Interview with Fiber Artist Mandi Smethells | Maker of Imaginative Fiber Wall Hangings

I’m so excited to introduce everyone to fiber artist Mandi Smethells! Her imaginative fiber wall hangings are just the thing to brighten a room. You can find Mandi’s work in her Etsy shop, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook. Mandi’s work was also recently featured in the Mollie Makes magazine!

Fiber Art Wall Hangings by Mandi Smethells Speak to the Beauty of Nature | Minnesota Based Fiber Artist | "Being a mom, and observing daily the wonder and imagination of my children is my biggest inspiration." #fiberart #wallhanging #sculpturalwallhanging #fiberartist #homedecor #interiordesign #interiordesigninspo #wallhangingideas #cozybedroomideas #livingroomdecor

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with sculptural fiber arts?

I am a full time fiber artist living in St Paul MN. This “job” is a dream come true and something I have been working towards since the moment I decided as a child I wanted to be an artist. I only discovered fiber art a little over four years ago, and I have been obsessed ever since. I spent several years working in weaving techniques, and felt driven to discover new ways of working with the fibers and colors I loved so much. Eventually the sculptural elements I was adding to my weavings started to stand alone and are now the wall hangings I create.

Fiber Art Wall Hangings by Mandi Smethells Speak to the Beauty of Nature | Minnesota Based Fiber Artist | "Being a mom, and observing daily the wonder and imagination of my children is my biggest inspiration." #fiberart #wallhanging #sculpturalwallhanging #fiberartist #homedecor #interiordesign #interiordesigninspo #wallhangingideas #cozybedroomideas #livingroomdecor

What is like as an artist/creator in Saint Paul?

I feel so fortunate to be a fiber artist in this vibrant community. Neighboring Minneapolis has a wonderful Center for Textiles (I teach a few classes there), and there are so many incredible artists working in the area. The seasons of Minnesota impact my work as I “feel” different colors and shapes associated with the weather. It’s inspiring!

Fiber Art Wall Hangings by Mandi Smethells Speak to the Beauty of Nature | Minnesota Based Fiber Artist | "Being a mom, and observing daily the wonder and imagination of my children is my biggest inspiration." #fiberart #wallhanging #sculpturalwallhanging #fiberartist #homedecor #interiordesign #interiordesigninspo #wallhangingideas #cozybedroomideas #livingroomdecor

Where do you draw your inspiration?

I definitely have developed a collaborative relationship with my older daughter who is nearly seven. We have brainstorm sessions to discuss colors and shapes, and she will even sketch ideas to work off of! She will tell everyone she meets that she suggested I make a sun. Being a mom, and observing daily the wonder and imagination of my children, is my biggest inspiration.

Fiber Art Wall Hangings by Mandi Smethells Speak to the Beauty of Nature | Minnesota Based Fiber Artist | "Being a mom, and observing daily the wonder and imagination of my children is my biggest inspiration." #fiberart #wallhanging #sculpturalwallhanging #fiberartist #homedecor #interiordesign #interiordesigninspo #wallhangingideas #cozybedroomideas #livingroomdecor

 

Fiber Art Wall Hangings by Mandi Smethells Speak to the Beauty of Nature | Minnesota Based Fiber Artist | "Being a mom, and observing daily the wonder and imagination of my children is my biggest inspiration." #fiberart #wallhanging #sculpturalwallhanging #fiberartist #homedecor #interiordesign #interiordesigninspo #wallhangingideas #cozybedroomideas #livingroomdecor

Do you ever receive custom requests?

I frequently have the opportunity to create pieces based on beautiful spaces, often nurseries or children’s rooms. I truly enjoy imagining the families spending time in these spaces with my work, and it brings me joy.

Fiber Art Wall Hangings by Mandi Smethells Speak to the Beauty of Nature | Minnesota Based Fiber Artist | "Being a mom, and observing daily the wonder and imagination of my children is my biggest inspiration." #fiberart #wallhanging #sculpturalwallhanging #fiberartist #homedecor #interiordesign #interiordesigninspo #wallhangingideas #cozybedroomideas #livingroomdecor

Fiber Art Wall Hangings by Mandi Smethells Speak to the Beauty of Nature | Minnesota Based Fiber Artist | "Being a mom, and observing daily the wonder and imagination of my children is my biggest inspiration." #fiberart #wallhanging #sculpturalwallhanging #fiberartist #homedecor #interiordesign #interiordesigninspo #wallhangingideas #cozybedroomideas #livingroomdecor

What has business been like on Etsy?

