10 Things I Learned From Vending at My First Festival.

purple festival tent

I can say now that I am no longer a festival virgin.  I was initiated in a big way this past weekend and am still recovering from it.  Here is a list of things I wish I had known beforehand.

  1.  Make sure you have a reliable, dependable back up team.  I didn’t and was miserable.  Be very clear in communicating expectations and needs.
  2. Getting to your site can be an irritating problem.  I had to deal with equipment and trucks blocking the way and roads closed that were said to be open.
  3. Rethink your footwear.  I thought my faithful old hiking sandals would provide enough support.  Nope.  I was barefoot most of the day as a result.  Your feet may swell, especially if you are outdoors in the heat standing up for most of the day.
  4. If you need electricity be prepared for extra charges and the need to cover up your drop cords due to state law.  I am going to look for battery or solar-powered fans for  the next outdoor event.
  5. Don’t post your prices in a proominant place.  Even though mine were consistent with those of other vendors for the same thing people would stop, read my sign, and walk away not bothering to look at what I offered.
  6. Take a mini first aid kit. Include headache and stomach remedies.
  7. Carabiners work better than zip ties for some things.  You will need a hand truck or cart on wheels.
  8. Other handy items include extra tarps, trash bags, paper towels, hand sanitizer, bug spray, and sunscreen,  clothes pins, painter’s tape,and a box cutter.  A portable cell phone charger pack is a requirement.
  9. Sports drinks and electrolyte placement if outdoors in the heat is extremely important.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Don’t skimp on salt.  Bring your own cooler full.
  10. Make sure your online presence is up to date before the festival.  I had been sloppy about maintaining my social media sites.  People would take my card and go home and look me up.

 

Overall, my first festival was a positive experience.  I didn’t make a lot of money, just enough to cover my entrance fee, but the lessons learned were priceless.  I was in tears often over the kindness of strangers and the camaraderie among vendors.  I made some great connections, met wonderful people I want to stay in contact with, and  have begun to refine my craft techniques as well as what I will be offering in the future.

 

Planning and Sorting

We have been quiet, but busy.  Today was for planning and sorting.  We have more dying to do in the next few weeks to get ready for our very first festival.

Here is a sneak peek at what we will have to offer at the Historic Morganton Festival in Morganton, NC on September 7 and 8.  Look for us on the courthouse lawn.

Tie Dye Zen

tiedyezen

Tie dye is a good metaphor for my life.  I think I can control it, but I can’t.  Not really.  I try, but it does its own thing.  I can fold and tie garments to create certain patterns, vary colors and thickness of the dye, and attempt to create what I see in my head.  Nope.  It rarely happens.  The dye will travel on the damp cloth to unexpected places, colors will blend and break at odd times.  The final product is always a surprise.   I have found that people and life events act much the same way.

If you are of a meditative frame of mind, tie-dye is a good exercise in letting go.  When I am on the cushion watching my breath I never know what is going to come up and what I am going to have to face just as I never really know how my tie-dye will turn out.  I often start out with a shirt and an expectation of the finished product. I often enter into a meditation session expecting/ wanting a certain outcome.

I plop my butt on my cushion, set the timer, and settle in and hope to come out of my session a little bit closer to enlightenment.   Most often I end the session with numb feet as memories and emotions surface and the monkey mind chatters away.  I focus on my breathing, counting breaths, and suddenly discover I have lost count.  I start over and over and over.  Sometimes I end the session crying, other times laughing, often merely relieved that I got through it.

Dying can be like that.  The studio in the garage can be uncomfortably hot and dying is a messy proposition anyway.  I fold and tie a shirt, plop it on the rack over the sink, pick up a bottle of dye and apply it.  Sometimes my hand shakes, sometimes the dye comes out of the bottle too fast or not fast enough, sometimes I am distracted by other things and put the dye in the wrong place or pick up the bottle of dark blue when I wanted black.  I prep a certain number of garments to dye in one session and I set a timer for the number of minutes I want to meditate.  There are days when I get to the end of the stack and am happy it is over because the dye, like my thoughts, was not doing what I wanted it to do.

