Thursday, January 31, 2008
About my creative history:
I was an artist long before I ever realized I would become one. All of my childhood memories, especially the early ones are visual. My memories consist of staring at flowers, at rotting tree trunks, lichen on the forest floor, laying in fields and staring at the sky. Once I became a little older, I gained the desire to make things. I made pottery and enjoyed cooking. I would make salads with every possible color of vegetable.
When I was in high school I met my friends Jill (also a BEST member) and Liz. They became very close friends and we caused no end of trouble. They were also both very talented artists and were in an accelerated art program. I liked to sneak into the class and hang out with them and all other creative people in that class. Right around that time I decided that I wanted to study art in college. I also discovered that I had a real talent for ceramics/pottery, which is what I ended up concentrating in when I got my BFA from Colorado State University.
After college I moved to Seattle and lived there for almost 11 years. I had all sorts of different jobs, and was a member of a really amazing pottery co-op - Pottery Northwest. A couple of years ago I was ready for a creative change and decided to take metalsmithing classes at Pratt Fine Arts, a fantastic facitily with some very inspiring teachers. I am now officially addicted to metalsmithing, and although I do miss pottery, I love the preciousness that jewelry and metal have. I also love the relationship that women have with their jewelry and I strive to make things that women love so much they will wear it every day. Etsy means so much to me because it allows me to be a profitable artist and to be part of an incredible community. I also love shipping my work all over the world. I even had a show in a gallery in Scotland over the holidays.
I look forward to lots of great ventures with BEST, I have been craving this type of local connection.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Asa's slat paintings and delicate cut outs will be on display at Gormley Gallery at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland through March 7th, 2008. The artist's reception will be held this Saturday, February 2nd from 4 to 6 p.m. where local musicians Daniel Higgs, Chiara Giovando, and Andy Hayleck will be performing.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
-Photographs or other art on paper cropped to square
Step 1: Begin with a square image (a 6” square sheet will make a 1 3/4” canvas). Lay your paper image side down and lightly pencil in four equal quadrants.
Step 2: Fold each of the square’s four corners to the center point. Use a bone folder to crease the edges.
Step 3: Fold the top and bottom edges of the square to meet at the center. Crease folds, and then unfold. Repeat with the left and right edges. Unfold again.
Step 4: Open two opposite corners of the square.
Step 5: Fold each corner inward to form the sides of your canvas.
Step 6: Fold the two flaps inward and crease against the frame.
Now, turn it over to reveal your ready to hang canvas!
Some hints to make things a little easier…
-Practice with scrap paper before transforming your original artwork
-Using a bone folder is extremely helpful, especially when working with heavier weight papers. It’s not absolutely necessary, but in the end, it will make for a neater piece.
-Check out this video to see the trickier folds being made, but keep in mind that unless you want an X creased into your image, you should follow the steps listed above
Artwork courtesy of Geoffrey Delanoy
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
why do grown-ups always get the COOL stuff?!
so, it's probably not too surprising to anyone who knew me then, that i grew up vowing to NEVER make bad art & pass it off to children as acceptable. I knew i wanted to be a children's illustrator, and i wouldn't put it past me to have chosen that career in retaliation for what i considered an assault on my aesthetics! (in case you are wondering... yes, i was THAT kind of child---noticing everything, forgiving nothing, always making & doing). drawing kept me busy in fancy restaurants and allowed my parents the luxuary of a quiet baby or the ability to sleep in on weekends. for me, "making" gave me a sense of self--- i could create things that were all mine. i started going to a magnet school in 4th grade and i got to spend half of every school day for the next 8 years "making". i was 9 years old, but i knew how important art was... plus, art kept me out of P.E. and that was awesome. i grew up in miami, florida and spent a lot of time looking for ways to feel more connected to a city i wasn't connected to at all. so, i initiated a
mural painting mission as part of a community service project in 6th grade. the project started at one elementary school and spread to others; for years, i got up early every single saturday and painted murals on previously graffitied and under appreciated walls. by the time i'd graduated high school & over 3 dozen murals later, i like to think miami and the kids who walked passed those murals everyday had learned a little more about art appreciation.
