Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Come See... What Art-Is-In {Artisan} Chat

Welcome to The Artisan Chat! Today we are chatting with Brenda from Split Rock Ranch. I stumbled upon her blog through entrecard and discovered a really wonderful lady. She is so friendly and talented and I'm thrilled she was so excited to be featured. I'm fascinated with her fiber work and the process involved - it seems so rewarding. And so...on with the chat!

Where can we find your work?

I sell on Etsy, I have an ArtFire store. We have our own website for the ranch where you can find our llamas and photos of fibers I’ve dyed in the past – basically most of my established colorways. My colorway page. I also have a blog. I am on Ravelry. I also have a Split Rock Ranch group on Ravelry! I have a Flickr account, where I post photos of my latest creations, Twitter and Facebook.

Can you share with us a little history about Split Rock Ranch?

We bought our first llamas in November 1996 – 2 males that we planned to keep as pets and use for packing. We boarded the llamas at the llama ranch where we bought them. We bought our place in May 1997 and brought our llamas home to live with us. There is a very large pine tree here on the ranch that has grown up between the cracks in a rock and it eventually split the rock – hence the name Split Rock Ranch. We bought our first female that summer and added a show quality male, too. We started showing our llamas and winning. We added more females and those females have produced crias (baby llamas) and our herd has grown to 35 llamas. Jim bought me my first spinning wheel in December of 1999 when I decided we needed to start doing something with all the beautiful fiber we were harvesting from our llamas. When Jim was laid off in December 2002 I started selling my fiber art on ebay and at llama shows. I retired from my “real job” as Office Manager for a home builder in June 2008 to work the ranch and my fiber business full time.

How did you get started as a fiber artist?

I learned to knit and crochet as a child but didn’t do much of either while I was working full time and raising my family. My husband bought me my very first gently used spinning wheel for Christmas in 1999. I made the mistake of trying to spin alpaca top for my first fibers, which was a mistake because those fibers are very slick and difficult to draft. Once I switched to easier to spin wool rovings, my spinning took off. Once I got the hang of it I started spinning llama, alpaca, cashmere, angora, and silk. When I started spinning and dyeing fibers I started knitting and crocheting again. Once I started using natural fibers rather than acrylic man-made fibers, I was hooked! It is such a joy to work with such soft natural fibers.

What type of environment do you create in?

I do all my work in our home here on the ranch. Our kitchen is quite large with tons of cabinets and counter space and there is a “breakfast room” in the northeast corner of the house where I have bins of fibers and a table set up with my drum carder on it. It is still a work in progress but I’m trying to get more organized! My views out the windows are of the mountains and the lake across the road behind us, along with the llamas and horses in their pastures, the soaring pine trees and the ultra-blue Colorado skies.

Your fibers have such rich and vivid colors - what inspires you?

I am inspired by Nature and the beauty I am surrounded with daily. Sunsets, sunrises, the intense blue of the Colorado skies, wildflowers, the mountains…

Can you tell us a little bit about the process? What is your favorite part?

There are so many things that I do it would be difficult to pick one thing and describe the process. It all starts with the animals – and the shearing process starts long before the actual shearing takes place! It is all about selecting animals that produce exceptional fiber, feeding them the right diet, preparing the fleece before it is sheared (blowing and brushing the animal out).
I dye fibers (rovings, yarns and fleeces) using either a ceramic crock pot (used exclusively for dyeing) or stainless steel stock pots in the oven. I use light-fast, color-fast professional acid dyes (the acid used to set the dye is white vinegar).
I card my custom fiber blend batts (perfect for spinning, felting or other fiber art) on my hand crank Ashford fine tooth drum carder. I love carding batts using a variety of fibers (wool locks or roving/top, mohair locks or top, alpaca, llama, cashmere, camel, yak, silk, bamboo, glitz, etc.) The colored fibers are my paints and the drum on the carder is my canvas.

Do you have a creative hero? Who is it?

No, I don’t have a creative hero. I pretty much blaze my own trail and let The Creative Muse work through me. So much of what I do has been self taught using books, videos I’ve found on-line and an occasional pointer or tip from someone experienced at whatever it is I’m in the process of learning.

