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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.

Every once in awhile I have a craving to go deeper into the well of inner knowledge. Things like art, journaling, solitude, and highly engaging conversation with just the right person can take me there.  Recently I felt the call of the page. Paper bound with the purpose of helping me get found.

When the desire for writing in this way comes up, I go in search of a new blank book.  It has to feel just right.  I have been bored lately with off-the-shelf journals, so I decided to delve into the realm of handmade.  Now, I made a journal once.  It is pretty, but less than what I wanted for my inner-prize.  So I began perusing Etsy to see what I could see.

Etsy has some amazing book artists.  From tee-ninsie to gian-ormous!  Elegant, earthy, whimsical, or plain Jane.  With so many options, it could be overwhelming to choose. But, as is often the case in picking a world of pages for my musings, the perfect journal for me came forward and announced itself without a doubt!

 www.bindingbee.etsy.com

Binding Bee (www.bindingbee.etsy.com)  is a cute little shop with great books. Megan Winn, the book binder/artist, turned out to be as sweet as the work she does.  This journal is made with up-cycled leather and has pattern pieces incorporated into the pages. 

To understand the call of this particular journal, it is important to get a sense of what I want to explore with it.  In my last post, I talked about the metephoric knots I was presented with.  It is maybe a strange thing to describe “issues” this way, but that’s how it feels.  It is as if I have one big problem, but a closer look reveals interlocked, inter-related variables. I find it hard to determine what all is in the knot, but I know that it includes how I live with and in my body and the things that have influenced my relationship with my body.  So you see, the pattern pieces speak directly to the issues at hand.

 I think it is easy to start to feel uncomfortable when someone starts pointing to the things in life that don’t go quite right, but this knot is about something positive. It is about looking at the knot (every woman who has worn a necklace knows you have to put what’s tangled in front of you if you want to get it off your neck) so that I can loosen it up, throw out what is broken, fix what can be salvaged and supplement what is missing.  This is about opportunity and healing.  So if my vulnerability has you at all on edge, take a breath.  It’s all good. 

I hope you will enjoy hearing about my special little journal.  In the next week or two, you can expect my first artist interview. I had a great visit with the book-binder who whipped up this jewel, Megan Winn.  Her story inspires me to look at life with a new eye and to celebrate the gift of creative living in a more back-to-basics way. 

Until then…

I am creatively yours,

Rae

sweetmeats.etsy.com

sweetmeats.etsy.com

I think it is popular to be a vegetarian. There is something romantic about sacrificing your own cravings for animal flesh to uphold your value of life for the furry, scaled, and feathered ones among us.  I watched Twilight a few nights ago and felt myself wanting to move closer toward that place of purity.

But this evening while logging onto the net, my homepage (Etsy.com) featured the handmade art of SweetMeats.  I was mesmerized by the plush, huggable meat items.    

sweetmeats.etsy.com

sweetmeats.etsy.com

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Who doesn’t need a little meat for their couch?! 

And check out the bacon earrings!

sweetmeats.etsy.com

sweetmeats.etsy.com

I just know if I had a pair of these, I wouldn’t be able to keep my husband off me!  He would be trying to nibble on my earlobe all day long!

(These clever little earrings are made from polyshrink/shrink paper.  That makes me love them even more.  I have a special affinity for that craft. I posted an entry featuring my own shrink art last month.  I think it is still on this page.   I am glad to see more people using it.)

 Maybe I will get me a pair!  It’s guilt-free meat. 

The owner of the shop seems to be working on some other designs, so check out what they’ve got.  If the creativity and humor shown thus far is any indication of what is to come, we are all in for a sweet treat….or should that be sweet MEAT?!   

Check it out! Find her shop at www.sweetmeats.etsy.com or her blog at http://bizmiss.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/whoa-those-are-shrinky-dinks/

 

lunaclaydesign

(This is a pendant made from a glass slide.  It is from www.lunaclaydesign.etsy.com . I love her work.  This piece has a lot of story wrapped up in it for me.  Her other pieces seem to offer their own stories, as well.)

