Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Slave Labour, Photocopy Frustrations and Printer Challenges...

The great thing about your kids wanting to earn spending money for a trip... they made great slave labour. Not that my working conditions are unduly harsh, but it is good for them to actually have to put in some effort to earn the money. Bethany was perfect at checking the printer as it chugged away printing cover sheets. On the Epson photo paper, she could just wait for them to pile up and run down now and then to get a batch. When we had to switch to the Kodak photo paper, she had to wait beside the machine and remove each page as it printed out, run it into the next room and lay it out on the family room floor so that the ink would have a chance to dry properly. Otherwise, it sticks to the copy above it or smudges terribly. Erin was good at batching the innards for the chartpacks or counting out the bagged versions into piles of 25. At one point, Bethany looked at me and said “Why are we doing these patterns?” to which Erin replied in that 11 year old world-savy tone “So that Mommy has something to sell at the show, silly!” Bethany just looked at me in a puzzled sort of way and said “But why do people buy these?” Sigh! Put in my place by a 7 year old. Why indeed....

I hope you readers of this blog and fans of my work know how incredibly humbling it is when you send me a message telling me how much a design has meant to you. I always think that I should be running around thanking the stitchers for buying my designs instead of them thanking me for creating them!! But then I remember how much enjoyment a good book brings to my day or how much I ADORE stitching other people’s designs when I have the chance... so maybe I do understand wanting to thank them for the enjoyment they bring to my life.

We picked up the huge batch of photocopying from Staples after Nick and Bethany went to the dentist today, lugged the 2 boxes home, sat down to batch them and discovered that over 160 of the 200 Dust Bunny charts weren’t fit to use. Somehow, they set the copier WAY too dark, so it left smears, smudges and grey areas all over the nice 32 lb. bright white paper. So off I trucked with the box of rejects, back to Staples to drop it on the counter and ask them politely to redo them. I honestly believe that stitchers should get the best quality pattern I can produce.... and it is frustrating when a new person in the department treats it as a “disposable” copy job. I keep training them to watch for stuff and then they move on or advance in the company!

I also called HP in a snit today. There’s nothing like venting a bit of pre-show frustration by calling a customer service number. The new HP printer I got came with 2 ink cartridges that were basic instead of high volume, but when I asked about which numbers were for the high yield cartridges, 3 out of the 4 people I asked drew blanks. The regular cartridge printed out a grand total of 32 cover sheets before it ran out of ink!! Gosh! At $33.00 a cartridge, doing an offset print run looked pretty good!!! The high yield number I got from the website was in stock at the store and it proved to print almost 75 covers before losing one of the colours completely and mucking up 3 sheets before I could cancel the job.

Colour technology has changed a lot in the past few years, and it does let us do some amazing things from home/business printers that we’d never have been able to do even 6 years ago, but the fact remains that it cannot touch the quality of real offset printing. I just find myself more and more reluctant to add to the stock in my self store that is paid for, sitting there... Which came first? The chicken or the egg???

Child labour may be hard on the pocket book, but at least it is easier on the head than some other business decisions!!!

Where Did July Go??

I’d intended to write another entry altogether... but then as I sat down at the computer an hour and a half ago, I looked at the calendar. Oh Pickle Snurf!! Where did the month go?? Instead of writing that entry, I got all of my updates done and sent over to our server, so the August updates are up, and it is now August.

I knew this was going to be a crazy summer, but I jest never realized how colliding deadlines would make me feel as if I was juggling one to many moose and someone suddenly tossed me a squirrel! I always set myself lofty goals, but it is very humbling to know that the design advertised in my blurb for the show guide (which had to be submitted MONTHS ago) is the one design that I didn’t get done in time. Am I still proud of the design? I think it is my best ever. Will I rush the job to release it at the show and compromise that quality? Not on your life!

If I look back at this summer though, I do know that at least 65 hours, that could have been spent stitching, were spent filling out forms, sending e-mails or requesting that copyright infringements of my work be removed from sites. About 4 hours worth of that in the past 48 hours alone. My hands are SO tired, but if I don’t defend my rights on-line, no one will do it for me. Thankfully there are so many honest stitchers out there who watch out for violations, who are willing to go under cover and maintain dual identities, who DO care about helping this industry stay alive.

I spoke with one designer this week who said that NO designer out there, no matter how famous, could make their entire living from cross stitch anymore. Maybe I am lucky that I never tried. I’ve always been juggling many ways to make pictures and multiple sources of ways to earn money. This is a lesson I am trying to teach my kids. Make the most of all the talents you have and never put all of your eggs in one basket unless you truly enjoy scrambled eggs. There are SO many wonderful possibilities out there to just limit yourself to one thing. In the words of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe - ”Live the journey... for every destination is but the doorway to another!”