Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

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It’s my pleasure to introduce Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings! You can follow her on Instagram, as well as check out her Etsy shop and website. 

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Can you tell me about yourself, your journey with weaving, and the story behind your shop? What’s life like in Manitoba, Canada and the balance between being an artist/crafter and a mother?  

My name is Rebecca Riel, but most people call me Becca. I have degrees in Political Science and Social Work, but after having my son two years ago, I decided not to go back to work. At the time we were living in a very small town in rural Manitoba and childcare was limited. While on my extended mat leave, I became a little stir crazy and got really into DIY projects. I actually started with woodworking and re-finishing furniture. Until that time (like many other people I’m sure!), I had always said “I’m not the creative type.” I now realize it’s not that I wasn’t creative – it’s that I had never given myself the opportunity to BE creative.

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

I had always excelled in academia, but never explored my artistic side. As I got further down the DIY rabbit hole, I started signing up for some workshops – one of which was weaving. I have to tell you that I was a disaster at my first workshop! I tangled my warp thread so bad, even the teacher was surprised (haha)! In any event, I fell in love that day – despite the fact that it didn’t come naturally to me at first. So I took my loom home and slowly traded my woodworking projects for fiber projects. I had the idea to try to weave a map in the shape of my home province of Manitoba and suddenly people were asking to buy them. It started with friends and family but sort of organically grew into something else. Last fall, after much encouragement from loved ones, I gathered up the courage to open up an Etsy shop and haven’t looked back. That’s how Riel Finishings was born. It’s pretty much the ideal job for me! I’m someone who has struggled a lot with anxiety in my life, and I find weaving so therapeutic. The fact that I get to do it as my job now is just unreal to me!

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

How do I balance being a mother and an artist? In short, not very well! I am so grateful for how busy I have been since my shop opened. That said, sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. We have had to seek some childcare for my son, just so I can keep up – and most of the time I still feel way behind. My house is usually messy and I don’t cook as often as I’d like. That said, I wake up every day being so grateful for this opportunity and the growth I’ve experienced!

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

Can you tell me a little bit about your ‘mapestries’? How did you term that awesome phrase?! 

The most popular items I sell at the moment are “mapestries” (map + tapestry). While I began weaving maps of my own province of Manitoba, gradually I started getting requests for other states and provinces. The term “mapestry” came to me one night at 3am when I was up with my son. It literally just popped into my head, in a rare moment of genius!

Fresh week, fresh warp. Get it, hustle, go 👊🏻! 📷: @jfphotoanddesign

A post shared by Riel Finishings (@rielfinishings) on

What kinds of yarn and looms do you use and recommend?

Yarns: I love using a variety of textures in my tapestries. My favourite yarns to work with are hand spun and hand dyed, which I source from other small shops around the world. I’m also passionate about using recycled and reclaimed fiber in my work. You can frequently find denim, mudcloth, and recycled wool in my tapestries. They look unreal, and are also better for the environment. In terms of yarn I would recommend, it really depends on your textural preferences. I would caution against using anything acrylic, because it totally messes with your tension. Some of my favourite yarns to weave with are from: Knit Collage, Fly Yarns, Love Fest Fibers, Divinity Fibers, and Silk Divine.

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

Looms: I have a LOT of looms! Some of them are handmade, but my favourites are from Lost Pond Looms and Funem Studio. Both companies make excellent looms in a variety of sizes – really perfect if you’re just starting out.

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

 What have been some of your favorite projects and commissions?  

I was recently commissioned by a resort in Manitoba to weave some tapestries for their suites. This commission was the first larger-scale order I’ve ever received, which was a huge milestone for my business. The catch is that they wanted me to weave a buffalo. Yes, I said buffalo and I’m not talking about the place, I’m talking about the animal! When I read the request, I instantly panicked! If you have some familiarity with weaving, you know that some shapes are more difficult than others. I figured there was no way I could do this tastefully, but I challenged myself to give it a try. To my complete surprise, it turned out really well and I’m proud I was able to push through that challenge. I’m somebody who has always been a little insecure. I worry about failure and about what others think of me, and the thing about art is that there’s no room for those fears. You have to push through them. I try a lot of different things and they don’t always work out, but that’s okay, because sometimes they do and it’s magic!

