Featured Maker: Jill Maldonado

Featured Maker interview with Jill Maldonado Today we are excited to talk to Jill Maldonado of Material Rebellion! Jill specializes in using reclaimed textiles to make bags, pouches, journals, blanket fort kits and more all with the goal of encouraging kids to discover the power of their own creativity. She is also passionate about fighting the problem of textile waste in the fashion industry and has built a sustainable product line and business using all reclaimed textiles. We are so excited to learn more about her creative path and how she has grown her own creative business.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

I grew up on an island in the lakes region of Maine. After going to, then dropping out of college, I moved all over the country studying dance and choreography. Inspired by the moments contained within the dance, I picked up photography. That led to an interest in film, so I went back to school and got my BFA from NYU (and also met my husband). After graduating, I jumped into web development because there were practical matters to attend to and it was the beginning of the dot.com boom, so it was easy to enter the tech world and build a career there.

Most of my creative impulses were set aside until many years later when my children attended a Waldorf school. With an emphasis on educating children through their “head, heart and hands” the school had a wonderful handwork program. In each grade, the children mastered a new way of creating with their hands – from finger knitting in kindergarten to stained glass in their senior year. It was my great joy to help teach first graders how to knit (I learned right along side the kids since it was new to me.) Teaching and learning with the kids reawakened my creativity. That’s putting it mildly…it’s more like my creativity woke up like a hungry bear that had been in hibernation. It needed to be fed! Around the same time, someone gifted me with a used sewing machine. After spending three days (and many hours on YouTube) learning how to thread the machine, I taught myself how to sew. It didn’t take long before my creative drive outstripped my budget for fabric and I turned to my children’s outgrown clothes as a source of material for my projects. From there, I spent several years refining my techniques for repurposing materials from clothing.

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What do you make and sell?

I make thoughtful playthings that encourage kids to discover the power of their own creativity. My favorites are rainbow pencil rolls, blanket forts and covered journals.

What made you decide to take the leap and start your own creative business?

I was unhappy with my job and giving a great deal of thought to making a change when I met an amazing artist (she later became a good friend) who inspired me to get serious about my creative work. I really wanted to be a living example to my children of how we can forge our own destinies if we have the courage to step away from the path of least resistance.

How did you get started and when did you launch your business?

When the stars aligned in such a way that I was able to leave my job in January of 2013, I got serious about creating a product line. As I got deeper into that process and began developing production techniques, it became obvious that my old hand-me-down sewing machine wasn’t going to be able to keep up. I was hesitant to spend money on a new machine since I wasn’t entirely sure this was going to be a viable business. My dear, sweet, supportive husband secretly organized dozens of friends and family members to chip in and purchase me a new sewing machine for my birthday. It was an incredibly poignant moment for me…the show of support, the care and effort involved…it encouraged me even more so to make a go of it.

My first workspace was my dining room table. It wasn’t long before I moved downstairs and took over our basement. Three years later, with a name change and rebranding along the way, I have just moved into my own studio space. It’s a big step, but the business needs room to grow. Once again, my family is right there with me in making this important move. The support of my family has been a consistent theme in the growth of my business. They are always cheering me on from the sidelines and step in to provide important feedback every time I come to a cross roads about what I should do next.

Do you have any philosophies or ideals you try to represent with your work?

Yes! There are two philosophies that form the WHY of what I do. One relates to the materials I use and the other to the products I design.

I initially started using reclaimed textiles to serve my own need for inexpensive materials, but the more I learned about the textile waste crisis, the more committed I became to being part of the solution. The environmental impact of the fashion industry is immense. For example, it requires 2,900 gallons of water to produce one pair of jeans. That same pair of jeans, at the other end of its lifecycle, will produce as many as 3 pounds of CO2 as it breaks down in a landfill.

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I am very fortunate to work in partnership with Goodwill Industries. They sort, bag and deliver t-shirts and jeans for me to use as my raw materials. The price that I pay per pound supports the Goodwill job training program and I use almost a thousand pounds of materials a year that aren’t fit for Goodwill retail outlets.

The philosophy that drives my designs is the value of open-ended play for children. I love creating things that inspire the imagination and encourage creativity. When I create new designs, I’m thinking about making something beautiful, durable and flexible in its use. I want everything I make to open a world of possibility for the child (or adult!) receiving it.

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Where do you look for inspiration?

My inspiration is drawn from the two philosophical elements that drive my business. First, I find inspiration in the materials I use. Denim is a wonderful fabric to work with. I’m always awed by the variety of washes, the different textures and the way each pair of jeans wears differently. I also love playing with all the bright colors and soft knits of the t-shirts.

I am also inspired by my experience with Waldorf education. Sometimes we forget that the most powerful element in a child’s play is their own creative force. I want everything I make to be an instrument of the child’s creativity rather than supplant their creativity.

Waterfront view from Jill's studio.

Waterfront view from Jill’s studio.

What does your workspace/studio look like?

After three years of working in my 120 year old, unfinished, windowless basement, I’m so excited to finally be in my own space! My new studio occupies a very unique place on Main Street in Great Barrington, MA and opens out onto a nature trail alongside the Housatonic River. It was important to be close to home, since I make it a priority to be available for my kids, and my view of the river refreshes my senses every day. I can’t wait to grow into this new space and do things I never could have done before, like teach workshops!

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What are some of your favorite tools or techniques?

I absolutely LOVE my Accuquilt Studio Fabric Cutter. It’s essentially a die cut machine. I have some of their “off the rack” dies and have had some custom made for my designs. The cutter allows me to cut pattern pieces quickly, accurately and efficiently, plus it saves my wrist from the repetitive strain of cutting everything by hand. My OTHER favorite tool is a power rotary cutter that my husband gave me. It’s not something I would have thought I needed, or spent the money on myself, but it truth, it makes quick business of breaking down a pair of jeans into usable pieces.

Is your business your full time job? Or do you have a day job?

