Showing posts with label featured artists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label featured artists. Show all posts

Featured Artist: Noelle Lewis

Pretty handmade stitch markers, storage tins and crochet hook handles from Noelle Lewis Art

One of the things I really like about knitting and crocheting is that they don't require a lot of complicated tools. Of course that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some pretty tools while you stitch.

This month I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Noelle from She recently added a new collection of handcrafted knit and crochet tools to her shop that you will definitely want to get your hands on.

Who are you and where are you from?

I'm Noelle, an artist/crafter from California. I've been creating since I was a little girl, from markers and beads to paint and clay. I started an Etsy shop shortly after high school, which grew very slowly while I worked and took college classes. Then I spent a lot of time developing my skills during my husband's deployments with the Army. Now we live a pretty quiet life with our two cats in Tennessee, where he runs a gym and I've started a website.

What do you create?

My work continues to evolve over time, but I mostly make paintings and jewelry. My paintings are acrylic on canvas, usually realistic landscapes, ranging in size from miniature to large. I make my jewelry with polymer clay, a durable and colorful medium with almost infinite possibilities. My favorite technique is probably caning, a method of piecing different colors of clay together to create an image, which is then reduced, sliced, and used for various projects. Because clay is so versatile, I can also use it to make other items like home decor and crafting tools.

Pretty handmade stitch markers, storage tins and crochet hook handles from Noelle Lewis Art

What inspires you?

Visually, I am inspired by my favorite things in nature. We have lived in some beautiful places, and looking at the trees or the mountains or the stars makes me want to create beautiful things. I'm always taking pictures of interesting flowers and animals too, and it's fun to get ideas from what other people like. Personally, I am inspired by my favorite stories - I'm a big fantasy nerd - and real people who pursue their passions, whether they're people I know or the great artists, thinkers, and entrepreneurs of the past.

What is a typical day for you?

I generally start my day with catching up on chores, going for a walk, or maybe getting some projects started. But I'm a night owl, so after dark is when I really get going. That's when I tend to work on orders, new product designs, and updating my shop and website. Working on creative projects every day keeps the ideas flowing, but sometimes I need breaks too, so I like to watch Netflix at the end of the day.

Pretty handmade stitch markers, storage tins and crochet hook handles from Noelle Lewis Art

Tell us about your product line especially for knitters and crocheters.

It started with a suggestion to make some sheep stitch markers, since I was already selling sheep earrings. I ran with it and ended up making several sets of stitch markers and crochet hooks, and even some little storage tins. Some of the designs are inspired by knit and crochet slang, some have classic yarn themed patterns, and some are just cute and fun. I've improved my sanding skills to make sure the hooks are smooth and comfortable to hold. Each item is designed to be both beautiful and useful.

Pretty handmade stitch markers, storage tins and crochet hook handles from Noelle Lewis Art

Do you accept custom design orders?

Yes! I love working with customers to create something special I might not have thought of. I can make changes as simple as color and size, or as complex as sketching up a whole new design.

Pretty handmade stitch markers, storage tins and crochet hook handles from Noelle Lewis Art

Stay connected with Noelle

Why Do You Create Handmade?

Crafters, artists and designers from around the world share why they create handmade.

We live in a world where convenience is often king. Most of us can easily obtain everything we need or want from a local big box store. That may be one reason that a lot of people just don't understand why anyone would invest the time (and often money for quality materials) to create something completely by hand.

So why do you create handmade?

I recently posed this question to my crafty followers on Facebook and Instagram. The varied responses I received were better than anything I could think of alone, although you will notice many common threads woven through the answers.

First, some humor

"It's a practical life skill for surviving the zombie apocalypse." alittlebirdhouse on Instagram

"I create handmade because I can!" kwiltypleasures on Instagram

Well Being

"I do it for various reasons. It's therapeutic, it helps me slow down in a hectic world. It reminds me I have a talent, and that I am very, very lucky to have that. And, I realized that I can make other people smile through my creations. The warm happy feeling when I see that is what makes me create." on Instagram → The Little Welsh Studio on Etsy

"I craft because it gives me an outlet for creativity. It soothes my brain. Knitting/crocheting is a place that I strive for perfection in and to expand my knowledge. Some people learn to play complex pieces of music on the piano. I am learning all about the art, structure, design, and even history of fiber arts. It also gives me opportunities to give a piece of myself to people I love." withsnowinmind on Instagram

"It's a way to relax for me. Others do yoga, I knit and spin. I also love the smile on the faces of the people who appreciate handmade items. It's such a joy to see them wear my handmade hats and shawls and socks. I do feel extremely good and proud when I finally finish a project. It feels like 'look what beautiful things you can create with your hands, out of two sticks and wool'. And of course it's a way of expressing my creativity." kanitterina on Instagram → The Science of Knitting Podcast

