seeds & lentils


Sick of this embroidery, yet? Now that I’ve spent a day or two on it, my passion for it has come back to life, and I am excited to do as much work on it as I can before…uh, well, before I lost interest in it again. LOL. I have the attention span of a house fly, never mind a puppy’s.

I’ve sprinkled the spaces between the lentils (Circular Rhodes Stitch, that stitch is called, let’s get that right,) with seeding stitch, and love the very lizard-skin effect of it all.

I know, watching me slowly complete my projects is getting boring. Sorry. I feel like I have to post about something, every couple of days, if only because I’m conscious of those brave people who have subscribed to this feed in good faith!

Though sometimes I don’t know why I bother writing anything else for this blog…did you know that the majority of my visitors come to view this? It’s been viewed 173,658 times. Somewhere out there (I have no idea where, I never come across it!) my little tutorial has gone viral. It has been going strong for two years. Last January, WordPress sent me the year’s stats for my blog, and congratulated me on this particular post, saying it proves that my writing has “staying power”. It’s ironic because there are hardly any words to this post, just a bunch of photos; and it’s success is made even more bittersweet by the fact that I came up with that project just to ‘feed‘ my blog…you know, to pad it with some quick and easy post because writing something of substance or interest can be hard, and in 2009 I had just started blogging, and hadn’t quite found my voice yet.

It’s pretty funny, when you think about it. My most ‘immortal’ post is nearly wordless, about some project I had devised while in a silly mood, and just so that I would have something to post on my blog that day. It’s not particularly close to my heart, that project, and I haven’t made any book beads since!

I have a bit more confidence in myself, now, so I no longer rack my brains to come up with projects and posts that I desperately hope readers will like. I work on my shit—embroidery, painting, bookbinding, whatever—I write about whatever I’m working on, or thinking about, or grappling with at the moment, and just sort of trust that there will be a few people who like the same sort of stuff that I do, or who think that what I am writing about is interesting.

I suppose that if I thought blogging was my occupation then I would care more, and I would be one of those bloggers who sees herself as “a brand.” My time and energy would go into boosting my numbers on social networks, and my blog would be set up so that I got paid every time someone visited, or clicked on an ad, or for every person who liked me on Facebook. I guess I would have to give things away and run contests, because with all the time spent marketing my “brand”, I wouldn’t have time to work with my hands or write anything really challenging or honest, and I’d have to woo my audience over with freebies and contests (and, seriously, what sort of an audience would that be? Do I really want an audience that’s just watching for the next giveaway?)

The domain name smallestforest.com was bought by a speculator company, shortly after I’d started using ‘smallest forest’ for all my web accounts, from Flickr and Facebook to DeviantArt and Twitter. Every year this company contacts me, trying to sell me the domain name. I told them sure I was interested, “I’ll give you $50 for the name.” The man who rang me seemed flummoxed. The company wanted to offer it to me for around $450. I laughed heartily, told him it wasn’t worth that much to me, and hung up. Ask me now, and I wouldn’t even offer you $50 for that domain name. You can stick it. 😀

I finally have things in perspective: I know I will never become a social-media blog whore…frankly, I just haven’t got the energy to be that peppy and pushy all the time. I make exactly the same amount of money if my blog had 3 visitors, or 7,000 visitors, in a single day = zilch. I don’t have to pander to anyone, and I can do what I like, and if nobody likes the day’s post, I shrug, and if 7,000 people swamp some other post I can’t let it go to my head, either, because it’s the same damn thing, in the end. An even keel. I don’t spend my days mapping out marketing strategies, though, or checking my phone every 10 minutes. I spend most of the hours of the day making things, doing things, reading books, getting my hands on real things and getting them dirty doing real things…a pay-off that I’m happy with.

I’m really curious to hear how your own blog’s stats actually relate to your favorite posts…are the posts that you are most proud of also the ones that others read the most? Do you ever find yourself wondering why something you posted is attracting so much attention, when something else you had really hoped to wow the internet with was pretty much ignored? Do you write to please yourself? Or others? Or have you found a balance between the two?

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22 thoughts on “seeds & lentils

  1. I blog because I was living in Germany and wanted to be in contact with like minded people who love to create and share what I was doing. There are other ways to make money, what I make I keep or give to the people I love. I resonate so much with what you say!

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  2. I blog because I want to do it. I do not have any successful posts. The only people who read my blog are a few relatives and a friend. My own mother doesn’t even read my blog. I’m ok with it. I do it for me most of the time.

