One of the best things that has happened to me personally and to our Whispirit alpaca felted garments is the invitation to sell our creations at Handwoven Originals in Santa Fe. This year Handwoven Originals is celebrating its 35th year at the Inn and Spa at Loretto and the shop is filled with a constantly changing selection of New Mexico made wearable art pieces.
The unique gallery is the creative enterprise of three like-minded weavers, JB Pena, Ceil Swanson and Louise Lechner. For 40 years (they had an earlier shop before moving to the Inn at Loretto in 1980), they shared shop duties and responsibilities for keeping the shop open and helping each other keep space to continue their weaving. In the recent Essential Guide to Santa Fe & Taos article about this anniversary, JB Pena talks about the grit and grace of their enterprise.
“We lost our beloved Louise Lechner in 2013. Her spirit still lives in the shop as Ceil and I navigate with a lot of help from our terrific artists and associates that work with us. We still love to design and weave, create and paint. We are ever grateful for our loyal collectors and friends who have supported us through the years.”
Their team works throughout the year to showcase and sell their participating artists’ works. Their well-placed ads are beautiful celebrations of color and design. They work with returning customers, remembering what they like and suggesting new pieces to add to their collections.
What doesn’t show up in the ads or other publicity about this shop is their incredible contribution to the designing artists showcased in the shop. JB, Ceil and Louise have been wonderful mentors, nurturing creatives and demonstrating the balance between artist sensitivity and the marketplace. Alas, we never got to meet Louise.
When I feel that inevitable insecurity of new designs, a visit to JB or Ceil and any of their associates is in order. JB is great about pinpointing the solution to my prototype versions of jackets, wraps, scarves: “Make it longer, women like to cover their butts. Red, black and white are favorite color combinations. Can you put a closure on this? Make the sleeves wider. I like the lining in the sleeves.” Their feedback fills me with the exuberance of knowing that I am onto something. I always leave the shop with ego reinflated and filled with new inspiration.
Everyone working in the shop is knowledgeable about each artists’ work and can tell their customers what goes into the labor intensive handmade creation. They know what makes each work special and worthy of collecting. Because of their passion for each artist’s work, their customers return every year to see the new creations. The shop is a happy, contented place filled with smiles, good will and celebration.
One of the busiest times for Handwoven Originals is the Santa Fe Opera season, which begins July 1st. Lee & I have been busy creating new wraps for Santa Fe’s chilly summer evenings, which we will deliver to the shop this Thursday. If you are in Santa Fe, be sure to stop by this very special shop. If you can’t make it this summer, take a look at their beautiful website and online store and plan a visit on your next Santa Fe trip.
Til next time. Sandy
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