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Friday Feature with Nushkie

Tell us little about yourself!
I like to joke that I’m a recovering New Yorker. I live in Los Angeles, (the hot, hot, San Fernando Valley, to be specific), with my husband, my 5 1/2 year-old daughter Eva, Cutie our cat and my ever expanding organic kitchen garden. I grew up in a family of very creative people. My Mom started acting at 55 and was a working actress on TV and in film ’til the day she passed away a few years back. She used to sew all my costumes and many of my clothes growing up…without patterns. When she decided to do something, she did it, and when she decided to fulfill her life-long dream to act, she never let her age or lack of formal training stand in her way. My dad has the entrepreneurial spirit, he always taught my two brothers and me to never take no for an answer. When he decided to stop touring as a jazz pianist and settle down to raise his family, he painted his name on a store and made a deal with the Lowery Organ company (think keyboards, not livers, lol) to loan him one instrument at time until he sold it. Years later he was the number one dealer in the entire US. He always told his sales folks, “Don’t look at your customer with dollar signs in your eyes. Instead think, ‘How am I going to bring music into this person’s life.'” That’s how I run my business; I think, how am I going to bring the most beautifully crafted woolly creations into my customers lives for them to enjoy for generations.

Ok, what I didn’t learn from my folks was how to be short-winded, lol!

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
Through the technique of needle felting, I create soft sculptures (gnomes, sheep, etc), hanging fairies, and three dimensional wall hangings or tapestries, which I have coined, “Sculptural Wool Paintings.” I used the finest wools and other natural fibers I can get my hands on and them poke them with a single barbed needle into magical entities. I have been working in this way since about 2005, but I have been creating all my life. It is really a rediscovery of the visual and tactile arts I studied when I was much younger and utilized as a graphic artist more recently. Over the years, I have pursued many areas of creativity: I am a published writer, have performed theatrically on stage from NY to Edinburgh to Baku and produced my one-woman shows in LA and Amsterdam. I produced three films, starred in Opera, sold movies at Cannes, performed stand-up and hosted a cable tv show…the bizarre list goes on. When I had Eva, and started making her toys and gifts for the teachers at her Waldorf school, I got kind of addicted to this art form. I find it very rewarding to see my creations come to life in my hands and touch the lives of others. The beautiful and heartfelt praise I receive from my beloved customers is very fulfilling; it tells me that my art moves them, and that’s what’s really important to me. The world needs a great deal of healing right now. If my work can inspire the imagination, or simply allow us to see the world through a child’s eyes, perhaps we will find new ways to approach our very adult world problems.

What inspires you?
Elsa Beskow, Sybil Von Olfers, Renoir, August Rodin, the commitment to beauty and natural materials that I share with my fellow Natural Kids Teammates, people who can still be moved by beauty, the innocence and inquisitiveness of children, the buds on my apricot tree, Howard Zinn, Emma Goldman, Isadora Duncan, may daughter, my husband, you for taking the time to ask me these questions!

What got you started working with Needle Felting?

I was at a Waldorf faire, a May Faire, I think. I saw these beautiful little fairies and thought…”I can do that.” So, I went home with some wool and rubbed it a lot and actually made a fairy. My next move was to poke wool with a regular needle, to no avail. I am not one for following directions. I tend to jump right in, so, no, I didn’t have a felting needle and had no idea why I had to buy one til my very brash, hilarious friend Amy told me…”It’s barbed, you idiot.” That was a real “ahah” moment. So, I broke down and spent .60 on a needle and that was that. I was making things for everyone, tapestries, fairies, scarves, purses, hair thingies…I am convinced there is nothing that can not be made from wool! My favorite early project was Eva’s butterfly wings for Halloween four yeas ago. I stabbed, beat, threw in the tub with scolding hot water…I was going to make those wings without asking anyone how if it took me all night…and I did it. Many lessons learned. I guess you can surmise that I have not taken any classes in felting; it is against my nature.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I joined Etsy Feb 8, 2008 after some dabbling on Ebay. This interview comes at my two-year anniversary. It was slow at first, but as I have improved upon my craft and added items to my shop, my business has continually increased. I think folks trust that when they get something from me, they get a box with my integrity wrapped up inside. I will not send anything to anyone that is not my absolute best effort. In this awful recessional time, I probably tripled my autumn/Christmas season this year as compared to last year. I am so grateful for that business!

