When people ask me, “How did you get started?” this is the part of the story I usually leave out. I want to share it now.
I’ve mentioned a number of times that I transferred to San Jose State to major in the art department. I left a little early because I decided I wanted to start actually making things and taking my creations to fairs. The truth is, someone I knew had begun to make these little faces out of nylon. I studied sculpture at SJSU and thought I was going to be a sculptor. I’ve always felt a need to make things with my hands. And this man was creating soft sculptures out of nylon and cotton and thread. He inspired me to make other things in a similar way. I would go to Mervyn’s and buy colored nylon, maybe red. I’d sculpt a tomato and name it, “TOM – ato” perhaps. I’d add a little green felt at the top and a smile. After putting eyes on it, it became a little soft sculpture.
I could and did make everything in this way – spaghetti, three peas in a pod, a teapot. When I became a little more sophisticated, I used lycra to craft the little creatures. There wasn’t a lot of sowing or pattern making involved at the time; it was literally the way my hands were able to sculpt and mold the fabric that made it come to life. I did this for quite a few years, selling them at every opportunity. But eventually I recognized that I didn’t really want to keep selling them at craft fairs – what I really wanted to do was sell my creations in a store, in retail.
At the time, I was living with a bunch of roommates, doing the post-college thing. I’d never really told them about these dreams. But I set out to take my designs down to a couple local stores. And I didn’t really want to come back until I’d achieved at least a little success.
To be continued…
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