Nancy Malay creates some of the most beautiful art we have ever seen. And we’ve seen a lot of art.
Don’t just take our word for it; Nancy was selected by Early American Life magazine in their Directory of Traditional American Crafts Holiday issue for 2008. Those folks are extremely picky about whom they choose, and Nancy’s selection is a testament to the fine work she produces for her loyal customers.
It is our honor to present the brilliant mind behind the hands that create the adorable, heart-warming, impeccable pieces of holiday art that you are about to see.
If you are ever in a position of wondering what the perfect gift would be for a loved one, or if you simply want to decorate your home with a piece that is guaranteed to have the whole room talking, Nancy is for you.
1. Hi Nancy, thank you for granting us this interview. I cannot express how beautiful I think your art is!
When I came across your website, I was blown away by the craftsmanship. Please take a moment to introduce yourself and tell us about your website and lovely products.
I live in Faribault, MN, with my husband of almost 30 years. We have three grown sons and a daughter-in-law. I still haven’t adjusted to our “empty nest”!
I’m really proud of my website, as I created it myself with the help of my son. (I’ve decided I’ve learned a lot more from our children over the years than they’ve learned from me!)
I offer a wide variety of handcrafted items for every Holiday. Some are crafted in the Folk Art tradition, others more whimsical or primitive, but my favorites are the ones that look reminiscent of items from an earlier time.
I was really excited this year to be have been chosen by the prestigious Early American Life magazine as one of this Country’s top Artisans and listed in the 2008 Directory of Traditional American Crafts Holiday issue, in two different categories.
I love what I do, and I hope this shows in my work.
2. Easter is near, which means you’ve been busy “creating rabbits,” as you’ve put it.
You’ve earned recognition for your Christmas crafts, and your Easter crafts do very well.
Based on your experience, which holiday is people’s favorite in terms of how many orders you receive?
For many years, all I created was the Christmas related items (I was “The Christmas Lady”).
Since I’ve added pieces for every Season, I would have to say that my rabbits and Easter themed collection keep me the busiest.
3. Living in Minnesota, you must love the Spring and the gardening activities it provides. Since we’re just a few weeks away from Spring, what plans do you have for your garden this year (if any)?
I can’t wait for the planting season to get here! Last year my husband and I totally redid our front yard…we had a new brick walk put in, moved in some larger trees, and took down a fence. I’m really anxious to see how everything comes up after the long Winter.
I have a lot of perennials, but also add annuals for color. We still have some work to do on it to get it the way we want, but so far, we’re really happy with it. And, once we get it the way we want, I’m sure it won’t be long before we’re “rearranging” again!
4. In today’s age of video games and text messages, kids aren’t as creative as they used to be.
What was it about your childhood that you believe sparked you and your siblings to be so creative from such a young age?
I come from a large family – 6 girls and two boys. My father was a skilled cabinet maker and my mother was an excellent seamstress, who nurtured my love of sewing from a very early age.
I can honestly say that I don’t remember NOT creating things! I used to cut the Betsy McCall paper dolls out of the magazine, and make her new clothes. We created Valentines and Christmas ornaments.
I would say some of it was out of necessity, as we lived in a small town and things weren’t always readily available.
5. Amazingly, you’ve never had any formal art training. Since you’re obviously very good at teaching yourself art, have you ever considered teaching art to others?
I do get asked about teaching classes very often, and I have finally decided it’s something I should delve into! So, I will be offering some classes shortly.
6. Your crafts make the perfect holiday gifts! Have you ever given one of your artwork to another family or friend as a gift, and if so, how has the reaction been?
I used to give my artwork as gifts more often than I do now. My mom passed away a couple of years ago, and the last time I was home, my dad gave me all the dolls I had given to her over the years.
It made me so happy to know that she really treasured them.
I love to create pieces especially for family or friends, but time really is an issue these days.
7. You must find it difficult to find a balance between your crafts business, your full-time work (i.e., your day job), and a personal life. Given how much effort you put into your products, how are you able to manage your time so well?
Spending time with family and friends, gardening and reading are all activities I enjoy. Balancing all of this can sometimes be a challenge. Time seems to go way too fast, and I find myself wishing for more hours in the day! We have three sons and a daughter-in-law all in their 20’s, and they always come first.
I’ve found that, for some reason, I’m most creative in the early morning hours. I love to get up around 4:30-5:00 am, and create for a few hours before I go to my “real” job. It’s not unusual for me to be working late at night either – usually when a project is going well and I don’t want to put it down.
I started my blog last year, and this has been a great tool for keeping my customers, family and friends up to date on what I’m working on and what’s going on in my life.
8. You have a vast array of products that you make, but someone with your creativity must always be on the lookout for something new.
Are there any particular ideas you’ve been toying around with that you’d like to experiment with this year to shake things up?
I just added the Victorian cones this past Christmas, and I recently started creating ACEO/ATC cards, and these have been a lot of fun and quite popular.
I do have some ideas for some new Spring themed items.
I’m always experimenting with different mediums and styles-for instance, I have been using more vintage fabric and trims on my sculpted piece….and I’ve found some really neat old trims and buttons lately that are just crying out to be used!
9. Nancy, thank you so much for doing this interview with us. We’re honored to have you here on Decor Medley. For this last question, please tell us about your idea generation. For example, I often get my best ideas in the middle of the night or when I’m showering!
Do you specifically sit down to generate new ideas, or do you find that they come to you suddenly at weird hours of the day?
New ideas are constantly popping into my head! I scribble the thoughts down on paper, so I won’t forget them when I start my projects. There is nothing like a trip to an antique store or just looking through my collection of “stuff” to get my creative juices flowing. It’s funny how one little basket or a certain fabric will inspire a new piece of work.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my work with your readers!
Nancy was a pleasure to work with, and the photos included here are just a tiny sampling of what she has to offer. Do please head on over to NancyMalay.com and check out her extensive collection.
Somehow I can see myself placing an order with Nancy this Christmas, and we know it will be a big hit with whomever we give it to!
We can’t thank Nancy enough for taking time out of her very busy schedule to speak with us. It’s not every day you come across art like this, and we’re more than honored to spread the word. We hope you do the same. Thanks Nancy!