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

Remember when you create that any kind of creative block is the difference between wanting to be brilliant and the proverbial blank page. Let go of judgment, trying to do it “right,” when you’re creating and your true ideas will manifest. Please stay original, so when that s
ale comes through, you know you own it. There are literally hundreds of thousands of shops just on Etsy they could have shopped at, but they chose yours. It is an honor. Always remember that. Respect your customers and always deliver them your very best. Never take them for granted and communicate with them with gratitude. Several of my customers have become my friends, and isn’t that what having your own one-person shop is all about, relationships you build through your creations? Don’t give up. Start with on item if that’s all you have and just re-list it til you have something else.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?

I really enjoy being part of a group of artists who believe that they, too are part of the healing process in the world. How do they do this? By choosing to work with natural materials that come from the earth and will return to the earth when their time is done…and that time will last for generations! I love that the finished products of their labors are toys, for example, that ignite the imagination. What I gain from this marvelous group is the positive effect of a critical mass of folks creating in this way and promoting together. I have benefited greatly from this association and hope that my participation helps other in the team as well, through promotion, purchases of their work, etc. I love tweeting about my teammates creations, and catching treasuries to feature them when I can. Once I get past all the deadlines that seem to keep popping up, I hope to contribute more by working on the website committee. I also hope the reputation my shop has earned over the past two years will reflect positively by association to all the other teammates. Finally, I have benefited so, by the deep friendships I have made with a few of the members. Thank you!

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

Where do I begin? Children’s minds are rooms with no walls. Every idea, story, instance, taste, smell, etc…that enters the room of the child’s senses is fodder for play, for them to move around the room, turn upside down, dismantle and rebuild. That is how children process and learn. Natural toys ask questions of children, “What am I? How will you play with me?” In this way their rooms, so-to-speak, stay open and continue to expand. The channels between the left and right brain, so needed for both academic and social/emotional “success,” get strengthened, they learn to problem-solve, to create, to apply whatever they have learned elsewhere in their own individual way, and to, well, think! Ingenuity comes from finding a new way to use something; open ended toys give children this opportunity. Conversely, when you offer a toy to a child with rules as to how it is used, or which plays for the child through battery-operated gadgetry, the walls begin to close in around the child
. He/she no longer has to think, to create, to imagine; it is already done. Natural toys also bring the elements of nature, such as wool, silk, wood, etc… to children, gently caressing and encouraging their senses of smell, touch and sight in a way which promotes a calming sense of being part of the world. This adds to greater sensitivity, empathy and social well being; conversely, digitized toys, etc, remove the child from nature, desensitize him or her to touch, sound and smell, and have a more anti social effect, where the child feels more strongly bonded to the lights and sounds than to friends. Open ended, natural toys promote leadership and ingenuity, as the child “owns” how he or she plays; the others promote passivity or aggressiveness, and rule following. It’s hard to be creative when you have to be correct. Though, sometimes at dinner, that’s helpful, lol.

Your items can be found where: http://nushkie.etsy.com

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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Friday Feature with knittingmomma

Tell us a little about yourself!
Well, I am a homemaker first. With six children that learn at home, a wonderful husband of nearly 18 years, and a homestead to keep, I am very busy with our daily life. I have always enjoyed working with my hands – sketching, painting, building, knitting and crocheting. All throughout our home can be found my works in progress. A basket with a sewing project, another basket filled with yarn and knitting needles or a half completed project on a counter. I do my best to weave my handwork throughout our day.


Our family’s primary income is our handwork business. My husband, myself and our children all help to create natural fiber toys and rustic décor.


