Shivers and Humble Hearts

Every now and then in life, I get a shiver.

It usually starts in my chest, near my heart, and spreads down through my arms and into my fingers.  I get a sense, all of a sudden, that something big is about to happen, or that I’m going exactly where I need to go, or that I’m doing exactly what I need to do.  Sometimes, I get a sense of all three at once.

I got the thrice-fold shiver today.  I supply polymer clay toppers for some of the spindles made by Ken Ledbetter of KCL Woods.  The story of how we originally partnered up in this is a whole series of shivers that I won’t get into right now, but it’s really cool.  It involves giving more than I felt I could at a difficult time in my life, but doing it anyway because I felt so strongly that I needed to, and then being rewarded the very next day with someone like Ken noticing my stuff and wanting little ol’ ME to make stuff for him.

ImageBut, basically, last week I called him to let him know I was doing some new stuff and asked if he wanted to see it.  He said to ship him six of the new style toppers, so I did.  Today, he called me up and we got to talking and he said that he likes them, but they look really old fashioned and he’s never done anything like that before in his spindles, but he’ll give it a go.

I mentioned that the toppers are made with pieces that I usually turn into my buttons, and that in a few years, I hope to have done enough business and gotten enough money and inventory together to hit STITCHES West.  (See?  As previously mentioned… ambitions!)  He said I might not want to do that because he knew two button people who did STITCHES and didn’t do well at all.  I immediately responded, “But no one is making buttons the way I make them.”  I hope it didn’t sound too cocky.  I was totally not being a know-it-all and disagreeing, either.  I just feel so strongly about this path I’m on.  To me, it’s so real that I’m already a major success that any idea to the contrary just doesn’t make sense in my world.  I’ve had a lot of shivers leading me to this place in my life, and that’s all it was.  He said he wasn’t trying to discourage me, and I know he wasn’t.  I never would have taken it that way.  He went on to explain a lot of what is involved in doing a show at STITCHES.  I couldn’t believe that I got a chance to get truly helpful advice from a STITCHES vendor, and I got so much from him that I’m going to implement into my plan for when I actually go.  He’s right.  I probably wouldn’t have done well with just buttons, from what he was explaining to me, so I’ve got to make some other plans, too.  It’s not because the buttons wouldn’t be good, but because the cost of overhead is so high, I really need to diversify my inventory.  Totally.  On it!

I so appreciate the experience of other artists pouring into me, and I know that virtually all of what looks good about my work, even if I came up with it myself–it was built on the knowledge I’ve received from so many other artists coming alongside me and helping me along.

I think, more than creativity, more than something to express, more than skill, more than any of that stuff everyone assumes an artist needs–I say the most important thing for an artist to have is a humble heart.  I love listening to other artists.  Even if they share things I already know, I just love to listen to them, because I learned long ago that one of the easiest ways to give value to a person is to listen to them.  What started as my attempt to love people has become my biggest secret for success, no longer a secret, I guess.  It just goes to show that you always get more than you give.  I can’t even say just how many of the crown jewels of my knowledge were gleaned from listening to another person talk about something I thought I already knew.  If I had cut the person off and said, “Oh, yeah, I already read that,” or jumped in and suddenly felt like I had to share what I know so that they’d know that I knew it before they told me (What IS that impulse anyway, and why does it matter at all?), I would have missed out on SOOOOO much.

A person won’t go into as much detail, for instance, if they think you already know what they’re talking about.  They gloss over things that seem obvious to them, and I think there lies the greatest treasure of knowledge in any artist–the things that are so obvious to them that they don’t feel they even need to share it, so they usually don’t.  They fail to realize (or they never get a chance to realize because everyone is too busy proving what they know to everyone) that what they knew intrinsically is often the most amazing thing they know.  That’s the stuff you get when you listen, though.  We all see things differently and beautifully and we can all learn so much from each other!

But back to the Shiver.  Because today, it was a Shiver (capital S).  He’s going to send a couple of the finished spindles with the new toppers off to some well known spinner contact he has in Vermont.  I forgot her name, but even if I remembered, I probably wouldn’t put it here.  Ken says that he’s going to see what she thinks of the spindles and get some ideas from her.  She is apparently the one who got him to start making modular spindles (You can unscrew the shaft and keep spinning on the same spindle when your attention wanes and you want to do a new fiber. That’s how I’D use it, anyway, but some people spin a certain amount onto each shaft and then ply their yarn from the bits, but they’re very responsible and don’t have the attention span of a four year old boy.) and has given him other helpful advice.  (See?  Artists listening to other artists!  It’s wonderful!)

But when he said that–that he was sending the spindles to her, that’s when I got the Shiver.  Three fold: big about to happen, going where I need to go, doing exactly right.  I am feeling good about this right now.

It’s amazing how everything is falling into place.  It’s a brush of destiny.  I’ve been doing this for so long, but I’m feeling it.  It’s in the air, like the smell of rain.  Something is about to change.  All of the work is about to pay off.  It’s a good feeling.

Oh, and here’s my favorite…  I can’t even believe how beautiful it turned out:



About Kathy Canuel

I'm a happy artist loving on my husband and boys, making things (everything in every way!), and doing my best to live life to the fullest every day. Love, art, life.


  1. Awesome, Kathy!! Your work is beautiful! Much success! God is Good!! 🙂

  2. Frances

    Your blog is a pleasure to read. You are an amazing mother and artist. I admire your truthful voice. I also think your clay work is stunning. Thank you for taking the time to share. I notice that you are an amazing knitter (I saw the shawl of my dreams here with beads) have you considered making and selling a few patterns? I’ve seen others do well with that. Anyway I wish you the best.

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