Eight weeks ago I flew to Toronto to choose pieces from the collections of four of my major collectors for the retrospective part of the show. These friends, who I met way back when, have a great selection of pieces from the years of my prolific outpouring.
Donna was the first visit. She had everything ready for me and her dining room table and china cabinet were covered and full. It was very emotional seeing all the pieces and realizing I could remember the time I spent bringing them to life. And, I know you are wondering, she indeed has a Pinocchio character, one with two faces …
We talked for several hours and enjoyed reminiscing about shared moments. She was often the first in the door of an exhibit and proud to have collected some of her favorite pieces. Donna has also come to several of my ongoing workshops in Toronto. She told me her interest was mainly to understand how it all happens but honestly, she has made some lovely little people in those classes!
I then drove north to overnight with my sister, niece and nephew … a perfect thing on this trip as my sister was with me from the very first show I did in Toronto. She housed me, helped me set up the incredibly labor intensive displays and stood by for the long hours of the first years. She had her babies and they became part of the “crew” as soon as they were walking … my favorite story is on my website to read, but here is the photo of the kids years ago helping me open my boxes and being genuinely enchanted by it all … w o n d e r f u l l . . . . mostly for ME.
Next visit was to Linda and Paul’s lovely home.
I arrived late due to Toronto traffic and getting lost in a city I grew up in, assuming I knew the way and heading off in many strange directions … I arrived a bit shaken and like the perfect antidote, entered a most enchanting world … she and Paul have their pieces throughout their home and it was deeply moving to see how Linda had incorporated her pieces with antiques and beautiful objects magnificently set into an alcove or a corner. They told me how their grandchildren love to come and “find” the figures, which are always magically moving. Linda is a tender sweet quilt artist and so we share a love of fabric, hers in her quilts and mine clothing the figures.
I left there deeply touched … I cannot quite express how much it means to be part of their family memories in a small quiet way…
Linda and I met at the first show I did in Toronto and were friends from that first moment. She was modelling for the fashion designers at the show. New to modelling her career blossomed instantly. She and I shared the opening day in my booth every year for almost twenty years…I cannot imagine that day without her.
That afternoon I went to see Anne who had found my work ( and me ) at my second show in Toronto. She embraced me as someone special, someone she related to, and would, without knowing it influence my work and my life for years to come. I fell instantly for her and have enjoyed her gorgeous presence in my life for many years.
She and her sister returned to the booth display later and drew a crowd with their joy and laughter while looking at each piece. She was part of the bubbling excitement of the years when people came running … I think secretly she was outside in the lineup getting everyone wound up, giving me her natural gracious enthusiasm and support.
Her husband Sam eventually came to a show and I became a fan of his love for Anne … it was a very moving day for me when he chose a piece ( Hatter and the Red Queen ) for their collection.
The final stop was the beautiful new home of my friends Pam and Bernie. It was so wonderful to see them so happy and catch up after a long stretch of time. We did a tour of the house and my work, beautifully displayed throughout their home … again so emotional and so lovely remembering the times we shared and the pieces they had chosen each year… so many pieces and stories it was hard to decide which pieces to choose but together we agreed on the ones we most enjoyed remembering. Sadly one favorite had disappeared during the move … and was seriously missed …“Shiny and Dull” two little dancers, one in shiny pink satin and the other in a dull pink baggy suit. One day I will create them again, but no matter, they are still with us ….
A wee story … Pam and Bernie taught me how to use a credit card machine at my first show. They had come back to purchase a piece and asked if I took visa. I proudly said yes and took out the machine my sister had loaned me from her store. Only trouble was, she was not there and I had no idea how it worked. Bernie took charge and charged himself for their purchase … there was such great laughter and we still laughed remembering that clunky old visa machine at the show …
Hatter’s Tea was borrowed from their kitchen counter where it has lived, even in their earlier home, since arriving from the show. That year I had made this piece for the “Tea Contest” at the big show… it was, of course, the winner !!!
One other little show tale ( the One of a Kind Show ) … I think it was my fifth show and after two long days of set up ; after the long journey to get there ; after the long months to prepare ; and after the final weeks without much sleep … I had it all together. For the first time the booth was ready before the announcement of the doors opening … I proudly stood taking a breath. There was a commotion ( I mentioned a bit of this before ) in the hallway and turning the corner was a throng of people rushing down the aisle. I watched in surprise and … then … realized … they were coming towards me!!
I blushed, took a breath and the crazy times began. But … moments into the excitement, the many questions and the ” I’ll take this one “ I realized nothing had been prepared for selling and packing the pieces. I had some wrapping and boxes but had not even considered this as part of getting set up. Anne, Pam and Linda were all part of the crowd and understanding the look in my eyes they jumped behind the counter and began to help remedy the situation. That was the beginning of having these very wonderful women in my life. Once things were manageable, Pam and Anne went on to see some of the show and Linda stayed with me. We both remember not looking up until around three o’clock that day … From that show on, Anne and Pam came to help me finish detailing and preparing the booth ( the day before ) and Linda and I shared the long hours of every opening day.
Remarkable really, and as I recall it, I realize how synchronized this work and my life has been right from the first moment I made my first little person.
so…at the end of three days … I had gathered everything, I headed towards my beautiful friend Janet’s house for a much anticipated visit before flying home to Nova Scotia…
One hour of driving in circles I finally called to advise I was somewhere in the vicinity but not at all sure what that meant … she coached me and turned me back towards her home.
Finally there she was waiting in the street for me to find her ….
Later, while we worked repacking and enjoying our time together, she left the room and returned with a little handful of BEES!!! She said “The bees have to go” and, they plopped themselves in the suitcase as if in charge of its precious contents …
Smiling as I write this, I will leave you and tell all about the bees,