How and when did you discover your love for your craft/art?
I taught myself how to knit while in college about 16 years ago. It was a great way to spend the cold Wisconsin winters and make myself something warm in the process. My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was a child, but this was the first time I'd picked up a pair of knitting needles. I felted my first piece when my daughter was a baby, 10 years ago.
Do you remember the first piece you ever made?
My first knitted piece was an throw. It turned out much skinnier and longer than expected, but I still have it. My first felted knit piece was a pair of slippers. They didn't turn out as expected either. Mostly due to the fact that I hate knitting swatches and test pieces with the yarn. This has often gotten me into trouble. I don't mind though, I learn something from the process every time.
|Recycled Felted Sweater Blanket|
Many of my pieces start with a look through my extremely large stash of yarn and sweaters. I like to keep it fresh and new, so I don't get bored. I usually let the yarn lead me in a direction, rather than pick a project and get the yarn for it. I love putting colors and textures together. If I get stuck, a long walk often helps solidify my plans and ideas. My two girls will also often give me wonderful ideas. They help me put colors together and pick out ribbons and buttons. I love the fact that I'm sharing my love of the craft with them.
When people start doing their craft/art, they tend to try a lot of different things before settling down to something that resonates with them. How has your work changed since you began?
I've definitely become better and more efficient at finishing the pieces. My least favorite part has always been the sewing in of linings and attaching of straps. I've learned how to do it more quickly and more professionally. All my pieces definitely have a more finished look than they used to. I also like to keep things fresh and will try new knitting and felting techniques. It keeps things new in the shop and helps me to grow as an artist.
|Felted Wool Apple Purse|
I take much of my inspiration from the natural world, both in pattern and in color. When stuck creatively, I take a walk or work in the garden. It helps me to see things in a new way.
Can you tell us about some important goals you have achieved with your work?
This past year I decided that I was really going to make an effort to transform my business from a hobby to a vocation. I've made huge steps to make that happen. I joined an amazing group of artisans in The Artisan Group, and through that have been able to gift to members of the press at the GBK Productions Gift Lounge at the 2012 Golden Globes. I've had articles written about me in the paper. I've sent out my first press release. I've been stepping outside of my comfort zone to say the least! Through it all, I still manage to love what I do! When I no longer love it, that will be the time to stop.
|Felted Wool Cloche Style Striped Bucket Hat|
Is it corny to say my kids? They are so creative in terms of color and pattern. They are not afraid to try something new. I also come from a long line of artists. My mother is a painter, my father a skilled woodworker. My maternal grandfather was a potter and a talented sketch artist. My maternal grandmother crocheted, worked in stained glass and grew the most amazing flowers. Their fathers were tailors (I have a pair of scissors belonging to one of them). My paternal grandfather was a furniture maker and my maternal grandmother an accomplished knitter. I look around my house and I see things that they have created with love and care. It is a reminder of where I come from and why I do what I do.
Any goals for the future you would like to share?
My big goals for this year revolve around getting my name out there and really taking the business to the next level. In the process it will mean becoming better at all those things beyond the creating and into the business side: book keeping, blogging, marketing, etc. I'd like to bring my business to the point where I am really contributing to the household finances, while retaining the love of the craft. Part of that will be participating in more art shows this year and expanding my reach. I'd love to see some of my pieces in some boutiques as well.
|Lightweight Charcoal Gray Felted Alpaca Cuffs|
I have a huge organic garden. In the warmer months, it takes up a large portion of my time. I thoroughly enjoy playing with my family and sharing my passions with them. We go for hikes, explore the outdoors and play games together.
If you are displaying or selling your craft/art? Where?
I primarily sell through my website, but also participate in a number of art shows throughout the year.
|Red Polka Dot Bowl in Felted Mohair and Wool|
It varies from week to week, depending on my workload. I'd much rather spend all my time on the creative side, but know that if I do so, I won't be selling much! I also know that I can't spend all my time on the business side. It's a fine balance that changes from week to week, day to day. That's one of the benefits of having my own business.
What advice would you give to someone who want to start out or start a business in their craft/art?
Keep good records! Keep track of what you spend and where you buy your materials. It will save you time, money and energy later. Also, don't undervalue what you do. I've heard many artists (myself included) say that they do what they do not to make money, but because they love it. Of course we love it, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't get paid. Undervaluing what you do, hurts not only yourself, but other artists as well. Have pride in what you do. Keep in mind how much it costs to make something and how much time it took you to do it. A third word of advice - don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Learn a new skill or a new technique. Talk to people. Put yourself out there. You never know what can happen.
*****Thank you Lucy! Be sure to visit Lucy at the sites below: