2. What do you find most inspiring about where you live?
I’m listening to a lot of Seal, the Wall~E soundtrack, Pandora’s Chopin, Debussy or Gershwin mixes, John Denver in Concert, and always, always Elton John, Broadway Musicals and Film Scores & Josh Groban. For the past 7+ years we wake up to 2 hours of Josh Groban’s first CD. I think The Prayer duet by him and Charlotte Church may be one of the most perfect songs ever recorded. Here is the best live performance I could find: http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/music/watch/e178773nqtJcxMz
4. Is etsy/creating your full time business? If not, what do you do in real life?
I’m not a business person. I consider myself to be a professional housewife & mother. Even though it is an extremely challenging vocation, especially in our culture, I hope I never have to trade it. It’s me.
5. How did you start working with the materials that you do? Where do you find such awesome things?
In the mid 1990s, after my brief foray into the outside world as a 2nd grade teacher, we moved to Eugene, OR. Scout was a tot and, although I have always frequented & loved hand me downs & yard sales, I’d never lived in a town big enough for thrift stores before. I loved them and became drawn to beat~up picture frames. I started collecting 10 cent castaway magazines at the library sales and began my collage art venture, Bumblelina’s Boutique.
When we moved to New Hampshire, the thrift shops were even better. And there were church and fire department rummage sales, which were not only fun, but like digging for vintage gold. I started selling finds on eBay and enjoyed it. I added a booth in a flea/antique mall. But the market changed drastically after 2001 and so did the eBay community, ruining all the fun and ending that era for me.
In 2003, at age 9, Scout serendipitously created these adorable monkeys. I became inspired to teach her how to start a tee shirt business, ‘Monkey’s Way’, with her designs. That’s when we trademarked the joonbeam name. I made a video of our trip to the state house. (She was adorable.) We wanted some lower priced items and she was making those sweet Peek-a-Boo matchboxes. I’d gotten a new sewing machine and started making some small paper & fabric crafts out of recycled things. We did a few small holiday shows. It was nothing much, but easy & a good experience for her. We also made our ‘famous’ caramel popcorn and granola bars. We met nice people and made new friends. Good memories. My current creations and the launch of my Etsy venture began here.
In Boston people throw away obscene amounts of everything. The sidewalks are stacked all the time. We even got our beautiful couch ~ A classic 1960s red pleather Castro Convertible off a sidewalk, where it had been put out for the trash truck. One family, all those years. The woman was ecstatic we were taking it. We surprised her with a photo Valentine of it in use. She surprised us, too … handmade us one and sneaked it through our door mail slot. You can’t buy experiences like that. A lot of it is fate, chance, luck. But, most of my finds involve hard work, diligence & patience. You have to know vintage and when to say no. You have to spend time digging through a lot of junk to find the treasures. I enjoy that because it’s all about curiosity to me … who owned these things, where have they been, what have they seen, how did they get here, and most of all, who loved them and what are their stories? Having OCD tendencies doesn’t hurt, either.
Apart from kindergarten, I led an artless childhood. When I returned to college, at age 31, I took a Kiddie Lit course. To have even a chance at an A, you had to write a children’s book. There was my inspiration. I never had any art training. But I designed and wrote that book, illustrated the entire thing, by hand, using crude methods and when she handed it back to me, I could barely sit through class without crying. I couldn’t find a grade or comment. Nothing. Being me, I approached her immediately after class. And it turned out she loved it so, that she feared marking it so she’d lightly penciled inside the cover ‘You should polish this up and see about getting it published. – A’
7. What else do you make other than art that you’re great at?
Food and children. I’ve been a little old lady since the day I was born.
8. When did you first start creating things?
I’ve always been resourceful, but I don’t think I was a creative child. As children, my sister and I did make elaborate storied houses out of who knows what. They leaned against the foot of our beds. My favorite Christmas gift was colorforms. I could rearrange those forever. I also loved coloring books. I still do. I’ve been cooking since I was a pre-teen. I had home ec and learned sewing basics in HS. I married very young. I had no money, but I’d cut out a wedding dress from a Bridal Magazine. I modified the design and talked an adult friend (poor woman) into making it for me. It was wonderful, though. I think it cost me $35.00 total. One day, with no forethought, I made my 5 month old son a really unusual blanket out of odd fabrics while he was napping. I was 20. I have photos of his taking to it instantly. That thing has been around. I made a lot of his clothes. A few years later, for a brief moment in time, I designed clothing and accessories with appliques for tots that I called Dinky Duds.
9. What is your creative process like?
I cannot describe it. It’s beyond spontaneous. Most times I’ll be mending, clipping, straightening up or organizing and something catches my eye, springs an idea and off I go. Everything is a total surprise to me. I do wish I could jot things down in the shower because God only knows how many of my ideas are now alligators in the sewers.
10. What’s a cool thing that you think everyone should know about?
* The Herald Square Hotel in NYC. http://www.heraldsquarehotel.com/
* Your library internet reserve and loan system. You will need this for cool things #6 & 7.