    I like your blog because I think that your life is interesting, your art is interesting and I like how you write. It’s genuine.

    I had not seen that tutorial before today and while it is interesting, it is not a craft that I would do.

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  3. Thoughtful and thought-provoking post. First of all, I don’t see how your readers could get bored with that marvelous embroidery–part of the interest is the process of creation, the steps, the build up. Secondly, I think you’re right to turn away from the pecuniary aspects of blogging and to avoid dumbing-down to appeal to a wider audience. I have no interest in making money from blogging, but seek an audience that can appreciate my work and my texts, and who may be susceptible to news from my part of the world. I think your frank style is appreciated–keep up the good work!
    best, nadia

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  4. Well, my cyber friend, once you start blogging for the masses might be when I am no longer interested! 🙂 In other words….stay the course! Your blog and your life and your beautiful projects are SO of interest to those that matter! (ha….assuming little ole me in Tennessee matters! ha). So forget the masses because, after all…..what do the masses really do for you? 🙂 LOVE your posts, love your blog, love the photos you occasionally post about your life on the boat, etc. Love all of it. So no worries. For me….it’s VERY interesting and I could care less about making book beads. ha (sorry). 🙂 Cheers, T.

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  5. I read this blog because I like the way you write and I really like the stuff you make!
    You could probably go pro with it no worries but I’d have to stop reading it if you did. 😉
    I’m only interested in authentic self expression; money making blogs seem like a crock to me.

    RE: questions about your readers blogging experiences-
    Personally I’ve decided to drop out from all that social media stuff in an attempt to save myself from becoming totally ridiculous, but I’m still reading my favorite blogs. With only an hour or two of free time on most days I’ve found this decision to be quite empowering, I’ve even read a couple of books, finish two basics classes in sailing and squeezed in a few pre-dawn bike rides. If I chuck my computer out I may actually manage to recreate something akin to ‘real life’.

    Yes I have a blog and my stats showed that someone visited it last week… then I realized I’d searched it from an unknown computer which technically means I had zero visits but I’m counting it anyway.
    My most visited post is a bunch of crap about a Chinese bicycle I’ve got, The brand name is Phoenix. The post was labeled after a famous movie which is likely why I got a few hits.
    I have a favorite post but I don’t think anyone shared my enthusiasm for it.
    My blog is eclectic and posts are sporadic, I sensor myself heavily and have often deleted posts due to their political content. (Who cares? Right!)

    I’m not sure why I keep doing the blog… probably because my life is fairly restricted at the moment due to family commitments and I have never dealt well with being confined or housebound. Blogging is a way out…
    The balance for me is the fact that my readership is consistent whether a post is good or not… Basically, I’m pretty sure my mum stopped reading the blog about a year ago which means I’m down to just one regular visitor and I have to use other people’s computers to trick the stat counter that it isn’t me!

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    1. Thank you, Maxine…I freehand-drew the design with (guilty look) a pencil onto a second-hand white cotton bedsheet (good, hotel quality stuff! High thread count! LOL). No idea what it’ll be when it’s done, box-mounted probably, and included in an upcoming exhibition.

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  6. I have been a long time follower of your blog, found in the days when I was OBSESSED with bookbinding. I’m not very good at it, but I enjoy it and it is a way to get books that are just the size I want with the paper I want. I stayed because I loved your art (embroidery, bookbinding, painting) and was fascinated by the stories you told about your life on the other side of the world.
    I have recently started a blog, for a multitude of reasons. I am hoping that it will stand as a record to my creative activities and keep me disciplined. I tend to do crafts and art in cycles, but I want to draw more regularly and improve my photography and I hope that keeping the blog will help with that. I am also in a point of transition in my life (graduated college, got married, moved to a new city, am trying to figure out what to do with my life) and I want my blog to be a record of my writing and creative abilities. I put it on my resume, thinking “maybe it will help me stand out and get a job.” That idea keeps me from getting too lazy and forgetting to punctuate correctly! So mostly blogging for me is a thing of pleasure. I’ve kept a journal since I was twelve and I am enjoying this new way of recording my life.

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  7. This is the first time I have actually visited your blog, but I must say your post was refreshing. It’s nice to know that your writing comes from the heart and you aren’t influenced by sponsors or pandering to draw in more visitors, it’s the honesty and love of your work that is going to bring me back. Keep on keepin’ on!

