Thursday, November 19, 2009
After my exciting class on Monday I blogged about below, I went into my studios (Yes I am so lucky to have three entire rooms all to myself!!!!) and realized they were totally unorganized and I was not working efficently due to this fact. Here is my set-up. I have one large room which I have as my sewing studio. It is set and designed so two people can work comfortably. This is due to the fact that Kathy (my assistant) comes 3-5 times a week to work in there with me. This was suppose to be my studio for everything.
Once I really started to make jewelry I realized it was better to have these two work areas separated, due to the fact that jewelry making can get messy, dusty and using chemicals around fabrics just was not a good idea. So I took over a spare bedroom, put a workbench in there and started to take over the room. Now I had part of my jewelry supplies in the jewelry studio and part of them across the hall in the sewing studio. I also had stored some sewing supplies in the spare room that became my jewelry studio. So being the way I am, I tore apart both rooms on Tuesday while I fired my PMC3 pieces I showed in Monday's post and got the correct supplies in each room. The jewelry studio is now set up and organized. I feel very comfortable and the area works for me. Now on to cleaning up the sewing studio and finally I will clean up my office (the third room). I am posting a picture of the Jewelry studio here and will add the other two rooms once I get them organized.
This is my excuse for not having a piece of jewelry the last couple of days but now I am set up and ready to go. Until next time.....
Well it seems that one piece of jewelry a day is a little ambitious with the style of jewelry I am trying to create. So I think I will just say I will work in my jewelry studio at least everyday. Which I have been able to accomplish. So here is what has happened this week.
Monday was my first Jewelry Fabrication class class at Mesa Arts Center. This is an eight session class that covers hammers, forging, daps, and rolling mill. It also covers how to solder with a torch and sawing metal. I am really happy I did not start here in my jewelry learning quest. It has been challenging and fun though. It turns out I am the only student who has not worked with a sedaline torch or soldered.
I am posting a photo of my first unfinished bezel. It is not very pretty now but I will post it again when it is complete. I cut and created the bezel to fit my stone. Soldered the ring together (not an easy feat for me). I then cut my metal back plate using a jeweler's saw (only broke one blade in this step :) ). Then I soldered the bezel ring to the backplate (which is only partly done). Next week we will finish it up.
I have to say I just love this class even after only two sessions. Jewel Clark is my instructor and she great. She explains things clearly and in steps that are easy to follow. She also has an amazing understanding of what it is like to be a beginner even though she has an extensive background. I also have to say it is worth learning new skills no matter what it may be. I found myself challenged and frustrated at times and that is a good thing. A person cannot grow if they only play it safe. My dear friends Mary always said if you don't get frustrated and sometimes make mistakes you are living life too slow. Until next time.....
Monday, November 16, 2009
I took yesterday off from blogging. So I have two photos for you today. I did not make any finished pieces this weekend but instead focused on creating some pieces and parts for my next jewelry pieces. I try to make every part of the jewelry from the beads, to the cords and now I am looking at making my own clasps. Each piece I make is unique. I can make five necklaces that look similar, but there will always be some variety between the pieces because of how I make them. So on to what I am showing you here.
The first photo is wool roving that I made into beads, then took brown and copper aluminum wires and twisted them together to create one wire. I created cages for each wool roving ball to complete the beads. I spent Saturday night and Sunday night working on these.
The second photo are pieces I am working on using PMC3 silver clay. I have decided to make a piece for a meeting challenge this week with the theme of fall/nature. That is what the leaves are for. The paint splat pieces I think are for a bracelet. The idea is still in my head but once I start working the pieces my have another idea in mind. I rarely end up with what I envision. This is part of the creative process for me. Never get an idea set in stone or there is no where for your idea to grow. I still need to sand and fire these pieces. This is what I did on Saturday. Sunday I spent most of the day photographing my finished pieces.
Today I off to my first metal smithing class at the local college. I hope to have photos to show you later this week. Until tomorrow.....
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Good Morning and Happy Saturday. First thank you to the overwhelming response to out blog on the Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Blog Tour. This was our first internet blog tour and it was fun. I would like to announce the winners of our Blog Tour participants.
1st Prize- Julie Stellingwerff won a copy of "Quiltmakers-100 Blocks" magazine and an autographed copy of Heidi Pridemore's book "Dazzling Designs
2nd Prize- Aiane King won an autographed copy of Heidi Pridemore's book "Dazzling Designs
3rd Prize- Esther Lenaham won an autographed copy of Heidi Pridemore's book "Dazzling Designs
4th Prize- Mary Stark won an autographed copy of Heidi Pridemore's book "Dazzling Designs
Congratulations to all of our winners. I have sent each of you an email with the winners information on how to claim your prize.
For today's piece of jewelry, I created this necklace by needle felting wool roving into beads and then creating a sterling silver cage around each bead. I then created a linking bead with this cool iridescent acrylic beads. I really do love the look of fibers mixed with metals.
Today I am going to play around with PMC clay. This is a clay that contains a binder and pure silver particles. It works like clay (except it has a very quick drying time) and when the piece if finished, it goes into a kiln. The kiln burns off the binder leaving behind a pure silver piece. I have made a couple of pieces this way and I am still learning the tricks to working with this medium. The problem is it is very expensive if you mess up. The good part is it is recyclable and I get 75% of the value back. I hope to have something to show in the next day or two. Happy creating. Until next time.....
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thank you to everyone who signed up to win our free copy of the Quiltmaker's 100 Block issue and all your kind comments about my designs. I am still taking names so just email me at heidi@ThwWhimsicalWorkshop.com. You have until 5:00pm on Friday. We will draw the winners Friday night and I will post them on Saturday.
Onto my jewelry piece for today. I created this wool bracelet using aluminum wire, wool and fabric glue.
First I took six 18" strands of aluminum wire and twisted them together. I cut the wire piece in half to create the top and bottom of the cuff bracelet. I then cut my shapes from the wool and wrapped them around the wire pieces. I added my accent pieces and then shaped the bracelet. I used another two piece of wool to each end to cover up the raw ends of the wire.
Sounds simple yet I had to make it a couple of times to get everything to look nice and neat. I think with jewelry as well as most art, the craftsmanship is what sells the piece. The piece has to be able to stand up to the wear and tear from wearing it and well as look finished. When working with fibers it is also important to add weight to the piece so it drapes correctly over the body. Hope you like this one. I have had the idea in my head for some time now and it is nice to finally have it out in reality and no longer just a concept. On to the next piece!!!!!
Until next time.....
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Good Morning. Today is our big day for the blog tour. As you can see I have written a couple of times this week about the Blog Tour so make sure you check out all the entries for this week. I also want to take moment and thank everyone who has ever bought our patterns or kits. Each of you have supported my dream and have let me continue to design. Without all of you, my designs would not have gone any further than my head.
