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You might have seen me mention Paper Cuts Studio in other posts, but this is an interview I’ve been greatly looking forward to.  I always go to their etsy store when looking for some inspiration when I feel my creative juices becoming something that looks like a desert.  As I read through the interview, I felt like we just understood each other.  We both like making paper goods.  We both enlist the help of our significant others.  And above all:  we love our junk food.  Without further adu, I give you Paper Cuts Studio super sized with 2 bonus questions.

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Sweet Stuff Notepads Set of 3 $9.00

 

1. How did you begin crafting paper goods?
When I was a kid I really loved making little craft projects, but somehow as I got older I sort of forgot how much I enjoyed making paper crafts (or any craft project for that matter). But last October when I was helping my sister out with a big order (she owns Keepsake Couture, a handmade paper goods company specializing in home and office products) I started wondering, “Hey, why the heck did I quit doing this?” Paper Cuts Studio just kind of grew up from there.

2. Your illustrations have a fresh simplicity in them. Is that a style that you always use to draw, or is it one that you prefer for your journals and stationary?
Why thank you! It’s always so nice to hear when someone likes my characters. My illustrations definitely reflect my overall style, not only what I use to decorate journals and stationery.
Of course, it’s not that I necessarily CHOOSE draw in this very linear, cartoon-y style. It’s just what I really like and also what I’m best at. I really admire people who can draw photo-realistic images, but I’ve never been very good at drawing that way. I’m much better at drawing the things that are floating around my head rather than the things that actually exist.

3. Which comes first, the short story about the character, or the drawing?
Definitely the drawing first! This sounds silly, but I think the first moment that I start to really identify with a character is when I draw their face! From there, I can start thinking about who they are. By the time I’m finished with the line-work and the coloring, I have a good idea about who this character is. When I sit down to write their little story for my website or for Etsy, the character’s background finally solidifies for me.

4. What would you say is your favorite art/crafting medium?
Absolutely paper! There’s no limit to what you can do with it. Pretty much everything I do or think about doing is centered around paper crafts—which I guess is a good thing since the name of our company is “Paper Cuts Studio”!

5. Do you use a computer for the majority of your illustrations?
These days I use the computer for all of my illustrations. I bought a great, affordable pen tablet by Wacom called the Bamboo Fun and it has really inspired me to create new characters.
Part of it is that I enjoy the challenge of working with a new medium. Another part of it is that I feel more liberated to experiment because mistakes are easy to fix—just press “Undo” and everything is back where it should be!

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6. For those of us who don’t know, what is a linocut? And how are they made?
Linocut is basically a one-of-a-kind stamp that is carved out of linoleum. But the linoleum used for linocuts isn’t the same kind you’d find in your kitchen—this is much softer. Right now I’m pretty partial to Richeson Easy-to-Cut Linoleum, which really does cut like butter.
Unlike rubber stamps (which are better known by most crafty folks) linocuts tend to be able to transfer a lot more ink to create a really solid color. What I like best about linocuts is that the final prints have a nice, organic, handmade-y look about them. It’s not as polished as rubber stamping. Plus you get to create your own designs to use on prints, journals, or even clothing.
My process is pretty simple. Typically I’ll draw something then redraw it on some tracing paper. Then I lay the tracing paper on top of some linoleum with the penciled side down and rub the tracing paper to transfer the graphite on to the surface of the linoleum. You then have a mirror-image of your original drawing. Then I get out my trusty linoleum cutters and get to carvin’.
Of course, you always need to consider with line weight, negative space, and other factors. I usually don’t try to decide those things too far in advance, but some planning is (of course) necessary.

7. What is your absolute favorite craft to do?
Right now I’m obsessed with bookmaking! I seriously love it. I make excuses to make random little notebooks just so I can practice my bookbinding skills. It’s such a cool way to use my art to make a functional object.

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8. Describe the creative and production process of making one of your journals.
I start out with some object that I really love—that’s probably why I draw so much junk food! Then I plug in my Wacom tablet and fire up Photoshop to start on the rough sketch. This used to be the hardest part of the process, but over the past few months I’ve learned to relax a little more and just sort of let the shapes “come out” without criticizing myself too much.
When I feel like I have a nice base to work from, I create another layer just for the final line work. I draw some really, really thick lines—much thicker and yuckier than I would ever want in the final product. Then I just keep erasing and redrawing, over and over and over, until I get the effect that I want.
When I’m done with that, I start on the coloring. My husband used to do almost all of the coloring, but lately I’ve started taking a more active role in this part of the process.
As you can see, it can take a little while to get to the final illustration, but while I’m working on refining the drawing, little bits of the character are popping into my head. When the character is done, it’s just a matter of printing him or her out and binding the results into a book.
We recently switched to a Japanese-style binding process and I think that our books have really improved. There’s a bit of extra work now to get to the finished journal, but it’s certainly worth it and actually pretty fun.