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    1. Cheers, xperimentl, will do my best! I really do enjoy it. Love talking about myself (that’s a joke, but I guess it’s sort of half-true, anyway, no?) It’s nice to be able to write freely, and happy that you can discern that little difference. Thank you for the comment!

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  8. Yes… the things we do Nat
    it is great to have discussions and be shown a different way of going about Life , art and relationships..
    makes us well rounded and considered people…
    I wonder if Blogging is the sort of thing that people looked for in early communes….Artists , writers and dancers have always congregated together…..forming opinon and pushing boundaries.. What happened to Philosophers, anyone put that on the census form ? Did they find you with a census form Nat???
    I look at my community and see increasing SELF interest… money, achievment and fame are far more important than…. Discussion, understanding and acceptance…. I love the variety of people and places I can connect to with from just reading peoples Blogs.

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    1. A census form, Shazz? *Batts eyelashes innocently* Yes, they did. I earn a squillion zillion a year, have 11 brothers, and line dance for a living. 😀 To be honest I forgot, and went home, and nobody comes to see the muddy bay bottom feeders living up Sadgroves creek. But I leave enough of a paper trail in my daily life to have put myself down as a bookbinder many times, it is the most concrete thing I do (and I can say I have supported myself with it). I don’t like filling in profile forms, Shazz, they seem to narrow the boundaries of all I might possibly become, by trying to pin me down to what I am.
      You are a Lover. I think, if I could choose, I would like to say I am a Student.

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  9. Actually it was the book bead tutorial which brought me to your blog in the first place! I used the tutorial to make book beads with old books from the school library last year and the children loved them as much as I do. I think it was the thrill of being allowed to punch holes in book pages…! But there has been so much more to enjoy and share that I keep coming back. :o)
    I think I blog for myself, to stand back from what I’ve been making and doing and get a bit of distance on my thought processes. It’s lovely to be encouraged by positive comments, to start friendships, but more than anything to enjoy and admire the incredible creativity of extraordinary ordinary people all around the world.
    I love that embroidery – the colours and textures and fabulous stitching are a real treat. But I am suitably humbled – I thought I’d created your ‘lentil stitch’ about two years ago… Shows there’s nothing new under the sun!

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    1. Aha, I have one of you book bead nuts, at last! LOL Just kidding, I am glad it beckoned you over! More thinking about why I blog, and I find that it is distinct from why I write. I blog for the different people I meet, for moments like this, when the discussions continue, and I get different views, and glimpses into other people’s public lives (not presuming to claim to know any of you very deeply or well, but this surface glancing is fun, too) and feedback, too, on what I have done or am thinking of doing. And I blog for (being honest here) the praise and admiration, I guess. The photos, mainly. I love to be told that someone thinks this or that thing I’ve done is great.
      But I find that I write for an audience of intimate friends in my head…friends and my partner…whether they read my blog or not, they are the ones I hold in mind when I rattle my mind off, because I feel bolder when I imagine I’m talking to them. Otherwise, I might not say half of what I do, too worried that a rash statement will offend.
      You invented it , too, huh? Funny, that simple stitch has been so little used that we all want to think we invented it. It has sort of posed a challenge for me, though…is it POSSIBLE to invent a new (and not totally stupid) stitch? Tempted to try, but then wow what a lot of work I might just leave it… LOL Lazy.

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  10. I can say that I stumbled upon your blog thanks to this beautiful embroidery that you have been working on. As an art teacher who grew up with a mother and grandmother who embroidered everything I always thought it was beautiful, however i grew up drawing and painting so when I realized…wait I can draw it myself! It was a bit of an…wow i feel stupid for not realizing this…moment. However my work is simple and just line work but this “slow” completion of your project inspires me to do more an truly use the thread as if painting on canvas with gorgeous textures. I have never been one to share much of my work online in a consistent basis and writing for me has always been just as erratic as my own personal artwork however the interaction that stems from the online sharing has always been something i love. But never the less, if you enjoy what you do it should not matter who/how many flock to it or else you run the risk of doing your work for others rather than yourself.

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  11. My most successful post so far is on silk ribbon embroidery (http://enbrouderie.com/2011/02/21/silk-ribbon-embroidery-tutorials/). Ironically, I’ve never actually tried it myself. It makes me happy to send another blog so much traffic – I think it wasn’t on a lot of people’s radar because it’s partly in Turkish.

