Have you ever felt like you just don't fit in? Like the world around you doesn't make sense and you're the only one who sees that? Well, I always have. And I feel like the answer is that .......
I was just born 100 years too late!

25 May, 2010

It's time once again for Fancy Work Wednesday! Today's featured artist is Amy Cantini, who's shop Things I Like on Etsy is filled with .... well, things I like!

I first met Amy in the Etsy Forums and when I saw her cemetery photos, I knew I had found a kindred spirit and new favorite shop. She does a variety of things, but her shop is so cohesive and has a very romantic Victorian feel to it. Please read on to learn more about this unique and truly talented artist:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Interview with Amy Cantini

Q. Tell me a little about you (ie. name, age, where you are from, etc.)
A. My name is Amy Cantini and I am 35 years old, had to think about that for a minute. I am living in Fernandina Beach, Florida. I've been here since 1991. I used to have a real job where someone paid me every week. I miss working for other people. Now I am a stay at home mom. I have two beautiful sons who keep me quite busy. I love them beyond measure, but they don't pay me as well as my former employer. So I make jewelry and take pictures in the hopes of providing them with something extra now and then. My husband is a chef at the Ritz-Carlton and with his being the only paycheck for our family, I wanted to try to contribute to the finances in some small way.

Q. How long have you been doing photography? Where/from whom did you learn it?
A. Officially since October 24, 2009. Unofficially since I started making jewelry, because I had to photograph my items for my listings on Etsy. I have absolutely no formal training. It's all been trial and error.

Q. How did you get started in jewelry making? What made you decide to combine photography and jewelry?
A. I got started in jewelry making on a whim. I was bored and my sewing machine was on the outs. I was also playing with power tools in the garage, but the scrap wood ran out and on my way to the hardware store, I passed a new bead shop. I had remembered some jewelry we sold at a shop I used to work in. The shop had long since closed and similar jewelry was nowhere to be found. I figured it couldn't be too difficult, so I purchased some supplies and gave it a go. Funny thing is, I don't make anything like what I was looking for in the first place. Combining the two was easy transition once I found a particular supply. Initially, I purchased them just for ornaments but the more slender size, I felt, was perfect for pendants. It also makes the shop a bit more cohesive. I do plan to introduce yet another pendant style very soon.

Q. Where do you find inspiration?
A. Everywhere, in books and movies, in antique stores. Outside in the world. In a cemetary. In old iron works and glass, in stone and fabric. It's difficult to pin down one source. I especially find it in other Artists creations lampwork artists specifically. Their creations are one of a kind, and I can't help but add my little twist to them. Maybe inspiration finds me...yes, I think that must be what happens.

Q. What has been your experience with Etsy?
A. Etsy has been quite a pleasant experience overall. It's not for the faint of heart though, that's for sure. It's the hardest and most rewarding thing I've ever done...except for motherhood ofcourse. There's such a wonderful community of artists and artisans and vintage and supply sellers and they are all so helpful and warm hearted and wonderful. It's a virtual family and I can't describe it any other way. Someone always willing to give advice or a pep talk and a dose of reality. It is in all ways just like a family. Sales come at a snail's pace for me, but I appreciate each and every customer no matter how few or far between. I have had the pleasure of filling two custom orders. One for a bride, the other for a fellow jewelry seller. I am very excited to see her creations.

Q. What kinds of things do you like to shop for on Etsy?
A. This is where I get in trouble. I shop for vintage shoes and glass bottles, custom jewelry, handcrafted jewelry, fabric, beads and findings, gifts...loads and loads of things, and I have the feedback to prove it. Wine crates and display and packaging items. I'm sure I'm leaving something out. Vintage hardware, and lotions and soaps. I have my eye on some perfume, chocolates and a real corset too.

Q. Outside of your work/Etsy shop, what hobbies and interests do you have?
A. Is there life outside of Etsy...I had no idea. Kidding :) I watch TV and take care of my home, laundry, dishes, yard. All that exciting stuff. I plan to take a trip or two this summer. Not far mind you, just to Savannah, GA and maybe St. Augustine. I really want to check out their cemetaries. I've heard they have some awesome angel statues. My favorite subject to photograph.