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

Do you have any advice for artists and crafters just getting into weaving?  

I don’t have much in the way of advice for new artists, because, well, I myself am still so new! I would have to say that it’s really important to find your own voice as an artist/weaver, which sometimes means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. When I put on my artist hat, I try not to let the rational/analytical side of my brain rule, and instead follow my heart and my gut. Sometimes that is the scariest feeling, it means being totally vulnerable and putting yourself out there, but you will never know what’s possible until you take risks. If you would have told me when I first opened my shop that by April I would have a waiting list of commissions, I would have laughed in your face.  So I suppose at the end of the day, it’s really important to believe in yourself and just keep weaving. Oh, and never take yourself too seriously! Weaving is all about exploring different fibers and textures – it’s as much about the journey as it is about the final tapestry.

*Some photos featured in this post were taken by talented photographer Janique
Fortier, see her website here

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Weavings and Wall Hangings by Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

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Learn how to weave your first woven wall hanging in this Skillshare class!




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Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co.

It’s my pleasure to introduce Lauren from The Eddy Line Co. Etsy shop! You can follow The Eddy Line Co. on Instagram @theeddylineco and check out the website.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your business?

I have pretty much been making art since the beginning – my mom and I like to joke about how I once wrote the tooth fairy a letter asking for “more practical things than quarters, like crayons!” Although art was always a true love, it was never a big school thing for me. My high school barely had an art program and I hated the idea of being graded on art anyways. After high school, I went to college to study Sociology. After school I was pretty unsure of my future. I ended up being a swim coach for a few years and bought a super fun 100 year old house, I was really trying to be a grown up. But I was stuck and not happy with where I was going. After some pep-talks with my parents and the realization that I could change my direction, I applied to art school, sold my house, and moved back to my college town to study photography.

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome

I fell in love with pinhole photography and still hope to get back to making those images again someday – but that practice is very darkroom reliant and I didn’t have any access after school. It was very important to me that I keep making, in some way, after I graduated and I ended up ordering a loom online just to have something to keep my hands busy. I made one or two projects on the small loom and immediately knew I wanted to try it on a huge scale! Jonny built me a 5 foot wide loom (and now a couple others) and I was hooked. Jonny and I started The Eddy Line Co. together with the dream of me making art and him making furniture. I have the privilege of getting to try and see if we can make a space out in the art/maker world while he keeps his big boy job for now. He is a huge support for me though, making our looms, creating custom boxes for shipping and doing our post office runs. While I make the fiber art pieces, there is no doubt that this business is a team effort for us both.

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome

What drew you to fiber arts?

After school, I went through a period with a lot of anxiety. I needed something that could keep my hands (and mind) busy while I figured out my next steps. I had learned some of the basics of embroidery in a textile class I took in college so I started a few small stitching projects for friends and wedding gifts. That one class “Intro to Textiles” I think it was called, was a huge inspiration for me. I’m definitely that person who just needs a few of the basics and then I’m off figuring out my own direction. Both my embroidery and hand dyeing basics came from that class.

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome

I think I was drawn to weaving because of the color and texture and just experimented with my little loom until I taught myself some basics. I was determined to make things that I wished were out there, while at the same time not making something you could already find.

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome

Where do you draw your inspiration for your woven wall hangings?

Finding inspiration is one of my favorite parts of making! I am a huge collector of images. I can get stuck in the Pinterest world for hours and I love it, but I also take a lot of pictures wherever I go. I look for color combinations in everything, as well as different textures, shapes, and compositions. I can see future projects in architecture, fashion, nature hikes, paint colors, plants, paintings, everything.

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome

What is the creative process like behind making one of your pieces? How long does it take to finish a larger piece?

