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Posts Tagged ‘crafting’

I just wanted to post a little note I wrote about my thoughts after the Start the Holidays show in late 2017. I’d shared to a group I’m in but realized I’d never put it up here.

As a not-wildly-successful artist/crafts-person, it’s often hard to feel like the things we create matter to others, but sometimes they do, and they matter more than you can ever predict. I do most of my selling in person, at shows and in the shop, so I do get to see the positive reactions by people coming back, bringing their friends over to see my booth or sharing what the stuffie they took home has been doing since it left. That is great, and always brightens my day, but this past weekend I had a couple of interactions that really made an impact and stuck with me so I wanted to share them.

It’s was at my last craft show of the year. It’s a little local one that’s pretty much the only “straight” (non-geeky) one I do. It’s 10 mins from home, in a lovely venue and has a great crowd and reasonable hours so it’s always very relaxed and pleasant to do.

The first was a woman I saw on Saturday. She came over to thank me for helping her son. Now, you have to understand that the stuff I make is strange, which I why I generally don’t do the “straight” shows. I’ve had people be freaked out and quite offended by my altered stuffed toys. (not that they are gory, gross or icky, just the fact that they are on the creepy-cute spectrum is too much for some to handle) My jewellery is all salvage, usually with some usual materials and I’ve always got a few more oddities floating around at my table. Anyway, a couple of years ago, when he was 11, they came by at this show. He is a kid who loves to make things and while his parents are supportive, he was running into trouble with his peers and some other adults since his stuff was also “different”. His mother had pointed my table out and he and I talked a bit about doing stuff that isn’t standardly pretty and how some people are going to react to it and how not to let that limit you. (I honestly don’t remember the details since not dwelling on these sorts of interactions is part of how I deal with my own show anxiety. I work on being open and honest in the moment but then let it go so I don’t end up rehashing things over and over again) She wanted me to know how much I had helped him accept his own work, that he was doing much better and how much she appreciated what my example had shown him. I’m….still working through my feeling about all this, but it was deeply moving to hear.

The second emotional hit of the weekend was a person who had bought a couple of my monsters at a show in the spring and SO excited to see me again. They told me how much they loved their monsters and that I was one of their favourite artists. It was clear that what they meant was how much they appreciated, and needed, having found soft, cuddly comfort objects that felt like them. The mutants may look different, and a bit scary, but they are just right the way they are and lovable. The very first mutant stuffie (a pair of conjoined bears) I ever sold to was to an older gentleman. (and by that I mean well over 65) I had asked if it was going to be a gift and he told me “No, it was for him”. I was surprised, but learned very quickly that I could never predict who would respond to the altered stuffies and how many wanted their own strange monster friends because so many of us feel like we are monsters on the inside. A few years ago, I’d had another customer tell me that I was doing a public service by making things that allow adults to buy themselves comfort objects and it was SO clearly true in this case that it hit me right in the feels.

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small demon bear, 2016

It’s been a difficult year and I’m (still) trying to decide if I want to keep trying to make stuff to sell stuff or just taper it off and this made a whole chunk of the struggle feel like it does have some value, even if it’s hard to see in the moment.

Tldr: I had a couple of people show me this weekend that my weird little creations are doing good out in the world, thus restoring some of my sense of artistic purpose.

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After figuring out how to make my own custom plus-sized 20’s “flapper” dress, I wanted to finish the look off with a period headpiece. The dress was an evening style, so a fascinator or headband was the way to go and I ended up with something that was a bit of both.

We had recently found a group of tubular peyote bead woven necklaces and bracelets. One necklace had beads that matched the beaded details on the waist scarf and trim from the dress so it was the starting point. It was a bit too short to work as a headband so was sewn to a short band of black covered elastic. That gave the needed additional length and some flexibility to the fit. Plus, I find a bit of stretch is always more comfortable and stable on headpieces.

headband2

The necklace/headband looked pretty good already, but I wanted it to have more impact. The scarf that makes up the main body of the dress had been cut apart in the process and some of the middle was also taken out in shaping the neckline. I’d held on to the leftovers and was able to salvage a piece with some nice shape and sparkly accents that was about as long as my palm.

headband1

The edges were sealed by burning, like the dress neckline,and then it was mounted to a piece of black felt with some interfacing. This gave it body and stability. Some rhinestones were added. A scrap of the black silk velvet was used to make a small poof and a vintage rhinestone button was added to the centre. An ostrich plume and a few coque feathers were an easy way to get impact, height and movement with very little weight. The velvet poof was used to cover the bottom of the feather cluster. A bit of the same beaded trim that was used on the dress was added along the bottom edge. A pair of felt straps on the back secure it to the headband but allow it to slide freely so it’s very easy to position for the best look and comfort.

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