Sunday, June 22, 2008

Food For Thought - The Power of the Net

How small our world has become thanks to the Internet.

I was reminded recently that the first List I signed up on recently had it's 10th anniversary, and this gave me cause to reflect on what has happened over that time.

I remember being quite computer-illiterate back then. Fortunately, others around me had more knowledge about how it worked...and helped me to get out there. My brother for one had set up a small site hosting pages featuring Canadian artisans...mostly family and friends...showcasing their talents and providing contact information for those interested in purchasing goods shown for sale.

Funny thing is...I didn't sell one thing from this venue...but...what it did do was connect me with a few individuals who saw my work...connected me to resources...and in their own way changed my future!

Maryanne Croome.....a fellow Canadian...(hailing from Burlington ON) had begun this thing called a List for Silk Ribbon Embroidery enthusiasts. She e-mailed me to invite me to participate in this group and as it was free...hey...why not? It was fabulous to see that there were lots of people out there in the world who loved this as much as I did...and I was able to see pictures of what kinds of things others made using this medium. (At this point I did not have a scanner...so my descriptions were all I could offer.)

Next I was contacted by another Mary Anne ... Griffin! She found the Circle of Hands site and was eager to meet other SRE designers to chat with. (At this point I didn't even think of myself as a designer.) We became fast friends and I told her about the list that I had joined, then she joined too.

That year my DH gave me a scanner for my birthday...so now I could create images of my work to share with my net-friends. I was like a kid in a candy store...once I got the hang of creating pics...I was sharing all of the new things I had made...which were abundant then...and getting such positive feedback ... I was thrilled! But more than this...there were several who insisted that my creations were good enough to publish. Denial was my first response...thanks...nice of you to say but...I wouldn't have a clue how to do that.

I met one lovely lady on the list who unwittingly empowered me. Nora Creeach had a birthday...and decided to share a gift with the List members via a draw. She put names of interested parties into a hat and pulled out a winning name for this gift....and it was me! Cool! She sent my gift in the mail...a book called Ribbon Basics by Mary Jo Hiney and Joy Anckner. It is such a beautifully done publication...featuring awesome alphabetic creations in silk ribbon.

While looking through all the mapped out patterns, it struck me how to pattern my own pieces!

See...my forte has always been in creating originals...not creating a pattern first and working from it. I had to work backwards...making a the original and then patterning from it. When I realized that all I needed to do was to trace over my original through a clear acetate sheet...the designer in me was finally unleashed! All I had to do was get some fine permanent markers...and map the design with pattern graphics.....and I could create a pattern that others could recreate! My original acetate could be scanned to create a reproduction that could indeed be copied.

Armed with this knowledge I took the next step. My friend Terry Albright had provided me with contact information to the editor of a magazine called NeedleWorker. I mustered every ounce of courage that I had...forwarded some scans of my work...and waited for a reply. What was the worst that she'd say?....your work is lovely but...

I was not prepared for the reply. She did indeed find it publishing material...and would like to present it as part of a set...so did I have some other ideas that could work with my sachet as a trio?

The rest....so they say...is history! The "Silk Ribbon Boudoir Accents" consisted of the original sachet, an oval doily and a tissue box cover (both of which I created only drawings for...not expecting to have to actually make patterns for...but forced into putting my money where my mouth and sketches were...I actually did!) It was a "Special Feature" in the October/November 2000 issue!

Let me tell you...there is no greater high than seeing your work professionally photographed and in print for the very first time...declaring "Designs by Marie Alton". I felt immortal!

Did I forget to mention?.....the editor then was none other than the incredible Deanna Hall West?

Can you imagine how my hands trembled sending that first e-mail to her?

That all seems so long ago and far away...because since then I had a total of three articles presented by NeedleWorker....one a collaboration with Deanna....and a fourth presented by Quilting Arts magazine featuring my very own Melanie Rose.

So there.....that is how it all came to be...and I thank you all....for changing my life!

4 comments:

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Thanks Marie, for the nice 'history' about you! I enjoyed reading it.

Allison Ann Aller said...

I enjoyed reading your story, too...
...and those Portholes are such a great idea. That quilt will be smashing when it is all together.
~Allie

Rissa said...

Nora is a mensch. Maybe I should honor her by carrying on the tradition of giving things away on my birthay.

Marie Alton said...

Rissa...I always was grateful for that book...it was like receiving a revelation! It was like a light went on and it all fell into place!

It'd be a great tradition to continue!

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