October 13, 2009

Tuesday Top 12 - Masks on Etsy

top 12 masks

October 12, 2009

Etsy Monday - Handy Hands Corner

This week's Etsy Monday featured seller is the very talented Magda of Handy Hands Corner. She makes gorgeous hand-embroidered bags and the most beautiful batik fabrics. I was introduced to her shop while on the Etsy forums the other day, and instantly fell in love with her work. Her embroidery and batiks are stunning, and I love the minimalistic style of her bags.
Magda has taken a moment to answer some questions about her work and share a bit of her inspiration with us. Without further ado, here's what she had to say.

October 7, 2009

Wool Room Music - Bowerbirds

This week I wanted to feature an amazing band called the Bowerbirds. They're a trio from North Carolina, made up of Beth Tacular, Phil Moore and Mark Paulson. They're considered "nu-folk", a genre which I'm loving at the moment. I found them on YouTube originally - I'll share the first video I saw of theirs here. Their sound is warm and so rich, with beautiful vocal harmonies and a gorgeous instrumental combination of guitar, bass drum and accordian. Other songs I particularly like are "My Oldest Memory" and "Bur Oak", both of which are from their debut album "Hymns for a Dark Horse."  Here's "In Our Talons" - enjoy!

October 6, 2009

Tuesday Top 12 - Birthday Cards

It's my birthday today, so I thought I'd do an appropriately themed Tuesday Top 12. Enjoy!

1) Robot BIRTHDAY Cards - BDAY by lrhbindustries
2) BEST WISHES, 3D Craft Card by twistywish
3) Bake Me Greeting Card by Juliapott
4) Happy Birthday Letterpress Greeting Card by twoguitars
5) Summer by EllaParry
6) Happy Birthday Mums Card by floraandfauna
7) But your birthday invitation said smart casual by ableandgame
8) Happy Birthday Circles Letterpress Card by paperdragonfly
9) Happy Knitted Birthday by fuzzywork
10) Happy birthday letterpress greeting card by smockpaper
11) Happy Birthday To You Pop-Up Card by tracychong
12) carnival happy birthday by afavorite

October 5, 2009

Etsy Monday - Twisted Silver Jewelry

Today I have to privilege to share the incredible work of Mel at Twisted Silver Jewelry. She creates gorgeous wire-wrapped jewelry, unlike anything I've seen before. She combines amazingly creative wire wrapping with stunning gemstones to create absolutely stunning jewelry.

Mel was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about her work, her process and inspiration. Let's see what she has to say!

Featured on Etsy's front page!

My Caramel Diamond in the Rough fingerless gloves were on the Front Page of Etsy this morning! Unfortunately I missed seeing it, but I found a screen shot on Flickr to share. It's always exciting to be on the Front Page. Big thanks to pixelcurious for including me in this gorgeous treasury!

Check back shortly for the relaunch of my Etsy Monday feature!

October 1, 2009

The Button Drawer (.com)

A couple of weeks ago I ordered some buttons from a site called The Button Drawer. I'm going to pretend I'm not the last person to hear about this site, although I could be totally wrong. I got my order today and I was very impressed, so I thought I'd pass along the info in case it comes in handy for anyone out there searching for buttons!

These are the buttons I needed, desperately, and the reason I found in the first place. I used them last year for my crocheted cowls, and when I ran out, the store I bought them from was not able to get any more in stock.

September 30, 2009

Wool room music - Blitzen Trapper

I've scored a sweet ipod touch for my birthday (thanks Mom)! My old nano gave up the ghost a while ago and I've been without an mp3 player for way too long. I'm very excited, and to celebrate I thought I'd kick off a new little blog feature. Music is my other passion, and I'm always seeking out new bands and artists to get into. I thought I'd share my newest finds (and old favorites) once a week for you all to check out if you'd like. I'll put songs up in the form of YouTube videos, because that's the fastest way to jump right in and listen!

Today I'll start with the very first song I listened to on my shiny new ipod. The band is called Blitzen Trapper, and the song is called Furr (from the album of the same name). They do have other good songs too, but this one is just amazing. For whatever reason, this is the first song I wanted to hear when I turned on the new ipod. I've also included the lyrics after the video (click link to full post). Feel free to comment, let me know what you think, or recommend new bands. Hope you enjoy it!

