Sunday, 25 April 2010

Dedicated to ARTMIND, or... An example of sewing from one who cannot sew, but really doesn't think it should stop her anyway.

I have a great friend, Artmind, on Etsy who works with clay and makes the most amazing, modern sculptures. She has just written a blog piece about finally purchasing a sewing maching and was describing how she needs to learn how to use it. Despite this, she has been able to make the most adorable stuffed doll.

I for one have never let my lack of knowledge of how to use power tools actually stop me from using them. And I've got the marks and scars to prove it.

Having said this, I would like to show what my sewing endavours produced yesterday.

Here is my sewing machine, a 1950's Bernia that my husband purchased for me a couple of years ago. As alluded to, I had never actually used a sewing machine before, and the instructions were written in Swedish and Finnish, not Norwegian. And it was 1950's Swedish and Finnish... which did not make things much easier. Luckily the manual had excellent pictures.

I don't actually make clothes, although I would really like to one day. And when I say make clothes, I mean actually make them. I can see myself finding all sorts of pieces of fabric and sewing them together and then figuring out afterwards if I should climb into the garment, or put it over my shoulders.

But that's a blog post for another time.

This is what I ususally use my sewing machine for - to repair my son's clothes.

My son, despite the fact he's getting old enough to not ruin his clothes, still wears holes through his pants which require repair every few weeks or so. I could get mad at him. I could scold him and tell him not to have fun and to grow up, but I figure that before I know it he'll be out of the house on his own and I really don't want to be left behind with a bunch of perfect pants hanging in the closet.

In any case, my son does not actually mind having patches on his jeans. I find this amazing because he is the only boy at school that has this. I do not know if there is any other mother in my neighborhood who can sew, or perhaps most are just not willing to bother with it. Regardless, I certainly am not willing to purchase new pants every second week.

Having been through this procedure a few times already, my son suddenly said that he wanted to pick the color of thread. This was okay by me. So yesterday he decided on red and blue.

Now the thing about not knowing how to sew is that I really don't know what to do when it comes to specific problems. Like how to sew patches on jeans that have very, very, incredibly narrow legs. I got the one leg sewed quite fine, but for the second leg the patch shifted despite the fact I had it pinned down. So suddenly there was way too much material on the fourth side of the patch to be sewn.

I had already spent over half an hour sewing and while I love my son dearly, I'm not about to start ripping out thread for jeans he's going to outgrow in another month or so.

And as I see it, every mistake I make is a potential piece of artwork in the making.

So with my ingenious intellect (or my ability to slide over to the side of laziness) I cut the patch in half, folded the material over itself and then sewed up the edges nice and clean.

My son thought it was the coolest thing he had ever seen and can't wait to wear these pants to school on Monday. He wanted to know how I 'got the patch to do that'. 'Ah, my son,' I said, 'A mother can't give away all her secrets.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Latest Soaps -

I don't seem to be having as much time to spend blogging as I ususally do. The bright side is that this is mostly due to the fact I am getting a lot of steady sales. Not only do I have to package and send my products, I must also keep making great soaps that sell as well as thinking about very cool soaps to make for the summer season.

In the meantime, here is a pictoral list of what has appeared in my store during the last couple of weeks:

The above is a new batch of Tulip Petal with Exotic Floral Boquet Essential Oil. This time I used yellow tulip petals that have hints of pink, purple and green. Very lovely.

My Jasmine Oatmeal soap appears to be one of my best sellers, and I have now made a few batches of these. This particular batch is now selling through Etsy. I have two other batches waiting upstairs in my attic. They should be done in a few weeks.

This is perhaps the soap I am most proud about - a Chocolate Mint Soap that is made with Orangically grown mint. The differencein scent is astounding and since I have used organically grown herbs, I will never, ever, ever in my long, long life ever go back to even buying the best quality herbs from other places. When I made this soap, my kitchen and living room were smelling of mint for long into the day.

Here is my latest batch of Poppy Seed with Orange Zest. Also a steady seller.

Above is my third batch of Rose Petal with Pure Vanilla. One of my friends likes this soap so much because it reminds her of her childhood ice-cream.

This is my latest version of Mocha Shower Soap. This have to be one of my favorite soaps. I love how the coffee grounds in the soap scrub against my skin after a hard workout.

