It's been two weeks since the ACC show wrapped up. I thought I'd have some down time after the show to write a recap (and take a rest!) but things have been busy.
Now, don't get me wrong, being busy is good news. But having down time is also important. I can get crabby when my mind and body haven't had a chance to recover from a big event or an intensive period of work.
This past weekend I was finally able to take some restful time off. Spending time outdoors in the sunshine, and also reconnecting with my family, has rejuvenated me a bit. I actually got antsy at the end of the weekend; inspiration for another piece of art has been nagging me. It is a challenge to put off a creative urge until there is time to devote to it!
So, here I am, two weeks late, taking a moment to write...
A Quick Recap of the Show
Booth Set Up
Apart from my belt rack crashing down pre-show (and quickly being fixed with a safety pin for the day), set up for the show went smoothly. I actually completed the entire set up by myself. Thank goodness for the effort I put into making my booth set up manageable by one person!
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about my booth this year. I had to make some changes with the addition of my new wall art. Mere weeks before show-time, my husband and I devised a way to hang the art from my existing pipe and drape. It worked pretty well. I'm not sure I would recommend the scheme we came up with, but at least it was inexpensive and worked with my existing booth. I may revise it for the future, though.
As for the show itself, I had an amazing weekend. I was blown away again this year by the show-goers. The appreciation for art and craft from those who visited the show was amazing.
And if the thoughtful reception by the public wasn't enough, I was thoroughly astounded on Friday afternoon when the American Craft Council presented me with the Award of Excellence in Booth Design.
Here I am being presented with the award by ACC director of education Michael Radyk (left) and ACC executive director Chris Amundsen (right).
After floating through the rest of Friday with stars in my eyes, I didn't think the show could get any better. But Saturday proved me wrong.
We were anticipating a slow day due to the beautiful weather outside. And while Saturday may have been quieter; for me, it is a day I will never forget! I made my first-ever sale of wall art.
Of course, after I sold a piece of wall art, I had to scramble to figure out how to wrap it. I was not prepared for a sale! Luckily, my very kind booth neighbor, artist Amber Harrison, helped me out by bringing me cling wrap and felt. (She is the same person who, after I received the award for booth design said to me, "And you were so worried about your booth!" True. I was.)
That's another thing about the American Craft Show: the artists are simply incredible!
I think maybe the best part of the show is meeting the artists. Since artists tend to work in solitude, gathering for a craft show is a rare opportunity. It forces us to get out of our studios and interact with each other. I think, although we enjoy spending time alone, we also like to find out how other artists work. I know one of my favorite things is to hear about the process behind the craft.
Thank you to everyone for making my second year at ACC St. Paul a memorable experience!
Thank you to the American Craft Council for honoring me with such a prestigious award. Thank you to my husband for his encouragement and assistance. Thank you to the show-goers and patrons who support fine craft. And thank you to the artists who inspire us all!
P.S. Take a look at Amber Harrison's work. Her miniature sculptures. art jewelry, and metalsmithing are wonderful.
If you follow me on Instagram you may know that I've started creating wall art this year. And I've fallen a bit in love. It all started with a small piece I put together just for kicks over a year ago, created with some left-overs from a purse.
I didn't do anything with that one piece at the time, and it fell to the bottom of the pile on my side table. But the idea of creating wall art grew on me. Throughout the fall my mind was full of ideas. Color combinations I wanted to work with swirled around in my head.
I couldn't take action at the time; holiday shows and orders took precedent and I had to wait until the new year to start exploring my ideas. But once my time freed up, I went all in -- and for the past few months, I've been wholeheartedly enjoying the process of assembling textiles into arrangements of pattern and color.
There is a lot more that I want to do. In fact, it seems that I have an over-abundance of ideas for color combinations and patterns that I want to work with. I especially want to think more about how opposites can work together. And I don't want to stop making more.
However, the American Craft Show in St. Paul is coming up in just a few weeks. Since I applied in the Fashion Accessories category, I need to stop making wall art (for now) and focus on making more handbags.
I will have the handful of pieces of wall art that I've completed this year at the show; but, for the most part, I'll have handbags, purses, and wrap belts. I'm excited to show off some new colorways, and I'll have a couple of new handbag styles. I think it's going to be a fantastic event.
The American Craft Show in St. Paul is April 7-9, 2017. I'll be in booth 510.
