Meet Your Neighbor! Pam McFarland (aka FolkArtTree)

What is your shop name & URL, real name, and what do you sell?
My name is Pam McFarland. My shop is The Folk Art Tree ( and I create primitives in almost every medium I can play with. There are still some creative venues I haven't tried yet, like PMC (Precious Metal Clay)…but I just returned from the post office with my box of startup equipment and tools and I'm thinking I may be leaving the dishes in the sink for a day or two….

Where do you live? Tell us about your town.

Currently I live in downtown Ashland, Maine, population 1,400, in a big old house built in 1913. The Doctor who built the house lived and practiced medicine here for many years. This house seems to invite people to its door. We have had many of the old Dr.'s past patients and family stop in for a nostalgic visit. I once came upon a man standing in our dining room one morning during our renovation. He had lived in our home as a child (he was the Dr.'s nephew) and wanted to see the old place again. I politely showed him the house, even though I was trying not to show my shock that he didn't even knock or ring the doorbell…. Apparently, it still felt like home!

Ashland is a little logging town. Everybody knows you, your momma, and your momma's momma. It is disconcerting to have your neighbors aware of your comings and goings, but they also know when you are sick and send a meal over for the family. I guess it's a trade-off. I am thankful that my kids have had a safe and family-oriented community to grow up in.

Tell us about your family & pets.
I have been married to Charles for 23 years who just retired in March with over 20 yrs. of service. He was in the Army and then the Army National Guard (full time). We have two sons, Conner, 18, and Duncan, 16. Conner just graduated from High School and will be attending UMO in the fall studying International Affairs (a teenager who LOVES politics…go figure). He is a fabulous cook and is always introducing us to some new recipes. Duncan is a junior in High School and wants to major in music. Our house is always rockin' as Duncan likes to constantly pound the piano keys. We may hear 'House of the Rising Sun', the theme from 'the Office', and then, just for a twist, a little 'If I were a Rich Man' from Fiddler on the Roof. We have been a military family for over 20 years, making our homes in Lawton, Oklahoma, Schweinfurt and Bamberg, Germany and finally, Ashland. As much as I loved getting to travel, it was heaven to come home 10 years ago, plant roots and grow my kids up in one place.
Much to my husband's consternation, I have probably fed every stray cat within a hundred miles. Hey, if an animal looks skinny, or has an "I'm hungry" look in their eye, I have to feed it! We had one stray kitty deliver 3 litters (that would add up to 22 kittens) in our basement until we finally caught her and got her spayed. We currently live with 3 indoor cats, Indigo & Peanut Butter Cup (names picked from the movie, the Princess Bride) and Sammy (one of the 22 kittens).

How long have you been making your craft & what got you into it?
I used to draw and paint as a kid, and I learned how to sew from both of my grandmothers who were fabulous seamstresses. (They would die if they could see all the ripped unfinished edges on my dolls!) Over time I began making my own patterns and designing my own dolls. Also, growing up my dad was a huge history buff. We planned our summer vacations around what historical site we were visiting that year. Seeing the old clothing and houses and way of life at these historical places as a child, instilled a passion within me for anything old. I hadn't sold any of my creations until one 45 minute segment of time at a women's luncheon in Bamberg, Germany changed my life. I was asked to make a few things to sell at a luncheon so the ladies could shop afterward. I worked frantically for weeks and had a table of things ready for the day. In 45 minutes I made $800. At that moment I went from a casual crafter to a craft show diva. I booked myself into as many craft shows as I could and began teaching myself new crafts from books I got from the library. I segued into making santas after a friend saw one I had made for myself. I have made and sold hundreds of santas since 1993. My customers in Germany were so crazy for the santas they began calling me the "santa lady".

Do you feel like your craft is related to where you live?
Once I got back to Maine 10 years ago, I encountered a much different customer and selling environment. I had to change my creative focus to more affordable items. Because of my love for old things, primitives were a natural fit for me. I still make santas at Christmastime, but I sell them only where I can get enough money to make it worth my time.
I also invite my hometown into my home for a Christmas Open House. I spend weeks decorating my old house and I have a room set up with my products to sell. My boys have handled the sales to customers, my mom greets visitors at the door with mulled cider warming on the wood stove in the shed (the entry) and my husband keeps the fireplace going in the living room for the event, even though he hides from the chaos most of the night. People pull up chairs next to the fire and sit and chat and actually spend an evening just visiting with each other.

Tell us about the awesome craftspeople that you've met around Maine-- have you collaborated or met with any Maine Team members?
I have met Kellie (KellieJSK) and Becky (DirtgirlPottery) at the Cumberland show last week. Kellie is as funny and sweet in person as she is on the forums. Becky makes me wish I was young again. She has great energy and her pottery is fabulous!! I have been doing craft shows for 17 yrs or so, but I am a new member of United Maine Craftsmen. They have an awesome group of talented people… . Every show I participate in, introduces me to wonderfully creative people and I am many times in awe of their artistic talent. I wish I could do what they do, as good as they do…I lean in while we chat and hope some of their talent will rub off onto me!

What are your plans for the future?
My DREAM is to own a little shop somewhere where I can sell and work at the same place (some place where it is warm!). I love my solitary creative times, but I also love the people and their emotional response to what I make. I think creativity is so personal and private, and to have a complete stranger connect with you over a creation that evolved from within yourself is a really wonderful experience.

Want to be interviewed? Email jamieribisi {at}