Thursday, January 31, 2013

reflecting on years gone by..

It has already been a year with this blog. I'm not sure exactly where the time has gone, or how it has gone so quickly. But it's happened. BAM. Another year in the past. Sometimes I just sit and think about time and how fleeting it is. That even as I type these words...time is passing. 

When I was young, I can recall how slow time seemed to go. It was measured by school and summer vacations. The years always seemed to drag out and take forever to pass. Then a funny thing happened. All of the sudden I was old. I distinctly remember when I was about to turn 25 and how I thought my life was already over, if I hadn't figured out my career path and life goals at that point, I was a complete loser. I scrambled and decided to go to cosmetology school. Something completely out of my character (I have various anxieties and touching other people is one of them) So what was I thinking? Oddly, the sound of hairdryers and washing machines. Yes, I based an $8,000 decision on the fact that I love the sound of these things and would always walk by one of the top salons in the city and hear these sounds.

So I spent a year of my life going to school. I was a black sheep. All the other girls would be so excited to play and experiment. I just wanted someone to tell me what to do, I'd perfect it and move on to the next thing. It's what my personality always has me do. I can see things, master them and move on to the next higher skill. I knew it wasn't the right fit. But I tried and was forcing it because I was so sure that I needed to find a career. I was really good at what I did, I was the top student and had all the salons coming after me before I graduated. But I knew it wasn't for me. It never was. I got lucky that I never had to explain this to anyone because the summer following me graduating we picked up and moved to NY - and my license did not transfer. Easy fix. (state to state licensing is crazy - more testing etc etc. Bah!) 

I then spent the next six years working in a bank. Yes, me. I was a manager of a bank. Definitely didn't "look" the part and was told that nearly daily by my bosses. But the customers loved me. It felt good. But I didn't feel complete. Nothing seems to fit me. I do things and do them well. I have this urge and craving to be the best at whatever job I'm placed in. So those around think all is well. Think I am happy and satisfied when really I am just miserable and covering it up with a stellar work ethic.

I skipped around again and landed where I currently am. Again, same thing. I do my job extremely well. People love me because I get the job done, and get a lot of it done (usually 2-3 times more than others) So yeah, of course they love me. But I'm to a burnt out phase in my life. I'm sick of being the one that has the stellar work ethic at jobs that don't satisfy me. Why am I pushing so hard for companies that don't care about me? I know now (and probably have known all along) that I am meant to work for either myself or for a small company that is making a difference. That is for the people and the planet. If only I could just find a job that satisfied me and fit this criteria. 

Last year when I started my blog, I said it was supposed to be the "year of me". But it turned out to be just like every other year I have lived. There were crazy dips, both highs and lows just as there are every year. I did begin a new business. A business I had no intention of even starting at this time last year. I actually thought that I would have been a master glass maker (that was the plan anyway!) by the end of last year and be starting up that business. But instead I'm making soap. Something I never thought I would say.

I love making soaps. Part of me is a little worried that I will get bored and want to leave this venture behind as well. That I am destined to never settle for one thing. Never completely be content with things being the same and sticking with the same thing, day in and day out. But I really am going to give it a go. I have some exciting prospects that be a major impact on where this business is going (but alas, I need to keep this under wraps until I hear more..)

So, a year in review or a grown up life in review, I am no further ahead in my thoughts than I was five minutes ago. I am so envious of those that have the spontaneity to just get up and make a change and a big change at that. I always blame it on the fact of finances. But we have overcome some pretty difficult times, living on nearly nothing and still able to scrape by. If I keep waiting for the day that "all my debts are paid off" I may be waiting longer than I care to.

Change. It's inevitable. It's all around us. Even when we don't see it, change is occurring in the slightest ways.   Steve Jobs once said, " Deciding what not to do, is just as important as deciding what to do." By deciding to NOT change my current situation, I'm deciding to NOT to do all those other awesome things I want to be doing.

So my goal, is that while I can't just say "Take this job and shove it" like the classic 1977 hit, I need to begin investing in myself and set goals and get myself in a better position financially to one day be able to finally utter those words. I think I have a good thing in The Hive - I need to go after the opportunities that are being presented to me. I can't allow myself to get bogged down in the day to day drawl and just reach for what I want and take it. I need to stop being envious of all those other people that "make it work" to be able to work for themselves and be the person people are envious of.

