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


  1. Keep up the learning spirit, wonderful to interview!

    Thistle & Rose Handweaving

  2. *clapping hands*

    Fabulous interview! Thank you for sharing! ;)

  3. Leslie, now that I know your work, nice to finally "meet" you here!

  4. You seem to have a sense of playfulness in your creative endeavors that is fun to see. That scarf is really pretty and I love that it was inspired by an old barn with peeling paint! Nice.

  5. I like what you said about creating being like breathing. Great interview

  6. Thank you, everyone! I'm am so proud to be a part of this group and to have been interviewed for the blog!