After moving to NW Arkansas in the early 80's, I discovered the fantastic craft tradition of Arkansas and its Guild, then called Ozark Foothills Handicrafts Guild, centered in historic Mountain View, AR, where their retail store is still located, the Arkansas Craft Gallery at 104 E. Main. I began to encounter many potters, glass makers, doll makers, quilters, and metal workers, many part of the back to the land movement, all members of the Guild. Their work was amazing and I wondered if I would ever be good enough to be considered for membership!
I had been making dolls, baby quilts, and "Dutch window doilies" for sale at mall craft shows and the like. I quickly became one of the 400 Artisans at a converted Ben Franklin store called Ozark Bazaar in Fayetteville, AR, where I lived. I soon became the number-one seller! (I don't think it hurt that I also worked a couple of days a week at the store, carefully and craftily directing people to my work.)
From there, the two owners and I launched "Granny's Fan" and took my dolls and hot "Country look" to market in Dallas. I was cutting old and somewhat salvageable quilts, doilies & embroidered pieces and repurposing them into small rocking horses on wooden rockers, farm animals, hanging Gabriel angels with rope hair & weighted doorstop dolls.
By 1982 I was making several kinds of old quilt teddy bears, and I may have been the first to do that. I was selling to gift shops all over the country that promoted the country look, and big retailers like FAO Schwartz, Macy's and Bloomingdales, in short order.
My husband took a job in Little Rock and we moved in 1988. By this time, Granny's Fan had embraced a Southwestern look in addition to Country and had its best show ever in Dallas selling hand-painted stuffed canvas creations like cacti, armadillos, snakes, padres, buzzards and purple longhorns. We made a cactus so big that my daughter had to crawl up inside of it in order to stuff it!
Alas, I finally had to get a real job (long story that involves divorce) and worked for a bit at Leisure Arts and then went into advertising, ending up working 8 years for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
To satisfy some of my creative urges, I renovated an old house, made quilts, sewed my own clothes and helped start a symphonic band and then I made my daughters' wedding dresses and before long, baby stuff for my grandchildren.
Some years later I moved to San Francisco since all my now adult children were there. I tried to make a go in real estate but ended up creating a new company: Stickball. I got a book published, "Fast, Fun & Easy Fabric Ficklesticks", by C&T Publishing about my 'wire-inside' of fabric tubes idea, teaching crafters how to make stick figures, Christmas decorations and jewelry.
Soon after, I went to my first quilt show in Long Beach, CA as a vendor and sold books, kits, wire and finished stuff. The quilters loved the sort of patchwork jewelry, but I was soon to discover that other regular people liked it too!
In 2008 I got married again (a fun but long story) and dragged my fledgling company back to Little Rock, where my darling husband said I should not go back to work at the newspaper but should see what I can do with Ficklesticks. I was juried into the Arkansas Craft Guild's Christmas Showcase and finally was accepted into the Guild, the very Guild I had lusted after back in the early 80's. I have been a member for 12 or 13 years now.
Diana's fun and funky fabric jewelry can be purchased at the Arkansas Craft Gallery.