Today we talked to Donna Mae Baukat, an incredible fiber freeform crochet master, about her passion for free form crochet. She also gave an insight into her past and current life, along with her business philosophy and where to find her crafts. Donna Mae is an amazing artist and crafter and sent a very touching story, but with limitations on how long the article would have to be a lot needed to be cut. If you would like to learn more about her after reading this article you can find her details for her own website later on in the article and can contact her from there.
So without further postponement learn more about Donna
Tell me about yourself and what you currently do:
I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and raised there until I was 13 years of age. At that time, my family and I moved to Southern California. that move was a difficult time for me to adjust, the friends I made at girls Catholic school left behind and the great teachers. I was raised to care for my younger siblings. Along with this I felt the weight of responsibility as early as age nine, my parents demanded me day in and day out to do the chores while they were at work or out with friends.
By age 21 I had three of my own children to care for. My children led me to one of my first crafting projects, a sweater for my little boy. Kids being kids led me to the point of frustration every time I sat down to try and work on his sweater, and the starts and stops eventually made me put it aside for another time.
Only 10 years later I stumbled upon it again during a move from one house to another. This unfinished sweater brought back waves of nostalgia from when I was little with my mother and aunt trying to teach me how to crochet, but all I wanted to do was go out and play volleyball.
Later on in time, around 1989, I developed Fibromyalgia which felt excruciating and unbearable, It led to decades of problems socializing with friends and families, along with feeling sick almost all the time it made me a poor host when having company over.
My husband Steve takes amazing care of me and makes sure I feel loved and useful no matter how little of a task occurs. He also checks on me often if he has to be out and about to make sure I do not have to do much walking by bringing me meals and making sure I have everything I need. Being so self-driven and self-sufficient from an early age, it took a lot of time for me to accept his help in things like cooking, shopping and cleaning.
Around August 30th, 2013 I had realized I might as well do something with my hands in case it will be limited movement.
How did you first get started with FreeForm crochet?
I started with knitting by taking classes through Annie’s Catalog, but with painful arthritis my hands would not take to manipulating two needles along with the yarn. I sign for Annie’s crochet classes next.
I started simple scarves to give away to my daughters and friends of mine. I was ordering crafting supplies three times a week and a bunch of easy patterns for clothes that I liked. Then when my house started to become cluttered, my youngest daughter suggested I try my hand at selling them on Etsy since people would always tell me “you could sell ice to Eskimos” back when I was a salesperson. Within three or four months of opening Just4CrochetDmB, I made my first sale for crocodile stitch hoods.
That following October though, my husband lost his job and we had to retire, which also meant moving. In just three short weeks, we had moved from Orange County, California, to Durango, Colorado, which is a small place, but this was where my crochet career truly began. Three months after the move I was introduced to a woman who held crochet classes at her home every Saturday. I attended my first class on March 25th, which was the first time I had ever heard of “free form” crochet. I was also caught off guard when I had heard that this woman’s two students of two years were still working on their first project. After feeling disappointed by hearing they were still working on one project for two years, I did not expect to be able to create “free form” anything! After two weeks I had finally completed not one, but two colorful pieces; I was proud of myself for what I had created and thought it was cute but not what I wanted. After buying some more crochet supplies, I had begun a garment as my next project, a vest. I thought this would be easy even though I was no seamstress and after two weeks of asking my instructor for tips on finding the stitches easy, I was on my way to completing the vest. Being a perfectionist I saw the flaws I made it and I was not very happy with my work, so I put it aside for a later date and started on another project
By mid-July, my hard work was paying off, and I had six vests completed, this act left my instructor and classmates astounded because of the difficulties they were having just to complete one project. With support from my loved ones, I had the idea that I should set up a vendor’s booth in Pagosa Springs, which is a rural community an hour away. It was a huge success and heartwarming to see people rounding the corner and wanted to see my wares. If you remember the story about the vest I constructed but felt poorly about it, well I had finished it and sold it for $125!