What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I make mostly hand knit toys and I crochet the bags for our branch toys.
With the birth of each of our children, our family gradually began a process of moving towards a more natural lifestyle. I began to read Mothering magazine and the articles I read spoke to me and I realized that there were alternatives to mainstream living which I didn’t feel comfortable with. As I researched natural living, I was drawn to waldorf education and also the amazingly beautiful, yet simple play things associated with a waldorf inspired home or school. During this time, I created a simple knitting gnome pattern and starting knitting lots for my children and for sale.

What inspires you?
I enjoy the magazine, Living Crafts, looking through the natural toy catalogs and simply searching through etsy to get glimpses of the amazing things others are creating. I also love to watch our children play with the simple open-ended toys that we create. It is wonderfully gratifying to see them create all kinds of scenes with simple branch blocks and some hand knit dolls, for example.


What got you started working with wool and wood?
I knew when I began knitting gnomes that I would only use natural fibers. Wool is my fiber of choice and all of our toys are stuffed with wool roving. As our family began the process of working towards a more simple, homesteading lifestyle we incorporated my husband working with branches to create natural toys for children. What is so wonderful about both of these fibers is that they can be composted – they can be returned to the earth if for some reason they are no longer loved.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you?
I actually began with Etsy shortly after it started in 2005. However, it wasn’t until last year that we began to actually sell in earnest on Etsy and really build our business. It has been amazing for us.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

Don’t expect to sell out your first week, although you certainly could. But realistically, it takes time and effort to begin selling regularly. List or relist products daily and read as many articles that you can in the community section of Etsy.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being a part of the Natural Kids group?
I hope that natural fiber toys, clothing and other goods will become mainstream. My wish is that parents will realize the importance of organic cotton touching their baby’s skin and the importance of only buying items that are made of natural fibers in keeping with being mindful of our earth. As a group, we have the ability to reach a wider audience.

Your items can be found where:
http://knittingmomma.etsy.com

We blog at http://plainandjoyfulliving.blogspot.com

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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Friday Feature with Penguin & Fish

Tell us a bit about yourself– name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.
My name is Alyssa Thomas. I’m 29 years old and I live i
n Minneapolis, Minnesota. I share a 13th floor apartment with my wonderful husband, Jon. Besides Penguin & Fish, we own a company together called Studio Collective (studiocollective.com) where we do illustration, graphic and web design, film titles, and motion graphics. We also just finished our first children’s book, No Monster Here (nomonsterhere.com). It went to the printer last week and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Yippee!

Please describe your creative process–how, when, materials, etc.

My creative process always starts with writing down ideas in my sketchbook right when they come. I only use one sketchbook at a time and I write everything in it – ideas, sketches, to do lists. I also put the date at the top of the page when I use it. Having everything in one book makes it really easy for me to find stuff, even if it was an idea I had a year ago. After writing down my idea, I’ll sketch it out. With my embroidery patterns, I’ll sketch out designs to a point but then I’ll bring them into Adobe Illustrator to refine them. For a plush character, after sketching I will try to make a little mock-up in paper. Once I like that mock-up I will make one in fabric, make notes where I want to refine it, then I’ll usually end up with a final piece after that.

What are your sources of inspiration?

I can get inspiration from anything, but animals (especially cats and my parent’s cat, Sammy) are a big one for me. I love that you never know quite what they’re thinking.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

I really love this teddy bear that my husband made for me. It was his first time using a sewing machine and the bear turned out super wonky and the stitches are all crazy. But it was so sweet of him to make it. In the image of my studio space, it is the white bear with the pink “A” on the top of the shelf.

Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, etc.

Hmm, this is a tough one for me. I don’t know if I’ll have a top 5 for each but here are a few. Books: 1984, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Watchmen; Movies: Oh Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski, High Fidelity, Dirty Dancing, The Never Ending Story; Music: The Flaming Lips, Andrew Bird. Honestly I don’t listen to too much music. When I work I like listening to NPR or Craft Sanity Podcasts.

What advice would you give to someone just getting started with their crafty business–on Etsy or otherwise?

Really I think one of the biggest things I could say is save up as much money as you can. Knowing that you have a little saved up makes it WAY less scary to try and do what you really want to.

Where can your items be found?

