Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spotlight on the dog house

                                                 on a camping holiday with Max and Molly

Jane MaCleod lives with her fiancé, Martin, in Edinburgh, Scotland along with their 2 rescued greyhound dogs, Max and Molly. How important are Max and Molly in Jane’s life? They are the inspiration for her etsy business, thedoghouse.

Four years ago Jane was on a totally different career path. Training as a junior doctor, she had little time for anything in her life but “work, study, and sleep”. She decided to take some time out when she reached the point of burnout and disillusionment with the entire health service. It was time for a little “soul searching”…

During this period, Jane began volunteering at the local greyhound re-homing charity, Gracehounds, and as she explains, “Being around these graceful & gentle creatures awakened a long forgotten creative side in me &, spurred on by the desire to highlight their plight at the mercy of the cruel racing industry, I started expressing this through the medium of screen printing & 'Max and Molly Designs' was born. It's important to me that my work not only raises awareness about greyhound rescue, but that I donate a portion of my profits back to the charities that directly help these dogs.”

                                                                                    Jane's dog friendly work space

Jane starts with the pleasant task of observing and photographing her pups being adorable! Better let her describe the technical part…”I use digital photographs of the dogs to create 'stripped back' images in black & white. I make my screens from old tights (stockings) stretched across recycled embroidery hoops, onto which I paint the monochrome images (along with any text I want) freehand with fabric glue - this is the most creative part of the process. I print by applying non-toxic fabric ink to the screens, transferring my designs onto ethically sourced T-shirts, cushion covers & totes etc. The technique I use results in 'imperfections' & slightly rough, rustic prints, with each one being slightly different to the next, but I embrace these qualities & strive to maintain a handmade look & feel to all my products. (For anyone who'd like to learn more, I have written a wee tutorial series on how I make my prints, which you can view here.)”

                                                                                       A step in the process

As you can imagine, when Jane is not working on her prints and her online business, or on raising awareness of the plight of greyhounds and promoting what fantastic pets they make, she can be found outdoors with her dogs. And that includes annual camping holidays! Vegetarian cooking, baking, gardening, spending time with Martin, friends, music, the craft du jour, also make their way into her days. I suppose compared to her stint in medicine, to her this seems like a laid back schedule … Oh, did I mention she has a dog walking business from 9 to 5 on weekdays?

Jane sells her work in her Etsy shop, as well a Folksy shop, geared more towards the UK market. Martin, it turns out is a very talented website developer and is currently in the process of helping in the construction of her own independent online shop, scheduled to open later this year. And you’ll find Max and Molly sharing photos of themselves on Jane’s blog and Facebook page.

A few other things Jane would like to explore more deeply include photography, as well as working out some of her designs as lino-cuts, & experimentation in other printing mediums. “I could imagine setting up an arty wee café, where people could come & hang out with their dogs. Working with animals has become a way of life for me, so I think they would always have to be there one way or another!” (I just have to say here, that I love it when Scottish people use the term “wee”, so cute!)

                                                 something for everyone
Jane believes that she has created her dream job, and that inspiration & ideas come to her while she’s doing what she loves best, out walking with the dogs, & particularly during the time spent with her greyhounds. Can it get any better than that!

office party

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Let's Play I Spy

March 23, imteam challenge -
If you were a fly on the wall, what do you see....
presenting 21 imaginative entries for the challenge !

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spotlight on wellwornpassport

                                 Sevilla - all is calm at La Maestranza the day before a bullfight                                         

Patricia, of wellwornpassport, didn’t mean to become a travel photographer. She travels quite a bit for both work and for pleasure and began taking pictures to document her travels to the far off and exotic places she found herself in. As she describes her transformation, “What began as a typical touristic exercise, eventually became more and more of an obsession.  I really enjoy the way I experience a place, and a culture, when I see it through the lens of a camera.  Suddenly, through the lens of my camera, I see poignant vignettes I would have missed otherwise.  I see beautiful compositions of colors and shapes.  I see perspective from a different perspective.  Now, travel photography is my passion. I take hundreds of photos every day when I'm on the road. I particularly enjoy photographing art, architecture, and markets and shops.”

