Friday, April 22, 2011

Interview with Mirella - Mireloom store

On a gorgeous day like today, a Happy Friday for many of us, I would like to take you on a tour to Turin (Torino), Italy. Here we’re going to have a delightful time with our weaver Mirella from Mireloom store.

Mirella’s story is full of magic, artistry and inspiration.

About a month ago Mirella was featured on Etsy Blog called “Open Studio Tour

Random Facts about You?   
I live with my husband in a little town near Torino, in North Italy. My grownup daughter lives in downtown Torino by herself. Our house is situated along the river Po, near a wonderful park where I often take walks and pick plants for my hand dyeing. I always wanted to live in the woods, but my husband is a city person, so this is a good compromise for both of us!
We are passionate travellers and our best travel experience was in South East Asia. There I got to know a few prominent weavers who were also very nice people. That trip made me fall in love with Thai weaving. I was inspired by those textiles where weavers play, in such a creative way, with their ancient geometric symbols! In my artistic textiles I get play with some of those symbols like hooks, spirals and so on.

From my childhood I was an art lover because of my parents who were always about finding beauty in everything. So I grew up thinking to become an artist or find some creative work in my life. But I never could distinguish between an artist, a designer or a hand-crafter. So the final decision of “who to become” was never made. It's so difficult for me to separate those three things... I'm - all of it together! Luckily I was supported by my family members, still helping me to grow my work, even though they do different work from mine (she is a translator and he is a geologist)
How long ago have you started weaving?   
Almost thirty years ago, after getting my anthropology degree, I went to a weaving parents weren't so happy about that! ;-)
What got you started weaving? 
When I was a teenager I went in Stockholm where I visited the crafts museum, and there I had a sudden inspiration! There I saw the fiber-art that captured my imagination! But the most important thing was ….. Love! I fell in love with a Dutch boy when I was nineteen.  He educated me about an ancient weaver and her big loom, as big as a room... The image of that loom and beautiful work on it is still vivid in my mind...
Any particular technique(s) that you enjoy the most?   
Even though on Etsy I list my simplest work, I very much love intricate techniques, double weaving, warp and weft substitution, often combined. Even more I love tapestries.
What part the process makes you the most passionate?
Hmm... If I make a tapestry I like every phase of the work, (the warping - not so much ;-)))) from the idea to the result. But making scarves or a shawl - after the first 3rd one I'm already thinking – what’s next!
What is your source of inspiration?   
Many! Colours of nature, art, some accidental ideas from films, magazines and (why not!?!?!?) sometimes after looking at the work of another fiber artist I jump with a new idea of my own!

Where do you sell? 
Hand craft markets for shawls, bags, and scarves; at an art gallery, and naturally on Etsy.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?   
As I told before I'm a passionate traveller, even around my own house, where I always discover a new hidden corner!.. I also love drawing and looking for wild herbs for eating or dyeing….I know so many of them! Even more I love to read, to take walks, to meet with my friends and have entertaining dinners with them!!
What first made you want to become an artist?   
Perhaps the art books that I had seen in my parent’s house from when I was a child, and also the fact that we have so many artists in our family!
Please describe your creative process: how, when, materials, etc.  
Materials are a big source of inspiration! Sometimes I think for a long time with a ball of yarn in my hand, trying to create some work specifically out of this yarn!
Sometimes it’s a sudden idea, just when I am about to fall asleep, or during the night, when I can’t sleep...

Which of your creative knowledge do you cherish the most? 
Definitely the tapestry technique
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Don't get discouraged, but don't become slaves to Etsy!!!
What do you like about Etsy?   
I like it for many reasons! It is beautiful aesthetically, and most importantly it gives me the chance to get  in touch with many people who love craft and weaving, and more because it is like a game where you can win sometimes and have some success!
How do you promote your work?   
I have a gallery that promotes my fiber art works. I also go to art and craft markets. I do more on Etsy, for example by creating a treasury…hoping for the FP!
What weaving activities or guilds to you participate in? 
I’m a member of Coordinamento Tessitori  - the Weavers Association that gathers weavers from all Italy. Every year it organizes a very beautiful meeting in Torino. I’m also a part of a fiber art group that helps me to participate in many art shows.
Do you have a website, blog, Facebook page, or other online endeavours?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Interview with Greg Newham

Hello Team,

today I wanted to present an interview with someone who has been weaving professionally for ... over 40 years... What you're about to read and see is guaranteed to blow your mind...
Additionally Greg has been a great supporter of Etsy Weavers team from the day one. He has offered great advices and serious critique (I do appreciate both!) out of passionate effort to make Etsy experience a worthy one for all of us.

Greg is located in Kinston, New York ( Hudson Valley region )

Please visit his Etsy store:  fitchstudioweavers

I proudly present to you Greg Newham and his story.

