Thursday, October 30, 2008

An interview with the Queen of Pomegranates....and more!

If you've shopped on Etsy you've seen these enticing pomegranates on the front page. The first time I was captivated by them I sought out who made them and got to know Yael, the artist behind the creations in the Etsy shop Yoola. Not only does Yael create delightful pomegranates, but her shop offers a variety of handknit and crocheted items that all have an airy quality about them. Her latest creations include a line of lampshades that are absolutely fabulous. I was honored when Yael agreed to be interviewed and featured on my blog. She is my first international seller I've featured her and I was thrilled to get to know her better.

When did you first learn to knit and crochet?

I learned the basics of crochet when I was little on one of my summer vacations at my grandma and grandpa's. I was a very crafty girl. :)

What made you choose to work with wire?

When I was living in Switzerlad a couple of years ago, I got bored since I couldn’t work there so I took short classes at a local silversmith, and fell in love. It reminded me that I need to create in order to breathe and be happy.

Your pomegranates are truly a unique find on Etsy. What do pomegranates mean to you and how did you get inspired to make the first one?

Pomegranates are a marvelous fruit, it has many appearances in the Jewish culture as well as in other ancient cultures. A ceramic pom is a common gift for many occasions in Israel. My mom mentioned that to me when I was experimenting with larger patterns…and the rest is history :)

How long does it take you to make the average pomegranate?

It takes me about three hours. I call it my meditation. I concentrate and it gives me inner peace and quiet.

You obviously like the color red, does it have any particular symbolism/meaning to you or is it just a favorite color?

I believe everything has a reason, meaning if I love red or use a lot of red in my work then it must be something that I need in order to give me more strength or more quiet, whatever I am lacking. So red for me is happiness and fire, warmth and life.

I've never been to Israel, but I've come to admire some great artists from your country. Are handmade items and the arts appreciated in Israel?

I'm embarrassed to say, but I don’t know. As an artist I’m only alive in Etsy and the internet. I don’t think I could make a living out of it as I do with my design firm, so maybe this is the answer…..

Do artists pass down their skills to the next generation?

Israel is a young country inventing itself from scratch. People came here during the 19th and 20th centuries from all over the world. They were a generation that did not want to live their parent’s life in Europe. They wanted a land of their own. They revived the Hebrew which was dead for 2000 years and they needed to build this country with no agriculture, building, or army skills. So I think tradition in Israel today is not something appreciated or passed on. We need to grow up first.

What is your favorite item in your store right now and why?

I’m in love with my Scheherazade lamps. I have wanted to design lamps for years and finally I have. I was so excited when the first one was finished...really excited. I'm just as excited about people's feedback. They love them too.

Do you have anything else you'd like to share?

Etsy life is something really extraordinary. It gives me the opportunity to be an artist and meet wonderful and warm people like you, Valerie. Thank you so much for supporting me. It means the world to me. (editor's note: You're quite welcome. I feel the same way about you!)

Due to space constraints, I've only shown you a few of Yael's creations. Be sure to check out her Etsy store to see more of her work, including delightful jewelry and home decor!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Here's to a Happy 2009

Rather than complain that sales are slow and the economy is doing poorly, I've chosen to focus on the positive belief that things will get better. I've begun looking for show and gallery opportunities for 2009 and just received word that my work was accepted into a two month show in the spring and I'm being allotted 10' of wall space, which is fantastic!

I know times are tough for many of us, but instead of getting caught up in the "woe is me" mindset, use this slower time to market yourself, learn something new like Twitter, refine a skill, take a class or enjoy some quality time with someone that might normally feel slighted when you're working so hard.

I was sick for the month of June and while I didn't get any art made, I spent those weeks looking for art opportunities and applying for shows. It's keeping me busy right up until Christmas.

So stop twiddling your thumbs and get busy! ;o)

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's Monday and the start of a busy week.

I was all set to post my interview with Yoola, the great pomegranate queen of Etsy, but she's out of town for the week, so I want to hold off until her store is out of vacation mode.

This Friday is Halloween in the U.S. and I still have to finish putting the decorations up in my yard. We get 125-150 trick-or-treaters and with Halloween being on a Friday this year, we might get a lot more. On Saturday is our annual "Doggie Halloween" party with all of our dog park friends and their dogs. The photo above is of my big baby, Sadie Sue from last year's party after indulging in too much doggie cake.

This week I'm beginning a big "gallery shuffle" with taking art from one gallery and switching it out with another. Thankfully everyone agreed and is happy and it should go smoothly. I also have some new art to photograph and put in my Etsy store.