September 29, 2009

Black Mustard is now on Facebook!

I've set up a Black Mustard Fiber Arts fan page on Facebook! I'm still poking around to see how it all works and setting things up, but feel free to check it out and if you like, become a fan! This is a great way to get updates on new products, blog posts, promotions and more right to your Facebook homepage.

Click the screen shot to visit the Black Mustard fan page - hope to see you there!

September 28, 2009

Top 12 - Bags and Purses on Etsy

2) Batik Plaid Amy Butler bag by hoganfe
3) Bent walnut tote by tealandgold
4) Tree in autumn Hippie bag by bamboobag
5) Blue leaves - Large corduroy shoulder bag by helisengezer
6) Plonkas II clutch - retro by dalinda
7) The Flap Bag - short linen taupe and lime by Karin Birch
8) Ruffles in grey with leather strap - shoulder bag by lovejanice
9) Chariot horses bag by manibarr
10) Point of Light. Reusable Lunch Bag. Sand by shoofly
11) Colorful high basket by mishidesign
12) Shaggy Coffee Tote - large by ShaggyBaggy

September 27, 2009

The story of my model search

I thought I'd share the story of how I found my new model for my Etsy pictures with you all. I think it'll be of interest either to other Etsy sellers or designers who are looking for someone to model their work, or just to anyone who needs a little inspiration when it comes to stepping out of your comfort zone. Here's how it happened...

September 24, 2009

New for Fall!

I'm very excited to have listed the first of my new Fall items in my Etsy shop! Thanks to my wonderful new model, Isis Wright, I now have some great pictures to show them off. It's hard to resist the temptation to list them all at once, but in order to be noticed among all the great artists on Etsy, it's better to spread them out a bit. Here are the first two, which went up in my shop yesterday and today!

I can't even begin to describe how soft this yarn is! It is pure luxury against your skin. I plan to make more of these in quite a few colors in the next little while!

I love Fall colors, and this shawl is perfect for keeping out the chill now that the nights are getting colder. I used a razor lace pattern (one of my faves) to add some feminine detail without making it too frilly. We also photographed this shawl in olive green, which will be in the shop early next week.

I am so glad to have found Isis and I seriously cannot stop knitting now! I'll be writing more soon about how I met Isis and the great things that can happen when you step outside your comfort zone.

September 23, 2009

My first shoot with Isis Wright

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting with model/actress Isis Wright to photograph my new pieces for Fall. I cannot even begin to describe how excited I am to have someone of her beauty and talent to represent my pieces! It was an absolute treat to work with her, both in terms of the shots we got and the vibe we had with each other. I was a little nervous to meet and shoot my first "real model" but she is such a genuine person and really seemed to enjoy wearing my pieces, and I felt extremely comfortable with her. I am looking forward to working with her again in the future, and my mind is racing with new project ideas! I thought I'd share a few of my favorite shots from our session. I'll start listing these pieces in my Etsy shop this afternoon, and continue over the next few days! I could say a lot about each of these photos, but I'll let them speak for themselves.

September 20, 2009

Wonderful Warm Earth Tones on Etsy

I was able to snag a treasury on Etsy last night and I thought I'd share it here as well! I'm a huge fan of earth tones, especially this time of year.

In other news, I think I've secured a new model for my knitwear! I'm very excited :)

September 15, 2009

Late night knitting success and a blog feature!

I stayed up knitting till 3am last night. I'm liking this enthusiasm! I've had some delicious chunky Baby Alpaca in my stash for a while and I wanted to come up with a project for it. It's the same yarn I used last year for my button up cowls, but I've always wanted to use it for a full-length scarf as well. I wanted something simple that would showcase this amazing yarn and accentuate its softness. Yesterday during my brainstorming session I decided I would try a simple drop stitch scarf. I cast on and finished last night (hence the 3am bedtime!) and was very pleased with the results.

September 14, 2009

Getting back on track

This is just a quick post because I'm really trying to get in the habit of blogging regularly. Hopefully the quality of the posts will improve once I get back in the swing of things! I wasn't able to photograph my knitted shawls and neck warmers on the weekend as I'd hoped, but they're all blocked and ready to go. I probably won't get another chance until this weekend now, but in the meantime I've got my mother-in-law's camera to familiarize myself with. And I've cast on for another cowl, so I'll get that ready for the weekend as well.

