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, 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!


Liz Smith said...

Wow, Tamara, you make me feel like a rcok star! Thanks so much for asking me those interesting questions!!

Candace said...

Wow, what a great interview! Liz's work is truly amazing and is always an inspiration to me.

Elise of Argyle Whale said...

Liz is one of my absolute favorites and this was a very interesting interview. I also often dismiss the helpful ideas of others because I'm busy with my own. Perhaps I should try.

Stacey said...

Liz makes beautiful creations!! I am especially fond of the nest hair ties, thinking of getting one one of these days. Very nice feature. :)


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