...an idea, a motivator, a blog, a slideshow, a production plan, a project, a stand in for Studio 649, a temporary measure, a long range plan, a starting off point, a future goal, a scheduling exercise, a scheduling conflict, a good idea, a bad idea, a great idea, a rebellion, a defiance, a retort, a rebuttal, a financial plan, a building plan, a business plan, a stash consumer, a deadline, lots of deadlines!, a exercise in creativity, an exercise in discipline, simple, complex, easy, difficult, lots of fun, lots of work, a work in progress, a means to an end, seed money, a fund raiser, one month, four and a half years, an expression of frustration, an expression of hope...
...a plan to weave a new scarf every week day (at least for the month of February, 2009) and post pics of the process and scarves themselves online.
...the result of two separate trains of thought that have been rolling around in my head for some time and finally crashed into each other last Fall:
I like stuff that updates frequently. Blogs that update daily are my faves – I check them religiously and am disappointed each time there's nothing new. I read webcomics every day and am hugely impressed by the people who draw them. I am blown away by the guy who does the hourly comic for the month of February every year. He draws a comic every hour he's awake for an entire month. Every hour! I heard a story on CBC's The Point about a guy, Jamie Livingston, that took a Polariod photo every day from March 1979 until he died in October 1997. Every day for almost 20 years! I was blown away by that too. I've thought about doing something like that but didn't know what.
I've been talking for years about a weaving studio. Either something on my own property where I could weave, teach, and maybe even have a retail shop, or a small space in a communal studio with other artisans where we could motivate and inspire one another and share the costs. I've talked about the first with my family and friends for years, almost since I started weaving in 1994. I've been talking about the second with other artists and artisans for years too and we all love the idea, but the problem with it is the same as the problem with the first: studios take big bucks. I need to raise some bucks, which means increasing my production, which means increasing my motivation.
Even though the artists and artisans in the area are anxious and even desperate for studio space there's a lack of willingness and funding on the part of the organizations in place to support us – which is why I was really interested and excited when I heard there was a guy coming from the N.S. Department of Tourism and Culture to meet with artists, and that he was the go-to guy for funding for studio space. I didn't even realize such a guy existed, and now he was coming to town, with programs and possibly even the bucks to help me (or us) realize our studio dreams. Huzzah!
So I went to the meeting along with several other artisans. We were asked to introduce ourselves and state our media and why we'd come. “I'm Barb Palmer,” said the woman next to me, “a painter. I need studio space. I'm here to find out about the programs you've got that'll help me get some studio space.” “I'm Janet Dawson,” I said. “A weaver. I need studio space, too. I need those programs, too.” And so on around the table – every single person said she (we were all women, for some reason) wanted studio space. Finally, the DoTC guy – the one we'd been told was our go-to guy for studio funding programs – held up his hand and said, “I get that you all want studio space. I'll tell you right now, your best bet for getting funding for studio space is to go buy a lottery ticket.”
A lottery ticket. That was his grand plan for us, his funding program. Our go-to guy told us to buy lottery tickets. Needless to say, we all went home pretty cheesed.
A day or two later, I'm weaving scarves like a mad thing, trying to get enough production done for a craft market. “Like a mad thing” in both senses of the word, as I was still seething over the lottery studio meeting. I resolved to buy lottery tickets and, if I won, I'd build a studio and call it Studio 649: Lotto 6/49 is the name of the Atlantic Lottery Corp's main game, the one Ron and I buy now and again in moments of weakness, depression or unfounded hope. I decided to buy a ticket for every draw and put any winnings at all into a separate business account, a fund raiser for my future studio. As fund raisers go, though, a lottery is a pretty lousy idea – unless you're the provincial government's go-to guy for studio funding, that is.
So I started thinking of how I could raise money for Studio 649, all the while weaving scarves and listening to the radio. Which is when I heard the story about Jamie Livingston's Photo A Day project. I thought to myself, “Man, I'd like to do something like that. I could so take a photo a day. That'd be cool... but photography's been done now. Not much original there. I can't draw, so a webcomic's out... but hang on... I could... I could weave a scarf a day...” And then I thought, “how many scarves would it take to build a studio?” I divided the amount of money I estimate it would cost to build the studio of my dreams (a lot!) by the amount of money I make from selling a scarf (not so much) and divided that by 365. It would take about 4.5 years of scarf-a-days to earn enough money for the studio, assuming every one of them sold – a big assumption. Still, 4.5 years is Not So Bad. Granted, I won't be able to weave a scarf every single day for four and a half years, but neither will I expect to finance a studio solely on the basis of scarves.
And so Scarf A Day was born of a train wreck - the derivative offspring of daily-project-envy and frustration and irritation with the government. An auspicious beginning, no?
Scarf a Day is...
...here today, gone tomorrow?
I'm not ready to go whole hog yet. I'm going to ease myself into it slowly, one month at a time. I'll take a page from the hourly comic and just do the month of February – it's the shortest month after all.
If that goes well, I might keep up the blog after February, or I might cut back to A Scarf A(bout every other) Day, or just weave scarves now and then for the shop as I always do and post some pics when that happens. Or I might turn the blog into pictures scarves by all sorts of weavers. Or some combination of all of the above.
Scarf a Day is...
...a way to raise some bucks.
I might create an Etsy shop to sell the scarves through, or try to sell them through the blog, or just sell them in the shop as I always do. I might have free giveaways! Regardless of the lifetime of the blog, I'll keep weaving scarves and however I market them, I'll label the first scarf of each day with the date it was woven and put the profits from that scarf into a separate business account. Eventually, whether it's 4.5 years or 45, there'll be enough money in there for a studio.
Scarf a Day is...
...part of Studio 649.
There's a lot more to my Studio 649 idea by now. At first I thought Studio 649 would be a private studio but then I started imagining a communal building instead: a network of encouragement, motivation, inspiration and financial support housed in a single facility. A studio with incubator space, where the rent would be cheap when you first moved in and would increase slowly over time as you became more established and your reputation and sales increased. The cheap initial rent would be subsidized by the higher rent of more established artists and by an integral shop and gallery space where everyone in the building would sell and exhibit, and where former “residents” would always be welcome to do the same. Maybe each artisan would identify one particular product as a Studio 649 fund raiser, like my scarves-a-day, so that a larger portion of those particular sales would go to the facility. All of those sales and portions of sales would cover the costs of the building itself and subsidize the newcomers, so that fledgling and frustrated artists and artisans needing space to grow and develop and just plain function would have a solution a little more useful than “go win the lottery.”
People in the community could get behind a project like that, I think. Some might even donate some money to it. Who knows, maybe even someone would donate a building, or give us a really cheap rent. And maybe, just maybe, once we've already managed to raise some bucks or find a building, one of the government hacks or organizations whose job it is to support tourism and culture and the arts and crafts will suddenly come up with some funding to make it happen.
In the meantime, I still buy a lottery ticket every once in a while and write “649” at the top. If one of those babies ever win big, Studio 649's gonna happen.
Scarf a Day is...