What is your etsy user name? ToadstoolsNTreestump
Tell us a bit about yourself name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.
My name is Sarah, I live in St. Georges, Delaware. I am 5 houses north of the C&D Canal. My Etsy shop opened Black Friday Weekend 2008, I am currently a member of the Fantasy Artists of Etsy team (FAE Team) and am waiting to be juried into the Art Dolls Only team.
Personally - I am a full time mom (2 children 11 & 13 years old), part time art teacher among other things. I graduated from the University of the Arts in 1989, with a BFA in Crafts/Metals.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I read, teach a bit, volunteer, help with homework, listen to instrument practice... I have been a member of the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA) since 2001, where I am known as Sarra the Lymner. Thanks to the SCA I have learned the skills of a medieval calligrapher and illuminator/painter. For my 40th birthday my husband bought me a harp, something I've wanted since I was 10. I don't practice as much as I should, especially since I am teaching my self, but when I do play it brings me great pleasure. The harp is a wonderful instrument, since even when you play badly it makes pretty sounds.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I have been creating things my entire life, I have had jobs in other fields, sometimes I even enjoyed them. The materials and styles I have worked in have changed over the years, but I always seem to be creating with something.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
When I'm making a new line of dolls I spend a lot of time looking at fantasy images, human figure art (sculpture and 2 dimensional) and start sketching shapes for pattern pieces. Once I have the shapes designed I draw the shapes directly onto the back of the fabric. Until last year every stitch in every doll was hand sewn, but I finally made friends with my sewing machine, and now most of my seams are machine sewn. After the parts for several dolls are all sewn, they get cut, turned, stuffed and closed. Now I get to play with possible fabric and pose combinations. When the combination feels right I pin them in that position and sew them all together. Some dolls I hand paint their "attire" sometimes they are designed to look like they are in leotards, and sometimes I sew clothing on them. All my dolls hair is needle felted on and finally I draw/paint their faces and choose their accessories and embellishments.
When I'm not making dolls I also enjoy making jewelry and working on my calligraphy and illumination projects.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
After living and working in a community of student and professional artists for 10 years and 14 more years of creating since then there are just too many handmade objects in my home. If forced to choose I'll say my wedding band.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
Books - Pride & Prejudice(well really almost everything Jane Austen wrote) , Jane Eyre, Hobbit/Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the Harry Potter series, and Rosamund Pilcher's later works.
Movies: Pride & Prejudice (all versions), the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, most of the work of Hayao Miyazaki, most movies with Katherine Hepburn in them, and Love Actually
Musical groups: The Mediaeval Baebes, Susanne Vega, Loreena McKennitt, Caryn Lin, new age & classical music, and some jazz.
I don't really haunt a lot of web sites, but I do a fair amount of shopping on Amazon and ABEbooks (love the used book searches on both of those sites)
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
I'm still pretty new, but the advice I try to keep to heart is that it takes time to build a reputation, make the best stuff you can, list often and be creative about how to get your name/shop name out there.
Share any ideas you have for our street team.. or plans, hopes..
I'm new to the street team idea but I am hoping to get and give support to teammates and learn effective ways to promote our shops as well as share good sources of supplies, information and inspiration.
How do you promote your work?
Promotion is my biggest challenge. I recently discovered the forums and etsy chat, my google analytics numbers seem to go up when I spend any time on them. I made bookmarks with images of my work and my etsy shop address on them, soon I'll figure out how to distribute them. My sister has a pile of my business cards and has mentioned me on her facebook & myspace pages.
In ten years I'd like to be...
A recognized and respected name in the world of art doll makers.