I was reading an article the other night about selling crafts wholesale. It assumed you would have plenty of orders, and asked basically 'Are you ready to do your craft constantly day in and day out to fill orders?' The production end of things can be tedious and possibly ware on a person over time... makes sense. For many crafts, the creative art part is a small percentage of time compared to the crafting of the item itself. You choose media and materials, sketch, design, maybe draw or paint elements of the final piece... the rest is molding, firing, sewing, beading, dyeing, (insert your craft here) and then finishing, packaging and the like.
So I started thinking about the past week, up to my elbows in dye every day for hours. I'm doing 10 batches which is about 100 pieces. Oh it's repetitive alright... but not only don't I get bored, I actively enjoy it. I find the routine soothing, almost meditative. I listen to music, often dancing and singing. Or I listen to stories from This American Life or The Moth. I have fun. I also love touching the fabrics, looking at each piece as it comes out of the dryer... I really enjoy what I do. Add to this the depth of gratitude I feel for being able to do this day in and day out and get paid, well it all makes me one happy artgirl.
Since I don't talk much about my dye and prep process, I thought I'd share. Here's how it goes:
- Prep Dye Batches - I go through my inventory and figure out which color each item will be. I try to make sure that each size of each item is balanced between purples, greens and earth tones. This can take me a few days to figure out.
- Separate - I separate the clothes into their dye color piles and bag them.
- Dye Stuff - My method of dyeing is a lot like cooking. Lots of mixing and measuring and timing. I dye 2-3 batches in tandem, which takes 5-6 hrs. Each batch is rinsed, dyed, rinsed, dyed again, rinsed, washed and dried.
- Labels - I sew a Bohemian Mermaid label onto each item and put on a hanger.
- Iron - Well I just got a steamer, so change this one to steam. Only the rayon gets a little steaming on the seams. Oh and I do have to iron the child hats and bandanas too.
- Print - I use my print blocks and fabric paints to print designs on some of the clothes, then heat set with an iron. This can take a day or two, depending on how much I'm making.
- Price - Each new item needs a hang tag and price tag, which has the item code, size and price. I usually run late and have to scramble to do this part at the show.
I call this a dye session. Usually I do 6-8 batches per session, which takes about 2 weeks from start to finish. I know some would find this boring. Call me a fabric nerd, but still dig it.