Small Business Saturday

Lord have mercy, what a year it’s been. Still sick. Still stressed. Still need new glasses.

The good news is that I have gotten quite a bit accomplished this fall. You may have noticed a couple of new links and social media buttons in the sidebar–I’ve finally launched my new Etsy shop, E. Wolfe Mercantile, mostly to sell the items I’m crocheting but also as an outlet to offer autographed copies of my books online. And since a fair amount of Etsy’s marketing is done on Instagram, I’ve bitten the bullet and gotten an account there. I’ve added a sizeable number of new designs to my CafePress shop as well, including the new “Quotation Corner” and “Doc Wolfe’s Whimsies” sections; I hope to add more designs to both in the coming weeks. On the writing front, I spent most of September compiling my first textbook; it’s very much tailored to my own syllabus and lacks a lot of the study helps that would make it marketable to a broader audience, but it’s an accomplishment nonetheless.

The bad news is that it looks like Loyal Valley: Diversion isn’t getting done this year, either. I have been working on it–if you follow me on Goodreads, you’ve probably noticed some of the research texts I’ve been reading–but with eeeeeverything else that’s been going on and that I still have to do between now and Christmas (including grading five sets of essays!), there’s no way I can finish the book before the holiday sales deadline.

So what I’m hoping right now is that I’ll be able to have Diversion ready to launch in time for West Texas Heritage Days at Fort McKavett the first weekend in May. There’s a slight chance I’ll have an event happening before then, and if so, I might get Diversion finished in time for that–but there’s no guarantee on either score. Once Diversion is out and I’m able to publish the first hardcover omnibus, I’ll start thinking again about the poetry book and the next Order of the Silver Star book.

Want to help out? Buy something! 😄 If nothing I’m selling takes your fancy, you can pledge monthly support through Patreon or send a one-time donation through Ko-fi. Signal boosts are always welcome, too; there’s only so much marketing I can do myself, even on a good day.

Updates and Requests

How is it almost Independence Day already?!

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s been a tough few months, for health reasons and quite a lot more. God’s closed some doors I was really counting on, and I’m struggling mightily because I don’t understand why. But giving up is not an option, and I do in fact have some fun projects and events lined up for this summer:

  • Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my CafePress shop! I just updated it a couple of weeks ago with three new designs and a big batch of new products, and I’m hoping soon to launch another new set of designs inspired by The Dream of the Rood.
  • The Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale starts Saturday and ends 7/31! Loyal Valley: Assassination will be FREE with coupon code SSW100, and my other three books will be 50% off with coupon code SSW50. (This offer applies only to Smashwords ebook sales.)
  • My friend Caitlin is having another book launch party on Facebook this coming Sunday, this time to celebrate the release of her new poetry collection, and I’ll be taking over–probably to do a reading, though whether or not it’ll be live I don’t yet know–at 3 p.m. CDT. And part of what I’ll be talking about is…
  • My friend Peter G. Epps has challenged me to a creative race! The project I’m planning to tackle is a hardcover coffee table book of calligraphed poems, with a section of my own poetry and a section of classics. (I have plans for Kipling’s “The Gods of the Copybook Headings,” oh yesss, precioussss!) I may try a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs of self-publishing this volume, but I’ll decide on that when it gets closer to being ready to scan and prep for printing.
  • I also hope, sooner than later, to launch an Etsy shop for my crocheted snoods and reticules (and anything else that takes my fancy).
  • And of course, I still want to finish at least Loyal Valley: Diversion, possibly get the first omnibus volume out (which might also involve a Kickstarter campaign), and possibly start to work on the next Order of the Silver Star book.

All of which is the sort of thing I’d love to be able to do full-time, or as close to it as I can get in my current condition, because except on the very worst days, it’s much easier for me to do creative work even when I’m not feeling so hot than it is to focus on intensely left-brained work.

But of course, there’s one major hang-up: I am flat broke. I need to make at least $1000/mo. to make ends meet. As sick as I’ve been all year, though, I haven’t been able to take enough freelance projects to cover the gap between my teaching income and my budget, and what little buffer I had built up in the fall is gone. The school doesn’t pay me in the summers, either, and there are annual expenses like my antivirus program subscription coming up in July. Nor can I cut anything at all from my budget without losing my independence–what doesn’t go to housing and utilities goes to business expenses and student loans. As things stand now, I have to prioritize paying work over creative work… and pickings are slim on that front as well.