Yes and yes. My business is my full time job AND I have a day job. In order to grow my business, most of my profits get rolled right back into things like equipment, show fees and marketing, so I have a part time job at the Berkshire Market Co-Op. I chose to work there because in many ways, it’s a center of the community and aligns with my values of supporting local producers. I truly enjoy my co-workers and find that it balances the long hours of quiet that go into my creative work.

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What does a day in the life of Jill Maldonado look like?

I get up super early in the morning. It’s a great time to get a couple hours of “computer work” done – checking orders, emails, web traffic and social media stats or planning out what I’m working on in the studio that day. After my husband and kids head out, I take the dogs over to my studio (we have three rescued Pomeranians) and get busy making. At 2:30, it’s time to walk the dogs and meet the kids when they get home from school. If no one needs homework help, I have another couple of hours to get administrative tasks done (more computer work) and make a plan for the next day before I start dinner.

Visit Jill’s website, Material Rebellion, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Thank you so much Jill for sharing your story with us! Do you want to be our next Featured Maker? Visit our Contribute Page for more info!

FEATURED MAKER: Kristy Jane

Please welcome our newest Featured Maker: Kristy Jane! Kirsty is a freelance graphic designer and jewelry maker from Byron, New York. She fell in love with sea glass while living in South Florida where she learned metal smithing, pottery and began making jewelry. We are so excited to learn more about Kristy’s life and work today and we hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as we have!

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Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

I am a small town girl at heart. I grew up in Byron, NY (pop. 2,500) which sits just south of beautiful Lake Ontario. I am also a creative at heart. As a kid, my favorite thing was putting pencil (and crayons) to paper. This love of creating stuck with me through college where I studied graphic design. Fast forward 22 years of jobs, loves, and life lessons. Being freshly divorced, it was time to spread my wings and head to South Florida (West Palm Beach) where a grade school girlfriend lived at the time.

How did you get started and when did you launch your business?

Well it didn’t take long to completely fall in love with the sand and the sea and the inspiration it offered (not to mention great soul-searching). I began sea glass hunting as a daily hobby (one that I am still addicted to) and my collection grew so much that I knew I had to create something with it.

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What made you decide to take the leap and start your own creative business?

Working as a freelance graphic designer has always offered me the freedom to create and dream up new ideas. As fellow creatives know, this can work against us at times! I decided to take some metalsmithing and pottery classes at the local art center. I was just kind of searching and wanted to broaden my skill set. I really wanted to create something unique and sea-inspired and I knew I wanted it to be jewelry. I soon made my little garden shed into a workshop where I spent countless hours being creative (and drilling sea glass). I bought my own kiln after the pottery class I had taken and that’s when I discovered my design. You see, I had so much sea glass that wasn’t jewelry grade and I wanted to do something with it. With the help of my teachers at the art center, I came up with my kiln-fired sea glass on porcelain line (Coastal Chic Collection). This was it…I had my idea and so I launched Kristy Jane in 2012. I built my website and created business cards, etc. and entered some retail art shows (some successful and others not so much). I was getting lots of positive feedback from people about my jewelry but they just weren’t willing to pay for it. I knew my ideal client was out there but I just wasn’t in front of them. That’s when I dove into the wholesale world and did my first show in Boston.

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Do you have any philosophies or ideals you try to represent with your work?

We all love to go on vacation. We daydream about being at our happy place. My customers will wear a piece of my jewelry and when they look at it, they’ll be reminded of that place. Sometimes a tiny soothing thought like that can help us through our every-ordinary-day.

What’s your process for coming up with ideas for new products?

Oh my gosh, I never know when or where I’ll be when a new idea pops into my head. Sometimes it’s even in my sleep! I will wake up with a new design idea in my head so I jump up and sketch it out on paper so I don’t forget it. I also absolutely love perusing [Robert Redford’s] Sundance catalog for inspiration.

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Where do you look for inspiration?

I moved back to Western New York to be close to family (life by the ocean couldn’t hide my home sickness) in 2014. I looked to the beautiful shores of Lake Ontario to remind me of my love for the sea. The first day back I went edge walking near my parents cottage in Fair Haven (Little Sodus Bay). Much to my surprise, I found the most perfectly worn heart shaped piece of beach glass! I think it was a sign…I found it because I was back where I’m supposed to be. Being happy and surrounded by the ones you love brings clarity in all other aspects of life.

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What does your workspace/studio look like?

I must say, my little garden shed turned jewelry workshop in South Florida was my favorite. Lots of tropical inspiration all around me. Now it’s in the basement but I have really cool antique furniture that I use for my bench and storage cabinets. When I go there…time just goes by and before I know it hours have gone by. I also like to set the mood with music and maybe a glass or two of wine. Life is good.

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What are some of your favorite tools or techniques?

After taking both the metalsmithing and pottery classes, I bought my own kiln so I could build inventory. I absolutely love to open the lid of the kiln to see all the beautiful pendants of which no two are alike. The way the glass flows with the glaze and crackles and creates little miniature seascapes….I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning! I want to play with glass slumping and metal clay next. The creativity never ends!

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Is your business your full time job? Or do you have a day job?

I have been a graphic designer at some level since I graduated college in 1992. Since about 2007, I have had an in-home design studio and work with a handful of great clients. It has given me the freedom to explore the jewelry world, which I am grateful for.

What does a day in the life of Kristy Jane look like?

I split my days up between my freelance graphic design and my jewelry business. When I get tired of looking at the computer screen, or am waiting on client approval, I can change gears and go edge walking to collect more beach glass or go to my workshop (now in the basement) and create beautiful things, or one of the other thousands of things to do to market both of my businesses! It’s a definite labor of love and I couldn’t be happier.

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Visit Kristy’s website and follow her on Facebook!

Thank you so much Kristy for sharing your story with us! Do you want to be our next Featured Maker? Visit our Contribute Page for more info!

FEATURED MAKER: Stephanie Rose + “Garden Made” Book Giveaway!

