Shihar: I am fortunate to be designing & creating clothes since 2001. Originally a sculptress and a performance artist trained in Fine Arts in London ( Camberwell college of art & design), through the experimental multimedia art in Jerusalem (School of visual theatre)
I am inspired by architecture, nature, origami, Zinas, folklore costumes merging eastern lines with modern cuts, An internal hybrid of my English and Mediterranean culture.
A trip to India revealed to me the magical world of fabric. Initially by sketching locals munks and nuns, discovering the rich nature of fabric, with It’s folds drapes and crinkles.
From there on I started designing my personal clothes, and shortly after, on demand from my surroundings, I began creating for other wonderful women.
Every so often when looking for new artists to feature on this blog, I use Etsy’s pounce feature. This time when it brought up the brand-spankin’ new shop of Tiffany Chou I was immediately drawn in by the amazing photos of her jewelry. The stunning settings just suck you into the sea swept life and you find yourself pining for a lovely gold coral to wear around your neck.
Like most of the artists I’ve featured, Tiffany’s been making things by hand since a young age, 14 to be exact, and has always dreamed of sharing her creations with the world. She got a lot of good feedback on her most recent jewelry collection, so she’s been focusing on getting her online shop up and running, though she has sold a bit on her personal website as well.
The “Here sharky sharky” is my favorite piece, its very delicate and reminds me of the ocean.
As you can clearly see, Tiffany is inspired by the ocean and all it produces. She sells some of her line in a shop in Hawaii as well – a perfect souvenir from paradise, I’d think.
Each piece is inspired by a shell from Tiffany’s large shell collection. She chooses shells she believes will translate well into metal and then casts and plates each piece.
Tiffany’s love of the sea should be no surprise as she grew up in Maui, Hawaii. She went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and then moved to New York City to pursue her interest in fashion. You can find out more about Tiffany and see some more of her work on her website. If the jewelry wasn’t beautiful enough, it’s even more lovely when you know that 5% of the profits go to Coral Reef Alliance and 5% to Dancing Palette.
What is your craft / art / creative endeavor?
I make just about everything handmade. I have a knit & crochet shop where I sell handmade hats, cowl, scarves, handwarmers, etc. I have a jewelry shop as well that I am currently updating http://wildfeatherbeads.etsy.com and just recently opened a photography shop http://heatherfantello.etsy.com.
I love ETSY!
How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
I have always been an artist. When I was little, I wanted to be an author and a illustrator. Drawing and painting was my main talent. When I was 10 I dabbled in beadwork and various crafts.
In highschool I did a lot of pottery, drawing, painting, the school newspaper photographer, and performing arts.
It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I started crocheting and then knitting. Since then, I have been addicted. I can’t imagine not doing something with my hands. If you run into me, I will most likely have a skein of yarn in my purse. :)
Is there a story behind the name of your shop?
My daughter’s name is Gracey “Crazy” Jane. My grandpa started calling her that when she was probably 4 months old. I made her a hat that said Crazy Jane on it and the rest is history…
Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?
I work alone. I taught my sister to knit and my grandma to hand seam but I’m such a perfectionist that I just do everything myself.
My process starts out with an idea. I get inspiration from everything around me. I mess around perfecting a pattern, wait for a nice day to take pictures, edit, list, and watch to see if it sells.
My top seller (Olive and Taupe Woodland Handwarmers) is an inside joke with my boyfriend. He picked the colors. I didn’t want to make it but I did to make him happy. They are my top seller so everytime I sell a pair, he laughs at him. I scowl at him but on the inside I’m saying, “thank you Matt.”
I don’t really have much of a life haha. I work so hard on making my products that I do it everywhere. I take my yarn to family/friend get togethers, to work, and of course at home. I’m a bit of a homebody. When I’m not knitting, I make candy, can goods from my garden, blog, and spend time with my family.
Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?
I sell on ETSY.com and a couple shops in the Pacific Northwest, WA.
My stuff will be in a little shop in Greenwater, WA soon. It is a shop called Wapiti Woolies located by Crystal Mountain Resort that has been in business for 25 years. They are a family business that started out by making handmade hats.
I prefer online because the whole world can see my items where they are only seen by people who go to that store.
Do you have a favorite handmade shop or seller?
I have too many favorites! I find myself searching vintage, wood, and wedding. I love whites, golds, and wood tones. I like visiting somethingshidinghere.etsy.com because their color palette is so inviting.
What inspires and motivates you?
I love living the Pacific Northwest. I get inspired by farmlands, forest, oceans, rivers. I love the colors of moss and stones.
I love vintage everything and old traditions. I use vintage inspired styles for my jewelry and try to capture memories that will someday be vintage through my photography.
Coffee coffee coffee motivates me :)
What do you wish I had asked you?
Thanks Heather! And if you would like to be in this space next, just go to DIY Interview.
