Friday Feature, Special Organizers Edition! September 17, 2010 09:00 1 Comment

Happy Friday, Everyone! This Friday's artist interview is Part 1 of the new Special Organizers Edition! I've been having so much fun getting to know all of you, that I thought you might enjoy getting to know all of us. I decided to start with our very own Margaret Carleton of Rainbow Sugar. Previously known as Craftland's "Kingpin", she's informed me that she's since changed her title to "founder and overseer, to seem more of the people." She's one of the people we can all thank for the great idea that has turned into the real life Craftland and she's also the artist who made those amazing lamps currently in our front window. I hope you enjoy my interview with Margaret, have a great weekend, everyone!    

Please tell us a little bit about the background of how Craftland first came to be back in 2002?
Providence itself was an inspiration. I met a huge creative community here, unlike anywhere else I have been.  My friend Johanna Fisher (the genius behind Gimmick jewelry) and I became so interested in and excited by the crazy amazing things we were seeing being made by people we knew.  We wanted to create a space to showcase what we both found so integral to our experience and love of this place. We have always had such a great response from artists and craftspeople as well as from the community that has turned out to support us, that we keep coming back for more.

What is it about Providence that you think helps a place like Craftland succeed?
I think artists and creative people are attracted to Providence because of it's strange gritty industrial beauty, and it's ocean air.  Even with all the elegant historic structures, change is always seeping in around the corners. At Craftland, we like to stay connected to those underground currents while inhabiting a super fancy corner in beautiful Downcity Providence.  So, I think our customers like to investigate what is happening around them and delight in the creative forces that inhabit Providence. 

When did you start your own handmade business?
I have always been busy making things, mostly to give away.  I started rainbowsugar in 2001, when I visited my sister in New Orleans and saw people melting old Mardi Gras beads into suncatchers and other terrible geegaws and decided I could do it better.

Describe your studio for us.
I have lots of little set-ups for different projects. My kitchen table usually has at least two projects going. Most paper stuff is upstairs to stay nice and dry, but I have an etching press and printmaking studio in my basement. My plastics are also down there. I have shelves and shelves of beads to work with, all arranged by color.

Honey, jam, earrings, lamps, frames with kittens on them, how do you balance all these different creative forces?
I have a short attention span? I like to stay busy? Idle hands are the Devil's workshop? Are you calling me crazy?
p.s. The bees make the honey, I just put it in jars.  p.p.s. You forgot the kitty toys.

What advice would you offer to an artist or crafter who wants to take their craft from hobby to business?
Stay creative, stay interested, don't get in a rut with production so that you don't have time to improve, innovate, make new stuff.  There are soooo many people selling their wares at shows and online that your own mark is really important, be original. Represent yourself well- get excellent images, spell check and use correct grammar, be helpful, cheerful, punctual, and say your prayers.  Being nice really counts, trust me. 

What are some important things you consider when choosing artists for Craftland?
I think I am always looking to be amazed and delighted by something I haven't seen before.  I want to see the care taken in making a piece.  Originality, craftsmanship, materials, packaging, presentation are all important.  Make what you dream of, only with nicer seams. Caulk and hair tiny journals? Yes please.  Hand screened stuffed ninjas? Of course!  Cards with funny talking potato chips? Bring em on! 

Guilty Pleasure?