Featured Artisan: Wild Dahlia

September 06, 2019

#Artisans

There's a delightful little shoppe tucked in the Florentine circle near the English Garden. Just behind the domed gazebo where the Nightingale and Fool Hearty perform, you'll find a spinning wheel, where Sarah Paul spins while chatting with patrons who are sitting on her benches, mesmerized by her hands.

We asked her a few questions about her experience and her process:

TRF: How many years have you been in business?

SP: I've done shows since about 2009. 2019 will be my fifth year at TRF.

TRF: What type of product do you create and sell?

SP: My husband Darrell works in wood-crafting, carving wood runes and products from gathered and exotic woods. I specialize in fiber: handspun yarn, felted 2d and 3d sculptures from wool and natural fibers. I demonstrate spinning and felting, so that draws in a variety of audiences. School Days attract more of the younger audience since I have things that they can observe or even try out. I tend to draw in those who work with yarn or fiber already.

TRF: What made you decide to participate in the Texas Renaissance Festival?

SP: My sister wanted to try her hand at a shop but she did not want to do it alone. So I sat down and made a business plan, sketched ideas, and thought things over. In 2017, TRF had announced that there would be a new area and a call for shops/vendors. It seemed like an impossible idea, until we got good news.

TRF: What is your best-selling item at the festival?

SP: My first year (a very wet year) I sold more items to keep warm- socks, hats, etc. But since then, I've sold a lot more ornaments and felted sculptures and hand-dyed blanks. The handspun is at a steady pace so far. My husband sells lots of rune pendants.

kid at yarn

TRF: Is there a unique or one-of-a kind item that you sell? What makes it special?

SP: Everything there is one of a kind! I don't like making multiples of things, and, each item has its own personality. A lot of the wool and fiber I process myself- there's a lot of work in just that. First, washing, then rewashing, to get out all the debris (and poop). Then dry. Then comes the dyeing. Then there is carding or combing, then spinning or felting. The Woodworking Projects and Runes are all hand carved from selected woods of personal meaning and signifigance.

TRF: What is your favorite part of being a merchant at the Texas Renaissance Festival?

SP: I like when people come over and observe, ask questions, or chat when I am demonstrating. If I can help just one person get into fiber arts or feel like they got good advice or customer service, then I feel better.

TRF: Can you describe a day in the life of your business?

wee mouse

SP: Oh, it's always so different. Am I spinning? Prepping fiber? Dyeing anything? Or am I felting, photographing and listing anything? Do I need to post on social media? What housework needs to be done on top of feeding and clothing a three-year old (and care for critters)? Am I working on contracts or customs, or am I crocheting anything?

This writer would like to comment that Sarah's little felted animals are absolutely adorable. We encourage you to visit the shoppe. Sit a spell and listen to the beautiful voice of Nightingale while Sarah and Darrell share their work with you. It will be a lovely respite.