I listened to a podcast that was the first part of a roundtable discussion of prominent people in the worldwide fiber arts field. There was a woman who was an expert on fibers and the animals who supplied them; another who was the expert on worldwide embroidery; one who had a weaving cooperative; one who ran the store and foundation that supplied these podcasts, as well as doing a million other things to support traditional fiber artists in India; and another fellow whose area of expertise escapes me at the moment. They talked about what it was like to be working travellers: none of them traveled for enjoyment, particularly, or to take a vacation. They all traveled for their work. They were all trying to figure out how to balance intervention in the craft making process. For those who sold traditional work, they tended to encourage people to do the work native to their area, in a high-quality manner. Without these kinds of controls, some craftspeople might do low quality work to sell the craft, leading to its devaluation and the eroding of the skills necessary to produce it. Other craftspeople might be contracted to do work that is not traditional to that region, again leading to the erosion of skill, but also exposing people to the vicissitudes of the worldwide market (that is, if Indian embroiderers are doing Danish style embroidery, and Danish style embroidery goes out of fashion, they will lose their livelihoods. If they do the work that is native to their region, they will always appeal to collectors and those interested in quality regional work.) Some of the panelists were interested in keeping work exactly as it was, never changing. There woman who studied embroidery was dismayed because there was a certain area in India where young women would embroider elaborate pieces for their dowries. Now they embroider pillows for sale. The gentleman whose profession I can't remember pointed out that he had been criticized in India for wanting to "play God", or tell people what they could or could not produce. In the example of the dowry work, he said that many girls no longer bring dowries to the marriage, and if they have such incredible embroidery skills they don't want to use them on something that only their families will see, but on something they could make money on. If they made that money, they could spend it on their children's education and health care for the family and better food. All the presenters said that they don't like interfering, but when crafts are being produced for markets sometimes they have to enforce quality control. Sometimes, these businesses keep the crafts from dying out completely, as the children of many artisans want to be professionals instead.
In my design book, I studied the chapter on color. It was a long and technical chapter and I had a lot of trouble with it. It will be difficult to transfer the information to dyes, as dyes have different properties than pigment or light. We see color because of how light reflects off of objects. Colored light is referred to as additive color. The primary additive colors are red, blue (which is close to violet) and green. Combined, they create the additive secondaries of cyan, magenta, and yellow, and when all colors are combined together, they make white. TVs and computers use additive color. Subtractive color is that which comes from pigments. It is called subtractive because pigments absorb some colors from sunlight and reflect others. For example, a green leaf reflects green and absorbs all other colors. There are color systems that drove me crazy. In the triadic color system, the primary colors are yellow, red, and blue. The secondary colors are orange, green, and violet (each one of these sets is a triad) Then there are intermediate colors: red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet. An intermediate triad would either be yellow-orange, blue-green, and red-violet, or red-orange, yellow-green, and blue-violet. When all these colors are put in order in a circle, they form the 12-point color wheel (go play with the palette at the bottom of this page). The colors directly opposite each other on the color wheel are known as complimentary colors. For example, the complimentary color of red is green. When a color is mixed with its complement, it grays and creates what is known as a tertiary color. For example, green mixed with a little red creates olive. Tertiary colors can also be created by mixing any two intermediate colors, so long as they are not next to each other on the color wheel (analogous colors). They are found on the inner ring of the color wheel. In the center of the color wheel is complete neutralization, which is a muddy grey. There are also neutrals, not on the color wheel. These are black, which is the absence of color, white, which is all colors, and grays, which are impure whites. Hue refers to the generic color name of the color, i.e. red, blue, green, etc. Colors vary in value, with the highest value color (yellow) at the top of the color wheel and the lowest value (violet) at the bottom. It is difficult to see the relative values just by looking at a picture, and it helps to photocopy the picture in black and white to be able to see the values. You can also lighten or darken hues. By adding white to a hue, you create a tint, and when adding black, you create a shade. Intensity refers to the brightness of a color. A bright red and a grayed red are the same hue, but the bright red has greater intensity. You can also increase the appearance of intensity by putting a color with it's complement, like green with red (maybe that's why Christmastime is so colorful?) Color relationships drove me a bit crazy too. There are complements (opposite on the color wheel), split complements (immediately on either side of the opposite color on the color wheel), triads, which we talked about previously, tetrads, which form a square or a rectangle on the color wheel (for example orange, yellow-green, blue, and red-violet), analogous, which are all the colors next to each other in a small range on the color wheel (say yellow to blue-green), monochromatic colors, which are the same hue but different values, warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows), cool colors (blues, greens, violets), plastic colors (red pops out on a page, blue recedes), simultaneous contrast (colors placed next to each other that make them look different), the emotional impact of color, and psychological impacts of color (i.e. red for anger, green for calm, etc). Color can be used in composition to create contrasts and depth, create mood and emotions, attract attention to something, describe objects, and create aesthetic appeal. In color balance, artists have to find an appropriate balance between harmony and contrast. There is more material in this chapter but I won't go into it, partly because it's about how printing works and I don't think that's applicable to me, and partly because I've been blogging for more than an hour and I'm getting tired!
For business study, I read some entries from the Etsy blogs about how to make a living at Etsy. They emphasized good photos (something I have to work on), many product descriptions, and a good shop name. My previous shop name, Penthisilea, isn't great because it's hard to spell (it's actually spelled wrong in my shop) and if you don't know the legend, hard to remember. So I will be choosing a new shop name for my products. Also, banners are important, and you can hire an Etsy seller who does banners to create a better banner for you. They also remind you that photography, site maintenance, and packaging all take time, and this time should be accounted for in the cost of the item. Many people make their living off of Etsy (some even make six figure salaries) so good products and working at it appropriately, I should be able to make my living at it too.
No drawing to report for today.