So here is to another year. Another year of blogging. Another year of meeting many new friends and keeping those I have grown close with. Another year of growth for The Hive. And another year of gaining wisdom and adventures. Love you all.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

wiw v. 6

They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain
2012 - NR - 84 minutes
Streaming Netflix


Shot clandestinely over a two year period, this film provides a rare look into the second most isolated country on the planet held in a stasis by a brutal military regime for almost a half century. From over 100 interviews of people across Burma, including the recently released Aung San Suu Kyi, interwoven with stunning footage of Burmese life this documentary is truly unique. 

This is a very rare look into an isolated country. I believe it is currently the only documentary available about Burma. It has won a gamut of awards, and is a definite must watch that will break your heart.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

tasty tuesday v. 4

On Sunday (my favorite baking day) I got out one of my favorite baking books, Rustic Fruit Desserts, and decided upon making Apple-Cranberry Crisp. If you don't own this baking book - go to Amazon, or your local book shop and buy it. It is a really great book, filled with such great recipes. 

So off to the market I went..only I couldn't find cranberries. While I was really bummed out. I figured an apple crisp is still very tasty - so I just bought some gala apples and called it a day.

As you will notice- the recipe and picture below show cranberries in the completed dish. Well - that would be because this beautiful photo is not mine. No..somehow all my pictures of my baking adventures are gone. wiped clean off my camera and computer?! I honestly have no clue what happened. But I'm bummed because some shots were pretty good and I was excited to share them with you all. I'm pretty sure not as good as the one below though. So I'm cheating, as it is now late, and dark in the house as I type this and no good shots ever come out of crappy lighting. Sorry guys. 

Believe me cranberries or no cranberries - this is one tasty crisp!

Apple-Cranberry Crisp (via Rustic Fruit Desserts)

1 cup (3 oz./90 g.) rolled oats
3/4 cup (3 oz./90 g.) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz./105 g.) firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g.) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup (1 1/3 oz./40 g.) chopped walnuts
1/3 cup (3 oz./90 g.) granulated sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
3 lb. (1.5 kg.) apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup (4 oz./125 g.) fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt and stir to mix well. Scatter in butter pieces. Using an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment on low speed, or with your fingertips, mix or rub in butter until uniform coarse crumbs form and mixture begins to come together. Stir in chopped walnuts.

In a large bowl, whisk together granulated sugar and cornstarch until well blended. Add apples and cranberries and toss to coat and mix well. Pour fruit into a 9-inch (23-cm.) square or round baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with oat mixture.

Bake until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a knife, 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let crisp rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 10.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Buy Handmade v. 44

We head to Colorado this week for our behind the scenes feature.

Name:  Robert  and Gwynne Kidd
Age:  45, 43
Occupation:  Woodworker

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Virginia.  I came to Colorado to go to college and I earned a degree in Professional Photography.  I met Gwynne, who was from the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, in college.  After school we both worked for a company that put official records on microfilm.  After that I took a job in construction doing framing and siding.  I moved on to doing interior finish carpentry and I just fell in love with wood and what you could do with it.  I studied under a master stair builder for a while and that is where I started carving, making custom stair parts.  We now live in the San Luis Valley way out in the country.  My wife Gwynne is as much a part of KitchenCarvings as I am.  I do the roughing out and initial design and she does all the final shaping and finishing as well as keeping on top of the shipping.  She also raises Sheep and Goats with her mom.  She is also a field inspector for Colorado Seed Growers.  In the summer she inspects Canola, Barley, Wheat, Oats, Wild flowers, and Grasses.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?

