Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Spindrift Designs by Nancy Norton
This past week, a carriage-type clock that we received as a wedding present died (We'll be married 25 years in August). It was battery-operated and classic. Every time I looked at it, I remembered the person who gave it to us: Nancy Norton, who owned and designed for Spindrift Designs. My memory fails me when I try to remember exactly where she was from, but it was somewhere in Michigan. She later retired to York, Maine. Nancy was a true individual. She was acerbic and smoked, cursed and drank a lot; but she was also a talented designer and a good friend. Coming from Blowing Rock, NC, I really enjoyed my moments with Nancy over dinner and during the day at many needlepoint markets. In the 70s there was a market in Charlotte that was primarily cross-stitch, but they were trying to encourage needlepoint designers. That is where I first encountered Susan Roberts. It was also where I went looking for Nancy, because I knew she was exhibiting there. I walked the aisles and finally came to where her booth was supposed to be. But, no Nancy. Then, I heard muttering. She was sitting on the floor in the back corner of her booth; she had an ashtray and was smoking. She was muttering curse words, because she suspected that this show was not her audience. However, I told her bluntly that if she continued sitting on the floor and insulting everyone within earshot, of course she wouldn't have a good market. So, she reluctantly stood up and tried to be sociable. I had to keep checking on her to keep her smiling.
Over the years, Needle Nicely continued ordering from her. Several times I would suggest changes to her designs (which always made them more marketable). She finally snapped, don't you like anything I design? I said, yes, but with some tweeks! Of course, one change I suggested made her summer Chicago market. She had thought my changes were insignificant, but obviously the buyers now loved the design and it paid her Chicago expenses. She even called to thank me and tell me what had happened.When she retired, she sold her company to someone whose name I cannot remember, but they never were successful in merchandising it. Sad to say this often happens with shops and canvas lines.
I miss your friendship and your personality, Nancy. RIP. And even my husband has suggested that I try to refurbish your clock because it is such a symbol to me.