Last night I finished another pair of gloves and put them up in my Etsy shop this morning. I really enjoy these gloves as a quick and satisfying knit. I've stocked up on all the colors I used last year so I can restock the shop with those while I'm waiting to photograph the new stuff, as it's looking a little bare. Then, I think I'll pick up a few more colors of the merino I use for the gloves and try out a new pattern I've been playing with. There's no such thing as too many gloves this time of year I think! Here's the pair I finished last night.

September 12, 2009

Camera set-backs, power knitting and yarn store excitement

I am so ready for Fall. We've had a couple of cooler days and I've been bit by the knitting bug again, big time. I've been working feverishly on new items for my Etsy shop... and then staring at them in frustration because I don't have a camera to photograph them. My camera bit the dust during the summer when I was at a music festival for the weekend. It didn't get damaged, it just stopped working. It won't turn on now even with brand new fresh batteries. Apparently it's a common problem with this model of camera (note to self: research technical issues before buying next time). The good news is, my birthday's coming up in less than a month and a new camera is at the top of my wish list. The bad news is that my birthday's still almost a month away, and I'd really like to get my Fall pieces listed now (insert foot stomp here)! Luckily my mother-in-law has come to the rescue. She's lending me her sweet digital SLR camera to use this week! So now I'm getting excited - I'm weaving in ends, blocking and getting props ready!

August 27, 2009

Playing Catch Up

Photo by Josef Stuefer

This is just a quick post to say hello and let folks know I'm still alive and well. I've decided it's time to renew my blogging efforts (again). I have let it slide once more since I haven't really been doing a whole lot in the way of crafts this summer. For one thing, the record heat we've been having has not exactly made me want to have hot wool in my hands, and pretty much all of the things I do require me to do that in one form or another. Also, I've actually been quite busy with personal stuff this summer, from weddings to music festivals to family reunions. It's been a lot of fun, but it'll be nice to ease into Fall and a pace that's a bit more relaxed. And I'm really looking forward to dedicating more time and energy to my crafts and my Etsy shop again. I'm working on some great pieces for Fall - mini-ponchos made from Alpaca and Mohair and squishy, colorful Merino neck warmers are the first of many warm snuggly things to come. I love Fall and Winter for the chance to really explore my knitting and spinning, and I can't wait to get going again!

In the meantime, I've said that I want to make this blog a bit more personal and offer a whole view of myself, my thoughts and my life. So I am going to do some posts that aren't necessarily related to Etsy. I'll probably start by writing about the things I've done this summer. There's no time limit on telling stories of fun times, right? Thanks to those who still read this sad little blog... I hope to have more interesting posts coming at you soon! Wish me luck!

July 26, 2009

Green Means Go - Handspun SW Merino yarn

It's taken a little while but I've finished the yarn I was working on spinning from my own hand-dyed roving. I'm really pleased with the way this turned out!

"Green Means Go" is 179 yards of sport/fingering weight SW Merino 2-ply. So soft and squishy! I've just added it to Black Mustard Colorworks, since it's made from fiber I dyed myself. I'm really liking this color combination!

Next I'm going to try another single-ply yarn. I may start this evening after it cools down a little. Wish me luck!

July 25, 2009

My first single-ply yarn!

That's right, I finished my first singles yarn and I'm pretty proud of it! Ta-da!

I've been wanting to try making a single-ply yarn but I've put it off because I found it pretty intimidating. I know that to make a decent singles yarn you need to treadle slowly, and I tend to spin at quite a brisk pace. So I didn't know if I'd be able to achieve a nice low-twist yarn. But lately I've been working on being okay with making mistakes. Coaxing myself to try new things even if I can't be sure I'll do them well. I had just received some gorgeous BFL dyed by Kristin at All Spun Up on Etsy, and I couldn't wait to spin it. The colors are quite dark and they're over-dyed on ecru and natural brown mixed BFL so I thought it would be a good fit for a single-ply yarn. I had a feeling that using this for a 2-ply might muddy the colors a bit. Here's a picture of the roving (borrowed from the Etsy listing).

