Monday, April 26, 2010

Member Story - Charming Prints

Charmingprints makes some amazing quilts!  She's taken a break from quilting just long enough to share her story!

Charmingprints Story:

I have always loved making and creating things, and doing artistic crafts. I fell away from it though while I was in military college and the Navy. When I finished my term, I began to work for a Fortune 50 company in retail distribution, while beginning my family. I met a great lady when my daughter was young and we began to spend time together during the day (I was working nights). She showed me how to quilt, make jam and raise chickens. I have since lost touch with her, but I will never forget the skills she taught me and the friendship we shared. Over the years I made quilts for family members and friends, to bring peace of mind from the empty career I was trying to build.

I've lived in many states between that company and the next one I worked for (same scenario, different corporation). By November 2009, I was managing a 1.4 million square foot distribution center full of import products, to be distributed to the 301 stores my building serviced. My annual P&L was $328 million and I had up to 180 staff. But I was also a single mother with 2 daughters, and an 83 mile commute each way. I was bordering on miserable trying to balace work, life and that horrendous commute.

My boss allowed me to work from home part of the time, which was helpful. Until November 12th, 2009 when he fired me for attendance (not showing up for work). I was shocked, but not. Relieved but scared. I was overjoyed but terrified at the prospect that I had to make a decision about what to do next.

I can't even stomach the thought of going back to an office job, commuting or wearing a suit. Fortunately, I still have some time and savings to pursue this dream. The dream of raising my girls, not letting a daycare's minimum wage workers do it for me. The dream of supporting myself and my family, without having to support something I don't believe in and feel spiritually stripped at the end of every day.

I had to put my fear in my back pocket and sit on it. I had to overcome my anxiety about what tomorrow might hold and embrace the excitement of that prospect. I didn't want to show my girls that I would not be so easily defeated; that I planned well and could and would thrive from this blessing in disguise. So here we are.
 Visit her shop today!  Charmingprints

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Member Story - Sewinmachine

Here's a wonderful Etsy shop that sells unique and very functional ipod covers! 

Thanks to Sewinmachine's Jennifer Waldron for sharing her story:

Art is the first thing I remember being good at doing. I have always loved art and crafts. In the past I have drawn, painted, made pottery, 3d glass paintings, and photography. I have also taught myself how to knit, crochet, and sew.

I currently sew handmade iPod and cell phone cases out of eco-fi felt, which is made from 100% post consumer recycled plastic bottles. Cases are hand sewn and bring a smile to your face with their happy animal designs.

I have been working since I was 15 years old. Even throughout college I kept at least 2 steady part time jobs. I graduated in 2007 and planted myself my dream job as a first grade teacher in Monterey County. Teaching isn’t as easy as you would think, but I loved my job, especially the kids. In Feb. 2009, I found out that due to budget cuts I would not be rehired for the following school year. I became very depressed and didn’t know what my next step in life would be. I moved to Northern California to live with my boyfriend while he finishes up college, he will be graduating in May.
While shopping for our new apartment at Ikea, I came across an awesome orange and black bird fabric that I just couldn’t live without. I decided I wanted to make it into a purse and taught myself how to sew. The purse idea slowly evolved into ipod cases and then Sewinmachin was born! I love my new job!! My boyfriend is a full time student, so Sewinmachine along with my unemployment check (which expires in May) supports us right now!

Loosing my job was very hard for me. I felt like all of my life long dreams were crushed and that I would never be able to pick myself back up, but I have… in a way that I never though possible. If you are in a similar position, you can turn your life around too, just do what you love and keep with your craft!

Visit her shop today! Sewinmachine

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Member Story-Jillian Guarco

Jillian Guarco has shared her story!

What kind of art/craft do you do?

I work mostly with Polaroids, making collaged images. It's all about experimenting, manipulating, and playing with the film. I use the images as prints and most recently window ornaments and earrings. I also do tons of mixed media and some digital photo stuff. My past work includes 4x5 film and a digital series called "the bug collection" where i made dioramas and used real insects. My website is:

How did you get interested in it?

