Yesterday was my shop's 21st birthday. For twenty one years, I have been a shop keeper. A keeper of my dreams. A keeper of my creative side. I have been blessed. I love what I do. All my life I wanted to own a store. I would play in my parent's garage with a small metal cash register and set things up to sell. I would make things. Lots of things. Often telling my mom that I wanted to make something but didn't know what. She kept me supplied with painting kits, craft supplies, yarn, sketchbooks and beads. I made things from empty laundry soap bottles. I taught myself to knit and crochet. I learned wood working with our neighbor, Al. I made a gorgeous wooden church model complete with electric lights for my grandfather one Christmas. My grandmother was the recipient of many of the things I made and never once did she have a discouraging word for me. My Aunt Ann treasured my first piece of crewel embroidery and we grieved together when it was lost in the floods of hurricane Agnes. My grandmother would sit with me and cut out pieces of fabric so I could make Barbie doll clothes and patchwork quilts. My neighbor, Rachel let me use her treadle sewing machine to stitch together quilts. Quilts that I have to this day. Every Easter became a time to decorate the house with all the eggs and trees I'd made. And Christmas? Christmas was making stuff on steroids! I thrived on it.
In high school, I was truly set free and learned to do silversmithing, pottery, painting, printmaking and more. I had told everyone since I was in the third grade and obsessed with drawing windmills, that I wanted to be an artist. I had no idea of how to become " one ". I only knew that I had to make things. I also knew that I wanted to sell those things and make a job.
College saw me frantically balancing work and boyfriends and creating the portfolio of work that would take me to the next level of schooling. I learned so many new things. I sold paintings to my dad's friends even if they were pet portraits painted on black velvet. I sold drawings to fund a weekend of fun with friends. I kept at it. Painting, drawing, crafting and soon added some teaching to my days. I was becoming what I wanted and then ..... motherhood happened.
A time to slow things down and raise a child. Fitting in all my work became a challenge. My studio space became all of a table top. I learned and studied decorative and ethnic folk art. I took sign painting jobs. I sold work at craft shows. I knitted and crocheted and quilted and dabbled and entered competitions and sent paintings around the world.
At 36, I wanted a place to have all my work around me. A place of my own to sell the things I made. I found a space to rent with an amazing shop keeper who saw something in me that allowed me into his shop to create a working studio. I worked long days and nights. I stretched my skills to levels I did not know I possessed. I made adjustments in my life that allowed this part of my soul to grow.
I am still doing it. Now in a bigger space. I love it even more. I feel blessed on this journey. I am still the girl who just wanted to make stuff and sell stuff. I do it all the time now and I could not be happier.
So as the 22nd year begins in my shop and studios, I will find new things to make, new artistic avenues to explore, new experiences to put into my work. Watch me. Join me. Creativity is as necessary as breathing.