Do you use social networking? How has it worked for you?
Yes, I use Twitter, Facebook, my blog and several ning sites: Creative Café, Café Handmade, Online Shopping Mall, Indiepublic & My Craft Corner
I have my Twitter, Facebook and my blog linked so when I post to Twitter or on my blog it goes to Facebook. I tweet when I list or relist an item in my store. I get a lot of views on my items when I tweet about them.
I blog about new colorways, projects and fiber blend batts. I post things on my personal blog and on the ning networking sites. I post photos of my new work in my Flickr account and on my Ravelry page as well as to my Facebook Fan page.
I have gotten more custom orders this year than I ever have before.

What do you look forward to?

I look forward to each and every day here on the ranch. It is always something new and different and I get to try out new colorways and fiber blends that popped into my head during the night. Yes, I dream in color! I look forward to meeting new customers, friends and other fiber artists who share my passion for all things fiber!
Some day perhaps I’ll have a brick and mortar store and studio where I can really spread out and devote everything to fiber!

If you weren’t a fiber artist what would you be doing instead?

I would probably still be working in the construction industry. I have worked as Office Manager for both commercial and residential construction and loved it. But fiber and the animals that provide that fiber are truly my passion.

What have you always wanted to try?

I have always wanted to try weaving but find warping the loom a daunting task so there my table top loom sits, patiently waiting. I bought a triangle loom, which I find much easier because the same strand of yarn becomes both warp and weft, but I haven’t finished the shawl I currently have on the loom (my first attempt) I am using some of my earliest handspun yarns in purples and greens to make myself a shawl on the triangle loom. One of these days it will become a finished object!
Is there anything else you would like to share?

My Motto: Where fiber is our passion, and it shows!

Thank you so much Brenda for joining us today! Take some time and browse her shop and treat your eyes to her gorgeous sense of color. Thanks for visiting and Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

And the Winner is....

Thank you to everyone that left a comment - you all had wonderful things to say about my blog and some great suggestions! Congratulations to Rose!! You win your choice of one pair of my vintage ad reproduction earrings in my shop. I am emailing you now with a list of links you can choose from.

Thanks again to everyone!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Come See...What Art-Is-In {Artisan} Chat

Welcome to our Artisan Chat! Today we are chatting with Victoria from Three Fates Design. Victoria is another of those wonderful artists I met through Entrecard. I really enjoy her work - her colors are so vibrant and I look forward to seeing what new techniques she's exploring. Victoria has an adorable little puppy - Yoda who after some health issues is now on the mend and from what I hear, just as rambunctious as ever. Victoria is offering free shipping on all orders! All sales will help pay for the surgery that saved little Yoda. So, let's get on with the Artisan Chat!

Where can we find your work?

I sell my work on etsy, 1000 markets, and art fire, as well as at local shows in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.

What attracted you to beadweaving and lampworking? How did you get started?

My mom is an artist, my dad is a musician, my baby sister is a wonderful photographer, and my brother is an artist and a musician, I think it runs in the family. I really struggled to find a media that I enjoyed; I tried everything and then tried it again. Then my mom bought me some string and beads, and I was hooked. I soon started pushing myself to make more complicated designs. I started lampworking a few years ago. I have always been enamored with lampwork beads, they are just so beautiful. The second I made my first bead (which I still have) I was hooked. I love being able to make a unique bead and then incorporating them into my beadwork.

What type of environment do you create in?

I work everywhere. I have a bead room, but most of my beadwork is done in the living room, or the bed room, or the car, and even the bus. Beadwork is fairly portable, so I never leave the house without some sort of project.I have a small work table right now for my lampworking, but I’m hoping to have my own work space soon (we’re in the market for a house right now).

It’s clear you are always exploring and willing to share your new work, what drives you to try something new?

I like to push myself. I tend to get bored very easily, so always trying something new and pushing myself to think outside of the box keeps me focused. And who wants to do the same thing over and over again, anyone would get bored.

What inspires you?

Everything. I feel like everything around me has a little bit of inspiration on me. I like nature, but I also love architecture and geometry. It’s all beauty and inspiration in my eyes.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process? What’s your favorite part?

Chaotic at times. I always have a few projects going at the same time, but I usually have one main one that I’m working on. I think my favorite part is the beginning; the thrill of not really knowing if my idea is going to work out is great. All the beads or different glass colors sitting in front of me, they are just individual beings at this point, but soon they will work together to make something fantastic. I love that part.

Do you use social networking? How has it worked for you?

