This month marks six years of Wild Blue Yonder! Though my explorations in woodwork and jewelry making began in 2014, it wasn't until September 2016 that I had officially left my job, and launched into Wild Blue Yonder as a full-time, self-employed artist. Now as a parent in my 30's, I ask "WHAT WAS I THINKING." Thankfully at the time though, I was full of adorable optimism about what I could do with the wood jewelry thing, if I could really dedicate my time and attention to it.
My tradition for marking this anniversary has usually been to get out in a canoe with a backpack loaded up with a few days of supplies, and celebrate this annual milestone quietly, preferably on a lake we have all to ourselves. Since moving to the Netherlands, though, this tradition has fallen to the wayside. Not a lot of quiet places in a country with 18 million people, that is roughly the size of Nova Scotia (slightly smaller, actually). But I did take some time to go through past photos of old work, past events, and studio spaces - which was really a delight (smushed together with a bit of embarrassment at bad designs and awful early-days photography). Here are a few highlights that I wanted to share:
In revisiting these pictures and looking through these years doesn't feel so much like "look at me now, Ma!" as much as it is simply taking the time to reflect: What are the things that stand out still after these years as exciting, inspiring, or curious? I notice myself recalling the feel of certain bits of wood, bark, or finished pieces in my hands. I can remember where I found fragments of bark or wood, or who gave them to me. And I find myself especially linking up with the feeling of each custom order I've done: in memory of lost loved ones, or in celebration of an occasion or adventure. The personal meaning of these pieces is of course most deeply felt by the wearer or receiver of the piece, but I am keenly aware of the privilege of being part of that story. The memory of each custom piece and its story is very strong, which says a lot of the importance of story-telling through art-making.
And the challenges of being a self-employed artist working through new parenthood, then a big move, followed very quickly by a pandemic - these things have been in various ways a set-back, even with the opportunities they have brought. I don't want to play that violin too loudly, but in the spirit of openness and true reflection, it bears mentioning.
Something else that stands out as I scroll through my old photos is the help of friends and family, and community of makers and friends that I have made through shows and events. After these pandemic years, and moving away from home - man, I miss that. Starting over sure takes a lot of time.
I can go on about all of this for ages, but I should save some material for year 7, 8, etc. In closing, I will say how grateful I am for my wonderful customers, who keep me going - and especially my brick & mortar shop clients. I want to mention too my good friend and biz partner, Michelle, who runs the business/website sales in Ontario: a huge thanks to you for everything you do, including shows, web orders, running around to pick up material for custom orders, and of course friendship - always with more cheeriness than anyone should be able to pull off. And to all those reading my words, supporting in any way, and just staying tuned in: Thank you. Working alone in the studio can feel isolating, so connecting here really means a lot.
To another 6 years of making & exploring!