The stars aligned and I managed to produce a yarn that I'm really happy with, especially for my first try. Don't get me wrong - I still love a good squishy, sproingy 2 ply. But I can't believe how soft and fuzzy this yarn is! And it symbolizes a personal triumph for me - I conquered my inner perfectionist who normally would've chickened out. And especially with such gorgeous fiber - I admit I was a little reluctant to risk ruining it. But I pushed on anyway and I'm so glad I did!

Considering it's my first single-ply and the colors are completely "my" colors, I think I'm going to keep this one. This is the first yarn I've spun that I really can't quite bear to part with. It's hard to imagine it with the heat we've been having but I think I'll make a pair of mittens for winter. I want to make something that makes use of the fluffiness of the yarn. And it only gets cold enough for full on mittens a few times a year where I live, so I'm thinking they'll last me forever! I'll be sure to post pictures of them once they're done (probably in the Fall).

I can't wait to try another singles yarn! I'm pretty excited about this so you may see a few singles skeins in my shop soon (although I also just finished the 2-ply SW Merino I've been working on, which will be hitting Black Mustard Colorworks tomorrow). I think I'll make a few more that are pretty uniform in thickness like this one until I get comfortable with the speed, and then I'd like to try to spin a nice even slubby thick-and-thin singles yarn. Wish me luck!

July 11, 2009

Relaxing At Home

Today was a gorgeous day and I spent the majority of it outside in my backyard, relaxing and enjoying the sunshine with my animals. I did a fair bit of writing and gained some understanding about the source of the anxiety and stress that have been weighing on me lately. It was one of those moments where you realize the underlying issue at play and see why changing the external circumstances doesn't create any lasting shift in your situation. For me it has to do with remembering to appreciate the moment and not focus on the uncertainty of the future. I don't mean to sound cryptic - I will go into it in more depth in another post because I think it's something that may resonate with some people. For now I'll just say that I made a point of enjoying the day for its own sake today. My pets seemed to appreciate it - they chilled out with me all day and set a great example. I mean, does this guy look like he's worried about things to come?

I also did some spinning today, although not as much as I'd planned. It got really hot in the afternoon and the wool was not working for me, even in the shade. I was working on spinning one of my first dyed rovings, which I thought I had half-finished before. Turns out I wasn't quite done the first bobbin, but I finished that today. I'm really liking these colors - they're turning out very soft and creamy, and I think the final yarn is going to be really pretty. Here's the first bobbin full!

Throughout the day I feasted on the raspberries growing in the front yard. I didn't realize that my mother-in-law (aka my landlady) planted them there last year and I just discovered them recently. I absolutely love eating sun-warmed berries right off the bush in my own yard! There's something so satisfying and wholesome about having food available for free in your own garden. I'd really like to start a veggie garden as well - grow some peas and tomatoes and corn. Yum!

I couldn't resist snapping this picture. Gotta love summer...

July 8, 2009

Recharging... with Art!

Lately I've been finding myself in need of some serious recharging and renewal. Without really doing it on purpose, I ended up withdrawing from all the things I normally love doing (knitting, spinning, blogging, etc). And I think it's because I'd managed to turn my hobbies into "work" in the sense that I was starting to feel guilty and stressed out if I wasn't doing them almost all the time. I was putting so much pressure on myself, by turning ideas and goals into obligations and deadlines, until I just had to take a break for a little while. For the last few weeks I haven't done a whole lot in the way of crafts for my Etsy shop - instead I've just been letting myself do whatever interests me. And now I can see things from a different perspective and I think this is exactly what I needed to help breathe new life into my shop and my craft. So, here are some of the things I've been up to...

I've been watching tons of videos on YouTube about art and keeping an art journal. There are lots of great videos and channels dedicated to art but the one that caught my attention first and served as my gateway into the world of art-themed videos was Suziblutube. I especially love her Art Journal Playshop videos, which offer prompts, ideas and inspiration for journal pages. Her enthusiasm for art is so infectious that I had to go out and get a journal for myself. Another really great one is Willowing. Her videos weave together art and spirituality and present the idea of an art journal as therapy, which is exactly what it's been in my experience.

