Interview of the week: Jennifer Earles of Bijoutery Designs

Jennifer Earles is the artist behind Bijoutery Designs and also a graduate student studying geoscience. She says that her love of geology has led to her designing stone and pearl based jewelry. I don’t know if it’s the artist in her or her innate knowledge of stones and gems, but one thing is for certain, her designs are beautiful!!

Corinne: My favorite thing in your shop is this spastic pearl necklace! What is your favorite stone to work with and why?

Jennifer: I’d have to say amazonite – blue is one of my favorite colors, and there’s really no prettier blue than amazonite!

Corinne: Where do you get your inspiration?

Jennifer: A lot of my inspiration comes from nature and the world around me. I study science, particularly geology (though I love astronomy and ecology too!), and get a lot of inspiration from that as well. It gives me such a better appreciation for the materials I work with to know that a stone I may be using is millions of years old, and each one is its own little mystery.

Corinne: Wow, geoscience sounds like an interesting major! What is it, and what do you hope to do with it?? Will you still design your jewelry?
Jennifer: Geoscience incorporates a lot of the different fields that study the Earth, and the materials and processes that affect it. I’m particularly interested in planetary geology (the geology of other planets) as well as environmental geology. I hope to pursue research once I am done, though I think I would like to try my hand at teaching at some point. I really enjoy sharing what I know, and explaining just how important geoscience is to every day life.
I will definitely continue to create jewelry and art! I don’t see myself ever stopping, and maybe one day down the road I’ll get the chance to focus more on it and turn it into a full time pursuit!

Corinne: Well, I hope you don’t stop! Is jewelry the medium do you work in the most?
Jennifer: Currently I mostly do jewelry design, mainly using stones, pearls and leather. However I grew up learning a variety of art forms, and also love to painting and pastels. I found I like photography too, while in college - I took so many geology field trips that I improved a bit every time I took photos and found I just loved what I could do with the camera.Corinne: Do you do a lot of craft shows? Which do you do better at, etsy or craft shows? Jennifer: I haven't done any craft shows since I moved to Bowling Green, near Western Kentucky University, last fall. I used to do a few in my old town (which was right on the Indiana and Kentucky border), and particularly enjoyed art markets. However, I started grad school soon as I moved here and as time intensive as it is, its easier to sell online as I can work on it whenever I want from the comfort of my home! As far as which I do better at, well it depends - I can sell at lot of my smaller and cheaper items at shows, but sell more of my larger more expensive items on etsy, so they're really different markets when it comes to selling.

Corinne: What sets you apart from your competition?
Jennifer: I think my knowledge of my materials helps - I can explain a lot about the stones and pearls which people seem to always be interested in. I'm always honest about what I sell. I don't try to use any 'trick' trade names to make something sound more impressive - I don't need to, because I appreciate the materials for what they are and what beauty can be found in each one.My designs also make the best use of my materials, to show off their beauty and what is special about each component that goes into a creation.

Corinne: What product in your shop is your favorite right now?
Jennifer: My keshi petal pearl necklace will always be one of my favorites - I just love pearls and the keshi ones are just amazing. Each one is a little different in shape, size and color, its like each little pearl is its own work of art. To me its very much a "wow" piece but without being overwhelming since its all in soft colors.

Corinne: Who is the artist who inspires you the most?
Jennifer: Al Bean, an astronaut who was on the Apollo 12 mission and 4th person to set foot on the moon. He has created some amazing space art, and its just such a wonderful thing to find someone who tries to share what had to be an amazing experience with everyone else, through art. What a cool thing that is.

Corinne: What do you do to get over creative block or to take a break from creating?
Jennifer: Spend time with my family and pets, as well as go outside and take walks in the woods.

Corinne: I love your blog! Its educational and entertaining! Do you have a website also?
Jennifer: My blog http://jearles.blogspot.com/ has features about stones, fellow artisans, geology trips, and occasionally one cute bunny might pop in! I also have a web portal I'm currently developing at http://www.bijoutery.com/ that I plan to develop as a gateway to all my sites online, including my etsy store, blog, and possibly some special projects.

Corinne: I love the pictures of your big bunny on your blog! It sounds like he's your baby!! Do you have kids besides him?
Jennifer: No kids yet, just my “fids” (aka “furry kids” as one of my profs called ‘em). Maybe some day, but my little furry family keeps me plenty busy for now!

Corinne: If you could give just one tip to a newbie to selling their craft online, what would it be?Jennifer: Be sure when selling online to give your customer all the information they need - both visual and descriptive. They aren't in front of you to see and touch your items or ask questions, so you have to literally be their eyes and hands. Take the best photos you can, and include all the pertinent info about your items, to help your customer visualize it as best as possible.

