White Earth Studio

I stumbled upon one of Nancy’s gorgeous forms in a treasury we were both featured in a couple weeks ago. Only after exploring her shop further did I realize that White Earth Studio was located in my home state—Wisconsin! I love the intricate nature and subtle coloring of her work. Here’s what she has to say for herself:

Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
I love the medium of clay, especially the smooth white porcelain clay body that I use. Since my childhood I have loved to create things. My first memory of clay is of making and decorating mud pies with lilac and dandelion blossoms. I seem to still be using mud and flowers as my inspiration.

How did you learn your craft?
I learned ceramics in undergraduate class at the University of Hawaii and North Dakota, workshops at Penland School of Craft, NC and Banff Centre of Fine Arts, Banff, Alberta and by doing an apprenticeship in Ceramics with a private full time potter in Washington D.C.

How has your work evolved?
My work has become much more detailed in the past five years. I have been teaching privately in the studio which has allowed me the luxury of working on these time intensive pieces. I think also that the work has evolved along with my practice of meditation. Working on the Thousand Petal Vases particularly feels like a meditation to me.

What is your greatest challenge?
Marketing! No doubt about it. I’m not techy enough to get things done quickly or without a lot of error and re-doing! I’m also on the shy side and have a bit of trouble with the ego part of marketing.

What inspires you?
All the amazing forms I find in nature, it is endless inspiration…anything from a snowdrift, a pear, a tree fungus or a branch.

Tell us about your business.
I found out about etsy from fellow artists. I opened my etsy shop in May 2009. My full time job is maintaining a ceramic studio. Selling on etsy is an arm of my business, I also sell on Alere Modern, online gallery, and am involved with the developing Shibui Designs, Los Angeles, and their associate Fifth Floor Gallery in Los Angeles. Locally at Cornerstone gallery, Baraboo, WI.

What advice do you have for new etsians?
I would advise new etsians to spend alot of time in the forums. This was really helpful for me in the beginning. Also, join a team to meet people, share questions and marketing ideas.

Happy Easter!

I’ve been intrigued by pysanka (eggs that are hand painted with hot beeswax, dyed a light color, beeswaxed again, dyed a slightly darker color, over and over until you have the intricate multicolor designs seen above) for years—I’ve even tried it a time or two…unsuccessfully. Leave it to an etsian to master the craft.

Katya of Ukrainian Easter Eggs created the beauties shown here. She even offers a handy video for those wondering how they’re created.

Cornflower Blue Studio

Meet Rachel, proprietor of Cornflower Blue Studio and crocheter extraordinaire! I first fell in love with her coral/barnacle/fungus/seed pod organic soft shape sculptures, which she calls an obsession. A lady after my own heart, she crochets, knits and embroiders her own patterns, some of which she’ll share with you! Enjoy what she has to say about her etsy experience!

Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
I consider myself to be an artist and a crafter. I love using craft techniques traditionally associated with women and am a bit obsessed with women of the colonial and pioneer eras. Practicing needlework and crochet techniques is my way of honoring their achievements, sacrifices, and contributions to history. The twist is that I use these techniques in a way that is modern and not always function-based.

 I make soft sculptures, decorative embroideries, hand embroidered notes, and I design patterns, too.

How did you learn your craft?
My mom showed me how to sew and make a lot of things when I was a child. She was always sewing and doing cross stitch, so I learned to love handmade things from her. I taught myself to knit from a kid’s how-to book and took off from there. After that, anything with yarn just made sense to me! The crochet and pattern designing evolved from there.

How has your work evolved?
When I started out on Etsy I was selling hand knit winter accessories, then I added a few artistic embroidery pieces just for fun. All the embroidered pieces sold and that really gave me the confidence to make and design more original art. I started drawing more and finding new techniques. Now I have my own unique style and enjoy filling my shop with colorful pieces!

What is your greatest challenge?
Fitting everything I want to do into the time I have each day! My shop is my full time job, but managing my little family (a husband and three cats) is also my other full time job! I pride myself on being a super efficient household manager, so I’m balancing wanting perfection in my home and in my shop. Sometimes the dishes go unwashed!

