Favourite Websites · Handmade Seller Interviews

Handmade Seller Interview: the crimson rabbit

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This week’s interview is with UK-based Debbie Seton from the crimson rabbit, who knits and sews all sorts of wonderful items including craft project bags, coin purses, brooches, quilts, shawls, cowls, pouches & dolls …so many pretty things to choose from!

And now I’ll hand over to Debbie for this week’s interview:

Tell us a bit about yourself:

How did you get started in your handmade business?

After working in the financial services sector for 30 years, when an opportunity to take voluntary redundancy arose in December 2012, I jumped at it! I decided to give myself a year to see whether I could make my dreams come true and build my own business from my own creativity.  After so many years working for others, I was keen to find out what it would be like to work for myself too – turns out that I like it!

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What first made you want to become an artist/craftsperson?

I’ve always had the desire to make things and don’t think I ever really made a conscious decision to want to become a maker – I was just born that way.  As a child, the main outlet for my creativity was my imagination, whether it was writing stories or galloping around the Yorkshire countryside where I grew up, pretending to be riding a horse and acting out my stories.  I never remember being encouraged to be creative by my parents, they looked at it as a bit of a curiosity and left me to get on with it.  My development as a maker was really incredibly muddled, learning a little about sewing at school, being shown the basics of crochet by a friend’s granny.  The main driver though was always my curiosity about how things are done, or made, and that’s still the case now – I love learning new things.

Apart from crafts, what do you like to do in your spare time?

My making life is really pretty all encompassing at the moment.  If I’m not in my work room sewing or sat somewhere knitting or crocheting, I’m frequently found with my head in a book or at the computer screen studying, or just generally butterflying around ideas.  The lovely thing is that none of this really feels like ‘work’, it’s all great fun and difficult to find the line where I cross over from working to spare time.  My husband and I love walking at the weekends, switching off and just enjoying the countryside, which is a great way to clear my mind and clarify ideas.

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How long have you been creating art/crafts and how long have you been selling online?

I probably got seriously back into making in the late 90s when I started studying with the Open University for a part time degree alongside my full time job.  At that time, distance learning relied a lot on audio tapes and whilst I was really interested in the subjects I was studying, listening to the tapes would relax me so much that I’d fall asleep!  I decided to pick up a crochet hook again and keep my hands busy making a pretty simple and mindless blanket so that I’d stay awake while I studied.  It worked a treat for my studies and at the same time reignited my love of crochet and knitting.  I was soon making all kinds of things to gift to friends and family and they seemed to like them.

When I started my business in early 2013, I had my own web site shop but soon realized that the online marketplace was so vast that I’d need to start somewhere that already had a captive audience for handmade, and opened my Etsy store in June of that year.

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Do you collect anything?

Far too many things!  I have a bit of an obsessive personality and when I become interested in something, I must know all about it and possess it in any way I can!  My main collections are fabric and yarn, although I enjoy collecting ceramics and wooden boxes and my washi tape addiction is a bit of an issue, although I do at least share that around by using it for packaging.  I live in a very small cottage with a limited amount of display and storage space, so I must force myself to edit.  Pinterest is a fabulous outlet for the hoarder in me – I have an amazing collection of fashion and cute animals there!

What are three tools in your workspace that you could not live without?

I’ll take it that the humdrum tools of my craft like my sewing machine, needles, hooks and materials are excluded from this…  My hemostats are used every day in many, many ways – great for turning things out and getting corners super sharp, but equally useful to manoeuvre a hand sewing needle in awkward places when making coin purses.  My iron is almost as important as my sewing machine as pressing what you’re sewing at every stage is essential to get good results, not to mention the amount of interfacing it helps me complete every week.  I just invested in a new iron, who I’ve called Darth Vader – it really does look like him – all black and serious.  Finally, I couldn’t be without my blue tooth speaker that my husband bought for me last Christmas – I listen to music while the sewing machine’s going and when I’m interfacing or hand sewing, I always have an audio book on – such a great way to catch up on reading whilst you’re at work.