Corinne: Somehow I can picture you digging in the dirt looking for rocks! If you were trapped in a cave, and could only take one thing, what would it be?
Jennifer: Super duper flash light with one of those “life long” batteries and a hand crank just in case. Believe me, you don’t want to be stuck in a cave without one! If you ever go on a tour often the tour guides will have everyone turn off their lights for a few seconds (or maybe even a minute) to get a sense of just how black it is. One time, though, I was with a group where we left ‘em off for about 15 mins or so – seemed like a lot longer! It’s very disorienting to say the least; it almost feels like this inky blackness is going to swallow you up, or like your senses are all out of wack. It definitely gives one an appreciation what the early miners had to go through when all they had were candles!

Be sure to check out the beautiful work Jennifer has in her shop, Bijoutery Designs, at: http://bijoutery.etsy.com/


Interview of the Week: Leigh with ElizaLeigh

ElizaLeigh is made up of two sisters who sew and craft together and have joined forces to create this fun Etsy shop. I sat down and talked to Leigh, who is a never ending well of bubbly fun. Leigh has a degree in English and writes advertising copy by day, and fictional works like children's books and poetry in her spare time.

Her crafty partner in crime and sister, Eliza, has a degree in Graphic Design and Fine Art. She says,” I sew, draw, paint, write...just about anything you can thing of that is hands on and creative.” She also says she is quite jealous of her sister, who seems to feel the same about her. Ahh…sisters!

Both sisters have a talent for sewing anything that will stand still, and continuing to push each other to do more. My favorite thing in their shop? This apron, partly for the vintage feel and beautiful craftsmanship, and partly because the description says, “That's me in the apron. Nice to meet you.” Nice to meet you too, Leigh.

Corinne: So, if I am getting this right, Eliza is the artist, and you’re the witty writer?
Leigh: That would be correct. We are two sisters. We took pieces from both of our names and we merged them to come up with our shop name. Eliza comes first because LeighEliza just gets tangled up on the tongue. Try it out loud. See?

Corinne: What do you currently write for?
Leigh: I work in the advertising industry, so a better question is who do I not write for. I have a very extensive client list and have written/produced both locally, nationally and internationally. But, I don’t want to give names.

Corinne: Where do you get your inspiration?
Leigh: I would say we get our inspiration from what we imagine the world should look like. I think if it was left up to my sister and I, the sky would be purple and the grass would be polka dotted.

Corinne: What do you think sets you apart from your competition?
Leigh: Just being who we are sets up apart. Like snowflakes, no two creatives are ever the same. We did grow up in a small town, however, where sewing and crafting were just a part of everyday life. After both of us studying and getting Fine Arts degrees, I think we just married our past and present to come up with what we make now.

Corinne: What medium do you work in the most?
Leigh: We both deal a lot with textiles, just because of the obvious variety that offers. But Eliza is also a very fine painter and artist and I am a writer by profession. So as long as we get to work in the creative medium, we’re pretty happy!

Corinne: Do you plan on adding some of Eliza's paintings to the shop sometime?
Leigh: Eliza has actually done some hand painting on one of the pillows and I would love to see her do more. She is exploring fabric painting and is hoping to do a series of illustrated pillows and blankets.

Corinne: Do you do a lot of craft shows? Which do you do better at, Etsy or craft shows?
Leigh: We’ve just started really putting ourselves out there, so Etsy is where we spend our time right now. However, we’ve been tossing the idea of art fairs back and forth and may try one or two very soon.

Corinne: What textile lovely in your shop is your favorite right now?
Leigh: Eliza’s favorite is her “Don’t you just love this fabric” baby quilt.
Leigh: My favorite is the “Big Eyed Critter Pillow!” I really enjoy seeing what my sister comes up with. She constantly surprises me. Of course, she might say the same thing about me.

Corinne: Who is the artist who inspires you the most?
Leigh: Oh wow, that is a huge question! We both are inspired by art that tells a story or some kind of emotion. When the exhibition for the women of Gee’s Bend came through our area Eliza went like five times! Just looking at the quilts brought tears to her eyes due to the stories she could feel in the pieces. I am affected in much the same way by music and poetry.

Corinne: You call yourself small town, where in the world is ElizaLeigh?
Leigh: While we didn’t start out here, we are both living in and loving the great city of Louisville, Kentucky. I know coming from a small town, this is the “big city” to me.

Corinne: Do you two live together? How close in age are you?
Leigh: We don’t live together, but we don’t live too far apart. Eliza is a little over three years older than me. I think I started my creative choices by watching her.

