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  • Writer's pictureVictoria

11 years ... whaaaat?

Updated: Sep 2, 2018

From the St. John Valley to the Connecticut River Valley

Chalkboard Mats made recently for the 2018 fall season of local craft fairs.

Hello from beautiful, historic downtown Claremont, New Hampshire!

Victoria's Artisan Gifts celebrated 11 years in April 2018. It's been a lot of fun, and heading into the fall we plan to be at even more local shows and festivals with Chalkboard Mats and our super-cool, retro 80s- feel Ribbon Barrettes.

But how did we get here?

Funny story, involving my sister Michelle, a handsome photographer, and a picture of a goat. But more on that later. :)

The short version is that 11 years ago, while living in the picturesque St. John Valley between northern Maine and western New Brunswick, Canada (it's gorgeous there! Stop what you're doing and take a road trip!) I made a few Chalkboard Mats .... some for my own three kids, and a few to put on a craft fair table.

I'd seen a smaller, flatter, rounder version of a sort of chalkboard placemat, and that was OK, but I was thinking of a different design. I wanted it bigger ... wanted a pocket with chalk already inside, more fun fabrics, different sizes, how about making it rollable with a tie that can later be used to hang it up? etc.... so I designed my own version and off we went. I made about a dozen that first day.

At the craft fair, the Chalkboard Mats were sold out in the first 30 minutes. Very nice folks were asking me very politely where the rest of them were. Do you have some under the table? In a tote? Do you have any more back there? (They were super nice about it.) OOPS! I'd had no idea. So ..... the next time I had a craft show, I made 40. And the next show, 60. And from then on, they've been a fun part of every fair and festival I go to.

Kids love them. But also, parents, grandparents, educators, activity personnel for senior and assisted living centers .... I even had one gentleman who keeps his in the shed to list his gardening seeds and supplies!

I opened the Etsy shop in 2007, mostly as a place to offer the custom-color Ribbon Barrettes I also make, and with a few Chalkboard Mats listed at any given time. During those years I worked full time, raised the children, and managed the shop in my "spare" time (haha, good one!), and attending local juried craft fairs and festivals. It's been busy and so much fun, and still is.

In 2016, with my kids all grown and launched into their new lives, I relocated from the St. John Valley to the Connecticut River Valley, here in Claremont, NH, with my partner (now husband), photographer Bruce Denis. It is just as beautiful here, and surrounded by history of former mills and the same agricultural setting and farms I loved in northern Maine and New Brunswick. We live here with one grown son, one goofy dog, Shiny, and one princess cat, Zelda.

Now, I am present at about a dozen shows a year (see the Home page for a list) and have Chalkboard Mats in two small country stores where I know the local owners. My fabrics and materials are sourced all within 100 miles of my home studio (often much, much closer - sometimes down the road!) and everything in the Etsy shop is still handmade, one at a time, by me.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

~ Victoria

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