Blue Sunflower Studio: My name is Miwa, a Japanese living in Athens, Greece. I have been making jewelry for the past 7 years.
When I first came across this shop, I immediately was reminded of the Japanese animated film My Neighbor Totoro. So it should come as no surprise that Jacqueline, the artist behind UsagiRabbit is infatuated with Japanese culture. A student slowly working her way toward a college degree in linguistics, one of her goals is to learn to read Japanese. These whimsical bunny creatures are part Totoro and part Care Bear and so cute! Some are just for loving and cuddling, while others are put to work protecting your small electronic devices.
Jacqueline got her start in handmade when she couldn’t find the things she wanted in the stores. Though her shop has only been open since May she’s been creating art since she was old enough to pick up a coloring book – from making clothes for her dolls to patching up her jeans.
I used to knit scarves and a friend suggested I try selling some of them at a small local craft fair. I took the plunge and it was a blast! I loved meeting all those other crafters and artisans. Artists are some of the nicest people you can be around. Finding Etsy really got me thinking that I could make a go of this. It’s full of so many inspiring stories and helpful fellow sellers. I really want to try my best!
Her skills have been honed over the years with help from her mother (a lifelong seamstress) and various friends and teachers along the way. Isn’t it wonderful how the creative community came together to help this artist learn the skills to realize her vision?
There’s something about the feeling of the wool in my hands and the slight hum the thread makes that fills me with satisfaction.
Jacqueline first starts planning her creatures with a drawing and some key concepts.When she’s inspired a piece can come together very quickly; sometimes the process can take days or weeks. Once a design is decided on, she chooses colors and felts and cut out the pieces. The most time consuming part of the process is sewing the pieces because it takes a long time and the stitches have to be just right! Lastly, her creation is stuffed with pure cotton and sewn shut. Thus is born the latest addition to the UsagiRabbit family!
Well, I love all my finished creations (even though some of them can be quite beastly during the making) but if I had to choose just one I guess my favorite would be the orange rabbit with a yellow flower on its belly. It makes me smile when I see it.
Born and raised in New Jersey this Texas transplant is inspired by her travel and experiences of other cultures. She has no sales so far, so let’s get her started – shall we?
I began my study of Japanese language in grade 9. Here in Canada we are required to take French until grade 8, and let me tell you the moment I was able to leave French behind, I jumped at it! I found French and I didn’t mesh well ;) My grade 8 French teacher was constantly poking at my inelegant pronunciation and telling us crazy stories about getting stuck in elevators or in traffic jams and desperately needing to go to the bathroom. (The poster above is from Nan Lawson’s Etsy shop – all proceeds from the sale of this poster will go to benefit Japan.)
Remember print from Etsy shop Design Twenty Six – 100% of proceeds to benefit Japan.
Japanese classes were like a breath of fresh air. My brain loved the logical structure of the language, and miraculously most of my Japanese teachers were delighted at my pronunciation. To top it all off our teachers introduced us to Japanese culture and taught us so many fascinating things about the country and its people. Amongst other things we learned about manga (Japanese comics), street culture, and origami. I was particularly struck by how the Japanese conception of the self was so different from our Western one. Here in North America I know many of us (myself included) are strong and opinionated individualists who express our feelings fairly openly. In stark contrast, most Japanese people do not speak of their opinions and feelings as openly as we would, and find their primary identity in groups.
Print donated to the Love for Japan Shop by Calamari Studio
This past week, as tragedy struck Japan, I learned a new word – “gaman”, which loosely translated, means strength and stoicism. This word has been a kind of glue that has helped the Japanese define themselves in the face of suffering – “It means that you have to suffer, you have to hold it in, not let it out” says Robert Brasch, a Japanese American businessman and president of Pacific Partners Inc. (source: LA Times. Learning this word gave voice to a feeling and understanding I already had about the people of Japan. What struck me at my core this past week were the voices of the Japanese people that I heard on the news, the emotion and fear that I heard. Hearing these uncharacteristic bursts of raw emotion was so much more poignant as it told me just how bad things are there right now.
Etsy shop, Mondo Felice is donating the proceeds from these party printables to Japan.
I know though, that that should not be my focus. Instead I have been inspired by so many individuals who are finding ways to give and help Japan heal and rebuild – either through giving via the Red Cross or through non-traditional methods. On Etsy right now, a number of tags have been designated so you can find items whose proceeds are going to Japan. Here are three I know of: Japan Relief, Artist Aid and Joy for Japan Also – at least one charity shop has sprung up on Etsy, Love For Japan. Throughout this post, you’ll find items from various etsy stores that are donating the proceeds from select items in their shops to benefit Japan.
Postcard donated to the Love for Japan Shop by Calamari Studio
I would love to hear if you are donating items from your shop to Japan or if you know of other unique ways we can donate to help Japan – please note this in the comments below.