I started last year with intentions of spending a whole lot of time exploring my new love: wall art. I got through the winter and the spring creating new works and exploring new ideas. It was thrilling!
I made my first sale of wall art at the American Craft Show in April, where I was also awarded the Award of Excellence in Booth Design. Things were looking good! Then, my handbag line got picked up by the prestigious Walker Art Center's gift shop, as well as the UptownMN shop in the MSP Airport. I was so happy!
And then came mid-summer. Unexpectedly, the year turned into (cue the Jaws theme music: dun dunnnnnn, dun dun dunnnnnnn... ) The Year of the Shark.
The Year of the Shark
Of course I was beyond thrilled with the orders, the feature, and the attention. However, after weeks and weeks of shark-making, I started to feel disappointed that I didn't have time to work on new pieces of textile art -- or anything else, such as handbags, bug purses, or even blog posts (note my long absence from blogging last year).
As Autumn rolled around, I was ready to stop making sharks and get back to my explorations of art.
But, the Year of the Shark didn't stop there.
My favorite retailer, Uncommon Goods, was looking to get in on the shark action! After a smattering of small orders, they suddenly placed an order for 120 sharks (!) in November. I almost told them, "No thanks, I've had enough of sharks for the year." But, I challenged myself to take the order and completed 120 sharks in just three weeks.
Now that was an epic finale to the unexpected Year of the Shark!
How many sharks did I actually make last year, you ask? I've crunched the numbers and it turns out that I made approximately 440 Shark Bite and Baby Shark Bite pouches last year.
That comes out to about 5 months worth of working on sharks full-time!
What got me through such an intensive amount of time creating sharks? Well, it was helpful to have a vacation to look forward to!
Now I'm back in my studio, thinking about the year ahead. I plan to make some changes. I'm ready to make this year The Year of Exploring Textile Art. And so that it doesn't get away from me again, I'll have to do things a little bit differently.
I think sharks will need to take a back burner if I want to make progress on my art.
First, however, I have an order of 30 sharks to complete...
Happy New Year!
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.