When I first saw TsuruBride's fabulous clutches on Etsy I nearly died. They were so clever and sweet and funky. I have been coveting one ever since. I love her work and detail and just had to chat with her about her creations.
Can you describe yr art and process? Tell us a bit about yrself?
When I was 6 or 7 I started sewing really ugly clothes for my Barbie doll and then my mom taught me to sew with a machine. I went to school for fashion, and I work full time in the apparel industry, and since I was working with clothes every day, I got out of sewing for a while. But then, my step-daughter wanted me to make some clothes for her dolls, and that helped to reignite my interest in sewing. Since I still didn't want to play with grown-up clothes I ended up making some purses for myself, and then my friends wanted some, and I thought, hey maybe some other people might some of these as well! My design aesthetic has always been a little quirky, which is why in school I focused on costume design – where you can be a quirky as you want to be. Our entire house has become my studio: in our spare room I have a sewing machine that I sew all my leather on, I keep my leather stash in the bedroom, I have another sewing machine in the kitchen, a serger the hallway and a holdable cutting table in the living room. Fortunately I also have a super supportive husband!
So- Can you just tell me a few things that inspire you? And how you work- yr process?
Oh man, I feel like everything can inspire me. =) My husband is a photographer so I'll get inspired by his images and his eye all the time. I'll use music, movies or books to help find ideas, or even seasons (oh how I wish I had time to make Christmas ornaments this year….) Sometimes I'll be out and see an album cover with a rabbit on it and suddenly I'm like "that's it!" and I'm off to create my next project. Sometimes custom work has inspired me to branch out into additional products, or really any interaction I have with customers gets my brain moving.
I start with a rough sketch of my idea, and form there I draft a pattern. My patterns are made on card stock, and I'll then trace around these on the leather. I'll then cut everything out and start sewing. I try to make things in batches, 4 owls here, a couple of clutches there. I keep the batches small so I can complete them in a short time period and feel like I've accomplished something. Whenever I try a new product I'll make a couple and see how they do. On my blog, when I was making totes, I posted pics taking readers through the process.
I want to know some things about what is it really like to be a working artist…the good and the bad? What are the three top things you wish you would have known before you
started this art/etsyjourney?
The good is definitely creative freedom. While I love custom orders, there's the joy that comes from experimenting with new products or new designs. You also have the freedom to set your own pace. In many ways, especially with Etsy, you have control over how much business you have.
The bad – stress! I try to be as organized as possible, but before a big show, or the Christmas season, it's hard not to get stressed out worrying if everything will get done in time. However, you are setting your own limits, so perhaps this show will have a little less stock, and would it really be the worse thing ever?
Before starting I wish I had done a little more research into suppliers. I started the business with leftover leather from my school days. That leather is now long gone, and it's been trial and error to find suppliers that I like to do business with, as well as finding the right leathers. When I started my Etsy shop I sold jewelry, so it was a good place for me to have some trial and error and learn to how to promote my business. Learning the ins and outs of Etsy and self-promotion is definitely something that takes time to research – but well worth knowing! I also think, before jumping head first into my shop, I should have set it up as an in stock business from the get-go. Originally all my product was made to order, and I think that discouraged some people since they couldn't visualize a particular purse in a specific color. With the Internet you need to hold the hand of your customer as much as possible, it's the only way to build a relationship with them.
What are yr five top blogs/shops/etc on web?
Who would you love to meet online?
I love my husband's blog (obviously): www.tsururadio.com – he has great taste in music, and is always introducing me to new bands.
As for other blogs I love Pajiba for movie reviews, and LOL cats for my daily stress reliever. Shop-wise, I love ModCloth and the Curiosity Shoppe — I've picked up some great Christmas gifts at both places (as well as stuff for myself).
As for who to meet on-line, I was really happy I joined up with Etsy Team Columbus. Setting up shop on your own can be a lonely place, and with the team I was able to meet other crafters, share horror stories, and help each other out. It's a really great group of people, and another great source for Christmas gifts!
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Have a great day and feel free to email me at amytsharp (at) gmail (dot) com with cool finds on Etsy for me to scope out!