    I think one of the posts I’m most proud of is http://enbrouderie.com/2011/03/21/brown-is-a-color/, but it really hasn’t made much of a splash so far as I can tell.

    I really enjoy finding out new things, and I love writing about them and having other folks get excited too. And then sometimes a reader who knows a whole lot about it writes to me and it’s so exciting, like the internet gave me a present. Occasionally someone will blog about a project based on something I found and wrote about, and that’s really exciting too.

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  12. I spend a lot of time and energy writing two posts each week. I enjoy writing and the work that goes into creating each post. I vary what I write about and try to entertain as well as share my work as a professional in the quilting world. That said, the two queries that bring many people to my site are interesting, if irksome. I get at least one query each day about a quilt of a Volkswagen bug quilt that I didn’t make. Which is fine. I just broke down and researched the pattern and told curious searchers where they could get the pattern. Which I thought was very nice of me.
    But the phrase that gets way too many views of my blog is, “don’t tell my husband about my boyfriend.” I think two-timing wives out there are very disappointed to find a blog with a kooky lady who is simply obsessed with fabric.
    I would like more views of my blog, but, like you, I don’t want to go commercial with it. Recently I was thinking that the small blog readership I have (average 15 people per day) reminded me of how unpopular I was in high school.
    Ultimately I have to just trust that it reaches, entertains, and inspires someone and be happy with that.
    170,000 views is more than ten times my total hits so you are definitely much more popular than me. But if it gets people to your site and a few stick around then it’s a good thing. At least it’s a view of something you created spontaneously and joyously and its not chonicalling adultery!
    Keep writing. Keep up your spirits. And above all keep creating.
    Just remember that people all over the world, like me here in California, get something special added to their lives each time you share your creative work with us. It’s a little gift that adds to our lives.

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  13. I can’t imagine becoming sick of this embroidery because it is just amazing. How can you become sick of something that so inspires you? And I appreciate your thoughts about your blog and blogging in general. I, for one, am glad that you’re spending your time making such beautiful things than “branding” yourself. I don’t spend time thinking about my blog stats, etc. For me it is just a way of capturing a joyful part of my life and creativity and connecting to other makers. Just sharing that part of myself.

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    1. Oh, Olisa, I’m so glad you aren’t tired of it yet! God knows, it’s taking me ages to finish. I feel like I should apologize to anyone who’s been waiting to see it done! What I forgot to mention, of course, and this is separate from stats and visits and owning domain names, is that the one true reward for blogging is meeting visitors like you, getting to know a few readers by name, having these little post-Post chats in the comments boxes. 🙂 Thank you for sharing with me, and stay joyful!

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  14. interesting thoughts on ‘The Blog’ Nat….. I don’t think I have enough followers to have many stats LOL….I started following blogs, to see what other people were interested in….to check out their work…Probably looking for that feeling you sometimes get at a class…were the groups energy picks you up and carrys you further than you would travel alone…..
    What I get from my blog??? , it’s not about fame or fortune……More about acceptance …if my peers choose to comment I’m happy to listen….If they don’t well that’s ok too..Becuase I’ve put that information out there and I’m proud of it….I’m still amazed when people comment… I used to fell slightly Voyeuristic…like a stalker watching people work. that’s why I comment on blogs to establish a connection, But I would rather have 10 followers who you had a connection with rather than thousands who were there for the gifts and competitions…It is interesting to see what pushes other peoples comment button.
    Keep up the blog Nat Your voice is honest. regards Shazz

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    1. And you always give so much thought and time to my posts, Shazz, that I am very often embarassed! 🙂 Naturally, I forgot to mention all sorts of things, because I wrote that off the cuff, hadn’t meant to digress to the topic of blogging, just happened because I’d noticed another 2,000 views of the book bead tutorial, and thought “Dang, don’t that beat all?!’ It really is one of those things that leaves me scratching my head. Yes, for me too, blogging has become about ‘meeting’ the ones who comment…the only really tangible reward for 2 years of “thinking out loud”. Another advantage is, I guess, the writing regularly…the loosening-up of words and ideas, and trying to find ways to arrange them so that others can sort of understand you. Again, it’s the people who read and comment who’ve helped me do that. If I didn’t have a few people like you to think of while I was writing I would really feel like I was talking to myself, or to the void, and probably wouldn’t have kept at it for this long. Thank you Shazz. Why we do the things we do, eh?

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