Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Life After Jell-O

A rat ate my Jell-O. I watched it snack boldly in my back yard, and quickly relocated the compost pile, but I did find this deliciously ironic. The Jell-O that was destined for the Tacky Food table instead gave a Norway rat a few more days of survival. I'm guessing all the sugar and chemicals didn't agree with him that well.

I owe my fellow Jell-O Artists a celebratory post with photos of their work, but I'm still trying to catch up on all the projects that were shoved aside while Jell-O-ing. I don't feel motivated. I really am sick of Jell-O.

I have no idea what to do with my heron sculpture, though I may enter it in the Mayor's Art Show in August. I'd like to take it to Country Fair, as it would look good parading around, and is light enough that it would be easy to carry, but getting it out there is rather difficult. It takes up a lot of room and I already take far too many things out there. I may just put it out of sight in my project room and call it a day.

Art is supposed to feed us, and if we aren't feeling satisfied we ought to explore other aspects of it. I really do think I will take a break. I think I will go back to researching and writing my book, and to making and selling my tote bags and hats. I already decided to phase out my clothing lines, and I feel good about that. Of course the popular items are already almost gone, so there will be an uncomfortable period of lowering prices and letting go, and the disappointed customers who will not find me agreeable to ordering a few more garments and making those particular items again. I may relent. It's hard to not produce things you know will sell.

I am concentrating on the hats, which are a successful product, and the tote bags, which are a bit more problematic. The market for tote bags is pretty saturated. Everyone knows they need them, and everyone has accumulated some surplus, especially of the woven plastic kind that are inexpensive and can be printed with all-over designs of highly detailed artworks. The type I make, old-fashioned canvas with one- or two-color screenprints, are not in high demand. I'm proud of them, and they look good, but not only are they being sold by every screenprinter as a side item, customers are just not all that interested.

I do have a little niche selling them to people who want to shop, either at Farmers' Market or ours, and forgot their bag, but that is minimal. It works pretty well at Tuesday Market, but if only one other person brings bags to sell, that could put a hole in my niche. This is a common dilemma in retail, when an item becomes popular or needed. It doesn't take long to flood the market.

We'll see how it goes. I may find myself investing in a bad idea. The bags are heavy, and perhaps not the best item for my quest to make things easier on my body, so maybe if their usefulness fades I can let go of them too. This might be a transition year to something else. I did sew a couple into shorter bags that will work better for produce. You can nicely nest six berry hallocks in the bottom and rest a bag of spinach leaves on top. Unfortunately since they take sewing time I had to raise the price a little. If they look popular I'll make some more.

I let go of the printed and handpainted silk OCF flags and scarves I've been making for years. They have never been a great-selling product, even at my underpriced level, and I'm tired of making them, too. They're gorgeous, and I will miss them, but change has to happen somehow. I'll be able to sell them for one more Fair, and then goodbye.

So some small shifts in my artistic life, shifts that seem healthy. I'll keep you posted.