Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Finding the Customer of your Dreams

When I think about working with my ideal client, I have to decide which hat to wear. There are 30 hours each week when I wear the fiber artist and entrepreneur's hat. This flamboyant chapeau is a favorite of mine and one that I have worn for more than 2 decades. You can bet there is always a romantic bird feather and lots of frilly silk on this hat, as the creative part of me always comes out when I pop it on my head!

There is another part of my entrepreneurial brain that needs to be adorned as I work with the ideal nutrition and wellness client. As a budding Integrative Health Coach, I wear a curious sort of hat that helps me to ask important questions and amplifies my client's answers. I truly want to understand the needs and goals of each of my wellness clients...I want to be the perfect match for them.

Do you have the need to seek out and serve the ideal client? Have you ever caught yourself trying to be All to Everyone? What kind of language do you share with the folks that are your ideal customer or client, and how can you be involved in a conversation using this language?

Top Tips for Meeting the Customer of Your Dreams

Focus on your strengths. Do you have clarity about what it is that you have to offer as skills, resources, finished products, or counsel? If you have clarity about what it is you have to offer and the niche that you serve, the right kind of customers will more easily relate to you.

Practice saying "No". When I first began doing private commissions as a fiber artist, I thought it was important to say "Yes" to each and every request. I have learned that when I say "No Thanks" to the wrong kind of project, I open myself up to many opportunities to allow the right kind of work to come into my space.

Choose your playground wisely. Have you been intoxicated by the Internet? It is easy for me to feel the desire to participate on all the channels of social media and marketing that being an online boutique affords me. This intoxication literally diluted my success, and I have learned to limit myself to only those platforms I can consistently and sincerely manage. How about you?

Nurture your team. As a follow-up to narrowing my focus, I have also had to get real about those important business and creative tasks I am better off delegating to talented others. As I work with my health coaching clients, my time needs to be spent speaking directly to individuals, so I hire the help I need to do things like publish newsletters and create marketing documents. As I have created my own process and procedures, with the help of talented others, I have learned to understand how to nurture my team and myself. I feel good about counting on experts and their guidance, and I do my best to make sure they know how much I appreciate them!

You are outstanding in your field!
There are efficiencies in small business management that help me be better available to my ideal clients. Sharing these ideas is a practical matter that may help you in your enterprise. You, too, have wonderful ideas that would surely help me, and I invite you to share as well!

Beyond the practical, I know that there are millions of people in the world who, like me, and perhaps like you, love fiber art, natural and ecochic home decor, and birds. There are also many millions who seek to improve their wellness and happiness quotient. I have proven to myself that finding the perfect people to serve with my passionate skills and voice is not really a matter of connecting with ALL those millions of like others.

It is more, I believe, about sharing my unique vision about natural beauty and beautiful wellness. The clarity of purpose I have about my offerings is the best way I have found to connect with the clients of my dreams. Take a moment every day to connect with your own inner purpose, as you, too, may find that this simple focus shines a light that enables your perfect customers to find you and embrace you.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Scary Times at the International Quilt Festival in Houston!

I have been looking forward to attending the Halloween-week event of the year for months, or maybe for 14 years, depending upon how you do the math. This extravagant trade and retail show for the quilting industry has happened on the frightful Halloween week for as many years as I can remember. My first trip to this landmark event happened in 1987 and this week's trip will mark my 10th year of attendance!

The gap between my last trip to Houston, to play with all of my quilting peers, happened in 1999, and during the space between then and now, my fiber art passion has decidedly moved away from the heritage fine craft of quilt making into other hand needle art techniques like embroidery and felting. My street cred for quilting expertise has long-since worn off. I am looking forward to seeing how many other mixed-media and felt-loving fiber artists will be represented at this annual show. I expect to be stunned by the variety of offerings and all the talented artists and businesspeople represented. That's what always thrilled me about this event in years past...the unbridled creativity in this huge convention center.

My beautiful Mom, Bonnie Leman
A bit of anxiety is bubbling up for me regarding my opportunity to meet with many of the wonderful folks who have been friends of my mom's over the years...folks who have had personal relationships with Bonnie Leman and were often featured prominently in my family's stellar publications, Quilter's Newsletter Magazine and Quiltmaker Magazine. I have contacted Karey Bresenhan, the driving force behind the International Quilt Festival, and one of my mom's life-long friends, and I am looking forward to catching up with Karey. There is a little scary feeling about seeing so many women whom I often saw standing side-by-side with my mom. We lost mom 3 years ago this September, and this will bring back tons of memories for me. I want to feel strong about all of this, but I will admit to you that I am teary just thinking about it all.

