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

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