Hollis Wayne spent her childhood in the Midwest, growing up in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. After getting her B. S. Degree in History and Theatre from the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse in 1973, she left the cold north country behind and moved to warm and sunny Dallas.

During her college days she had begun "making things" as a way of paying for her education, specifically costumes, stage scenery and props for the Theatre Department. Unable to find a position in the overcrowded teaching field after graduation, she took up sewing patchwork pillows and quilts for several friends who had contracts with some of the finer stores in Dallas. It was quite a thrill to go to Olla Padrida or Nieman Marcus and see her designs and stitchery efforts selling for several times what the contractor had paid her for them, and it put all kinds of ideas into her head. After visiting a Wisconsin friend attending graduate school at U.T. in Austin and being taken to the outdoor 23rd Street Renaissance Market area, commonly known as THE DRAG across from the University of Texas, she decided to forget about Dallas and teaching and become a self-employed independent street vendor instead. There is much to be said for being your own boss, she decided.

In 1975 she packed up her sewing machine, left Dallas and hitch-hiked down to The Live Music Capital of the World, long before it acquired that esteemed title. TIME Magazine had recently written an article about how Austin was one of the best and cheapest places to live in all of the USA, and that sounded pretty good to a young entrepreneur.

She started selling handmade clothing -- drawstring pants, string bikinis and skimpy little sun dresses for the young, hip UT crowd --- but quickly tired of endlessly sitting at her sewing machine. So she took up the tricky little airbrush, using it to paint colorful designs on cotton tee shirts, which were just becoming all the rage as casual wear. She set up her large wooden stand on the street every day and sold the shirts she'd painted the night before in her garage studio.

Hollis met a lot of arty people, listened to a lot of great music in the local clubs and painted a lot of shirts in every size and color, eventually becoming known as The T-Shirt Queen of the Drag.

In 1978, after a fateful series of unhappy events made her determined to make lemonade out of lemons, she spent a weekend in a Robin Hood costume she whipped up in order to sell her shirts at the newly established Texas Renaissance Faire near Houston. When the bagpipes brayed at the opening ceremonies, her heart pounded at the glorious sound. When the Faire's street actors appeared in Elizabethan garb singing period songs, her eyes misted over with longing for her Shakespearean theatre days. And when the bright-eyed visitors to the Faire bought all the colorfully airbrushed unicorns, dragons, parrots and dancing green frogs she had brought with her, she knew she'd found her work place of choice. Where else could a History and Theatre major with a penchant for making useful things be happier than at a modern-day Renaissance Faire? She designed and built historic little buildings to live and work in, and sell her work from the counters out front, and she took to living in the woods and weather like a true gypsy. Eventually she was doing 4 Rennies a year, travelling to two in Texas, one is Wisconsin and another in Minnesota. "On the Road Again" took on a whole new meaning as she learned to live and work in a mobile environment.



Hollis soon added the art of silk screen to her skills, turning her talent for color, form and line into wearable art with a fantasy theme. As a child, her favorite books were the fables and legends about King Arthur, Robin Hood, the elves and fairies of Ireland and the mystical life of the Druids, so it seemed only natural to be drawing the subjects she had always been interested in and then selling the result at a different sort of theme park: a Renaissance Faire celebrating the glories of the Elizabethan age and the rebirth of the human potential!

In 1980, after hanging out at neighbor Phil Geil's pottery studio in her spare time, she became enamored with the glazing and firing process, though throwing pots was not to her liking. So she picked up a glazing brush and figured out how to paint new designs on manufactured ceramic tiles and fire them to perfection in a collection of electric kilns. Some of these tiles came out of their 2000 degree trial by fire looking so gorgeous that something more than a simple wooden frame was needed to show them off. So Hollis enlisted the talents of Mark Mallia, an Austin wood worker friend, to co-produce stunning hardwood jewelry boxes with gleaming designs on the tile tops, rich velvet interiors that cradle your treasures, and lustrous hand-rubbed tung oil finishes that make the carefully chosen exotic hardwoods into family heirlooms.

Hollis sees her 30 year craft and art career as a series of advancements determined by the acquisition and combination of different skills, tools, techniques and motivations. She and her husband, Beaux Graham, who joined up with the roving gypsy life in 1987, now produce a vast array of original works, specializing lately in the creation of art that appeals to the people who bring their horses to Hollis and Beaux's largest creation, the Happy Horse Hotel. This small campground tucked into a 9 acre patch of enchanted forest next to the couple's country studio and horse pasture, is currently the center of activity in their life, since it revolves around the McKinney Roughs Equestrian Park that is right up the road from the Art Farm on Pope Bend Rd. Hollis likes to say that she has literally ridden the trails and paths of life that the horse's ears have guided her to, ever since she was a child of 5 in a small Wisconsin farming town cantering her 1st horse down the road behind her father's big Saddlebred mare. This is where it is at the moment: making horse art out in the woods of Bastrop County, and coming to town to sell it during the annual Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. After 20-some years on the road doing Renaissance Faires all over the country for most of the year, she and Beaux recently traded in the big utility trailer that hauled their heavy tools and wares for a horse trailer and started staying home more, concentrating on the business generated from the Giddyup Gift Shop at the Happy Horse Hotel, and the web site and local market areas.

You will find Hollis and Beaux's work (wooden horse benches, Iron Cosmic Spirit Horses, candlesticks, clocks, tiles and boxes and the wonderful fantasy tee shirts) at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, opening Dec 11, 2004 at the Austin Music Hall, from 11am til 11pm right through Christmas Eve. Live Music every night, food and alcoholic beverages, plus the delightful work of Austin's best Elves all in one place, for your holiday enjoyment and gift-giving needs.

Check out the Bazaar's web site at www.armadillobazaar.com and try to find time to spend an evening KEEPING AUSTIN WEIRD by supporting the local artists and economy.