Q. What are your future plans for your art/shop?
A. Why, to be so busy with orders that I just can't keep up. Wishful thinking maybe. I think I just plan to keep adding new items and hopefully filling some custom orders. I love to do custom work. Most everything in my shop is one of a kind. I don't state that anywhere in my shop, maybe I should. If it's not one of a kind it is very limited edition. Like two of an item. I feel that makes it special. I did get a new sewing machine, and I have a mannequin on the way, so you never really know what will turn up. The shop name is Things I Like, so I'm open to anything.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Thank you so much, Amy! Wonderful interview and I can't wait to see what you will be doing next (^:^)

23 May, 2010

A Flurried End to the Weekend

I awoke this morning to snow and immediately considered a new plan to just stay in today, build a fire in the fireplace and work quietly on my new crochet designs I've been envisioning. Baking some cookies also seems perfect (the boys agree).

It's been a long and very chaotic week. I started a new job that I am thrilled about - but even though it is only part-time, it's taken a bit of effort to rearrange my life around it. Everything will work out, I'm sure, as it always does.

On Friday, the kids and I went to cheer on the Amgen cyclists when they made their 135 mile trek up the mountain and into our little town for Stage 6 of the race. That was a long, but fun afternoon.

Yesterday, we did some shopping and then went to see "Shrek Forever After". I had read some pretty harsh reviews of this movie and was a little apprehensive about going, but I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed it and don't agree with the points that apparently displeased the critics.

Shrek is a huge favorite in our house (no, we don't ONLY watch silent films - LOL!) and, I felt, the movie was in keeping with the previous three. The story line was well planned out and thought-provoking: ie. Be careful what you wish for - it just might come true! It was funny, but sad in spots too. The big point was lost on my kids, however, it got me right in the heart - and did bring a few tears to my eyes at the end. That said, the boys still thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to see it again. Since the film has just been released this weekend, I shall say no more - don't want to write anything that will spoil the fun for anyone who hasn't seen it yet (^:^)/

So, now here I am, watching the snow falling outside and relishing this quiet time. Tomorrow starts another hectic week, so this is a good thing for sure!

Be sure to check back on Wednesday for the Featured Artist of the week. I already have that post ready to roll and you won't be disappointed!

18 May, 2010

This week's Fancy Work Wednesday Featured Artist is Jenn of Ichiban Joyas. What she does with polymer clay is truly wonderous and I adore her pieces. I have dabbled with clay and can understand her love of it - it can be very addictive. But I have never been able to do what she can and especially at such a small scale. Read her interview and definately stop by her shop - I know you'll be enchanted, too.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ichiban Joyas - interview with Jenn:

Q. Tell me a little about you.

A. My name is Jenn Ramirez and I am 29 years old. I grew up mainly in the San Diego area, but spent a few years in the Inland Empire. I spent most of my career in the social service field, and I am thinking I might go a little further, and get a Masters in Clinical Psychology. I love reading, love watching movies, love animals, love music, and have found a new love in Yoga.

Q. How long have you been making jewelry? Where/from whom did you learn it?

A. I have been making jewelry for about two years now. It's something that is still fairly new to me, and I learn something new everyday. My mom is the one that got me started on jewelry making and I learned a lot from her.

Q. How did you get started working with polymer clay?

A. I started working with polymer clay right about the time I started to learn how to make jewelry. I used to collect a lot of Japanese mini plastic food items and turn them into necklaces and such. Then one day, I figured that I could make my own charms. So I picked up a package of clay and the obsession began. :)

Q. What inspires you?

A. I am inspired by everything. My items are created based on the mood I'm in, a movie I watched, or even a particular favorite song. I have to keep a pen and paper with me at all times just to be able to write down ideas, and boy do I have lists of them!

Q. What has been your experience selling on Etsy?

A. I ABSOLUTELY adore Etsy! It has been such a great home for my shop. I love getting an email and seeing that I sold something. It's a great feeling knowing someone out there has given me a chance to share my work with them. I'm fairly new to the community, but sales have been good so far. I love being surrounded by so many talented artists and seeing what they are doing with their creativity.

