Good morning. One very frigid morning here in the Chicago land area. It is about 7 degrees this morning, and only expecting a high of 23. I am wishing I didn't have to go outside anywhere today...but alas...I must drop off some items at The Grove for the store. If you are in search of wonderful handmade items for the holiday...this would be a wonderful place to shop your local artist. High quality crafts and items for sale.
Yesterday, I performed for a school in the suburbs. I did a Revolutionary War program and it was wonderful. The children were so attentive and interested. It was such a pleasure to see children so engaged in a topic. It interacted with them and had a great time. After the performance and a change of clothing I drove far out west to a craft show that has always been dear to my heart. It took me about an hour and a half to get there...only to be disappointed in what I found. They have changed the show! It used to be filled with beautifully done arts and crafts that were intermingled amongst antiques. I was through the building in 15 minutes and purchased nothing. The look on the crafters was so disheartening. It was not like there weren't some nice things there...but the room was filled mostly with crocheted scarves and towels. It used to have amazing hand sculpted Christmas fabrics and unusual crafts. On the almost 2 hour drive home...even my husband commented about how the things at the Grove are outstanding and that this show was a huge disappointment.
So today's blog is about American Made. It is a passion of mine, since I am an American Artist to see people who can appreciate what is handmade. It has been my passion since I was a child, to take pride in what I make and sell. Now, you may wonder whether I had that passion as a child, and my answer would be yes. I became an active "artist" at the age of five. I must say that I was younger than that when I really began, but as a professional I was about five. Now you might laugh, but at the age of five, I would have been considered quite the crocheter and already had requests from neighbors to make them things and got paid for them. I was already drawing and sketching without any formal teaching other than from my grandmother and grandfather. My days were spent on the rocking chair on the front porch of our Chicago home doing my arts. There was never a dull moment. I remember learning to crochet, needle point, sew, sketch, paint and even loom. As the years went by, I learned more and more. When I went to grammar school, I was encouraged by the nuns to pursue my art. When I got to high school, I wanted to pursue the arts, but my mother would have none of that. I was to major in business. It was quite a disappointment for me. I could not take home economics, art or drama. The one concession my mother did make was that she paid for me to have private singing lessons. It is a shame to not be able to pursue your dreams. I know that the business end of things helped me in the future...but I always wondered what it would be like to have lived out my dreams.
As time went by, I was introduced through the computer to art classes. I signed up and never stopped from that point. I learned the true value of art and the value of handmade. I have taken numerous classes from various art teachers and have now become one. I teach art to all levels of students and in various medias. I am a teacher of the Deco Art company who encourages use of their products and encourages you to experiment with new lines. There cannot be anything better than that! Here is the problem...in America...I have seen in all forms of art...and that includes storytelling, that those who are invested in them are mostly over the age of 50. This is becoming a dying art. With school cutting out the arts programs, children are no longer encouraged to become interested in all those wonderful forms of art. When you walk through some of the craft stores, you are now viewing glue together crafts. Most of which leaves nothing for the imaginations to kick in. There are so many imports these days that are everywhere to purchase...that a handmade item is, in my opinion overlooked and also DEvalued. People will look at a handmade item and question the pricing. They don't understand, how in today's economy, all of the materials have gone up and how many hours may have been spent into making something. Something handmade is a treasure...something that you can pass down from generation to generation. I hope that someday, my work will be treasured. I am ecstatic when one of my customers comments about how every year they hang the ornaments that I have painted each year and look forward to the new ones. I have one customer who has purchased family ornaments each year for her children and wondered whether they really wanted them...otherwise why bother spending the money on them. When she finally decided to ask them about it, all of them said the same thing...that they loved them and looked forward to receiving them each year. So there you go, I am hanging around in many homes! I leave a memory for those I don't even know. I am a part of their Christmas and their lives. A piece of their memories. I have a customer who, every year gives me a picture of each of her grandchildren in their Halloween costume and has me paint them on an ornament. I laugh each year as I paint that piece of their history, knowing that 30 years from now...I will still be alive as they hang those ornaments and discuss their lives. That is the value behind the handmade. I hope that you stop and think about all those wonderful treasures and those that may have made them. Support your local artists. We are all trying to make a living with our arts and give quality to those who buy it. We are not only selling a product, we are selling a piece of ourselves and a memory at the same time.