Please welcome our newest Featured Maker: Stephanie Rose! Stephanie is a Master Gardener, author and creative mastermind behind her blog, Garden Therapy. Stephanie and I started working together in the blogging world almost five years ago and I am so excited to learn more about her life and work today. She has also graciously offered us a signed copy of her new book, Garden Made to give away to one lucky winner! See details on how to enter at the end of this post…

stephanie-gardentherapy-a5-1600x0Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

I’m a Master Gardener, author and the creator of the crafty-gardening blog, Garden Therapy. I make garden projects in my small, urban Vancouver (Canada) garden to show the world that everyone can get a little garden therapy, no matter what your knowledge, skill, ability, or garden size!

What do you make and sell?

I mostly make crafty garden projects as I love to be out in the garden all year long. I also make all my own natural beauty products and soaps, plenty of handmade gifts, and a bunch of healthy recipes from the garden. I don’t sell the products I make, but instead share the DIY instructions so that everyone can learn to make them too. I have over 700 projects on my blog, Garden Therapy that you can browse through, as well as a print book, Garden Made: A Year of Seasonal Projects to Beautify Your Garden and Your Life, and three eBooks:

What made you decide to take the leap and start your own creative business?

In 2006 I had to stop working at my corporate job due to sudden illness. I was hit hard and suffered from crippling pain for many years. After a few years of being confined to bed, I was able to slowly start moving. I used gardening as a way to heal my body and strengthen my mind. I learned to use gardening, photography, and writing as a way to add joy to each and every day.

How did you get started and when did you launch your business?

I began blogging as a way to reach out to others and ease the isolation. I met plenty of lovely people like me and began to share not just what I was making, but HOW I was making it. When I started to feel like I could begin working again, I decided not to go back to the corporate world, but give blogging and writing a shot as a full-time gig. I’m happy to say that it has worked out better than I had hoped! I’m able to work from home, spend time with my family, and do what I love for a living.

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Do you have any philosophies or ideals you try to represent with your work?

I’d like the projects I make to inspire others to try making themselves. While I do really love all the beautiful handmade creations around my home and garden, I love it more when I see that someone has made it for their own home or garden. I know that they are spending their time feeding their creativity and enjoying the garden.

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What’s your process for coming up with ideas for new products?

Generally I have a long list of things I want to make so I gather the materials in my studio and get to them when the time is right. Sometimes that is days, other times it can be years. I may find a birdcage and keep it for 2-3 years before one day turning it into a succulent planter. Or I could see a candle planter at the garden center and rush home to make one that day!

Where do you look for inspiration?

Because I craft from the garden, I look for inspiration on garden tours, garden centers, catalogs, and in parks. I collect materials wherever I go and keep them in my studio until they become something.

What does your workspace/studio look like?

I have a garden full of creative projects and a studio space to store all of my stuff. One day the studio will be set up for more than just storage but until then you can find me out here in my play garden.

Hopscotch Stepping Stones featured in Stephanie's Play Garden

Hopscotch Stepping Stones featured in Stephanie’s Play Garden

What are some of your favorite tools or techniques?

I love to work with outdoor succulents which are colorful and ornamental. I also like to work with lighting in the garden. I’ve made citronella candles out of tin cans, solar lanterns from mason jars, and a little solar chandelier out of a hanging basket.

Tell us about a challenge you’ve overcome in your business? Or something you tried but didn’t work the way you planned?

A few years back I started an Etsy shop to sell some of the things I made and quickly learned that it wasn’t for me. I didn’t like packaging, shipping, and all the non-creative work involved. I enjoyed making the crafts and writing about them so I wrote a number of books to sell instead.

What does a day in the life of Stephanie look like?

About ¼ of my time is gardening & creating, ½ is writing and editing, and ¼ marketing and website housekeeping. I try to spend a little time outdoors or gardening each day to ensure that I continue my recovery and stay healthy.

Visit Stephanie’s blog, Garden Therapy and check out her YouTube Channel!

Thank you so much Stephanie for sharing your story with us! Do you want to be our next Featured Maker? Visit our Contribute Page for more info!


Enter to Win A signed copy of Stephanie’s book!

We are so excited to be giving away a signed copy of Stephanie’s new book, Garden Made: A Year of Seasonal Projects to Beautify Your Garden & Your Life. The giveaway starts today, April 6th and will end on Wednesday, April 13th. We’ll announce the lucky winner on Thursday, April 14th. Just click on the link below to enter. Good luck everyone!

Stephanie's book, Garden Made

Stephanie’s book, Garden Made

CLICK HERE TO ENTER TO WIN!

FEATURED MAKER: Carrie Schmitt

Please welcome our newest Featured Maker: Carrie Schmitt! Carrie is an artist and author living in the Pacific Northwest. She began painting in 2009 as a way to cope with health issues. Now she has her own creative business where she makes art, teaches e-courses, practices yoga and more. We are so excited to learn more about her life and work today and we hope you enjoy getting to know Carrie as much as we have!

FEATURED MAKER: Carrie Schmitt #artist #interview

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

I am an artist and author who began painting in 2009 after developing a life-threatening allergy to heat. No longer able to spend time in my beloved garden outdoors, I began painting flowers instead of planting them. In 2010, my family and I moved from the humid Midwest to the Pacific Northwest for its temperate climate. Today my art is licensed for home décor and stationery with several companies, including Hallmark, teNeues Publishing, Dianoche Designs and Woodmansterne. I paint daily from my mountain studio just outside Seattle.

What do you make and sell?

I sell original artwork, giclee prints, notecards, and hand-painted yoga mats. I share art techniques and ways to nurture your creative spirit in my book, Painted Blossoms: Creating Expressive Flower Art with Mixed Media, is now available for preorder on Amazon. I also teach an online yoga inspired art e-course called Journey to the Self that blends my passions for yoga and art-making. You can learn more about that here.

