Edina Etsy Artists
If you haven’t heard of Etsy already, chances are you will soon. An e-commerce site devoted to helping independent artists sell vintage products, handmade items and supplies, etsy.com was created in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2005, and has grown to include more than 12 million members worldwide, more than 800,000 active sellers and, in 2010 alone, connected buyers and sellers to the tune of more than $300 million. Turns out Etsy is most definitely a force to be reckoned with.
We sat down with three local artists and chatted with them about what they love about this unique “handicraft marketplace” and, of course, their work
Etsy Site: Happy Day Vintage
Dana Douglas is one of those talented souls who excels at using both the creative and the analytical sides of her brain; Etsy is the perfect venue to showcase her talent.
In 2005, Douglas left her job as an engineer in the research and development department of Boston Scientific to spend more time with her baby daughter, Carly.
After her son, Nolan, was born in 2007, she was thrilled to be home, but began thinking about an outlet through which she could put her talents to good use.
“I had the itch to do something,” she says. “I stumbled upon Etsy, and it was perfect for me. I started out selling vintage clothing and various items I picked up from Goodwill and garage sales, and then sold them on my Etsy shop; that was my bread and butter for three to four years.”
But more recently, Douglas has kindled a passion for refurbishing vintage jewelry boxes and turning them into more modern jewelry containers. She scours shops, sales, relatives’ basements, anywhere she might find dilapidated pieces that ache for a reno.
And then the magic takes place. With an overall concept in mind (“they just kind of speak to me,” says Douglas) she carefully sands off any paint or stain, fixes or adds decorative hinges and hardware, primes and paints, and applies decorative paper or vintage wallpaper to transform the piece.
To date, Douglas has sold about 85 jewelry boxes for $45 to $65 a piece. One of her best customers, Edina resident Erin Bale, has purchased seven for family members and herself that range from green polka-dotted modern to pink-and-white-checkered vintage to paisley and white.
“They are unique pieces that are fully functional and incredibly beautiful,” Bale says. “I love that we are recycling and bringing new life to a once-treasured
piece; I will definitely pass them down to my children.”
Etsy Site: MagicStones
As far back as Bill Wiard can remember, he has been inspired by rocks, fossils
and minerals, and has many fond memories of collecting the beautifully patterned and colorful agates found around Lake Superior.
“I guess I’m kind of obsessed,” says the third-grade teacher at Countryside Elementary. “I love pattern, symmetry, balance and the colors that are found in stones.”
For the past 10 years, Wiard has honed this obsession into an art form and a rewarding business, which, more recently, has led him to open an Etsy shop. Bill creates cabochons (a gemstone that has been shaped and polished, with a convex top and a flat bottom) from large stones he sources from his back yard, local gravel pits and “rough stone” from anywhere in the world he finds on Ebay.
With a large diamond-bladed saw, he carefully slices the 2- to 10-pound stones into quarter-inch slices, and begins looking for the perfect pattern and the perfect shape—diamond or oval—to highlight that pattern. Using a smaller saw, he cuts the rocks down to size, then using special equipment grinds them smooth, “domes” the tops and polishes them.
Since joining Etsy, many pieces of Wiard’s handiwork—usually priced at $20 to $50—have found their way into the world; he mostly sells to jewelers who, in turn, set the lovely chaorite, ocean jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and myriad other stones and minerals into various settings.
Nothing slows Wiard down; his average production is one or two cabochons a day, and as many as 15 on the weekend.
In true teacher form, he incorporates his passion into real-world lessons in the classroom. Instead of getting gold stars for a job well done, Wiard's students receive a shiny stone. Not surprisingly, many students have gone on to become pint-size lapidaries in training.
Etsy Site: MishMashIt
To say that Annie Schilling loves to create would be like saying Monet had an affinity for flowers; the phrase doesn’t capture the magnitude of her zeal. This zeal is evident when you visit her online Etsy shop, MishMashIt, and step into the brick-and-mortar Mish Mash (read more on page 16 and in our June issue).
Schilling sees the world differently, an artist who sees possibilities in the old, the tired, the used. Whereas most folks look at the pieces she uses to create her jewelry and purses and think they are, well, junk, to Schilling these materials are priceless.
“I like to say I upcycle,” Schilling says with a laugh.
“I say she makes this from that,” adds friend, employee and fellow artist Mindy Kordich. The “this” that she makes is unique, affordable and fun. There are necklaces out of Scrabble letters, purses from old books, bridal bouquets out of vintage pins and brooches, old window screens turned into works of art and tea towels transformed into pillows.
Schilling joined Etsy about three years ago and hasn’t looked back. She even had an opportunity to chat with a few of the higher-ups from Etsy when she sold her wares at the annual (and highly attended) Junk Bonanza in Shakopee in 2011, of which Etsy was a co-sponsor.
“From what I could tell, they are hipsters in their late 20s; they’re hip, they’re intelligent, they’re very artistic, and they’re extremely friendly,” Schilling says. “And they really do care that their artists are successful.”
Not surprisingly, Schilling has been thinking about how she can broaden her brand and online presence. She recently added vintage wallpaper to her offerings. For creative types at home, she has uploaded several tutorials that cover everything from cool kids' art projects to vintage key pendant necklaces.
The creating, it seems, never stops. //
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