Notions-Drye Goods Studio Diary

Thanks for checking in. I am a fiber artist. My current emphasis is on eco printing and other wildcraft with a touch of up-cycling thrown in. You can also catch up with me on Facebook at Drye Goods Studio.

Friday, July 19, 2019

"Free" Shipping?

This is a bit of a rant, so I will counter that with some nice pictures, I promise. Recently Etsy announced that they will only let sellers rise in their search engine if they offer free shipping. They encourage sellers to "adjust" their pricing to cover the cost of the shipping. Meaning, the shipping is not free, but included in the price. 

New Work

This raises some questions and issues.
1. A brief explanation of how Etsy works. In addition to taking a percentage of the sale of the item, they also take a percentage of the shipping charge as well. Due to the increase in postage in the last few years the amount I charge is usually about on the nose for what the post office charges me and doesn't include the price of packing materials (in my case not that big a deal since I use recycled whenever possible) or the time it takes to pack it up and take it to the post office. I could go on some tirad about what my time is worth-but that aside, look at it this way. If I had to hire somebody to help in the studio I would be paying them, so their wage would be going toward packing up your order. I decided that I was better off to make the shipping charge look reasonable than to actually account for the all expenses involved, so I am not charging what it really costs to get an item to a customer as it is.

Taking pictures in the garden and fiddling around with the filters on the phone.

2. Let's say for the sake of argument that I just go ahead and raise the price of each item the amount I am charging for postage now which is about $3.95. So, a customer orders one button or pendant. No biggie, they are paying the same they would have anyway. But, if a customer buys several items they would be paying that added cost on each item, way more than they would have since up to this point I do a flat fee. The boxes I had to buy for the ceramics to ensure they reach you in one piece hold several pieces and the added weight is minor, so it is a way to encourage people to stuff that pup full! Why not keep the price of everything clear? To have "free shipping" all the time also doesn't allow me to use it as a marketing tool, instead my only options are to do some sort of discount on the already over priced item. Again, why not just be clear that there is a value for the item and a value for the shipping?

Here are some of the students of the eco printing on paper class I taught at Art Salvage.
3. Speaking of pricing. I started up this version of my shop in February and after a fair amount of research came up with a pricing plan that covered the cost of expenses and labor and was competitive. So when you search "ceramic buttons" or whatever you type into your browser you will see similar pricing for similar work not only on Etsy, but out on the web in general. Adding to the price only makes me look like I am charging too much or think a whole lot more of myself than I should! My inclination as a shopper is to not click on the Google listing for the higher priced item, meaning, I may never see that the shipping is included. Then there is the whole matter of refunds. It may seem like semantics but there are actual laws regarding what you call things in advertising. When something is called free, it is supposed to be free. If a customer wanted to return something in the past then the normal procedure is to refund the price of the item, not the shipping, as it was shipped after all. But if you call it free shipping than technically speaking you weren't charging them for it to begin with so they get the entire purchase price back regardless of the fact that the money was spent at the post office and the item delivered.

This studio helper gets paid in cat food and treats. That being said with non-opposable thumbs she isn't much help in the shipping department.
I tend to be an over thinker, so I will close this by saying a few things and be done. When I put scarves or other higher priced items in the shop it is truly, honestly, free shipping. You hate the thing when you open it up, you can send it back (following my return policy) and you get the price (all of it) back. It is just cost prohibitive for me to do that on $6-15 buttons. Etsy's new policy applies to things over $35.00 so it shouldn't make that much difference items priced under that amount, in theory. I guess my problem is that it is just another way that people don't understand the actual value of an item or person. People working in the small studios are not the same as Amazon. We don't have those resources. If somebody paid me a hundred bucks a year for no other reason than to pay me a hundred bucks a year, then yes I would give them free shipping. Hey-now there's idea! I will let you know where to mail that check. It is one thing to have the rest of the world devalue your education and skill, but then to have an organization that is supposed to be supporting the arts devalue you, it is very disheartening. Etsy should quit worrying about trying to compete with Amazon and go on education campaign about how things are made, along with the time and skill it takes to make them,  and why it is better for the economy and the environment to shop small.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Summer Colors

"Art is lunging forward without certainty about where you are going or how to get there, being open to and dependant on what luck, the paint, the typo, the dissonance, give you. Without art you're stuck with yourself as you are and life as you think life is."
Mark Vonnegut M.D. 

Coreopsis foliage with pre-applied rust mordant.

The orange is the coreopsis, again just the foliage, on silk with alum mordant.

Here is the plant, the flowers also print well.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Invasive Species

"If we want fewer house sparrows and starlings, we do not need to kill them, we need to create an urban landscape in which a richer variety of species can thrive."
Lyanda Lynn Haupt, The Urban Bestiary

I thought about the above quote while I was out harvesting some knapweed the other day. She was talking about birds in urban areas, but the same theory holds true for plants in suburbs, farmland,and the margins like areas around train tracks and roads. Most of the reason this pesky plant survives is because we give it everything it needs to thrive. We want monocultures and grazing land at our disposal, but both of these create the perfect environment for knapweed of all kinds. 

