Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Crafting Avenue.

I first met Avery about a year ago, Avery has a shoppe called Avenue Handmade. She makes cool recycled jewelry out of spoons and hand stitches greeting cards to give them a textured effect.


How long have you been crafting?

My whole life, it seems! Being homeschooled from kindergarten on, I can't remember a time when I wasn't finding creative ways to occupy myself, coming up with projects or games to do with my brother and sister, or making toys or gifts out of miscellaneous household items. I once made an entire dollhouse out of cardboard boxes and furnished it with furniture (and dolls!) I made out of popsicle sticks, glue, and fabric scraps. Oh, and there was that switchboard system I created out of a cardboard box and a set of airplane earphones…I guess one of my favorite materials was cardboard. *grin* I also loved origami as a kid. And friendship bracelets—I think making those was pretty much a rite of passage for almost every girl growing up in the nineties. Friendship bracelets were the first craft I ever sold, I think. I was a Girl Scout in middle school, which is when I learned how to use a sewing machine and read a pattern—I think the first thing I made was a culotte set! Haha. In high school and beyond I learned to crochet, and continued to make things (clothes, jewelry, cards) for my own use, partly out of thriftiness, but also because most mass-produced items just didn't appeal to me in one way or another. I always handmade most of my Christmas gifts because I never had much money to buy things. The year I learned to crochet, everyone I knew got a crocheted scarf or hat or purse! In the past year or so I've kind of found my niche as far as jewelry goes. As my personal tastes and interests have evolved, I've developed a more distinct style in what I create—which ends up incorporating mostly vintage or recycled household items, so I guess you could say I've simply returned to my childhood roots. Recycled silverware jewelry isn't such a far cry from dollhouse furniture made of popsicle sticks, when you think about it.


Did you always craft in this genre?

Which genre? See above. :)



Who or what inspires you?

Well, there's the obvious: color, texture, pattern, shape--when I'm working on jewelry or making a scarf, my most immediate sources of inspiration are probably visual ones. But on a whole, I am inspired by stories--the stories inherent in old things (whose hand held the spoon handle I turned into a pendant? whose clothing was held on by one of my vintage buttons? who found their way with an old map that I made into a collage?), the stories that we create around objects that are important to us, the stories we tell about ourselves with what we create, or how we style ourselves. My husband and family inspire me to work hard, and to have confidence in myself.


What challenges have you found while taking your craft into the business world?

I think I was a bit naive when I began trying to sell my jewelry. I had no idea that the marketplace for handmade goods was so large--and so competitive. I struggled for a while, and it took me some time to find my own unique niche and style among the thousands and thousands of other artists who are already out there, being successful. It was a challenge to keep making what I love (rather than what I thought would sell) when I suddenly realized that my creations were just a tiny speck in an ocean, not the rare, unique things I had thought they were. Fortunately, I have some incredible friends who are not afraid to tell it like it is and who really helped me get some perspective on the issue, and although I may not be as successful as I'd hoped by this point, I feel like I am beginning to really come into my own as a designer and artist--and that's so much more important.

Marketing is a challenge for me. It's not in my nature to self-promote. But I'm learning. Also, I'm not a very business-minded person, so I have always been pretty intimidated at the thought of getting incorporated and paying taxes and treating my craft like the legitimate business that it is. I'd much rather just go back to the barter system or something...keep it simple, right? But that's not the world we live in, so I'm trying to adapt. I just officially incorporated my business! Now I have to start collecting and reporting sales tax...but that's a challenge I don't want to think about right now.


I'm sure she'd love to hear from you! Let her know what you think of her perdy jewels! :)

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