Random facts about you: 
I live and work in the Hudson Valley of New York State with my partner of twenty-seven years, Jay Halpern and our newest charge, a five month old, five pound Yorkie named Percy. I am the fourth generation of weavers from my father’s side – my grandfather and his father were lace weavers from Nottingham England. My current studio is a historic brick church dating from 1884 – stained glass windows and all.

How / when did you begin weaving?
It was quite accidental - I was working on a Masters in Music, studying clarinet. A friend wanted to change careers and was interested in pursuing a craft – weaving was mentioned. Since I was unfamiliar with “weaving”, I went to the library and borrowed several books for my friend, but I ended up reading them. In trying to encourage my friend, I ended up becoming consumed by the discipline. Soon we were purchasing a loom in NYC – in 1973. The saleswoman asked what we would do with it and I said, “Start a business weaving rugs”.  She asked if we knew how to weave…?.... No….well she taught weaving….and so it began. My partner’s brother was a noted interior designer in NYC. I spent a whole summer in an apartment in NY teaching myself to weave, and taking lessons from Johanna Laurie who had studied in France and Scandinavia. That fall we presented the “new samples” to his brother and he referred us to another designer who made a call which put us in the offices of one of the most prestigious interior design firms in NY. The first rugs I wove on commission were for the weekend home of Carter Brown, at that time the director of the National Gallery. With these orders in hand we relocated to Woodstock, NY where I studied with Iona Plath - a noted weaver and author. Time flew by; now it is nearly forty years later – and I still create custom textiles to order for the interior design trade. I like to say in that time I have woven “to the Moon and back, at least several times.”

Any particular techniques you enjoy the most?
Since most of my technique is “self-learned” from many years of hands-on work, I will say it is difficult to choose any one aspect. I hand dye yarns, creating space dyed coloring since nearly the beginning. I weave very large “constructed” area rugs – i.e. woven in panels and hand seamed so patterns match meticulously over 25-30 feet in length; I also weave throws and upholstery fabric….and I like to create scarves too! In truth, I enjoy the range of processes necessary to produce the finished textiles, whatever it may be.

What part of the process makes you the most passionate?
Again, this is really hard to differentiate for me, because the whole process is a continuum – meaning you begin with the concept be it the design and/or coloring, continuing on to choosing and preparing the necessary materials. Once they are secured it is on to the physical steps of warping and setting-up the loom and then the weaving. (I find warping the loom very satisfying ….and the actual weaving has been my life’s work. Assembling and finishing these large textiles gives the sense of completion. )

(area rug hand-woven by Greg)

What is your source of inspiration?
This is another question I cannot pinpoint a succinct answer.  Ideas come to me at any time, many I do not act on for years. I am a very visual and tactile person and there is inspiration even in mundane daily tasks. Finally, my clients over the years have provided a stimulus that is unfathomable. I have worked for many of the most noted American interior designers and architects. These extremely talented people are constantly providing their input.  I many times feel that I am most creative at “solving a problem” given very specific limitations – that is fulfilling the desires of a design professional so that my textile is compatible with the whole concept of the room.  These are generally very high-end projects.

Where do I sell? 
I think the above answer explains where the bulk of my work goes – into residential interior projects. I have sold my hand woven scarves in boutique stores and a few craft shows. An assistant suggested, and actually set up my Etsy shop – Fitch Studio Weavers just over a year ago. It is now the only venue for the sale of my scarves. 
When my assistant moved back to his home state, I had to take over managing the shop. I have to say that at this late stage in my career, I have to acquire a lot of new “techniques” regarding marketing on the web….and I am still learning. But in this process I have met other weavers across the world through the Etsy Weavers Team and had some very nice interactions with purchasers on Etsy. We are all still evolving – both the shop owners of Etsy and the site itself. I find it challenging, but also kind of fun.

Inteview by Alvant,
Captain of Etsy Weavers team

Friday, April 1, 2011

Meet our Team - Interview with Leslie

Doing interviews with my members brings me so much joy... I always get such a thrill when see it finished. Every single member of our team is so unique and amazing...

Please meet Leslie Maltby Burdzy, located in South Windsor, Connecticut.

Leslie represents the store called “Coffee Break Designs

Random Facts about You?
I have a BA in English, and MS in Education but I’ve only ever tutored. I was a nanny at one time. And a trade show coordinator (not at the same time). I am fascinated with the past, in that I would like to travel back in time. I have been teaching myself to play guitar for the last year and I love to write songs and sing. The jury is still out on that, though. I’ve done one open mic back in February and plan to do more!

How long ago have you started weaving?
I’ve been weaving since 2006.

