Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Interview with Felting Wonder

Today's Etsy Interview is from a woman who I've known for a good year via Etsy, and whom I had the pleasure meeting face to face last winter, when I was on a skiing vacation in Lillehammar. Inger Maaike works with wool. Her main pleasure is with felting wool and she creates a huge assortment of finished products: scarves, jackets, arm warmers, and even sculptures.

Inger is a very quirky sort of person. A nice and hospitable person, she has opinions on many subjects (and people) and is not scared to share them. Her heart is warm and she clearly is not concerned about outward appearances. Flashy is not not her style.

When I met her for coffee (after having received wrong GPS directions from my husband and arrived a couple of hours late), she gave me a tour of her house, which her and her husband had purchased not long before. Both of them were tired of the rat race in Holland and took advantage of her family ties to Norway to find a new place to live as well as a new lifestyle. Her house is of an older Norwegian style and feels very cozy, no matter what room one is in. From her kitchen window is a gorgeous view over the river valley where she lives.

I have maintained contact with Inger since then, and we have 'playful' games and contests as to who has more snow, better weather, etc. Both of us being immigrants to Norway means we have a lot in common, though we come to from two different countries, have different base languages and really, two different cultures.

I am proud to have Inger as my first interviewee.

Personal Information: Inger Maaike, married, 3 children, 2 dogs, 3 cats, the odd stray mouse. Is a mother, obsessed with fiber arts, says she is an eternal student and, most importantly an infernal optimist (as opposed to an eternal optimist, I think. That definitely suits her style more).

What word would you use to describe your creative talent: artist/craftsman/creator/other. Why do you chose this word? I am, I think, an artist foremost. I create not to sell per se, but out of an innate need to create. Sometimes very prolific and sometimes not so. But repetition is not something I am very good at.

Were you creative before this time? If so, what other creative arts do/did you dabble in? I began creating as soon as my motor skills would allow me to do so. It has been with me in one oway or another since before I can remember: sewing doll clothes, cooking on a tiny gourmet set, wood carving, dollhouse furniture, bootmaking, and bag making just to name a few. I worked with any material with a distinct, natural feel.

Can you remember the first felted creation you made? I most certainly do. After months of dithering I took the plunge and enrolled in a workshop feltmaking given by a famous Dutch felter LYDA RUMP. She wanted us to make a vessel around a resist. I of course said, 'Vessel? What use is there in a vessel? I want to make a bag.' 'No,' she said, 'you can't.' 'Yes,' I said, 'I can 'cause I paid you and I want to.' To cut a long story short, I walked out of the door with a bag in the shape of a poppy.

Is there something else that you have made that you are particularily proud of? After the first bag I made several more and then I discovered the sight called TREETOPS COLOUR HARMONY. There I saw the most amazing color combinations and much softer wool than I had worked with to date. So I ordered wool and silk and made this coat and scarf set. I never wear it and should sell it, but that is really such a cool coat combining my love for sewing and felting to perfection.

Is there something in particular that you find inspiring? Beauty, intense colors, nature, natural materials, happiness, originality..... to name a few.

When you have a quiet moment to indulge yourself, and there's no one to bother you, what is it you like to do best? I have a lot of this as I work from home and the boys are in school. I felt, spin, read, surf the net, walk the dogs. In short, I enjoy life.

How would you envision the perfect dinner? Who would be there? Would it be formal/informal? What would be served? I am not much of an eater. I eat 'cause otherwise I would perish. So for me the perfect dinner would probably be some sort of paste that contains everything I need which I can just schlurrp up and be done with it.

Where is the place that you have visited in the past that you have particular fond memories of? Why? I have travelled quite a bit but of all the places I have been I would think Istanbul is my very favorite. A stunning city in all senses.

Where is the one place you would really like to travel to one day? Why? I dream of travelling to New Zealand and Australia one day. I have never been there and both countries look absolutely incredible from what I have seen on tv.

Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview that you feel our readers would like to know? Every day might be the last one...... don't wait til tomorrow.

If you want to find Inger, check out these direct links to her different sites:

Daily Felt - Inger's Blog
Felt by Ingermaaike - her Etsy store

Monday, 28 December 2009

Secret Santa from Estonia

For those who do not know, I am a proud member of THE EUROPEAN STREET TEAM - a team of 300+ Etsy sellers who's skills range from metal work, jewellry making, sewing, sculpture... and this is just the start.

Every year one of our members, ARTMIND organizes a Secret Santa project and sends out a huge list of questions to all want-to-be participants. Then she receives the questionaires and does her best to put two and two together, finding the best matches for the year.

