I grew up sitting on the fender of a Minneapolis Moline tractor bottle-feeding runt piglets, ear tagging calves and breaking steers. I spent my summers cooking for farmhands, eating warm tomato sandwiches with my brothers, digging potatoes, swimming in the pond and napping under a willow tree. I still live in this same county where I grew up, now managing my farm and woodland. Our house sits on the edge of a lake, surrounded by oaks, pines, hollyhocks and hydrangeas—a place of solace that I love dearly.
Most of the members of my family were entrepreneurs. Call it stubborn or call it hardheaded independence; it’s just built into my DNA. My mother made art dolls, and her sewing studio was in my bedroom. Most nights I’d nod off to sleep listening to the whirring of her old Kenmore. My job was to turn doll arms and fill them with stuffing. She and my grandmother would host a private show in the woods around the holidays. It was by invitation only, but women would sneak in and strip the place bare.
My drive to create has changed over the years. I used to lock myself up in a little playhouse in the backyard and paint my little heart out, just to try to escape from reality. As I got older and started a family, I created out of necessity as young families on a budget sometimes do. In 2012, my husband was diagnosed with cancer and passed away three years later. I struggled to create over the next few years, as my husband was my biggest fan and greatest supporter. Without him, what was I?
Then one day a family friend asked me to alter some of his clothes to fit him; he’d lost his arm in an accident. I cried the entire time I was stitching away. Grief is a funny thing. It brings out something inside of you that is raw and real. Slowly I started making and quickly realized I was making to mend my heart.
Six years ago, in my hometown, I co-founded a handmade and vintage market—A Day in the Country. Finding and connecting with other inspiring souls, as well as, assisting them with an outlet to showcase their passions means the world to me and is the premise for our market. As a handmade maker, it can be frustrating to be a part of a show or market and compete with reproductions and mass-produced items. Our market strives to bring authentically handmade products to our attendees. It’s a two-day event in the fall, with amazing makers both local and from afar. We incorporate make-and-take projects and also get children involved by teaching skills like embroidery and crochet. Keeping these gentle arts alive by passing them on to younger generations and sparking their creative spirit is very important.
“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” – William Morris
Creative magic doesn’t always have to happen inside your studio, no matter how much of a sanctuary it is to you. Inside your house, above the garage, or off your property in a rented warehouse, wherever it may be, find a place that is easily accessible that you want to escape to. I incorporate aspects into my studio that invigorate all of my senses. Sturdy wood furniture helps me feel grounded, windows lend fresh air and provide a beautiful view and a comfortable chair provides a place to relax when the need arises. Plenty of storage and a place for everything help tremendously. French doors allow me to be closed off from the rest of the house but still keep an eye on my children. Stations for each project with an easy flow help me stay organized and on task. I maintain a mood board filled with magazine clippings, sketches, photos, ideas and goals.
Setting up my studio properly has given me a workspace to clear my mind and find my purpose again; learning to use that raw sadness to look inside myself and find my authentic gifts and what really matters in life. I no longer create just to make inventory— I create to heal.
Take your work to a place that changes your perspective and opens your mind.