In July we decided to clean out our studio storage unit. It involved a lot of work, but more significantly we felt emotional strings being tugged every time a box was opened. Since it was the studio’s storage unit, it was filled with the evidence of our history since the very first time we put needle and thread to fabric. It’s been awhile since we’ve looked back.
…it was filled with the evidence of our history since the very first time we put needle and thread to fabric.
During those initial years we identified our media, learned how to collaborate, and invented a work of functional art. We were working full time “day jobs” and at night we’d return to the studio to create art and then sell it at festivals during the weekends. We continued like this for 3 years working 16-hour days, driven by our fear that we wouldn’t be able to support ourselves solely with the earnings from our art.
By creating little iconic designs out of fabric and thread, framing them in plastic and adding a clock mechanism, we made unique timepieces that turned out to be immensely popular. Before we knew it, we were making hundreds at a time, selling them at art festivals, boutique stores and mail order gift catalogs. Their success allowed us to quit our day jobs though we felt like we became a two person factory. Having to spend all our time assembling the clocks while having very little time to pursue our dream of being fine artists left us feeling exhausted and empty.
We eventually reached a breaking point and decided to take some time off.
We eventually reached a breaking point and decided to take some time off. We drove to Cape Cod and sat and watched the ocean. We noticed how the autumn light cast over the cottages of the small New England town. We felt struck by the history of the little homes, representing hundreds of years of life lived in them. We felt everything slow down, and we were desperate to find a way to hold on to that feeling. But upon returning to Minneapolis, it wasn’t long before we were back to our old habits. The stress of the production and lack of creativity was driving away our vision of being artists. We felt we couldn’t be further away from what we initially aspired to.
Realizing we needed to change, we decided to put our art before our fears.
Realizing we needed to change, we decided to put art before our fears. We focused on creating only original fine art, and stopped allowing the worry of earning our livings drive us. With renewed enthusiasm we allowed ourselves to spend as much time on a single piece as it needed. We instantly felt excitement as we realized the immense potential of allowing the imagery to develop organically, reacting to the painter and printmaker in us that we had forgotten about. That first piece, without concerning ourselves with a subject or a composition, grew to resemble a neighborhood in Cape Cod. Technically it was a disaster, but we recognized its larger significance: to remember to take notice of our surroundings; slow down; trust and relax.
Miraculously, by following our own suggestions, we’ve succeeded in working as full time artists long enough to fill a storage unit. It’s been fun to rediscover the treasures of our past: hundreds of clock hands; starts of fabric designs that were obviously going nowhere; the shelving we constructed to hold the clocks while in stages of production; our traveling booth and show kit that included crossword books and walkie-talkies to use as we criss-crossed the country. Now that the storage unit is empty, it’ll be interesting to see what we collect over the next 16 years.
It’ll be interesting to see what we collect over the next 16 years.
What have we been working on lately? See our available fiber art and paintings.