Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tina and her found passion!

“Find your passion, and do it well.” That is Tina’s favorite quote. And after selecting her pieces of art for this interview, she does do it well.

Tina, Ruthie's Girl Designs, inherited her creativity from her late mother, who, in her mother’s time, made clothes for her and her siblings. Her mother also made various crafts and Tina has held onto vintage supplies from her mother’s stash. Just imagine what she is holding onto. Tina also enjoys sewing and jewelry making.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your visit with Tina.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a married mother of two 19-year old children. No, not twins! My husband and I have two children from previous marriages. We currently reside in a little town called Converse, Texas right outside of San Antonio.

When did you open your shop on Etsy?
I opened my Etsy shop on April 3, 2007. I waited a few days because I figured if I did it on the first everyone would think it was a joke.

Tell us about your shop:
My main shop, Ruthie's Girl Designs consists of hand crafted (pieced) invitations, greeting cards and stationery. Pipkin Paper Co is another paper shop of mine, which specializes in Baby Shower Invitations and Birth Announcements.

Name top (3-5) items (for crafting purposes) that you cannot live without.
I cannot live without my various cutters (guillotine, slide cutter, rotary), my modge podge, or my glue gun.

What inspires you?
The thing that inspires me the most, especially when making wedding invitations, are the bride and groom themselves. I like to talk to them and see what really moves them emotionally. I am also inspired by other paper artists' work. I love looking at techniques they have learned and try to learn them myself.

What is it about paper that draws you to create with it?
I have always loved paper. ALWAYS. I used to make these 3-D pictures, so to speak, out of shoe boxes with a hole in the far end, then the top cut out with blue paper on the top and then do a scene within the box. I did that in the 4th grade as an art project and got 3rd place at the Art Fair. I was pretty much hooked on paper then. Paper has so many personalities! It's one of those things that, even if it has a design on it, can become something more than a flat sheet of paper once you have molded it into something you want it to be.

Is there something that you've never tried with paper that you'd like to try?
I'd also like to try to use gesso in some of my designs. It's pretty versatile and I'd like to see where I can go with it.

When do you find/make time for your crafting?
I'm currently unemployed, so I have a lot of time in the day to create or search online for inspirations to create. When I was working, I created whenever I could find the time. I'd also carry a mini composition book around in my purse and would draw pictures of card ideas that came to mind. I also use my phone to take photos of commercial cards (NOT TO COPY!!!) that have a technique on them that I'd like to go home and try.

Do you have a special space for your crafting, or does the kitchen table do double duty?
I'm very fortunate to have a dedicated art room. I have about 100 sq. ft. of space to work in so I have lots of give room. Before that, I used the dining room table. We never had a place to eat for over 2 years. It's amazing how clean my house stays now, with out all the bins of paper and glue etc all over the place. It's amazing.

Do you remember the first item you made, and if so, do you still have it (or a picture of it)?
I count this baby shower invitation as the first thing I ever made, in terms of Ruthie's Girl Designs. I currently sell it in my PipkinPaperCo. Shop. It's a baby shower invite I made it with beautiful textured paper (called hapsack) and hand stamped flowers with textured paint centers.

How much time do you spend daily/weekly working on your craft?
I probably spend about 40/week or more.

Why did you decide to become on Etsy seller?
I decided to become an Etsy seller because I wanted to be part of the handmade movement, and to try to make a little money doing what I love best.

What is your favorite technique/ your "specialty"?
I don't think I have a favorite technique or specialty, but I've been told many times I do hand tie the perfect bow.

Do you have a favorite crafting book, magazine or TV show?
The Carol Duvall Show will always be my favorite show. Unfortunately, I don't think it's on anymore!

How do you create the perfect balance between family, house-hold duties, work and paper?
I keep everything in perspective. Family first, no matter what. We usually get up and feed the animals, do household chores, then I move on to my office. It's not the first place I go to in the morning.

Do you sell mostly online or at craft shows?
I sell mostly online. I need to start doing craft shows!

How many different selling venues do you use?
I sell on Etsy (3 shops), Ebay occasionally and Shop Handmade.

Where do you go to first when you need ideas?
I go online to some of my favorite blogs and look at what they are doing at the time.

Who is your biggest fan?
My biggest fan hands down is my husband. He's always encouraged me to keep at it even when I doubted myself.

