Old Wallpaper, New Life
It's been 8 months now since I opened my online art store, full of hope and dreams. I wanted to make cards, stationery, letter art, and address envelopes for other people. Since opening, I have gone through phases of dragging my feet, not feeling good enough, wringing my hands in worry, and wondering why I started all of this in the first place. I put all my best efforts in for the first 4 months and worked hard - doing all the digital marketing things they say you should do - and I received great responses, but almost no purchases. I underestimated the length of time it would take to gain traction and overestimated my verve. Yet, I am not giving up.
Part of the reason I feel discouraged on these occasions is that I feel like crafting isn't productive. I feel guilty for cutting and pasting and happily making things. I think I should be spending time on money-making ventures, like blog posts, emails, and complicated plans for the future. But when I finally let myself go and I get to create again, I remember that breathing life into my work is important; equally important to all the other stuff.
This past weekend I stepped away from my desk and my worries to go visit my grandmother. I have been living 30 minutes away from her for a few months now, which is rare for this traveler, and she has been "bugging" me to stop by. I hadn't made time to yet and had been having problems with my car, but after 10 or so times of her commenting, "Would love to see you," on my Facebook, I decided to just get my booty over there.
And I'm so glad I did.
I have shared this on my Instagram before, but my grandmother is also a paper crafter, hardcore, and we used to make cards together when I was 10 and 12 and 14 years old. For as long as I can remember, she has sent all of her grandkids birthday cards, Valentine's cards, and sometimes other "Just Because" cards throughout the year. If you knew my family you would ask my grandmother how on Earth she still does it, because between my cousins and their kids, there are over 40 of us, and of course, she makes cards for her kids, too, the generation before.
She loves it, which is the only reason she's still at it after more than a decade.
I must have gotten that gene.
I was excited to go to her house again because I haven't gotten to geek out with her yet since opening my shop, so I loaded half of my inventory into my briefcase and went on my merry way - to the huge house that I played hide-and-seek in for hours when I was little; the house where my older sister and several of my cousins were born. The house they just listed for sale...
My aunt was there, helping grandma go through some of the cupboards. A neighbor girl, one of the "adopted grandkids", as my grandma told me, was there, too, and throughout the evening several many friends and family members ended up stopping by (outdoor greeting and social distancing for those who weren't vaccinated). At one point, my cousin, my brother, my grandma, and a few babies ended up in the upstairs room that was my grandparent's, reminiscing about the memories in the walls of that house and admiring her Victorian decorating style. And then... the wallpaper came out of the closet.
Since starting my store, I've placed a big focus on recycled / upcycled paper. I myself, have always been a thrift store queen. As a gypsy and a traveler, I can't always afford to shop new, I have to get rid of things every few months anyway, and I prefer using something that needs new life. I don't like the idea of supporting big industry over small business, mass production over handmade, or taking new resources when old ones still exist and could go to waste. You'll see this throughout my products. You don't even have to look very hard.
So in sharing this with my grandmother and showing her the things I had already made with upcycled paper, she mentioned the rolls of wallpaper she had in the back of her closet, said I could take some of it and thus, I went home with half of her stash.
Yards and yards of old wallpaper in glorious, bold, rich prints sit beside me now as I type. I've already made several envelopes and played with a few greeting card layouts. I've decided, too, in the course of the afternoon, that this will be my newest collection.
As an artist, I always want to get my hands on something, but the creative process doesn't happen every time you want it to. You need the materials, the time, and a direction to go in. Once inspiration hits and all of those conditions are met, the work almost does itself.
I am so glad I went to my grandmother's house, and excited to turn these treasured prints into paper creations that will be shipped all over the world for countless others to enjoy. This card maker is delighted today, and in renewed spirits to continue the insane journey that is owning a creative business.
Big thanks to everyone who has read this far and seen into my journey. Thank you to everyone who will have a hand in its continuance.
I love you all.
Remain steadfast, and keep creating.
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