Hello, beautiful blog readers! This week at Craftland has been an exciting one as we gear up for our Holiday Sale. Opening all the new product from our artists has been like a constant early Christmas morning! This week I talked to one of our seasoned artists whose adorable accessories would make anyone with a soul feel just a little bit warmer on these increasingly chilly days. I'll let her introduce herself...
Hi! I'm Eling! Sole proprietor & do-er of all things for migration goods. I'm a color, texture, pattern, nature, and detail-obsessed designer & maker of accessories and cute things. For years I worked with hand-dyed wool & fiber, dyeing & spinning yarn, and knitting accessories. I still do that, but now most of my business is based on tiny pieces of felt & fabric, which I sew into intricate accessories & sweet decorations. I also incorporate my nature & cute-inspired designs into illustrations. I'm working on my very first calendar!
I work in my converted-mill studio in Lowell, Massachusetts. My studio is a spacious 434 square feet, but I've packed it completely full of my favorite supplies & inspiration, and set it up with multiple workspaces to accommodate whatever projects I'm currently working on. Our building has been undergoing lots of exciting renovations & expansions, and is now outfitted with over 300 studio spaces! My nearby studio neighbors include friends & fellow Craftland artists Liz Smith of Made in Lowell & Heather Wang of Heather Wang Jewelry!
What first drew you to felting and sewing? Is it something you grew up with or an interest you developed later on in life?
I grew up making and crafting with my mom at home; not really much sewing or work with wool, but I do remember doing a bit of cross-stitch & needlepoint. I was always drawing or playing with clay or something. I didn't get into wool until my first winter living in Maine. Even though I grew up in New England, it was FREEZING and we were hunkered down inside A LOT. My boss' elderly mother taught me to knit, and that led to spinning which led to dyeing which led to felting. Eventually the felting dropped to the background & I got hooked on working with little tiny pieces of felt, and assembling them into a larger whole. I *have* always liked puzzles...
Can you describe your process?
I am really a jump right in kind of girl. And easily distracted. So when I get an idea, I have to immediately grab a sketchbook (I have at least a dozen stashed all over the place) and jot down/sketch out what I'm thinking about, because otherwise, it will completely disappear from my brain very quickly. And when I sit down to make prototypes, I don't work from patterns. For accessories, I freehand cut everything and lay everything out, adding & removing pieces & components & materials until I am happy with the initial design. Then I repeat in multiple colors & materials, tweaking as I go along, until I'm satisfied. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sometimes hundreds of times, depending on the type of item and quantity I'm working on. But I'm really happiest making one-of-a-kind items that are filled with tiny & ridiculous (intricate, silly, hidden) details.
Is there an ideal customer reaction you strive for when making your work?
Everything I make will ideally induce some kind happiness or joy. Not the earth-shattering, life-changing type, but the every day perk-you-up kind. I hope that the things I make are pretty, silly, or cute in a way that brightens someone's day or brings a smile to their face. And I know when a person laughs out loud at or notices a detail that is not obvious but satisfying to me, that I've found a person who really GETS what I'm doing.
What drives you to create?
I'm not sure; it's just something I've always done, even when I wasn't making a living from it. I just love the process of turning an idea into art or tangible thing. I'm also terrible at sitting still, and it seems like my mind is always teeming with ideas, so that probably adds to it. I guess I mostly just think the world is full of terrible, impersonal & thoughtlessly-made things (and thoughtless, careless actions), and that my taking the time to carefully design and make things with my own two hands somehow counteracts that just a little tiny bit.
Any hobbies? What do you do when you are not crafting wares for Migration Goods?
Too many, for sure. I am just a teeny bit pre-occupied with food, cooking, and traveling (which always involves food). Cooking (& new this year-- baking!) have become my relaxing go-to activities when I need a break from making for migration. And pinning recipes to make. I am also a bit of an obsessive-compulsive reader. Once I start a book & become engrossed I almost always stay up all night to finish it. This, unfortunately, is why I don't start books during the holiday season. At least I have my other constant companions, NBA basketball & Netflix instant (recently: anime & historical dramas) to keep me company from October to December. And during non-crunch-time seasons, I actually craft for fun too! I know, the concept is mind-blowing.
Random question: pie or cake and why?
Definitely pie. I don't like frosting (*ducks and covers*) and also, I feel like pie includes savory options, which I am all about.
Thanks so much Eling for sharing a bit more about yourself! If you want to see more of her work, you can go to http://migration.bigcartel.com, and be sure to check back next week for another post!