TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Sunday, July 24, 2011

TAFA's New Website: The Prototype is Here!

TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List was launched in January of 2010 using Blogger as a temporary platform.  All along, I have known that eventually we would have to invest in a new site that could accommodate our needs.  By January of 2011, we had clearly outgrown the blog format and began investing time and energy in getting a new site.  For the last two months we have been fundraising on IndieGoGo.  With two days to go, we have raised enough to launch the core part of our site, but still need another $1,400 to develop all of the bells and whistles we would like to have on the site.

Our designer, Nathan Brown of Horizon Media Group, finished the prototypes for the new site's look yesterday.  I almost cried with relief when I got the emails from him.  Although we still have a lot of work to do, I knew that our members would like this design.  It was so much more beautiful than I imagined!  It spells happiness and joy, a welcoming to the beauty that is so much what TAFA is all about!

The landing page has several versions, showing how the largest image will flash to different scenes:

Nathan basically plugged in different things he found from our links.  The Home Page will be the portal to the different hubs and features of the site.  We are working on much of that through a think tank group of TAFA members.  All along, as TAFA has developed and grown as an organization, members have had input and helped shape the direction.  It has truly been a great experiment in democracy!  Of course, I have to make many of the decisions, but I feel that I can do so from an informed place.  Our members are mature and have an extraordinary amount of knowledge, business savvy, and experience in the field.  I certainly could not have come this far on my own and every day I am grateful, humbled and honored by having this experience with TAFA and its members.

TAFA Member Profile Prototype

Right now, our members have their profiles on the site as a post, listing their background and internet sites.  At full functionality, each member will have their own landing page, highlighting their products and other online presence.  Member profiles will be like mini-websites.  All users will be able to register, sign in, save profiles and product that they like for further reference, leave comments and connect to each other.  We want to be able to integrate some of the best social media functions into the site.  That is what we still need to raise some money for...  and that is what will benefit the whole fiber art and textile community the most.  We hope that you will see how wonderful TAFA will be as a community hub.

Product search template for TAFA

Developing a smooth search system for TAFA products is the most challenging part of the site for us.  We have a think tank on facebook, a group of TAFA members, which has been discussing how to best set this up.  Language is important.  There will be two product areas on TAFA, the main search database that links back to member profiles and a market, much like the one we have set up temporarily, TAFA Market, which links to member shopping carts outside of the site.  One is basically to introduce member products and the other is for shopping.  The main search will also include books authored by members, videos, and so on.

Do you like what you see?  YOU can help us make TAFA the best it can be.  Donate to our campaign.

We only have a couple of days left.  Here is what you get with your donation:

  • All donors will be listed permanently on a page on our new website.  You can see who has contributed so far by going here.
  • $10 Donation: Name on the site
  • $20 Donation: Name and link of choice on the site.
  • $50 Donation:  Name, link and image on site.
  • $100 Donation: Name, link, image and gift.  (See gifts listed.)
  • $215 Donation: Name, link, image and 18 months of advertising.  (Less than $12 a month).
We still need to raise over $1,300, so any amount you can give will help us get closer to our goal.

The new site will still take a couple of months of work before we can launch it.  Meanwhile, visit our member profiles at TAFA List and shop from our TAFA Market.  You can also visit our Etsy member shops on our Team Blog.

Many thanks to all of you who have contributed and are making a wild and beautiful dream come true!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List now has an online market!

We have been fundraising on IndieGoGo for the last 50 days to raise money for TAFA's new website.  The goal is to create a site that can serve as a hub for our members (now at almost 300 from 23 countries), that is interactive, that showcases our products, announces workshops, and that has all kinds of bells and whistles which will serve the whole textile and fiber art community.  Such a site costs money.  We have been working with a local design group in Paducah who has quoted the cost at around $5,000, a low price for what we are getting ('cuz they like me and they like TAFA).

We have 11 days left to the fundraiser and are only halfway at our goal.  We need all of you who can donate to jump in and do so now.  Oh, and the TAFA Market?  What's THAT about?  Well, my feeling was that people needed a visual to see what our products would look like on an image-based search engine.  So, Aynex Designs, a TAFA member, offered to set something up on Wordpress.  She and I worked hard at it for two weeks and we ended up with something truly stunning!  