Now to enter to win the free magazine and other prizes I need you to email me at heidi@TheWhimsicalWorkshop.com with your email address. Unfortunately if you send it through the blog, the blog website blocks your email from me. So anyone who emails me directly can be entered into the drawing. Sorry for the confusion, technology tends to outsmart me on occasion. Make sure to enter today for the drawings.
I would also like to let my readers know I have a new book coming out next month with Krause Publications. It is call "Fabric Jewelry-Wrapped, Braided and Sewn". I had the opportunity to work with Nancy Zieman on this project and I flew to her studios in WI in February to film the DVD that comes with the book show both of us making the different beads that are in the book. It is now available for pre-order on our website www.thewhimsicalworkshop.com/patterns.asp?ID=12
This project has sent me down another exciting path, creating jewelry. I have to say I love it. I am not sure if I love the idea of learning so many new techniques or if it is the fact that I can wear what I create. Either way I am thrilled to be making jewelry.
Now I, like so many people, watched the movie "Julie and Julia" and I became inspired with the idea of setting up a blog that followed a journey and also creates a deadline of sorts for me to accomplish something. So I woke up this morning and thought what if I designed a new piece of jewelry each day. I can post a photo of the piece and write about how it was made. This would encourage me to keep going and lets you see what I am making and comment on it. At some point I will have finished jewelry available on my website for sale. I plan on making one of kind pieces, so if you see something you like, you will have to speak up and let me know.
Now knowing how I work, I have to say you will see other things posted here too, because I do run a design studio and sometime real work gets in the way of the fun stuff. So do not be surprised to see quilts and fabrics posted here as well.
So to start off the "Jewelry piece of the Day" I am posting a photo of the bracelet I made last night I call "Dots". I used wire wrap techniques to make the bangle. It is made from 14K gold filled and Argentium silver wire and a beautiful hand painted porcelain focal bead, I bought in Cincinnati, OH last February when I was back there doing photography for my book.
Thank you stopping by and happy creating......
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Good morning. We are on day 2 of the Blog tour with Quiltmaker. My block posted here shows our very popular kissy fish. We were so excited to see our block made the cover too. There are a few links for you. The first one will take you to Quiltmaker to enter to win prizes and even one of the 100 blocks done for the magazine. I would love to hear from whomever wins our block. that link is
The second link is for a Flicker group for the 100 blocks projects.
This is where people have posted projects using the blocks from the magazine. Make sure to check out these projects. the link for this is,
Above are four different quilt patterns and kits we offer with our cute fish available on our website. We have kits for I'm Outta Here! and One Fish, Two Fish listed under fabric kits. We have wool kits for Seaworld under wool & felting and finally Under the Sea is available as a pattern under fusible patterns. Also make sure to sign up for our email newsletter as well for free patterns and discounts each month.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Welcome readers from Pomona, CA. Kathy and I just returned from our last trip of the year. Oh what a year it has been. I have been from one end of the country to the other as well as the Caribbean this year, eleven trips total. I met so many wonderful people this year at the different shows and events. I have looked ahead to next year and already have eight trips planned just in the first five months. I will be in NY, Atlanta, Northern AZ and Minnesota in the months to come and I look forward to meeting more wonderful and creative souls on my travels. If you would like us to come and visit your group or show just drop me an email or check out the new lectures and workshops on our website at www.thewhimsicalworkshop.com/workshops.asp
This week we are involved with Quiltmaker's "Follow the 100 Blocks" Blog Tour. This is kinda like a shop hop online. Readers have the chance to visit some wonderful artist's blogs and see what everyone is up to. I was very excited to be invited to design a block and I was thrilled to see our block on the cover. Can you guess which one is ours? It was a great chance to be a part of their special magazine issue featuring 100 artists, each doing a 12" block. Not only is it fun to look at all these creative blocks, but it also a great source for the readers to use for future quilt projects. When can you ever find a magazine with 100 ideas!!! I will be posting daily this week about some of the exciting things happening around The Whimsical Workshop.
Check back daily for this week for updates, tips and to enter to win a copy of the magazine from us and other free gifts!
There are two ways to enter our drawing, either start following our blog or add a comment with your email address. We will enter everyone who signs up this week and pick winners on Saturday, November 14th.
Have Fun and Happy Creating. Until next time.....
Friday, October 16, 2009
We are all back from Fall Quilt Market, where I promoted my upcoming book "Fabric Jewery-Wrapped, Braided and Sewn". This book is coming out in January 2010 from Krause publications.
I did a lecture to quilt shop owners on the different ways to market the book as well as other products they should carry and sell with the book. I demonstrated how to make some of the fabric beads at the Blank Quilting Booth, Quick Quilts Magazine and Krause Booth. We got a great response. We are also offering a workshop and lecture on fabric jewelry if you have a guild or shop that you would like us to come and visit. Just send me an email. Also this month I did a fabric jewelry feature in McCall's Quilting Holiday issue on how to make an art deco wool pendent set. We have kits available for all three colorways, shown here. Just head over to the website and they are listed under Fabric Kits.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Here in Phoenix, summer is FINALLY over. By that I mean in is 85º out and spring-like. Everyone here is as giddy as school girls. People are finding reasons to be outside again and even our dog just wants to sit outside. Fitting that our latest quilt "Indian Summer" has just come out in the Fall issue of "Fabric Trend" just as the summer heat leaves us for another year. Fabric kits are now available on our website www.TheWhimsicalWorkshop.com.
It has been a hectic and stressful week around the studio. First it is always a bit crazy right before Houston Quilt Market. We are scrambling to finish last minute quilt projects as well as getting ourselves ready to go and walk the show. If this was not enough to keep me out of trouble, our 7-1/2 year old Great Pyrenees, jumped out of my jeep a week ago and blew her ACL in one leg. This happened on the last hot day of the year and between the stress of the injury and the time it took my family and I to get her off the ground into the car for the trip to the puppy ER, Her temperature jumped and she was at the heat stroke level. So when we got the ER they were not concerned with her leg but getting her temperature down, which involved an overnight stay and lots of IV fluids.
As small fortune later, we had to take her on Monday for a Surgical consult from the ER. Now imagine moving a 140lb dog who cannot walk from one point to the next. I am definitely toning up. The surgeon felt Cleo needed surgery, but she did not do this type of surgery. She recommended we take Cleo to a specialist in Tucson. It happens I was suppose to be in Tucson to set up a show on Wednesday, work the show on Thursday and then head home, so this would work out perfect. Kathy (my assistant) and I took Cleo to the specialist on Wed AM and expected Cleo to have surgery on Wed afternoon and be ready to go back to Phoenix with me on Thursday. Except the surgeon is concerned about her age and weight and wants to wait on the surgery until she loses 30lbs. So I boarded her for the night and rest goes as planned.
Now once we are home, I am watching our in-laws dog while they finish up the Tucson show for me. Their sweet dog is really a goat in diguise. On Friday night, my husband believes he saw her with a needle and by the time he gets to her she has swallowed it. Now we have to call the Puppy ER again to find out what to do with Blaze. Another sleepless night of not watching Cleo but watching Blaze. Turns out Blaze is fine and all is well. Blaze went home on Sunday.
