Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two Team Members Featured

Two of our very talented team members were featured on!
Ruth's beautiful pendant from was featured. Ruth creates lots of original, beautiful wearable art.

Bernie's fantastic organic face scrubbies from were featured. Bernie creates wonderful for your items for your skin and for your home. Bernie's work was even featured in the NY Times recently!

Congratulations Ladies! Be sure to check out their stores to see what treasures you can find!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Biology 101 with The Crafty Hedgehog

This week's featured artist is Emily of The Crafty Hedgehog. Based in Burlington, Vermont, Emily opened her Etsy shop in June 2007 and has been going strong ever since!

How did you choose your shop name?
Oy! When you open your Etsy shop, you are required to choose a name. I racked my brain because I wasn't sure at that time what direction I wanted to take the shop in, crafts-wise. I finally just decided on Crafty Hedgehog because I'm crafty and hedgies are cute. I figured I could change it later. Turns out, Etsy doesn't allow that. So Crafty Hedgehog it is.

What is your specialty and what drew you to it?
My specialty is knitting. I took up knitting about 10 years ago to help me quit smoking. I bought a ball of yarn, needles, a 1 pound bag of Twizzlers, and locked myself in my apartment over a long weekend. When I returned to work, I no longer smoked, but I still took a 5-minute break every hour to knit! I particularly like to knit toys and oddities like knitted dissections. I love making garments, too, but there is no way that I could sell those for any reasonable price. No one wants to buy a thousand dollar sweater! (P.S. It works like a charm, almost a decade smoke-free!!)
Congratulations Emily!! Way to go!

I guess the most popular thing I've ever made is Knitting in Biology 101

What inspired the creation of this item?
Hmmmm. I started out making very cute, very not-dissected frogs (which I still love to make). One afternoon, my husband made a joke about knitting a mutated frog with an extra leg. We started riffing on that idea, and soon the thought of a dissected frog came up. We argue over which of us actually thought of it (I think he just wants a finders fee!).

Does this item have any personal significance to you?
It actually does. I'm not a scientist, but I have a deep and abiding respect for what they do. I worry sometimes that egg-headedness is so looked down upon in America. Like Stephen Colbert says: many people seem to want to know things with their gut, not with their brains. I know I will never make any breakthrough scientific discoveries, but I can craft, and this is my little homage to the beauty of science.

What is your favorite part of the process of creating your item?
My favorite part is the knitting itself. I do like to come up with an idea and see it through the design process, but that can be a bit tedious and often involves a lot of math. I really just enjoy letting my hands do their work while my mind wanders. I can state definitively that needle-felting is the worst part of the process. You wouldn't think that there was anything in the fiber arts that would require you to get a tetanus shot, but you would be wrong. Yikes!

Please briefly describe a workday in your studio and how you created this item:
Well, it really depends on the piece, but many of my projects can be done in a day. Each animal is hand-knit, usually on double pointed needles. I used to knit while I was at work (my boss was awesome that way!), but the economic downturn has made me into an unemployment statistic. So, now I get up, put in a favorite DVD, plop on the couch, and knit for about 6 hours a day. I also knit on the bus, while riding in cars, while waiting for food at restaurants, and at friends' houses. A lot of my studio time is actually spent keeping up with emails and shipping. It's amazing how much time goes into boxing and labeling things.

If this item is part of a special line that you do, has there been an evolution in your process? For example, if we were to compare the first one you made to this one, what differences would there be, if any?
The dissected frog is part of a biological specimen series that I am working on. It started with the frog, and soon I added a dissected lab rat. I am currently working on a dissected fetal pig, with more creatures lined up after that. The frog itself hasn't changed insofar as the body construction. I would say that I have certainly gotten faster at knitting them up. The innards have become more interesting over time, though. I discovered a beautiful, super-bulky alpaca yarn in a light blue that I have recently been making into "intestines"!

I have had some emails from actual biologists who complain that my guts aren't accurate enough, but for some things I just had to use a little artistic license. I picked out the wool roving for the innards based on my own favorite natural color scheme!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sculpted Animals by Christina's Studio

We're starting a new series on our team blog interviewing other Etsy artists in our online community. It's a fun way to get to know who's out there and to spread the word to BUY HANDMADE!

The first interview in our series is with Christina of Christina's Studio. You may know her Etsy username as cbarjcrafts. Christina is a fellow North Carolinian from Statesville.

She opened her Etsy shop in September of 2007. Her specialty is sculpted caricature (of sorts) of mostly pets and domestic type animals. She says she enjoys clay because it gives her the instant gratification of dimension.I asked her how she chose her shop name and she said, "Ha! The shop's original name, C bar J Crafts, was a combination of my brother's and my initials...No offense to my bro, but I shoulda thought that one through a little more!"