Corinne: I know I have trouble keeping you two straight online, do other people have this problem too?
Leigh: It happens, but we are both so involved it doesn’t really throw people. All of the items that are created by me are signed by Leigh and vice versa on Eliza. We plan on doing some collaborative projects and those will be signed by us both. If people have questions, we generally both know how to handle them.

Corinne: What do you do to get over creative block or to take a break from creating?
Leigh: My sis can get lost in a good book faster than anyone I’ve ever seen. I watch horror movies and reality television. (Guess which one of us got better grades?) Getting over a block is usually taken care of by a good long browse in a fabric store.

Corinne: I think I saw a mention somewhere of a blog that is shiny and new. Do you blog in addition to your etsy shop?
Leigh: We do have a blog that we’ve just gotten started. It’s http://elizaleigh.wordpress.com./ You can also see our Flickr page there as well. Eliza takes the photos.

Corinne: If you could give just one tip to a newbie to selling their craft online, what would it be?
Leigh: Do what you love! As long as you love what you’re doing, you will continue to do it and other people will recognize that in your art.

Corinne: Wow, GREAT tip! I couldn’t agree more! So, I know you two are quite the duo, but if the two of you were trapped on a desert island and were allowed one thing, what would it be? Do you think you would still be as close?
Leigh: Well, I know that Eliza would have some kind of book. I would have Diet Coke! I guess she could read to me and I would let her have a sip or two...so we would probably stay pretty close. Plus she’s a lot taller than me and I would need someone to grab the coconuts.

You can visit ElizaLeigh at their Etsy shop at: elizaleigh.etsy.com


Interview of the Week: Stephanie Stratton

This week I sat down with Stephanie Stratton, of Luna Bud Knits, to learn a thing or two about fiber art and get to know the delightful woman behind the shop. Stephanie spins her own breathtaking yarn from furs and other natural sources. I wish I knew how to knit just so I could use some of her fluffy goodness!! My favorite thing in her shop right now is this beautiful soy silk yarn:

Corinne: Hi there, so sorry this has taken so long, I have had a crazy few weeks! I spent all weekend helping in laws out after Grandpa backed his boat into the house and knocked down a wall, lol!
Stephanie: Backing a boat into a house....lol! I'm sorry, I shouldn't giggle, but that is a new one for me:) I hope no one was hurt!

Corinne: I don’t know about you, but my days are chaos! Tell me about a typical day for you.
Stephanie: The first thing I do in the morning when I roll out of bed is take care of Miss Piper the 135 lb Newfoundland and Miss Kitty, our little calico cat, who has recently grown quite fond of eating cicadas. Then it is off to the full time job which is web design, marketing and advertising for a manufacturer of steel buildings. After work #1 if needed I head to work #2, which is property management of about 20 rental units. When I finally get home, I like to spend about 20 minutes sitting in front of my 75 gallon saltwater aquarium to ease my nerves and to calm down a bit from my day. After dinner and any cleaning that needs to be done, I usually have an hour or two to spin yarn, knit, card a batt or two, clean/prepare fiber or read a book before we hit the sack. Right now I am almost 1/3 of the way through an order to spin 20 pounds of alpaca. Weekends are really when I get to fulfill my fiber addiction and spend a little bit of time with Applebutter my appaloosa;)

Corinne: What’s your family like? Are they involved in your crafty works?
Stephanie: They love seeing each yarn that I make. My husband loves telling his buddies about what I am working on and they all get a real kick out of watching me spin and knit. I have most of my fiber shipped to my Mom's shop in case I have to sign for it and she enjoys seeing what is in each box and bag as well as seeing the finished product. The nephews ranging in age from 1-11 are always asking 'what is that' and they love trying to figure out how the spinning wheel works. I would have to say that I am a bit more artsy-craftsy than the rest of the bunch, but I blame that on the 'evil' television, internet and video games none of which I am much interested in.

Corinne: I love, love, love your beautiful fibers! Where do you get the material to spin from?
Stephanie: They come from a variety of places. All over the world really. I have wool from Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and America; Silk from China and India; Alpaca from USA; Fire star from China; Camel from America (a wedding gift not to be sold) and from the Middle East; and a variety of others from various places. Some fibers I buy in bulk and others are purchased in smaller quantities. Oh, and some of the fibers I find are a little something special just for me:)

Corinne: Where do you get your inspiration?
Stephanie: I let the fiber tell me what it wants to be whether I am spinning yarn or creating a OOAK fiber batt.

Corinne: What sets you apart from your competition?
Stephanie: Gee... now, that is a tough one. But I would say that one of the larger differences would be that I try to learn as much as I can about different fibers so that I can make sure my customers are happy. For example, not many people know that many of the new eco-friendly fibers like soy silk and corn silk are highly flammable or will melt if left in a car in the summer heat.