Cruella Inspiration
The last Halloween-type scare I just know will happen Thursday, October 31st, is the impact that my three fantastic friends and I will make as we enter the Quilt-a-Palooza ballroom in Texas dressed up in our costumed-best!! Now, it's been about 20 years since I last dressed in costume for Halloween, and that right there tells you how much I look forward to this sort of thing. Regardless, I have created, along with my pals, a Beauty Contestant Costume theme
that will just knock your socks off, or so is the plan. Yes, the four of us are each going as beauty pageant contestants, tiaras and all! When my son saw my costume, his response was, "So, you're going for a little Cruella Deville, huh mom?" Well, yeah.

This little Halloween journey began when the four of us visited a Goodwill store after lunch one day, in the hunt for prom dresses we could embellish. I found a striking black and white Jessica McClintock gown, which would have pleased Cruella Deville to death! My costume takes that strapless taffeta gown and with some fiber-friendly embellishment, and a little inspiration from the brightly-colored spiders of Australia, I will present my interpretation of Ms. HighFiber. (I thought that was more appropriate than entering the contest as Grandma Colorado...) You know, beauty contests are pretty silly, even by those who take them seriously, so we figured, let's have a laugh.

And you know what, when you are laughing, no matter what kind of challenge faces you, it is easy to celebrate. I hope to blog later in the week...along with a photo of the International Quilt Festival in full swing. It will be a homecoming for me of sorts, don't you think? I'm really glad I found a fantastic prom dress to wear.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Inspirational Tuesday: Enjoy a New Dance

In the past couple of weeks in my Nestle And Soar Studio, I have been dancing around all of the fiber art projects I have in some stage of creation. By dancing around them, I mean I have been circling them, looking at them, touching them and feeling love for them...but I haven't been adding to them. Today is a good day to stop the dance of the familiar, and to instead fill my mind and heart with new inspirations...the creations of others! Do you ever feel almost bored by what you have going on in your creative life? When this happens to me, I know it is time to get out of my own head, out of my own studio, and seek inspiration from outside! Besides a fun online journey to find inspiration, it is important to actually go into your actual community and visit with other creatives (do I sound stuck, or what?!). Today in Colorado, it is supposed to be 67 degrees with clear skies...stepping into this beauty will be very inspirational. What inspires you today?

Ibihaj Jneid

Owl Jones Art

Meg Hannan, Fabric Jewels

Textures Gallery, Along the Stream Bed, Alice Pickett Lewis
Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Uplifting and Nurturing Yourself and Others

When was the last time you spent four full days unplugged, surrounded by vibrant women of all ages, while being encouraged to rest and be completely well-fed and pampered? If this sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend the event I just attended in Colorado!

Emerging Women 2013 is an event I attended October 10-13, and as a entrepreneur and family-centered woman, I found it to be important both personally and professionally. Emerging Women is a new movement and event designed to support and inspire women to express themselves authentically through the work that they do. This energetic group strives to provide the tools, knowledge, and networking needed to help women lead, start and grow businesses in ways that integrate feminine values such as connection, collaboration and heart.