Robert:  I’ve been creating things since I was little.  When I was about 10 I carved some Owls into a pine board as a present for my Grandmother.  Gwynne is also very creative. Ten years ago I was doing custom woodworking.  I did stairs as well as cabinets.  I was already a wood nut and I saved every scrap from the job sites I worked on.  I became intensely interested in harvesting my own wood and particularly wanted to work with found wood.  I had all these little planks that I had sawed out of small logs and they were everywhere in the shop drying on windowsills and leaned up against the walls.  I needed something to do with them and one day I saw an article in WOODWORK magazine about traditional Swedish bowl carving.  I really liked the bowls but it was the handmade spoon pictured in one of the bowls that really blew me away.  It was so elegant.  It had such beautiful lines and proportions.  I had to make one.  I thought, here was a way to work with just a small piece of wood, a limb or small section of trunk, whether green or dry and make something both beautiful and functional.   I started giving the spoons away as gifts and soon people were calling me asking if they could buy them.  I started selling to galleries and gift shops wholesale.  I did that on the side for 9 years.  I did some crafts fairs and people really liked them and bought everything I had.  After the financial crisis all of my carpentry work dried up.  We live in a very sparsely populated area.  It is three hours to the nearest city.  I either had to work long distances from home or find another way to make money.  I started doing more spoons, only wholesale.  I started my Etsy shop in January 2011.

Gwynne:  I have helped Robb out off and on over the years.  In April of last year Robb was at the point with Kitchencarvings that he needed help.  So I quit my job and couldn’t be happier.  It’s awesome making  something  people enjoy.

How did you come up with your business name?  Is there any special meaning behind it?

I came up with the name when I started selling to galleries.  I wanted an easy to remember name for my line of kitchen tools.  If I am not carving then you’ll find my in the kitchen so I just combined the two.

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job?

Yes it has but it didn’t really take off until Gwynne started working with me full time last April.  She has been carving spoons almost as long as I have and she has really helped to increase production.  I could not do it without her.  She also stays on top of the shipping.  I tend to get easily distracted and she keeps me focused.  I can hardly stay ahead of her.  Last year we also did some wholesaling but we have decided that as fast as things sell on Etsy we lost money by not listing the stuff we did for other stores in our own shop. 

How would your creative process? 

I usually start by picking up a piece of wood and cutting off any parts I don’t like.  Usually an idea or a shape starts to percolate in my head.  I am surrounded by pieces of wood on my bench, leaning up everywhere and on every flat surface.  Sometimes a piece of wood will sit on my bench for months and then I’ll suddenly see what to do with it.  I’ll be working on something else and get an idea about another piece and I’ll stop and rough it out enough so that I can finish it later.  I usually have lots of pieces in various states of completion.  I work very fast.  I don’t hem and haw.  I make my decisions “in the space of 7 breaths” as the Samurai would say.  I can’t look at a piece of wood without seeing spoons or other tools. 

I get them close to the final shape and then Gwynne takes over and that is when they become the pieces you see in our shop.  She makes the final shape with a fine patternmaker’s rasp which is a wonderful tool.  You can make any shape with it.  She sands them and lovingly polishes them at the shaving horse.  She also catches any defects that I missed. 

I am always on the lookout for downed trees and I visit tree trimmers yards a lot to find great wood that is destined to be split into firewood.  You know the old joke about running into a tree because you were looking at a pretty girl.  I’m just as likely to run into a pretty girl because I am looking at a tree. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I would say that mostly it comes from the wood but there is also my time spent in the kitchen.  I love to cook and I do a lot of tinkering with designs.  I know that if I enjoy using something then other cooks will too.  Then I get inspiration from movies.  I like period movies and I am always on the lookout for examples of Treenware in scenes.  I remember one ladle I saw in the HBO series “John Adams”.  Customers also send us pictures of their grandma’s spoon and ask us to reproduce them.  I really enjoy that.

Do you also sell your work at crafts shows? 

I used to.  It is too hard to build up enough work to go to a show.  I am better off listing it on Etsy and most pieces only stay on there a few days before they sell.

I do have a story from one show I did early on.  It was raining and people were lined up before the gates opened.  When they let people in a woman ran as fast as she could across the fairgrounds straight to my booth.  She grabbed up a really nice ladle with a pour spout and clutched it to her chest and said “mine”.  I don’t know how she saw it from 200 feet away.  Another time I was doing a demonstration.  I had about 200 pieces with me and I hadn’t put any prices on them.  I dumped them in a big pile and walked over to the car to get the price tags.   When I turned around there were about ten women digging through the pile like hens after beetles.  It was two hours before I got a price tag on anything because I was so busy filling out tickets.  When I see people’s reaction to my spoons and read my customer feedback that is what pushes me to continue.