I also have 3 video art tutorials that will be released from FW Media this summer that shares three special art projects related to Finding Inspiration, Finding Your Style, and Surrendering to the Flow of Creativity. And, I will be presenting a FREE live online presentation about my art journey with Artists Network on July 21. You can sign up to listen and even ask live questions here.

FEATURED MAKER: Carrie Schmitt #artist #interview

What made you decide to take the leap and start your own creative business?

I started painting as a therapeutic practice to deal with my limitations from my heat allergy—not being able to go outside and do any physical activity was a huge emotional challenge for me. This led to the awakening of my truest passion—creativity! I decided I wanted to make a living doing what makes me feel most alive so I began paying attention to how other fulltime artists were able to make this work in their lives.

How did you get started and when did you launch your business?

When I began painting, I was lucky enough to take Kelly Rae Robert’s online art business course, Flying Lessons: Tips and Tricks to Help Your Creative Biz Soar. This proved to be invaluable as I began to put my art out in the world. I learned how to use social media and connect with an amazing community of artists who have provided support and inspiration over the years. Understanding how to navigate the business side has allowed my art to flourish much more quickly than it would have without this knowledge. Most of my licensing deals have resulted from companies finding me on social media.

FEATURED MAKER: Carrie Schmitt #artist #interview

Do you have any philosophies or ideals you try to represent with your work?

My work is a celebration of color, lightheartedness and joy. I’ve never understood the violence and negativity that is so easily accepted in our world—on tv shows, movies, news and more. I suppose this is my own subtle and peaceful response to this mixed up world. I hope people look at my art and somehow feel uplifted and smile.

Tell us about your process. How do you go about creating your art from start to finish?

My process is intuitive and aligned with the belief that every mark made on the canvas was meant to be, aka there are no mistakes! I start my randomly applying paint and making various marks on the canvas. I continue to build layers of paint on top of each other to create depth, interest, and texture. Eventually, imagery (usually in the form of flowers) begin to reveal themselves to me. It’s almost as if the painting just appears as long as I am open to it. Sometimes this takes a long time and sometimes it happens quickly. You can learn more about my different techniques in my book, Painted Blossoms. I’m also going to be teaching my process and various art projects at the Art Makers Retreat in Denver in September.

FEATURED MAKER: Carrie Schmitt #artist #interview

Where do you look for inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere, which makes every moment of every day a treasure hunt. When something takes my breath away or tugs at me on a soulful level, I pay attention. These objects that appeal to our senses are like mirrors for our soul. So by paying attention, I am able to find out more about my own style and express my unique creativity with the world.

What does your workspace/studio look like?

I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a room of her own. My studio is in my home and looks like an indoor garden bursting with color and light. This space houses my joy and inspiration that is a reflection of my soul. Plants are a very important part of my space as well, as they are living companions that keep me company while I create.

FEATURED MAKER: Carrie Schmitt #artist #interview

Tell us about a challenge you’ve overcome in your business? Or something you tried but didn’t work the way you planned?

One of the greatest challenges for me has been having the time and money to pursue my passion. Patience and persistence has paid off even though I have had some serious and frequent moments of self doubt. Your faith just has to be stronger than those moments. It does take time to build a business so I try not to be too hard on myself. It seems as though things just work out as long as I work hard and put my energy toward this dream.

What does a day in the life of Carrie Schmitt look like?

I start my day getting my kids to school and then doing yoga or swimming. Physical activity, especially yoga, has become key to enhancing my creativity in the most magical and fulfilling ways. Yoga is about clearing energy channels and this has allowed this previously stuck loose energy to manifest in my art. Practicing yoga has been a powerful journey! I wasn’t expecting it to affect my art in the ways that it has but am incredibly grateful that it has become an intrinsic part of my process.

After yoga and/or swimming, I like to do administrative work – answering emails, posting on social media, writing articles for magazines, or whatever else comes my way. Then, it is time to paint! I turn on some music, light a scented candle, and begin throwing paint on the canvas. Time seems to stand still and before I know it, it is time to pick up my kids from school. The rest of the day is devoted to taking care of them, and I never have enough time to get all my art biz stuff done. Sometimes I work late at night or wake up early and often work weekends. I love the flexibility of my schedule because I am able to be present for my kids. It can be a huge challenge to find time for myself, but I just try my best every day.

Visit Carrie’s website and follow her on Facebook!

Thank you so much Carrie for sharing your story with us! Do you want to be our next Featured Maker? Visit our Contribute Page for more info!

FEATURED MAKER: Tamara Hess

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists
Please welcome our first Featured Maker of 2015- Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists! Tamara is an artist and card maker from Portland, Oregon. A true ‘maker’ at heart, Tamara enjoys creativity of any kind. The cute characters she draws for her digital stamps and greeting cards are bursting with joy and humor. I hope you all enjoy learning more about Tamara’s work, life, and creative philosophies. Also be sure to check out her website and Etsy shop!

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

All my life I’ve felt the need to draw. In my early years I was able to use my creativity as a way to work through some tough situations. Drawing was an escape, helping me deal with my troubles and learn how to persevere. Drawing became my “happy place” which is still true today!

My journey is typical of a creative person; always searching for purpose and meaning in my creativity. The difference I try to achieve is fearlessness in my work. I’ve never met an art project I haven’t tackled. I’m always ready to try new things. I’ve been involved in teaching art lessons, Art Literacy programs, art culture events, theater set design, mural painting, arts and crafts bazaars, web site design, graphic design, photography, illustration, graffiti events, pottery, calligraphy, watercolor, soap making and more. On my journey I have been a featured artist in various galleries including an art reception at the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe. My fine art work is currently featured at the Coffee Station in Aloha Oregon.

I married my high school sweetheart Paul and we’ve been together for almost 30 years. We have two wonderful teenage boys. We are lucky to have a lot of love and support from each other and family. When I’m not doing something artistically I try to get my boys out of the house. We go hiking, fishing and camping. Living in Portland Oregon we are surrounded by diverse landscapes and culture. I especially love the beach, searching for sea shells and walking with my Corgi, Heidi.