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What invention or new product would you love to be available in the future?

I wish someone would invent an easy way to block knits!  I love knitting lace shawls and the blocking process is the magical way they’re brought to life when they come off your knitting needles.  The transformation of the knit or crochet piece can be truly amazing, but the process is deadly dull and annoying.  After soaking in warm water, you start by threading wires through the edges of your work (and the ends are completely blunt rather than softly rounded, which is ridiculous in itself) and then pinning it out onto a water-resistant surface to dry in the shape you’re trying to create.  I invariably find that one wire slips out as you thread on another, and the action of bending over for ages while you pin it out is beyond tedious.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

It would have to be the power to get people to do what I want.  I am a natural control freak, but I’m also very honest, so I don’t think I’d abuse my super power. Imagine what you could achieve with that?  Safety for the environment and world peace for starters.

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If you had the opportunity to learn one more craft you don’t already do, what would it be?

I can only pick one?!  If it had to be just one, I think it’d be ceramics, which I’m always entranced by.  I can’t imagine this will ever happen though as I don’t have the space to do it.

How many different places do you sell from?

My main outlet is my Etsy shop, although people approach me for commissions from a number of other places like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, as well as my blog.

Favourite Websites · Handmade Seller Interviews

Handmade Seller Interview: Zara Olivia Noble

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This week’s interview is with UK-based Zara Olivia Noble, who creates intricate paper cuts and illustrations. And the paper cuts are all hand-cut too – no cutting machines involved – so it’s all even more impressive!

And now we have an interview with Zara so you can get to know her and her amazing work better:

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a paper artist and illustrator based in the little seaside town of Whitby in Yorkshire, England. I studied Art & Design (Interdisciplinary) at Leeds College of Art. My work explores the notion of repetition, monotony and geometry through intricate hand-generated paper cuttings and hand-rendered illustrations; often focusing on process as well as outcome. I have produced work for various installations and exhibitions throughout the UK and Internationally.

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How did you get started in your handmade business?

I started selling sporadically to friends and family during my time at University and continued to do so after I graduated. Within the last three years my business has grown and I want to push on and continue expanding.

What first made you want to become an artist/craftsperson?

I have always been a creative and unique individual, and after studying art and design at school, I wanted to further expand my skills and knowledge at University. Upon graduation I started working with some of the finest paper artists including Andrew Singleton and Richard Sweeney, within this year I gained valid experience and understanding and it made me want to become as successful as them!

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Apart from crafts, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I am an avid runner, hockey and netball player, so when not cutting paper or drawing you can usually find me outdoors, on the pitch or on court! Exercising helps me de-stress and unwind after a day concentrating in the studio and keeps me occupied!

How long have you been creating art/crafts and how long have you been selling online?

I have been seriously creating art since starting university in 2010, and have been selling online since 2015.

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How many different places do you sell from?

I sell my work in a couple of local stores which are:

Silver Street Gallery, Whitby

and the Whitby Book Shop.

I also have work for sale in York at Kunsthuis Gallery.

I predominantly sell online from my Etsy Store.

Do you collect anything?

I am a huge No Doubt fan and collect anything and everything relating to the band and Gwen Stefani, including records, clothes and even newspaper clippings. I also collect beer mats and try to get one in every establishment I go in!

What are three tools in your workspace that you could not live without?

The three tools I could not live without are: my cutting mat, knife and most importantly lots of spare sharp blades!

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What was the best holiday you’ve ever been on?

I was lucky enough to visit Connecticut and New York to install some work during 2014, although some time was spent working this really was an amazing trip. New York is an incredible city and the two weeks spent their felt like home, I took in some of the iconic buildings and sites as well as meeting friends and even catching some ice hockey!

Any other handmade shops you’d like to recommend?

