Monday, December 26, 2011

Have a Dolly, Jolly Christmas

From the weeks before Hallowe'en to December 23rd, I didn't get much of a break. I'm not complaining, but between costumes, craft shows, and Christmas commissions, I've stayed busy. I completely forgot to post about my latest craft show experience, at Water's Elementary School Artisan Fair, here in Chicago.

Above: Cocoa Cuddle Buddies

It was a great turn out and a wonderful experience - a complete shift from my only other craft show experience with Renegade. I feel now like I have touched both ends - the largest and the smallest, and now can use what I've learned to work the 'somewhere in between' market. Here are some of the new pieces that I started in Wisconsin, where Martha's brother and his wife Erica hosted an amazing (and delicious) Thanksgiving for us, Martha's parents and our amazing neice, Erielle.

Below: Cozied Up

I applied three days after the deadline, and the Artisan show was chock full of talented locals. A few weeks passed, and while munching appetizers on Thanksgiving, I got an email informing me that a drop-out had free'd up a space for me. Needless to say, the day after T-day, I braved Eau Claire's black friday mania to get stocked up on supplies from Jo-Ann fabrics.

Above: Mousy Christmas

I was able to finish three new pieces in time for the show, outside of my time teaching the children. In fact, some of my three year old pals helped sew the grass on that fox's bed.

Below: The S'more the Merrier (not new, but un-blogged from September)

below: Autumn Owl (also from September) (please excuse the copyright marks, these are from my etsy file).

Then... THEN... then... came the Great Christmas Commission flood of 2011. I got three emails on the same day, all of which asked the same question: "Can you make a set of nesting dolls in time for the holiday?" I, of the belief that sleep is for the week and that deadlines prove your worth, accepted all three, and haven't slept.

The Daly's are a family I have known for a few years, and host the preschool in which I teach in their garden apartment. Dad, Dan asked me to make a set for his family.

Miles (the boy) and I agree that Robin is one of the best people ever, and duly, Miles dresses like Robin every chance he gets.

The family turned out great, right down to the baby sister and the puppies. Every set I make turns out better than the last, and this one holds the bar pretty high. It's always a pleasure to do my best work for the customers I know personally.

Next came the family of the owner of Kustom Kribs, where I had my last retail show. Chris (the dad, but not the grand-dad, pictured here) is a heck of a guy, and it happens that we both studied at the University of Kansas (rock, chalk, GO KU!), which just happens to be a bonding point. He messaged me late one night between turkey and dumplings, and we were on board for his family's doll set.

The odd thing is, the only aspect that challenged me in this set was the glasses. It is incredibly difficult to symmetrize a pair of glasses on a rounded form.

Looking good, family!

The smallest dolls are about one inch high and about 3/4". This can be challenging to make a likeness. More often than not the smallest dolls are reserved for family pets - this set called for all humans, so I did what I could. They turned out great, if I may say so.

Lastly, I got a commission from a nice fellow in Minnesota, who had, for me, a bunch of furry family members, as opposed to their fleshy counter-parts. This set was the challenge of the year, for me, as a craftsman.

Painting people? I've done that time-and-time-again. Painting animals with accurate markings and features? That's a whole new thing. I pulled it off, I think, (he did, too), and they turned out looking quite like the animals, whose photos he sent.

According to Eric (the client) they were spot-on. When you get right down to it, that's what matters. He was able to give a meaningful and merry Christmas gift. That's what I strive for, as a service person, in the end.

Detail of the beagle

Tails UP!

Happy Chanukah, merry Christmas, winter-well-wishes, have a flattering solstice... I'm going to go take a nap.