LIVING THE DREAM!
You're living the dream, people say to us. They are so envious that we are doing what we love to do, that we don't have to climb in our car and commute to work everyday, that we essentially write our own ticket. Well, we have to agree for the most part.
When I first started sculpting in 1990, David had a full time "real" job and I did too. We had two girls, ages 9 and 11. Every piece I sculpted, I would take to the local ceramics shop to have it fired and every one of them would blow up in the kiln! Finally the shop owner asked me if I would like the phone number of a lady who did the same type of sculpting. I said YES!! That's when I met my now good friend, Dana Kirk, who was a budding sculptor herself. She explained to me that I had to cut the pieces, hollow them out, stick them back together and then fire them. Who knew? Not me!
I went to arts and crafts fairs and sold a few pieces. I joined a group of artists who had a gallery in Rodeo Plaza in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. We took turns working in the gallery, where we sculpted and sold our work. Visitors to the Stockyards could come and watch us work and buy if they were so inclined. I will never forget the first time I sold a piece there. Another artist, who was working in the gallery that day called to tell me that I had just sold a piece for $275.00!!!!!!!!!! I was ECSTATIC!!!
I sculpted a piece I called Joyous Reunion, something the Lord inspired me to do after the death of a dear friend. I took it to the shows I went to, but always put NFS (not for sale) on it. Everyone wanted that piece, but I could not part with it. Finally David says to me "I wonder if there is any way you could make copies of that?" Seriously we had no clue as to how to do anything! There was no you tube back then. We didn't own a computer, not many people did. I asked around and found out that a mold could be made and you could cast copies from the mold. Now, how to get a mold made?? We found a mold maker at a foundry and paid him $350 to make our first ever mold. That was a lot of money for us at that time, but we went for it. Then we had a mold made of our In Their Midst piece (three women, holding hands and praying together) Now when I went to the arts and crafts shows, what sold the most were the reproductions. I called them "my little mold pieces". When people would ask how I did at a show, I would usually reply, "Well, not that good. I just sold the little mold pieces." What I was writing off as nothing was actually what God had planned to use. Funny how that works sometimes.
A successful and very kind man at my church really believed in my work. One day he approached me and asked if I would consider letting him front me the money for molds on pieces I felt the Lord wanted them on. I would pay him back double what he paid, as the pieces sold. I was OVERJOYED!!! So we eventually had five different pieces with molds. I sold these pieces at a local Christian bookstore on consignment. They sold pretty well. I finally got my first wholesale order from a store in Abilene, TX.
We decided, after being advised by a friend to go to the Gift Market at the World Trade Center in Dallas. That was in 2002. My friend went with me. My booth was in the temporaries, in the very back corner and I only had five pieces! When I saw all the other slick, professional looking booths and all the different things they were selling in one booth, I felt pretty much like an idiot. However, we picked up 21 stores at that market. We felt we were on our way.
The next market we were 'discovered' by a large gift manufacturer and distributor called United Design out of Oklahoma. After speaking with them and visiting their operation, we decided to license them to produce and distribute our sculptures. All I had to do was sculpt the originals and collect a royalty check. That sounded really good to me.
By 2009 the Women of the Way Collection had 28 pieces and they were selling very well. However, we felt that the Lord was telling us to take it back and do it here, in the USA. I thought, "There's no way we could do 28 pieces!" But we kept having that same feeling, that nudge, so we did it. Everyone thought this would be the end of the Women of the Way, but you know how it is when God is in something - it just works.
David learned how to make molds, through trial and error, and he got really good at it. We went from casting in resin to casting only in hydrostone, a natural gypsum material. Now we have a total of 81 pieces and more coming out.
Our studio is behind our house in a neighborhood in Cleburne, Texas. It is compact and we make use of every square inch - it works for us. We will never be a big company. We have no desire to be. You won't see my work everywhere you go. You will have to find it just like you have today. Thanks for checking us out!