New Maine Studio Hours (or Lack Thereof) Become Permanent - A Very Honest Blog Post...

Not that all of my blog posts aren't honest. Really, I think the only studio owner who posts more frankly than I do has to be Christine Little of Encompassing Designs up in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. If you don't follow Christine's blog, you absolutely should, and you can - just click HERE. You should also shop her amazing patterns, hand dyed wools, and everything else she has in her magical - and I do mean magical - shop. So, if you've been following along on line, you know that I have closed the Maine studio for the month of October except a) for our Tuesday hooking group which will never be given up unless I'm dead or there's a zombie apocalypse (although I might want to teach the zombies to hook...) or something, and b) by chance or appointment. I did this for two reasons. One, I knew that October was going to be a very busy month of catch up on all kinds of business related matters. Two, I wanted to see how much more I could get done on primary goals for this studio if I were not sitting retail hours four hours a day every day. We are about three quarters in to October, and the results are very clear. I need to keep this structure for the Maine studio permanently. I honestly don't think much will change. First off, our online shop is available 24/7/365. I will still be uber available in person for appointments and often available by chance. I welcome wandering hookers in to this studio with open arms, offer them coffee or tea, and stop whatever I'm doing for good old fashioned hooker fun. This will continue. However, chances are good that I *will* be in the middle of something else that's a little different than the something else I've been in the middle of before. Recently my husband said to me, "I want you to remember what you started this business for in the first place." This was in response to a recent large scale commission I received from an absolutely lovely customer in New York state, and the order of yet another of the Beekman 1802 silhouette pillows. I clearly get a big bang out of this type of work. I love working with the customers to get a design just right, to chat colors with them, to make something that is so meaningful to them that they can be as proud of it as I am when it ships out the door, to be part of a human story. I LOVE that. Here are a few custom pieces I made in the past, where heart and hands came together in projects that I have never been able to forget.
IMG_1201 This is a view of Lake Willoughby, Vermont, commissioned as a gift to her husband by Kate Huntress. Design assistance by Daniel Rosenburg.
ElephantBeth This rug was done for the Dadey family, in celebration of the precious life of their daughter, Elizabeth. Design adaptation for hooking by Daniel Rosenburg, design by Elizabeth Dadey.
Farm Rug This one was a real labor of love, a Rufus Porter-esque interpretation of the Beekman farm that we made as a gift to Josh and Brent. Design collaboration with Daniel Rosenburg, who drew it first, and then I tweaked the design based on additional pics of the farm I had. We had not yet visited in person!
All three of these rugs were made with the able design assistance of Dan Rosenburg, and I will be calling on him in a heartbeat when I think a particular request demands his style and expertise, however, more recently I have been handling all design myself, including on the current large commission I'm working on. When I first got the idea for Parris House Wool Works in 2011, custom rug making was my vision. Specifically, I wanted to do custom rugs of people's homes, camps, or special locations, probably because I myself am a person very rooted in places that speak to me. I also wanted to make pieces of my own design and imagination to simply make and then offer out in to the world for sale. Shortly after really launching Parris House Wool Works full time in 2013, though, I quickly got caught up in an emphasis on the retail aspect of rug hooking. As you know, we make patterns and sell supplies - quite a lot of them (and that won't change - in fact, stay tuned for a new and improved way to shop later this month). And while that has been going on, I have all but stopped really hooking, with the exception of the made to order pillows for Beekman 1802 (God bless you, Josh and Brent), and the finished piece orders that come through the Etsy shop. I have made fewer and fewer epic custom pieces, or put another way, those things that I originally set out to do. So now, if you stop by for some good old fashioned hooker fun, you may have to wait a few moments at the door, and I encourage you to knock and ring REALLY LOUDLY, because I may be upstairs in the work space I've been organizing for the express purpose of what I call "making stuff." Like me, and like Parris House Wool Works, this space is a work in process that has a long way to go. You will notice it is very contemporary, and that is because some boobs in the late 80s/early 90s knocked down the original post and beam carriage house on the Parris House and put up this thing in its place, between the house and barn where what is traditionally known as the "ell" would be. There's no accounting for taste, but unless I win the Powerball and can knock it down and put up a proper post and beam repro, I'm stuck with making the best of it.
WorkStudio1 Sewing area, light box for photography, soap drying racks.
WorkStudio2 This view out of the work space doesn't hurt.
WorkStudio3 This is where things are still quite messy. Ever use a big air hockey/pool table as a work surface? Don't knock it til you've tried it. The antique but built like a fortress serger under the window was my grandfather's, then my father's. My grandfather came over from Italy a master tailor around 1910 through Ellis Island, then taught my father the trade. That machine is a treasure. Shelving holds my stuffs, my shipping supplies, my beekeeping helmet, and whatever else I can fit on it.
WorkStudio4 Seriously antique desk which I have coveted for over a decade in the home of some dear friends. They recently gifted it to me. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Eventually, I want the wall it's on to be a mini dye kitchen, because it's directly opposite the plumbing in a master bath, but that's for another year.
WorkStudio5 My yoga loft. Yep. That's what I do in it on the rare occasion I actually make myself do it. Which needs to be much, much more often.
WorkStudio6 Another treasured vintage item, my Paris Manufacturing Company sewing table, complete with built in yardstick. I love this thing. Right now it's the place I sit, write, and look out the window, because again...dat view...
So, making stuff is going to be a focus that shifts in to a primary position for me, and equal to that is going to be teaching. There is nothing in my work more rewarding than sharing this heritage craft with new hookers. Nothing. If I just repost the link for my experience at the Squam Art Workshops, I think it will be a matter of 'nuff said: click here. I am sooooo looking forward to returning to Squam in 2016, and I even have my prototype pieces all made up for the classes I'm teaching there, but I can't reveal those yet. ;) While a very wise mentor once said to me, "Never apologize, never explain," and for the most part I completely agree with that, I felt this post on why I'm suspending the studio hours in Maine was probably in order, and would also give other artisans a chance to offer feedback on their own journeys in finding the best balance of activity for their work and creative lives. So that's it. Again, feel free to knock at the Parris House door when you are in the area, or call me for an appointment. Watch our website and Facebook page for regularly scheduled classes and events that will continue to be offered, I suspect in increasing numbers, this year and next. Happy creating and happy hooking! - Beth

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