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.

April 13, 2009

Etsy Monday - Nova Designs

After a brief hiatus from the series due to some family issues (and the time spent playing catch-up), I'm pleased to bring Etsy Mondays back! This week's featured seller is Tess, "the Swede" behind Nova Designs. Tess makes absolutely gorgeous metal work jewelry with a botanical feel that is perfect for Spring! I fell in love with her designs the moment I found her shop, and I'm so glad that she took the time to answer some questions for us.

Brass Growing flower earrings

I love the air of optimism that seems to occupy her whole shop. Tess' interview reveals the same positive vibe and it's a treat to read more about her craft and her outlook on life and art. Here's what she had to share:

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

I can't recall a point in time where I realized it. I think I've always been an artist of some sort. Being raised by a single mom that is also a very talented artist really helps to kick start your creativity and imagination. Arts and crafts have always been around me.

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

I started making jewelry in polymer clay back when I was just a little girl. I used to sell my necklaces at my mothers art exhibitions. I picked up my jewelry making again a few years back and I got more and more interested in metalwork. I am all self taught and It's been quite a journey to get where I am today. I've always loved jewelry and now I get to wear as much as I want!

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

I love challenges and acquiring new skills that I can apply to new designs. I am constantly developing my style and thinking about new ways of doing things. The sky is the limit!

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

Everywhere! Driving on my way to work (my day job as a graphic designer). In line at the grocery store... Walking around in nature...

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

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I like to leave that question to be answered by all of you.

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

I used to do a lot more graphic design, but when it's been your day job for over 10 years, it gets kind of old.. Two things that keeps me sane is snowboarding in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. It allows me to be outside in nature while my mind can wonder freely.

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

Love what you do and the rest will follow. Don't create to sell. Create what you love.


In closing...

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

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

To read past interviews with "Etsy Monday" featured artists, click here!

April 12, 2009

Featured on Etsy Front Page!

My Cherry Blossom needle felted pouch was on Etsy's front page yesterday! Unfortunately I was sleeping while it was there, but a few people were nice enough to let me know they'd seen it. Today I was able to get this screen shot from the Etsy Front Pagers group on Flickr.

A huge thanks to Etsy seller lisahopkins for including me in her gorgeous treasury! Her etched silver jewelry is absolutely stunning. Be sure to check out her shop as well!

April 5, 2009

A New Goal - 100 Items!

I've been in a nice creative mode lately. Between making a whole whack of new headbands and pouches, and fine-tuning the other new ideas I have for the upcoming months, I've really been excited about my work! I've been listing regularly, participating in forum discussions on Etsy and reading lots of blogs. It's been great getting reacquainted with all the awesome people on Etsy and my enthusiasm for my shop has been renewed - it feels really good!

Still, I've noticed myself stalking my own shop, checking and rechecking for sales and other activity. You Etsy sellers know the what I mean - you log on, check out the shop, answer convos, maybe head to the forums, make a few posts. And hey, while you're still on you might as well check the shop again. Maybe read a couple of blogs, check out Ravelry or Flickr or the like. And you never know, maybe something's happened in the shop by now, better check again... and so on until you start to feel disappointed and discouraged that nothing has sold and you want to scream at yourself to step away from the computer! And of course meanwhile all that time could have been spent actually making something! It's okay, you don't have to admit it (but I might feel less crazy if you did!) I know I can't be the only one!

will KNIT for food american apparel tank top
by moresassvintage (I LOVE this shirt!)

I've decided it's time for me to try a new tactic. I want to enjoy the creative process and the feeling of productivity and stop at that. I don't want to worry about whether or not things are going to sell when I'm making them because it inevitably takes much of the fun and freedom out of the process. So, I've got myself a new goal. Instead of watching my sales so closely I'm going to focus on filling up my shop. I'm aiming for 100 items and I'm really looking forward to working toward that goal. I've got some great ideas for Spring and Summer and I want to approach them whole-heartedly. And hey, if sales are slow, it'll actually be helping me to reach 100 items. Well, I wouldn't go that far, but at least I'll have something else to focus on!

In a similar vein, I'm reading a GREAT book right now called "Your Money or Your Life" by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez. It's all about changing your relationship with money and work, and (among other things) recognizing the value of the unpaid work that you do in your life. The book is basically set up like a course, and I'm just reading it through once to get a broad view before I start in on the program. I plan to start a new series on my blog to share any insights I gain in the process of working through the book in earnest. For now, in order to help escape the craft=sales trap, I'm making a point of noticing all the things I get from selling on Etsy that have nothing to do with money. Like the chance to get to know so many great people and talented artists, and the encouragement and kindness of other sellers, or being a part of a movement that is questioning the mentality of our society and working to re-educate people on the value of handmade art. These are just a few of the many benefits of Etsy, the ones that are available whether sales are up or down.

Artwork by (you guessed it) an Ape!

I'll leave you with an excerpt from the book, about a study conducted on apes that fits perfectly with what I've been thinking about lately.

"In The Biology of Art, zoologist Desmond Morris tells of an experiment in introducing the "profit motive" to apes. The first step was teaching them to be artists and to produce drawings and paintings that were decidedly lovely. Once their "art" was established he began to "pay" them, rewarding them with peanuts for their work. Under the reward system their artwork quickly deteriorated, and they began turning out hasty scrawls just to get the peanuts. "Commercialism" destroyed the apes as artists and got them scrambling for the peanut instead."

Something to think about... Fellow crafters, feel free to leave your thoughts on this subject in a comment - I'd love to hear them! What do you do to stay motivated when sales are down? What other forms of "payment" do you get for your artwork?

Cherry Blossom - Light brown needle felted pouch

I've just added a new needle felted pouch to my Etsy shop! This is the first one I've made in quite a while and I had forgotten how much I love working with this medium!

I'm so happy with the way this one turned out! Cherry Blossoms are the perfect thing to get me thinking Spring. I used silky Kid Mohair locks for the blossoms and dark brown merino wool roving for the branch. I had a bit of difficulty finding a lining fabric that went well with the design, but in the end I used an earthy batik cotton that I think works perfectly!

There will definitely be more needle felting hitting the shop soon! I love the forgiving nature of the craft, the way I can shape and re-shape the roving before committing to the final placement allows for the design to come about in a very fluid and organic way. No wonder I do so many trees and branched - the roving practically begs for it! I've got another few pouches knit up and felted, just waiting for the needle felting. Also, I plan to make some needle felted cuffs in the next couple of weeks!

April 3, 2009

Featured in Spring Treasury

My "Black Sakura" headband has been featured in an absolutely gorgeous Cherry Blossom themed treasury on Etsy today, thanks to seller aurorafedora.

Although I always appreciate being included in treasuries, I don't often share them on my blog, the exceptions being the few times I've made it to Etsy's coveted front page, or the ones that really stand out for me. This treasury is one of those! I love every piece in this collection and overall it is just so pretty and Springy that I couldn't help posting it here.

So, I'd like to thank aurorafedora for including me in this beautiful treasury! Her shop is great as well. She sells handmade greeting cards such as this "Pink and Black valentine." I will definitely be keeping her in mind next time I need to give a special card!