Friday, 29 January 2016

wander cards for wayfaring wonderers

It's been a long hot summer, but I have put it to good use.

Some years ago I pondered a small publishing project that wasn't going to be a book, more of a periodical that would have suggestions for things to do as well as beautiful images. 
I let it brew for a while (a couple of years, actually) and this is what happened. Not quite what I was dreaming of, but (I think) much, much better.
I've called them 'Wander cards for Wonderers' and they are a limited edition, printed in vegetable ink on recycled stock, winging their way around the whirled from February 29. There are four sets of 25 in the pack...three of them labeled (in the field / in the armchair / in the mind) and the fourth blank. The idea is that you can pull a card at random as an inspiration for an afternoon's exploration. 
Or choose three (a bit like a Tarot reading except happily there aren't any grim reapers) and see what they might suggest together. 
The fourth set is for you to add notes and ideas of your own. 

I announced them on the FB 'workshops and wanderings' group early yesterday and have been totally delighted that they seem to be finding homes quite quickly. 
 For which I am very grateful.

I'm having splendid fun sorting them into packs, sticking paper bands around them and dyeing the silk to wrap them in (and the silk scarves for those making a more serious commitment). I've also been folding wee booklets to accompany them.

Initially I had wild ideas of sending them out in little wooden boxes with treasures from my studio tucked around them but I soon discovered that little wooden boxes need little wooden box certifications in order to be able to cross borders, and then the postmistress reminded me that I would be filling out countless customs forms and having to remember what was in each box so that idea went zooming out the window.

Here's the simpler solution I came up with.

The cardboard mailing boxes are beautifully sturdy and can be salvaged and embellished and made into permanent homes for the cards. The cards themselves can be dyed (or coloured using hapazome) on the blank ones first and give the printed ones a month or two to cure before bundling them (the ink needs a bit of time to settle). If you've signed on for the Yellow Ferry adventure you'll receive a set anyway. If you haven''s your chance.

and that long hot summer? Last night it finally today I was literally scooping up dye from the driveway. Bliss.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

apparently pandas and penguins rule the interwebs

 dear readers
yesterday i received the email below. i was very tempted to write back but didn't want my inbox to be filled with advertisements for Russian brides or penis enlargers and so i am writing back here on my blog instead, where it is easier to delete any comments posting links to the above. my responses are tucked into the text in a different font.

Hello Team,

Hope you are doing well.
well in the sense of health or in the sense of a well dug into the ground that fills with water? these few weeks at home have felt like the latter. though it is dust dry where i live, spending quiet time at home has been deeply replenishing, like an empty well filling with water. so yes, i suppose i must be "doing well". perhaps that can become the new phrase for replenishment. what are you doing today? i'm doing well.

We would like to have a discussion with you regarding the web promotion strategy for your website We wish to work out a proposal to strengthen the online presence of your website, via a strategically planned web promotion campaign. In today’s online era, you should be focusing on the new revolutionary ways of generating traffic (and subsequently, leads).

there's a revolution? i don't think my grandmother would approve. she saw too many of them.

We are curious to know if you are aware that a few issues bugging your website. Sorting out these will help you get the best returns out of your website.

bugs? not bedbugs, i trust? no. i misread. it's the issues that are doing the bugging. see answer to point 3

1. Your website seems to be attracting traffic, but this traffic is almost stagnant and limited, which affects potential sales as you move forward.  

"move forward". such a politburo phrase.

2. Your website doesn’t feature in Google's first search page for some of the major keywords in your niche, which affects visibility.

it doesn't? will the sky fall? must warn the chickens.

3. Your website has been diagnosed with On-Page and On-Site issues, which affects the ranking.

ah yes. issues. Mrs Poo (one of our cats) has issues. at least my website doesn't try to pee in the pantry

4. Your back links profile is not efficient enough to help your search engine visibility.

and to think other advice i've received is "don't have too many links, they take people away from your site". 

5. Your website is currently not being properly promoted online according to Google’s new guidelines (after latest Google Panda & Penguin update), which is affecting your marketing strategy and goals.

there are Pandas and Penguins writing guidelines? Darwin might be pleased.

6. Your presence in social media platform is minimal. This is depriving you of a huge market of prospective referral clients.

that would explain why i have been such a wallflower at the weekly village dance. 
this year i will dance regardless, both on and off platforms. and what is a referral client? isn't that what you become when your doctor has been advised that
 the specialist needs to service his Rolls Royce?

7. Your website may penalized by Google.

penalized? will it be put in the naughty box like the boys who don't play nice in ice hockey?

8. Social media profiles are not updated regularly.

holy guacamole Batboy. i only joined Farcebook because way back in 2011 Nancy Zeller said nobody would sign up for my class at Longridge Farm if i didn't have a profile. turns out that none of the people who signed up came via FB, all of them came via my apparently ineffectual website. update, schmupdate.

9. Low number of internal and external quality links present on your website.

dear me.

