Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Crafty Panda Girl is Rocking Recycled Jewelry

I am proud to be making a post for another amazing Etsy seller that will be vending with me this Saturday! She is an amazing artist making unique jewelry out of everyday items that she has recycled and re-purposed to become awesome pieces that make great accessories and gifts!

My name is Melissa and I live in the suburbs of Baltimore with my feline companion, a very chubby Tuxedo named 35.  By day, I work at a non-profit human services agency that serves adults with developmental disabilities, Athelas Institute in Columbia, Maryland.  My educational background is in art, I have a AA from The Community College of Baltimore County.  In addition to fine art, I've studied computer graphics, dance, and music.

1. What types of items do you make?
Unique one-of-a-kind jewelry made from recycled computer keyboards, vintage game pieces, dominoes, guitar picks and other found and altered objects.

2. How long have you been crafting and how long have you been selling on Etsy?
Since I was a small child. I've always loved to "make things" and explore and collect.

My grandmothers were two very different women and I had the great fortune of being able to spend lots of time with them both growing up.  Both of their influences can be seen in my work.

On the one hand, my "Mama" taught me to sew and rummage around rummage sales, thrift stores, attics and basements, looking for "the good stuff."  She and my grandfather had a summer home on the Chesapeake Bay near Calvert Cliffs, where we would spend long days digging for fossils and combing the beach for any treasures the waves had washed up and deposited.

My "Dee Dee" on the other hand, took me for long walks in the woods and taught me to love and admire nature, she took me to the movies, where I developed my love for film, she loved to collect photographs and installed in me a love for photography and capturing and preserving images of things that I love.

Now I spend my winter weekends in thrift stores and antique shops looking for what I consider "the good stuff."  I salvage what I can to turn into something beautiful and new.  Summers are spent in secret spots searching for sea glass or looking through the forest for bottle dumps or any other discarded items from yesterday that I can renew and make useful again.

My Etsy shop has been open since September of 2011.

3. What is your most favorite item that is currently listed in your shop and why? (ie was it challenging, something new..)
I am fond of this piece, in particular.  I love the colors, blue is my favorite.  The vintage feel and the theme of flying away to a distant place combined with those dark blues, gives it a very dreamy feel.

4. How would you describe your process?
I don't really know if it could be considered a process but here's how it goes.  I find trash, I bring it home, I stare at it for a while and suddenly I yell out, "YES," and something new is born.  Or, that's it in a nutshell.  Seriously, sometimes I just pick something up and buy it with no idea what's going to happen to it, just a thought that I can do something with it.  sometimes before I get home, I know the answer and sometimes it sits on a shelf and in the back of my mind for months before an idea comes.

5.Are you working on anything new that you would like to share with my readers?
Right now, I'm working on staining, stamping and decoupaging domino pendants.  This is a new project for me and I absolutely love making them.  I think that these pendants allow for a lot more artistic expression than my previous projects have and I like the ethereal feel that they have.

6. Is there any new item or even different type of medium, art, or craft that you would like to start working with?  If so. what is it?
I've learned how to drill my beach glass, which has opened up a whole world of possibilities in that area.  I bought a metal stamping kit a few weeks ago and haven't really done anything with it yet.  My hope is to learn the metal stamping and oxidation process then combine handmade stamped charms with the beach glass for some pendants and earrings.

7. Since you are from Maryland, What is your favorite place to visit in Baltimore and why? If you don't do Baltimore, you can say somewhere else that is local ;)
My favorite place to visit in Baltimore is Hampden.  Why?  Because it IS Baltimore.  I love the shops, I love the people, I love the food, the festivals, the atmosphere ...

8. What advice would you give to a knew Etsy seller?
New Etsy sellers, be patient and persistent, sales don't happen overnight and they also aren't delivered by the sales faery.  You have to work hard, network, join groups, grow your circle, promote, promote, promote, make friends and most of all have fun!

If you would like to get more info about this seller, events, and her shop, please check her out on Facebook and Twitter as well as her Etsy Shop.

You can also buy some of her awesome items this Saturday at The Day With The Girls event this Saturday! Check my Facebook Fan Page for more details!

Green Street Mosaics

One of the best things about being a crafter is the amazingly talented people you meet through Etsy and craft shows. I have met so many creative men and women in the past year alone that it is almost difficult to keep up with them all. This Saturday, I will be meeting a lovely lady that is the proud and talented owner of Green Street Mosaics on Etsy!

I had a few questions to get to know this seller a little bit better and this is what I learned about her!

1. What types of items do you make?

Mosaics for the home and office

2. How long have you been crafting and how long have you been selling on Etsy?

I have been making mosaics for a few years, been selling on Etsy since Feb 2012

3. What is your most favorite item that is currently listed in your shop and why?

My favorite item is a personalized name mosaic for a little girl named Katie. It is in several shades of pink and took a very long time to make.


4. How would you describe your process?

If it is a custom order I work very closely with my customers. I send tile samples so the colors will coordinate with their existing decor. For name mosaics it is constant communication and several drafts of proofs before the tile work even begins. For items that I sell on Etsy I love to mix and match color combos. I lay out all of the tiles before I begin. Each tile is handcut and placed carefully. After grouting, all tiles are polished and sealed.  

