Meet the Maker Week is an Instagram participation prompt for makers from around the globe and all media. Post prompts are created by Joanne Hawker, a stationery designer and small business owner from the UK. The prompts are typically advertised a week or two in advance of the challenge so participants can collect their images and thoughts. Meet the Maker month takes place every March since 2016, with occasional extra events sprinkled in throughout the year. Past Meet the Maker prompts and information can be found on Joanne’s blog. This holiday season, the Meet the Maker week prompts are active November 2nd through the 7th, allowing plenty of time to promote your handmade offerings at the beginning of the holiday season and allow for plenty of time to arrive under the stressful and complicated Covid era. Prompts for this session are: Day 1, Say Hello; Day 2, Pivot; Day 3, New for Christmas; Day 4, 2020 Silver Lining; Day 5, Community Over Competition; and Day 6, Shop Small. I participated in the majority of the week, which you can view on my Instagram account, and then I lost momentum with the holiday season and trying to stay on top of everything else. Therefore, since I didn’t successfully finish, but really wanted to and I know some people prefer to read here on the blog or do not check Instagram, etc. regularly (I applaud you), I thought I would compile my entire Meet the Maker entries here as well. I hope it helps you get a little snapshot of the year 2020 at La Rue de Fleurs, enjoy!
Day 1, November 2, 2020: Say Hello
Hi, I’m Janice, happy to be joining in for 2020 Meet the Maker Week. I am a quilt and fiber artist parenting, partnering and creating in central PA. As the owner and creator of everything at La Rue de Fleurs, I spend a lot of time in my basement studio sewing and quilting away on my Janome Skyline S5. This year I have been joined by my husband, who works from a home office right on the other side of the door. I try very hard not to listen to his many phone calls and zoom meetings and I very much miss the silence of my pre-2020 studio.
I’m the newly minted 2020 Artist of the Year with my local arts council, Perry County Council of the Arts where I also run a monthly arts and crafts class for kids called Drop-In Art. You’ve probably seen a few posts and videos about Drop-In Art. I have been working as lead coordinator and project developer since 2016 and now make three monthly videos for the PCCA and my own YouTube channel. In 2019 I joined the teaching artist roster with PCCA and was all set to start artist residencies in local schools literally the week the Covid Pandemic lockdowns took effect. Needless to say, I lost those jobs and have had to pivot into learning how to adapt those lessons into an online platform for this new normal remote learning era.
Outdoor adventures and plenty of alone time were my jam long before social distancing was a thing. I enjoyed my hermit life and all of the quiet it brought along with it. I miss those noiseless seven hours each workday where no one wanted me to make them food or take photographs of their worksheets to upload to Google Classroom. Like so many others, I am now scrambling to try to figure out how to keep my creative business going while helping my kids remote school from home. I love them and I love spending so much time with them, but they are so loud and make so, so many dishes. (I suspect you understand those feelings.)
Day 2, November 3, 2020: Pivot
Boy, did we all pivot this year! Most everyone around the globe had some life-changing moments and we are all trying our best to adapt to the unique challenges of life right now. As I mentioned above, I went from having a quiet seven-hour workday to, well, not. I am very much back to trying to fit in my creative work alongside my kids’ schedules and needs much like when I started my art business ten years ago when they were just a toddler and a pre-schooler.
As I also mentioned above, I had to pivot the teaching aspect of my business as well, from in-person monthly classes to online videos. I am learning how to get better at filming my work, which I hope will open up a lot of new possibilities for not only my art business but also the people who would like to learn from me. I have an entire playlist on the La Rue de Fleurs’ YouTube channel for Drop-In Art and will be working on more quilting lessons in the near future.
Along with the shifts of 2020 has also come a lot more clarity for me personally and professionally. I feel this years limited time and resources has made it easier for me to see what is and is not important uses of my time, effort, talent and voice. I plan to take this clarity into 2021 and run with it!
Day 3, November 4, 2020: New for Christmas
For all the reasons above, I haven’t had a lot of time to develop many new product for the holidays this year, but to be honest, that is a bit a part of the clarity thing from above. Honestly, I don’t find that rushing to try to develop new items for any season really works for me or my shop. Sometimes I want to play with special holiday fabrics or I get a custom request to do so, but generally, my work isn’t seasonal.
I do have a few new miniature Christmas Tree skirts and other holiday goodies available in the La Rue de Fleurs Etsy shop. The tree skirts I inexplicably found nearly complete in a WIP pile and decided to finish up. I may have started them last year then ran out of time before the holidays. No bother, they are complete now if you are interested in a cute pop of fun for your mini or tabletop Christmas Tree. They would be perfect for that home office!
