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.