Name: Heidi Kelly
Hometown: Plymouth Meeting, PA
Current town: Kutztown, PA
Bio: I am the artist and crafter behind HUGs, Heidi’s Unique Gifts. I don’t limit myself to just one medium, but like to explore any that may strike my fancy. I started in photography during college where I took a basic photography class. After a few years I decided to expand my photography knowledge and went to Antonelli Institute. Since Antonelli I have continued to learn new mediums and taken numerous classes to further my knowledge in arts and crafts. Sewing has become my passion and recently I have been creating unique handbags. My passion is fueled by the happiness and satisfaction I experience when I create something from nothing. When I am not creating I enjoy spending time with my husband, furry friends, and a good book.
What are you currently working on? Currently I am working on t-shirt blankets. I am making one for myself and one for a friend. I’m also collecting Doberman t-shirts to make one to donate to the Delaware Valley Doberman Pinscher Assistance.
What’s your background / how did you first get involved with art/ making/ sewing?
Growing up, my mother was always making our clothes; she even made her wedding dress and her bridesmaids dresses. So I was always around a sewing machine but it still made me nervous; I could never get the bobbin right. So when I finally bought my own sewing machine it sat in a box for months until one day about 5 years ago I finally decided to conquer my fear. I practiced on some one else’s patterns and learned some things and then I just started my own designs.
As for my photography, I took a class in college and then after a few years I decided to go to school for it! I love taking photos, especially store windows and shoes. Currently I use my camera phone a lot since it is always with me and I have some lenses that I play with.
As for all the other crafts I work with, it’s basically, if I see something or think of something, I try to make it.
What’s been happening in your life/ what’s next for you? At the beginning of 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I do not have a history of it and I am under the age of 40 so it was a very big surprise. This past year has been a lot of ups and downs but my craft room was my sanctuary and my sewing machine was my best friend. I do not usually like opening up to people so being able to channel my issues into design and creation has been a wonderful thing. I finally launched my Etsy shop, which was a major step in the middle of all my surgeries. I was able to create enough of an inventory, I was even able to attend two craft fairs at the end of the year. This year I plan to concentrate on designing new bags and get involved with more craft fairs.
Describe your current state of mind / what’s inspiring you? Life in general inspires me. It has been a hard year and now it is time to move on and if I push myself a little bit more, I will be able to create some fantastic new creations.
Biggest challenge when it comes to making/ sewing. My biggest challenge has been learning enough to do what I do. I have self taught myself everything I know about designing bags and each little new idea I learn helps to make the next bag to be better.
Are you involved with any organizations/ is there a group you feel affinity with/ do you collaborate with other artists/ makers? I donate 5% of my sales of any item with hearts on or in them to Young Survival Coalition, a charity for younger women who get breast cancer. I also am currently collecting Doberman T-shits for a blanket I am going to make and then donate to help the Delaware Valley Doberman Pinscher Assistance. My husband and I have helped them with transporting dogs and also fostering 3 dogs so far. We are looking forward to fostering more now that my health issues have been resolved.
What were you like as a kid? As a kid I was quite shy and really kept to myself. I was always trying creative things but had never really found anything I liked. I really enjoyed reading and I always thought I would be an author. I still have fantasies of creating a photography/essay book.
What are you listening to these days? My favorite band is Blue October and favorite artist is Lana del Ray. Other than that is could be anything from broadway to electronica.
Favorite artists/makers and why? Fashion designer Christian Lacroix because I love fashion and I love crazy colors! He was one of the premier designers when I was in high school and he designed a wedding dress with a bodice of black velvet. That dress was probably the first one I ever saw and it has always stayed with me.
What was the last exhibit you attended? Salvador Dali at the Philadelphia Art museum
What was the first piece of artwork you bought/ do you buy a lot of artwork? The first piece of artwork I ever bought is a print of a scene from Snow White, my favorite fairy tale. I do buy art, my favorite is to go to art or craft shows and find pieces that speak to me. It’s much more personal and you usually get to meet the artist.
What’s your idea of happiness? Happiness is being able to enjoy life, my animals and my family. Everyday without a health issue is a happy day!
What is your ideal job? My ideal job would be a successful designer.
What are you reading? Currently I’m reading a lot of historical fiction.
Favorite authors, fiction: Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, Margaret George, Joe Meno and many others.