My Etsy shop (http://penguinandfish.etsy.com) is the main place where my items can be found. I also have items at Fawn & Forest, Mahar Drygoods, Craftsbury Kids, Egg Mercantile, Happy Baby, Design Collective and The Pajama Squid.

Interview by MoonpathDesigns

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Friday Feature with Penguin & Fish

Tell us a bit about yourself– name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.
My name is Alyssa Thomas. I’m 29 years old and I live i
n Minneapolis, Minnesota. I share a 13th floor apartment with my wonderful husband, Jon. Besides Penguin & Fish, we own a company together called Studio Collective (studiocollective.com) where we do illustration, graphic and web design, film titles, and motion graphics. We also just finished our first children’s book, No Monster Here (nomonsterhere.com). It went to the printer last week and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Yippee!

Please describe your creative process–how, when, materials, etc.

My creative process always starts with writing down ideas in my sketchbook right when they come. I only use one sketchbook at a time and I write everything in it – ideas, sketches, to do lists. I also put the date at the top of the page when I use it. Having everything in one book makes it really easy for me to find stuff, even if it was an idea I had a year ago. After writing down my idea, I’ll sketch it out. With my embroidery patterns, I’ll sketch out designs to a point but then I’ll bring them into Adobe Illustrator to refine them. For a plush character, after sketching I will try to make a little mock-up in paper. Once I like that mock-up I will make one in fabric, make notes where I want to refine it, then I’ll usually end up with a final piece after that.

What are your sources of inspiration?

I can get inspiration from anything, but animals (especially cats and my parent’s cat, Sammy) are a big one for me. I love that you never know quite what they’re thinking.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

I really love this teddy bear that my husband made for me. It was his first time using a sewing machine and the bear turned out super wonky and the stitches are all crazy. But it was so sweet of him to make it. In the image of my studio space, it is the white bear with the pink “A” on the top of the shelf.

Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, etc.

Hmm, this is a tough one for me. I don’t know if I’ll have a top 5 for each but here are a few. Books: 1984, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Watchmen; Movies: Oh Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski, High Fidelity, Dirty Dancing, The Never Ending Story; Music: The Flaming Lips, Andrew Bird. Honestly I don’t listen to too much music. When I work I like listening to NPR or Craft Sanity Podcasts.

What advice would you give to someone just getting started with their crafty business–on Etsy or otherwise?

Really I think one of the biggest things I could say is save up as much money as you can. Knowing that you have a little saved up makes it WAY less scary to try and do what you really want to.

Where can your items be found?

My Etsy shop (http://penguinandfish.etsy.com) is the main place where my items can be found. I also have items at Fawn & Forest, Mahar Drygoods, Craftsbury Kids, Egg Mercantile, Happy Baby, Design Collective and The Pajama Squid.

Interview by MoonpathDesigns

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Friday Feature with Threepetals

Tell us a little about yourself..

I am an artist….seeing that sentence written out like that still “gets me”! It’s taken such a long time to allow my hand to write it! But it is easier now to accept it and squirm a bit under its weight, than to continue to justify why I could never use that label. I may never be a great artist, (and some days, not even a GOOD one), but I have to own up to it—artist….I’m an artist.

What do you make? How long have you been crafting?
I have been creating, for the sake of creation, my entire life, really. I was a quiet child, drawn to creative people, and effervescing with creative energy. And fortunately, although I was rather “odd” as a child, the people who loved me continued to encourage me to create—-write poetry and short stories, paint, sketch, sew, build, and recreate! Since my most astounding creation to date (3 amazing children: Edie, Owen, and Liam) I have focused most of my creative energy on them—homeschooling, loving, living and creating with, for and around them!