I've been keeping my journal for about 2 weeks now and I am surprised at how much I love it! I've never really considered myself an artist in terms of visual art - I never even had much of an interest in making art. But I have been enjoying it on so many levels. Because of the fact that I didn't know anything about drawing and painting when I started this, I had no expectations of myself at all. It has been so wonderful to allow myself to be a beginner again and to be okay with making mistakes! It's shown me that I need to show myself patience and kindness and compassion, which is something I think I've needed for a long time. I've heard it time and time again - if you're not willing to make mistakes you can never make anything original. There have been moments while I'm painting in my journal that I've gotten so absorbed in the process that I don't even worry about the outcome, and that is something I have not felt in a long time. I'm hoping to bring this same attitude to my knitting, sewing, spinning, etc. because I really do love it and I miss being excited about filling up my shop coming up with new ideas. I think that's going to be the key to getting my enthusiasm back. Trying new things, and being willing to make mistakes. I've got some yarn I don't mind wrecking - it's time to get bold with my knitting!

Anyway, here's a little slide show of my art journal so far. There's only a few pages but I thought I'd show you what I've been doing...

Another thing that really appeals to me about these women on YouTube is that they seem so honest and they share so much of themselves. This is something I've struggled with - finding a balance between being professional in my Etsy shop and sharing personal content on my blog and elsewhere. And with the art I've been making I find I'm able to be more candid because I'm not trying to make a business out of it. And the interactions I've had with some of the other folks on YouTube have been so very authentic and satisfying that I plan to bring some of that transparency into my shop and my blog as well. Right now I'm all about integrating the various facets of myself into a whole representation of who I am and what I'm passionate about. Because afterall, isn't that what drew me to Etsy and the idea of sharing my work online in the first place?

So, I'm going to focus on trusting the process, relaxing into it and being patient with myself. I have lots of great ideas and if I don't get around to them all this season, I'll just have to save them for next year... and trust that the time will be right then. When we exert too much control over the direction we take we can end up missing out on some great twists and turns. Basically I'm beginning to realize that if I stop thinking of my life as being compartmentalized into work and play, productive or non-productive use of time, etc. I can look at everything I do as having value and helping me get to where I want to be.

Now I'm itching to get back to "work" on my Etsy stuff with a new sense of perspective. I'm going to start with spinning because it is in itself a very meditative process and I think it will be a great way to gently get back on track and get myself motivated to do more. I'm about half way done spinning some SW Merino that I dyed myself - one of my very first attempts (the green one) and then I'm going to dive into this amazing roving I got the other day from All Spun Up on Etsy. Isn't it gorgeous?

I can't wait to get back into the swing of things. I'm so glad I gave myself this time to reflect and recharge.

June 23, 2009

Still here... new dyeing

You know how sometimes life just kind of conspires to take over your best laid plans? That's what this past month has been like for me... From other people's weddings to my own unpredictable moods and other random events, I feel like I've just been along for the ride lately. Now that things have settled down a little I'm looking forward to getting back into some kind of routine. That includes regular blog entries and a lot more energy freed up to put into my Etsy shops. I'm actually planning to put some thought into how I want my blog to be set up - I'm looking for a good blend of Etsy-related content (Etsy Monday, shop updates, etc) and more personal, journal type subject matter. I'm looking forward to that too!

For starters, tonight I added a few rovings to Black Mustard Colorworks, the first update in a while. 2 Merino and 2 BFL this time - more fiber coming soon!

May 26, 2009

More hand-dyed rovings!

Learning to dye has been a hit-and-miss process for me so far - figuring out how to achieve the effects I want and how to work with each type of fiber to enhance their good qualities and avoid felting! It's been a bit slow-going but a LOT of fun and I think I'm narrowing in on a method that will work for me consistently. Updates to the shop so far have been pretty small, as a result I've got a basket of almost-perfect fiber ready to be spun, so keep an eye out for lots of hand-spun yarns coming to the shop!

Today I did another small update, with 2 Super Fine Merino and 1 Merino roving.

Super Fine Merino 4.5 oz

I'll have some more Merino, as well as some BFL coming soon. I'm hoping I'll be able to do bigger updates as I fine-tune my process!

May 18, 2009

Official Guide to the Black Mustard Newsletters

As promised, here is the run-down on the various newsletters available through my mailing list. This is to let you know what will be covered in each of them so you can decide which ones interest you. Feel free to sign up for any (or all) of them by entering your email address in the sign-up form over in the right sidebar. Just leave the boxes checked for the newsletters you'd like to receive and uncheck the ones you can do without.