At six months old, I learned to walk. They said I looked like a living doll, so small but moving like a sized-down adult. I was petite for my age, charming, and bright. At a year old, I went to court with my parents to make my adoption legal. My mother waited in the courtroom. They told her I would be with the judges for 15 minutes. An hour later, the judges brought me back, explaining that I had entertained them, dancing on the table and singing.

Pictures of my young childhood tell the story of an active little girl. My skin is a healthy olive color from playing in the sun. But in the third grade, something changed. My eyes seemed more vacant, and my body began to take on more weight. I went from being one of the smallest children to the largest. I no longer took dance lessons or danced with my parents. When I did, I saw the shame in their eyes. Somehow the weight created a barrier to the world of dance.

 

artmaven(From artmaven.etsy.com, Megan Chapman’s abstract, Fire Cross the Barriers, has wonderful color and movement.  It’s impending redness distracts from any calm that might be promised by the cool rythums of the blues.  It does a fabulous job of putting me on edge and reminds me of the fiery barriers I let the world push me up against.)

ladyatlarge(Speaking of roundness, check out the undulating curves on this underwater beauty by ladyatlarge.etsy.com.   She seems to dance with her koi friend in a celebration of movement and marvelousness.)

I met a woman  several years ago as round as I was round. She taught dance classes in a small portion of the larger community I live in. They were more than dance classes, really. They were fall-in-love-with-your-body classes and discover-the-sacredness-of-movement classes. I would often sink into tears during the dances. I could feel myself coming home to a place in my life I had pushed away.

The reasons were both simple and complicated. Why does any woman begin to hate her body? Because we are taught to, because we have had our protecting voices silenced, because they are powerful instruments of creation?

One week while in the small bohemian community nestled within my South Texas town, I danced 19 hours and wished for more. It is a feeling I will never forget. I understood things about myself that I would never have understood without the dance. I knew about my flesh, my spirit, community, ancestry, and about my genuine self.

After a year or two, our small community went through a big change. Many of us moved away or found our own paths. I grieved not only the loss of community but the loss of the opportunities I had had to dance. I became overwhelmed with finding an equilibrium. My body habits changed, and then my body did. I put the dance away.

My body has suffered, as has my spirit. In saying this, I struggle with the idea of body acceptance. Self-love and self-care have been the touchstones of this last year’s journey. I never realized how twisted the thinking about my body had become. Layers of hate, distrust, abuse and disgust buried the peacefulness I am learning to uncover.

Can I love my body as it is in this moment? At this weight? In this condition? After what it has been through, after what I have done to it and made it do? The answer is yes. AND, I know my body wants more. Never mind what my culture….what society wants….never mind what the media says or what I assume others think. My body and spirit long to move and be moved. They are lovers that live within the context of my existence. Married to one another in a way, but sleeping apart. Recently though, I feel them longing for one another again.

Allowing myself to dance, encouraging myself to move, rarely just comes easily. There is stigma about moving a round body. It takes courage to take up more space than what is the cultural norm. And what if someone sees something jiggle where they believe no movement would take place?! These are the struggles that play out in my unconscious, right beside the wish to move.

I have connected once more with my dance friend. She is pregnant now with her husband away in the service. I have asked her if she might like to meet to move. We have plans to meet soon.

 

kennebugboutique(This lovely,  handmade pendant is by kennebugboutique.etsy.com. I am dreaming of having one for myself in a year or so.  I thought it was interesting that I found one in her shop that said chance…that’s what I feel like I will be taking. But I know it will be well worth it!)

Ahh, but back to my awareness. I know that childbirth is a form of creativity. And the body becomes its instrument. In practicing dance, I believe I can give my body a means to its innate desire to create. But instead of creating a child, I can create movement, nuance, emotion, story and perhaps the most important thing, healing.

isabellasart(This shadow puppet from www.isabellasart.etsy.com  rides in front of the light, casting dancing shadow stories on the wall for all to see.  )

This is my own personal advocacy of self. A demonstation of free will and self-expression. I will move the fleshiness of my body…not to lose weight or to exercise, but to become a priestess to the holy union of body and spirit for the sacred right of re-creation. To reclaim a part of myself which has been hidden away, secretly waiting just out of sight, grooving in the shadows.