I also have the Stars and Straps Quilt pattern that would be perfect for making to snuggle up in at home this holiday season. Probably more this year than any other all the time and effort you put into a quilt would be a great distraction and be well used! I love the Stars and Straps pattern because it can be seasonal for Christmas, like the Holiday Homies version by Jessica Wester above, or made as a patriotic version or just for fun in any combination you choose. The original Stars and Straps Quilt I made for a veterans charity in 2019, but I recently rewrote the pattern and made a fun summertime version. I truly believe in the versatility of a quilt pattern, and I want everyone that I write to be able to be made over and over in many combinations so you get the most bang for your buck pattern-wise.
In addition to patterns, I have also added a limited selection of DIY Coaster Kits to my Etsy shop for those who want to learn to make their own awesome fiber creations. These small projects are a great place to start and can be completed by hand or with a machine in just a few sittings even if you’re a beginner. I include everything you need in the kit, including printed directions with graphics, but you can also view how to make them on my YouTube channel. I plan to add more instructional learn to sew and quilt videos and kits in 2021.
Day 4, November 5, 2020: Silver Lining
Hey, 2020 has not been all bad! There is always something to be thankful for! This year, for me it has definitely been more time than ever with my family. Even though they are loud and make lots and lots of demands and dishes, I really love being home with them. In fact, I originally started my art business so I could enjoy being creative every day and have the flexibility of lifestyle to stay home with my children. As a family, we’ve gone on more hikes, walks, played games, eaten together, and created more than ever before and I am truly grateful for that time. (If I had a cleaning robot, a la Rosie from the Jetsons, it could have been even better…)
Another silver lining of the year was the ability to focus on the things that I do have going for the business, most of which I mentioned in the Pivot post above, as well as personally in the yearly reflections post about my 2021 guiding word, “Enough.”
Lastly, the best silver lining of 2020 was the ability to continue on with my art and teaching work in an ever-adaptive way garnering the notice of my local arts council and ultimately winning their Artist of the Year award for 2020. Even though I may doubt how well I am performing and maintaining everything at the moment and am definitely my own worst critic, winning the award and hearing the lovely things said about me and my work during the virtual ceremony reminds me to be far less harsh and judgemental about myself. Another good reminder that I am indeed enough and doing enough and do not have to constantly push and punish myself to an imagined finish line.
Day 5, November 6, 2020: Community Over Competition
The quilt, art, and craft communities, in general, are so supportive without much competition feeling outwardly generated. I think the more you work in the arts the more you come to realize how much room there is for all voices and rather than detracting from the perspective of one it adds to the inspiration of all. Over the past two years, I have had a few opportunities to work with fellow quilters and small shop owners in the pursuit of mutual goals and I hope to do more of that in the future.
Beyond the quilting community, I am heavily inspired by the paper crafting and scrapbooking communities as well. I find it so easy to draw inspiration from the creative (mostly) women of the scrapbooking world, especially those who document their projects and processes on YouTube. Victoria Marie, Audrey Yeager, and Shimelle Lane are among my most inspiring crafters and I often have a burst of ideas not only for my personal scrapbooking projects but also for quilt designs when I watch their videos. I find it really easy to translate the patterns and elements of papercraft into fabric elements of quilts without being tempted to copy someone else’s work directly like I sometimes do when I draw inspiration directly from another quilter. It helps provide that inspiration without competition, since fabric and the size requirements of quilts obviously differ from that of a paper page, but not so much that you have to work too hard to be inspired.
Day 6, November 7, 2020: Shop Small
Incase you didn’t know by now, La Rue de Fleurs is just me, Janice Bailor, working from my home studio in the basement of my home and occasionally from the kitchen table. I write everything for this blog, social media and advertisements, take all my own photographs, create all of the content, make all of the quilts and other art, package and ship, reply to all of the customer emails, attend all of the sales, write all of the tutorials and patterns, film and edit every last little thing by myself. It is a lot of work, to say the least, but I have never been more happy to work on my own project and fulfill my own vision. There are of course times it is overwhelming and I constantly feel like I am falling short of my marks, but there is a lot of drive to keep going and to succeed on my own terms. You probably can’t imagine the amount of times I have wanted to quit over the past decade. It’s a lot. However, I keep going because I’m either a glutton for self-flagellation, or really love what I get to do with my life and time. Most days I think it’s both, but whatever it takes to keep going, right!?!
Now you know a bit more about me and some of my approaches to business, my makes, and inspirations. I have a lot of great things planned for 2021 and I am excited for you to join me in the continuation of this journey. Thank you so much for your continued support of my work in purchases, readership and enthusiasm. it truly means the world to me.
Stay creative, friends! Janice
Inspiration and resources are linked where applicable. All written work and photographs are original content and are copyright protected; kindly give due credit by linking back to my website if you use or share.
(©2021, Janice Bailor // laruedefleurs.com)