Here is a new soap that I am trying out, and which I use myself. This is an oatmeal soap that has the Essential oil of Patchouli. Just before Christmas I received a great book on herbs, soaps and skin care. And on one of the pages was a small paragraph, perhaps only 5-6 sentences long, explaining what Patchouli was. The sentence that read, 'a very popular scent from the 1970's' made me roll my eyes and think, 'well, I'll never find that!' Low and behold on my next trip into town to get supplies, in the store where I buy my essential oils, there were two bottles. I could not believe my eyes and bought both of them immediately. It is a very nice, heavy scent. And further research has informed me that Patchouli oil is effective at working against acne and exceme, as well as chapped skin.

Second to last, I have a couple bars of Chocolate Chip Mint soap left from an exhibition that I sold at a few weeks ago. I just love the way this soap looks, and had to show it off a bit. :)

And finally I have a new batch of Juniper Berry and Jasmine. This soap has a slightly heavier scent than my previous batch, without being overpowering.

Do check out my store often..... I have big plans in store for the coming weeks and months. It's going to be an exciting summer!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Etsy Artist Interview - Nancy Van den Bloom

It has been a while since I've written in my blog. Things have gotten busy in my life (this includes lots of Etsy sales - over 60 in a 3 day period), but now that things are calming down again, it's time to get back to business.

I have been wanting to share this interview with my readers for a while. This Etsy European is an artist that lives in the Netherlands. Before I read her answers to my interview questions, the thing that was most striking to me about her work is her broad brush strokes, her use of color, and her wide range of theme. Since reading her interview, I am very much taken by how her creativity seemed to always lie in the background of her life, although one can say that she's always been in touch with her creative side. In reading about how she came to develope a new relationship with her internal creative self, I get the sense of feeling that her creative self somehow was able to rush forward and envelope her, almost swallow her whole with great energy and exuberance. It seems to me in any case that this rushing forward, in almost a sense of abandonment can be seen in her work, the brush strokes and the colors I first fell in love with.

I have chose a variety of her paintings to show her range of ability, but one must check out her Etsy shop as well as her own website to get a true feel for her talent.

With no further ado, here is the interview.


Name: Nancy van den Boom
Age: 50
Married/Children: I live with Cor and my two children, daughter Roos (15 years old) and Son Bas (22 years old) and 3 three cats.
Occupations: painter/artist and accountmanager internal facilities for the beautiful city of Haarlem.

Important Links: Nancy Van den Bloom Etsy Shop, Nancy Van den Bloom Homepage, and Nancy Van den Bloom Blog

Where did you grow up and what did you like best about it?

I grew up in the village of Heemskerk in the Netherlands, a place close to the dunes and the NorthSea with sandy beaches. A wonderful place to grow up. Lots of space to play outside, ride horses, dwelling and experience nature, weather and all the nice things of being outside which I love so much. The house where I lived with my parents and brother was half a mile from the castle “Assumburg” , which was a youthhostel . This castle and its function made my youth very special. Lots of foreign visitors, people to talk with and even work in the weekends, when I was 15.

I prepared breakfast, cleaned the bedrooms and it was a very nice opportunity to explore the castle and almost feel at home in this special, romantic place.
I also had the possibility of ride the horse of the farmer next to the youth-hostel and I had a great time there. I still remember it all so well and I cherish the memories of it all. I had a very happy childhood.

Where do you live and what is the best part of living there?

Now I live in an even smaller village not far from the castle I described. The village is called Uitgeest. It is near a lake with lots of recreation, flat land with cattle, dunes nearby and luckily, also the NorthSea. I like it a lot to live in this village, I am familiar with the surroundings and enjoy the rural touch of it. And the cities Haarlem, Alkmaar and Amsterdam are very close (about 30 minutes drive), so when we look for something else than rural elements for a day, it’s easy to do. We can visit these towns with all the wonderful elements like art, culture, shops, movies, people and restaurants and then go back to the “peace” of our village. Here we can smell the grass!

Is there a particular secret about where you live that only the locals know?

I don’t think the people in my village are very good at keeping a secret longer than 1 hour! They love to discuss all, and very much in the open. Perhaps it would be a nice secret that there’s a treasure on the bottom of the lake (a non-discovered painting of Vincent van Gogh in a big trunk, I would love to dive it up!).