Matthew and I finally think everything is going to be okay and calm down some. But Monday, Cleo does not urinate all day or all night. Tuesday, she again does not urinate or want any water. We call the vet who is very concerned. We pack her up one more time and drag her and ourselves to the vet, unsure of how this will turn out. I am happy to report after an ultrasound and test to make sure she is okay, she promptly returns home and pees a river. What sight, Matthew and I holding her up with a sling, while she pees and we are cheering her on.
Now I find myself leaving for Houston in the morning and not ready to go. I can only hope that Market goes much smoother than the last week. I am ready for a calm and uneventful trip. I also know there is a very tall glass of wine in my future. So to all my fellow pet owners who know how exhausting and expensive this past week was, love your furry friends, they are truly a gift that we only have for a short time! I know I am thankful we still have Cleo with us, even if it means we have to help her get around for awhile! Until next time.....
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Hello to all our new visitors from the Tucson Sew and Craft. Please make sure to sign up for our new email newsletters on our website www.TheWhimsicalWorkshop.com. Our newsletters will have free patterns, specials and discounts along with what is new at the studio. Please check out past newsletters on our website if you have not yet received one via email.
I am excited to tell you my newest line of fabric "Polar Opposites" is now available. I have uploaded a free pattern for this collection on the website under "Free Patterns" and the entire collection in now online for you to order under "Fabrics-Polar Opposites". Here is the photo of the polar bear and penguin version for the free pattern. This line will also be featured in the January McCall's Quick Quilts and the January issue of The Quilter.
Well back to work, it is only five days until Fall Quilt Market in Houston.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Well it is back to work around the studio. Quilt market is two weeks away and we have a few more quilts and projects to finish up. We also have another show "Sewing and Craft Festival" next week in Tucson, AZ if anyone wants to stop by. We have everything on sale, including fabrics on the bolt, patterns and fabric kits.
I have been busy working on designing email newsletters to send to our customers. With the drop in business and rise in printing and postage costs, we have to come up with a better way to reach out to our customers. So I have decided to use technology to keep in touch. If you have signed up for our mailing list in the past, I recommend you do it again. I cannot tell if we got all the emails from our customers from the past or not. But the software we are using is smart enough to kick out any duplicates. Sometimes I think the software is smarter than me.
Well today Kathy and I need to finish our next magazine quilt called "Duck, Duck, Goose", make 400 small flowers to string through garlands for someone's booth and 180 leaves that need to be glued onto the 120 fabric flowers I made for a market booth. Every market we get one strange project and this market was to design and make 3-D flowers. These projects are always both fun and challenging. I have first figure out the quickest and easiest way to create the items and still have them look finished and and neat. I have posted the four flowers I came up with here. I think it will be stunning to see all 120 flowers together at market.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Hello all. It has been awhile. Welcome to anyone who has just joined us from San Mateo, CA. We have just gotten back from doing a show in beautiful Northern CA. It has been an amazingly busy six weeks, even for me. Here at the studio we have been working on show samples for Fall Quilt Market and designing many exciting projects for upcoming magazine features. I have also been taking a class on wire jewelry from Ann Turpin Thayer who is an amazing wire artist who has been very giving with her knowledge and skills. I will post some photos of the pieces I have made as soon as I take them. Anyone who has an interest in wire jewelry should check her local or online classes.
I have also been working on four wool applique projects for our product line. We unveiled them at the San Mateo show and I am posting the photos here. I created these using hand dyed wool from Wooleyladys and Presensia Pearl Cotton. The patterns and kits are now available on our website, www.TheWhimsicalWorkshop.com. I have always loved working with wool but if you look at my designs you can see I am not a country or primative girl and had to add my own spin on wool applique.
Until next time......
Monday, August 3, 2009
Our business, like the rest of the country has slowed down a bit and I find myself with some extra time on my hands. Not alot of time but just enough to get myself in trouble again. As some of you may already know I have written a new book with Krause publications on creating elegant jewelry and beads using fabrics and fibers. I was lucky enough to work with Nancy Zeiman Productions to also create a how-to CD to go along with the book. I finished the book in March and it is in the editing stage now. It is due to come out in January 2010.
I had to design and make twenty different piece of jewelry for this project. Though most people know me for my work in the quilting world, most of you may not realize making jewelry has slowly become a passion for me. Having written several other books, I have to say writing this one was such a joy. I loved every step and was sad when it ended. But once I was done I cleaned up my studio and put away my jewelry making supplies and got back to business. I would occasionally pull out some beads and think about what I would do with them only to have them end up back in the drawer. This has gone on since April. Now one of my dreams is to make and sell my finished pieces to people. This dream will not happen if I never create the ideas in my head. It is always easier to make excuses than to make progress.
Now if you have read my last Blog "Where did July go?" you can see how it is easy to say I am too busy to sit down and make jewelry. But a funny thing happened last month in the middle of all the craziness, my jewelry muse came a knocking. I tried to ignore the banging but finally I let her in. Since that day I have stolen a few minutes everyday and a few hours on some of those days to please my muse and play with my jewelry. I realized part of my problem was I had to keep cleaning everything up after each time and sometimes it was too much effort to pull everything out just to work for a few minutes. So to solve this problem I set up a table in my spare room and created a work area just for my jewelry making. I can now walk away and leave it out so when I have a few minutes, I can stop by the table and work immediately. The nice thing about jewelry making is it is so small it does not take up much space. Here is a photo of my new workbench and some pieces I have made in the last couple of weeks.
July went by in a whirlwind. Starting with getting ready for the Denver sew and craft show. I spent the first week of the month getting ready to go and making sure I was caught up in the design department before leaving. We drove to Denver from Phoenix, a 15 hour drive through the lovely state of New Mexico. It was a very long trip. Once we arrived in Denver we spent a day setting up the booth and three days visiting with the very nice people of Denver. On the last day we torn down and packed up the booth and then drove to New Mexico for the night. On Sunday we made the long drive home. If it wasn't for Kathy I think I might have gone mad with boredom in the car. She is always great company on these long trips. I did fell sorry for my father-in-law, Jerry who had to drive the u-haul by himself in front of us.
We got home late Sunday and I had two days to get caught up from being gone for a week before my sister and niece came for a visit from Atlanta. On top of all this my tenet moved out of our rental home and I had to get the house ready to show. Needless to say it was a crazy couple on weeks.
I did have a wonderful visit with my family and got the chance to take my niece to see Santa Clause. Poor Santa was all dressed for winter and sitting in a little shop in Glendale AZ when it was 115º outside. Even he said he was ready to quit and go back to the North Pole. My sister and I also spent every night down in my studio working on little projects and had a blast making things and catching up after Miss Violet went off to dreamland.