Everyone have a good week!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Give yourself the gift of an embrace...

with one of Kay's of OnSlenderThreads wondrous creations. I first stumbled upon Kay's store when I was putting a treasury together on Etsy. I was immediately fascinated with her use of soft fibers mixed with precious stones. I'm a texture-holic and this was an amazing combination. Since then, I've featured Kay in several treasuries. It's my absolute pleasure to get her more exposure on Etsy because her creations are fantastic! I was lucky enough to receive one of her treasures as a gift and words cannot express how lovely it is. I asked Kay if she'd partake in a question and answer session with me to be featured on my blog and she happily obliged. After you read Kay's thoughtful answers, I urge you to explore her Etsy store and her website to see more exquisite photos and to read more about her Mindfulness Mantles!

By blending earth’s fibers & stones
these mindfulness mantles are woven to awaken & comfort you.
Being a lifelong dancer, I flourish on gathering grace
from one’s senses to quicken one’s heart.

Each shawl is crafted in quiet reflection
for its future owner—knitted from heart to heart.
Wrap one around yourself to experience
this illuminating dance of fibers and stones.

Wraps to empower, ground, delight
40 Days Shawls to gentle, balance, refine
Survivor Mantles to cocoon, center, transform
~ Kay Moates

How old were you when you first learned to knit? Who taught you?

Knitting has been a part of me for so long I can’t remember not knitting. Coming from a line of women extremely skilled with all types of needles probably planted the love and inclination in my soul. The specific instruction came from my Mother. Actually for all On Slender Threads’ Mindfulness Mantles I use only the first most basic stitch she taught me because it allows the work to flow seamlessly into quiet.

What exactly is a Mindfulness Mantle?

A Mindfulness Mantle is a handmade shawl created as a tool for supporting, refining, and transforming inner work. My desire is to help people embody change by making connections to themselves and their life. The entire crafting process is grounded with intention and symbols. First, each Mantle has a strong earth connection being knit from fine natural fibers and embellished with earthgems (gemstones birthed deep within our Earth). Second, each Mantle carries an invitation to stillness by being created during my quiet. Third, the Mantle embraces a person in gentleness and gives a touchstone to enfold for soothing. Like an artist’s canvas holds a painting, a Mindfulness Mantle supports and holds the energy of ones’ inward journey.

What first inspired you to blend soft fibers with stones?

That evolved during the process of gleaning elements into a whole and was simply a natural happening. I have always loved being embraced by a shawl—that cocooning enlivens me. And, forever, touchstones have helped me focus and move deeply within. The difference in textures and form magnifies each Mindfulness Mantle’s message. During the rendering process I often ponder in amazement and wonder that this fiber once walked the earth and that each unique earthgem knows transformation from our earth’s core.

How are people using the Mindfulness Mantles?

To my pure delight people—men, children, and women—are using them is various ways that suit their individual needs. Some are during rites of passage, for children’s mindfulness, for being in the moment, for sitting practice, as preparation aids for weddings (bride, bridesmaids, and mothers), during care giving, during therapeutic work, and while navigating an illness.

Have you dabbled in any other art forms?

I’ve been in the performing arts for—oh, my goodness—sixty years! As a life-long dancer I created and directed Imagination in Motion, a creative movement dance company for young children, where we danced with a difference inspired by all forms of art with music improvised by our pianist. As a matter of fact, On Slender Threads arose after my retirement as a new way to say the same things that I had taught for years.

What would you like to tell Etsy readers about yourself or your store?

On Slender Threads' Mantles are made from luscious, fine fibers for seasonal harmony . . . silk, cashmere, angora, bamboo, linen, alpaca, pima cotton, baby suri, merino, mohair, wool . . . (some fibers are organic).

There are seven different Mantle collections giving a variety of sizes, shapes, fibers, and earthgems. Also, I especially like to make custom Mantles weaving in the person’s wishes and needs.

I love the way numbers dance through our lives. One of my favorite numbers is 11—On Slender Threads Mindfulness Mantles are based on 11’s. I use every imaginable way to call forth awareness to deepen life’s connections!

Thank you, Kay for participating in this Q&A with me. I wish you much success!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My heart is full of gratitude

I've had very little sleep today and I'm feeling burnt out and exhausted. I signed on and found such lovely convos from some of my Etsy friends. I feel truly blessed. I've been working so hard this year that I've had very little time to socialize or even get out of the house and the support and encouragement I've been receiving from the Etsy community has been truly amazing. Thank you each and every one of you for touching my heart in your own special way.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thank you, Etsy for bringing my treasury to the front page!