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

Greeting cards handmade by Tamara.

What do you make and sell?

Currently I’m working on digital stamps for card making, clip art for digital scrapbooking and web design. I sell some of my designs on Etsy. I also give away digital stamps on Card Making Artists and I’m looking forward to growing my website. I’m also excited to be working for various graphic companies.

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

One of Tamara’s adorable digital stamps! Available for purchase in her Etsy shop.

What made you decide to take the leap and start your own creative business?

My brother Tim and I have always had the entrepreneur gene. We inherited it from our grandpa. After many years of dreaming Tim and I decided to start our online businesses. We have different objectives but similar goals and we use each other to encourage and inspire. We push each other toward the next step.

How did you get started and when did you launch your business?

I started my website, Card Making Artists in 2013 with the help of my brother Tim. Tim is a web designer and helped create the Card Making Artists website. I love card making; handmade cards are such a fun and diverse medium to showcase all different kinds of art techniques. I was interested in tutorials, tips, tricks, tools and featured card making artists. Plus handmade cards make people happy! Through the launch of Card Making Artists I discovered digitals stamps and graphic design.

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

Do you have any philosophies or ideals you try to represent with your work?

I try to make the card making process fun. I want to help card making beginners feel less overwhelmed and seasoned card makers inspired. I want Card Making Artists to be a resource for all different skill levels and I try to always make it fun and humorous.

Where do you look for inspiration?

I find most of my inspiration comes from the Oregon Zoo. A lot of my designs are little animals. I love going to the zoo and finding specific characteristics that stand out in each animal. Then I will often take an ordinary object rooted in reality and “twist” it to my imagination. Most of my little characters are a result of my “skewed” point of view.

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

Tamara’s home studio space.

What does your workspace/studio look like?

My studio is located in the dining room next to the kitchen. We have a big nook area off the kitchen which is a central location in the house. I read an article once that explained how you need to have your art space located in a central part of your house. Otherwise, you will have an “out of site out of mind” feeling about creating art. Well, I didn’t want to ever feel like my art was out of my mind so I slowly took over the dining area. I have two kitchen hutches that are now totally dedicated to art supplies. Lucky for me, none of the boys seem to miss the dining area. I always feel like I’m in the middle of the action when I’m in my art space. I even have a comfy chair in front of my table that all the boys and Paul will plop down and chat with me while I’m working.

What are some of your favorite tools or techniques?

I love Gimp and Inkscape, free editing software for my digital stamps. My favorite tool for card making is nail polish. I know it’s stinky and not an art supply. BUT for “glitterizing” my hand made cards there’s nothing better for me. Nail polish dries fast and there are so many gorgeous glitter colors!

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

Tamara loves using nail polish to add glitter to her cards!

Tell us about a challenge you’ve overcome in your business? Or something you tried but didn’t work the way you planned?

Where to begin? When you read all those quotes about not giving up when things look bleak or those who fail the most are the ones who succeed. ALL TRUE! I’ve failed many more time than I’ve succeeded. I’m still pushing, with the help of Paul and Tim, to be a successful professional artist! It’s a real rollercoaster ride. One day I get a “yes” and I’m happy. The next day a “no” and I’m bumming. The point is to keep moving forward.

Is your business your full time job? Or do you have a day job?

Yes! I am lucky to be able to start this business as a full time job with the complete support from my husband Paul. One of the top reasons people aren’t able to follow through on a business venture is because of an unsupportive spouse. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty when starting a business venture. It’s hard to make guarantees or know exactly where the journey will take you. Nothing will take the wind out of your sails like a spouse that can’t wrap their head around the process and isn’t on board with the risk.

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

What does a day in the life of Tamara look like?

For one thing, I do a lot better if I have my calendar up to date. Calendars of events and goals are amazing. If I sit down and check my calendar, I get all my goals met and my week feels fulfilled. The problem is I don’t get that dang calendar up to date so half the time I’m meandering from the computer to the work table.

On the computer I will edit my drawings in Gimp and Inkscape, then I will work on a post for Card Making Artists and last I will chat with people and work on social media and marketing. At my work desk I will make some cards using my digital stamps, then I will sketch some little illustrations and last I will paint images to use as clip art.

Learning to prioritize your business is tricky. When you are working on a business you need to make sure you have your eye on the big picture but you need to make sure you are always focused on the details too. It’s like wearing a bunch of different hats. One day I will put on my marketing hat, then my writing hat, then my artists hat (that hat is rainbow colored), then my accounting hat and so on. Where is that calendar of mine?

Be sure to visit Tamara’s website and Etsy Shop!

Thank you so much Tamara for sharing your story with us! Want to be our next Featured Maker?
Visit our Contribute Page for more info!

BEHIND THE SCENES: Creative Blog Hop

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We were invited to participate in the Creative Blog Hop by Lindsay at A Wooden Nest, and I thought I (Alison) would take a swing at the hop.

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Late on the holiday designs, as usual. Somehow I can’t seem to come up with anything when it’s 70 degrees and sunny.

What am I working on?

I split my time between running the So There shop in Issaquah and working on my own line of paper goods. I have to be very careful to give myself time to work on creative things, and sometimes I can get spread a little thin.

I’ve been a little more focused this week, because I sprained my ankle and have to do seated tasks. That means more drawing and painting and inking. I’ve finally been working on my holiday cards (if they’re too late, I’ll use them next year!) and trying to add a few more card designs to my line.

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I was trying to be clever with this left-handed journal.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I always have the same goals on repeat in my head while I work. I like to think that if you look at my work as a whole it represents those goals… I hope it does, anyways.
• Make it useful & clever. Let it solve a problem.
• Make it funny, even if its audience is limited.
• Make it pretty, but not cute.
• Make it unique.
• Let it be imperfect, because no matter what you do, it will never be perfect. Ever.

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I love to come up with ways of reusing materials in my work. These card catalog pieces took a long time to find a function on lampshades.