The process behind a piece can vary as much as the piece itself. Sometimes they start with just a color palette and a size, sometimes I just know I want it to be round and neutral, sometimes it is completely based off a photo – the same colors and composition. The less rules I place on my work process, the more freedom I have to mix it up and make new work.

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome

I recently was commissioned to make a piece that was 5 feet wide and 6 feet long – it took me about 45 hours of actual weaving time to complete.

Interview with Lauren from The Eddy Line Co., #weaving #wallhanging #homedecor #interiordesign #modernhome
Do you have any recommendations for those looking to get into fiber arts, weaving, or selling online?

If you are interested in getting into fiber arts, my recommendation is just to go for it! (Same with selling online – I had to just hit start and figure it out from there or else I never would have begun.) If you are someone that works best with rules, find a class or book that can teach you the basics. If you don’t necessarily like coloring inside the lines – I think fiber art lends itself to experimentation and it can be really fun. You don’t have to make a huge financial investment to try it out, and, except for dye projects, you can pretty much pick them up and put them down for any amount of time you have. No pressure, just enjoy it. If you aren’t enjoying it, try something else.

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Check out Skillshare for classes on weaving like this one:

Weave Your First Woven Wall Hanging


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Delphine Leviste: Collage & Diorama Artist from Amboise, France

 

It is my pleasure to introduce Delphine Leviste from Amboise, France – collage & diorama artist from the Atan Mouala Etsy shop. The following interview contains both English and French translations.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? Pouvez-vous me parler de vous-même et de votre voyage avec l’art?  

As far as I can remember, I always drew. While I was a child I was rather reserved and shy, and this was my way to light. I remember that on each of the doors of my elementary school, the teacher had hung one of my “works”. Childhood is golden…something to continue to cherish  and especially not to forget for the rest of your life. No doubt this is why I naturally became a teacher. I work and attempt to convey my passion every day to youth 10-15 years old. Each of my activities feed each other, being an artist at home and a teacher
the rest of the time.

D’aussi loin que je puisse me souvenir, j’ai toujours dessiné. Alors que j’étais une enfant plutôt réservé et timide, c’était ma façon à moi de me mettre en lumière. Je me souviens que sur chacune des portes de classe de mon école primaire, les maîtresse avaient accroché une de mes “œuvres”. Pour moi, l’enfance représente l’age d’or…celui qu’il faut continuer à porter et surtout à ne pas oublier tout le reste de sa vie. Sans doute est ce pour cela que tout naturellement je suis devenue enseignante. Je travaille et essaie de transmettre chaque jours ma passion à des jeunes entre 10 et 15 ans. Chacune de mes activité nourrissant l’autre, plasticienne à la maison, enseignante le reste du temps.


Where do you get inspiration for your art, in particular your art boxes? Où obtenez-vous de l’inspiration pour votre art, en particulier les boîtes d’art?  

I arrived at drawing through observation of by studying the natural world. My sources of inspiration are often from nature and cabinets of curiosities. I’m constantly producing work on large format canvases…this was a challenge for me being a small woman! And then when I became a mother, we had to find another way to work for lack of time and space! As I tired of pencil drawing, I began to create dioramas, which allowed me to go smoothly to creating a larger volume of work. I currently have a collection of 100 small boxes (but I’ll probably not stop here!). I found the idea of a new diorama from my collections of “little things” that accumulate at the bottom of my drawers, and I’ve noticed that the link with childhood is more present in the latest boxes I’ve created. My starting point can also be an old photograph. In that case I then feel very invested in giving new life to the forgotten faces in the photo.

