” Do one thing every day

that scares you. “

~Eleanor Roosevelt*


Last winter, when I lived in Baltimore MD, I spent a full day  alone (meaning sans children, who I usually had with me 24-7) at the American Craft Council show at the Baltimore Convention Center.  I wasn’t there shopping for art or craft- I was there shopping for affirmation, for information and for inspiration.  I opened the map, noted all of the fiber artists in the gimundo room (that’s not really a word) and proceeded to visit each of them.  Well, not just visit.  I interrogated each of them.

I came loaded with inquiry and hope.  I wanted to know from each of them:

Where do you do your work?

Is your studio in your home or in town?

Do you share your space or work alone?

Do you have children?  How old are they?  How do you pay for their care?

How is this show going for you?  Was yesterday better than today?  How does the snow effect your sales?

It started getting personal, and this is where I was being bold.

I was obviously not a customer. I was not taking their business cards because I owned a gallery and would follow up with a request to see more work or ask them to keep me informed as their series developed. I was another artist, wanting to not reinvent the wheel.

They were so gracious and giving and wonderful!  I re-learned that if I wanted to be serious about my art work- I needed a dedicated space- a studio.  Each had their own reasons for working how they did- with others, all alone, in the basement, in the center of town- and all that had kids- had kids that were grown and out of the house already.  It was affirming, informative and inspiring– everything I’d been looking for.

I knew what I wanted- and then boldly asked for it, and then graciously received it.  What a gift to myself!

I have since moved back to Massachusetts, begun renovating my garage into an art studio and continued to act with boldness to get what I need.

Most recently, I attended another show: Paradise City Arts  Festival in Northampton MA, where I met another fiber artist who was new to me: Beatrice Gilbert.  She has worked for many years as a potter and had shifted her focus to quilted wall hangings and quickly entered the show market. I admired her work, we chatted, some customers came by, I looked through her pillows, we talked some more, I asked lots of questions, she was amenable to them, and as I said goodbye, adding my name to an email list perhaps?  we exchanged a brief a-ha moment about her being based in Maine and me soon planning travel to Maine (for the retreat I wrote about a couple weeks back!). I casually (boldly)  said, maybe I could have a studio tour on my way through town- and she politely said sure!

When I act with such boldness, I often think of something my Dad embodies as he approaches new folks:

“Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.”

Long story short- I emailed a week before traveling- with a real inquiry about a studio tour, giving her lead time to bow out if she’d not felt comfortable with a stranger visiting her home studio (which would be perfectly reasonable!)- but she was open to it! Boldness wins again!

We had a wonderful three hour discussion over tea, surrounded by luscious silks and design walls and machines and cutting tables- we talked about marketing strategies, studio work flow, pricing dilemmas, failed projects, successful shows, motivation, design, techniques for mounting and displaying, professional organizations and what they can and can’t do for an artist- the list goes on!

In short- we became artist friends.

Here’s a picture we remembered to snag at the end of our first visit.


*This quote:  “Do one thing every day that scares you.” – is most often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, though I found a fascinating page which looks into the history of such things, and has quite a lot of other possible influences and ideas.  Check it out here:  Quote Investigator to learn more about quotes on fear and facing your fears.


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