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Not long ago, I had a chance to interview Megan Winn of www.bindingbee.etsy.com about her fabulous handmade journals. I enjoyed visiting with her and was delighted to find that her personality is as charming as her work.

Rae:  Okay, Megan. These are some things I am curious about.  I have been wondering what inspired you to first make books, and then what brought you to Etsy?

Megan:  When I was in high-school, I loved pretty journals and used to go through them so quickly that I could hardily afford to support my habit.  So, I decided that it made sense to go ahead and try my hand at creating my own.  I checked out a ‘how to’ book from the local library and it all started there.  The first ones were terrible!  Most of them ended stuffed with my own thoughts, or as gifts to family and friends.  All of them now are held together by rubber bands as my sewing skills were definitely beginner back then!  Since then, I have had lots of practice perfecting my technique and have taken some workshops and private lessons to learn more binding styles & to get a better grasp on the history and art of book-making.

I came to Etsy a year ago as a buyer, not seller.  It was amazing to have access to so many artists and their work!  I was inspired and delighted, but at the same time too scared to open my own shop.  At that point, I had been making and giving away greeting cards and journals for years, but only to close friends and family.  I stalked the forums on Etsy and with a few of my favorite sellers, and after a few months finally decided to give it a go.  I had my first sale within a week or two of opening my shop, even though I only had about 5 books for sale.  After that, I was hooked!  I have not stopped since.

 Rae:  Who or what inspires your work now?

Megan:  I get a lot of visual inspirations from the materials I collect and salvage.   I am a huge antique store junkie and love the weekend summer garage sale scene as well.  I am forever in search of gorgeous old books in need of TLC, and I collect bundles of old fabric, lace, leather, pattern pieces, skeleton keys and photos.  I love taking very old things and finding ways to work them into a new design.  

Rae:  There is a number in the back of my book…what does it mean?

Megan:  That is just an id. #.  I keep track of every book I make and sell.  After each one is finished, they get a final once-over, a sticker, and a number.  I make a little note of the materials, size, and price of each book and literally keep a journal of my journals.  Obsessive, but true.  

Rae:  What kinds of material do you use to make your books?

Megan:  Salvaged leather, vintage fabric, antique book covers, buttons, lace, ribbon, old photos, salvaged mat board, pattern pieces, and lots and lots of love and good energy.  The only thing not up-cycled is the interior paper.  I buy archival, blank paper for the inside text block of each book.  

Rae:  What is the strangest or most unusual/creative material that you have uses?

Megan:  My favorite unusual material so far has been used tea bags.  For my Thesis in Undergrad I made an entire quilt out of them. I collected bags for months prior to the semester, and it took my almost 4 months to complete the sewing. It turned out really beautifully, and still hangs in my dining room. In that show, I also had a piece made out of apple cores, and another of egg shells.  I was trying to focus on the fact that art is in the daily… in the mundane. For photos check out this website: http://www.twinenfp.org/gallery/meganwinn. 

Rae:  Have you ever gotten to see one of your books after it was fill?

Megan:  Yes.  Many of my favorite people are avid writers and journal keepers. Quite a few of my journals live with my closest friends, my husband, my mom, and my little sisters.  It is always fun to see my books tucked full of secrets and on people’s bookshelves.  

Rae: Finally, what role (beyond bookmaking) does (or has) creativity played in your life?

Megan:  It’s everywhere and inextricably tied to all aspects of my life.  I love getting to be a part of the creative process, and feel like “art” and creativity extend way beyond traditional bounds.  I participate and experience this while nurturing my garden, canning tomatoes, doing laundry, or by being in my studio.  It’s the mundane, the daily, and yet it is transcendent because of the accessibility. 

As far as how that connects for me to the craft of book making, I think that is why I love using such a variety of materials, many of which have already been used for something else, and may or may not be considered “art worthy”.  I like to tie them back in, make them functional again, and cause people to take a second look… it is in the little things. 

 

I would like to thank Megan for allowing me to visit with her and for being so gracious in sharing her story.  I have been adding to the pages of my book here and there.  For such a “little thing”, that journal has made a big difference in my life.