Je pense être arrivée au dessin à travers le dessin d’observation de mes leçons de sciences naturelles. Aussi mes sources d’inspiration ne sont jamais très éloignées de la nature et des cabinets de curiosités.
Pendant longtemps j’ai produis des toiles de grand format…c’était comme un challenge pour moi qui suis une toute petite bonne femme! Et puis lorsque je suis devenue mère, il m’a fallu trouver une autre façon de travailler afin de composer avec le manque de temps et de place aussi! De coup de crayon en coup de crayon, j’en suis venue à créer des dioramas, ce qui m’a permis de passer en douceur à la mise en volume. Je me suis fixée comme objectif de constituer une collection de 100 petites boîtes (mais je m’arrêterai sans doute pas là!). Je trouve l’idée d’un nouveau diorama dans mes collections de “petits riens” de “pas grand chose” que j’accumule au fond de mes tiroirs…je remarque que le lien avec l’enfance est de plus en plus présent dans mes dernières boîtes. Mon point de départ peut être une photographie ancienne. Je me sens alors comme investit de la mission de donner une nouvelle vie à ses visages oubliés.


How is life in Amboise, France? Do you enjoy selling on Etsy? Comment se passe la vie à Amboise, en France. Aimes-tu vendre sur Etsy? 

I just moved to Amboise this summer, which is in the center of the France: this is a big change in life for me my husband and two kids! (before we lived just north of the France). Amboise is a beautiful city that is part of a UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape. It is also the city of François 1st and Leonardo (his tomb is here in the castle of Amboise). This life change has slowed down my artistic activities in recent months, but I have just finished installing my new studio – photos on my blog – and I cannot wait to get back to it.

Etsy was a revelation for me. I can create without stress and at my own pace,and I have fun seeing my dioramas go to the four corners of the world. It is a possibility that I would have never been if forced to use the classic exposure systems. It was also an opportunity for me to gain regular clients. I also spend a lot of time browsing on there (and sometimes buying). I’ve found so many varied, inspiring and high quality creations.

Je viens d’emménager à Amboise, au centre de la France, cet été: C’est un grand changement de vie pour moi mon mari et mes deux enfants! (avant nous habitions tout au nord de la France). Amboise est une magnifique ville, classée au patrimoine mondial à l’Unesco.C’est aussi la ville de François 1er et de Léonard de Vinci (son tombeau est ici, dans l’enceinte du chateau d’Amboise). Du coup ce changement de vie à quelque peu ralenti mes activités artistiques ces derniers mois, mais je viens tout juste de finir d’installer mon nouvel atelier –des photos sur mon blog– et j’ai hâte de pouvoir m’y remettre.

Etsy a été pour moi une vraie révélation. Je peux créer sans stress et à mon rythme, et ,je m’amuse de voir mes dioramas partir au quatre coin du monde. Possibilité qui m’aurait jamais été offerte si par le systèmes d’exposition plus classique.Ce fût aussi pour moi l’occasion de faire des rencontres, avec des clientes régulières. Je passe aussi beaucoup de temps à m’y promener (et parfois à acheter). Je trouve qu’il y a des créations très variées, inspirantes et de très bonne qualité.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you create? Quel type de musique aimez-vous écouter pendant que vous créez?   

I have very eclectic taste in music. When that I create I need music that moves, often something like rock, but sometimes Bjork…the atmosphere has to be playful!

J’ai des goûts musicaux très hétéroclites.Lorsque que je créer il me faut de la musique qui bouge, souvent du Rock mais aussi parfois du Bjork..il faut que l’atmosphère soit enjouée! 

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Pretty Little Thieves: Artist Interview with Nancy Mungcal

Today we welcome Nancy Mungcal from the Pretty Little Thieves Etsy shop! You can find Nancy on Etsy, Instagram, and her artist website prettylittlethieves.com.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?

Art making and creative work have always been a part of my life. Several years ago, I took a leap of faith and decided to pursue art full time. On most days, I spend the morning writing while painting and drawing take up my afternoons and well into the night. Depending on my deadlines, my work schedule can vary.

Besides art, I have a strong love for books, especially poetry.  I live in California.

   

What’s the story behind your sad girl and cat paintings? Where do you get your inspiration?