when i came to baltimore (to go to MICA), i was immediately impressed by a buzzing sense of connectivity. baltimore struck me as a unique city and one with pride in itself; a city that appreciated art, but one that needed love and a little help. i started volunteering for various outreach education programs and once again, i found myself recharged and motivated to make the kind of art i thought people needed. as an illustration major, my main focus was preparing a portfolio to impress publishing compainies, making artwork that would attract a client; as a teacher & mentor, i was more interested in making artwork that would make a difference. i taught mural painting at an "underserved" elementary school over the summer, and watched otherwise "bad" kids make amazing leaps... the kids OWNED this art they'd made; they owned the experience of making it and they beamed knowing all of it--- the experience, the praise & the final product was all of their own making. i illustrated my first children's book in my junior year of college (it was published shortly after i graduated). Two Lives Publishing is committed to publishing and distributing quality (there's that word again!) books for LGBT families; books that depict families like their own (with GOOD artwork and strong narratives). I loved the idea of working with the "underdog", the little guy, the people with vision--- that my first book would be the first book coming from a company that shared my beliefs and goals; a company i knew would never compromise the art of ART.
over the four years i spent at MICA, i was given access to so many different kinds of opportunities, but probably the MOST exciting (and accidental) of all came half way into my sophomore year. i remember sitting in my art history survey class and watching this one girl aimlessly knitting argyle socks... every week she'd be working on a different pair. i don't know her name (or if she passed the class), but i know that she taught me quite a bit. being from miami, i'm not sure i'd ever even TOUCHED real wool before, but when i went home for the winter break that year, i ordered yarn from new england and taught myself to knit. i started with socks and had made ONE before i found myself noodling and experimenting with something else. it wasn't long after that the Knitimals™were born. in early 2000, i found myself absolutely, totally, miserably sick--- stuck in bed and staring at the wall in front of me, at a painting i'd done in haste, while cleaning off a palette. the main character was a stripey, colorful cat with lop-sided eyes and a sweet smile and i remember a shockingly lucid thought (i was heavily medicated) "i wonder if i could knit him?" and i set to work. days later, BeeCat, the first OFFICIAL Knitimal, was born. without missing a beat, i snuggled myself to sleep, and believe it or not, BeeCat and i woke up the next day feeling 100%.
cut to today... i have been fortunate enough to participate in major juried art festivals, exhibitions and shows all over the country, to win accolades & international awards for my work and to have the support of local (and not so local) retailers who share my vision. as a published illustrator, i am happily sharing my carefully considered paintings & drawings with as many people as i can. i'm thrilled to have been selected to paint a number of murals around baltimore and beyond. i work in the education department at the walters art museum and babysit during the day. so, i still get to see, on a daily basis, how critical art really is to the world--- particularly children. greenstarstudio is based around the idea that art should be accessible and available to all people, in all forms, decorative, framed or cuddly. i don't see a distinction between art made & hung in museums and art made and slept with when you have the flu.
I like to think that my work is imbued with my humor & heart. every single thing i make is one of a kind... i won't repeat a design; i don't use patterns and don't believe in copying. because the Knitimals are based on my original characters & illustrations, each one of them is completely unique. each one is hand knit, hand sewn (no machines here!). from start to finish, the average knitimal takes about 8 hours to make, and every single minute of that time is my own.i am very picky about my yarn... i even drive all the way up to maine to pick it out. ok, if we're being totally honest, i would drive all the way up to maine to go to a gas station... but still, the yarn is really important to me. to keep costs down, i try to buy yarn in bulk and i do make knitimals in a range of sizes and using different kinds of yarn, so you can pick out the one that best fits your lifestyle and budget. i aslo make some knitimals using very expensive hand dyed baby alpaca... so, you know, there's a good mix. each doll comes with a hand drawn name tag and care instructions (including a little card about the "story of the knitimals"). it's very important to me that if i am going to put my name on something, i can promise that i know everything about that piece. mass production is scary. i don't like mass-production and i try to stay away from it as much as possible. i think we have enough "things" that anyone can get at anytime from any store. i like unique. the knitimals aren't ugly, they aren't "monsters", they aren't beasts, they're friends. they are snuggly and warm and comforting like sweaters and baby blankets, and i think each one really does belong to one specific person the minute i sew the final seam closed... i've seen that connection made too many times to not believe it. i love the idea that a child could (and they do) come into my booth at a show, walk right up to a knitimal, form a connection with it, and walk away that day not only owning a very cool new doll, but an investment in an art object and knowing that they now have something-- ONE thing, that not one other person on the planet can have. now, that's cool.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I think my Sir Isaac Newton realization of the importance of art came in the kitchen as a child. Unable (or unwilling) to control my impulses, I grabbed my mama’s carved wooden bunny from off the windowsill. It was 6 or 7” tall, maybe 3” thick, and deceivingly light. Its color was a nearly perfect match to our cupboards, a kind of sickly yellow-brown. With a healthy pink eraser, I removed bunny’s penciled-in eyes, and held bunny, now a smooth, monochromatic woodland creature in my hands.
