checking in

I have been working. I’m doing that part of the job where I am getting all the parts sorted out (matching dyed “tattooed” body piece to plain flesh color pieces and then cutting parts out), stuffing groups of already sewed animals (kitties and foxes) and giving them faces,

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and moving forward with dressing some of the them. I had a fox girl that I had promised to make so those are moving forward first.

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Soon I will have some finished pieces to show. But, the thing is, that really isn’t why I’ve been so quiet.

*** trigger warning for liberal politics- stop here if you can’t stand anymore***

I have just been so overwhelmed and distracted by what is happening here in the US. I have had a hard time focusing on my work. I get sucked into checking the news multiple times a day. My social media feeds (twitter, facebook) are filled with all the terrible news. I find myself thinking, I will just go peek and see what horrifying thing this new administration has done since the last time I looked. I know this is bad for me. I have to limit my exposure but I vacillate between feeling like I need to be informed and wanting to put my head under the covers and block everything out. I am a person who has struggled with depression my entire life but focusing on my work is what has kept me stable and functional for years now. I have to find my way back to my focus, and I know I will, but it is mental exercise and that is hard work.

This blog has never been a place for politics. Someone once told me that my blog was their little oasis from the real world. I am not planning on changing the focus of the blog. I will give a trigger warning if I feel like I need to vent again. But, I can’t remain completely silent. Someone in my life recently said to me, it doesn’t matter who won the election, they were both the same. Honestly, it ruined my day to think that anyone believes that and I consider it to be deliberate ignorance. We are at the beginning of a very scary time. I will be participating in some art projects as one of the ways I will express my resistance and that will be showing up here.

This is what I worked on all of Inauguration Day. It is for a community art project for the window at Gather Here.

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And this is what I posted on Saturday in solidarity with all the Women marching.

1-26-resist - 1 (1)Now that I’ve finally written this post, I am hoping I can get things back to normal around here, posting and all. I was feeling completely blocked so phew.

 

Sew Mama Sew toy drive

Back in March I was over on Sew Mama Sew as part of their 6 weeks of softies. The 6 weeks are over and people made some amazing pieces which you can check out here. They are also doing a toy drive and are looking for more donations.

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This is what Kristin + Beth sent me-

I have a favor to ask. We are accepting donations to the Soft Toy Drive through the end of the month. So far I have a couple dozen contributions, but I’d love to be able to send at least 200 toys to the National Foster Parent Association conference in June. I heard from so many people involved in foster parenting who all agree that foster children often show up at a new home with hardly any personal belongings. Having a toy that is all their own to love and keep would mean so much. If you could help us spread the word to your readers, I would really appreciate it. All the information is in this post.

I am going to send in some pieces that were made as samples for books or prototypes for toys. I never knew what to do with them and this seems perfect. Maybe you have something to contribute?

 

Anniversaries, medals and patterns

Well, that is an odd collection of things! This is how they are all related-

Hurray! Today is my blog birthday- it has been 11 years! I have been working on felt you-deserve-a-medal prototypes (more on that later) so I made myself one. Don’t I look mighty proud?

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My medal says blogger- it has a gold star for 10 years plus a white star for 1 year.

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These are the rest of the medal prototypes I’ve been making, inspired by many things including this fellow, Lord Kitchener.

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And the reason for the prototypes? This is a class I will be teaching (a project I will be leading?) at the ARC, the Art Stream Art Retreat Camp. There is a story about where the idea started. Last year, at one of the markets I was doing, someone came into my booth, looked around and asked, “Why are these so expensive?” I hate that question. It immediately puts me on the defensive and I get all huffy. Later I was thinking that one of the reasons I charge what I do is that I’ve done the work, I’ve been validated as an artist, I have a seal of approval. And wouldn’t it be great to have an actual seal of approval that I could pull out! And medals for all the “battles” I’ve fought along the way. Really, we all have fought the battles, have the scars, and deserve the medal so lets make our own.