Are you a clean or messy crafter?
Now that I have my own dedicated space, I am a clean crafter. Although my work space (table) may get a little messy, I always clean it up at the end of the day. I like walking into my art room and it's clean. It keeps my mind from getting overwhelmed with clutter.

Do you have a day job? If so are you up all night crafting?
This IS my day job!

How do you get the word out about your products?
I can't promote much right now, or even relist. I try to keep my flickr account up to date with what I have going on at the time and by being a presence in Etsy when I can be.

How much planning do you do before you create?
It could be spur of the moment, or it could be days. I guess it all depends on what it is I am trying to make at the time.

Is there someone in your life that may have inspired your creativity?
Ruthie, my mom, was a crafter.

How did your shop get its name?
I dedicate my shop to my mother, Ruthie, who was a sewer and all around crafter.

What is your favorite item to create and why? Tell us about it.
I like to create boxes from scratch. Be it a box for a set of stationery, a gift, anything. I love to make boxes. I made one for my husband's birthday gift. I just like to take a bunch of flat nothing and turn it into something.

Do you have more than one etsy shop?
I have THREE shops! Two of them are going slow, but Ruthie's Girl Designs is my baby: http://ruthiesgirldesigns.etsy.com/ -Here I sell handmade greeting cards, stationery, and gifts. Pipkin Paper Co.- THis shop specializes in hand made baby shower invitations and accessories. http://pipkinpaperco.etsy.com/ . This shop has everything else that I like to make. So far, it's really pretty hair pins with sparkly centers. I plan on starting on some sewing projects and other crafts that interest me: Atenshn Deficit Design- http://www.etsy.com/shop/atenshndeficitdesign.

What has been your most successful marketing technique to date?
I really don't have a marketing technique, which is why I probably don't have as many sales as I should. I just try to be myself and always tell people what I do. I usually tell them I make custom communications, which interests them to ask me more.

What's your emergency craft kit consist of?
Gum ....seriously.

Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do cause it's cheaper than therapy.

What have you learned the most about life from your craft?
I've learned that no matter what, you we are all multi faceted and we don't have to spend our lives doing just one thing. Explore your options. Start over even if you are 55 or older. It's never too late.

Leave a comment or two about Tina and her work. I know she will appreciate it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mechelle Designs with an attitude

Mechelle with Mechelle Designs is one of those artists who knows how to use color. Those colors that she chooses makes you want to see more of her work. Her talent in illustration has led her business life to freelanceing. She has also worked for companies as a graphic artist.

I was reading her profile and she has sold her work at the Smithsonian Institution gift shops. That had to have been a wonderful feeling to receive that recognition!

I have picked out a few of my favorites from her online Etys studio. I really like the “birds with attitude.” Enjoy the sites!

Tell us a little about yourself:
I am a wife and mother of three children ages 12, 10, and 5 years old. We live in a suburb just outside of Atlanta.

When did you open your shop on Etsy?
I opened up my Etsy shop in December 2007

Tell us about your shop:
I create original art, prints, note cards, journal/sketchbooks, tags, pendants, and magnets.

What inspires you?
I marvel at the beauty of God's nature when I observe plants, animals, trees, and flowers. These creations inspire my work tremendously, but in a humorous way.

What is it about paper that draws you to create with it?
I love the fact that I am able to use my artistic ability to create a piece of art in a functional way.

How do you create the perfect balance between family, house-hold duties, work and paper?
That is an ongoing struggle since I have a child that goes to school a half a day. Time is very limited.

Do you sell mostly online or at craft shows?
I sell online primarily but also at fine art and craft shows

What do you have on while you're creating, if anything, and is it tuned to something specific?
I love listening to talk radio while I create.

If you could learn a new craft, what would it be? Why?
I think soap making looks like so much fun to do. It is almost like baking a dessert.

Please leave a comment and let Mechelle know how you feel about her work.

Thanks for stopping by our blog,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

EtsyPaper Team Weekly Featured Member - Aletha Williams

* This is a re-post of our most wonderful Aletha of AJs Designs.  She will be taking over the team's featured members posts for us and I wanted to recognize her and her terrific shop once more.  Be sure to give her a BIG THANKYOU when you see her on Ning and our team threads!  Thanks Aletha!!!

Our next featured team member is Aletha Williams. Aletha is the creative mind behind AJ's Designs. She creates gorgeous cards, artwork, and really intricate mandalas (my favorite). Aletha has been a member of our team since November, 2008. We have 3 questions that tell us a little about Aletha and her shop and she has chosen 7 out of all of the questions that were submitted by our team members on the forum post. Here are her answers to our questions - happy reading!