Q. What kinds of things do you like to shop for on Etsy?

A. Lately, I have been on a shopping spree. My most current purchases have been beauty products, chainmaille jewelry, and a new bag. I like to check out other Etsy shops everyday to see what I can add to my collection of handmade items.

Q. Outside of your work/Etsy shop, what hobbies and interests do you have?

A. When I'm not working with polymer clay, I am usually making a 3-D origami piece. Where your standard origami swan takes one sheet of paper, your 3-d swan can take 500 or more pieces of paper. Though they are extrememly time consuming, the final product is worth it. In addtion, I do a little amateur photography on the side. I don't sell my photos though. If I take a really good photo, I usually just frame it myself and keep it in my home. It's nice to walk by a beautiful moment in time.

Please add links to any blogs, FB, Twitter, etc. accounts for Ichiban Joyas

To get the most up to date information on my items, become a fan on facebook:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ichiban-Joyas/190003832236
You can find me on Etsy of course:) http://ichibanjoyas.etsy.com
You can follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/IchibanJoyas
You can follow me on my blog: http://ichibanjoyas.blogspot.com/

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Are those fortune cookies not the cutest? I just love them!
Thank you, Jenn! You are so talented and sweet, and I'm happy to have met you (^:^)/ . . . . Now I've got a hankering to get my polymer clay back out to play!

12 May, 2010

I have been a part of the Etsy family for about a year now, and it never ceases to amaze me the plethora of unique, talented artists who have set up shop there. Having found some special favorites, I wanted to show them off on my blog and so have created "Fancy Work Wednesday"!

My debut Featured Artist is Jessica of Snapdragon Lace

I first met her in an Etsy Virtual Lab and was immediately smitten with her shop. I have long been enchanted by tatting, but never took the plunge into learning how to do it. Jessica was such an inspiration and wealth of information that I quickly ran out and purchased my first tatting shuttle and an instructional book. I'm ashamed to admit, I still haven't started learning this beautiful lace technique, but she recently told me about a way to combine crochet and tatting, which I have begun to dabble in (and am loving!).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Snapdragon Lace - interview with Jessica:

Q. Tell me a little about you.
A. Hi, I'm Jessica and I'm 29 years old. I grew up in San Diego, but I'm never sure where to call my current home. I work in Los Angeles for a public radio station (KJazz 88.1) where I have a crazy 2-month-on 2-month-off schedule based around their fundraisers. It's a fantastic schedule. For almost the last 3 years I've lived in my car (no, really) and get to take off traveling for about 4-5 months out of the year. Colorado, Washington, New Mexico, Northern California, Utah... The road trips have been fantastic and I've also been able to leave the lower 48 for some 1-2 month trips as well. I haven't posted on my website about living in my car (a prius named Edna Lee) for quite a while, but you can find out more about why I love it so much (even without the traveling it's pretty cool) at AYearInACar.com.

Q. How long have you been tatting? Where/from whom did you learn it?
A. I've been tatting for about 8 years now. My grandmother tatted so I knew what it was growing up, but was never able to figure it out. My great-aunt taught me how to crochet when I was little, and in college and friend and I decided to learn how to tat. Unfortunately, we had to teach ourselves from books. It took a couple weeks, but finally we figured out how to do the "flip" of the tatting knot and we were on our way. I've been addicted ever since and haven't touched a crochet hook in years.

Q. How did you get started on Etsy? What made you decide to open your shop?
A. I opened my Etsy shop last year, but didn't start doing much with it until recently. I've been selling my tatting for years and finally decided it was time to set up an online shop. With all the traveling I do, I thought online might be easier to do than a regular farmer's market type gig.

Q. Where do you find your inspiration?
A. I like adapting patterns for new uses. Turning motif patterns into edgings or edgings into bracelets. That sort of thing. I have a tendency to take a pattern and totally take it apart and create every possible variation I can think of before moving on to the next. I've been really excited to see the tatting community on the internet grow and getting inspired by what other people are doing. People always say that tatting is a "lost" or "dying" art, but really that's not true at all. It's still just incredibly young. The basic techniques of tatting weren't invented until the 1820s and many of the patterns today use techniques that are under 100 or even 50 years old. It's really fascinating to be involved in a community so small that I can go to the Spokane Tatting Guild's yearly tatting workshop (shameless plug for them: shuttlebirds.com) and be able to teach next to the people who are literally inventing the future of the craft.

