the fiesty and hilarious Fawn Le Clair (hand spun wool through Wikketwacky Yarn) and the stunningly talented Rebecca Warren at 3rd Life this year, and will continue to do so.

Speaking of suppliers…I strongly believe if you are living the handmade life, you should have the utmost fidelity to materials. Use the best for your art form, don’t cut corners that shouldn’t be, and pay attention to the details. Our first batch of earrings back in May used silver plate wires we got from Micheal’s…we were testing the idea, working out the engineering, and didn’t want to commit large scale. But as soon as we knew this was going to work, we switched to the best quality we could find, and keep doing so. Pay attention to details…see those little clear chunks? They are earring stoppers…they will save an earring from pulling out of your ear, something you will really appreciate if you paid good dollar for it. Doesn’t cost very much to add (always pay attention to your bottom line though) and makes a difference to your customer.

Making things is an evolving process, one where you refine your techniques, incorporate new ideas, explore new areas, refine and adapt. It is not static. Everything you make will not be awesome. There is no room in art for sentimental attachments. If you over invested in inventory and have stuff you made from two years ago, or it didn’t go over well, or you switched mediums…don’t pull it all out anytime you have a sales opportunity. Kill it in whatever satisfying manner you want…break it , (we can burn it), rip it, reutilize it, whatever. There is nothing worse than seeing someone set up at a show with six different mediums they work in, with work going back five years. Painters, photographers can show work with a longer time span (although I ‘d still argue you shouldn’t be showing work that is older the two years, unless you are having a retrospective) and you may have designs that you continually replicate…thats ok.If you make things in different mediums that are not connected somehow (other than just through you) separate them publicly by different “identities”. Your high school/college portfolio is not show material unless you ARE in high school or college, and neither are projects made in classes. On the left…yummy new designs out of the shop last week. On the right, burn pile if Raiden’s class can’t use them for a craft.

This is a new line for Rogue Goat in development stage…onyx and jasper inserts.We vaguely had this idea in the early summer, then when Josh came up with the sperm motif it really coalesced. But we were in the middle of Christmas season and didn’t have the time to pursue. Its important to challenge your self and keep growing artistically, but it’s also important to focus on the tasks in front of you. and prioritize. Christmas show season is not the time to throw yourself into creating a new line.It took me a long time to learn that sort of pacing. There is a cycle to the handmade life, especially for those who do pop up shops. Summer and Christmas you are in show mode, on the road, talking to people. Fall and late winter/spring you are creating, organizing your year, applying for shows (More on this later this month. We are so excited about this year..we began Rogue Goat after all the major juried show deadlines had passed..this year we have them all ready and the money in the bank for a whole year of fees as well. Crazy!)

 

In addition to show fees, we have our summer season of supply needs paid up…some of the fabrics for the messenger bag line above. We began on a shoestring budget and had some tight times of flow, ensuring we had enough work before the cash flowed in at shows. But we got through it without borrowing for the business, or leaning on credit cards and were able to end the year debt free, with healthy owner’s draws, and a considerable portion of 2012’s expenses accounted for. This feels really f-ing good. The cycle thing is funny…I had stocked up on all my winter weight fabrics…wool sweaters and blankets and then realized I needed to be making some summer bags now. The pacing thing too…I intend on switching to (mostly) all organic cotton and wool fibres that are hand dyed with natural blends…but I need time to perfect the recipes and ideally, cook it up in the back yard in the summer. So it will likely only appear in the fall winter shows of 2012…and be in place by 2013. Who the hell am I that I plan things two years ahead now?

This is the balance. Being together we are more capable than ever, while still being who we always have been. Rogue Goat is both of us equally, as much as it is equally inseparable from our day to day life. We are happy. I still throw temper tantrums (and irons) because a bag strap isn’t lying properly. Josh still screams at the saw because his first try at a new design isn’t perfect. But those moments last ten or fifteen minutes and are balanced by laughing every, every day. By feeling lucky every minute to be together and to be doing something we love.  So lucky that we make these very sentimental public declarations just so Tom Davenport can make fun of us.

And even though sometimes I feel like the video below…we are still Cobras. And that’s bad ass.