What is your most cherished handmade item?

Robert:  My favorite piece is a strange little antique wall cabinet.  It was obviously made by a child.  It has little drawers and on one of the bottoms is written 1902.  It is all handwork and the face frame is in the shape of a stylized owl.  

Gwynne:  Mine are my quilts made by my grandma and the needlepoint done by my mom and the hand knit blankets my husband’s grandmother made for our kids.  Also the first “tadpole” coffee scoop that Rob made.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?

Robert:  I like to hike and fish and bike and look for old coins with my metal detectors.

Gwynne:  I like to hike and fish as well and spend time in the mountains.  I like to travel and to scrapbook.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be and why?

Robert:  I would need about fifty pages to list all the things I am interested in but probably an Astro- Physicist or a Philosopher.  I am fascinated by both.

Gwynne:  I’d be a speech therapist and work with elderly stroke victims. 

Five years from now you will be………?

Robert:  I’d like to be doing the same thing I’m doing now.  I’d like to teach classes in spoon carving because it is just about the most peaceful, relaxing thing I have ever done and I think a lot of people could benefit from it for stress relief.  I don’t ever plan to retire.  I want to be found one day slumped over my bench with a tool in my hand. 

Gwynne:  I’d like to be doing what I am doing now but in a much nicer shop and with some other artisans working with us.  I’d like to be doing more travelling.

Describe yourself in five words.

Robert:  I can’t and please don’t ask Gwynne to describe me.  

Gwynne:  Honest, straight forward, loyal, caring and ornery.

Carrying on with the fives theme, if I were to turn on your Ipod, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?

Robert:  You would find audio books.  I like science fiction a lot.  John Ringo is one of my favorite science fiction writers, as is Robert Jordan but I also listen to a lot of Ayn Rand and other books by Thomas Sowell, Friedrich A. Hayek, and Henry David Thoreau.

Gwynne:   Rob has gotten me hooked on audio books as well.  Recently I have listened to the Wheel of Time series by Robert  Jordan,  Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, The Girl with the dragon Tattoo, The Wind Up Girl and Watership down.

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participation in craft shows?

Robert:  I would say the two most important things are to make something people really want that you also love to make and learn to photograph your products well.  Don’t set out to make what you love and then find a market for it.  Find the market first and preferably one that is not saturated.  Learn to photograph your products not just to show what they look like but to make the customers drool over them.  Plus be prepared to eat sleep and breath your business.  Realize that there are other benefits to working for yourself.  Learn to count those benefits as part of your compensation such as being home to cook dinner for your kids and not having a commute.  Don’t get caught up in how much you are making per hour at first.  When you are starting out you will be working a lot of hours for not a lot of pay.  Consider it as an investment in the future.  Lastly don’t get caught up in formulas for pricing your work.  Compare your work to other similar work in the market place, honestly evaluate its quality and charge what the market will bear.  Increase your income not by raising prices as much as by becoming better and better at what you do. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

fff vol 50

Favorite finds from the last week: 

Etsy find of the week:

I love my friend, Sara's, shop. I've known Miss Sara for many, many years now and she always impresses me with her newest and greatest goodies. This bag is awesome. It comes with two little red check mark pins for you to place on your bag. She has so many cute things. Please go check out her shop. Also - if you have a baby, or a friend with a baby- she has AWESOME onesies!

Please can I move in?

I'm in love with this room and fabulous couch. And ohhhhh the pictures! 

Get in my belly... 

Yes please!  Brownie cookies!!

Tee shirt Dress of the week from Spath Designs - Etsy

This dress is just so adorable. I want to wear it while running around on a beach searching for rocks for my beach/rock collection.

I have had a very interesting and crazy week! I have been MIA and haven't been keeping up with my blog reading because I've been so busy. Unfortunately I need to keep things a secret right now because I don't want to get too excited or get my hopes up in case things fall through. But I promise to update you all as soon as I can! 

So glad its already the weekend. I know it was only a four day week. But I have just been super tired for some reason lately and I really just want to sleep in! Something I never do (even on weekends) But this weekend, oh yes, there will be sleeping and catching up on blogs. I just want a nice relaxing two days off. 

