Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the photo shoot I did today. Also, my art and I are being featured in a local website MNartists.org and I needed to give them a portrait of myself. I rarely say this but... I kind of like this picture of me! It's probably because I'm wearing my favorite hat. The link above is not to the article about my work but rather MNartists homepage. I'll put up the article as soon as it appears on the website.
I'm trying my hand at making several toys at once...I know it's the more practical approach. I'm better able to do it with these play toys which are an open edition and not one of a kind pieces. Doing it this way is definitely an exercise in patience for me.
Jude stopped by to check my progress asking the toys "you done yet bears?" and to introduce his own play bear to the new crew.
I've been holding on to this precious little bit of vintage french angora for some time now. A scarf for a rabbit seems like the perfect use for it. I've been pretty productive with my toy-making in the last month or so but I've had to accept that I'm just one person and there is only so much I can do. These toys are so time consuming and I like to pretty much make them one at a time...I love the process of letting each animal or doll's personality develop in their own way. I'm still not sure when I'll put all these little creatures in my Etsy shop. I'm trying to fill up the shop just in time for a bit of press I may be getting (!).
Sewing has been a nice change of pace from all the drawing and painting I had been so engrossed in all summer. Speaking of which...our show at the MIAopens tonight!
The handmade toy alliance is asking people to make a pledge to buy handmade this holiday season. And as an artist and crafts person of course I'd like to encourage you to do the same. Here is a link to the pledge.
Buying handmade goods from local makers is an easy and fun way to support small businesses and help improve our economy but I'd also like to encourage you to make your own gifts to give to your loved ones. The joy of making and receiving handmade gifts cannot be matched but It seems like there are a couple major deterrents that keep people from making gifts. The fist is the time involved. Making gifts does take a lot of time and when your working tons of hours or taking care of kids (or both) that can make taking the time to make something seem impossible or at the very least impractical. But think of it this way: How many hours did you have to work to make the money you are about to spend? How much time will it take to drive all over town, find a parking place, wait in lines etc? If you started early enough, you could probably knit a hat or make a sock monkey right? And if you fear you are not crafty enough to knit or sew, what about taking an evening to can some preserves or make soaps?
The other fear when making gifts, especially gifts for kids is that they won't like it or they with think it's lame (the bunny suit from the Christmas Story comes to mind). This year more than ever I'm feeling the pressure already to make my boys happy by buying them Star Wars stuff... etc etc. etc. This is hard. Of course I want to make them happy but I also don't believe that stuff has any real value and I know that these toys will break or fall out of favor almost immediately. Then nobody is happy. I know I certainly wont feel good about spending our money that way.
People have been making toys for kids forever but that joyous tradition has been tainted lately by toy safety fears. We are being told now that homemade toys are unsafe for kids. Instead we are supposed to buy sanctioned, age appropriate plastic junk and then go to the recall website every day and hope the toys we chose to spend our money on don't suddenly become death traps! This makes me insane! Use good materials, use common sense, repair or replace toys if they don't look safe anymore. It's easy.
Honestly, the toys I make my kids never create any major fireworks. They seem to like them but they certainly don't go crazy over them. Anything with wheels, wings, jets, lights etc are the most exciting, but those things have no staying power. Meanwhile the handmade toys are there in bed every knight getting sweeter and more rumpled with love as the years go by. They know I made them, and they know that those toys are an expression of my love. Every time they put on the soft wool sweaters my mom knit them they remember, often aloud, "My Nonna made me this sweater". These things really mean something to them even at the ages of two and four.
When I do buy presents, and I know I will buy some, I'll look for well made things made by individuals or companies I feel good about supporting. Going to local craft fairs or shopping on Etsy is an easy way to directly support crafts people. If I shop at a toy store I'll shop at stores that seem to share my values. The toys at these stores are more expensive than at a huge box store....and they should be. Somebody made those toys with care and was paid decently for it. just don't buy as much. Too many toys are bad for kids anyway.
I'll leave you with one final thought: If I'm feeling pressure to buy a bunch of flashy toys for my kids this holiday season I'm going to think of Laura Ingalls Wilder. She had a corn cob wrapped in a handkerchief for a baby doll and was very happy! A corn cob!
Do you remember when I was talking about the importance of quality photos of work? I just got my images back of my new drawings and I'm so happy. Too often I have tried to get by without a professional photographer. Okay, no more peeks until the show opens!