What term would you use to describe your creative talent: artist/craftsman(woman)/creator/other. Why is it you see yourself in this way?

I see my talent as an intuitive creator. I just put up a canvas and grasp those brushes! I kind of intuitively check the connection between me and the subject that I choose. If it feels ok, I start painting and if I don’t feel a connection, I let it go and start looking for something else. In this way I keep on working in the flow.

How did you begin with this creative process and how does it add to your life?

I used to draw a lot as a child and my father was quite an example for me. And I remember he played a lot with light in his work and I loved it. When I was a teenager I didn’t draw so much any more, other interests…Both of my parents are very creative, my mother did wonderful watercolors, she discovered this also quite late in her life, but was always creating, like making cloths for her and me and my dolls. So for a long time (from my 14th till my 44th) no painting or drawing….

In 2004 I had a negative, frustrating feeling about my work and I asked myself lots of questions about changing my career. I looked for help and got advice from an internal advisor, who works with people that got stuck in their work, like me at that time. She had clever strategies to get people in contact with what they really love, their passions. For example, I had to write a fake diary about my dreamed life when I would be in the right place doing what I love. I remember visualizing myself as an author at the time. I had no problem at all visualizing this! It was a great feeling. Another task was to make a painting of myself. I painted (with acrylic, no experience but for school) a tree, with strong roots, some broken branches, lots of light. I liked it a lot to paint I noticed. I thought, wow what’s this? She was surprised with what I presented her. I started another painting, a selfportrait of me, at 8. I remember thinking this is really me and I loved the vibrancy of this early painting. I loved to paint and quite fast I tried oil paint and that’s when I ultimately fell in love with painting. This medium was really mine and I painted very much in a short time. I painted so much I forgot about the problems at work so the advisor had done a wonderful job letting me discover my passion. From that moment on I developed my skills quite quickly since I painted every day, like crazy almost and wanted to learn. I had no education and found it all out by myself, on my own. In 2 years I got lots of commissions, even big ones (portrait of 5 people for a magazine) and I must admit, this was going all very, perhaps, too fast. The pressure got high and I forgot to enjoy almost.

Where you creative before this time? If so, what other creative arts do/did you dabble in?

I did a part-time education directing movies and made quite “non-professional” but quite ambitious movies, together with Cor, who’s a great cameraman/photographer. Together we made a 40-minutes fiction-movie (I made script, did direction) with which we became the champions of the non-professional league in the Netherlands and the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxumburg). We also made a shortfilm on making coffee. Sounds dull and like daily routine, but in this shortfilm making coffee is full of suspense, and we managed to make this ordinary subject quite special by giving it a glamorous and suspense-look. When the cup of coffee is prepared in the end of the film, it looks like a great achievement. This was fun of course.
I loved making films, it’s a great process from scratch to showing an audience, but it’s a very intense, energy-swallowing exercise with lots of people (just like the work I do), locations and technique. Painting is something I do by myself, no negotiations, just color, composition, my own ideas, I love working like this. It’s very good to keep balance for me.

Is there something in particular that you find inspiring?

There is so much that inspires me! But in particular…it isn’t going to be a very suprising answer I fear: nature, light and shadows, colors.

When you have a quiet moment to indulge yourself and there’s no one around to bother you, what is it you like to do best?

Hot bathtub, lots of foam, smell of perfume, candlelight with enough light to read a wonderful book, and ideas in my head for a new painting!

What type of music are you listening to at the moment? What does this music do for you?

I like lots of music. Soul like Al Green, Temptations, Aretha Franklin, and some jazz too, like Ella Fitzgerald. The mood, the swing, the warmth of heart is what I love about this music. And I can sing along many of the songs, since I hear them such a long time already. It always brings me in a good mood, if needed…

Where is the place that you have visited in the past, that you have particular fond memories of? Why?

It is a place in the Netherlands I visited last year, B&B De Ziel in Diepenheim. I was surprised by my own country. A green region so close, so inviting and wonderful. I spent 4 wonderful days there with Cor, the two of us. That was really special because we enjoyed the simple things in life so much: a good hotel, good bikes to ride on, the sun in our faces.

Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview that you feel our readers should know?

Being able to create is of the important things to be really happy for me. I wish all people to live out their creativity, for themselves but also for all those who can enjoy what we create. Therefore I am so glad I discovered ETSY!