Updated: May 20
What a long, strange, trip it's been so far. Had you told me just a month ago my art and photography business would be shuttere
d and I'd be making cloth masks for the masses, I would've told you you're crazy and walked away laughing as I left you and your silly thought alone. But here we are.....
Many many years ago I struggled with being what I call a poly-creative (possessing creative abilities in a number of disciplines). It felt like more a curse than a gift. I was often told....."Pick a discipline." I never wanted to be known as a 'jack of all trades, master of none' So upon graduating high school, I picked my discipline- music. I attended university as a music major and after graduation my music career blessed me well into my adulthood.
But there were other things I was good at and I wanted to explore those areas. So about two years ago, I decided to take a break from being a professional musician and explore visual art and photography. I thought I could make a go at this photography thing so I quit all my jobs (three in total) to start CoHeir LLC- an art, photography, and life-decor movement. It was risky and my steady income became not so steady but with the loving support of my husband and children, CoHeir began to gain traction. It took two years of building but I was finally starting to book clients and sell my art prints more consistently. I was so happy working from home and still getting to meet amazing people and take their photos. I loved my flexible schedule and the fact I could work and still be home to greet my kids after school. In that season of my life, I probably felt the most content I've ever felt working. It felt like I had struck that work-life balance I had strived so hard to achieve.
And then the words coronavirus and covid-19 and pandemic began to swirl around. And very quickly my little comfy bubble burst. About a month ago I went to pick up what I would come to find out were my last two canvases I'd print for a while. My print house informed me they were closing for the foreseeable future. Then I knew this thing; this pandemic wasn't only sickening people it was paralyzing businesses too. I was devastated. I brought those two canvases home, sat them down on my living room floor and cried in front of them because I knew my business was over for the foreseeable future.
That night I cried over the canvases, I knew my whole life had changed. I was sad for what I had lost and scared for what the future looked like. But I'm not one to sit and wallow for too long so I eventually embraced quarantine life and like many others who now had a whole bunch of time on their hands, I baked and cooked and cleaned and taught my kids (with a lot of help from google) and tried to find toilet paper.
When the cloth mask suggestions came about from government officials and medical experts, I busted out my sewing machine out of storage (I purchased it two years ago to experiment with creating textile art) and made a set of masks for my family. 4 masks. It took me FOREVER to make those masks. The thread was bunched up in corners and somehow a nine inch rectangle of raw fabric shrunk to 3 three inches and barely covered my nose, let alone the lower half of my face.........but somehow, slowly I figured it out.
My husband Harlan thought I did a pretty good job and asked if he could post on his Facebook page that I was making them. I acquiesced. I had this ability (as rudimentary as it was) and I thought I could help out some people in need. That one post had 20 orders in about 15 minutes. I was floored. There was this strange mix of excitement and utter terror that washed over me. I had no system for this. I was definitely in a cart-before-the-horse situation and I knew I couldn't maintain like that. So that night, I removed all the art from my website's shop, took pictures of masks and fabrics I had on hand, and asked Harlan to share the link for those still interested. The orders steadily flowed and have kept coming. That was only three weeks ago but it feels like a whole year. With my next order, I will have made (a combo of sales and donations) 310 cloth masks.
I am now a mask-maker. I clock 10-12 hour daily shifts (Mon.-Fri.) I have driven all over Columbus, delivering masks. I've gotten to know Max- the postman at my neighborhood post office. My life is confirmation emails and thank you emails and thank you cards and socially distanced thank you's and lysol and 'that fabric just sold out' emails and thread and bobbins and needles and the now ever present hum of my sewing machine. My life is different but I'm so so so grateful. I'm grateful to YOU. YOU made this happen; your hard-earned dollars made this possible. I don't take one mask for granted. Every morning I wake up, make a cup of coffee bring it up to my guest-bedroom-turned-small-factory, sit in front of my Husqvarna that no one understood why I wanted so bad two Christmases ago, and I say a prayer-
"Thank you God for this opportunity. Bless the work of my hands. Thank you God for each of the people that have kept this business afloat by sending their order my way. Bless them. May these masks keep them a bit safer. Watch over them......"
and then I chug my cream with a little bit of coffee to keep myself awake and pull your fabrics and elastics and get to work.