What inspires your creations? What started you working with fiber and fabrics? How long have you been on Etsy? Most of their toys are made with “natural” materials, and I have so loved the relationships my kids have developed with these toys, that I began making many of their toys myself. I love finding new fibers and fabrics to work with! But wool and cotton are still my favorites, by far!
Such warmth goes into and is exuded from these fibers! And I see in the way my children play with toys made from these fibers, just how drawn to nature they really are, and how much they get out of playing with elements of nature. Magical, really!
After I’d been making little gnomes and fairies, and pouches and what not for my kids and for their friends’ birthdays etc, I had a few people ask me where they could buy more items similar in nature. This eventually led to a few conversations with other moms who had started their own Etsy shops…..And , after MUCH mulling over and hesitation, I finally decided to give it a shot! And while it still feels a bit strange to sell an item rather than just give it as a gift, I have to say I am loving Etsy! I opened my shop in September 2008, and have learned and grown a great deal as an artist and as an entrepreneur since then!


Do you have any advice for fellow Etsians?
My greatest advice where Etsy is concerned is “Go for it!!” The cost is minimal, the effort is as great or as little as you want to or can exert, the experience is informative, and the reward can truly be great! If you’re wondering if your items are “good enough”, go ahead and try anyway! You just may sell something while you’re trying to figure that out!

What do you hope to learn/gain from the Naturals Kids Group?
I am so excited to be part of this group! How wonderful to feel such kinship with so many other artists! I have wanted my kids and myself to be part of a “community” like this since I first started having them!

Where can your items be found?
Aside from a couple of local craft shows I do with my home school co-op, I only sell items on Etsy at this time. My husband and I are currently renovating his grandfather’s old jewelry making shop in West Virginia, however, and are hoping to open a small retail establishment in the next year.

You can view some of Carrie’s creations at http://www.threepetals.etsy.com

Interview by Ecoleeko

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Another book review..

My daughter turned 5 last June and one of my dear friends gifted us this great book called “Fanny” by Holly Hobbie.  It was truly the perfect book for us and has quickly became most requested.  We LOVE this book!

There are many reasons why I love making dolls for my kids but the main one is giving them age appropriate dolls to play with.  I have made a decision to not have certain ‘dolls’ (rhymes with smartie!) in our house.  My girly has discovered them at friends houses and of course thinks they are pretty fascinating!  I have explained to her that I don’t like those dolls with reasons such as too much make-up, too grown-up, etc.  This is just me, I totally respect other peoples decisions but this is what works for us.  
This book was so appropriate I couldn’t believe it and neither could my daughter.  As we read it together the first time, she looked at me in amazement as certain parts were actual conversations we have had, including the wee sewing machine I gave to her for her birthday!  
The little girl, Fanny, really wants a ‘Connie’ doll but her mom doesn’t like them.  So Fanny decides to make her own doll.  I don’t want to spoil it for you but it really is a wonderful story with great pictures and deals well with issues such as individuality and imagination.  We really love this book and my daughter was totally fine with finding a new home for the plastic doll she was given for her birthday.  Amazing!  The wonderful part about this book is it doesn’t come across all preachy like it could.  It really is a sweet story, enjoy!
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Friday Interview


It’s time for another Friday interview! This time it’s with one of our new team leaders, Dannielle of the shop Princess Nimble Thimble . Dannielle is the head of the Membership committee and has a wonderful shop full of magical little people. So let’s get to know her a bit better…

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?
I live in St. Louis, MO, with my husband and two children. We’re a homeschooling family so my focus tends to be on my children. Creating dolls and toys is, for me, a very natural extension of this focus.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?
For the past six months or so I’ve been pretty much making bendy dolls exclusively. I don’t know if it’s due to the current state of the economy or if they’ve just caught on but that’s where the demand has been. Luckily I never seem to get bored with them.
I also make larger Waldorf-inspired dolls, nature table dolls, felt animals, and I’m working on preparing my felt animal patterns for sale in the near future.

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft? I suppose I would have to say my husband because he always indulges my desire for more supplies and crafty books.

Where do you get your inspiration? Goodness, I find inspiration so many places. I love a good crafty book. They always get my creative juices flowing. New supplies inspire me, too.
I would have to say my best source of inspiration is my customers. I am sometimes asked to create things that are just outside my comfort zone as well as things that I had never thought to make. My customers have the best ideas!
What are your favorite materials?

I adore wool felt. Hands down it’s my favorite material. And, of course, I love my DMC embroidery floss. They just go together and always provide me with endless inspiration.