It's Who I Am

"Because I HAVE to for one thing. It's part of my makeup. I love the process of creation, seeing where an idea goes. And I love seeing the end result. It exercises my mind--which is important for someone who's suffered brain damage. I couldn't imagine a life that doesn't involve making things." Lin Collette on Facebook

Being Connected

"I love creating it's relaxing and keeps the mind thinking. My grandmother taught me the basic crochet stitches and embroidery at night after dinner she was always working on something. I feel close to her when I crochet even though she has been gone so many years. I don't think there's a person in the world that doesn't feel great when they get good reviews on their work. Makes me smile and we all need more smiles. Just shake your head at that person that obviously doesn't know quality work and keep doing what you do. We crafters know are work is high quality besides it's in our blood!" forpawsandhome on Instagram → forpawsandhome on Etsy

"I create handmade because it helps me to express myself as a woman and share artistic images and cultural pride with others. Many hand crafts come from or are influenced by cultural traditions around the world today and from the past as well. It's a type of self-sufficiency and response to the sped up consumer culture that helps to share and foster a sense of community among people. I love and appreciate the art, the craft, and the soul of handmade. We need to keep on with this movement and support each other and keep growing!" joliefemmebydiana on Instagram → joliefemmebydiana on Etsy

Quality Control

"I create handmade so I know nothing icky or bad goes into the products I use/eat." skinfulessentials on Instagram → skinfulessentials on Etsy


"I started making my own jewellery because I have always loved one of a kind pieces. You will not find these in a big box store anywhere. That's what I love about handmade. The creative ideas and process that translates into these beautiful pieces of art whether they are made out of yarn, stones, porcelain, paint, whatever the medium. They look like they are made with thoughtfulness, creativity and love, and they are! Walmart can't even compete." AudacityWear on Facebook → AudacityWear on Etsy

"People have always crafted--made things with their hands. I think it satisfies something deeply human in us. For me, beading is a time to get lost in colors, shapes, textures, and composition--also to experience a little of the history and culture different beads represent. For my customers, my pieces are more personal than something they could buy at a department store. Each piece is one of a kind. I think they value the difference." catchingwavesonetsy on Instagram → CatchingWaves on Etsy

Lifestyle and Values

"For some, convenience and speed is something they place a high value on. They would rather spend their time in other ways that they find fulfilling. For others, they place value on the time spent creating - whether it's the joy of learning or the sense of achievement with bringing an idea to life. Neither perspective is wrong. It's just figuring out what is important to you - and embracing that path." dellcovespices on Instagram → Dell Cove Spices Shop

"... I must admit though I do get similar comments, even from students who say things such as 'its a bit uneven and wobbly' when they make a pot. My response is always.... 'well, if you wanted perfection you would by it at Ikea. This is handmade and unique and captures the makers mark' and they always get it! Personally I create because it is part of my overall lifestyle - growing food, recycling and making... I can't imagine living any other way." dawnwhitehand on Instagram → deedeedeesigns on Etsy

"I create handmade items because it's fun, because I can earn a little extra money, because handmade gifts and more personal and loving, because it's less corporate consumer culture, and sometimes because I can turn worn out things into useful things or make reusable alternatives to disposable products." beeasinbumbledesigns on Instagram → BeeAsInBumbleDesigns on Etsy

Showing Love

"I create because it's soothing - I'm much less anxious when I'm knitting or crocheting - and because I want the recipients to feel warm, cozy, and loved." agnesmarielovesyou on Instagram

"I design and create because I love to, and I am grateful that I can. Creativity can be the basis for valued friendships. Whether it is from my garden, kitchen or sewing table it is lovely to share. Those who value handmade make the effort worthwhile." arabella_blossoms on Instagram → arabellablossoms on Etsy

Making the World a Better Place

"I create as therapy for myself, a way to make the world more colorful and beautiful. I also hope that in making my creations it brings pleasure to those who receive it, as either a gift or purchase. I create because without it I lose my color." shawnidarling on Instagram → threefatesfiber on Etsy

"What a great question!... I think I create because I enjoy it for sure, and also because it gives me the impression that I somehow contribute to the world, in a tiny way for sure, but in a concrete one. I find it empowering, and I like the feeling that I can combine productivity and enjoyment, so my free time is occupied with something that produces results and bring me joy and pride." HanjiNaty on Facebook → HanjiNaty on Etsy

Sense of Accomplishment

"Because I love to crochet and knit and the sense of accomplishment of creating something beautiful that I can be very proud to say I made it." RonHelen King on Facebook

Thank you to everyone who shared their answers on both Facebook and Instagram. You creativity, beauty and kindness is inspiring.

