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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

quirogaquiroga chunky blankets 1

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

Jill Ffrench 4

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.

Favourite Websites · Handmade Seller Interviews

Handmade Seller Interview: Another Studio

Another studio gifts 2

This week’s interview is with U.K.-based Aimee from Another Studio, who designs creative and original gifts & homeware including miniature cress gardens, vases, and architectural model kits.

My favourite is the kit for the metal planthouse, as shown above. That would look fantastic on my desk!

And now I’ll hand over to Aimee to tell you more about herself and her products:

Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m Aimee and run Another Studio, a craft design practice based in London.

How did you get started in your handmade business?
I was always interested in art and design and studied BA Applied Arts at Middlesex (many years ago!) which was a very hands-on course so we were primarily based in the wood, ceramics or metal workshops, experimenting with materials and learning different making skills and techniques.

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What first made you want to become an artist/craftsperson?
From a young age I was always crafting and making things; be it houses for my dolls, shoes made from cardboard or stencilling patterns everywhere and anywhere. Now I’m having flashbacks to a mosaic window shelf I created, and the sun & moon themed bedroom decor I had when I was about nine years old!

Apart form crafts, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy going to the gym and working out – it frees my mind from work. I also love to cook and experiment with new dishes.

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How long have you been creating art/crafts and how long have you been selling online?
I launched my first product in February 2010 – PostCarden, a miniature garden you send in the post. Since then I’ve designed new pieces every year and make creative bookmarks, architectural model kits, pencil pots, vases and light shades!

How many different places do you sell from?
We have quite a range of products and sell these all via our website:
www.another-studio.com
Our Etsy shop also sells most items: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AnotherStudio
In addition, we sell select designs to a lot of museums in the UK such as the design museum (designmuseumshop.com) and Royal Academy (www.royalacademy.org.uk).

Have any pets?
Stanley, a little dachshund pup (he has his own Instagram: www.instagram.com/stanleysausagedog)

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What is your favourite part of your handmade business?
I’m constantly learning new skills and techniques, so I’m always experimenting; be it with computer software, use of materials or production processes – I’m pretty self taught so I’m always happy to use new projects as an opportunity to teach myself something new.

What are three tools in your workspace that you could not live without?
Scalpel, blades and ruler.

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What was the best holiday you’ve ever been on?
I had a whirlwind 36 hours in Venice and enjoyed every second. It was amazing how much of the biennial we crammed in whilst soaking up the atmosphere and walking around the beautiful streets.

What is your earliest memory of creating something you were proud of?
We were lucky enough to be taught ceramics at primary school. I made a dodo-type bird which I still have today, and I’m still proud about how cool it is.

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Favourite Websites · Handmade Seller Interviews

Handmade Seller Interview: Mcbeard Ceramics

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This week’s interview is with U.S.-based Hilary from Mcbeard Ceramics, who makes wonderful minimalist tableware (often with a speckled pattern which is just my favourite thing!)

And now I’ll hand over to Hilary to tell you some more about her shop and her life:

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I am the owner/maker/designer of Mcbeard Ceramics, a small handmade ceramic tableware company based in Colorado Springs, Colorado (USA).

How did you get started in your handmade business?

At first it was a side hustle to my full time work as a pastry chef, but when more and more orders began coming in I set up an official business.

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

My sisters and I loved doing arts and crafts as children, and my dad signed me up for my first real pottery class when I was about 12. There I made my first wheel thrown ceramics. Now I love the control and freedom having my own company provides.

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

Besided running my business, I am working on finishing my undergraduate degree in Russian language and culture. I’ve been studying Russian language for about 5-6 years, and it is slow going but I hope to speak fluently one day!

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

My college ceramics instructor encouraged students to sell work right away, so I have been selling a bit for about six years. I opened my Etsy shop a few years ago, but then closed it for a couple of years. I re-opened last early Spring and have been busy since then. The new incarnation of my shop is much more professional!

How many different places do you sell from?