Spotted knapweed is the most common around my neighborhood.  One recommended method to get rid of it over time is to keep mowing it and never let it bloom(this is not advisable for Russian knapweed to my understanding). This stresses the plant and eventually it dies. Since the seeds can be viable for up to ten years one could hose the area with pre emergent, creating an unbalanced situation where nothing can sprout, leaving more room for the knapweed to come up later once the pre emergent has lost its efficacy. Each plant produces 1,000 seeds, there is no way to know you have sprayed each and every one. Our local lupines, when encouraged to grow do beat knapweed to the punch as their roots contain oxalic acid which discourages the knapweed seed to sprout, while local grasses are unaffected and grow right alongside the lupine. A healthy balanced environment creates a situation where the knapweed can't grow.
I do my part by hacking it down and bringing it home and putting it in my steam pot. This scarf was pretreated with steel wool and printed with Arrowleaf Balsamroot (a native wildflower) and spotted knapweed. It is kind of a picture of Eastern Washington all on one piece of fabric.

Spotted knapweed makes a lovely yellow dye on protein fibers with an alum pre-mordant. Don't boil, just simmer. If I remember right I let the plant material soak in the water overnight first.

Here are both plants in all their glory. On silk with an alum pre-mordant. Remember that safety comes first, wear gloves to collect plants in the wild and always steam the fabric bundles outside.

"Spontaneous" plants (weeds) can be a lot of fun and as long as you don't do anything to make the situation worse nobody cares if you come to take them off their hands. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Off to the Show!

"Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."
Mary Oliver

I will be at Art Fest this weekend in Coeur d'Alene Park, located in Browne's Addition, Spokane Washington.
The scarf features Arrowleaf Balsamroot and knapweed.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Everyday Life

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

"Artists are not exempt from that truism. Fix Breakfast, do the laundry, write a poem: That is the real life of an artist."
Ted Orland, The View From the Studio Door, referring to the Annie Dillard quote above.

An experiment on 100% wool craft felt, something I had never thought to use before. I will take the next piece and tighten it up, or make it "feltier" if that makes any sense, with a denser surface the prints most likely will be more distinct.

Laundry both studio and familial.

Mixed up a concoction to relieve my dry skin.


First salad from this season's garden!

A reread of one of my favorite books.

And last but not least, my studio door!






Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Green Season

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma-which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others'  opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."
Steve Jobs

Arrowleaf Balsamroot.

Geranium, arrowleaf balsamroot, and knapweed.

Cooking away!

Gnarly looking.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot print.

Knapweed print.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Operating at Peak Efficiency!

Ok, the next time you feel like you get nothing done, remember this post.

This morning I went to coffee with some artsy fartsy friends and got so inspired I made a pass by my local big box fabric store for a few items and then dashed home. Had a quick sandwich and then put my new purchase to soak in the basement bathtub. As I was headed back out to the studio I saw ants invading the hummingbird feeders. I had purchased ant traps for them last year but had forgotten all about it so I had to dig around to find them. While I had the feeders down I might as well clean and refill-right? So as I am washing out the feeders I begin to realize there is water coming up the kitchen drain which is not how it is supposed to work. I pulled everything out from under the sink and unscrewed the trap. Nada. This means that there is a truly evil, smelly clog in the pipe over the dryer in the laundry room (this is not my first rodeo with the kitchen drain needless to say). Then I had the horrifying thought that my husband had gone fishing yesterday and had cleaned fish in the sink. Which means there is probably day old fishy smelling water in the dishwasher. Opened it, yep, there sure is, and slammed it shut. Mr. Man was sleeping to recover from said fishing trip but I woke him up to ask if he wished to help unclog it (two person job-somebody has to hold a bucket while the other person snakes the pipe) or call a plumber. Naturally when someone awakens you from a sound sleep to ask if you would like to have sewage rain down on you the answer should always be to call a plumber. 

At three in the afternoon on Friday there are no plumbers available. Anywhere. The ones that are willing to show up at five in the afternoon want several hundred dollars. Or to make an appointment for next Tuesday. Did I mention fish water in the dishwasher? Oh, yes I did, but I probably failed to mention 85 degrees on Sunday. So, no thank you, I will figure it out. 

Without raising my voice I made it clear that while several hundred for a plumber may seem high, it is lower than spending the weekend plus Monday and Tuesday at a hotel. He dashes (ok, saunters) out to the barn to bring in a bucket and proper tools and we head to the basement. Clog removed, dishwasher running to get rid of stink, mission accomplished. Oh, and hummingbird feeders cleaned and rehung with ant traps. It was about four by then, but I decided it was wine-thirty and the day is done. I will fix our dinner, enjoy my yard, and be grateful that Mr. Man is doing well enough to help with the clogged pipes which would have been unthinkable even a few months ago. It can all change so quickly.

Meet the newest porch cat, name to be determined. I think Buddha may be appropriate, as every time I am sitting on the deck worrying about something, the little beast brings me back into the present moment by biting my ankles. Kind of like the person at a Zen retreat that smacks you with a stick for slouching during meditation.