Happy Crafting!

Featured Artist: Rebecca from FIP Designs

If you like vibrant colors and rich textures in your bling, you need to meet my friend Rebecca, from FIPDesigns on Etsy.
I meet a lot of talented bloggers and artists virtually, so it's a real treat when I get to meet one in real life. I was introduced to Rebecca, from FIP Designs, via Etsy. She happens to be a fellow Tucsonan and now we get together for lunch every few months for some shop talk, good food and beautiful desert views.

The patio tables at our favorite cantina are small and the Tucson temperatures can be blistering but you're always welcome to pull up a chair and join us.

Until then, meet Rebecca.

Who are you and where are you from?

I’m an escapee from the corporate legal world and the very cold winters of Chicago. I spent years doing international law at several large corporations primarily in Chicago, with some temporary stints In Europe and the East Coast. In retirement, my major requirement was sunshine and no more snow- I’d had enough of wading through snow banks and digging my car out of a mountain of snow (made worse of course by the snow plow). The sunny Sonoran Desert in Tucson, Arizona was a perfect choice. Clear blue skies which seem never to end, sunshine to perk up even the dourest of people and awe inspiring scenery. But in the end, I am and always will be a Midwesterner.

If you like vibrant colors and rich textures in your bling, you need to meet my friend Rebecca, from FIPDesigns on Etsy.

What do you create?

Right now it’s jewelry, worry beads and bejeweled geegaws. (Isn’t that a great catch-all word?) I’m very eclectic in the pieces I make- thus one of my my taglines “fun, funky and elegant”. I love working with stones- be they precious or semi- precious. My preference are stones that have a rough and organic feel. You’ll see a lot of nugget jewelry on my site. I also love to combine beautiful stones with various ethnic beads- Mala beads from Tibet, Bodhi Sead beads from India,filgreed brass from Africa. Secondarily I like the classic gemstone pieces that you can wear everyday, with jeans or designer suits, and feel perfectly put together and elegant. Then again, some pieces are just happy and fun, like the pieces I make with African trade beads or Tibetan mala beads. Like I said- I’m eclectic.

When did you realize your creative passion?

Hmm. I’ve don’t really think of myself that way. Other people have told me I’m creative or that I have an “eye”, so I guess there’s something there. I just know that I want to be surrounded by wonderful, unique and beautiful things. So I needed to make that happen, be it in my garden, or home or making jewelry. And the best way to satisfy that was to make or create it myself. And doing so, served another purpose, relieving some of the stress of my job.
What or who inspires you in your crafting?

Oh my goodness- the entire world inspires me. The sun, the moon, the stars. But seriously, everything about nature inspires me, different cultures and people inspire me,history inspires me.

One example- and it involves you. I was in Honduras a few years ago exploring the Mayan ruins at Copan. There I discovered some of the most beautiful handmade pottery and beads made by the women of the Lencan Indian tribe in the highlands of Honduras. I brought some back but have been unable to get my hands on any more. I even planned a trip down there, but my husband was totally and unequivocally against it and admittedly it is a bit dangerous down there.

Then I was reading The Chilly Dog blog, and you had decided to try out polymer clay. That got me started experimenting with clay-hoping that someday I could maybe re-create some of those bead designs. I have a long way to go- but I’m learning!

What’s your philosophy about crafting and/or life?

In both life and crafting-never ever stop learning.

Is crafting a hobby, business, or something in between?

It started as a hobby 10 years ago, but then I opened my Etsy shop and needed to make sure I met all the business expectations, so it has become more of a business at this point.

How did you choose your brand or shop name?

The name FIP started as a family joke. My husband and I were discussing retirement with my sister and her husband one day, speculating on when we might decide to retire. We each came up with an answer and then it came to my brother-in-law, who is a well respected federal court judge in Chicago. He was adamant that he would never retire because he didn’t want to be a FIP. Understandably our response was ”What the heck is a FIP???”

It seems that it means he did not want to become a Formerly Important Person-e.g. a FIP.

So my shop became FIPDesigns. And we still laugh about it.

What is a typical day for you?

Retirement has brought me freedom from schedules (hallelujah), so I don’t have a typical day. For me waking up, reading the news and deciding over a cup of coffee what I want to do that day is heaven.
What is an ideal day for you?

I wish I could say that I do 4-5 hours worth of work on my jewelry, but when I get started I work for many, many hours and let everything else slide. So I guess my ideal day is one that is a bit more balanced.

