Saturday, July 30, 2011

Our ChYMieRa speaks!!

If you've been on our team forum (which you should be!) I'm sure you've met ChYMieRa, our team leader who has been creating our treasury challenges and generously donating some of her handmade jewelry pieces to the winners. I hope you've treated yourself to a visit to her shop! ChYMieRa is also the name of her own brand of handmade, one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry. Her pieces incorporate a wide range of techniques and materials, from vintage to found objects to gemstones and raw materials such as teeth and bone.

ChY has been such a team player, stepping in as a leader and working hard on team business, all the while managing her own very successful Etsy shop, a family with four boys (!), as well as another full-time job! She has that elusive mix of skills we all need - both a talented artist and tireless promoter. And ChY is *always* there to answer a question or lend a hand. I'm in awe of this lovely woman!!!

It's high time we got to know more about her and her secrets, don't you think??? Here we go...

Dru: tell us about yourself, the mysterious force of nature known as ChYMieRa!

ChY: ~ I have never considered myself to be mysterious. Weird is more like it, and passionate. Passionate about anything that I care about, but able to turn a blind eye on things that bother me, because really, life is just too short.

Whenever someone would look down upon or judge me, it makes me rise above & be better, better than me, better than them.

I am unselfish & very giving, and I love to prove a point.

My husband calls me righteous, he tells me I have a fire within me.

To me, its more like passion or compassion. I hate bullies and I stick up for the underdog- always.

And I'm not afraid to stand up for what is right, even if I stand alone.

I generally play well with others, and when I make a friend they will be a friend for life.

Dru: how did you get your start making jewelry?

ChY: ~ I started making jewelry a few years after I started making teeth [aside: this is ChY's day job!] -- making gold teeth or a gold ring is the exact same process. There were so many experiments, I was like a mad scientist! So, even though I had schooling for teeth making, I learned how to make jewelry & set stones all on my own.

I had been doing that for several years for family & friends. One day, my neighbor told me about Etsy, it was love at first click. I knew this could be a wonderful place for me to sell my "hobby".

My art inspirations:

~ In my younger years, I was drawn to horror, vampire and macabre flicks. They evoked in me & still do, some primal force.

It's that odd, dark energy that inspires me to create macabre & creepy items.

I am also a huge fan of nature. I could be driving down the road and see a gorgeous sunset behind a weeping willow tree and be inspired to make some jewelry representing that.

My life inspirations:

~ First and foremost, my children (4 boys) are my biggest inspirations.

I always wanted them to have the best, so that meant a lot of sacrificing & hard work for me. Whenever something gets me down, all I need to think about are my kids, and then it's all good.

They are my world.

I'm also inspired to be better when a curve ball gets thrown my way.

There is always a silver lining behind every black cloud!

Drops of Saturn and Honey

Dru: what's a typical day like for you? (and how does Etsy fit into your life?)

ChY: Anywhere between 8 and 11 a.m., I will get out of bed. My day will always start with a good cup of Joe. When I'm fully awake and dressed, I check my stocks. Then I check Etsy, then my email. I cut checking facebook out, too easy to get sucked in. If I made jewelry the night before, I try to take photos in the morning light.

If I have sold something on Etsy, I will print the order, package it, stick it in my handy dandy mailing bag ( One large sturdy brown paper bag with handles, courtesy of American Eagle) and put the bag at the 'bus stop' so I can grab it on the way out. The 'bus stop' is a bench I built several years ago. It's long, wide & opens for storage. This is where coats, purses, keys, backpacks, mail, you name it gets thrown on their way out or in. Then I head to work. That could be anywhere from a 2 to 10 hour day. During sports seasons, I have to leave work early. 4 boys? Yeah you know we play sports! Then night rolls around and I check emails, etsy, etc... , by 11 p.m. my husband is telling me to go get some rest. I end up getting to sleep around 2 or 3 a.m. because something inspired me to make a piece of jewelry.

Dru: do you have any goals in mind for your Etsy business, or the Folk Reveries team?

ChY: ~ I try not to set goals. I tend to roll with the punches and take whatever life hands out to me - good or bad. To be honest, I am quite surprised at how lucrative creativity can be. When I first opened my shop on Etsy, I would go "squeee!" if I had a sale a week. Those days are over. Without divulging any stats, let's just say, doing this well with my art, makes me keep wanting to do.

When and if I decide to retire from the teeth business, Etsy could definitely be an after retirement income. As far as the Folk Reveries team, like I said before, I am very giving and I enjoy being part of something. I think it is a fabulous team with many diverse talents. I would love someday to maybe see a Folk Reveries gathering. A collective, if you will where all the active team shops come together and offer a wide array of products. Not necessarily an actual brick & mortar, but somewhat a virtual one.

Bite the Bullet

Dru: Love that idea! What first attracted you to Folk Reveries?

ChY: ~ I had been invited to them team about a year ago, before the teams became self supportive & active. But during the transition from the Etsy admin control, I somehow got lost. It took me a few months to realize it , and when I did, I asked to come back aboard. What still attracts me to the team is the personalization between everyone. There is a good number of members, but as far as the continuously active member ie: those who post in the forums, promote or make treasuries, we began to recognize each other by name. Then from there we begin to know each others lives, what we did that day, what our kids did and so on. And I love that personal feel. I'm not a clingy person at all, it's just that when I really like or respect someone they truly will know it.

I Am Coming To You

Dru: what advice would you give to new artists and team members?

ChY: When I first started the ChYMieRa shop, it took a while for me to get some sales. It is very hard to sell handmade products when you are new and have little to no feedback, so I started with selling things that I knew would sell -- antiques.

It built up some good feedback for me. Once I started listing handmade jewelry, I still occasionally listed antiques to keep views coming to the shop.

