Saturday, April 4, 2009
Artist Feature: Liz Smith of Made in Lowell & The Power of Suggestion
How many times has a well intentioned family member or friend offered you advice on something that you should be making? I know I often find myself rolling my eyes at my husband when he has one of his "great" ideas about what I should be making. After reading this great interview from Liz Smith of Madeinlowell.etsy.com, I am rethinking how I immediately dismiss these ideas. Who knows, the next suggestion might be the next big thing. Read below to see how a suggestion turned into a lovely work of art!
What inspired this piece?
I almost hate to admit this, but a lot of my greatest ideas are inspired by other people’s suggestions! I guess I can take credit for recognizing the genius idea from the not-so-great, and then for the execution of said idea. I can also take comfort that my original items inspire others to see new products I don’t always think of. The ideas that resonate with me the most create a feeling like a little bell ringing in my heart.
In this case an Etsy buyer saw one of my nest pins and sent a simple convo that said “Hi, I just love this cute little pin. I thought it would be great for my mom but I immediately thought of it as a pin cushion. Is there a way to add a bottom to it so you could stick pins in it?”Ding ding ding!
Can you detail how you translated your inspiration into your work of art?
I thought that was a great idea so I developed a pincushion using one of my felted nests. It took a while but I worked out a technical solution to make them three dimensional and once I did, I loved the result! After making several in my bestselling nest pin colors like green, blue and purple, I realized customers were referring to them by “flavor” and commenting that they resembled cupcakes. So I took it a step further and made them look like cupcakes deliberately and now the “vanilla and chocolate” pincushions are a best seller!
Where do you tend to find inspiration for your art pieces?
Besides listening to everyone’s ideas, I find visiting a bookstore and looking through all the craft how-to books plus the craft, design and fashion magazines is about all it takes to get the creative ideas flowing. I usually end up racing home to try a new "lt" discovered technique! Also I like taking a walk if the weather is nice, snapping photos of things I wouldn’t normally notice, trying to find the beauty in the mundane. Interacting with other like-minded crafters/artists also help to get my energy back.
Any advice for someone feeling uninspired?
I usually have more ideas than time, but not always the excitement needed to develop a new project. I recommend doing something that soothes your soul, for me this is a nature walk. Another thing that gets me going is looking through my art supplies, just getting out a box of something pretty and laying it all out on a table. I start to experience that happy, childlike feeling inside that I get from making things, and before I know it the inspiration is flowing again.
You can find all of Liz's lovely creations in her Etsy shop : Made in Lowell on Etsy
Want to follow Liz on her handmade journey? Check out her Mill Girl blog
Not only is Liz wonderful felt artists, but she is also a pretty amazing polymer clay artist too. Check out some of my favorites from her shop:
So take Liz's advice and listen to those suggestions. I know when I get custom orders, I often make things I would never make if they hadn't been asked of me. Take those opportunities to step out of your comfort zone and explore something new!