What projects are you the most proud of?

Generally the one I just finished. Really though, the pieces I’ve made for my family and friends are my favorites. I love being able to make something special just for them. That and the bookshelves I decoupaged for my husband one Christmas. All wild west wanted posters and old postcards accented with brass clavos. It turned out really neat and we have a mini dispute over who gets it- me, in the living room, or him in his library. He’s won round 1.
What is the strangest thing you have ever created?

A paper mache flying pig. Red, with pink polka dots, stars and gold wings. It sits proudly in my living room.

How do you deal with crafting failures?

Not very well, I fume a bit at myself, then go vent at my poor husband. Then it’s back to my workshop to do it over. The worst though is when I have a picture in my head, I can see what I want, but I just can’t seem to create it as I see it. Now that requires big time venting.

Where do you do most of your crafting?

I’ve taken over our formal dining room and expanded to the kitchen from there.

Have you ever experienced a dry spell when you put your crafting aside? If so, what brought you back to crafting?

I often do when I get back from a trip, but walking past my dining room with all my stones and materials as well as looking at the pictures from the trip (such tremendous craftsmen the world over) inspires me to get back to it.

What keeps you busy when you are not creating?

I’m trying to get better at marketing- I’m really bad at it and it doesn’t help to be an introvert. Other than that I love traveling- with a passion, both to see family and friends but also because my husband and I are both avid history buffs. I’d add that I’m also a culture hound- I’m fascinated by other cultures and people. Really in conjunction with that, I am a research junkie, if something catches my interest, I’m off and running on Google. Travel planning, politics, art, music, polymer clay, you name it, I research it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your craft, or business tips to help others with small crafting businesses?

Be open to connecting with and learning from others. The Etsy community of artists is so helpful and you need to really jump in. I still have trouble doing that, but I’m getting better. I also seek out craftsmen and artists where ever I go. Most are eager to share their own expertise and insight with you. And it’s all those talented people that keep me plugging away when I hit that frustrating “give it up” stage that we all go through on occasion.

Stay Connected with Rebecca
FIPDesigns on Etsy

Featured Artist: Connie from Bungalow 42

Meet Connie from Bungalow42 on Etsy. You'll love her seriously whimsical adornments!

Today, I'd like to introduce you to Connie from bungalow42 on Etsy. I feel pretty lucky because I have actually won two of Connie's jewelry creations (and I adore them!!) through giveaways hosted on two different websites. What are the odds?

Connie's shop features what she calls "seriously whimsical adornments" and I can't think of a better way to describe her work.

When did you open your shop and what made you decide to do so?

May 22, 2014. As is probably true for many Etsy shop owners, I started making “adornments” for the women in my family: relatives and what my friend Kathy calls the “family you choose”.
My friend Audrey christened my work as adornments which sounded perfect to my ears. I also owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Hilary in NYC who has her pulse on the nuance of what’s kitsch and what’s “krap.” And an “oh wow” to my cousin Kelleigh who was delighted to report that my shell earrings were a hit at her local LA coffee shop.

This family of women has been my inspiration, guinea pigs, unfaltering fan club and enthusiastic supporters of this endeavor.

Also, like many others, no doubt, I decided to open my Etsy shop because of their encouragement and belief in me. I can only imagine how many Etsy folks first heard the words “…you could sell these!” from a member of their family. I personally found these words to be humbling, inspiring, exciting and frightening.

Tell us about yourself.

One of the most challenging aspects of opening my Etsy shop has been the need to overcome my propensity for privacy.

Also I just don't see myself as that interesting. Not great fodder for an engaging bio question - right?
If I pretend that I am chatting with a new friend who has expressed interest in my life story I would probably talk about my professional career in the music business. Not the glamorous side mind you… predominantly tech related and project management roles. Next I would imaginably describe my creative endeavors which spanned years but intensified significantly after my mother passed unexpectedly. I found some vintage African white heart beads that I subsequently learned were very old while cleaning out her studio. This was surprising as my mother was a potter but she was always squirreling away odd bits and pieces with the firm belief that she would eventually find a way to use them.

It was shortly after my mother passed that I had an opportunity to seriously focus on jewelry design. My first formal design included those vintage white hearts. Heartened by the support of friends and family and the pure joy derived from this creative process, I decided to seek instruction, research tools and techniques all while working to improve my skills.

I am grateful to my aunt Dianne for constantly reminding me that my mother would be proud of her daughter’s endeavor.

Tell us a bit about your products.

