New store in Milwaukee! Project M opens this Monday.

I had decided earlier this year that I wasn't going to do anymore wholesale or consignment, and sell only directly to my customers through my website and craft shows in order to keep my designs affordable.  And if that meant that Always the Forest wouldn't have a presence in brick-and-mortar stores, that's fine.  E-commerce is booming anyway.  But when the owners of Project M in Milwaukee emailed me asking if I would like to sell my designs in their store, I was intrigued by their business model.  Bree Rose Bower and Kelly Strosser are both independent designers in their early 20s, and created Project M as a network for Midwest designers.  Project M is set up more like an art gallery, the designers pay a flat monthly fee and keep 100% of their sales.  I am so excited that these ladies are doing something different then the usual high-priced boutiques that are a dime-a-dozen, and instead, offering a supportive network for local designers.  I spent all this week working on clothing to send there for the opening, the picture is a snippet of what will be there. Project M is located at 801 E. Center St in Milwaukee, and the grand opening is this Monday.  I can't wait!


Shy Girl Hesitates to Respond to E-mails and Sets Out to Fix the Problem

Today, I was lamenting my inability to respond to emails in a prompt manner.  It's awful.  I'll check my email (both personal and business) and not respond to new emails for waaay too long. It could be a thank you note or a question about materials.  Short answers and long answers.  I don't do it all the time, but I do it often enough to feel bad about it. And I really did feel awful about it, first because it's rude, and second, I could potentially be losing customers due to this bad habit. I gave it some thought, and came up with two possible causes.

1. I put too much thought into my responses. I labor and agonize over crafting the perfect response.  It has to be witty, professional, and have perfect spelling and grammar.  It has to perfectly convey the message while perfectly representing my personality.  Well, I think I should save that type of writing for the penpals, because I'm pretty sure most people want a quick response more than they want a beautifully written masterpiece.

2.  I'm shy!  Not as shy as I used to be, but still shy enough to be a little scared to talk to certain people.  And that whole idea of "everyone is ten feet tall and braver over the internet" doesn't apply to me.  When I do craft shows, I don't have a problem talking to people that come up to my table.  Over the internet, not so much.  Ridiculous, I know!

This problem ends now!  I didn't include this issue in my goals for 2010 because I wanted to pretend it didn't exist...but I'm ready to tackle it now.  This might be one of my most important goals this year!


Experimenting with Screen Printing Methods

Earlier in the year, I had said I wanted to do more screen printing in my work this year.  It's always been something that I've really enjoyed doing. My passion for screen printing started my junior year of high school, when I began to feel the limitations of freezer paper stencils.  You know that freezer paper stencil craze on craftster.org and _thestencilry or whatever that livejournal community was called, where you would painstakingly cut out your intricate design with an x-acto knife, then iron the freezer paper to your t-shirt or whatever you wanted to stencil, paint it with fabric paint, and then throw that intricate stencil away because freezer paper is one-use-only?  Yeah, I made dozens of those, and my closet was filled with enough stenciled hoodies and t-shirts to make me a walking billboard of my political views, haha.  But stencils really limit you in the detail of your designs, and you have to mind your bridges too.  Ahhh I hated those!  When I learned it was possible to DIY screen print, I jumped headfirst into learning it.  I decided to jump straight to learning the photo emulsion method, and skip the film method since that was too similar to stenciling.  I was done with cutting out tiny shapes!  I checked out books from the library and scoured the internet to figure it out.  One resource I found to be particularly helpful was a zine called The Gospel of Screenprinting.  But anyways, five years later, four laundryroom-converted-darkroom set ups in two different states, and over two dozen screens burned and printed, I decided it was time to try something a bit different.  Painter's tape!

I know, so high-tech! But I really like how it turned out.  Cutting out thin strips of painter's tape to make bold, geometric prints, and all without a plan for a design.  I just started laying down strips, and it was so neat to see what would come out of the negative space when I taped off one shape.  The design just sort of came alive as I kept taping.  My only concern is that it won't hold up very well over multiple printings.  I got the "no bleed edge" kind of painter's tape, so I'm hopeful, but I guess we'll see.  This print is going to be in a lot of my designs for Spring and Summer this year, which are all coming along nicely, so you can expect some previews soon!


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