Friday, January 20, 2017

A look back: Favorites of 2016

One of the things a new year brings for me is a look back at the past year's projects. Basically, I take inventory of what worked and what didn't work so well. Which items I will add into my regular repertoire - meaning I will definitely make them again, and which items I will retire. This year I thought I would share with you :o) *All of these fall into the category of 'Worked out well'!

1. This Mrs. Robot was a labor of love to create. I worked on her off and on for months. She sold at the first show where she made her grand debut. I missed her the moment she went into the bag. She is irreplaceable and one of a kind. Yes, I will certainly keep creating these wonderful Robot dolls!

2. Owl hoops with a glitter frame and tied with a bow? Heck YES! I love the addition of embroidery stitching, and bold background fabrics. Super duper sweet, and I will continue creating these bird hoops!

3. These Santa elf dolls.... I have actually seen people swooning over them. What is not to like??? Fair isle sweaters? Tiny working bells? Sparkle fiber beards and mustaches? Posable legs, and button sewn-on arms? All these features are winners in my book!

 4. I doubt I will ever stop making these special bird pillows. They truly make for a unique piece of room art, one that doesn't need to be hung on the wall.

5. Woodland needle felts. These are some of the most requested items I am asked to teach. Even though each character takes several hours to make, I love working the wool and watch as it goes from loose fiber to a sculpted character. Yes, these fantastic creatures will definitely stay among my repertoire!

6. Mr. Squirrel with acorn in hand? Are you kidding me? This is one of my all time favorite, top of this list cutes... well, almost top of this list! I would like to create a whole series of woodland hoop art pieces, each carrying something beloved from the forest :o)

7. Sniff-sniff sweater. Each baby sweater is truly so special. This one has a bone on the back, which is what this pup has her eye on. I modeled these eyes off my dog, Lola's eyes. She is all "sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff" when she spies a treat! This sweater also had big embroidered "sniff sniff" above the dogs head. It sold right away. Too cute!

8. Ok, this one... Hands down, the cutest thing I have ever made!!!  A bumble bee in a donut car? Oh gosh, I love it so. This one may need to stay with me... forever!

I hope you've enjoyed the show! As ever, I am so happy to share my work with you. Thanks so much for another year of fun projects, support, and love. :o) 

Friday, January 6, 2017

This brand new year

Happy New Year to you and yours! I can't believe I've been away from blogging in this space for so much time. But as you can read in my last post, I have been a wee bit busy 😊

With much humble gratitude, I'd like to let you all know just how appreciative I am for your support this past holiday season. My fall shows, though much fewer this year than normal for me, were all banner shows. Some shows I sold half my booth and sold out of certain items I stock deep. This tells me that I still offer a special and unique product that people value. Here are some of the comments I heard from shoppers:

  • "Wow, I've never seen anything like this! Your work is amazing."
  • "You made all this? The craftsmanship and quality is fantastic"
  • "What an imagination you have!"
  • "Everything is made with so much love!"
  • "This just make me smile. Everything here is so cute!"
My booth at the Fall 2016 Contemporary Crafts Market, Pasadena, CA

For years I have been asking myself the Hand-Maker's key question: "Who is your ideal customer?" Apparently, by answering this question, I should be able to figure out how to best funnel my handmade business towards success. All through the years as I have been asking myself this question, I always came up short, never able to pinpoint my ideal customer. Sure, I know it's those people who love fine, handmade craft, people who value buying from local artists, people who support artists who use repurposed materials in their work. These categories are broad. But the true nature of my ideal customer escaped me time and time again as I went through these exercises. 

Finally, at one of my shows, it hit me! The answer to this long sought after question stood there before me as I surveyed all the making I had accomplished. 

Who is my ideal customer? It's Me!

Yes, it's me!!! I make what I love, and in that, people buy and support me and my work. I am my own ideal customer! If I were walking a craft show and came upon my booth, I would fall in love with this work and buy numerous items from this artist, and in order to support this artist. 

Maybe this isn't the right answer to the question, but it is the answer that works for me. 

In doing the work I do, I can finally acknowledge the importance Handmade Craft takes in my life. This form of art has been my lifeline during the past 10 years, when our family navigated deep and rough waters of my son's illness. Fine tuning my advocacy skills in fighting for what's right for my son went hand in hand with fine tuning my design skills and my needle felting skills. It is all interwoven. 

What a relief it's been to figure that out! I always felt like I was split brain with my advocacy work and my craft work. Now I can see how they supported each other and allowed me to find success in each world. They are not separate, for without one, I doubt I could accomplish the other with the same success rate. These two opposing worlds worked in complete tandem towards success for my son. Wow, just wow. 

So, now as I sit here on New Years Day and ponder all that is bright and new before us, I am thinking of new avenues, or better yet, fine tuning the avenues I'm on. My advocacy work has morphed into a full time job working for a company I deeply respect, NAMI San Diego, and the Child, Youth and Family Liaison, and giving the gift of advocacy to families who need help. Val's Art Studio continues at a slower pace, but with a sharp eye on purpose driven craft, if there is such a thing. 

Back to this business of a brand New Year... I have decided to reuse the word of the year that has been my faithful ally since 2015: Trust.This worrd has served me so well in the way I approach daily life, and in trying to hold back my need for Control. But I am adding to it: Abundance. I love this word and all it represents! With Abundance, I can realize that 'this is enough' and that 'I am enough' and be reminded to apply this notion to all I encounter in my home, work and studio life. 

What about you? Have you given this deep thought to your work and world as we march headlong into this brand new year? If so, I'd love to hear about it! Please share in the comments.


PS. I am so sorry about the teeny tiny type. I bought a new blogging app for my phone and started this post using that app. I have tried about 100 times to increase the font size, but nothing works. Urgh! So I guess you will just need your magnifying readers to understand what's in this post.....