My mom was crazy mad.
“No, No, No. No. You do not do that. Why did you do that?” She grabbed the pencil and scribbled bunny’s eyes right on back. “That’s how the artist wanted it.”
Except now it is so obviously Mom’s scribble.
Nearly twenty years later, I graduated college with a degree in Spanish. While working towards that degree, I studied jewelry fabrication and design at MICA and began working for Barbie Levy, a jeweler based in Owings Mills, MD. From Barbie I learned so much about jewelry production and the craft world.
A friend taught me how to knit. I baked vegan cakes. A lot of vegan cakes. I did a little bit of everything. And then came Pepita. After the colic subsided I drew design after design for a line of infant clothing I just couldn’t get out of my brain. I knew I wanted to create a green product. And it had to be super-cool and unique. Finally, in late August of last year, my ideas were realized in fabric.
I sew because my mom taught me how to when I was still small. And I think it’s in my blood. Working with my hands has always been the most satisfying way to make a living. I can feel that I’m doing something and I can see my style and my touch in what I do. I know that with love and skill and care, our craft and our art is our history. And that’s how I want it.
Friday, January 18, 2008
When I was a little girl, I was always into drawing and painting––just creating in general. I lived for art class. l loved learning about different media, how they worked and what you could do to push their limits. Math and science REALLY were not my thing. I even liked shop class (that’s right, electric, wood and metal shop) because it gave me the opportunity to work in media that wasn’t considered “art”. I think this is were I get my interest in the technical aspects of what I do.
Being the good Jersey girl that I am, I also had a HUGE interest in jewelry. When I was twelve I had a paper route and I would save my money so that I could buy myself something sparkley from Fortunoff’s. God I loved that store. At twelve I already knew my stones , cuts and which carat weights of gold meant what. I remind you this was BEFORE internet. I learned it all from a Service Merchandise catalog.
When I was fifteen we moved to Maryland. I left my beloved Fortunoff’s behind. Living in Montgomery County, I had the opportunity to be a part of a magnet art program where I spent half of my day in a focused art program. At this point I knew I was destined for a career in an art field. Math and science... still not my thing.
In that magnet program, I prepared a portfolio that would get me into the Maryland Institute College of Art. Being practical and knowing I would someday need to support myself and pay back that HUGE student loan, I entered the Visual Communications Department where I received my BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration graduating in 1994.
While in school I interned for James Yang, an amazing illustrator, who gave me his AIGA directory when I graduated. I sent out about 100 resumes to all the art directors in the Baltimore area in that book as well as Illustration samples to various publication across the States. Not too may nibbles as I was up against all of my classmates doing the same. I did get one call back. Ann Dudrow from RTKL called and ask me to send samples. This was my break. She too was trained as an illustrator. RTKL didn’t do traditional print so it was never on the radar screen of my peers. They do however do something even more intriguing. Environmental Graphic Design. I had no idea what it was, but I needed a job so I took it.
Thirteen plus years later, I’m still at RTKL doing environmental graphics, which as it turns out is a mix of signage design, sculpture and interior design as it pertains to architecture. Who knew. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel the world and see places I would never have seen before if it wasn’t them.
It is this large scale 3-D work with RTKL that re-sparked my interest in jewelry design and the opportunity to build something that can be interacted with on a personal scale. Elisa Shere (also a member of B.E.S.T. and the first person to befriend me for life when I moved to Maryland), introduced me to the idea of jewelry/metal smithing. I started taking classes and really enjoyed being able to fabricate my own designs and work with the materials myself rather than turning it over to a sign fabricator... plus, I get to play with a torch which is really cool.
It’s kind of funny but I truly believe that all we experience in life influences what we do. I feel like I am coming full circle to where I started. My love of art has translated into an exciting career where I get to travel to exotic places and design things that get built (by the way, this is were those shop classes came in handy). Now I get to make jewelry, my long time childhood obsession. Luckily, my husband (Steve) has been very supportive of my new hobby, he even tolerates me being in "the man cave".
All that I have seen and experienced on my travels has effected the way I see the world and incorporate those experiences into my designs. I look forward to the challenges of making that next piece which is a step beyond the last. Always moving forward learning new techniques and ways to manipulate the materials pushing them a little further each time... in some cases making some really horrible mistakes that you’ll never see but I’ll learn from.