Just as the effects of meditation will carry over once your session has ended, dyed garments have to “cook” for a while in order for the dye to bind with the fibers.  After the “cooking” period the garments are washed out to remove excess dye. Life events can “washout” the endorphins produced by the meditative state.  Dying creates permanent changes to a garment and regular meditation creates permanent changes to the brain.  Both processes are sloppy and messy and emotional.

The chaos in a dye studio is not obvious to someone buying a shirt at a festival and the chaos of meditation is not obvious to someone who is not on the cushion.  Colorful garments flapping in the breeze do not seem to have anything in common with a blank-faced someone sitting still.

But the process is the same.  I have to let go of my expectations of what the combination of dye and fiber will do as I have to let go of the emotions and memories that surface when I sit and my expectations of what life will bring me.  There is peace in that. Giving up the constant need to control what is happening, whether it be in dying or human interactions creates enormous freedom and makes room for boundless joy.

 

LEGGINGS!!!

 

Tights, leggings, yoga pants. . . . whatever you want to call them.  Cotton and spandex.   Ice dyed with black dye that breaks into blue. Left to right sizes  M, L, XL, 1X, 2X, 3X

$15 each plus applicable taxes and shipping.  Paypal only  freakflagdyeco@gmail.com.

A Hot Topic

Solar oven

This is my solar oven in which the magic happens when I dye.  I don’t cook my dinner in it.  It’s not food grade and you would never want to have dye chemicals come in contact with what you put in your mouth.

However, this  lovely little home-made contraption will generate enough heat to allow the dyes to bond to the fibers of the fabric that has been dyed.  It can get kind of whiffy when the lid is opened up after a day sitting in the sun because the urea used to bind dye to fabric degrades into ammonia in the process.  Another reason not to cook in it.

The advantage of using the solar oven is that it cuts down on the amount of very hot water required to set the dye, saving a tree or two in the process.  Extreme heat such as that produced in the solar oven, in the 200 to 400 degree F range, produce deeper, more intense colors which also resist fading in the washing machine.  Most  water heaters used for laundry only get water up to 120-140 degrees F.

I leave garments in the oven in the sun for at least a solid 8 hours, sometimes longer, to ensure tight bonding of all relevant chemicals and then allow it to cool off before I open it up and do the final rinse and wash process.

When I am on a roll it takes me about 2 days to dye a shirt from start to finish.  Here is what happens:

  1.  New garment goes into the washing machine with hot water to preshrink and to remove byproducts of manufacturing and shipping.
  2. Garment goes into the dryer.
  3. Garment is soaked in a basic pH soda ash solution to prep to accept dye, I aim for at least an hour soak.
  4. Back into the washer for drain and spin.
  5. Then the folding and tying are done.  Imagine trying to do origami with damp fabric.
  6. Dye is applied.  Mixing and preparing the dyes is another process.  I usually do this while things are washing.
  7. Garment hangs out in the solar oven for a while, at least 8 hours, often overnight.
  8. Solar oven is brought back into the studio, allowed to cool down, again usually overnight.
  9. Garments are removed from oven, untied, and rinsed with cold water to remove excess dye.
  10. A final wash with hot water to test for colorfastness and further set the dye.  I use a special detergent for this that you can’t find in the grocery store, just like you can’t find the dyes I use in the local Wally-World.
  11. White vinegar added to the final cold rinse to act as a fabric softener.
  12. A trip through the dryer.

This is essentially the process that my first ever hand dyed shirt went through and it lasted me for 8 years of regular wear.  It never faded nor shrunk and the only reason I gave it up was because it had worn so thin that I could no longer fix the holes or the seams.

I won’t go on a rant about greedy capitalism and clothing considered a disposable item that is deliberately made poorly, especially for women, and the pressures the fashionistas apply to take advantage of shaky self-esteem, trying to manipulate our self images by convincing us that we are not good enough unless we are wearing the latest “fashion”.  BUT. . . . I would much rather someone wear one of my shirts for 8 years and never buy another one from me than for them to wear it for a season and throw it away and buy a new one from me each season.  Wear my work until it falls apart and concentrate more on building happy times and good memories while you wear it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hot Topic

Solar oven

This is my solar oven in which the magic happens when I dye.  I don’t cook my dinner in it.  It’s not food grade and you would never want to have dye chemicals come in contact with what you put in your mouth.