Do you have any exciting (or low key) plans for the weekend?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Hive

I've been busy over here at The Hive. I have updated my shop with my new soaps but wanted to take a few minutes to highlight one of them. (other highlight posts with additional new flavors will be coming soon)

Rome Sand Plains is a 15,000-acre (61 km2pine barrens consisting of a mosaic of sand dunes extending about 50 feet (15 m) above low peat bogs that lie between the dunes. The barrens are covered with mixed northern hardwood forests, meadows, and wetlands. The sand plains are about 5 miles (8.0 km) west of the city center of Rome, New York, which is in Oneida County; about 4,000 acres (16 km2) presently lie in conservation preserves. Pine barrens are typical of seacoasts; the Rome Sand Plains is one of only a handful of inland pine barrens remaining in the United States.[1]
E. W. Russell has described the Sand Plains as follows, "The landscape today forms a sharp contrast with the surrounding flat, fertile farmland, which is almost all cleared of trees and planted in crops. Uplands, including some dunes, support forest vegetation of American beech, white oak (Quercus alba), red and sugar maples, white and pitch pine (Pinus strobus and P. rigida), gray birch (Betula populifolia),hemlock, aspen (Populus spp.), American elm, and other northern hardwood species. Some uplands are also characterized as pitch pine heaths, dominated by pitch pines with an understory of blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) and other related (ericaceous) shrubs. Pitch pine is the characteristic tree of the wetlands, along with aspen, gray birch, and red maple, along with an ericaceous shrub layer."[2]
There are several rare species in the Sand Plains, including the purple pitcher plant and a sundew (both of which are carnivorous plants), red-shouldered hawksmartens, and the frosted elfin butterfly, which is a threatened species in New York State.[3] Other species to be found include wild blue lupine (also rare, and the food for the frosted elfin), barrens buckmoth (Hemileuca maia), whippoorwillpine warbler and pitch pine, normally indigenous to coastal areas.
The Rome Sand Plains were owned privately through about 1980. The sand was mined to make molds and cores for metal casting. An application for a permit to mine sand around 1980 triggered an effort to protect the area.[4] The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation began purchasing lands, working with The Nature Conservancy and other organizations. 1,700 acres (690 ha) of the Sand Plains have been purchased by the DEC, and are designated as the Rome Sand Plains Unique Area.[5] The Nature Conservancy holds another 1,000 acres (400 ha).[6] The Izaak Walton League holds about 440 acres (180 ha), Oneida County holds an additional 770 acres (310 ha) as a County Forest, and a few acres are held by the City of Rome. A map showing these holdings was released by the DEC in 2008; the map shows the location of three foot trails maintained by the DEC and one by the Izaak Walton League.[7] A consolidated management plan involving all five preserves, and addressing the entire Sand Plains area, was released in 2006.[8]
The sand plains are considered by geologists to be a relic of Lake Iroquois, which was a somewhat larger version of the present Lake Ontario that existed near the end of the last ice age about twelve thousand years ago. The level of Lake Iroquois was about 100 feet (30 m) higher than Lake Ontario's present level. Lake Iroquois drained to the sea via the Mohawk River, and its outlet was near the present Sand Plains.[9][10] Lake Ontario's outlet is near the Thousand Islands, and the lake drains through the Saint Lawrence River; this outlet was dammed by ice while Lake Iroquois existed. (taken from wikipedia)

For the past few years we have taken our four legged furry friends to the sand plains. This amazing place is roughly twenty minutes from our home. The girls absolutely love our walks through the woods, and this soap truly encapsulates the smell of those forests. I will randomly walk by my soap area and have to open the container the soaps are in and inhale.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

wiw vol 5


Streaming Netflix

2011 -NR - 86 minutes


Farmageddon is the story of a mom whose son healed from all allergies and asthma after consuming raw milk, and real food from farms. It depicts people all over the country who formed food co-ops and private clubs to get these foods, and how they were raided by state and local governments.