I am so very busy with orders and all the other facets that are a part of being a “one woman show,” and Etsy has made it so simple for me to manage listings, shipping, sales data and marketing. I value anything that makes my life easier, and I do find a lot of new customers through the Etsy marketplace.

Fiber Art Wall Hangings by Mandi Smethells Speak to the Beauty of Nature | Minnesota Based Fiber Artist | "Being a mom, and observing daily the wonder and imagination of my children is my biggest inspiration." #fiberart #wallhanging #sculpturalwallhanging #fiberartist #homedecor #interiordesign #interiordesigninspo #wallhangingideas #cozybedroomideas #livingroomdecor

SHOP MANDI’S WORK


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Fiber Art Wall Hangings by Mandi Smethells Speak to the Beauty of Nature | Minnesota Based Fiber Artist | "Being a mom, and observing daily the wonder and imagination of my children is my biggest inspiration." #fiberart #wallhanging #sculpturalwallhanging #fiberartist #homedecor #interiordesign #interiordesigninspo #wallhangingideas #cozybedroomideas #livingroomdecor

 

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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

*This post contains some affiliate links – if you purchase something it will be at no extra cost to you and helps support my blog!

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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Artist Interview with Meri Gold from Pale Illusions

It is my pleasure to introduce Meri Gold from the Pale Illusions Etsy shop! Meri Gold’s shop is filled with curiosities, and we hope you’ll take a look. You can also follow Meri Gold on Facebook. Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as check out her website!

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

I’m a lost cause living on the West Coast of Canada fighting against “adulthood” one day at a time.
I have always loved making stuff. I come from a family of makers. Music, art, clothing, woodworking, it’s in my blood. I painted my first canvas when I was 14 but I was painting and drawing all over my walls long before that. I had a few other careers before landing on art only 2 years ago. I still feel pretty fresh at the whole making a living out of it thing, but I’m addicted to the rush.

What materials do you use in your mixed media embroidered pieces? What draws you to those materials?

Well, I thrift all my embroidery materials so fabric, hoop and thread wise, whatever I dig at the thrift store will end up in my piece. As for the paint, I bought this dry pigment in Peru when I was there 2 years ago. The colours are so highly concentrated so I’ll mix those with water or white acrylic for the background. I really enjoy the typical paint on raw canvas because the threads of the canvas provide a grid for me to use. But I like expanding too. Velvet is great, anything thick enough to not show the mess of the back is great. That being said I’d like to try embroidering some sheer fabrics. That would be a challenge.


Can you tell about your Patreon initiative? 

Yeah! I made it as a way for me to have an excuse to do cool things for people who feel compelled to give their support. I want to personalize my relationship with people who buy my work and show their support as much as I can so this just gives me a platform to do so. I love being able to show people my weirder creations and give sneak peeks. It’s fun for me. Plus it lets me live a regular life with some income stability which is a huge benefit to my creativity.


Do you listen to music while you create? If so, what are you currently into? 

Yes. And everything. Folk is my staple. But I love hip hop for painting, ambient is good for embroidery. Classical when its raining or in the morning. Shoegaze anytime. I’ve been getting more into Vaporwave. Podcasts are an always thing. I hop around a lot. And sometimes I really like sitting in silence. It almost feels noisy at times. But right now I’ll probably put on some soul/r&b and groove out a bit.

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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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Recommended Reading

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


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Artists’ Books on Etsy

For those of you who may not know what an artist book is, be my guest in explaining them! Each one is unique, sometimes made in editions like prints, sometimes “printed” by a press, other times not, cataloged in the library like books with a call number, often displayed in museums as art objects behind glass – each one may look, feel, or even sound different from the next (queue Keith Smith’s string book).

A few brave and creative souls have started selling their artists’ books on Etsy. I found these recently and thought I’d share!

butterfly

butterfly2

butterfly3

Butterflies from TheMuseumShelves

night

night2

night3

Night from SignOfTheLadybug

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n2

n3

Nachtmahr Box from buechertiger

little1

little2

little3

Miniature Black Artist Book from PegandAwl

book1

book2

book3

Book of Nonexistent Animals from HandmadeBook

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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.

bird5

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.

bird6

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.

bird9

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.

bird7

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

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