Sometime last year I discovered an on-line marketplace for handmade things called Etsy.  Being a creativity advocate, I immediately wanted to get involved.  I joined with the knowledge that someday I would have my own Etsy Shop.  Well, life kept getting in the way.  Not in a bad way, I have been working on my Masters in Counseling and that just had to come first.  But, I have had a break in my schedule and am devising a plan for the official opening of my shop due sometime towards the beginning of June. 

Sneak Peak:

About 7 years ago, I opened a massage studio in downtown Corpus Christi across from Yin Yang Fandango and the Tango Tea Room (http://www.tangofandango.com/).  It was very exciting to create the look of the shop and make decisions on what kind of life it would take on.  I covered the windows with brown paper while we hammered, scrapped, plastered, and painted.  Some people were so interested in what was going on that they were upset about the secrecy.  That surprised me.  I thought they would enjoy a big reveal.  But what I realized is that some folks are just as interested in the process as they are about the product, and for those people, my paper denied them a beautiful opportunity to witness the blooming of the flower. 

For that very reason, I am documenting the means to the end for this new shop of mine.  If you are a big reveal person, STOP!  Don’t go any further.  Your time will come.  Feel free to leave your email in the comments or drop me a line, and I will give you a special invitation to the grand opening.  BUT, if you are a process person, this is your chance.  Peal back the paper and have a peak inside.  Please excuse the mess, there is creativity in progress.  

www.laughinglane.etsy.com 

More about the process…..

Research:

I am doing everything  in phases, holding onto an attitude of keeping positive but not demanding perfection.  I have been doing some research by reading the hints and tips offered by Etsy and keeping up with their newsletter.  If nothing else, they are inspiring.  And the stories about people who are making it happen motivate me to do my best.

I have also ordered a few guides from Etsian how-to-ers. The first guide I got from www.TimothyAdamsDesigns.etsy.com.  It has inspired this blog and given me the tools to build a community to share it with.  I am eager to see how it goes.  Then I found a guide from www.TheBuzz.etsy.com. This is another little jewel with great ideas on how to make my shop work.  She takes the guess work out of where to start and where to put my energy.  I think these two guides are a great combination for someone starting out.  The first is blog-centered and the last shop-centered.  From what I understand, those two things help to create a formula for success.

 Product/Artwork:

But nothing will say success like having the right products.  When I say right, I mean many things by that.  I am only willing to create art that feels fulfilling.  With that in mind, I have been brainstorming about my favorite projects and have created a small grouping of printed photos of the projects I have most enjoyed doing.  I have them in a little stack on my desk and look thru them when I am ready to work on something.  Someday this wanna-be pile of pictures will be replaced with a an accomplishment pile, documenting the lives I have allowed my art to touch by sharing it with the world.

The other part of deciding about which artwork to sell is including items that others might like.  As it turns out, I often do projects that others request but for which I have had little time to do.  Luckily, these are usually the items I get the most fulfilment out of.  This is what will ultimatly end up in the shop.  It gives me a boost when others are enthusiastic about my work.

Focus:

As I prepare for the opening, I find myself nesting as a way of getting focused.  My art supplies become the twigs and leaves with which I am creating my warm, cozy spot.  It is exactly what I need as I take a break from the hustle and bustle of University life.  I think Laughing Lane Studios could ultimately provide a needed bit of balance in my life. 

I hope you have enjoyed this peak at my process.  Feel free to share with me the projects you are working on and what your progress is looking like.

Creatively yours,

Rae

Welcome to my guide for living a more creative life. You will find craft ideas, inspiration and motivation from people who embrace the spirit of creativity everyday. Follow my journey and discover your  own path to becoming a crafter of the living arts.

For a peak-see at my shop, hop on over to www.laughinglane.etsy.com

grieffairy

My Etsy Shop

http://laughinglane.etsy.com Photobucket

Robert Alan

The creative spirit is one of the most powerful driving forces in human history. Creativity in the arts can inspire new insights and understanding for generations. Inventive creativity has helped transform our society time and time again, helping to make life better for countless lives. Creativity helps bring meaning to one's life through unique self-expression. When focused on uplifting humanity, creativity can help to create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. How will you use your creativity to help create a better world?

Henry David Thoreau

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.

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