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?
Goodness, I could go on and on. I’d start with, “Go for it!” for those interested in starting a shop. I suppose I’d end with, “Always put your heart into it, always be completely honest, and always provide excellent customer service.”.

What advice would you give to beginners in your main craft?
This advice would really apply to any craft but, “Be patient.” is what has served me well. Be patient while your reputation develops and people get to know you. Be patient while you grow in your craft.
If someone is a beginner at making dolls similar to those I make patience is definitely required. They definitely take their fair share of practice in the beginning.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you? My Etsy shop, Princess Nimble-Thimble, is found at www.PrincessNimbleThimble.com. Right now Etsy is my only venue though I hope to soon join my NaturalKids teammates at our HyenaCart shop, http://hyenacart.com/naturalkids/.

Thanks so much for sharing Dannielle!!
-Cyn
The Fairies’ Nest

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Friday Feature with Maple Shade Kids


Tell us about yourself and how you became an artist..

My name is Wanda Hirsch and I live in Derry, New Hampshire with my 4 business partners.
• My husband, who is my patient teacher, providing me with all the skills needed to use saws, drills, and power tools.

• My 8-year old daughter, who is a great source of inspiration and full of wonderful advice. She is still asking for business cards with her name on them. ☺
• My 5 year old identical twin boys, who always provide me great feedback along with lots of wonderful hugs when I am feeling a bit
tired.

Growing Up
As a child, I grew up in rural Maine clim
bing apple trees, skipping stones, balancing on old rock walls, and creating lots of gifts for family members. These gifts ranged from paintings and collages to wood boxes and baskets – you name it, I did it. My most precious creation, to this point, was a painting of my grandfather’s childhood farmhouse (very amateur I must admit). However, it was hung proudly in my grandparent’s home until they passed away and now hangs in my mom’s home. My grandfather used to say he wouldn’t sell it if someone had offered him a million dollars. This filled me with such joy! This is the same feeling I have today when I send one of my products to a mom creating a special nursery or a parent and child working on a “big kids” room.

An Artist? I would call myself a designer and creator. I have a degree in nutrition and worked several years as a Registered Dietitian. First, working in a hospital, then teaching low-income inner city moms, and lastly working on a breast cancer research study. It was 6 years ago that we moved into our 1830’s New England farmhouse and I rekindled my passion for designing and creating. With lots of imagination, a little non-toxic paint and colorful papers, I was able to transform neglected bedrooms and old dressers into creative, fun designs that my children adore. When I started “redesigning” my children’s bedrooms and furniture, I knew it was time to extend my craving for design into products for others. So, here I am designing, creating and loving life!



Tell us about Maple Shade Kids and What you make and sell?

At Maple Shade Kids you will find unique, earth friendly wooden children’s décor and art. In my designs, I strive to elicit joy, nature and love by combining the natural beauty of wood grains along with fun patterns and colors in paper. This combination creates such a happy and organic feel.



How did you become inspired to make your wares?

My motivation to create comes from my desire to bring a little bit of love and happiness to a person’s home. I tell my husband if we ever become independently rich (yeah right!), I will continue to create, but give my products away. It fills me with so much pleasure to know that I can bring a smile to someone’s face. I get excited to take a beautiful piece of wood, turn it into something that is fun and unique and have it placed into a special child’s room.

I’m inspired by beautiful paper, colorful fabric, the beautiful 200 year old maple trees surrounding our home, the little critters living in them and many amazing children’s illustrators. My children have learned that it can take a bit of time to get through our nighttime ritual of reading books as I often stop on each page and think out loud of the how the colors and textures work together. I’ve rubbed off on them as you will often hear them say things like, “Mommy, look how beautiful this picture is. I just love the colors!”

What are the materials you use in your products?

My products are created from a combination of FSC-certified wood and rescued wood. FSC certified wood is sustainably harvested wood coming from well managed forests and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC works to eliminate habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous people and violence against people and wildlife. Most of the rescued wood I use in my designs comes from a ship builder’s scrap pile. .