I hope to see you there!
Tiny and oh-so-cute! Guppy and goldfish pouches are a must have. And now there are five new colors in the shop.
Let me introduce you to all the adorable "pet fish" currently available. They are hungry! And they are excited to go home with you!
You know, I really don't do all that many craft shows, but my absolute favorite part of selling in person is that I get to watch people's faces. Why? Because they almost always break out in a smile at first seeing my work! And my guppy and goldfish pouches repeatedly get the most smiles!
It makes me so happy to know that I'm not alone in thinking that these fish are simply too adorable not to love!
I do my best to spread joy and happiness with my work. I'm so excited that these cute and colorful fish pouches bring joy to children and adults alike!
I hope you'll take one home with you!
As always, my items are lovingly handmade with care, and quantities are limited.
I never planned to be a stay-at-home mom.
Nope. After many years in school, I was finally logging my intern hours at an architectural firm, just as I had planned. I was following The Path I had set out for my life. I was on track to becoming a Licensed Architect. (Such a long process.)
Of course, I had also planned to be a mom. I always wanted to be a mom, but I hadn't considered how the two would work together. Architecture is an historically male-dominated field; at school, as we learned about the process of becoming an Architect, no one ever talked about how becoming an Architect would work together with becoming a mother. I never considered it either. Even though they both happen at the same time in one's life -- you know, biological clocks and such.
Who knew once I had a baby - and then another just 18-months later - that my planned path would suddenly, and completely, change direction? I took 6-months off work for both babies. A dream! Then I went back to work, but worked only part-time. It wasn't great, I didn't like it. I cut back to even parter-time. Still not right. After so much internal debating, I quit.
What a tough decision. I worried, "How will I ever get back on track to becoming a Licensed Architect if I stay at home being a mom for several years?" There was no guidebook for those questions. I didn't know what to expect. All I could do was toss my plans. I decided not to think about my planned path, not to worry about the future. I needed to be with my babies.
I loved it. It was wonderful. I also didn't like it. It was so many things: monotonous, chaotic, ordinary, extraordinary, amazing, and amazingly difficult. (Being a mom is full of contradictory feelings, I learned.)
I didn't think about architecture. Except: deep down inside I craved to be creative, to be my own person apart from being a mom, to have my own space even. I was quietly jealous of my classmates from school who were building their architecture careers, while I stayed home. In the back of my mind I thought, "Why did I spend so many years in school - for this?"
Slowly, I carved out a space of my own in our spare room. I didn't know what I was even going to do with it, but I felt the need to have a space. My own creative space. I tentatively, quietly, referred to it as my studio.
My baby boys got bigger. I started playing around with fabric. I borrowed my mom's sewing machine. I designed my own bags, and made fun stuff for my kids. I accidentally started a business! It began to thrive and it took up more of my time. My boys started preschool and kindergarten and I thought, "What will I do now? Should I try to grow this teeny-tiny business of mine? Or should I go back to work? How will I get back on the Architecture Track after being away so long?"
But our family wasn't complete, I didn't need to consider that next step. I became a mom to a lovely baby girl. I took time off from my teeny-tiny business. And since my daughter wouldn't nap anywhere but in my arms; I didn't have much opportunity to sew. I held her for all those hours of forced quietness, and I loved it, I savored it (my last baby!), and I resented it (again with those contradictory feelings). I still craved to do my own thing.
As she got bigger, I knew I had to grow my business. We decided to try daycare a couple days a week to see what I could do if I had more time. I had two days a week all to myself! I worked in my home studio and got to do my own thing. My business grew a little. It was thrilling!
Unfortunately, it was also limiting. I still had all my same duties as a homemaker, as a mom to three growing, changing kids, as the planner, organizer, everything of our family - but with less time to do it all. I learned to become a great juggler, as all moms do, I'm sure. But I also became stressed. And I became bitter. Why did I have so many responsibilities? I was working, even if my workplace was in our home.
It was time for my husband and I to talk. I needed him to help carry the load if I was going to be working. He agreed. We rearranged some chores, I felt better. Things were going well!
But there were always summers to sort out, days off from school to take my time, a kid home sick, or this-that-and-the-other-thing, and all the responsibilities kept falling to me. I was over-whelmed. I told myself I could handle it, I was used to being a stay-at-home mom. Yet, every time my life got complicated with being a mom, my business was put in last place.