Sooo now that July has come to an end, I can look back and say I got to visit two states I have never been to, New Mexico and Colorado. I got to see my sister and niece for a nice long visit. I also got to visit with our cousin Sarah who cam e to visit before going off to her freshman year at college. I have our rental home settled and rented again. Finally I spent the last week of the month catching my breath and looking forward to the full and adventurous Fall.
August has already started out with a bang celebrating Matthew (my Husband's birthday) this weekend and getting ready to go to Sedona this week for a short escape from reality. SO until next time.....
Thursday, June 25, 2009
It has been a busy couple of weeks here. I knew we had a small amount of time between the Prescott show the first week in June and next show for Denver. In these short weeks, We have managed to design four upcoming magazine features and finish one that was started before we left, design my next line of fabric, design four upcoming wool projects and find time to design some jewelry. I also designed four digital quilts for various fabric companies and wrote about eleven instructions. And lets not forget my fight with technology that is still ongoing while my desktop computer is out have a new hard drive installed. So here is a quick run down of upcoming magazine features:
*Witch's Brew MCCalls Quick Quilts November issue dropping in August
*Spinning Circles Quick Quilts Fall issue dropping in August
*Birthday-Go-Round remake McCalls Special issue dropping in August
*Ghosties on Posties The Quilter Novemeber Issue dropping in September
*Welcome to the Poles McCall's Quick Quilts January Issue dropping in October
*Rock Legend McCall's Quick Quilts January Issue dropping in October
*Winter Wonderland The Quilter December Issue dropping in October
*Art Deco Wool Pendents McCalls Quilting Holiday Issue dropping in October
*Pop Flowers Fabric Trends Fall Issue dropping in October
Love Bugs McCalls Quick Quilts March issue dropping in December
*Hoppy Easter-3 ways Quiltmaker March/ April issue dropping in February
3-D Bead necklace Bead Unique Spring issue dropping in January
Newton's Lullaby McCalls's Quick Quilts Septemeber Issue dropping in July
Cool Cats Fons and Porter- Spring
The features marked with an * are all finished and out the door. As you can see we work way in advance of the magazine print date.
I also just finished the free project sheet to go with my new Polar Opposites collection. I am posting the quilts here. Blank should have the pattern available soon. We have all the fabric on order and will add to our website most likely in August once it comes in. I designed one quilt and used the polar bears on one and the penguins on the other. I wanted to keep them separate due to the fact that polar bears live at the north pole and penguins live at the south pole. The quilt we designed for McCall's using this collection I put the penguins at the bottom of the quilt and the polar bears at the top of the quilt. I hope you like our newest collection. Well back to painting today. So until next time....
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Wow what a week! I got in a fight with technology and we are still waiting to see who is declared the winner.
I am usually embrace technology. It is how I run my business. I do most of my communicating with our different clients via email. I talk to you through my blog and emails. I am always surfing the net for ideas and reference. I do all my designing on the computer, write instructions, run the business and so much more on my computer. So when my internet goes down as it did last Sunday & Monday, I have lost half of my resources. Now when I got the internet working again on Monday, my desktop computer started to have major issues and then my backup files got corrupt in the process of trying to fix the desktop. All in all a disaster week for me and technology. I think there were gremlins in my office last week.
This is one of the down sides of running your own business, unless you are blessed with computer specialist in your family, when something breaks it is up to you (or me) to fix it or find someone who can fix it. After twelve years on my own, I have learned alot about apple computers and can fix several issues on my own but there are still challenges especially if hardware is involved. So the most important advice I can give you is if you purchase an apple product, spend the extra money for the 3 year Apple Care protection plan. For me this is my personal IT department. If I cannot figure out the problem, I can call these guys free and they can walk me through fixing it. Not only is it free, but by them walking me through it, I learn how to fix different problems if (or when) they happen again. I never wanted to know so much about computers but it has come in handy with keeping everything running. Just another perk of owning your own company. Another piece of advice is to have two computers with the same programs and power (if financially possible). I like to have a desktop and laptop so I have one to travel with and one at home if something happens to the laptop on the road. I was able to take my desktop in store and still had my laptop I could continue my work on. This will not help you with the time it takes to try a sort out the computer issues (for me, several days were lost) and get everything running again. But it will get you back on track with your other work that much faster.
So after getting the internet up and running, re-formatting and re-installing my programs on my desktop and finally having to cry uncle and take the monster into the apple store to figure out what was wrong (It was a Broken Graphics Card), I am happily back on track with technology for next week. So until next time.......
Friday, June 12, 2009
Hello again sorry it is taking me so long to post again. I have had one of those weeks. I have posted a photo of Cleo, my dog whose look reflected how I felt this week. (Though she looks this way all the time) Sometime after I take a trip, I get so tired that I get in a funk. Though Prescott was a short trip (only four days). I think is because it was just a week and half after my last trip back east (8 day trip), everything just caught up with me. I came back to work on Monday ready to go and get a bunch of designs done, as well as instructions and planning, but by Wed. I was so burned out and tired, I just lost my groove. This may come a surprise to some, but any artist can get creativity burn out. This usually happens at the busiest time when it is not recommended to just stop and take a break. Though I have learned over the years, that stopping and stepping away for a bit is a better way to deal with burn out, than trying to bang your head against the wall and push through the burn out. I have figured out if I take a break and step away I am usually twice as productive when I come back to the drawing table.
So how did I get burned out this week, Kathy and I started the week with six projects going at one time and they were all at different stages of production, laying around the studio. I also was thinking about several upcoming projects as well as the overall direction our studio is moving in. Add in the everyday headaches of life and being overtired from traveling without having a weekend to rest up and you have classic burn out. So enough of whining about how I got in this condition that I am sure we can all relate to, let me tell you how I counter this condition.
Sometimes, like this week, I took an hour to just clean up the studio. By cleaning up the studio I feel like I am cleaning out my head. Most of the time I get burned out by trying to do too many projects at one time, just like this week. I looked at each project and decided what had to be done to complete each project. I made a list of projects in order of fastest to complete to the projects that still had a lot of work on them finish. Once Kathy got to the studio she and I finished up the couple of the projects that were almost done. Then we prioritized what was left by their deadlines. I cleaned up anything that was just lying around the studio that did not have anything to do with what we were working on this week. This only takes a small amount of time because I keep the studio pretty organized on a day-to-day basis seeing how others have to come into my space and work too. (Now if you work better in chaos these tips may not help.) Once I had my space organized, I start making lists, I love lists. Most of the time I do not even follow the lists, but by creating them I am getting all the chaotic thoughts out of my head and down on paper in an organized manner. Again I prioritize items by easiest to complete and by deadline. I like to do several easy projects in between projects that take longer. I gives me a sense of completion that keeps me motivated to move on to the next task. When I do too many long projects back to back I feel like I am never going to finish anything and start to burn out. Another trick I am learning is when I do have several large projects going at once is to break each project down into several smaller tasks. Tackle each smaller task over time and before you know it the large job is done. Now the next step to recovery is to take time away from the studio and look at the rest of my life, if that part is in chaos then it is harder to do my work in the studio. Today I spent the day just running around taking care of things that have nothing to do with work. Though it is hard sometimes to take time away to do things like take the dog to the vet or get my car fixed, once these things are taken care of I can again focus on my work. Now the most important step to burnout recovery is to take a day or an afternoon off as soon as the deadlines make it possible. Do something as simple as lay on the couch and read a book or go to lunch with your family. Don't worry everything will be waiting for you when you are done relaxing and back to full form. I know it is hard to justify taking a break when the world is weighing down on you with tasks and problems, but remember it is easier to handle anything once you have regained your strength and energy and there is only one way to do that. Take a Break! So until next time......