I wanted to know more about Christy's process in creating a piece. She chose her favorite sculpture and took me through the creative process.Christy says:
As of late, my favorite piece has been one title "Sunday Kind Of Love".

What inspired the “birth” of this item? I'm a big jazz and french bulldog fan and really wanted to do a larger piece with two bullies name Ella and Louis. I couldn't quite decide how to set it up until one day while listening to Etta James sing, 'Sunday Kind of Love' this little scenario popped into my head...and know Ella and Louis now reside in Michigan.

What is your favorite part of the process of creating your item? You know, it really varies. Sometimes I think that sculpting the pieces and watching them come to life is the most awesome part and I worry that when I go to paint them that I won't be able to do it justice. Other times I'm so frustrated during the sculpting process that I'm excited to lay down the paint and see what I'm able to accomplish with color.

Please briefly describe a workday in your “studio” and how you created this item--
Hmmm...well it usually starts off with me turning on some good tunes and then I sit down with a lump of clay in front of me. For the bullies above, I referenced several different photos and played around trying to come up with the most flattering and bully-like positions. Depending on what I'm doing the sculpting process can take anywhere from 2 to 8 hours. Creating fur texture and facial details are the most time consuming.

The actual 'firing' doesn't take incredibly long because polymer clay doesn't require a kiln, so unless I'm really stressed about it, I try to at least begin the painting process the same day. For frustrating coat patterns like calico and brindle or those with lots of specific markings, I may wait until the next day. Painting can take 30 minutes to 3 hours. When I'm finally finished, I do the dance of joy, clean up my ever increasing MESS, and walk in and out of the room to see the piece in different places and case I need to fix something or add to it.

If this item is part of a special line that you do, has there been an evolution in your process? For example, if we were to compare the first one you made to this one, what differences would there be, if any?
Oh my word, there's a WORLD of difference from my first pieces to what I'm doing now, and I hope that by the end of this year there will be a greater difference- be it in styling or in the execution. If I were to pick one thing that stands out obviously, it would definitely be the eyes.

Strung Out For You

Christy's work is absolutely gorgeous and I really love the way she portrays the eyes in her sculptures. Visit her shop to see what other great works of art she produces! She also welcomes custom orders if you'd like a sculpture of your pet.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Get to know the ACE Team: An interview with Merriwood

We've had shop interviews with most of our members already, but we wanted to pay a special tribute to a very hard-working member of our team, Meredith of Merriwood Designs.

Meredith has earned this distinction by her recent achievements of being awarded her BA degree while being a wife, new mother, and artist! Congratulations Meredith!

Here she is, on the right, celebrating with some ACE team members.

I had the pleasure of interviewing her with a focus more on her personal achievements rather than her art and here is what she had to say...

I earned a 4 year Bachelor of Arts in Human Services with concentrations in Criminal Justice & Psychology in 3.5 years. I felt a little rushed but I can even imagine being in school this semester so I'm glad I'm done now!

Since my degree is not at all related to art I plan on finding work in the human services field, probably in mental health, substance abuse, or foster care. I hope to work full time & still have enough energy for etsy.. well see how that goes! On that note, my shop is taking a new direction because of new regulations with regards to lead testing items made for children. I am in the process of changing things a bit to focus more on child keepsakes such as photojournals.

How did Etsy come into your life?
It was really by random chance. I was talking to someone about where they got their adorable garters and cake topper for their wedding and she told me about etsy. I was in the process of planning my own wedding so I ordered some things & instantly fell in love.

Some of Meredith's newest creations in her shop

I have always been into painting and drawing and sewing. I haven't done any drawing since high school so I have really lost my eye for it but I've been able to keep up with sewing through mending jeans and such. I also picked up a love for digital art which I'm hoping to incorporate more into my new board book projects.
The most challenging part of coping with the demands of school, motherhood, and running a business is time! There is never enough! What is odd is that now that I'm done and have less school involvement I feel like I don't have any at all for etsy because I have to do more work around the house, take care of my son, and look for a job.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?
Never. I get a lot out of every minute of my life. People my age think I'm crazy to be married and have a kid, but we do things a little differently from most people and go for what we want. We always have a good time doing it in the end.

What advice would you offer someone facing the same challenges you faced?
Don't let other people push their negativity in your head. It is hard to stay positive. We're probably facing more challenges now than ever before.. but just smiling and putting some effort into having fun makes my whole day better. I would also suggest to do what you enjoy doing, despite what others may say about it. If it makes you happy, that's all that matters.