Heidi Lindy Interview
This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Heidi Lindy. She is going to talk about her background and the nonprofit organization that she started Creative Hands. Today’s date is Feb.16, 2022. This is file #52, cycle 4.
JM: What is your name?
HL: My name is Heidi Lindy
JM: What is your birthdate?
JM: Where were you born?
HL: New Jersey
JM: How did you come to the area?
HL: Well it is sort of a long rambling story. I was aware of this area because my husband at the time raced at Lime Rock Park. We had friends who lived in Salisbury. I came back after living in the Virgin Islands for about 3 years. I thought why not head back to Salisbury and Lakeville area. I did. I was able to do this because my business was free- lance art.
JM: I think you said you got an apartment in the Lakeville Manor in about 1987? (Next to the Masonic Lodge on Sharon Road Ed.)
HL: Yes, I did.
JM: Then who followed you?
HL: I loved the Manor. It just had all kinds of wonderful old nooks, marvelous old moldings and funky old fireplaces. Shortly thereafter my sister (Sarah Zarbock) came to join me. She rented an apartment in the same building. We just had the best time.
JM: And then your daughter?
HL: Yes then my daughter Crissy and her husband and their 2 young children moved here as well.
JM: And then?
HL: And then my son Davon moved here and my parents, who were living in Westport at the time, were feeling a little lonely. So with one thing and another they moved here as well.
JM: Wonderful so you had the whole family.
JM: You were a professional wildlife artist?
JM: How long did you, I know you are still doing it. When did you start?
HL: I started when I was in my 20s and early 30s. I started out as an illustrator for a number of companies including Hallmark. I also designed figurines for some of the collectible companies which were popular then. I also did fine art and participated in gallery shows.
JM: Wonderful! Tell me about how Creative Hands began.
HL: It began as an idea with Linda McLaren (Whippoorwill Farm prior to the Cockerlines Ed.) She and I are both makers: she is a very skilled weaver. I am a weaver, knitter and spinner. We realized that this small community had a wealth of very creative people. It came to us that they needed a home. They needed an outlet. We created a non-profit business called Creative Hands that was overseen by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (See Maeve O’Dea’s and Alice Yoakum’s interviews Ed.)
JM: When did you start? You had said about the 1990s.
HL: That would be about right.
JM: You vision was for all these wonderful artists to have a home for what they created.
JM: Where was your first location?
HL: Our first location was right in back of the Salisbury Bank & Trust Co. at 18 Main St. in Salisbury. We had easy access to the court yard between the bank building and La Bonne’s Market. All people who work with their hands rally work for very little per hour. They rarely get back as much as they could when they sell their items.
JM: When they sold something, you took a percentage?
HL: Yes we did. We took 20%.
JM: That is small
HL: Unheard of
JM: Yeah, really small.
HL: Neither Linda nor I took a salary. We sold our goods at Creative Hands. That was pretty much the extent of our encounter.
JM: It is such a joy to create something lovely and have somebody else appreciate it.
HL: Yes People do.
JM; Oh they do, particularly in this area.
HL: Yes we had people who were bringing in really unique pieces. Diane Shapira did pottery which was wonderful. Carol Hart’s basketry is extraordinary. We had jewelers; we had woodworkers, just the whole gamut.
JM: How many members roughly did you have?
HL: We had close to 100.
JM: They came from all over. You did not have a restriction of the northwest corner.
HL: No not at all. We didn’t have a big budget for advertising, of course, but word of mouth works well. People came from all over. The variety of pieces we had was extraordinary.
JM: I am sure it was. Now I wish I had known about it.
HL: I do too because you are so creative yourself.
JM: Let’s say I wanted to become a member. How would I go about it?
HL: What you would do is bring in a sample of your work. We would assess it. We did have a standard.
JM: I am sure.
HL: If the person’s work didn’t really meet that standard, we would graciously and gently guide them elsewhere because there were other outlets for their work.
JM: I would imagine that the percentage of people you guides elsewhere would have been rather small.
JM: This area has a very high standard whether it is education, art, or music or whatever.
HL: Yes indeed.
JM: Now you had some support staff.
HL: Yes we did. Kaki Schaffer (see her interview) worked with us. She was just wonderful. Dona Chilcoat Olinger, She was great. She did most of our bookkeeping.
JM: Was Kaki a general gopher or did she do something special?
HL: She did everything with a smile on her face all the time.
JM: Then you moved to another location didn’t you? You moved to Salisbury Square. (15 Academy St.) The red building further back from La Bonne’s market
HL: We did because the back reclaimed their space. It was unfortunate for us because had been paying a very low rent at the bank. A big part of our mission was education so we had had access to the wonderful space in the courtyard. We gave outdoor classes to children and adults. Having to move was a blow. Not only did our rent increase but there were a number of factors as well: one being that the owner of the building and a few others felt that they wanted to change the focus of Creative Hands and turn it into a fine art gallery rather than a craft venue. It did not work out.
JM: About how long did Creative Hands as you envisioned it last?
HL: It lasted about 10 years.
JM: I know I asked you before when I interviewed Karin Gerstel (see her interview) she is in a creative group, but it is entirely different? It did not evolve from yours, did it?
HL: Well in a way it did. In fact it did because when Creative Hands closed, we had all these wonderful crafts people kind of looking around and thinking what can we do? Karin was instrumental with some other people in putting together the Salisbury Artisans Group. Again it just evolved.
JM: Before we close, is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t talked about with Creative Hands?
HL: It was just the most fulfilling experience for me on so many levels. I met the most wonderful people. I am very proud of Creative Hands.
JM: As you should be.
HL: Thank you.
JM: Thank you.