I have settled on just one location for now, besides my Etsy shop. Ladyfingers Letterpress is a stationery store and letterpress print shop in downtown Colorado Springs, owned and run by an amazing couple who moved from Providence, Rhode Island. They keep a small selection of my cups and mugs, among other products from unique small companies and their own greeting cards, and they have been totally ideal wholesale customers!

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

The first that comes to mind is a smooth walnut cutting board made by a friend of my boyfriend who was apprenticing at a local woodworker’s. Not only is it beautiful, but as a former pastry chef I really appreciate having one cutting board used only for fruit and chocolate!

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Do you collect anything?

On a recent trip to Mexico we picked up a linocut featuring masked luchadores, and since we already have an oil painting of wrestlers, by our friend Cymon Padilla, I guess we now collect wrestler-themed fine art, haha.

What is your favourite part of your handmade business?

Designing a new collection of ceramics each season. It is so much fun honing what I make and coming up with a selection of pots that both look interesting as a group but that I also think will sell!

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

My best tool is a small wedging table my dad built when I set up the studio last Spring. The top is just big enough to wedge up clay balls from one bag of clay, and the shelf underneath holds all my other tools. Then my wheel: an old Creative Industries I got from someone selling it online, but that was the catalyst to me setting up my own workspace at home. And lastly, my little scrap of plastic bag used to smooth the rims of my pots. I hang onto the same scrap for much too long, and have in fact had this one since setting up at home last May!

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

Travelling through Morocco with my boyfriend and his family, especially the Fez medina, the Atlas mountains, and Chefchaouen. Highlights were the copper craftsmen pounding copper in a tradition going back to the eighth century, orange vendors in Tangier, and the freshly cured olives and fresh green olive oil absolutely everywhere we went!

Any other handmade shops you’d like to recommend?

Two of my favorite local makers are The Universe Conspires and Light Provisions.

Favourite Websites · Handmade Seller Interviews

Handmade Seller Interview: On The Tide

On The Tide Shop 1

This week’s interview is with Jo from On The Tide, who creates absolutely charming art from driftwood found on local beaches. The tiny houses are particularly ideal as gifts for people who have moved into a new home.

I interviewed Jo about her work:

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started in your handmade business?
Well, my name is Jo and I make houses, beach huts, lighthouses, boats etc out of driftwood and other recyclables.

I moved down to the South Coast 5 years ago having lived in land-locked Bedfordshire for most of my life. Before moving, I worked in schools helping children with special educational needs; a job I loved but I knew when I moved I wanted to do something different and ideally work for myself.

I started out upcycling ‘brown’ furniture into ‘shabby chic’ for 2 years, but got a bit fed up with that, if I’m honest! I always walked our, then 2 dogs, on the beach and often picked up pieces of driftwood and other flotsam and jetsam thinking, ‘I could make something out of these’ and then a friend sent me a picture of a row of little wooden houses she had seen in a shop and that’s when I thought ‘I could do that’ and that’s really where I started!

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

I wanted to work for myself (or at least give it a go) and I’ve always been quite arty crafty. 15 years ago I did a City and Guilds Certificate in Life Drawing which was amazing and I have often considered going to uni to try and obtain a degree in art – maybe one day! I love experimenting with different materials and textures.

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

In my spare time I’m trying to teach myself to crochet! I also like reading, walking our dog Bill, and would love to have a go at lino printing. Oh and I’m a football fan and a regular at our local non-league team, Eastbourne Borough Football Club.

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

I’ve been ‘ ontheTide’ for nearly 3 years now. I first set up my Facebook page www.facebook.com/onthetide with the help of my daughters (!) and then my Etsy shop followed soon after. However, art and crafts have always played a big part in my life as I love trying new things!

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How many different places do you sell from?

I currently sell in:

Starlings Art and Craft Collective in Bexhill, East Sussex

Songbird Trading, Sheffield Park, East Sussex

Bea Lach Cafe and Gallery, Tornapress, Scotland

Lighthouse Lane, Howarth, Yorkshire

How did you come up with your shop name?

