The first place I came to learn stuff about woodworking was here as it seems to be the place for all jewellery making... but naiively as it turns out - there's only "women's" jewellery crafts here. Guess I'd better stick to the "male" forums then... besides, with crafts, often what it takes inspiration and support and help to get someone into it - and "male" woodworking forums are full of lotsa-lotsa-tools-money, overly fancy terminology, and oneupmanship - not necessarily that conducive to the absolute noob, especially women.
I've just started dyeing. Well... I've used the Dylon all-purpose dyes before here and there, but now I seem to be getting into fibre in a serious way.
I was about to dye my felt bead necklace olive green from the shop to contrast with the bright red seeds from a local tree... and then I thought how lovely would it be to dye with colours from local plants as well?
It's been difficult as where I live there isn't a lot of literature in English about the sorts of plants that will yield dye... and many are undiscovered... but I'm finding colours, bit by bit by piecing together the puzzle pieces. I did finally find an olive green... in discarded onion skins with an iron sulphate mordant, but would like to find a plant that works with rusty iron nails to turn green instead!
So far on wool I've gotten cream, pink (with mashed up rocks), aqua (with copper sulphate though, trying to make my own verdigris with discarded copper wire), brown, near-black, fluoro yellow, orange, rusty red, maroon, beige, olive green, and a wonderful steel grey. I have some indigo seedlings underway, and a few books on the identification of local plants with notes next to the ones I need to look out for. Garden ornamentals are good as they often come from places with a strong dye tradition. Eucalypts yield dye (do they have an iron mordant in them, is that how it works?) but it's the wrong season to get a strong colour.
As well as the felting I'm getting into, I've just started spinning too. I will dye textiles at a later stage, but it's all about the wool at the moment.
It depends where you are in the world as to whether someone's waste is still their property. At least some places in Australia, it still is. You are stealing from a supermarket if you go through their bins, etc. etc. Councils get in on the act too and decide it is not "nice" for poor people to be going through stuff on the nature strip that the council can make money off when they collect it on "hard rubbish" day or where I am "cyclone cleanup" day. However in Australia "hard rubbish" day it is culturally fairly acceptable in my experience to fossick through stuff, you'll see teams of people doing the rounds and dragging off big wardrobes, etc. Just leave everything as neat or neater than you found it, and be polite and sound respectable if someone asks you what you're doing, and do it in the middle of the day. "Art supplies" will pacify most people - cos it doesn't sound like you're "lower class" and hence threatening.
If you're caught going through a supermarket bin (I realise we are out of the crafting domain / finding on the curb domain, and into recycling food domain), say you're looking for old lettuce for your rabbits. Although you're screwed if the bin was locked or screwed shut. Op shops are supposed to have some good stuff according to friends. They chuck out a lot of interesting stuff, and sometimes great books that they have decided are not appropriate for their moral agendas. Camping shops are great, like tents with a couple of pegs missing or needing a bit of a sewing machine! (Once again, probably not craft supplies, but hey.) Factories can have some great things in their bins. Target factories with products you're interested in. A mate of mine got heaps of reflective sticker material that way. I've gotten a lot of vegan leather scraps that way too.
Sadly, I think landfill is probably greener than being shipped by the tonne across the sea. Although some have pointed out that ships are pretty fuel efficient compared to planes. As for the ethics of making clothing available to those in majority world countries.. stained, ripped clothes... it depends... I wonder what price people ultimately pay for them, and who profits the most? Most sweatshop-made clothes come from majority world countries, but I don't know about Africa being a major source of those. It would be ironic if those making clothes for peanuts to send to rich countries bought the discarded remains at their local market.
I think that using parts of the clothing in the home is an excellent idea, if the clothing is not fabulous. Clothing can also be sold at local markets rather than given to op shops - I get rid of heaps of stuff that way that might not get used by an op shop, try a 50c or 20c or giveaway bin. I don't like most op shops - funding the Salvation Army's fundamentalist agenda? No thanks! Plus I don't think charities, especially religious ones, should doing the government's job of supporting the poor. (Yes, I believe in universal healthcare and welfare.)
If the clothing isn't petrochemical derived, then the fabric can be composted, too, which includes rayon.
It might take a while to source the right suppliers, just like with any other business. There are ethical suppliers out there but it takes commitment to track them down. If you say you're just making money therefore it's justified to be unethical, then aren't you buying into the capitalist idea that depends and feeds on human misery and exploitation? Sure, if it was almost impossible to find ethical gemstones and precious metals, then there isn't much choice, but just in a few minutes of googling I've found a slew of jewellers claiming to have ethical suppliers, and I am tending to believe most of them. But they're going to protect their sources, just as any business does, so it will take some digging to find the suppliers. Environmental considerations are important too - unregulated mining is absolutely atrocious for the environment in lots of ways.
One idea for suppliers is Australia, being a first world country very reliant on primary industries. There's a lot of mining, and there are a lot of environment and labour laws in place (though of course they could be better). Sure, the gems and gold are going to be more expensive, (although the Australian dollar is very weak against other currencies at the moment, especially the US dollar).
However, it's arguable that ethical sources reflect the *real* cost of the gems. I do believe that many consumers will pay more for "ethical" goods these days, and there is a definite market niche in the jewellery/craft industries. And the more demand there is for ethical gemstones and gold, the more suppliers there will be, and more of a pressure on the mines, to change working conditions and environmental practices. Financial pressure is almost the only sort of activism that works with businesses.
The other thing to consider of course, is the "green miles" of supplies. Although with jewellery, at least the supplies are small and light. And mining uses a hella amount of energy, so yes, gems and metals aren't the greenest of materials.
My local hardware shop sells resin in the paint section. Should be good. You can always ring up, ask what the brand(s) is/are, and then research them on the net if you're not sure. That sort of epoxy resin is great for pendants and such like. But if you want the stuff for big objects, or the urethane resin, or for doming on objects, you'll probably want to go to a craft shop for specialist resin.
I'm in agreement that setting up and running a shop is really expensive, and the prices are going to reflect that. There are just so many hidden costs to a business! So any way you can think creatively of making the shop running cheaper - such as a not-for-profit co-operative staffed by the artists being an extreme example, would help. (Better tax status, no hiring fees, wider range of skills for things like bookkeeping and shop decor.) Regardless, really smart ways of cheaply advertising, such as footwork leaving postcards in the right places, are great too. Smart ways to minimise theft, shop soiling. Using Reverse Garbage, recycled and DIY decor. Fundraising.
I've noticed that shops get away with charging more than for markets, by casting a "glamour" over the items. At a market people tend to be much more focused on the product, and its price, whatever the presentation. At a shop you've really got to work hard to put the "value-added" bit in - by making people feel they are buying into a lifestyle, you're selling cool, selling art, not just a pretty object, it's less about what the individual product costs to make. Naturally, most people who can afford to spend a bit at shops are going to be kind of rushed, not so DIY, professionals. The shop has to have a really well-selected, cohesive range, and nice decor, nice feel to it.
If you could find cheap rent, and sell an earthy honest feel that goes with less expensive shop setup and a crappier location and less professional shop staff, you could maybe get away with catering mostly to students and low-income folks who will buy and pay less but like the uniqueness. Oh and the more grassroots you are, the more you can harness goodwill in the community, this is important. Riskier than going "pro" but you're trying to be less pro yeah?
I've never run a shop, so what do I know, but those are my observations from future dreams. I like the idea of apprenticing at another shop, too. And NEIS is fantastic!!