Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Dyeing Week

One of the student's resist-dyed fabrics
I have spent the last three days dyeing cloth with over 60 primary school students.  I realized over Christmas that if I wanted more students for the Craft Club then I needed to head out to the schools.  So, I went to Lispole and Dingle primary schools and I offered to teach colour theory and dyeing to the kids to get them interested in making.  They all definitely loved it, but it remains to be seen whether I will gain any students from it.  I shall have to wait until Saturday and see what it brings.

Adding their resists before dyeing

If it all goes pear-shaped, then I will have the hard decision of closing my studio.  People are just not buying and I can't fund it without income coming in.  The students are buying me some time to build up clientele and work on new design ideas, but if I can't get the students then I just have to move as much as I can back home.  It would be both a blow and a relief.  I would only have space to make small items as my house won't accommodate all the materials I have acquired, but the financial pressure has been immense.  It would be nice to just go to bed and be able to sleep the whole night through.

All dressed up and no place to go
There has been a lot of talk about using public buildings to provide arts space/studio areas, but nothing seems to be rising to the surface, certainly not in Kerry.  With many talented people abandoning their craft right now, the Craft Council of Ireland or the Department of Arts should really do something to help artisans to continue their work.  It will come to a stage where emerging artisans will not be able to afford to develop their work because the resources to assist them just aren't there.

The state of Ireland is just bad right now.  I am usually a glass half full kind of person, but the lack of direction and jobs, unbelievable amount of taxation, and extreme corporate greed has left almost all of us a bit deflated.  Even if I wanted to abandon all my training and get another job, where do I go?  My cost of living would be much higher somewhere else.  Where are jobs better?  It's a miracle I can get out of bed every day with all this swirling around my brain.

Is it too much to ask that my work sells and I make a modest living?

The great texture of dyeing your
own work


  1. Hi Sharon, I really feel for you because I know exactly what it feels like to put yourself out there offering workshops and trying to sell your hand crafted work to make a living. It's REALLY tough at the moment but a good friend who's a mentor for a lot of crafts people tells them that there are only 3 reasons work doesn't sell, it's too expensive, it's not in the right place or it's just not good enough, harsh but realistic. I've had to reconsider my own approach significantly over the last few months and I hope to blog about selling online versus markets etc. over the next few days. I don't have any sure fire soloution for you but it's definitely not worth it if you can't sleep at night and the knock on effect is that you can't be creative because you are so stressed and tired. I've been there too and it's a viscous circle! Thinking of my friend's advice I decided that I needed something that hits just the correct price point but that I also enjoy making, hence the little felt pouches. Not sure if this helps but I wish you all the best and am thinking of you!!!

  2. Well, I have dropped prices and it didn't make a bit of difference. Most hats are selling for €30 each, which is quite reasonable when its all handmade and dyed to match. People like my designs and remark about them, so I have to assume that I am still not finding the right place to sell. Just looking at CraftLaunch via Etsy. Looks interesting. I sent hats to Boston and a buyer told me that my designs were "too upscale" for them, that they might take my stuff on in another economy. They sell handmade Irish craft for the last 30+ years, so found that rather strange. I finally thought that they must want their Irish designs quite traditional.