I’ve always loved to make things. I especially love to make useful things. Even though my BA was in Communications, I minored in Studio Art. Three months before graduation, I realized that I should have been an Art major. I was not about to start all over again, and if I ever found something I wanted to do with art that required a degree, I could always go back to school. Five years later I had the opportunity to be a long-term sub at my old High School when the photography teacher went on maternity leave. I loved teaching, and went back to school to work on a Master’s in Art Ed.
I was never able to finish that degree. I had decided to take some time off from school when I had my daughter, assuming I would go back when she started preschool. We plan – the Gods laugh! When she was two-and-a-half she was diagnosed with Autism, and it became clear that I was going to have to find something that I could do to earn money from home.
Initially I was making sterling silver jewelry and selling it at local craft shows. Spinning, knitting, and weaving were hobbies. As my daughter got older it was harder to find childcare for the long days at a craft show. It was also becoming harder to find time to create new work, because using an acetylene torch is not something you can safely do while trying to supervise a Small Human who runs and hits things! I cut back to one show a year (which I still do) and tried to shift my focus to online sales, as Etsy had just started a year or two earlier. Unfortunately to market yourself well online, you need to be able to think like your customer. I make jewelry because I like to play with fire and hit things with hammers – not because I like fashion! I rarely wear jewelry, so I had no idea what to say to people who do.
At about the same time this was happening, the Global Economy crashed. Discretionary purchases like Artisan Jewelry naturally took a big hit. I thought that I might have more success marketing to a group of people I understood, so I switched my focus to dyeing and spinning. It was something I could do safely around my daughter, and people will still spend money on their hobbies, even when money is tight – especially when that hobby can result in useful items like sweaters!
Two years ago when my son moved out I turned his room into my studio. Now that I have a dedicated work space with a door I can shut and lock, I have been able to start weaving again, and hope to be able to expand my product line to include handwovens.