I have been an artist all my life. At the right is a self-portrait I drew when I was 17. I’ve worked mostly in the realm of realism, surrealism and expressive works that meant more to me than they projected in skill. Charcoal, Prismacolor pencil, graphite and ink were my favorite mediums. I dabbled in many things through high school and early college including pottery, sculpture, designing and creating clothing and home decor, painting, etc. And then I began to stitch. Fiber, material, and threads have intrigued me ever since. A lot of life happened through the 90’s and early 2000’s as I went to college, worked several different jobs, moved to Pittsburgh, Pa, went to college again and then met my husband. Along the way I joined the local chapter of the Embroiderer’s Guild of America (EGA). It was through EGA that I became more proficient in and more aware of the many types of embroidery and the materials used. It is also where I learned to tat. Originally I learned needle tatting, which is a relatively easier way (imho) to create the knotted lace with a very long needle. My friend helped me learn to tat with a shuttle, the traditional way of tatting, and I was off and running!
Becoming skilled at tatting took sooooo much time. Several years passed as I tried to get the hang of it and learn to follow various kinds of patterns and work with different threads. In the beginning I was making Christmas gifts, mostly snowflakes for family, otherwise I was not doing very much as an artist. I was just dreaming of what I wanted to be doing. Then it happened. Five years ago, I started to fulfill a lifelong dream in a way I never thought I would…working as an artist professionally, and it all began with this bracelet. MOD.
I saw a news piece about Etsy.com one evening and began to wonder if the handmade venue would work for little ‘ole me. At first, I thought I would just dabble and explore. What would happen? I thought hard and came up with my signature name, Snappy Tatter, and set up an online shop through Etsy. I uploaded poor pictures of the above bracelet, wrote a brief simple description and priced it so cheaply that I practically gave it away and it sold. IT SOLD!!! Wow. And a very weird feeling came over me.
The MOD style is still sold in my shop. It is the only design that is not mine. It is a modification of an insertion pattern. I had looked at the design and thought, “that would be a pretty bracelet”. I made it in soft pearl cotton and hooked on simple rings and a clasp. There were no beads at first and my methods of tying in ends and finishing had not yet been perfected. But it sold. So I started to make more things, mostly butterflies and flowers for applique at first. I was offering them at dirt cheap prices and started to see them sell here and there. I started to create my own butterfly designs; PIXIES, Sara, Emma and Abagail were the first along with the Majestic Dragonfly which was originally much larger than it is today.
Then I expanded to some of my favorite designs, thinking and planning and tatting, tatting, tatting. I had worked so many shuttle-tatting patterns over the previous 7 years that creating my own was becoming elementary for me. Below are the very first original Snappy Tatter creations designed in 2009. I discovered cordonnet and beads and professional jewelry components and my work began to evolve.
Four months later many of these little things sold quickly and I was making money. Oooooo. I was both excited and working myself to death at the same time. I realized this could work but I needed more time and a better business sense. I began to investigate my pricing and the time it takes to create the tatting and finishing it into jewelry. Packaging, seller fees and shipping were taken into consideration as I worked on a new way of pricing and got into a routine of working on my own. Paper work on Mondays, finishing on Tuesday or Wednesday, photography on Wednesday or Thursday and listing in my shop on Thursday and Friday. I generally still follow this plan but there are many many other tasks that have arisen as my business has expanded.
Then one of those life changing events popped into my life. I was in Volant, PA, exploring the boutiques and quaint country chic shops, tea house, winery, antique and Amish furniture stores when a man behind that counter asked me about my Dragonfly necklace, the Majestic Dragonfly in red. I still wear it. I smiled and was quiet but my very proud husband chirped, “She made that!”. That man he spoke to was Don Gold, the curator and manager of the Blue Heron Art Gallery and consignment. He invited me to present my work to the Blue Heron’s board for acceptance into the gallery. My work with tatted lace was something they had never seen. Crazy. My head was spinning, spinning, spinning. I wanted to leap and take a chance.
~My orginal Avatars and shop Banners~
Although I am a very excitable person at times, I am also inherently pragmatic. I looked at our household income and expenses and sat down with my husband. I could try this new idea, online selling and working with a gallery, or continue my emotionally draining career path. I remember his response was something to the effect that he wanted me to fulfill my life long dream and that if I did not make enough money he would let me know that I needed to toss in the towel and go back to a steady job. Love that man. We did not realize at that time that I was about to create a tiny empire of fiber art and lacework! Stay tuned for the second installment of Snappy Tatter’s history…