The life of a piece of work can take many turns. Where a piece will end up and my part in its journey are unknown to me during production.
So when people approach me and tell me that a piece I produced actually added meaning to their lives, I am doubly amazed. Recently, I was commissioned to produce a piece based on another piece of work I produced many years ago. The original piece was a fat fairy with a wand. It was part of a members’ exhibition at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador http://www.craftcouncil.nl.ca/ . When I encountered the woman who bought the piece she would always tell me how happy it made her (she had it in her office at work).
Flash ahead several years and this same woman is about to retire. So her colleague, inspired by the fairy, commissions a life size wand based on the one held by the fairy. The wand is to remind the woman of the joy the piece inspired ( As it so happens, the fairy was passed onto the woman who commissioned the wand for her retiring colleague).
Suffice it to say, while creating the original piece I did not suspect I would be revisiting it years later. Nor did I think it would hold a place of significance in not one but two people’s lives.
Over the years I have encountered several customers who are truly affected by my work. Some are collectors, some bought just one or two pieces. But what is undeniable is is that my work means something and is a part of their lives. I find that thought very satisfying.
Guess I shouldn’t just assume everyone knows what a mummer is. Here in Newfoundland, mummering is an old tradition brought over from the UK that has seen a resurgence in recent years. There’s even a mummers’ festival which includes an annual parade. https://www.mummersfestival.ca/
Mummering typically takes place during the 12 days of Christmas. People dress up in bizarre costumes and even change their speech (speaking while inhaling is popular). Individuals go from house to house–they sing and dance and a drink while the hosts try to guess who they are.
The mummers I created 20 years ago were inspired by my friends who grew up seeing them at Christmas. They were created based on these stories alone with no visual reference. As I sold them, people shared more stories and ways of dress that they remembered from their childhood. Essentially, my designs were based on these stories and there was a very symbiotic relationship between the product and the customer.
Over the years, as more imagery of the tradition became available my work began to incorporate those influences as well. The pieces I have today are a blend of both early and later influences.
I have been on the fence about starting a website for years now, but I’ve decided to take the plunge. It is my plan to share with you my creations and ideas for future works in the weeks and months to come.
I’ll give it a shot for a year and see where this venue takes me. It could work.
January for me is a time to evaluate the preceding year. How were sales, for one thing. Frankly, it was a good year for paper mache mummers. Who knew after all this time, 20 years, that people would still be buying them? I’ve certainly created a niche market, that is for sure. Especially since mummers are e v e r y w h e r e.