What got you started weaving?
This is a long story but it has a point (and an ending). I’ve wanted to weave for a long time. I learned to knit from my grandmother and aunt when I was very young, did that for a while but dropped it until maybe 10 years ago. By then there were so many luscious and interesting yarns that I really became addicted to yarn. I still wanted to learn to weave but the whole loom, weaving thing seemed so big and complicated (where do I get a loom, they seem expensive, where do I put it, how do I do it, what if I don’t like it?). So, I decided to try spinning (seems like such an obvious alternative, right???). I purchased a drop spindle and fiber kit.

Tried it. Dropped the spindle. Tried it. Dropped the spindle. Tried it. Dropped the spindle. Repeat. You get the picture. So I put it on the shelf for a couple of months.

Then I looked at it and thought, “That stupid thing is not going to get the best of me. How can I NOT not learn that?” So I spent a weekend and learned. A few months later I bought a wheel.

In the meantime, my passion for fiber grew. The differences among fibers, plant, animal, man-made, among breeds of animals, fascinated me.

It was then that I decided that I could learn to weave if I took some classes to demystify the process. So I did and here I am.

Any particular technique(s) that you enjoy the most?
There are many I have not tried or have only tried a couple of times. I’d have to say that I am in love with the undulating twills. They seem to move, especially when using complementary colors.

What part the process makes you the most passionate? The part(s) I love best in the weaving process are setting out possible yarn color combinations and textures and looking at them to see what they might yield. And taking the end product off the loom. Sometimes the results are better that I see during the work-in-progress.

What is your source of inspiration?
Mostly my inspiration comes from possible color combinations. However, one very early morning I was watching something on CPTV about some artists in Central America and a civil war, I think. The show was in Spanish so I didn’t understand it. There was one picture, though, of the side of a barn or some wooden building. It painted red long ago, but weathered to gray and shadows of black. It mesmerized me and I wanted to recreate that in a scarf. I made two or three that came out wonderful.

Where do you sell?
Apart from my Etsy store, I have a few things on Artfire. I sell in some boutiques in Connecticut. I also attend the Coventry Farmers’ Market several times during the summer and fall. And last year I joined a small, local women’s artisans group and we put on an art show each June (this will be our second year).

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
That’s basically what I do now.

What first made you want to become an artist?
I think I always have been an artist, ever since I can remember, although not in a “That’s my job” sort of way. My belief is that everyone is creative. My husband’s education is in chemical engineering and while it is common to differentiate creative types (traditional artists like painters, musicians, etc.) from scientists, I have witnessed the development of an idea/solution from the most basic creative question, “What if . . . ?” To me, it is like breathing. I think if you took away all my yarn, paper, pencils, my camera, I would try to make something out of paper clips and sticks, no matter how weird it looked.

Please describe your creative process: how, when, materials, etc.
Sometimes it feels like my creative process is constant –When I’m driving; when I’m out shopping with my husband and he is looking at some plumbing supplies and I am bored and wondering what I could make with all those fittings; in the middle of the night – you get the idea.

Sometimes I sketch out ideas and color combinations with colored pencils, but only if it’s something I’ve never tried and even then it often changes in the middle of the project.

I always feel very uneasy when I’ve completed a collection and I have to start a new project (or set of projects). I don’t know what I want or should do next because it’s always more than one thing.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My grandmother seemed to be the most prolific knitter/tatter/crocheter but that could have been because that’s just the way it was back then. I never owned a store-bought sweater until I was in my teens. I’d have to say that anything I still have of hers is most cherished. I have a couple of tatted tablecloths I use at the holidays. I also have an afghan and a sweater she made for me when I was about 11.

What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Be patient. You may or may not make your first sale in the first two weeks or even the first two months but don’t give up.
Take GREAT photographs! Partner with someone who is a good photographer or learn as much as you can. (I’m still learning loads!) Emulate the photography that you love – what makes you want to look at the item for sale?
Variety. By that I mean, put new things in your shop as often as you can.

What do you like about Etsy?
I love the uncluttered look. It feels very pleasant to me, like a brick and mortar store I like to visit. Also, the sense of community.

How do you promote your work?
That’s always a challenge, in that I could, literally, spend an entire day on the internet trying to do that. This is an area where I am still learning. Right now I use Twitter, my own Facebook page, my Coffee Break Designs Facebook page, Ravelry a little bit. I blog. I have a link to my Etsy shop on the bottom of my emails, a link on my YouTube page (which has nothing to do with weaving), on my MySpace page, which I haven’t gone to in months. I think that’s it. Sometimes it becomes a jumbled mess in my head.

What weaving activities or guilds to you participate in?
None now. People always ask. Maybe I should.

Do you have a website, blog, Facebook page, or other online endeavors?


You see what I mean?! Great talents! I wanted to wish Leslie lots of success with everything what her hand, mind and heart touches.

Captain of Etsy Weavers team