I’m a winner!

Awards 2016 (25)

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I feel my head swelling as I write this!

I am so honored to have been named a winner of the Academy of Handmade awards- category, Textiles: Wovens. When I received an email telling me that I had been nominated, I was completely surprised and I really didn’t know anything about the organization- Academy Of Handmade. (Here is a list of all the 2016 nominees.) Luckily, when I was out in LA at Craftcation, I met people who are involved with it and I think I have a better idea now.

It is an online and in-person support group for micro handmade businesses like mine. You have to apply to be a member, there is a membership fee, and it is mostly West Coast based at this point. It seems to be a formalized version of my Crafty Biz meet-up. (Their faq page.) I would guess that it is incredibly helpful to people who are near an in-person chapter. I get so much from my monthly meeting up with people who are doing a similar maker biz thing.

Speaking of which, Merriweather Council, my friend and former Crafty Biz meet-up fellow (we miss you since you moved Danielle!) was a winner too! She also won the award for Handmade Community Superstar which she totally deserves!

fox girl and bunny

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I know I’ve talked about my connection to fabrics before somewhere, but in case you forgot ;-)

I love using fabrics that hold memories for me. I still have lots of fabric from my mom. I have fabrics that were gifts. I have fabrics that I purchased while traveling. This sweet little girl fox is wearing 2 memories for me- her shawl and a Liberty print dress. The shawl fabric was acquired on my first trip to Minneapolis, recorded here on my blog. Wow, that was a long time ago! I bought the Liberty fabric in San Francisco on my first (and only) visit to Britex. I was spending some quality shopping time with Sonya. And while I was sewing, I was remembering my travels.

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2015 round up- all the dolls!

It is time to collect all the things I’ve made in 2015 and put it all here in this one post!

I made odd amounts of specific patterns which made these mosaics a bit challenging. Also, I made a LOT less dolls than last year: 97 for 2015 versus 156 for 2014. That was kind of a bummer but I’m not going to focus on that, right?

There were 11 fish-

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2 babies and 3 owls-

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5 pugs-

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17 kitties and some girl dolls that never got finished-

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9 foxes-

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10 ladies-

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and lots of men! 11 lumberjacks-

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and 29 tattooed men-

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this last fellow couldn’t fit into the mosaic-

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edited because I forgot- 11 Tiny Worlds and some felt medals-

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And then, of course, the ornaments (and the patterns)-

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I will do another post with the more but this is enough for now. Happy New Year everyone!

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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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.

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!

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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.

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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-

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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!