I did feel included and nourished by this event and am glad that I invested both time and money as a participant. Do you know about any heartfelt events such as this near your hometown? Do you give yourself permission to take personal or professional-growth mini-vacations? I hope you will consider finding a special time-out in your upcoming schedule. Here are some of the inspirational ideas that female thought leaders I visited with presented...along with the part of their message that I found most inspiring!
  • What role does creativity in my work as an artist play in my health and wellness?
Brené Brown
  • Eliza Reynolds, a 20 year-old woman asks me about the crisis of perfectionism, and the message young women misunderstand today. She reports that being told "You can be anything," actually is heard as "You have to be everything." She has asked me and all the women at this conference to be a teacher to young women about what it means to be a Whole Woman, instead of a dissatisfied woman who fractures herself by seeking perfection.
Alanis Morissette
  • Tara Moore encourages all women to pay loving attention to our biggest challenges and our true calling in life. She reminds me that the human body is beautifully designed to give each of us hints and clues about what arenas in life are part of our greatest good. For instance, when was the last time you felt goose bumps on your arms and the thrill of excitement in your chest when you began a project in your work? Living your true calling would provide you with this physical response, as it is your body's way of telling you that you are in your true flow.
Eve Ensler
  • Sera Beck was unknown by me before this event, and her presentation was dramatic and heart wrenching. She gently reminds me to put my energy into my soul's work ahead of any sort of business template or to-do list. As a determined A-type person, I needed to hear this advice.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the popular book, Eat, Pray, Love reiterated Sera's message when she told the crowd that her best work has always been accompanied by ease and joy. 
Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Kristen Neff is a researcher and college professor who reminds us all that self compassion is related to well being as the flip side to self disregard. When was the last time your inner critic told you that you don't know what you are doing? How easily I can speak harshly to myself, in a manner I would never speak to another person!
  • How would you describe your one most true and natural talent? 
  • How do you take care of your future self? Do you sometimes think that living a long life would be great, as long as you never become a burden to your family? What could you do now to reduce the chances that you will be feeble in old age?
  • How do you give yourself creative license?
Georgianne Holland
  • If you make a product or an artistic object, or if you have a service to provide, how do you decide the price folks should pay? Do you feel that a fair price is paid for your skills or expertise? Did you know that if you charge less than a fair price, the transaction is unhealthy for both you and your customer/client? No one wants to be belittled, or sell themselves short. Exchange value for value.
  • Women are designed to be interdependent and relational. Being truly happy for one another instead of feeling competitive toward one another is attending to your wellness. Can your work be pursued while you attend to your primary relationships and make self-care a priority?

As I revisit my notes from this dynamic weekend, I know in my heart that being "all that I can be" is at times an overwhelming responsibility. Women have such potential for greatness, and when we think big and live large, like I did this past weekend with 375 new friends in Boulder, I am reminded that the great success of my dreams will largely depend on the support and encouragement I both receive and give. Yes, my friends, we may have many skills and goals, but we are not, in my opinion, designed to function as an island. We are meant to succeed as a community, helping one another rise/fail/rise again/learn/trust/nestle/soar.

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate being able to share my journey with you.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday -- Autumn Splendor

The color palette of Autumn is thrilling to me, and perhaps you feel the same. I decided to find 10 inspirational fiber artists who have created gorgeous items in this blaze of fall colors: orange, gold, purple, and romantic reds. These are the colors that fill the Colorado landscape this time of year, and I love them! Are you ready to have your cozy socks knocked off by Autumn joy? Enjoy this Top 10 list and be sure to visit with these talented artists, as each one is a member of the exceptional Textile And Fiber Artist List (TAFA). I highly recommend this professional and vibrant fiber art community to everyone who knows and loves quality handmade craftsmanship and healthy independent entrepreneurship from around the world!

Fall Scarf Hand Woven by Loom On the Lake

This handwoven scarf is luxuriously supple with a sheen and graceful drape. Contents include a mixture of bamboo yarns, which is soft yet strong. 7 3/4" x 68", $175 USD, LoomOnTheLake in Lake George, New York.

Felt Pendant Necklace by LenteJulcsi

Fall days are a great time to adorn yourself with warm colors and textures, and I cannot imagine a softer way to add sparkle to your fashion! Decorated with playful freestyle machine stitching, this fun pendant includes a cotton cord with a metal clasp closure. $15 USD, LenteJulcsi in Hungary.

Indian Summer Embroidered Pouch by LaTouchables

When you carry this hand-crafted envelope-style purse, know that you will be enjoying a one-of-a-kind stunner that has the touch and heart of many hands! Created by LaTouchables in Germany, this beautiful item includes South Asian embroidered cotton, Indian Banjara, glass beads from Germany, two antique buttons from the maker's great-grandmother, and Italian cotton in bright fall colors! A real compilation of styles and places...a global work of art! $96.25 USD

Warm Your Floor with Stunning Fiber by Odpaam

This colorful rag rug is a one-of-a-kind treasure that brings color to your floor and warmth to your feet. Crocheted using t-shirt yarn and remnants hand cut by Odpaam in Jerusalem, Israel, this free-form rug is soft yet durable, with a simple machine wash and air dry, it will stay crisp and playful for years to come! 40" x 30", $160 USD.

Rich Coiled Rope Basket by Sally Manke

This cheerful basket would look great filled with bath or body lotions as a gift for an Autumn bridal shower or filled with burp clothes and baby wipes for a baby shower! Beautiful warm colors and embellishment with a bright glass bead, this clothesline basket by Sally Manke in Arcadia, Michigan is a great find! $38 USD.

