Monday, July 20, 2009

Wow! Fascinating Linen Facts From The Ground Up!

We have known for some time about the benefits of flax oil , flax seed and that linen was made from flax but had no idea just how involved that process was until recently when we came across the following interesting information. The fibers of the flax plant have been used to make linen cloth for over 8,000 years. The process go as follows:
  • Harvesting involves pulling the whole plant from out of the ground and not cutting it as the roots contain some of the finest fibers.
  • Retting is a two-week process where the harvested plants are taken and thinly spread out over a field so they can absorb the dew, rain and the heat of the sun, all of which rots the pith and loosens the fibers. The process is frequently referred to as "dew retting"
  • Drying is the next step n the process where the retted plants are now placed on top of a frame that is referred to as a "kiln" and put over a low fire until they become as dry as tinder.
  • Breaking this part of the process involved the dried plant stalks being beat by a "breaker" which has opposing wooden blades hinged at one end. The breaker breaks the woody fiber and loosens the finer threads.
  • Scutching comes next in the process and this is when the fibers are held against a vertical board and they are then scraped with a "scutching paddle" which causes the woody pulp to fall off and leave behind long, glossy fibers.
  • Heckling comes next, no not the verbal kind! This kind of heckling involves the long, glossy fibers being pulled through rows of iron spikes. It involves working from courser or larger and wider spaced teeth down to finer or smaller and closer spaced teeth in order to remove any remaining pulp along with the shorter and courser strands of fiber.
  • Spinning is the next step in the process where the fine fiber is spun on a spinning wheel into linen thread which is then wound onto a spool or bobbin.
  • Weaving this is the final step in the process and involves taking the bobbin or spool of thread and place it in a shuttle which is threaded back and forth through a linen loom in order to make the linen cloth.

It sure does give you a real appreciation for all of the work involved in the making of linen fabric. I know we will never look at a piece of linen without thinking about all of the steps that it took to make it.

There is a Flax Scutching Festival in Stahlstown, PA that demonstrates the practices that have been used for more than 200 years in the Ligonier Valley. The Stahlstown Festival is held the second Saturday and Sunday each September so if you are in the area at that time of year you might like to stop and investigate this fascinating process in person!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Social Media Optimization - Part 2

Here is a very brief summary of the next installment of Artfire's Social Media Optimization. The segment relates to micro-blogging sites such as Plurk and the popular Twitter .

The following are 5 steps to Tweeting greatness and are very similar to the one for blogging success.

  • 1. Be involved.

  • 2. Update frequently.

  • 3. Have a goal.

  • 4. Use all available tools.

  • 5. Watch other tweeps.

If you are already a tweeting veteran then these are just reminders of things you already know.

Six steps to get your new Twitter account started.

  • 1. Register - when you register use your studio name
  • 2. Set up a Tweet schedule. Determine the amount of Tweets per day that you want to do.
  • 3. Hit the forums. Here you can let other sellers know your Twitter information. Follow your favorite shops and post your Twitter name and information so others follow you.
  • 4. Don't forget your widgets. You can add several different kinds of widget to your Artfire studio.
  • 5. Find your audience. Find people who talk about things that interest you. Search Twitter forums to find discussions you can jump into and contribute.
  • 6. Make use of the many applications. Some of the top applications are Tweet deck, Twit-seeker, and Tweet Later.

As we have said this is just a very brief summary but it will give you some idea of the helpful information that Artfire provides to its sellers. If you are interested in more information you need to check out Artfire, we have provided a link below. This is a community of very talented, friendly and helpful artistic sellers along with an unbelievably friendly, helpful and responsive administrative staff and technical staff. Artfire is The Place To Be!

We have provided our link to Artfire should you wish to check it out and sign up and join us!