5.Are you working on anything new that you would like to share with my readers?

I just started making mosaic necklaces that I will "debut" at the craft fair on Saturday.

A Hook

6. Is there any new item or even different type of art or craft that you would like to start working with?  If so. what is it?

I am looking forward to working on Christmas ornaments this winter!


7. Since you are from Maryland, What is your favorite place to visit in Baltimore and why? 

I love going to the inner harbor in Baltimore - especially since my husband is a boat captain on the water taxi there!

How awesome is this!?!! Officially jealous!

8. What advice would you give to a knew Etsy seller?

Be patient, be active, be persistent. Join teams and ask questions.

If you would like to see more amazing pieces by Green Street Mosaics you can find her on Etsy, Pintrest, Wanelo, and Facebook.

You can also meet this lovely artisan at A Day With The Girls, this Saturday! Please check my shop's Facebook fan page for more details!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Marina de Van is In My Skin

I pride myself on saying that I will watch any thing at least once. I may not want to pay $12 to see it in a theater, but in the comfort of my own home, I will watch anything. The good, the bad, the low budget, the gore, the cutesy, the bland, the stomach churning, the over the top, and even the controversial. I don't care. It's who I am. I recently watch a film that was mentioned in an article a friend passed my way called In My Skin.

In My Skin is a French film that isn't quite horror, nor is it shocking as far as gore hound standards of today go, but I kept hearing about it and had to see what all the fuss was about. The film takes place in France and revolves around a lady named Esther. She has a boyfriend, a close friend that she works with, and is trying to get a better position at her company. Normal, right?

Early on in the film, Esther is at a party where she injures herself in a dark area. She doesn't think much of it and continues drinking. When she goes to the restroom, she discovers blood and skin all over the floor and soon realizes that it is coming from her. She lifts up her pants leg to find a huge, gaping, lesion on her right leg. She freaks out that someone will find out, covers her leg up, and goes back to party. Not only does this bloody loon go back to the party, but she says she is not tired and recommends that her friends go to a bar with her for another drink. Eventually, Esther goes to a hospital.

While at the hospital, the doctor working on Esther asks her a series of questions. He can tell that the wound is not very recent. He asks her why she waited so long to come to the hospital. Esther claims she didn't notice anything was wrong. The doc then says he has heard of shock doing strange things to people, but that at the very least she should have felt her leg being torn open. When you see the gaping wound from hell that goes from her knee to her ankle on the side of her right leg, you will understand why this is so astonishing. Again, Esther plays stupid and says she felt nothing. The doctor is now concerned and has her look away while to touches her with a smooth, flat items and a needle and makes her say if she feels something smooth or sharp. She passes with flying colors and is released to go home.

At first Esther doesn't tell anyone, but gradually her boyfriend and close friend find out about her wound. They are concerned and try to monitor how she is healing. Meanwhile, Esther is becoming obsessed with the wound. She sneaks away from her desk at work to look at it and touch it, but this is not enough. She has decided to start to cut and carve into her own skin that wasn't cut during her initial injury. From here on, things only get worse. I won't give away the ending or the dinner she has with clients or the date she has with herself and a knife at a hotel room, but if you can last that long, you won't be super disappointed.

There is some interesting info about the film and it's director that I am going to share. I tried to learn more about the film and the director, but there isn't much floating around about either. What I can tell you is that this is a French film that came out in 2002. In 2003 it won the the title of Best International Film at the Fant-Asia Film Festival. The main character of this film is played by a French woman named Marina de Van. Marina also wrote and directed this film. Marina was born and raised in France, has a degree in philosophy and went to film school. She has made a few films and has won some awards in the past. In My Skin was her first feature film.

Watching this film was unsettling. Not necessarily because of the shock value, blood, and self mutilation, in my opinion. Throughout the film, Esther becomes obsessed with harming herself. She almost never seems to be in pain, but she definitely is getting a rush from the experience. I don't fully understand why she becomes to obsessed with cutting herself. Before she starting hurting herself intentionally she was so embarrassed about her leg that she wouldn't tell any one about it and always made sure it was covered, even when it was mostly healed. She was very careful to make sure no one apart from her friends knew about it. At one point her wound reopens at a public place, staining her khaki pants with blood. The look on her face is unforgettable. She turns pale and looks like she is struggling to breathe and focus. She then runs to her car to change her clothes before any one notices, but at the same time she brags about the first time she cuts herself intentionally.  Maybe I am unsettled by this behavior because it doesn't sound like typical behaviors of a self mutilator.

Most self mutilators don't brag about their behavior or show it off. In fact, most will go out of their way to make sure no one finds out, even if this means wearing long sleeved shirts in summer or cutting themselves close to their underwear so no one is likely to see the scabs and scars. Also, a lot of self mutilators are people that feel like they need to be punished, usually by a behavior that isn't their fault. For instance, there is a large correlation between self mutilation and victims of rape. I also know that there are some circumstances where people that have a negative body image of themselves use self mutilation to take their anger out on themselves. However, the only thing the main character was ever concerned about was the wound she had gotten by accident, so it doesn't make sense to me that she would become obsessed with self mutilation, unless she did it for the rush.

In any case, this is a movie that I have watched once and will most likely only watch once.