I’m really excited about being a part of B.E.S.T. and all the amazing crafts women that are coming together to make it happen. More experiences to add to the creativity pot.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Hi! I am one of the "many Jens" that are a part of B.E.S.T! Having always loved art, I was lucky enough to have parents who encouraged & supported me in my artistic journey. I decided in the third grade that I wanted to be an artist. The freedom I felt when creating something was addictive & led to endless art projects, classes & art shows.
I am originally from Delaware, and went to college in "West by God Virgina". There, I got a BFA in painting. After college, I spent a few years in North Carolina teaching art (K-5) & had a blast. Next, I moved to Orlando where I really began what I would call my professional art career. In Florida, I was in too many art exhibits to mention, was a gallery director for a huge art collective, and eventually, a gallery owner. Love and family brought me back up north & I landed here in Charm City, where I live and work in Hampden, with my sweet fiance, Paul, and our two dogs Ellie and Guisseppe.
I'd describe my work as being a visual diary...it varies from day to day and seems to flow from my subconscience! The nature of my work tends to run the gamut...rarely do I have an intended result in mind when I get started on a piece, some take a few moments, others can take years to finish. I work on numerous pieces simultaneously, so my studio is constantly full of works in progress. The media I use consists of anything I can get my hands on...paint, paper, thread...you name it! I am currently working on designing a custom stationery line that can be seen on my etsy site!
To check out more of what I do, stop by and visit my blog!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
the last year of school, i worked for what was then a teeny tiny company called anthropologie, and when i graduated and discovered there were no jobs in the paper for english majors or artists, i decided to continue at anthro, having been offered the coveted display job there. i learned so much from that job, and it was such a creative and free atmosphere. i stayed there until i moved back to
after that, i took a job with the Buyers Market of American Craft, and it was funny, because all of these retail jobs finally meant something to someone else but me! i worked there as the Exhibitor Services Director, and aside from organizing a huge trade show hosting close to 1600 wholesale craft exhibitors, i was able to use my experience to help artists. i advised them on things like product line development, pricing structures, business basics, working with galleries, displays and other things nobody learns in art school. i loved that job, but a year after my daughter was born, i gave it up to stay home more with her. i now work part time for Maryland Citizens for the Arts, an agency that advocates for money for the arts, doing development work.
i’m still a major craft addict, and even when we travel i scope out the galleries beforehand. when we used to travel abroad, i always learned the words for “art,” “craft,” and “jewelry.” (beer, too, but that’s another story.)
whew. and i didn’t think i’d be able to write enough. well, aside from being a mom, and working part time, i’ve been selling on etsy for about four months, as well as developing another business with a friend… my etsy shop, littlest bean, is mostly the work that i am able to do now. i used to like to make pieces that would require a large pot of coffee and half a night, but now i make more portable work. i chose felt because it’s beautiful, versatile, and safe to be around. (when i think of how many hours of my life i spent holding turpentine-soaked rags in my hands, or in my MOUTH!) now my work mingles peacefully in our home, where i live with my husband, daughter, two cats, and one really weird little weiner dog. i’m really proud that my 2 ½ year old now asks “who made that?” instead of “where did you buy that?”
i’m really happy to be a part of b.e.s.t., and looking forward to the good things to come!
Friday, January 11, 2008
Hello everyone! I'm really excited to be a part of this group. A little bit about me...
Ever since I can remember, I've had a little craft business going. I started with gimp keychains. In middle school, I sold friendship bracelets and hair wraps at recess. Polymer clay beads were next. Then I moved on to real craft shows. I started "Amanda's Candle Company," and traveled around to local craft bazaars. I was the only 14 year old with a booth, and everyone would ask if my mom made the candles.
I took every art class offered at my high school. Painting: Whenever I had a big project due, my dad would stay up late and paint with me to keep me company. He has been such a great supporter of my creativity. We've made many trips to Jo-Ann fabrics together. He'd always say- get whatever supplies you need... and then he'd pick out a bunch of random stuff for me as well and say, "you might need this." Photography: I spent all my senior year lunches in the darkroom. Shooting and developing your own black and white images is one of the most amazing experiences I have had. Ceramics: Mixing my own clay and learning how to throw pots on the wheel. Sewing: I loved it! I would stay after class and make extra projects because I wanted to learn. I began experimenting @ home with bags. I would cut up old pants and dresses and make purses. That's when I knew I wanted to be a designer.