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

The last year, I have been focusing on how what it means to show myself love and care.  This is especially true when it comes to treating my body in loving ways.  This might sound easy, but I have found that my life was set up in a way that was based on fear and judgement a good portion of the time.  When I made the decision to practice self-love, I looked for ways to improve on some of the good things I was already doing and to find new ways to do some of the not so loving ways I treated myself or thought about myself.  The journey has been rich.

disney 677

To flesh this idea out a bit more, let me talk about skin.  This past month, I turned 40.  Looking in the mirror, I am starting to see little changes.  The skin under my eyes is less taut.  My lipstick blurs at the edges, and my neck has a new, unfamiliar texture.  The changes are a bit scary, which tells me that I am afraid to grow old.  Funny, I am also fearful that I won’t have the chance to grow old.  Ironic.  I have taken this as an opportunity for creative living. 

How do I want to feel about my skin?  Do I need to stay constant and unchanging?  Does this change how I fit into the world? 

I know that when I look at women who are covered with the marks of a life lived, I see tremendous beauty in them.  My practice of self love encourages me to begin to cultivate that same love for my wisdom marks. 

So for Mother’s Day, I indulged in a variety of soaps and skin creams.  And decided to do the same for my two mother-in-laws. 

First, I headed over to the local farmer’s market where my friend Nancy sells soaps made from the seaweed that washes up on the beach at Port Aransas, Texas. 

Corpus Christi's Farmers Market

Corpus Christi's Farmers Market

 Port A is a little community on the water, not far from where I live.  I bought a vetiver bar soap from her and have been using it in our downstairs bathroom.  When I was a kid, I hated washing up, but nowadays, I can not wait to smell the essential oils from Nancy’s soap on my hands.  I even take extra trips to the soap bowl to smell it when I am feeling stressed.

Nancy also had body butter  at the market from Farm Fresh Soaps.  My morning routine has become a ritual of self-care as I adorn my neck and arms with the bitter almond richness of this product.  It is thick and creamy and feels almost sinful to use it on myself.  I have had to fight my tendency to hoard it.  But once I have scooped out my daily allowance, I never regret it.  It is candy for my 40 year old senses.

http://www.ffsoaps.com/baby.htm

For my husband’s moms, I decided to turn to Etsy for inspiration.  They both live out of town and by dealing with an Etsy shop, I could have it mailed and support the creative efforts of another at the same time.  I found one shop to take care of both gifts.  Lynette Gooch of Tuscan Heights has beautiful soaps and oils.  She had the perfect gift baskets for the Moms.  Iris, who is a master gardener got the Master Gardener gift pack, and Donna, who enjoys playing tourist get The Weary Traveler.  Both called to say how nice the packages were.  This is the way to shop!

Tuscan Heights Lavendar Farm

www.lynettegooch2002.etsy.com

In searching for the gift soaps, I came across a shop with soap formed into rocks.  One of our bathrooms has a nature theme.  We had to do some repairs to it when we first moved in.  Our carpenters where more like artisans, so we let our imagination run wild.  We have carve away part of the slate tile to create a dry river bed that runs from our mesquite stump bathroom sink across the floor and into the shower.  The rock soap was a must-have.  The picture below shows the edge of the tree pedestal for our sink basin and the iron sculpture beside it along with the new soap.

mermaidwithsoap

www.amethystsoap.etsy.com  I got the turquoise soap and the amethyst.  They rock!

I think I am going to continue this love of natural soaps.  My skin feels happier, and I like knowing that I am putting things from the earth on my skin rather than chemicals and fake fragrances.  Isn’t it amazing that chosing natural products should feel indulgent?  Perhaps someday that will be natural for me. Until then, I will enjoy the feeling of this new form of self care.

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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