Friday, January 18, 2013

Write a Song to Walk Me Through an Open Doorway

"Write a Song to Walk Me Through an Open Doorway" fiber art wall hanging by Nita Lou Bryant

Stone carving.
Jewelry making.
Pencasting, podcasting.
Painting with watercolors.

I have done all of these things, and I have written about most of them.  I was always writing, writing, writing, writing, writing: fiction, memoir, poetry, personal essay, newspaper column, screenplay, TV pilot.

Suddenly--much to my surprise--along came songwriting, closely followed by voice lessons.

Then I picked up a guitar...

And though I still enjoy cooking and knitting and making jewelry and taking photographs and sewing and painting with watercolors and doing all kinds of writing, I've got to tell you, people: music has stolen my heart. It has become my one, true, everlasting love.

The day just doesn't feel right if I don't spend some part of it holding a guitar. I wake up with melodies in my head, along with rhythms and snippets of lyrics I can't wait to sing or play or write down. When I look back at something I've written in my journal, words and phrases dance up from the page, demanding to be stitched together into song.

It all comes together for me in music. Everything I've ever seen or heard or tasted or smelled or touched, made with my hands, thought, dreamed, experienced, or imagined shows up in my songs. A very dear friend of mine who's both a writer and a musician wrote this to me just yesterday:

"I know about the blisters and callouses and frustration of trying to learn new chords and make it sound like music. But you did it. You worked through all of the klutzy, clumsy mechanics and broke through into a place where the instrument becomes an expression of your personality. That can't be taught. You're born with it. Then, if you're diligent and focused, you're born in it. Your songs are you."

Dear Readers, I want to be diligent and focused. I want to be reborn as song.

And I want to write about it at a new blog called Nita Lou Songs.

In fact, this last post here at Studio Nita Lou will be my first post at Nita Lou Songs. I hope to see all of your faces in the audience over there and hear you singing along.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What I've Been Doing Instead of Sewing

I had no idea this would happen, this now long-term disruption. It wasn't any one thing, but rather a series of events that's prevented me from spending time in my studio.

But, oh, I miss sewing...

The last time I wrote in this space I thought the disruption was over. I'd been knocked for a loop when the owner of the retail shop in which my Sedbi products were on display and for sale defaulted on the rent and the shop was closed suddenly, leaving me scrambling to gain access to my products still on display behind change-of-locked doors. I got them back, but not yet the money that was owed me. I don't so much hold out hope that the shop owner will eventually honor his debts as I do belief in the possibility that this could happen.

The last time I wrote I was excited about listing my products for sale online at Goodsmiths, but that process, too, was interrupted when I made a major decision to relocate my studio from Austin to Rosanky, Texas--or rather, a 1908 farmhouse a few miles from that town. I'd been browsing rural properties for rent, thinking it would be so cool to have a workspace out in the country with more space to create,  more peace and quiet, and a view. I really didn't think I would anything, much less find anything quickly but I did. Below is a photo of Sedbi Design Studio's new location:

Sedbi Design Studio's new location

And here is the view from the front porch:

view from Sedbi Design Studio's front porch

There's a small, round stock pond just the other side of that fence that the horses and cattle and donkeys drink from. Sometimes we hear the frogs in it singing. I say "we" because this is shared office space, for Sedbi and for my husband's consulting business. Two front doors, two rooms, two workspaces. So a lot of my time that would otherwise have been spent sewing has been taken up with getting two business enterprises relocated.

In the meantime, while not sewing I've been writing songs and painting watercolors, and baking bread. Not for monetary gain, but doing these things surely doth profit my soul. When, eventually, I sit back down at my sewing machine I like to think that all these sounds and colors and scents and textures in which I've immersed myself while not sewing will be transmuted into ever more wondrous fabric creations.

And I can't wait to sew something that conjures the sound of frog song.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Walkabout Snails and Online Sales: Sedbi Design Studio On the Move to Goodsmiths

photo by Nita Lou Bryant

Ah, the challenges of marketing one's handmade goods...

I love to make things, but I'm not very, um, adventuresome when it comes to attempting to sell them. Thus I was thrilled a few months ago to be able to place my Sedbi Design Studio products in an existing shop that specialized in locally-made artisan goods. Voila! I could spend my time in the studio while the shop's owner chatted with customers and rang up my sales. Unfortunately, things didn't exactly turn out that way. I recently received notice that the shop had suddenly closed, so suddenly in fact that I feel lucky to have gotten my products and display materials back before the entire space was cleared for a new tenant.

Now, my dream situation would be to have my very own little retail establishment--big enough for my sewing machine and fabric and other supplies, along with sufficient display room so I could both make and sell my Sedbi Design Studio products in one place. But judging from the rental rates for small retail spaces here in Austin, Texas, this will continue to be just a dream.

Yes, I could hustle up new consignment venues and lug my merchandise around to craft fairs, but I've not yet figured out how to do all that and still have time to create in the studio. Plus write songs and play guitar and paint watercolors and cook and keep house and ride herd on a family that includes a dog, eight fish, and one snail with a bad case of wanderlust. Speaking of whom, this morning we discovered him near the base of a tabletop fan atop a bar stool that's a few feet away from the fish tank. We're still trying to figure out how he managed to get there.

Inspired by the snail's boldness and because I enjoy shopping online, I've decided to try online marketing of my own products. Specifically, I am setting up shop at Goodsmiths. In fact, if you clink on that link and then click on "Housewares," you'll see some of my Sedbi Design Studio products already listed. For sale. In the Sedbi Design Studio shop at Goodsmiths. Where someone could actually buy them.

Only a dozen or more listings to go and then I can get back to making stuff. Except first, maybe I better check to see if that pesky snail has gone walkabout again.

Distance from Fan to Fish Tank
photo by Nita Lou Bryant
Snail's Eye View of the Fan from the Fish Tank
photo by Nita Lou Bryant

Snail, Fan, Fish Tank
photo by Nita Lou Bryant