If I’m going to make any of my planned creative projects happen this summer, dear readers, I desperately need your help.

Patreon may be the most attractive option if you’re willing to just give me money. It’s a monthly subscription service, although you can make a one-time gift by cancelling your subscription after the first month’s payment is sent to me. Plus, patrons who donate $5 or more per month get exclusive sneak previews of my projects and a host of other rewards. If you’d rather buy some of my work, well, I’ve already given you those links earlier in this post! Or you can hire me as a translator or editor, and I’m open to calligraphy or crochet commissions within reason.

I want to finish all these projects eventually in any event, but it’ll happen a whole lot sooner and with a much happier, healthier me if I can count on your financial support.

Pretty please?

Announcing a New Venture!

Yessiree, I been an’ gone an’ done it:

shop banner

The Frontier Calligrapher will be an outlet for selling my calligraphy designs and Celtic knotwork art, along with some other fun stuff. I’m starting small with a selection of journals, note cards, postcards, and framed tiles, but I’ve already got a decent buffer of designs ready to add and more in the draft stage, and of course I can add more products like mugs and T-shirts as I go along. Please come see what I have so far, and check back frequently for new designs!

The A Word

Some labels are easy to accept, to claim for oneself.

Hi, I’m Dr. Wolfe. I’m an English professor.
I’m a freelance editor.
I’m a translator.
I’m an author. I write Westerns.
I’m a singer, when health permits.
I’m an American. I’m a Texan.
I’m a Christian.

Some may not be pleasant, but there’s a degree of power in accepting them.

I have several chronic illnesses. I battle depression and anxiety.

But there’s one label I’ve been reluctant to claim for a host of reasons. People have certain preconceptions about what it means that don’t fit me at all–what one does, how one does it, how such a person acts and dresses, etc. I don’t have credentials or (much) formal training. I’m not as good at it as some people, as I want to be.

Tonight, though, as I’ve been working on pencil drafts for a project I’ll post more about later, it suddenly struck me that none of those objections really matter. I’ve been experimenting–just noodling!–and getting some results that, on the whole, I’ve been quite happy with. So I think I can finally take a deep breath and say it:

Hi, I’m Elisabeth, and I’m an artist.

For St. Paddy’s Day

St. Patrick's Breastplate, ink and watercolor, 24" x 36" Shown here on the south porch of Company Headquarters, Fort McKavett
St. Patrick’s Breastplate, ink and watercolor, 24″ x 36″
Shown here on the south porch of Company Headquarters, Fort McKavett

Atomriug indiu
niurt trén togairm trindóit
cretim treodatad
fóisitin oendatad
in dúleman dail.

I arise today in a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
in belief in the threeness,
in confession of the oneness,
toward the Creator of creation.

–St. Patrick

Fun with Upholstery Remnants: Brush and Pencil Case

Part 3 of a sewing experiment–this series starts here.

Rather than leaving my detail brushes, pencils, and the like rattling around loose in my sketchbox or writing slope, I decided to make a case for them from part of the large scrap piece left after making my cushion. That ought at least to keep them all in one place!

... and interior
… and interior

The finished product
One case for brushes, pencils, etc., with two additional wide interior pockets, approx. 5″ x 10″ closed and empty (plus tie); holds 14 brushes/pencils

What you need
Large upholstery scrap, cut to 12″ x 12″
Long, narrow upholstery scrap (for making the tie)
Lining fabric of your choice
Fusible interfacing
Sturdy thread
Optional: Wide ribbon or leather would be good alternatives for the tie. If you prefer not to use a tie at all, a toggle would also work; you can find toggles at fabric stores that sell handbag hardware, or make your own with a loop of fabric or ribbon and a nice big button. I also used a disappearing ink pen for marking and basting spray to adhere the interior to the exterior before stitching.
Continue reading “Fun with Upholstery Remnants: Brush and Pencil Case”

Fun with Upholstery Remnants: Easy Box Cushion

Part 2 of a sewing experiment–this series begins here.