My "seriously whimsical adornments" pair sterling silver findings, gemstones, seashells, pearls, vintage and handcrafted beads from around the world with delicate but sturdy plastic chain, silk thread or cord and waxed linen thread.
I have always been drawn to fun, whimsical pieces but the quality of the findings and the workmanship was always important.

Weight and humor is a major focus in my work. I strive to create lightweight pieces that won't weigh you down but will hopefully make you smile.

An instructor who was reviewing my work summed it up stunningly. She said that the pairing of sterling silver findings with vintage beads, shells, freshwater pearls and plastic chain or linen thread conveyed a “take me seriously” element. I was struck by how easily she succinctly described what I was trying, albeit unknowingly, to achieve.

Where do you live and how does where you live influence your creativity?

Austin, Texas. I have to admit this is not something to which I have given much thought... but I think that people are a primary source of inspiration and endless fascination in my work and in my life. Austin, whose motto is “Keep Austin Weird”, is truly a treasure trove of talented, creative, fun and weird (in a good way) people.
Also known as the “Music Capital of the World”, Austin has a seemingly endless well of gifted musicians whose music ranges widely and delivers daily inspiration. When I am lucky enough to carve out some bench time in my day, music is always playing and much of that soundtrack is peppered with Texas flavor.

What are your future goals and dreams for your shop?

My goals for the business are modest. My pieces are mostly made from vintage and/or limited stock. I have no desire to create the same piece over and over again. My work is not going to appeal to a massive audience. Not everybody is going to intuit plastic or bookbinding thread as serious jewelry components. My goal is to find that niche group of people with similar sensibilities.
Not (previously) a social media maven, I am working to cast a bigger net for that niche group with the aid of social media. Improving my grasp on social media tools is a goal for this and future years.

My dream? Getting the shop open and having total strangers purchase and appreciate my work... well that is pretty much a dream come true already.

What makes your business stand out?

My hope is that my business stands out because my pieces are fun, unusual and well made. I strive to describe the pieces as if I were chatting with a friend including nerdy history or factoids.
Customer satisfaction is enormously important... being responsive to customer queries and shipping promptly are just as vital as creating well-crafted pieces from quality materials.

My first five star review was such a rush. I can only hope that every purchase will be similarly prized.

What is your greatest business achievement?

Opening my Etsy shop. While that may seem a bit low on the “GREAT” meter, it was a huge achievement to me. I spent well over a year researching successful Etsy shops, working on my photography skills and copy writing techniques before launching the shop.
Getting the shop open and having total strangers purchase and appreciate my work is my greatest achievement thus far.

Where do you do most of your crafting?

Not a particularly novel start, like many others my initial work space was also our dining room table. Most of my tools and materials were stored a flight down from the dining room and many of my initial photos were taken a flight up on the balcony.
After years of stair climbing we moved to a larger space where I was able to carve out a comfortable work area in our shared office and studio.

Having a dedicated work bench, room for photography equipment and ample (for the moment) storage for tools and materials all in the same room on the same floor feels positively lavish by comparison.

Why do you believe people should buy handmade, such as your products, vs. buying mass-produced products from box stores?

Not everyone can afford nor are they drawn to handmade products.

Affordability is always a consideration in my work. I realize how relative the term "affordable" can be but with that goal in mind I vowed to work within a retail price ceiling of $75. Most of my pieces are well below that price point.

For those who are drawn to and fortunate enough to be able to purchase handmade items, I hope that they are swayed by the unique and well-crafted elements of my work.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Do the homework/research. Read the Etsy Success emails and other related documentation. Join an Etsy Team. The opportunity to meet other similarly inclined folks, the exchange of ideas and generous offers of support and encouragement are awe-inspiring.
If photography is a new skill, give yourself plenty of time to work on your photos before opening your shop. In the first year my skills improved dramatically but of course that meant that I wanted to reshoot my entire inventory - several times. Had I just focused on a few pieces until my skills improved I could have saved myself a lot of time.

Etsy sellers are frequently also Etsy buyers. Look at your favorite shops and think about why you are drawn to those shops. In addition to the products sold, consider the different components of these shop that you find appealing. If you focus on these components when you plan and build your Etsy shop, chances are that you will be pleased with the results.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

Spending time with my husband who is also my best friend is my favorite way to unwind.

We love sharing movies, good food and wine, books, politics and time with friends. He's also one of the funniest and kindest people on the planet.

I am a very lucky girl.

Meet Connie from Bungalow42 on Etsy. You'll love her seriously whimsical adornments!
Stay Connected with Connie

bungalow42 on Etsy

Featured Artist: JJLadell's

Meet Brent and Holly Gerdes from JJLadell's on Etsy. Their shop is filled with whimsy and joy!
I truly appreciate the unique quality of hand crafted items. Maybe that's why I spend so much time browsing Etsy and Amazon Handmade. How can you resist an item that is made with great skill, care and of course, love?