This past summer was especially intense. It has reminded me that I am an artist, and an introvert, at heart. It's challenging to put myself into creative-mode when my time is fractured into small segments, or when I'm continually interrupted. I love my family and I love being a mom, but I also need space and time to do my own thing. Putting my business last means putting myself last, and I can't to do that anymore.
School has started again. We're getting back into a routine. I have more hours to work on my business, my daughter is in preschool and daycare most days, and my boys are in school.
My husband and I continue to talk about sharing responsibilities. Which can be very hard! Many things that I had done as a stay-at-home mom, I continue to do out of habit. Luckily, my husband is an understanding guy, and he's willing to change as I enlighten him on the many responsibilities I can no longer do on my own. I'm learning to be an advocate for my time. If I don't place importance on my business and my art, who will?
Next year all three of my kids will be in school. I'm excited to have even more time to explore my artistic side. I'm considering moving my work to a studio outside of our home. Maybe I'll be able to hire an assistant if I have more space. It would be nice to separate family space from work space -- finally. It would also make some things more difficult. There's always another challenge to figure out.
I never planned on being a stay-at-home mom, but I got to do it twice. In two different ways. And soon I'll be moving on to the next chapter of my life. But this is something that I've learned: There is no path. I'm making my own path. Readjust as necessary.
Thanks for reading... I'd love to hear your thoughts!
If you work at home, how do you separate your work life from your family life?
If you're a stay-at-home parent, how do you find/make time for yourself?
How have you had to readjust your Life Plans as things change?
Every summer, for a single week, my sharks get to shine! They love the spotlight, so it's perfect that they have their own week. And, here it is again; this is the week!
Here's what's going on this week:
Have a happy Shark Week! Keep swimming! ;)
Celebrate sharks and art with a...
Do you know someone who loves sharks?
Do they also love to color?
My new shark-themed set will make the perfect gift!
This set has all the essentials necessary for your favorite shark enthusiast to get right to coloring all the sharks of the world.
This set makes a great birthday gift, a fun back-to-school surprise, or the perfect gift to celebrate Shark Week!
Shark Week 2016 starts June 26th!
Are you ready?
Does this sound familiar? You make large goals and work hard to reach them. You imagine after all the hard work, you'll celebrate. However, if - like me - when you've finally reached that goal you've been on the path for so long, it barely feels like an accomplishment anymore. You may even already be planning your next goal. The fact that you've reached one goal is barely acknowledged; celebrating gets put off to the future when you've reached some other success.
Or maybe you can relate to this. You have a to-do list that's a mile-long. You imagine taking a moment to stop and sip your coffee while admiring your garden when you finish the last thing on the list. But, whenever you check one thing off, you add three more. You never get to that imagined moment of savoring your coffee and admiring your garden. There's always something more to do.
I've decided to stop putting off the celebrating. My new motto is "Celebrate more!"
Happiness and celebration
I recently finished the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It was a great read. It's got me thinking about the idea that you can't go searching for happiness. Happiness can only be found within yourself.
How do you find happiness within yourself? Well, you should try to do all those things that are summed up in little life quotes. You know the ones:
Stop and smell the roses
Enjoy the little things
Those are great, but you know what? They sometimes make me feel bad about myself. They come across a little preachy. Do this, do that. I think I'd be happier without the stress; trying to be happier should be fun, right?
Then, a couple of days ago, I read a post on the blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree about not celebrating enough. That was the clincher. I think all those little life quotes can be summed up nicely in one idea:
And I don't mean only the big things. I don't mean we should celebrate major goals with a fancy dinner and a glass of champagne (although do that, too! Yum!). But I mean:
Celebrate more things, and celebrate in more ways. Celebrate the little things. Celebrate the daily things.
Every time I hear the Cloud Cult song Through the Ages, this line gets to me. Why? It's because there is magic all around us. The magic is the everyday things, those little things that we might let pass by without realizing they're happening.
If we put off the celebrations, the smiles, the good jobs till some distant future, that future all too quickly becomes the past. We will end up living our lives without enough smiles. And without enough dancing. And without enough good jobs. And without enough YAYs!
