Pins (part 2)

Continued from Pins (part 1).

I started adding new designs and soon had 20 different pins.  It was time to be more serious about marketing and I decided that a catalog was needed to reach more people. A former classmate from RISD, Niki Bonnett, volunteered to develop some promotional materials for my business.

Pin catalog designed by Niki Bonnett, 1980

Niki devised a poster that could be cut up in strips and glued together in such a way as to make an accordion-fold catalog. She made drawings, with descriptive hand written notes identifying materials and features of each pin.  For the sake of economy, the poster was printed in black and white, and I hand colored the pin illustrations with markers. I constructed a cover for each catalog out of cloth-covered cardboard. Then I glued the beginning and end of the accordion folded pages to the inside of the front and back covers, along with ribbon ties. The finished catalog size was 4″ x 3″.

pin poster designed by Niki Bonnett,1980

In a recent conversation from her home in Ashville, NC, Niki remembers this about the project:

“When I did your job, I was working at Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos (HHCC), a well-known ad agency in Boston. I was doing freelance work at night to build my portfolio and I loved your pins.

For your project, I designed a poster with all the art and type as white on a black background. Once printed, it could be cut up into horizontal strips that were then hand colored, accordion folded, taped together and hand-bound into a fabric wrapped cover (also handmade) that tied shut with a bit of ribbon. Obviously, back then I didn’t think about my time as part of the cost of doing the project, and I had plenty of it back then too! All it cost was the printing of some black and white posters! Those posters looked great on their own, and it was lots of fun making those books; they were little gems.

In addition to the design and production of the piece, I also did all the illustrations of the pins, the calligraphy naming each pin style, and I created that typeface that your name and other copy were set in. I got one of the typesetter reps who visited HHCC every day to give me an entire alphabet of uppercase, metal letters (“slugs”? I forget the terminology for those bits of lead type). The letters were tiny, maybe 12 point. I used a brayer to roll black acrylic paint out on a piece of glass and then hand printed each tiny letter on rough newsprint until I got the “perfect” letter. Once I chose the letters for the entire alphabet, I blew them up to four times the original size on the Photostat machine (Good thing I had a key to that ad agency! Can you imagine being able to sneak back into a large office now to work on your own stuff from 8 to midnight?). That became my typeface from which I made all the “typeset” words. Needless to say, there was A WHOLE LOT of cutting and pasting goin’ on!

House Pin 1977

I was very proud of that project and I know I still have at least one of those books and some pins tucked away somewhere all these years later. I sure do miss the hands-on way design was done before computers; that’s what eventually caused me to quit my graphic design business in favor of making art quilts. I never made the kind of money I made in commercial art with my textile artwork, but it was so enjoyable… the creativity and the “making” of things!”

Salley arranging pins on top of poster, designed by Niki Bonnett, 1980

Mummy pin

Eggplant Pin 1977

My pins were included in Yankee’s Feb. 1981 issue, along with articles about a man who played music on a saw and someone who repaired oriental rugs. Laura Gross wrote, “Sparkling beads and soft velvet compliment her intricate hand-sewn and embroidered Egyptian mummies, palm trees, hearts, carrots, etc. Prices range from $4.00 to $12.00, and her custom work starts at $15.00. In the past, Salley has specially made banjos, cats, mermaids, New York town houses, corn-on-the-cob and a doctor’s bag, complete with gold initials.” I don’t recall making the doctor’s bag, but I do remember sewing on individual yellow seed beads for kernels of corn.

pin catalogs, 1980

People wrote in response to the article and I sent out free catalogs in manila envelopes. I can’t remember how many orders came in, but it was enough to keep me busy for a while.

Pin catalog

The story will be continued in PINS (part 3).

To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram

8 thoughts on “Pins (part 2)

  1. I am loving this story. In the late 70s and early 80s I worked for a firm that set type for Boston’s ad agencies, including HHHC. The new-fangled computer typesetting was called ‘cold-metal’ and I had the privilege of learning how-to by the old hot metal guys. I eventually made a leap that I call going from blue-collar to white-collar employment, as an assistant editor at Yankee Publishing. But this was a few years after your work was featured. … I’m looking forward to Pins – Part 3!

  2. As an artisan myself, I feel terrible that you have injured your wrist. I hope you have a very quick recovery!

    I must return again and again and catch up in your blog. Love your Wee Folk Book and have made many dolls. Your books are amongst my favorites. Fiber and art…it doesn’t get better.

    Your sketchbooks are glorious. Brings back memories of the times, too. . it is wonderful seeing the evolution on an artist’s work. I remember the 70’s as a very creative time.

    Looking forward to the rest of the story!

  3. Your work is completely charming, I am enjoying your story and look forward to the next installment. Hopefully you will publish another “how to” book some time soon.

    • Yes, there’s more to come that you might remember from the Christmas Store days. Thanks for the Tweet about this story! It does seem easier now to avoid the middleman with the web and Etsy.

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