I am thrilled to say that my latest treasury, "Romance in the Afternoon" was selected by Etsy to grace the front page. I was delighted that my new Etsy friend, Kay of OnSlenderThreads was going to have the Etsy spotlight shining on her. Whenever I stumble across an Etsy store that features incredible talent and products, I do my best to get them some extra attention. Kay is still getting her name out there on Etsy. I hope this front page exposure drives a lot of traffic through her store so they can discover her gorgeous creations. Stay tuned for a Q&A with Kay in the future. She'll be one of my featured sellers on my blog. Congrats as well to JillreDesigns, FancyPicnic, Rudman, ThisYearsGirl, RomanticThreads, pinkdragonfly98, topsyturvydesign, LittleSparrowNest, labokoff and TotusMel Please take some time and explore their Etsy stores!

JillreDesigns is wrapped around my fingers....wrist and ears!

Remember the Yart Sale on Etsy this summer? Not only did I get some amazing deals, but I also met Jill of JillreDesigns on Etsy. I featured one of her rings in a treasury, she convo'd me and said thank you and a friendship was born. I also bought the ring I featured, another ring, a bracelet, two pairs of get the idea. I'm in love with Jill's jewelry! This past year I've gone from being at the dog park for hours everyday to bouncing around to different galleries. I have to be dressed as a successful artist and Jill's jewelry gives me some much needed confidence. She's designed earrings for me twice now for openings and "she gets me" and my style, even when I don't know what I'm looking for. Be sure to check out Jill's store for gorgeous wire wrapped rings, luscious stones, funky earrings, handmade polymer clay Halloween beads and stylish treasure boxes. Below is a little Q&A I asked Jill to participate in.

How long have you been making jewelry?

I’ve been making jewelry in one form or another pretty much as long as I can remember. My dad was a designer for Napier when I was growing up, and I loved the animal pins that he would create. So I was hooked early on.

What is your jewelry background?

How lucky could I be? I had this talented designer living under the same roof! When I was 12 years old my family moved, and my dad converted the old barn on the property into a studio for his freelance work. There he taught me design, model making, everything I needed to know to create jewelry on my own. Since then I’ve worked in just about every area of jewelry design and manufacturing.

What is your favorite thing to make?

For now, I’d have to say rings. I’m exploring new ways of making them, and so far the results have been interesting.

Which artists (any art form) inspire you?

Warren Dontigney (my dad), and Earl and Dot Bushnell (my godparents), all talented artists who took the time to nurture my passion for art. Other than family members my favorite artist is Joan Miro. His paintings seem to capture a dream state that I find fascinating. Other artists are Alexander Calder and Edward Gorey. I appreciate all art, but I love Modern form.

What else have you dabbled in?

Being “thrifty”, I like to do my own home decorating and repairs. I made a space mural for the wall of my son’s bedroom, mosaic shelves for the bathroom, and lamp fixtures for the bedroom. I love to watch HGTV and try out the different paint applications that they show.

Is there any art form that you’d like to learn in the future?

I have a storage closet full of future projects just waiting for the time to do them. I have this friend who does fantastic mosaics, her work is definitely inspiring!

What are you most proud of?

Personally, I don’t think I’ve had that moment yet. If anything, I’d have to say my family, here and gone. They’ve given me an awful lot to be proud about.

What was your silliest/most creative/best Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?

I’m very traditional when it comes to dressing up for Halloween, and I’m also a big B horror movie fan. My favorite costume was a full length black velvet cape with red lining that belonged to my sister, white face paint, vampire teeth. It looked great till my sister took the cape back. I also had fun making costumes for my sons. One year I made a costume out of two pairs of old jeans and two old blue sweatshirts. He was the three armed, three legged, three eyed boy. I had a pretty realistic rubber hand, and I made a third eye out of polymer clay and painted it to match Tyler’s eyes. After I attached it with spirit gum I created lids with fake skin. He said he got a lot of interesting reactions to it.

What is your favorite piece of jewelry in your etsy store?

I always liked the pearl and Czech firepolished bead earrings that I use in my avatar. They’ve had many fans, but surprisingly no buyer yet. (Editor's note: They'd have been mine months ago if they were made with silver wire. I love them!)

Do you have a quote you’d like to share?

I’m hearing this quite a bit lately, but it is relevant to the times, “all we have to fear is fear itself”. The best cure for fear is knowledge, and with a very important election coming up we owe it to ourselves to know who we’re voting for.

Thank you Jill for agreeing to be my second featured Etsy seller!

Tag! I'm it and I didn't even know it.

Okay, so I'm totally new to blogging. I only started this summer. Just last night I discovered tagging and today Joanna of JoannasPhotography on Etsy (check out her gorgeous photographs!) tagged ME! Yikes! Okay, so I'm now supposed to reveal seven random facts about myself and then tag seven other people on their blogs. I'm afraid I don't know seven people with blogs, but I'll do my best.

Here are 7 random facts about me:

1) I've never tried sushi.

2) If you ask me how old I am, I have to figure out how old my brother is and then subtract three years to give you an answer. It's my unique way of doing math.

3) My husband and I IM and e-mail each other, even when we're both online and 5' apart.

