Monday, June 29, 2009

The Bird Factory

This Etsy business has been pretty exciting. I am nearly sold out of birds. Of the eight I posted in the shop last week only one remains. So I got busy with more birds yesterday. I decided to work on three at a time, rather than just one at a time, so it has become a bit more streamlined. For example I can figure out thread colors and sew all the parts requiring that color, then change to the next. All the beaks were done one after the other. But then at a certain point each is finished up separately. As you can see above, there is one finished bird, one "skin" and assorted parts in the green basket. My stuffing tools are the blue thing, made for that purpose and a bamboo skewer. The skewer is great for little places, like beaks.

My favorite part of this process is picking the fabrics to put together and I think my sense of how I do that is one of the things that make my birds distinctive. Combining patterns and colors is an almost magical process—mostly not intellectual at all. I may have an idea of what might work and look for those specific fabrics, but mostly I just start pulling things out of baskets until it all clicks. I am not buying much new for birds, but shopping from my own stash. I did see a wonderful batik at the Mill End Store the other day that I could immediately visualize as bird wings—very delicate and branch-y. If you click the photo above for the closeup, you may be able to see it on the finished bird wings. The other fabrics used with it were pulled from my collection. While rummaging around today I came across my small cache of colorful African fabrics. I think there may be an African bird in the works soon.

I am so grateful to everyone who bought something from me this week! What a nice validation.
I have a lot of experience in retail and this Etsy business is really fascinating to me. They have a good system set up for every step of the process. My first online business was many years ago. I think 1994. I had closed my quilt shop in Ashland and moved to Portland and got involved in the first online quilt discussion group, so I started a fabric business online, called The Scrap Peddler. In those days everyone was on dialup, computers were slow and I didn't know anyone who owned a digital camera. My site had very few photos on it, certainly not photos of all the fabrics I had for sale. My scheme was to sell, at a nominal cost, a packet of samples of the fabrics I was selling, by mail order, then take orders. My customer base was small, but I sold quite a lot a fabric anyway. Eventually I got a real job and closed up the internet shop. Now, all these years later you can buy almost anything online.

Tonight all three birds are finished and I started pulling fabrics for three more. I hope to list them by the end of the week. The factory has been humming for two days now. Tonight Ray asked if my boss (me) would give me a little time off tomorrow to go check out the new Cooper Mountain Nature area just up the hill from us. I think so. That's the nice thing about working for yourself.


  1. Your shop is fledged. Congratulations! Your birds are enchanting.

  2. I can't hardly wait for my bird. Tahnk you for sharing your artistry!

  3. I'm looking forward to bird shopping! :) I'm glad your etsy shop is going well for you.

  4. Congratulations on your sucess. I'm sure it is only going to get better whatever you sell. Prints next?