Who are you? Give us the 411 about yourself.
My name is Daniela Shelton. I’m a Swiss national living on Camano Island, a little spot on the Puget Sound just north of Seattle. I’m a graphic designer by trade and a crafter by choice.
When/how did you start your business?
In February, 2007. Actually, the history goes back years—you could say a lifetime. But about seven or eight years ago I started buying neat looking scraps and remnants at garage sales, thrift stores, and swap meets with the intent of doing something with them one day. The February, ’07 date was when I just couldn’t bear not doing it.Apart from creating things, what do you do? I’m a pretty avid gardener and I cook and bake a fair bit, but I’m probably more of a craphound than anything. I love sifting through the piles of the perfectly good things that others cast off. Actually, my husband, Chris, and I are both wired that way. We’ve been struck incredulous more than once by the incredibly valuable things we’ve found.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I can’t pinpoint a specific event, but I grew up in Switzerland, which is pretty much the birthplace of modern graphic design. My parents were really supportive with anything I wanted to do so I got into the graphics at school. I think the critters are an extension of that. I’m just driven to make things that look neat, and it’s tough to create in only one medium.
What inspires you?
Junk. Well, at least the idea that the things that people think are junk are actually ingredients to make beautiful things. It’s ironic how we can sell the very things back to the people that they threw away. More than once we’ve heard people say, “I had a (fill in the blank) with that exact pattern!” At that very moment we know we have a sale.
What's your favorite thing about your craft?
Knowing that we’re leaving a legacy. Some people work their whole lives and leave nothing but a wave of consumable and consumed things in their wake. Art and craft is great in the sense that people leave something tangible. I love the idea that someone may fall deeply in love with something I make. At the very least I know I’m keeping things from the landfill, even if they aren’t real big.Where would we most likely find you working?
Okay, I have to brag a bit, but only because of how little we spend to live well. You could find me cutting materials in our kitchen on the Saarinen tulip table and chair set that my best friend, Gabi, and I found at a consignment store. Or you could find me sewing on one of the two early ’70s Husqvarna Viking or the late ’70s Pfaff sewing machines that people sold at garage sales for pennies on the dollar after never using them. Or you could find me on the leather-faced Barcelona chair that I found at the curb on trash day.
What's your favorite music to listen to while you work?
Funnily enough, I don’t listen to music anymore. Square, I know…. I listen to public radio all day to drown out my coworkers’ chitchat, but when I craft I turn on one of the two or so channels we get on our old black-and-white set. It’s just there for noise and it’s easy to ignore.
What's your favorite thing right now?
My Viking 52 30. I just got it tuned up and it stitches like butter.
If you could have one wish granted for the craft community, what would it be?
That more people would start making things. We as a society have gotten used to having everything made for them, and by doing that they let big companies set their standards of quality. So now we buy junk that’s bad for us and our livelihood. Crafting should be a part of our commerce, not just some curious or activity practiced by a few ‘quaint’ people, which is how I think a lot of people see the craft community. The crafters I know are far from quaint and they make tangible goods for everyday life by in far greater quality than any bean-counting corporation could ever dream of.
Visit Daniela's shop to see all of her super sweet creations.