Hand Dyed, Multi-Fiber Skein by The Rainbow Girl

Here's a fun way to add some sparkle to your Fall creativity! This multi-fiber selection of hand-dyed threads of coordinated colors and textures has been combined into a single, 118 inch (running length) skein. TheRainbowGirl in Bishop's Stortford, United Kingdom has combined cotton, silk and viscose yarns, which are perfect for embroidery, embellishing scrapbook pages or altered books, tassels, braids or any other project which comes to mind!! $4.94 USD.

Jewel Toned Beauty by Dianne Koppisch Hricko

This crinkled silk chiffon scarf is almost poetic, the way it gently folds and billows around the neck. Dyed multiple times using the ancient shibori method, DianneKoppischHricko in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, says it well when she tells us this scarf provides a sculptural beauty as it frames your face. You can see all of the jewel-tones in this gorgeous scarf in her online shop! $60 USD.

Autumn Free-Form Crocheted Handbag by Rensfibreart

I love a new handbag as the season's change, don't you? This one is colorful and just the perfect size, with two internal pockets (one that zips), and a secure zipper for top closure. Rensfibreart in Landsborough, Australia has included gum leaf motifs and bamboo handles in this 14" wide and 8 1/2" tall handbag. $231.59 USD.

Thread Painted Art Quilt by RubyWingsArt

The colors of Autumn just would not be complete here in Colorado without something created in a majestic royal blue! If you haven't seen our Colorado skies this time of year, you are missing a real treat. This lovely 12 1/4" square wall art quilt is a lovely tribute to your beautiful blue sky! Applique, satin stitch, hand embroidery, and bead work are among the fantastic techniques on show in this piece by RubyWingsArt in Saint Paul, Minnesota. $150 USD.

Ode to the Garden! Needle Case by LornaBateman22

My final choice for this top 10 list is a tribute to all the flowers and gardens we enjoyed this spring and summer. Do you walk around your garden spaces in the fall and give a little loving farewell to the blossoms as they start to fade? I know that I do! This luxurious needle art kit by LornaBateman22 in the United Kingdom will allow you to make a 5" x 6 1/2" needle case of your own. It is a family heirloom in the making! $89.95 USD

I hope you will let me know which of these master-crafted items is your favorite!
Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Garden of Gratitude Exhibit at Mile Hi Church

I am pleased to announce that one of my favorite fiber art pieces has been accepted into the Garden of Gratitude exhibit at Colorado's popular church, Mile Hi, in Lakewood. This special exhibit is a mixed media exhibit featuring wonderful examples of both fine art and fine craft, all created in the garden theme. I entered my piece entitled Garden of Eden, which is one of a nine-part installation. I am loving the process of creating this series, which includes a mix of fine needlework techniques: quilt art, beading, embroidery (hand and machine), and hand needle felting!

The nine pieces in this series are being created to hang as a unified grid with three rows of three panels, each mounted on a birch box frame. The piece you see here is the centerpiece of that group.

I expect to have the entire installation, which will measure approximately 100" x 70", finalized by early 2014. I am hopeful that a collector will snap up the entire series for display in a lovely public space setting. I hope you will let me know if you or your organization are looking for fiber folk art in this eco chic garden theme! I am excited to be planning more large mixed technique fiber art pieces from my studio here at Nestle And Soar, and hope to show them all to you in the months to come!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Weaving Wonders and Why I Must Try It

I have decided I would like to try weaving. My father had an upright rug loom that he experimented with when I was in high school, and I recall watching him pass the weaving shuttles back and forth while listening to classical music. Some of the textiles in the Denver Art Museum's collection are extraordinary examples of Navajo Designs from 1840-1870 that took my breath away! Imagining the functional uses of these garments and home furnishings that were handcrafted by women from naturally dyed fibers, and yet today look as vibrant as ever, as well as quite sophisticated in design, is inspirational to me.

The weaving community in Colorado is an energetic group with many people who make incredible textiles. I have attended a few of the Rocky Mountain Weavers' Guild Annual Fiber Art Sales, and am looking forward to the next one at the Englewood Civic Center October 24-26th.

The best place for me to take weaving classes, based on where I live, would have to be Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins in Boulder, Colorado. They are preparing for their 21st birthday as one of Colorado's premiere fiber arts destinations. This will be a wonderful wintertime activity for me!

