Every week since November I've been sending out a weekly newsletter. I'd thought about starting a newsletter for a while, but it was Abby Glassenberg's book, How to Create: a Powerful Email Newsletter: A Comprehensive Guide for Creatives, that inspired me to start.
I strangely love it, partly because I decided I didn't want my newsletter to just be a giant advertisement for my store, but a way to tell folks about images, sites, and work that was interesting me. I'm barely 6 weeks in to the world of email newsletter authorship and I spend way too much time searching the net, bookstores, newspapers, and magazines looking for what I refer to as my weekly inspiration.
It was in assembling my inspiration links for last week's newsletter that I came to think about The Matzah Principle. Cute graphic, huh? I was searching for a font that looked more like Hebrew and found several, but couldn't figure out how to use them with Adobe Indesign CC. Know how? Please email me through my contact page.
Anyway, I first heard that quote a few months ago. It's from episode #361 of the podcast, Planet Money. The focus of the segment was that making matzah, the unleavened bread Jews eat during the holiday of Passover, is a very difficult task. To emphasize the point, the podcast detailed the many arduous steps and checks Manischewitz, America's largest manufacturer of Kosher foods and specifically Kosher for Passover foods, goes through to make the matzah and other items they sell. As a Jew, it was very entertaining, mostly because, other than the Southern Baptist guy who actually runs the plant, everyone sounds like my Zayde (that's yiddish for grandfather).
As a creative and someone who makes something from scratch, by hand, it made me think about my product, hand dyed and patterned fabric. Though I have written a book about my process, Color Your Cloth: A Quilter's Guide to Dyeing and Patterning Fabric and recorded a Craftsy class explaining it, I don't think I've ever talked about here.
All my of the base fabric that will eventually become my hand dyed prints or solids comes to me as bolts of undyed white Pima cotton. I usually dye that fabric a base color of some sort and by dye I mean vat dye. Once dry, I pattern it by hand with a tool or a brush or a stamp and vat dye the fabric a second time. I then boil out that fabric. Yes, boil it out, on the stove in a big pot. I use wax as a resist to create my patterns and the only effective way to get all the wax out and return the fabric to it's soft, pre-patterned hand is to boil it. Once boiled, I wash, iron, and press the fabric before packaging it for mailing.
Sounds like a long process? It is, but it creates a fabric that is intensely colored and very unique and I love making it. However, it definitely fits the Matzah Principle definition of being difficult, though not annoying. Before I started selling the fabric that I was then using in my finished items, I did a bit of Etsy research and found that, though there were other sellers of hand dyed fabrics, no one was dyeing and patterning with wax resist to create simple, graphic patterns. Which means that, though I can't speak to whether my fabrics are better than anyone else's, I do know that not a lot of people are making what I make. It's just too much work. That statement is both comforting and cautionary, but also the focus of a different blog post.
When I first heard the Matzah Principle I found it amazingly inspirational and oh so comforting. I love crafting fabric, really love it, and I love running my business, even, surprisingly things I didn't think I would take to, like putting out a weekly newsletter, but it's difficult and, sometimes, discouraging. We're a world of mass produced Target shoppers and I'm asking folks to pay a premium for something hand made and that hand made something isn't even a finished something, you still have to do stuff to it to make it a finished something. I think it's worth it, prettier than any mass produced fabric, including my own commercial fabrics. I'll keep making it and, because I'm obviously a big believer in the Matzah Principle, I have some innovations in store for 2016.
I hope, for those of you also making or doing something difficult and trying to find your niche that you find encouragement in the Matzah Principle.
Also, because I do actually run a business, I hope that, if you've enjoyed this post, you'll use the form at the bottom of the page to subscribe to my weekly newsletter and see what inspirations and innovations I have planned.