I moved to Chicago to attend the Illinois Institute of Art. There I learned professional sewing techniques, business and how to organize my thoughts into a collection. Chicago is such an amazing city, and those were some of the best years of my life. The city was so diverse and fast paced. It really energized me. There I grew so much as an artist and a person.
I had a summer job during college as "Crafty Lady" at a camp in Northern Michigan where I spent my days crimping beads, melting wax and running classes. That's also where I met my fiance! He was the cook :)
So as you can see I have dabbled in just about everything art. I've been making bags for 5 years now. It says something that I've stuck with it so long- normally I'd be onto my next craft by now. I've started making greeting cards when I don't feel like sewing. I just love to create! My 9-5 job is a clothing designer for Under Armour, which is why I moved to Baltimore in Nov. '07. It's cool to work at a company that's so recognizable. My cousins now think I'm super cool. The city has grown on me... I hated it at first. But there is so much to explore and such a supportive artist community. I discover something new about the city every day. My new favorite hobby: Bingo. I also recently discovered the fun of blogging.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
So today is my bio day. I'll go ahead and start off with one of those silly memes, just because it's fun. And easy. As seen on Sew, Mama, Sew
1. When did you start to create and make craft?
When I was little, I lived in Colorado. I can recall finding huge white quartz rocks and painting them with water colors and melting crayons on them in the sun. That's when I remember starting... pressing flowers in phone books, drawing Ninja Turtles from dijon mustard glasses, making a styrofoam christmas ornament with my school photo on it, then poking out the eyes so that I could shove green and yellow christmas lights through it. (Hey, it was really neat). I've always been very crafty. Only about a year ago did I start to seriously focus on selling what I create though. I've come a long way, I don't think people would really want to buy bug-eyed christmas ornaments with my photo on them - except maybe mom.
2. Why did you start creating?
I have to express myself, I have to play and experiment. That's what a lot of my craft life has been like, and to a large extent, I'm still figuring things out.
3. Why do you create?
I want to be self-sufficient, I can't stand big-box stores, I want to fill people's lives with art and life and story. I feel satisfied when what I've created goes to live in other peoples' houses - especially childrens' rooms. I want to start making a living off of craft- that in itself is an important goal, not only for the ability to support myself, but to be able to say - "I accomplished this!" .
4. What do you create?
Wow, I've tried everything. Sewing wallets and purses and bibs, industrial jewelry, bead jewelry, collage, knitting, sewing doll clothes and people clothes, pottery, soap making.. I could go on and on. I'm now focusing on photography and art though. It's a good way to get the art out, to spread handmade, and still have time for kids and $ for other, personal endeavors.
5. Has this changed since you began crafting?
I've gone through selling a lot of different sorts of things and I think I've finally settled on what I really enjoy!
Some additional info: I was born in NY. We travelled all over the US until I was about 9, and then we moved to France, then the Philippines, followed by the Netherlands. (My father was in the air force). I have two little boys 1 1/2 and almost 4. My husband Marc is a government code monkey. The both of us are nerds and we tell way too many stories (we write together). Storytelling and mythology are very important to us (:read: we like RPGs) , and we're avid Joseph Campbell fans.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment!
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Purpose - B.E.S.T. is a group dedicating to networking, promoting,
sharing, teaching and doing craft in the Baltimore area.
Goals - We will be a co-operative group, focusing on promoting Etsy,
handmade, each other as artists and B.E.S.T. We will attempt to find
as many outlets and venues for doing this as permitted by the
involvement of the members. We will meet once a month for general
purposes, and more often as needed for skillshare nights, shows, or
Membership - We will be limited to, but not required to have 15 core
members. These members must be active Etsy sellers willing to do
business in the Baltimore area, willing to blog on the group site
several times per month, participate in monthly meetings, and work
with team to achieve the goals and purposes as stated above.
B.E.S.T. will also be open to any other Baltimore area Etsy seller
who wishes to participate, and these additional members will be
encouraged to participate in team activities as well.
Team - Team members should think about ways to promote the team,
whether via Etsy Treasuries, personal blogs or websites, and
participation in shows. All team members should be active promoters
in order to be considered for team blog space, show space, and other
Translation - If you are a core member, you MUST be involved. If you
are not a core member, we will ask for your help from time to time if
you would like to benefit from membership. We're all busy people, and
we know you are too - so we promise not to ask too much!
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Our first meeting was super! There is a lot to look forward to in our fine city and don't you know, we're gonna be a part of it! The BEST is made up of some really amazing and talented folks. We are proud of our work and truly psyched to join and help support the art community in Baltimore. Stay tuned y'all!