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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Spirals

wild spirals

Health problems and weather have finally given way and I have been able to get back into the garage and start experimenting again.  These are “warm-up” shirts, exercises in color mixing to get back into the groove.  Plans, oh, do I have big plans now!  The challenge will be to get the images into my head translated into fabric.  I have started to  name my custom colors mixes after friends who have made particular requests.  In the mix up there you will find Zim’s Purple and Tom’s Yellow.  Let’s just hope my notebook survives the splattering.  I still have Technicolor hands.

These are what is left of the last batch of 6.  I am flattered that friends grabbed the others before I could photograph them.  The one on the far left with the big red spiral is already spoke for but the other two are available for adoption.

Middle shirt, purple and green, Fruit of the Loom me’s size large crewneck.  $25 includes shipping and taxes.

Right shirt, dropped spiral, FOTL men’s V-neck size 2x (I think it would be fun as a woman’s sleep shirt) $30 includes shipping and taxes.

PayPal only.  freakflagdyeco@gmail.com

Fly your flag, peeps!  Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes!  Much love to all of you.

 

A Question For You

profile pic

Oh, best beloveds, I need your input concerning marketing, etc.  Any and all constructive criticism will be very much appreciated.

The header of this blog is also the front face of my business card.  I added the definition of Freak Flag from Urban Dictionary in order to explain my thinking behind the name.  It is also a reference to the song from the musical, “Shrek” and a nod to a favorite  tune by Southern Culture On The Skids.  On the back of the card above my contact information it says “Fly Your Flag.”  My intention is to encourage people to not be ashamed of or hide who they are but rather to celebrate and embrace our differences, to boost self-esteem, and add a little fun and joy to the mix.

A much younger friend recently schooled me on some of the darker, kinkier, street meanings of the word “freak” and suggested the phrase, “Recreating Individuality” instead of “Fly Your Flag”.

I kind of like it, but need some input here.  I am out of touch with popular culture in a lot of ways largely due to my age (64) and lack of interest.  I don’t have the developmental issues the most influential up and coming age group has now.  Been there, done that.

But I also need to sell stuff.  Already I live in a very conservative rural area and do not sell much locally, thus the push to develop an online presence.  I have been on the receiving end of some negative remarks about my company name and motto, but for the most part people around here just don’t seem to understand it.

Speak up, please.  Share your thoughts.  As long as you are not intentionally being rude I will welcome anything anyone who reads this has to say about marketing and branding.  I am already part of an online group concerning this, but I would particularly cherish input from my readers.  I feel I have a closer connection with you.

Many thanks.

Of Hearts and Such

hearts and bars

I went for a screening EKG yesterday and was told that it looks like I have had a heart attack; one of those silent, sneaky ones that tend to happen to women; especially postmenopausal diabetic women with polycystic ovarian disease.  I have been referred to a cardiologist and expect the lecture on losing weight, taking statins, and exercising.  Trying hard not to freak out too much (no pun intended) but my immediate reaction is, “Well ,no wonder I have felt like crap for so long!” and trying to come up with a plan to manage yet another chronic condition.  I was very sick all last fall, 3 straight months of one damned thing after another, knocked flat on my back, and I am just now recovering. I think the infarction probably happened sometime then.  I am trying not to be too paranoid about thinking that every twinge is angina now.

Ironically, a friend who was practicing her Reiki nailed it many months ago.  She said she felt something going on with my heart and I blew her off.  In addition to all the physical stuff happening last fall, there was some serious emotional turmoil as well.  I have often said that I felt like that particular person ripped out my heart and stomped on it.  I had no clue that could be taken literally.  In spite of the emotional pain, he acted as a catalyst for my growth and dredged up some long-buried crap that I needed to face and clear out. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was productive.

On the dying side (after all, isn’t that what this blog is supposed to be about?):  It has been frigging cold here.  Snow flurries and snow on the mountain tops yesterday morning and very windy, which causes the cold to bite through to the bones. Typical Spring weather in western NC.   I am itching to get back into the studio, got some special orders for friends I need to get done.  And a bit of a whine here; standing on cold concrete in an un heated garage is not my favorite thing to do, even with a kerosene heater.

I have bought a planner called The Freedom Journal, which is specifically for those of us who are trying to be self-employed.  I have committed to spending 2 hours a day minimum in the studio no matter what, even if it is just sweeping the floors and cleaning.  Dying is a messy art.  Wish me luck folks, and send good vibes.  I need all the help I can get and being accountable to you will go a long way toward me getting stuff done.  My goal for the next 100 days is to get all 60ish of my blank shirts dyed, photographed, and posted on Shopify.  Stay tuned.

Much love to you all.  Stay warm.