A New Way to Keep Track

If you are a regular reader of my blog, than you already know about my fondness for the island of St. John, where I lived for 18 years. You will also know about the relationships I developed on St. John with the native West Indians and my collection of baskets. If you don’t know this about me, then I’d welcome you to check out some of my previous blog posts, which will get you up to date.

When I arrived on St. John in 1987, I was looking for evidence of what the island was like before I got there. One of the things that was very helpful were the pictures taken by the internationally famous photographer, Fritz Henle. Fritz lived on St. Croix and visited St. John in the 1940s and 60s. He gave me copies of 67 of his photos to help understand what the life, lifestyle, livelihood and the people on St. John were like at the time.

In order to get a comprehensive understanding of what the Fritz Henle photo collection had to offer, I got some help from a media specialist and photographer named Grace Camblos. With her help, we put together a spreadsheet. It provided a way to identify the components of the collection along with images and information about them. A copy of the spreadsheet is attached. It was very helpful in making decisions of how to handle the collection, which is still in my possession and contains vital components of my basket collection.

I found the spreadsheet so useful that it occurred to me that it might also be useful for others. A spreadsheet that contains images and additional information can be helpful to fulfill many objectives. Here are some additional ways that I think that an artist or craftsperson would find this approach helpful:


Following One’s Path
By entering an image of your work along with additional information about it at the time you created it, you can keep track of how your work has progressed even when it is no longer in your possession.

The Sales Experience
A spreadsheet that incorporates an image of the work and additional details about it, including the price and date of sale, will enable you to keep track of your sales. Moreover, if you choose, you can also keep a record of the buyer along with his/her contact information.

The Time and Cost of Materials
By following through on what it took to create the work, task by task, you can use a spreadsheet to record that information. By doing that you will have a better understanding of what it takes and what it costs to create each work. If you elect to sell it, that information along with a clear understanding of what you intend to achieve from the sale, will help you determine the asking price. [For more about pricing see my book entitled “An Economist’s Take on Pricing Art and Craft: A Pricing Manual”.

Those are some examples of how the spreadsheet approach, with an image of the work and additional information about it, provides a useful tool that furnishes data in an organized and systematic fashion. That approach will help you stay better informed make it easier to accomplish your objective.

This is just a starter. I would not be surprised if you come up with additional ways where the spreadsheet approach would be useful.

If you choose to use it, I am attaching another document. It is a sample spreadsheet with the titles, column-heads and the first row including an image. All you have to do is replace the information provided with information you want to include, beginning with the title. It may also be necessary to add an additional column or two or to take out any of the columns. Beginning with the next row, you can add your information column by column. Thanks to Grace Camblos, the instructions on how to take a picture with your smartphone and put it into the appropriate cell are included in the addenda below. Then you’re good to go. Once you’ve done that, you can remove the original ‘row 1’ and you’re on your own.

I hope this works for you. I would like to hear your reactions, comments and suggestions. You can reach me at berniekemp@earthlink.net.

Documenting Fritz Henle’s St. John Photo Collection – An Example

Starting a Spreadsheet (with the title, column headings and Rows). This will open an Excel file on your computer.

Addenda
Inserting Images into an Excel Spreadsheet

1. Create images: If they don’t already exist, start with creating your images. An easy way to do this is to take photos with a smartphone, then email them to yourself or otherwise transfer them to your computer (for example, I used AirDrop to move photos from my iPhone to my Mac).

2. Crop and Resize images: Use a photo editing tool to crop and resize your images.
a. Crop out any unnecessary edges – your end result in the spreadsheet will be quite small, so you don’t want to take up valuable real estate with edges that aren’t necessary to the photo.
b. Resizing is important if you don’t want your spreadsheet to take up too much file space. (I learned this the hard way – the first draft of our spreadsheet was 35 megabytes and too large to email! Resizing each photo to 72 ppi and a width of 1.15 inches brought it down to a manageable 10 megabytes.) In Photoshop, resize by going to Images Image Size and changing the appropriate values.

3. Organize images: Not an absolutely necessary step, but it may make things easier. For instance, when Bernie and I were sorting the photographs, we assigned every photo a number, which became its ID number in the spreadsheet. When creating the digital images, I named them according to their number and also a descriptor.
For example, our second photo was a woman with a basket full of johnnie cakes. The file name for that photo became:
2_Woman_JohnnieCakes_Basket
Doing this for every photo meant all the photos were in order in their file, and so I didn’t have to hunt for them when inserting them into the spreadsheet.

4. Insert images into spreadsheet: (This assumes you already have your spreadsheet set up with headings, etc.)
Here are two excellent tutorials I found for inserting images into Excel:
· https://trumpexcel.com/insert-picture-into-excel-cell/ – with video!
· https://www.ablebits.com/office-addins-blog/2017/05/10/insert-picture-excel-cell-comment-header-footer/
Both walk you through the same technical process, and both assume that (a) your images are already small, and (b) you’ve already made your cells the right sizes for the images.
And that’s about it! Happy spreadsheeting!

Suggested spreadsheet column headings for each objective.
Documenting a Collection
ID #
Image
Title
Info from photo back
Date
Photo Attributes
Current location
Notes
People to contact for photo information

Following One’s Path
ID #
Image
Title
Date
Image Attributes
Current location
Notes

The Sales Experience
ID #
Image
Title
Image Attributes
Price
Date of sale
Buyer
Current location
Contact information
Notes

The Time and Cost of Materials
ID #
Final Image
Title
Date
Image Attributes
Notes
Sequence of required tasks with the associated elapsed time
Component materials and supplies along with their cost
Labor services with their wages
Estimated total cost
Price

 

 

 

One thought on “A New Way to Keep Track

  1. Whew!

    That’s a great way to keep track of items, especially ones you’ve worked on.

    But for me, I’m okay not remembering or recording all the details. What I have is my 110 (to date) rugs on a powerpoint presentation, with the date and person given to at the bottom of the slide.

    Making the damn rug is tedious enough; by the time I’m finished, I’m good letting the rug speak for itself and recording the simplest data. One day I’ll go back and add the ’secret’ messages to the data. Maybe.

    Don

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