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Hello again. It has been a week since the last post. We (Kathy, Jerry and I) packed up and went to Prescott, AZ for the Thumb Butte Quilt Guild Show. I am posting a couple of photos of our booth. As you can see we were in a high school gym and brought lots of goodies. We were lucky enough to be in the room with the actual quilt show, so we had a wonderful view of the amazing quilts that were hanging. I was very nice to visit with all the quilters and always an extra bonus to see quilters that have been to one of my lectures or workshops I have given at the guilds. A special thanks to the ladies of the guild who were most helpful to us all weekend.
This trip I did not take my laptop with me. A first I can assure you. Though it is always nice to have the chance to unplug, it takes more time when I get back to the studio to catch up. I have an iPhone that keeps me in touch with all my emails and the internet and unlike my laptop it fits right in my pocket. It certainly is an amazing phone that does every thing from giving driving directions to playing movies and music as well as the normal functions listed above. I have no idea what I ever did without it.
Well this is a short post due to the fact that I really do need to catch up on my other work. This week I have to finish painting my next fabric line, we have five quilts and one piece of jewelry due for upcoming magazine features due 7/1/09 and I have several projects on the list due for fabric companies this week. We also need to get ready for our next show in Denver in July. So as you can see just another week at the studio. So until next time....
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Today has been a busy day working on instructions for several upcoming magazine features. We are very lucky to have several magazines pick up my designs throughout the year. Now I know this sounds exciting and it is. But it is also involves quite a bit of work. Designing for magazines differs from designing pattern for fabric companies, because we work 4-6 months ahead. So that means it was just Halloween in our studio. Each quilt we design will not be seen for several months and because we like to offer a fabric kit with each feature, I have to make sure I use the newest fabric collections that will still be available when the magazine ships.
When I go to market, I check out many different fabric lines from the fabric companies and make a list of collections I like and the date they will be available. I star the collections I think I could make a strong quilt design with. Some companies are willing to send me samples of the fabrics that I am interested in along with their basic collections that I can use for upcoming designs. I tend to use these collections more so because of the convenience of already having them in the studio when I sit down to sketch. Once I have my idea and main fabrics for the quilt design, I select the remaining fabrics for the quilt. I try to use fabric that all comes from the same fabric company for each feature. This helps us order the fabric for the fabric kits we will offer and makes it easier for the magazine to list suppliers. Also after the quilt is completed, I send a photo of the quilt to the fabric company whose fabric I am using. The fabric company can use the photo as a marketing tool to help sell the fabric to the quilt shops. The fabric companies rarely show a quilt that has their competitor's fabrics next their own in the quilt.
Once I have the fabric and idea selected I do a final sketch or digital quilt I send to the magazine that I think the design will fit best. Each magazine has their own theme or style and it is important to understand the different magazine's style before sending designs in for consideration. I have about a 75% success rate when submitting designs. This may surprise some who think that everything I submit gets picked up. The truth is I just submit that many designs to the magazines each year.
Once I have a magazine interested in a design, I contact the fabric company and let them know what magazine is picking up the design and request sample yardage from them to make the quilt sample. I also make a job folder for it just like any other job. Because once the magazine picks up the design that is exactly what it is. The editors have deadlines to meet and if I am late, it messes up their schedule. Though sometimes a quilt may be late because we are waiting on fabrics to arrive (this is a pitfall of working with the newest collections). On average we get the fabric two to three weeks before the quilt is due, giving us plenty of time to meet the deadline.
When the fabric arrives, Kathy (my assistant) or I make the quilt top. Then Doris (my mother-in-law and long arm quilting master), quilts the quilt. Then the quilt comes back to my studio for the binding, sleeve, label and our photography. Every quilt we make gets a label that I print on special fabric that irons onto the back. Once the quilt is complete, we ship it off to the magazine for their photo shoot. I will not get the quilt back for a couple of months, the magazine will keep the quilt as reference for any color corrections done right before the issue goes to print. That is why I take a photo of each quilt before sending it out the door. I use the photo for reference when I write the instructions and for our website to promote the fabric kit we will sell.
Once the quilt is shipped, I sit down and write the pattern and get together the fabric order for the fabric kits. I then send off the pattern and order to Jerry (my father-in-law and partner) to edit the pattern and take care of ordering the fabrics. Now we wait....
The magazine will come back to me with the final yardage about a month before they are going to print. This sometimes matches the yardage I originally came up with and sometimes it differs. We will change our yardage list here at the studio to match the magazine and use this as our cutting list, so our kits match what is published in the article to avoid any confusion with the quilters. This is also when we go back to the magazine with the kit price they will publish.
Now that we have the final yardage from the magazine and hopefully have the fabric for the kits in house, Linda,who bounces between working with me or working with Jerry will cut and package the kits and get them ready to ship.
Once I know the magazine has dropped, I add the photo of the quilt and fabric kit info to our website and wait for the orders to come.
As you can see there are a lot of steps to each magazine feature we do and it is a team effort that makes the process run smoothly. I have to thank the different editors and fabric companies I work with for their support throughout the process.
If you want to see what we have upcoming in magazines, please check out my website (link to our website is listed to the left) once you get to our website look under "What's New". I am working on re-designing our website to make this info appear on the first page rather than buried in the website. But that is a job for another day. I hope you have enjoyed a sneak peek of the steps involved to create each magazine feature we do. So until next time....
Monday, June 1, 2009
Well today was actually a pretty calm Monday at the studio. I finally had a chance to sit down and sketch out the new tools for my next fabric line. I am always excited and a little nervous every time I start a new set of paintings for a fabric line. Once I get going, the process is so fun.
I have spoken to lots of fabric designers and each one approaches fabric designing differently. Actually no two designers have told me the same process. I guess each designer just figures out what works best for them and their technique is a unique as the designers. So here is a peek at how I approach designing fabric.
First I talk with the Diana at Blank and we decide together what the next line s
hould be. This helps me do a collection that will hopefully be a better seller and not repeat something another designer at Blank is doing.
Once I have the theme of the collection settled, I start to think about all things that go with the theme. The line I am working on now is a follow-up collections to my successful Tooling Around group. This means it has to go along with the older collection while still
having a fresh new feel to it. As with any collection, the objects in the artwork need to be easily r
ecognizable by the majo
rity. SO for this collection the tools need to be common and I try to stay away
from obscure tools. I start getting ideas by doing a google image search of my topic. This helps me become
familiar with my topic and what the objects I will be illustrating look like in reality. As with my Polar Opposites collectio
n (out this Summer) I actually found microscopic photos of real snowflakes. I used these as my reference when I painted the snowflakes for the fabric.