9. Where do you draw most of your inspiration from?
I draw a lot of my inspiration from Japanese kawaii imagery. (Kawaii means “cute” in Japanese). I really love the art direction that comes from Japan—even a simple set of school erasers can be made into something that is adorable and unique.
I love Hello Kitty products. Again, the art direction is really inspiring. My husband, Matt, surprised me with a bunch of fun Hello Kitty candy shipped from Japan and I haven’t had the heart to eat most of it because it would ruin the beautiful packaging.
I also get a lot of great inspiration and suggestions from my sister and my husband. My sister (who also works with paper goods) has tons of great suggestions as well as a really solid idea of what it takes to create distinctive branding. My husband is great for bouncing ideas off of and brainstorming. Plus, he’s always willing to lend a hand when things get hectic, which certainly helps me have time to keep creating new characters.

10. What do you credit your success on etsy to?
It’s funny because this is the first time that I have ever thought of myself as a “success”! I read your question and thought, “I’m a success on Etsy?” But I guess I am doing pretty well, especially considering the relative youth of Paper Cuts Studio. I’m really grateful for this good fortune.
I think I helped myself out a lot just by simply giving myself permission to keep creating. It’s so easy to get stressed out when orders are slow. It puts you in a state of mind that really isn’t conducive to artistic expression. And that’s really unfortunate because the best way (in my opinion) to succeed as an independent craftsperson is to have a really distinct, evolving style. So I don’t let myself get too bogged down. I try to use the energy that I would have spent filling orders on challenging myself creatively or on marketing my products.
I also make sure to use all 14 product tags. This makes it much easier for customers to find you. Also, I work hard to make my product pictures visually appealing as well as informative.

11. What do you hope to see for the future of Paper Cuts Studio in the next 5 years?
Gosh, this question hits home! I just graduated with an undergraduate degree and right now I’m at a crossroads between continuing to focus on Paper Cuts Studio full-time or setting it aside in the fall for law school. It’s certainly a huge decision and I think about it constantly.
Honestly, my hope is that in five years, my husband and I will be super-busy filling orders from both wholesale and retail customers. I want our product-line to expand a bit and of course I want our existing products to keep improving.
I guess overall I want to keep doing what I’m doing now, but on a larger scale. I want to be able to say that I turned down law school to focus on Paper Cuts Studio—and that it was the best decision I ever made!

12. What are some tips to sellers on etsy that you’ve learned?
I have learned a lot from the Storque and the Forums. I can’t remember who said this, but someone in the Forums once wrote that top sellers aren’t just the ones who sell a lot of items—they’re also the ones who put in many, many hours of work.
I guess that’s obvious, but for me, it was a big revelation. I finally realized that I couldn’t just wait for success to arrive gift-wrapped on my doorstep. I would have to work my butt off for it! It also reminded me that success is not easy. Not that it necessarily has to be a grueling process. After all, I love crafting. I don’t think that will ever change.
If I had to offer advice to other new sellers like myself, I would say that working hard to develop your own artistic style should be priority number one. Marketing is incredibly important, but at the end of the day it is your products people are buying, not fancy words.
Oh, and great customer service is a real must. The main reason why I buy handmade is because of the one-on-one attention you get. It’s important to let your customers know how important they are to you. This means prompt shipping, emails, and little freebies in each order.

There’s a special place in my heart for clothing.  Maybe it’s that my dad is heavily involved in the fashion industry.  Maybe it’s that it’s another form of art.  Maybe it’s the designs I admire.  TIMBER! is one of my favorite clothing sellers in Etsy and it’s hard not to like him with his inventive designs and artistic ability.  Luckily, I got to know him in just 10 Questions.

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Lumberjack on Deep V Neck $18

1. Have you always been involved in making or printing apparel?
Not really, I have been screen printing for 8 years now. I’ve always been into art though.