Any Advice for anyone interested in starting to sell on Etsy?

Etsy is the perfect place to set up shop and try selling your handcrafted products, vintage items or crafting supplies. It is full of so much support and community! I would recommend that anyone interested check out “The Etsy Seller’s Handbook”. It is full of great information, both for the newbie, (which I still consider myself) and the veteran seller. You can find it at:
http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/the-etsy-seller-handbook-all-our-how-tos-about-
selling-2383/

My personal advice:
• Create a product that you love and that makes you proud.
• Learn how to take great pictures. Pictures are so important when it comes to selling on-line. Again, refer to the Etsy Seller’s Handbook for some great picture taking tips!
• Think of the whole package! Packaging is the extension of your product. Give your customers a feeling they are receiving a gift versus just a product. Try to put as much love and thought into your packaging as you do your product. Carefully wrap each purchase, enclose a personal thank you letter or card, and maybe give them a small gift letting them know how much you appreciate their business. I believe this type of care and concern, along with a quality product, is what brings customers back.
• Find balance. Don’t work too hard or too little, write lists, set small daily goals, and have fun!

Where can people find you and your products?

Currently, I am strictly selling on Etsy. It’s perfect for me, and fits into my lifestyle beautifully!

Any easy Earth day tips you want to share?

Avoid harmful cleaning products
• Along with spring, comes spring cleaning (who has time, right?). Well, if you do get the spring cleaning bug, try to ditch the harmful chemicals. Vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean almost anything. Mix in a little warm water with either of these and you’ve got yourself an all-purpose cleaner.
Avoid buying plastic water bottles.
• Billions of plastic bottles are thrown in the trash each year and take up valuable landfill. Save some money AND the environment by drinking from the tap. If you are travelling, use a steel water bottle filled with tap water.
Buy organic.
• Try to buy organic when you are able. It isn’t just about avoiding the yucky pesticides that can make us sick. It is also about helping protect our waters and soil, and about creating a healthier environment.
Use reusable sandwich bags/containers
• If possible, avoid or decrease the use of plastic baggies. There are lots of icky toxic chemicals needed to make them and it takes lots of energy to manufacture and transport them. Instead, opt for reusable containers and/or earth friendly reusable sandwich/snack bags. They are available in so many fun colors! Etsy has some great options to choose from.
Reuse
• Think twice before buying new. I have to confess: One of my favorite pastimes is turning worn furniture, sometime left on the curbside for trash, into pieces I love. Our home is filled with reused stuff. My grandfather’s old wood desk now is my “business station”. An old kitchen table (that came with the house) now works as my art work table. An old buffet from my grandfather’s farmhouse is now painted sunshine yellow and is used to store my children’s school papers, bills, and office supplies. An old window now serves as a unique picture frame. It feels great knowing that I have prevented so many items from being thrown into land fills, plus they are quite unique!
Buy Natural Gifts
• I can’t pass up this opportunity to say buy handmade natural gifts! It’s a win-win situation. We are supporting talented artists AND as a consumer we receive a unique product, full of love that helps preserve our earth by avoiding the mass production of products. This cuts down on global warming in addition to avoiding all that plastic packaging and annoying twisty tags that are nearly impossible to remove!
Together we can make a difference!
• If each of us reduces a bit, recycles a little, avoids toxic cleaners, buys organic/local occasionally, reuses once-in-a-while, and buys natural often, we can make a positive change for our environment and the health of ourselves and families. Happy Earth Day!

Thank You Wanda for a Great Interview!
Visit www.mapleshadekids.etsy.com to see more of Wandas work!
-Sue (Ecoleeko)