When you visit Brent and Holly Gerdes's Etsy shop, JJLadell's, not only will you notice the skill, care and love that goes into every object, but you will also get a great big helping of whimsy! Brent's little, carved critters are sure to put a great big smile on your face!

What do you create?

I make wood chicken carvings, whimsical carvings, sling shots, Nativity sets, wooden toys, and I'm starting to get into treasure scoops and magnets.

Carving the wood chickens is my favorite. I've been doing it for 6 years. I bought a book and am self taught.

Hand carved chickens from JJLadell's on Etsy
When did you realize your creative passion?

I've always enjoyed creating with wood, since I was a youngster. I just found a new outlet when I was injured at work and could no longer do heavy lifting. I used to make larger pieces like bookcases, beds, cedar chests, etc.

Hand carved farm from JJLadell's on Etsy
What or who inspires you in your crafting?

I grew up on a farm where we had chickens and I loved watching them. Each one has their own personality.

When my children were little I made them wooden toys. My wife collects Nativity sets.
What’s your philosophy about crafting and/or life?

I believe that if you don't enjoy what you are doing it won't become a work of art. You have to enjoy life and crafting. Doing my artwork is a way to express my joy and love.

Is crafting a hobby, business, or something in between?

Crafting has started as a hobby but is growing into a business. It has been fun to grow on Etsy.

What is a typical day for you?

I usually do my Etsy in the morning and then chores, gardening and such and then spend the evening and spare time carving or creating other items for my shop.

My ideal day would be to garden and carve all day - throw in some camping trips and let the other chores do themselves!

Hand carved nativity from JJLadell's on Etsy What projects are you the most proud of?

I am very proud of my carvings, they seem to take on their own personalities. I am also grateful for the opportunity to create the Nativity sets and creches. It is so good to know that there are still people who are wanting the Nativity sets and creches.
What is the strangest thing you have ever created?

I had a co-worker who wanted a butchered chicken carving. It was interesting, but not one of my favorites. People are very interesting.

How do you deal with crafting failures?

I have so may whimsical carvings that aren't seeming to sell on Etsy - they do when we can show them in person, but that isn't an option right now. So I have them in a box and am thinking about how to market them differently or just what to do with them.

Whimsical owl from JJLadell's on Etsy
Where do you do most of your crafting?

I have a family room that we have turned into the crafting room - my wife does crafting too - and I spend a lot of time in the garage, good thing I have a heater.
Have you ever experienced a dry spell when you put your crafting aside?

I do so many different things that if I don't have the ambition to do one craft I can set that aside and do something else until I can be energized to return. It helps the creativity to flow.

What keeps you busy when you are not creating?

There is always something to do - household chores, gardening, camping, trips, Church... Does it ever stop?

Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your craft, or business tips to help others with small crafting businesses?

My biggest tip is to make sure to do something you love. And don't be afraid to try something new.

Hand carved sling shots and toy cars from JJLadell's on Etsy Stay Connected with Brent and Holly

JJLadells on Etsy

Featured Artist: Knots and Sparklez

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft.When I think of macramé, the first thing that comes to mind is a kitchy, 1970's era, jute plant hanger dangling from the ceiling and filled with a sprawling spider plant. At least that used to be the case until I discovered Knotz and Sparklez on Etsy.

Vicky, the shop's owner, adds a modern twist to macramé, along with some sparkly bling, creating intricate jewelry designs that are sure to change your opinions about the retro craft.
Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Vicky and I’m originally from Genoa, Italy, right on the Mediterranean Sea, I have also lived in Germany for 10 yrs by the beautiful Bavarian Alps and reside now in NYC with my family.
What do you create?

I’m a macramé artisan, my specialty is micro macramé, namely I create jewelry and accessories by knotting tiny cords in various patterns and adding other components like beads, crystals, charms, more to make my pieces unique.

I have crafted necklaces, chokers, bracelets, arm bands for watches, rings, pendants and hair accessories and I plan on adding much more in the future.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. What is your favorite craft or hobby and how did you learn it?

I have always been crafty, it is in my family and we were taught as kids to crochet, knit and do embroidery, we also did macramé in summer camp, these were daily activities for us much like kids now plays with electronics. My mother and sister are both crafters, they can make just about anything, and my grandfather was very crafty as well, during WW2 he supported his family by crafting things out of what he could find, fixing anything he could land his hands on and bartering those services for food for his family. So these were programmed in our genes I don’t think however that I have a favorite.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. What or who inspires you in your crafting?

