TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cyber Monday: Rayela Art Top Ten Picks

Remember when shopping meant knowing the shop keeper?

Yesterday was Cyber Monday, the supposed big day for online retailers, following Black Friday, the supposed big day for brick and mortar retailers. Considering the state of the economy, reports for Black Friday were better than expected, especially as deep discounts motivated shoppers to snap up a deal.

Well, my Cyber Monday was disappointing. I sold nothing. Zilch. So, I'm going to have a cyber tantrum. Eeekkk! Throwing self to the floor, rolling around, waving arms, stomping feet on the floor, throwing some small stuff across the room... "Why? Why, oh, why?" Boo, hoo, sniff, sniff...

OK. That's over. Actually, I lied. I did sell something, a textile block, but it hasn't been paid for yet, so it doesn't feel like a sale. And, I'm not going to have a tantrum. I have very low expectations for this season, just hoping to make enough to pay bills. I've worked very hard at building inventory, at marketing, at networking, but the reality is that I, like most other sellers in the art world, don't sell anything anybody really needs. So, when times are hard, we are likely to drop very quickly on the list of priorities. Unless, that is, you think people need art and other beautiful handmade things. I happen to think that we do, but I also understand that we need to meet our most basic commitments first: food, utilities, rent/mortgage, education, transportation, etc. Times are tough for a lot of people. Meanwhile, there are still some of you out there who are going to shop and I just want to point you in MY direction.... (heh, heh)

Although I love all kinds of handmade things, I decided several years ago to focus on fiber. Hmmm.... wonder where the blog name came from? I sell three kinds of fiber related products:
  • Supplies for the fiber artist: textile stamps, fabric, unfinished embroidered pieces, salvaged remnants from old textiles, batiks, beads, and anything else I can find or buy.
  • Vintage textiles: ralli quilts, suzanis, kilim rugs, ethnic clothing (kimono, Turkman coats, etc.)
  • Things I make: hats, bags, pillows, and quilts.
Nothing anybody really needs, right? So who buys what I have to offer? My target market generally consists of educated women over 25 yrs who have travelled or experienced multi-culturalism in some way, have some disposable income and have a craft skill. I'm guessing that's probably true with this blog as well. If that's not you, you are still welcome!

I've focused most of my energy on my Etsy shop, which is now stocked with more than 300 items. This can be a little overwhelming when searching for a gift, so I thought I would highlight 10 items to help you find your way. The photos are linked to the shop, so if they grab your attention, click on them to see more information. I've written posts about most of these in the past. Click on the labels in the middle column for more information on them.

Textile Stamps

My number one seller on Etsy, textile stamps are normally bought by artists who use them on paper, fabric or clay. They are also beautiful as carvings and make good gifts for men. Larger ones can be displayed on the wall with a plate hanger or standing in a plate stand.

A side note here: I just got a new batch in that I've photographed but have not started listing. They are available at a 10% discount on my website.

Ralli Quilts

Of everything I have, these are my favorite. Most are faded and show some distress. I love how time has made its mark and how imperfect they are. They make a wonderful gift for anyone who likes tribal art and are functional. I have one on my bed, but of course they look great on the wall, too. How about for a college student? Someone who is just starting to decorate their space. I have several listed.

Another favorite! A rule of thumb I have in buying is to purchase only what I won't mind keeping. You never know what will sell, and in time it might end up staying with me. Suzanis are for those special people who can live with bold, bright colors. They are organic and fluid in their design, also full of imperfections.

Tribal Rugs and Pillows

Great gifts for guys! I have a bunch of tribal rugs and related items (salt bags, pillows) listed on both Etsy and eBay. I've bought mostly smaller items as they are easier to ship, although these kilims have been quite popular on Etsy, so I hope to get more in the future. Most are from Afghanistan. Many are seconds or have been salvaged from larger pieces, keeping the price affordable.


Molas are reverse applique made by the Kuna Indians of Panama and Colombia. The one pictured is my most expensive one at $72, but I have a large selection in the $30 range, plus lots of small molitas for $9 or $15. Molas can be made into pillows or bags and look great framed.

Vintage Ethnic Clothing

The photo shows a Turkman robe, one of many that I have listed. I normally also carry vintage kimono, but am out of them right now. I do have some beautiful saris and sarongs listed as well. Vintage clothing can be worn, made into something else or displayed as a textile.


Mukluks are my top sellers on eBay. The photo is linked to my eBay store, so check to see what is there. I just got a whole bunch of them in and have photos ready, but haven't listed them yet. I wear these all winter! They are so comfortable! I've washed mine with the leather soles by machine and they have held up. I get them from an Afghan friend who buys them from refugee women in Pakistan. They are made out of recycled sweaters. I can get quantities if anyone is interested in re-selling them.

Rayela Art

These last three photos are of things I've made. I don't have a lot of time for production although I hope to someday dedicate myself more to my own art. I love texture and explore different ways of playing with it in my things. My prices can seem pretty high, but I'm basically trying to pay myself $15/hr including supplies for my work. That's fair, isn't it?

Ah, Snow, the dog-food purse.... This little beauty has gotten a lot of attention! I will make more in the future, but they are very time consuming, so expect maybe two or three a year.

Yep, I also made this necklace. Well, strung it together... Although I used to make a lot of beaded pieces like this, I pretty much stay away from it nowadays because of all the competition on Etsy. There is so much talent and wonderful work there! But, every now and then I get the itch, pull out the beads and make a stack of things. I've had great access to quality supplies for a long time, so know that these are not cheap imitations or plastic.

That's about it! I have much more listed, but this gives you an idea of the mix. Of course I am hoping that these things will sell. Then I can make a living at this and buy more from my vendors who will buy more from their suppliers and so on. The ethnic things are getting harder to find and more expensive (you know... like oil!), so they are finite, at least in this price range. And, it's a small niche of people who really love these textiles like I do. I will not have a tantrum if my sales are low this year, but believe me that I will be grateful for everyone that comes in!

Maybe what I have is not for you, not your taste. Then explore all these other wonderful shops on Etsy and in other venues. It's mind boggling how much beauty is being made. If you are buying during this Holiday season, then join myself and others and take the Handmade Pledge. Be a part of this exciting movement!


1 comment:

“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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