2. Do you have any other hobbies?
Yes… I am the king of hobbies. All of my hobbies involve producing something, whether it’s woodwork, fine art, toys, dragging home trash and turning it into something fun… I always like to make new things. I suppose I have nothing but hobbies, some of them just happen to make money.

3. Are a majority (or all) of the t-shirts illustrated by you or your team?
TIMBER! is a one man show. All pieces are illustrated, printed, and sold by one person.

4. Where do you get the inspiration for new designs?
Everywhere. I don’t know, it’s hard to say. I love art, picture books, anything visual really. I draw and paint non-stop, and a lot of times it’s my old drawings that inspire the new ones.

5. How much time out of your week is dedicated to working on your t-shirts?
TIMBER! takes up most of my free time… it is a never-ending process. My art ventures are always all consuming, but it’s what I love to do.

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[Where all the magic happens…his workspace.]

6. Describe the creative process you take to make each shirt.
I like the idea of wearable art, so it starts there. I draw constantly and from the pages and pages of sketchbook illustrations, I usually get a t-shirt idea and develop it further. Unfortunately, going from sketch to design is a very lengthy process of drawing and re-drawing.

7. How did you begin selling t-shirts and apparel?
This really started from nothing. All I wanted to do was put a lumberjack on a t-shirt. I never set out to make a business of it. People wanted to buy it, so I made more.

8. Is Etsy the only place we can find your shirts right now?
Yeah, I like Etsy. It’s easy to keep track of orders and payments and stuff when it’s in one place.

9. You’ve been a member for only about 3-4 months now. What do you credit your success to? Do you have advice for others trying to make it selling their crafts?
Gosh, I didn’t know I was that successful.  I think that buyers can tell that a person loves what they’re making. It just shows in the work somehow. The only advice I can give sounds simple, but make stuff that you want to own. There’s a good chance other people will want to own it too.

10. What do you see and hope for the future of Timberps in the next 5 years?
I’m pleased with TIMBER!’s success so far, and I don’t ever want to be so big that I can’t have the level of control that I have now. I just hope to have some really great designs out.

You might have seen her super cute embroidered souffle pin cushions I posted earlier this week.  But now, we all get a chance to get to know the person that puts the love in her stitches in 10 questions.

Cupcake Patch and Butterfly Souffle Pincushion

1. How long have you been involved in the crafting community?
Not very long. I’ve always been a little bit crafty but it didn’t really take off until early 2007 when I got a job in a craft store. I had a staff discount and that was bad news!! I went to a couple of craft fairs around then too and it woke my interest.
2. Have you always been in embroidery?
No, I only started in August this year. I have barely put the needle down since.
3. What other crafts do you like to do?
I like to try any crafts I can. The one other one I do all the time is sewing but I have tried paper making, soap making, freezer paper stencils, everything.
4. The Souffle pin cushions are adorable. Where did you get the inspiration for those?
I saw a page from a Japanese craft book with plain pincushion souffles and thought they were cute. Plus I was just starting embroidery and didn’t need much of an excuse to cover everything with my stitching!
5. Describe the creative process you take while embroidering.
I embroider whenever and wherever I can. I have a sewing tray for my threads and needles (I sell the trays too, they’re something you never knew you needed but you really do!) and I put it beside me on the couch or the bed or anywhere and just go for it. I like to relax into my stitching but I’ll also do a stitch or two on the way past if thats all I have time for.

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Passport Holder $10

6. Looking at your shop, you have a few different items (i.e. passport holder, bibs, and pin cushions), but somehow they all ‘gel’ together pretty well. How do you decide what the next thing you’re going to make is?
I make what I like to make – something different each time if I can help it. I think individuality is important if you’re going to buy handmade. I like to make things that are both useful and pretty. The passport holder came about after remembering my nightmare trip to the US, with nosebleeds and queues and a flimsy plastic travel wallet to hold my tickets and passport. The bibs came about because frankly so many bibs are hideous and there’s no need for that! If I can make peoples busy lives prettier or more fun in one tiny way, by making them stop and smile when they look at what they bought from me then I’ll consider myself content as a crafter.
7. I see on your blog that you attend craft fairs. How did you get into them?
A great craft fair Craft 2.0 started here (Wellington, New Zealand) in March and I was serving so many of the crafters at the craft store I got so inspired and went to it. I bought lots and got a LOT of ideas and the next one in August was packed wall to wall with people and great crafts so I decided that I had to sell my crafts at the one in December. I just did my first craft fair on the 16th. It’s a great day out for sellers and buyers!
8. Have any tips for those who want to enter them, but don’t know where to start?
Ask someone. Anyone. How do I get a table at the next one? Is it a good fair? Who’s the go-to person here? Get out and meet the crafters in your local area, they’re often very friendly and they all know others in the craft world. I met someone at the last one who offered me embroidery work for her crafts! You never know!
9. If 200 years from now, we think of Love Stitches, what do you want the public to remember about you most?
Everything I made really was stitched with love. I wouldn’t spend up to 3 days on one embroidery if I didn’t love it.
10. What do you see (and hope for) in the next 3-5 years for Love Stitches?
More craft fairs and selling through shops I hope! Just as long as I have fun somewhere in the process of creating I’ll keep doing it.