Just about anything, a pattern I see on someone’s clothing, a color pattern on a store window, someone wearing a piece of metallic jewelry that gets me wondering if it can be reproduced in fiber form.

What’s your philosophy about crafting and/or life?

Not sure I have one, I’m not that great at philosophy… but I would say persevere once you start something.
Is crafting a hobby, business, or something in between?

I would say a bit of everything, right now it has to be my business since I’m a stay at home mom and I dedicate what little free time I have to my little crafting adventure I called Knots and Sparklez.

This allow me to be creative, generate some income and most of all by doing it from home I can still take care of my family, even though at times it is hard to combine all these tasks seamlessly.

Maybe once I can return to work it will be my hobby.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. How did you choose your brand or shop name?

For a while I sat thinking what a good name would be but I was sure it had to have the word Knots in it being that it is what I do, then looking at a pile of sparkling crystals it came to be so I added Sparklez and so Knots and Sparklez it was called.
What is a typical day for you?

A very long one…lol… I try to do some actual work early in the morning when the house is quiet and I can focus, knotting and counting, measuring and jotting down notes, figuring out patterns and how they work with different beads, requires a certain amount of focus unless you want to redo the same steps over and over. Then there is marketing, posting on social media, answering messages and emails, sending invoices and packaging items, the list is endless, and usually in the afternoon I have more focus on family, homework, dinner etc. In the evening I go back to work for a while with whatever requires my attention.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. What projects are you the most proud of?

The ones that gave me a hard time at first and I almost gave up on, but after setting them down for a while, I picked back up and like magic everything came together. It is just about the right time, sometimes if something does not seem to work, I know it is not the right time yet, but eventually an idea will come along at the right time.
What is the strangest thing you have ever created?

I don’t think anything strange in particular. I have recently been asked to craft a watch armband by a lady without actually having the watch face with me, so creating the arm band only was a challenge but with the lady’s help we figured out how to do it.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. Where do you do most of your crafting?
On my office chair. I have a little corner in a room where we keep our computers and desks, and that is where I spend most of my time.

Have you ever experienced a dry spell when you put your crafting aside?

Not really, I usually have to force myself to set it aside, before we lose ourselves in the house! So I take care of what requires my attention and then get back to it, with a list of items I absolutely have to make that is a mile long! Unfortunately not all turn out to be feasible.

What keeps you busy when you are not creating?

Taking care of my family and keeping the house with a minimum of order, being that our household is comprised of mostly disorganized individuals…lol… If I have time I love to read that is the only other thing I love aside from crafting.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your craft, or business tips to help others with small crafting businesses?

I would say if you want to start one, try to find something unusual that sets you aside from everyone else’s. There are tons of businesses and to be noticed you have to be different.

The other thing is learn as much as you can about marketing, social media and venues you can use to sell your crafts. There is so much to learn, but it is doable, just learn first so you will be ready. There are many Facebook groups geared toward specific crafts where you can interact with other crafters, ask questions, read and learn a whole lot. I know I did find very valuable information that way.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft.
Stay Connected with Vicky

Featured Artist: Your Niche Factory

One of my goals in 2016 is to introduce you to a new artist each month. To get things started, I feel lucky to present two creative English teachers from New Hampshire, Jessica Ryan and Sarah Fenerty, the owners of Your Niche Factory on Etsy.

What do you create?

Jess: Sarah is a truly fantastic artist, so we had the idea to start putting her art on cards, totes, shirts and mouse pads. I just started making headbands, and I love it!

What is your favorite craft or hobby and how did you learn it?

Jess: My favorite hobby is writing. It’s something that has been just for me, and I’ve been doing it since I can remember. I’ve gotten pretty crafty since getting out of college, so I have a knack for making headbands and homemade costumes. It’s definitely been a lot of trial and error!

Sarah: I have too many! I love cooking, reading, writing, and playing the piano, but my art is by far my favorite. There's nothing better than having a blank canvas in front of you. I guess I've just been drawing since I was little. I'm constantly inspired by other artists and illustrators.

When did you realize your creative passion?

Jess: I definitely started feeling more of a passion when I got out of college. I really focused on writing for so long, and it was just a breath of fresh air to try something new. I didn’t know how much I would enjoy this and running a shop until I met Sarah. She definitely lit a fire in me.

Sarah: That's something that has always been there- my imagination has always been running rampant. I think when I was younger and realized I could draw the world in whatever form I wanted, it completely changed the way I saw everything. Later when my family and friends took an interest in my art, it only encouraged that passion. It's a great feeling know that people find joy in something that came from my head. Jess was the push I needed to share it with a larger platform.
What or who inspires you in your crafting?