              Marrakech - vintage carpets in the souk

                                       Essaouira - a picturesque town on the coast of Morocco

She certainly has a wonderful sense of composition and color, and a way of evoking a sense of quiet in her work.

                                 Venice - the Scandinavian Pavillion at the Art Biennale (2007)

Patricia lives and works on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City but tends to spend her weekends in rural Litchfield County, Connecticut where she relaxes and refuels. She is married to “a wonderful guy”, an Argentine/Italian architect and talented designer who “ supports, often inspires, all of my creative inclinations.” 

                                           NYC - love through the ages             

Her day job is as a creative director developing environmental branding concepts for retailers and hospitality businesses. Working with architects, interior designers, graphic designers, lighting designers, etc, she creates environments that “perfectly reflect the character and personality of a brand.”  Some of the companies she has worked with over the years include Ford, Mazda, Jaguar, IKEA, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc.

Another art form Patricia is interested in exploring is collage. She also spoke of using her photos to create what she calls “room sets”, something she hopes to be able to share in her etsy shop soon. OK, I’m intrigued and will be checking in from time to time to see how you’re progressing! 

                                                                        Bath - shoeboxes in the Bath cathedral

You can visit Patricia in her etsy store, see how she uses her photographs on her retail oriented blog, and do check out well-worn-passport on facebook for even more photos along with great travel tips and links.

So, how does she like to spend her time when she’s not working?
“Travel, plan travel, read, watch films, dance, take long bike rides, shop.” 
Sounds like the perfect balance to me!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mission Impossible

March 16, imteam challenge -
15 imaginative entries for the March 16 team challenge !

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spotlight on angela callanan

Angela Callanan’s path has led her from County Sligo in the West of Ireland to Wales, where she has made her home for the past 17 years, and from nursing, to an MA in Art and Design.
Her photography is very evocative and I asked her to talk a bit about it.
“When I was doing my degree I experimented with a lot of different methods and my course in Design allowed this. For my final year I was doing a lot of work in embroidered textiles. I wanted to do textiles based on the Snow Queen but was talked out of it by my tutors. When it came to my MA I was determined to do work based on these ideas. Starting with the idea of the Snow Queen I began experimenting with freezing various objects in ice, and then it started to become much more. "

from the Snow Queen series
Working with ice got me thinking about the symbolism of ice - frozen moments in time, frozen years, freezing yourself to numb the pain. I initially thought once this project is finished that I would be done with ice, but then when I started to work on a series of prints called Weapons of Hurt & Healing - all the images were based on lines from Emily Dickinson poems. The first one I did was the gun, and I liked the frozen gun so much I continued on with ice. I have always loved Emily Dickinson's poetry … and first started using poetry as inspiration on my degree. On my MA we were all invited to submit a piece of work for a Mini-Print Exhibition and that was when I first used Emily Dickinson's poems to inspire me.”

from Weapons of Hurt and Healing series

After her degree, she thought about teaching art, but was persuaded not to go that route, and instead works as an IT Support Technician for a University, a job she enjoys, which leaves her fresh and ready to do her artwork in the evenings and on weekends. Since joining Etsy, she has come to the realization that being an artist doesn’t mean you have to be in your studio full time, “preparing for exhibitions every other week” but that each person approaches being an artist in their own unique way within their own unique set of circumstances.

kitchen table book binding!

Angela continues to take art courses and has been making artists books, incorporating her print and photography. “This year I am going to do Letterpress and am really looking forward to having a play with that.”

She has made an edition of 10 books for Book Art Object, and one of the books in this edition was purchased by the Tate Library Artists Book Collection.
Her rubber stamp artwork has been featured here.

And what does she do for fun when she’s not making art? Well, along with the usual responses like movies, dinners out and walks to the sea, she has confessed to being something of a metalhead and enjoys “metal gigs”. She is also a bird lover and does volunteer work for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds as well as caring for the wild birds in her own backyard.

You can visit Angela at:
Her blog

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


March 9, imteam challenge - The March Equinox
18 stellar entries for the March 9 team challenge !