I do use a lot of social networking. I have a facebook page , a myspace page , and a twitter account, oh and a blog, but I’m not really sure if that’s social networking.I feel that social networking has really helped to get my business name out there. I know there are lots of people that would have never even heard of my work if it wasn’t for social networking sights. I have also been able to connect with a lot of other artists out there, and that’s pretty invaluable. You can bounce ideas off of them, get feedback about ideas and designs, as well as become inspired by their work.

What do you look forward to?

Packages of beads and/or glass on my front porch. That’s always something to look forward to.

If you weren’t a jewelry artist, what would you be doing instead?

Art wise, I think I would like to be a photographer. I’ve always really enjoyed taking pictures, but I’m not that good at it.If I wasn’t an artist at all, I think I would be doing what I do every day; research. It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed doing.I just couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

What have you always wanted to try?

PMC. I really want to get my hands on some. I started Lampworking because it fascinated me, but it also gave me the opportunity to create my own centerpieces and then create a piece of jewelry that was uniquely my own. I see PMC in the same light. I’m dying to make my own decorative clasps and someday I will.

Thank you Victoria for sharing so much with us! Looking at your work again, I can definitely see the influence of geometry and I can't wait to see some PMC clasps! Thanks for visiting, and remember - free shipping on everything in her shop - do a little shopping and help a little puppy!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Something Fun for Friday

One of my most favorite TV shows is So You Think You Can Dance. I've looked forward to it each summer and I'm so happy they have added the fall season. There is so much talent to see and the choreographers are brilliant. Last night the League of Extraordinary Dancers performed and my husband and I both sat in awe of their amazing gifts. Indeed, I found it truly extraordinary. So turn up your speakers, enjoy the video and have a happy, happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ack! Where Have I Been...? Hey Cool! - I Got an Award and Oh...Let's do a Giveaway!

Sorry - I've been MIA the last few weeks! It's been soooo busy here with the Holiday and all. I also interviewed for a new position - that went really well (still waiting to hear). Things at work are really picking up with the end of the semester. Speaking of the end of the semester - I presented my second term paper last night - also went really well. It was on Kabbalah - so interesting and extremely complicated. I was really drawn to the aspect of looking inside yourself to unite with divine thought. In many ways I found it similar to Kundalini Yoga in theory...but that's another paper.

Anyway, I wanted to give a shout out to a few of my blogger buddies! A couple weeks ago I received a Blogger Award! It's one of those tag and pass awards where those nominated then in turn nominate a number of their favorite blogs. I'm just giddy that I was included! So Thanks to Izile and Janz Crystalz!

Well, the award has set of rules too.. here it is...
The rules of the award state that you must post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted you this award and a link to his/her blog.
Pass the award on to 15 other blogs you have recently discovered and think are great!
Remember to contact the bloggers you’ve awarded to let them know they have been chosen.

Three Fates Design Such a big heart and true animal lover

Lenox Knits Great colorful work and shares her life with her readers

Izile's Oddities Blog stalker and funny lady - I bet we would have serious fun if we met in person
Janz's Crystalz Beautiful Blog to visit and fellow blog stalker

Split Rock Ranch Goregous Fiber Artistry and a sweet soul

Daisy the Curly Cat The Hilarious Hijinx of Daisy and Harley

January Wish Wonderful work and very funny - been know to make me LOL!

The Graphics Fairy Provides an amazing Vintage Image a Day - Thanks for keeping the Vintage alive!

Just Something I Made Also a fab supporter of the Vintage and such creative projects

Lillyella Great Artist Spotlights, Giveaways, Tips and amazing mentor!

Ruth's Creations A loyal blog stalker - Thanks for your consistent visits!

Sagittarius Gallery Truly a talented and inspiring artist

Knock Knocking Fabulous blog to visit if you adore color - especially pastels :)

My Gypsy Goods Loyal blog stalker and great money saving tips

The Queen Speaks Shares wonderful stories of her family, artistry and discoveries

Take some time and check out these Fun and Artistic Bloggers!

Oh...Let's do a Giveaway!

To celebrate the end of the semester and gee...just life in general, lets' do a giveaway! I'd like to know what you like (or don't) about my blog, what you would like to see more of, or if there is something else you would like to see. So, please leave me a comment and let me know before 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Friday, December 11! The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Sunday, December 13. The winner will get their choice of one pair of any of the Vintage Ad Earrings in my shop. So, leave a comment (and an email to contact you if you win) and good luck!!
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