Jess: I am definitely inspired by literature. My favorite series of all time is Harry Potter, so a lot of the graphics and script reflect that.

Sarah: I try to be open to as many things as possible when it comes to finding inspiration. Lately, animals and music have played a big role in my artwork. I'm obsessed with elephants so they come about pretty frequently in my illustration work. Dreams are another fun inspiration- whether they're mine or friends'!
What’s your philosophy about crafting and/or life?

Jess: It would definitely be to always remember the reasons we started this in the first place. We wanted to do something different, and we wanted to spread beautiful art to others.

Sarah: I think my philosophy has to do something with people needing to find that creative outlet that provides them with both happiness and release. Life gets so chaotic, and it's an amazing thing to take a step back from it and get lost in whatever it is you love to do-whether its drawing, carving, knitting, gardening, cooking, making music, etc. I hate when people say they don't have a creative bone in their body. We all do! You've just got to tap into it.

Is crafting a hobby, business, or something in between?

Jess: It definitely started out as a hobby, but as we got more and more into designing graphics and planning for the future, it turned into more of a business venture. We still have full-time teaching jobs, so we have definitely had to find a delicate balance between Your Niche Factory and teaching.

How did you choose your brand or shop name?

Sarah: What I love about our shop is that we offer a wide range of products and designs- stuff for everyone. We all have our quirky and unique interests, and it's our goal to produce products that will appeal to people with niche interests. A niche is that special, comfortable place you find for yourself, so we thought why not apply that to the hobbies and interests of our consumers- a store that caters to your own niche in the world.

What is a typical day for you?

Jess: In a typical day, I wake up early to spend a bit of time with my dog and boyfriend before I have to leave for work and then I spend the day teaching my quirky, crazy and lovable sophomores and seniors. When I get home, I try to go to the gym; I’ve definitely been making an effort to be healthier lately. After all of that, I work on things for Your Niche Factory for a couple of hours, while my dog patiently (not patiently at all) waits for me to give him all of my attention.

Sarah: A typical day for me consists of a busy and entertaining day at school with my awesome kids, lots of talking with both my people at school and at home, a few cups of great coffee, some yoga, and at least one new sketch. Guilty of binge watching Netflix in between drawing and grading.

What is an ideal day for you?

Jess: An ideal day would be a day I can see my family and just take a minute to breath. It would include my dog because I am obsessed with him.

Sarah: An ideal day would consist of waking up not tired, getting in some early morning drawing, seeing some good friends and family, grabbing a coffee at a cozy bookstore, cooking an awesome meal, and then hanging out around a bonfire.
What projects are you the most proud of?

Jess: I love the “I Believe In Magic” shirt and tote. It sums up so much in a simple phrase.

Sarah: That's a tough question! I'd have to say the drawings I've made special for family and friends that later get reproduced for the store. So many of them have special meaning.

What is the strangest thing you have ever created?

Sarah: Oh, that would be the ceramic angel I made for my mom my senior year in art class. It's awful, seriously the ugliest thing you've seen. She still has it in a curio cabinet, and I've been trying to break it for years.
How do you deal with crafting failures?

Jess: When we started this, we knew there would be failures, but we’ve taken it all in stride. We look at what worked and what didn’t and move forward from there, and we usually get a pretty funny story out of the failures.

Have you ever experienced a dry spell when you put your crafting aside? If so, what brought you back to crafting?

Sarah: There have been several times where I've fallen off the band wagon because no ideas are coming to mind. Usually when an event occurs that elicits a lot of emotion for me, I'll find myself reading from my sketchbook. I'm an emotional person so that dry spells never last too long, haha.

What keeps you busy when you are not creating?

Jess: Teaching keeps me super busy. When we are on school vacations, I get to spend a lot of time with my dog and family. I feel like I am always on the move in terms of having places to go, so I usually try to make sure I just have some “me time” in my schedule.

Sarah: Like Jess said, teaching doesn't ever let you feel not busy while school is in session. When I do have downtime, I'm big into socializing, trying new recipes, and catching up on my personal reading while in the bathtub. I also love to travel.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your craft, or business tips to help others with small crafting businesses?

Jess: We do what we love, and we hope those who visit our shop love what they see. I think my tip would be to not get discouraged and to keep trying to get your name out there. Keep doing what you love!

Stay Connected with Your Niche Factory

YourNicheFactory on Etsy
YourNicheFactory on Facebook
@yournichefactory on Instagram
Pins from Your Niche Factory