Monday, July 6, 2009

Meet Cat from Cat's Wire

What defines you as an artisan?

Wikipedia defines it like this:
"An artisan (from Italian: artigiano) is a skilled manual worker who crafts items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewelry, household items, and tools. The term can also be used as an adjective to refer to the craft of hand making food products, such as bread, beverages and cheese."
Although my bread is mostly a disaster and the only cheese I have ever made was Indian paneer (with an original Indian cheese cloth, mind you!), my milk shakes are not even that bad.
I guess this is not the question, though. Let's say I work with my hands, my crafted items are strictly decorative as it is impossible to open a can with one of my bracelets, and I surely am skilled. Not as much yet as I aim to be, but I am optimistic it will improve even more.

Where do you live?

I live in Southwestern Germany in Göppingen. Train lovers will know the name because Märklin is situated there.

How does your place of residence influence your crafting?

Not at all. I could take my wires and hooks anywhere. The area used to be known for its textile industry, though. In our small local museum there are beautiful examples for hand knitted pearl pouches. They showed me how unusual techniques can lead to unusual pieces, so maybe that influenced me a little.

How did you get into crafting?

I was never a crafter, unlike so many others in this business. When I studied to become a librarian, there was a professor I liked very much. When he taught us business basics, he was a bore which was probably more the subject's fault than his. I doodled a lot during the lessons and when my paper consumption rose to a huge level due to it, I started knitting. I still have my knitting phases as I call it, but it was never something that could fill me out. When I discovered Etsy, I was drawn to the wire crochet pieces and after I had seen a book reference in one of the shops, there was no holding me back ever since.

Where did you learn your craft?

Of course I learned how to crochet in school and my grandmother worked on it together with me, showing me things. There are books from a wool company in this area, first published in the 30s I think. I taught myself a lot from these books concerning knitting and I still use them for new crocheting ideas. And then there was the book that got me started on wire. It was not so much about teaching me stitches, I knew that, but about wire gauge, material and I like to look at pictures ;-)

Who do you consider your mentor(s)?

Craftwise I don't think I have a real mentor. I like to experiment on my own and the book just gave me the final kick, but that was it.
Now for everything around my craft, regarding the studio, the business, the social networking, I regard lots of the great people I got to meet online - hope it'll be in real life someday - kind of as my mentors and I hope I can be one for others eventually.

What are your views in respect to mentors and mentoring?

I thank everyone who helps me and makes the journey a little easier for me this way. People sharing their knowledge is good to some extent, meaning in business unfortunately you should be wary how much you actually share. I'd rather have friends that share with me and that I can share with. Maybe it has to do with my understanding of the word mentor that I would rather call them helpful friends.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I am not the inspired one. My hook is. I rarely sketch out things before I make them. That's the reason why something that started as a bangle can suddenly turn into a collier. Sometimes these experiments don't work out, but sometimes they make me very happy.

What is your most treasured object in your studio?

Not sure if I understand the question right. Are we talking about my items or my tools? My home studio (which really mostly consists of my beloved and often mentioned armchair and my couch table) or my ArtFire studio?
I guess I already answered about my home studio. It's my armchair. And my crochet hooks. And the knitting spool. Have I mentioned my armchair?
I can't answer it for my ArtFire studio. I love each item while I make it and then it's off to the next item, otherwise I couldn't be creative, but would do the same thing over and over again.

What do you like best about your studio?

About my home studio I like best that I am surrounded by the things I love. I don't have a studio like many others do as I don't need torches or lots of hammers etc. Yet. Who knows what will be in a while? My studio is my library at home. I have my books surrounding me, I can relax and let my mind wander off with the hook. That may sound silly, but that is really the way it is. Crafting makes me forget everything else. If my muse isn't on vacation, that is.
My ArtFire studio? That's easy. It leaves me so much room to play with colors and widgets and cool features and I am probably not done yet.

