Monday, June 7, 2010

Feature Artist #2 - Ring-a-ling

Name: Ring-a-ling
Country: United States
Etsy Store: ringalingbybeth

Why do you love vintage? What inspires you to create pieces using vintage materials?
I love the idea of something being unique. It is really easy these days to get mass produced items, but when something is handmade or vintage it is nostalgic and special. It sets you apart. There is a sense of something living on and having a whole other life......that is the cool thing about repurposing items. When I find a cool vintage button or old clip on earring I think where did this come from? It gets a whole new life once I make it into a ring.

What type of feedback do you get from your buyers - why they love your pieces so much?
My rings are conversation pieces. When people buy them or comment on them are , they are 99% surprised to find out they are buttons or vintage earrings etc.
I guess when people think of buttons they think of a sew through plain flat button, and the buttons I search for are unique and most do not look like typical buttons. So they appreciate that they are one-of-a-kind pieces, wearable art.

Where do you see repurposing and recreating designs out of vintage materials going in the future?
I think these days people are keen on recycling items and buying more organic and earth friendly items. I think there has been a surge of helping the environment, and going back to basics in a way.

I know for myself, anything that reminds me of my grandmother always makes me feel sentimental. Whether it be a juice glass she had in her kitchen or an old button that she had on her favorite sweater it always evokes a nice memory.

What would you say to someone starting off in this style of design?
I would say it is oodles of fun, but it is hard work. Out of every 100 buttons that I search through, I would say that I make a ring out of 5 interesting pieces that I come across. It is a little like art, where it is subjective, not every one is going to like every ring I make, that is why I try to create a variety. It is funny because I try to love all the rings I make, but honestly every once in awhile I will make a ring that is not my particular taste or color palette but I know that everyone is different, so I try to think of everyone's taste level and style, not always just my own.

What is your goal with your craft?
I want to have fun with it, and Iam also hoping it will prove to be extremely lucrative:) I would say that it is important for me to provide rings that are affordable, but also special as well. I like the fact that there is a
story behind each item, that is the whole beauty of handmade vintage items.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Magazines, flea markets, televison. Every once in awhile I will see someone on tv and think "Her outfit needs a big chunky ring.....I have just the one".

What advice would you give to crafters just starting out?
Seeing as I am still in the beginning stages I do not have many words of wisdom, but I would say take pride in what you do. If you love what you create, that is most important.

I mean it is a lot nicer when other people also enjoy what you do:), but you have to enjoy it yourself first. Crafting is fun, but when you try to create a business out of it, it does

take on a whole other life. There are things you probably won't enjoy as much as the creation bookeeping or promotion. It is a different experience for each individual.

Please visit Ring-a-lings or make contact via email

xoxo Amelia

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vintage Designers and Sellers - June Feature

Hi Everyone!

I'm finally back from my holiday and I had a fantastic time. I'll post some photos of the trip to Taiwan as well as a few sneak peaks of the pieces and materials that I brought back with me to make special things for you all.

In the meantime I'd like to announce my first Feature Artist in my Vintage Designers and Sellers June Feature. I'll be posting one new artist/seller a week so stay tuned! They are all fabulous and have great initiative and ideas!

Name: Nathalie
Country: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Etsy Store: Natural History Retro Jewelry aka Eco Retro Bling
Why do you love vintage?
I abhor shopping - I really do. I rarely go to stores anymore, I almost always leave disappointed and empty handed. I prefer to buy second-hand, vintage or handmade. The increased demand for cheaper and cheaper prices has resulted in poor quality mass-produced goods not to mention a skewed sense of the true value of things. I have a vintage percolator that is made entirely of metal (!) with no need for a disposable paper filter: It's is a beautiful thing:) The other reason vintage appeals to me is that it's an easy way to be eco-friendly and not be so dependent on a specific product designed for one specific use. I use vintage mug holders and dishes to hold my jewelry. I make gift bags out of vintage childrens books. I buy all my clothes, furniture, dishes, etc, second-hand or vintage. Not only is the quality often better but they have their own unique charm and aesthetic.
What inspires you to create pieces using vintage materials?
My goal from the beginning was to make my jewelry as eco-friendly as possible. Sure you can buy recycled materials but even the process of recycling uses up energy and resources.With vintage it's all there ready to be used. I use mostly un-circulated vintage stock from US jewelry manufacturers that operated until they could no longer compete with the overseas market. The materials have been sitting in boxes and shelves for sometimes 50 years + waiting to be used. There's so much materials out there waiting to be used, and not just for jewelry but everything from paper crafts to sewing.
What type of feedback do you get from your buyers - as in why do they love your pieces so much? The most common response I get is how unique my jewelry is compared to what is available in box stores. I think this is often a result of things that are made by someone who is also involved emotionally and creatively in what they make. I prefer buying handmade for those reasons and can't see myself ever buying a mass-produced gift again! There is also a creativity that results from having a limitation on what you can use. Anyone who chooses to use eco-friendly materials, whether it be vintage, recycled, organic, etc, soon finds out that it's not the easiest thing to do. You can't resort to going to the craft store everytime you need a certain material. That limitation forces you to think outside the box and the result can be the creation of your own personal style.
Where do you see repurposing and recreating designs out of vintage materials going in the future? With the increased demand for eco-friendly products vintage has become much more popular and in the handmade market it's actively sought after by buyers looking for something unique so it is very much a 'material of the future' for crafters.

What would you say to someone starting off in this style of design?
I don't think there is such a thing as a vintage design. Using vintage materials you can create very modern looking items. I think whatever your style, no matter how contemporary, you should definitely look into using vintage as a source of materials, you might be surprised at what you can create. There are also a lot more suppliers who sell used and un-used vintage then there used to be so it's really not that hard to find nowadays. Be prepared to pay more though and reflect that in the price of your items: people who want eco-friendly and vintage-made know they are buying something valuable and are willing to pay for it: you shouldn't try to compete with similar products made with new materials. Also advertise that you use vintage - it is not something to be ashamed of but something to be proud of.

What do you want to see more of in the world of vintage?
It would be nice for vintage to hit a more mainstream audience but it so goes against the consumerist imperative to constantly buy things that it seems destined to remain in the small business/handmade arena. We hear all this talk of eco-friendly products but it's just another marketing scheme to get you to buy more stuff while feeling good for 'doing something for the environment'. There is nothing eco-friendly about buying detergent in a disposable plastic bottle I don't care how many pictures of flowers it has on the label:). Really the best thing you can do for the environment is to stop buying so much stuff, the second is to re-use what you can and third to recycle the rest: "reduce, re-use, recycle" should be practiced in that order.

Please visit Nathalie's