The kind of loom I want to use is a rug or tapestry loom, much like the one my dad had many years ago. I think I will start my weaving exploration doing tapestry weaving with David Johnson. Perhaps I will work my way into other kinds of weaving as well.

Ulrika Leander, Royal Oak, Maryland
I am not sure yet how weaving tapestries will become a part of my art career as a fiber folk artist! In my Nestle And Soar studio I am beginning to move away from pillows and spending much more of my time creating one-of-a-kind fiber art for the wall. Perhaps the foundation of a new handcrafted needle felt series will be hand-loomed tapestry? If you know of a fiber artist who is already combining these two specific mediums, I'd love to hear about him or her! For today, I'd like to share with you a tapestry weaver whose artistry I admire. Ulrika Leander of Contemporary Tapestry Weaving creates fiber art that is quilterly and colorful--I love her work!

Weaving is a wonderful fiber art and I am looking forward to this next part of my artistic adventure. What have you planned for your next adventure?

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Are you Well Educated? What are you Afraid to Learn?

Garden of Eden, by Georgianne Holland

Fiber artists are often educated in fields other than art. Like actors and artists of all mediums, our creative output as artists is often supplemented by another field -- endeavors often unrelated to the fiber art we create. Singers wait tables in fancy restaurants to pay the rent, photographers teach history in high school, and so on it goes. Some of these supplemental jobs require a huge investment in education and others do not. What is your educational status? Do you consider yourself to be well educated in the field that is your primary source of income? Are you a creative entrepreneur who considers herself to be self-taught? Are there lifestyle situations you face today that, if time allowed, you'd benefit from some additional expertise?

Creative people like me are often self-taught through many hours of experimentation, trial and error, and good old book-learning. The textile and fiber arts communities of Great Britain are inspirational to me because they have many influential college and guild programs to help fiber enthusiasts become professional practitioners. In the spirit of that example, I recently researched where in Colorado a fiber folk artist like myself (self-taught), could pursue a college-level education. Have you ever looked into this option for yourself?

Artist Tom Lundberg is my new fascination on this topic of higher education and fiber art. Since 1979, Tom has been a Professor in the Department of Art at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He is the coordinator of the BFA and MFA programs in fiber media. It makes my heart sing to think of a program such as this in a neighboring town! Tom has accomplished what so many of my contemporaries dream about: he has established himself as an artist who uses embroidery as his medium. Extensively exhibited in solo shows and select international venues, this award-winning fiber artist is someone I study today as a source of inspiration.

What do you study today? Are you a lifetime student, or did you hang up your number 2 pencil and notebook years and years ago?

There are so many topics a creative person can study and add to the ways in which we are educated. I recently heard about Babs Didner in Texas. "Babs Didner never learned how to cook. She grew up the youngest in a large family in which her mom and oldest sister ran the kitchen. 'I was always totally intimidated by cooking,' says Didner, 50, a school administrator in Austin, Texas, in a recent issue of Experience Life! Magazine. "My friend Michelle loves to cook, so we’d get together and she’d explain cooking basics to me while we fixed our food. Sometimes we’d follow recipes, but she knew how to cook without recipes, too, and she’d explain ways to do that, like how to thicken a mixture or what spices went with what type of food.”

I love this example of facing the fear of learning something creative and important like cooking healthy food. It has been said that cooking is the only art form that you consume. What have you been putting off as a new skill? Think about your circle of friends for a minute. Not everything you desire to learn requires enrollment in a bachelors' program in a university (however exciting that would be!). When I think about the wide variety of people I am happy to call friends, I know that there is boundless expertise and kindness they are willing to share. For instance, I have a great friend who is a professional photographer, and he has tirelessly helped me understand how to improve the photographs I use on my online Nestle And Soar shop. What could you teach a friend that would add to their success at home or on the job?

I am a strong believer in Adult Education. I didn't finish my college education until I was 39 years old, with a 15-year focus on raising my children in between my first attempt and my final diploma. I loved going to college with other adults who were on a mission to learn something important and knew exactly what field they wanted to master! And my continuing education continues. I am in the process of becoming an Integrated Health Coach, pursuing my education through the Institute of Integrated Nutrition in New York. This year-long program will enable to me to add Health Coaching to my art practice here in Colorado and share my message of a vibrant, balanced lifestyle to new friends and old. So like Tom Lundberg, I will be an exhibited artist and helping folks learn at the same time...it is a wonderful combination!

