Almost exactly 8 years ago on a cold Saturday in March I rode shotgun with my new co-worker to Lexington, Kentucky. We were on our way to the Kentucky Crafted Market. The two-hour drive was filled with anticipation as we talked about the wonderful handcrafted wares we were about to go see.
I could just envision the buttery spalted maple bowls and the rich walnut cutting boards. My fingers were itching to touch silky handwoven scarves, and my mouth watered at the idea of freshly made fudge featuring local ingredients.
As we pulled in the parking lot, it took every bit of self-restraint walk patiently to the door. We paid our admission fees, got our wristlets and as I opened the door of the convention center, I could hardly believe my eyes. It was like the wonder of Christmas morning all over again.
It took us the entire day to make the full lap. I couldn’t help but visit with each artisan and appreciate her incredible work. I was overwhelmed with the quality and my arms grew tired as they carried more and more bags with every booth we visited.
By the end of the day, I had so many memories to cherish and so many new artisans to admire and respect. The experience made such an impression on me that I would come back to the same market every year for almost a decade. I would spend the year planning our trip, bringing more friends each time.
But in all my planning, one thing I never considered was being an artist myself.
The Kentucky Crafted program is known for its high standards for artistic excellence and their craftsmen are known for their exquisite quality. It’s part of the reason I loved shopping the Market every spring.
I wanted to be part of this prestigious program. But I was quite intimidated by the caliber of their craftsmen.
Did they consider soap as art? Would my skills and traditional methods meet their esteemed standards? Could having a purpose behind making soap be understood and appreciated?
I had good reason to be nervous… I had been rejected two years prior. But I set my mind to learning from my mistakes and I spent the following two years perfecting, learning, persevering, and growing.
Almost exactly three months ago, I completed my application. Hitting the send button was one of the most difficult things I have done. All the work, all the hope, and my secret dream of being part of this incredible program were poured out on the words of that application. I couldn’t bear the thought of rejection again.
When the letter came, and I saw the return address, I could hardly breathe. My hands shook and my fingers went cold. For a split second I debated if I should have my husband open the letter.
I finally mustered the courage to tear open the envelope, and I had to read the letter several times to realize I had been accepted. My brain just could not digest this incredible honor!
During the orientation meeting in Frankfort, I had to pinch myself to realize I wasn’t dreaming. The same wonder and excitement that came over me when I opened the door to my first Market has come over me again as I realize I have been invited to be an artist at the Market.
Now I will be making plans of a different kind, and I could not be more excited!