* Yes! Paste. http://www.amazon.com/Gane-Yes-All-Purpose-Stik-Flat/dp/B000S10SNU/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1236866724&sr=8-1
* Junior League Cookbooks
* That Walgreens has organic cotton socks for 2.49.
* The Watts Towers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watts_Towers
* Reading Rainbow from whence hundreds of cool things like The Watts Towers can be experienced wonderfully. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reading_Rainbow
* The Wuggie Norple Story by Daniel M. Pinkwater & Tomie Paola. It’s a rare OOP little book. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://farm1.static.flickr.com/44/113283337_60071c4011.jpg%3Fv%3D0&imgrefurl=http://flickr.com/photos/japanamanda/113283337/&usg=__BlgoOuNfITL0kw-bXm4VkUwp1LQ=&h=294&w=400&sz=53&hl=en&start=2&um=1&tbnid=i6s2xcl7dMQBwM:&tbnh=91&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3DWuggie%2BNorple%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1
* making your own vanilla
* craftopolis search to see if you’re in treasuries or gift guides http://craftopolis.com/
Oh heavens. There are enough to fill a book. Here’s a sampling:
* At age 5, I needed a tonsillectomy. I had a boyfriend, Jeffrey Grant. A few days before my surgery, my brother accidentally fractured Jeffrey’s leg playing neighborhood football in our yard. A while after I arrived at the hospital – in those days you were admitted the afternoon before, left there, alone, in a crib in a giant ward, no less – a kind nurse came and said somebody wanted to see me. So, we went hand in hand down the hallway and into a private room and there was my beloved, in traction. Previously playing with Tinkertoys but now like the cat who swallowed the canary because they’d brought his favorite person to him. He knew I was coming, but his was a total surprise to me. It’s a crazy, but sweet, memory. I can still see his smiling face.
* My family went to Disney World in Florida the first year it opened and I happened to turn Sweet 16 that day. The entire (packed) population inside the Crystal Palace Restaurant started singing Happy Birthday to me. Naturally, I embarrassed myself by sobbing from embarrassment. (It’s a vicious circle.)
* My son, Dusty, was attacked by a cougar when he was 2 years old. This happened at a trade show.
* I have moved 30something~ish times and am now residing in my 9th state. We once lived at a Holiday Inn for 2 weeks. The boys started school from there.
* I must preface this by saying I now adore NYC . But in 1989 both my life and this trip there were oddly uncomfortable. My peers had business tasks and I really wanted to make the best of the situation so I mustered up all my courage and I asked a hotel maid how far it was to Macy’s and if it was safe to walk there. She was a petite, cute, shy, woman, with a voice to match. This seemed to tickle her to death. What can I say, I lived in the country and probably watched too much TV. Well, skeptical, in a trusting way, off I went. Hours later, while on one of their classic wooden escalators going up, I’m staring off into space, most likely fretting about walking back and what do I see? That adorable woman on the down escalator! WHAT??? And she just smiled that sweet amused smile. I always thought she had to be an angel. I mean, honestly. How in the heck?
* A few years later, and at another a rough time in my life, I went on a spontaneous road trip with a friend to visit his North Carolina family for the weekend. We met some relatives for breakfast at a local favorite Mom & Pop restaurant. At the end of the wonderful meal, everyone was pleasantly chatting. His niece, who was about 5, I think, climbed up onto my lap, took my face in her hands and said ‘You’re a miracle.’ She was so delighted. Of course, I thought I misunderstood her so I said, ‘What?’ and she was just happy as a clam and said ‘You’re just a miracle.’ My friend and I stared at each other. ‘There you have it,’ he said.
But it gets better. Part B: Shortly thereafter and overlapping this friendship, Evan and I fall instantly, madly in love. … which is another crazy connection and story in itself, but long story shorter, fast forward ahead: now we’re married and have the boys and Scout and decide to move from Virginia to Oregon. I collected Coca Cola things since age 14, so a colleague of mine said ‘You have to go to Atlanta and see the Coke Museum before you move so far away.’ So, on a whim, we decide to go for my birthday weekend. Scout was 14 months old. Off we go, tra la la. She winds up being ridiculously ill in a matter of hours (image: inconsolable, endlessly screaming, burning with high fever baby) and we have to find a doctor. On a Saturday morning. In Atlanta. We did. And that’s another great crazy story. Scout had strep and a nasty virus, both. It was horrid. But that woman was another angel. She actually kissed Scout on her cheek. A total stranger who just diagnosed the child with two contagious illnesses. So — Atlanta is it as far as I am concerned. But, I digress. So, after a bizarre and exhausting weekend, we’re heading home and it’s getting dark. At dinner time we’re looking for a small diner-ish place as we always do. We leave the interstate and go into a small town and stop at a perfect looking place and I say something like ‘This looks familiar, but that’s impossible.’ After we’re inside for a few minutes I realize it’s the restaurant I was at with my friend on miracle day.
OK. That’s enough crazy for now.
A quiet house in a pretty place on or near a beautiful & sparsely visited warm beach.
13. What’s the last thing you bought online?
The ball chain for my new necklaces in joonwalk.