Lastly, the patterns. Back here I talked about why I pulled my patterns from Etsy. Well, it looks like they’ve got things figured out so I will be putting them all back up. To celebrate, I have lowered the price of all the patterns to $8 for all of February. Here is a shop link.

And guess what? More snow on the way!

 

a bit late- 2014 in review

Yes, I’m late. 2014 was a very busy year, maybe a bit too busy. And 2015 is starting out the same. I am just getting to this now because I have been hard at work doing exactly what I was doing last year at this time- designing a new line of ornaments for West Elm for the 2015 Holidays! This week I went to Brooklyn to deliver them in person and meet my contacts there.

totally random photo-

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This list will be of the a lot good and a little bit bad variety.

Teaching- I taught at Gather Here in January (Tiny World pin cushion) and again in February (owls). Then in March, I headed down to New York to teach at the Sweet Paul Makerie event which was beyond amazing. I reached out to see if anyone was interested in classes while I was in San Francisco in July but got no interest. After that, nothing.

This year? I am teaching again this month at Gather Here. And I am going to the Sweet Paul Makerie in Philadelphia, but this year I am going to play instead of teach. I can’t wait! Hopefully there will be more teaching gigs- I will keep you informed.

Shows- I did 3 shows again this year- San Francisco Renegade, Chicago Renegade, and Crafty Bastards in Washington, DC. None of them was fantastic and it is making me rethink doing the shows. The shows are expensive and stressful but I get to see show-goers interact with my artwork and always meet amazing people. Unfortunately, my work is expensive compared to most of the vendors at the shows I do and I see so many disappointed faces which is very disheartening. The people that come to the shows are the ones who like my work, might be potential future customers, but are not ready to spend $$$ the first time they see my work. It is not as easy as switching to higher end shows since I am not sure my buyers would be there. My best “show” of the year was the pop-up shop at the Sweet Paul Makerie so I will be trying to think more creatively about this. Currently I am planning to take a year off from craft shows.

Licensing- The ornaments for West Elm were a big hit! I hear that the moose was the most popular and I love that! I still have some toy designs available at Land Of Nod too.

Gallery Shows- I did 2 this year. Don’t Play With Me in Pawtucket, RI and Good Mail Day in Dover, NH.

Dolls- of course! It was a banner year for making dolls!

Media- Little Thing magazine is amazing and I was delighted when I saw my profile, although I have no idea what it says! And I was in the New York Magazine 2014 Holiday Gift guide- that was pretty cool too.

Patterns- No new patterns in 2014 and I am really sorry about that. To make things worse, the EU has implemented a very complicated tax system on all digital products (as of Jan. 2015) that is impossible for a micro business person like me to deal with. Etsy did nothing to help it’s sellers deal with this problem, such as making it possible to sell only in the non-EU countries. As a result, I have pulled all my patterns from Etsy for the time being. I am sure something will get figured out eventually and I will let you know when they are available through Etsy again. That doesn’t give me any incentive to make any new patterns right now since I can’t sell them. Sigh.

Other stuff- I made a quilt for my daughter and flew out to Chicago to deliver it and have a fun, cold, weekend.

Gather Here made a sweet little video on their 3rd birthday called Why We Make. I’m in there for a sec.

Yes, a very busy year. Let’s see what 2015 brings me!

all the dolls- 2014!

Happy New Year!

2014 = 156 dolls! Wow- that is my most ever in one year!

I made 17 girl foxes and 15 boy foxes.

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I made 25 dogs including the pugs.

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6 swaddled babies and 12 owls-

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18 fish-

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16 tattooed ladies-

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and 47 (!!!!) assorted tattooed men!

1:1:men 11:1:men 2I also made a line of ornaments for West Elm. I didn’t make one single tiny world pin cushion.  I’ll have to get to that in 2015!

This is my picture of the year with the most views on flickr (almost 40,000!), most likes on Facebook and on Instagram. It is always interesting and I can never predict what will catch peoples’ fancy!

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10! 10! 10!