I’d love to recommend my good friend Jessica Hogarth; her work is incredible and based on the local Whitby area where we both live and play hockey. She focuses on print, pattern and surface design, check her out!

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Do you have any particular sale that stands out in your memory? Why?

The first sale within my Etsy store really stands out, it was to someone I knew locally and was a large paper-cut based on my trip to New York. The buzz and relief of the first sale online, thinking someone actually likes and wants to buy work is amazing. And I love going round to the purchasers’ house seeing my paper-cut framed and in pride of place in the family kitchen!

Bored at Home? · Favourite Websites · My Witterings

Gishwhes 2017

Gishwhes is basically a huge scavenger hunt that is open to anyone in the world (I think) – and all you have to do is find a team and be prepared to do some crazy, random, awesome stuff!

It’s one of those things that looks ridiculously fun and something that would give you a lot of anecdotes and memories, but I’d be too shy to do 😦 But if it looks like something you could do, you have until August to get your team ready.

The scavenger madness lasts one week only. Enjoy!

Favourite Websites · Handmade Seller Interviews

Handmade Seller Interview: Quirogaquiroga

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This week’s interview is with Uruguay-based Lorena Quiroga from Quirogaquiroga who makes sumptuous blankets, cushions, clothing and accessories; the blankets in particular have caught my eye and I would very much enjoy one as a gift (hint, hint to the boyfriend ;))

And now I’ll hand over to Lorena to tell you more about herself and her beautiful work…

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am Lorena Quiroga, I am 45 years old, married, and I have 3 daughters. I live in Montevideo, the quiet and small capital of Uruguay, a country with lots of open land and lots of sheep. That might be the reason why I’ve always loved wool and its advantages.

How did you get started in your handmade business?

I started working with Textile Design in 1995 while living in Bueno Aires, Argentina. I was studying Graphic Design at the time and my sister and I had the opportunity to design an entire collection of knitted garments for the company we were working for. In 1999 we started working independently and created Quirogaquiroga (making reference to our family last name). Some time later, I decided to move back to Uruguay where I focused completely on the business. Within a year, I was already selling well in Uruguay and exporting my knits to a few countries.

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What first made you want to become a designer?

As a child I always loved drawing, coloring, and painting, so I took arts and crafts workshops. As a teenager, I took wood sculpture lessons for 2 years. Later, I moved to Buenos Aires and studied Graphic Design for another 2 years. All those experiences motivated me to get my first job in a clothing store. They quickly offered me work in their factory, where I made my first steps towards becoming a designer.

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Apart fom crafts, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Yoga, walking, and enjoying nature, either by myself or with my family. At home, I like drawing, painting, and print making.

How long have you been creating art/crafts and how long have you been selling online?

I have been designing for my brand for 17 years. My first online sale was through Etsy in 2014.

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How many different places do you sell from?

In Uruguay, I sell my products at the following places:

Manos del Uruguay (a non profit social organization)

El Canuto: elcanuto.com.uy

Las Molas: www.facebook.com/lasmolas.tiendasolidaria

Largas Charlas: www.facebook.com/Largas-Charlas-1496718147227145/

La Escondida: www.laescondida.com.uy/la_escondida.html

And outside of Uruguay, I sell my products on Etsy:

quirogaquiroga.etsy.com

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In ten years, where would you like to be?

In 10 years I would like to be as close to nature as I can. In Uruguay, it would be in the countryside or at the beach. I would like to live in a green place close to the ocean, creating pieces with my own hands.

If you had to recommend one movie, which perhaps isn’t so well known, which one would it be?

One of my favorite movies is David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

Do you collect anything?

I collect textiles from around the world, some of which were bought whilst traveling. They can be antiques or contemporary, and they all have their own interesting characteristics, such as weaving or knitting techniques (mostly traditional of each place) or materials.

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  What are three tools in your workspace that you could not live without?

