At the Bead and Button Show, or in any class I teach, I like to tell stories while I’m demonstrating. I talk about my experiences, my work and where it comes from, as well as funny things that have happened in my family related to my art over the past 20+ years.
Often when I teach classes using my collection of leaf molds, I tell what kind of leaf it is, where it came from, etc. One of my favorite leaves are rose leaves like the ones in the two pins shown here.
When my husband and I were visiting a winery in Greve, Italy on our recent trip to Italy celebrating our 25th anniversary, I noticed a miniature rose bush in the landscaping. I picked one tiny leaf and tucked it into my wallet to mold it when I got home. I haven’t had time to make anything with the mold yet, but it will make a great story, don’t you agree?
Stories are important because they connect us to the work, and through the work to each other. I remind my students that if they are developing work for sale, to find ways to tell their stories. I learned the importance of the story years ago when I taught a series of classes at a nearby Stamp/scrapbook store…
The series was a 3hour class on a different technique at the store once a month over several months. I did several techniques using my leaf molds. I pointed out one of the molds that was made from a marigold leaf. The special leaf came from a plant grown from seed by my son at preschool. My husband also planted a row of marigolds along our vegetable garden each year, so that year, my son’s plant went on the end of the row. The hybrids were different, and it just so happened that my son’s plant grew twice as tall as all of daddy’s… of course! I preserved this story in my leaf mold and remember it each time I used that mold. (that son is now 16! time flies, but my mold is still effective–Bake & Bend is so great for making molds!)
Now, for the lesson on the importance of the story: one of the students in my stamp store class listened to the story and at the end of class, bought one of my samples that was made with the marigold mold. She was touched by the story and it increased my sales.
AND…the next month, I was teaching a different technique, but again using leaf molds. That student re-told the story for me to another woman who hadn’t attended the previous class. And I made another sale of a sample made with that mold!
When you make things for friends and family, share the story with them about making the piece along with the gift. If you sell some of your work, perhaps at a craft show, tell your stories. If you sell through a local shop, make sure to get to know the sales personnel so that they can talk about you and your work. And think about creative ways to include your stories on hang tags or other marketing pieces.
When you clay with kids, show them how to express a story through their work. It will open a new world to a child. Our stories are what make art meaningful and desirable.