4) I once rode a camel in Turkey.

5) I've only bought two CD's in my life. Music just isn't a part of my life at all.

6) I have a minimum of five Christmas trees in my house each December.

7) I lifted a lawnmower over my head and carried it up our deck stairs the other day. I'm only going to tag Celeste of CricketsCreations since I don't know anyone else with a blog. I know, I know, I'm not playing by the rules. If you're reading this and want to be tagged, let me know!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

'Tis the season of giving

Last year my husband and I baked 120 dozen cookies in a period of 36 hours. We donated them to families that have a loved one in hospice care and to our local homeless shelter. The families each received two dozen cookies packed in new cookie tins, wrapped in cellophane and a bow with lots of ribbon and a card. We brought trays of cookies to the homeless shelter. We received the most amazing thank you note from the shelter coordinator. To know that our cookies were the only touch of holidays some individuals and families received broke my heart. This year I'm anticipating a greater need for more cookies due to the poor economy, so I've started a "cookie giving jar". 20% of all of my Etsy sales through December 15th, excluding my Catahoula pocket mirror will go towards buying baking supplies, tins, trays and cellophane to make the holidays a little happier for those needing some cheer. 100% of my sales of my Catahoula pocket mirror will be donated to Catahoula United Rescue Society. Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bon voyage, dear friend!

I've posted previously about how hard it is for me to part with a piece of art that features a face. "Marge" is my latest piece to leave my studio nest and go to her new home in NY. She's due to arrive there later today. As always I'll be wondering what she'll be looking at each day. Farewell, Marge! I know you're going to someone that will treasure you always.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Her nickname might be Crickets, but there's no crickets chirping in her store!

It's my pleasure to make Celeste of CricketsCreations my first featured seller on my blog. Celeste was the very first Etsy friend I made when I discovered Etsy at the start of summer. We share a love of helping animals and people in need and are both texture junkies. I call her scarves "soft mosaics" and they've become a staple in my treasuries. Check out Celeste's Etsy store here.

I asked Celeste to do a little Q&A with me to let others know a little bit more about herself, her fur family and her fabulous scarves.

How long have you been knitting?

I took an elective class when I was eight years old. From there, I studied knitting books and tried out patterns. Now I design all my own work and can get really creative!

What made you decide to focus exclusively on scarves?

I’m a color and texture junkie who also happens to be a Gemini (lots of different interests)…scarves are great because I get to play with all kinds of crazy combos and don’t have a chance to get bored (I make 2-3 scarves a day, generally)!

What's your favorite color?

Orange! Then pink….then turquoise mixed with other colors (such as red or orange)!

I know you're a vegan. What do you eat on Thanksgiving?

Yams! I love sweet potatoes, so candied yams made with marshmallow crème (it’s vegan, actual marshmallows aren’t), green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, Cranberry Jelly (not sauce—don’t like the cranberry chunks), my “Easiest Cream Gravy” that only takes a few minutes to make…my Nicholas makes a Thanksgiving feast for all of us as Best Friends with everything vegan each year! He’s even shared a few recipes in his blog at, to hold off the masses until his Best Friends cookbook comes out…stay tuned!

Do you have any pets?

Yes, Nicky and I are lucky enough to share our life with four wonderful, animal companions. You can see their pictures & read all about them here:

Tell me about your day job.

I work for Best Friends Animal Society and feel like the luckiest girl in the world! If you’re curious about what I do for Best Friends, please see

What was the last book you read?

Did I mention I work fulltime for Best Friends & have a booming scarf design business, as well? While I was an absolute bookworm growing up, by now reading has almost completely gone by the wayside. And reading an entire book….almost impossible due to time constraints! ;) The last book I “read” was a comic book without words called YAM. Before that, I read a series of Owly comic books, also without words.

What is your favorite scarf in your store right now?

Hoo boy. You know I’m a Gemini, right? So choosing “one” favorite is torture! I think my new, Pumpkin Squash and Harvest Berries, Handknit Autumn Harvest Fall Scarf is my current favorite. I really pulled out all the stops, ignored every doubt & just made something bold that I could be proud of on a fun, artistic level. The result is a one-of-a-kind design (literally, it’s the only one because the main yarn is vintage & I only had one skein). It’s a bit wild and wacky with 10+ complementing (but NOT matching) yellow-oranges and purples-reds.

Thank you, Celeste for being my guinea pig. Best wishes for many more sales to come!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Front page....again! YAY!

Last night I made a treasury and today I had a feeling it was making it to the front page. I stayed by my computer as I gave myself a pedicure for tonight's opening and sure enough, the treasury was just on the front page. My freshly painted toes were wiggling with excitement. I managed to get a screen shot in case anyone in the treasury wants one for their collection.

Congratulations to all the featured sellers!