I’m sure you know that one of my absolute favorite things to do online (aside writing for this) is browse the wonderful world of etsy.  The pages are oozing with inspiration, colors, and images and I always feel so motivated to craft for myself or buy some products.  One day, I stumbled upon the magical world that LilyMoon has created complete with stories and illustrations.  Her products range from pins to greeting cards and what can be cooler than products that are shipped from Nicosia and made by a Greek artist? 

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Pins by LilyMoon

1. Many, if not all, of your drawings have a story that goes along with that. Which comes first? The story or the picture?
Mostly both. The image and the text complete eachother and make the concept “whole” in my mind.

2. How often do you produce a new story and drawing? And how long does one usually take?
It’s part of my everyday life I guess. There was this one story of mine which I hope to publish one day, that I couldn’t find the perfect ending too and it took me nearly a year to do so – then the ending came into my head out of nowhere one day! I was so excited I started phoning my friends and telling them about it, haha!

3. I love the colors that you choose for your prints. Where do you get inspiration for these colors?
One of my biggest passions in life is colour! Im inspired mostly from nature and from the pigments themselves. Right now I really like working with neutral colours like shades of grey and sepia in contrast with vibrant colours like pinks, greens, oranges etc.

4. How would you describe your style?
Thats a difficult question …
On my part, I try to produce images that will speak honestly to people and maybe open a door into another world that sparks their imagination…

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Little Sister Print on White

5. What kind of person do you think your style appeals to?
I hope it appeals to all ages and to people with different experiences.

6. I see many of your pictures have a bird cage design to it, do you love birds? Or just their cages?
I do love birds and I do love the symbolism of cages that can be interpretted in so many ways 🙂

7. Your pictures have a fantasy element to it. Is there a world you have created for yourself that you escape to when you’re being creative?
Yes, I completely surrender my self to that world when I create…

8. How long have you been drawing? Is it a full time (or career) hobby?
I’ve been painting all my life. I knew from a very young age that it is what I wanted to do in my life and I feel lucky that I’ve made a full time job of it!

9. Your etsy profile shows that you have been a member for over a year now and have 163 people that have given you a 100%, postive rating. Did your store take time to build up or did it feel like everything happened over night.
When I started selling my work on Etsy I was overwhelemd by the response of people to my images and deeply touched. People on Etsy are really lovely and I am not just saying that…Truly I feel very blessed and honored to be a part of their community!

10. What do you hope will be the future of LilyMoon?
I don’t really think of the future, Im really content in enjoying the moment right now…Maybe one thing I’d hope for would be that my stories would be published in full one day and travel the world and hopefully spread a little magic wherever they go 🙂

 

brownbobbin.jpg I’m sure you’ve seen her super cute and adorable baby blankets and nursing covers that were featured on Day 4:  For the Baby earlier this week.  So lets get to know this amazing talent just 10 questions.

 

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Blankie and Burp Set by BrownBobbin