During a show, someone came up to me and said “even your animals are sad”. My work has always been about exploring recurring themes of connections and disconnections as well as duality, loss, heartache, sadness, and uncertainty.

I am incredibly fortunate to have people in my life who constantly inspire me.  I also believe it’s important to maintain an art practice and to make new work, that inspiration comes from doing that work. Poetry, art, music, and road trips are also inspiring.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you create?

This changes often but usually Nick Cave, Mazzy Star, and lately, Sparklehorse.

How has selling been going on Etsy?

I’ve been selling on Etsy since its earlier days. I’m grateful to the platform for giving me the opportunity to show and sell my work.

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The Vibrant Paintings of Melbourne Based Artist Christine of Bellablackbird

I’m excited to introduce Christine from the Bellablackbird Etsy shop. Christine is based in Melbourne, Australia. You can follow her blog at bellablackbird.blogspot.com.au, as well as her Instagram and Pinterest.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? What is life like in Melbourne, Australia?

I originally came from England where I worked with children under five. In the early nineties, my family and I made a life changing decision to emigrate to Australia. I always had a strong interest in art so began to study both visual art and illustration full-time. Digital media was amazing to learn as it is so versatile, combining textures, painting and Photoshop effects and brushes to make illustrations is so creative and flexible.



Where do you draw your inspiration and vibrant color schemes from?

Painting is another part of who I am. I’m inspired by nature and the vibrant landscapes and the intense colour of Australia. I’m influenced by visual aspects but I usually start a painting without a defined composition and keep layering until I’m happy, my paintings are often very abstract in style.



What materials and mediums do you enjoy working with? Do you have any specific brands that you can tout?

I paint with acrylic paint and really love the Ampersand boards as a surface. I recently returned to creating softer work with watercolour on paper which is fun to do, using Arches Cotton Rag 300gsm thickness and Holbein paints.

We live in a small coastal town and have a large garden full of native birds, which I often paint in watercolour. It’s very peaceful but different to Melbourne which has a vibrant arts community. I enjoy visiting the designer’s craft markets in the city and buy the handmade jewellery, ceramics and bags.



Do you have any favorite music that you like to listen to while you create? 

I do love to listen to music while working and my tastes change all the time. My favourite musicians at the moment are David Bowie, Coldplay and Florence and the Machine. Being a child of the sixties I also love Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen.


Are you working on any new and exciting projects, or have any outstanding artistic or business goals for the near future? 

I don’t have large goals but I’m focused on constantly adding new work to my Etsy shop. I’m also learning how to block print and have a couple of projects in mind. My social media always needs lots of work and I’m thinking of starting a new website.

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Meet Marleen Kleiberg: Painter from The Netherlands

I’m happy to introduce Marleen Kleiberg from the Marleen Art Etsy shop! You can follow her on Etsy, Instagram, and Facebook to stay updated on her work.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? 

I live in a village in The Netherlands with my husband and 5 kids.
A long as I can remember I’ve loved doing creative things like cross stitching, sewing, drawing and painting. After high school I started my career as a nurse in the hospital, but I didn’t stop being creative.
When I had more kids I began to work less and started seriously as an artist.

Can you tell me a little bit about where you gain inspiration? 

I have learned a lot from books and by visiting exhibitions.
I have tried to make progress by making small artworks. I had of many of them and when I heard about Etsy I immediately started a shop. That’s perfect for a mum I thought! My larger paintings are for sale on Saatchi Art. I am still surprised that I sell so much there. Every sale makes me happy.

I find inspiration in and around my home. I love to be in my garden and the forest near my house.  I like to paint kids with watercolor or larger in oil on canvas. Inspiration comes also from the internet, like Instagram or Pinterest. There are so many beautiful photos.

In every painting I try to give it a glance. I think that’s in every painting I make. I do that with a dark/light contrast but most with a color contrast. I never ever use pure black or brown in my paintings, I mix them with primary colors.

My studio is in the basement of our house. It’s a nice space to work.