Art Quilts on the TAFA Market

This is a temporary site intended to help give our fundraiser momentum, but also a great exercise in looking at categories, language and other design elements we will incorporate into the new site.  We hope to have a prototype of the new landing page in the next few days.  (The new site will look nothing like this one.)  A group of TAFA members is meeting on facebook in a "think-tank" capacity, discussing the many ways we can set up categories, how they can break down, what they should be called, etc.  When we talk about "textiles and fiber art", we are including ancient traditions and all kinds of experimental niches within the contemporary arena- how do we make sense of it all?

Accessories and Jewelry on the TAFA Market

For this temporary site, I tried to keep it simple.  We have some of the major type categories (art quilts, weaving, felting, embroidery) and then a few function categories (accessories and jewelry, home interiors, tools and supplies, etc.).  We were also able to create other groupings by using tags, such as "nature" or "jewelry-necklace", so that the images would show up in different ways.

Felting on the TAFA Market

Who is on the TAFA Market?  I chose to reward members who have contributed time and or money to TAFA, both in the fundraiser and through this past year.  We have come a long way and I am so grateful to all of the members who have supported this vision and me.  It is easy for me to work on behalf of TAFA- just look at these products!  They truly are the cream of the crop!  Our growth process has been extremely democratic with member input and ideas shaping the vision all along.  I did have this larger idea of TAFA's potential from the beginning, but there has been a core group of members who have dedicated time and energy to help me make it happen.  (We're not there yet, so we do need YOU to jump in, too!)  The products you see on the TAFA Market are a small percentage of what will be on the new site.  We seriously aim to become THE destination for the textile and fiber art community.

Weaving on the TAFA Market

One of the things I am most proud of TAFA is its international representation.  I have been on a crusade for a long time, insisting that "ethnic" and "contemporary" products need to share the same platform.  My dream is finally coming true!  On almost every page of the TAFA Market, you will see examples of work made by studio artists along side of work made by traditional communities from around the world.  Why should the San Francisco weaver and the one in Laos be separated withing the Handmade Revolution?  This is a huge beef I have with Etsy.  They have aggressively barred fair trade groups and non-profits from having a collective presence on the site.  I find this injurious and damaging on so many levels!  The TAFA Market proves that co-existence is the right approach.  We are in this world together.  We learn from each other, we grow because of what the other does, and we have similar needs.

Supplies and Tools on the TAFA Market

Building the Supplies and Tools page was a fascinating process!  We have so many member who are selling gorgeous yarns, fabrics, dyes and tools....  I think this in itself will be a huge contribution to the fiber arts/textile community.  Access to so many small businesses who are harvesting their own materials, many with a commitment to environmental and humane practices.  Absolutely wonderful!

Workshops on the TAFA Market

Finally, I added a page of workshops and it makes your jaw drop...  TAFA's membership consists of mostly women in their 50's and 60's.  This means that they are seasoned experts.  Many, many are teachers and authors, leaders in our community.  The new site will be able to showcase all of these talents and opportunities in wonderful ways.  There will be a community calendar where you will be able to see all of the workshops being offered around the world.  Members will be able to load their video tutorials, books, and other educational tools on the site.  The collective knowledge represented here is endless!

I hope that this post motivates you to contribute financially to our vision.  Donate whatever you can to our fundraiser on IndieGoGo.   Donors are thanked on facebook, indiegogo and will have a permanent link on our site.  For now, you can see who has donated and what gifts are available on this page.  We are offering a great advertising deal, too.  Donate $215 to the fundraiser and get an 18 month ad on TAFA.  This will transfer over to the new site when it launches.  You do not need to have a business to do this.  You can advertise your favorite charity or site and you will know that you are supporting a great cause.

What will happen to this TAFA Market?  The new site will still take a few months to build.  Meanwhile, we can use this one to showcase our members.  Click on an image on the market and it takes you to the member's shopping cart.  Buy from them!  Support these wonderful people who work so hard to excel at what they do!  Share the link with others who may also like it.  Spread the word about TAFA!

I am deeply appreciative of all the time Aynex spent in helping us set this up.  Do you need a new website or graphic design services?  Please contact her for any work you need done.  She has a broad range of experience, her prices are reasonable, and she is just a great person.  Aynex Designs

Together we can do great things!



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