What inspires you?
I love the color palette and general vibe of all Wes Anderson movies, especially “The Life Aquatic.” And “The Royal Tenenbaums.” I love them both so much! I play albums by The Decemberists, Joanna Newsom, and Sufjan Stevens because they are full of imagery and have amazing lyrics. The song “Colleen” by Joanna Newsome is one my all time favorites. I browse the nature section of the library quite a bit and read a lot of Emily Dickinson poems. I cannot overstate how much I love Emily Dickinson!

How did you discover etsy.com?
I found Etsy through various craft blogs I was reading and signed up in 2008, although I didn’t really start my business until the fall of 2010. Now it’s my full time job and I’m focusing on growing my little business. As a new Etsian I had a lot to learn about writing product descriptions and using the tags effectively. Lesson learned!

Where can readers find your work?
My work can be seen on my blog and on my Flickr stream. It can be browsed and purchased through my Etsy shop, and my knitting patterns are also available through Ravelry.

What advice do you have for new etsians?
My advice for new Etsians is to read the Seller Handbook. Find all the articles about tagging, photography, marketing, and writing product descriptions. This is stuff that is important for your shop’s success! You won’t be perfect, especially at first, but stick with it and make adjustments as you go. If you have questions or feel lost, find a team to join! There are Etsy teams just for new sellers where you can find support and advice.

Porcelain lace

Are you all tired of hearing about me and my work? I do apologize, my blog has been a little 622-centric lately! In an effort to correct that, I present a new series of artisan interviews. I hope you’ll learn as much about their craft as you do about starting an etsy shop for yourself! I’ve gotten a lot of requests for advice for beginners lately, so I hope between my writing and recommendations from experienced etsians, you’ll learn everything you want to know!

First up, the lovely and talented Isabelle Abrahamson, a Boston ceramicist who somehow makes solid clay forms seem light as air.

Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
My current body of work focuses on incorporating patterns of negative space into functional works of art.

Tell us about the business end of things.
I discovered Etsy by reading an article about Etsy in the New York Times Magazine. I had just started making selleable things and it seemed like the perfect venue for me. I opened my shop that day.

I still sell all of my work myself. In addition to my Etsy shop I also have a website www.isabelleabramson.com , which usually has a little more of a selection of new work than my Etsy shop. My things are so time consuming to produce that it’s never worked to split the profit of a sale with a store. I’m working with Viridis 3D to produce limited edition reproductions of my pieces. These might be available at stores someday but for right now I will sell them on my website and probably on Supermarket HQ (I’m pretty sure Etsy is not down with 3D printed pottery).

How has your work evolved?
I think that my work has gotten more elaborate as I’ve gotten more comfortable working with clay. You can do anything with clay. It’s just like clay :)

What is your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge has been to keep up stock. I don’t like making the same things over and over, and I tend to be sold out of popular items while I experiment in the studio with new things. I think it will be a huge creative relief to get over the hump of having to make any particular thing just to make money. When I’m focused on being creative my work is always better, though it may happen slower. This has been the draw of getting set up to do 3D printing. When I really nail a design I’ll be able to put in a couple thousand dollars to get it set up as a limited edition print, and it will stay available for a while without me having to try to recreate it over and over. I’ll be able to move on to the next thing and, overall, my collection of work will be much better.
What advice do you have for new etsians?
I would say to any new Etsy shop owner that having good pictures is incredibly important. Partly it draws customers to your item, but also it gives you the opportunity to sell the idea of your item to customers. I think a good picture can even make customers feel better about something after they bought it…. they get to remember falling in love with it. I try to take pictures that seem like they could be in your home. If you look at the earliest pieces that I sold they’re all taken in a photo tent and came out weird shades of pink. At some point I found a place in my house (my bureau in my bedroom) that has the perfect light in the afternoon and a couple spots near windows in the studio and the pictures became so much more inviting (in my humble opinion).

Limited Edition Prints

Lately I’ve been thinking about changing out some of the art I have framed in my house—quite the project…I have a lot. The husband’s only requirement? “Don’t put so many holes in the wall that it compromises the structural integrity of our house, ok?” I’ve been feeling sorry for my poor neglected wood type, so the first order of business was the beautiful numeral print above. I also recently rekindled my love with intricate, over-the-top swashy scripts, so I designed a new plate from my queue of quotes for this “Life” print. I love the contrast of the sleek silver script on fibrous brown paper.