Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Heather Ward-Migner, and I am the creator and designer of Star House. I handcraft simple, eco-friendly, custom and personalized wooden treasures for celebration and decoration. For the last three years, I have had the honor of working with my fabulous husband, Jeremy, but he is currently attending graduate school for prosthetics and orthotics, so right now Star House is just me.
I have spent many years as an artist, art teacher and preschool teacher. I am a blessed wife and mama of two amazing girls and one sweet dog. I am a lover of color, the natural world, simplicity and grace. The name Star House comes from a longtime personal symbol of mine. I believe that each of us at our core is pure light, like a star, and that our bodies are houses for this light. This simple shine is something that everyone (and everything) has, and here at Star House I feel so honored to celebrate that.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
My greatest joy in life is parenting my girls. I love to garden with my family and walk my dog. I am a oneness blessing giver. I love to intuitively cook, eat, laugh, hike, draw, sing, meditate, watch sunsets, have family dance parties, watch birds, work on household projects, and try to simplify my life.
What’s the most important question a couple should ask their wedding vendor?
With all of the communication technology that exists today, I think it is good to ask anyone you are working with what the best way is to contact them and how long it will take them to respond. Etsy convo is the best way to reach me.
What’s the most memorable custom item you’ve created for a wedding?
I have two – the first was a topper that I created for a librarian bride and her semi-pro wrestler groom. The design was of the two of them in their wedding attire riding on an ostrich with their pet chinchilla. It was so fun and so cute!
The second is a set of two toppers that are generational and were used as anniversary gifts. One set was purchased to celebrate a woman’s in-laws’ 25th wedding anniversary. The couple was created wearing their late ’70s wedding attire. I still get teary thinking about their anniversary. Later, their son had me create a topper as an anniversary gift for his wife. Perhaps someday I will create a third generation of toppers for this family. That would be so heartwarming.
What would be the title of your memoir?
I think the title would be something like Be the Light, See the Light, which is a saying that came to me one day while driving. I guess this would refer to my deep desire to connect with Grace and the responsibility I have come to accept for this connection and consciousness.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Love! Love is so mighty and infinitely inspiring. I have also always been inspired by the Theodore Roosevelt quote, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I think his words point to the true creative spirit in us all. Finally, I am very inspired by the amazingly supportive, creative, and generous folks I have worked with, my fellow Etisians who are so talented and helpful, and the many artist friends of mine that inspire me so very much with their dedication and integrity.
What does handmade mean to you?
To me, handmade really has an association with a specific person — with their energy and efforts, with their story. Growing up, one of my only future goals was to have a home where everything was either made by me or someone I know.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My parents. My father is a rustic furniture maker and my mother is a wonderful seamstress. They have given me lots of time and space and support to be who I naturally am, which has allowed me to let the creative flow just happen without developing lots of ideas about what it should or should not be. I try so hard to give my daughters that same gift.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
As a child, I would spend most of my time outside in the woods and fields around my childhood home with animals, trees, sky, stars, mountains, and great freedom (yes, I had hippy parents). In the natural world, it is so easy to see creation as what naturally happens. For as long as I can remember, I saw myself as part of creation and therefore a creator. I fancied myself being able to make anything I wanted, if I developed the skills needed to make it. In my heart, I know that we are all makers and creators. I just had a conversation with a sweet woman that started with her saying that she did not have a creative bone in her body. Our eyes met, and I just looked at her, shook my head and told her dramatically, “I don’t think that is true.” She smiled a beautiful smile and said “I love people. I really love people. I guess creating love in people’s lives is creating something.” I could not have said it better myself. We are always creating something. May we all grow, glow and shine!
How would you describe your creative process?
It is about trying to be in the present moment and allowing things to evolve and grow. When I am creating, I focus on exactly what I am doing, each little part, and in the end, I am always surprised. My creative process is a collaborative effort, with a lot of back and forth between me and my customers, and often lots of revision, until the design is just right. I love the process of communicating with my customers, sharing in their excitement, becoming a meaningful part of their wedding planning process, and together creating a piece of art that will uniquely celebrate who they are.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Maira Kalman. I am an aspiring children’s book author/illustrator and her work and wit are beyond fabulous.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
A framed cross-stitch from my husband’s grandmother, Nana Marie (one of the loveliest and sweetest women in the whole world). She surprised us and sent it by mail to our newly purchased, empty and tiny home in western NC before any of our belongings had a chance to arrive. She had created it for her first home over 70 years ago. It reads “Dear Home, you are really very small, just big enough for love that is all.” For about a week it was the only thing on the walls, and it is just perfect. It still hangs in our home and makes my heart smile every time I see it.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
I start by trying to stop placing limits on myself. I try to let go of the idea that I need certain things to create. I try to listen to and be guided by Grace.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
In ten years, I would like Star House to be a cooperative. I am so inspired and energized by cooperative businesses. I would love for Star House to evolve into a business that could provide sustainable and meaningful employment to others. I would love to be designing and communicating with customers and have other folks co-own Star House, turning those designs into amazing toppers.
I would also like to have written and illustrated many fabulous children’s books, had a couple of art shows, and I would love to have a large garden and plenty of time to spend with my family and friends. Above all, I would love to be consciously and utterly filled with Grace, a true beaming star house.