wire ... metal ... fibre .... unique handcrafted jewelry and accessories for men and women

Thursday, September 30, 2010

self portrait thursday: pomo mama design featured

"crafting in, around and in spite of my family in an effort to stay sane"
my blog tag line - and not such a crazy statement.

… in which i confess
My name is Amanda .... and I make stuff. If I don't make stuff every day I start to twitch, although I am gradually weaning myself off …. by blogging every day.

… in which i try to explain
pomo mama design began almost five years ago (as ebbandflo on Etsy) as a distraction to every day SAHM life. A house purchase, reduced disposable income and diminishing 'me-time' left me feeling really desolate. Moving to the 'burbs from Vancouver was the icing on the cake, cutting me off from the support network I had worked so hard to create on arrival in Canada four years earlier. Although I love(d) motherhood and tried to keep up, my world shrank to child and home. I found it harder and harder to find any purpose to the daily grind. I was not a happy (or good) mummy (or wife) :(

… in which i find salvation
And that's where the crafting came in. I took classes (painting, drawing, and jewelry), and re-discovered the pleasure of being creative. I took my work with us on our daily outings, to parks, play centres and playgrounds. While my son played I spread the portable crafting message! I made things, I created stuff, I made gifts ... until a polite note from my mother asked me to stop sending jewelry.
I opened a shop on Etsy.

And the rest, as they say, is history. From this small beginning my fledgling home business was born. I sold a few pieces on Etsy and ventured into the local craft scene. An casual conversation led to a teaching gig (wire crochet and chainmaille) in my local bead shop. The program coordinator at a local arts centre noticed my work for sale and asked me to run summer wire crochet workshops for teens. More classes, more craft fairs, a couple of local boutiques, and I'm very proud to say that my business has been self sufficient since its second year.

… in which i try to describe “my passions”
My work encompasses metalwork, beading, silversmithing, polymer clay and art clay silver, and wire work techniques, as well as wire crochet (my main passion). Thin gauge wire and a crochet hook is all that's needed to stitch beads into a mesh. It's not a new technique but the designs, bead patterns, etc. are all my own. I started out making cuffs and simple chain necklaces but have evolved to constructing intricate collars and chunky bib neck pieces. Flowers and my parents' garden are a huge inspiration for me; right now I'm working on daisy chains in all their forms :) 

My other 'love' is fibre - I embroider it back into the wire crochet pieces and wet felt the designs in place. I love the unusual and quirky juxtaposition of media, traditional versus unexpected. Again there's a childhood reference - my mother taught me to knit, sew, embroider and crochet, all skills which I incorporate into the wire and fibre work. At the beginning of the year, some forest-inspired wire and fibre pieces were included in a gallery exhibition. It was incredible seeing my work on display. I'm now working on submissions for further group shows in Whistler and closer to home in 2011. Gallery exhibitions are a good exercise in being more creative and less conventional. For example, instead of my usual wet felting, I'm working on some needle felted designs which allow a more precise placement of embellishments. 

Other 'close to home' inspirations include the ocean (I frequently use sea glass gathered from the Scottish beach I grew up near), and my husband.  He's been immensely supportive of my venture, and also a source of ideas - voila! cuff links; wire wrapped, metal-smithed, and from art clay. 

.. in which i try to wrap it all up (at last)
Being creative has become my business, which in turn gives me a small degree of financial independence (nothing that I could retire on, but at least I can buy birthday presents with 'my own' money), and something to do other than parenting or domestic chores. I'm doing something I never thought I would do (ie. run my own business) though I wouldn't label myself a mompreneur and recognise I do need to take pomo mama design to “the next level” (business plan anyone?). Running a small business is a great way to get to know a new culture IMO and it's also a wonderful way to stay home for my Wee Guy (though, in full disclosure, he is currently enjoying two days of after school care, and so am I). Another unexpected spin off is my thorough and complete immersion into the online world, business and personal. I've had to become somewhat web-savvy to sell online, and also found I enjoy networking, marketing and generally hanging out on the internet. I’m a social media junkie and web-wannabe, both of which have opened up new volunteer opportunities running a blog for a local artist cooperative and re-hashing a website for a local non-profit. Without selling online I don't think I would have developed these skills or discovered the joys of forums, twitter, blogging or flickr. Through them I've found a new community/support network which is accessible either when I'm "at work" or "relaxing" in the evening (ho, ho - hello raccoon mums .
This, in itself, has been a sanity saver.

This article originally appeared on Wet Coast Women on Tuesday (thank you @crunchycarpets for the invite) 

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