Part of an ongoing interview series profiling EtsyVeg members.
Interview by Kylie of SilentLotus
Meet Julia of Etsy's Firehorse Textiles
Q. Etsy is a unique blend of artists with many different creative styles and approaches. What is your own "philosophy" or approach to creativity?
I think that creativity is part of everyone’s life in some form or another. Some things get labelled as ‘arts’ or ‘crafts’, others don’t.
Q. What do you sell in your Etsy shop?
In my Fire Horse Textiles shop, I sell fabric and felt pictures. I have just started to make more rag rug style ‘things’, and that is the side I would like to expand on. I am keen on recycling and reusing, so enjoy giving scrap fabrics a new lease on life.
I recently opened a shop called Love Buttons, where I sell (mainly vintage) buttons that I have searched out, sorted, cleaned, and re-carded. I love to think of them flying out into the world to become parts of new creations instead of sitting forgotten at the bottom of a button tin.
Q. What are your creative inspirations?
Nature and color are my main inspirations. I love visiting art galleries and museums and visiting new places. New experiences can help to spark an idea. Great artists and crafters are also very inspiring, eg Rugmaker’s Homestead, Janet Bolton, Shelley Thornton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Pablo Picasso, and Mark Rothko… an endless list.
Q. How did you get started creating?
As a child, I would arrange wildflowers in a vase, paint, draw, do simple weaving, knit, make dolls, sort and arrange things, or make my own ‘installations’, such as my ‘Giant Jigsaw’ (I mixed up every jigsaw puzzle in the house and tried to make a new picture with it) or ‘Spider’s Web’ (I wound the contents of my Mum’s knitting bag all around the furniture, door handles, and light fittings on the ground floor of our house. That took some sorting out!) Of course, I didn’t think “I must do something creative now”. They were just things that I did. I wish I could still be that spontaneous. Unfortunately, I have to tidy up my after my own ‘creativity’ now. :-/
Q. What other artistic tendencies do you have? Do you have other crafty/artsy skills that you already do or would like to try?
I’ve tried drawing, painting, sewing, pottery, jewelry making, decoupage, papier mache, knitting, crochet, batik, patchwork & quilting, doll making… I usually end up returning to textile crafts, but I think that other techniques are always useful. I like and need variety.
Q. What would you like to try to make, that you haven't already? What is your dream project?
I would like to try making more sculptural, three-dimensional artwork, or dolls from cloth and papier mache as wonderful as Julie Arkell’s.
I would also love to be able to design and make made-to-measure clothing. I did woodwork and metalwork at school and missed out on dressmaking ;-)
Q. Do you have any other hobbies/interests/passions?
I love walking (with my husband, Rob, and dog, Henry); reading (crime, thrillers, ghost stories…); vegetable gardening; vegetarian cookery; cinema; eating out; and a bit of swimming now and then.
Q. How long have you been on Etsy, and are you an Etsy addict? :)
I loved Etsy from the first moment I looked at the site! I joined as a ‘seller’ (Fire Horse Textiles) in January 2007, but was too overwhelmed by the wonderful sellers on the site to list anything until October or November of that year. I read a lot of useful threads in the forum and visited hundreds of shops first. I opened ‘Love Buttons’ in September of this year.
Q. Is etsy a large part of your business? How else do you market your work?
It’s all of my business! It was exactly what I wanted. I had sold at craft fairs previously, but I’ve got a bit of a dodgy back, and eventually found all the lifting and carrying too much. Also, my crafting time is rather limited and, with Etsy, it means that I can work as and when I have the time, but leave my ‘stall’ permanently set up!
I have had a few inquiries from shops and galleries, but I don’t have enough stock for that, so I have reluctantly had to turn them down. I post pictures and join groups on Flickr and post pictures on Craft Juice. I love Moo’s minicards and sticker books, so I had some of those made up.
Q. How long have you been vegan/vegetarian? How does being veg play into the rest of your life?
I have been a vegetarian for 29 years. I learned to cook when I was thirteen, as there wasn’t much available for vegetarians back then. Rob and I grow as many of our own fruits and vegetables as we can in our rather overgrown garden. We have two pet chickens, Cleopatra and Mabel, who lay our eggs. We are both interested in Permaculture, and Rob hopes to build our own eco house one day.
Q. What is the last recipe you made? What are your food vices or cravings?
I made vegetable curry with rice for dinner. It had onions, garlic, tomatoes, cauliflower, chiles, aubergine, green beans, and courgettes (zucchini) in it (mostly from the garden), with lots of spices.
My food vices are toast and Marmite (do you get that in America?!), curries, crisps (potato chips), and ice cold, organic, vegetarian beer! I quite like salads too. No, really.
Q. What is your favorite vegan/vegetarian store/restaurant/blog/website?
Favorite store:- I try and use local health food shops and charity shops for some things. For shoes:- Vegetarian Shoes. Vegan Village has lots of useful links. Toiletries:- Liz Earle and Dr. Hauschka.
Favorite Restaurants:- Grassroots Café in Glasgow (they also have a great shop), The Lakeland Pedlar in Keswick, and David Bann’s in Edinburgh.
Favorite Blog:- EtsyVeg, of course :D
Favorite Websites:- Hillside Animal Sanctuary, Animal Aid, IFAW, and Dr. Hadwen Trust