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.

let’s review- 2012

My Christmas sewing this year- reusable lunch bags and shopping bags-

Another year goes by! I am thankful for my blog to keep my memories for me. It is fun to go back and review. Here are some things that made me happy this year-

- a new floor in the studio! I know it doesn’t seem like much but I love scooting around in my chair.

- I was in a show with some other fantastic doll artists. Thanks Nichol!

- I went to Honk! It was AMAZING!

- San Francisco- Loved it! Renegade and some vacation too.

- I got to meet Sonya for the first time when I went to SF. We’ve been internet buddies for years and it was a thrill to give her a hug in person. And then we got to meet again!

- I won something from a blog give-away- Thanks again Mr. Finch! I love my moth!

- My monthly meet-up with other like-minded crafty-biz people. We are starting our 4th year in January! This meet-up started from a New Years resolution and all I can say is, if you want something in your life, sometimes you really can make it happen!

- And Ryan, my 5 hour a week helper. It has been great fun having someone to talk to on a schedule.

Other important events of the year-

- I took Sister Diane‘s class about doing on-line classes. I quickly realized that I really didn’t want to do it. And that was absolutely worth taking the class to figure out. It became clear to me that doing the classes involves a lot of tech support- not something I want to do. And, being the kind of person I am, I would likely be unable to do any other work during the duration of the class- too distracting.

- 2 things that sound good but mostly were really stressful for me, book and licensing.

- I did 3 Renegade shows- Brooklyn, San Francisco and Chicago. I decided not to do any Holiday shows this year- the right decision for my sanity but maybe not for my business. Hard to know.

Tomorrow I will post my dolls of 2012.

and the winner is…

#92, Betty from Kentucky! Congratulations! And thanks so much to everyone who entered.

and a garden picture so this post will have some color.

I’m off for a quick trip to Connecticut but I will be back to work by mid-week.

I am going to try to get the Generals into my Etsy shop soon.

I am getting my summer plans firmed up. Brooklyn Renegade- I will be in the NY area from June 22 to June 26

and San Francisco Renegade- I’ll be in the SF area from July 19 to July 27. WooHoo, a vacation!

thinking about online classes

We’ve got Spring! Actually, we seem to be getting near summer temps so these won’t last very long.

I am taking a class with Diane of Craftypod fame on how to run an online class. Now I have so many questions! Whenever I announce that I am going to run a class at my house, people pipe up and ask me to do an online class- that is why I am looking into the technicalities of it all.

Now that I am actually having to think about the specifics, I’d love some feedback. My confession is that I have only ever taken one online class and that was probably about 10 years ago. I can hardly even remember it!

What kind of class do people want? I can only really imagine (at this point) teaching the Tiny World Pattern. What would someone want to get out of an online class that would be so much better than just buying the pattern? Or should I be thinking of a completely different kind of class?

How long would a class like this go for? A week? When I teach it at my house, the class runs from 10 am to 4 pm and most people don’t finish. I know people probably don’t sit down for a whole day and go through an online class- or do they?

One of the fun things about having classes at my house is that I have all the materials and fun tools to play with. Are people going to feel comfortable collecting everything they need? Do most project-type classes have kits with the supplies?

On top of that, if you have taken craft project online classes, what do you like best about them? Why do they work for you? Should I go try out a few classes? If so, got any recommendations?

I’d love to hear your feedback! If I can get some ideas that will narrow things down, I might do a survey but at this point, I wouldn’t even know what questions to ask!

copying

***UPDATE 11/18/2011- I am happy to report that with the help of a friend we were able to connect with someone at Scotch and Soda who helped us come to a settlement that I am happy with. I am grateful that this was able to be resolved quickly and cleanly. Thank you for all your support.***

 

I got an email from Alisa at Ink Caravan this morning with a link to this-

When she looked at this fabric she thought, Mimi Kirchner. Well no, I did not design this fabric nor did I give permission to someone else to use my images. The drawings of the tattooed men heads seem to be taken directly from photos on my flickr stream. Like this one-

The other one is probably here. Maybe the designer thought if they flipped the image that would make it their original art? Honestly, what are people thinking? If someone looks at the artwork you are selling and says that looks like *insert other artist name here* did it, then you are probably copying/stealing.  Or at least not original. Also, knowing that said designer stole my designs, I assume that the rest of the images are traced off other artists’ photos online.

As I am writing this an email arrived (in reply to a cry of distress on Twitter) with more shirts. Oh, this is making me sad. Honestly, I am not sure I can bear to poke around and look for more.

I am very grateful for the eyes of the internet. Over the years, I’ve been asked if I worry about posting artwork on the internet- won’t your designs be copied? I always figured that no one would know what I did or who I am if I didn’t share. Also, if the art was no good, people wouldn’t copy. And, I have since learned, if you are known in the crafty/ design online community, when someone does steal, someone else will let me know. And thank you for that.

I have no idea what to do at this point. I guess I need to send them an email or something. Do I just take a deep breathe and let it go?

the Artful Bird

I am so excited about Abby‘s book, The Artful Bird! I feel that it is a highlight on her incredible growth curve in softie making since I first met her in 2005. As I wrote in that post, she was the first blog friend that I met in person. Here is her post about that first visit. Wow- what a long time ago. She has had 2 more babies since then, made enormous leaps in designing in fabric, has had numerous shows, and now a book- Go Abby!

I was thrilled when she asked me to be part of her blog book tour- a first for me! The book is gorgeous and I love the interviews with the other bird artists. The interviews and photos of 4 other artists, all working with bird imagery, make it clear how much style shines through each artists’ (including Abby) creations. I loved seeing them all.

And look- I made the Wren! He (?) now sits perched on the living room window, supervising all the goings-on at the bird feeder. I made him out of wool- of course.

My intern, Tori, worked on one with me. She put her wings on with a button which I thought looked great! Also, she made her beak with needle-felting.

My take-away from this book? It’s not for a beginner, but if you have some experience with sewing and and love all the detail work, you will have loads of fun making these birds. I could imagine hand-sewing a bird like this, especially if you used felt. I also think that you could take a basic pattern like this one that I did and be very creative with it and make it your own. There are many useful techniques to learn from Abby. This book will be placed on my shelf of books by my friends, and next time I see Abby I am going to get her to sign it for me. Thanks for letting me be part of your book tour Abby- I loved doing it!