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July 2024
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NC REAL Professional Crafts Artists Entrepreneurship Coming!

I’m heading out this weekend for a June 15-19 “Summer Institute” workshop by TenBiz in the beautiful mountain town of Blowing Rock, NC! I may be the only actual entrepreneur attending  but it’s all about their training program for facilitators. I look forward to adding to what I already know to better help those who ask for it!

Now no one says it better than TenBiz and founder and western coordinator of NCREAL, Tonya Snider.


Our objectives for the tenBiz, Inc. Summer Institute are:

  • to foster professional and personal relationships among participants and between tenBiz, Inc. and other organizations
  • to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the people and organizations which comprise the REAL network
  • to recognize and address the varying needs of a diverse group of participants and their students
  • to model the experiential process, content, and pacing of the REAL curriculum
  • to expand participants’ knowledge of themselves as facilitators and learners, and of entrepreneurship and small business planning, operations, and management
  • to facilitate facilitators’ success by familiarizing them with the REAL course curriculum and resource materials, and offering guidance on implementation of the program
  • to give experienced facilitators opportunities to further develop their skills, to share their experience in the REAL program with others, and to learn to design and lead future REAL training events
  • to create an atmosphere of fun, cooperation and shared responsibility

So if that doesn’t grab your interest then maybe what I will begin teaching in August of this year will!

NC REAL Professional Crafts Artists Entrepreneurship….. Each class is once every week for seven weeks (3 hours each class). This program is developed for students who have craft and artistry skills, and who need support in applying their talents to entrepreneurial endeavors. Students will experience hands-on activities that have been specifically designed to address needs and challenges faced by craft artists who already have or wish to start their own business.

Finding the Artist’s Retreat-or My Cabin in the Woods

Finding a spot to create. It seems to be a goal for writers, artists and musicians. Often it’s a quest.  Maybe that’s a good word for it.
I spend more and more time thinking about it-a cabin in the woods.
I’m not sure why that dreaded “If only….” phrase has kept popping up in my mind but it has me daydreaming of a place to relax, unwind, meditate, recharge-every adjective that an artist needs in order to justify her creativity! Silly. I have a studio that is the envy of most artists. We built it 18 years ago from parts of a 1910 home being torn down in the area. It’s 24 x 30 feet in size with 10 foot ceilings, beautiful reclaimed pine flooring, the old windows-it is stunning!

And I know this! But in reality it is crowded! Oh it started off with SO much space but with 2 working artists that changed quickly
Even the shed we added behind it turned into a storage area. Oh and we have a woodworking shop..the downstairs filled  with tools and the upstairs filled with things we are storing but do not need. (easy with 4 grown kids who move around)

At the beginning…….:-)

And we have grown rose clippings from abandoned homesteads and they have grown and matured into a profusion of cascading color enjoyed by painters every spring…so WHY was I searching?

Seven Sisters roses cascading down the tobacco stick fence
Red Seven Sisters brought by mother as a cutting from her family homestead in Mississippi.

What am I looking for?

I lean towards mountain properties- a throwback I am sure of my New England upbringing where we lived in an 18th century farmhouse on 50 acre farm in upstate New York (next to MA and VT) and had unfettered run, on foot, skis and horses, of the mature forests and surrounding streams, farmland and towns. Our freedom included the glorious huge beamed barn with its many outbuildings and the secret hideaways within them all. Ah, such memories!

In my mind, my cabin art retreat  has to have a stream, mature trees…and of course-a small cabin.  Again, I recognize this from childhood memories of running through abandoned farm fields and discovering, in the dark recesses of hemlocks and maples that bordered all the forgotten fields, streams that cascaded down rocks into small pools of cold, pristine water.  It was all very magical to a child of ten and I clearly recall the details of discovering Jack in the Pulpits, ripples in the water pools, crawdads under the stones, floating maple leaves and the cool tang of the hemlocks. And other than the delighted sounds of discovery by my twin sister and younger brother, the only other sounds were that of the waterfall.  The sound of gurgling water can quickly transport me to that spot anytime I hear it.

And on a bittersweet, yet telling note, the last family vacation I had with my twin sister was in the  NC mountains. Eileen and I were 28 and I had 3 children, the youngest just 4 months old and a too busy life and business when our parents rented a little summer house for us to have a vacation in for our upcoming 29th birthdays :-) .  It sat in a valley with a little stream in front of the house. My 6 and 3 year old played for hours on end at the edge of the shallow gurgling water, building and rebuilding little stone houses. There had been no TV, no phone and we had sat on the front porch at night counting stars and waiting for the shooting ones. I had purposely left my guitar at home and brought my new hammered dulcimer. So our evening musical entertainment was the singular sounds of the dulcimer chords.

