AT THE FAIR: A Girl’s First Real Necklace

Being a part of someone’s life, because of the work we make, is a powerful thing.

Today is Day 4 at my big retail show, The League of NH Craftsmen’s Annual Fair. It’s been exciting, exhausting, enervating, exhilarating, excellent and entertaining. Sort of New Hampshire’s own Big E.

Years ago, a mother and her young daughter came to my booth. The girl–around 9 or 10–fell in love with my horse jewelry, and begged her mom for a necklace.

“No way!” exclaimed her mom. “You always lose your jewelry. You lose everything!”

The girl pleaded her case, promising she would cherish the necklace. There was a little bargaining involved, I found a horse necklace that was a little less expensive, and both of them left with their Luann Udell horse.

Scene: My booth, one year later. A girl and her mother walk in the booth. The girl is wearing–my horse necklace!

We hug and laugh. Her mother tells me the story: “Every night, before she goes to bed, she takes off her necklace and places it in the gift box you gave her. And every morning, she puts it back on. It is the last thing she does before she sleeps, and the first thing she does after she wakens.”

I was so moved that she loved my work so much. I told this story to a friend. She said, “Do you realize, Luann, that YOUR jewelry is her first piece of ‘grown-up jewelry’? Your necklace took her to the next place in her life–you’ve been a part of her growing up.”

Now they come back every year. Sometimes the daughter buys a pair of earrings, sometimes her mother buys a necklace. Sometimes they pick something together, agreeing to share it between them.

It is beautiful to watch them.

They came this year. The girl is a young woman now. There is talk of college, maybe even a gap year program. As always, the love and warmth between them is obvious. She picks a pair of earrings, Mom picks a beautiful necklace–with a promise to share. They may be back for the girl to pick another ‘big’ piece for graduation. As they leave, I feel tears coming.

Yes, their purchases over the years have supported me as an artist. They are lovely people and I’m honored they love my work.

But even more, I am humbled at the idea that I am now a part of their family story. My work, from my hands, graces their lives. It encouraged a child to take her first steps to adulthood, and greater responsibilities. It’s been part of her life for almost a decade now, and will be with her on her first steps out into a bigger world.

I have been a witness to this. I’ve been invited to be a part of this. My art has been my ambassador, and I am astonished and grateful.

Today another young girl and her mother came to my booth for the first time. The girl begged her mother for a horse necklace. I shared this story with them. They laughed, the mother looking thoughtful. They looked and tried on a few pieces, then moved on to see the rest of the Fair.

I have a feeling they’ll be back.

As hard as it is to do this show, these moments, these precious moments, remind me of what the world asks of me. They remind me that my gift serves others, sometimes gentle, sometimes obscured, but always with purpose.

It is why I am here, today, at the Fair.

A little girl's first 'grown-up' jewelry!

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13 Comments

Filed under art, craft, creativity, inspiration, life lessons, LNHC Craftsmen's Fair

13 responses to “AT THE FAIR: A Girl’s First Real Necklace

  1. Great story, Luann, *snif* and SO true… you and other artists are so often that important in our lives… I wish I could get up there this year. It has been great reading & hearing about your work all year, with this online stuff, but it makes it more maddening not to get to the fair. I wish you bonny weather & lots of sales. oxo

  2. Rebecca

    Thanks for posting this. My husband makes doll furniture and we tell people all the time, it’s meant to be played with and then passed down… a generational gift. But this was such a great reminder and encouragement as we come into our busy season that is always hectic… I’m thankful for your thoughts and it made me want to stop (just for a minute ;-) and reflect on being a part of childhood memories. It truly is a gift. Thanks for sharing not only your gifts, but your heart with random readers.

  3. Lovely story. What most artists want – to interact and be a part of others lives.

  4. “…My art has been my ambassador” — love this! Could not agree more, that one’s art is a service. Thank you.

  5. Barbara

    What a beautiful, & well told , story. It moved me to tears. Thank you.

  6. Hi Luann

    I stopped by your booth yesterday (the morning that you posted this), to thank you for your inspiration. Later that day, I had a similar experience.

    I’m a woodturner and for the past several years have demonstrated under the Guild of NH Woodworkers tent at the Fair. As I was getting ready to begin turning, a woman walked up to me, and asked if my name was Donna. I replied ‘Yes’. She shared the following story:

    A few years ago, when the Harry Potter films were getting started, I was turning wizard wands at the the Fair, and giving a few away to any kids who stayed the duration of my demo. Her daughter (8 at the time) was a recipient, and she kept that wand, taking it with her to each movie. The mother and daughter recently saw the last movie in the theater, and at the end, stood up, and together waived their wands, to signal an end of an era that they shared.

    I’ve worked at the Fair under the Guild tent for a few years now, and have had the pleasure of seeing several returning patrons tell their stories about how they decided to try woodturning after seeing the demonstration, but none have impacted me as much as the mother/daughter wizard wand.

    Later that same day, a very young girl with her mother and father, watched me turn a small bowl from an oak log. When I finished it I presented the bowl to her, and signed the bottom with a personal note. I asked Lindsey to come back in 10 years to show me a bowl that she turned.

  7. You should indeed be proud of your work and its effect on their lives. That is the biggest reward an artist can receive.
    Made your week worth all the work.
    Steve

  8. Tam

    Thanks for sharing LuAnn! How wonderful to make something so special that your customers come back again & again….you are part of the experience. They obviously love you & your work & the privilege of the experience. It’s stories like this that keep me reading & working on my art too! Tam

  9. Sandra

    Thank you for this story. I have a granddaughter that will be turning 10 in a few days. I have been trying to figure out what I can make for her…..something that won’t end up lost, torn up and or forgotten. Since I have made her several things over the years, this has been the trend. So much so, that I was considering not doing it this year. It hurts my heart, to think I put soooo much tlc into each piece and then it has been treated that way. Well, as a grandmother and a new found love for making jewelry, etc, I have wanted to make that special piece that would be cherished and handed down. Not only for my daughter, but for my granddaughter also. This story has given me new hope and motivation………thank you.

    • Sandra, something that’s worked for me is to involve the child in the design process. It helps them understand what goes into making a quality piece of jewelry, AND you’ll be guided as to her aesthetic.

      It may not be what YOU love, but if SHE loves it, that’s a bridge you can build on for years to come.

      • Sandra

        Yes I have done that before but it has been quite sometime ago. She is older now, so perhaps it is time to try that again. Thank you for replying, I do appreciate it.

  10. Pingback: Guest Post: Luanne Udell « Collidescopes Blog

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