14. In a perfect world without the constraints of reality, what would you be doing?
I’d be in one of my two simple, but beautiful and loaded with history, residences, one being a NYC apartment. I’d be writing, (either my own non-fiction everyman bios and novels or for Letterman, 30 Rock or film) or producing my own independent film with Evan for my crew and Scout as a lead. I’d be doing volunteer work and making superb progress, changing the world for the better in small ways. I’d have a grand piano and be doing well with my lessons. I’d have a commercial gas range/oven, my handmade mattress and access to a warm swimming pool. And I’d have the best neighbors.
Oh dear. My family has a long list of favorites. I’ll say my lemon chicken, Hungarian goulash, potato salad and pickled beets. They also love my pies, brownie pudding, angel food cake and a divine cheesecake, which Evan makes most of the time, now.
16. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
This one is the question holding up the works. I have thought and thought. Maybe you’ll have to add this to my crazy things list, but I have not received memorably good advice in my life. In fact, I’ve received a sad amount of poor advice. The only thing I can think of is my indirectly gained wisdom from seeing ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ at a young (too young) age and the lessons of ignorance, abuse, tolerance, childhood innocence/acceptance and injustice which have helped me keep going when I find my character standards and missions at odds with my peers or society.
My memory keepsakes of my children’s lives. All of our art, my tons of photographs, homemade videos, and the journals we used to keep that chronicle the time before Scout was born until she was about 5. I wish we would have kept those up. I’ve passed along most of the boys’ memories to them now. It’s one of my happiest accomplishments.
I made a keepsake for my oldest son when he graduated from OSU. I wrote to everyone I could who had played a role in his life – not just friends and relatives, but our family physician & dentist, all of his elementary teachers, some of his HS teachers, etc. - and requested they send along a memory of him, photo, or even one line. I received an overwhelming supply of surprisingly creative and touching responses, which I gathered and assembled into a huge binder. It’s not as fancy as I’d like because I was recovering from surgery, but it’s still an achievement. My favorite part is that I wrote to the doctor who delivered him. This doctor was already in his 50s in 1977 and had been the small town’s sole OB doctor until shortly before we met. He sent back a beautiful handwritten letter, detailing specific memories of Kristoffer’s delivery. Mind you I had no contact with this man other than sending him a Christmas card that first year. (We moved 5 weeks after I had the baby. ) This doctor, long retired, walked down to the new hospital, searched the microfiche files, found Kristoffer’s birth records – his apgar score etc. (which I didn’t even know existed) – made paper copies and included them in with his letter. I’m not sure it gets any cooler than this.
18. Do you have any pets?
Yes, I do, and I adore them. 3 cats: Besos (kisses in Spanish), Cricket and Ginny Weasley & a beagle, Chip.
19. What’s your best garage sale find?
Wow. This one might be impossible. I have so many. But two that you might find interesting: I found a set of four heavy glass shelves from a department store display. They are pale green tinted glass and have a design of lighter toned large leaves etched on them. They were $5 each! They’re fabulous. Everyone comments and covets them at first sight and deservedly so.
Once upon a rummage sale, I found this groovy little pottery decor dish. It was $4 which was way too pricey to me. I was buying things for 10 cents each. Well, on the bottom was this absolutely adorable little donkey and a signature. I couldn’t resist so I said ‘Oh, what the heck.’ I researched and found out it was a mid~century Italian designer piece. I sold it on eBay for over $400 and it went to a gallery in LA. I could have gotten much more for it but I kept hanging on to it because I couldn’t decide if I could part with it and the market was already sliding. But it’s still a cool story. And a great return!
Too much. But first and foremost, my family. I love my children and want them to lead self actualized, joyful lives from the start. I believe your first priority to your children is as teacher and advocate. If someone causes my child stress or concern, or disrespects them, it gets addressed either on their own, with guidance or, next, by me. Most issues can be resolved remarkably well. The rest are minimized by the very fact that your child has witnessed your unreserved, earnest, heartfelt support. These are wonderful opportunities to develop character analysis and learn conflict resolution skills. My children love their Mom’s ‘run-in with Mr. or Mrs. Misguided’ tales. Rarely humorous at the time, many become happy memories. An added bonus is that these experiences have a ripple effect that spreads out from every involved party. You’ll never know how your action changed people’s lives for the better. Pondering this can give you strength for that next big battle, though.
I am overly sensitive to everything in my environment and it’s a mixed blessing. Noticing and being affected by practically every single aspect of my surroundings can reveal delightful wonders. It also can present overwhelming challenges. But, apathy is a sad, sorry path. One of my least liked cultural axioms is ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff.’ I absolutely believe the small stuff is exactly the place to start. It all matters and if you take care of the small, there will be nothing big that isn’t better. Large problems do not spring forth out of nothing. Their foundation is built on many small neglected ones. Besides, there is so much joy in little things. Why overlook them?
Visit my shops often for updates.
joonbeam. we put the heart in art.
joonwalk. one small step for handmade. one giant leap for mankind.
flying housewife. from me. to you. with love.
saving the planet through art. one step at a time. …because environment is everything.
Thank you to Joon for being patient and answering all of my questions!