My Dad died three years ago. He had dementia, and for the last two years of his life, he was in a wonderful memory care facility called Chestnut Cottage. Once I learned how to go into his world and roll with it, my visits with him became less heart-wrenching and more endearing.
One of the most calming activities I did with him was paint-by-number art. The motifs were very simple (for 3-4 year olds), and came with these little blue brushes. The toy store only had 4 designs for that age group and I thought he’d get sick of them quickly. Not so with dementia, each time I’d pull one out for him, it was a new experience!
In the last year of his life, my dad became very frail and tiny, and he was always cold. No matter what the season, he wore a long-sleeved, white thermal underwear shirt. I kept it after he passed. Even after I washed it a few times, it still smelled like him, and that was comforting.
Several months later, I figured out the kind of art business I wanted to develop. My ‘ABOUT’ page can fill you in on that, but you probably figured out by now that it had to do with birds.
After nine months of working on my signature collection of state bird art, I realized I had been using those silly 'paint-by-number brushes' to create fine art! I had also been using the same ‘rag’ to wipe those brushes on all those months . . . my dad’s long underwear shirt. It was cathartic.
Actually, I have a couple of them, and neither of them is my husband. *Disclaimer - My husband, Peter, is useful, too . . . but in different ways. Let me introduce you to Tom.
As my craft business began to grow, logistical problems were popping up every step of the way. "How can I make those key racks hang better?" "How do I build a custom display unit to hold these things?" "How can I (fill in the blank) without spending any more damn money?" The answer? Find a retired guy who used to work in the trades, and happens to live next door to you. They usually have more tools than God, and have something in their DNA that makes them want to tinker, putter, and fix things all day, every day. And they're curious.
Example: After Peter and I set up my show tent in the back yard for the first time, our neighbor, Tom, mosied over while we were trying to figure out how to weigh the tent down in case of wind without using stakes.
After hearing our dilemma, he said, "Peter, come with me, I got something that'll work, but I need you to carry it." They disappeared into Tom's garage and came back with this Otis Elevator 50 lb iron weight that he just happened to have.
He also happened to have 3 more of them - one for each corner. Problem solved, and BINGO, I had found that 'guy' I was looking for. Next time, I'll tell you what Tom did when he wasn't able to solve my one of my problems.
The flock returns from their photo shoot in Chicago
Last month I hired business coach, Lela Barker to help me sort priorities, and choose some solid action steps going forward. One target was my website: improve the look and function of it, beginning with product photography. I knew I wanted an uncluttered look, so Lela referred me to POW . The thought of having my products shot remotely challenged the control freak in me, but I hired them, anyway. Expensive? Yep.
First, I made an entire new collection of 50 state bird key racks. I tweaked them slightly to be as uniform as possible, even though they’re individually handcrafted. Then, I had them professionally packaged & shipped. Costly, but done right.
They arrived in Chicago safely, and the guys at POW kept me posted during each step of the process. All was done in a professional, and timely manner. Kudos to Paul, Jeff and their friendly, helpful staff. After approving the digital files, I got busy uploading each product image to my website, and waited for the flock to return home.
Today, this huge box greeted me at the door. I’m so happy I followed the advice of the person (Lela) I hired to give me advice! Paying for pros is expensive, but like my Dad used to say, “You gotta spend money to . . . ”
Anybody out there need a fabulous key rack?