I can up with my shop name as the bits I collect come ‘ontheTide’ !

Have any pets?

We have one rescued dog; a lurcher called Bill. We’ve had him for 6 years.

If you had to recommend one movie, which one would it be?

My favourite film is Coyote Ugly; I would love a pub like that to be my local!

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

Linocut printing.

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

My saw, sandpaper (is that a tool? – if not I’ll say my hammer!) and my glue gun.

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Favourite Websites · Handmade Seller Interviews

Handmade Seller Interview: Deshca Designs (Metal Sculptures)

Deshca designs horse

This week’s interview is with a UK-based sculptor called Shaun, from Deshca Designs, who creates amazing (mainly copper) metal sculptures inspired by nature and wildlife. His creations would definitely made an eye-catching statement in your home or garden, especially the horse sculpture (pictured above), which I think is particularly spectacular.

Now it’s over to Shaun for the interview…

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started in your handmade business?
Hi, my name’s Shaun Jeffrey and I make copper sculptures. I started crafting a couple of years ago after I stopped writing fiction, which is something that I’d done for over twenty years as a hobby. I had a few books published by small press publishers, but having never made it as the ‘next big thing’ I became disillusioned with the writing scene.

I still needed an outlet for my creativity though, and I sort of stumbled into sculpting. I often saw items at craft fairs and online, and was always impressed with them, and it was a case of “I’d like to have a go at making something like that”.

I originally took design in metalwork as a subject at school, which admittedly was over 30 years ago, but it was always one of my favourite subjects, so it felt natural to return to something I’d enjoyed before.

Deshca designs lilypad

What first made you want to become an artist/craftsperson?
I’ve always been creative, and I love the process of making things, so becoming an artist was a natural progression as an outlet to channel that creativity. Obviously that passion is contagious, as my other half makes greeting cards (mainly handmade anniversary cards) that she sells through our brand on Etsy at: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DeshcaDesignscards

Apart from crafts, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Although my spare time is mainly taken up with my metalwork and my family, I also do self defence in the form of Krav Maga, which is Israeli in origin. I do that at least four times a week, for a couple of hours at a time. It’s a great form of fitness and you come away hopefully being a little more adept than you were before. Until recently I’d also done Tae Kwon Do, which I did with my son for over nine years.

How long have you been creating art/crafts and how long have you been selling online?
I’ve been creating for just over a couple of years. I’d always intended trying to sell, so after teaching myself the process of making them, and when I felt the standard was high enough, I started selling them, so that’s been around two years too.

Deshca designs flower

How many different places do you sell from?
I sell via the following venues online:
Etsy: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DeshcaDesigns
My own website: www.deshcadesigns.com
Folksy: folksy.com/shops/DeshcaDesigns
Amazon.co.uk: www.amazon.co.uk/handmade/DeshcaDesigns

How did you come up with your shop name?
The name Deshca Designs comes from the first two letters of my family’s first names. De from Debra, sh from Shaun and ca from our son, Callum.

Do you have another job? What is it?
Crafting is only a part time hobby, and my full-time job is as a signalling and telecommunications engineer on the railway.

What is your favourite part of your handmade business?
I find the actual process of making something the most satisfactory part. When you start with a flat piece of metal or pipe, and then start to work, something starts to take shape, (hopefully) turning into something recognisable, that’s where the magic happens, and the sense of achievement comes from. Of course not everything turns out great, but the more you persevere, the better things often turn out.

Deshca designs hummingbird

What are your hopes and aspirations for your store and where do you see yourself going from here?
I hope to eventually be in a position where I can make my sculptures full time, but I realise that’s ambitious. But it’s always good to have a target, no matter how high that target may be as it gives you something to strive for. I’d also love to have an exhibition of my work some day.

What would your dream job be?
My dream job would be doing what I’m doing, but on a full-time basis. Hopefully dreams can become reality.