Next I start sketching ideas usually right in front of the computer, going back an
d forth between sketching and referencing the objects I am drawing. These drawing are very rough and are more to help me decide what I am going to paint and how I want to lay out the background.
Once I have my ideas researched and sketched, I decide if I am going to hand draw the objects or if I am going to draw the objects on the computer. The computer sketches are cleaner I tend to use the computer for objects and I tend to hand draw characters. I like the rough feel to hand sketching when doing animals or anything in nature. I draw each character or object I want to later position on my backgrounds. I like to do everything separately because it is
easier to make changes or to adjust the scale.
After I have everything sketched out, I am ready start adding color. I always hand pain
t or color my designs because it adds depth to the design and make each fabric feel like a hand painted piece of art. I paint the backgrounds separately and usual
ly will do several different color choices for e
ach background that I later send in to Blank.
Painting usually takes the longest time. I took five years of marker rendering classes in college and learned alot about drawing and shading an object so it looks 3-D. Hand marker rendering has been replaced by amazing computer programs. But I really think learning how to draw and shade an object by hand is extremely important to understanding how to create a great drawing. Because of my background I tend spend more time adding shadows and highlights to make the shape feel 3-D. Though
erience has taught me to consider how small the object will be scaled for the fabric. Sometimes less highlights
are better if the object is going to be really small on the final piece. One of th
e most detailed objects I have painted for fabric is the hockey mask for My Love of the Game fabric I will add the photo here for you to see. My favorite mediums to use are acrylic paints and color pencils. My next line is baby fabric, for this collection I am planning on experimenting with pastels to create a softer look. I will let you know how that works out.
Now once everything is colored, I scan everything into the computer and use photoshop to scale and position the different objects onto the scanned hand-painted backgrounds. I usually do this step but on some collections I send everything to Blank and they arrange the pieces in the collection for me (usually if the collection is a rush) and send it back to me for my input.
I tend to design the entire collection in one colorway (or color family) and I will send suggestions to Blank for other colorways if I have any. If I do not, they will come up with other colorways for me to look at. As you can see there is a lot of back and forth between the artist and the fabric company.So if you have the opportunity to design fabric, make sure you like the company you are going to work with and you both have similar tastes.
Once I have everything painted and laid out, I send all the original painting on to Blank. They take over the process from here and about six weeks after they receive the artwork, I get a set of strike-offs (small pieces of the artwork that is printed on cotton) back to review and make any changes to the colors. Once these are approved the fabric goes on to be printed. Next step is for me to design a project sheet using the collection for promotion.
Now you know the secrets behind designing fabric. So until next time.....
Friday, May 29, 2009
Well it is finally Friday. Though when you work for yourself, weekend just means a quieter time to get designs done or work on instructions. I do not remember a weekend that I did not work on something. I think this is partly because there is always something else to work on and partly because I love what I do.
Today was one of those days where I spent it at my desk sending and answering emails about upcoming projects and potential new clients. I made phone calls and revised my "To Do" list. This is the part of the job I enjoy the least and tend to let things pile up throughout the week so I end up doing it all in one day. I have realized that when I start the day, if I go to my studio first, I end up designing and creating all day and if I start in my office I tend to stay there all day handling business and phone calls. It is like having a split personality. But to have a successful business you have to be willing to do both consistently.
Now back to how all this started....
How I met my husband, Matthew is an interesting story that explains how a girl from Rochester, NY ended up in Phoenix, AZ. When people ask how we met, we usually warn them that it is a long story. I offer that warning here as well. But the romantics out there may enjoy this story.
First you have to know my older sister, Stacey is married to Matthew's first cousin. In August 1996 she went to her husband's Grandmother's 80th birthday party. My sister was seated next to Matthew at the dinner. As she started to talk to him, she got this great idea that Matthew would be perfect for her little sister (me) who at the time was living in CT and Stacey felt I needed a good man to settle down with. She spent the rest of the conversation with Matthew talking about me and how she thought we would be perfect together. She had promised to send Matthew my contact information and a photo when she got back to Georgia.
I did not know about any of this until Stacey told me about it after she had sent Matthew these stuff. She had also sent me a photo of Matthew and his contact info as well. I have to say I thought she was a little nuts. Matthew was living and going to school in Arizona and I was working and living in CT. I had never spoken to this man and had my own plans where I was going and had not traveled much at this time. I did not have a computer and really did not give this matter a second thought until a week later when a letter arrived from Matthew. As I read the letter, I have to say I was impressed and curious. Matthew later told me that he felt there was no risk in sending a letter to me and if I did not respond it would not have mattered, because he really did not know me at the time.
Well as with the rest of my life, I was so busy at work that I did not write back until October, which is to say Matthew had decided I was never going to write back . Once I finally responded, we wrote back and forth until February. We had not spoken on the phone yet and it was really very old fashion. One day I realized I was racing to the mail box everyday hoping he had sent another letter and that I was starting to have feelings for my penpal.
In January, Matthew wrote that he had friends in Boston that he was going to visit in March and would I be interested in driving up to meet him. It was about a 45 min. drive. I decided I would go for lunch and would bring a friend with me in case he turned out to be crazy (it could happen). I also decided it was time to call him and actually speak with him. I do not know why we waited so long to speak on the phone, but that first phone call we spoke for nearly 5 hours. We continued to speak on the phone every night for hours at a time. Believe me my phone bill was outrageous that month. As the month of phone calls progressed I went from going to Boston for lunch with my bodyguard girlfriend to going for a couple of days alone to meet him.
Finally March 16th came and I had spent the night before trying on everything I owned to find the right outfit. I realized at this time that Matthew had become very special to me and that was why I was so nervous to meet him face to face. Through all our conversations I felt I had gotten to know him better than anyone I met before and the only thing missing was thisface to face meeting after all we had only seen one photo of each other.
I drove to Boston, trying not to speed to get there. I always remember that I drove right past the exit I had took the week before of the Lego interview I wrote about earlier. I wondered if I would end up having to choose between these two important events. As I mentioned in that blog it was a pivotal month for me. Once I finally got to Boston and found the hotel I was meeting him at, I was so nervous I tripped down the stairs into the hotel. Once I was safely in \ the hotel and the front desk sends me up to his room. I knock on the door and I remember it took him an awful long time to open the door. To this day I accuse him of peeking out the peep hole for way too long to have the first look. He finally opened the door and we just hugged. I remember thinking how tall he was. He is 6' 2" and I am 4' 11". He asked if I wanted to go to lunch with his friends. After Lunch, we walked back to the hotel. We remember the next part differently, but seeing how I am telling the story, I will give you my version. I remember leaning up and giving him a kiss. Then he dropped down on one knee and asked me to marry him. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I asked him if he was joking (which I will never live down) and then quickly answered yes. I can honestly say this answer came completely from my heart and I did not let the logical part of my brain to have a chance in interfere.