Measuring tape. Various pens and pencils with different colors and lines. Thread colors and wool samples.

  If you had the opportunity to learn one more craft you don’t already do, what would it be?

I would like to learn Macramé, different embroidery techniques, and calligraphy.

Favourite Websites · My Witterings

Can You Earn Money on Society6?

Society6 shop earnings

If you haven’t heard of Society6 before, it’s basically a print-on-demand company where they pay you commission if any of your graphic designs or photos sell via their website.

I’ve had a shop on there for nearly 2 years now, and I thought I would write about my sales totals and earnings to give other people (and myself) a better idea of the potential of Society6 as a money-maker.

My conclusion is that, for me, it has been worth it because I enjoy it, and because any extra side income is handy for me due to my self-employment. But it’s certainly not going to make me rich overnight, that’s for sure 🙂

I also figure that I may as well put the many graphic designs I’ve created, and photos I’ve taken over the years ‘out there’, rather than them being hidden away on my computer forever.

Anyway, I hope you find my summary useful, and I hope it helps you make an informed decision about whether you should dedicate your time to growing a Society6 shop or not.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Favourite Websites · Handmade Seller Interviews

Handmade Seller Interview: Fantails And Feet

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This week’s interview is with Australia-based Jill Ffrench from Fantails and Feet, who makes beautifully detailed bird sculptures by hand. The peacock tails, in particular, are just gorgeous.

And now Jill will answer some questions about her life and career:

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started in your handmade business?

Hello, my name is Jill Ffrench and I’m a textile artist from Melbourne, Australia. I began honing my craft a few years ago after being inspired to hand stitch a gift for a close friend. Interested in only using biodegradable materials, I was drawn to natural felt fibres, wire and wax that I still use in my pieces today.

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What first made you want to become an artist/craftsperson?

I have always been a maker, though it’s exciting to now have a clear direction in mind.  I studied clothing production and pattern making at a tertiary level, but knew that the fashion industry was never going to fit my personality.  Now I use my patternmaking and textile knowledge each time I begin a new project so it’s nice to put some of it into practice.

Apart from crafts, what do you like to do in your spare time?

My kids are pretty young still so spare time is very limited but we often explore the bushland surrounding our home and collect treasure as we go. We also draw a lot and most of the time there is music being played somewhere in our house.

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How long have you been creating art/crafts and how long have you been selling online?

I discovered embroidery from a young age but only in the last few years I have become really excited about what I can make with a simple needle and thread.

How many different places do you sell from?

https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/FantailsAndFeet

https://www.facebook.com/peagreenboatwarburton/

https://www.facebook.com/Bee-and-Laurel-Art-and-Antiques-llc

http://www.jillffrench.com/

Do you have another job? What is it?

I have worked for many years in an academic library so I have prime access to an amazing collection of art and science books and I regularly lose myself amongst the collection.  Also a lot of my embroidery is done on the train during my daily commute.

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What’s the most difficult part of your craft?

One of the challenges with hand embroidery is the time it takes to finish a single piece.  On average it takes me about 3 days to finish a small bird, but larger birds have taken me up to 3 weeks to complete. I guess hand embroidery is considered a slow craft and is something that I’ve learned to embrace over time.

What is your favourite part of your handmade business?

I love handling the felt, but the best part of my handmade business is in the needlework itself.  I like that the traditional blanket stitches that are exposed and add an element of wabi sabi handmade authenticity.

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What are your hopes and aspirations for your store and where do you see yourself going from here?

I have so many ideas and at the moment I’m focusing more on making flocks of small birds.  In the future I’d like to tackle some large species such as pelicans or tropical parrots and I know it will happen when the time is right.

What are three tools in your workspace that you could not live without?

Sharp scissors (not easy to find in a household of creative people), needle nose pliers – always handy for bending legs and especially essential when making authentic looking knees, and sandpaper for hand shaping the wooden eyes.