However, this  lovely little home-made contraption will generate enough heat to allow the dyes to bond to the fibers of the fabric that has been dyed.  It can get kind of whiffy when the lid is opened up after a day sitting in the sun because the urea used to bind dye to fabric degrades into ammonia in the process.  Another reason not to cook in it.

The advantage of using the solar oven is that it cuts down on the amount of very hot water required to set the dye, saving a tree or two in the process.  Extreme heat such as that produced in the solar oven, in the 200 to 400 degree F range, produce deeper, more intense colors which also resist fading in the washing machine.  Most  water heaters used for laundry only get water up to 120-140 degrees F.

I leave garments in the oven in the sun for at least a solid 8 hours, sometimes longer, to ensure tight bonding of all relevant chemicals and then allow it to cool off before I open it up and do the final rinse and wash process.

When I am on a roll it takes me about 2 days to dye a shirt from start to finish.  Here is what happens:

  1.  New garment goes into the washing machine with hot water to preshrink and to remove byproducts of manufacturing and shipping.
  2. Garment goes into the dryer.
  3. Garment is soaked in a basic pH soda ash solution to prep to accept dye, I aim for at least an hour soak.
  4. Back into the washer for drain and spin.
  5. Then the folding and tying are done.  Imagine trying to do origami with damp fabric.
  6. Dye is applied.  Mixing and preparing the dyes is another process.  I usually do this while things are washing.
  7. Garment hangs out in the solar oven for a while, at least 8 hours, often overnight.
  8. Solar oven is brought back into the studio, allowed to cool down, again usually overnight.
  9. Garments are removed from oven, untied, and rinsed with cold water to remove excess dye.
  10. A final wash with hot water to test for colorfastness and further set the dye.  I use a special detergent for this that you can’t find in the grocery store, just like you can’t find the dyes I use in the local Wally-World.
  11. White vinegar added to the final cold rinse to act as a fabric softener.
  12. A trip through the dryer.

This is essentially the process that my first ever hand dyed shirt went through and it lasted me for 8 years of regular wear.  It never faded nor shrunk and the only reason I gave it up was because it had worn so thin that I could no longer fix the holes or the seams.

I won’t go on a rant about greedy capitalism and clothing considered a disposable item that is deliberately made poorly, especially for women, and the pressures the fashionistas apply to take advantage of shaky self-esteem, trying to manipulate our self images by convincing us that we are not good enough unless we are wearing the latest “fashion”.  BUT. . . . I would much rather someone wear one of my shirts for 8 years and never buy another one from me than for them to wear it for a season and throw it away and buy a new one from me each season.  Wear my work until it falls apart and concentrate more on building happy times and good memories while you wear it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tie Dye for Aries

 

Here are a couple of shirts inspired by the astrological sun sign, Aries.  The heart is a Fruit of the Loom crewneck size XL, the arch is A FOL crewneck size S.  $20 each.   Look for them on my my online store.  The reds on each shirt are deeper and less orange than appear in the photographs (Reds are a bitch to shoot, just saying).  The designs are on both the front and the back of the shirts.

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the Ram and ruled by the planet Mars. In traditional western astrology people born from March 21-April 19 are generally considered to be Aries people and may exhibit the general characteristics attributed to that Sun sign.

The time for Aries is the beginnings of Spring in the northern hemisphere.  It is a cardinal, positive, fire sign symbolized by the Ram and traditionally ruled by the red planet Mars.  The Earth is warming up, the days are growing longer, hibernating animals are waking up, plants are starting to sprout and bud.  People are recovering from cabin fever brought on by the confines of winter.

Aries can be explosive and sudden, passionate and intense.  Think of the mythological god, Mars, who took no shit from anyone.  Aries rules the first house of the chart; the beginnings of things, the self, the ego.  The Ram will lower his horns and charge ahead at full speed. Look for the people in the room who are goal oriented, outspoken, take-charge types; assertive, loyal, commandos who may seem to be self-centered but do not hesitate to slay any dragon that threatens those they love.  Chances are there is a prominant  Aries in their natal chart.

If you would like to know more, contact me privately.