Why do I write/create what I do?

I’m coming to grips with the fact that I have a couple of creative motivations– that are sometimes at odds with each other.

One  is all about problem solving. I like to make products that serve some purpose bigger than aesthetics. Some of my favorite products have come about this way, the FlipOver Planners and Delicious Recipe books for example. Other times the problem I’m trying to solve is more about using or reusing materials instead of throwing them away. That’s where the Library Card Lamps, Doodle Jars, and handmade paper cards come in.

The other thing that drives me is a need to draw, and write, and express myself however I can. There’s a weird kind of connection that comes with a stranger appreciating my work. It’s not so much a “look at me and how awesome I am” but more of a quiet need to be understood, and to know other brains work like mine does. I guess that’s my artist side.

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This is one of my more obvious sketches, but only I know what I am really up to.

How does my writing/illustration/creative process work?

Because my work is all over the place, the development takes a lot of different forms. The beginning step is the same for almost everything. I usually start with a really basic sketch on with whatever is conveniently close. The sketch is often peppered with descriptive words, and would mean nothing to a casual bystander.

If I’m doing a drawing I’ll typically move to a piece of card stock with a pencil to capture the energy of the idea as fast as I can, and that’s that.

If I’m working on something that’s more of a product, sometimes I let the idea rest there for a bit, until I’ve flushed it out a bit more in my head. I’m likely to start experimenting with materials next– building “dummies” out of paper, or string, or other things that are close to what I’m planning to use in the end. I like to work with scale and shape before settling on a style for the graphics or art. (Form and function and all that.) After that it’s a process of perfecting my method for production, making the product and the art harmonious, and making sure that it’s going to work.

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These “dummies” are helping me figure out the form of the new FlipOver planning system. I’m making them the same shape, and with the same types of paper so I can see how everything will work.

Well, I think that’s about it. I want to thank Lindsay for inviting us to the hop!

 

*You can find some of my work in my etsy shop but everything shows up first at the So, There store in Issaquah– especially one of a kind pieces.

FEATURED MAKER: Emma Reid of Emuse

FEATURED MAKER: Emma Reid of Emusing #crafter #interview
Please welcome Emma Reid, our newest Featured Maker! I came across Emma’s blog recently and fell in love with her sense of style, the variety of projects she makes, and her passion for creativity. After reading through pages of posts, I sent Emma an email inviting her to be featured on Adventures In Making. Before I knew it she emailed back and said YES! I hope you all enjoy getting to know more about Emusing Emma and the amazing things she creates!

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

I live in Scotland, not far north of Edinburgh. I studied Chemistry and Computing at university, and my job is very science and technology based, so I spend my free time doing something very different, working on my crafts and blog. My mum is very crafty too, as was my grandad, so I think that’s where I’ve inherited it from!

FEATURED MAKER: Emma Reid of Emusing #crafter #interview

Dala horse greeting cards and gift tags made by Emma.

What do you make?

I pretty much turn my hand to anything! Some of my favourites are making greetings cards and collages from paper, and making jewellery and miniatures from polymer clay. I’ve recently been making some felt brooches, and some Scandinavian-inspired crafts.

FEATURED MAKER: Emma Reid of Emusing #crafter #interview

Scandinavian style Christmas ornaments. Check out Emma’s tutorial on her blog.

How long have you been crafting? Where did you first learn about it?

I’ve been crafting for as long as I can remember, starting out by making handmade Christmas cards when I was in primary school, then when I was in high school I made earrings and brooches from Fimo and sold them to my classmates from a little tin.

Tell us about your process. How do you go about creating a greeting card from start to finish?

For making cards, I’ll usually start with a quick sketch, then from that I come up with a finished drawing that I cut into pieces to use as a template for cutting out various colours of card. Finally I stick these onto the card and add a few finishing touches with pens or embellishments.

FEATURED MAKER: Emma Reid of Emusing #crafter #interview

Winter greeting cards made by Emma using a cut-paper/collage technique.

What does your workspace look like?

I redecorated my craft room not long ago, so it’s a lovely neutral space with lots of natural light. I’ve got lots of storage for all sorts of different craft supplies, and big desks that give me plenty of space to spread things out when I’m working on them. I’ve also set aside an area to photograph my crafts, and there are some shelves where I can display my finished crafts.

FEATURED MAKER: Emma Reid of Emusing #crafter #interview

Emma’s craft room – where the magic happens!

Where do you find inspiration?

I draw inspiration from all sorts of things – books, museums, art galleries, and the natural world. I particularly love to make items inspired by my travels, so I’ve made lots of things based around ideas from Japan, China, and Peru.

Do you have any tips or advice for other people interested in making crafting or making greeting cards?

I’m a great believer in just giving things a try! I learn most things by looking at books or online tutorials, or just by experimenting. There are so many inexpensive craft materials you can use, so it doesn’t really matter if it all goes wrong – as long as you have fun trying!

FEATURED MAKER: Emma Reid of Emusing #crafter #interview

Emma collects and creates projects inspired by her travels.

Do you have any favorite books or resources you’d be willing to share with someone interested in learning more about paper crafts?

I’ve got a great collection of craft books. Some of my favourites are Papercraft: Design and Art with Paper by Robert Klanten and The Encyclopedia of Origami and Papercraft Techniques by Paul Jackson. I also love picking up second-hand craft books in charity shops – I love the illustrations in them. And I browse Pinterest and CraftGawker for ideas.

Visit Emma’s blog and follow her on Facebook and Instagram!

Thank you so much Emma for sharing your story with us! Do you want to be our next Featured Maker? Visit our Contribute Page for more info!