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spotlight on WickedDarling

I first became aware of Pam, the”Wicked” behind WickedDarling on etsy through her beautiful treasuries.  I love taking a peek into her shop on a regular basis to see what new treasure she has unearthed! Pam is a collector, specifically; she collects vintage and antique jewelry.
                                             Edwardian amethyst glass and pearls C1910
Pam’s passion for collecting and her love of jewelry began at a very young age; in fact, she was forced to give up piano lessons as a kid because she refused to part with her 60’s “mod” rings. I’m assuming her piano teacher was not yet familiar with Liberace…

At age 5, her goal in life was to work at a jewelry store and as fate would have it; her first job was to work in the same jewelry store she had dreamt about so many years earlier. A part time after school job led to full time work and Pam was able to acquire a wealth of knowledge about jewelry and how it’s made.

Her foray into the antique jewelry world began about 30 years ago when she found a Victorian locket in a box filled with costume jewelry. From that moment on she was “hooked”. She began a quest after information on the subject and became familiar with “every antique store and flea market from Miami to Baltimore” (a girl after my own heart!)

Her hobby led to an obsession and became her passion. Pam explains “There is something magical about holding or wearing a piece of jewelry that someone wore and loved over 100 years before you were born! It makes my soul sing!”

                                          Interested in tiny portraits?

 Pam has an eye out for vintage beauty in whatever form it presents itself!

When she’s not on the prowl for “new” old stuff, she enjoys spending time with her husband and cats watching old movies in their 100 year old cabin in the Georgia woods. When I asked Pam how she came up with her shop name, she told me it came from the title of a 1919 silent film with Lon Chaney called “The Wicked Darling” Her family agreed it was the perfect name for her. “Somehow it appeals to the southern belle in me. A little bit Scarlet and a little bit Melanie”

What would she be doing if she couldn’t be sleuthing jewels? She would spend more time sketching cartoons of her cats. “My husband at one time would make jewelry using my drawings and I would love to see that happen again!” Sounds like a second etsy shop to me…

You can visit pam at

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How deep is the Sea ?

March 2nd, imteam challenge - aquamarine, the march gemstone.
30 exquisite entries for the March 2nd team challenge !

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spotlight on QuercusSilver

Su Trindle, the jeweler behind QuercusSilver lives and works in the World Heritage City of Bath, in the west of England. She describes it as a very beautiful and lively Georgian city, where her husband grew up and where they have made their home after many years of living and working abroad.

I love Su's resin rings!

Su admits to always having wanted to be a jeweler but it wasn’t until her boys were settled in school that she was able to go back to school herself and study the art and craft of silversmithing and jewelry design. She has always enjoyed using alternative materials in her work, such as resin, leather and fabric, appreciating their technical challenges and loving the color they bring to her work.

working with leather

Su’s etsy store QuercusSilver is one way she markets her work. At home in England she does several good craft fairs each year which gets her out of the studio and in front of buyers where she can get valuable feedback so important for studio artists working away in isolation. She does Open Studio events and sells in galleries. She was also involved in setting up Bath’s first Pop-up Gallery in 2010 and is in the process of joining the local Arts Trail.
Phew, there must be more hours in a British day …

Some of Su’s favorite online marketing tools:
“Online, I think my marketing is all about colour and image. My first and most successful marketing tool was
flickr, I make bold, sculptural jewellery which photographs well. Flickr was a good place to make
contact with like minded people.
I have advertised occasionally on
Craftopolis and such sites and I have a Facebook page. It's a constant challenge to maintain visibility online. My latest favourite is Tumblr, which is all about images and impact.”

                                             lucious greens

Su admits that with her, “Jewellery is Life”. But she does come up for air on occasion and likes to visit art museums and galleries for the inspiration they provide and to generally unwind. Their new collie puppy Jess, gets Su out for long walks over the Somerset hills, which when I close my eyes conjures up a scene out of a BBC mini series.

                                               More of Su's modern sensibility

And if she couldn’t be a jeweler, what other work would she like to do?
“Oh, that's easy I'd love to be a textile designer, all that colour and texture, who could resist?”

You can visit Su at