I would love to hear what area of expertise you are studying today! Please leave a comment and let me know.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Organization for Fiber Artists and other Creative Entreprenuers: "ROCPAS"

Creative minds are not always organized. The creative types I know, including myself, are often seekers who look for pattern, color, inspiration and stimulation throughout their environment. Having multiple projects going at once is often the result of this seeking, experimental personality type, which doesn't exactly lend itself to tidiness.

So while creatively minded people are often in swirl of energy and excitement, there is also the very real need to be a responsible, career-focused professional...at least in my practice as an artist! If you pursue art for profit as I do, you may also need to go against type and spend at least some of your working hours taming the creative mess that is all around and about your creative space. I mean, where did I put those papers that I have to turn in to the museum shop next week? I'm sure they were put somewhere logical and safe...I just haven't seen them in awhile. Can you relate?

The Nestle And Soar business office, dusted and swept!
Here are a few of my favorite attempts in the past few months, along with the amazing inspiration I have pulled from others, as I endeavor to organize my life as a fiber artist. I offer these images with the hopes that you will share some of your best ideas and successes in this matter of Responsible, Orderly Conduct in the Pursuit of Artistic Success: ROCPAS. Like many things in life, it all begins with a dream.

The paperwork involved in running a small business doesn't always feel small -- it often feels overwhelming! Keeping my business papers organized is an ongoing endeavor around here.

Ideal fabric storage idea from Bee in My Bonnet

Like most fiber artists, handling fabric is a tactile joy for me! Even though it is fun to remind myself about all of the fantastic fabric I own and stockpile, I have never taken as much focused effort as the entrepreneur Lori Holt at Bee in My Bonnet. Her fabric stash makes my list of Responsible Orderly Conduct because it allows her to know exactly what her inventory of fabrics can yield in terms of quilted goodness. She probably doesn't have to buy fabric because she cannot find the fabric she thinks she bought 6 months ago. Has that ever happened to you?

Speaking of paperwork, I have this daydream that involves my family and how they would be able to look up details regarding our shared life paperwork without having to step into my studio, asking me to help them. In this daydream, no one begins a request with the dreaded, "Do you know where those forms are for that big important project we've been talking about?" I would rather just keep sewing and tell them to go look in the baby blue binder. Right?

This daydream remains a dream for me because I haven't made myself, or anyone else, work toward a sorted, labeled, updated binder system like the one I've found here. I do own a label making machine and a credit card for Office Max though, so I feel like this is a doable project. Someday.

My last organizational tool that seems to be working well here at Nestle And Soar is the use of compartmentalized sorting devices. In my studio, as well as in my home, I seem to have enough storage options. That being said, I still wasn't being organized about how stuff was placed inside of those drawers, closets and shelving units. I was using the "Jam it in Somewhere" technique, which isn't sustainable, and not all that helpful.

When I think about being a successful creative entrepreneur, I don't imagine myself having to hunt and dig through jumbled drawers to unearth the key ingredient for a custom fiber art piece I have agreed to make on a deadline. No, I more envision myself opening up a drawer organized like the one shown here, where compartments have been used to trap and keep the vintage buttons my client is counting on having used to embellish her four made-to-order decorative pillows. My creative work continues to be more like play when I don't have to go on an expedition to complete a simple task!

So how do you and I pull off all of this Creative Mess/Responsible Order balance? I would love to know what you think. Perhaps we give some of our good energy once a week to organizing specific parts of our creative space? Or perhaps we always use the inspiration of more organized people as our game plan? Or, maybe we make sure that one of our high-energy friends comes over to visit on a regular basis and we bribe her with food and free stuff to just save us from our disorganized selves? I think all of these techniques are helpful, and getting a little help is a good thing.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What Makes your To-Do List Today?

Lists, lists, lists! There are To-Do lists, Grocery lists, and Goal lists in front of me today. Last night while I should have been sleeping, I was writing in my head a list for next Thursday. When this happens to me, I scoot out of our bedroom and actually write the list on paper, hoping it will let my brain relax so that sleep can return. Are you a List Master, too?

When my work days as a fiber artist are in full-throttle, I truly count on my To-Do Lists. Writing down a plan for the day is a fantastic tool for a creative entrepreneur. When I formalize the cascading options, requests, and tasks for each day, I can hold myself accountable in specific ways, and that frees up space in every day for creativity. Having been self-employed for years now, this is one secret to my success!