I also promoted all my handmade things. Networked to friends, family and so on. I still have to promote, but on a different level. I now pay for advertising, because the shop revenue allows for it.

My best advice for any anyone wanting to be on a team is- as a team member, become involved. Lots of times I sell things to my team mates when I am having a sale, because they are really the first ones to know of it if you post it in the forums. Start a facebook page and list one or two items a day. Connect with other local artists or actual shops to see if they do consignment. But most of all, do not give up. Starting a business is so hard, and sometimes it seems like it will just never grow. Keep your chin up, promote & when and if you have a sale, send a card with a certain percent off for their next order. You will often have repeat customers when doing this.

Lucian's Castle

What a fierce and cheeky perspective she has, wouldn't you agree?! Please join me in thanking ChY for this interview, and everything she does for us!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

interview with cathy cullis!

I've long been a follower of artist and team member Cathy Cullis. Cathy is a prolific and established artist who moves (seemingly effortlessly) among a myriad of media, including painting, embroidery, pottery and even poetry, and maintains her own style unique throughout. Her work has a quietness, a playfulness, and yet also a haunting quality. The juxtaposition is profound, and also I find her blog quite addictive. She is also currently Etsy's featured seller. She has much to teach us, and she kindly agreed to an interview just for folk reveries.

Dru: how long have you been a (full-time, or mostly full-time?) artist?

Cathy: I have worked creatively for many years, but 'officially speaking' I became a self-employed art person in 2005. Prior to that I was a full-time mother to two small children and prior to that an editor of a literary magazine, and prior to that a student! Looking back it all merges, because as a young mum I was making things, I had little projects always starting and my creative life revolved around nap times.

Dru: you are so unique in how many media you work in! how do you choose and manage so many talents, and sets of tools and materials? what kinds of synergies does mixing media open up for you artistically?

Cathy: Possibly, there are many contemporary artists who like to try different tactile materials and ways of speaking. I find I need to shift, I like the rhythm of working from one thing to the next. The ideas continue to evolve but you are holding different materials in your hand.... one day a needle and thread, the next a paint brush maybe, but the voice is the same.... or the thumbprint is the same.... And the happy overlaps begin, I might pull something out from a time before and marry ideas or actually merge materials....

As for organising my work, I have really reduced the 'stuff' I have around me in recent times. I have become far interested in clutter than I used to be. So I have a bureau with drawers for materials and when I am not working on a particular media that all gets packed away into a box, put into the garage or elsewhere. I make plans and projects but I don't necessarily stick to them too rigidly.

Dru: in one interview, you mentioned creativity as a way of building up self-worth and finding one's voice. this is part of my journey and i was hoping you could you say more about this process?

Cathy: I know it has been said before by many artists, of all kinds, but creativity is never to be undervalued, especially when moving through difficult periods and changes in life.... I have told before of how I went through an emotionally challenging period, beginning six, seven years ago - and really, quite simply just 'making things' helped me keep my chin above water.

The process of creating, anything from the heart, can be part of a healing..... sharing work is another dimension to that and of course selling gives an exact opportunity to feel some personal success in all of it..... When I was really low and bleak-thinking, I had a few scraps of fabric and I started to make things, and encouraged by a few good friends, I continued to make things....

Of course finding a voice that is authentic - that may be a hit and miss, or twisted journey process.... start by making what you like and then discover what it is you are saying that is your own.... that is how it happened for me.... now I make things that are 'mine' without worrying about influences and strategies, but it has been a journey of finding out how to do just that....

Dru: what does a usual day look like for you? (also, do you have a typical schedule for your studio practice?)

Cathy: I have a busy family life, with school age children, but this is also a great advantage - as the school day gives me a structure to work around. And my working does not stop when the children are home. Infact I sometimes find my best ideas and work coming through when they are right by, and they are my best critics. I plan my week, but only tentatively, because I never know what will really happen in life or creatively.

I like to work early in the mornings and then I find my creative momentum tends to return just as I am cooking our evening meal! I don't like cooking, so the art wins....

Dru: many of our team members are young artists and new etsy-ers. what would your "letters to a young artist" say?

Cathy: Expect to work and work before you feel you are making something authentically your own - but don't see that as a mountain to climb, see it as a really exciting journey. Perhaps from the start of things you have always felt you are making 'your own mark', and that is good. Continue on and don't be surprised by change.

As for practical ways of marketing your work and so on - there are great resources on Etsy etc... of course.

There can be a 'mystique' around making art and making things that are a bit different. Enjoy this. Live an artistic life all the way through, from how you decorate your home to how you talk to others and just go for it - enjoy.

Don't you just love this advice? I for one am going to take this advice to heart! Thanks so much Cathy!

For a wonderful sampling of Cathy's work, check out the zine that she's created of prose-poetry and art. It's called Violet Goodenough... check it out!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

We have our Team treasury Challenge Winners

Here ye, Here ye! We have our team treasury challenge winners! For 1st place~ by folklure You have won a $10 credit to either one of Drucilla's shops here on etsy and you won the ' Folk Reverie' necklace from Chymiera, just come and pick it up and when it asks for form of payment, just click "other" I will mark as paid & ship to you!! Congrats!

And for 2nd place~ by poppywomen You have won the Peppermint pixie earrings form Chymiera, just come & pick it up, go thru checkout and when it asks for form of payment, just click "other" and I will mark as paid & ship to you. Congrats!

Drucilla & I have decided that due to everybody's busy summer, we will take a small vacation too from doing the treasury challenges. We hope to resume them sometime in August or September, and will post on the discussion board and on this blog.
Be well, Have a happy & safe summer! xo ~ Chy