Artist Interview with Aria From The Little Grey Rabbit

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It’s my pleasure to introduce Aria from The Little Grey Rabbit shop on Etsy! The whimsical work in her and Aaron’s shop inspired this interview. Make sure to check out their shop!

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Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your shop? What made you choose the name “The Little Grey Rabbit”?

I live in the Pacific Northwest on a small country homestead, but my true home is Epernon, France, hence the reason why there is such a strong French influence in my artwork, particularly my roomboxes. My shop is named after our rescue pet, a Mini Rex rabbit named ‘Boo’, the sweetest creature in the world, and thanks to my husband who is a photographer, Boo happens to have her own modeling gig….she’s a complete ham for the camera!

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Where do you gain inspiration from for your paintings, miniature buildings, and dioramas?

My love of architecture and my passion for France inspires many of my miniature buildings, dioramas and landscapes. But there is also the quirky side of me that loves pirates and swamps (yes I know, a weird combination) so it’s not unusual to find paintings of tall ships and the bayou in my shop.

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What’s the process like to create your buildings and dioramas?

Believe it or not (and please don’t laugh), I start out by putting on music that goes with the theme of the piece that I am going to be working on: so if it’s a building in France, I play French music; if it’s a castle, I’ll play medieval or renaissance music, etc..

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I usually start the actual build with a sketch or a reference image. I build the frame work in wood, cutting and fitting each piece together like a puzzle. Then once dry I apply the clay, carving, shaping, sculpting as I go. After which I paint and apply the finishing touches. It can take me anywhere from 2 to 10 weeks from start to finish, depending on the size.

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Are you working on any new projects or works of art?

A project that I have been laboring on for a few months now is a mix of miniature building and canvas painting, with the goal of the painting looking like it comes to life with the miniature building. I loved the idea, but it’s turning out to be more difficult than expected. I never know how labor intensive some projects will be until I get the clay and paint on it.

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Handmade Eco-Friendly Brooches from Dariakash

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Good morning everyone! Today’s artist interview is between myself and Dariaka from the Etsy shop DariakashDariaka’s shop is based in Prague, Czech Republic, and she loves to create fun, eco-friendly brooches from recycled material.

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How did you become inspired to make your mixed media and paper mache brooches?

All my life I’ve always loved to sew, glue, cut, and invent new things. I always liked to embody my ideas in something created by my hands. As a child I sewed clothes for dolls, and invented houses and furniture for them. Then I began to sew for myself, to alter my mother’s old clothes or stuff I bought from a second hand shop. I loved to make original accessories for myself – earrings, necklaces, rings, but most of all I loved to make brooches. My friends wondered why I would make such interesting things for myself and not sell them, but I did not even think it was possible. I had another profession at the time – I was a sound engineer and always had a lot of work, and never time for anything else.

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Despite lack of time,  I always dreamed that my accessories would be worn by other people. Finally one day I met someone in the street that wanted one of my brooches. I clearly realized that I must change my life and do what I wanted to realize my dreams. It was then that I went to another country, began to paint, changed my profession (now I study film animation) and began to make brooches.

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Why mixed media? Because I have always loved trifles – beads, buttons, badges, pieces of fabric … As a child I brought whole pockets, wrappers, pins, stones, most of which I found on the street. Now I am always out at flea markets. I’ve got the idea to connect all these little things in my brooches. A perfect base for me is paper mache, because it seems to me alive, in contrast with plastic. At the same time this technique is very affordable if you compare it with something like ceramics, which requires a roasting oven.

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What kinds of materials inspire you the most? What kinds of materials inspire you the most?

I am most inspired by paper and paper mache, which gives me a kind of artistic freedom that I love. I can make beauty from nothing – there is always an empty egg box, from which I make sculpting bases for brooches- there are always old newspapers or magazines, with which I can paint on or make collages on brooches with.

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What kind of process do you go through in order to create one of your brooches?

For me it’s important to just sit down at the table and start working. To begin to sculpt, to spread out all the scraps I have, to put all the beads in front of me, to open magazines, to start to cut eyes, boots, hands – and then the ideas come – all the pieces begin to connect. Even when I have a concrete idea and I clearly imagine the brooch I want to make, thought the process it always becomes something else because suddenly I see a button that I like, or paints will mix to another color, and then I’ll choose another fabric, and decide that the bird will not have jeans but a shirt.
I do not believe in waiting for inspiration, to me it never came just spontaneously. I am confident that I must work and always look for inspiration, and then only through the process are my ideas born.

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Can you talk a little bit about the eco-friendly aspect of your brooches?

Once long ago I watched a documentary about how our planet is already overcrowded by garbage, which influenced me very much. After that I did not hurry to throw out old stuff. If I did not like my jeans anymore, I would alter them into a skirt – if a chair was broken, I would made a shelf from it. So it is with my brooches – I just don’t throw out the old buttons and beads, magazines and newspapers, the remains of fabric after reworking a dress. With these materials I make a completely new and different thing that brings me joy – a new brooch.

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I also try not use any chemical additives when working. Paper pulp, from which I make the basis for my brooches, consists of egg boxes, wheat flour, potato starch and water – that is all! I also use a non-toxic glue and paint. I had the idea to combine the stained glass technique with paper mache, but because of the presence of lead in solder and toxicity of pastes for soldering I abandoned the idea.
Of course what I do is but a drop in the ocean, but I believe that every little bit helps.

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Make sure to visit Dariakash on Etsy and follow her below!

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