Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Cathy Lane and I, with my husband, started Best Loved Child. I make artistically painted children’s décor and play sets. My parents were ranchers in the wilds of the mountain west but I gave up that life when in college I fell in love and married a California beach boy. I have a store of knowledge about cattle, farming and wildlife that is only useful now when buying meat at Sam’s or drawing and painting my creations. I’m a wife to one, mom to six and unbelievably 8 amazing kids call me Grandma. 18 years ago my husband’s company relocated all their operations to Little Rock and we relocated from Southern California to beautiful Arkansas where people still ask me where my accent came from. I’ve been lucky enough to be doing the Etsy shop for the last 2 years. When I lost my job, (I used to fire people for a living, Then I got fired) I decided to go for it and have been fortunate to have a supportive husband.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I’m an obsessive reader. I’m very involved with my Church. In my stay-at-home-mom years I had a custom sewing business and I still love to sew, especially for my girly granddaughters. Hubby and I moved (from 20 miles away) and completely renovated a rental house (I painted or restored, every single surface, inside and out except the roof, myself) and we are planning to do another one.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
“I Could Make That”. I come from a family of terminal DIY souls. Mostly, making things yourself was a way to afford things we felt we would never have the money to buy. It can get out of control. After my daughter’s wedding my sis said we all should be forced to stand in a corner and repeat “catering, catering, catering” until we believe we are capable of hiring one.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I love seeing other artist’s work. I am very influenced by illustrated children’s books, especially those from 1900 through the 1940s.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade is a unique connection. The best way I know to express my love is to make you something. My Wrangler jeans were sewn by hand by an unknown someone, but they are not “handmade”. Unlike those jeans, the quilt my great grandmother made and the mug I bought from a potter in Washington state, connect me to their makers each time I view or use them. Though neither maker knew me, these creations are expressions of love the maker had for someone and/or the love they had for their craft. The handmade movement also represents the ultimate “job creators”. When we make and sell, we are crafting our own jobs as well as our art/craft and that needs to be acknowledged, supported and celebrated.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My parents. They never imagined me to be an artist, but taught me, by their example, that I could learn how to do anything.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I always considered myself a maker. Everyone I knew was a maker. They made quilts, built houses, planted gardens, sewed clothing, created jam and welded parts for the clothes dryer. When I was seven, I sewed a yellow cotton dress with set in sheer sleeves, a fitted bodice and full skirt for my Barbie. It was hand sewn, by me, from a pattern of my own invention. I was proud, but in my family this was not considered remarkable. Becoming an artist took much longer, mostly I think, because I was never exposed to any art education or any artists. (Don’t get me started on the lack of art education in schools.) I kept trying to learn to paint and draw (mostly self-taught) and was well into my 40’s before I started to dare think “I’m an artist”. The Etsy shop has helped me validate that label. I loved hearing my son tell someone recently “my Mom’s an artist”.
How would you describe your creative process?
It’s fueled by doing. I have too many ideas running through my head. I keep journal/notebook/sketchbooks full of drawings and images I love. When I settle on an idea I research photos and images and sometimes take my own photos. My ideas are somewhat vague until I’m doing the actual work of sketching, cutting and painting. As I make an item, ideas come to me of how it can be improved that I can’t believe I didn’t think of in the planning stage.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Maud and Miska Petersham. They were an award winning husband wife team illustrating children’s books from 1917 through the 1960’s. I’m so in love with all their drawings and amazed at how they lived and worked together for so long.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have so many! Top of the list may be my dining table and buffet with hand carving that was made by a great uncle of mine for another great uncle and aunt. I can’t believe I scored it over my siblings. I also got teary eyed hanging some of my kid’s grade school handmade Christmas tree ornaments this last Christmas.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
I force myself to finish whatever I have on the work table. That usually clears the problem. I get “stuck” trying to solve design problems and the best way, for me, is to just slog through it. Perspiration really helps inspiration.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I’ll be approaching a birthday that many readers would consider Really Old. I very much hope to be: healthy, in a smaller house, still creating and selling, better known for my work, traveling more, and living closer to the short people in my life.