10. Not updating fresh contents of your website and blogs as per the latest Google guideline (Penguin & Panda).

the wildlife again. 
i would have thought the pandas would be too busy chewing on bamboo or enjoying "pleasant biological enounters"     v  e  r  y     s  l  o  w  l  y   to bother with all this. and how do the penguins manage keyboards with those tiny winglets? they can't even scratch their noses. 

And many more...

We expert in running promotional online marketing campaign for websites. We have a host of ethical services and techniques, which you can utilize to improve your website's performance.

if you were experts at English grammar it might give me more confidence in your other skills.

We would love to hear from you regarding any questions you might have. Please let us know if you wish to move further, so that we can schedule a meeting (tomorrow onwards) at a time convenient to you, without disturbing your busy schedule.

schedule a meeting, eh? i don't like your chances. especially not without disturbing my busy schedule of doing well. or just burying my head in the sand.

Best Regards,

Bxxxxxxe | Sales Executive

James Veitch replied to spam email. it's hilarious.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

2016 and a bit of unleashing

the funny thing about having all my DNA from northern bloodstreams is that even though i live in the deep south where it is presently summer, in December my mind often goes into winter mode, especially in the days between the Solstice and the New Year

i haven't been able to fire up the dye cauldron : it's too dry and windy to risk it in the studio (for fear of the odd spark) and too hot to bring it all inside. i wouldn't mind but there are others in the house who will. so bundles are sitting soaking in a cauldron full of leaves, water and a bit of black iron dust i found when i was cleaning the gutters. i'll have to do something with it soon though because it's beginning to bubble and looking more than a little Shakespearian.

which brings me to the subject of writing, dressmaking and other sedentary pursuits...all of which have contributed in recent years to my stacking on rather a lot of chubb. it was all very well for my Grandfather to say that women shouldn't have corners and i don't mind being slightly insulated but presently i am feeling like a sausage roll. in case you don't know what that it, in Australia it is a short thick handful of disgusting meat offcuts that have been ground into an unrecognisable pulp, padded by 50% of the weight in sawdust and wrapped in a thick layer of greasy pastry. not pretty.

there are a number of contributing factors. due to invasive sheep, free-ranging chickens, extensive travelling and the ongoing/increasing dryness of our region, i no longer tend a garden. in its heyday it was glorious and i spent hours in it digging and weeding and marvelling at my collection of Bourbon roses. gardening is so much more fun than going to the gym. but now it's a dustbowl and it's all i can do to keep the lemon tree alive with washing up water.

writing...of books and subsequently in various social media doesn't burn up much energy either. it requires sitting down, though in its defence it also requires walking, as walking is the best thinking time and clears the mind allowing ideas to float in. writing also requires one to read, another sedentary occupation.

the book i devoured yesterday, "The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill" not only gave me the required daily six minutes of laughter for good health but also the following lines from the man himself, in regard to his only novel 'Savrola'
"i have consistently urged my friends to abstain from reading it"
as some of you know i have been writing and rewriting a work of fiction for some years.

these recent days of reflection have helped me realise that sometimes writing should just be regarded as therapy and maybe my "novel writing" has served that very purpose and could now be let go. a good painter knows when to stop. a good writer should, too. as Colin Firth's character in Love Actually said "it's not bloody Shakespeare!" again, i'm waiting for good burning weather.

i'm also rethinking how much "hand-making for anonymous selling" i'm going to do in future. i love making work for exhibitions where i can create an environment and tell a story by setting a scene.  but sitting for hours hand-making dresses and stuffing them into boxes and sending them off across the whirled and never knowing on whom they are going to finish up is feeling increasingly unsatisfactory, so that is something that may change too. although there WILL be a one-night exhibition of work for sale offered at Maiwa in September this year, on the evening when i shall give a talk prior to class. i'm looking forward to that because i love being able to share in people's reactions to the work (the link will take you to their mailing list sign up page) and to be able to assure them that they have permission to modify, mend, overdye and so on

and now back to that chubb. i decided to begin to deal with it by acquiring a water-rower and setting it up in my bedroom. it's an exercise machine that makes a satisfactory swishing noise because the resistance is provided by a tank of water. i can row (while Kubbi continues her beauty sleep on my bed and my cat Martha watches me with unblinking disapproval) and if i close my eyes i can imagine rowing on a river somewhere, or on a beautiful pond. this morning i rowed halfway up Lake Morey in my mind with no risk at all of turning an ankle on our gravel road, something that has been happening with increasing frequency when i go running. yesterday i was rowing on the Tay, at slackwater of course. tomorrow i might row in the Louisiana swamps. the good thing is i won't have to watch out for alligators. i think i may just have found the perfect Sagittarian meditation practice.

wishing you all insights and clarity as you step into this new year...which i'm thinking of as a '9' year cos
and i do like the number 9!

what are you letting go, what are your aspirations?

PS i'm sorry i cannot recall who took the photo above, some time in 2010 or 2011 i think. drop me a line if it's yours and i shall add the photo credit pronto