Life really does march on. Just one year ago I was accepted into the spring fair in Washington. The event boasts a long history and their fall version is one of the largest fairs in the country! Then of course, the virus happened and the show was cancelled.
I was surprised a few weeks ago to see an email from the NW Artisan Market (the fine art craft fair within the main fair) and they were trying to fill spots! I was shocked that they were moving forward with a fair already. From what my family who lives up there tell me Washington has been particularly restrictive because they were sort of ground zero for the pandemic here in the states. Anyway, the organizers created sort of a drive through fair experience with opportunities to get out of the car for a few of the activities. It sounded like a pretty solid plan to me so I booked a last minute flight and arranged it so my sister would house me for the 2 week event.
They had a lovely set up inside the Artisan Market. It is so nice to do an event where I don’t have to lug around tables and selves myself. They gave me this display (I think it’s called a gondola) and for the first time ever at a show I had more than enough room to display everything. It was insane! I have an inventory of over 300 items right now. It is inspiring me to rethink my normal set up too.
I think I learned a lot from doing this show. It sadly, does not look like it will be profitable for me. There’s still 3 days to go at the time of writing this, so anything is possible, but I won’t be holding my breath. That’s ok though, as a business sometimes you have to take those risks, and even if I didn’t make money I did learn a lot of things. Plus hey, it’s still kind of impressive to say I sold at a state fair!
Strange how life goes! About a year ago today I made a little felted pig in preparation for doing the spring fair up in Washington state. Covid came along of course and that show was cancelled and that little pig sat in my Etsy shop for a long time. Eventually though he did sell and the buyer left a review stating she was looking for more pigs.
I find it a bit strange she didn’t just message me directly so I sent her a little note asking for more details about her project. I learned she is doing a whole little display inside an old bird cage, a piggery if you will! Haha other than the round about communication she has been fun to work with and has been challenging my felting skills since she wanted more poses and now more breeds. She buys almost all my piggies now the week they get put online. So quick in fact, I decided to make this little blog post to show them off since linking back to my shop isn’t going to work if things are sold out. It’s a good problem to have. (and as a side note I do take commissions 😉 So without much further ado, below are some of the pig pics I was itching to share.
My journey into wet felting continues! I successfully made a dragon shawl as a commission and now I’m onto doing some for retail. Wet felting is such a relaxing thing, only down side is that it really dries out my hands. I know you can do it with dish gloves on but I like being able to feel the piece as I felt it.
As for advertising so to speak, I’ve been posting pictures to my social media of course and I did have one random person get a bit upset that I called them “dragon” scarfs. Haha… it’s true the form is simplified to make them more wearable but I like to still think of them as dragons. I could switch to calling them winged serpents but that is a bit of a mouthful! We’ll see how I feel by my next show.
In the mean time I really like the way I get to play with color on these guys and it’s rewarding to make something that has a practical use too! I’ve got the supplies for two more and I think after that I should wait until one sells before I go too crazy.
With spring around the corner I figured it would be time to needle felt some bunnies. My very first felted piece was a rabbit made from a kit I got in 2018. Since then my bunny game has definitely grown. They are one of my most popular items and as a result I seem to keep improving… haha making them even more popular.
Sometimes I almost get annoyed that they are so popular! After all, there are so many animals out there that I haven’t felted yet. But in the end I do get to felt lots of creatures and you know what? Rabbits have an amazing amount of variety to them as well. Once I started to dive into different breeds and colors I realized there is still a lot to explore.
I wonder how they might evolve next! In the meantime happy spring everybody!
Learning to wet felt has been such a joy! When I needle felt an animal I think about things (almost too hard) because everything from the wire frame to the length of hair will need to be mostly proportionate. Don’t get me wrong, I get a lot of satisfaction from forming muscles and features out of wool but it’s not a playful process. On the flip side, when I’m laying down fiber for a we felt piece I can just play with the color, enjoy the softness of my materials. Haha, I’m at the point where I just want to make sheets of felt without any sort of project in mind.
At any rate, all this is typing is mostly just an excuse to show this picture from this morning. This is the first step so it’s just all loose fiber right now. It was getting kind of staticky so I sprinkled a few drops of water on. A beautiful temporal moment!
This guy was such a challenge. The commissioner had a reference drawing full of lovely detail so I had to try out some new techniques. Most of what I tried turned out good… Which was a really pleasant surprise! There are bits of wool baked right into the clay, makes me glad I only use real wool felt. Anything synthetic would have definitely melted into the over.