Are you working on any new and exciting projects, or have any outstanding artistic or business goals for the near future? 

I have done small canvases for a long time. But now I make large botanical paintings and I am busy with a beach series. It’s good to change sometimes to improve yourself and to find new techniques to use.


I am also making a website, which is not my favorite thing to do, but my goal is to go online on 1 September.

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Recommended Reading

Etsy Excellence: The Simple Guide to Creating a Thriving Etsy Business

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Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

It is my pleasure to introduce Etsy artist Jessie Cunningham from Ontario, Canada! Jessie’s shop, Past Your Porch Light, is a charming place where “grizzlies wander and owls take wing.” We both hope you enjoy this artist interview and can give Jessie’s shop a look-see!

Each creature you sculpt seems to come from a dreamland! Where do you get the ideas for your soft sculpted creatures?

That kind of dreamy quality is something I really value, in art and in life, and I’m so pleased that it comes across. For the most part my inspiration comes from where you’d expect, nature and wildlife. I grew up in Canada with access to the woods behind our house and as a child I’d climb trees for hours exploring that world. I had notions of being a professional animal watcher or leaving home to make friends with orcas off the coast of British Columbia, and while I grew out of those somewhat unrealistic ideas (mostly) I’ve never lost my fascination with the animal kingdom. There’s a magical quality to those sort of unconquered areas of life that I can daydream about for hours, personalities or stories I can imagine creatures having, and more and more that’s where my creations find their beginning.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

That dreamland and the details in our own natural world play the biggest parts – I can obsess over conveying the weight in a grizzly bears footstep, or capturing the posture of a badger pausing to listen to its surroundings before moving on. Other times even a song or scene in a film can spark an idea.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Why did you decide to use this soft sculpting medium for these creatures and not another medium? How long does it take you to make one of your soft sculptures?

It’s been a slow process of discovery but the love and obsession was immediate once found. I’ve tried many kinds of art since I was young, I knew I wanted to create but not always what or how.  When I first dabbled with fabric I worked with faux fur- it’s great stuff but messy and can be difficult to maneuver, which is ultimately why I discovered felt as a medium.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Wool felt sort of happened to me when I was dealing with some health issues that restricted me from using more labor intensive materials, it was something I could easily pile next to me on the couch on a bad day and sew by hand. During that time I watched a lot of nature documentaries, and one day was struck by the image of a polar bear. Their silhouette and posture is so distinctive, almost otherworldly, and I knew I wanted to somehow capture that, and the feeling it gave me, and make it into something tangible. That iconic shape became the focal point of that first soft sculpture project, and those are things I pay close attention to on every new undertaking. While I still integrate previous mediums into new works, wool felt has really taken root with me. It may change, it will definitely evolve, but for now I’m really enjoying finding those shapes and feelings in felt.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

How did business on Etsy start and how has your experience been so far?

I found Etsy more out of necessity than because I had a plan. I posted something I’d made on another website and to my shock it became popular very quickly, people would message asking how to purchase and I needed to scramble to figure that out. The business aspect is the area I’ve struggled with the most – I didn’t go into this established as an artist, or even as the person I was going to be, it’s been something I’ve grown alongside of (sometimes clumsily, I changed my brand name a few times.)

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

I think a lot of artists get into this “JUST CREATE” mindset and maybe don’t put the effort they may have to into getting the art seen. For a long, long time that was a huge issue for me, but Etsy has taught me a lot. There’s a really resourceful community there rich with advice and opportunity, but I also think promoting off the website is very important too. Instagram has been my biggest help in that arena.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Do you have any future plans for your business and do you plan on adding any new creature designs to the shop?

At any given time I have about 6 new creature designs in a prototype stage, with dozens more on paper and loping around my mind. As for future plans, they range from developing a better understanding of color combinations and design to something as ambitious as having a studio space. I’m still very much in my beginning stages so I’m mostly happy to continue to learn- but I also have some very cool collaborations coming up as well that I’m pretty excited about.

