OK, I know some of you think I am nuts because I walked away from a perfectly good real estate career to try become a freelance writer. But believe it or not, there are people out there who are pursuing wackier paths than me.
Take, for example, Linda Katz, who lives on a prairie in southwest Kansas, where the only features on an otherwise flat landscape are rolling tumbleweeds. Katz was trying to teach herself to design websites, so as a joke she created a fictional business that sold tumbleweeds, listing prices at $15 for a small one, $20 for a medium and $25 for large. To her great surprise, orders began rolling in. Today she earns more than $40,000 per year selling tumbleweeds. People buy them to make into Christmas trees and as decorations for wild west theme parties. Hollywood and TV set designers have used them in movies and kid’s shows. Even NASA bought tumbleweeds to test their Mars Tumbleweed Rover. Read all about it at Prairie Tumbleweed Farm.
Say the word sculpture and most people think of metal, stone, and clay, but Jason Hackenwerth has found a new medium for this centuries-old art form. Hackenwerth sculpts in balloons. Yes, balloons, and I’m not talking the cutesy little sausage dogs or balloon hats twisted into shapes by clowns at festivals.
I’m talking monolithic creations that are two and three stories high and contain hundreds of skinny, brightly colored balloons that he twists together with fantastic mathematical symmetry. Hackenwerth’s sculptures, which often bring to mind giant underwater sea creatures or immense anemones perched on a coral reef, have been featured in venues as diverse as FAO Schwarz in New York City and at San Marco Piazza in Venice, Italy. During a London art fair in 2004, he set up balloons in the shape of a thousand small red, orange, and yellow flames so that it seemed a balloon fire had engulfed the lobby of the hotel where the fair was held.
Revenge of the Megadon sculpture was also featured in the Great Hall of Dinosaurs at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in June, 2006. Although Hackenwerth has taken balloon art to new heights, his interest hearkens back to his childhood, when his mother would dress up as a clown and make balloons into poodles and swords for extra money at Union Station in St. Louis, Missouri. See more of his creations here.
When Janie Foydl was laid off from her corporate job this past May she decided to start Doodie Duty, a service business that scoops up and disposes of dog doo for clients in the Sacramento area. She charges $34 a month for a “single doodie” (cleaning up after one dog) and $10 more for each additional dog (double and triple doodies.)
Marilyn Scott-Waters used to supervise a team of seven designers for Nike and created full clothing lines for companies like Harley Davidson, Arctic Cat and Yamaha. When she was laid off after a merger from her clothing design job she turned to doing what she loved most, making things out of paper. Her popular website, www.thetoymaker.com, receives 3,000 to 7,000 visitors each day, who have downloaded more than three million of her easy-to-make paper toys. Her goal is to help parents and children spend time together making things, which she herself does with her own child every week. Marilyn is the author of The Toymaker: Paper Toys That You Can Make Yourself, the best selling paper toy book on Amazon.com.
So I’m keeping the faith. There are lots of people out there who have successfully abandoned corporate life to pursue what they love and I see no reason why I can’t be one of them, although I DO have hard time believing that scooping doggie doo doo is someone’s lifelong dream.