Well, it’s been a while since we’ve had an Etsy Spotlight, hasn’t it?? Holy moly. I blame the hustle and bustle of the holiday season 🙂 Let’s get back into the swing of things, shall we?
This Etsy Spotlight is a dear friend of mine… a friend I have never met, but still. She’s awesome. She JUST launched her Etsy store, so I thought it would be a good idea to spread the word. I hope you’ll give her some feedback in the comments – I think that’s one of the most valuable aspects of these spotlight posts… you get a good insight into your potential buyers’ minds.
As always, click any image to view/purchase on Etsy!
How long have you been selling on Etsy? How did you become interested in creating your own handmade products?
I became interested in this when I realized that I had hundreds, if not over a thousand, pieces of beach glass in glasses in my cabinet. I decided this past Christmas that I was going to scale back and do handmade gifts, so I made a mosaic for my Dad and a pair of earrings for my Mom. After that?
elm’s treehouse was born.
I started selling on Etsy on 12/29/2011. I became interested in selling my jewelry after a few friends saw it and said, “HEY! You should have an Etsy store!” It wasn’t something I’d seriously considered, though I had already started the process of selling my things by word of mouth.
I find the majority of my glass on a stretch of beach called Hollywood Beach on Lake Michigan in Chicago. I started finding it when I was taking a “beach break” this summer during a run (enjoying the gorgeous sunrise). I happened to look down, and there was a piece of green beach glass at my feet. I kept looking while in the middle of training runs for a half Ironman triathlon this summer, and soon I was going to the beach solely to look for glass. I wish I’d kept that first piece separate from the rest, but I never realized that piece would change my life.
What inspires you?
Well, I didn’t start making jewelry with the glass until December 2011 when some things in my life changed, and I found myself with some free time on my hands.
I was blessed with a gorgeous early winter this year. I was out on the beach on New Years’ Eve looking for glass in 40+ degree weather. This is almost unheard of in Chicago, and the beach was busy! I realized that day how lucky I was, just standing there and watching the waves crash onto the shore. That’s when I started changing some of my designs. I know it had only been a couple of weeks since I started this, but I’d been drawing designs by the hundreds. Those little swirly things you do when you’re on the phone, only idly paying attention to what you’re doing.
Lake Michigan is a place that I’ve loved to be since I was a kid on the other side of the lake (I live in Chicago now and am from Michigan), but I never knew how big a part it would play in my life.
What are some of your favorite colors/patterns/design aesthetics? How do you incorporate them into your work?
My favorite beach glass colors are the really rare ones like royal blue and red (and I scream and jump up and down when I find them), but I have to admit that lime green is probably the one color that I regularly find and get really excited about. I always wonder what in the heck those pieces were. And I’ve found lavender pieces, which really blows my mind. What the heck is out there that is creating these pieces for me to find?
But really, it’s the lake that inspires me, which is why I’m trying to make my pieces with less straight edges and more “swoopy” spots. To represent the lake that took the time to make these for me.
It’s fairly easy to see how I incorporate the lake into my work. I mean, that’s where the glass comes from. And the designs, well, sometimes it’s from something I drew randomly, sometimes it’s inspired from something I read, and sometimes, well, it’s just how the metal feels under my fingers.
My favorite designs? Really, they’re all my favorites. Even those that I consider to be my mistakes (I wear these out in public just to see if I get a reaction – I recently sold one for a shot of tequila, a beer and $10). A lot of the bigger pieces, I remember when I found them. The smaller ones, if they’re more standard colors, I don’t always remember, but I take multiple pictures of the pieces as they dry so I can try to identify them later.
Who are some of your favorite celebrities? Whose style would match up with what’s available in your store?
As I mentioned when we first talked about this interview, I told you that I don’t really follow celebrities. Hell, I don’t even have cable, so the only thing I know about Kardashians or Beyonce, I learn from the front covers of magazines in the grocery store. MTV still showed videos the last time I knew doodly about celebrities.
What is your workroom like? What conditions lead you to create the best work?
My workroom. Heh. I don’t actually HAVE a workroom. I find my glass on the beach, even going so far as to soak the hell out of my feet after stomping through snow and into the water for that perfect piece of glass. Once I’m home, I lay it out on cookie sheets to dry (on my best day, I found close to 150 pieces; yes, I counted, and yes, some of those are TINY). Once it’s dry, I sort it by color, snagging out the pieces that I know will match something I already have (this stuff is cataloged in my mind’s eye somehow – I dream about matching pieces of glass), and then by color. Brown, clear and green are the colors I have the most of. And brown can actually be hard to find since it’s easier to see when it’s wet, and well, that water is cold. I do laugh when I find a piece that is so obviously something like a Budweiser bottle.
Once it’s sorted, I have little bins of colors for unmatched pieces, then I have different spots in various places in my kitchen (3 spots on the counter) and on my dining room table where I match the glass.
When it’s matched, then the fun begins. I spend a lot of time lately drawing. I’m a terrible artist, but I plug in my iPod and get to work (I tend towards hip/hop, rap, pop music). Once I have an idea in mind for what I want to do, I sort through the pieces to find the one or ones that will work for what I’m thinking.
Then I climb up on my IKEA bar stool (thank you IKEA scratch and dent section!) into elm’s treehouse (just a corner of my kitchen) and really get to work. If I’m making earrings, the first one is usually easy. I know what I’m looking for, and my fingers just seem to know. Then the second one starts. And I wish I was making a pendant instead since that’s just one and no matching. It gets colorful in the treehouse sometimes.
A lot of times though, I just climb into the treehouse and start working. Sometimes it just comes to me, and it’s a productive time. Other times? Well, like I said, it gets colorful up in here, so I turn up the music, dance for a bit, and get back to it.
How long does it take to design and create each piece?
It really depends on what each piece is going to be. Earrings are a LOT harder because once you make one? The other one has to match as well as I can get it. The wire I work with (24 gauge sterling silver or 24 gauge gold) is very pliable but sometimes it’s just does it’s own thing.
In general though, probably 20 minutes once I start actually making something.. The sorting can take hours, but I’m usually picking out multiple matches during that time. I can end up with as many as 7 pieces that kind of match. Then I walk away, then I come back and take one out, and repeat. Sometimes I find one and know immediately what it will be. Even if I didn’t notice when I found it.
Then there are the pieces that just will not cooperate. The longest one was about five hours from the first wrap to the final twist, but this one wasn’t the norm.
What is your favorite product so far?
I don’t have a favorite yet. I get so excited when I sell a piece, and then I realize I’ll never see it again, and I’ll be honest. It makes me a bit sad to send it on the way to a whole new start. I just wish I knew what all these pieces were in their first lives.
And that, my friends, is how the treehouse came to be.