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Monday, December 19, 2011

Featured artist: Elena from ElenasLoom

Today I'd like you to meet Elena from ElenasLoom where she sells lovely and colorful handcrafted items.

1. Tell us as little or as much as you would like about yourself.
My name is Elena, and I live in Milano, Italy, with my two teenage children and our cat Minu.
I have a university degree in computer science and I worked for nearly 20 years in the telecommunication software field, until my company decided to move their research center from Milano to less expensive countries. I considered it an occasion to start something new and different, and dedicate my time to things I love to do...I didn't like office work, but would have never had the courage to try and change otherwise!

Orange Cat plush
 2. What do you sell?
In my Etsy shop I sell colorful felt plushes, fabric ornaments, iPod cases and small pouches to store phone chargers (an idea I had because I was tired to waste time to disentangle our charger cables..When you put 3 or 4 of them in a drawer they have the ability to become inextricable) ..I'm especially happy with my "monsters in a bag"s, small monster plushes that are all different, decorated with embroidery, beads, metallic threads....Everything I can think of while I'm making them, so they are really all unique and very different from each other. They come in a specially designed zipper pouch, so that you can store them or carrying them safely in your bag.

I'm also selling my handwoven (scarves wall hangings) on Zibbet, as I don't like to mix too many kind of products in the same shop ...And I have a second Etsy shop where I'm selling a few Italian books on embroidery....But only momentarily (to help get rid of books from an embroidery supplies site I'm closing down, called Italian Needlecrafts ); with the beginning of 2012 it will become again a shop where I sell prints, as it was until a few months ago.

3. Why handmade?
I think handmade adds a personal touch to our lives...Or maybe I shouldn't say "handmade",because actually most of the things we buy are _not_ machine made...It's not that clothes of shoes with important brands stamped on them are made by machines! They too are "handmade"... But by people who are obliged to work very, very quickly, and therefore have to put little care in their work (how carefully can you work when you are given two minutes to sew a shirt?) . They have no control over the design or materials they can use...This is a big difference with things handcrafted by people who are in control of the whole creative process and love what they are making, from design, to choice of materials, colours, etc...Up to the packaging and shipping to the customer!
I love following the whole "life cycle" of my items... Every phase is important and interesting: designing them, sewing their parts, taking photos of the finished item, preparing the packet to be shipped. I realize this is a big privilege in the modern world: most jobs nowadays are so specialized and show such a small part of the whole process, that they often become boring and repetitive...To be able
From a customer's point of view, I love to know that something I bought was made by a definite person, who has a name and a story, rather than come from a huge factory where thousands identical things are made every day...

Small bag pouch for power charger
4. Where does your inspiration to create come from and/or your inspiration in life?
Oh, that's difficult to say! I love art in all its forms, and I especially notice details; I'm the kind of person that in museums, in front of a painting portraying someone famous, rather than looking at the person looks at the tiny details in the background...Such as floor tiles, the patterns of fabrics, the everyday objects that appear in the painting...
When I go on holiday I always return with several hundreds of photos of architectural details..But I don't think they manage to get into my work, anyway (maybe in the future...I'm working on that)
I think I'm mostly inspired by everyday life, and by what I would like for myself...Many of the things I'm selling were first created because I needed one....And I thought that maybe someone else would like them too.

5. Besides creating what else do you do? Do you have a full time job?
Yes and no...I have/had a website selling Italian supplies for embroidery and that should have been my "full time job", but after trying to for nearly two years, I could only acknowledge it will never work, and I'm closing it down in a couple of weeks.
I knew embroidery was a small market, but I didn't expect it to be _that_ small...
At least I'll be able to concentrate only on my handcrafted items!

Plush monster zipper purse
6. When did you start thinking you were an artist?
Never, actually... I consider myself a creative person, but I don't think this is enough to qualify me as an artist! I have no artistic background, except for my personal interests...But I've always liked to make (or fix!) things, ever since I was very young.

7. Who has been most influential in your craft work?
Oh, I think my daughter is the most influential person currently, and the most supportive...I made my first plush for her (a yellow and purple bunny which became the first one in my Etsy shop) and she loved it so much that I decided to make more of them.
Then I enjoy when people appreciate my work on Etsy; people adding my shop or my items to their favorites, or writing to me just to say they love my works! In addition I always find stories and blogs of other crafters very inspiring and helpful.

8. Where would you like to be in five years?
I would like to have a successful crafting activity! I would like to diversify my production, and maybe include something different from fabric or felt items, such as prints, drawings, etc... But we'll see!
Ten years ago my life was "settled"...I had a family, a stable job in a big company, my life was mostly a routine and I thought it would have gone that way forever... Then my husband left me, my job vanished and suddenly realized I had to rebuild my life from scratch...Now my life is completely different from what it used to be, and I've learned so many new things that I really consider myself as another person...I could have never imagined myself, ten years ago, driving for 4000 kms (I, who had always hated driving..) to visit WWI battlefields in the Somme, or learning tapestry weaving... So who knows, maybe in another 5 years I'll be doing something that now seems totally unlikely!

9. Is there anything you'd like to try doing that you haven't done?
crafts, sports, life in general?

Oh, yes, lots of things! I've been fascinated by most crafts, but life is short and I realized I can't learn everything. I'd like to learn watercolor painting...And maybe learn a bit of Japanese. I love languages; I speak English and French, and I'm slowly learning Spanish and Hindi too... Japanese has started to interest me recently, and I'll probably give it a try! One important thing I've learned is that it's never too late to learn something new!

Yellow ornament
10. Besides online where else do you sell?
I'm just selling online currently. I've never tried to go to a craft fair, because people here expect to find very cheap items at such fairs...I don't think it's the kind of public who would appreciate my items (either handwoven or of other kind). I keep my prices as affordable as possible, but crafters cannot compete with prices of mass-produced items made in China... And many people often expect that kind of prices in fairs or markets too. So I prefer to sell only on the internet, on Etsy, Zibbet, Facebook....

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  1. Great interview. So interesting to read about an artist (creative person, as she says) from Italy. My favorite part was about how Elena rebuilt her life,and it sounds like she's done great and has a positive outlook. It's inspiring. Thank you for this Claudia.

  2. Totally agree with Jacqui... This post is very inspiring! Good thoughts to remember :)


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