I really don't even have words after watching this documentary. I was/am in shock and completely appalled and disgusted by our country. I think that about sums up my reaction. Complete and total disbelief that this is going on. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

tasty tuesday v. 3

Blueberry Crumble Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup blueberries

For The Crumb Topping

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  1. Make the crumb topping, if desired: Whisk together flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Pour in melted butter and toss with a flexible spatula until large crumbs form. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into large mixing bowl.
  4. Pour vegetable oil into a measuring cup, add the egg, then add the milk. Pour into dry ingredients and stir.
  5. Fold in blueberries into mixture.
  6. Pour into muffin tins. Add crumble over mixture, if desired.
Bake for 18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean for small/ regular sized muffins
If making large muffins, bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Blueberry muffins have always been one of my favorite breakfast treats. I never used to make them with crumble topping..but now it's a must! I just love the added flavor it gives to the muffins.

Monday, January 21, 2013


(Profile of extremely tiny feet with a purple toe - that weird crease is from my sock My big toe is not deformed in any way)

Thinking about: Too many things. My brain never shuts off. Looking at the picture above, I'm thinking about how weird feet are. Yesterday, while not paying attention, one of the andirons that I use to hold a cabinet door closed tipped and fell smack on my big toe. Pain. Lots of pain was had! It actually hurt the entire day. Now I have a nice purple splotch on my toe nail and my toe is still very puffy and red. Oi! 

Watching: At this very moment old episodes of American Pickers on our apple tv thingie-ma-bob. We have also started watching Lost Girl on Netflix. We're on season one. It's not too bad. The name of the show is a little silly. "Lost Girl" would definitely not have been my choice of names, but ah well. It's interesting so far. I tried to get into American Horror Story. I've heard lots of people rave about it and I love horror/scary movies so you would think I wouldn't be able to get enough of it, but I barely made it through the first episode. I don't know, I thought it was terrible. 

Reading: Nothing at the moment. I need to get to the library. Make some suggestions.

Listening: Lola snoring and Polly and Ella running around trying to get my attention because they want to be fed.

Wearing: Army pants, green Gama-Go tee-shirt with owls, old JCrew camel colored sweater cute socks (see above)

Making: I've been working on new soap labels for two more new soaps (more to come in the next few weeks on these two special soaps)

Anticipating: Having an extra day off this week. I love Monday holidays. Weekends seem to go by much too fast, if only every week could be a three day weekend. Work would be so much better!

Planning: New blog posts and a relaxing evening crocheting a blanket for my mother

Loving: That there are still some genuinely amazing and giving people out there. It's really refreshing and inspiring. Also I'm loving the crazy haircut I gave Miss Lola yesterday. Her hair gets very tangled and full of dreadlocks - so I take out some of my old scissors from my short/ non-existent stent of being a hair dresser and snip away. Gotta get my use out of $600 scissors somewhere!   

I've been seeing these posts for quite a few months and always love reading other bloggers "currentlys". It's ironic because I've been thinking about doing one up and integrating it into my blog (maybe not weekly but on a pretty regular basis) and my buddy Nicole started one up yesterday as well. Great minds think alike. Plus its a known fact that I love lists and planning, so having these all broken down makes me happy too. 

Do you do a "currently"? If so post your links, I'd love to read them. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Buy Handmade v. 43

We are headed to Dublin, Ireland this week.

Name: Karolina 
Age: 31 
Occupation: Ceramicist - designer and maker

Web Site:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I come from a small spa town in the lovely mountain valley in Poland but currently Dublin is my home. I moved to Ireland over seven years ago together with my partner, Jacek. When we came to Ireland, we thought we were only going to stay for the summer, get a summer job and travel around the country, but somehow we kept extending our stay and now we're very much settled on 'the green island'. We live in a tiny cottage house tucked away in a quite cul-de-sac in the heart of the city. Good old Richard the Cat is a very important member of our family; he came to our house one day and after a few extra 'test' visits happily decided to stay with us for good. 

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?

I think I was just born that way. As a child I always loved to get my hands dirty in paint, modelling clay, mud, whatever...

After I finished school I wanted to go to art college but never took the exams as I was confident my portfolio was not good enough.

So I studied to be a teacher, then left for Ireland and while working as a florist took up studying again and graduated to be an interior architect. But in my heart I was still searching for the right, more hands on creative way to express myself. One Christmas Jacek gave me two bags of clay as a present... that's how it all started... my great adventure with ceramics. I thought myself how to work with clay from books, internet, through advice of a few people I know and who also do pottery, and mainly through experiment- plenty of failures and some happy successful trials.