FEATURED MAKER: Lindsay McCoy of A Wooden Nest

FEATURED MAKER: Lindsay McCoy of @awoodennest #crafter #interview
I’m so excited to be talking with one of my closest friends, Lindsay McCoy about her passion for needlework crafts and living sustainably. Lindsay is a talented writer, photographer and crafter. You can read more about what’s she’s up to on her blog, A Wooden Nest.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

I live in a cozy old home in a town just outside Portland, Oregon with my husband, two cats, four chickens and a little one on the way. After graduating high school, I spent a few indecisive years in and out of college, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I eventually went back to school to finish my BA in English Lit., but I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, so I decided to go back and teach myself the basics: crafting, cooking, gardening and simple living. I started blogging about it on my personal blog, and eventually picked up a job working as the blog editor for a local wedding and paper goods company.

FEATURED MAKER: Lindsay McCoy of @awoodennest #crafter #interview

What do you make?

I dabble in lots of different projects, but needlework crafts seem to stick with me the most. I’m a big fan of knit and crochet, and I’m currently in the middle of making two hand stitched patchwork quilts using the English paper piecing method. Other than that, I write. A lot. Everything else I do (sharing recipes, gardening, house projects…) revolves around my joy of sharing information, inspiration and ideas through written words. Blogging itself has become my most well-loved creative hobby.

FEATURED MAKER: Lindsay McCoy of @awoodennest #crafter #interview

What initially sparked your interest in needlework crafts?

I never used to think of myself as a crafty person, but then I realized that I LOVE crafts so long as they’re functional and applicable to my life in some way. The crafts I lean toward are practical, and help me reach my goal of leading a simpler, more sustainable life. For example, handmade clothes, if done right, can fit better and last ages longer than cheap store bought alternatives made from synthetic materials, so I knit my own socks and sweaters, and hope to eventually own a wardrobe full of my own handmade, quality garments that will be worth mending and repairing to last my whole life.

How long did it take you to master it?

I still consider myself a beginner, and probably will until I start designing my own patterns.

FEATURED MAKER: Lindsay McCoy of @awoodennest #crafter #interview

Tell us about your process. How do you go about creating for example, a pair of knitted socks, from start to finish?

The process begins with a need. Is it getting cold outside? Am I low on socks? Time to stock up on sock yarn!

Other than that, I really try to focus all my energy on one project at a time, otherwise I get stressed out and overwhelmed, and I start to set things aside for later. When I’m in the midst of a project, I will work on it for hours, often way past my bedtime, to get it finished. It’s a little intense, but it’s also extremely satisfying.

FEATURED MAKER: Lindsay McCoy of @awoodennest #crafter #interview

What does your workspace look like?

I work wherever I’m comfortable. I do a large portion of my writing and project research on my laptop in my bedroom, and all of my other writing and knitting in the living room, usually while binge-watching a show on Netflix.

FEATURED MAKER: Lindsay McCoy of @awoodennest #crafter #interview

Where do you find inspiration?

Blogs, mostly. Magazines, conversations with creative people, movies… Ravelry project pages and forums are always a huge source of inspiration for me too.

FEATURED MAKER: Lindsay McCoy of @awoodennest #crafter #interview

Do you have any tips or advice for other people interested in needlework crafts?

Trust that if the craft or project you’re working on doesn’t come easily to you right away, you’ll eventually get the hang of it with practice. If you really want to make it part of your life, keep chugging through. Your brain will eventually catch on.

Visit Lindsay’s blog and follow her on Facebook and Flickr

Thank you so much Lindsay for sharing your story with us! Do you want to be our next Featured Maker? Visit our Contribute Page for more info!

FEATURED MAKER: Kara Rane of Lucky 2 b U

FEATURED MAKER: Kara Rane #artist #interview #rainbow
I am so excited to have Kara Rane talking with us today about her art and creative life. I first discovered Kara’s work years ago and fell in love with the vibrant colors and positive energy that ooze from her work. The patterns and textures she is able to create with markers is amazing! See more of her work on her website, lucky2bu.com.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

I grew up at 6,000 feet in the mountains of Southern California, in a very small town. Nature was a huge part of my childhood, and I found my favorite places to be were among the trees, streams, lakes & wilderness. I also love the ocean and later lived in Santa Barbara attending UCSB and studying Environmental Science and Art Studio. Although I am deeply connected to the natural world, my curiosity compelled me to explore urban life and I lived in San Francisco and New York City. Having a passion for travel, I also lived for a time in the Caribbean on a tiny remote island, trekked the Himalayas of Nepal, returned to my native Nordic countries, explored Thailand and Vietnam and have road tripped throughout parts of the United States. Now, I live on a happy five-acre ‘homestead’ in the Sierra foothills of Northern California.

FEATURED MAKER: Kara Rane #artist #interview #rainbow

Art for Kara’s eco-art card line, Lucky 2 b U

What do you make and sell?

My art is made by hand, created with ink, fluorescence, marker on paper and all the colors of the rainbow. The original drawings glow neon under a black light, so this is a sure way to verify authenticity! Greenerprinter in Berkeley Ca. makes the reproductions with vegetable inks, 100% post consumer recycled paper, and renewable energy. ‘Lucky 2 b U’ greeting cards are sold at select Whole Foods Markets in Northern California and many lovely boutiques.

How did you get started and when did you launch your business?

It seems I have always had a creative business; it has just changed and transformed, as all things in life do. While I lived in Brooklyn, I had a small storefront where I held ‘donation only’ yoga classes and hosted community gallery events. Then when in the Caribbean, I had a kiosko on the beach selling food and making art by the sea. During my time in San Francisco, I focused on figurative portraiture in oil paint. Currently, my art is sold online and through retail shops, and I work on projects for individual clients. I follow my dreams and hopefully the business will continue to follow too.

FEATURED MAKER: Kara Rane #artist #interview #rainbow

Zodiac art series by Kara Rane

 

Do you have any philosophies or ideals you try to represent with your work?

Art heals you. It infuses the body with positive energy, reduces stress, stimulates cognitive brain function and promotes a sense of unity. Our world is in desperate need of healing. We have lost the ability to live in harmony, balance, and good health- with nature, with Earth.

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from the great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.”
-Chief Seattle

The art I create is devoted entirely to this healing, it is my medicine, for you, and for the planet.

