Zodiac Zanies for Textile Painters
WHIMSICAL zanies representing each month's zodiac sign decorate the hand-painted handkerchiefs that are bringing me flocks of welcome one dollar bills.
My profitable hobby is really a hobby borne out of another hobby. The parent hobby is my hobby of seeking out and attending auctions held in the way parts of the country. I like to bid for and get for next-to-nothing those fascinating boxes whose contents are a mystery. Often these old boxes, trunks and barrels yield interesting and very saleable old books, old letters with stamps intact, trinkets and other valuable surprises. One such barrel, when the burlap topping was stripped off, revealed an assortment of wooden squares in varying stages of completion. This was obviously the remains of somebody's hobby of making wooden pins to be worn as costume Jewelry. While I am not interested in woods or pins, the shape or designs were most interesting. For there grinning with impudence and challenge was an array of zodiacal zanies. These little creatures fascinated me and seemed to be crying out to be sent out into the world to bring a grin to weary folk.
I took the little fellows out of their jumble and laid them on the table in my Sherwood, Oregon, home where I could get better acquainted with them and thus plan as to what form their future might most suitably take.
ONE DAY I read an item that stated that hand-painted handkerchiefs were the rage of the season. I decided to try these figures on a corner of linen handkerchiefs and see how they fared. I like the quick, easy method of using textile paint and this medium gives me much opportunity to get the facial expression on the "little folks" so they will be captivating.
I bought a couple of dozen linen handkerchiefs with the little sticker saying "Irish Linen" in one corner. I also bought two dozen ordinary cotton handkerchiefs. On the cotton I practiced in each corner until I had perfected the design into what I wanted. Then the design was traced, one design to the hanky, on the linen. Thus was born a hobby I really enjoyed doing, so next was to see if it would be profitable.
I decided to try several methods of finding customers for the zanies and see which would be the easiest and most profitable.
First I decided to try the very closest market. Lacking a high school daughter, I borrowed my friend's daughter as a guinea pig. I decorated a handkerchief with the zodiac sign which was appropriate to her birthday, which happened to be Leo, and gave her the hanky. She wore it to school and the fad became a fashion. Two dozen handkerchiefs went like soft drinks on a sultry day and I did a bit of scouring of the neighboring towns for more linen handkerchiefs. News spread and it seemed as if handkerchief collectors bounced out from everywhere and wanted to add my zanies to their collections. So a good place to test your ability and circumstance would be to use a friend as a guinea pig as I did, or your church bazaar or grange or whatever organization convenient.
AFTER THE first sales tapered off, I sent out trial balloon number two. I sent one dozen, that is—a set consisting of a zany for each month, to a gift shop whose advertisement I saw in our local newspaper.
This particular shop caters to persons interested in the occult in its various forms, and zodiac zanies seemed to have a powerful appeal to them. However, I do not like the middleman idea and I decided to communicate direct with persons interested in the occult. I used two methods and both proved successful.
Method one: I purchased from a list broker a list of names of persons who had recently bought material on the zodiac and other branches of the occult. To the people on the list I sent an interesting card telling about the zany just waiting to bring them luck. Many people were interested and sent me their birth date and a dollar bill and I had a splendid outlet for the zanies. At first you can type your sales material but when you get into the swing of the thing it would be much better to have it printed.
The thing I did not like about this method was the time spent in sending out the cards. I preferred to spend my time painting the zanies.
So the second method: I inserted a small advertisement in a magazine catering to persons interested in the occult. In addition I did not overlook the handkerchief collector. These can be reached via a small advertisement in the various hobby, craft, and collector magazines. Many collectors are interested in adding a comical creation to their collection. Incidentally, when a handkerchief collector says he wants to buy all twelve months for his collection, I make him a special price of $10 for the twelve instead of the usual $1 per handkerchief.
IF YOU would like to emulate me here is what to do: First get some plain cotton handkerchiefs or tear up some cotton material into handkerchief size and trace the zany on the material. After you get into production you will find it saves time to cut these designs into twelve separate squares. Take a piece of carbon paper and cut into twelve corresponding squares and pin the carbon to the back of the zany design. You can trace the design ever so much faster and have less smudge trouble. And you will need to speed up every angle to keep up with the orders. Right here would be a good place to warn you to buy some postcards, so you can send out a card, if you find you need a little more time in catching up with your orders. It is only courteous to let the sender know that you have received his order and dollar and that the order is on file and will be sent soon.
Draw the design on the corner after measuring two and one-half inches up from the corner. Set the design so it is crosswise of the corner. Next paint in the colors. See the accompanying drawings and instructions for suggestions. Then outline the whole thing in black. You will need a number 000 brush for this. A number two will do well for the coarser work. Practice, practice, practice! Make the strokes steady. Take extra pains on the face. When you can accomplish a professional job then graduate to the linen handkerchiefs.
When I paint a design I stretch the handkerchief taut and thumb tack to a firm surface. I use a piece of heavy cardboard cut a couple of inches wider than the design. This is so I can hold the work closer to my eyes to paint and still sit up straight. I can do a better job this way and not tire so easily. Slip a piece of white blotter between the handkerchief and the cardboard.
I concentrate on getting a cute look on the face; it is important to give the eyes a saucy look. I do a dozen of a kind to eliminate the necessity of cleaning brushes and avoid the risk of paint drying out.
After the color part is finished take the little brush and go over all the trace lines with black—do not smear. Use a good clean stroke.
Let the painted handkerchief dry. Press on reverse side to set the paint. Fold in middle then fold side to leave the design on the outer fold.
It is well to have a supply of cellophane bags to slip the completed handkerchiefs in. This not only insures it getting to its destination clean and undamaged but makes the whole deal look better. Ordinary envelopes will carry the whole thing. Typewrite the address if you can. Later you will probably want to have the return address printed as it saves time and looks well.
If you have handkerchiefs made up in advance, and it is a good idea to do so, make sure you select the right pattern for your customer's birthday or order.
Check and recheck it—get this right! You will find the correct sign for the various birth dates in the instructions accompanying the twelve designs.
AQUARIUS—January 20-February 18
PISCES—February 19-March 20
ARIES—March 21-April 19
TAURUS—April 20-May 20
GEMINI—May 21-June 21
CANCER—June 22-July 22
LEO—July 23-August 22
VIRGO—August 23-September 22
LIBRA—September 23-October 23
SCORPIO—October 24-November 21
SAGITTARIUS—November 22-December 21
CAPRICORN—December 22-January 19
Note: To account for inflation, multiply prices by 8 to 10.