One item I have sorely needed (pun intended) to add to my reenactment kit is a good seat cushion. So, since my upholstery remnant was big enough for multiple projects, that was one I decided to tackle. We found a good-sized form at Hobby Lobby, and after some searches for directions, this is how the project shook out. (Apologies for not citing my sources, but I really don’t remember where I found them!)

The finished product
One box cushion, approx. 3″ x 14″ x 14″

What you need
One cushion form, 3″ x 14″ x 14″
Upholstery remnant, at least 1/2 yd.
Sturdy thread
Optional: Piping or other trim

There are two different ways to approach making a box cushion. One is to cut two squares just large enough to cover the top and bottom, plus seam allowance, and join them with a single strip wide enough to cover the sides and long enough to wrap all the way around. You might want to try this method if you want to add trim or if you find two coordinating remnants, using one for the top and bottom and one for the sides, or if your remnant is big enough to let you cut a seamless side strip. Mine wasn’t, so I went at it the other way (and decided to save my piping for something else).

2x 18″ x 18″ of upholstery fabric

First, after pinning the two squares with wrong sides together, I stitched three sides closed:

Marking seams with chalk was impossible on this fabric because of the way the threads lay on the back, so I had to do the best I could with pins and rulers.
Marking seams with chalk was impossible on this fabric because of the way the threads lay on the back, so I had to do the best I could with pins and rulers.

To place the corner seams, I left the cover wrong side out and inserted the cushion. Doing so leaves a triangle of fabric at each corner, which I pinned along the line where the seam needed to go. I also placed a pin closer to the point to make it easier to keep each corner folded properly.

Like so (sorry it's blurry; my camera seems not to like having the flash off)
Like so (sorry it’s blurry; my camera seems not to like having the flash off)

With that done, I removed the cushion and stitched the corner seams.

Tacked and tied for extra security.
Tacked and tied for extra security.

Once all the corners were stitched, I measured a 1/2″ seam allowance from each seam and trimmed off the excess.

... which took more leverage with the scissors to get through all the layers than you might think...
… which took more leverage with the scissors to get through all the layers than you might think….

Then I turned the cover right side out and put the cushion back in.

... which took a good deal of squishing and scootching, but I managed it....
… which took a good deal of squishing and scootching, but I managed it….
Here's how the seams look.  Now, you may want to be more particular about matching patterns than I was, but I figured it didn't matter so much if most of it was going to be hidden by my skirt anyway.
Here’s how the seams look. Now, you may want to be more particular about matching patterns than I was, but I figured it didn’t matter so much if most of it was going to be hidden by my skirt anyway.

Lastly, I closed the final side. Et voila!


Cheap, cheerful, and sure to help save my back from the torments of long hours in hard chairs. 😀

Fun with Upholstery Remnants: The Setup

My mom and I were at Hobby Lobby with one of my aunts the other day, going through the fabric section, when my mom suddenly spied a couple of tapestry-ish upholstery remnants. “Do you need that?” she asked, handing me one, a yard and a quarter of medieval-looking paisley.
“Sure!” I said.
“Does F need that?” she asked, handing me the other, three quarters of a yard of a different paisley with fun fringe accents.
So we bought them, and on the way home, I puzzled through what to do with them. There followed some digging online for instructions, a round of comparison shopping, a purchase from Dooley’s in Fredericksburg and an order from Hancock Fabrics, and some plotting of cutting strategies in Paint so as to make the most of each piece of fabric. That changed somewhat when I unrolled my fabric and discovered this little bonus:

This after I'd removed the first few inches of seam, for ease of illustration.
This after I’d removed the first few inches of seam, for ease of illustration.

I’m sure some people would be upset to find a join like that, but for me, it was perfect–the majority of the extra strip was just the right width for making piping, which I’d been planning to do anyway! And the main piece was longer than the wrapper had indicated, which left me enough extra to make more piping than I’d planned for one item… all the more decoration for other things. 😀 F’s fabric was also longer than anticipated, which solved the problem of how to cut a wide enough strip for piping from it.

I’ll hold off on posting about the big project until after I’ve given F her gift, but I thought other friends might appreciate seeing what I’m doing (and possibly having the chance to laugh at me for not knowing what I’m doing!). So I’ll share pictures and instructions as I go along, starting with the piping.
Continue reading “Fun with Upholstery Remnants: The Setup”