First we have the general "Monthly Newsletter". This is a basic update that lets you know what's happening at Black Mustard Fiber Arts and Colorworks. It encompasses both shops, so you'll find information about new products from knitwear to handspun yarn to new types of hand-dyed fiber. This is also the place to find out about sales, promotions and contests. Also, check out the "What's coming" section of the newsletter for a teaser about the next month's theme or focus. This newsletter will be sent out on or around the 1st of each month.

Next up is the "Handspun Preview". This is for anyone who'd like to receive a heads up whenever I have a new handspun yarn available. Generally I will send this alert out the day before I plan to list the yarn in either of my shops. It will include pics of the yarn and all the stats, along with the date and time you can expect to see it in the shop. Yarns spun from my own hand-dyed fiber will be for sale at Black Mustard Colorworks, while those from fiber dyed by others will still go into the original shop. This newsletter covers both.

And finally, for the new shop we have the "Hand-dyed Preview". Much the same as the yarn alert, this newsletter will let you know when I plan to have new hand-dyed fiber in the shop. Following the same format, it will have pictures, a listing of fiber content, and the details about when it will be listed. This one will only apply to Black Mustard Colorworks.

Well, that about sums it up! I'd be glad to hear any questions or feedback anyone has about these newsletters, or ideas for future editions. Thanks for reading!

May 5, 2009

Grand Opening - Black Mustard Colorworks!

I'm so excited to announce the launch of my second Etsy shop - Black Mustard Colorworks! This is something I've been wanting to do for a while now, and I'm really happy to have it up and running. In the new shop you'll find hand-dyed rovings as well as yarns I've spun to showcase my dyed fiber. It's a little sparse at the moment but I'm busy dyeing away to get it stocked up and keep new rovings coming! To celebrate the Grand Opening, I'm offering FREE SHIPPING on all rovings (withing Canada and the US) from May 4-18th!

I'll be happy to combine shipping between shops, and items from either shop can go towards my Buy 3 Get 1 Promotion. For now I will have rovings available in the following fibers: Merino, SW Merino, BFL and SW BFL. In the future I plan to get into different blends, and I'm also hoping to experiment with natural dyes at some point.

You may notice a third sign-up option for my newsletter over on the right. I've started a new mailing list for those who'd like advanced notice of updates to the new shop. If you'd like to receive this newsletter, feel free to sign up again, leaving just the "Hand-dyed Preview" box checked. Otherwise I can add you to the list manually if you'd like. Stay tuned for a run-down of all the newsletters and what they will include.

April 28, 2009

Cascade Gloves on Etsy Front Page!

I found out that a couple of days ago my "Cascade" fingerless gloves graced Etsy's front page! A big thanks to Etsy seller AnikaEaster for featuring me in her beautiful treasury!

It made me so happy to see these gloves getting some love. I really like this style of glove but I think I introduced them a little late in the season, when people were already switching gears for Spring. I'm looking forward to making them in all sorts of colors when Fall rolls around again. In the meantime, I've got 2 pairs available, in "Sprout" (shown above) and "Denim", both for 25% off the original price. Now would be a great time to scoop these up because they'll be back to normal in the Fall! Or, if you'd like to make yourself a pair before the cooler weather hits, I also have patterns available in my shop.

Anika's shop is beautiful too and I had to share a few of her pieces! I especially love her bird magnets!

April 21, 2009

Kettle Dyeing #2!

I thought I'd share the results of my 2nd dyeing session! Both are SW Merino and I'm really liking these color combos! I'm still ending up with more white than I plan for, so that's going to be my focus the next time I dye.

SW Merino in blues, greens, yellow and orange

SW Merino in burgundy, green, orange and tan

More on the way, I'm sure! I'm really getting into dyeing and I can't wait to learn more about it.

April 20, 2009

Etsy Monday - Krystal Speck

This week's featured Etsy seller is Krystal Speck, who makes beautiful (and functional) ceramics. I love seeing the everyday things we use in life elevated to the realm of art, and I was struck by Krystal's design aesthetic the moment I found her shop.

