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.

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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.


6 swaddled babies and 12 owls-

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18 fish-


16 tattooed ladies-


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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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”-


These are the lumberjack ornaments that Cody Foster produced-


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.

trip to Washington, DC

It was great fun to get out of the studio and go down to Washington for a few days. Here we are, packing the last few things to go in the car, early Friday morning. Yes, I’ll be posting photos of all those dolls soon!

Our big excitement on the trip down-

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We drive a 1997 Honda Civic so it’s about time!  Here is my booth on Saturday morning-

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And look who showed up on Sunday- Betz! We’ve been internet friends for years and finally met in real life!

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Renegade Craft Market and other news

My life is very busy and exciting lately! This coming weekend, I will be in Chicago for the Renegade Craft Market. I hope some of you will come out and say hello!


And, today my appearance on Liz Smith’s (MadeinLowell) cable TV show went live. Believe it or not, I wasn’t totally cringing when I watched it. It just didn’t feel like I was watching me. Weird, eh? Liz is amazing and all her shows are super interesting.

Makers in Business with Liz Smith Ep 205 Mimi Kirchner from Liz Smith on Vimeo.

There is even more news- Check this out! I am going to be part of a weekend Art retreat in NYC in March- a collaboration of the Makerie and Sweet Paul Magazine. How fantastic is that! Check it out here and sign up to get more information. I am SO excited to be part of this event!

And what else? I am teaching the Tiny World Pin Cushion at the New England Quilt Museum on September 21.

I’ll be going down to Washington, DC for Crafty Bastards at the end of the month. All the info is here and a link for discounted admission is here.


Yes, things are crazy busy around here and that is fantastic!

I’m back from camp

and here are way too many photos!

We were on an island in the middle of a lake in New Hampshire.

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There were mushrooms and assorted fungi everywhere. I’ve restrained myself and am only posting a few of my pics.

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There was music and art making.

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I worked with 2 people on Tiny Worlds and we had loads of fun. How amazing are these?!

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After my class, I was able to sit in on some of the other classes. The other teachers were amazing. I made a diorama with Rachel Blumberg.

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It is a wish altar in a transformed cigar box. I cover the outside with birch bark.

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I took an encaustic class with Susan Schwake. I didn’t love it so I’m not showing. I’m vain like that ;)  And on the last full day, Saturday, I painted on the beach with Mati Rose and a wonderful creative group of fellow retreaters. Sigh. Paradise!

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That is my painting at the bottom. Here is what I brought home. I might work on it a little more.

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The retreat was wonderful. I let myself play with unfamiliar materials and get involved in projects that aren’t part of my “biz”. I never have time for that when I’m home. I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything will work out and I can go back next year! Here is the info from this year if you are curious.

the calendar is full!

There is so much going on that I haven’t had time to post a schedule!

Next week I will be in New Hampshire for the Art Retreat Camp. I’ll be teaching the Tiny Worlds and having some fun art-making too. I am so excited.

September is when things really get busy. I will be in Chicago for the Renegade Craft Market, September 7 and 8. Last years’ booth-


Then, September 21, I am teaching a one-day workshop at The New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA. More Tiny Worlds. I will be back there on November 2 to teach the Swaddled Baby.

*update- direct link to workshop sign-up.

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The following weekend, September 28 and 29, I will be in Washington DC for my first time at Crafty Bastards!

There are other exciting plans in the works that I’ll be able to tell you about soon. It is sooo busy around here! Besides talking on the phone about future possibilities, filling out show applications, reading business emails and all that other boring stuff, I am getting some studio time. I hope to do some dyeing of tattooed people fabrics before I leave on Wednesday. Full steam ahead!

San Francisco was fantastic!

The trip to San Francisco was a ton of work, exhausting but also exhilarating! I get very nervous beforehand so when things go well I get extra charged up.

Wednesday was our travel day. We stayed in an Airbnb which was walking distance from Fort Mason- very convenient since we don’t rent a car. This is a view of where Renegade happens-

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That building in the middle of the pic (white roof) is the one. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Thursday was for errands which can take a long time when using public transportation. Of course we also get some fun city touring in at the same time. I needed to get supplies for my booth and for my class. I had a plan (excuse!) to buy my class threads out there because I could go to Lacis where they have EVERYTHING!

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I am teaching a number of classes in the next 1/2 year and I thought I would get myself some class specific threads- an entire rainbow plus the neutrals. Yes, that was fun! It is almost all DMC Perle Cotton sz 8.

One of the reasons I was stressed out beforehand was because it was looking like my box of class supplies was not going to make it in time. The day before we were leaving I made the call to pack a whole second set of supplies- and a good thing too. The boxes showed up at 2:30 on Friday, during the class and I only got them because I chased the UPS man after he just left a note on the door- grrr. That was most of my show inventory too. Anyway, it all worked out with me just a bit flustered with my second set of, not so complete, class stuff. Everyone did really well, it was a wonderful group of interesting people and I hope to do it again next year!

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There was one more that had to leave early. Aren’t they wonderful?!

Renegade took up the weekend. My booth-

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Lots of my little guys found new homes on the West Coast. And here is me- they always have a free photobooth at Renegade and so I took advantage of it.

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Monday was the day to pack everything back up and ship it home. And go to Britex. I’ve never been there before… yes, it was amazing! It was a great trip although I didn’t have time to just relax and see friends. That will have to happen next time.

Next up, Art Retreat (I think there is still room if you are interested) and then Renegade Chicago. It is busy around here!

Sweet Paul Magazine!

I’m back from North Carolina and hope to be back to work soon. Tomorrow, beach and travel pics. A little preview-

5:1:shellsBut the news for today is the latest Issue of Sweet Paul Magazine! Remember back in February when I posted about their visit? Now the magazine is out and there I am, starting on page 28- I am so totally thrilled to be featured in this gorgeous publication! You can check out the whole magazine online and/or you can get yourself a paper copy. It is a special Kids issue and there is loads of goodies in it- products, recipes, home decor. What an exciting day.

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.