FEATURED MAKER: Kara Rane #artist #interview #rainbow

Kara finds inspiration in travel and nature.

Where do you look for inspiration?

A definition of ‘inspire’ is to breathe or to infuse life by breathing. In the same way we cannot live without air, we cannot live without being inspired. It is an essential component to our being alive.

What does your workspace/studio look like?

A work studio is wherever I happen to be. Sometimes all I need is pencil and paper, nothing else. Other times, it may be more elaborate and might require that I can work on the project for a long length of time with a variety of materials. I am almost always accompanied by at least one spirit animal, as the tranquil peace of time flows by.

FEATURED MAKER: Kara Rane #artist #interview #rainbow

Kara’s art studio in Northern California.

What are some of your favorite tools or techniques?

Working with my hands, in all things! I am very dedicated to living a sustainable lifestyle, to supporting and growing organic food and to understanding how to best care for the land and creatures we depend on. One of my newest skills (a continual work in progress) is attending to our 26 fruit tree orchard. In this way, I have come to know each and every tree. I touch each one and especially in our recent harvest, have hand picked each apple, peach, and plum.

FEATURED MAKER: Kara Rane #artist #interview #rainbow

Fruit orchards on Kara’s five-acre homestead in the Sierra foothills.

Tell us about a challenge you’ve overcome in your business? Or something you tried but didn’t work the way you planned?

One of the challenges as an artist is to stay true to your own vision. Often times progressive work will not be popular at first because it is new and most people will be afraid to like it unless other people do. This can be really challenging in our current ‘social media’ culture. But it is important to offer a unique perspective, to present reality not as we already see it but as it can be seen, this is the only way art can truly be transformative.

Visit Kara’s Etsy shop and follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Thank you so much Kara for sharing your story with us! Do you want to be our next Featured Maker?
Visit our Contribute Page for more info!

FEATURED MAKER: Gail Kirwan of Rockabella Bags

FEATURED MAKER: Gail Kirwan of Rockabella Bags
Please welcome our newest Featured Maker, Gail Kirwan of Rockabella Bags! Gail took the plunge into starting her own creative business and now makes and sells beautiful, waterproof bags of all shapes and sizes. See more of her work in her Etsy shop!

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

I grew up in the Denver area, and majored in mechanical engineering in college. I moved to the Seattle area to work as an engineer, which I did for 20 years. Eventually the creative urge got the best of me, and I left to start my own business. I enjoy crafting, reading, traveling, and gardening.

What do you make and sell?

I make bags of all sizes – from large laptop bags to tote bags, hipster bags, and wristlets. I also make other small accessories.

FEATURED MAKER: Gail Kirwan of Rockabella Bags #handmade #interview

What made you decide to take the leap and start your own creative business?

For many years I traveled extensively for business, always with my laptop. I had a laptop bag that I loved for its functionality, but like most laptop bags it came in your choice of – black nylon. I hoped to find something a little more colorful but that was impossible to find. Eventually I tried one made from quilted cotton – it was pretty but didn’t hold up to heavy use. Back to the boring black nylon. One day I discovered vinyl laminated cotton fabric, and I immediately thought “Eureka”! This beautiful fabric came in designer prints, was strong, durable, waterproof and easy care. It was perfect for a laptop bag – or for any bag. That was the beginning of my Rockabella Bags journey. Now I make bags that indulge my love of color and design. Living in the rainy climate of the Pacific Northwest, I love that these bags are waterproof – and they wipe clean. I hope that you love them as much as I do!

FEATURED MAKER: Gail Kirwan of Rockabella Bags #handmade #interview

What’s your process for coming up with ideas for new products?

I think of products that I would like myself that would lend themselves to laminated fabric. Sometimes people ask me to make specific things, usually these are already on my list. I have a long list of new products to try, and it is constantly growing!

Where do you look for inspiration?

Fabric – I love the color and design of fabric prints. Certain prints just reach out and grab you – that is what I’m drawn to. I also enjoy mixing and matching prints to come up with great combinations for bags.

Function – I’m in love with the beauty and functionality of laminated fabric. It is waterproof, wipes clean, strong and durable – and still buttery soft to the touch. Wonderful.

Design – I love to explore different designs for bags. Large, small, they are all good! Personally, I like to carry a small bag on a daily basis but I like to have options for special events or travel. Who doesn’t?

FEATURED MAKER: Gail Kirwan of Rockabella Bags #handmade #interview

What does your workspace/studio look like?

I have a spare room in my basement that I use as a studio. I love working in the basement because it is so comfortable – cool in the summer and warm in the winter. My studio window looks out over the back garden, and I always have music playing when I am working. When I started my business a year ago, I threw my studio together with what I had on hand – folding tables, etc. Currently it is very messy with not enough storage, so I’m planning to make it over in the next few months. I’m looking forward to a little more organization!

FEATURED MAKER: Gail Kirwan of Rockabella Bags #handmade #interview

What are some of your favorite tools or techniques?

Of course, my favorite material to work with is laminated cotton fabric. There are a lot of tips and tricks to sewing with laminate that can be used if you are working with it occasionally. If you work with it a lot, like I do, a walking foot for your sewing machine is essential. The walking foot also helps in dealing with thick layers of fabric which happens with bag making.

FEATURED MAKER: Gail Kirwan of Rockabella Bags #handmade #interview

Is your business your full time job? Or do you have a day job?

Rockabella Bags is my full time job.

What does a day in the life of Gail look like?

I usually spend around 2-3 hours in the morning catching up with email and social media, ordering supplies, any paperwork or organizing that needs to be done. Then I am sewing until around 4:00, when I pack up any orders that need to be shipped.

FEATURED MAKER: Gail Kirwan of Rockabella Bags #handmade #interview

Visit Gail’s Etsy Shop and follow Rockabella Bags on Facebook.

Thank you so much Gail for sharing your story with us! Want to be our next Featured Maker?
Visit our Contribute Page for more info!