Open Studios 2018

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Metropolitan Arts Council in Greenville does a very cool thing every year called Open Studios, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Artists all over the city open their studios and invite the community inside to see where they work. Every year, I end up scheduling a craft show that conflicts with Open Studios, so I never get to do it. This year, however, I was excited to have well-timed free weekend so I could experience the self-paced tour with my husband!

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It’s so inspiring to see artists at work in their space. I love the piles of crusty paint tubes, the unfinished panels stacked in corners, the works in progress on the easel, and of course the final product matted and ready to hang. Buying work straight from the artist is also very rewarding because you’re making a connection with the actual person who created the piece you love, which isn’t always possible at a gallery. This weekend we added six new pieces to our collection. Can’t wait to hang them!

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I would love to participate in Open Studios one day as an artist. It would be so much fun to welcome people into my workspace and share my process in person. However, our home is just not set up for that - the different workspaces are spread out all over our house - but we’re hoping to move sometime soon and set up our ideal workshop, so perhaps in the future this dream will be realized. Till then, here’s a short video tour of my studio.

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10,000 Etsy Sales

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It didn’t happen overnight. It happened over a decade.

I opened my Etsy shop on January 8th, 2009. Back then, this Once Again Sam thing was just a hobby and any money I made felt like easy money because I was doing something I enjoyed. I probably spent whatever I earned on shoes and yarn. I didn’t save it, I didn’t invest it back into my business. The whole point was creative fulfillment and a little extra spending money, both of which I received.

Things really started getting interesting in year four. By then, I was earning more on Etsy than in my full time interior design career. That was the year I realized this was way more than a side gig and I started getting serious about running a small handmade business. I didn’t know that was what I wanted to do until I was in the middle of doing it. I may have been a Maker long before Etsy came along, but I certainly wasn’t a small business owner. Thanks to Etsy, its easy-to-use interface, community full of support, and readily available self-paced education, I became an entrepreneur in my mid 20’s, something I never had the guts to daydream about prior to that.

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As you can see in my sales bar graph, some years my Etsy sales plateaued, other years were so good they made the rest look bad (looking at you, 2016), but overall it’s been a slow and steady climb to this big milestone. I’m celebrating 10 years on Etsy soon, and today marks 10,000 sales with the platform that made Once Again Sam possible in the first place.

The reason I wanted to share my true story is because I think a lot of people have unrealistic expectations about how quickly they should be successful on Etsy (or other avenues). I’m sure it happens on occasion, but I have yet to personally meet a maker who’s had that elusive “overnight success.” What I HAVE seen over and over is makers, including myself, work their butts off for years and years, and slowly but surely see success, but at the same time see their definition of success change.

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I hope my ordinary story, as undramatic as it may be, inspires someone out there to start something, pick back up, or keep at something. Decide for yourself what success means to you and go for it (and it’s okay if that changes in the process).

Every year I’ve been in business I’ve thought “I can’t believe how well this is going, there’s no way it can get any better than this” and every year I’m wrong.

 Photo from 2013 when I was part of the Etsy section at the One of a Kind Show in Chicago, IL.

Photo from 2013 when I was part of the Etsy section at the One of a Kind Show in Chicago, IL.

The Mountains in Autumn

It’s the first week of October, and sadly everything is still green here in Greenville, SC. However, I’m daydreaming about the mountains in fall, and it’s showing through in both my jewelry and fiber art. Burnt reds, golds, deep orange tones, shades of sienna, olive greens … they’re coming soon to my backyard, but until then, they’re alive and well in my studio.

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A small collection of needle felted wool landscapes showcasing my favorite season are now available on my website. These small to medium pieces are framed and ready to hang. If you’re after something specific or have a special scene in mind, please get your commissions in at least 3 weeks in advance!

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My all new painted landscape pendant series titled “The Mountains in Autumn” are also available online as of today. Checkout this new Maker’s Eye View process video showing how I create these one-of-a-kind pieces from start to finish.

And lastly, a new colorway for my popular splatter painted series called “Autumn Leaves,” which features all those vibrant seasonal colors I crave, is also live on the website. I painted this series in tandem with the autumn landscape shown above, so the colors are identical between the two collections. I personally love the way the splatter painted earrings look when paired with the landscape pendant. They’re the same colors but it’s not overly matchy.

TIP: An easy way to filter down all of these new autumn launches on my site is to type “Autumn” in the search bar. It makes things really simple!

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Alpacas & Art

Yes, you've seen other Alpaca-related blog posts here if you've been a reader for awhile. Here's another one! I'm a little obsessed with these sweet-faced creatures, but it's not just because they're so stinking adorable. They're also part of my art. Literally. 

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Recently, I visited my dad and his wife at their new home in Brandon, VT (it's actually a very old home - built in 1880 - but it's new to them). They recently retired there, and I can see why. It's such a beautiful place! Just down the country road from their horse farm was an unexpected surprise. Maple Creek Farms is home to a few dozen alpacas, which is already enough to get me excited, but then I learned they actually process all of the fiber onsite and have a mini-factory for making roving, batting, and even yarn. All the things I'm interested in! 

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I've been a knitter and felt fiber artist for almost 10 years now, so I know my materials and I work with a variety of tools every single day, but I have never actually seen how fleece is processed before I get my hands on it. I always buy roving and yarn that's completely ready for use - I don't do any cleaning or dying myself, so seeing how the fiber gets from the alpaca's back to a ball of colorful roving in my living room was quite the treat. 

Needless to say, I took about 100 pictures of the baby alpacas, some of which were just a few weeks old, and I stuffed my suitcase full of colorful roving for my return trip. I love seeing how things are made, and truly understanding the process by seeing it for myself, so this whole pit stop was right up my alley. Now I have an even deeper appreciation for the material I use every day. 

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TOWN Magazine Feature

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Greenville SC people probably already saw this, but for everyone else, I wanted to share this article in a local magazine about my time as Artist-in-Residence at Poinsett State Park back in May. The full article can be found on TOWN's website. It's such an honor to be featured in the July issue! I enjoyed recounting my experience and sharing how all of my expectations were blown away. 

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Flip through the entire issue if you like...and stop on pages 49 & 50 ;-) 

 Photography by  Eli Warren   Thank you all for being so patient while I listed all of the wool landscapes from The Poinsett Collection. Everything is now available on my new website:  www.onceagainasam.com   Several of the pieces sold during my 3-day Art in the Wild Exhibition a few weeks ago, but everything else (plus a few more) are listed online. If you've had your eye on any of the work I've been sharing post-residency, incluing the piece I'm holding in the photo above, now's your chance!    

Photography by Eli Warren

Thank you all for being so patient while I listed all of the wool landscapes from The Poinsett Collection. Everything is now available on my new website: www.onceagainasam.com

Several of the pieces sold during my 3-day Art in the Wild Exhibition a few weeks ago, but everything else (plus a few more) are listed online. If you've had your eye on any of the work I've been sharing post-residency, incluing the piece I'm holding in the photo above, now's your chance!