I’m excited to be growing as an artist and that I’m getting interesting work to do. The one good thing I got out of the pandemic was time to improve. I don’t think I would have tried to do this commission a year ago, or at least I would have simplified things greatly. I guess there really is a silver lining to everything!
I’m still taking commissions by the way (wink wink, nudge nudge) A piece like this takes about 1 month to create so plan ahead if you have any gift ideas.
I received 2 commissions in January that compelled me to learn some new techniques. The more standard thing I learned is wet felting. Wet felting may seem like a natural thing for a needle felter to do but let me tell you, they are very different processes. I’m kind of liking it though! When the weather turns warm I think I might just set up a table outside and make a few scarfs.
I will be making at least one scarf (for the commission that prompted me to learn this process) and below is a little test strip I made. How cool are those dragon sales?
Interesting enough, my other commission was also dragon related. This other piece being a 3-d fiber art sculpture, I could certainly stick to my usual needle felting techniques. They wanted a clay head (which I have certainly done before) but there was going to be scales on that head that needed to blend into the scales on the spine. The texture transition (or really the lack of transition) of moving from clay to felt always kind bothered me in my past sculpts. Then it dawned on me, I use real wool in all my felting, and real wool is heat resistant. So I tested inserting the wool scales into the clay and baked them. And it worked! This opens up so much possibility moving forward. There’s still a few kinks to work out but overall I am happy with the result. I show off that dragon in my next post so stay tuned!
How are we already halfway through January? Time has always seemed to flow at it’s own pace but with Covid 19 still looming over us it seems especially random. This time last year I would have still be deciding if I wanted to go full time with my art. I would have (or maybe very shortly after this date last year) signed up for the “Punk Rock Flea Market” – a very unique sort of show that included your normal craft faire stuff with car smashing and live bands. It was an un expectedly good event for me. I believe that same weekend I got accepted into what would be my largest show ever, the state fair up in Puyallup, WA. I felt like I got my sign that said go ahead, be an artist full time. So I quit my day job, excited for my overwhelming line-up of opportunities!
And then the virus struck, with lockdowns happening a mere week after my last day at my old job.
Long story short, nearly all my shows were cancelled and I even cancelled my own wedding too. 2020 was a rough year. But here we are, in a new year and with a vaccine on the way. And for all the disappointment I will say this unintentional sabbatical has had a few upswings. Without the expectation of selling things I allowed myself time to explore techniques or to make large show pieces. The improvement in the quality of my work has been quite drastic. I’ve also grown my social media presence and finally started making some online sales. I have invested heavily in myself and am curious to see what this year (and future years) bring. I will probably always wonder what last year would have been like without the virus. I’ll think wistfully of large events like state fairs, which may take a few years to fully recover from all this. But I am not going to live in the past, or whine (too much) about my lost year because it wasn’t really lost. Today I have an impressive catalogue of 54 items on Etsy. I have a better appreciation for the value of my own work, a few of those large show pieces I made last year actually sold with no shows at all. I feel focused. All this extra time to reflect of whether or not I should be a full time artist have actually strengthened my resolve. I can do this!
This year has been rough, I don’t know a single person who hasn’t had life impacted by 2020. But now it is December, and with the new year looming around the corner I want to send out some positive energy and be hopeful that next year will be better. So I want to flip the script, see the silver lining, and remind myself that these trials may one day be a shining accomplishments that help me grow. My best accomplishment this year was continuing to work on my fiber art in spite of losing most of the venues I could sell it at.
I didn’t just work to keep my hand busy either, I worked to improve. Without all the show and conventions I didn’t need the small impulse buy type items I sell the most of. So this was my chance to get artistic, test techniques, new materials, and work on my understanding of anatomy.
And something great started to happen. I wasn’t just improving, people were noticing it! Big pieces I thought for sure would sit around for a while because I had to price them high were selling and I was getting commissions both big and small. The past couple of months have been close to profitable and that is amazing all things considered.
So I’m feeling optimistic. Almost confident (for the first time since the pandemic began) that I can make it in this world with my art. So crazy!
If you want to learn more about commissions feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I love fall best of all the seasons, and October is not only my birth month, but Halloween is definitely my favorite holiday. So imagine my pleasant surprise to get two large, theme appropriate commissions for this month. First up is a raven dragon pictured below. Life has been so hard this year but I truly want to make the most of things, even now in 2020. So yay raven dragon! Who knows, maybe this is the first domino in a long string of commissions. Christmas is coming up after all.