Pins (part 3)

I enjoyed the challenge of coming up with ways to make the animals’ extremities and found beads for their legs, ears, noses and eyes. The business grew to a point where most of my sales were to shops, on a wholesale basis. To keep the process interesting, I came up with new designs like this bread and cheese and scallop shell.

 In an effort to meet people and to make more for my labor, I became a member of the Christmas Store, a seasonal cooperative in Cambridge and commuted from the Cape to do my work shifts. For a display, I built a fruit and vegetable stand with crates made out of popsicle sticks.  Later, I made patterns and wrote directions on how to make the pins for the 1982 Holiday Crafts issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.     

 After about 5 years of mass producing the pins, I moved on to other things, including motherhood.  Since then, I’ve had several business ventures, which inevitably reach a point when I’ve had to make a decision to grow or stop all together. I’ve always chosen freedom, never wanting to spend all of my time running a business, even though I see the promotional part as an important element of a creative project. And it’s not as if I walked away from a gold mine. At the wholesale price, I was making so little for my time. Being an artist means coming up with new ideas and making the same thing over and over has therapeutic, although limited appeal. Even the idea of hiring others to do the work made me nervous. I knew that I would be a miserable boss, having to hold others to a high standard of workmanship at low pay. And, I realized that I am happiest while making things myself! I have no exact record of how many pins I made, but it must have been well over a thousand. Throughout, the peapod was a best-seller, which was ironic because it was the simplest and fastest to make of all.   

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7 thoughts on “Pins (part 3)

  1. I was 10 yrs old when your article came out in Better Homes and Garden and seeing the page posted here takes me right back. My Mother is a wonderful seamstress and crafter who encouraged me to be the same. She showed me these pins and I made dozens of them. I think she may have one picture of my little felt board of pins somewhere. I am going to have to ask her. Thank you for your inspiration and hours of wonderful crafting with my Mother!

    • How wonderful to hear from you, years after the article came out. This is the first time I’ve gotten any feedback from the BH and G article and it’s nice to know that the pins were an inspiration for you and your mother.

  2. My mother had a bunch of your pins, and she would always wear one when going out on an evening. I loved those pins so much, they’re so attached to Woods Hole in my mind! Luckily, she gave them to me a few years ago…I have the cat, peapod, grapes, rainbow, eggplant, watermelon and carrot. I think she had the mummy pin, but she must have kept that one 🙂

    Thanks for the info on the development of the pins. They’re just so wonderful.

  3. Salley, you are such an inspiration to me. I have two of your books, Felt Wee Folk and Pocketful of Posies. I have made several fairies and also miniature, felted mice and use your books to give me patterns and ideas on how to dress them. I just started selling them on Etsy and it is going pretty well. I too, wish you would publish another instruction book, with some of the characters and clothes instructions from Pocketful of Posies. If you ever come to the Buffalo, NY area for a book signing, I will be there!
    Thanks for all the inspiration and keeping my hands busy,

  4. It seems the more you create Salley, the more creative you become. I just love admiring your work. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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