After this magical moment, we spent the most romantic four days in Boston. After which I had to drive back to CT and he had to fly home to Phoenix. It was the hardest goodbye I have ever made. We were not sure when we were going to see each other or how all of this was going to work out.
Matthew and I did not see each other again until May, again I have the phone bills to prove we stayed in touch none the less. He came to spent a month with me in May. We had a chance to figure out our future together face to face. I knew I did not want to live in CT and the job prospects were poor. Matthew decided I needed to Phoenix before I decided to move there and we planned for me to come and visit him over the 4th of July holiday. Once again we had to say goodbye for a month separation.
Once July came, I boarded the plane and headed to Phoenix. I remember when I got off the plane in was nighttime and Matthew met me at the gate (you still could then). I had the strangest feeling as we walked through the airport that I had come home. I felt right in Phoenix and decided right there at the airport I would be moving to Arizona. I hated the thought of being so far away from my family in NY, but I also knew that this was where I belonged. This is a struggle I still deal with everyday, the distance between my family in AZ and my Family in NY. I wish these two places were closer and it was easier to go back and forth. But Once I made up my mind to move, I went back to CT, quit my job, packed up my belongings and moved to Phoenix on August 3, 1997. I look back at this time and realize my move to Arizona was a giant leap of faith and a decision I do not regret. Though I miss my mom, dad and sisters Stacey and Echelle everyday I know it was the right choice for me to move. I have now been with Matthew for twelve wonderful years and I have to say I love him more and more each day.
So this is the story of how I ended up in Phoenix. Until next time......
Thursday, May 28, 2009
It is already Thursday. I never know where time goes. I sat down yesterday to work on a project for a magazine that has been an idea in my head for weeks. A quilting magazine was willing to let me design a wool necklace for them to feature in their fall issue to help promote my newest book "Fabric Jewelry-Wrapped Braided and Sewn". This book is a bridge between sewers and jewelry-makers. I have been working hard to get both quilting and jewelry magazines to pick up a feature to help promote my book due out this winter. So far I have one feature coming out in a quilting and one in a jewelry magazine. So not a bad start.
Jewelry has become my new obsession and everywhere I look I see things that are inspiring new ideas for jewelry. Now here is the problem, I have so many ideas running in my head that when I sit down to make them reality I am overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. If someone were to ask me the hardest part of design, I would have to say starting the project. Once I settle down and start to work out the design and make it become something more than an idea, the rest of the creative process comes so easy (most of the time).
Now just a quick peek of what is in my head right now (Scary I know). I am thinking about finishing up the wool necklace project (due 6/1), have to choose fabric and make a birthday quilt (due 6/7). I have several digital quilts I need to work on (due next week), ten instructions I need to write( most likely past due). I have a tablecloth that has to be made for next week's show, I have to respond to the different design opportunities I got at quilt market or there will be no work in a couple of weeks and I have to work on my new line of fabric due in two weeks. Somewhere in my head (most likely filling the cracks) are a ton of ideas for things I want to make as soon as I have a second to sit down.
I believe what I have is "successful designer sickness" and I am truly blessed to have this. But am a little sad by how many ideas go undeveloped or possibly fade away because I did not have a chance to work them out or write them down. This is where a sketchbook can become handy. I have never been a big fan of carrying one around with me, I used to think if an idea was good enough, I will just remember it. Now I realize this is not always the case and there are times when a great idea was not used because the right job had not come along to utilize it. Then when the job does come I realize I have forgotten most of the idea to begin with. Perhaps it is a sign of age or wisdom, but now I realize how important it is to write it down.
When I have an idea in my head I usually roll it around in my brain and look at it from different angles. I try to visualize how the design will be constructed, what are going to be the challenges with the design, will the design work, do I need a certain materials or tools and where do I get them. I do my best internal designing at night (yes it cuts into my sleep) or somewhere quiet (usually the shower). I usually need to focus on the internal designing one or two nights and then I ready to start. Other designs like the wool project mentioned above had some bigger design challenges and it took me a couple of weeks of thinking about it off and on to solve most of my issues. So what some people call procrastination, I call internal designing. :).
Once I have the idea firmly designed in my head, I am ready to try an make the idea a reality. This is when I am ready to introduce color into the project. This may surprise some because color is so important to my designs. But this is the way it works and who am I to question. I look at what the piece represents (if anything), who the end user is, what supplies I have to work with and any special requests from the client. If the product has no guideline on color, I usually will work with three different color palettes to find which one works best. Sometimes they all work and that is always a happy time.
When I started designing, I was so exciting to dive into the project, I would start with my final materials. The problem here is if my design did not go together as easily as I planned. I wasted my good materials and usually had go with my second choice. Again as I have learned this lesson too many times, I now make a test sample whenever possible. With our deadlines sometimes there is not choice but to just do the final and hope for the best. Once I start making the design, I usually have to make some changes or alter the concept some, depending on the complexity of the project and if the materials or colors dictate a change. I would say about 20% of the time the design looks exactly think the image in my head. The rest of the time I flow with the design and let it become what it needs to be.
It sounds hooky but the object being designed has a voice of its own and the most successful designs are a happy medium between what I imagined and what the object wants to be. That is why not everyone is a designer, you have to let your self and your expectations go while designing something and interact with the piece being made. Alot of people are not able or willing to let go of the control and trust that the design will look good even if it is not what you originally planned. People want to know what the final piece will look like no questions asked. But what they need to have confidence that even if their project does not look like the original, that does not mean it looks bad.
Mary, my mentor used to see me get frustrated with a project and want to trash it to start over. She would say that the project was fine and it was just telling me it was not finished yet. I would step back from the project and return to it with fresh eyes. I would let go of what I wanted to make and look at what I had made up to that point. I would look and see what the object needed to look finished and "listen" to its voice. Nine times out of ten, Mary was right and I just needed to add something extra, that I had not planned to make it spectacular. Looking back these "trouble designs" turned out to be some of my best work. I know it sounds a little zen, but creating is an experience and sometimes the process is more rewarding than the finished object.
No matter how the design turns out, I am always happy and relieved when it is finished. Creating is a process and it is hard work. It is also a passion for most designers and creating is like breathing for us. I am so lucky to have a career that lets me get paid for something I would be doing no matter what. I hope that the peek inside my head was not too scary and it helps you tackle your next project Until next time.....
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Well one day back in the swing of things here at work and things are piling up. Somedays I wish I could have some quiet time to just think about the next step. But after twelve years I realized it may never come and that is a good thing because I thrive on a deadline. Strange I know, but think about things you want to accomplish. How many of them sit there undone for days, weeks, months or oh boy, years. That is because only you want it done and therefore the project does not have a deadline. This means it falls behind everything that does have a deadline. Which in my case are alot of things. The project themselves are always changing but still there is a constant presence of projects with deadlines.