Flower Folk - large square vase

I love the cheerful simplicity of Krystal's designs, and I think the clean, fresh look of her photography compliments her work beautifully! I found her interview to be an engrossing and inspiring read and I'm so glad she took the time to give us an inside look at her work and her process. Here's what she had to say:

1. When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist/artisan?

I've been doing crafty stuff since I was little. My mom is an artist, so she was very encouraging when it came to pursuing a career in the arts. I guess it was a natural progression for me.

2. How long have you been working with your medium and what first sparked your interest in it?

I started working with clay in high school, but did not actually consider ceramics as a full-time pursuit until my second year at university. At school I tried my best to do my own double major in Textiles and Ceramics...but now ceramics seems to have taken over my life! Happily I've found many similarities between ceramic and textile design. I love decorating clay surfaces and often find the best inspiration from vintage textile prints.

3. What do you find most enjoyable/rewarding about your art/craft?

Seeing people using my pots is really rewarding. After being in the studio for weeks and producing like a madwoman, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to see the people buying my work and taking it home to become part of their daily lives. I also love meeting other artisans and craft enthusiasts at shows. I just wrapped up the Spring One of a Kind Show in Toronto, and the highlight was meeting all the lovely folks around me. I love the craft community in my city, it's very welcoming and inspiring.

4. Where do you find inspiration for your art/craft?

Oh, everywhere! I do a lot of sketching, hoarding scraps of beautiful old printed textiles and collecting of thrifted ceramic cups and vases. I love mid-century Scandinavian and German clay forms and glazes. And overwhelmingly, I find inspiration in the shapes of plants and flowers.

5. What message or values do you wish to convey with your art? What does your art say to the world?

I hope that my work makes people excited to use their ceramics! I try to make things that are simple and very functional, but also graphic, colourful and fun. I've never really believed in that old rule, that some ceramics are too fancy to use and should only be displayed. Plus, since money is tight for most people these days, when we buy something for our homes we're searching for things that are both beautiful and utilitarian.

6. Are there any other creative outlets that you use to express yourself? What are they and what do you enjoy about them?

I love to draw. Before I start making a new model I have to sketch first, and I'm always doodling flowers or patterns for new glaze designs. I'm also addicted to blogging and would encourage all makers to start their own blog as well. It's an amazing tool to showcase your art, craft sales and contacts, and it's free! When I have the time I like to sew, and when I have the space (sometimes hard to find in the city!) I love gardening and growing my own vegetables.

7. Do you have any advice for other artists/artisans

I suppose the best advice I can give is just to keep trying, work as hard as you can and you'll find an audience who appreciates your work. I've had people tell me I'm crazy for pursuing an artistic career, especially in recession, but the thing is I couldn't do anything else! I just have to make. Also, make as many contacts with local crafty types and share your knowledge and resources. That might be an obvious one, but being part of a community is so important -- especially if you create your work solo like I do. It reminds you that there are many other artists and craftspeople out there going through the same ups and downs that you are.


In closing...

Where else can we find you and your work, either on the internet or in person? (ie blog url, flickr, facebook, etc)

In Toronto: 1910 Danforth Clay Studio, RedSable Gallery
In Waterloo: Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery Shop

Any other websites or resources you’d like to recommend (not just to other artists)?

I highly recommend: (gardening) (pastry)

April 14, 2009

Kettle Dyeing!

This weekend I tried kettle dyeing roving for the first time. It was so much fun and I learned a lot from my first trials. I was familiar with the basics going into it, and I'd previously tried painting rovings, with decent results. I consulted a few online tutorials, primarily this one from Earthwhisper Fiber Arts. The most important advice I got from reading this was to add each color separately, letting each one exhaust into the fiber before adding the next. Reading that was a bit of an "Aha" moment for me because I'd always wondered how you can use multiple colors in the same pot without them mixing into a brown soup!

I have to say, I prefer this method of dyeing to painting. It requires much less space and overall I think it's quicker. My blue in the first roving (pictured above) separated into its 2 parts during the dye process, resulting in some pink that was not planned... But that's okay. It was a really good learning experience. I dyed 2 rovings, both SW Merino. I plan to spin them up so I can get an idea of how they'll look, how they'll rinse, etc.

Roving #1 - blue, green, pink, purple and gold with lots of white

Roving #2 - greens, browns, gold and yellow/orange

I can't wait to see how these spin up! I'll be doing another bunch of dyeing today, so expect more pictures to follow.