With my youngest in a backpack (or my mother staying and watching him) we explored caves, pastures, mountains, abandoned farms. We had bought Audubon books and learned the names of the wildflowers we were  discovering. The children were at that age where everything held wonder and my parents and sister enjoyed sharing all the wonders with them.  Something as simple as watermelon seed spitting contests and watching frogs hop held them in rapture. It was a good summer and even better memories. A year later my twin was gone and all that was left us were the memories.

So I sort of know WHY I am looking….maybe it’s that I am searching for a bit of those memories I have just described. The point was I had a sort of an epiphany the other day.

After spending inordinate amounts of time on Craigslist, looking at properties that I could not afford, or cheap ones simply too far away (there IS a practical side to me!) and …..daydreaming, wasting an awful lot of time…. I shook myself clear of it.

I already have a small “cabin”. I am on a couple of acres of land. I have mature trees. I have deer and wildlife. I have a stone fountain I bought used 3 years ago and never used….hey, I can MAKE my own cabin in the woods and do it right here!

Bought from a friend whose mother had used it first as a pottery studio, then as storage (of course!) it was simply too good an opportunity to pass up!

So $250.00 moving fee later, the 12 x 20 building is finally deposited between our house, studio and pasture. It isn’t very lovely but it was insulated, wired and covered inside with many grungy shelves and a linoleum floor.

We are on 2.5 acres but the back is heavily wooded and alas…there was no way to get the whole shebang  to the back area.

At first the changes I did were cosmetic: cleaning the sides, painting the door and trim, replacing the screen door with a vintage door……then I cleaned and painted the grungy insides shelves, thinking of paneling or sheetrock but not getting beyond that.  Amazing what a little paint can do.
But within a few months we were storing frames and paintings in it, stymied by the cost of running electric to the inside panel.

And then the epiphany happened and I made a decision-yep-just like that-
The frames and artwork can go where they belong-into the 8 x 16 ft cargo trailer used just for that purpose. I’ll enlist the help of some friends who can make a few things happen….for starters, I want a sliding door off the other end…this one door opens into the driveway-and cannot be a major entrance easily.
So I reasoned that if I bought property with a similar building on it, I would be facing the same economic and design challenges anyway so….what the heck!

So now I have my brain in gear…how to heat? Maybe a propane fireplace? Small woodstove?  Must think this through but  so many shelves are a bonus to help move my craft and silk work out of the main studio and into a smaller one…..let’s see-add a small deck out the side where the sliding door would be, take that long unused stone waterfall….. are you feeling it now? :-)

What WILL the free range chickens think!?  Stay tuned for what starts to happen next!

Arrtists-are you a problem solver or a whiner?

So are you a problem solver? Or are you still blaming everyone but yourself for your lack of what you consider to be success? Do you meet every suggestion with a whiny voice “But I tried that and it didn’t work!”?

Follow us on Facebook!

Because honestly, if you have not taken up the challenges to become an artist in the 5 years we have been sharing our knowledge, then you simply aren’t going to. This lifestyle is not for the faint of heart.

2013 and the Economy through the Eyes of an Artist

If big businesses have failed with all their marketing expertise and service businesses have failed with their consumable products, then what possible chance does an artist have of surviving the lean years? To be frank, no one “needs” your art.

The Golden Rule of ethics for artists on Facebook

It is assumed that if you opt to friend or like an artist or his page, it is because you like that artist or his work. To friend or like an artist with hopes of piggy backing off his possible success is unethical.

THe Life of an Artist and 2013!

So we’ll be sending out Jan newsletter when we return and I will share just HOW we are able to “live the life of an artist”. SO if that doesn’t keep you on pins and needles, nothing will!

Checklist for Outdoor and Indoor Art Shows-Stop forgetting!

Feeling the sweat roll down your back while you slow bake over the asphalt at an outdoor art fair in Florida is not a good time to realize that you forgot the sunblock or your hat or the cooler. Discovering that the artists must all park 30 blocks from the show is not a good time to realize that you left the hand cart in the studio!
I could go on and on but you get the picture. Make a list.

Working with the wholesale market

Depending on what your art product is, the ability to find wholesale outlets can be a challenge. Partnering with active organizations or having an arts council that can do that is, as they say, a “win win” situation for all concerned. The critical point is that this organizations “gets it.” There is always more impetus [...]

The Key to Clutter Free art Studio-a Tribute to my Dad

Funny thing is that the trend today is to hire someone to unclutter your life, organize your closets, design the perfect clutter free environment, or join on line groups that make your lists for you .