I think I have finally figured out how to mix the two, things I want to do without a deadline and things I have to do with a deadline. I try to alternate the two. For every project I have to do that I complete, I then get work on something I want to do when I am finished. This does not always work especially doing our busy times but mostly because I love to complete projects in one sitting. As I get older I am starting to realize some of my best work is done slowly over time with breaks in between. I guess you do get smarter as you get older (sometimes).
Well this was a long explanation why there is no story today. It is because I have deadlines to meet with a couple of projects today. Until next time......
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Well it is back to reality for us a The Whimsical Workshop after eight days of traveling and a three day weekend. I have a very busy week with four projects that must be completed for various magazines, all due 6/1/09. We are also getting ready to go to the Prescott quilt show next week. We have planning, packing and finishing up the couple new samples for the show are also on the agenda this week. With all this going on it would be easy to only write once a week for my blog, and at some point that may be the case. But until then here is the next part of my story....
In the spring of 1997 my life took some very interesting turns that could have lead me in a totally different direction. I had been at S&S for almost two years. The company had fired Mary for not conforming to their idea of a corporate manager in the fall. She made me promise before she left to stay with this company until I had two years under my belt. She said I had a better chance at a great job if I did. This job was my only profession design experience and I had to agree with her on this.
So with the two year anniversary approaching, I started to look for another job. At the time I was living in Colchester, CT. The company I worked for was the only large company (300 employees) in the area and I believe it was the support for this small town. I knew I had to look at positions that required a move on my part. I again started to dream about designing toys or possibly working for Disney.
I had several phone interviews, one was actually for a company in North Carolina designing "Happy Meal" toys for different fast food chains. I thought this one has possibilities until they wanted me to travel for the interview on my dime. Any company that is not willing to pay your expenses, most likely does not treat their employees very well. Besides I was making peanuts where I was and could hardly cover my rent, so there was nothing extra to take a trip with.
Then one day in the classifieds for CT (yes the whole state in one classified) there was a job opening working for Lego! I did not even know they had a plant in CT let alone their design department was based there. They were actually looking for an industrial designer with experience designing children's projects and experience in technical writing. I thought this is it, my dream job. I sent off a resume and actually heard back from them in about a week. We set up an interview and off I went.
At the same time that all of this happened, I had been writing back and forth with my soon-to-be husband (though I had no idea at the time) and had set up a trip to meet him face-to-face in Boston the weekend after my Lego interview. I will tell you the story of how we met in another posting because it is quite a little love story. Little did I know that this was one of those few times in life when you can actually see fate at work.
I remember I did not have anything to wear to this interview and my coworkers and friends took me to a consignment shop to try and find something that could work. As we walk into the first shop there is a beautiful double breasted navy suit hanging on the rack. I thought this is too good to be true. Well is was a size 14, I had been a size 16 and figured it would not fit. I had been playing on the company softball team for several months and must have lost some weight because it fit perfectly. It also only cost about $20.00.
So now I was set and off I went to Lego. I had an hour drive and I remember blasting my radio and singing along just to keep the nerves at bay. When I finally arrived at the company it was like driving into an amusement park. There were lego sculptures on the lawn and throughout the lobby. Everyone was extremely nice and I could immediately tell this was a great place to work just because everyone seemed to enjoy what they were doing. The lady behind the desk told me someone would be by to pick me up. I did not realize she really meant I was leaving the building.
Ten minutes later the gentleman I was having my interview with showed up in a car and told me we need to drive to the design studio. On the ride he explained that designers who work in a stimulating environment worked better than designers who worked in a cubicle inside a corporate setting. He explained that Lego had actually tested this theory and created a pleasing work area for their designers based on these findings. I personally think no matter what you do for a job the environment can effect your work. He said without great designs they did not have anything to sell and that all started with the company's designers. I figured any company that felt this way about designers was the place for me to work.
We drove along a country road and I started to wonder where we were heading. This was one of those times a single woman starts to panic a little on the inside. Anyway false alarm, we finally pulled up at this amazing three story farm house. It was one of the prettiest houses I had even seen. At this point you can only imagine my excitement and how much I wanted this job and I still was not even sure what the job was.
As we go inside, I am amazed at all the natural lighting and wide open spaces. The gentleman takes me into this large "playroom". There is a large farm table in the middle of the room with every toy imaginable. Two walls were all windows and the remaining walls were full bookshelves. He explained this is where they encourage the designers to come and play to help stimulate new ideas. They also ran focus groups with kids and adults in this room.
Finally we sat and he explained my job would be to design Lego kits with a computer chip in them that would interact with the user. This was 1997 and nothing like this had been done. This product was designed so the user got to build a project and then train the built toy to follow their commands. I was impressed and excited to be apart of this project.
Now it was time for me to dazzle this man with what I could do. I gave the best interview I could and hoped it was enough. He seemed to like my work and asked questions for about an hour. Then he said he thought I was a leading candidate for the position and he had a couple more interviews set up after mine and would be in touch in a couple of weeks.
He then took me to see where their precious designers worked. There were some rooms with two desks in each. The desks were so cool. The main desk was just like any other with a smooth top. But each desk had a side section which was covered with a Lego mat and spaces to hold Lego pieces. This is where the designers could work with the Lego bricks to help test their designs.
He thanked me for my time and drove me back to my car. I have to say I felt pretty great about the experience and now looking back believe I learned so much just from the interview.
So as you may have guessed already, I did not get the job. But here is where fate pointed me to the path I was meant to follow. The weekend after this job interview, I drove to Boston and met Matthew face to face. We had a long distance relationship for a couple of months and I was already crazy about him. Without getting into the story (I will save it for next time), Matthew proposed on the first day we met. It felt so right and I said yes. Now he was living and going to school in Phoenix and I living and working in CT and was hoping for this job that would keep me in CT. This was quite a hurdle right out of the gate. I remember we discussed it at the time and I think Matthew said we would deal with it, if and when I got the job. He can be very practical.
So after an amazing week in Boston with Matthew I left to go back to my life in CT and he left to go back to Phoenix, unsure of our next step but sure it would be together. I got a call from the gentleman at Lego letting me know that even though I was his first choice, another likely candidate that already worked for Lego had come forward and Lego's policy was to hire from within the company first. Whether this was true or him just letting me down easy, I will never know. Though this was disappointing, I was still glowing from my week with Matthew and the thought of our future together and the sting was not so bad.
A month after all of this took place there was an article in the CT paper. Lego was pulling their design department from the US and sending them to work in Denmark. I realized if I had gotten the position I would have been one of the designers sent to Denmark (or possibly let go from the job). I am sure Matthew would have come with me to Denmark and we will never know what could have been. Perhaps in time I would have still started my own company and learned how to quilt, I do not know. However I do believe everything happens for a reason and live my life with this belief. I like to look back on this month in 1997 and see it as the moment that everything in my life changed and fate helped me find my way onto the path I was meant to be on. Until next time....