I have met many creative people in the Washington DC area who own and operate a handcrafted business, but Katie Wagner is unique among them. She is the owner and creative soul behind Moonlight Bindery, where she makes hand bound books for all occasions. Her educational and employment background is in…believe it or not, bookbinding and book conservation! This is unlike the typical DC area crafter, who might be an accountant who likes to make jewelry, or a lawyer who bakes cupcakes for birthday parties on the side.
Katie has been interested in bookbinding since college. She took classes in book conservation at the Smithsonian Institute, and has studied under Tom Albro, former Chief of Conservation at the Library of Congress. Suffice to say she knows a thing or two about making books, making them beautiful, and making them last.
While working in the conservation field, Katie occasionally made decorative books for friends and family, but didn’t start Moonlight Bindery until August of 2007, when she opened her Etsy shop on a whim. After enjoying brisk holiday sales, she began applying to area craft shows, including the Crafty Bastards show hosted by the Washington DC City Paper. Her experiences with Etsy and shows like Crafty Bastards showed her that people in the DC area and in general were hungry for unique, handmade items, and she knew she was on to something.
Katie’s product line has evolved over the years, and now she offers two basic types of book: coptic bound and case-bound. The coptic bound journals, like the Build Your Own Cover books made from LEGO base plates, are sewn together by hand. Katie folds the paper to into sections, and then cuts them to size. She punches holes in the sections and then sews each section together by hand. For case-bound books, Katie uses pre-printed text blocks (e.g. the printed innards of an address book or agenda/planner), and creates a decorative cover using boards, bookcloth, and anything else that strikes her fancy from her collection of lovely materials. After the case-bound books are assembled using archival, acid-free glue, they spend a while in Katie’s cast-iron nipping press to ensure a lasting bond.
Using these two processes and a variety of materials, Katie can make an essentially endless array of books. She is inspired by the materials she uses, and not just traditional bookbinding supplies. In addition to LEGO base plates, she has used handmade papers, paste paper, fabric, chalkboard oil cloth, felt, maps, custom-printed bookcloth, and even Hershey’s kisses wrappers to make books!
Katie is also inspired by her customers, and loves to work with clients on special projects. She can even add foil lettering to the final book using her hot stamp machine, for personalized items like wedding or baby photo albums. She always purchases her special materials – felts, fabrics, and fancy papers – in small quantities, so her books are always unique. Looking at some of her custom creations, I can’t help but covet the idea of a travel journal made from a map of the place I’m going to visit!
Although sometimes people don’t think of books as possibly handcrafted items, Katie has found that people respond very well to her products. “The DC area is full of libraries, and as a result, people who value books,” she says. Those people really treasure the idea of a handmade journal or photo album. Most of the time at craft shows, she is the only bookbinder, and people really do appreciate the effort that goes into each item. Katie has found that even people who have taken bookbinding classes would rather buy from her than make their own!
Bookbinding may be an unusual craft, but it is in Katie’s blood, and she didn’t even know it back when she took her first conservation class. Her great-great-grandfather was a bookbinder who emigrated to the US from Denmark. His picture sits in her studio as inspiration, and as proof that Moonlight Bindery was meant to be!
You can find Katie’s handcrafted books in her shop and at local craft shows.
One of the reasons I love to be a vendor at art and craft festivals, is the opportunity to meet the other vendors. People like me, people who like to make stuff. It’s even better when I somehow end up being at the same shows with the same people over and over again…it’s almost like having co-workers!
One such co-worker for me is Mu To-Sanguan, who has been my neighbor at at least four craft shows this year. She makes adorable clothes for kids and babies, featuring simple designs in bright colors, with a ton of personality.
Mu was inspired to start making things for kids while she was babysitting for friends one day. She took a look at the kids’ blanket, and thought: I could make something cuter than that.
Even though she studied applied physics and electrical engineering in college, she already knew that working in a corporate office was not for her. The opportunities for creative expression were few and far between. She was already a self-taught sewer, and so started experimenting with making cute little things for kids, and eventually Lil’ Fishy was born, in late 2003.
Mu likes to make things for kids, because she feels totally free to experiment with mixing colors and patterns. She has found that parents tend to be more adventurous with what they buy for their children, than what they pick for themselves. One of her most popular designs is the reversible jumper, which is a fun way to combine two or more fabrics into one, colorful garment.
Mu designs every item herself, and is inspired by the process of sourcing for fabric, when a certain color or group of colors will catch her eye. She’s also inspired by her Asian heritage, and is often drawn to motifs and images that suggest her background.
Everything at Lil’ Fishy is made by hand, including the silk screened images on the t-shirts and onesies, by Mu herself and her small group of helpers. The Lil’ Fishy collection is currently focused on clothes for kids and babies, but a few things for women have recently snuck into the line. Mu hopes to add a few items for men, as well as some pretty things for the home, in the new year.