Monday, December 20, 2010

Big Sky Artworks

Q How did you come up with your shop name?
A Montana is Big Sky Country. I had a graphic design business called Big Sky Imaging a while back, and this name just seemed like a natural extension of that. I chose the “Artworks” part because I create all different kinds of art, from mosaic tile to paintings to sculpture to pottery. My Etsy store has ended up being mostly sculpted pottery with some jewelry – but I wanted to keep my options for listings as open as possible.

Q How did you hear about Etsy?
A To be honest, I don’t really know. I think I was just browsing the Internet one day and ran across it. I found the site long before I finally made the jump and got an account.

Q How long have you been on Etsy?
A I first signed up in April of 2009. I made a few purchases, did a little browsing, and thought about setting up a store. I didn’t make THAT leap until Nov. 1 of the same year – so it has been a little over a year that my store has been open. Now that I am on Etsy as a seller, I’m sorry I took so long – it has been a great experience.

Q Is Etsy a full time job or something you do on the side?
A Both! I am employed full-time as a teacher, but there are times when it seems like I am working two full-time jobs, especially during the busy holiday season. I read features like “I Quit My Day Job,” and I can’t imagine even wanting to do that. I love to create, but I love to teach, too. And if I had to rely on creating to pay my bills, I feel like it would take some of the fun out of it. As it is, anything I sell is just gravy – fun money for gifts and travel.

Q Since you make handmade items, do you buy handmade as well?
A Most of the time, if I see something handmade that I like, I will figure out how to make it. If it is something I can’t or don’t have time to make, I do buy from other Etsy sellers. My latest addiction is handmade soaps – I’m pretty sure I’m much cleaner than I used to be, because I go out of my way to use all the nice-smelling, pretty soaps!

Q Do you prefer handmade over factory made?
A I suppose it depends on the item. A handmade car, for instance, might not be terribly efficient. But for gifts, and for special possessions, nothing beats handmade. There’s something personal about an item that someone has made by hand. It’s like there’s a little bit of love in it. You don’t get that from a factory.

Q What is one of your favorite items that you've made?
A I’m not sure why, but I love my pig mugs. Every one of them has what I call its own “piganality.” Each one is different, has a different expression, a different feeling. The sculpted mugs make me smile, even while I’m making them.

Q What's the hardest part about the items you make?
A I hate waiting – and there is a lot of waiting in pottery. First you throw the pot and wait for it to dry enough to sculpt. Then you sculpt it and wait for it to dry enough to trim. Then you trim it and put a handle on it, and wait for it to dry enough to fire. Then you wait for it to cool. Then you glaze it, and fire it again. This time you have to wait even longer for it to cool... but it’s worth it. Opening the kiln after a glaze firing is like Christmas morning when you were a little kid. You never know what you’re going to get, but you know it’s going to be exciting.

Q What inspires you?
A I get my ideas from lots of different sources – friends, my kids, my husband, the Etsy chat room, and pretty often just my crazy imagination. My Male Chauvinist Pig mug, for instance, occurred to me as I was walking down the hall at work – and the vision of the pig with a handlebar mustache made me burst out laughing.

Q What would you say to a person just starting out in the handmade world?
A Believe in your product. Constantly strive to improve. Don’t push for sales – it will only make you crazy. Look at other people’s stores to see what they are doing right – and what they are doing wrong. Evaluate your own store critically. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to succeed. Above all, don’t forget to have fun creating.

FaceBook Fan Page: Big Sky Artworks
Twitter: bigskyartworks

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