What would you change about your studio?

I need more storage unit in my home studio. Apart from that I have to see what time will bring. I would change a lot about my photo area, though.
For my ArtFire studio I had a different avatar and banner in mind, but there is still a problem with it, so I don't want to talk about it. If it takes much longer, I am not sure if it makes sense to change it after people might have got used to the old one. Also I would like to have zoom-in pictures. When looking at other sellers' studios, I am often sorry about not being able to zoom in to have a closer look.

How do you divide your crafting time?

I have a day job. I have a husband, I have five cats and some other critters around. I have a family and I have friends. I have a household, not an organised one, but it's there, so I have chores.
I just try to sneak in as many crafting time as possible, usually on my weekends and in my vacation, it's not so easy in the evenings.

What is your favorite material? Why?

Wire and beads of course. It depends on my mood which color, gauge, size or cut I choose. Some days are copper days, some silver. I can take out beads ten times and put them back until I finally decide. It's a fun part of the creative process for me.

Which material would you never work with? Why?

In my line of craft or in general?
I don't think there is much I wouldn't work with. I haven't worked with gold yet, but that is because of the price, not because I don't want to.
In general I hate glue and fabric. I never learned how to sew, I never will and I admire everyone who can do it. And I can't handle glue, I never could. I am a klutz and therefore prone to glue myself to a chair. Won't do. I stay away from it.

How did you come across ArtFire?

I think it was through my jewelry forum, SJA. People there sell on different platforms and some of them recommended ArtFire.

What role does your family play in your crafting?

In the beginning my husband thought it was just a passing phase. Now he got around to criticise my things and even give me tips sometimes. My mother and my sisters give me tips from a female side of view.
Over all the role is more being appreciative, comforting and just being there.

Besides your own craft what other crafts do you admire?

I admire everything. There is a show on German TV sometimes, called "The last of his profession". It's about glass makers, people that cut the stones for grindstones, gold-beaters, whip makers and many more. I love to watch others doing what they are good at.

What other craft would you be interested in learning? Why?

I will try to increase my jewelry-making skills, try silversmithing etc.
I would love to learn lampworking, I think. Glass fascinates me. I dabbled in clay and polymer clay many years ago, but I don't think I was very good at it. I would love to learn drawing, especially animals.

Why do you think buying handmade is beneficial for society?

I think society needs to get back to some old values. I won't say everything was better in the past although sometimes I start to sound like my grandmother used to ...
We need to respect the work that went into a piece, the ideas, the inspiration, the time. We need to respect the person behind that piece. Too many people out there are denied the appreciation for their hard work, children, women and men.
I am no angel, I can't buy only handmade myself. For many people it's a question of money and priorities set by everyday life and circumstances. But each small step counts.

What are your goals in respect to your craft?

Is it a trick question? What if I say I want to be rich and famous?
My goal is to make people happy with my work and if I can go on buying supplies because there are those happy people out there, I am happy. I am not expecting too much.

What has been your most rewarding experience regarding your craft?

When my first customer ever told me how happy she was about her items. When she returned. When she told me people ask her about these items.
That was my most rewarding experience coming from the outside.
Coming from the inside it's letting my mind flow and creating. It's rewarding over and over again.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Haven't I said enough already? Ok.
Without wanting to make it sound like an Academy Award speech, I want to thank all the gorgeous people out there, may it be on my forum, in my groups, in Wales, Holland, Serbia, the US, Australia - I can't list them all, but they know they are there. Thank you.

And a very special thank you goes to my recent studio manager who cares for my supplies to be kept safe all the time (or he would steal them without winking an eye!), Mr. Ponder Stibbons.

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Liesan said...

Hello cat :) Nice to meet you great interview to read!

The Sheriff's Daughter said...

I really enjoyed getting to know more about you. Thanks for an interesting, candid and inspiring interview.

Silver Soul Design said...

What a gorgeous studio manager you have! :)