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Natural Family Living

Sitting outside today, I found myself wondering what I would write about natural family living. My fingers sifted through the soil, I was planting seeds with my children. Our baby Orion toddled around in the grass while his brother picked up rocks and drove them around in his dump truck. My daughters squabbled mildly over who would do what and when with the pots and soil and seeds and all the while the sun shone down on us and the sweet smelling breeze tickled your neck – one of those beautiful Oregon spring days. I realized then, sitting on a mound of earth with my children and enjoying a moment in nature with my family, that this was exactly the kind of living I was grasping at straws to write a story about. The things that we do, those small choices that we make in our own little families are what create the communities that we are a part of. Connecting with the earth and making natural and sustainable choices is part of a daily impact that we make. The way that we spend our time and what we choose to set as an example is in our behavior. I know that every time I wrap Orion in a soft cloth diaper instead of a crinkly plastic ‘disposable’ I am teaching natural family living: instilling the value by living the choice. From the smallest seed to the biggest tree, choosing to live naturally is a way of life and every decision we make adds up to a whole lot for our own family, the community that we are connected to, the future of our children and of our earth. Every touch of a natural fiber educates us, it acclimates us to what is acceptable to be around us. So every time we expose a child to a wooden truck instead of a plastic car, a wool felted ball or a soft cloth doll, we are teaching a valuable lesson in living naturally. Hopefully by these small choices and changes we will continue to create healthy families and a healthy planet for them to live in and that is natural family living at it’s best. Many Blessings Families, Alyssa of Codilollyskye

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Friday Interview with MaDau Creations


Today’s interview is with the co owners, Cat and Dodi, of MaDau Creations whose lovely Waldorf dolls have a certain joyful innocence about them that is so wonderful to see. So let’s get to know them a little better….

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?
MaDau Creations is a Mother & Daughter Team consisting of Dodi Moody and her daughter Cat Macri. We began MaDau Creations by creating items for Cat’s children for Christmas. Friends and family then asked for similar items, we grew from there and hopefully will continue to grow in the Etsy community. Dodi has been crafty her whole life, she paints, sews, does a multitude of things with fiber arts, scrapbooks and makes cards. Cat dabbles in many mediums; drawing, painting, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, desktop publishing, crocheting, knitting and felting. She just likes to experiment with her creativity and searches out new ways to express herself often.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?
Currently in our Etsy store we sell Waldorf Style dolls and accessories. We have a variety of different sized dolls listed as well as clothing for those dolls. Dodi paints all kinds of decorative items and has another business called Pretty Wooden Plates. Cat knits, crochets, weaves and creates items of magic wool for her children during the home schooling day. We both are very busy creating something most days though you won’t often see our handiwork on Etsy. Currently our Etsy creations are fixated on Dolls.

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?
Cat’s children are really instrumental in developing new ideas for our creations. They play and pick up something and request that we help them make say a cat or doll and next week that item is in the project of our home schooling week. If it inspires further creative juices we go from there. Our Princess and the Pea doll was inspired by a game we play at home called “Sleepy Princess and the Pea” we had been reading the fairy tale and the kids asked to play this game we have from Haba toys. Later I noticed them playing with pillows and a doll we had made them for Christmas and acting out the story. Dodi thought Wow what a great doll idea and we ran with it from there.


Where do you get your inspiration?
Books, nature, my children’s imaginative play, other etsian artists. There are so many fellow NaturalKids Team members with grand imaginations they inspire me to work hard.

What are your favorite materials?
Alpaca & Angora! For dolls we stick to wool, cotton and silk. Sometimes we use bamboo and other exotics but we are hoping to make something warm and cozy with Alpaca wool or Angora soon! They are just so soft!

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?
Keep at it. Advertise your shop with your friends and family, through email correspondence just by signing all your email correspondence with your etsy shop name and link. Perhaps join in coop advertising with your team members and relist your items often. That is the advice I have been given by Natural Kids Team member, Blossombabies, and I am trying to keep at it.

What advice would you give to beginners in your main craft?
It is hard work and takes time to get it right but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to make some beautiful creations. Make mistakes, get your hands dirty, mistakes spawn grand ideas and new ways to do things so don’t be afraid to make them.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?
www.MaDauCreations.etsy.com Our dolls can also be found at Butterfly Baby on Congress Street in Portland, Maine. Dodi’s commemorative plates can be found at www.PrettyWoodenPlates.com



I hope you enjoyed meeting Cat and Dodi, I certainly did!
Cynthia
http://fairiesnest.etsy.com