Today I'm celebrating! This morning I smiled at my garden and how it's growing so nicely from the effort I put into it so far this spring. I'm celebrating that I finished four new Beetle Pouches. I smiled at myself and played the radio loud while I photographed them. And now I'm going for a walk outside in the sunshine. And I'm going to laugh, and smile, and say YAY! when I get back -- both to congratulate myself on getting exercise, but also to congratulate myself for acknowledging that work, though I love it, isn't everything and taking a break to enjoy the warm sun is good.
What are you celebrating today?
Today I'm going to highlight another handbag from my new Mary Pow collection: the Parallel Cross Body Purse.
When designing this purse, I explored color combinations that I feel reflect the seasons and natural world. At the same time, I used my interest in crisp, clean, straight lines to harness these colors. Each purse's color combinations are framed with beautiful, textural linen fabrics.
The Parallel Cross Body Purse features beautiful details, such as hand-pieced parallel lines on the front and small squares on the back.
This well-appointed cross body purse has several unexpected details to make carrying your essentials simple and accessible.
This purse currently comes in five colors: Sunset, Spring, Autumn, Winter, and Summer.
You can find more information about my Parallel Cross Body Purses or make a purchase in my online shop.
My entire new collection of handbags and wrap belts are now available in my online shop. Today, I'm highlighting the showpiece of the collection: my View Tote, currently available in two colors, Ocean View and City View.
To capture the brilliant look of sunlight reflecting off the ocean, I used four shades of blue in this tote. The hand-pieced detailing is surrounded by a lovely soft gray linen frame. The whole result is a stunning handbag with a look that you won't find anywhere else.
For City View, I used an entire gradient of grays to capture the quality of a city at night. The hand-pieced gray and black squares are surrounded by a dark-gray linen frame. The result is a dramatic, urban and modern look.
I prefer to work with natural-fiber fabrics, such as cotton and linen. That means these totes, and all of my handbags, are incredibly light-weight. It's a real plus for a bag to start out light-weight, when it's bound to be weighed down by all of the items you put inside.
The interior of a bag is just as important as the exterior. I've lined the View Totes with an incredibly soft upholstery fabric. An interior zipper pocket keeps your valuables safe or your private items hidden.
You can find more information about my View Totes or make a purchase in my online shop.
Well, it's over!
Months of prep, hours and hours of research, lots of designing, tons of sewing, hours of over-time, and yes, even a few emotional melt-downs... Plus, two days of show set up, one evening at the preview party, three days of the retail show, and a couple quick hours taking it all down...
I did it!
After a long wait in our car to get into the loading dock, my husband and I arrived at my booth space #1113, mid-day on Wednesday. We set up my pipe and drape, and prepped my space. Everything went smoothly; it made me so pleased of the work I put into designing a simple booth that sets up quickly and easily!
On Thursday afternoon, I leisurely put the finishing touches on my booth, got all my products displayed, and made sure everything was ready for the evening's preview party.
The retail show started on Friday morning. It was nice to arrive at the show knowing everything in my booth was already set up and waiting for me. What a stress free way to start the show.
I was very pleased to see that women loved my handbags. They raved about the unique colors and designs, and the lightweight quality of the fabrics. Actually, men also loved the purses; several told me that if they were women, they would be buying from me!
It was surprising to find out what colors most people were drawn to. The pink sunset with a touch of gray was very popular, as was the gray ombré with a pop of red.
I was thrilled on Saturday morning when, first thing, a well-dressed man wearing a dashing hat and a long red coat purchased a pouch that matched his outfit (center photo, above). He immediately transferred his phone and credit cards from the case he was using to the new pouch!
My wrap belts were very well received! Several woman who thought they couldn't wear a decorative belt tried them on, loved them, and purchased one! Many people told me how great they would be when traveling: just add a beautiful belt and an outfit will look completely different from one day to the next. Great idea!
I met so many wonderful people at the show. I couldn't believe how many people pulled me aside to tell me how amazing they thought my work was.
What a show!
This was the largest show I've ever done. It was so well-organized, too. My booth neighbors were great! I met the most wonderful couple from Colorado: artist Lynda Ladwig and her husband. (Check out her ceramics. I loved her work.) I pretty much talked myself out after three and a half days at the show. But yet, I sort of miss my home-away-from-home: booth 1113.
And thank you so much to all of you who support me and my work online. You are wonderful!