Corinne: I love the look of the soy silk yarn. Can you tell me more about it?
Stephanie: Soy silk is actually a by product made from the leftovers of the tofu industry. It is a very soft fiber that is very similar to silk in how it behaves while spinning as well as it's softness and drape (drape would be how it lays after knitted into a fabric). It is also a protein fiber so it takes the same dyes and dying methods that are used with wool and silk. There are two major differences between soy silk and other protein fibers. For starters, soy silk will do what knitters call 'bloom' as it is worked this means that as it is knit many of the end fibers will stick out to give the knit item a softer halo effect. The second difference and I believe the most important is that soy silk can not tolerate overly high temperatures. The result off too much heat would be that the fiber will begin to melt. This must be taken into account when wearing soy silk, such as to not wear it around open flames or when cooking. Ingeo or 'corn silk' will have the same result but at a lower heat level. It has been known to melt when left in a car with the windows up on a hot sunny summer day.

Corinne: What medium do you work in the most?
Stephanie: Fur. Dirty or clean I love it all ;)

Corinne: Do you do a lot of craft shows?
Stephanie: At the current time, I have not had much time to do craft shows. I have been talking to a woman who has a spot at a local farmers market about setting up booth with her as she sells and spins fiber as well.

Corinne: Do you ever get to demonstrate spinning? I bet its fascinating to watch!
Stephanie: Right now, I haven't had much time to research what craft shows I think would best suit my needs. This being the reason why Etsy is my only selling spot for the time being.
I do take my spinning wheel with me to knitty night on Wednesdays at where ever the group ends up. I am at the 'Main and Maple Coffee Shop' in Nicholasville every second Wednesday of the month with my wheel. It usually does garner a bit of attention, especially from children. I always try to get them to come a little closer to show them what, how and why the wheel works like it does :)
On a side note here, I am waiting for things to settle down around here so that I can open up a second shop which will sell my fine art photography.

Corinne: What do you do to get over creative block or to take a break from creating?
Stephanie: I take Miss Piper the 140 lb. Newfoundland for a walk :)

Corinne: What product in your shop is your favorite right now?
Stephanie: Do I have to pick a favorite? If I had to pick a favorite, I would pick my Crashing Waves roving:

Don't tell the other batts as they would be terribly jealous, but I have debated taking this little lovely out and spinning it.

Corinne: Who is the artist who inspires you the most?
Stephanie: As a teenager, I would have to say Van Gogh. At the current moment, I am reading a book by Osa Johnson called 'I Married Adventure' which is fun and action packed and based on Martin and Osa Johnson (her husband) as they traveled the world taking photographs and making films of the exotic indigenous people and wildlife they found. Although the book is mainly based on Martin, I find Osa was a rare woman indeed who bull-headed, bucked the norm of that day and time. A real spit fire! Wish I had read this as a teenager instead of Poe....lol!

Corinne: As a fellow Bluegrass Etsy teamster, I know you’re in Kentucky. Where in Kentucky are you?
Stephanie: Nicholasville, which is a hop, skip and jump from Lexington. Seven miles south to be precise.

Corinne: As a web designer by day, you surely have a website or blog in addition to your etsy shop!
Stephanie: Yes, I do. I have a blog: http://lunabud.blogspot.com/ and a website: http://www.weedofdreams.com/

Corinne: If you could give just one tip to a newbie to selling their craft online, what would it be?
Stephanie: Customer service whether online or at a physical store should always be your number one priority. Always be pleasant, happy and eager to help your customers. This will generally result in return business plus good word of mouth advertising. Another thing to keep in mind is SPELLING! There is no telling how many times I look at a listing and come across incorrectly spelled words. It is annoying to no end, because it means that the seller is too lazy to fix the word the Etsy spell checker pointed out to them in red. And in my mind, lazy is as lazy does.
OK, ok, I'll stop at two ;)

Corinne: Now, for the question that’s on everyone’s minds: pirate or mermaid- which one would you be?
Stephanie: When I was a little girl there was a creek running through the back field behind our house. The water was clear, cool and deep enough in some areas for a refreshing dip in the summer heat. I would sit on a huge grey limestone rock that jutted into the water and pretend all day long I was a mermaid. I would hold both my legs together and flip them in the water as if they were truly fused into a long green tail. I could spend hours on my rock staring into the water playing with the little guppies as they swam beneath my finger tips.

Visit Stephanie’s shop, Luna Bud Knits, on Etsy, at:


Feeling Patriotic

It's summertime, and that means cookouts and fireworks aren't far away!