On-top of having my own vendor booth and an Etsy shop, I have my own separate website for my Baukat Couture called DmBFashion.com, which was created and being managed by my oldest daughter. Besides that, my business philosphy has been to create good quality in workmanship and responsiveness to customer needs. I strive to create exclusive outerwear for a customer in their unique specifications. I value my reputation of telling the truth, which comes from the people I conducted business with while I was a sales marketing engineer. It is why I guarantee customers good workmanship and quick responses along with unique designs to satisfy my customer.
What is your favorite piece of work, and why?
Earth No. 14 It’s long, elegant, and opulent. In fact, the front may be embellished or enlarged for
The person who purchases it. I’m 4’10”±½ and wore it (length to my ankles) to a business meeting and received compliments.
Midnight Dreams No. 17 is our masterpiece for its colors and scrumbles.
Tell me what you are currently working on:
Currently, I’m crocheting a big wrap in my favorite colors of creams and Smooth Fur from Ice Yarn in Turkey. It is a beaded project that I started on July 17th, 2015. I’m trying to organize myself with beads and it’s been fun.
What are your hopes or plans for the future of your business:
I hope to reach a small niche of buyers who want a One-Of-a-Kind outerwear for it’s artistry and flair. My plan for the near future is to develop a clientele of repeat customers. With a very small and fixed income, I plan on having a brand created by a graphics designer that I’ve hired. I’ve established a relationship with an attorney familiar with copyrights and trademarks. Baukat Couture brand will be trademarked in some way, I hope in the not to far future.
Without adequate funding, I’m relying on my own photography. I hope my great granddaughter will carry on my handmade fashion business. The work is more important to continue than the name. I am already teaching her about crochet, trusting that she’ll appreciate fashion designs using crochet techniques.
Do you have any other skills or hobbies that link into your craft?
I watch YouTube tutorials in crochet stitches, including Tatting and Irish Crochet. Sheruknitting tutorials for crochet is my favorite resource. I’m learning to Tat with book and DVD of “Learn to Tat”, by Janet Baker. Started recently and on Class 2, Tat picotin circle, which is in pause.
My first class in Irish Crochet begins on Sunday the 19th with Jhouse Tushnika (Julia Tushnika modern irish crochet designer).
Could you give aspiring artists reading this any words of wisdom or advice:
Whether it’s to make something for one’s self, or for someone else, people should pursue life with a zest. Art is a fading subject to teach in public schools. Calm music especially is gratifying to listen while creating a piece of art. The biggest mistake crafters make is to follow rules. I’m not an expert crocheter, but I’ve learned from the experts that our imagination and skills can move beyond our known abilities. Being far from the busy world of business in the city and urban areas has awakened a capacity of creativity that I’ve never dreamed of owning. I could have been famous, but the joy of the art is what makes me creative. A joyful spirit reflects in the work of most refined artists, both unknown and well-known. Find the craft that you admire.
Where do you draw your inspiration? (Favorite blog, books, art gallery, favorite seasons, etc.)
Many online crochet resources have given me inspiration. Audrey Hepburn is my favorite model, and her style is excellent. I prefer the Impressionist Artists, and favor Monet for the softness of his brush effects, and the subtle reality of life seen in his paintings. Perhaps it is why I am attracted to muted colors and tones. Harsh colors are distracting. I’m confused by the wildness of Picasso, as an example. Also from these artists as well: Claude Monet, Michelangelo, Paul, Edgar Degas, Cezanne, Raphael, and Georges Braque,Lily Chin, Myra Wood, Jenny King and Marty Miller, Anamaria Guina, Donata Crochet, Bonita, Donna Walker, Julia Tushnicka, Larisa Chilton.
Tell me something about yourself that other people don’t know:
I’m a homebody since retiring and being on permanent disability (24 years). In high school, I received musician of the year in performing with the school orchestra. I was one of five cheerleaders in Senior Year at Western High when we placed 3rd in Cheerleading Competition in Summer 1961. I led our volleyball team to Regional Champions in our division. In the third grade I went on children television to do a commercial for our school’s bazaar–I was told many years later that it was the most successful, as well as sold out, event in the history of the school (it closed in the late 90s).
Where can we find you?
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