Saturday, March 21, 2009

INCrowdteam Interview - Mary Sell aka doughditties

To say that this level of creativity and dedication wouldn't occur to me is an understatement. Read on and you will LOVE Mary's doughditties. Visit her shop afterward by clicking on the title of this post. Enjoy!

Where were you born & raised?
I was born and raised in Hammond, Indiana.

What's the origin of your shop's name?
Long story on the shop name. I started my craft career making dolls in the 1970s. At that time, my husband Stan and I lived along the Iroquois River near Brook, Indiana. The Indian name for the river was Pinkamink, which meant "muddy water." We liked the sound of Pinkamink, so became Pinkamink Dollworks and called our creations pinkaminks. When dolls evolved into dough ornaments, we stuck with the Pinkamink Dollworks name. We moved to West Lafayette in 1992 and I began creating dough ornaments again in 2007. We didn't feel right using Pinkamink since we were so far from the river. Coming up with a unique name for the business was much more complex than it was 30+ years ago. We created new names then searched the internet for matches. We began to wonder if anything could be unique any more as global as the internet is. We finally came up with Dough Ditties, which fits fine since so many of the ornaments are musicians (fiddlers, banjo players, bagpipers).

Where are you now & what led you there?
Stan and I were "mother-earthers" in college, so once we worked long enough in St. Louis to save enough money, we bought 50 acres near Brook, Indiana and lived there for 15 years. We were modified homesteaders as we lived without electricity or running water. We raised one son (now 27), built our home from recycled farm buildings, planted black walnuts, had a huge garden, did a ton of canning, fought a landfill, crafted for a living, raised organic soybeans and aduki beans, led school groups on tours of our property, and then it all fell apart. Living the simple life sometimes isn't all that simple, and various stresses brought on bipolar [disorder] in Stan. We moved to West Lafayette so that I could find permanent employment and so we would be removed from some of the stresses. I worked as a legal secretary for 12 years, then retired and began working in dough again. I shape and paint the ornaments, but Stan is a HUGE part of the business. He's the big dipper, for one thing (he seals the ornaments). We love doing the shows together and we work together organizing the business and creating displays. We learned that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. God is good!

What types of creations do you sell in for your Etsy shop(s)?
I sell mostly a variety of bread dough ornaments. The majority are Scottish. I also sell a bit of dough jewelry and a few clothespin dolls (head and hands are made of air-dry dough).

What's your educational background, as it relates to your work?
I have no educational background relating to the work I do.

Does creating stuff run in the family? Were you taught things on purpose or by osmosis from prior generations?
My mom raised 6 kids, but before she was married she attended the Art Institute [of] Chicago. When I was young I came across her sketch pads and other works and wanted to be like her. She had a flair for watercolors. I remember in high school art choosing to do watercolors. I worked at a still life watercolor for days. Finally, the student teacher came up behind me and asked, "What are you trying to do?" I told him, and he said, "Give it up." So I did. I didn't create any more for several years. Recently, I came across pencil sketches and watercolors my grandma did when she was a young woman (my mom's mom). They are amazing. However, I don't remember my mom or grandma instructing me on any art projects.

[Ed. note: don't you love encouraging, positive and supportive art teachers?!?]

How'd you get started creating?
As a little girl, I loved any kind of handcraft thing. I also loved creating fashions for dolls, which I kept a secret because I was too old to be playing with dolls. This no doubt led to my first ventures in crafting as an adult. We were living in a 17-foot camping trailer and I needed something to keep me occupied. I started with corn-husk and clothespin dolls, then moved up to paper-mâché figurines and character dolls, then to dolls with Sculpey [polymer clay] heads and hands. I began making bread dough ornaments after learning the craft from Dianna Effner, who I'd met at a doll show in Peoria, Illinois.

What's your muse, or what turns that little creative light inside you on?
Color and life inspire me, and faces with expression. I'm not sure how some ideas come to mind, but I get a picture in my head and just want to try it.

Do you belong to any Street Teams (other than the INCrowdteam)? If so, which ones and why?
No, not yet . . .

What's your favorite thing about selling on Etsy?
Etsy is so easy to use. I wish I'd discovered it before I started my own website - would have saved me hours of frustration, not to mention savings in dollars!

Recommend your five favorite shops on Etsy.
1) fairiesnest
2) gfelted
3) myword
4) flipflopmamma
5) middleburg

Show us three of your own favorite pieces, from your shop and work.

Rabbit Doll with Carrot Garland. I haven't sold any on Etsy yet, but my dolls are my favorite. More time-consuming and I don't make many. The rabbit was inspired by a friend who raises rabbits.

Bagpiper Lad in Gold Tartan Bread Dough Ornament. So much fun to make the bagpipers in different tartans. Anything Scottish inspires me.

Fiddling Pig Bread Dough Ornament. Been making this one for years. Whimsy is the inspiration here.

Do you sell on consignment? If so, where?
Nowhere yet...

Anything else to brag on?
Years ago, my paper-mâché dolls were featured in the St. Louis paper (ancient history now).

And last of all, do you blog? If so, where can we find your blog?

Thanks so much, Mary! Your story is fascinating and your shop is great fun. Carolynn aka nilochlainn aka wolfgangzehen

1 comment:

  1. Thank you to INCrowd Indiana Street Team and especially to Carolynn for posting my interview. I appreciate their efforts to promote Indiana artisans.

    Mary Sell - Dough Ditties