Q. Do you sell anywhere other than Etsy?
A. Just in person as I find people who are interested in what I'm doing. Hoping to do more craft fairs in the next year or so.

Q. What kinds of things do you like to shop for on Etsy?
A. Lately I've focused on finding business-y stuff on Etsy. Business cards, beading supplies (I've been adding more beads to my tatting lately), hand-dyed tatting thread, (LadyShuttleMaker and YarnPlayer create some really beautiful threads)... Non-Snapdragon Lace related, I've been looking around for a nice purse and plan on getting some handmade soap for some presents. I've been giving everyone I know tatting as gifts for the last 8 years. Thought it was time to mix it up a bit. :)

Q. What is your vision for the future of Snapdragon Lace?
A. This is such an interesting question, and I've really been in the middle of trying to decide for myself where I want it to go. I haven't been on Etsy for long so I plan on focusing on that for the rest of the year. I would love to find some shops that are interested in wholesaling my work, and I think that will be my next big step. In the very long term I'd like to spend more of my time doing bigger projects. If I found out tomorrow that'd I'd never be able to sell another piece I'd still be tatting, but I'd be tatting bigger things. :) I've done a (coffee table) tablecloth and am working on two shawls. I have an idea for a skirt and can't wait till I get back to the millenary shop in downtown Los Angeles to pick up a enormous sunhat frame to decorate with lace. I would love to do wedding veils and other ridiculously fancy projects.

Q. Please add links to any blogs, FB, Twitter, etc. accounts for Snapdragon Lace.
A. snapdragonlace.etsy.com
I currently have a facebook give away going on now. When I get to 200 fans (sigh, "likes") I'll be picking a random fan ("liker?") to receive a pair of cuffs of their choice of colors. Additionally, whoever recommended them to Snapdragon Lace ALSO gets a pair of cuffs. And again, my long-neglected website about living in a car is at http://www.ayearinacar.com/
For the month of May, readers of AmiKami's blog get a 25% discount on anything in the store. Just let me know you're a fan of AmiKami in the note to sellers when paying through paypal and I'll refund 25%

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thank you so much, Jessica, for this wonderful interview and all your support in my tatting endeavours. And extra special appreciation for your promotion of my shop blog (^:^)/ - you are very sweet!

05 May, 2010

Lady's iPod Reticule ... Part II

In a totally different direction, but more in keeping with the traditional patterns, this bag is hand crocheted in a beaded net pattern. It is embellished with fine hand crocheted lace and features draw strings tipped with glass beads. The lining is a beautiful lemon yellow brocade.

It is a little larger than the brown pouch I featured yesterday, so it would fit not only a cellphone, but some credit cards, ID and a little cash as well. It would be a perfect alternative to a handbag for an evening out or when you just dont want to carry around anything too big or too heavy.

04 May, 2010

New product in R&D!

So, I've seen a lot of cellphone/iPod cases being knitted and crocheted .... but I decided that idea needed to take a look to the past. I've been pondering this for a long time now, but finally am putting it to the hook and I wanted to share what I've been working on!

My new Lady's Reticule for your iPod Touch/iPhone/Cellphone was inspired by those handbag patterns of the 19th century. This is the first completed prototype and I played around with different embellishments I had in mind. I am also considering doing a netted version that is lined and features a drawstring closure (more in keeping with the more popular styles back then) and small pouch or pocket for earbuds.

The body of this one was hand crocheted in a dense Tunisian crochet pattern with cotton/acrylic blend yarn.

The top is edged with a delicate hand crocheted lace tipped with glass seed beads. A button closure keeps your iPod secure!

A hand crocheted flower with a beaded lace center and beaded bottom edging finish it off.

This is only a prototype and not necessarily what my final pieces will look like. So, with continued effort, and any opinions/suggestions you may have, I am hoping to work out different designs and get some of these up on Etsy by June. ❀