Tell us a little about yourself :

I am now residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am married to a wonderful man. (I count my blessings every day. And, I make him count at least once a week.) We have two beautiful children, a daughter and son. Our daughter has given us two grandsons who are now age 14 and 11. Our baby, well he’s 27 now, just married in January to a beautiful woman. No grand kids there yet, he is still in law school.

Tell us about your shop:*

When did you open it?

I opened my shop in February 2007. I really got busy with it in 2008. I still do not have everything posted.

What items/type of items do you sell:

I sell collage art, hand bound journals, mini wall art (collage on stretched canvas no larger than 5”x7”), art cards, greeting and note cards, mandalas, mandala art cards, seasonal items such as ornaments and holiday cards. Just about everything I create involves paper and rubber stamps.

Getting to know you - 5 Questions (or 7,lol)

1. Name top 3-5 items (for crafting purposes) that you cannot live without.

I cannot live without rubber stamps and paper. I have an over abundance of both and I still keep collecting both. If I every decide to have a garage sale, just to clean my studio, I would probably be able to make the next two house payments. The other items that I could not live without are my X-Acto knife, paper trimmer, watercolor brushes, and rulers.

2.What is it about paper that draws you to create with it?

I have always been drawn to paper. We cannot live without it. It is part of our everyday life. I remember growing up and making my own “little books.” Some were small enough that Barbie could hold them. And then I did grow up and was lucky enough to land a job in a print shop. Thus began my career in graphic arts and print production. I was introduced to typesetting on some of the first photo type computers (I’m getting ready to show my age here). And I gained experience in operating printing presses. I realized then that some of the art that I created I could reproduce. Reproduction involved typesetting, dark room work (shooting negatives), burning printing press plates from those negatives to make the positive, getting the press ready to make the job complete. The most fun was choosing the paper for the job. I could not wait for a paper salesman to come and peddle their wares. They brought the most beautiful poster samples that was printed on “the stock of the month.” Now began my career in collecting paper. The fire marshal would probably have a few words of concern.

3.Do you have a special space for your crafting, or does the kitchen table do double duty?

I do have a studio. It is a 6’x8’ attic room. I have spilled over into the attic for storage. Whatever project(s) I am working on seem to over flow onto the stair landing. If I am doing a lot of tearing and meticulous trimming I will be in the living room and/or sun room. The dining room table I use as a catch all and packing for art festivals. I store my inventory in the spare bedroom closet. My shadow box frames are stored in the downstairs hall closet. My husband and I share an office with our computers. He’s the Director of News and Analysis for RigData and he telecommutes. He’s also a writer. Hmm..two creative people living together 24 hours a day. I do allow him to have his own desk in our office and he gets to use the kitchen table in our sun room. Hey, I had to learn to not talk to myself…he thought I was talking to him!

4.Who is your biggest fan?

I have to say that my biggest fan is my husband. You probably can tell that by now. He has to live with me. Next will be the kids. They check Twitter to see if I have posted anything new and if I haven’t, they ask why. Then there are my parents, the rest of the family and friends, who always gets something handmade as gifts.

5.How did you learn your craft?

My craft is rubber stamp art and I am self-taught. I was needing a creative outlet and during a year of watching Carol Duvall and the rubber stamp segments I kept repeating to myself, “I could do that.” I guess that my husband got tired of me talking to myself and bought me my first rubber stamps as a gift. I already had all the paper stock and he knew my creative side. He did create a monster. He asked me “just how much paper and how many stamps do you have?” Needless to say I changed the subject.

6. Do you have more than one Etsy shop?

No, I have the one Etsy shop: http://ajsdesigns.etsy.com/
I do have three other online shops and a blog. They are:

7. Why do you do what you do?

This is a very good question! Through the years ( I hope there are many more), I have realized that one of the biggest sins you can commit could be against yourself and others. That sin is not using your creative talent. What I mean by that is…be it God, the gods, nature, evolution, or just being human…if you do not use the talent that is given you, and nurture and let that talent grow, you are performing a disservice to yourself and the world. Let it shine! Practice one hour, four hours, or 24 hours a day. Just don’t let it go to waste. “That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.” —Dennis Miller

Find her here:

SHOP - AJs Designs

BLOG - AJs Designs

NING - Aletha