1.How did you come up with your user name?
Let’s see…the bobbin part of the name has somewhat of a dual meaning: most of my items will be sewn so that involves the use of the sewing machine bobbin and secondly many items will be for the little “bobbins” and their mamas…have you ever seen the movie “Willow”? Brown: it’s just a beautiful color, I love it!
2.What were some of your favorite hobbies growing up and to this day?
Painting- wish I had more time
Crocheting- thanks for teaching me grandma
Sewing- more so now than growing up, but grandma taught me back in the day also
Reading- love it
Many other hobbies now, but these are the ones I also did growing up.
3.What is your absolute favorite medium to work with?
That’s tough, it depends on my mood. I will have to say paint.
4.How did you decide what kind of products to sell?
I love to create and design many different things for my kids and myself, so for now I just have a few sewn items for sale but I may throw in other items here and there.
5.I see that you are new to etsy. When did you decide to begin selling your items on here?
My daughter received an amazing little doll for her birthday. The doll was made by “project grab bag”, a shop here on etsy. Check it out. Super cute! Anyways, prior to this I didn’t even know etsy existed. I know, crazy. So needless to say once discovered I was in heaven and of course I wanted to set up shop also. I also recently had my second little bobbin and I was coming up to the end of my 6 month leave from work and I have been trying to figure out a way to stay home full time, so this was great timing. Let’s see how this goes.
6.Describe the process you take to make these adorable products.
I just make items I would love for my little ones or for myself. I love fabric stores:]
7.About how long does it usually take?
Hmmmm…that depends, but I would say about an hour or so on average.
8.I saw on your profile that you have two small “bobbins,” do they ever help in your design and manufacturing process?
They are my inspiration for sure. As far as helping, no. My daughter is 2 years old and my son is 5 months old. Yes, life is crazy. I can only work on projects once they are having sweet dreams.
9.How did it feel when you found that you made your first sale?
Surprised, excited, motivated…
10.What are you hoping is going to be the future for BrownBobbin?
It’s all so new so I guess for now just a lot of sales and very happy mamas and even happier bobbins with their goods.

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“…a good 15 hours a week is dedicated to Etsy.  Hi, my name is Allison, and I’m an Etsy addict.” (on how much time she spends on Etsy)

When I began this blog, I had the intentions of highlighting crafters that I took notice of while looking through sites like Etsy or craftster.org as well as a place to post my own crafts and recipes.  I knew the level of talent out there was high and I expected nothing less.  But I was surprised to find that there were people out there so dedicated to their craft, family, and even a small business selling products of their talents.  I almost felt a little bit shamed when I conducted my first interview with a twenty-something woman whom I featured earlier this week in a blog about aprons.

Her name is Allison and you’ll find her on etsy under the username TheCookieJar which conjures up all sorts of “nostalgia” and memories of the good old days.  She’s a mother of two young children which she home-schools herself and during their nap time, she sneaks in her love making aprons from those ever so flattering and feminine vintage patterns and brooches from fabric scraps left on her ironing board.

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The infamous ironing board of unfinished projects

But don’t think that she makes aprons just to look like the ideal housewife.  She cooks “two meals a day and prepare[s] about five if you include snacks.”  And she prides herself in her talent of sorting through the recipes that are worth a shot and “which ones won’t be worth the effort… There’s nothing more comforting to me than Indian food.”  Among her favorite recipes:  mushroom biriyani, palak paneer, aloo matar paneer, aloo curry, beet kurma, and daals. 

There’s one thing she doesn’t have in common with the housewives of the 50s that we see on our favorite televisions shows like “Leave it to Beaver” or “I Love Lucy” (aside from the Indian food).  Allison runs her own small business selling her crafts on eBay’s crafty counter part, Etsy.  While at home, sitting in front of her sewing as the sun is setting listening to her 6 year-old read aloud, she envisions herself with her ideal apron or brooch and begins to sew.  “If I wouldn’t want to wear it, I wouldn’t expect anyone else to wear it either.  Sometimes I make meals that my kids refuse to eat, and I think to myself, ‘I remember being there.’  My mom used to make me horrendous meals with these disgusting colored spiral noodles.  If I don’t like it, I wouldn’t expect my kis to eat it.”  Just as she expect of her buying customers.

As she recalls her very first sale on Etsy, she says, “My very first sale was very exciting.  I remember looking at my shop and seeing one less item posted that I had remembered.  I thought, ‘that’s weird,’ and then realized that I had sold something.”  It’s been three months since her Etsy membership has been created and after working fifteen hour weeks dedicated to her online store, could TheCookieJar lead to a full time store?  “I am with my kids during the day, and that time is irreplaceable.  As much as I love having that time to myself, I wouldn’t change that for the world.”  Never say never though. 

“It seems like yesterday that I was cradling my 6 year-old in my arms.  With that said, I think anything could happen.  My goal is to keep my crafting slow and steady.  I focus on the here-and-now; what I want to do.  If that changes, it’s all a part of me and the progression of my life.  It can either be accepted or lost into oblivion.  Either way, I’m happy because I’m doing and including the people that I love.”