Delirious Doodads: Government shutdown leads local crafter to build part-time business
SHEPHERDSTOWN — On Dec. 22, the federal government shut down temporarily, leaving hundreds of thousands of its employees without jobs or income for the foreseeable future. As Shepherdstown resident Diane Knudson, who is employed as an Instructional Systems manager with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, realized she needed something to do with her time. And so, she decided to indulge her creative side, by making wreaths out of colorful household objects, fabric, feathers, battery-powered lights, synthetic flowers and a grapevine wreath base.
“I started doing this during the furlough,” Knudson said about her business, Delirious Doodads. “I enjoyed it, and opened an Etsy shop. Then, in April was my first time selling at the First Weekend Handmade Market.”
Knudson’s bachelor’s degree is in graphic design, and that creative bent led her to crafting cards and, now, wreaths.
“I worked on my doctorate in instructional technology and distance education for nine years, which left me no time for creativity. But I had made small wreaths during my Christmas breaks, as gifts for friends and family,” Knudson said, mentioning the 35-day shutdown gave her time to make 28 wreaths, before she had to return to work.
Today, Knudson works her full-time job during the weekdays, then comes home to create wreaths in her spare time.
“I like making something that’s fun and that’s tactile, and that makes people smile,” Knudson said. “I don’t start out with a preconceived notion of what I want to do. I collect things and then make what comes to mind. I just think of things that people like: camping, hiking, grilling and birding. Sometimes it takes me in a different direction than I expect.
“I don’t really have a specific target audience — I make what makes me happy, and hope it makes other people happy. It’s fun to see people’s reactions,” Knudson said, mentioning the wreaths are mostly made for indoor display, although she makes outdoor wreaths as well. “People tend to buy them more for gifts. Sometimes people will also buy wreaths for their kids.
Knudson has made wreaths for a number of holidays, including Easter, Mardi Gras, the Fourth of July and Father’s Day, which was a series of three “grill master” themed wreaths.
“As time’s gone by, I’ve challenged the boundaries of what makes a wreath a wreath,” Knudson said. “None of them are exactly the same, but I can recreate wreaths if people want them. I can do special requests and take objects from people and ‘make them personal’ by putting them on the wreaths.”
While Knudson’s full-time job is technical, she believes its connection to nature helps her come to her wreath-making with a unique mindset.
“I like to have a ‘Rachel Carson’ sense of wonder, in terms of, you should have a sense of wonder and reverence for the outdoors,” Knudson said, referring to the American marine biologist and conservationist. “I think that’s what I bring from work, to this, and back to work.”
To learn more, visit www.etsy.com/shop/ or call 304-279-0150.