I started Etsy shop over two years ago because I wanted to see what other people think of my work.
A timid idea that ceramics could maybe become a real occupation rather than a mere hobby started sprouting in my head...

... first few Etsy sales made me so excited and motivated me so much, I started to think it is worth to give it a try and do I love to earn my living.

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?

It's a simple combination of the my nick name, Karo and word 'art'. It is short and simple, personal as it refers to my name , and sounds quite strong. 

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?

karoArt is my full time job and Etsy is one of the great channels I use to show and sell my work. I also have my work displayed in a few arty shops around Ireland and do some markets, fairs and craft shows throughout the year.

How would you describe your creative process?

Very spontaneous and unorganized. The initial ideas come to me out of the blue, very often early in the morning, right after I wake up. I carry the new concept in my head; I keep rethinking it while working away in my studio, I look for inspiration in books, on Pinterest, I make simple sketches and finally give it a try and make a piece if I think I'm ready. Sometimes it's an instant process that only takes a day or two. Other times, it needs more time to grow and evolve, and I then carry the idea in me for months on end. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Nature is a big one for me as there is nothing more perfect or elaborate. I often find inspiration in everyday life. I get quite excited about simple things; it may be a well designed tea packaging or someone's brightly pink tights out in the street. It's little things that trigger my mind. Colour is definitely an important stimulus, also textures make big impression on me. I like magical realism and the whimsical against simple and minimalist design.  

Do you also sell your work at craft shows? 

I do two big shows in Dublin. 

Bloom is an early summer gardening festival taking place in a huge park in the heart of the city. The second one is The National Craft and Design Fair and takes place early December. It is probably the biggest event of this kind promoting craft in Ireland. I also travel to across the country to Galway to do newly established Potters Market that gathers together over 20 ceramicist from around Ireland. 

• How long does it take you to prepare for a show? Do you have any special methods of getting ready?

It is hours, days and even months of extremely hard work. I start by tracing my sales from previous year to see what products sold best and draw up an exact list of how many of each piece I would like to make. I estimate the making time and order a bulk of pottery supplies to have them ready at hand. Then I basically lock myself up in the studio and follow the list of things to do... I do not usually allow myself to design and test new designs during those busy times as it might prove very counterproductive and interfere with my 'to do' list. So the preparation for the shows time is not a creative time; it is however, a great way to improve and master the purely technical and manual skills.

Describe an experience from a show (good or bad) and why that pushes you to continue with your work 

Regardless of the extremely hard work, I really enjoy doing big shows. It gives a great opportunity to meet the customers in person and I think both sides benefit from such an encounter. I emerge from my lonely 'cave', put a nice dress on and enjoy the buzz of such events while the customers simply love to meet the maker!  It is the best opportunity to build a local customer base by directing people to my website, Etsy shop, 'my' local shops, and growing a list of newsletter subscribers. Also, there is no better way to test your product; you get an honest feedback straight in your face.

What is your most cherished handmade item?

Oh, have quite a few... I quite often bring them from my travels as a reminder of places I've been to. I have the most fabulous hand-felted coat I have fallen in love with in Iceland, a beautiful green wooly sheep by Tissa Gibbons who greets everyone coming into our house and Cyril squirrel-fox by Donna Wilson who sits in our armchair. I could go on for a while...

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?

Me and Jacek, we're both cinema lovers so we go to see the movies quite a lot and also watch them at home in the evenings. In the wintertime I take out a box with all episodes of my favorite TV series, Northern Exposure, and watch them one after another- I never seem to get bored with it. I like cycling to work and around Dublin on my very old bike. I love a good book- I often read during the lunchtime giving myself a nice rest during a working day. 

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be and why?

I would not want to be anyone else, at least for now.

Five years from now you will be…

I have no idea. i'm not very good at making far fetched plans.

Describe yourself in five words:

I think I am a shy, stubborn, hardworking introvert. 

Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your <insert whatever type of music player you use here>, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?

Gaba Kulka (amazing Polish singer and songwriter)

Charlotte Geinsborough
Tom Waits
Kate Bush
Radio- I am a real radio addict!

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?

Just go for it! It is hard work but the feeling of satisfaction compensates a lot. It is really worth an effort.