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Jessie also sells enamel pins in her shop along with her soft sculptures:

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie Cunningham

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Etsy Excellence: The Simple Guide to Creating a Thriving Etsy Business


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Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

I’m happy to introduce Anastasia from the Etsy shop Asilda Store. Anastasia’s shop is based in Playa del Rey, CA, and focuses on selling pins, patches, and stickers for photographers (especially film photographers!). Feel free to read my interview with her to get to know more about herself and her life selling on Etsy, and make sure to check out her shop!

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

The concept behind your shop and items is so focused and unique! Where did the idea  come from of starting a shop that sold patches, pins, and stickers for photographers? 

I got involved in a pin/patches project for a motorcycle company back in May of 2014. Then I did a trip on Route 66 and bought everything I could find along the way. I looked at all displays, all packaging, all patches and pins I could find. At that time I got the bug. After doing 6 tour patches for the motorcycle company, I got more into it and wanted to expand the lineup to more designs and more stores. That didn’t get any support, so I was sitting at home around Xmas time thinking I should just do something for myself. I knew film photographers including myself who are very passionate about the craft, so that was clearly a great starting point. I am currently selling products in 2 series, with the future plans for 2 more themes. It’s all coming up, but in a remote future. With 3 designs I launched the store and in an hour got an order for 5 items. Then more orders started to come in, and more… I think this is very much a skyrocketing business to be in right now.

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where your love for photography came from?

If you read my bio, it’s kind of a wild jungle :). Tennis player, entrepreneur, photographer, store owner, web designer, etc. I have many interests and if we’re talking about Asilda Store, it was never the main thing I always wanted to do. I see my career in photography as the focus. Just so happened that I also really like working on the business side too, and am involved with multiple companies on that end. I love doing reviews, I love working on new pins and patches…it’s just all part of a mix of who I am. I tend to mention just a few things when I meet new people because everything together becomes too much. But it feels comfortable to me to have so many interests. Asilda Store somehow combined all the things I learned from everywhere else and added up to become this awesome venture that I am very proud of.

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

What process do you go through to create and complete one of your patches or pins? They’re so eye-catching.

There is a lot of research and preparation involved. I start with general ideas and things I want to tell people through the phrases and designs. I look up tons of inspiration photos and pull everything I can to give to the designer. I usually work with 1-2. It’s been a challenge to find new designers to keep the volume going and stay true to how I want things to look. So there has been many times when I had to back away from working with some designers. I have a briefing document on the specifics of manufacturing of pins and patches with thread colors, guidelines on borders and coloring. Both pins and patches are pretty technical when it comes to making them, so I’m still learning what works best and what doesn’t. For a new person it’s not easy to imagine how a vector design will look as a product, so I try to train and help my designers as much as possible. I have one awesome guy who did most of what I have in store right now and he keeps getting better and better. Once the illustration is complete, which usually takes weeks before it’s looking exactly how I imagined it, I talk to the manufacturers and get the digital proof with recommended changes. After that I choose the materials and sizing and send all this off to production, which is another 3-4 weeks. It’s a long process…

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on EtsyInterview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

How has business been on Etsy? 

It’s picking up. I am doing much larger volume through the main website store (asildastore.com), but Etsy is a perfect place to capture the audience that’s craving for cool things like pins and patches. Etsy is for people who appreciate all the different crafts and that is why it’s a great place to reach many passionate enthusiasts for specific products, like mine.

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Do you have any advice for the blooming creative seller?

Make and sell what you like. Also, enjoy the process of promoting your products. I’ve started a business before where I liked building the product, but not selling it and that whole things failed pretty quickly. You need to have a bit of an obsession :).

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

Make sure to visit Asilda Store on Etsy to get one of these awesome pins/patches/or stickers!  Anastasia also sells t-shirts.

Interview with Anastasia from Asilda Store: Life Selling on Etsy

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Recommended Reading

Etsy Excellence: The Simple Guide to Creating a Thriving Etsy Business


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