I loved photography in high school, it was the only thing that made me keep showing up. I'd skip classes to use the darkroom. I eventually went to college for it, initially to study documentary and photo journalism. I wanted to change the world. I still want to change the world, but I do so with art instead with social documentary. The concept still seeps in though at times. Maybe now it's more social commentary. ;)
It was easy for me to get hooked on Polaroid’s. They were instant, and this was during the times when digital was just coming out, and I was very much a film snob. I still love Polaroid for the same reasons- its instant gratification. I get impatient. I work with them "hands on". Many times they are mistaken for Photoshop, but I can't bare sitting in front of the computer for long periods of time. I only use Photoshop for printing the Polaroid images. Sometimes I go as far as color correction. But most don't need anything at all.

How long have you been crafting?

I guess my whole life, but I didn’t take it seriously until a few years ago. I always made art, but crafting is a little different. It's more therapeutic. I get crazy in the head when I make the "art"- the actual images, but when I’m making the crafts (like the window ornaments), I relax. Listen to music, breathe, think clearly. It saves me from being nutso all the time.

What was your day job and what happened?

I had moved from San Francisco to Athens, GA and it took me forever to find a job. I finally found one screen-printing and worked there for about 1 1/2 years. Then business slowed and eventually came to a halt. I was laid off. I collected a small unemployment check and worked odd jobs. I tried to do things I never had time for- read, make stuff, hang out with friends. But it all made me feel guilty, and I tried to find work, but nothing was working out. I took a deep breathe and started making stuff full time. What else was I going to do? I was a stress ball. I had always participated in craft shows during the holidays, so I started seeking out ones that happened during the rest of the year.

How did you turn a negative to a positive?

I took the unemployment as a sign that I should follow my passion and heart. It isn’t easy- when the phrase "starving artist" is thrown around all the time. No one thinks it's possible, sometimes it's hard for me to think it's possible. But the world is changing. People like handmade things. There is more appreciation, people are starting to see it as a career and job and not just a hobby. But I guess it's easier to go full force into it, when you are actually starving! It puts more intensity behind it all. Instead of being afraid of failure, there is just no failure option. You make it work because you HAVE to. But it gets tricky. You don’t want to sacrifice your artistic integrity. You have to keep being yourself and stay honest and true to your unique creativity. I make things that I like to have in my house. Not what I think other people want to have in their house. It can be confusing and daunting, but I believe people can tell when you ardent sincere. And when art isn’t sincere and from the heart, well then buyers might as well go to Wal-Mart to buy stuff to hang in their house.

What affect has it had on you and your art/craft?

At first I was creating depressed and worried. I even began hating my own images. But I worked on my insides and my frame of mind. Then I began to play again. Experiment, embrace mess ups and accidents, thought more about what I could offer the world. I began to believe that it was all going to work out. I couldn’t stop creating if I tried, so why not have fun with it. Not many people have the guts to wake up everyday and be themselves, and then put it out there for everyone to see. That is an art in itself. I'm so proud to be an artist, even if that means I’m poor. I can sit and work alone for hours and I’m comfortable in my own skin. That's a huge challenge for some people. I'm happy more and more people are doing it. It makes the world a better place.

What would you like to tell others who are going through the same things?

Deep breathe. Everything happens for a reason. We don't always get what we want, but we always get what we need. Believe that, and it will be true. And then keep creating. Don't be hard on yourself, but work hard. Cut yourself some slack, but don't slack off. When you're struggling, make contact with another artist so you don't feel alone. We all feel it. We can all use some encouragement and reassurance. And we will all get through it. You have enough guts to live a life creating, even when it doesn’t pay. See the courage in that! Some people were meant to be doctors, others were meant to be artists. Be an artist! Action.
Visit her Etsy shop: Jillian Guarco