Monday, September 12, 2011

after all, I am a craftsperson

I remember years and years ago--I was at one of those very prestigious craft shows inside a large convention center. This was back when booth fees were much more affordable and they wanted people to have L-A-R-G-E booths. So I had sprung for a 15 x 10 foot space which used every piece of display I had to create my booth. For those who don't know, my booth is made from 1" steel pipes that very cleverly snap together with some connectors designed just for this purpose. It is a wonderful strong system that does not sag under the weight of my quilts but the one drawback is that it is not very flexible. The booth must be made with right angles and must be the size of the pieces. So 15 x 10 works great, 14 x 9 requires a lot of thought.

Anyhow, this particular space had a huge supporting pillar--about 3 feet by 4 feet right in the back corner of the booth.  I did not have the display parts to deal with this pillar so I asked one of the very friendly volunteers if there was anything that could be done. Her answer was so cut and dry it has always stuck with me.

"No," she said. "Nothing can be done about it. But," she added with a smile, "you are a craftsperson and I am sure you will figure it out."

And in fact I did. I jerry-rigged some method of tieing the booth together and taping a curtain over the offending pillar--I forget exactly how but remember lots of duct tape and bungee cord--and I had a great show.

Needless to say, this is a skill that I have had to use more than once.

The last couple days as I was getting the  new studio ready for a "soft" re-opening I found that my  coping skills lacking. Little things wore on me. The young reporter--who was herself overwhelmed by the numerous tragedies of Irene in West County--and many are far worse off than I am--asked me one too many questions that showed she did not know how hard I was working to set up the new space. The friend who wanted to sell me something. You must know the feeling. Hey, I even started to hold a pity party for myself--and trust me, I don't like pity parties--especially when I am the hostess. Time to snap out of it.

I needed my quilts up. I needed to be open for business. The new studio had been so lovingly cleaned by volunteers--both wonderful old friends and new ones that I have made. Sure there is a ton more to do. The floor needs lots of TLC. Storage space needs to be in place. Lights. But that could wait. I just needed to get the quilts up. Display the smaller items.  But how?

Sure, I had received a wonderful grant from CERF+--do check them out--such a marvelous caring organization.  My friends had out-done themselves. How lucky I am. I had even pre-shopped for used furniture that would look great in the space.  The new studio is half the size of the old. That will come in a few weeks.

But I wanted to be open NOW. I needed to be sewing NOW!!! That is after all, how I stay sane and cope with life--or at least as sane as I normally am. So when a friend said, "You are a craftsperson. Use your booth display furniture for now," I realized she was absolutely right.

Why not. This I know how to do. This I have been doing for so many years. So I enlisted yet another friend to help me hang my quilts. Set up my booth furniture and tables. Put out the table runners and purses that I had taken to the craft fair. Made a stack of the placemats that had not sold in Evanston. Don't want to do it for long, but not bad for now, is it?

Now I can sew. After all, I didn't have flood insurance--only two people in town did, FEMA does not help small businesses--GRRR--I had not known that before, and I am not sure I want a loan from the SBA, so the only way out is to make the very best quilts that I can. There is a tax write off for losses--I just need the income to write off . I need to make the orders I have received.

And though the studio still looks unfinished, I can now see there is a bit of normal in my life.

And you what do you do when life takes that unexpected turn? Whether it is health or family or business? How do you stay sane? Return to normal? If you are a craftsperson or an artist, how do you return to work?


  1. So good to hear that you had equipment that could be salvaged and that you have items to display in your new studio. I can hear the pain in your words and see your hope in your actions. thank you for sharing with us.

  2. Such a great attitude you have , great going, wish you all the success :)

  3. You sound like my kind of person. I'm so glad you have support through this hard time. I visited your old store a couple of years back and I was so sorry to learn of the flooding. Good luck with your new store. I know you'll do a superb job! I hope to get up to see it soon.

  4. What a great idea your friend had - use what's at hand. I'm glad you're recovering from the effects of Irene and are able to create those wondrous quilts again.