Do you know what day it is today? My blog’s 10th birthday! It is mind-boggling that I’ve been doing this for 10 years!

This is the first picture in the first post.

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Things that I posted in the first 18 months or so are kind of a mess- pics sized wrong, posts duplicated, pics missing. Most of that is a result of upgrades (?) over the years I think. Anyway, so many posts, so many dolls, so many friends, so many amazing opportunities have come out of doing this. I had no idea where it would all lead when I started!

Here is something from the first year- Halloween 2004, a Dr. Who scarf for Peter.

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And, here he is this past Christmas, same scarf-

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Peter grew and so did the scarf!

So, a reminder to myself- you never know where those first steps will lead!

ripped off again

Maybe you’ve been wondering why, if you follow all the social media, I haven’t posted anything over here about the copying mess with Cody Foster. Well, I was taking a few day off to relax after the crazy busy last 5 months… and then it all blew up. I had very little access to internet. Now I am home and trying to catch up with all the emails and everything else and thinking about what I ought to do.

Here is the deal. My lumberjack dolls from 2011 which are the ones most likely to have been used as “models”-

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These are the lumberjack ornaments that Cody Foster produced-

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I was originally notified about 1 1/2 weeks ago by someone I am connected with online that there was a striking resemblance. She has a flickr page to document the copying by this company. (She used a more recent lumberjack of mine as her reference.) I was in the middle of a big push for a deadline. I glanced at the tiny photo and thought, Oh Well, they aren’t that similar and I’m too busy to think about with this right now. On Tuesday I got several more emails and on Wednesday, well, everything blew up. And then I went and looked at the photos again. I searched and found a larger photo and that is when I saw the similarities- the details like the bottoms of the suspenders and how they made the eyes. Ugh.

Lisa Congdon wrote a blog post about the blatant copies of her work. She has a huge social network and the story took off like wild fire. If you are interested this story, here are a whole lot of links to articles and posts.

Abigail Brown wrote about it here. I love her incredible birds.

Wolfie and the Sneak.

West Elm reacted quickly once the story came out.

The story was picked up by Yahoo News.

Jezebel.com focused on Lisa’s story. It even made it onto Boingboing.

FastCompany article here and a follow-up with a response from Fab.com. This is an excellent article because it talks about how easy it is to copy and get away with it. The cost of fighting these battles is too high for almost any indie designer.

LATimes article.

As you might know if you have been here a while, this is not the first time this has happened to me. Now that I am home, I need to figure out what I’m going to do. Lawyer-ing up is probably not a financial option. I feel like a wimp even thinking of just letting it go, or even limiting the fighting to social media, but this kind of thing is incredibly draining. It is depressing and pulls energy away from my creative work. Right now, this minute, I am most angry that this whole mess ruined my vacation. I have been working flat out, 7 days a week kind of schedule, for many many months. It feels so unfair that the minute I take a few days off… yeah, I know. Get over it!

Here is the positive side of things- I have incredible faith in the internet to keep this kind of evil in check. I am regularly contacted by people who have seen things online that they think are copies of my work. They do this because they love what I do and they are protective. I appreciate this more than I can express. The eyes of the internet keep us all honest, hopefully.

And the funny- I got an email from etsy telling me that one of my listings (this lumberjack) was getting a lot of views! Subject line- Congrats! One of your items is very popular.

Soon I will get back to regular programming.

a class, an essay and the beach

3:25:cupsI’ve got various random bits of news. I’m teaching a Tiny World class at Gather Here on April 13 and 14. Come join the fun! This class is suitable for anyone who can thread a needle.

3:25:tiny worldsAnd, I am the guest blogger (or Curator) at Jenny Doh’s blog, Crescendoh.com. I wrote an essay on the theme of “Art Saves” here.

We were away for a few days at a family gathering. On the way home we stopped at a few beaches along the East Coast and saw many signs of the damage from Hurricane Sandy. But still, the beach is so beautiful.

3:25:beachAnd one more thing- Instagram. I can’t stay away. I’m mimikirchner over there if you want to find me.