A question I often ask myself is, "Should the task I'm thinking about be on today's list, or on the list of some future day?"

If you are a list-master, do you feel excited when you look at today's To-Do? Ideally, you should. I know there will be dreadful items on some lists, and my advice on those days is to tackle those items in your highest-energy part of the day. For me, that would be first thing in the morning, after my second cup of coffee. By then, the world has woken up and most folks are available by phone or email. Reaching out to others is often a component of key To-Do tasks. My philosophy regarding actions that are necessary but don't excite me is to get it done, cross it off, and the clear the way for your exciting tasks!

There is another benefit to be a list-maker. Knowing what you want to accomplish helps you say "No Thanks" to all of the rest! As your day unfolds, you may be asked to do something unexpected. Happens all the time to me. Or, as your day unfolds you may dream up a bold new action that sounds fantastic! Either of these additional items could distract you from your consciously written To-Do list for today. Here's what I do:
  • Take a pause
  • Take a breath
  • Make a decision
  • Write it down for today or say out loud "Not Today"

It is important to know what will make your list today as well as what will not. I am a people-pleasing person, so learning to gently say no to myself and others is a skill that is important to practice. It has been liberating for me to learn to say, "What you are asking of me won't fit on my list today. Can I get back to you about a future date?"

I love saying that!! Do you say that often enough?

Next on my list is going to the grocery store. That's another great kind of list to follow...as best as I can, anyway.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

International Bird Rescue -- Every Bird Matters

Perhaps you have seen the images from ocean-side communities where people work to clean up a bird that has been damaged by an oil spill? This kind of human intervention due to humankind's mess-making around the world is often covered in the news these days.

My love of birds has been celebrated in my fiber art studio for many years now, so when the folks at International Bird Rescue, an organization dedicated to rescuing birds that have been injured due to a natural disaster or human cruelty, asked me to sponsor a membership drive for their non-profit organization, I was happy to participate! I hope you will enjoy learning more about their fine work.

If you decide to become a member of Bird Rescue this week, with a $25 donation, you will be eligible to win one of the many lovely sponsor-donated items perfect for every bird lover! Learn more here.

Tattoo Sparrow Pillow at Nestle And Soar
The Tattoo Sparrow Pillow from my eco-chic collection, shown at left, has been donated to Bird Rescue (IBR) as a give-away item! Other companies who also love birds, as well as the fans of birds around the world, are joining in to help raise awareness about the work of the Bird Rescue team.

In addition to becoming a IBR member, there are many ways to participate with bird-loving organizations, and often, you can participate from the comfort of your own home. If you enjoy spending time on Facebook, there are many hard-working groups represented there you could follow and help to support. I like to keep up with the I Love Birds page!

Another bird-loving spot I like to visit from home is the blog of the popular 10,000 Birds. Here you will find great information on birding, nature, and conservation as well as fabulous bird photography from around the world. Do you love learning about birds and where they live?

It is tremendous fun to fill my home with art and images that celebrate my love of nature! This is the passion behind my artistic practice and my small business efforts. If you also love to celebrate your love of nature this way, I hope you will join me in helping organizations like International Bird Rescue who work to preserve the health and legacy of birds in their natural environments for everyone's benefit.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Aspen Grove Fiber Art Commission -- Photo Storytelling

A pair of Aspen Grove Pillows have been commissioned at Nestle And Soar! I will begin by creating the distant mountains. I love a combination of deep navy and royal blue wool. I will work in some deep purples, too.

I will add some warm rusts, green and lavenders in the forest floor at the base of the Aspen Grove. The aspen tree forms are added using long tufts of ivory alpaca wool. A little bright orange wool will be needle felt to start the tree foliage.

All of the wool felt batt has become tree and forest undergrowth, carefully hand needle-felt into place. The next step is adding aspen tree leaves in the uppermost part of the forest canopy. Don't you just love the sound of aspen trees quaking in the mountains? These leaves have all gone gold already!

Aspen leaves cut from wool sheet felt are prepared for hand applique. I have not counted how many leaves I applied to the first pillow in this set of two...do I dare keep track of this kind of detail? I think not. I would rather just keep adding leaves until this special pillow is as lovely as can be!

Stay tuned...as the week continues in my Nestle And Soar studio, I will be sewing my customer's parent's initials into the trunk of the largest aspen tree in this grove. Shh..it's a special gift for their 50th anniversary!

Thanks for stopping by,