Saturday, 5 January 2013

12 Days Of Etsy: Mama Gourds

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Tongue in cheek, I think of myself as an illustrator gone awry. During and after college I worked as a freelance illustrator, doing any kind of creative job I could get my hands on. The variety was so much fun – from painting color swatches for a fabric designer to wall murals, renderings, newspaper ads, brochures for car dealers, etc. Whew! It was quite a whirlwind of survival, but I was young and hungry!
Then I landed a dream job working for a stationery company full time. Fast forward ten years or so, and there I was, out in the country, with a house, husband, and two daughters, not to mention the assorted menagerie of dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs. Oh, and a gigantic garden.
I had since stopped working professionally to care for my family, but that creative restlessness refused to leave me alone. One year on a lark I grew some gourds in the garden; when they dried, we painted them - that should be end of story and on to the next kid craft of mud pies or pinecone animals. But then my lovely Sister-in-law requested more painted gourds. Then someone uttered the fateful words “YOU COULD SELL THOSE.” I was off and running. NEVER in my life would I have thought my skills would be directed at gourds, especially professionally. Good grief, how odd. Even the word ‘Gourd’ is odd. I’ve gone awry but now I never want to go back!

2. How did you choose your shop name?

I chose my shop name because I now was a ‘mama’ to my daughters as well as all these little gourd personalities; they were all my ‘babies.’ For the first time, after many a year working closely with an art director, I was making all the creative decisions myself, and every piece felt so personal. I used to joke around that I was selling my children! I think all you fellow artists know what I’m talking about.

3. What do you enjoy making the most?

It’s difficult to say which piece I enjoy creating the most. Of course I always get excited about working on a new idea, or some interesting gourd shape I’ve found, but I tend to fall in love with whatever piece I’m working on. I suppose that is why my shop isn’t jam-packed: I’m slow because I tend to linger on the details. I’ve been told, as a businessperson I should ‘get over that,’ but it is precisely what makes it so fun! The gourd develops a backstory. I always thought it was a little weird how artists could talk about their work as separate from themselves, as if characters they invented somehow evolved on their own. I understand that better now. Ha! As I’m looking at this silly gnome sitting on my painting table. (what has he been up to?)

4. What is the best seller in your shop?

I think the Santas are the best sellers, but perhaps I should say the most consistent sellers. That may be due to the fact that I’ve made them most consistently over the past few years. Though I have been more interested in making them with curving wonky heads……or no neck…..or long skinny bodies.........or as snowmen……or……..

5. Your work sells all over the world, in which parts of the world is your work most popular?

So far my work is most popular in the U.S., where I live. But what a delight to think there are snowmen in China, mermaids in Australia, various little egg people in the UK, etc. How lucky is that?

6. What inspires you?

My inspiration comes from many different sources: my family, our animals, books, fairy tales, movies, etc. All of it! Good ideas are all over the place! I once drove by a young woman waiting at the bus stop – she was such a dazzling combination of colors that I had to stop and take her picture. (Yes, I asked her permission, and yes, she thought I was a nut. I suppose I was.) There are so many artists and illustrators whose work I love : Lynne Munsinger, Maurice Sendak (have you ever seen his illustrations for the Grimm Fairy Tales?), James Christenson, Tasha Tudor, Janet Ahlberg, Gustav Klimt and Jane Sassaman, to name a very few. When I discovered artists such as as Nicol Sayre, Lori Mitchell, and Dee Foust, they opened a window to what might be possible.

7. How long have you been crafting?

'Mama Gourds' has been ticking along for about 5 years now, though I have been creating since I was a kid. I used to spend hours and hours (and later days) constructing miniature villages and towns for these tiny rubber animals I had, usually outside. I always loved drawing and painting, and followed that love through college. While I had excellent skills, my drawings and paintings always seemed to have a sort of a stiff quality to them; now I know why. I think I have found my calling!

8. What are your other hobbies?

Being a Mom, a wife and a small business owner does not leave a large amount of time for extra hobbies! You could say growing the gourds I use is a hobby. Or even just gardening – I keep trying to cultivate my garden as an enchanted place, though it remains a battleground for the armies of snails, bugs and seemingly endless gophers. 

9. Do you collect anything?

Over the years I have wall-papered the inside of my garden shed with all the seed packets I’ve used; though to look at it, you’d never guess I really have planted all those seeds. Darn gophers. So I collect seed packets. 

10. What is your favourite Christmas tradition?

My favorite part of Christmas is all the twinkly Christmas lights! I wish they could be up all year.

11. Do you have a favourite Christmas song or carol?

As far as Christmas carols, it is not so much a favorite song as it is a favorite way of singing them. I tend to steer towards bad renditions of Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas,” while the girls like to do silly voices of “Rudolf” or “Frosty.” Usually one will start singing, and the rest of us will get the song stuck in our heads, then we'll create own own wacky versions. My Husband does a lot of eye-rolling this time of year.

12. What is the funniest Christmas present you have ever been given?

One of the funniest Christmases we had was when we purchased a trampoline for the girls, but it did not arrive in time for Christmas. I forged a note from Santa explaining that he had brought them a trampoline, but when he came down the chimney, he landed on it and it broke. He’d had too many cookies! It was cute and funny until the girls started telling everyone they saw about ‘Santa’s mistake;’ then every family member and friend could see how disorganized we were that year. Ah, well. We are still jumping on it!

Many thanks to Lisa From Mama Gourds for taking part in this feature. Click here to visit her Etsy shop.

1 comment:

  1. A charming, intriguing interview! I'm delighted to have been introduced to this gourd revamping goddess who's wondrous work has me sitting here all smiles! :)