I'm not sure I was a great questionaire-filler-upper. I tend to try to live my life as a 'minimalistic' type of person. I don't collect things other than books and ideas (and at the moment I am considering to get rid of most of my books.... but think maybe, just maybe one day my kids might want to browse through them - tough decisions), and if there are any changes in my life that I'm working on it's getting out more, meeting people more, experiencing new things more.

I am also allergic to most perfumes and animals.

So I'm not an easy person to shop for if you don't know me well.

But - Mitsy from ARTMIND did a great job and matched me with a great woman from Estonia.

I got the package about a week before Christmas. And boy was I looking forward to it. Many other of my team members had been receiving theirs, some opening the packages right away, some waiting patiently until Christmas. I myself opened the package right away - I live by the rule that if the present does not come from a blood relative, and there's no one around to stop you (hubby was at work) then it's fair game.

The parcel came fromJelena, who runs the Etsy shop: LARIATA. I had seen her now and then when chatting with team members in our own private forums, but had not had the chance to actually get to know her very well. She works with beads, and does some amazing cluster bead work. Her shop is one that should be checked out, definitely!

Here's the goodies peeking out...... oh.... what can it be?

Some local chocolate! Good call! Chocolate and coffee are definitely my drugs of choice and I always enjoy tasting these treats from other areas of the world.

And some really cool, antique styled bookmarks with some stunning clustered bead decorations. These are already in use (I tend to read 3 - 7 books at the same time, in a pile on the floor beside my bed....) and work really well.

And the chocolate was gone before Christmas arrived, though I did manage to spread it out over a few days. :)

Much appreciation to Jelena! And much appreication to MITSY - another good job done with the SECRET SANTA. I very much like the idea that I am thinking of a new friend off in the distance, over the horizon every night before I go to sleep. A very good way of bringing people together.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Fantastic Cucumer Soap

When I first started making soap in the summer, I made cucumber soap. At this point I was not using the French Milling Process. What came out was nice. It was really great for the skin and everyone was happy.

But this time I wanted to do better:

When I made soap last night, I changed a few of my tecniques, wrote down what I did in my soap diary, and crossed my fingers. And look what I cut up today!

I am so impressed with the color of the soap - a gorgeous green color. And even though it hasn't finished curing, when I washed my hands after handling the soap and washed away the residue that was left on my fingers, that residue left my hands nice and soft.

I cannot wait until they are finished and ready to use!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

My Genius Daughter........

So last night, I finally had some time since mid-November to work on my Etsy store. The Christmas gifts have been purchased. The house has been cleaned and only needs a quick 'once-over'. Our list of food to purchase for the two traditions celebrated in this house has been made and will be purchased on Monday.

And many of my soaps, which I thought would not be ready until January are hard and ready to use!

Which means I can take pictures.... something I really like doing. It's a skill I'm still working with, but can see the improvements I've made over the last couple of years.

So I put the kids in front of the tv (usually I'm turning the tv off and telling them find something else to do) and gave them a bowl of chocolate each. 'This will keep them occupied,' I think.

And I've got myself set up and begin to arrange soap, when I hear my daughter behind me, 'Are you taking pictures of things you're going to sell, Mamma?'

'Yes.......' I say. I now realize that this is not going to go as smoothly as I had planned.

'Oh can I please help? Please? Please? PLEASE?!?!?!?!?.......' she eagerly asks. The last 'please' reaches a volume and a pitch not acheieved even when she is desprately after a toy or some gum when we're doing our weekly shopping at the store.

I can tell she desprately wants this.

And I sigh...... this is not going as smoothly as I had planned.

'What do you want to do?' I ask.

'I want to take all the pictures!' she says.

And it's then I realize that I can break someone's heart, or I can go and do some laundry. I never get enough time to do laundry. So I give her the camera and tell her to have fun and leave to find smelly clothes.

'Can I take pictures of two soaps at once?' she asks.

'You can take pictures of as many soaps as you want,' I answer from the other room.

'Can I take pictures of all the soaps together?' she yells to me as I move further into the house.

'You can take any kind of pictures with the soap - just use your imagination!' I yell back to her. I'm upstairs now.

'Okay!' she answers, in her optimistic 5-year-old voice.

And these are some of the pictures she came up with. Some of them were out of focus, but most of them were suprisingly not. I must say, I'm pretty impressed.

She's pretty good! And not just because I'm her mother. She's trying different things, seeing how different shaped soaps fit together, or don't fit together.

And I think that after Christmas is finished, I'm going to find the United Nations regulations and the Norwegian laws regarding Child Labour. She might be of more use to me than being a cute face with intelligent comments.